How to Paint Over Stain: Old End Table Transformation

White couch with white end tables and grey accents

Over ten years ago, these dark, espresso stained end tables were a big buy for my new little apartment. The whole place was white from the walls and trim to the tile floors and ceiling. So, the brown provided a great contrast.

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15 Minutes to Tame: 15 Areas You Can Organize in 15 Minutes

cool coffee table

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When I got my first apartment, I quickly became aware that homes take work to maintain. Each item takes up space and I wanted as much space as possible to be peaceful and creative. But the process of decluttering can be time consuming, especially when you try to tackle an entire room. One trick is to break up each room into several smaller tasks, cleaning each slowly.

This works well for two situations. First, some people don’t have large chunks of time available to declutter their whole space. So, they may be inclined to put off any home organization because the timeline is impractical. Second, some people have a strong attachment to their stuff. In fact, many struggle to dispose of trash and useless items. In either case, these little tasks can help you organize spaces that often collect clutter.

15 Things You Can Organize in 15 Minutes

I kept this list simple to encourage quick tasks. If you do one of these each day, you will have a much more organized home in about two weeks.

Living Room

  • One Shelf of Books: While it is difficult to deal with an entire bookshelf, or book collection, one shelf is less intimidating. Pick one and pull everything off. Dust the shelf and the books. Look through the pile to see if there is anything stored between the books that doesn’t belong. Often, little papers get stuck between volumes. Check each book to make sure they all belong to you, making a plan to return borrowed publications to the rightful owner. If you’re feeling brave, pull out anything you want to discard or donate. Put the remaining books back on the shelf.
  • Magazine Bin: Whether you have a bin, basket or box, almost everyone collects magazines over time. Pull them out and count how many you have stored. Then, separate them into three piles. First, make a pile of magazines you still need to read. Second, make a pile of magazines you plan to store, clip or reuse. Third, make a pile of magazines that you need to discard. Leave the first pile in the bin to read later. Move the second pile to a workspace where you can tackle the bigger organization task. Recycle the third pile. If you’re feeling ambitious, cancel all your subscriptions for the year. Don’t renew them until you’ve dealt with all of the magazines you currently own.
  • Coffee Table Top: Most people collect clutter on top of their coffee table. Take a quick moment to clear off anything that doesn’t belong and return them to the rightful place. Dust the top and arrange the remaining items nicely.

Kitchen

  • Silverware Drawer: Silverware drawers can collect random items. Empty it onto a towel and wipe out the drawer. Then, add back in the forks, spoons and knives into the appropriate places. You’ll find that you are left with odd utensils (and maybe some junk). Discard the junk. Return odd utensils to the appropriate place or relegate them to a donation bin.
  • Mug Shelf: Mug shelves get out of control quickly, with so many cute designs and Instagrammable moments. However, a home can only use so many mugs before the dishwasher overflows. Pull all of your mugs out and wipe down the shelf or hooks. Count the number of mugs and compare that to the number of people in your household. Really, you only need one mug per person per day. Pick one mug for each person (or let them select their favorite). Return only those mugs to the shelf. Move the others to long term storage, for special occasions and guests. Also, you can replace one of the mugs if it breaks. If you are feeling ambitious, consider donating or selling some of the mugs to cut down on your clutter.
  • Fridge Condiments: Most people have at least one shelf of their fridge covered in condiments. Lay a towel on your counter top and remove all of the condiments from your fridge. Wipe down the shelf. Review the condiments, removing anything empty, expired or spoiled. Wipe down the remaining condiments and return them to the fridge. If you are feeling ambitious, make a list of the meals you can make to use up obscure sauces before they expire. Also, make a plan to limit your purchases in the future to avoid duplicate items (like five different mustards).

Office

  • Pencil Holder: Surprisingly, pencil holders attract random objects. Dump yours out and wipe down the inside. Test each pen, pencil and marker to make sure it works. Discard any that are used up or dried out. Return the writing utensils to the pencil holder. Discard any trash and return other objects to their appropriate place.
  • Bulletin Board: The brilliance of bulletin boards comes from their ability to change. Keep yours fresh by removing all of the items and placing them on a flat surface. Dust the board and remove any broken pins. File any papers, receipts or mail that you need to keep long term. Discard any reminders that are past the date. Pack away mementos in a memory box or scrapbook. This should leave you with some fresh space to curate new ideas.
  • Loose Cables and Cords: Most desks are cluttered with cables and cords. Check yours and remove any that don’t belong. Return those to their appropriate devices or discard any that don’t match your tech. Label the remaining cords and attach them to the correct items.

