Monday, February 26, 2018

How to {simply} style a dresser

I have a major heart thing, for a pretty master bedroom space.  Goodness knows, I've shared about mine many a time!  Remember the stenciled wall that nearly killed me and how I talked about bedrooms needing to be havens, by adding luxe touches, here in this post? {I still adore this wall, by the way.} {In case you wondered. It's magical at night.}

Anyway, I decided to follow up the spring cleaning {organizing} series with a pretty and simple guide to styling your master bedroom dresser, in case you're still spring cleaning like I am, and looking for a few fresh home tweaks!  {I got a new lamp for $15 at an antique shop last month, which inspired me to change it up in here just a little, and simplify it a bit, which then, I decided was so pretty that we might as well blog about it. So here we are. Amazing how small changes can feel like big ones, when done correctly.}
 The wall color in here is the soothing and ever-popular Revere Pewter.  The trim is a crisp white.  The headboard is padded sweetly in gray linen that matches the bedskirt.  The bed is crazy comfortable, and the linens are swoony.  My furry sheepskin rug greets my morning toes, at the end of the bed, and I've incorporated varieties of textures and neutrals for a restful, soothing look.  I've also added some sparkle and let's face it, that's romantic.  I'm currently crushing on some new brushed brass pulls for these drawers... so you'll have to stay tuned to see if that happens.

When it comes to simple styling, there are varying definitions of "simple."  In my personal frame of reference, simple often means plenty of unused flat surface.  That said, I agree with many styling "experts" who suggest the following when it comes to styling any of your flat surfaces.  Odd numbers of accessories are best- groupings of threes or fives.  Incorporating something green, faux or living, if you've got a green thumb.  Layering varying heights of objects, and use of trays for smaller item grouping.

Styling is one of my favorite things. In all home decor tweaking, you need to put your own sweet spin on things. For my bedroom in general, I am currently loving the combination of mixed metals.  Silver and Gold {or rather, aged brass}.  I also really love using textures and wood grains throughout my home, so it's no surprise that this "feel" is making it's way into my personal haven as well. 

I love this rustic wood tray so I use it in here often. (It's a very old Target find.)  I stacked my jewelry boxes because they just look pretty like that.  I added a textured plant pot {$4 from Target} and an airplant that has surprised me by living years so far.  A tiny heart dish for discarded earrings completed that odd-numbered assortment.  Beside it, was a lamp, balanced slightly in height, by the stacked boxes... and because the tray reads as "one item" on the total surface space, adding a sparking mercury glass candle completed the overall odd-numbered gatherings of objects.  {Make sense so far?}

I tend to move pieces and play with arrangements until it has the right feel.  I can usually tell when something is lacking or just feels off. Removing something from the mix when it feels off, is normally my first reaction and it is also normally the correct choice in styling.

 This lamp was a crazy, exciting find.  I felt like I was robbing a store when they called the vendor for a price, {it wasn't marked} and he said, "Oh, how about $15?" I was like, "Okay I'll take it... quick... before anyone changes their minds... and don't make any sudden moves lady!" {Okay, maybe all but that last part...}

I swapped out the LED lights for some really soft, low watt bulbs, perfect for restful, evening lighting.  What a difference lightbulbs make.  And dimmer switches for overhead lighting.  A simple and quick thing, that can really create the mood you're looking for.

I'm slowly creating a little art collection in here, always on the lookout for pieces that I want to add and frames that work.  I'm on the hunt for the right frame for the middle piece.  I do love having something to hunt for!  In this vein, cultivating a collections of things on the walls that add to the feeling you're trying to create, when styling a flat surface is really important to consider. It all lends to the overall feeling of "just right" or "not quite." {I also love the look of collected baskets, hung in an abstract assortment also. I do believe wall-hung baskets are having a moment in home décor. I approve. Wall textures like that, can make it really easy to style a flat surface below or beside...}

And on a side note, I also believe bedrooms should be totally clutter-free for the most restful sleep and relaxation, which means a few surfaces, styled more or less, like this.  I do keep a pretty basket beside this dresser, and often tuck papers or books and things into it, rather than cluttering a bedside table. {Though let it be noted, books are not clutter.} {And stacks of books are a lovely thing indeed... I'm talking random papers and small items that need to be put away elsewhere.}

So a quick recap for you when styling a dresser:
*Add something sparkly, for the romantic feel.
*Think in not only colors, but also in textures.
*Make use of trays
*Add something green/alive to the mix.
*Place small dishes in the grouping, for pretty catch-alls.
*Exchange bulbs for ones that offer soft lighting if a lamp is included.
*Showcase jewelry in pretty containers.
*Remember the rule of odd numbers in object placement.
*Incorporate a variety of items, both old an new, for interest.
*Consider the artwork hanging around the area, making sure it doesn't detract from the simple styling.
*Remember that a quick change-out of hardware on the actual piece being styled, can update the over all look of the piece.

