Category Archives: Home Improvement

In Praise of Imperfection

{Image: Robb North}

Oh, goodness. Has it really been a month already?

So much is going on, and yet, at the same time, not a lot is going on in my life. I’ve had bursts of energy, spurts of hyper-extroversion in which I enjoyed lots of time with friends, extended periods of hyper-introversion in which I spent lots of time perched on my couch with a laptop while thinking or writing. I’ve had ups. I’ve had downs.

I’ve tried to eat healthier lately. I found out I have a mild case of hypothyroidism, on which I’d love to blame my steady weight gain since graduation from high school. Alas, I know the truth. I’ve had one too many McDonald’s value meals and never met a brownie I didn’t like. But that, among other things, has made me realize even more that what we eat truly does affect us. I’ve also tried to work out more. But don’t ask me how many times I’ve been to the gym or out for a run this week, because I couldn’t answer you. Although I do plan on going today. But even if that doesn’t happen, I feel stronger just knowing I’m taking my health seriously and I’m focusing on nutrition and activity to overcome migraines, hormone imbalances, and excess weight. I’m not trying to have a perfect diet or activity level all the time, but MOST of the time would be wonderful! I’m sure I’d feel so much better if I did.

I also think I’m in a down-cycle right now creatively. I need lots and lots of down time. Outside of working on a novel and experimenting with “clean” or “Paleo” recipes for dinner, I’ve not been super crafty or even productive. I’ve been focusing on improving things that aren’t really blog-worthy. Like, for instance, finally getting the hang of staying on top of doing my dishes. I know. It is shameful. I’m a grown woman who hates doing the dishes. I think it is latent rebellion against my grandfather who would insist I help my grandmother with the dishes immediately following a meal when I’d rather be out running around in the backyard. Grandpa would be glad to know I have finally understood why he was so insistent about that. When my counter looks like a mess and my sink is full, it seems the rest of the house follows suit not long after. It’s a pride thing. I guess that’s why Fly Lady says to start by polishing your sink.

It’s true part of the down-cycle is simply burn out from being productive for so long. (Can I get an Amen?!) However, it’s also true that I’ve avoided Pinterest for long periods of time, cut back on my Facebook time, ignored Twitter, and let my Google Reader feed get backlogged. It’s really easy to be busy without really doing anything. It’s also tempting to want all the pretty things I can’t buy or make. Suddenly my blank walls seem depressing when I see decorated ones. My lack of a headboard for my bed is lame and lazy. My bathroom’s cabinet chaos is embarrassing. Yet when I tune out the social media influences, I find myself content with my bare walls. I don’t envy the amazing DIYer’s tufted headboard. I don’t worry that I have yet to create a cute and functional first aid kit and have instead used a hand-me-down from the 80s that holds the gauze and Band-Aids just as well. I rejoice in the fact that I am living within my means. I am using what I have. I am focusing on being grateful for the present reality instead of eternally looking forward to deceptively better future.

How about you? Have you embraced simplicity for stretches of time? Have you been inspired or exhausted by the social media noise? Do you feel embarrassed if you haven’t produced something tangible to show off in a few weeks? Do you long for just living in your imperfect home with your imperfect family and laughing away the imperfect moments?

You’re not alone. I’m right there with you. And you know what? I think it is healthy! Take a sabbatical from perfection and thrive in all your imperfect glory.

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Filed under Balance, Budget, DIY, Home, Home Improvement, Life, Ponderings

Home Tour Tuesday: The Master Bedroom

Ta-da! It’s Tuesday. Every Tuesday, I reveal a new area or room in our home. Since we’ve just moved in, for now I’m just experimenting with what I’d like to do to improve it or decorate it. Eventually, I’ll show off before and afters. (Can’t wait!) But for now, it’s just the “before” and an explanation of what I’d like to see happen in the near future.

Today’s tour is of one of my favorite rooms in the house. I love, love, love the paint color. Our bedroom has a high ceiling, gray-blue walls, and white accents. I’m working on adding artwork, prints, and pictures on the walls, but for now I’ve just been trying to get it organized. I think I’m almost there!

You can see in this picture that the left-hand bookshelf has a white box on it. I put it there so Daniel could have a place to hold all of the wires and electronic bits and pieces that accumulate on “his” bookshelf. It works pretty well! Someday soon I really need to get him a better nightstand solution, but for now the box and the bookshelf do their job.
For my part, my growing accessories collection has been haphazardly strewn across the top of my dresser for awhile, until I realized I could continue “shopping” in my home and reuse something for an organizational purpose. If you look on the left-hand corner of the dresser, you’ll see a white tray. Guess what? That tray is actually a serving tray from Bed, Bath, & Beyond that we got for our wedding. I’ve used it for parties, but usually it is stored above our refrigerator. Not now! Now it is the perfect place to store my bracelets and sunglasses. I’ve also put a white ramekin I rarely use on top of it, to hold loose rings that I don’t wear every day.
Here are few close-ups of the room. I spy my white owl!:
And finally, a couple of shots from inside the bookshelves. Yes, I know the gold-framed picture of us has showed up all around the house:
So that’s our master bedroom! In a couple of weeks I’ll delve into the master bathroom.
p.s. If you’re new, welcome! I invite you to sign up for an email or RSS subscription to receive updates and budget-savvy inspiration on organizing and decorating your home.

