Decluttering Inspiration: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (From Someone Who Has Not Read the Book)

Hello, 2017!!!

I am very excited 2016 is over and 2017 is off to a great start.

I wasn’t looking forward to the end of last year since fireworks tend to bring on a lot of anxiety for me so I started yesterday evening cleaning a part of my home that’s been driving me crazy since….oh, basically we moved in and piled crap in there.  (Ok, not everything in there is crap, but I do own–as many Americans do–more things than what I truly require to get by.)  I decided I would try to one up my anxiety by tackling a decluttering project shortly before the fireworks began.

Some time ago I saw The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo at Barnes & Noble. I decided to not pick up a copy since I’m fairly certain this month I can pick up a copy at my local public library (please don’t take all available copies, ok?).  Like many other Americans who feel overwhelmed by stuff after Christmas, I know it’s a good thing to take hold of motivation to tackle clutter when that motivation rolls around.  For me, I tend to clean (more intently) when something brings on anxiety.  It might be concern over a passing grade, work stuff, and yesterday, fireworks.  Fireworks (nearby) are very stressful for me.

I know there are many things in my life that don’t bring me joy and clutter is one of those things.  Clutter is constantly in my life in so many different forms: half-filled lined books, my daughter’s school papers (honestly, I’m not keeping everything she brings home), store receipts, worn out/ill-fitting clothing, my list could keep on going.  Yes, I am just as vulnerable as everyone else when it comes to clutter, but I didn’t want to wait until I read Marie Kondo’s book to say I was ready to make a change.

Am I following her rules exactly?  Probably not.  If you want to follow her teachings, grab the book.  I will probably still grab a copy as I continue on this journey, but yesterday I wanted a distraction towards a positive focus.  Cleaning (and decluttering) works for me.

I’ve decluttering and downsized a lot over the years.  Each move required making choices about what to keep and bring forward in my life.  With military moves, my nervousness regarding staying within our allotted weight limit, approximately 9,000 lbs., was a factor.  Nearly everything we own was purchased individually and/or as part of its respective set (dining sets and bedroom sets) and the weight of an item was hardly ever a factor.  The weight of an item became a big deal when moving it in, out, or around the apartment and later the first home we rented, which wasn’t until our move to Wyoming.  Towards the tail end of our time in Wyoming we planned to move to Okinawa, Japan and trust me, we weren’t allowed to bring 9,000 lbs. of stuff overseas.  Downsizing was a necessity, especially if we decided to live out in town rather than family housing on base.  Japanese housing is not built for oversized American furniture.

While the move never happened (don’t worry, we still have plans to visit Japan someday) we did eventually move again and downsizing, while less dramatic than our hasty departure with a California King bedroom set and large sofa when we desired a permanent change of station to Okinawa, helped us immensely.  We fit our possessions (approximately 5,400-5,600 lbs. worth) into three storage units while living with my in-laws.

My decluttering project yesterday (and today) was more rewarding than unloading those three storage units.

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We have one of those closets under the stairs and it’s become a repository for underutilized things, paper goods storage, and home to our dog’s food storage container.  We have fun dreams about adding a ‘cupboard under the stairs’ sign, but it will not become a childhood hangout spot like we’ve seen in some model homes; my daughter who is an avid fan of the Harry Potter movies would love it as her spot but let’s be honest the space is needed for storage not for a fancy hangout away from mom and dad.  This place is just over 1,200 sq. feet and with our triple digit summers we cannot afford to keep some things in the garage.

Decluttering this wedge shape space required some serious discarding, more than I originally thought.  I know this space had some ‘junk’ issues.  I expected to come across some things which would be easy to discard, i.e. perfectly usable retail store and gift bags in fun, bright colors.  When I first brought those things into my home I loved the things in those bags but wanting to be sustainable, I planned a second life for them.  I would later use them as gift bags for future presents.  Those bags were picked up some time in late 2015 probably, moved with us in May 2016 and still were not used.  Hello, recycling bin!!!

I am the sort of person who likes lists.  Lists remind me I accomplished something, even if the visual results lack evidence of my labor.  Below is the list of things I set aside to donate (to my local Goodwill, specifically), recycle, or discard if the item was too worn out or not appropriate for donation.

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DONATION PILE

2 Pottery Barn striped Euro shams

1 United States Marine Corps lanyard

1 Devil Wears Prada dvd

1 The Family Stone dvd

1 Little Pim French language children’s dvd (unwrapped)

1 Artist ruler

1 roll Christmas fabric ribbon

1 pkg Sharpie multi-color paint markers

1 Leather iPhone holder

1 Coach leather key chain (free item, comes with purse but I never use these!)

5 pillow cases

1 white fitted sheet, full size

1 flat sheet, twin size? (I forgot to check.)

