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[author_intro title=”Brooke%20Larsen” background_image=”345″ avatar=”5420″ overflow=”true”]Here is a little bit….well a lot about me!![/author_intro]

I get asked all the time, “were did you learn to do all of this?”

To be honest it has been a long time coming. Growing up my mom always loved to decorate and create.  I can remember her refinishing our piano as well as re upholstering our couch.  She also made one of my prom dresses and all of my Halloween costumes.  She was always thrifty but loved nice things.  My dad is an electrical engineer so if anything broke he could fix it.  I can remember him replacing the plug to our vacuum way more times then I thought possible, pulling part the washer, doing all the electrical and duct work in our house.  He always had some new gadget in our home to play with or figure out.  My grandpa is a cabinet builder and I can remember sweeping his shop and being fascinated with his creations.  Growing up I bounced from thing to thing, I sewed a little here and there, painted and did some crafts with my mom.  What I really loved was gymnastics and cheerleading.  When I was in 8th grade I decided to tryout for cheerleader.  I worked so hard.  I put in every waking moment to make sure I had everything down pat.  Tryouts came and I was so nervous I forgot my cheer….. I didn’t make it.  I was devastated.  I thought for sure my life was over.  But I remember my mom asking me, “Brooke, do you feel like you did everything you could?” My answer was “Yes” and she said, “then you should be happy with how hard you worked.  We will work harder for next time.”  That I did, I took dance, cheer and tumbling.  I am happy to say my hard work paid off and I made it my Sophomore year.  I learned with dedication and determination I can do anything.  I may not get what I want, at the moment I want it, but if I keep trying it will pay off.  Little did I know all of these things I was learning would pile on top of each other to give me the courage to create my own dreams.

A year after my husband and I got married we bought our first home, a condo that was in need of a makeover.  Before moving in we ripped it all apart and started renovating it.  Being this was our first time ever doing this, so we were in for a few bumps.  The first one……we broke the main water line to our shower, and water was going everywhere at a VERY quick pace.  We were on the top floor and though we tried to control it we flooded the people below us.  I know what you are thinking….just turn the water off….We searched and searched for it….and finally found it on the street a block away and it shut the water off to the entire complex.  An expensive lesson to learn, but a lesson none the less.  The rest of the renovation went smoothly.  I did learn a few things here and there that I would do differently next time but all in all it turned out pretty good.  My husband got transferred 8 months later, so we sold our place and made a good amount of cash off of it.  Thats how we caught the remodeling bug!

Our next home was a new build.  It wasn’t my favorite home but it was what we could afford and it would work for my husband and I!  I got to work decorating it and making it our home.  We replaced the carpet with hardwood and when we found out I was pregnant we remodeled the soon to be nursery.  We added hardwood, bead board, moldings, and of course lots of decorations.

After I had our first daughter I quit my job as a  bank manager to be a stay at home mom.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love being a mommy, but the pace was much slower.  My daughter didn’t talk back…yet and the days seemed to be long in between caring for our daughter, cleaning the house, folding laundry, doing dishes and making dinner.  I needed some way to express myself, and do what I loved doing.  My neighbor worked at a local craft consignment shop and helped get me a booth.  I sanded and made little letter blocks to sell, I started a craft blog, entered some boutiques, and sold vinyl at parties.  But I needed to take it to the next level….which was taking better pictures.  My hubby surprised me with a camera for Christmas and I loved it, I was hooked on photography.  I took classes and practiced A LOT, then people started asking me to take their pictures.  My photography began to grow.  I was loving experimenting with new lenses and lighting.  My pictures on my craft blog were getting better, this seemed to be the perfect out for me.  It allowed me to have some me time,  make a little money, and be at home with my daughter.  I wasn’t making much but it paid for my hobby.  6 months later I got pregnant with our 2nd daughter.  I am not one of those cute pregnant ladies, I am a face in the toilet pregnant lady, and so everything came to a screeching halt.  6 months into my pregnancy my husband got transferred again, we put our house up for sale and moved in with his parents, where we lived for 6 months until we found our current home.

I didn’t love the location of where we previously lived and the living space in that home was terribly small, making it hard to have many people over.  When we started looking for our next house, location and living space were a must have.  We didn’t have a very large budget and all the homes we were going into didn’t meet my top 2 must haves.  So we continued to search, I was not willing to compromise this time.  And then we happened upon our current home.  I remember going through it and the entire time my husband would say, oh we will just do this or do that.  It was getting to be a very long list.  At the time I had a 2 1/2 year old and a 3 month old so taking on that much work seemed daunting.  But I did love the living space,  and the location, and it was in our price range, so we put in an offer.  After lots of back and forth we finally got the house!  I knew we could fix it up, I didn’t doubt that, I was just worried about all the work it needed.  But everything fell into place, and it felt like the right path to take.

We began tearing things apart and I decided to start another blog called “Start at Home” to track our journey of turning this house into a home.  I started posting before pictures and updating with afters as we finished a room.   We had sold a lot of our furniture when we moved so our home seemed rather vacant.  We needed more furniture, but unfortunately new furniture just wasn’t in the budget.  I started looking through the classifieds and found a big desk for our front room.  My husband went and picked it up…it was so big it took 5 men to get it into my house plus they took out my painted floor and dinged a few other spots.  Since it was so heavy it had to be refinished inside.  So I got to work, sanding, priming, painting, antiquing and a top coat to finish it off.  I loved it, I LOVED every minute of it.  I started looking for more pieces to refinish and use in our home.  I found a love for treasure hunting, I would wake up early Saturday morning to hit all the good garage and estate sales.  I would stop at thirft stores and started seeking out flea markets.  Our home was starting to fill up.

One day my husband called me and told me he had bought a table for $40 for me to refinish and sell.  I just needed to go pick it up in the truck.   I know this sounds strange but I felt like we were taking a huge risk…. what if it doesn’t sell.  When I got there I fell in love with the table.  I had to keep it.  I refinished it and we moved it into our home.  Now we had an extra table….it just sat in the garage for awhile until my husband finally convinced me to list it in the classifieds.  I put it up and prayed it would sell.  Much to my surprise it sold in 20 minutes and 3 other people wanted it.  I refinished other tables for the other 3 people,  and from there things just kept going.

I never would have thought I would be doing this today.  I am so grateful for this journey I am on and all of your support and kindness.  If there is one thing I have learned….You really can accomplish your goals if you are willing to work hard and never give up!


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