Home Living Rental Series #3 Furniture

9:00:00 AM

renting, furniture tips, furniture dimensions, home living, rental

T A K E   A   S E A T

Furniture tips that will work for your space.

Choosing furniture can be quite a challenge, especially when you're renting. Most rentals have small scale rooms and are not very open-concept. This means that you can't just go into a store and pick out what you like. You've got to be intentional!

5  F U R N I T U R E
T O   C O N S I D E R

  • comfort
  • style
  • quality
  • price
  • size
Comfort can vary between pieces, style varies between people. It's always good to go for the best quality you can--particle board does not move well. Price is an obvious consideration, and size...we'll get into that later.

S H O P P I N G   P R E P

Once you've narrowed down your picks (comfort, style, quality, price), size is the next thing to look at. AAAND it can be a deal breaker. If furniture is too big, it will completely overpower a room!

I have found that most warehouse furniture stores are full of furniture that is just plain too big! I can't understand why oversized is such a big deal in those stores. There are plenty of people that need smaller scale furniture to fit in their space.

Another thing to remember about places that sell furniture is that they have really high ceilings and large spaces. This makes all the furniture seem smaller, so it tricks you into thinking it will fit in your space. Beware!

It's best to go shopping with a plan. You can play with different apps that help you arrange furniture virtually, or use the old pencil and grid paper to see what would work best. Then you can decide on the size that would work best for your space.

W H E R E   T O
S H O P  

( O N   A   B U D G E T )

Since I don't have an endless budget for furniture and I was taught to thrift growing up, that is what I usually do in the furniture department. I'm not going to say this is the easiest or fastest route, because it's not. It does, however get me small scale furniture, in a style I like that is usually solid wood.

Check out classifieds, thrift stores, flea markets and antique stores for what you need. I keep a running list of things I need so when I drop into one of these places, I remember what I'm looking for.

I will say that IKEA is probably the next most common place I shop--scale, price and style fit well. However, most pieces have only made it through about 2 moves.

I have bought furniture at warehouse furniture and discount stores, but I've been careful and strategic. You can find things like nicer folding chairs and tables, good mattresses, metal shelves, occasional chairs, and even couches. 

H O W   B I G   I S   T O O   B I G ?

So, as you start your search, here are some dimensions that can help you know if the scale is small enough for a small space. Be aware that the depth measurement is important as it is usually the sneakiest stealer of space.
Measurements should be no bigger than:
  • Couch: 37"h x 90"w x 37"d
    • Follow similar measurements if opting for a sectional
  • Loveseat: 37"h x 60"w x 37"d
  • Occasional/Accent Chair: 40"h x 30"w x 30"d
  • Kitchen Chair: 40"h x 22"w x 20"d
  • Round Kitchen Table: 50"w
  • Rectangular Kitchen Table: 40"w x 65"l
  • Tall Dresser: 45"h x 32"w x 22"d
  • Long Dresser: 34"h x 60"w x 22"d
  • Desk: 30"h x 50"w x 26"d
  • Bookshelves: 40"h x 50"w x 20"d
    • I strongly recommend NOT using tall bookshelves. They easily tip over and anchoring them into the wall is often not an option.
    • Multiple small bookshelves of the same size can be very useful and fit well in different set ups.
  • Coffee tables, nightstands and ottomans are all fairly small scale. Just look for a light look rather than heavy and legs showing is always good.
  • Bed frames are fairly standard, but going for a lighter look rather than heavy/bulky is best.
    *This list of furniture is not meant to suggest that each piece is needed. For example a sofa and loveseat and a coffee table in a small room will feel like furniture is taking over. Opting for two of the three or using an accent chair or two instead of a loveseat would be better.

    U N E X P E C T E D
    E S S E N T I A L S

    There are a few furniture items that I never thought I could use. They didn't fit my style and I don't like extra stuff. We have kept them every time we move and somehow, ALWAYS find a use for them. What could these magical multi-use items be? Ultra simple small-scale bar stools and wooden TV trays! Ha, We've used them for night stands, makeshift tables, side tables, hobby tables, lamp stands, actual bar stools... . I've really been surprised that we use them so much!

    F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

    So, look around your place--determine if there are any furniture pieces that you kind of wish you wouldn't have bought. It may not be comfy enough or could be pretty beat up. Try to look around with a fresh perspective to see if any piece of furniture is completely overpowering the room. While you're at it, see if the style of your furniture is in line with what your style actually is.

    Prioritize your list and start searching! It will lead to a more comfortable space that you love to be in. Oh, and be patient. It may take years to find everything you want...and that's okay.