1 blue sheet, queen size

1 sheet set

1 red laptop bag

1 brown throw (from Walmart)

1 small BevMo reusable shopping bag

1 container Origami paper, multi-color

1 Monogram wax sealer (a holdover from when I was planning our wedding reception that never happened…story for another time.)

2 pkgs. red wax (for monogram sealed envelopes…see above for explanation.)

1 LeAnn Rimes “This Woman” cd (thankfully I can listen to her music digitally)

1 LeAnn Rimes “Sitting On Top of the World” cd (see above for explanation)

2 Invader Zim dvds

6 writeable dvds

1 small lined journal (gift from a former student but I already have several which suit me better)

1 Save the Last Dance dvd

1 small purse

1 set Brazil Butt Lift workout dvds (Honestly, I felt like an idiot doing these workouts back in 2011/2012 whenever I bought them and this year I’m proud to say I am doing Pauline Nordine’s Butt Bible Challenge instead to get lifelong results. She is an impressive person who I follow on Instagram and Facebook.)

36 Writeable dvds

1 Pizza Math kids’ game (hopefully, my kid doesn’t kill me for donating it)

 

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RECYCLE PILE

5 retail store bags

1 bark collar instruction manual

1 clipboard

4 pk markers

1 pkg. wireless wipes

1 Rachel Ray magazine

1 cardboard folder

4 local business magnets

1 pkg. heavy duty magnets (FYI, only the sides of my fridge are magnetic)

1 partially used leather mini notebook

7 used Post-It Notes (during our 2016 house hunting adventure)

1 homemade Halloween costume

1 Homebuyer brochure for 1571 E ORCHID CT B, Gilbert, AZ (We considered buying this home earlier this year but got out bid.)

1 Total Gym dvd (We donated the total gym earlier this year.)

3 old Christmas card

1 school project flyer

1 small gift bag with tissue paper

2 old Department of Veterans Affairs education Certificates of Eligibility (personal info removed)

1 old envelope (personal info removed)

1 Tooth Fairy Post-It (my daughter left it so the Tooth Fairy knew it was her 2nd tooth)

1 fabric hookless shower curtain (We downsized on bathrooms with showers in our current home.)

3 birthday cards

2 empty cd cases

2 Arizona State University event programs

1 Rental check-in/out sheet (personal info removed)

1 old Financial Planning (undergraduate course) folder with homework

1 Food Network The Chocolate Issue magazine (2012)

1 store catalog

2 fabric color swatches from Design Within Reach for a Herman Miller chair (Fun story for another day but we scored this model of chair for less than $200.)

1 KitchenAid mixer instructions

1 plastic red top (kids toy)

2 pieces old artwork with damaged frames

1 damaged photo frame

2 construction traffic signs (My late father-in-law used to work for the Wyoming Department of Transportation which is how we acquired these things.)

1 2016 Arizona State University Graduation Commencement program (I earned my degree.  I don’t need more paper clutter to show my achievement.)

Carpet remnants (hopefully, these can be recycled)

1 disposable razor handle

1 business card

1 plastic kid’s bracelet

1 Basha’s card (Nothing against Basha’s by the way.)

2 sheets Newsprint (moving packing material)

Old Post-Its

1 broken laptop cooling stand

1 Connor Homes Catalog of Homes

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DISCARD PILE

1 pair women’s boots (ok, these didn’t come from the closet but I was on a roll)

1 pair men’s boots (ok, he was already throwing these out the same weekend, but again, it counts)

2 Desert Botanical Garden expired cards

2 Desert Botanical Garden expired admission tickets (expired 12/31/2016)

1 Men’s Warehouse store receipt

1 green dog bone (Our dog makes such a mess with these.  We bought a bag and after she had one we were done with these products!)

1 empty battery box

1 Dutch Boy paint chip sample

1 check (shredded)

1 receipt

1 pile Christmas fake snow (the fluffy stuff sold at Walmart)

1 small party favor container of bubbles

1 bag of 7 day food beta fish tablets (Seriously, my daughter’s fish died in like October 2016. What is wrong with me?!) The bag was in our kitchen, but again, I was on a roll and it needed to be tossed.

1 opened container Ice Breaker mints (These have been in a box at least half a year..I’m not eating them!)

