Podcast

Episode 91 – Sarah Bullock McIntyre & Shannon Eddings, Making a House a Home

What does it mean to make a house a home? And what does it really look like to create a space that reflects the family that inhabits it? For the past two years, Sarah Bullock McIntyre (architect) and Shannon Eddings (interior designer) have been Jessica’s partners as she pursued an epic remodel of her family’s 1960s ranch-style home in Austin, TX. This project was a labor of love and collaboration between these expert guests and Jessica’s family, and today they talk about the process of renovating a house together. Enjoy this funny, honest, behind-the-scenes peek into an extreme home makeover – and learn a few practical tips for your own space, too.

Jessica: Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Going Scared podcast. This is your host Jessica Honegger, founder of the social impact fashion brand Noonday Collection. Join me here every week for conversations on living lives of purpose by leaving comfort and going scared.

Today’s episode is a highly anticipated episode. For those of you that follow along on Instagram or subscribe to my email list, you know that we have been in a 2-year process remodeling our 1960s ranch that is right here in East Austin. This project was a labor of love and collaboration.

First of all, my husband hand-built the house. I mean, he actually built the house. He majored in construction management at Purdue, and if you hand him a tool, he knows what to do with it. In fact, there was one point this summer where I walked in and my kids, along with my husband, were wiring the kitchen wiring. So, he also trained my kids along the way. But I knew in order to make this project successful, I wanted to collaborate with two really talented designers that were also moms because I believe that they could really understand the function and the beauty that I was working towards.

Shannon Eddings of Shannon Eddings Interiors is a Dallas native that was born into the business, as they say, because her mother is an interior designer. She describes her style as contemporary meets old world. And let me tell you, working with me is quite an adventure because I am so eclectic in my style. I have antiques, I have global finds from all over the world, artisan crafts, and a lot of mid-century finds. And Shannon managed to work with me to really pull together a curated home.

My architect, Sarah Bullock McIntyre, founded her residential architecture firm Sarah Bullock McIntyre Architect, in 2010. Whether a client seeks to remodel their house or build from the ground up, she’s a mom of three living in central Austin and provides a personal level of understanding on how home functions well for growing families.

Now, I know you guys just want to see the before and after photos, but we really built this conversation so that you could take away design tips and how you could use your space for good in your home. If you want to be the first to see the before and after pics, subscribe to my email list. My email list is going to be the first to receive those photos as we’re still waiting back to hear from publications that might want to publish our home. So, head on over to jessicahonegger.com or head on over to my Instagram and click on my link tree over there. All right, this is a really, really fun and insightful conversation.

OK, I am here live in my office with Sarah McIntyre and Shannon Eddings. Shannon is my interior designer. Sarah is my architect. You guys know we were in a crazy remodel process for two years now. Thank you very much, two years, and it’s finally done. I mean, minus a few little paintings that need to be hung and things that I keep texting and harassing Shannon about, but it’s done. The pictures are live for all to see. Y’all go check it out. And we wanted to talk about the journey, and we wanted to talk about how you can freshen up your home for 2020. So, Sarah, first tell us about your family and you your journey to becoming an architect.

 

Meet Sarah Bullock McIntyre and Shannon Eddings

Sarah: Sure. So, I was raised in a small town, Brenham, Texas and my grandfather was an architect in Houston. And I seem to be the only grandchild that I guess came along with him and he took me under his wing and took me to his architecture firm. My father was a residential home builder. So, I grew up around house plans. As a child, I would take graph paper, draw house plans, draw elevations. And so, literally, as a kid, I always knew this is what I wanted to do. I went to the University of Texas, got my Bachelor of Architecture degree, worked in Washington, D.C. doing remodels, renovations, moved back to Austin and kind of got a little bit more of a broader experience doing commercial, institutional, as well as residential work.

“My grandfather was an architect in Houston. And I seem to be the only grandchild that I guess came along with him and he took me under his wing and took me to his architecture firm. … And so, literally, as a kid, I always knew this is what I wanted to do.” Sarah Bullock McIntyre

And then, I had my first child. He was almost one and I realized I just couldn’t manage the schedule and be a mom and make it all work. And so, my sister was moving at the time, and I encouraged her to not try to make something work and we ended up she tore down her house and I got to design her a new home and that was my kickstart to my firm.

Jessica: Did you charge her?

Sarah: I charged her very little. That’s the only way I could start. I mean, thank God for her. She allowed me to go out on my own and start my firm. But I did charge her just a little. It was a deal, she’d say it was a steal. And so, that was almost … it was nine years ago, and it’s the best thing I ever did. So, I still have my own firm. I work from home. I have since had twin boys that are six now. And honestly, I couldn’t imagine going back into a traditional work environment ever again. The ability to manage my own schedule and be flexible with my kids has really worked well for me. So, I still work on my own and my work is predominantly additions, whole house remodels, and new construction pretty much in central Austin.

Jessica: Awesome. Shannon, what about you?

Shannon: Let’s see some of mine are similar to Sarah’s. I went to UT and studied…

Jessica: Look at all these Longhorns in the house.

Shannon: I know. I do love it. And studied fine arts, and really had no career path, so we’re different there. And graduated kind of thinking, "I don’t know what I’m gonna do." I know I didn’t wanna teach art. My mom was an interior designer in Dallas. And I grew up, similar to Sarah, around that. I mean, I would come home from school at the end of the week and our house was constantly changing. She started her own business when I was in junior high, so it was great to watch her grow her business. She never probably took it quite as far as I have. But I guess the timing was strange, when I had a baby, my first baby, Porter, he’s now almost 10, so almost 10 years ago, I had my first client. Someone came to my house, loved it, offered to pay me a very small low rate to help them furnish their home.

And the next project after that was a remodel. And so, a lot of it’s been kind of bootstrapped and self-taught. Probably for the last six years, it’s been much more, I don’t know, consistent. I do a lot of remodels, I do work alongside architects and builders to do new builds. Probably my passion, though, is the end, is furnishing and decorating a home.