    Good luck!



    Home Living: Rental Series #2 Organizing

    9:00:00 AM

    E V E R Y T H I N G
    I N   I T S   P L A C E .

    Storage can feel like a never ending challenge--especially when your storage spaces are changing fairly often.

    Over the last few years, a book called "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" has been very popular. It is an inspiring book, though admittedly, I have not implemented it entirely and I've found it hard to keep up with kids!

    First off, I'll share one very important quote from the book:

    "Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard the rest." --Marie Kondo

    This is such an important first step--you never want to organize what you can declutter. Makes sense, right?

    Marie Kondo shared one more thing that has really helped me: Her tip is to make a "home" for every item. Otherwise, any extras will build up as clutter. If we make an intentional "home" for every item, then we know exactly where to put every item.

    So, let's create some "homes" for our stuff!

    S T O R A G E

    I have found that the following organization tools consistently work for me. I've organized it room by room, but some things are interchangeable.

    L I V I N G   R O O M
    • A bookshelf with baskets holds DVDs, books, and toys.
    • Hooks near the front door can be installed for coats, jackets and scarves.
    • Hooks and shelves can be put inside closet for bags/purses/etc.
    • A storage ottoman can hold toys, blankets, DVDS or books.
    K I T C H E N
    • Sturdy wire organizers store cookie sheets, frying pans, and lids vertically for more room inside cupboards.
    • Small hooks can hold pots and pans.
    • Wire cabinet shelves can provide areas for more dishes.
    • Book ends hold recipe books upright.
    • I use drawer organizers sparingly, but roomy organizers work well for silverware and cooking utensils.
    B A T H
    • A shower supplies organizer will hold your showering supplies. I like the plastic kind because they don't rust, and they force me to be minimal in my soaps, shampoo, razors, etc.
    • Over the door towel rack is essential when many people are sharing a bathroom.
    • Over the cupboard door wire baskets work perfectly for holding curling irons and hairspray.
    O F F I C E
    ( O F F I C E   A R E A )
    • A vertical file rack is essential to keep "need-to-take-care-of items" from piling up.
    • Plastic file bins for essential papers. (If you read "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up," she will tell you to get rid of almost all your papers. I can tell you. THIS idea was life changing for me!)
    • Shoe box bins placed in a bookshelf work well for craft/electronic/hobby supplies.
    B E D R O O M
    • Plastic storage bins are great for holding out-of-season clothing.
    • Under the bed storage bins can hold anything from picture frames/decor to gift wrap.
    • Nightstands with drawers are VERY helpful in holding and hiding many things.
    *Note--putting beds on risers or finding beds with high mattresses (no box spring, just a wire grid rack for the mattress to lie on) gives you much more storage room.

    *Note--right now, dressers seem pretty luxurious to me. We have gone through a few, but our budget has not allowed for good sturdy dressers that don't break when moving.
    Also, dressers can be quite large, so it can be hard to fit into new spaces.

    In a later course, I will talk about dimensions of the few dressers we have kept that have worked for us.

    C L O S E T S

    I've found it very important to make as much use from closets as I possibly can. This is prime storage space! Plus, it has a door to cover everything.

    If your closets are dark or deep, put a motion-sensing light inside so you can find your stuff.

    Great organizing tools for your closets:
    • Shoebox bins can hold anything from extra vacuum supplies, games and medicines.
    • Uniform boxes, bins or baskets work great for high closet storage.
    • Hooks installed INSIDE a closet for jackets, belts, and bags can really keep an area looking cleaner.
    • Extra shelves can installed in underused spaces (like the narrow area that's beyond the closet door).
    • Dressers (yes, we like to keep a smaller scale dresser INSIDE our closet) in closets can keep things contained well. Also the dresser doesn't take up space in the bedroom.
    • Shoe shelves can be used on floor, on dresser or on an upper shelf. We consider these a little bit on the disposable side.

    F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

    I'll be the first to admit that organizing is not my forte. I have a really hard time using the left side of my brain (haha). I will say that these solutions have proved to be the most consistent and moveable solutions that have stuck. My goal in organizing is to keep things simple and easy to use. I really focus on reducing my stuff so that there is less to organize.

    Happy Organizing!



    Home Living: Rental Series #1 Cleaning

    9:00:00 AM

    rental living, clean apartment, landlord responsibilities, tenant responsibilities, painting a rental

    A  C L E A N  S L A T E .

    The first step to makes your new place feel like home is giving it a good clean.

    Every rental I have moved into has needed some sort of cleaning except one. Some have been really dirty, some not too bad.

