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Chasing the Things that Bring Us Life: An Interior Designer's Reflections on Life & Business In 2019

My friends, it's that time of the year. Time to reflect, to celebrate, and to hold the ones we love and give thanks for the good gifts in our lives.

This time last year Larry and I were facing some major decisions in our personal and work lives. Larry had been back at his accounting job for a year, and was feeling heavy with burden of another busy season on the horizon.

If you aren't familiar with public accounting, "busy season" (tax season) is January through mid-April, and it's not unusual to log many 70-hour work weeks during those months.

Lauren and Larry Figueroa

At the same time, we were facing some struggles in our personal finances, and were trying to balance each of our needs, wants, and longings about our future. Leaving a secure job in accounting would mean a dramatic shift in our income, losing those beloved benefits, and, scariest of all, the unknown.

We didn't know if we could afford for him to leave, but we knew his heart was no longer in it.

Through lots of hard conversation, dreaming, tears, anxiety, and creativity, we made a plan to work toward his dream of leaving public accounting and heading into a masters program in the Fall.

We made the decision that when the new year hit, he would go down to working part-time at his accounting job and work from home in order to start building up a private piano studio, which would be his source of income during graduate school.

Larry and Lauren Figueroa

From January through September, we enjoyed a season where we both worked from home and spent more time together than we have for most of our marriage.

It was an exciting in-between season that felt like a huge step toward our goals, and it was encouraging to see that we were making life work, even with the change in salary.

We ended up meeting some neighbors on our street—Andrea & Simeon—and began to develop a friendship with them and their three kids. The two of them had experience with AirBNB, and they suggested we give it a shot with the third floor of our house.

Their "sales pitch" about their experience was pretty convincing, and since it was a fairly low risk investment, we got to work converting our finished attic into a sweet little retreat space. On May 31st we launched The Loft on Madison, and almost immediately started getting bookings.

Attic apartment reading nook

Attic converted to Airbnb vacation rental

The AirBNB was a game changer for us financially. It was more than double what we'd got for renting the space the previous summer, and having that entrepreneurial blood in my veins, it fit well into my little portfolio of businesses.

We created a website, put together processes, and made sure our guest experience was the best of the best. We were both amazed how quickly we were able to get it up and running and making a profit, and it's shifted our experience of our house from burden to profitable investment, since it more than covers our mortgage most months.

Drinking on the front porch in summer

Once we launched the AirBNB, summer was especially sweet—we're just blocks from the Uptown Wealthy Street strip, so several times a week we'd take a mid-afternoon break to head to Donkey for an early happy hour, or to Art of the Table to grab a bottle of rose to drink on our newly painted porch (that's something else we did this year!

We finally finished the siding and porch on the front of our house—a project we started August of 2018 with the thought that we might be selling this past spring). We also took many a trip to The Parlor for Raspberry Chocolate Chunk ice cream—our favorite summer pass-time :)

CertaPro Painters painting our house

September rolled around and Larry started classes at Western Theological Seminary in Holland. This fall I've had the privilege of watching him grow his list of piano students from two or three to a great group of fourteen different students, all while driving to and from Holland several times a week for class and chapel.

Man playing the piano in the living room

While we're back to a season of seeing each other less, the busyness is different than before. Now, it's a life-giving busyness, so that when we do have time together, we are excited to share about what we've learned, accomplished, or discovered in our time apart.

Now, nearing the end of this wild year of 2019, it's amazing to see the way things have worked out and recount all the things that have changed in just one year. In April, I made my first hire, Sydney (she makes a regular appearance on our instagram!).

Together, we've taken on some of our biggest projects yet! Just last month, we made our next hire, Nick, and I'm SO thrilled for you to get to know him more in the new year (we haven't had a new team shoot yet, so stay tuned for his intro post!).

Girls laughing

Truly, the LFID team has a lot to celebrate this year, and for that I am so, so grateful. We've more than doubled our net profit and quadrupled our revenue. We made the cover of GR Mag. We tripled our team size. We're learning how to be a team.

On the personal side of things, Larry and I launched the 2019 Gallery Show and Event Series at Church of the Servant and held six beautiful gallery opening events featuring conversations with local artists.

Artist speaking at a gallery opening event

Gallery opening event at Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids

So, what has this year taught me?

  • That my passion involves taking a vision—whether a vision for our clients home, a new business, a gallery, or a life goal—from idea through to execution.

  • That the right team can make all the difference!

  • To think outside the box of what is a "normal" or "safe" way to make a living and to lean into my belief that I truly can and want to create my future.

  • To chase the things that bring me life.

  • To trust myself.

I'm so grateful for the many blessings, creative projects, kind clients, friends, team, and family that has made this year, 2019, one for the books.

See you in 2020, my friends! Can't wait to see what this next year holds!

Couple laughing outside in summer

Couple holding hands and walking

Couple with their dog


Work with Lauren Figueroa Interior Design

LFID is a full-service interior design firm serving West and Southeast Michigan known especially for our Designed in a Day service.

We work with clients from Detroit, to Grand Rapids, to Holland, to Traverse City, and anywhere in between, and we pride ourselves on creating bespoke, people-centered spaces—because after all, people are what this life is all about!

If you have a project on the horizon, get started by telling us a little about your vision here, and you can view past projects here. Thanks for stopping by!

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