How to Paint Over Stain: Old End Table Transformation

White couch with white end tables and grey accents

20181129_094413

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.

I had a whole retro thing going, because I found a warehouse with discounted surplus hotel furniture. It was Florida – everything was 80s neo-art-deco.

Now, the tables are still sturdy. But, they are super scuffed from several moves, a house fire, a basement apartment flood and the trials of everyday life.

While I’ve seen some great projects with chalk paint that don’t require sanding, the deep stain on these made me revisit the old-fashioned way of transforming furniture.

EasyNo-Bake Birthday Cakes
Follow me on Pinterest

How to Paint Over Stain

Painting over stain starts with understanding the original materials. Most wood stains are made from oil, resin or alkalyd. They are often sealed with a resin or polyurethane.

You can’t just take a topcoat paint and put it on that resin. It will bubble or smear.

To get the best finish, you’ll need a physical bond and a chemical bond. That’s where the primer and sanding come in.

20181114_150234_HDR

TIME REQUIRED: 2-3 Days with Drying Time

COST: MINIMAL

TOOLS:

  • Paint Brush (I used a small sable brush and a foam brush.)
  • Sandpaper (I used 100 grit.)
  • Rags
  • Drop Cloth

MATERIALS:

20181114_150115_HDR
Refinished and old tables

Once you gather your supplies, you’ll need an area that can remain undisturbed for a few days. This one takes a lot of waiting to do it right.

1. Sand the Tables

Start by sanding the table in slow circular motions. The goal is twofold. First, you want to smooth over any areas that may have been nicked or dented over the years. Second, you want to rough up the sealant. This way the primer can actually sink in for a strong bond.

2. Wipe Clean

Using a damp rag, wipe off any residue and dust. The surface should be perfectly dry and clean before you apply the primer.

3. Paint First Coat

After you test the primer in an inconspicuous area, add your first coat carefully. It will be pretty thin and you will see the stain through it.

Don’t worry about streaks. As long as the layer is thin, you’ll get a nice smooth finish by the end.

4. Paint 2nd and 3rd Coat

Add a second and third coat by following the directions on the primer can. Typically this is 30 minutes to an hour between coats. If it feels tacky, wait a little longer.

Also, if you have any drips or thick spots, sand them flat between coats.

5. Add Touch-ups

Before adding the topcoat, look for small areas that might need a touch up. Apply thin amounts of paint to these areas to make sure everything is smooth.

6. Paint Topcoat Color

Now that your primer is perfect, it’s time to add the topcoat. I opted for a simple white. However, you can add any color to the top. Just make sure you pick something compatible with your primer.

7. Consider Sealing

If you want a good seal, you can use a polyurethane or a wax. It just depends on the wear and tear you expect for the piece.

8. Dry for 7 Days

Before you start using the table, try to let it dry for 7 days. This allows the maximum time for the paint to bond and harden.

Old End Table Transformation

Although I love quick changes, I’ve been burned by repainting furniture too fast in the past. That’s why I was really careful to prep these pieces properly before I applied paint over stain.

As a result, I have a bright white change.

20181129_095805_HDR

I’m slowly working to transform my old living room pieces to update my home. Stay tuned for more projects in the future by following my Insta.

 

Advertisements

The Easiest Way to Make a Perfect Pom Pom Tutorial

The easiest perfect Pom Popm Tutorial

Pom Pom projects are everywhere! These little puffs form the base for so many cute crafts. I’ve wanted to test out the many methods for a while. So, I put together this little tutorial with my favorite tips.

The Easiest Way to Make a Pom Pom

There are many methods to make a pom pom but, I found this one to be the easiest to use. Also, it works best when you want to use multiple colors of yarn and layer them. It’s easy to make the board and then you can curl up with this craft anywhere.

20180726_113011
This may have some of the cheapest supplies ever.

Time Required: 20 Minutes

Cost: Free or Minimal

Tools:

  • Scissors
  • Pen or Pencil
  • Cup

Materials:

  • Yarn
  • Cardboard

Instructions

Putting together these pom poms is easy once you make the weaver. That takes a little time but, you get to use it over and over for each pom pom.

Step 1: Trace Your Circles

20180726_175047
Trace two circles on cardboard. I used a cereal box as my base. A cup can be used as a stencil when you trace.

