Today is my favorite day of the One Room Challenge

Bathroom and Bedroom Makeover

OK.  I’m impressed.  Let me tell you why.

There is this blogger, lets call her Linda (because that’s her real name), and she has this blog named Calling it Home.   And she has this contest called the One Room Challenge.  Its where 20 or so design and DIY bloggers have 6 weeks to transform a room.

Sounds easy, right?

I learned about this little challenge during week 2.  Every 7 days the house bloggers need to provide an update as to how the project is progressing.  So, in addition to demolition, painting, DIY-ing, and decorating, they have to blog about it.  And most of them also put it up on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

That’s pretty much 2 jobs.  And most of these folks have a regular day job too.

Scroll down to see the final reveal photo from each of the bloggers.  I’ve linked to their websites so you can also see the before and during pics, too.  Most of them even link to all their sources so if you love the look, you can learn where they got it.

French Country Dining Room

  1. Boxwood Avenue – They made a French Country Inspired Dining Room – I hope they invite me over for Thanksgiving dinner because I’d love to eat a meal at that table!Coco and Jack Living Room
  2. Coco & Jack – Every. Single. Angle. of this living room is Instagram worthy!  I want this space!Preppy Bohemian with a British Colonial influence
  3. Design Manifest – made a Preppy Bohemian with a British Colonial influence.  What they did with wallpaper is simply incredible.  IBB Design
  4. IBB for DWD – They accomplished what I can never do – combine diffferent colors and styles and patterns into a cohesive room.  The House Lars Built Office
  5. The House That Lars Built – Made an office that according to my wife – nobody could ever work in because it’s too nice to mess up.  Little Green Notebook bedroom
  6. Little Green Notebook – created a bedroom with a 3 layer floor – I’m seeing more and more of that design trend lately.  Girls Room Parisian French Modern
  7. The Makerista – made a beautiful french inspired girls room that evey my 5 year old boy wants to sleep in he said.  Home office in Attic
  8. Making it Lovely – took an irregular space and chose the perfect furniture to maximize the usefulness of the area.  Kudos to them!  Fall Inspired Patio
  9. Old Brand New Took a boring outside area and converted it into a colorful fall inspired patio area.  I’d spend more time out here than in my living room if this were at my house.Old new blue kitchen
  10. Old Home Love – Tackled one of the hardest rooms to make-over, the kitchen.  Look at the amazing work they did!Basement makeover
  11. The Painted House – Created a multi room masterpiece on the lower level of their house – adding a kitchenette, music area and s0 much more!Living room with a wall of windows
  12. Megan Pflug Designs – Took an old, and tired living room and made it into a contemporary, awesome space.Updated Kitchen One room Challenge
  13. Pink Pagoda – is another one of those blogs that redid an entire Kitchen in 7 weeks.  This is one where you have to click through and see the before to compare with the afters.  Do it!  Tiny House Makeover
  14. Erica Reitman – Lives in a tiny home, and did a makeover that will literally blow your mind.  The small space seems so much bigger now!  One Room Challenge Kids Bedroom
  15. Sacramento Street – Made a kids bedroom that I want to stay in.  Board and batten in the One Room Challenge
  16. Simply Grove – They redid their living room.  Look carefully and you will see rug on rug action.  It’s officially a design trend now.  Red crown Molding
  17. Jill Sorensen – Painted the crown molding in this room red.  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.  Bathroom and Bedroom Makeover
  18. Sugar & Cloth – Not only did she make over her master bed AND bath, but she was preggers when she did.  Master bed reveal
  19. Vintage Rug Shop – Here’s another where you have to see the before and after transformation.  It’s simply amazing!  
  20. Waiting on Martha Created a comfy and cozy living room that’s ideal for entertaining with friends.

Next year, I hope Linda will consider me for one of the slots.  I already have an idea for which room I would do!

If you see anything you like, be sure to leave them a comment.  I’m sure they would appreciate it!

Real Estate Photos explained

Real Estate Zoom Lens 000812

My regular readers know that my day job is a Real Estate Agent in Austin.  Before that, I was a Biochemist in California.  But what they don’t know is that in between those two jobs, I was a wedding photographer, and I shot over 400 weddings with professional Nikon camera gear.

