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Tips for Staining Your Deck: What we Learned Staining our Deck Ourselves

If you have been following along our home building process for the last two years on Instagram (@its.mary.taylor), you probably know that we finally moved it! Although we moved into a brand new home, there were some things we just didn’t have the budget for. This included all of the landscaping and our deck! From building the deck to staining the deck, it’s taken us over a month of everyday work to get it to where we want it to be.

The good news is, the deck is stained! We’re so thrilled that the deck is finally stained to match our flooring inside. We LOVE the color! But much like everything in our building, home buying, and DIY experiences this far, we have learned a lot!

Bad news, it’s not perfect. And, that’s okay. DIY projects are a learning process so if you’re wondering how to stain a deck or how to fix a deck that you stained wrong, we have some tips for you!

If this is your first time staining a deck, check out these tips below to learn from our deck staining mistakes!

  • Stain entire rows of wood, rather than in sections
  • Mix the container as much as possible before starting (if the container says not to create bubbles, do not just roll the container on its side – turn it upside down, mix it by hand, anything to get it to fully mix.
  • Clear the deck 24 hours before you start to let it fully dry out e.g. under pot plants 
  • Sweep the deck before you start to remove any extra debri
  • When staining wood that’s next to something (against your house for example) use some cardboard or painters tape or something so that no stain gets on the house
  • If the stain is turps based, have plenty of bottles of extra turps nearby in case there an accident (stain gets on your house, the tin tips over, etc) so if you need to, you can dilute/clean off the stain
  • If your stain is too dark in some areas (and your stain is turpentine based), you can rub extra turps onto the stained area with a lint-free rag/cloth or your cleaned (not filled with stain) staining brush

You can see two things in the above image:

  1. There’s a water mark where our umbrella was beforehand (we did not remove items the day before staining).
  2. Robbie stained by section not by board. If you scroll above, you’ll see where there are clear sectioned-off marks of stain and we are now having trouble fixing. Don’t be us. Learn from our mistakes!

The water mark has fixed itself by drying out before we applied the second coat of stain. We can try to fix the other mistake by re-staining the parts of the deck that are a bit lighter with a light coat of extra deck stain.

Are you DIYing parts of your home too? I would love to see what you’re doing! Let’s connect on Instagram!

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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Cleaning Tips to Reduce Odor

I asked on Instagram stories the other day if you’d like to see some cleaning tips and you voted YES! We (I say we but I mean I) have been doing a lot of cleaning (and organizing) lately in the new house. We’re pretty much organized but the ongoing cleaning (especially from the dust brought in from building the deck and lack of grass) has been overwhelming.

Here's what I did/do!

  • Deep cleaned my Crockpot Express using 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 8 drops of citrus essential oils (lemon and wild orange – you don’t need to be specific on the amount of drops). If you don’t have essential oils you can use half a lemon and one orange’s rind. Turn it on steam for 5 minutes, let it naturally release for 2 minutes, and quick release until it’s able to be removed. Then, drump out the mixture and rinse. This will remove odors from your pressure cooker!
  • Cleaned our garbage disposal using ice. Fill your garbage disposal with ice, turn it on, and run water through it (some say hot water, some say you don’t even need water – try it both ways). The ice is so cold it actually helps sharpen the blades. You can also toss down some citrus peels or a few drops of citrus/Purify oils to eliminate odor and leave a fresh smell.
  • Stinky trash can? If your trash is in a drawer/pulls out and you have room below it, fill a small container with baking soda and drop a few drops of essential oils in the container. Cover with mesh, plastic with holes in it, or another breathable material. Baking soda absorbs nasty smells! You can also put a paper towel underneath your trash bag and drop a few drops of oils onto that (lemon, doTERRA Purify, Young Living Purification, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, etc are great options)
  • My favorite DIY odor reducing spray! This is an all around perfect spray for every day use – musty clothes, smelly bathrooms, stinky trash, room freshener, and so much more. You’ll need doTERRA Purify, doTERRA On Guard, water, and alcohol (optional – great for a hand sanitizer option or to kill more germs). Put them all in a spray bottle and shake before use. Easy as that. You can put as many drops as you want to get the desired smell you would like. This DIY deodorizer is life changing (okay, my opinion but seriously, you have to try it – I use it all the time). 

