In November 2018 we bought a house and have since been working together to organize our belongings and to create a place that feels like home. It has taken many years and many different homes to find my own style, and along the way, I have learned some things. So here are a few tips for those of you who demanded I start a blog and share my secrets.
This list will not tell you which color to paint your bedroom or how to Marie Kondo your closets. It will share a few things that have helped us make better use of and love the space we live in.
1. Give Functional a Facelift
You have a lot of things in your home that you use and that need a place to be stored or displayed. A great place to start is with how you store things that you use every day. Simply creating beautiful storage or creatively displaying everyday items can greatly improve the look and feel of your room.
Don’t buy random decor thinking it is going to make your home look better. Start with getting organized and simplifying. Once you do that, you will see where you can add if you need to!
It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of pretty decorations if the things you use daily are cluttered and dysfunctional.
Here are some examples that hopefully help you think about the design of your everyday living!
Our bathroom did not come with much built-in storage, which led to messy countertops and over-stuffed drawers. Instead of buying a set of plastic drawers as a quick fix, I decided to find a way to display the things I use and to store other things in something I like to look at.
Something as simple as putting Q-tips in a pretty container or putting your shampoo and conditioner in their own glass jars can make a huge difference in the bathroom. The best news? These things are so affordable!
In the kitchen, I use glass containers to display baking ingredients like flour and sugar, and other dry goods that would take up space in my cabinets. This way I add texture to the room, and all of these ingredients are within reach when I need them!
If you have kiddos, you probably find yourself constantly moving toys around or bogged down by all of the plastic playhouse colors cluttering up your living room. Maybe you could find a wooden chest to store toys in that you actually like to look at.
You get the idea – think of things that improve the functionality of your daily life and also add interest and pleasure to the eye!
2. Be Mindful of the Messes
Is it just me or is there always some piece of clutter that makes its way from room to room when you clean, never really landing somewhere that it belongs? We always have random stuff in our guest bedroom – it ends up there because I haven’t found a home for it so it just gets shuffled until I come up with a way to store it! If I find myself doing this with an item over and over, I try to come up with a solution – come up with a place for it to “belong” (and yes, sometimes it just belongs in the goodwill pile).
When we moved into our house, I found myself moving stacks of mail around, without time to go file things away at that moment. I got a little desktop mail holder so that I wouldn’t have to worry about things getting misplaced, and I knew it would be there waiting for me when I had time to sit down and focus on it.
Maybe you don’t have a clutter problem, but you find yourself misplacing items because they don’t have a set home. For me, it is the car keys. So we got a cute little hanger for our coat closet that holds the keys and dog leash – a spot that makes sense and makes it easy to get out the door on time.
The next time you are picking up around the house and you see that random flingin-flangin thing that is driving you crazy because it has no home – give it a home! If not in your house, then in the trash or at a thrift store. It can be helpful to make a little list so the next time you find yourself at the store you can keep an eye out for the perfect solution.
3. Prioritize High Traffic Areas
Make your budget count by starting with the areas you use the most. It doesn’t make sense to remodel the guest bedroom when you only open the door once a week to make sure it doesn’t smell weird. Where do you spend the most time? If you lay in bed all day long, start in your bedroom! I would guess for most people, the kitchen is heavily used, and needs to be the most functional. That is where we started. Think about the area you use the most, and look back at the first two tips – can you give functional a facelift and give miscellaneous items a home?
If you own your home and are thinking about remodeling, or you are buying a home that needs updates, I want to share a little tip from my Mother-In-Law.
She shared that looking back she wishes that when they built their home they would have spent a little extra to have some of the dream items that were on their list, rather than worrying about the cost. Yes, it would mean a few more months of mortgage payments – but those features would have been enjoyed for 20 years!
Yes, be thrifty, embrace DIY, be financially responsible! However, don’t forget that doing it right the first time can save you money in the future and will ensure you are truly happy with your home. Instead of spending money on quick fixes that you don’t enjoy and that won’t last, try and find a balance where you can save and where you should spend. That takes me to my next point.
4. DIY and Weighing out Opportunity Cost
I am all about the DIY life. I like to try new things and learn new skills. That being said, I also value my time and know my limits. Some things are well worth learning how to do and saving money on labor. Other things are worth saving for so that a professional can do what they do best.
Our kitchen counters are a great example. I could have figured out how to install butcher block. I could have used youtube and rented tools and driven around to different hardware stores to buy supplies. I knew I could do it, but I also knew it would mean my kitchen would be a wreck for a month, it would take trial and error that would cost me, and it would take so much energy that I could use somewhere more useful. So we hired a professional who got it done in two days and did it right the first time without all the hassle.
When it came to closing in our backyard with a cedar fence, we weighed the options of doing it ourselves and paying someone to help and decided it was a weekend project we could pull off. So we googled, we rented and borrowed tools, we dug holes, and we built a fence. We saved money and it looks great.
When considering a project, weigh the cost not only in dollars but in time spent and messes you may end up living in during the process. Think about the talented people you know, the tools you have access to, and the skills you can learn.
5. Highlight What You Love
One of the best ways to improve the design of your home is to use things that are meaningful to you. In our house, it is music, plants, and our dog. Instead of keeping guitars and violins packed away in bulky cases, we hung them on the wall. We made a special space for the dog that isn’t such an eyesore. I have so many plants I am running out of room for them. These are the things we love, and we love having them in our home.
So put that concert poster in a frame! Print your favorite picture of your baby! Take those travel trinkets out and put them on a shelf! If it is special to you, find a way to feature it instead of hiding it away.
Highlighting what you love brings me to another point – making a space your own. There is a difference between inspiring looks on Pinterest and what we truly feel at home in. You may pin a million photos of pure white walls and mid-mid-century modern furniture, and exposed brick – but is that where you feel cozy and comfortable? Try incorporating aspects of what inspires you, while keeping things that just feel like home. It may not look like a perfectly crafted photo, but when you walk in the room it will feel right.
I currently feel this way about our bedroom – it has clean grey walls, dark wood floors, lots of natural light, a big fluffy down comforter and too many pillows – Pinterest perfect right??? Well, guess what – it doesn’t feel right to me. It is missing something cozy and homey. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so I decided to ask other people what they thought!
6. Ask Others for Inspiration
It takes time to find a good balance, and after a while it can be hard to come up with fresh ideas for a room on our own. Ask your friends what they would do to your space specifically! They will have a fresh perspective and a unique style that you can learn from.
7. Don’t Neglect Texture
One of the best ways to add interest to a room is with texture. Using a blend of natural textures is a great way to add dimension and to create a sense of coziness. Think about textures when you are giving functional a facelift – can you use a woven basket for laundry instead of white plastic? Can you get new plushy towels that you love wrapping up in after a shower and that look good on the towel rack? Can you get textured linen curtains to replace plastic blinds?
I am not an expert, but I have learned a few tricks as I am getting my home organized on a budget. I still have nesting to do – and probably always will – but it feels good to make room for the things we love and to spend money making our daily lives both easier and more beautiful!
Thanks to everyone who has offered ideas for our home, and of course if you use any of these tips in your home I want to see pictures!