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Filed under Bedroom, Budget Decor, DIY, Home Improvement, Home Tour Tuesday, Organizing, Storage

Home Tour Tuesday: The Kitchen

Ta-da! It’s Tuesday. Every Tuesday, I reveal a new area or room in our home. Since we’ve just moved in, for now I’m just experimenting with what I’d like to do to improve it or decorate it. Eventually, I’ll show off before and afters. (Can’t wait!) But for now, it’s just the “before” and an explanation of what I’d like to see happen in the near future.

Today we’re in my kitchen! Oh, the kitchen. I love this kitchen, but it could stand some updating to bring it up to speed. Unfortunately, kitchen remodels are probably the most expensive part of renovating a home, so I’m not sure how much I can do. I’ve been following with great interest the renovations that John and Sherry over at Young House Love have been doing. They’re pretty much making my dream DIY kitchen; I’d love for ours to turn out that beautifully.The harsh truth, though, is that our kitchen isn’t that bad. Sure, the cabinets are the most “in” color right now, but kitchen trends come and go. Yeah, we don’t have the stainless steel appliances that are in demand, but we have excellent black appliances that are in great shape and much better than any other appliances in rental kitchens I’ve come across.I dream of an overhaul that will catch home buyer’s eyes and make our duplex stand out in the crowd when the time comes for my dad to sell, but the reality is probably I will manage to add a tile back splash, new faucet fixtures, and maybe stylish cabinet knobs and hardware, and that’s it. If I’m really lucky, that renovation will include a granite counter top.

Outside of the annoying and awkward overhang on the peninsula (shown here, in our living room tour), the most annoying things currently about our kitchen are the lack of shelves tall enough to hold cereal or cracker boxes (see above, how we store them currently as a result), and that the two lower corner cabinets are just big old black holes under the counter, with no shelving or lazy susan to help with storage. Seriously, who does that? We’re going to need to fix that issue somehow. I’m still working on it.
If you look closely, you’ll see my husband working in his native habitat.
Sorry about all the color changes in lighting. Apparently while the iPhone is great for natural light photos, photos with variances in lighting have significant color fluctuations. Sigh.
I’ve been fiddling with the idea of downloading the IKEA kitchen planner to see what I could do with this space. Has anyone used this tool?
p.s. If you’re new, welcome! I invite you to sign up for an email or RSS subscription to receive updates and budget-savvy inspiration on organizing and decorating your home.

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Filed under Budget Decor, DIY, Home Improvement, Home Tour Tuesday, Kitchen

Home Tour Tuesday: The Living Room

Ta-da! It’s Tuesday. Every Tuesday, I reveal a new area or room in our home. Since we’ve just moved in, for now I’m just experimenting with what I’d like to do to improve it or decorate it. Eventually, I’ll show off before and afters. (Can’t wait!) But for now, it’s just the “before” and an explanation of what I’d like to see happen in the near future.

Today’s tour is the room we spend our most time in–our living room. We watch movies, read, and sometimes eat in this room together. I blog, write, edit photos, list items for sale, and relax in this room. While Daniel spends most of his time working in the office, I like being able to turn the tv on during photo editing sessions, or keep up with the laundry and dishes while writing a blog post. It really is a living room.

Basically, it takes a beating. Our favorite spot for coats is hanging over the back of a chair (much to my chagrin) and it doesn’t take long for it to look cluttered or dirty due to all the functions it performs and all the traffic the floor gets.

Here is what it looks like currently:

… from another angle …

And here is what I’d like it to look like eventually:

Living Room Inspiration - Behind Closed Drawers

Painting, a lighting fixture/fan update, new tables, possible wood flooring, a fix for the awkward space between the chairs and the kitchen (bookcase installed under the counter overhang maybe?), curtain rod and drapes, and decor is all in the plan.

But whatever other improvements we make, we need to purchase a rug. I’ve had my eye on ivory flokati rugs for some time, but I have to admit I’ve been nervous to take the plunge. You have to rake them, for goodness’ sake, and they aren’t exactly kid juice friendly. We don’t have kids currently, but we do have friends and family with kids, so it doesn’t hurt to be ready for spills and messes.

I’ve considered a patterned rug, but if we go that route I’d like a simple geometric pattern and I’m picky and we have a limited (small) budget and Overstock.com only carries so many items in our budget … so … um … yeah. The hunt continues¬† and the money we’ve saved up stays stashed away.