Bedroom

  • Sock Drawer: Maintaining this monster will make your morning so much easier. Dump out all of your docks onto a clear surface. Wipe the drawer. Match each of your socks and return them in pairs to the drawer. For the socks without mates, make a small pile and set aside. Check them as you do your laundry. Discard or reuse any mismatched socks.
  • Scarf Collection: One downfall of this trend? Scarfs can quickly overwhelm your closet. Collect all of your scarves for the season in one place. Make sure they are all clean and lint-free. Remove any that are damaged or don’t match your taste. These can be donated or recycled. Put them back in one designated spot, like an organizer or hanger. If you’re feeling ambitious, make a goal to limit your collection to a certain number. Only buy or accept a new scarf if you are willing to get rid of one.
  • Shoe Rack: Shoe racks can become magnets for clutter. Empty yours and wipe it down. Check each pair of shoes, wiping them down as you return to the rack. Remove any worn out or uncomfortable shoes. Also, collect other items and return to their rightful place. Take it to the next level by vowing to limit your shoes to the number of spaces on your rack. Don’t buy any new shoes until you wittle down your pairs. Then, you can only buy a pair when you are ready to remove one.

Bathroom

  • Medicine Storage: Whether you keep your medicines in a drawer, box or cabinet, collect them all on a flat surface. Check each item for an expiration date. Set aside any old or expired prescriptions to dispose of properly. Return the remaining medicines to their rightful place. You may also need to make a list of missing items and replace them at a later date.
  • Everyday Makeup: Although decluttering all of your beauty products may take a while, most people have a bag or bin with the items they use every day. Place these on a towel. Remove anything expired. For anything you don’t regularly use, move it with your other long-term storage or discard. Wipe the rest of the items and return to their regular location.
  • Tub Products: With all those shelves and racks, tubs collect clutter quickly. Lay down a towel and place all of your tub products on top. Discard empty bottles and old bath accessories. Check for duplicate items. While some households may prefer a separate soap or shampoo per person, no one needs multiples out at the same time. Store the extras and don’t buy more until you use those up. Return the necessary products to the bath.
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Once you have cleaned all of these spaces, you’ll have a more organized home. In fact, the process may inspire you to continue your the organization process in other areas of your home. If you’re thinking about it, I would recommend 100 Tips to Declutter your Home. Read it for tips and ideas to clean out your place.

Do you have any other ideas? Leave your tips in the comments.

 

60 Tips to Declutter Your Office

This world is but a canvas to our imagination. Henry David Thoreau

Some people tell me that creativity and clutter must go hand-in-hand. I refuse to believe it. I agree that little inspirational bits accumulate around imaginative people. I disagree that we need to surround ourselves with disorganization. In fact, I find that I do my best work, creative and functional, in a clutter-free space. And I say this as someone who has boxes with broken costume jewelry, a collection of ostrich feathers, and a plethora of paints. It’s the curation and usefulness of these items that facilitates the creative process.

I do my best creative work in a clutter-free space.

Offices become hotspots for clutter because they attract paper, supplies, and castoffs. The space naturally collects everything for “later.” Think of: those bills that you paid but, need to file lay in a stack on the floor. That broken teacup, waiting for superglue, rests on top of a cabinet. Layers of mail and coupons, that you proactively moved from the kitchen counter, now litter baskets and bins. And despite all this collecting, you keep bringing in duplicate items because you can’t find the right tools when you need them.

This is the goal of office decluttering: A useable workspace that promotes productivity. Below are the steps I take for an office cleanout.

 

 

 

Like Items and Labeling

The first phase creates a huge (temporary) mess. In fact, it often involves my whole house. With time, items creep into the wrong spaces and must be sorted. So, the process starts by pulling together like items and labeling their storage space.

  1. Grab a basket and put a piece of masking tape on it. Label it “Office”.
  2. For a week, take on each room slowly, opening every storage space. In each space, grab everything that constitutes an office supply and put it in a basket.
  3. As you fill the basket, start taking note of duplicate items.
  4. Once you review the whole home, put the items out in a large, uncluttered work space. Group like items together.
  5. Make a list of any missing tools, refills or supplies.
  6. Toss or recycle any broken items.
  7. Looking at what is left, consider the duplicate items. Some items, like scissors, may be needed in more than one area of the house. However, you may find one stapler on a desk is plenty for a household.
  8. After reviewing the duplicate items, pick the best ones to keep and label them for the space where they will reside. For the scissors example, one set of scissors will be labelled “kitchen” and one labelled “office.”
  9. Next, put the items back in their appropriate rooms. You should have significantly less items than before.
  10. Finally, create a shopping list for the storage bins and missing supplies you’ll need. Label these inconspicuously, such as on the bottom, to ensure they end up staying in the correct space.

