The Neater Nest Story
- Sleeping in a tent,
- Eventually buying my first house during the credit bubble,
- A Vegas wedding with my hot Italian wife,
- Building a home on top of an airport
- 3 amazing kids
- Finally leaving my cushy corporate job to pursue e-commerce
- And now everyone thinks of me when they are on the toilet
Where it all began
I couldn’t tell my story without talking about these 2 great men. On the left is my Grandpa. He was incredibly talented and hard working. He built over 100 homes in Nebraska with the help of my Dad who started roofing at the age of 8. Above is a photo of the two building my parent's first house.
Carpentry skills are in my blood and it explains why I love DIY so much.
Starting my first business with student loan money
Going to University was an amazing experience, but it was clear early on that school was not my thing. Coming from a life of DIY I learn best by doing.
Starting a service business takes startup capital. As a student I was broke, but luckily I was eligible for student loan money. I took out as much as I could and bought recording equipment to start a mobile sound recording business. I worked with local and national bands to produce live music records. I was fortunate to work with bands like The Fray, Big Head Todd and Monsters, Allman Brothers, Copeland, The Roots and various others at music festivals. It was awesome work!
Sleeping in a tent
Well, it turns out that if you don’t go to class you eventually become ineligible for student loans. But I did get 2 great things from College. A business loan for sub 3% interest and I met my future wife.
I was renting a 3 bedroom 1 bathroom house with 3 musicians so that meant that one of us had to sleep in the unfinished creepy basement. I enjoy my privacy so I volunteered to take the dungeon and pitched a tent down there. It was actually pretty sweet. Not sure what my girlfriend (future wife) thought about it though.
I negotiated with the landlords to allow me to build out a bedroom in the basement. So I called on my Dad and Brother to come and help do the framing.
My girlfriend of 6.5 years said yes when I proposed. I know she didn’t marry me for my money. I wasn’t just a broke musician, I was a small business owner who provided services for broke musicians… Not necessarily the best market to be in. But she loved me regardless.
We went to Las Vegas with 40 of our closest friends and family and got married at the Venetian on the bridge in St. Mark's square. It was perfect. Except the fact that I lost my voice on my wedding day. That’s what happens when you party for 3 days straight. Live and Learn.
Buying our first house during the credit bubble
By 2005, I was still self employed and business was going well. I was growing up, got married and bought a house together. We bought a cute little 1950’s ranch.
Finally having a house to call my own was awesome for my DIY chops. I was able to get a lot of experience building and creating. I realized how much joy could come from making things with your hands.
Some of my projects included, replacing the back door, remodeling the laundry room, re-grouting kitchen tile,
installing a sprinkler system, and building a storage shed.
I also built a daybed for my wife’s 30th birthday and gave it to her as a surprise. In the photos, you can see the joy in my eyes when I revealed it to her. And her reaction was priceless.
Building a home on top of an airport
My wife and I were ready to start a family, but we would quickly outgrow our little house. So we were dead set on buying a fixer-upper in an old historic neighborhood. But old homes require a lot of maintenance and that’s not something we were ready to tackle while trying to raise a family. I don’t want to spend my weekends fixing up the house because I have to. I want to choose the projects I do and I want to spend as much time with my kids as I can.
We decided that for the same amount of money we could build a new home in Stapleton, a re-development of the old Denver airport.
In the photos you can see the abandon control tower just blocks from our home. It was a great decision. We love the location and gave us plenty of home to grow into and really make it our own.
Prior to getting married and buying our first house, I had taken a corporate job. By that I mean, they hired me as a freelancer and they became my only client and eventually offered me a full time job. So I certainly didn’t seek it out. It just happened.
At the time I think it was a great decision. It allowed me to get a lot of financial things in order. Things that just were not possible on my self employment income. I also learned a lot about leadership and managing a team. It was through this growth that I realized I was meant for bigger and better things. More than just fixing their broken stuff…
After 12 years of working in the same job, with 2 little kids at home and another on the way it was now or never. I was secretly hoping that they would lay me off with a severance package, but that didn’t happen.