Happy sigh. I love this room whole heartedly and if I could, I'd curl up right in all these pillows right now.  Alas, real life calls... {Remember that time Adrain built this headboard?  I went back into my archives to link this post for you about the DIY of the headboard.. and about died laughing at how much as changed in just FOUR years time... with my kids, the exterior of my house and my bedroom colors and taste too!  That was back when I had a lot of yellow in my life.... Now my house is gray and my bedroom is way neutral.  I like it way better now. Just saying.} I love how changeable homes are. Make yours a haven. 


Friday, February 23, 2018

How to organize a family office and paper clutter {spring cleaning series}

Welcome back to this organizing, spring cleaning series!  Today's post is a final post and wrap up of this series.  We will discuss how to make a family office work efficiently with some organization, and how to manage the paper clutter that often builds within a family. Most of us are managing households, children and can probably all agree that the pieces of paper that pile up day, after day, can be overwhelming.  I'd love to show you what seems to work in our home.  I have teens in high school, but this same system worked when they were younger as well so I believe it can simplify your life and transition with you as time passes. 

I'm so thankful to my previous boss for sharing a few of these ideas- they aren't my original ideas, but I still remember the day she came to speak at a MOPS group I attended.  I didn't know that I would someday get to work for her, I just knew instantly that she was my person, as she shared about home organization.  She talked about the binder and the yearly envelope files I will share with you in this post.  I began using her ideas way back when I had preschoolers and it's worked so well that I've never tried any other system. 

**If you haven't read the kick off post, "How to organize anything," you'll want to flip backward and read that {here} first. That post is key, as it highlights the practical how-to steps needed to organize any space, room or mess. With papers, you'll swap out a recycle bin and possibly a shred bin, rather than donate or consign bins... you might also make a pile for "to be filed" and things such as that.  But the method of sorting and putting into categories is still the same idea as what I shared in the first post.  It's the method I use with every organizing job I do in my home, big or small and how I work, one drawer or one cupboard at a time.

As you can see from the top photo, we chose a desk with two small banks of drawers.  It was from Ikea, and functions very well for us, with a nice, large desktop.  We use a small bookshelf for the printer and a few bins and files.  More on that in a moment. 

This second above photograph shows how you can utilize small dividers for tiny office items.  I purchased a pack of valentine cards last month from Target, and loved the little tray they came in.  I repurposed it here, rather than tossing it out and it's perfect for random small items.  I said in a previous post, that I'd rather be a fresh and different voice in social media, one that shows ways of organizing by using what you have on hand, or repurposing things, rather than making a perfectly staged and picture perfect space.  That's not real life and it certainly doesn't have to be picture perfect to work functionally for a family.   
I do still use quite a few small acrylic trays (Amazon) and love the variety of sizes they come in... but every now and then, a simple box from the packaging of items, works just as well if not better.  And the price of free is always welcome. 

I am showing you all of the drawers on one side of the desk.  The other side belongs to my husband and he organizes by making (somewhat untidy) paper piles. Many, many piles. I gave him four drawers and a large bin for his piles.  I have learned to let him have his piles...  Ask that man where something is, and he knows... and heaven help me if I move any of them! 

Which moves us into Part two of this post... 

Here is a point I've not made in this series yet.  It most often comes up with offices and paperwork.  Organization isn't a one size fits all approach.  While I have a small bit of experience, I'm certainly not an expert, I merely love the topic. But some people have the capability of being fully aware of what they have in a pile, they cannot maintain files for the life of them.  (Some people have piles of forgotten things and are just a hot mess of paperwork they need to sort... this isn't what I'm talking about here.) My husband truly is organized in his own way. He has a bill paying system that scares the heck out of me, but we never miss a payment so it obviously works.  The tricky part is knowing which one you are, or those you live with are... people who are actually organized though it doesn't look like it because it's not your own organizing system... or those who need serious amounts of help and a system that actually works. 

