House Beautiful

California, here I come!

When people go through major life changing events, they usually do things like repaint the living room.  Take a tropical vacation. Chop their hair off… (oh wait, I did that).  But then I also quit my job and went all Under the Tuscan Sun and decided to move to Cali.  Cause why the hay not?

Here’s the thing:  Big scary life changes force you to re-evaluate what makes you happy and ask yourself what you’re really doing with your life.  Big scary life changes also help you grow a pair.  I had a highly coveted, cream-of-the-crop medical sales job that was next to impossible to get.  I worked with the kind of people who feel like your oldest friends after you’ve known them for 5 minutes.  It was a great gig that was feeding my bank account, but not feeding my soul.  Because there was always a lot of this stuff floating around in the back of my mind:

…all of which were amplified by Karrie shouting those poignant quotes into a megaphone next to my ear on a daily basis.  Because right after my “Boycott Tuna, Save the Dolphins” aspiring marine biologist phase passed in the 5th grade, I knew I wanted to be an Interior Designer when I grew up.  I didn’t even really know what that meant… but apparently in high school, it meant Care Bear sheets and bedroom walls wallpapered in magazine clippings.  So hot.

But seriously, here’s what I *did* know: I knew someone’s home was an artful extension of who they are as a person…  Of all the things they love, and all the places they’ve been.  I always understood – even as a tween in braces – that your surroundings have a profound effect on your psyche.  They can either inspire you or bog you down. They can soothe you, invigorate you, or make you nuts.  They can evoke melancholy, or they can envelop you in all things warm and inviting.  I always wanted to be the person who got to create the sort of haven for people that evoked the latter.  But then life took over (as it often does), and by the time I blinked, I was 32.  In a job I was lucky to have, but did not love.  I found myself envying the people who were getting to do what I’d always wanted to do. I found myself spending all my spare time refinishing furniture, agonizing over fabric swatches, repainting the powder room and helping friends redo their houses.  It took ONE serendipitous email from an up-and-coming designer in San Diego and ONE football-field-sized rug being pulled out from under me to tip the scales and prompt me to decide that – BANG – it was time to make a big change.  So… holy $#*+.  Fire up the U-Haul.  Here we go.

Today is bittersweet, because while I love a fresh start and a great adventure (!) I’m also leaving behind a life and a person that I love more than anything.  I will miss having my family so close by, and I will miss my girlfriends in Columbus terribly.  I will miss the cherry tomatoes that grow wild alongside our house in August… that even push their way up through the cracks in the driveway.  I will miss this picturesque, quintessentially Midwestern neighborhood full of shady trees and waving neighbors. I will miss this beautiful house that we became a family in, and where we hosted almost every holiday… these walls were always filled with laughter, warmth, hope, and so much love.  I will miss leaves crunching under my feet in the fall, the smell of bonfires, and football season.  I will miss the garden that we built last Spring, and the jungle of basil I used to make pesto out of in the summertime. And, my God. I will miss him every day.

But maybe Dan in Real Life said it best:

I want to talk to you about the subject of plans… life plans and how we all make them, and how we hope that our kids make good, smart, safe plans of their own. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, most of our plans don’t work out as we’d hoped. So instead of asking our young people, ‘What are your plans? What do you plan to do with your life?’, maybe we should tell them this: Plan to be surprised.”

Columbus… it’s been real.  California… here I come.

(Get in, Gus!)


30 Responses to “California, here I come!”

  • YES! I am so very proud of you and your journey thus far but definitely the journey you are about to take. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds for you, and I am so happy to see that you have already adopted a California-state-of-mind. 🙂 You are inspiring ME! Out of adversity does come great things, but only for those who lose the “oh poor me” victim mindset and see the forest for the trees. You’ve done that with such grace, precision, and speed – so girl, nothing can stop you (and GUS) now! Knock ’em dead!!! xo

  • I am so incredibly happy for you! Go do what you love, take a few deep breaths, and keep moving forward. It takes an unbelievable amount of courage to do what you’re doing. Good luck and enjoy the most perfect weather on Earth. 🙂

  • Exhale. I’m bawling at work. Mainly because your strength…and balls are so inspiring. xoxo

  • The courage to follow your dreams is awe-inspiring. To do it with a broken heart, is breathtaking. I love you girl. Success is the best revenge. xo

  • Hi Steph, I know we only met a few times at Helios but I’ve been following Covet Living for awhile and want you to know that I love your writing style, design talent and honesty!! Wishing you the very best in this new adventure – and have you thought about starting your own personal blog?? Because it would be awesome 🙂

  • Best of luck Steph! I’m also stealing that quote.