    I always start with 5 things:
    1. cleaning/re-cleaning toilets and wiping down bathrooms
    2. cleaning/re-cleaning fridges and microwaves
    3. wiping out all kitchen cupboards and drawers and putting liners in if needed.
    4. cleaning out under the stove and fridge
    5. check for bugs/pests
    After those tasks are finished, I move on to inspect other areas. I move through each room and determine appearance conditions and smell conditions.

    L O O K   A T   T H E
    B A R E  B O N E S

    • Walls- Are they dingy/dirty? I then determine if a wipe down or magic eraser is all that is needed, or if a paint job is needed.
    • Baseboards- Maybe the wall paint is okay, but the baseboards are beat up. I wish I could properly express what a difference freshened up baseboards make. It freshens up the room and amazingly makes it feel so much cleaner.
    • Ceilings- Dingy ceilings are bad news especially if you live in a darker place.
    • Floors- Do the floors need cleaning? It's my personal belief that landlords should professionally clean the carpets between tenants. If this has not been done, it needs to be.


    Throughout my moves, I have learned to be quick to paint if needed. I lived in one apartment for 3 years. Each wall had 3 different colors of cream from patch jobs. When we learned we'd be there for another year, I couldn't take it and finally asked to paint. Looking back, I can't believe I waited that long! Painting makes such a difference!

    S M E L L

    Living spaces all have potential to be really smelly. Pets, smoking, mold, pests, age and filters can all be culprits. Some people tolerate smell, but I canNOT.
    • Pets- Carpet cleaning, thorough wiping down, dusting and vacuuming should help this problem. We have cat allergies, so we have been especially sensitive to this.
    • Smoking- I've heard that it is hard to completely get smoking smell out of a place. Repainting and re-carpeting do the best job of getting the smell out.
    • Mold- If you SEE mold in a wall, action should be taken immediately. There is likely a bigger problem. If mold pops up in the bathroom sometimes because of lack of ventilation, or an area that always feels/smells damp and musty. Damp Rid effectively helps the problem.
    • Pests- If there are pests/rodents it is important to take care of the issue ASAP. Attics and crawlspaces should be vacuumed thoroughly and the pest problem should be taken seriously by your landlord.
    • Age- Old houses smell. A variety of tactics can be used if the smell is intolerable. Carpet cleaning, repainting and de-humidifying (like using DampRid) all can help.
    • Filters- Replacing the HVAC system filters can also improve smells throughout the whole house.

    A  W O R D   O N
    C A R P E T S

    Carpets are likely the single most smell-containing objects in any living space. The pad and carpet both do a wonderful job at soaking up smell. If the smell is significant, consider asking your landlord to replace the carpet. The landlord SHOULD pay to do this. However, some landlords won't. If I feel that smell is going to be a problem, I have asked landlords if they would be willing to replace carpet. If they are not, this is a deal-breaker for me. Check before you rent!

    F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

    This all sounds like a lot, and by-golly it is! Moving is not easy!

    When we first started out, I thought that most things weren't worth worrying about or fixing, but through the years, I've found that it makes a big difference in how comfortable I am at home. Everybody needs a comfortable space to decompress, ponder, and rejuvenate.

    ALSO, good landlords are usually willing to help you make the place more live-able. They want good tenants who will take care of their rentals. If you show that you care, they will trust you more.

    Happy Cleaning!



    Home Living: Rental Series Introduction

    9:00:00 AM

    " H O M E  I S  T H E
    N I C E S T
    W O R D  T H E R E  I S . "

    - Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Welcome to the Home Living: Rental Series online course! I previously wrote a post on the 5 Must-Have Items for Decorating a Rental. I included an option to receive the course through email form. I will also be posting the course here, just at at much slower pace.

    To start off, Let's talk about what home can mean.

    H O M E

    • A place to live
    • A place where loved ones are
    • A feeling
    • A place to share
    • A place of peace
    • A place to love
    • A place of refuge
    • A place to reflect
    • A place that inspires
    • A place that is comfortable
    • A space that is yours
    A lot goes into having a home!

    R E N T I N G  & 

    T H E  T E M P O R A R Y
    M I N D S E T

    Sometimes living in a rental can feel unsettling. Moving a lot is unsettling. I have found that it is so important to not live completely temporarily even when your "home" is only temporary.


    Amidst all the renting and moving we have done in the past 10 years, we have owned one house. We lived there for about 2 1/2 years and I put a lot of effort into making it feel like a home.

    My husband decided to go back to school shortly after we moved into that home. His program required two years of school with an internship in between.