“A lot of it’s been kind of bootstrapped and self-taught. … I do a lot of remodels, I do work alongside architects and builders to do new builds. Probably my passion, though, is the end, is furnishing and decorating a home.” Shannon Eddings

Jessica: And you’re so good at it.

Shannon: I love that part. And then I’ve got three kids. Yeah.

Jessica: Yeah. Yeah, so each one of us has three kids. And that was a huge reason why I wanted to work with you guys. We had hired a dude architect, not that there’s anything wrong with a dude architect, but at the end day I was like, "I wanna hire a mom. I wanna to hire a mom who understands the needs of a family." And then Shannon is just a joy to work with because she is so collaborative and she puts up with my crazy, iterative nature.

Shannon: No, I love it. I love it. You’re fun to work with.

Jessica: We have a lot of fun together. So, OK, so this is I wanted to tell you all the backstory of our house. So, we … I don’t know if you guys know how we bought this house. It was in an estate. There was an estate sale at the house. So, it was an elderly man, he was in his 90s, he had passed away and there was a big sale at his house. And of all people, Joe went into the sale.

Shannon: Oh, how interesting.

Jessica: Yes.

Sarah: Did you already live in the neighborhood?

Jessica: We lived in the neighborhood, so he was driving around.

Sarah: OK.

 

A Journey Toward Room to Grow

Jessica: So, he went into the house and he saw so much potential. It was original to the 1960s at this time, but it was 2,800 square feet, which is really big for the neighborhood that we live in. Shannon and I actually live in the same neighborhood. And he came home, and he was like, "Babe, I think I just found a house that we might wanna buy for our family." And we were living in a 1,400 square foot house at the time.

Sarah: What year was this?

Jessica: Oh gosh, I’m not good with years, but it’s been about 10 years.

Shannon: Probably 2008 I bet for you.

Jessica: Something like that. Yeah, I was pregnant with my second. No, maybe I wasn’t. I don’t know. But the bottom line is we were growing our family we knew we needed more space. We were in a really busy street that was dangerous, so I didn’t wanna be on that street anymore. And this was also when Joe and I were flipping homes. So, we used to be home flippers. We were flipping a few homes at the time. This is when banks gave you money when you did not deserve money. So, we really did not deserve any money, but we had five loans at the time. This is crazy time.

Sarah: Oh, my gosh. That’s crazy.

Jessica: Yeah, I mean, what’s crazy is that’s eventually what led to our demise and what started Noonday Collection, so it’s just a crazy story. So, he came in, so then I went to go see it, and I saw this stack of business cards, all the realtors that are coming through and saying like, "I wanna sell your house. I wanna sell your house." I was like, "There’s no way. The Austin market was crazy at the time. So, I started writing the owner a letter, the owner’s son. And I can remember right now it was this cute little Christmas photo of me and Amelie. I wrote a whole story.

Shannon: Oh, my gosh. Are you serious?

Jessica: Yes. Yes.

Shannon: I love that.

Jessica: And they said yes, so we bought it directly from the owner at an incredible price. I mean, $200,000, which in Austin would now get you maybe…

Shannon: I can’t even imagine.

Sarah: Yeah, 2,800 square feet. Insane.

Jessica: I worked 10 minutes from downtown. We knew we wanted to stay in the neighborhood, it’s diverse, and diversity has always been important to us. So, we did a quick redo, a really quick one because we were already flipping houses. We did kind of the most inexpensive thing you can imagine. It wasn’t like we were thinking, "This is gonna be our home where we’re gonna have teenagers." It was just a quick and dirty, get it done before my baby pops out kind of situation, you know? And it was great, and it was crazy because it has this … it’s kind of built around almost a courtyard, which I’ve always loved Mexican architecture and the patio. And I grew up going to Mexico and I just love that kind of indoor-outdoor feel. So, I did love that. Actually, it’s like an L shape. And there was so much flex space about it. But a few years ago, Joe and I kind of realized, we’re here. We’ve got community now. We love our neighbors. We have carpool. If you’ve got carpool, you don’t leave.

“We knew we wanted to stay in the neighborhood, it’s diverse, and diversity has always been important to us. … There was so much flex space about it. But a few years ago, Joe and I kind of realized, we’re here. We’ve got community now.” Jessica Honegger

Shannon: No. Yeah, yeah.

Jessica: We’ve got it figured out. And so, because we went through this whole journey of like, "Are we gonna move? Are we gonna move?" And so, then we’re like, OK, the first decision was we would love a swimming pool because we live in Austin where it’s like 110 degrees most of the year. And our backyard was just a pile of dirt. Sill after years, it was a pile of dirt, and we thought, "That’s what we’ll do first." But then we were like, "OK, if we put a pool in there, we don’t have a bathroom that’s accessible. So, then we’ll need to kind of have a pool bathroom. And then…

Sarah: I think before the pool happened, I came over to talk to you about that.

Jessica: Maybe you came before the pool.

Sarah: I did.

Jessica: OK, so then we have Sarah come over and we had Sarah come over because we knew that she took smaller … She worked in central Austin, so she did remodels. And so, we had Sarah over and … she was embarrassed that I was gonna tell this story, but I got her approval. So, we were standing in our kitchen, and we’re like, "We’re thinking about maybe a second story or maybe we could just tear down the master and make that to a pool area and then build a master on the top, and we’ll do all this." And she’s just like, "You’re gonna do all of that and you’re gonna still have this kitchen?"

Shannon: Oh, you said that? That is so funny.

Sarah: That is not how it came out. I love that.

Jessica: But it was such a point well taken because what … and I understood your point.

Sarah: I promise I had more tact than that, but…

Jessica: I understood your point, though. Your point was, "Don’t go make this whole one side of your house exactly what you wanted and then the kitchen still isn’t what you want it." And then you were like, "And please don’t add on. You do not need to add on. This is plenty. You’ve got 2,800 square feet. That is plenty for a family, and we can just make this space work." And so, Sarah started drawing some plans, and it ended up being this two … three years from when we built our pool.

Sarah: You phased it.