I know, maybe more than others, that the key to selling a house, as well as having an amazing Instagram account and house blog is to have incredible photos.

Today, I want to share a little secret that a lot of people use to make a room seem bigger.  I know there are a lot of other tricks that can be used like Photoshop, filters, and editing pictures, but this little article (with photos below) is about the camera zoom.

Zoom, or focal length is part of the lens of most cameras,

For this example I will share 5 different zooms: 12mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, & include an iPhone 6S Plus shot as well.  I’m not including a true fish-eye room shot, as I don’t have one of those lenses anymore.  Here is my exact set up.  The flash was turned off, and every photo was shot on a tripod at f8 & 1/6 se at ISO 800.

My open living and dining room is approximately 21 1/2 x 28 feet long.  I’m going to stand in one corner, and take a photo, diagonally across the room.  Every time, I’ll focus on the exact same item, and stand in exactly the same place.  I won’t change any camera settings, and I won’t do any editing or Photoshopping on the images.  I think you will be amazed by what you see.

Real Estate Lens 85mm
This shot was taken with an 85 mm lens. It feels like you are sitting on the couch watching the TV.
Real Estate Lens 50mm
Here, I used the 5omm. This is a great lens for detail shots. You can see that it includes all of the TV stand, and starts to show some of the nearby art on the wall.


Real Estate Lens 24 mm
For this photo, I used my favorite lens for Real Estate photography, the 24mm. To me, It shows great parts of a room, but not all the space.


Real Estate Lens 22 mm
Now, I’m using a zoom lens set to 22mm. It is very similar to the 24, but includes even more of the room.


Real Estate Lens 12mm
This is my widest angle lens – a 12 mm. You can see exactly how far away the TV is.



My favorite design blogs for 2018

Best Design Blogs - Image courtesy of Chris Loves Julia

Can you believe it is already November?  Last night we were out way too late with the kiddo, running from house to house collecting candy, chatting with neighbors, and enjoying all of the homes decorated for Halloween.  By the way, when did that become a thing?  Some of the houses have more lights for Halloween than they do for Christmas!

Soon we will all be sitting around the Thanksgiving Day table, and before we know it, it will be New Year’s Eve!  Did you notice I skipped a big holiday?  At this point, I don’t know if I’ll have time to get everything done, so maybe I’ll just move right past it.  Just Kidding!

I find myself spending just a tiny bit more time on Instagram and Pinterest these days – looking for inspiration, trying to find vegan Thanksgiving Recopies, and learning how I can decorate the house without making too big a mess.

Design and Lifestyle Blogs

Renovation Blogs

DIY Blogs


Interior Designer Blog


Small Space Blogs


If you are new to this house-design-DIY-renovation blogging world, these are some of the best and most prolific in the business.  If I were you, I’d follow each on Instagram, and add all their boards to your Pinterest Feed.

One thing I’d like to mention, though- I’m not a huge fan when they get into personal style – stuff like clothes, and image and looks.  You see, I’m a dude.  Married.  Kid, Dogs, House.  I don’t need to know about the latest pencil skirts or wedge sandals, or maternity tips if you know what I mean.

Images from: CLJ |  Reading my Tea Leaves | Sarah Sherman Samuel | Sugar & Cloth |Vintage Revival


Finally – who are your must visit designers Diy-ers, and Renovators?  Share them in the comments below!

How To Start A WordPress House Blog On DreamHost

Start your own House Wordpress Blog

Right now, I will show you how to easily and quickly start a WordPress blog, so yo can start blogging about your house, life, or whatever else you want!

I’ve been blogging for years, and it has changed my life!  Not only do I make money with my blog, but I have made new friends, and even gotten clients to work with me, all because I started this website and doing something that I love.  You too, can start a money-making blog for less than $2 a week.  I’ll give you a discount/promo code for Dreamhost (my hosting company), that I’ve negotiated with them which gives you the best deal possible.  You will get to pick your blogs name, and even receive a free 1-click install of WordPress, the easiest to use, and most popular blogging platform in the workd.