Do you like this kind of post and want to see more recipes, hacks, and tips on IG instead of just on my blog? What kinds of things should I focus on next? Let me know on this post on Instagram.

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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Laundry Room Inspiration

I’m so excited to dive into our visions for our laundry room! If you’re looking for laundry room inspiration or garage conversions for your laundry area, this is the right place. If you’re new here, welcome! My husband, Robbie, and I are building our very first home together. You can read about our experience so far and see more of our home inspiration here. To see where you can buy similar (or the same) products that are featured in all of my home inspiration posts as well as all credits on images, head to my inspiration shop here. View and purchase ALL of my Amazon home decor inspiration and ideas here!

Some of the links included in this blog are commissioned links. This means I may earn a small commission when you use them. I cannot see who purchases what and it doesn’t cost you anything to click on them.

Now, our laundry room is actually just part of our garage but I want to focus on the things we want to do to make a laundry area within it. I even have some tips and tricks to creating a modern and stylish laundry room space in your garage! First of all, take a look at our inspiration board below:

View credits for the images by clicking on this image

Here are some of my ideas on how to make your garage into a laundry room:

  1. Multi-functional organization – what I mean by this is to create an area that can serve multiple purposes such as having a countertop on top of your washer and dryer so that when you have extra space for folding, washing, etc.
Click this image to shop my inspiration board

2. Positioning – place your washer and dryer in a place that will not only be functional when it’s used but also when it’s not in use. Will you stack your washer and dryer or have them placed side-by-side? Do you want them tucked away or out in the open? Think how and where your doors open up and close. You want to make sure that you don’t place your washer/dryer where you’ll need to move, close, or open something else in order to use it.

3. Design & style – if you choose to keep some of your washing products on display, make them pretty! Here’s a list of beautiful laundry room ideas on Amazon!

4. Display when not in use – It’s important to think about what else you’ll be using your garage for. If you’re storing a car in your garage, you probably don’t need to worry too much (or at all) about hiding your washer and dryer when it’s not in use. But, if you’re using your garage as a hang out room (or a brewery/movie theater like us), you might want to consider covering them up. This should play into the design and style! Check out the ideas below that I have found for covering up a washer and dryer that are actually cute!

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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Master Bedroom Inspiration

I am so excited to share our master bedroom inspiration for our new house! If you’re new here, welcome! My husband, Robbie, and I are building our very first home together. You can read about our experience so far and see more of our home inspiration here. To see where you can buy similar (or the same) products that are featured in all of my home inspiration posts as well as all credits on images, head to my inspiration shop here. View and purchase ALL of my Amazon home decor inspiration and ideas here!

When you think of your master bedroom what kind of feeling does it give you? To me, I want to think of our master bedroom as a clean, organized, and clutter free space to relax. We have decided (not just in this home but all of the homes we have lived in together), to not have TV in our bedroom. Check out our inspiration board below.

We want to create a relaxing place for us to enjoy in the evenings and sleep in on the weekends. We’re lucky because we get to have an ensuite and walk in closet! I am excited about adding in all of our own little touches like his and her towel hangers and of course a shower stool!

Some ideas we have for our room is painting the back wall a sage/spanish green color and maybe even adding a linear wood element to the wall. Do you think we should keep it white, paint it green, or paint it green and add the wood element pictured below?

We’re keeping our existing bedroom furniture which is large and wood. However, we are unsure if we will have the space to put the matching tall dresser! I have never had a walk in wardrobe so I need organization ideas! What have you done to save you time and space?!

