One of my favorite pastimes is split between pinning a variety of interior design inspirations and doing my best to replicate what I pin. I try to find affordable and easy DIY pieces at my local TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby, World Market, and Marshall’s. It also doesn’t help that my current favorite home renovation show is Fixer Upper (along with every other woman in America). It does nothing but give me home design envy and the bug to go out and spend money on cute decor for our home. However, living in a one bedroom rental only allows me to do so much within our home and considering I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend, I have to get crafty.
Today I am happy to share a few decor and organizing tips that always help me achieve that warm and welcoming look and feel for our home, cuts down on the clutter, but on a realistic budget.
start with a home plan
Living minimally, I have to get pretty practical with what I bring into our home. For the most part I have full control on the design and decoration, but it never hurts to run things by the husband prior to making any purchases or adding anything. So, making a plan for what I’d like to do is the first place I always start. How much wall space do I have? Square footage? Type of flooring or counter space? These questions help me find the potential in my home and gives me a place to start.
Another part of any plan of mine is making sure I am making the space we have useful. This goes back to the minimalistic approach we live by: everything needs to have a place and purpose. Given that we currently have limited space and can’t do any permanent renovations in our apartment, I have to see each room differently and plan a way to improve the space without leaving damage.
Before jumping right into decorating there are some steps that I encourage for anyone and that is what Chip & Joanna call “demo day.” I don’t mean tearing down your walls, but I do mean a total cleanse of your home. This makes room for new projects and allows you to see where you could use better organization.
step 1: de-clutter the home
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Mathew 6:19-21
Holding onto things and becoming a clutter-bug is something I easily slip into. I have to remind myself that anything that comes in must be equalized with items that go out. This is whether we donate, sell, or just trash those things. God gives us a plan for how we should live our lives and I personally remind myself of His Word and how we should keep our homes free of materialistic distractions. With that said, here are a few ways my husband and I de-clutter our home so that it doesn’t leave us feeling like that cat lady on Animal Hoarders.
“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.” Luke 12:33
- Clothes: I try to make sure that I go through our apartment and clean out the clutter every 6 months or so. This means routinely going through my closet and donating any clothing, accessories, or shoes I haven’t worn or don’t fit (ThredUp, Goodwill, and local consignment stores are great options for offering you a bit of cash or tax deductibles for donating your lightly used stuff!). Think about what you’ve worn/haven’t worn in the last 6 months/a year and separate them into piles. Pregnancy has really made this step easy considering my body has changed since welcoming baby so I’ve been able to pitch a lot of what doesn’t fit anymore.
- Unused furniture: See if you can host a yard sale or put up unused furniture on Craigslist to clear out the larger pieces you’re not using or are just taking up space. Another great idea is lending or even giving away furniture to young couples, those who have just moved, or otherwise need to stock their homes with the basics. No need in holding onto those bookshelves or old coffee tables you have no idea what to do with them.
- Refurbish: A great DIY project is to take your old crummy furniture and give it some elbow grease and transform it into something you’ll love. Either that or refurbish it to sell it!
- Magazines, junk mail, and other stacks of unused paper is worth throwing away. That Entertainment Weekly that’s four months old can get the pitch and so can all of those old pay stubs (unless you’re properly organizing it for taxes). See what you’ve accumulated over the last few months and shred/throw out all of those pesky papers you have stashed around your closets or countertops. Get in the habit of going through your mail and immediately throwing away the junk.
- Maintain your junk drawer. I believe it’s healthy to have one drawer that is designated for those knick-knacks because we all have them. Accumulated pens, matches, knobs from random cabinets, etc. are going to end up in your home no matter how hard you try. Just keep your junk drawer to a minimum and always go through it and see what you can throw away.
step 2: create storage where there isn’t any in your home
Hanging baskets, shelving, and incorporating other drawers or cabinetry is an easy and affordable way to create storage where you may be limited. In our apartment we only have a small linen closet and our bedroom closet for storage. That’s it. However, we have plenty of wall space and square footage that I try to use that to our advantage.
