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What’s Happening In Waldo: The Intro

Have I got a treat for you guys. The internet brings the coolest people into your life. 5 years ago I “met” Sarah. She was a writer for Apartment Therapy and I was a very eager DIYer. We became fast friends and I adore her. She is absolutely fantastic.

Deep Breath. I’ve never had anyone else post on Vintage Revivals. This is uncharted territory for me, but I was talking to Sarah and listening to all of the crazy adventures (and misadventures) that they were having overhauling their new house and I just HAD to share it with the world. If only to make you laugh and feel better about the crazy DIY’s that you attempt.

What's Happening In Waldo


So, internet besties, I would love for you to meet Sarah and introduce you to the new series What’s Happening In Waldo!


For someone who has written professionally (and still has horrible grammar, so don’t get your hopes up) for the last decade, I found it remarkably hard to write this introduction upon Mandi’s request. First impressions are important and as much as I want to look adorable while holding paint brushes and taping off walls for paint treatments (seriously, could Mandi BE any more adorable? I think not.), that isn’t how OUR life works. So let’s dive in shall we? Hi –my name is Sarah Rae Smith and I’m in the middle of a full house rehab with my husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats and until last week, 4 kittens. We scrounge materials, make things ourselves and reinvent old items to be made new to save some cash and create a cool living space, literally from the studs up.

You see there’s “internet life” — where everything is perfect and pretty and even though the rest of your house in in shambles, this small corner of your home is perfect for a single photo and everyone ooh’s and ahh’s over it. Then there’s “real internet life” where folks admit to working on projects at midnight when kids are asleep and your significant other is occupied with Netflix (or sleep… I hear that’s a thing normal humans do) and you apologize for the dark photos only illuminated by overhead lighting and the occasional barefoot shot sneaks it’s way into your blog update. Then — then there’s our life.


Before I explain, you should know there’s some hard and fast rules I have for my life to keep me in check. First, no wearing sweatpants or spandex in public unless recreating or camping in fall. Second, no yoga pants with words like “juicy” or “pink” or “angel” on your butt. (Nobody wants to watch your cheeks bounce as you step. Jui-cy-jui-cy-jui-cy) Third, no eating of inferior ice cream or BBQ as the calories just aren’t worth it and fourth is no one can make fun of me for listening to punk rock and bad pop music on the same playlist. Simple right?

Having spent 4 years living solo in Chicago post-divorce I met an amazing man named Adrian and his 3 children and moved to Wisconsin and to a VERY small village named Waldo. Yes — as in Where’s Waldo. Yes, I’ve heard all the jokes. Yes, you can buy the t-shirt at the gas station. Yes, there are more cows in town than there are people. No seriously, there are! My entire life changed in a few short months and along with embracing the changes of a new location loaded with bratwurst and cheese, this little newlywed couple decided to renovate their entire house on a shoestring budget (wait, is there anything smaller than a shoestring?), where all my rules went promptly out the window. Every last one. I may or may not be the crazy woman in the hardware store that has so much plaster dust in her hair she looks like she was born in the 1800’s while you shield your children and tell them not to stare at my spandex and flip flops. Showers became optional, band-aids and bruises were just part of the job and I can’t even tell you when the last time I put on makeup was. Ok, confession — it was for church, but I’m pretty sure I did it while driving (don’t judge) and trying to remove drywall dust from my skirt and throwing grapes at the kids to ensure they had breakfast.


Now, most folks talk about small budgets and working within their means, but 95% of those folks are still taking out small loans or are hiring folks to do the big things themselves — but not us. Our current financial needs leave us with the inability to head to the bank when we have a project and more often than not, simply purchasing things from a big box retailer isn’t in the budget! We run our own business flipping and reselling amazing mid-century furniture all around the Midwest, and in our world, if we sales allow us an extra $50 to go buy drywall that week, we do. If we have to buy an amazing dresser set to refinish — then we don’t and projects get put on hold. When we can’t afford countertops we sand down old gym flooring, when we can’t afford a new roof we throw a huge garage sale to raise the funds, then after doing so get in a car wreck that finds us spending that hard earned cash on a downpayment for a new truck. This is real, REAL life where Murphy’s Law is breathing down your neck and yet somehow, we muster the strength and courage to make ugly things pretty again and find enough hours in a day to do our entire renovation on our own.


Do I currently have kitchen walls? No. Do I currently have windows that all function? No. Do I work with “oops paint” because it’s only $5/gallon at the hardware store and pray that I’ll find a color that won’t make me gag before I walk in? Yes. Always. I might also need to start a rehab group for ladies addicted to $5 paint. Can’t. Stop. Won’t. Stop. At the end of the day, we took the stress of a new marriage, combined it with a new business and renovating an 80 year old house while trying not to break all of our bones and still get laundry done in the process. Please note, actually putting away said laundry is COMPLETELY overrated.  I’m so excited to be able to share stories about breaking my nose while trying to install windows in tornadic weather, tearing apart box springs to salvage the wood to make lathe board for to install our roofing with, how we’ve removed 7 walls from our home, lost cats in the ceiling and kittens in the attic (did I mention my husband built me a door to the attic that involves a wench and a car battery?! FRANKENATTIC!) and the list goes on. We might not have been on a “real date” since we were married, but we have more memories than you can shake a stick at — though I don’t see what good shaking a stick at anything is going to do.


We’re always dirty, we’re not always happy (though determined to get there) and we’re always trying to do things for the least amount of money with our own two hands — which is really four hands –but I digress. Want to see what real, REAL life looks like? Stay tuned for more adventures of What’s Happening in Waldo where we’ll let you in on all the fun without the dust! 

K guys, Mandi again. Isnt she fantastic!??! I am so excited to follow along arent you!?  Do you have any questions for Sarah? If so leave them below!


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About Ashraf Akkilah

Ashraf Akkilah
Architecture and design is my passion. I'm an architect who is interested in building design and decor trends. I'm also interested in sculpture design and landscaping. I'm "outdoor" architect who love to be involved in the project site and supervise finishing and final touches works. I had contributed to many construction and decor projects.

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