Although the room is quite simple, we’re looking forward to having big, glass sliding doors that lead onto our large deck! Robbie mentioned adding a bench seat to the right hand side of the deck (at the end).

One thing that I miss about our old rental home, is that the master bedroom had a ceiling fan! It’s definitely on our to-buy list. I am thinking of getting a wood and black fan like pictured in our master bedroom inspiration board.

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

 

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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Backyard Inspiration

We’re about four and a half weeks into our new home build! If you’re new here: Hi, I’m Mary! My husband Robbie and I are building a new home in New Zealand. For each room in the house, I am posting my inspiration board. Once the home is complete, I will be sharing the inspiration vs. the real thing. I am posting more current updates directly on my Instagram so you can see progress pictures!

See that little patch of grass in the back left corner of the above image? That’s part of our backyard! It’s hard to tell how big it is when I’m so far away. Even the home looks tiny!

One thing that was a must-have for us when we were searching for our home, was a backyard! We wanted something that we could use to host BBQ’s, lounge in the sun, have a garden, and have a dog. We knew that building a home, we would get less land but we still didn’t want to settle on a yard. Luckily, because of the shape of our land, we get the best of both worlds – a three bedroom, two bathroom brand new home with a backyard.

For those that don’t know much (or anything) about purchasing a land and home package: you’re given a home design and a piece of land for one price. But, you’re welcome to make changes as long as it doesn’t affect the outer walls (basically, you can’t make the home larger or reposition the home). You can do things like: upgrade materials, change inner walls, choose your paint colors, change doors and windows, add in heating, raise your roof, eliminate things you don’t want, and more. I won’t spoil all of our changes just yet!

You can take a look at where I got my inspiration and how to create all of my home inspiration looks here! I have even included a few extra items that I love for backyards. You can also check out my full Amazon home decor list here.

One thing that we decided to get rid of was landscaping. Landscaping was a huge cost (I think it was $4k) that we felt wasn’t necessary. With my father-in-laws tools we could spread our own grass seed and with my love for gardening, I could pick out and plant my own plants. In fact, we already have a lemon and lime tree and plenty of other vegetables for a veggie garden. We want to grow as many veggies as possible!

We also got rid of the concrete surrounding the home (on the side of the home and in the backyard which was a concrete deck). Again, this saved us a few thousand dollars. Instead, I wanted stepping stones on the side of the house and we want composite decking for the backyard. Composite decking is wood fiber, plastic, and some type of binding agent. It’s extremely durable and long-lasting. It will give us that wood effect but won’t warp in the rain.

I love coming up with vision boards because it helps me picture everything and how it’ll all come together. You might notice that my vision board has an image of a folding window. That’s one addition that we made to our home to really make it ours. This will be perfect for our wrap around deck. It will create a sense of flow within the dining room towards the BBQ area.

Don’t forget to shop these looks and all of my home decor inspiration blogs here.

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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How do I Get The Musty Smell Out of Clothes?

It’s winter here in New Zealand and if you know anything about New Zealand, besides that it’s beautiful, you might know that it gets very wet in the winter! Not to mention that most homes aren’t properly fitted for wet weather (leaky roofs, single glazed windows, and improper insulation).

One issue that we’ve been having lately is that our wash ends up smelling musty or moldy. This can even be due to leaving laundry in the washer for too long and forgetting about it or even forgetting about it in your dryer when it’s not completely dried (I can’t be the only one, right?).

I tried a few different ways of getting out the smell but nothing seemed to be working until….

I made a magic musty smell removing potion! Aka white vinegar, baking soda, laundry detergent and fabric softener (optional). Find a list of my favorite cleaning products and tools here.