Click here to sign up with Dreamhost, then follow these easy directions below to start your own house blog.

If you are looking to start a WordPress blog, want to make sure you have lots of free support, and don’t want to spend a lot of money, then choosing Dreamhost for your hosting needs is your answer.  Dreamhost is a great webhost, and I’ve been using them for over 12 years (which is forever in internet time).

Blogging is so much fun!  You get to meet new people on-line, share your ideas, and learn new ones, and even have the opportunity to make money.  I personally know of several bloggers who have made ofer $100,000 a month from blogging and blogging related services.  This may seem like a crazy number, but if you consider paid posts, affiliate links, and advertising, it isn’t that hard to imagine.

Because of blogging, I am able to work from home when I want, I can take my family on vacations or travelling whenever I want, and I have a 100% flexible schedule.  I love my life, and can’t believe how much it has changed for the good, all because I started blogging on a regular basis.

You don’t need special skills.  Anyone can make money with a WordPress blog.  I was able to make the money back that I paid for hosting very quickly, once I installed adsense on my site, and I’m sure you will be able to make your money back quickly as well using the same techniques.

Dreamhost is consistently one of the TOP rated web hosting companies year after year, and you can start your own blog with them from as little as $7.95 per month (using my special link only!).  Plus if you sign up with my link and purchase a 12 month or longer hosting plan you can save even more.  I hightly reccomend signing up for the year plan through Dreamhost.  It’s affordable and can save you a lot of money in the long run.  If you want to save even more, and get a better deal, the 36-month plan gives you the absolute best possible rate.

[convertkit form=5090581]

Don’t make the mistake of starting a blog on Blogger just to save a little bit of money.  There are many limitations when you have a free blog, including not being able to have any advertisiers or make any money from it.  Using one of the free services is a really bad idea, and it is super hard to change over once you have started with a different company.

If you have any interest in making money from blogging, turning it into a business, or becoming a freelancer, use Dreamhost to host your blog.  It’s cheaper in the long run, and you get world class support plus 100% guaranteed uptime (this is important so when someone comes to your site, they know it will be there).  When you use Dreamhost, you can run any of your own affiliate links, direct advertisements, and even sponsored posts.  Most of these are not allowed with the free blogging services.  Using WordPress on Dreamhost is professional, easy, and the industry standard.

Why do I use Dreamhost?  I’ve got lots of reasons, here are some just a few:

  • Super easy to use.  Even YOU can quickly and easily create a WordPress blog with just one click using my tutorial below.  DreamHost makes it super easy so create a WordPress blog.
  • The BEST technical support in the business
  • 100% guaranteed uptime
  • VERY affordable – You can have a blog of your own for just $2 a week (less than a Starbucks).
  • You can pick any name you want for your Blog.
  • Dreamhost offers dozens of free templates for you to use for your WordPress Blog
  • Jetpack is included – get stats, security, and contact features for free!
  • WordPress offers a money back guarantee!
  • You can monetize your blog – get advertisers, affiliates, and sponsored posts!
  • Be OFFICIAL – look professional, and make this business a success!

To get stated, head on over to DreamHost to begin.  There are tons of different web hosting comapnies, but Dreamhost is always rated one of the best.  This is the reason so many bloggers use DreamHost.

After you have signed up for hosting, I’ve got all the steps you need to do to start a blog on WordPress.  The simple steps are listed below.  If, at any time, you have any questions about the process, you can always send me an email and I can help you out.  That’s the best part about bloggers, we have a community and all love to help each other succeed!

Some popular blogs that use WordPress

Click here to Start YOUR Blog on DreamHost


100 Blogs about Austin

100 Blogs about Austin

There are a TON of great blogs in and about Austin.  For several weeks now I’ve been compiling a list of as many as I could find about all sorts of topics here in Austin and Central Texas.  Here are a bunch of blogs about Austin

Click to Tweet 100 blogs about Austin

Today I heard one of the oddest lines I’ve ever heard while helping someone move to Austin.  “I’m moving to Austin without a Job”.  This guy was going to start a blog, and make a go here.