It’s all a work in progress.

p.s. If you’re new, welcome! I invite you to sign up for an email or RSS subscription to receive updates and budget-savvy inspiration on organizing and decorating your home.

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Filed under Budget Decor, DIY, Home Improvement, Home Tour Tuesday, Living Room

10 Quick Ways to Spruce Up Your Home Today in 10 Minutes or Less

Everybody loves a quick fix. I know I do. So today’s post is quick and easy. Here is a list of things you can do in ten minutes or less that will improve your home. These things frequently get forgotten or put off, but they all make a big impact from little effort.

What can you do in ten minutes or less?

1. Dust your lamps with a lint roller.

2. Vacuum your mattress. (Not kidding!)

3. Throw out any food in the refrigerator that is old or out of date.

4. Shine your sink.

5. Change your air filter.

6. Wash the doorknobs (betcha didn’t know they’re the dirtiest place in your house!)

7. Freshen up the trash disposal in your sink. (I drop in some coffee grounds or a lemon peel and turn on the mechanism for a few seconds. Works like a charm!)

8. Weed your DVD or Blu-ray collection.

9. Organize your spices.

10. Throw out junk mail. (Hint: I trash it as soon as I bring it in the house!)

Happy organizing!

If you’re new to this site, welcome! I hope you’ll look around. Start here to learn more about my organizing journey, or subscribe by RSS. See you soon!

{Image: Polina Ivanova}

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Filed under Cleaning, Home, Home Improvement, Organizing, Sorting

Home Tour Tuesday: The Dining Room

Ta-da! It’s Tuesday. Every Tuesday, I reveal a new area or room in our home. Since we’ve just moved in, for now I’m just experimenting with what I’d like to do to improve it or decorate it. Eventually, I’ll show off before and afters. (Can’t wait!) But for now, it’s just the “before” and an explanation of what I’d like to see happen in the near future.

Today’s tour is the first room off of the entryway from last week–our dining room. Most of our downstairs is an open plan, but the dining room is set off by itself so it has a more formal feeling.

So here is our plain vanilla dining room. Mid 90s builder basic at its “best,” no?

And a few more close-ups from various room angles:

Overall, it is a very serviceable, decent dining room. Yawn. It plays its role well, and we use it on a regular basis. I am even planning to entertain there soon, as Daniel and I enjoy opening up our home to friends and family for dinners or parties occasionally. (Why wait for something to be perfect? We’re gonna enjoy our home now, despite its flaws!)

That being said, my goal is to makes the room feel richer and more vibrant by adding texture with patterns and bold punches of color.

We don’t have the money for a full overhaul; everything we do will be on a tight budget with lots of elbow grease instead of dollars. So, for this room’s upgrade, I’m hoping to add some DIY wainscoting, paint rich color on the upper part of the wall, and install a more modern light fixture. We’d also like to update our dining room table and chairs. I’ve been haunting Craigslist for about a year … eventually we’ll find one we like and can afford.

In addition, the current window sheers are a terrible burnt yellow color. I’m living with them for now, but, trust me, they will be one of the first things to go!

In the end, I’m hoping it will look something like this:

Dining Room
Much better, dontcha think?
p.s. If you’re new, welcome! I invite you to sign up for an email or RSS subscription to receive updates and budget-savvy inspiration on organizing and decorating your home.

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Filed under Budget Decor, Dining Room, DIY, Home Improvement, Home Tour Tuesday

Container Store Shopping Trip

My good friend, Joy, and I drove to Green Hills this afternoon to attend the Grand Opening of the The Container Store in Nashville. We were so excited; it was like early Christmas for us organization freaks. I can’t express how much I love that she and I are kindred spirits in our sense of style and appreciation of all things organizational. We wandered the store for hours, dodging the masses of people and drooling over all the shelving, kitchen stuff, office supplies, and yes, containers.

Here’s a shot of a dreamy closet I wish was mine:

Of course, we didn’t come home empty-handed. In fact, after a brief tour and demonstration of their Elfa system closet organizers, she won a $25 Elfa System gift card … and then GAVE IT TO ME. Just because she knew I could use it. Have I mentioned that I love this lady? I bought this sliding drawer system for one of our kitchen cupboards to hold cutting boards and tall kitchen-y things. Thank you, Joy. You rock.

I also bought an under-shelf hanging organizer to help with our dishes and a pot lid holder. I’m going back with Daniel soon (his birthday request. Why yes, we are pretty geeky like that), so I’m sure we’ll get more loot.

In closing, here’s a parting shot of an item I find especially appealing. My hatred of cable mess is well known to my husband. (He regularly hears me say, “I see cables! Please hide them!) So he was amused to receive this picture in text message while we shopped. Hint hint.

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Filed under Containers, Home Improvement, Kitchen, Organizing, Shopping, Storage