To read more about my recipes and why I create them the way I do (without specific measurements, times, and temperatures) check out this blog post

Here’s the “recipe” for removing the musty smell out of your clothes:

How to get rid of the musty smell in clothes

Keyword: cleaning, cleansing, clothes, eco-friendly, laundry

Materials

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Detergent
  • Fabric softener (optional)
  • Essential oils (lavender or lemon are good options) (optional)

Instructions

  • Add your musty clothes to the washer.
  • Sprinkle baking on top of laundry in the wash. Add a few drops of oils to your baking soda if you choose.
  • Turn your washer to warm or hot water and fill accordingly.
  • Add in your laundry detergent and softener as you normally would.
  • Once your wash is done, put in the dryer immediately.

EXTRA TIP: Use the highest heat setting possible as it helps to kill the mold spores. We used medium water heat but then dried our clothes as well.

Other things you can try (especially if you don’t have a dryer):

🧺 Leave your laundry hanging up outside even if it’s cold as long as there’s some sun and it’s not wet outside. 

🧺 Place laundry in front of your heater/heat pump

🧺 Stop forgetting it in your washer (talking to myself here) – on a serious note, if you have this same “issue” try setting a reminder on your phone that you can easily switch on when you start your wash. 

🧺 Place a jar with baking soda and your favorite essential oils in your closet. The baking soda will remove nasty odors and the essential oils make the room/closet smell good!

What do you do when your clothes get musty? If you try any of these tips or tricks or come up with your own, please tag me on Facebook and/or Instagram (@its.mary.taylor) so I can see too! I would love to stay connected.

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there! Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest and save your favorite tips, tricks, and recipes.

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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Eco-friendly Home Swaps

Did you know that having an eco-friendly home can actually be easy? You might think of eco-friendly as more expensive or even more difficult but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some really easy and inexpensive eco-friendly swaps that you can do at home:

Swap out your paper towels for unpaper towels. Unpaper towels are just as they sound. There are so many ways to do this depending on your budget. The most favorite (but also most expensive) option would be to purpose pre-cut and pre-rolled unpaper towels (find here). But if you’re like me and can’t afford (or don’t want to spend) $x/paper towel, there are a few other options. These paper towels are actually recycled bamboo. They last a super long time and they’re easily rinsable with just soap and water in your sink. I love these because they look like real paper towels and they don’t need to go in the washing machine. My last suggestion if you want to use unpaper towels is to make your own. You can learn how to make your own here. Plus bonus tips on other things we use instead of paper products.

Flannelette blankets for DIY unpaper towels
Link to bamboo unpaper towels
Cheap reusable shop towels

Now that you’ve gotten rid of paper towels you should also replace napkins. You can find cheap and beautiful reusable napkins online. Then, just throw them in the wash with your other items. 

Cleaning products in plastic containers. Although you might be buying the eco-friendly cleaning sprays and cleaning products, they’re still usually in a plastic bottle. To save money and reduce waste (like throwing away the plastic bottles afterwards), you can make your own cleaning products and store them in glass containers. You’ll still need to purchase the ingredients to make the cleaning products but try to buy in bulk, refill your own containers at a bulk store, or buy powders in recycled cardboard boxes. Check out this blog for a DIY all-purpose citrus spray cleaner. See and click on the images below to check out a couple of great glass container options. 

Link to glass containers
Link to container pictured (great for laundry powder)

Straws! You definitely have seen this one before but I thought I would just throw it in anyways. Ditch the plastic and even paper straws and purchase reusable metal straws. You can find some here.

Going out to eat and usually bring home leftovers? Don’t forget to bring your glass watertight container to put your leftovers in. This way you don’t need to rely on the restaurant to provide a throwaway container that might not be recyclable.

Link to glass food containers

Buy in bulk & use your own containers! This doesn’t just go for cleaning products but also your food! Did you know that bulk stores often allow you to bring in your own containers such as jam jars? If you don’t have any reusable glass jars on hand or want an upgrace, check out a few of my favorite eco-friendly glass container options here.