1 old box with metal pieces

1 cd

2 photos


I didn’t plan to part with so much, but I also cannot believe I was also holding onto so many items I (or my family members) no longer needed, wanted, and most importantly, enjoyed in some way or another.  Thankfully, much of it can be donated so others can find joy with these usable items.   As you can see, even without reading Marie Kondo’s book, I was inspired to make one change which has multiple impacts.  I took simple inspiration from the table of contents (see below) to stay determined through my two day task.  Find something similar that works for you (and your lifestyle).  I didn’t have a whole week on my hands to go crazy cleaning up everything but I had a number of hours and the desire to distract myself from fireworks.

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Below is what I (and my husband who chipped in significantly today) accomplished for our respective space (39.5″ by 76.5″). Disclaimer: Some items have been relocated to their more appropriate space in the house and some items, like the Osprey bags (left photo) were not originally in the laundry closet, but our hallway closet, but with the newfound space we could make use of the wall space.   Happy cleaning and decluttering!!!

~Cheryl

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An American Lawn Story

Life gets in the way of life.  This election.  Parenting.  Pet parenting. Commuting for work. Dishes that beg for attention.  Laundry that sneaks up on you (and hides for a day in the washing machine, after being washed).  The fact it took me 55 minutes to drive to my daughter’s school from my work and I was almost late picking her up.  All of this ‘living’ has gotten in the way of me wanting to share a story with you all.

My dog, my beautiful (probably 100 pounds by now) cuddle monster (aka Cane Corso baby), hates my yard.  She lets me know in not-so-subtle ways…like repeatedly peeing on my Target outdoor rug.  Yes, I bought two in the past, but she peed on the prettier one that I displayed more prominently on my tiny patio.  The beautiful white and blue chevron striped one that graced the front stoop of my past home.  I felt like my home was starting to get fancy because I was incorporating more bold pieces to balance out my understated staples, namely wood pieces.  My dog peed on it over and over again.  We cleaned it over and over again as a result.  I was determined to salvage my rug….but there was no saving it from repeated damage.

I can’t blame her.  This home, while quaint, has large rock in the backyard in lieu of grass or a full concrete slab.  It is not an appealing yard space but I have dreams that will satisfy me for now and hopefully a small patch of green will keep my dog from peeing on the new rug, which I won’t get until after her needs are addressed first!

I will not invest in real grass in Arizona.  I know some people adore having a real lawn, the feel of, lovingly maintaining it, followed by great appreciation when said lawn rivals all others in the neighborhood with its perfect full thickness and height, bright green color, and even patterns of cross-cut mowing.  Not me.

I want low maintenance.  I kill all things green.  Plants cry at the sheer idea of being gifted to me.  Flowers wither as I pass them in the grocery store.  Home Depot would probably ban me from their garden section if they realized the kind of damage I can do to plant life.  (In fact, perhaps that’s the reason they didn’t hire me the year I left the Marine Corps.  Just a thought.)

My idea of the ideal lawn is artificial turf.  I can’t kill it.  It doesn’t require the care of a regular lawn (albeit watering is still necessary).  My dog might actually pee on it, saving me from many rug purchases for years to come.

I will be saving up to get Little Miss Picky her astroturf dream space before next summer rolls around.  However, it is fun to scout around for now (see fun below) and figure out how much her pampered dreams will set me back.  (If anyone wants to crowd fund a backyard for me, I won’t mind.)

~Cheryl

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Home Office In Progress: My Desk

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I am very thankful IKEA exists! I could not pull my house together (without significant financial distress) if it were not for businesses like IKEA. Raising a family on one full-time income at this time is exceptionally challenging and I do not want to forgo personalizing this home based on my tight finances. Hence, my love for IKEA.

We decided our spare bedroom would become a home office/workout room. Although the small space was already outfitted with an office desk from American Furniture Warehouse, the space was not designed with two people in mind. As an amateur writer, it does not always bother me to plop down in a chair or on the couch to write using my laptop. Longer writing sessions though call for a designated space. With my husband in law school, I cannot always compete for the original desk.

IKEA and its affordable designs are becoming mainstays in my place. Let me just say I also love their advertising (see below).

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I also love the one about the divorced dad recreating his son’s bedroom. You can check it out here.

I know there are many families, like ours, that run into tight financial circumstances.  Others desire to spend less on things like furniture, housing, and dining out to fund other short or long term goals (higher education, family expansion, travel, a career change, etc.).      After making a number of moves, I became more and more hesitant to make expensive furniture purchases and more particular when picking higher priced pieces.

