Welcome to the total home makeover blog!  This is a place where we share mom-spiration, diy ideas, tutorials, and freebies because we're passionate about helping you manage everything simply. Meet or join our creative team of writers here

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How to Makeover Your Porch

Posted by Renee Metzler on April 13, 2015 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Where can you sip iced tea on a hot summer day or listen to the pitter of rain?  The porch! But with its roof and pretty pillars, the porch can be more than that.  It can become an outdoor living space - a space where you can have a conversation, read a book, or dine with friends.  This is where the home meets the garden.  Here's how to makeover your porch - or patio, portico, deck - in five steps.

In Decorate 101, a free mini course, I teach you how to decorate any space in five steps. Let's apply this to the porch.

1. Color Palette.  Choose a color palette that coordinates with your outdoor color scheme.  Pictured is white and blue.

2. Ceiling, Walls, and Floors.  Decide on materials that you will use.  Do you need to paint?  Lay down an outdoor rug to define a space such as conversation or dining area.

3. Furniture Layout.  Design a furniture layout using the free paper grid room planner.

4. Lighting.  Select lighting that reflects the style of your home.

5. Fabric, Art, and Accents.  Carefully select fabrics for outdoors such as seat cusions and pillows.  Make sure they reflect your color scheme.  Carefully select an accent for your focal point such as a victorian flag or a wreath on the door.  

For the final touch, be sure to include a crock, thoughtfully planted with seasonal flowers, to add natural beauty and connection to your gardens. Now, about that iced tea.



DIY Watercolor Butterfly Printable

Posted by Renee Metzler on March 13, 2015 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Butterflies, with their whimsical flight and flashy wings, inspire us to thoughts of hope and spring,  They even find their way into our home decorations.  Did you know that there are 17,500 species of butterflies of which 750 are in the United States?  Their wings are actually translucent, but tiny scales overlay and reflect beautiful patterns and color that make the butterly the most renowned and perhaps loved of insects among humans.  They, like most of nature when studied in detail, are a testiment to our creator. 

This year, for my spring and Easter decorations, I'm starting with the inspirtion of the butterfly and you can too with this DIY Watercolor Butterfly Printable design by ellinee and shared here.  From this simple template, we'll be making a butterfly centerpiece, wreath, knapkin rings, and more.    


Chalkboard Herb Pot Tutorial

Posted by Renee Metzler on March 10, 2015 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

The Chalkboard Herb Pots with their decoart and herbs are an easy project that could be utilized for both a practical favor and name tag for a special event such as a bridal shower, birthday party, spring celebration, or Easter.  Who doesn't love fresh herbs growing in the kitchen?  If you're like me, and feeling impatient for spring, use this Chalkboard Herb Pot Tutorial to plant a variety of herbs for your kitchen and write thier names on the chalkboard labels.  I'm sharing this simple tutorial from the elli blog.


Seven Steps to Financial Freedom

Posted by Renee Metzler on February 10, 2015 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (0)

My financial goals* are to steward well. Our family, like yours, already has an income. So, it's my job to manage that money well. Increasing the income is not always the goal, however the goal is always to manage well what we already have and to bless the world. Using biblical principals and free financial tools, join me on a Seven Step to Financial Freedom.

Pre-trip Checklist! Here are a few things that need done sooner than later. Complete the Pre-Trip Checklist before starting or work on it as you journey through. Here is the condensed list, but check out the links below to get it done free or for the best price. 

  1. Get a will for free.
  2. Get your best income.
  3. Acquire basic insurances: auto, home, life, health, etc for the best rate.
  4. Calculate your net worth.
  5. Set Up a Smart Budget online & on paper.


Step 1: Save 1,000 in Emergency Savings

How do we get free from the cycle of credit card debt? Emergency savings! A great first goal is to save $1,000. Open a high yield savings account, you might want to compare current savings rates here, and drop 10% of every paycheck into it until you reach $1,000. Easy enough. When an emergency comes, like a broken washer, you'll have the money you need to replace it. If you don't think you can afford to save 10% of every paycheck, read Ten Ways to Save More Money for ideas. Why save 10%? A good basic budget to follow is the 10-10-80 rule. However, if you're debt free and can afford to save more, do so. Oh, and be sure to share when you get Step 1 completed.

Step 2: Pay-off all Credit Card Debt

Now it's time to pay-off all credit card debts using a debt Snowball. Here's what to do. Make a list of all credit card debts (and other small loans). List the smallest loan first, all the way to your largest loan (excluding mortgage). Using the budget you created in Step 1, take all the extra money and put it toward the first debt, and pay minimums on all others. Cross it off when paid. Repeat on debt 2, and so on, until you pay off them all. Afterwards, I plan to cancel all credit cards, but one, storing it in a file or safety deposit box (not in my wallet) for credit score purposes.

* This article is not meant to be financial advice, nor is the author a financial adviser. The seven steps are a combination of research from three financial resources (Crown Money Map, Dave Ramsey, Christian PF), various free financial resource tools, and author experience.

Be sure to share if you are joining the Seven Steps to Financial Freedom.

Ten Ways to Save More Money

Posted by Renee Metzler on February 8, 2015 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Remember the days of the piggy bank?  Clink went the little coins.  It felt so good to save.  It was that tangible evidence that money was accruing.  Every so often, the piggy bank must be opened and counted. Watching our grown up piggy bank accrue can give us even more satisfaction.  Why?  Emergency savings, investments, and retirement mean we're on our way to financial freedom.  