Say bye-bye to ziplock bags! These reusable ziplocks are my FAVORITE swap of all! I used to try to wash and reuse regular ziplocks (because I hated the thought of throwing them away after one use) but they never dried and were such a hassle. Plus, they never looked clean. Now I have several sets of different reusable ziplocks! For clear, regular looking ziplocks click here. For watertight, large, silicon ziplocks check these out.

Glad wrap or sad wrap? Glad wrap, plastic wrap, or cling film. However you want to say it, it’s a huge waste of plastic and can easily be replaced with beeswax wraps. Once you’re done using them, just give them a rinse and use again. Check out these gorgeous designs.

Link to silicon ziplock bags
Link to beeswax wraps
Link to bag pictured

Baking paper ➡️ baking silicon! We use this tray liner that can be reused again and again. Nothing ever sticks to it so it’s a great replacement for baking paper or tinfoil.

Skip the plastic toys, decor, and household items! Although most of these items aren’t one time use plastics (like takeaway containers and straws are), they’re still contributing to the pass amount of plastic production and waste in the world. Opt for wood items such as toys, toothbrushes, hooks, hangers, 

Check out these inspirational home images below and click on any of them (or click here) to see my shopping list of eco-friendly home items.

Link to Eco-Home Purchases
Link to Eco-Home Purchases
Link to Eco-Home Purchases

Do you have any other eco-friendly swap ideas for us? Tag me in your eco-friendly home inspiration on Instagram @its.mary.taylor and on Facebook here. I can’t wait to see how you use these ideas and your own ideas to create your eco-friendly, green home!

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

Learn how to make

DIY Natural All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

While we lived with grandparents (and parents), I kept thinking about the day we would finally be in our own place so I could start living as eco-friendly as possible. One thing about being an adult is getting excited for weird things like organization and DIY cleaning products. Surely I am not alone! There’s just something special about an eco home. In our rental, we tried our best (only produced 7 bags of trash a year and used “eco-friendly” products) but I wanted to take it the next step. This meant no paper towels, no tissues, no makeup wipes, and no more purchasing cleaning products that I could make (which is pretty much all of them)!

As an Amazon associate, I may earn from your purchases through my links; however, it doesn’t affect how much you pay and I cannot see who makes a purchase.

So the journey really began. I stocked up on glass bottles, which if you’re US based, you can purchase here. And I set out to make my own DIY natural all-purpose cleansing spray with what I had at home. You’re going to be shocked at how easy this recipe is.

Here’s what you need to make your own DIY citrus cleaning spray:

✧ Glass Jar With Lid – buy here

✧ Citrus Peels (we used lemon & orange) *tip below

✧ White Vinegar – buy here

✧ Spray Bottle – buy here

✧ Strainer

✧ Purified Water (optional)

✧ Essential oils (optional)

And here’s what you do with all that:

✧ Put your citrus peels in your glass jar

✧ Fill the jar with vinegar to cover the peels 

✧ Put the jar lid on & shake

✧ Let sit for up to 7 days (minimum 3 days) in a cool, dark place – Shake the jar every day if you remember

✧ Strain the vinegar into your spray bottle

✧ Toss out the peels (or even better, put them in your insinkerator/garbage disposal to clean the inside of your sink & freshen it up)

✧ Optional: add in water to fill your spray bottle or if your vinegar is too strong you can add water

✧ Store in a cool, dark place and use on everywhere from your kitchen to your bathroom

** Extra tip… Enjoy the fruit first! To create even less waste, make this from orange and lemon peels you would have otherwise just thrown away. 

 

If you learned something new and enjoyed this blog, don’t forget to like me on Facebook and follow me on Instagram. I would love to see your homemade DIY cleaning sprays you make so tag me so I can reshare!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor

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Pantry Inspiration

Being an adult can get weird sometimes right? To be honest, one of the things that I was (and am) most excited about for our new house is our pantry organization. Don’t worry, I totally know how weird it sounds.

I am going to dive right into my first home inspiration blog post since I released our home building process blog last week.