Offices are a great place to determine this. 

Then move forward.  I'm only going to share our story and our system somewhat, but there are a lot of ways to adapt it to whatever your style is.  
You can see our "pending" bins above.  His was full at the time I snapped this, but a week later, it's almost totally empty.

(Apparently he did things with them over the week, and I have a "to be filed pile," sitting here for me to put away.) 
You may be wondering about our daily papers and the practical ways we move them around. In our home we have a mail bin that is hanging from the kitchen island. That's the first line of paper catching, as it greets us when we walk in from the garage.  Once that's all been sorted, receipts and bills get moved into the office (and into Adrain's piles someplace. I generally don't see them after this.)

All other papers find a home daily. Nothing builds up much, which is where a lot of people struggle. If you have places where things go, and they go there daily, you never have scary buildup waiting for you to deal with.  In our home, if it's a bill, Adrain takes it. If it's recycling, it gets tossed into the bin immediately.  If it's kid paper, household or medical things, I tend to take them and I'll share more on  how I manage those in a moment.  We have a locked file box for tax and household documents that seldom get accessed, and a "working file" bin next to the printer, in which I keep our papers neatly sorted- whatever he hands me when he is done often goes into some of those files.  We stay pretty on top of shredding and recycling.  I guess what I'll end this segment with is, when it comes to files, make certain you've got some, but too many are overwhelming, and not enough are frustrating.  Make sure you have logical categories and edit them regularly. 

The first photo in this Part two section, shows what I call our "Life binder."  It's got everything I'd ever need in a fire, streamlined and organized and is sort of the end of the line with household papers.  (Some good things to keep in a binder like this might be a list of passwords and logins, address book/phone numbers, emergency contacts, loose leaf paper, spare keys in binder pockets and Xeroxed copies of credit cards, passports and such. There are many more papers you might want to tuck in here... and even paint colors, house photos, inspiration pictures, etc.)  

If you have children in the home, this kind of system works well for a "working" file of their school year.  I like to keep a school calendar in the front flap, and a pocket divider for each child inside.  Every time they bring home important information about a sport or class, I pop it into their divider then everyone knows where to go if they need something.  I also grab programs from concerts or events we attend, photos snapped through the year, and anything they might want to keep for posterity.  I add those into the folder envelopes as the year goes along, and when a sport ends, I quickly edit the file and delete any papers that aren't needed anymore. 

Once we get to the end of the year, I pull everything out and tuck it inside a clear file envelope with their grade label clearly marked.  (I will show that in just a moment, and found mine at Office Max.) I also keep a list of all of their community service projects which I'm sure will come in handy when they are looking at colleges, (shown, below.) 

At the end of each school year, all of the saved papers, awards, teacher notes, report cards and photos go into one of these envelopes.  Each one is labeled by year and placed into a clear bin.  The bin stays on each child's closet shelf and if they need access to anything, they have an organized way to locate it. I can't even begin to tell you how much this has streamlined "mom life" for me.  Not to mention that they enjoy pulling out envelopes every now and then, and peeking backward at a year's accomplishments and memories. 
Whew!  This was a big finale post!  If you stayed with me to the end, congratulations.  I do hope you've enjoyed this large scale peek into my home and how I keep things rolling along.  It is so worth the effort, to begin digging in and getting things in order.  Living an organized life is so incredibly freeing.  You save money in the long run, because you always know what you have and where you have it.  You feel less stress, because of that as well.  If you have questions, I'd love them.  I can't believe this series is over!  If you've missed any, simply click on the post titles below, to jump back and read. 


Thursday, February 22, 2018

How I organize my hall/spare closet {spring cleaning series}

Welcome back to this organizing, spring cleaning series! 

If you haven't read the kick off post, "How to organize anything," you'll want to flip backward and read that {here} first. That post is key, as it highlights the practical how-to steps needed to organize any space, room or mess. It's the method I use with every organizing job I do in my home, big or small and how I work, one drawer or one cupboard at a time.

 In this home, we have one tiny, spare hallway closet.