If saving hasn't been a recent habit, it can easily be picked up.  Start with $1,000 of emergency savings in a basic bank savings account. Afterwards, consider investing in a retirment fund, college savings funds (for children), and other investments.  Sounds easy, but how can one possibly squeeze savings out of a maxed out budget?

Here are Ten Ways to Save More Money each month.  Save ...

  1. $30 on auto insurance.  I found a cheaper rate on auto insurance at Geico.  In about 15 minutes, I had saved over $300 for the year or about $30 a month.
  2. $400 on groceries.  I make a  meal plan each week.  I also make a spending goal such as $50 or $75. Next, I shop at places like Aldi or Save-a-lot which sells groceris at 40-50% off normal grocery store prices.  I stick to my list.  I also place tally marks on my list for every dollar spent as I shop to keep track. I can save about $100 a week this way.
  3. $100 on cell phone.  My husband uses Net10 for his cell phone, and this costs $15 - $20 a month with no contract.  In contrast, Verizon cost $100 - $120 a month.  
  4. $50 on electricity.  Unplug chargers when not charging.  Turn off lights when not in use.  Turn down the heat a notch or two.  Wear your clothes again if they are still clean, this will save on washing cost and wear and tear.  Savings will vary.  
  5. $100 on restaurants.  There are alot of restaurant deals out there, but the best way I have found to save, is to stop eating out (or limit my budget considerably). Also, regular meal planning means you have easy meals at hand.
  6. $100 - $300 on health insurance.  Be healthy.  Exercise & Eat well.  Consider a christian alternative health insurance such as MediShare to save on high premiums or choose a high deductible plan combined with a health savings account.
  7. $100 on personal expenses.  Go to the hair stylist every other month (instead of monthly), color your own hair, wax yourself, and do your own nails.  Cancel expensive gym memberships and just run outside.  The fresh air will do you good.
  8. $100 on fuel.  Run errands only once per week.  Car pool.  Consider purchasing a less expensive car that offers great fuel mileage.
  9. $100 on fun.  Look up free and cheap events in your area, pack a lunch and drinks, and have family fun outings for free.  Also borrow books and movies from the library, cancel expensive television programming (which I promise you can do without).
  10. $100 or more on clothes.  Create a master wardrobe, a wardrobe that has less articles that coordinate to create more outfits and work in more seasons, as outlined in my book, Total Home Makeover:  A 20 Day Plan to Renew Your Space & Spirit.  Try my crazy stunt, and stop buying clothes for one year, or shop sales & discount stores, but always take a list.  



Christian Health Insurance Alternative

Posted by Renee Metzler on February 8, 2015 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Now that health insurance is required, you may find yourself seeking out a christian health insurance alternative, like myself.  Why?  To cover medical expenses while saving huge on premiums.  After researching several christian health insurance alternatives, I settled on MediShare.  

MediShare is a christian health insurance alternative, and it is exempt from the Obama mandate.

Here's what I love about it: 

  • With a high deductable, my family of 4 will pay $209 per month (or healthy incentive rate of $166).
  • I'll see where my money went and who it helped each month, plus I can pray for that person. 
  • If I have a medical need (over my deductable), than I receive help from others.
  • They encourge living by biblical standards. 
  • As a member, I get to vote on changes to MediShare.
  • Easy on-line application.
  • Perfect alternative if you are self-employed (medical expenses are a write-off).
  • A fairly seemless process for "claims."
  • Good reviews.

Here what I don't love:

  • Doesn't qualify you for a Health Savings Account (but they are working to pass this law)
  • Doesn't pay for illnesses or conditions known previously to applying.
  • Doesn't guarentee coverage (this is an alternative, people-helping-people plan).

So, if you're looking for a christian health insurance alternative, you can try the MediShare Pricing Tool and see if this might be the right decision for you.  Learn more at https//mychristiancare.org.


Get a Will for Free

Posted by Renee Metzler on January 31, 2015 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

As part of the Seven Steps to Financial Freedom, I'm in the process of re-writing my will.  The first time I went to a local attorney.  It didn't take very long, nor did it cost much in our small town.  I've done a little research, and this time around, I'm going to Get a Will for Free.  

Writing a will is very important, no matter what your financial status is. Simply put, when you pass, you want your loved ones to receive your remaining assets (debt is not passed onto your family) and your minor children to be taken care of by close friends or relatives that you trust.  Take a deep breath. This is actually pretty simple.  However according to USA.gov, in order to write a will there are a few rules to follow: 

  1. In most states, you must be 18 years of age or older.
  2. A will must be written in sound judgment and mental capacity to be valid.
  3. The document must clearly state that it is your will.
  4. An executor of your will, who ensures your estate is distributed according to your wishes, must be named.
  5. Sign the will in the presence of two witnesses and have it notarize*.

 Now, I'm not going to write a will from scratch.  I'm not that brave, but I did find two resources to help me get a will for free.  I've decided to use Legacy Writer to help me write my will, then get it notarized for safeguarding.

*Notarization is not required, but it can safeguard against any claims that your will is invalid.


  • Legacy Writer.helps you create  your will for free.  According to their website, you can complete your will in three steps:  1. Complete the online interview form.  2. Print your will or receive by mail.  3.  Follow the instructions to sign your will in your state.  
  • Rocket Lawyer can help you create your will for free, if you sign up for $39.95/month and then cancel within the first month.
  • USA.gov give free advice on how to write a will.



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