 

Crafting Family Spaces

Jessica: We phased it. And we have never looked back, we are so grateful for you, Sarah, because you basically said, "This is plenty of space for a family." So, I wanted to ask you, and then we’ll move on to Shannon, when a client does come to you, what are some of the consistent problems that that client is asking you to solve for them?

Sarah: Well, more often than not, it’s space issues. They don’t have enough space. They don’t have enough storage. Maybe the space that they do have is just poorly planned, so inefficiencies. They feel like they are not able to enjoy a natural light or the connection between spaces is poor. So, more often than not … and going back to your point of our initial meeting, is the idea of not solving the problem first before you try to add on or create new space, that is not the way I work. I always look at the house sort of holistically and try to understand if there is space that we can fix that enable us to utilize what we already have.

“I always look at the house sort of holistically and try to understand if there is space that we can fix that enable us to utilize what we already have.” Sarah Bullock McIntyre

And so, I think that more often than not, when I walk through a home with a potential client, I ask them, "Can I see the whole thing so that I can fully understand it?" They may be asking about the kitchen but, "Can you show me this living space over here and how all of the rooms come together?" Because a lot of times people are very sort of focused on the particular problem that they have the inability to look more broadly and understand that actually, a simple thing over here by moving this wall or opening up this space could actually solve the problem that you … Anyway, the idea is that you’re kind of looking at this much broader, but it’s always space. I mean, sometimes, I have too much space, but it’s poorly planned or I don’t have enough space. That’s more often than not what people are coming to me with. Yeah.

Jessica: What’s crazy is we added zero square footage, but we didn’t have a walk-in pantry, which this was also Sarah was like, "You have to have a walk-in pantry." I was like, "Really?" I didn’t even know I need it.

Sarah: No, game-changer.

Jessica: She’s like, "No, you have to." I love my walk-in pantry. And it’s not big, but we haven’t even filled it. We have all these little drawers and they’re not even full.

Sarah: And it’s really less about the food as it is all of the other serving pieces and the overflow storage of paper towels, it’s all of that. The food is limited, but it’s the other things that kind of take over.

Jessica: Yes, and I have one of those big wedding gifts with all of these serving pieces.

Sarah: Yeah, exactly. Right.

Jessica: Sarah was also really conscious of that I’m a collector. I travel, I bring home treasures, and you wanted me to have a place for my treasures. So, it was very detailed and amazing. And it’s just crazy because now, people are shocked, people that knew our house before and walk in now. Because now Joe has a little office, I have a little office, and I didn’t have any of that before. We have a walk-in closet, it’s still shared…

Sarah: It’s a dressing room.

Jessica: It’s a dressing room, in fact. It’s a dressing room. Sarah built me a packing station.

Sarah: I did.

Jessica: She was like, "You travel a lot. You need a place to put your suitcase." And it’s not big, but it’s perfect.

Sarah: Oh, good.

Shannon: That is perfect.

Jessica: So, it’s just amazing to me how every nook and cranny is totally utilized. And we actually have empty cabinets and drawers and…

Sarah: You’ll fill them.

Jessica: We will. Over time, I know. But I’m trying to Marie Kondo regularly. I’m doing it.

Shannon: That is amazing. You did a great job.

Sarah: Oh, thank you.

Shannon: I’m thinking that the way it is now compared to the way it was, it’s so much more natural.

Jessica: But I like to think when people walk in also, had they never been, that it feels like this is the way that it was intended to be.

Sarah: No one would ever know.

Sarah: Yeah.

Jessica: In fact, it feels more like a flow now than our quick little remodel that we had done 10 years ago.

Sarah: Right.

 

From Designing to Storytelling

Jessica: OK, Shannon. So, Shannon is one of my best friends. Our kids are besties. And we vacation together, we have been friends for a very long time. And it’s been fun to evolve. She even decorated my office that we’re in here now. And Shannon, what I love about Shannon, and this is what’s so important if you’re gonna collaborate with a designer is they need to be able to flex and dance with you, right? Because designing really is a dance. It’s different than architecture. Architecture is like, "Uh, we’re gonna move this." And then that’s gonna be the way it is for the rest of its little life unless you remodel.

Sarah: That’s true. Yeah, no zhuzhing architecture.

Jessica: There’s no zhuzh. But design is all about personality and story, and all of those things.

Sarah: Oh, yeah. Much more personal.

Jessica: And you really are able to dance. You’re able to listen to people and not just say, "This is my point of view." I mean, have a point of view, but I just can’t believe what I punted to you. I punted to you like, "Well, I’ve gotten grandma’s antiques, and I don’t wanna get rid of those antiques.” And it’s a mid-century house built in the 1960s, so I went like, "I want to not do that. Oh, and also, I travel a lot. I have all these textiles and everything." And I thought it wasn’t gonna work, but you have pulled it all together so beautifully.

Shannon: Oh, thanks.

Jessica: And so, tell me when a client comes to you, what are some of the key problems that they are trying to solve?

Shannon: It’s all … I mean, there’s the space issue, but I would say more on the furnishing and decorative front, it’s usually the function of different rooms and also looking for decorative updates. And people do get really attached to items and things that they’ve had for a long time, like family heirlooms, or people get stuck. So many of my clients are probably around the age of 40, they’ve had kids. Some are maybe between 35 and 50s and they’ve had their children and they suddenly look around and they’re like, "Oh, I’m living in kind of a college dorm situation still."

And so, that’s kind of the biggest draw, and there’s some really simple stuff that I like to work through with people switching out light fixtures that they never … this is when it’s not a remodel or a new build, switching out all the light fixtures. And I like to really dig into what their interests are get more personal. What are you drawn to? Where do you love to travel? What are your favorite colors? I think people kind of have a limited vision of how their house can look. They look at some living rooms that are pretty predictable, and I really like to get dirty with people’s … it’s kind of like a piece of art almost. Your home should reflect who lives in it and it shouldn’t be … I mean, I do follow some trends, but it should feel like someone else’s house. It should feel like your house and be polished and put together. And I’m rambling, but you kind of get what I’m saying?