I continue to see that western style furniture is too large and heavy to go “just anywhere.”  For this reason, I’ve had to part ways with a Cal King cherry wood bed, its matching armoire, and dresser.  I’ve also sold a beautiful oversized fabric and leather couch.  When I thought we would move to Okinawa, Japan and our housing accommodations would be even smaller than the rooms in our 1950’s Wyoming rental, it was important to downsize on furniture as much as possible.  The upside was also spending less money on furniture.

I was a bit of a mess scouting around for my own office desk.  I am a bit more of a mess when spending money on furniture since I’ve dealt with two past periods of unemployment.  I know if I’m spending a lot on a piece of furniture it better be a piece I want to have in my own house for 10+ years.  If I’m shopping around for an inexpensive piece to replace something worn out or out-of-style, I still want it to be functional and fit into my design aesthetic (as much as possible).  I also hope after the furniture is no longer needed by our home, we can donate it to another family (or person) in need.

It’s important to know, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, but the majority of IKEA purchases require DIY skills.  My desk fits into this particular category.  I seriously recommend bringing a friend over (if you don’t have a partner/sibling/incredibly helpful neighbor available) to help build any large piece of furniture you buy from IKEA.  Invite them over for pizza and beer (or their other favorite vice).  IKEA also offers delivery and assembly services, if you don’t mind fork over some extra money or don’t want to impose on those closest to you for assistance.

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My desk in progress:

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Sometimes I seriously wonder how many allen wrenches IKEA “sells” since these little guys are in nearly every “put it together” piece of furniture I can think of; we still needed to use another wrench but that’s probably more a reflection of our skills and less IKEA’s manufacturing. Perhaps…

I do love my desk though.  I love it more than my work desk.  For only $179 I got something that is very practical, visually appealing, and has the right amount of storage without imposing on my foot space.  I love the metal legs and the gray color.  Ok, I adore the gray color.  (Yes, I also have plans to paint the exterior of this home gray but that’s another adventure for years down the road.)  Gray is beautiful even if not everyone agrees with me.

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My desk is a beautiful addition to this home and while it doesn’t have a beautiful/highly functional/ergonomic chair to match (yet) we’ll get there someday. Today is just not that day and tomorrow isn’t either.

It’s almost my bedtime and I have a partly taped downstairs hallway calling my name tomorrow after work. I definitely need my sleep.

Sunday Painting Project: The Downstairs Hallway

Last Sunday I woke up with an exceptional amount of ambition to tackle more painting.  I know, who wakes up around 6 deciding ‘I will paint today.’  Just me apparently.  Before setting myself up with some breakfast I got to work taping our hallway.  I do like that taping helps with the actual painting process but taping is quite a process in itself.  Additionally, it’s not possible to work without drawing my kids in.  Thankfully, my little blonde girl is easily drawn away with an iPad or an episode of Pokemon XL.  My fuzzy girl was bound and determined to steal floor space while she could.  The hallway is, after all, one of her coveted spots.

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Do you like my Invader Zim painting sitting on the floor?!  It creeps out my daughter which is why I don’t have a home for it yet on my walls. IMG_0245IMG_0246IMG_0247

I am glad we found the butcher paper at Home Depot.  For me, it’s a much better solution to tarps and look, I found a perfect task for the blue Painter’s tape.  The harder work was left up to the FrogTape but I will let you know as an amateur painter I still did not get clean sharp lines throughout.  My secret way to win the game…tear up the baseboards later, replace them with nicer baseboards, and a finishing classy touch with crown moulding.  Moving on…

I had to stop and eat breakfast.  The initial part of taping and covering the floor took up almost an hour of my time.

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Taping doors is definitely one of the least enjoyable tasks.

Overall, it took me a couple hours to fully tape up the baseboards, doorways, and ceiling.

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I’m not sure what kind of paint is on the wall but every scuff, piece of dirt, and dog slobber becomes highly visible.  Goodbye, white!

Do you remember my challenge with paint sitting out?!  Yes, the paint separates out even more.  This time our Behr Marquee Dawn Gray was bright blue throughout at the top of the can and took some constant stirring in the can and on the paint tray to stay consistent throughout.

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As you can see from the photo below our walls do not have the same appearance as the paint chip from Behr.com (above).  What I love about the color we choose is how different it appears based on time of day and the amount of natural light in the space; it varies from a strong ship gray color (closer to the paint chip) to a stormy deep blue.  This color is not for everyone but I am not having white walls everywhere anymore.  I will have touches of white and later, maybe some wainscoting but fully white walls…no.

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The project neared completion around dinner time and I am happy with the results.

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Waiting for the paint to dry.