Step 2: Cut Out Circles

20180726_175144
Cut the circles out of the cardboard. Then, layer them and cut into a C shape as pictured below. They must match.
20180726_175311
Once you’re done, you’ll have two identical C shapes of cardboard.
20180726_175335

Step 3: Set up and Weave

20180726_175413
Place one length of yarn in between your two pieces of cardboard. For this one, I left my string about 10″ in length. You need it to be long enough to stick out the sides for easy tying.
20180726_175635
Start wrapping the yarn around the C shape. Once you get a few wraps, it will hold itself in place. Continue wrapping until the yarn gets thicker.
The thicker the wraps, the denser your pom pom will be.
I wrapped this one until it was about 1.5″ thick.
20180727_111627

Step 4: Separate and Cut

20180727_111956_Burst01.jpg
Trim around the C shape, slicing all the pieces of yarn in half. As you cut, tie the interior string into a little loop. Tighten this loop as you cut. Once you finish cutting, you can tighten the knot completely.
Double knot it. Remove the cardboard rings.
Then, you can trim any stray ends to smooth the shape.
20180727_112123
You can trim the interior strings to finish the piece.

Pom Pom Projects  Start Here

20180727_112526

 

All the cute projects start with a perfect pom pom. Just spend a few minutes on Pinterest and you’ll quickly see all the possibilities. You can string them together to make a garland. Or you can use them as a base for a puffy wreath. The possibilities are endless!
The
Pin it now, Make it later!

Final Tips:

  • Use up scraps from other yarn projects by wrapping them in layers. Just trim the uneven ends after you are done.
  • To make a larger pom pom, just make your ring larger. You can use a bowl or dessert plate as a template for a larger one.
  • Keep the center strings long if you want to tie the pom pom to something. This makes it easier to use on a project like a garland.
I’d love to see what you do with your perfect pom poms. Everyone can find a unique use for these little nuggets. Show me your favorite pom pom projects in the comments!

How to Make a Felt Star Mobile (Tutorial)

Felt star mobile for Baby Room tutorial

If you are only going to make one project for your baby’s room, this is it!

mobile 18
Baby’s Eye View of the Mobile

When I thought about decorating my son’s nursery, my DIY spirit tempted me to take on a long list of projects. Realizing that I should focus on simplicity over quantity, I opted to commit to a single project.

What project inspired me most?

I liked the idea of my baby peacefully enjoying a unique mobile that created just for him.

I selected this project after some disappointing shopping. I didn’t see a single mobile that I liked. To begin, I wanted something with a nice look both from the side (for me) and beneath (for baby). Also, I wanted soft colors (for my clean aesthetic) but something eye-catching (for the baby). I wanted it to feel organic but, I needed it to be motorized.

The resulting project was my solution.

How to Make a Felt Star Mobile

Time Required: 45 Minutes

Cost: $30

Tools

  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Hot Glue Sticks
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Sharpie
  • Pencil

Materials

  • Mobile Hanger (model pictured)
  • Mobile Motor (model pictured)
  • White paper or thin cardboard
  • White string
  • Royal Blue Felt (2 sheets)
  • Dark Grey Felt (2 sheets)
  • Light Grey Felt (2 sheets)

Instructions

Making a felt star mobile requires a trip to the craft store and a little online shopping.

Step 1: Cut Out Stars

I traced and cut out stars on white copy paper. However, you could buy pre-cut stencils for any shape.

mobile1

Step 2: Cut Felt Stars

I cut out the stars from the selected felt colors. You’ll need 2 sides for each shape. So, I cut the following:

  • 20 small light grey stars
  • 20 medium dark grey stars
  • 10 large blue stars

Make sure you keep the fabric scraps in a pile to use as stuffing later.

mobile2

mobile3

mobile4

Step 3: Create the Blue Stars

These stars hang at the bottom of each strand. Using your scissors, poke a hole in the middle of 5 stars. Then, thread the white string through. Stuff each star using fabric scraps and seal it with hot glue. In the end, you should have 5 strings with a big blue star at the bottom.

mobile 9

mobile 12

mobile 13

mobile 14

Step 4: Add the Grey Stars

Add the grey stars one at a time. They can be spaced about 2 inches apart. You can measure them evenly or vary them for an organic look.

Keep each star in place on the string with a dot of hot glue. Then, glue both sides together around the edges.

Repeat this until you’ve added all the stars for each strand.

mobile5

mobile6

mobile7

mobile8

Step 5: Assemble the Mobile

In the end, you should have 5 strands with 5 stars on each. Hang these from your mobile kit by tying a knot on each end. You can hang them evenly or vary the heights.

I chose to vary the lengths for a more whimsical an organic look.

mobile 16

mobile 15

mobile 17

I attached the mobile to the ceiling using a 3M hook. The small motor plays music and spins the motor. This light-weight mobile spins with the breeze or when the motor is on.

Let’s See Yours

In the end, I created an simple felt star mobile that my baby loves. You can see how this concept can be changed for different colors and shapes. It’s light-weight and whimsical to perfectly match the feel of the room.

mobile 20
My Calm, Minimalist Nursery

I’d love to see how you decorated your child’s room. Leave a link to your favorite projects in the comments.

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

cool coffee table

788499bdd40671acba6171fe6f207397

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.
Verderamade
Follow Me on Pinterest

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.