Once you complete these steps, you’re ready to start planning your space.

 

Define Work Zones

To best maintain your organized items, define work zones throughout your home. While some people have distinct office areas for each family member, others make do with multi-purpose zones.

  1. Start by considering what kind of “office” work you do. Make a list of tasks such as filing, checking emails, sorting mail, schoolwork, take-home projects or paying bills.
  2. Think about where you like to do this work. Do you prefer to sit at a desk? Do you like to spread out on the living room couch? Define when and where you will do your “office” related tasks.
  3. Make a plan for how you will keep the necessary tools and supplies organized and in reach. For example, if you like to do your filing at the kitchen table, your folders should be in several small boxes or a rolling cabinet. Then, you can bring it with you when you add new papers. Conversely, if you prefer to answer working emails sitting at a clear desk, make sure you have a space set up.
  4. List any storage that may need to change. You may require a new cabinet, caddy, or bin.
  5. Sketch how you plan to use the space to help you visualize the process. Even if you aren’t artistic, you can cobble together a collage. This helps you plan better.
  6. Start shopping or making the appropriate pieces to store your supplies.
  7. As you bring in each piece, be careful to keep the receipts. You may find that you will return some of the items if you find a better product.
  8. As you put together your work zones, label the items that “live” there. This helps ensure that you don’t buy duplicates again in the future.
  9. Discuss the new situation with other household members. They should be aware that items need to be returned to the appropriate spaces.
  10. Monitor how you use each space over the coming weeks. You may find some adjustment is needed to suit your natural rhythms.

Then, you can start making it pretty!

Hide or Display

The decision to hide or display office supplies is a highly personal one. Some people prefer to stow away items in something opaque. Others like to display neat, organized tools and supplies. For each preference, there are so many ideas to customize your office storage.

Hide

Below are some ideas to hide you office supplies.

  1. Cube Shelves with bins
  2. Files in a Trunk
  3. Pegboard Box
  4. Over-the-door baskets
  5. Drawer Dividers
  6. Storage Box
  7. Printer Pull-out Cabinet
  8. Tech Drawer
  9. Storage Bench
  10. Extendable Desk

Display

Below are some ideas to display your office supplies.

  1. Floating Shelves
  2. Colorful Corkboards
  3. Hanging Folders
  4. Glass Apothecary Jars
  5. Industrial Printer Cart
  6. Wire and Clips Display
  7. IKEA’s Fintorp System
  8. Peg Boards
  9. Book Rack
  10. Industrial Shelving

Depending on your preferences, you’ll gravitate toward a “hide” or “display” style of organizing. Take note of this as you plan your space and make sure you keep things tidy.

 

 

Plan your Projects

Now that you’ve completed the first level of organizing, it’s time to start ticking projects off your long list. The purpose is simple: cleaning out old supplies and tools. Over the long term, this will free up your mind to focus on the projects that you truly wish to complete. Often, I find I have the weight of potential projects keeping me from productivity.

Use These Up

  1. Notepads or Journals
  2. Specialty tools
  3. Fittings, fasteners or connecting pieces
  4. Pens, markers or writing tools that may dry out
  5. Anything with scents that may expire
  6. Paints or inks that could dry up
  7. Kits for hobbies or crafts
  8. Patterns or instructions
  9. Seasonal or holiday supplies
  10. Supplies with trendy colors or patterns

Donate These

  1. Leftover paint or glue
  2. Fabric scraps
  3. Lace, Rickrack or trimmings
  4. Glitter
  5. Paper scraps
  6. Stickers
  7. Buttons
  8. Beads
  9. Yarn or String
  10. Wood or wooden pieces

Once you have used up these supplies, create a project list to use anything leftover. You should only keep supplies that you plan to actually use. Work through these like they are a priority. Soon, you’ll find your self and your space will feel lighter.

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Tips to Declutter Your Office

Now that you have organized your office, you’re ready to get to work. I’d love to see your work spaces, whether they are a separate room or a movable setup.

Send me links in the comments!

 

 

100 Ideas to Use Extra Paint

If you love to craft and create, you know that most projects leave you with leftover supplies. These bits and bobbles can pile up. Previously, I posted about ways to organize your work space, which includes using old supplies. In that post, I mentioned that one of the most common leftover supplies is extra paint. While some paints, like watercolors, keep over time, others dry up or turn sour. Below are some ideas that use small amounts of paint that can use up your extra stores.