If you haven’t seen on Instagram, we actually recently moved into a temporary apartment until our home is built. So, we got to dive into pantry organization before our new house – granted, this apartment has NO storage so it doesn’t quite feel (or look) the same that I want it to. But, I know it will some day! 

To see where you can buy similar (or the same) products that are featured in all of my home inspiration posts as well as all credits on images, head to my inspiration shop here.

What’s your favorite room in the house? Are you like me and the kitchen is your favorite spot? It’s probably because I love cooking, hence why I share recipes on the blog! When we finally decided we were going to build a house, I was super excited about all the things I could do in the kitchen. Given that our home won’t actually be THAT big and definitely lacks some storage space, I want to make sure we have amazing organization and a place for everything.  

Check out my inspiration board and ideas and let me know what you think! What does your kitchen organization look like? I’d love to see your before and afters – especially if this blog helped you to find some tips, tricks, or a company that you now love! Check below for tips on making your kitchen pantry organized, beautiful, and maximized. 

My number one tip for organizing your pantry is having designated, labeled baskets. This will help you sort items so they’re easy to find. It also reduces the look of clutter!

One thing we recently did was have a basket for opened “snacks” (chips, candy, nuts, etc) and one for unopened snacks. This not only helps us stay organized but also helps us reduce waste and buy less. If our opened snacks box is full, we should not be opening up more snacks!

My next suggestion is to have stackable containers so that you can maximize your space – especially if you have small cabinets or cupboards. If possible, purchase matching containers and stick to a theme (color, material, and style) to create consistency and elegance.

If you have deep corners or deep shelves, think about getting a lazy susan for inside your pantry. This not only helps with cleaning (because you can easily wipe, wash, or remove the lazy susan) but also helps you to be able to see everything without removing what’s in front. This is particularly handy for tall items such as sauces, oils, and vingers. 

These few tips will help you take your current pantry from unorganized, sloppy, and difficult to utilize to clean, professional, and usable. 

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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A Review of Our Home Building Experience so Far

My first post about buying and building our home is going to be all about the process so far (or at least some of it). Let’s face it, I have been putting it off because that’s kind of the boring and stressful part (unless you’re new to building as well – then, it would actually be really useful). It was supposed to be fun but I will preface this by saying it most definitely has not been fun the last 10+ months.

About a year and a half ago we decided we wanted to buy a home so that when our rental agreement expired, we could move into our own house! It would have been perfect timing since our wedding (which you can read about here) and month away in California was going to be the month after we moved out. We searched for months but didn’t come across anything that was the right fit. If you’ve bought a home before or you’re currently looking, you know when you see something that’s “perfect” but then it already has offers on it or it’s the  right house but it needs to be moved in right away and you can’t do that yet? There’s a fine line between planning ahead and looking too early. If you’re in the same situation we were in, don’t worry! It’s not just you – it’s actually really common. Like many other things in life, timing is everything but it doesn’t always work out as you might hope.

One day while looking for homes online, I saw the option for a land and home package. It was a bit more than our budget at the time but it was exactly what we were looking for – three bedroom, two bathroom home in a good neighborhood. I got in touch with the company and found out that that particular home wasn’t available anymore but they had similar homes in the same area.

When you buy a land and home package, at least with the company we went with, you get one week to decide if you want to move forward with it before it moves onto the next person/people. The problem was, it was the last home available and had people who were interested in it. They had a few days remaining to give their answer and we were next on the list (with a whole list behind us who wanted the property). To our surprise, they didn’t respond so the home got defaulted to us. In that first week we weighed up all our options, talked about specifications, viewed their showhomes again, and spoke with the developer. We finally made our decision. We were buying land and building a home!

I should note before we get into too much that we are extremely lucky to have found a land and build project in the area we did for the price we did. Our builders subdivided three pieces of land to create four pieces instead. Meaning each of us get our land and home package for cheaper. So although our neighbors have bigger properties and homes, we still get to live in the same neighborhood for less! Thank goodness because it was the only way we would have been able to afford it!