“There’s some really simple stuff that I like to work through with people. … I like to really dig into what their interests are get more personal. What are you drawn to? Where do you love to travel? What are your favorite colors? … Your home should reflect who lives in it.” Shannon Eddings

Jessica: Yeah, I think I love that, that idea that you just suddenly look up and you’re living in a college dorm. I mean, I think we can all relate to that. It’s like, "Oh, gosh, I bought that when I got married at Dillard’s, this is me at Dillard’s, it was a $200 chair. And then, it was … my little chair, I called it my prayer chair. I have a new prayer chair, but it was hard for me to depart with old prayer chair because I prayed a lot on that chair. And I nursed my babies, and I held Jack in my arms. But it’s not a cute chair. It did not reflect my style at all anymore. I’m sad that it ever did. But here it was and it’s … and even my kids were like, "You’re getting rid of that?"

So, it is hard, but then I think what’s so great about being able to work with a designer, and even I realized I have the benefit of having a close friend that collaborated. And I know that hiring a designer can be expensive, it is an extra lux, but I think you’d be surprised that a lot of designers can come in, you pay a consulting fee, and they can really come up with a vision for your house. So, that’s what I find about designers is that they can do different … there’s the full-meal deal, and then there’s stepping it and creating a plan. Because at the end of the day, your home is evolving. It is always evolving.

Shannon: Right. I know. Yeah, it is. And not many people … well, yeah, probably 50/50 on who’s ready to go all-in like we did, versus phase it out. And you even phased it out some but.

Jessica: I’m still phasing. Yeah.

Shannon: We’re still phasing. Yeah, we’re still trickling things in.

Jessica: And I wanna be phasing. We hosted holiday dinner at our house for my dad’s side of the family. And both of my aunts had hosted all their lives, and I love my aunts’ style. It’s super eclectic like mine. They also … one of my aunts loves France and loves the antiques and my other aunt loves Mexico. She has a room in her house that is bright pink with saints, santos all over the walls. It’s so magical to me.

Shannon: That’s so funny.

Jessica: And I think that’s why I wanted a navy couch because that aunt has a navy couch, and it just means something to me. And so, it was fun to host them for the first time and they, still to this day, are trying to find a rug, they’re trying to find the right rug for their living room. And I said, "Oh, I just wanna get this done." And my aunt looked at me, she goes, "Jessica, I’m 80. It’s never done. It’s never done."

Shannon: Yeah.

 

Preparing for an Interior Evolution

Jessica: So, I think there is something to an attitude. So, let’s talk about attitude because a lot of your … it’s like outer order, inner order, outer calm, or you can’t divorce the design in your home from kind of your inner compass. So, a lot of me, through this process, had to learn how to let go and surrender. So, what would you say to a potential client about, “you know that we are gonna go through this process successfully if you’re able to have these three, kind of, qualities?”

Shannon: Three qualities as a client?

Jessica: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: OK. That’s interesting. Well, first, I will say that not all clients are the right fit for architects or designers. So, I mean, that’s the first step is, obviously, when you’re interviewing to know if you have a connection, if there’s chemistry there. And I’m very much in that initial interview talking about the way that I work. And one of the things just to say is, and I say this to people, I’m not a yes person. You’re coming to me for my professional opinion and for the guidance that I will provide for this project, so if you expect me to say yes to your idea that I think is not the right idea, I’m not the right person to be paying for that. So, going with that in mind, I would say openness, the ability to consider things that you hadn’t considered before is really important.

Gosh, what else? I mean, I always say, let there be at least one thing that you take a risk on. I mean, everybody, I think, I still get used to people coming to me with Pinterest boards. I don’t use Pinterest, but they have all these images that they kinda wanna replicate. And I beg my clients to take one risk, one big chance, if you can take more, that’s awesome, but at least one that is a little bit uncomfortable for you. And that’s gonna be the thing that’s going to actually define the house for you that makes it unique, that is your mark. I mean, we can easily pull things together that look like a lot of other examples, but one thing that is a risk, so I urge them to take risks, even if it’s just one.

“I beg my clients to take one risk, one big chance … that is a little bit uncomfortable for you. And that’s gonna be the thing that’s going to actually define the house for you that makes it unique, that is your mark.” Sarah Bullock McIntyre

What’s the third thing? To be realistic about how much this is gonna cost and how long it’s going to take. Because truthfully, if you don’t have that, the process is going to be painful. I do my best to manage expectations with people about how much things cost because it’s like when you were trying on wedding dresses, your mom was like, or my mom was like, "Don’t even go over there. Do not try on the dress that you can’t afford because why fall in love with something that you’re not gonna get or I’m not paying for?" So, I feel that way with the architectures or with I’m assuming with interiors, too, unless you’re prepared to go there or be prepared to spend the money if that’s something you wanna do. But when you come to the beginning of the project and your expectations for what you wanna spend are too low, it’s gonna be painful. So, those are my three.

Jessica: Well you even talked about … you kind of were able to ballpark construction costs because your husband is a builder.

Sarah: Right, yeah. And the truth is the Austin market is it’s impossible. I mean, it’s a moving target. I could give you the cost per square foot and I will tell you it’s not accurate tomorrow. So, Austin is a hard one. But yes, you’re always … I mean, we always talk about money. It’s uncomfortable, but the worst is somebody that doesn’t talk about money until the contractor comes into the picture and then they’re incredibly disappointed. So, yes, I mean, I think being realistic about how much things are gonna cost.

And that’s one of the first things I ask potential clients on the phone, obviously, what’s the scope, what can you spend, and what’s your timeline? Because if the scope is not something that’s right for my firm, then obviously, I’m not gonna take it. But if your timeline is unrealistic, like you need to start tomorrow, that’s also not gonna happen. And if you can’t spend the money or if the money you wanna spend is not enough, I’m gonna tell you so that you are prepared for that. If that means you need to, like you, phase it so that you’re cutting it into different parts that you can manage one-by-one, then you can do that.