Verderamade (1)
Follow me on Pinterest!

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!

 

 

New You, No Clutter: How to be Clutter Free in 2018

Cool coffee table

2141dda7ae54aed465caedbeaa1b0f54According to every magazine, blog and instagram quote, each January, a new year promises a new you. We make resolutions, or anti-resolutions, with the goal of bettering ourselves and transforming our lives. One of the most fulfilling goals is that of having a peaceful organized home.

However, the path to a clutter free life challenges most of us. Typically, the process starts with an initial clean sweep. Then, a cycle of maintenance begins. Usually, a book or an article inspires the change.

Today is that day. This is the last article about clutter you’ll ever need to read.

Ask Yourself “Why?”

When I moved into my first apartment, I felt overwhelmed by the task of running a household. I had recently graduated from college, finished an internship and started my first job. The hours for work were very long. My time to myself was limited. When I considered how I wanted to spend my free time, I pictured myself reading, painting, writing or exploring. Instead, I was planning means, shuffling piles of laundry and trying to organize my stuff so that I could exist in my small space.

Then, I had enough. I started looking for information on living in small spaces. Since this was over ten years ago, I only found a few random articles from various sources. Notably, I found several blogs and articles from people living in similar situations; they lived in the city, worked long hours and made the most of their free time in a small space.

What was what I wanted!

I just wanted to make the most out of my time. I wanted to make space for the kind of life I loved to live. So, I had the answer.

Why aspire to be clutter free?

More of the life I loved.

Make This Your Only Goal

Whether you are planning for a new year or looking to make a change, organizing your life is a big goal. It’s more of a resolution than a task. Creating a clutter free life requires new habits and new focus. This will become your main “thing” for months. Most processes will take a year or more to really fix your clutter problem. Then, you’ll spend more months and years maintaining the system.

So, don’t pair it with another goal. Don’t try to learn a language. Don’t plan to lose 15 pounds. Don’t start a new hobby.

Instead, focus on being clutter free. That’s it.

Augment, not Overhaul, Your Life

The quote at the top of this post is from The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath. Most people, who haven’t read it, think it’s simply a mental health tome focused on the main character’s time in an institution. Instead, much of the book focuses on the events that led to the breakdown. In that story, Esther begins her journey as a successful student who wins an internship at a prestigious magazine. She aspires to be a writer. She wants to live life fully. Several small and large traumas impact her mentally causing a suicide attempt and subsequent therapy.

Throughout this fiction novel, Plath focuses on extremes. “If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days,” proclaims Esther.

Similarly, resolutions and goals fail because of an “all or nothing” attitude. We’re hard on ourselves. We develop strict rules. We make impossibly long task lists.

And then, the plans fall short.

If you aspire to live in a clutter free space, think of it as a way to augment your life. It won’t fix “everything.” Organization can’t promise to solve every problem. It just makes some room. It just lessens your “stuff” over time.

So, as you add a process for cleaning out your home, remember that it’s not an overhaul. Decluttering slowly nips away at your stuff. Decluttering changes your life but it doesn’t CHANGE your life.

Develop Easy Rules

Pick whatever system you like to clean out your space. Just make sure the rules are easy. In fact, make them even easier to match your life.  Lower the standard to whatever you can reasonably do.

Some of my favorite methods:

Just remember that this process will probably start with a month of heavy work. Then, you’ll repeat that cycle for about a year. This allows you to form new habits. Going forward, the new mindset will shape your daily routines. What goes into your home and what comes out of your home will change as you live in a clutter free space.

Clutter Free in 2018

instagramfollowersAs a goal, a clutter free home remains a worthy choice. It took me nearly three years to get to a point where my home only contained useful and loved items. And it’s still a daily process.

You’ll find that clutter creeps into your life unexpectedly, often from other well-meaning people.

For example, my friends and family sometimes offer me their clutter as they organize. They know I am fairly decisive in determining whether something is of use to me. So, they try to give me things in hopes that I’ll either accept it or dispose of it for them.  Sometimes I have the time to work through that process for them and sometimes, I just have to say “no”.

I’ve learned that saying “no” to stuff means saying “yes” to the life I want. Remember? It’s that life filled with painting, writing and exploring.

Here’s to your clutter-free plan!

What are your tips and tricks to keep your home free of clutter? Let me know in the comments!

Bite the Bullet Journal

bullet journal

02439b4ff84fe4382299a19196750e59Creativity and organization collide beautifully in a daily journal routine. In our detached and digitized world, the feel of a beloved book brings a stir of sensations. The cover feels warm. The pages sound soft. The dust smells like new markers. As most people relentlessly busy-brag about how out-of-control their lives have become, we can break the cycle with little, leather-bound books.

Behold- the bullet journal.

What is a bullet journal?

