Katie Jefcoat | Stanley Martin Custom Homes

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About This Episode

Special guest and Happiness Expert, Katie Jefcoat, joins John for an incredible new episode of the Go With John Show! John and Katie discuss how you can achieve happiness and success in your new home. Whether you’re building or buying, it’s always easy to consider where you will put your things in your new home; but do you ever think about how you’re going to live in that space? Tune in and get brilliant tips for how to set up for success in your new space!
Katie’s Website



[00:00:05] Speaker 1 Welcome to another episode of the Go with John Show today. I’m very excited to have Katie Jefcoat with us and she is the host of Everyday Happiness. Welcome, Katie.


[00:00:16] Speaker 2 Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here. Great.


[00:00:18] Speaker 1 So you also have a podcast. So tell us a little bit about your podcast.


[00:00:24] Speaker 2 Sure. Well, it’s called Everyday Happiness, Finding Harmony and Bliss. And it started at the beginning of the pandemic when everything felt hard and everything felt like a dumpster fire and a little bit crazy. So I had a previous background. I was a trial attorney for a number of years, so finding happiness, I had to have some proof in it. So I really dug into the science around what happiness is, how we can do it, how we can achieve more happiness, right? How we can really balance that happiness and just up love a little bit. And I started learning all of these great tips and tricks, and so I started a two minute a day podcast. Everyday happiness, every single day on everywhere you find podcasts on Amazon, Alexa and all the.


[00:01:14] Speaker 1 Places, right? So every day your podcast is 2 minutes.


[00:01:18] Speaker 2 Yeah, between two and 3 minutes.


[00:01:19] Speaker 1 That’s amazing. I should I should I should look into that because. Yeah, we go we go 30 or 40 minutes. So that’s that’s a heavy lift. So.


[00:01:26] Speaker 2 Well, good thing I brought my water.


[00:01:30] Speaker 1 Yes. Yes. So so we are really excited to hear from you because you also have some expertize and history in real estate. So tell us a little bit about your experience in the real estate industry.


[00:01:46] Speaker 2 Yeah, so I work with real estate teams and title companies on all kinds of things that have to do with belonging and just understanding what it’s like to be in a company where we can win at work and succeed at life. So I come in from a employee benefits standpoint and really serve that employee niche. But in the process, I have bought and sold a couple houses. I’ve had kids and I’ve really gone through this idea of how how do we want to live in the spaces we have.


[00:02:24] Speaker 1 Right. So, so, so tell us about that. So, so, so really you’ve you’ve got all this great experience and we want to hear from you. How do we live in this space?


[00:02:35] Speaker 2 Well, I think, you know, so many of us, when we start looking at houses or we put an offer in on that house or we’re building a house, we think about where we’re going to put all of our stuff.


[00:02:48] Speaker 1 Right.


[00:02:49] Speaker 2 But we don’t always think about how we are going to live in this space. And I’m really focused on being intentional about how we’re going to show up and how we’re going to live. Right. So that’s where my focus is. And it comes in a couple of different prongs. One of the things I learned years ago, I think I probably heard it on a podcast like probably a lot of your listeners, we’ve been just so many podcasts, but I heard this saying that was so impactful and it was, How do the people I love feel loved by me?


[00:03:30] Speaker 1 Mm hmm.


[00:03:31] Speaker 2 How do the people I love feel loved by me? And as I started to explore that, I started to think about how are we living in our spaces? And when I went to my children with this phrase, they told me, we are stressed out at family dinner. You try to make this a big deal. You have all of this gratitude. You have all of these questions you want to know about our day, and it totally stresses us out. What we really want is for you to show up in the morning with your cup of coffee and your phone in another room. Help us make our lunches for school, do our gratitude and do our, you know, more ritual kind of family things in the morning and set us up for success. Right. And so then I came up with this concept of family meeting, which is what we do every single morning. And it’s really simple. I’ll give you a few highlights. And, you know, your listeners can create their own. It’s kind of like a recipe, right? You put in what you like, right? We do gratitude. I watch my kids eat their vitamins because if I don’t, they don’t get done. I don’t know if anybody else out there, you know, feels the same way, but my kids still put them in their pockets. They’ll try to get them in the trash. It’s the silliest thing. So feed.


[00:04:46] Speaker 1 Them to the.


[00:04:46] Speaker 2 Dog. Exactly. Yeah. So they got to eat their vitamins. We got to have breakfast, we have to pack lunches, talk about our day. Do you have your homework? Do you have your headphones? Do you have what you need? And then really set them up for success. So instead of rush, rush, rush, rush. Rush. Get to the bus. Get to the bus. Get to the bus. Oh, my gosh. Are going to be late for the bus. Get your shoes on. Tie your shoes in the car on the way. Like we can’t handle this. Right. It’s really a centered time where there’s built in time in the morning. Right. And that’s what they wanted. So I took this phrase, how do the people I love want to feel loved by me?