Everything felt like it was aligning well. A brand new home, only slightly more expensive but comes with more guarantees and warranties, in an amazing area with a brand new school, customized to fit our lifestyle, and so much more. Although it wouldn’t be done by August 2019, it was supposed to be done by January 2020 which meant our month in California we didn’t need to pay rent and when we returned home from our wedding we would have to/be able to live with grandparents until January. As March moved into April and so forth, we were starting to hear that my mom and step-dad wanted to come visit us in summer 2020 (which is January/February/March). We talked with our building company and they said the home would be done in March at the latest. We shifted our thinking and planned to be all moved in by March 2020. A few more months for our “dream” home… we could do it! Everything was signed, finalized, and major deposits made in August before we headed to Cali for our wedding. They said they might even start building while we are away (which is why they said we needed to get everything done before we left). We had both been traveling around the world for a few years so settling into somewhere we could call our own meant the world to us. This was the home that we pictured having our first child in, bringing a dog home to, and really, officially, settling into New Zealand.

Now come October is when things began to get tricky. Less communication from the building company, lots of money (and time, hope, excitement) invested at this point, and nothing but a contract (which we didn’t quite understand to the extent we thought we did) to show for everything. We still hadn’t been able to purchase the land due to the title being held up in council (because remember how I said that they split the original land? That meant that our land didn’t even have a title yet!). 

Fast forward a few more months of disappointment and little to no answers, it was time to make our decision regarding our sunset clause. “Simply put, a sunset clause stipulates the date by which the sun sets on the agreement allowing the property contract to be voided and the deposit be returned to the buyer.  It is commonly inserted into agreements over properties that are not yet capable of being conveyed – i.e. in the absence of a title (new development or subdivision),” (https://www.apia.org.nz/apia-blog/what-is-a-sunset-clause). We couldn’t find, remember, or get in contact with anyone to let us know when that date was. Until our lawyer called up and said something like, “Today is your sunset date. You have 24 hours to decide if you’d like to keep the home or pull out of the contract and receive some of your money back.”

That 24 – 48 hours were some of the worst hours of our lives. How do you make that big of a decision – something you’ve spent almost the last year designing, hoping for, and getting excited for – without knowing anything exactly? No one could tell us how much of our deposit we would get back or if we waited (extended the sunset clause) when title would come out. Dates were being flung around on when we would move in but changed each time we had a call with our builders. How do estimates change by months in a matter of a week?

Ultimately we couldn’t make a decision that huge without any real information so we decided to allow the sunset clause to be extended. There’s a few big parts missing from the story but given that it’s just additional heartbreak and frustration, I will leave it out for now. Long story short, we extended the sunset clause. Luckily, right before Christmas break, title came out. We thought, “Finally! Things will start to progress!” But right when you think the building process is going to start to look up from here, it smacks you back down.

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We officially received title in mid-January (2020) and we were meant to be able to start building, “Right away!” However, consent was filed incorrectly (i.e was missing information) from the building company and here we are the middle of May still without consent and unable to build. We are hoping that consent will be approved within the next week (although it’s already at least a week late…go figure).

Anyways, thanks to those that have stuck around to read this and those that have offered their love and support (and even their homes). It has been a really long, tough, and unfortunate journey. We continue to search for hope and try to make other aspects of the process fun whenever possible (right now that means creating vision boards and designing spaces virtually – see above). You can check out my home inspiration shop to see where to purchase items from my inspiration boards and see where the images came from within the boards themselves. Look out for more blogs about inspiration, where we are at now, etc.

I’m always looking to connect with local New Zealand businesses who specialize in home decor, eco-friendly products, or organizational products, I would love to follow them on Instagram! If you know of anyone that fits that description or something similar, feel free to reach out and mention them in this Instagram post

To read about where we are at now search the building tag here to see the latest blogs about our building process!

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3