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My moody colored walls…I LOVE THEM!!!

From our adventure to go with deeply colored walls I will say I am most surprised the dark walls don’t make the place (as small as it is) feel more closed in.  Instead, I feel the opposite.  I think the color makes the space more inviting.  It is cozy and I am not looking at dirty walls all the time.  I’m so happy.

We are putting our decor items back up but we’ll have more things in this space in the future and in a few days we’ll put the IKEA lockable storage cabinet back up as well.  We found this item when we lived in our rental and loved the playfulness of it.  I couldn’t imagine a room where I couldn’t use these.  We stopped ourselves at two though.

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This almost finished space already feels more inviting.  I can’t wait to paint the front door down the road and add a few handmade items I’ve been admiring online.

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A Clean Home, A Cleaner Mind

I write to you all tonight with a sense of relief.  This week was a busy one.  I let my house fall apart a bit this week and it’s been tough to relax seeing a myriad of unfinished chores.  Half painted walls, partially emptied moving boxes, and sadly–please don’t judge me–we still haven’t put our luggage from my Albuquerque trip back in the garage: these things all haunt me and remind me that I’m being lazy.  My first grader (yes, she’s getting that old) started school not too long ago bringing back a daily deluge of kid paperwork and with my husband entering his first year of law school, my home is not so slowly being filled with piles of law books.

With my schooling “complete” for the moment, I need a new hobby.  Reorganizing my life at this moment is becoming my mission.  I am facing the box after box (when I tackle them) of things that are taking up unnecessary space in our home and these items–while still usable–belong with people who need them more than we do.  For the things that are well beyond their utility, it’s the recycling bin (if they are made of the right stuff) or the garage bin.  I find that these tasks require I have an inspirational person to follow who believes in decluttering.  For awhile now that person has been Michelle from One Fit Widow whom I follow on Facebook.  Her blog entry, New Year’s Baby Steps, motivated me earlier this year to take some steps of my own and I thought we were doing well when we decluttered our rental and packed up to move into our current home.  Haha…not so much.  There’s still so much that I’ve been holding onto that is not serving a purpose in my life.  Additionally, I haven’t faced up to the fact we have some things we use ALL the time that has just met its demise and needs replacing.

As such, we carefully make some practical purchases from REI this weekend.  We picked up some hot beverage containers, which are made of recycled materials.  Our old ones made it into the recycling bin today.  We also replaced our well worn water bottles and recycled those as well.  We also got some clothing needs met too since REI had some decent sale items.  I picked up two United By Blue graphic tees.  I am a sucker for t-shirts and since they are one of my favorite weekend wear items many of my shirts are seeing the end of their lifespan.  I have other things I bought through ThredUp that I haven’t been wearing too much of recently so those hit the donate pile and we’re dropping them off later this week with some shoes, two kitchen dining stools, and two suits my husband no longer wears.

Currently, I’ve become quite a fan of StitchFix for clothes because the stylist I’ve worked with has been great with perfectly fitting petite clothes.  I have the hardest time finding things that fit just right in stores so when I really need a few overhaul items I schedule a clothing fix.  So far, I’ve only returned two items, a necklace and a wrap blouse.  The dresses have been my favorite things so far and I will probably try out a pair of jeans for fall sometime.

Anyways, I know I am getting distracted.  Haha….

The house is looking better now that we have our piles of “Donate Stuff” set aside and the other items were moved out to the recycling bin and trash can.  My closet is slimmed down and now it will be easier to plan out my fall wardrobe as the weather cools (eventually).  I am dreaming of fall so much right now.  I love October.  It is my favorite month.

My mind does feel more at ease now that I’ve tackled this simple project.  You might be wondering what happened to the table that goes with those chairs.  I had plans to use it as an “entryway” table upstairs in the hallway but it is too big.  Now my plan is to take it apart and see if I can use at least one of the leaves as a shelf.  It may (or may not) work but I’m willing to try something new.

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Design Inspiration:#magnoliamakeover

Like many of my fellow Americans who are HGTV fans I am smitten with Fixer Upper.  As such, I have been falling over myself trying to be considered for the #magnoliamakeover contest.  So far, my photo of my sad little patio was not considered and I decided to enter again, this time with a photo of my master bedroom. However, if this room’s not chosen, I might break down and enter in a photo of our office.  Currently, it’s burdened with a bunch of moving boxes, an exercise bike, and extra bedding. However, I did pick up new curtains. We needed some for the space but I won’t post any photos of them up in the space until it is 1) cleared out and 2) we get longer curtain rods set up.  The current curtain rod holders are shorter than the length of the window so we have some work ahead of us to redesign the space.  By the way, I love the savings on the curtains!