[00:05:21] Speaker 1 Right.


[00:05:22] Speaker 2 And this is what we did. And what I realized is our kitchen was really the center point for how our family lives. So was there enough stools at the counter? Was there a place to charge our electronics? Where was my coffee pot? Right. Like things that I really care about. How are we setting ourselves up for success? Right. And was there a drop zone for backpacks and shoes and lunchboxes and sports equipment and dance bags and ice skates? Right. We can go on and on. How are we living in these spaces? Right. You know.


[00:06:00] Speaker 1 And that changes over time, you know, having having, you know, for for many, many years. You know, I partnered with Stanley Martin in 2006, and I’ve spent thousands and thousands and thousands of hours in meetings where folks are designing their homes. And, you know, sometimes I catch folks designing their home for the young kids they have. So they may have two year old, three year old, four year old kids, but they’re not thinking about what their life is going to be like when they have teenagers. And one of the advantages I have is I’m sitting in these meetings all the time. So at 10:00 in the morning, I could be designing a home with a family who has teenagers. And 2:00 in the afternoon I could be with someone who has toddlers, and then the next day I could be with somebody who’s going to be an empty nester, right? So I’m constantly seeing all the different phases of of life and it changes. And I think it’s really important to try to remember that while you’re designing your house, what are the what are the constants? And I think you hit a lot of them.


[00:07:03] Speaker 2 Yeah, I mean, it absolutely changes. I remember when my kids were little, we had a we had a little canvas bag for every activity. The library bag, the dance bag, the ice skating bag, the sports bag, because we couldn’t keep taking all of this stuff and putting it into different bags and trying to run out of the house. And we’d always forget something. So I needed a lot of hooks at the very beginning, right? Because I wanted to have a hook for all the different bags. Right. And now the children are older. We don’t have as many activities, and that’s changed. So now what does that look like? I used to have a drawer for all of the shoes, you know, like the toddler shoes. Well, now their shoes are as big as mine. They don’t fit in face.


[00:07:45] Speaker 1 Yep, yep, yep. That’s. Yeah, that’s exactly right. So we always say the kitchen is the heart and soul of the house. And whenever you have a party, everybody’s in the kitchen. Whenever you’re cooking and having family time, it’s usually in the kitchen. So do you do you behave differently in the morning in your kitchen than you do in the evening? Talk about that a little bit. When you have your family meeting in the morning, how is that structured in the space?


[00:08:10] Speaker 2 Yeah, so our family meeting, it’s very ritualistic. It’s such a habit that it’s really it’s quite positive for us. So my husband does the dishes in the morning, which I know so many people want to just bang their head against their desk right now because how could you go to sleep not doing the dishes. But for me, if my husband’s going to do them and he prefers it in the morning, I’m just going to let that happen. So when the children are off to school, my kitchen is clean because he’s spent time making lunches and doing dishes and I’ve spent time coaching them on their gratitude and getting their vitamins, you know, consumed and stuff like that. So they’re sitting at chairs, right? I’m standing with my cup of coffee in hand at all times, no matter what. Right. And my husband is busy batting around the other side of the aisle. And we have like a standard island most kitchens these days.


[00:09:09] Speaker 1 So why are you standing with your coffee just because you feel like it or is there a reason?


[00:09:13] Speaker 2 You know, there’s not a particular reason. Hmm. I guess I’m a little bit of a busybody, so it’s hard for me to sit down. Maybe. But what I was finding is I was still, you know, maybe I was filling out paperwork, permission slips or whatever or, you know, doing something else. So, you know, I just was always standing. And the key to our successful family meeting is no electronics. Right. And I think that’s been that’s been key for us. But then if you think about it, so as you you mentioned this, you move through spaces, right? So that’s how we do our family meeting. The children are at school by 830 in the morning during COVID. And now my husband doesn’t go into the office every day. So we once. I get back from dropping the kids off at school? We have our own little light coffee time and that is never in the kitchen. Right. That is in our living room. I have like my favorite chair in our living room. We just have a like our living room with our TV and then a dining room we don’t have, like a sitting room. Living room.


[00:10:21] Speaker 1 Sure, sure.


[00:10:22] Speaker 2 So I sit in one chair. My husband sits in the other chair, no phones. He drinks a Coke, I drink good coffee and we just catch up on like, how are they going to go? What do you have going on? Where we at? But it’s just a time. Sometimes just 15 minutes just to connect. Right. As a couple trying to raise kids and do all the things that, you know, we are in this phase of life.


[00:10:49] Speaker 1 It’s crazy, isn’t it?


[00:10:50] Speaker 2 It’s crazy and wild and amazing.


[00:10:52] Speaker 1 It just swallows you up whole. Yeah.


[00:10:54] Speaker 2 Yeah. Which is so much fun. Yeah.


