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Room to Grow

by Ashley Petrone

Thus far in our young lives, Dino and I had been protected from significant pain. We’d always felt a little like “golden children”—untouchable, with only small, manageable problems. At some level, we chalked our good fortune up to God. Bad things don’t happen to good people, do they? We were faithful, obedient Christians, after all. Why would we experience heartache? And yet we’d just lost our baby.

We learned that life is a mixture of highs and lows, some that are obvious and some that surprise us. Our miscarriage, obviously, was a deep, deep low. Welcoming two healthy little boys into our family were huge highs. Buying our first home was also a high point, for sure, especially because it gave the budding designer in me a chance to develop.

The house had wall-to-wall 1980s blue carpet, complete with stains and snags. We ripped out every inch of it and replaced it with new carpet and laminate wood flooring, which made every room look clean and bright. The rooms were painted dark, dingy colors, but a quick coat of Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter paint lightened up the whole place. Using the same color for most walls gave the whole house a more cohesive look and made the rooms feel bigger and more open.

Dino and I had so much fun learning how to budget our projects. We dabbled with a little DIY to make our dollars stretch and help it all come together. Soon we had a welcoming, cozy home that was uniquely us for a fraction of what it would have cost to pay contractors to make these updates. And we had the added satisfaction of having done it ourselves.

Dino loved that house. Being a numbers guy, he knew we’d bought at the right time. This meant he never wanted to move again. Ever. “Why would we move when we could just stay here and pay off our house at an early age?” he reasoned. I couldn’t fault his logic. We’d made the most out of what this house had to offer, and we’d stuck to our budget. I was so grateful for the roof over my head and the space for our boys to run around. But I’m a creative who loves change—and more specifically, who loves to stretch herself through home design. Which meant that Dino and the kids needed to get used to ongoing renovations.

That era in our first home turned out to be a great season of personal growth for me. I learned how to renovate a home with two little boys underfoot. I learned I didn’t need to wait for the perfect house or the perfect timing in our family’s life to find joy in everyday moments. Rather than dreaming about the next home or the next season, I was honing my design skills and learning to embrace the organized chaos of life with toddlers.

Adapted from Designed to Last: Our Journey of Building an Intentional Home, Growing in Faith, and Finding Joy in the In-Between by Ashley Petrone and Dino Petrone with September Vaudrey, from Tyndale House Publishers.


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