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Anyways, getting down to business, I spend some time today dreaming about what would be fun to do if I received the prize package (shown below):

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  1. That’s right $1,000 gift card.  Where do I start?!
  2. The paint color was an easy choice; I love the weekend color.  My husband and I both have trouble sleeping, he more than I so we do like to keep our bedroom space as dark as possible.  We currently use black out curtains for our large side window and we found curtains for the two windows bordering our bed that we’ll purchase in the new month or two.
  3. I was a bit torn over furniture.  Our space is not very large and is already dominated by a curio, our queen size sleigh bed, an alphabet dresser, an Amish heater (temporary storage, not in use anyways with these hot summers), a garden stool (as a nightstand) and for some time (to be determined) a bistro table and two metal stools.  (In the past, I found it useful to have a table in the bedroom to do homework on the computer.  Currently, it’s serving as an oversized “nightstand.”)  A chair might do to replace the seating in the room and we can find a new place for the bistro table and stools.
  4. I think a non-wool rug would be most appropriate since my stepmom is allergic to wool.  While my family won’t visit often since they live out of state, I would want my home to stay as comfortable as possible for everyone.

Below is collection of what I love:

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I think the bold Weekend color should decorate the entire space and a thin horizontal stripe of Shiplap would add some beautiful detail.

I am also always on the lookout for additional storage in our home; it’s only 1,200 square feet and I don’t think people make enough use of the vertical space in their homes to maximize their storage needs and/or physical appearance of their spaces.  The dimensional these items add to the space is worthy for their functional and aesthetic qualities.

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Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 1.38.18 PM I really love the coat rack as one of the options to house my growing selection of scarves.  For a number of years I didn’t wear scarves (and I’m still not fond of turtlenecks) but now that I am adding these items into my wardrobe they need a better home than my dresser!

I know the cup rack is meant for the kitchen but it would be a great way to store various fabrics out in the open.

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I am also fond of these dreamer pillows!

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A slab table would partner well with a comfortable chair to round out the space. Oh and a rug (since that’s part of the package).

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Based on the $1,000 gift card the items that were outside of the 2 gallons of paint, a selected piece of furniture, and rug, the items still fall far under the total of the gift card.  As such, I am curious if the money could be use towards other home purchases because I absolutely love these plates and bowls for my kitchen.

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So here’s the space I nominated for #magnoliamakeover.  Hopefully, it’s chosen!

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Design Inspiration: Vintage Market & Design

This past week I was in Albuquerque for a conference and had the chance to check out Vintage Market & Design with one of my coworkers.  There are a ton of things I saw that tempted me and thankfully (in the future) I can buy something online from them.  For this visit, I made a very small purchase, both in price and size.  The metal house numbers (below) are a perfect little decoration to use in the house and I have plans to put them up on the master bedroom door once it’s painted.

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Want to see the other stuff that tempted me?  There was so much.

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And if you have extra time while in Albuquerque, don’t forget to pick up some candy!  One of my high school friends lived out there and recommended Buffett’s Candies.  Thankfully, they do online orders, too, just not this time of year.  I tried the chocolate covered piñon roll and it was fantastic.

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Saturday: Projects and Playful Adventures

Hello, everyone!  Not too long ago I promised I’d show off some progress we are making on the house and I am finally delivering on that promise.  One of my favorite projects recently has been turning Dutch Bros. hot coffee lids into framed art for our downstairs hallway.  The company has a variety of inspiration lids to give you a little daily pep talk but I kept a few I really enjoyed and this idea started when we were still living in our Gilbert rental.

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Don’t mind the fact the walls are still unpainted in the hallway. I will provide better photos down the road as all the art displays come together.  Putting the artwork together took a bit of craftiness I don’t normal tap into; the lids were not sticking to the scrapbook paper I obtained at Michael’s  with just a thin line of craft glue so I ended up putting glue on the inner rim, the edge and the “gap” between the two areas to help hold the lids on tight then I weighted them down with bags of rice and lentils for a few hours.

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The end result for the lids makes me happy and my daughter is (mostly) happy with hers as well. She wanted a shadow box for her room as well but I had a 50% coupon for a frame instead and instead of spending $15 for a shadow box I found a perfectly size frame which only costs me $4.

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I recycled the glass pane that came with the frame so we didn’t have a potential accident with the forgotten glass.  If you do something similar and could use the glass frame, I do recommend storing it safely until future use!