Homegoods

 

 

 

  1. Teal Bust from P.S. I Made This
  2. Painted Lantern Lights from The Merry Thought
  3. Floral Painted Vases from Mark Montano
  4. Shell Tic Tac Toe from P.S. I Made This
  5. Sea Shell Checkers from P.S. I Made This
  6. Unicorn Paper from Mark Montano
  7. Painted Planters from Cut Out + Keep
  8. String Paint from Cut Out + Keep
  9. Block Paint from Cut Out + Keep
  10. Bubble Painting from Cut Out + Keep
  11. Travel Keepsake Box from Pop Shop America
  12. Painted Magazine Files from Cut Out + Keep
  13. Painted Wooden Hangers from Cut Out + Keep
  14. Spray Paint Art from Cut Out + Keep
  15. Candy Colored Jewelry Display from Cut Out + Keep
  16. Wooden Candle Holder from Burkatron
  17. Painted Wood Placemats from A Bubbly Life
  18. White Dash Doormat from Deliniate Your Dwelling
  19. Rainbow Desk Organizer from A Kailo Chic Life
  20. Bauhaus Inspired Mobiles from A House that Lars Built
  21. Watercolor Japanese Windsocks from Handmade Charlotte
  22. Dotted Throw Pillow from Delicious and DIY
  23. Brushstrokes Painted Glasses from A Kailo Chic Life
  24. Painted File Sorters from Drawn to DIY
  25. Bubble Paint Tea Towels from Average But Inspired

Jewelry

 

  1. Bubble Necklace from Cut Out + Keep
  2. Marbled Wood Beads from Mark Montano
  3. Painted Shell Earrings from Cut Out + Keep
  4. Feather Earrings from Make and Fable
  5. Hand Painted Button Rings from Cut Out + Keep
  6. Beach Ball Necklace from Crafts by Courtney
  7. Geometric Paint and Glitter Pendants from Cut Out + Keep
  8. Hand Painted Wooden Bangle from Cut Out + Keep
  9. Hand Painted Tribal Earrings from Cut Out + Keep
  10. Oriental Bangle from Cut Out + Keep
  11. Diamond Pendant Necklace from Cut Out + Keep
  12. Birdie Keychains from Handmade Charlotte
  13. Hippie Wooden Bead Necklace by Efzin Creations
  14. Polymer Clay Necklace by Lia Griffith
  15. Wood Monogram Keychains from Damask Love
  16. Wood Bead Tassel Necklace from Party Har DIY
  17. Donut Bangle from Do It Make It Love It
  18. Gold Spatter Paint Necklace from A Kailo Chic Life
  19. Chic Keychains from Domino
  20. Concrete and Gold Gem Earrings from DIY in PDX
  21. Wood Bead Keychains from White House Crafts
  22. Splatter Paint Earrings from Mohntage
  23. Wood Wire Bracelets from Made In A Day
  24. Wood Bangle Bracelets from DIY Projects for Teens
  25. Neon Wood Painted Earrings from Crafted Sparrow

Clothing/ Accessories

 

 

  1. Paint Splatter Jeans from Delineate Your Dwelling
  2. Eye Spy a Button Down DIY from A Beautiful Mess
  3. Color Block Wallet from Cut Out + Keep
  4. Painted Leather Purse from Kraft and Mint
  5. TopShop Inspired Denim Skirt from Isoscella
  6. Watercolor Sneakers from P.S. I Made This
  7. Watermelon Painted Soles from Cut Out + Keep
  8. Chanel Inspired Slingbacks from Beauty Dojo
  9. Painted Polka Dot Flats from Cut Out + Keep
  10. DIY Rainbow Woven Tote from A House that Lars Built
  11. Striped Shoes from Cut Out + Keep
  12. Painted Reusable Bag from Cut Out + Keep
  13. Galaxy Print Shoes from Cut Out + Keep
  14. Color Block Wedges from Cut Out + Keep
  15. Swallow Bag from Cut Out + Keep
  16. Peacock Shoes from Cut Out + Keep
  17. Heart Flats from Cut Out + Keep
  18. Striped Nautical Tote Bag from Damask Love
  19. Turban Headband from Cut Out + Keep
  20. Monstera Leaf Backpack from We’re Going to Make it
  21. Device Covers from A Beautiful Mess
  22. Back to School Tote from PMQ for Two
  23. Flamingo Stencil Tote Bag from Do It Your Freaking Self
  24. Ice Cream Cone Button Shirt Makeover from The Makeup Dummy
  25. Painted Rainbow Sunhat from A House that Lars Built

Other/ Seasonal

 

 

 