We get a subscription to Bon Appétit Magazine and this wall basket has been a great touch to display these magazines in our kitchen. Prior to that I just had frames, now I’ve created purpose to that little wall space by using baskets to hold and display our magazines.
- Our coffee bar has served more than one purpose for our little apartment too. It’s not only a place where we can store all of our coffee needs, but it has really allowed us to create storage where we didn’t have it before. To create our coffee bar we simply used a rustic wall shelf with hanging hooks and purchased an affordable cabinet from Target. This bar alone has allowed us now to clear out space in our kitchen cabinets, get more organized, and pitch anything we’re not using.
use wall shelves to save space
I love taking pictures, making prints, and hanging our memories all around our home. When you have a plethora of prints you need frames and when you have a bunch of frames you need to hang them. But how? I actually hate hanging things because somehow two necessary holes in my wall somehow turn into thirty misplaced ones. To solve this problem I use wall shelves and simply lean my frames against the wall. Doing this I’m able to display more frames and without the hassle of trying to hang them. Another great way to display your photos is using a gallery wall. This incorporates multiple frames on one wall to create a collage of sorts.
Frames: Ikea & TJ Maxx
Other wall shelves are great for getting things off the counter, such as in our kitchen. In this house we love to cook and having certain spices at the ready has made cooking that much more convenient (plus it looks cute!). So, using a small wall shelf we not only display, but use the spices on our rack. Other spices we use sparingly or not as often we keep in our cabinet out of sight.
step 3: give everything a place in your home
The key to getting organized and continuing to live that way is by giving the things you keep (or purchase) a place in your home that also has purpose. Decor is nice, but if you find yourself with more frames than you do photos or those decorative sea shells don’t have a specific place, then don’t purchase them. Here’s how I manage to organize my tiny space even with a baby:
Hide those ugly cords with simple organization solutions. I picked up a mail organizer at TJ Maxx and use it to keep our modem out of sight. We hold the mail we keep, our laundry card, and other important paperwork in the organizer so that it doesn’t get lost and makes that area useful.
I had picked up a magazine basket from Ikea years ago and had no idea what to do with it…until we had Murphy. Now I use this basket to keep his toys in one place and it’s easily accessible for him. He’s since taught himself to go up to it and get his own toys…if only we could train him to put them away 😉
I absolutely love this rustic card display I bought on Etsy (and you can see how I use it during Christmas)! Originally I thought I would just have it up during the holidays, but there’s always an occasion we can display the cards we receive, like my first Mother’s Day cards (see photo). So, I’ve kept it up year round and now we’ve maximized that wall space facing out into our living room.
Useful baby storage
Keeping our baby stuff organized has been pretty simple considering we don’t have too much stuff to begin with – just the necessary basics. Using a bookshelf and wicker baskets from Target I’ve created a changing station that hides our overstock of diapers and wipes. The baskets are easily accessible and one holds his plain onesies, hats, and burp cloths and the other stores medicine like his Infant Tylenol, first aid kit, nasal aspirator, etc. The rest of his baby clothes are stored in designated drawers in our bedroom and his “hamper” is a tote bag hanging in our closet!
See what his nursery area looked like before Baby Greyson arrived.
**Our nursery has since changed with the arrival of his crib and changing table. These baskets are now organized on his changing table shelves and we use the space under his crib for extra storage.
Lastly, affordable storage units like this one from Target is a simple way to keep baby things (or anything!) organized and offers bins to hide everything you don’t want displayed. Also, being a teacher turned SAHM had me with a lot of my books without a proper home. So, I de-cluttered my closet and put them into Grey’s bookshelf. Now he can enjoy these stories my students did for so many years!
These are just a few ways I’ve managed the clutter in our home and I hope these solutions can help you get your space organized and begin living meaningfully!
How do you stay organized? Any tips or tricks to share?