Archive for the ‘Home Decor’ Category

Operation DPR: Out with the Old, In with the New

I don’t know about you, but in our house, the mortgage payments cover every nook and cranny inside the house and the space within our exterior property lines. Therefore, our philosophy is that we have no rooms that are just for show. Our house is fully utilized, as it should be.

Anyplace that’s not actual living space is a potential storage area. At this very moment, we have at least one major storage area that requires a marathon semi-annual cleaning effort that can last up to two days – with all hands on deck.

Seeing as though Christmas is less than 48 hours away, there’s no time like the present to begin Operation DPR to make room for soon-to-be exchanged gifts. What is operation DPR? Operation DPR is the process of sorting the contents of our storage/laundry room/crawl space into piles in order to spruce up our home a bit. During Operation DPR, items receive one of three labels: D onate, P urge, or R elocate.

The donate pile is one of my favorites, because those items find new homes via our donations to Goodwill or some other chartitable organization. This pile can include anything from children’s clothing, to toys, to furniture. I love that someone else gets to enjoy things that we can no longer use, but are still in good condition.

The purge pile is self-explanatory; these things are suitable for the trash. One man’s trash isn’t always someone else’s treasure. Then again, we’ve watched as passersby have sifted through our trash placed at the curbside on numerous occasions and driven away with a car full of our junk. Hmm, I guess this is a donate pile of sorts as well if someone gets to it before the waste removal company does.

The relocate pile is for items that need to be buried deeper into the storage area, because while they have no immediate use, the cost of replacing such items, or their perceived future value, dictates that we hold on to them for a little longer. After all, you can’t predict when you’ll find a reason to repurpose something. Maybe I just watch too much HGTV. Or maybe I don’t watch it enough???

Once the piles have been processed, our newly-organized space will perhaps inspire me to do laundry regulary. A girl and her family can dream, right?

To keep from having to go through this process more than twice per year and to help keep our space organized, here are a few simple guidelines that we’ve used.

  • Donate, relocate, and purge at least twice per year.
  • Garages are for cars. If we have so much stuff that we need to move our cars out of their houses to make room for an abundance of goods, we’ve accumulated too many things.
  • Install floating shelves or shelving units to keep floors clear – or at least to make them available for large items
  • Invest in a shed (or two as we have) for items that belong outdoors: bikes, lawn equipment, and summer sporting goods.
  • Keep piles at appropriate heights. Storing too much on the floor makes a room look cluttered. While stacking things too high makes the room look small and dark; not to mention, it makes reaching items a sometimes dangerous feat.
  • Resist – if you see a “perfect” coffee table, but already have one that perfectly suits your home’s current decor, resist the urge to buy it and there will be no need to store the other one. I know. I know. “But it was so cute and the price was right.” Remember? Resist.
  • Use durable, plastic underbed storage boxes for kid toys, such as Legos and dolls and their accessories.
  • Use under-the-stair space for storing items that get used often during their busy season. (Camping gear for example.)

Despite our philosophy, there’s always room for improvement, so for us, one thing that we can do to make Operation DPR a greater success is to schedule it. That’s right. We need to actually put it on the family calendar (we use Cozi), so that everyone will know exactly when Operation DPR will occur and prepare accordingly. It wouldn’t hurt to post a message on the frequently-visited refrigerator either as the date draws near. :-)

There’s nothing like a good cleaning project to bring new life to your living (and storage) spaces. Who will join me for Operation DPR ?

Share your DPR tips and before and after pictures (if you dare) on our Facebook page.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


P.S. – The picture above is not of my laundry room, but it inspires me.

Blue and White Christmas Theme

Last spring, I painted my family room. I had grown bored with the six-year-old wall color and the general look of the room, so out went the colors of my favorite football team, and in with something refreshing and “breezy”. The formerly burgundy room was transformed into a beachy oasis in which the tan flooring represented sand, the white bookcases and trim are the clouds, and the light blue walls are my cool, relaxing sky.

Here’s a glimpse…

As I finished the first roll of the paintbrush, a thought came to mind: I would no longer be able to use the Christmas decorations that I’ve collected over the years. The traditional red, gold, and green simply won’t fit in with the room’s new color scheme.

With that realization, I knew I’d have to hit the stores soon in search of new Christmas decorations that would complement, not distract from, the family room’s new theme.

As if sent from above, I saw and advertisement for a “make and take” Christmas ornament session at the local craft store. So, I hopped into my van with my youngest daughter in tow, so that we could get an idea of this year’s decorative trends and she could learn about the importance of being able to make something with her own hands. Get them started young if you can. Crafting can be therapeutic.