In small homes, it's more about what's not stored, than what is... or rather how and where it's stored.  Because we live small, and I lean toward minimalism.  Each of the three beds in this home have a complete set of bedding.  One set.  The set that resides on that bed.  What works for us, is to wash our bedding, and put it right back on the bed that very day.  It's convenient because the only bedding ever getting stored are any extra, heavy blankets, in the summer months.  (Most of the time, those extra blankets get tucked away in the closet of the bed they belong to.  Right now I believe I have more bedding in this room than I ever do, but we are soon to transition to two teenage boys sharing a room, and I've got an extra set in here for that... I've also got one extra set of sheets for an air mattress/cot that we pull out for guests.  The white comforter is actually Ava's but she was in the middle of a room project and asked me to just temporarily store it in here for the time being.  It's since been moved back into her room.  I've also got one sweet pillow that doesn't have a home currently, but I don't care to part with it yet as I am thinking through where it wants to live.  That said, we often only have artwork, photos toys for littles who come visit, and sewing items stored in here.  And normally we even have a couple of empty shelves!

Now if this isn't your story, feel no guilt!!  We all have different styles, differing storage needs and some of us are way more willing to part with excess than others.  That's what makes us all so sweetly unique.  I'm simply sharing my story to inspire anyone who is bogged down with too much, and for perhaps sentimental reasons, or family guilt, is hanging on to things that are weighing them down.  Many of us long for a more free, minimalistic lifestyle but it's the getting there process that is both difficult and often painful.  If this series can help you work through one space at a time, and shake off some of that baggage, then that is my goal.  Not guilt if you like all your stuff and want to keep it.  (This series can hopefully help you make it all tidy and logically organized at the very least though!)

I can remember a time when I had stacks of bins for out of season decorations and décor that I didn't want to part with but wasn't being used or displayed in my home.  One day I just looked at it and went, "Why is all of this stuff living in this closet and not being used and loved? This makes no sense!" That was the catalyst for living differently for me, and I've never looked back.  It's taken me a few years of paring down our material items, but it has been so worth it... I no longer have décor in here because everything we love and use is being... loved and used, all through the home.  If you're overwhelmed by unused décor, let me encourage you that sharing with others, or donating it, can feel so good, you'll want to go back and get more items to shed!  Chances are, if it's not out being enjoyed, you're over it, past it, or no longer love it the way you once did anyway...  It can feel so good to bless someone else by letting go of things.

That said, being in different stages of life is a huge factor in what and how things are also stored in my home.  When my kids were small, I probably stored a lot more, because we had different needs.  I'll explain that more in a moment.
I shared this brilliant photo organization with you in this post if you remember... I still adore it. Taking a day to organize all of our photographs made my life better in so many ways that I'm still getting goodness from.  When the kids come home with an immediate need for a photo, I know right where to go and can find it in two seconds.  When I want one for a special occasion like a birthday, I can find it so quickly now.  (I recommend scanning that post if you're looking for a way to organize a lifetime of photographs in a snap.  It was a fun project as well.  All the details are in that linked post!)

I also keep my letter board letters in containers such as a clear, bead organizer box. (Amazon) I love seeing neat stacks of useful things.  It speaks deeply to my organized heart.  It certainly didn't happen overnight, but with dedication to getting this home downsized and organized, little by little, I tackled project after project and now I simply enjoy

Organization frees a person up to simply be, and enjoy life.  
It's difficult lighting and a very hard closet to photograph, so I was forced to take a variety of photos.  The folded robe is one that I got for free, after a Christmas gift shipping issue and I keep it for guests.  I figure that when/if mine ever gets too shabby, I'll have a  back up, but in the mean-time, my guests can enjoy this new one.  I launder and fold it after guests depart.  (I did take the time to find out how a hotel robe is often folded... it's the little things. Ha!)
This is my moveable sewing kit.  I used to have a big fancy one that I never used really.  It was filled with stuff I also didn't use, because I'm not a big fan of sewing.  If I wasn't petite, and needing to hem every single pair of pants I've ever purchased, I probably wouldn't even own one.  Anyway, I finally tossed the many thread colors I'd never use again, and kept the basics.  I store them in a pleasing, color-coded way (of course) in a bead organizer. (Those things come in so handy!!)  It's perfect for those little bobbins and small parts, too.  The whole thing fits neatly on top of a dollar bin.  Both are clear so I can see what I'm after, and make the job move seamlessly. (See what I just did there?) I keep the sewing machine manual and foot pedal in the bin, along with a few other random items like scissors and a pin cushion and a grommet maker.  When I need to sew, I grab both of these and head to the kitchen table.  (Obviously, if you're serious about sewing or quilting, this isn't for you... but this organizational system is really perfect for those of us who just have to hem our jeans every six months or so.)