It caused me to stop and think for a few minutes.

Anyone can start a blog.  For free.  But to make a truly great blog takes some work.

Work like these people have done.

Here is my list of the 100 greatest Austin Blogs.  Ordered alphabetically because I don’t know of any other way.  Most are updated daily or at least several times per week, and all are worth checking out. Now, just because your blog or your favorite blog isn’t on this list, it’s not because I don’t like you.  I just don’t know about you!  So be sure to provide suggestions in the comments below and I’ll add it!

Big World Small Girl – An Austin blogger with a focus on the craft beer scene in this community.

#When in Austin – Humor about Austin news

365 Things to Do – Austin events

A Taste Of Koko – Inspiring the inner chef in you through daily recipes, cooking/baking tips, how-tos, restaurant spotlights, product reviews, and giveaways.

Adored Austin – Family Life and Style in the Heart of Texas

Amber Demure – Cartoons and sketches with a humorous slant.

Amy in Austin – Lifestyle blog

An Avenue – An Avenue is an ongoing ‘craft culture’ discussion from the perspective of one Beer-a-Day in Austin, TX.

Aneelee – Vegetarian meal plans, recipes and stories about food in the day-to-day life of our family of three in Austin, TX

ATX Gossip – Austin celebrity gossip

ATX Street Style – Austin street style photography

ATXGlutenFree – Gluten-free news and recipes

Austin Bloggy Limits – Austin Music Blog

Austin Contrarian – Chris Bradford on economics, zoning and Austin, Texas.

Austin Culture Map – CultureMap will keep you plugged in, enlightened and entertained about culturally relevant news and information in Austin.

Austin Eavesdropper – I write about the creative culture of Austin and tell stories about my life.

Austin Gastronomist – Includes original recipes, restaurant reviews, and stories that explore Austin’s culinary culture.

Austin is Burning – Austin fashion news

Austin ModHouse – Living in MCM-Inspired Home We Built in West Lake Hills (Austin), Texas

Austin Moms Blog – Passionate about our community and the moms who live here.

Austin Slave to Fashion – Austin style and fashion blog

Austin Startup – News, Jobs, Events, Resources

Austin Technology Law Blog – Texas Technology Lawyers

Austin Town Hall – Promoting local musicians and more

Austinot – Austin news and interviews

Bonnie Berry – This is a place where I share both my professional and personal photographs as well as my thoughts and words.

Brady Bunch Remodel – For going on the past three years we’ve been remodeling a cool 1970′s house we purchased together in South Austin. We have a lot going on! But, we’re really, really happy.

Camile Styles – My passion is to bring creativity, inspiration and stress-free style to our readers around the globe.

Casa Weenie – Austin Cartoons

CoolinAustin – Austin events

Covert Curiosity – Austin Music scene

The Custom Home Blog – Luxury Home News & Information

Digging – I garden in Sunny Austin TX, Zone 8b

Downtown Austin Blog – Downtown Austin and Neighborhood Blog

Eastside Vibe – Austin, Texas: The Live Music Capital of the World.

Eater Austin – Eater is the source for people who care about dining and drinking

Edible Aria – This a journal describing my efforts to eat a healthy, interesting diet on a reasonable budget. The focus here is primarily on sustainable, fresh whole foods.

Epicuriosities – Building Friendships and Community through Culinary Adventures

Fete & Feast – Food Blogger’s Guide to Austin

Film School Rejects – All the latest movie news, movie trailers, reviews and commentary.

Fly Fish Chick – Women’s lifestyle and fly fishing blog!

Food Good Laundry Bad – I’m a stay-at-home Mom of three, shacked up in the country in Central Texas staying sane through this blog.

Foodie is the New Forty – Seeking out the delicious side of life

Free Fun in Austin – Local Adventures for Families

Geek Austin – One of the oldest tech blogs in Austin

Genie in a Blog – Writer, artist, wife, mother, cook, maid, bookkeeper…all around genie in a bottle, except you only get one wish, and it has to be reasonable.