I had been building Neater Nest on nights and weekends. I was interested in e-commerce, making things and selling them for a profit. Creating physical solutions to everyday problems. I had several friends doing well selling on Amazon which was inspiring. At the end of the day, I realized that I could either spend my days building someone else's dream or I could spend it building my own. I chose my dream. To be my own boss again. I QUIT.
Kids change everything
Just when you get the house dialed in, kids come along and bring all their countless accessories to clutter it up. But having kids has spawned a whole new wave of DIY projects for us. When our second child came along we really needed more space so we decided to finish the basement which added a bedroom, bathroom and large play area.
When the third child came along we needed more space yet again. So I enlisted the help of my Dad to frame in the loft to make a new bedroom. This is where I really started to understand the significance of DIY.
I realized that it wasn’t even the projects and power tools that I loved. DIY is a practical/useful excuse for spending quality time with the people I love. Helping my family live a cosy, safer, happier life was the main goal.
Getting to take my kids on the DIY journey with me filled me with joy and a sense of legacy. Their excitement about us creating something from nothing was very special and I could tell that they really enjoyed it.
Looking back I realized that when life got more hectic and the world started closing in, I put off doing DIY because it didn’t seem important enough to deserve my attention.
But what I have discovered is that slowing down and making things with my own hands is grounding. It brings me into the present moment. Something we all need more of in our lives.
Why everyone thinks of me when they are on the toilet
This is actually a joke that some of my friends have. You’ll know why in a minute. When I started Neater Nest my first product was an Anti-slip tape. The competition was selling black adhesive grit tape. Sand paper that you stick to your stairs. It looked ugly. I called around and found a manufacturer
My second product was… Wait for it… A toilet paper holder. Now I know that sounds about as boring as you can get, but my idea was different.
Most people these days use their mobile phones when they sit on the toilet. I’m always afraid of dropping mine in.
So I created a toilet paper holder with a phone shelf. We have all kinds of great designs to match any decor. Check them out and think of me next time you are going to the bathroom.
It's an Evolution, a Revolution, a HardwarEvolution
When we built my sons new room by converting our loft into his bedroom we needed a closet. There was a recessed section of the wall (I actually had the foresight to design this when we built the house). But we planned to use that as a closet. The problem was that the room was small and swinging closet doors take up so much floor space. So I came up with the idea to use a barn door.
I searched online for the best hardware I could find. When it arrived I realized that there was 1 major problem. It comes with holes pre-drilled every 16 inches to mount onto the studs. But every home and doorway is different and rarely lines up perfectly on 16 inch centers. That meant half of the door would be on a stud and the other half would not. I had to drill extra holes in the bar to get it to line up correctly.
The problem solver in me knew there had to be a better way. For years the market has just accepted this major flaw and made compromises to make it work. I went to the drawing board for several months.
After coming up with a design I though might work, I had a 3D model created in the computer. Sent that off to a 3D printer and had some prototypes made out of plastic. 1 year and 15 iterations later I finally had my completed design.
I’m now in the process of creating a Kickstarter campaign to reveal this new innovation to the world. It allows anyone to bolt directly to the studs and then clamp the track into place. No more guessing and hoping that the pre-drilled holes line up.
- It’s an evolution of today's hardware.
- It’s revolutionary in the barn door hardware industry.
- Introducing our newest brand.
Our Mission at Neater Nest
I’m on a mission to empower homeowners to customize their homes. From the smallest upgrade project like switching out kitchen hardware to a full-on remodeling. Anything that fills a person with joy….
I believe that DIY is for everyone. And every family deserves beautiful, functional spaces that serve their own unique needs.
Through our top of the market products or our resource articles and vlogs, we’re here to inspire you to take action and ownership of your home. Create a space with memories that last a lifetime.
At Neater Nest we call this nesting (not just for pregnant women).
To learn more about this read our manifesto.
Do you ever feel like you have so much on your to-do list that never gets done because everyone and everything is pulling for your attention?
Well you are at home here and you are not alone. Let's do this together. Let's challenge ourselves to step outside our comfort zone. Let's take back our weekends and enjoy them with the ones we love the most. Let's change what's possible between our 4 walls.
Peace and Love,