 

  1. Painted Stick Nature Craft from Crafts by Courtney
  2. Painted Wooden Toy Bowling Set from Color Made Happy
  3. Watercolor Splash Gift Tags from Coffee and Vanilla
  4. Galaxy Wrapping Paper from Mama is Dreaming…
  5. Magazine Art Journals from Mark Montano
  6. Large Colorful Dice from Delineate Your Dwelling
  7. Painted Love Stones from Mark Montano
  8. Painted Rocks from Cut Out + Keep
  9. Puzzle Blocks from Delia Makes
  10. Swirly Paint Christmas Balls from Cut Out + Keep
  11. Outdoor Dominos from Delineate Your Dwelling
  12. Painted Guitar Picks from Cut Out + Keep
  13. Junk Drawer Bags from Dream Green DIY
  14. Folded or Sewn Books from Cut Out + Keep
  15. DIY Customized Notebooks from Enthralling Gumption
  16. Watercolor Easter Eggs from Cut Out + Keep
  17. Gift Tin from Efzin Creations
  18. Dotted Rainbow Easter Egg from Cut Out + Keep
  19. Paint Splatter Notebook Covers from Your DIY Family
  20. 80s inspired Gift Wrap from Club Crafted
  21. Ring Toss Game from The Crafty Gentleman
  22. Wacky Arm Clothespin Dolls from Handmade Charlotte
  23. Bead and Tassel Drink Stirrers from Club Crafted
  24. Summer Postcards from Delicious and DIY
  25. Rock Animal Giraffe Puzzle from We’re Going to Make It

Ideas to Use Extra Paint

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As you can see, a lot of projects use small amounts of paint from your leftover supplies. So, what are your favorite ways to use extra paint? I’d love to hear about them.

Add your links in the comments!

Out of the Green: 2018 Colors of the Year

Pantone colors

Rounding up the proclaimed colors of the year for 2018 reveals one thing: we’re done with green. Last year, the bright and neon hues were influenced by Pantone’s Greenery. While the risky tone aspired to feel fresh, Greenery didn’t deliver a universal appeal (creating comparisons to the Mucinex Snot Monster).

This year, neons are out. Nuanced, almost muted, tones dominate all the major paint brands and fashion houses.  While the bright, primary colors pop faithfully as accents, they aren’t overtaking 2018 palettes.

Colors of the Year for 2018

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Pantone: Ultra Violet

In my opinion, Pantone remains the truest predictor as they scour all areas for top color trends. This hue feels both fresh and nostalgic, as the muted purple echos royalty while forecasting a turn toward neo-luxury.

“We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.” – Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.

My main critique is not of the color but rather, the galaxy-inspired styling. It’s derivative and  reflective, mirroring the several-years-old Gen Z affinity for star-scape.

My hope: Maybe Ultra Violet will replace Millennial Pink.

Benjamin Moore: Caliente 

For me, this pick disappoints with its obvious application. Are you updating your oak-cabinet kitchen? Make it look like a bistro with this red. Are you sick of your dull tresses? Add these mulled wine undertones to your brown bob. Did you hit a midlife crisis? Pick the compact SUV without a silver or navy finish.

While this brand is known for timeless selections, this color doesn’t impress. It’s too overdone to feel fresh and too safe to become a real classic.

My thoughts: If I saw this chip, I wouldn’t assume it was part of the Benjamin Moore brand.

PPG: Violet Verbena

PPG created a color that was much more nuanced than I expected from their team. It falls into a similar family as last year’s Shadow from Benjamin Moore. When I saw it, I immediately thought of three literary references:

  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin
  • Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Any tone that takes me away from pure design into another passion is one worth considering. I imagine this as the handmade-purple dye that springs from soaking linen in purple onions.

While the color clearly resonates more as a tame accent wall, I can appreciate the layers of subtlety.

My opinion: It’s the Ultra Violet for people who like to smell their books.

Sherwin Williams: Oceanside

I have tried so hard not to hate this tone. I cannot like it. Jewel tones are so done, like on-clearance-at-Walmart done. Jewel tones will never really be classic and at best their styling becomes tawdry. I only appreciate them as something bourgeoisie, ironic or costumed.

For set design, Oceanside could evoke the flamboyance of a Victorian brothel without defaulting to gold and maroon. For real life, it’s impossible to light in a home and outdated to wear.

The pity? I actually like the name. I wouldn’t paint a cottage this color but, I want to go somewhere with walls painted in Oceanside. I just don’t want it to be this Oceanside.

My issue: I never liked the jewel-tone trend and I’m not going to start liking it now.