Girl Eats World – Follow Linda’s journey in her efforts to eat the world. Restaurant reviews, recipes, food thoughts, food memories. A food way of life.

Greening Austin Daily – Greening Austin Daily is an environmental blog with everyday tips and info on being green in Austin.

Hilah Cooking – I create short-form, educational, and occasionally hilarious cooking videos geared towards beginner and intermediate cooks, as well as people who are just looking for simple, low-cost recipes. Everything is made from scratch, people!

I Love Beer – Drinking beer in a great city, Austin, TX.

In Her Stilettos – Austin and NYC Style Blog

In the Pink – Political Blog

Japanese Trash – Masculine Design

Josh Dilworth – Personal Austin Tech blog

Keep Austin Stylish – Fashion news from Austin

Keep it Complicated – I’m a writer, author, blogger and I parent four kids under 11 in my spare time. We are madly in love with our new city…Austin, Texas.

Live Mom – We are a local bunch of mamas who have come together, mostly sane, to bring you many resources that will build a better village.

Lonely Gourmet – Lonely Gourmet was created as a result of Laurie’s being sick and tired of eating out, eating fast food and frozen food.

LoveScience – Research based Relationship advice

Mad Betty – Austin life and pop culture blog

Mad for Mid Century – Mid century living in Austin

Man Up Texas BBQ – Texas BBQ.

Micro Famous – Ink slinger, red pen wielder, TV watcher, shower singer, fist fighter, habitual smirker. Ruminative. Loves words that end in -ola. Lives in Austin, TX.

Modern Austin – Modern houses and design in Austin Tx

Oh Hey, What’s Up? – Austin Lifestyle blog

Ovrld – Whether you’re an Austinite looking for a cool concert this weekend, or you’ve never been to the music capital of the world but want to get the latest on what’s happening here, we are here for you.

Party Ends – Austin Music scene

Pink Kisses – We’re like a mechanic for a broken heart. We’re a smart and thoughtful community built to let you know you’re not alone

Reel Snarky – Film, TV, and music news for the masses!

Return on Now – Return On Now, based in Austin, TX, provides online marketing services and reputation management for businesses and individuals.

Side One Track One – Side One Track One is a music/film blog based in Austin, Texas.

Slackerwood – Slackerwood is devoted to reporting and reviewing all aspects of Austin film.

Soccer Apologist – Soccer commentary, delivered with American snark

Some Assembly Required – Networking, Marketing, PR, Sales, Advertising, Business Development, Presentation Skills, and Social Media

Sonic Itch Music – Our goal here is to share our thoughts, ideas, and experiences as they apply to the music that we feel to be interesting and worthy of your attention.

Spike Speaks – Personal blog of writer Spike Gillespie

Sweat Ever Day – I work out and I talk about it.

Taco Journalism – In search of tacos y más in Austin, Texas.

Tasty Touring – Since July 2008, Tasty Touring has been a creative outlet for writing and photography and also to share food and drink-related recommendations and experiences in Austin and beyond.

Texas Type A Mom – Follow along on my journey through parenthood from pregnancy to toddler, product reviews (let me try before you buy), my family’s gastronomic whims, and life here in Austin, Texas.

The Austin Listening Post – News about news in Austin

The Fabulous Geezer Sisters – Austin feminism, politics and family blog)

The Simplifiers – Wedding and Event planning

The Vegan Explosion – Vegan food in Austin

Tipsy Texan – Drinking and booze and bars in central texas

Tribeza – TRIBEZA is Austin’s leading locally-owned arts and culture magazine

U Love I – Austin nightlife photos

Ultra 8201 – Music and more

What Jew Wanna Eat – Jewish recipes with a twist

Wheelchair Mommy – I am  a 30-something paralyzed, stay-at-home Mommy to 3 boys, & an amazing husband.

When in Austin – We explore Austin with our audio recorders in hand seeking out compelling stories.

You Stay Hoppy Austin – Austin Beer Blog

If you want me to check out your blog, and add it to this ever growing list, please let me know in the comments below.

Click to Tweet 100 blogs about Austin