And a lot of times, because the architectural part of it is such a huge chunk of money to sort of invest, the best thing you can do is at least hire someone that can help you realize the big picture so that you can then take that into parts and phase this so that you’re not making mistakes that because you didn’t think, "Well, what do we want long-term for this to look like?" By phasing it, you can at least take it one piece at a time and not have to undo something that you’ve not thought about. You put a door here and you never should have because long-term that’s where you wanted something else. So, I’m rambling I guess.

Shannon: No, I agree, though. I mean, that’s all … and it relates to … yours are similar to mine. I mean, I think engaging an architect or an interior designer or both at the same time, it’s kind of like, you’ve gotta make sure that you have the budget to even enter into those talks and, I mean, you were kind of hitting on that. But I think … yeah, I don’t know. So, my three would be probably pretty similar. The ability to be open and on the same page from day one. So, I ask a lot of the same kind of blunt questions. I mean, I have a little online form that people fill out and I can pretty easily tell like, "OK, they have $5,000 and wanna furnish their house. That’s not gonna happen." And I have a way of being gentle and telling them that that’s probably not the best time to engage someone like us.

 

Collaboration: How a Creative Vision Becomes Reality

But I think being open is a big part of it, "Tell me what your budget is, tell me what you wanna do, and keep an open mind about the end result." I agree with what Sarah said about Pinterest images. People can come in with all these ideas. And it’s like, especially for creative, I think of myself as more of a creative. I don’t love to just copy what other people do. So, I like to be shown images that they like, but I want to take that and interpret it to something that’s more personal for them. Because you don’t want … I mean, I don’t think you wanna pay someone a lot of money, and then have your home just be like everybody else’s.

“I don’t love to just copy what other people do. I like to be shown images that they like, but I want to take that and interpret it to something that’s more personal for them. … I don’t think you wanna pay someone a lot of money, and then have your home just be like everybody else’s.” Shannon Eddings

Jessica: Or just have it not reflect you.

Shannon: Reflect you. Yes, yeah. And there’s some big-name designers that I think have blogs and big Instagram followings, and they have created kind of a look, and there’s a trickle-down there in the design world. But anyway, I think keep an open mind when it comes to listening to feedback from me about budget, and then also, keep an open mind about the look.

And then I would say, kind of the trust, respect. I have a friend who’s a builder who says, when he’s working with a designer and an architect, he’s often like, to his clients, "Just trust your designer," because they’ll come to their builder and be like, "Well, what do you think about the tile?" It’s like, you gotta just trust the designer. And Sarah and I worked really well together. I mean, you approved everything we did, but you never had a lot of pushback.

Shannon: No, but we did … at that one meeting that we had in your dining room, we did talk through some concepts, and there was a conversation. I mean, you were trying to respect what the initial vision was, and I was just giving my opinion, just general design opinion, but I think that’s really important. I mean, you’re a team. So, you’re there to listen.

Sarah: Yes.

Shannon: But back to your openness thing, too. Also, when I mentioned that I’m not a yes person. I also don’t want my client to be a yes person. I want my client to be honest. There’s nothing worse than somebody just going along with it because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do, and then the project is in construction and they say, or maybe they say, it’s not usually that “I don’t like something,” it’s "I didn’t understand this. I didn’t understand what this was gonna look like."

And I use modeling and different things to try to describe to my clients as best as I can what the end result is going to be, and I do my best to communicate in the very beginning, "This is how you use an architectural scale. This is how you measure the drawings." I try to help them to understand the tools that we use. But if a client does not say to you, "I don’t really understand what you’re talking about," or, "That’s really not the direction I wanna go," then, in the end, something is not going to fit, right?

Sarah: Totally. Yes. Yeah.

Jessica: And it’s hard … having a point of view is not easy necessarily. And actually, that’s why I love working with creatives that have a strong point of view. Sarah, that’s why, because you had such a strong point of view at that initial meeting. And after you, we did go hire another architect that was a dude and he came up with something where I didn’t like what he came up with.

Sarah: I didn’t know that.

Shannon: I didn’t know that either.

Jessica: OK, now you know.

Sarah: Betrayal.

Jessica: I was like, "I don’t like this." And I was like, "I wanted Sarah. I mean, she comes off with a very strong point of view because that gives me something to bounce off of." So, I see it as a trampoline. When I work with a creative, I’m looking for them to kind of bounce off of each other like a trampoline where I can go, "Well, that…" Because sometimes, I know more what I don’t want than I know what I do want.

Shannon: Yeah, I think that’s pretty consistent with a lot of people, and so it’s up to us to help them figure out what you do want. And I think to hit on us being women and mothers, that’s huge, I think. I mean, I’ve worked with couples who don’t have children, and not that I’m not a good fit for them. It’s just I really enjoy working with families and it makes … I think, functionally, when you think through a remodel or a new build and then furnishing a home, I think a lot about the function of pieces and how they’ll hold up over time. And I don’t know.

Sarah: Oh, yeah. I mean, I don’t wanna sound sexist, but there is no doubt that I use being a female and a mother as a way of presenting myself as the right choice for the type of work that I do because I do understand it. And I understand it in a way that, say, a new parent, maybe they have a baby or they have a toddler, my kids have gone through that and now I have three, and we’re nearing junior high age. I’m also helping them to understand what to expect and what to anticipate.

Shannon: Exactly, yes. Yeah.

Sarah: So, I think that that’s, going back to, again, how important it is when you are interviewing, finding that right fit where you feel like that person is going to take your needs and really elevate them and really solve problems that you didn’t know you had.

“When you are interviewing, finding that right fit where you feel like that person is going to take your needs and really elevate them and really solve problems that you didn’t know you had.” Sarah Bullock McIntyre

 

More Home, Less House

Jessica: That’s so true. OK, another reason I wanted to work with both of y’all is because you both live in small-ish houses. I don’t know what small-ish is. I mean, maybe you guys would know more. I mean, my house is…

Shannon: I mean, I think mine’s pretty small-ish compared to clients.