    We decided to sell our house BEFORE doing the internship and sadly kissed it goodbye. We put most of our items in storage and tightly packed our van with our essential belongings. That was all we brought with us.

    Once we got to our painfully empty apartment in Tennessee, I quickly realized that we needed to make some changes in order for us to feel like our apartment was home and not just a dropping off and sleeping spot.

    Luckily we were able to borrow a lot of furniture. We were fine with sleeping on air mattresses and cushions on the floor. We quickly realized that some sort of seating was needed to feel semi-comfortable in the living room, so we bought a cheap futon. We got some lawn chairs for seating. We also got a fun outdoor rug to soften and cheer the space.

    We had a great adventure for our 3 month stay in Tennessee, but I longed to feel "at home." I longed to have a comfy space to curl up and watch a movie. It just didn't make sense to invest more time and money in items we couldn't take with us though, so we dealt with it.

    Upon completing our adventure, we moved back to Utah for my husband's last year of school. We unpacked the storage unit and set up house.

    It shocked me how quickly our new place immediately felt like home. The soft couch, the rug, pictures on the wall, seating for guests. It all came together so quickly and FELT SO NICE!

    That is when I realized that although STUFF is not the most important, specific items can really contribute to how "at home" you feel in your place.


    F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

    Just because you live in a temporary place, does not mean you should live temporarily-- bloom where you are planted.

    So, make a space for yourself. Think about what makes you and your family comfortable. Invest time, effort and when possible a little money into creating that space! Sometimes it takes a bit of creativity, but it is totally doable.

    Everybody needs a comfortable space to decompress, ponder, and rejuvenate. Now go to it!

    Happy Homemaking!


    dress up

    Rapunzel Dress Pattern Launch

    10:49:00 PM

    dress up, fancy dress, tangled, disney, halloween, sewing project, sewing pattern, tutorial, sew along, perfect dress, kid's clothes, disneyland, disneyworld

    Another pattern is up in the shop! "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!" We love Tangled around here, and this is the perfect dress for your little one to be Princess Rapunzel.

     tutorial, instructions, sewing definitions, late beginner, intermediate sewer

    This lovely pattern comes in PRINTED form. The instructions are full of definitions, illustrations and photos to help you along the way. It's not like other sewing patterns that can be hard to understand. Plus, you can ALWAYS contact me with questions if you are having trouble. The pattern is for late beginner/intermediate level sewists. There is also a KIT with hand picked fabric and materials to make a super durable, yet very fancy dress!

    Sewing Pattern, instructions, tutorial, taffeta, tangled, disney, Sewing kit

    Check them out in my blog shop and/or Etsy shop.


    5 Must-have Items for Decorating a Rental Space (What I’ve learned from moving 7 times in 9 years)

    9:17:00 AM


    After we got married, my husband and I moved into a tiny apartment (half an attic to be precise) to keep costs down as we plugged away at finishing our degrees.

    It was an interesting apartment to say the least. Our shower followed the slope of the roof and we often hit our head on the ceiling while we washed our hair. Ha, many things about that place make me laugh.

    Since then, we have moved 6 more times in 9 years! Schooling, internships and a career with a rotational program have taken us into interesting, challenging and unique living spaces.

    We obviously didn’t have high standards with our first place. With each new place we’ve lived in, be it smaller, larger, older, newer, clean, dirty, needing a lot of fix-up, to being wonderfully live-able, I’ve learned a lot.

    I’ve learned what makes a place feel like home. I’ve learned what things are non-negotiable (ie: dishwasher!) and I’ve cleaned up after A LOT of people’s messes.

    SIGN UP FOR OUR FREE EMAIL COURSE for tips on decorating and organizing your rental.

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    There’s a lot that goes into making a rental space feel like home. Cleaning, painting, setting up storage solutions (more on that later) but I’m going to share with you 5 must-have items that will help you feel like you are in YOUR space. These items are all things you can take with you, so if you move as much as we do, set-up will be a whole lot easier.

    1) At least one AWESOME large scale rug.

    Your rug must be 8x10 at a minimum. Living areas need rugs to anchor the space. A large rug will do just that.

    Rugs will also cut down on noise if you happen to have downstairs neighbors. Rugs are magical at covering up hideous and uncomfortable flooring and brightening up beautiful flooring.

    Now, when I say your rug needs to be awesome, I mean awesome. Don’t just go to any old store and pick up a cheap decent-looking rug. If you do this, your rug may not move with you! You want a long-lasting rug that will give you familiarity in every place you live.

