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Treehouse: Great Room


A year ago we sold our first fixer upper, affectionally dubbed The Lighthouse, and purchased another 1960’s project house that we were excited to make into our new handmade dream home (full story here inside Sage Money). Nestled on a bluff above the water in the treetops of our new island community, we christened it The Treehouse and set to work evicting the fancy old people vibe (all the shiny surfaces!) and creating an earthy minimalist aesthetic and function.

This home met our needs (location, number of bedrooms, etc.) but it met very few of my wants, vaulted ceilings being at the top of that list (low, flat ceilings are my nemesis). So the first thing we did was invite contractors, architects, and structural engineers into our painfully low ceilinged house to puzzle out a path to make that happen. Unfortunately, it would require rebuilding the entire house, which was not doable for us. And that is an honest part of renovating a home that I am committed to sharing. It’s fun to showcase all the things we were able to change, but there are always things we can’t (sometimes yet, sometimes ever). Do what you can, accept what you can’t, and fall in love with what remains.

The first thing we could do was demo out the sparkly mermaid tile, shiny cabinetry, obtrusive raised hearth, and decapitation-risk ceiling fan. Then we braided in flooring, installed vertical shiplap, plastered the fireplace, painted everything, and built wall shelves from salvaged wood. (It’s amazing how easy months of work sounds when it’s distilled into a couple of sentences.)

Shelves tend to feel cluttery to me but we had some practical needs that they met.

1. Pegs: The front door is just to the right and Husband wanted some pegs for coats and such.

2. Bench: Kids wanted a place to put on and take off shoes.

3. Mom: My mom needed a place in our new home that she’ll never get to visit.

4. Technology: We had technology components for our Frame TV, Apple TV, wifi, game system, and Alexa.

5. Dog Alcove: Autumn needed a cozy corner that could be her safe space from the rambunctiousness of a vibrant family.

The space was full of faulty electrical outlets, lights, and switches that we removed, rewired, and reinstalled, including dimmable, canless LED recessed lights throughout (removing all the hanging fixtures except the dining table light, adding recessed lights, and running the shiplap vertical all helped mitigate the low ceiling). But my favorite electric wizardry was installing outlets in the places we were going to have technology—no more wires running down walls!

The last point I want to share is that sometimes when people see photos of spaces in our home they encourage us to fill it with more stuff, but I want to invite you to think of your home as the frame while your family is the art. This space is brought to life by the children running through the room, the friends gathering on the sofa, the meals piling on the table, the dog chasing after her ball, the music playing from the speaker—we fill our home with life and that is what I want to hold space for.

A special thank you to Joshua who spends his evenings and weekends turning this box into a home with me. The muscle and creative problem solving he pours into our projects, my crazy ideas especially, is remarkable.

  1. Christina Chairez says:

    You had all the fun without me?! LOL But seriously, I would have loved to come get my hands dirty and be on the work crew for a weekend! Miss you all to pieces and I love the beautiful space, mama <3

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I work from an island in the Pacific Northwest, where I live wild and free in connection with my hilarious husband and three growing sailors in our fixer upper on the beach. I authentically live this healing work out loud raising my own neurodivergent family (inner child included) and draw on my decades of education and experience (I've done all the nerdy work so you don't have to) to guide a revolution of overwhelmed parents just like you to feeling at peace within yourself, consciously connected with your children, embraced by a supportive community, and enjoying a values-aligned life you love.

Gentle parenting, natural homeschooling, & simple living mentor

I'm Rachel Rainbolt

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