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My daughter got super crafty and snuck out to use the spray paint when no one was looking so her project has a bit of uneven color as a result. (Life happens!)

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We are still unpacking more wall art a bit at time so it is nice to see some playful representations up at this time even if they are a bit lonely.

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The living room is now the only room that is completely finished as far as painting goes. We did discover some of our artwork won’t stay up with Command Strips alone however I would still highly recommend using those items where possible.  As someone who rented for 10 years, they are a lifesaver.  Additionally, I still prefer to not put holes in the wall if they aren’t necessary.

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Color swatches shortly after we moved in. Top is Behr’s Off Broadway and the lower one is the Behr New Dawn.

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This awesome $400 couch is from IKEA.  The star burnout pillows are from American Furniture Warehouse (only $6 a piece).

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The color might look dark but it’s lovely in person and bounces back between a rich gray and a bold blue depending on the light filtering into the room.

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The danger of not using your paint right away is the color separates.  We obtained a mixing tool that attaches to the drill to help mix the paint again.  Stir sticks are not sufficient for this heavy separation.

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Ta da!!!

Again, the room’s not entirely finished so we still have artwork to place but I hope you love the current progress.  Lastly, here’s a peek of our before/after progress in the kitchen.

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A reminder of our ‘before’ from May of this year.

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The kitchen desperately needed some additional storage and this French Country island fit the bill.

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The stools add some nice pops of color.  We saw some high end ones at Design Within Reach but picked up truly affordable ones awhile back from Target (green one), American Furniture Warehouse (blue one), and the one on the right from Fry’s grocery store. 🙂

We also received some unexpected surprises courtesy of our loan officer for the Fourth of July.  Thanks as always for sharing in this delightful journey with us.  I love seeing this house become a home.

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Design Inspiration: Genevieve’s Renovation

As most of you know my budget is modest, modest, modest.  It’s almost so small it might not exist, which is why I won’t always have awesome updates for you about the house.  We have done a few things like installed a new toilet in the master bath, picked up a French Country style island from American Furniture Warehouse, and painted the living room (finally).  The two best things about the island purchase were the fact we paid for it with our refund money from the rental and a $25 coupon from AFW reduced the price a little. I will share photos of both those adventures once the spaces are closer to being finished.  However, I know I don’t have a vast array of exciting stories and Instagram worthy photos to share with you all the time.  Sorry my life is pretty ordinary so I (also) enjoy living vicariously through the design efforts of others and love talking about the amazing things they do with their spaces, too.

For approximately the last week I’ve taken up watching Genevieve’s Renovation and fallen in love with the bathroom tile in her daughter’s bathroom and become envious of these gorgeous floors.  (If my legs could look like hers when I’m in my forties too I also wouldn’t be disappointed.)

While I haven’t watched her design shows in quite some time this renovation project has me interested. My husband and I don’t pay for cable so we watch tv as a family using Hulu and Netflix. My daughter doesn’t seem to mind watching a plethora of design shows with us. We also catch episodes of Fixer Upper but Genevieve’s Renovation speaks to what I love in design: an eclectic mix of style that highlights world travels.  The Moroccan door she put up in her renovated apartment is stunning.  While I’ve loved the idea of visiting Morocco for some time now whenever I see Moroccan design elements my heart is so happy.  I was actually quite disappointed during one episode of House Hunters International when a couple choose to build a western style home in Morocco rather than restore one of the riads.  What were they thinking?!  Riads can be so beautiful; the designs are something I wish American homebuilders would gravitate towards.

Here’s hoping you find some awesome design inspiration this week, too.

~Cheryl

p.s. If any home design company/tv show wants to throw some free products my way, I won’t mind a bit.  My house will love the extra goodies.

Design Inspiration Day

Today started off with a perfect amount of ‘me’ time.  My daughter is spending the Fourth of July weekend camping with her grandparents so I have the time to invest in some unfinished projects and relaxing with my husband.  We started our day off with a 50 minute walk/jog around and just outside our neighborhood and headed out to Nico’s Kitchen for brunch.  It hasn’t been open long and today was our first outing there.  The space makes me think of a combination of Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.  It’s so beautiful and our servers plus the food there was excellent.

We were the first customers of the day.  I can tell you I’ve never been the first customer of the day at a restaurant and it’s a giddy mix of joy and also a bit nervousness.  In that moment, we are the center of attention and I certainly didn’t want the staff to feel that their efforts were under appreciated.  Hopefully, more people start to check this place out. The experience was fantastic.

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Nico’s Kitchen (Located in Downtown Gilbert)

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The space is so fresh and inviting.  