Sarah: Well, yeah. My first house was 880 square feet when I had a child. And then we added on and it ended up being about 1,450, and that was with twins, so that was a family of five. We outgrew that house, we then moved to another house, and it was still the same size, but I had a detached studio. We’re now adding on and it’s closer to the 2,800 square feet. But a lot of that is because we’re going up in one area, it’s like circulation space. But again, no space is unused every day. That is always my goal in figuring out the way that a house works. New construction or remodels and additions, you have to use a room every day. And if you can use it for more than one reason, awesome. Like your poolroom, that’s also where guests can stay.

“No space is unused every day. That is always my goal in figuring out the way that a house works. New construction or remodels and additions, you have to use a room every day. And if you can use it for more than one reason, awesome.” Sarah Bullock McIntyre

I mean, the worst is … I mean, I very rarely do formal sitting rooms anymore. I mean, I don’t. People come to me and they may have a house that we’re remodeling, that space is now going to be a flex room that also serves as the music room or the playroom or whatever. We do not to the convenience or the … what’s the word? Living in central Austin, real estate, our homes are way too expensive to be able to have spaces that we don’t use regularly. And so, I think that’s what we come to the table with is the understanding of efficiency, function. We don’t have Costco storage rooms. I remember in D.C., like the McMansion, the whole thing is a big deal out there in the suburbs of D.C. I mean, people would have closets just for overflow storage.

Shannon: It’s painful almost.

Sarah: Yeah.

Shannon: I won’t judge you if you have that, but it’s a little bit painful because it almost feels, I think, sometimes meaningless. I mean, and I love helping people in any size home, but sometimes it’s like, "You have too much space." And ours is similar. Sam and I actually lived in an 800-square-foot place first, which is funny, in Hyde Park, and then we bought our house and it was just under 1,200, and we have now renovated it to make it about 1,800. But every single…

Sarah: But you’re a family of five. Yeah.

Shannon: We’re a family of five. I mean, it’s tight. The best thing we did was build this big, awesome patio and screen it in, so we now … our bedrooms are tiny, and we have two bathrooms. But we have three functional, kind of, living-ish spaces, and that’s really what we use. That’s what we wanted. You have to kind of know what you want when going in. Think through how you live, and that’s where when you interview with architects and designers, you’ll talk through that, but yeah, small spaces, and I like it.

Jessica: And the tradeoff is being … small smart.

Sarah: Smart spaces, though.

Shannon: Small smart. Yeah, I like that.

Jessica: The tradeoff for us is my kids can … they literally walk to the grocery store.

Shannon: Yeah, I know. It’s so fun.

Jessica: They walk…

Sarah: …to my house.

Jessica: …to the coffee shop. And they walk to your house. They bike now to your house.

Sarah: That’s exactly right. We live where we do, and we live with that amount of square footage because there are days I don’t even get in my car. I can walk the kids to school. I can ride the bike to the grocery store. I work from home. So, yeah, I mean, there are sacrifices you make to live in the center of a city more often than not. And with that usually come space is the first thing you’re gonna sacrifice.

Jessica: OK, for those people that do live in larger homes and have a lot of space, what would you say to them to some of these rooms that don’t get utilized.

Shannon: That’s a good one. I had a client recently in Westlake, who they had two front rooms that, they’d owned their house a couple years, and the two front rooms were just empty basically. There was kind of a formal living and then a dining room, but they never even used the dining room. And it was so fun to really make them functional spaces. We did, much to maybe your chagrin, Sarah, but we kind of just we wallpapered and decorated the formal living just to become a space that they love and wanna be in.

Sarah: Sure, yeah.

Shannon: And since they have children, they have a family room and now they have an area to go hang out with other adults, like after dinner and have drinks, and there’s a piano in there. And then we made the dining room into a library, and it was super fun, just build. So, I think find a vision, think through how you would use it. Probably for most people in big homes, if they have children, there’s gonna be a need for a playroom, a need for a family room. And then, I like the formal living in some ways.

Sarah: I do, too. It’s not to say that I don’t love it. It’s just that it needs to be decorated and designed in a way in which you do wanna be in there so that you use it. I mean, we had one at my house growing up, but that’s where we retired to at the end of the day to talk because it’s small. I love those smaller living spaces. I mean, more often than not, families don’t really wanna watch TV in a big room in the house like that den because it’s usually got higher ceilings, it’s larger, it’s not as intimate. More often than not, people want to actually retire to a den type space like a cocoon. I mean, people wanna get out. I remember you said before we did the remodel, y’all love that little room, the little TV room or whatever. People like to be close.

Shannon: We did. We all piled in there. Yeah.

Sarah: People like to be close and they like to feel warm, and it’s really not all that different than how we are as children. So, again, to your point, though, you re-envision the way that that space was decorated, so they wanted to be in there.

Shannon: Yeah, and I think don’t buy a huge house if … think through it.

Sarah: If you don’t need it.

Shannon: Don’t design … if you don’t need it and if you’re not willing to maybe spend the money on furniture because that’s the thing it’s just … people, it’s empty.

Jessica: That’s the truth because people have empty rooms.

Shannon: And you need big rugs. The bigger the house, bigger rugs, and rugs are expensive. So, yeah. I mean, you probably wouldn’t design a house that’s ginormous unless it was really functional.

Sarah: Yeah, it’s hard for me, I’ll be honest, I have a hard time. I do my best to steer my clients in the direction of even if the scale is larger, I’m always showing furniture on my drawings, even though…

Shannon: I love that you do that.

Sarah: …the first schematic design plan, there will always be furniture, there will always be the … everything is on there. I mean, otherwise, you have no idea what you’re looking at. I mean, most people can’t even read plans, so there’s no way they understand the scale of a space. So, at least I feel good enough that, "OK, this is how you can use this room, how you can furnish it so that you feel that you can actually use it."