[00:10:56] Speaker 1 So what is your gratitude portion of your meaning look like when you when you say talk about that?


[00:11:04] Speaker 2 Yeah. So sometimes I think gratitude is like appreciation. Mhm. And if I’m being really real, I think it’s semantics. I think whether you say gratitude or appreciation, they’re basically the same thing. So what do I appreciate? Where am I going to focus? Right. What we focus on grows. How are we going to achieve, you know, aggressive optimism throughout the day for the children that, you know, encourage them to believe that they can really do anything that they put their mind to. Right. So it’s a lot of appreciation, gratitude, forward thinking, optimism. Just, you know, setting them up for a successful day, whatever that looks like, if it’s a big test, you know, we want to talk about that. Right. How do you feeling about that anxiety or do you not? Are you going to crush it? How can we support you? Do you have any questions? And if you do, please ask my husband, because I don’t know nothing but just, you know, stuff like that.


[00:12:04] Speaker 1 Well, right.


[00:12:05] Speaker 2 I mean, sometimes we’re getting out bowls and plates and we’re talking about the solar system and the moon and how we’re moving around. And my husband and I are both like acting out the solar system, and the children are like, okay, you two are clearly crazy, but we’re here for it. Yeah. So it just depends.


[00:12:22] Speaker 1 Good, good, good. Fantastic. That’s. That’s great. That is a great way to start your day for sure. So always on a positive note in the morning.


[00:12:32] Speaker 2 Yeah, I think so. I mean, some days are better than others, right? This is not every day is perfect. Not every day is happy. There could be things happening in our world, in our space and our own personal life that, you know, feels heavy. Right. But there’s always room for gratitude and a little bit of glitter if you can look for it.


[00:12:54] Speaker 1 Sure. Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. So we’re going to take a quick break. And when we come back, Katie, let’s talk about some things that folks may want to consider when they’re trying to design their house about their space that will contribute to everyday happiness. So we’ll be right back with more with Katie Jefcoat. All right. Welcome back. We are still here with Katie Jeffco. Katie, thank you for coming in again today. We appreciate it. You bet. So tell it so you’re a podcast host. Everyday happiness and can be found everywhere where you consume your your podcast. So so let’s talk a little bit about space and living in your space. And for our Stanley Martin buyers and people who may be thinking about designing a house, we can talk a little bit about designing a space. So what are your thoughts on on that?


[00:13:50] Speaker 2 Well, I think the biggest thing that you can do to create the most bang for your buck when you’re designing a space or when your viewing, you know, real estate is to really think about how you were going to live in the space. It’s so easy to get caught up not only in where you’re going to put all of your furniture and all of the things, but just to get caught up in the excitement of it, that if you can just take a pause and just think about the space, usually you make better decisions, right?


[00:14:24] Speaker 1 You know, I’ll just throw in a couple of things. So one of the things I did, so I built a house in 2013 on, on vacant land and we went out and spray painted the floorplan on the lot. And then we took our camping chairs and we sat and we put the camping chairs where we thought our couch would go. And we tried all this stuff. We ended up rotating the house 90 degrees from where we started by going through this exercise. And it’s really hard to envision space when you spray painted on the ground because you don’t have any barriers. But we set up because I’m in real estate yard signs that you can stick in the ground. Like open house signs are directional signs and we have these stuck all over the place. So we could literally like walk through our floorplan and try to feel it. And it’s an incredible exercise and we learned a lot by doing that. But but it helped us understand how we were going to live and how we moved through the kitchen. We actually redesigned our kitchen because we had a we had a kitchen that had a dead end and we actually opened it up. So it’s a galley kitchen, so we could walk all the way through the kitchen into the morning room. It’s a really helpful exercise. So, you know, I think when you’re designing a home, that’s great. But if you have an existing home and you’re going to buy a new home, then it’s a little more difficult, I think.


[00:15:47] Speaker 2 Yeah, I think it just depends on where you’re what you’re doing and where your market is. I think, you know, we when we were building our house in oh gosh, 20. Ten or 2011, we, you know, move some windows around. We instead of doing a bay window that the builder had, we put in sliding glass doors out to a screened in porch, we took a window that was going to be above the sink and closed it off because we were so close to our neighbors anyway.


[00:16:21] Speaker 1 Right.


[00:16:22] Speaker 2 And just having this these thoughtful discussions with your, you know, advisor, whether it’s your real estate agent or your builder or, you know, all of these these people, you know, they have great ideas, too. And so, like using a resource like you to really talk about how you’re going to live in spaces and what you can do and how you can move things around. Like we changed coat closets and we took out pantries and put in pocket doors and, you know, things that were more organic to us.


[00:16:58] Speaker 1 Right.