James T. Davis: Cozy Cover

My only local choice, Cozy Cover comes from James T. Davis. The tone mimics last year’s similarly subtle hue. A reflective choice, this color uncovers the local tastes, where many families add their warm touch to historical homes.

As someone who constantly covets change, I always appreciate a strong neutral tone. It provides a backdrop to the colorful transitions of life. And who doesn’t struggle to find a decent beige that isn’t too yellow under flourescent lights?

My Take: This local paint brand stays in touch with the needs of the Lynchburg market.

Out of the Green

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Each year, the selected colors are both predictive and prolific. Trendsetters, as always, tells us what to want before we know we want it. My favorites, Ultra Violet and Violet Verbena, take me somewhere – Ultra Violet gallops forward and Violet Verbena swishes backwards. My least liked tones, Caliente and Oceanside, fall flat. They don’t spark a discussion, inspire nostalgia or push the limits of design.

As a whole, these selected tones reflect a push away from last year’s bright and blaring colors. So, I’d like to see what you think.

Which colors are you bringing with you into 2018?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

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100 Tips to Declutter Your Home

reading light

Later is the best friend of clutter… – Peter Walsh

Clutter articles range from judgmental, hoarding horror stories to useless, vague suggestions to advertorials for decorative organizational bins. Regardless, the peaceful state they all promote is both much-sought-after and mysterious to attain. Such was my struggle when I dumped my bags into my first apartment, a 400-square foot bungalow in South Florida.

As I compiled a long list of DIY projects and purchases, I also started absorbing artifacts from my parents, castoffs of caring friends, and unsolicited housewarming gifts. I just took everything with a “Thank-you” and added it to the pile. Very quickly, my apartment took a form that did not reflect who I was or how I wanted to use the space. So, I started thinking back to my missteps over the years. I remembered my hard-to-clean, impossible-to-organize childhood, teen, and college rooms. Those habits grew into a similarly unchecked living situation. So, determined to take ownership for my home, I began research.

Read Up

The stories that impacted me most where ones that focused on the journey of the person writing the article. They imagined a specific life and sought that state of being. For example, The Minimalists lifestyle was inspired by a desire to break with the corporate world and the related consumerism. Below are ten websites that I would recommend.

  1. The Minimalists
  2. FlyLady
  3. FrugalWoods
  4. ZenHabits
  5. Unclutterer
  6. 356 Less Things
  7. My Unhoarded Life (archive)
  8. Organized Castle
  9. Reading My Tea Leaves
  10. Not My Hoarding Mother

Each of these stories contrasted my awkward, messy world. I wanted to be able to focus at the end of the day. I wanted to sit in peace on the weekends. I wanted to spend less time cleaning, and I wanted that cleaning to be quick. So, I decided to make a list to break down what could stay and what needed to go.

Make a list

My first place was very full and very dysfunctional. I had a plethora of cheap tools, knick-knacks, and bobbles with nowhere to store or display them. Buying a host of organizational systems wasn’t the solution. Figuring out exactly how much room I had in my place set the benchmark for curating my stuff.

  1. Consider how many things you actually own. How many boxes would you need to pack up and move? How much time do you need to spend cleaning your stuff? Find a meaningful way to measure your belongings. For me, I measured each existing surface and cabinet to estimate how much stuff the apartment could hold without buying furniture. Then, I placed the existing furniture in a pleasing arrangement, discarding anything that didn’t fit. This left me with a specific amount of space to fill, both for storage and decoration. This was my limit.
  2. Document your belongings in list or photo form. You’ll begin to realize there are so many things that you don’t want to acknowledge or curate. However, that is what you’re doing by owning them. You are committing to caring and keeping those items- passively every day. You’ll use these later when you decide to sell your stuff.
  3. Look at lists of people who live smaller lifestyles. Capsule Wardrobe and Minimalist bloggers can give some perspective on how many items  you can reasonably use.
  4. Write down the tips that challenged you most. Post there somewhere that you’re regularly reference.
  5. Restrict your consumption until you understand exactly how much room you have and how much you want to one. Nothing new should come into your space until you finish the decluttering process.