  • Steph, you are a beautiful soul! I see myself in your story…thanks for sharing! Ca is a great place to be. 🙂

  • What a courageous leap of faith. So happy for you that you are following your bliss! You are doing what so many wished they would have but didn’t have the guts to do. Proud of you. I love to watch you and cheer you on from the sidelines… You are going to kick San Diego’s a$$!!!!

  • I randomly watched Pretty Woman a couple of days ago and when I heard the opening line “What’s yo dream?” your beautiful,sunshiny face floated up to my mind.

    Get it girl.
    And Godspeed.

  • At my nephew’s hs graduation, the Bd of Ed pres told the students: “Follow your passion — not the paycheck.” I applaud your courage as you take one giant step toward your dream fulfilled. Taking a page from your book and reviewing what fuels my own soul. You are my new life change guru. Brava!

  • I envy your courage, your kahunas, and your honesty! You are one of my true life heros girl! San Diego~the best city in the US~I adore it, (so close to La Jolla~road trip Jaynie!) and Coranado, oh how I would love to walk on that beach right now! (Gus is going to dig some dog parks in the sun!) Now is your time Steph, go live your passion!! And season changes can be obtained via one round trip ticket to visit in October! 😉 Love you!!

  • I know this is a very bittersweet and exciting time for you – I know your Indiana/Ohio family will truly miss having you around all the time but I also DEEPLY understand this pull, passion and longing to see what’s possible because 7.5 years ago I left Michigan with a similar uncertainty and excitement. ARD is really looking forward to having you here! I know you will be so incredibly great in this field and I cannot wait to show you the ropes! Oh what an adventure is to come – I for one am THRILLED! Safe journeys Steph and remember please call me for anything! I am here to help in anyway!

  • I admire your bravery, traveling down a new path and pursuing your design dream. You will be amazing and successful! I believe with my whole heart the excitement of a fresh endeavor, new faces and sunny picturesque Cali will do your soul good! With that being said…my whole heart will also miss you like crazy. It’s not like I got to see you weekly; even monthly, but I knew you were only a short road trip away. I have already asked Karrie, well demanded really,:)that she becomes your surrogate mother once you cross the state line…to feed you chicken noodle soup when you under-the-weather, to cheer you up when you’re sad, to introduce you to the most amazing & interesting peeps, to scratch you back and uncork a bottle of wine when you’re frazzled and offer up “mi casa, su casa” to celebrate Holidays when you can’t make it back home. Sniff, sniff…a few tears just ran down my cheeks…they’re both sweet and salty!
    All my love, all the time.

  • I think back to the trip to a fabric store we made so long ago (i think in Savannah), me with a design degree in hand, you with more creativity and talent than can be taught. I was inspired by you then and continue to be so. You are a designer already because of the visions you have, may your dreams of the career you pursue be beyond your wildest imaginations. Love to you!

    • RONI! That is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me! Thank you 🙂 And, that was such a fun trip!! I sold the chandelier but kept those glorious copper rusty wall sconces! Much love to you too, Miss Alabama. xoxo

  • Hey lady… I am so happy you decided to take the leap. When I did… and I left Charleston, I told myself… “whats the worse that can happen … I come home (to a BEAUTIFUL place to call home) yes, maybe with my tail between my legs but I just come home… ” I think that helped me a lot in my move and in the end I have come home after 5 AMAZING, unforgettable, beautiful years in San Diego and I have come home with so many gifts! I have the BEST friends out there, a world class husband and a baby on the way.

    I hope your story is wonderful too! I will say… there will be hard moments and you will be challenged. You will miss home and your family but; know that you have lots of support from a far and you will find love and support there too.

    best of luck! I will definitely message you when I come out to visit!


    I have to connect you with my friends Jen and Mia you will LOVE them. Jen works for CK and does interior design on the side and Mia is one of the most beautiful souls you will ever meet. Shoot me a text and I will give you their contacts… or I can suggest you friend each other on FB



    • Hey Carolina! Thank you so much 🙂 That’s really good advice. I do know there’ll be some bumps in the road, but it’ll be ok. I would LOVE to meet Jen and Mia!! I’ll message you on FB and grab their digits. Thanks so much honey. So excited for your little bean in the oven!!! xoxox

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