    Choose a rug that speaks to you. Why? Most rental spaces are drab and boring. The floors are often very lackluster. Spend your money on a rug that says, “Welcome home! I love you!” Okay, not literally, but you get the drift? It’s an investment!

    2) Small scale furniture

    Trust me. I’ve learned from too many mistakes—“Oh, but this chair is so comfortable!” Yeah, because it’s a ginormous recliner that will get in the way, completely fill your room and make your space feel small.

    Be careful when you buy furniture. Scale is very important. I thrift most of my furniture, but I keep some rules when I purchase. One general idea is that you want things low to the ground--Short, but still comfortable. It's also a good idea to buy furniture with the legs showing. It makes your space feel more open.

    It may take a while to find just what works, but it’s worth it. 

    3) Lamps

    A lot. Really. I have NEVER lived in a rental with sufficient lighting. I still don’t.

    Lighting has become more and more important to me as I’ve realized what a difference it makes in the general feeling of the room. Overhead lighting is never enough.

    Have you ever had the experience of taking down your Christmas tree only to realize how dark that corner has always been? Yeah. It needs more light. Three or four lamps in the living room? Yes! Two in the bedroom? Yes!

    Other lighting options to consider: motion sensing LED lights for closets, under cabinet lighting in kitchens, hallway night lights.

     4) Curtains

    I know curtains tend to be kind of a taste thing. Let’s face it, some people don’t like them. But I have to have them on my list for two reasons- 1) rental blinds are ugly 2) most rentals don’t have beautifully trimmed and cased windows. They are plain, uninviting, boring… Does this sound like your rental?

    Your goal with curtains is to have them drape from ceiling to floor. I hang the rod about 3 inches from the ceiling.

    Another tip is to extend the curtain rod out about 12” on each side of the window. This way, when the curtains are open, precious light will not be blocked.

    If you have ugly blinds or a bad view, hang sheers between the drapes. This masks the blinds/view a bit and adds more privacy when the blinds are open.

    5) Large Scale Art

    Any interior designer can attest to the importance of having a focal point in each room. Focal points give the eye a place to go.

    Focal points come in forms of fireplaces, really cool architectural features, a huge TV and large scale art.

    Let’s face it. You’d be lucky to consistently land a rental that has a fireplace. It’s even rarer for rentals to have other architectural features. I’ll be frank and say that it's hard to make a TV look pretty.

    Art is the way to go. You can use old maps, a beautiful large scale textiles, a hand pieced quilt, a DIY painting, a poster or a real actual painting. It just needs to be something to give a place for your eye to land.

    I’ve learned a lot over the years. I seem to learn more with each move. It takes a lot to get a place to feel like home, but when I set these items up in every new place, I feel at home.

    But we all know, there is more. Sometimes it’s a struggle to decide what to fix and not fix. What to install and not install. What to invest in and not. What to paint, if you can paint, and what to leave alone. Organizing a new place is always a challenge. Sometimes there are smells to deal with. Often there are weird quirks or awkward spaces.

    How can you make your rental work for YOU? Sign up for my free email course and I will share with you more tips and tricks that I’ve learned in the renting world.

    SIGN UP FOR OUR FREE EMAIL COURSE for more tips on decorating your rental.

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    baby stuff

    Easter 2017

    12:35:00 PM

    tulips, carthage jail, pink cinderella dress, pattern, brother, sister

    The kids had a lot of fun this Easter weekend! It was filled with playing outside, birthday celebrations and movie watching.

    easter, siblings, tulips, spring

    We went to Carthage Jail on Saturday to see the beautiful tulips and take a tour. Rob hasn't taken a tour of the jail since we've been here. It was so it was good to take the tour feel the Holy Spirit testify of the truthfulness of the gospel, Jesus Christ and the special calling of Joseph Smith.

    felt headband, pink cinderella dress, pattern, handmade dress, easter

    I used a basic version of the Pink Cinderella Dress Pattern for Rosie's dress. That dress sews up super quick when simplified!

    easter, saltwater sandals, ruffles, diy, men's shirt, dandilions, vintage, baby fashion

    For Eve's dress, I used the same make-shift pattern as her Duckie Dress (both made from men's shirts).

    spring, carthage jail, illinois, spring, plaid

    Unfortunately, I didn't finish Jack's tie until the night before and we didn't really get any pictures because I didn't feel well.

    tulips, carthage jail, easter, bow tie, kid fashion

    Abe wearing his Easter bow tie.

    Couple picture with me at 37 weeks pregnant.

    Phew! That's a lot of pictures, but I guess that goes with a lot of kids. Looking forward to another little one to join us!

    cute baby, two year old, spring, easter

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