Cut the Easy things

  1. Expired body product and makeup must go.
  2. Manuals and guides usually have digital versions. Bookmark those pages and recycle the paper ones.
  3. Bottles, jars and cans should be recycled if you aren’t using them.
  4. Cardboard boxes can be recycled.
  5. Go through your games and look for the broken or missing parts. Swap with someone who has the same game. One of you will end up with a complete set.
  6. Look through your Tupperware and recycle the most scraggly pieces.
  7. Old candles and potpourri that have lost their scent, lose a place in your home.
  8. Expired food should be composted or disposed.
  9. Samples that you’ve never used should be thrown out.
  10. Old medications can be turned in to an appropriate station.
  11. Excess wire or plastic hangers can be donated to thrift stores.
  12. Ditch that smelly sponge.
  13. Swap your old air filter.
  14. Trash your oldest, broken shoes.
  15. Donate old Halloween costumes and props.
  16. Trash full coloring books, after you frame your favorite pages.
  17. Socks that don’t have a mate, should be cut up for rags.
  18. Old spices that have lost their flavor must go.
  19. Swap your old toothbrush for a fresh one.
  20. Cards, mail and papers that have no meaning can be recycled with paper.
  21. Old calendars can be recycled.
  22. Sell any movies that you don’t want and don’t watch.
  23. Cookbooks usually contain only a few good recipes. Copy them and donate the book.
  24. Takeout menus are meaningless in the digital age.
  25. Takeout condiments fill up little nooks. Clean them out.
  26. Old prescription glasses can be donated and recycled
  27. Random business cards can be turned into digital files and tossed
  28. Check your cables. Recycle any that don’t match a device.
  29. Old paint doesn’t get better with age. Donate or recycle depending on the condition.
  30. Digitize and file receipts. Most paper copies aren’t needed.
  31. Pick through your paperbacks. You will probably find some that you don’t want to read again.
  32. Curtains from a previous living space can be sold or donated.
  33. Remove any body products that make you itch or breakout.
  34. Recycle any old containers for empty products.
  35. Infrequently-used kitchen appliances can be donated or sold.
  36. Clothes that are the wrong size should be donated.
  37. Shoes that are worn out, should be tossed.
  38. Pet toys that your furbaby won’t play with should be donated to a shelter.
  39. Magazines, all of them, should be recycled.
  40. Leftover supplies for craft kits and hobbies should be donated.
  41. Mismatched sheets and pillowcases, should be donated.
  42. Extra, or old blankets and pillows should be donated.
  43. Broken decorative items should be repaired or discarded.
  44. Your button collection can be donated to a sewing enthusiast or crafter.
  45. Old, unworn jewelry can be gifted or loaned to family members.
  46. CDs should be donated or recycled.
  47. Junk Mail should be recycled.
  48. Old, expired cleaning supplies should be disposed of per label directions.
  49. Duplicate tools should be sold or donated.
  50. Stained or soiled clothing should be recycled or tossed.

Take a Count

Next, you must match your belongings to your actual lifestyle. The examples below can help guide you to determine what you need for how you like to live.

  1. Count your seating and compare it to how much you actually host. You may find you don’t need any many chairs. If you have two people and never host large dinners, you can probably do with a small kitchen table and two chairs.
  2. Sort your pillowcases. You only need 2 sets for each bed. 1 on the bed and 1 in the wash.
  3. Sort your bedsheets. You may find you only need a warm and cool set.
  4. Look through your towels. 2 towels per person will work if you do your laundry every week.
  5. Sort your blankets. You only need 1 per person for an extra snuggle. Extra, pilled ones can go to an animal shelter.
  6. Consider your tablecloths. If you only pull out those linens a few times a year, you may find you need 1 nice tablecloth total.
  7. Look through your mugs. These collect over time from gifts and events. 1 or 2 mugs per person is plenty and will cut down on the dirty dishes.
  8. Think about your tableware strategically. If you aren’t much of a host, you may be better served by 1 durable, plain set of dishes than several fancy sets you don’t use.
  9. Make sure you don’t have duplicate utensils or unitaskers. You only have 1 kitchen and two hands. Keep that in mind while you’re sorting items.
  10. Make a list of your actual hobbies that you actually did this month. Sell all the supplies and tools that don’t match that list
  11. Check your recreational items. Whether it’s sporting equipment, outdoor furnishings, board games, or musical instruments, you may not be using every piece. These items are usually easy to sell.
  12. Measure your bookshelf. If the average book is about 1-2 inches thick, you can divide the length of your bookshelves by 2 to figure out how many books you can actually store.
  13. Measure your closet and clothing storage space. There is a finite amount of clothing that you can keep in your home. Limit your wardrobe to that number.
  14. Work through your wallspace. Photos or art should be displayed and will be limited by those dimensions.
  15. Do a time study exercise. Seeing how you spend your time reveals what kind of stuff you actually use. For example, you may not need many kitchen gadgets if you rarely cook. Or that aspirational yoga mat may actually sit in your closet for months.
  16. Count your collections and do the math on their value. If you enjoy collecting as a hobby, think about how you can limit the grouping to your favorite and most valuable pieces. If you are trying to collect to build a profit, make sure you turn the inventory regularly. Regardless, the amount you keep should be limited to the available space.
  17. Count the number of boxes that work in your deep storage spaces. Once shelving is installed, you will be able to calculate the number of bins that can fit. Heirlooms and seasonal items shouldn’t exceed these limits.
  18. Tally the time you spend cleaning and organizing your things. Consider how you want to spend your time and make sure your possessions remain proportional.