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While we were eating our meal, one of the servers tucked sprigs of rosemary into the other place settings.  We were in so early ours weren’t finished yet. 🙂

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Don’t let the prices deter you; the food is REALLY worth it.

My husband had the chistorra and eggs and I choose the classic crepe.  We treated ourselves to donuts as an appetizer. The sweet milk is fantastic; it has vanilla beans in it and the closest store bought product that brings me similar joy is Shamrock Farms vanilla milk.

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Classic Crepe

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Chistorra & Eggs

We ended our morning with a little peek around A World of Tile in Mesa.  Quite some time must pass before we can tackle the bigger jobs associated with our home and I am not quite content to settle for the selection at Home Depot.  We eventually want to replace the carpet upstairs and downstairs.  Currently, we are thinking about scraped bamboo for the upstairs and a wood grain porcelain tile for downstairs.  Below are some of our favorite selections of tile from today’s window shopping adventure.

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This tile reminds me of my travels and I’d love this (or a similar product) somewhere in the house.

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My daughter would probably love this tile selection because the crackle glaze is something she’d like based on her love for glitter.

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Product information for the crackle glaze product.

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Love…love…love.

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It glistens like snow. 🙂

Sneak Peek: A Necessary Home Feature

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Where’s the peephole?!

I know I posted this photo before but I wanted to share with you that when my husband and I purchased our home we cluelessly missed the fact the front door did not have a peephole.  Seriously!!!  We missed it.  We were so enthralled with the idea of homeownership we breezed on by and said yes.

This weekend we tackled this little problem because it was becoming a big problem.  On numerous occasions a slew of solicitors have come up to our home and we cannot see them except for when they walk by the premise.  Currently, we are on the hunt for a fantastic ‘No Solicitation’ sign and I am looking around Etsy for just the right thing.  We would not go another weekend though without resolving the peephole issue.  Thankfully, our local Home Depot has those in stock and we found one that fit our particular needs.  Having never lived in a home without a peephole I was surprised to find out just how common it is for doors to not have peepholes.

We will eventually paint the door (interior and exterior) as the budget allows but for now this simple project brought a lot of joy (without a lot of effort or money).  Please know for the duration we live in our residence I am very hesitant to post full shots of the exterior.  I am happy giving you small glimpses here and there of things but privacy and safety are very important to me.

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And the final product:

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Weekend Work

Pulling the house together requires tackling one obstacle at a time and for me right now those obstacles are the boxes. We still have a fair amount of boxes cluttering up the house and I am thankful our city does trash and recycling pick up on the same day.  Each week our bins are full of moving debris: curled up balls of tape, cling wrap, packing paper that cannot be used again, and a small amount of moving boxes that didn’t fare so well during the move.  We are holding onto the good boxes so we can reduce the amount necessary to purchase for a move later on.

This weekend Avery and I went to Merchant Square in Chandler in our quest for a few new wall mirrors.  Our outing was not entirely successful.  We found a variety of things, but did not purchase a mirror there.  I was delighted though to run into one of my coworkers and her husband.  She was the one who told me about the antique market but during one of our recent discussions didn’t plan on going antique hunting there this weekend.

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This mirror was one of the more affordable ones that I found but not quite what I wanted.

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I don’t know what I would do with it, but I love this old door.

I was a bit bummed so many things I found interesting were more expensive than I thought they’d be so I made the decision to not purchase a mirror there.

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Old rail car door $240 (Love It!)

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We bought this veteran made heart for $22.

I think the next time I check out an antique market I will go in with a broader understanding antique/flea markets don’t always have inexpensive items on my wish list. I picked up a mirror instead from Target. I found a Threshold collection mirror for $50. After bringing it home and opening the box I found a tiny chip in the frame but we decided to keep it anyways. Thomas sanded the edge a little to soften the appearance and as needed, we’ll distress it more as necessary. I eager to get some of our wall decor up so we’ll go back and paint the wall later.  I do think once the wall is painted the mirror will stand out a bit more.  (By the way, this white paint is driving me crazy; whatever paint the builder used is not great and it shows scuff marks and dirt like you would not believe.)

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I still have a minor project in the works for my daughter.  She picked up a beautiful bright pink frame and now I’m in the process of spray painting it. I taped off the portion directly surrounding the glass so it stays pink (as best as possible) so my daughter can have the blue AND pink frame she wanted.  We’ll see how well my first spray painting job goes….

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The best find of the day is this small frame.  It was listed for $8 and because it was one sale, we paid just under $7 for it.

Below is the color it will be once finished:

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