But it’s a hard line. I mean, the process with architecture is you always start with programming, which is a document that is basically a questionnaire that is qualitative and quantitative questions that help me to understand the problem I’m trying to solve, and it’s very specific to all my clients. So, going through that first pass of seeing what all their needs are, I can tell if they talk like they need a space … they mention the space that they want, but once we’ve gone through that, I’m able to explain to them, "You actually don’t need that particular space here. You can satisfy a lot of those needs in this other room. We can make that even better and it’s gonna cost us less." And especially in new construction, you’re paying for that square footage, wouldn’t you rather have a better space that’s smaller and more efficient?"

Jessica: And put that money into a beautiful rug?

Sarah: Exactly.

Shannon: And to be honest, I realized this about myself recently. I prefer working with something. I like new builds, but I love when there’s a history.

Sarah: I love a remodel. Oh, yeah, I do.

Shannon: I love a remodel. Like your house, Jess, I loved it.

Sarah: It was so fun.

Shannon: You can pay homage to the … is that the right word?

Jessica: Yeah.

Shannon: …to the decade it was built. And I just think it’s such a … I don’t know, there’s usually cool architectural elements in an older home, and I love stuff like that.

Jessica: And I think we did all did some nods to the 1960s in the house.

Shannon: Totally. Yeah, Sarah did a great job of honoring that vision, I think.

Sarah: Yeah, I love how the furnishings turned out. It’s definitely you. I mean, the end result is very much Jessica and Joe.

Shannon: It is. But, yeah, I love it.

 

Joe Honegger: Husband and Hands-on Homeowner

Jessica: OK. Joe, let’s talk about Joe. Joe built our house. My husband built our house. He majored in construction management at Purdue University.

Shannon: I don’t think I knew that.

Jessica: Yes, and he did a couple years of construction management in college as an intern. And then he and I moved overseas. That’s how we met. We met when living in Guatemala and serving the poor in Guatemala, and he was running construction projects and working with small communities, building projects and stuff like that. Then we moved to Austin, got married, and he worked for a homebuilder for a hot second and was like, "I cannot do this." He is an entrepreneur. I mean, he can’t really work for someone else, and he’s a perfectionist, and he just … that wasn’t gonna work. So then, we started flipping houses. So, we start flipping houses in the neighborhood that we live in, Chip and Joanna Gaines, guys, can you just see them now?

Shannon: Joe would be great on TV.

Jessica: We are totally kidding, y’all. My husband is the most extreme introvert I know.

Shannon: Not too extreme, but yeah.

Jessica: He’s not extreme, but he’s not one to get on a stage. Let’s just put it that way. But that was also an interesting marital experience because Joe and I lived in an Airstream.

Shannon: Oh yeah. How did I already forget?

Jessica: How did you forget? We lived in an Airstream while we were doing phase two, which was the master, kitchen, dining, living, pantry, laundry room.

Shannon: And your kids slept in the house still, y’all were in the driveway. No one’s judging you.

Jessica: Yes. I actually have not been very public about that, but…

Shannon: That’s all right.

Jessica: But I could actually see their rooms from my Airstream and I was closer to their rooms than I was in the house. So, actually, I could keep a close eye on them. And as well, we set up a little kitchen in our backyard. We had a tent. We miss the tent.

Shannon: I miss the tent. I loved it. It was very accessible.

Jessica: It was so accessible. We put the fridge underneath the tent, and then we had a plastic table, and that’s where we did our chopping. And that is where we ate, and it was a great adventure.

Shannon: And there was one week during the summer I remember where Jess reached out to a few of us it was like, "Guys, I’m done. I’m finally grumpy. I’m angry. Can y’all please have us for dinner?"

Jessica: Yes, I did. It was like, we were doing great in April, fine in May, June was even OK. And then it was like, it got hot. It got so hot and so I did, I texted people in my neighborhood and I said, "Please either bring us dinner or have us over for dinner." Because I was like, "I can’t do this anymore." But we got through it, we did, and it was an adventure. And we have an Airstream for sale. If y’all want an Airstream, it’d be…

Shannon: I didn’t know it was for sale.

Jessica: Well, yeah, we bought it because they don’t lose value and then just sell it, so it’s saving money in the end. And it was an adventure. It was fun. But did that add an extra element, Sarah, to the project when your contractor is the homeowner?

Sarah: Well, since I’m married to a contractor and I’ve done that myself, not lived in an Airstream in the driveway, but lived through a remodel. No, I love that. I mean, I think that Joe, when … I think you’re more invested in that way, so you’re willing to dig deeper to solve problems and make it be … not that your contractor who’s working for you wouldn’t wanna do their best, but I think that there’s a different level of investment. And, obviously, it’s his. And I think that he came … I think Joe’s personality is such that he’s very easy to work with. I mean, it would have been very different had he been a really intense, high-strung person, the project would. You would have been calling in April probably at that point to beg people to come feed you. But I think it worked well for you guys because Joe did roll with the punches, he was able to solve problems and not get overworked about it.

“I think Joe’s personality is such that he’s very easy to work with. I mean, it would have been very different had he been a really intense, high-strung person. … It worked well for you guys because Joe did roll with the punches, he was able to solve problems and not get overworked about it.” Sarah Bullock McIntyre

Shannon: I remember the day that the tile guys were there, and we were laying all the pretty Zellige tile in the master bath. And Joe was like, "They’re taking their time in there. They need to execute it. I’m just gonna go ahead and lay our backsplash tile because also I don’t think they’re gonna get it right." And he did.

Jessica: He did, yeah.

Shannon: And it’s perfect.

Jessica: It is perfect.

Shannon: I mean, he had very precise grout lines and it’s beautiful, and Joe can do anything it seems.

Jessica: He really can. Yeah.

Shannon: He built your coffee table.

Jessica: He built our coffee table. He really can do anything. It’s pretty amazing, and our kids got involved. Our kids learned how to wire. They were doing electrical wiring.

Sarah: I didn’t know that.

Jessica: Yes. I was out of town. I’m like, "Babe, so what are you having the kids work on today?" He was like, "Electrical wiring." I was like, "Really?"

Sarah: That’s funny. Maybe not the one to start them on, but OK.