Then work in a circle

  1. Make a list of all the rooms in your space in a spreadsheet. Then, make a list of all the storage areas in each room. This will give you a list to work on weekend by weekend when you’re clearing out your space.
  2. As you’re working through the list, just take one storage area at a time. Pull everything out of the space. Get rid of any trash or broken items. Move anything that is out of place. Then, see if the rest will fit back in the space. If it doesn’t, challenge yourself to remove items until they fit the space in an organized manner.
  3. With the remaining, “Don’t fit” items, toss them all in a laundry basket. As you work, you’ll keep adding your second tier stuff to that basket.
  4. Second Tier items are anything you feel doesn’t quite belong in that space. You may not love it. You may have a better version worth keeping. It may just not fit and needs a new home.
  5. Moving from space to space and room to room, keep tossing the trash and delegating second tier items to the laundry basket.
  6. Once you loop through your space, make sure all the trash is tossed.
  7. Then, poke through the second tier stuff. For whatever reason, you felt like it didn’t belong in that space. Try selling all of it, for reasonable prices, at a yard sale. Don’t think twice- Just do it.
  8. With the remaining items, think about anyone less fortunate than you. If you know anyone that might be able to use that extra stuff, just give it to them. Don’t think twice- Just do it.
  9. Look through your space again and enjoy the openness. It’s different right?
  10. Make a plan to regularly go through this loop.

Plan for the Future

  1. Most ascribe to the “One in one out” rule. Hold yourself to this.
  2. Practice polite phrases for kindly rejecting new clutter. People won’t understand and you will be asked to explain often.
  3. Map out habits and hot spots that contribute to disorganization. Plan to tidy those regularly.
  4. Build new hobbies and habits to replace consumption. For example, walking in the park with a friend can replace social shopping.
  5. Moderate your access to new stuff. This can be anything from unsubscribing to brand emails to avoiding your favorite bargain basement.

Although the decluttering process remains highly personal, my favorite tips can shift the way you think. Ownership requires time and energy. Consider how you want to use yours before you bring something into your space.

Wishing Upon a Shore

Beach feather in the sand

As a child, I spent my summers at the family beach rental — getting up early to watch the sunrise and falling asleep at night on a couch in the screened porch. Everything was a little damp and too warm — perfection. At that beach house, I made a lifetime supply of bad watercolor art. I sketched and read back issues of national geographic. I talked to strangers. I acted precocious and peculiar. If there is a place where my soul was formed, it was sitting on the end of a bulkhead, endlessly trying to capture the toxic waves of the Jersey shore in green and gold glory.

Atlantic City Feeling

“I’m going to be a diving girl!” proclaimed Sonora at the outset of Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. Released in 1991, this film rolls along with the nineties nostalgia by reminding us of our romanticized Great Depression fixation as we head into our own roaring twenty-twenties. As much as I am prone to mock the melodrama, I still replay the “jumping on the horse” scene each time I need motivation. Because I can often relate to the metaphorical, “Look ma, there’s a girl climbing the tower.”

 

The ambition, the angst, and windblown bob continue to capture my imagination. Currently, the shift dress silhouettes and boardwalk beachwood inspire my  aesthetic.

A Seaside Place

At the aforementioned getaway, I would often paint at an aluminum table on the porch — which I begged my family to keep in storage. The ornate legs were difficult to sand and refinish, which I kept in their original glossy white. The green top always capture’s people’s imaginations. For some, it reminds them of a similar piece in their own home. Others have never seen a similar vintage piece. This table fits with my overall home vibe: a simple, seaside place.

 

The beachy inspiration may be hard to detect if you assume themed seashell and beach umbrella style. My look does not hearken a tourist motel room scream toward theme. It’s a feeling inspired by the rush of grass on the dunes and the quiet, bleached tones of a wabi-sabi vacation home.

I’ve always yearned for a simple space, with useful, trusted, practical belongings, that provides a sanctuary for my art. With each apartment, this table sets the style – simple, useful, and trusted.

Vintage Dress- The Conscious Mercantile, Espadrilles – Target, Sunglasses – Franchesca’s