[00:16:59] Speaker 2 And so just using that even closets is such a big a big thing. Like, how are you going to use a closet? How much how many pairs of shoes you have? Like. Thinking about that is really important, especially you get to build a house from scratch.


[00:17:15] Speaker 1 Right. Right now. That’s true. That’s true. And I think it’s also very important to realize that you’re not going to live in your new house the way you’re going to live in your old house. It’s a totally new opportunity to have a new way of living. One of my favorite stories to tell is we had a we had a customer, I don’t know, 15 years ago, and we were designing a house for him and his wife and their kids. And he wanted a door from the owner’s bedroom into the laundry room. And we designed it and we said, hey, that’s a little odd. You know, most people don’t want to connect their laundry room to the owner’s bedroom because there’s also a door from the hallway into the laundry room. So this went on through several iterations. And finally, Michael Schnitzler, the president of Stanley Martin Custom Home, said, you know, why do you want this door here? Can you help me understand what it is? And he says, Well, it’s because I don’t have a closet. And every morning when I wake up, I have to go out into the hallway and then into the laundry room to get dressed. And his wife immediately said, That’s because you don’t have a closet in our current house and there’s nowhere to put your clothes except for the laundry room. But he had it in his mind that this is the way life is and this is the way it has to be. And once he realized, yes, I do have a closet and started visualizing how he was going to live in the new house, we obviously took that door out. But it but it taught me very, very, very early on that folks in general can get trapped in the maze of their existing home in their mind, and they’re trying to recreate parts of that maze in their new home. You know, and I think that’s a habit that that I look out for. When I see people doing that, I try to break them out of it. So.


[00:19:09] Speaker 2 Yeah, absolutely. Or when you have when you’re living in your current house and you’re building or buying something new, you think it has to be 360 degrees different. You’re like, well, my closet is, you know, one size here. So it has to be at least double in the next place, right? Triple. You can’t see past how you’re going to make things work. I mean, we all do that, right? And that’s like the fun about getting a new space and also the challenges for professionals like you to be like, okay, why do you need this? What do you want? How important is this? Because we don’t always get everything we want. Even, you know, when you’re buying something or building something, it could just not work. Exactly. What?


[00:19:52] Speaker 1 Yeah, that. Do you know what? That’s. That’s my number one rule in real estate. You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. It just never works out. There’s always a a drawback with something. Yeah. And if then. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


[00:20:06] Speaker 2 Absolutely. And you know, you want to be able to live in a space that you’re comfortable in. So if you work from home, you want a home office that maybe isn’t right off of your dining room. Right? If it’s if you’re the kind of worker that’s super messy and likes to have papers everywhere and never has a tidy office, but you also really like to entertain. Maybe you want frosted doors, right? Or maybe you don’t want your office on the main level. Like there’s lots of things to think about how you live and work. And so many of us now are working at home some or part time or all the time now, like things are changing. So how does that change? How does our, you know, our life change? Are we laptops at the dining room table or are we dedicated office space? And how do. We separate work and life in a home where we work and we live.


[00:21:05] Speaker 1 Yep, exactly. And then how do you design for today while planning for tomorrow?


[00:21:11] Speaker 2 Absolutely. Because you could have little kids now or you could be an empty nester. But maybe you have teenagers and in five years, they’re out of the house and you don’t need the kind of space that you did before or you’re you know, you’re getting ready to retire, but you haven’t retired yet. So you think you need a big office, but maybe you don’t. Maybe you need a door into an office like an exterior door. Like there’s so many things to think about.


[00:21:37] Speaker 1 Yeah, exactly. You know, we’re going to help everybody do that. Yeah. Yeah. So let’s shift gears here as we close out. So tell us about your podcast and what your mission is with your podcast.


[00:21:50] Speaker 2 It’s really simple. The podcast is everyday happiness and really we talk about happiness, science, my concept, intentional margins, which is finding the harmony between our two do’s and our priorities and just musings about life. You know, intentional margins is something that I came up with years ago, which is really just this idea that we don’t want to end the day or the week or the year and wonder, what did I get accomplished? What did I do? How do I feel like I’m living in my priorities? Did I do the things that matter most? Did I spend time with my family? Did I work on a hobby? Did I have a moment to breathe? Did I go go to coffee with a friend? Did I met? Did I, you know, read the books that I wanted to read this year? What are the priorities and how do we fit those into our day or our week? Not every day you get to go have a coffee with a friend or whatever your priority is. We all have those priorities that make life worth living and we get to have that and crush our to do list. Like we get to have both. If we can manage our time, we can be busy and be balanced if we’re doing the right things in this season and seasons change.


[00:23:10] Speaker 1 Absolutely fantastic. Katie Jefcoat, every day, happiness, thank you so much for coming in.


[00:23:17] Speaker 2 Thank you for having me.


[00:23:18] Speaker 1 Yeah. So this wraps up another episode of the Go with John Show. Go out there and build something extraordinary.