The moral of this whole story, is that cramming our extra closets full of things for "just in case" or "I might need someday" might work for you... but it also might not.  If you feel your heart race with stress when you need to look for something buried in a closet, it's probably a good indication that you are due for some editing and organizing. 

You might be asking,  where I keep my craft items and holiday décor and if my garage is full.  Craft items are surprisingly minimal in my home.  I'm creative but I've never been "crafty."  I have stamps and paint in my desk drawers where it makes sense for them to be. (You'll see that in a post soon.) I have a hot glue gun and more household supplies in my utility drawers in the laundry room where they make sense to be and you can see the sewing items here... other than that, I'm not big on buying, storing and just having a ton of craft items. My kids are older and what they like to use, they keep in their own desks in their own rooms.  See what I mean by different stages of life?

As for holiday décor, I have one bin, (my kids each share a small bin for their own room trees and ornaments as well) and I love and prefer to use more fresh items as I get older, rather than keep and store decorations.  (There was a time when I had six or eight Rubbermaid bins... it was exhausting.  This is better.) And the garage... no it's not packed and ridiculous.  It's not my territory either, being mostly inhabited by bench pressing, dart throwing, weight lifting, poweraid drinking boys and men... they only tolerate just so much organizing out there, but it is streamlined and tidy and things have labels and spaces.  We park my car in there too.  The half where my man used to park before he owned his truck, has been turned into their gym space and they love it and use it daily.  We have big shelves and lots of free spaces on them.  I have one bin of memories from when my kids were babies and toddlers.  I know, one seems odd... but it's all I need.  It has their baby books, and small stacks of clothing that I plan to turn into graduation quilts for them in a couple of years.  "Why keep things just to keep them," has never been a thought I've struggled over.  I'm sentimental about some things. I'll keep the baby clothes, but the idea is to turn them into something useful.  Make sense?  That's the way my brain works. I daresay it is the same, for most people who are naturally wired to live a more minimalistic, organized lifestyle.  

I hope that helps you as you sort through your stored items.  As always, I love your questions and your comments bless me.  Our final stop on this series will be office and paper clutter!  I may be combining them into one bonus post! 

Click on the titles below, to see all the other posts in this series

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to organize a pantry {spring cleaning series}

Welcome back to this organizing, spring cleaning series! I'm continuing a bit from a previous post on kitchen organizing, under sink organization, and now into the pantry space.  If you haven't read the kick off post, "How to organize anything," you'll want to flip backward and read that {here} first. That post is key, as it highlights the practical how-to steps needed to organize any space, room or mess. It's the method I use with every organizing job I do in my home, big or small and how I work, one drawer or one cupboard at a time. 

As I jump into this space, one thing to note, is that I like to organize here, using things I have on hand.  Because food items frequently change, the method I organize or store them with often changes as well.  For example... I had two large jars that I kept snacks and cereals in, on the counter top, off and on for years.  They aren't currently being used in the kitchen, but I did need a large jar or container for a box of Costco oatmeal packets, so I transitioned the canister (without the lid) into temporary storage for that food item.  It's much less messy than the original box with flaps and things.  (Which incidentally is often helpful for making pantries looking tidy) And the best part, is that it's clear so I can see when we are beginning to run low. My organizing theory is simple... waste not, want not.  By using items around the house for a variety of uses as needed, I seldom have empty containers or messy spaces for that matter.  I'm constantly trying to make things both tidy and thought-out.  This is by no means picture-perfect, or even Pinterest worthy when it comes to fabulous pantries, but I've noticed that there isn't much "real life" pantry organization out there and I'd like to be a slightly different voice when it comes to this.  

