Home Living: Rental Series #4 Make it Do

9:12:00 PM

peach walls, bathroom artwork, peach and mint, small bathroom
 Our bathroom is a peachy-tan color. I prefer more neutral walls, but the finishes were so clean in this bathroom, keeping the peachy-tan color seemed like the best option. How to brighten it up? Add large scale art that includes the peachy color. The art also has lots of fun and bright colors, so the bathroom feel lighter and happier now. 

I T ' S   W H A T   Y O U   D O   W I T H   W H A T   

Y O U ' V E   G O T .

There will be no perfect home. There are quirks or things that you would ideally want to be different. It doesn't make sense to fix everything. Time and money have to be factored in as well as how long you may be in your place.

With creativity, you can often improve what you don't love with just a little effort.



I've found that once I've reached a comfortable level of clean and brightness, I have to EMBRACE a lot of the things I'd still like to change. Once I decide to EMBRACE (the trim, paint color, carpet color, weird column, etc.), I make so much more progress!

Story #1

Our current home is trimmed with basic dark wood. I definitely prefer white trim all the way! I can't change the trim because there it soooo much of it! I finally came to the realization that embracing it would be the best thing to do. So, I got some stain and touched up the dings and cleaned it up. "Hey, that's not so bad!" I choose dark wood for framing and decor shelf options. Now everything blends, looks intentional, and feels much better!

Story #2
In our second apartment, we had a lot of mismatched carpet. Our living room featured a "lovely" blue-gray 1980's color. I had big plans for our living room to have lots of enlivening reds and golds. I tried to decorate the room accordingly and just became more and more frustrated with the carpet I couldn't change. I finally decided to switch to a cool blue, green and gold color palette and what do you know? The carpet didn't bother me any more.

M A K E   I T   I N T E N T I O N A L

That's another key word. Once I embraced the blue carpet and decided to include the blue in the color scheme, I wasn't fighting it anymore!

B E   C R E A T I V E

So how do we deal with those really tricky things? Here is the process I use to come up with an idea. Hopefully this will help you, as each place has its own different quirks.

First, I set up a situation in which I can be inspired-- for me I just need to be alone and I need it to be quiet. I sit in front of the spot or in the room that has the problem. I study this spot (often times this includes reminding myself of the reasons I don't like it).

After a period of study, I ask myself, "What am I fighting against? Color? Texture? Age? Awkwardness?"

I then try to think if there is a way to FIX it (or cover it up) that makes sense. If there is, I try that solution first. Sometimes that is all that is needed, but other times you may still want to move on to the next step.

If there isn't a possibility for a fix (for example, if something is unchangeable--like carpet color), I move on and think, "How can I EMBRACE this?"  and "What can I add to other parts of the room to make it seem like this is intentional?"


So how to EMBRACE the thing you don't like? How to make it seem INTENTIONAL? REPETITION. What?! Repeat the color/texture/size/look of the that very thing through out the room.

It's choosing picture frames and shelving that match the trim.
It's adding blue to the color scheme.

Simply adding multiple things that match the problem (but in modern, updated, tasteful ways of course), makes it seem like you totally meant to have the groovy textured 70's carpet. It automatically blends and eases the eye as it moves around the room.

Repetition is important when decorating any room. For example, if you really like bright and light-colored spaces, sticking a black TV against a wall is definitely not going to blend. You may need to go against your initial desire for white and light, and implement darker bookshelves and/or accessories to help the eye move around the room more smoothly.


P R A C T I C A L   T I P S

  • Wall paint color that you can't change? Go with it. Look up color schemes that include the wall color and choose a few favorites. See if you can accessorize or add wall art that will make it better.
  • Awkward column? Add some artwork, photos, a sconce or maybe even a flag! Attach shelves to make a floor to ceiling bookshelf. If you're handy, you could add DIY seating around the bottom. If the column is in a small space, highlighting the column might make the space feel too busy. Maybe keeping it simple and trying to make it blend is the best option.
  • 70's carpet? Play the game I played with the blue-grey, but also, layer rugs! An extra large jute rug on the bottom with a happy rug on top will add more texture. The jute will help tone down the brown/orange. This also works with worn-out carpet.
  • Washer and dryer in kitchen? Aside from keeping the laundry baskets out of the kitchen, you could add a door or curtain to cover the area. You could add more industrial accessories to make it seem more intentional. Examples include a metal back splash that matches the washer/dryer, or a metal cornice box above the window. 

F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

Hopefully this has helped you think about ways you can make things work. If you have any specific questions about a particular problem you're facing, please email me-- I love a good challenging brainstorm.

Good luck!



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!


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