Jessica: But they did it, and so that was really a good adventure and the whole thing. And I’m just I’m deeply grateful now. And we really wanted our home to be … hospitality is just a huge value of Joe and I’s, and we wanted our home to be a place where we can pack them in. And honestly, even over the summer when we had an outdoor kitchen, we had people over every weekend pretty much because we have a pool. And so, it was like, "Come on. You know, come on over." And I think that is really what you guys have accomplished in our home that it is a place where you come in, you wanna to take your shoes off, you’re inspired, and you wanna stay a while, you wanna linger.

Sarah: Well, good. Yeah.

Jessica: And isn’t that what we wanted?

Sarah: I was gonna say it is, but I don’t wanna pat us on the back.

Jessica: Yeah, you should pat yourself on the back.

Sarah: Well, as compared to when you were flipping houses and when you had flipped this initially, not flipped it, but redone it just to kind of make do, this is part of your story now, you’ve actually, I mean, personally laid tile and the kids we’re working in the walls. I mean, not that you’re talking about … I’ve done this before to a house and it’s very hard to sell when that time comes because it is literally something you created yourself and you chose things and it’s all … it’s part of you. And I think that’s going through the process when you do have the ability to actually make the decisions yourself and be a part of that and collaborate because I feel that these houses are part of me as well, but it’s very personal now versus buying a house that’s been done, and you know. So, yeah, it’s a big part of your family story now.

 

Architecture, Design, and Going Scared

Jessica: I’m gonna throw you a curveball that we throw on every show, but I should have warned you, but we like to wrap up and ask people how they are going scared right now in their lives.

Sarah: Oh, I like that.

Shannon: Well, it’s a good time to ask that because it’s the New Year.

Sarah: Yeah, it is.

Shannon: I’m going scared.

Sarah: Every day?

Shannon: Every day.

Sarah: For me, I’m really trying to be more intentional about taking risks without the fear of being judged and that it’s not good enough or it’s not right. As an architect, I … it’s funny, the whole Instagram social media world. I don’t post that much because who really wants to see framing progress? I mean, it’s just not that … I mean, very few, the percentage of people is small. Everybody likes a really pretty finished picture, so I don’t post a lot. But there is this tendency, I don’t feel that I’ll be judged by potential clients or people who aren’t in the industry, but I definitely feel intimidated within the industry. And so, I’m really trying to push myself to apply for more awards, or submit rather, submit for more awards, and I guess put myself out there, be more vulnerable is the best way of putting that.

“As an architect … I don’t feel that I’ll be judged by potential clients or people who aren’t in the industry, but I definitely feel intimidated within the industry. And so, I’m really trying to push myself to apply for more awards … and I guess put myself out there, be more vulnerable is the best way of putting that.” Sarah Bullock McIntyre

I work by myself, so I don’t have … my husband is in the industry and works on beautiful homes, so he is definitely a sounding board for me. But I do miss that collaborative, sort of, inter-office collaboration, so I don’t have people to throw a design sketch to, to get a critique from, so I probably need to work a little bit more on that and finding my own little group of other solo practitioners who can help me with that because I do get a little bit intimidated.

Shannon: You can send it to, but I’m not an architect.

Sarah: Well, you’re not a yes person, are you? I don’t want a yes person talking a look at it.

Shannon: I’m not a yes person. I don’t think I’m a yes person. Am I?

Jessica: No. No.

Shannon: I like to keep the peace, but I’m gonna do it gently.

Jessica: You have a point of view. Yeah.

Shannon: I definitely have a point of view. Yeah.

Jessica: So, what about you, Shannon. What are you doing to go scared?

Shannon: I’m really I think … can I say organization?

Jessica: Yeah.

Shannon: Yeah, just working on how I plan my days, really holding myself accountable to certain hours at my office. I’m in an office finally. I’ve had it for about six months. So, just kind of getting back. As a creative I get so caught up in the fun and the process of the project, but I’ve really got to buckle down and do kind of some of the harder work of organization and office hours.

“As a creative I get so caught up in the fun and the process of the project, but I’ve really got to buckle down and do kind of some of the harder work of organization and office hours.” Shannon Eddings

Jessica: Managing your time.

Shannon: No window, managing my time.

Jessica: Yeah, that’s my goal this year is managing my time at work.

Shannon: Yeah. And maybe some 6:15 a.m. workouts, but that’s not work related, but that’s a going scared thing.

Jessica: Yeah, we’re having fun, it’s true. We’re working out together at 6:15 a.m. Well, if you guys wanna see phase one of the rebuild model is actually featured in domino magazine digital, so that’s domino.com, and you can google … it’ll say Honegger, probably Shannon M. Eddings. You just google it, you’ll find it on domino. It’s also on Jen Pinkston’s blog, The Effortless Chic. She goes into a lot of detail. And then, if you guys wanna see all the things that we’re talking about, subscribe to my email list because my email list is getting the very first sneak peeks at all of our amazing and beautiful and hard work.

And you can go to jessicahonegger.com. That’s two Gs and one N. Subscribe to my email list. Or you can go to Instagram, which is also @jessicahonegger, and you can click on my link and subscribe to my email list there. So, email community first gets the sneak peek and then we kind of have some irons in the fire about some other cool places where it’s gonna be featured, so that’ll be the next spot. But thanks for joining me today and thank you for partnering with us.

Sarah: Well, thanks for choosing me after you fired the other guy. Glad that worked out.

Shannon: Yeah, and thanks for hiring me, even though I’m your friend. That’s kind of risky.

Jessica: Well, you are such a joy to work with.

Shannon: No, you are.

Jessica: Let’s go hang that gallery wall now.

Shannon: Yeah, go work.

Jessica: No, go work. Back to work.

To keep up with Shannon and Sarah, you can follow Shannon over @ShannonEddingsInteriors. And to keep up with Sarah, go ahead and give her a follow @BullockMcIntyreStudio. That is M-C-I-N-T-Y-R-E Studio. Before we go, I’d love for you to review and rate the podcast because it helps more people find the show.

Our wonderful music for today’s show is by my good friend, Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. And until next time, this is Jessica Honegger. Let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.