Bullet journals bring together the best parts of tracking your life and recording thoughts with none of the restrictions. Typically, the pages are completely blank, although some have light grids to help with designing the pages. Most people use them for daily organization on the bulk of the pages and save special pages for large goals or thoughts. What started as a big idea (from the actual Bullet Journal brand) has turned into a nostalgic revolution for intentional living.

The idea of keeping a journal is not new. However, many people struggle to keep up with a daily journal because of the commitment to logging everything in longhand, paragraph form. By contrast, bullet journals mix daily reflection with lists. Think of it as a to-do list on which you can reflect over time. Everything is shorthand and simple. The typical page includes:

  • Topics
  • Page Numbers
  • Short Sentences
  • Bullets

The best part? You don’t have to be artsy or creative to enjoy this process. The official Bullet Journal team has created a template to help people get started. However, this post reflects on my personal journey in productivity and note-keeping.

 

 

 

 

 

My Journal Process

As a young person, people would always gift me empty journals. They knew I liked to write and sketch (…holding books in my hands so that I could smell them). However, these journals would pile up in my bedroom as I really could never fill them out. I would try to start a traditional diary and flame out. Then, in high school, I had an epiphany. I often collected paper snippings that inspired me. They weren’t something for a scrapbook. Instead they were usually quotes, blocks of text or images cut from magazines, calendars or homework assignments. They would wear and tear as I moved them from my bulletin board to a desk drawer then a file box. At the same time, I was dedicated to my daily planner to keep me productive and organized. By college, I started meshing the two, using the gifted journals. Each page contained:

  • The date
  • A to-do list for the day
  • Dates and times for events
  • Hand written copies of quotes or facts that I found during that day
  • Doodles

The result? I developed a daily routine for planning my day at the outset and reviewing my progress in the evening. I quickly used up those empty journals, going through several each year. With time, special pages were added with long term goals or collections on a similar topic. For example, I usually put a list of new years resolutions at the very back and check my progress monthly. Also, the back fills up with brainstorms for blog posts, craft projects or big ideas.

When bullet journals surged into popularity, I had no idea what they were. However, people kept asking me where I got my bullet journal. Most of my friends, coworkers and family members link me to these little, analog list-filled books, knowing that they have been a core part of my life for about 15 years. I can see why they are becoming a popular way to inspire productivity – they’re a natural fit and add a welcome contrast our busy, digital world.

 

Logging for Productivity

There are several ways that keeping a daily journal inspires productivity. First, it helps you identify your tasks and goals. Each morning, as you review your list, starts with a plan. Each evening, you enjoy the satisfaction of noting your progress. Second, it reminds you to prioritize. Sometimes, our expectations can get out of alignment with reality. There are some tasks that never seem to get done because they aren’t really important. This exercise encourages you to question each item and consider whether it is worth your time. If you find yourself copying a task from day to day for several weeks, it probably don’t belong on your list at all. Third, the process allows you to appreciate your progress. As you track, you will see slow growth. Tracking both challenges you to improve while celebrating your success. Over the months and years, you’ll find that your productivity spikes simply by setting aside time to focus on intentional living.

 

 

Popular Page Ideas

The freedom of a blank page can be adapted for both short and long term goals. If you’re looking for ideas to get started, Pinterest offers hundreds of ideas to style your pages. I’ve found that many people enjoy tracking similar themes, including:

  • Daily, Weekly or Monthly Spreads
  • Bucket Lists
  • Places to Travel
  • Mood Trackers
  • Books to Read
  • Birthdays and Anniversaries
  • Memories
  • Spending logs
  • Collected quotes
  • Things that make you happy
  • Meal or snack lists
  • Sleep logs

You can log anything that is important to you. So, everyone’s journal is different and personal. This is the key to their overwhelming popularity.

 

 

 

Bullet Journal Tips

Everyone should keep a journal in the way that works best for them. However, I have collected a few tips over time as I’ve explored this process.

  • If you like prettier pages, you can create design elements in pencil first. Then, trace them with a fine tip pen to make them permanent.
  • If your pages don’t have a grid, cut a piece of graph paper to the page size. Use a paperclip to secure the graph paper behind your page. This can be used as a guide when you work on the page. Then, just move it to the next page when you’re done.
  • Test your writing tools on a back page before you begin. You’ll want to make sure nothing will bleed through. Some pages are thick enough for paint. Others will bleed with a felt-tip pen.

Bite the Bullet Journal

Bite the Bullet JournalThe beauty of a bullet journal rests in customizing. If you are just starting, a short daily log can form the habit. As you make this a regular part of your routine, it will be come a loving, self-care moment as you reflect on the meaningful moments of your life. No matter how simple or complex your journal, you’ll find daily inspiration to be productive.

If you have any tips or ideas, I’d love to read them. Let me know in the comments.

*Note: I don’t use an “official” bullet journal or endorse a particular product.