It certainly doesn't have to match and be expensive and high end  looking, in order to work for your family.  By using containers and jars that you already have on hand, you can save time and money simply by being organized and being able to see at a glance what you need to stock up on. That's the kind of organizing that matters... 
When we moved into this home, we didn't have a pantry.  I tried using some of our kitchen cabinet space for years and it worked fairly well until the kids got older and began eating a lot more.  One day, I opened this hall entry closet, where we used to store a vacuum and the occasional guest coat... and thought, why don't I adapt this into a pantry? (The vacuum lives in our master closet, and guest coats get hung on hooks in the hallway now.) I kept thinking that it was rather convenient, being just around the corner from the kitchen.

That idea got my wheels turning and my husband came up with a simple and inexpensive way to adapt this closet.  He purchased metal shelf strips, some shelf boards and shelf clips.  He screwed the shelf strips into the two sides of the closet, and used the adjustable clips to create holders for the shelf boards.  (I painted the inside "Rainwashed" by Sherwin Williams, a soft, light blue color that still makes me happy, a decade later.)

A few years ago, we added the little metal side racks, which easily hold snacks and mason jars.

I already shared the method I use, to organize anything, in this first post.  I'd like to add, that when organizing a pantry, you may want to trade out the "consign and donate" bins for a "food bank" bin.  You'll still want a trash bag probably and you'll definitely still want to remove everything as you go, placing things into like with like piles, wiping down shelves to clean and then you can stand back, think it through, and decide how it all needs to be replaced on your shelves.
When organizing our pantry, I like to use little sticky notes to create categories for the shelves, once everything has been removed, such as "canned items," "breakfast," "snacks," "grains and pastas," "baking," etc. 

(Note, once you've got shelf categories that work well over time, you won't need to remove everything each time it needs organizational tweaking... a quick tidy and pull out of expired items is often all that is needed for maintenance. The full clearing out works best for the first time a space is getting an organizational overhaul, however.)

Things that can often help with a pantry job are;
Clear storage! I can't stress "clear" enough. You want to be able to see it all!
Can risers for canned goods
Jars and canisters of all sizes, including mason jars
Clear bins or several sizes (great for gathering small packages, pastas, half-opened bags, etc.)
Small clear bins or containers for tiny items like seasoning packets, etc.
Clear pull out bins for snacks, bars and such
Decanting items from messy boxes with flaps, into tidy, clear containers

I do still like to label shelves or small bins when I am done, so that it's obvious what goes where.  I've normally got plenty of teens that don't belong to me, snooping around, looking for snacks.  Also, something to consider, is keeping often-grabbed items at eye or hand level, as well as tucking things you don't want grabbed (ahem-the really good chocolate) out of sight, on a higher shelf.  I also store things that I seldom use, or that are bulky, such as my crock pot, on a low shelf in here.  One thing to think about when replacing items, is trying to keep the floor as clean and free of items as possible. Floors can get cluttery very quickly.  I do keep a French market tote on mine, which I grab when I head out to the store, after doing a quick scan of the pantry. (and I am currently hiding the cocoa and marshmallow canisters behind it... don't ask... Teenagers!!) (Ha!) I also like to contain all of our paper products into a large, clear bin so that they are all in one spot.  I have found that to be really handy for impromptu gatherings, which I seem to have a lot of.

(My pantry is a bit sparse today as I snap these photos, but I'm grocery shopping later this week so it will fill a bit. I just wanted the very real life images for you.)
Thank you for joining me for this spring cleaning series and for your sweet feedback.  I am guessing that the comments issue has finally been fixed, because I'm getting plenty of spam again! Ha ha!

But as I've said before, if you have any questions or comments for me, I'd love to hear them.  I'm nearly finished detailing my home organization for you on this blog, and I'm afraid I'm leaving something important out that I've been asked about... if so,  please let me know. 

I try to simply share my own, unique voice, but there is a sea of "expert voices" (of which I do not claim to be!) that often make me step back a pace, feeling like what I have to share is perhaps inadequate beside them in all of their staged perfection.  I have no desire to compare, (yikes!! when I do for a scary moment on occasion) and in light of that, I strive to be as real as possible here.  I feel strongly that that's not always what's shown in social media and there needs to be more real and less of the fake/staged/perfection illusion...  I do hope and pray that in light of that, it's been a helpful series for you all. 
Up next, I'll be sharing hall closet thoughts, home office and paper clutter management that work for me.