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Making a Beautiful Home

Leslie and Ryan discuss a warm, welcoming, and joyful home, whether art deco or mid-century modern. It is a discussion of beautiful in the excellent standard sense, not in the decor and aesthetic sense. 

Audio Only Version

EP - 5 Making a Beautiful HomeLife Admin
00:00 / 42:18

Show Notes

Set the table: making beautiful homes is ultimately what people are interested in. It is an end goal of all this life admin.

  • Don’t mean beautiful as in simple, modern, vintage—those are styles, and ones that you cannot achieve without the life admin

  • Think starting a beauty makeover. Good haircut and skincare regime otherwise the clothes are just different clothes.

  • Mean beauty as a pleasing aesthetic that fits the people who live there. 

  • Hallmarks: giving a respite from the world, welcoming, 

  • Beautiful homes are not chaotic: they have basics like rhythm and zones. 

Segment 1: Zoning


Ryan: What do you mean by in-home zoning?

 Household activities have their areas where they happen

  • Some are simple like dishwashing—happens in the sink or dishwasher; others need us to define them. Where do the backpacks land after school?

  • Idea from experience: wait to see where the backpacks land and what the family needs to do with them (unload forms and homework) and then make the space fit the actions needed. 


Ryan:  What effect does having a “beautiful home”  have on you and your family? Mentality?


 Less stress 

  • A sense of relief to return

  • Easier on your budget in the long run 

  • More likely to invite others and incite community which is big for well being (AEI study)


Ryan:  Can you always have a “beautiful home”. Are there times when its ok to let it slip away?  Major events?  

Not only ok, but helpful for getting back on track.Babies, deaths, moves!!!, new jobs, new schools. All of these slip but when you have a foundation then not as slippy and easier to reestablish. Overall higher ground.


Segment 2: Let the rhythm get you


Ryan: We’ve used rhythm a lot. What are we talking about?

Honestly, a little expectation management


  • Chaos makes people anxious and we get enough in the world. We need to have a sense of what comes next, at least at home

  • This means things like, meals served at consistent times, paperwork in its place, laundry only out on Monday and Saturday for laundry day…


Ryan: How can I get rhythm?

Leslie: What we are really doing is compartmentalizing life admin so it doesn’t run over all our time and it isn’t constantly buzzing in our heads


  • Paperwork first. It is like high blood pressure,  the silent killer

  • Then set your daily, weekly, and monthly schedules. 

  • If seems overwhelming, start in an area or with an action

Ryan: I feel like this could be a huge undertaking?  What about an order or areas that should be done first?


Leslie: Depends on your stage. Easy to do a full start if starting out, but if not, then work zone by zone—after setting up the filing and paperwork. 

  • Paper and repetitive clutter can kill  your aesthetic, whichever one you choose. Even if it is the overfull English home, there’s order to the stacks of books. 

  • Fine to have a catch all cabinet, a junk drawer—but one. And they are confined. If something goes missing, you know where to look. 

  • Eventually might need a catchall spot for each member. Cubbies in the mudroom. 


Segment 3: Quick tips


Ryan: What are some quick home beauty tips?

Something old, Something new, Something fresh, Something blue (or green or orange or red…)

  • First, get paper in order. Waste of time and money before that.

  • Then Kondo-ize or something like it. Go through your stuff. 

  • Use what you have: Use and display the beautiful things with meaning for you

  • Budget item: if looking for disposable furniture, then use disposable things temporarily, like Amazon boxes

  • Slowly replace the use what you have placeholders as you use the space

  • Have, say, a vase on display. Occasionally fill with some seasonal cutting from your yard.

  • Allow yourself a flourish, one that is yours, regardless what the design folks say. 

  • Do not get so hung up on that design pic that you modify your space or life to achieve some “perfect” look. Remember it’s only a vignette. 


Ryan:  I would say do what makes you happy.  You’re the one that has to look at your home everyday.  If it doesn’t bring joy than what’s the point?  Now if you’re selling your home is a different set of rules.


Leslie: Yes. And if you are selling then follow those rules. But if you are living, then live there. 

  • Always have to do the touchup paint when you put on the market. So go with the white walls or whatever is the current vogue when you do that. Woodwork is different. Maybe keep that show friendly. 

  • I do think too much focus on “Joy”. Function plays.


Ryan:  Lastly,  Leslie what mistakes have you made in the past?  What pitfall can they avoid using your experience?



  • Allowing clutter to pile up too long, not setting my storage and letting it build

  • Going for the Pinterest vignette. So pretty in the pic. So sterile IRL. 


Closing thoughts.

66/ Mindset: Gratitude

Its the term for the adults still caring for children at home when their own parents care needs rise.  It can be complicated, messy and a little uncomfortable. We are here to help navigate.

65/ It Takes a Village 

Life shouldn't be lonely.  We are meant to be together and thrive!  Today we talk about what happened to the village and how we can rebuild it.

64/ How to Delegate

Effective delegation is a neglected skill. Circular trap. When it doesn’t quickly work, we often think it is easier to do things ourselves, which makes effective delegation more elusive..

63/ Back To School

Having now seen school from almost every angle and gotten perspective from the pandemic, I have many thoughts on what I would do differently if I had the chance. 

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