My reward/craft for obediently trekking to the store in search of cool Christmas decorations on a hot, summer’s day? A beautiful clear ornament that was ultimately covered inside with light blue glitter and a pretty silver ribbon on the outside. I love it! My daughter chose white glitter for the interior of her ornament and it is equally beautiful.


Now, fully thinking about the work that I had ahead of me, I earnestly began my hunt for more decorations. Due to that dogged determination (I love to decorate!), I soon found a supply of ribbons that was literally being stocked into bins as I perused the DIY aisle. It didn’t take long for me to make a few selections for my new color scheme. I am now the proud owner of 5 rolls of silver and white festive ribbon. Note to self: Need to brush up on ribbon-making skills for maximum decorative impact.

Fast forward to tonight. This evening’s shopping trip turned up a set of snowflake ornaments that make an excellent addition to my small, but growing, collection of decorations for this year.

So, here’s everything together. Obviously, I have my work cut out for me, but I love a challenge!

For the robust decorative look that I prefer, I’ll need to make many more trips to see what great finds are out there just waiting for me to spruce up my newly decorated room for the upcoming holiday season. I’m also looking forward to making a few ornaments.

One more thing: no Christmas decor would be complete without matching wrapping paper. You wouldn’t want to sabotage months of searching by using paper that doesn’t enhance the look, would you?

Happy decorating!

Share your pictures of your Christmas decorations here.


Weekend Plans

The first full weekend of fall will be busy in my castle. I don’t need an excuse to make changes to my lovely abode, but a new season always seems like a great time to do so.

What’s on the weekend warrior agenda? Something old. Something new. Nothing borrowed, and certainly something blue.

Painting, painting, and more painting. Touchup painting to a few areas in the kitchen, first floor bathroom, and the staircase leading from the foyer to the second floor is a high priority, since the current weather permits leaving windows open for prolonged periods of time. If the mood strikes me, one of my lucky children will get their room painted!

After I finish wielding an array of paint brushes and rollers and splashing colors here and there, I’ll finally get around to finishing the kick-plates that were never stained and sealed from our kitchen makeover nearly 18 months ago. I stained them last week, but just couldn’t seem to find the time to seal them. I’m sure I HAD the time, but who knows what I actually did with it.

Grout will finally make it to a few places in the backsplash that never received it. We were so ready to be able to use our kitchen after it was out of commission for 5 weeks, little things like this fell by the wayside. Now is the time to get started on finishing.

My husband will take care of replacing the baseboards in the first floor bathroom. I’ll try to talk him into getting crown molding for the family room. We’ve taken on many projects with no prior experience, but mistakes in crown molding installation could be costly, so we will proceed with caution if this is a project that we decide to undertake.

The laundry/storage room is in dire need of a deep cleaning and purging. Our typical schedule is twice a year or so and we may be overdue. All hands are always on deck for this particular task! Luckily, for my 13-year-old son, he’ll be away at a teen retreat with fellow churchgoers. Maybe we’ll save some of the load for him. Surprise! :)

I started placing fall decorations in various rooms last weekend and imagine that I’ll continue working on that project until everything is in place. I think I’ll peruse a few decorating web sites and stop by a few home decor stores to get some ideas – and a few treats that are on sale.

Grocery shopping is another item on my to-do list. Completing the shopping list, checking out the sales papers, and trying to find a few coupons will take a bit of time. Friday-night activity if I want to hit the stores by 8 AM on Saturday. Never mind that I my youngest one has a Funky Friday event (it’s a church thing) at the bowling alley tonight. Somehow, I’ll make everything happen. I love a challenge!

Sunday’s agenda always includes going to church, and sometimes it involves experimenting in the kitchen. Let us not forget about one of my favorite Sunday activities in fall – football!

Yep! It seems like I’ll have a busy weekend, but I love taking care of my family and our house, so I wouldn’t change a thing about my weekend plans!

What’s on your agenda this weekend?


The Last Full Weekend of Summer

It seems like just yesterday when flowers began to open, grass awakened from a slumber, and the warmth of the snow broke through from a long, cold winter. As I enjoy the last full weekend of summer, I’m experiencing mixed emotions. The warm, yet vibrant, foliage colors of Fall and the near-perfect weather are simultaneously relaxing and exciting. However, feelings of impending cabin fever lurk just beneath the surface. Weather bleeds into other seasons, so the delight of Fall will soon be interrupted by cold, harsh winter weather – even if the calendar doesn’t agree.

Twice I’ve had to resist the urge to drag bins of autumn decor from their cozy hideaway in the basement, because the calendar month still reads, “September”. Dare I rush the end of summer? I think not! Fall will be here soon enough, so for now, I sit here with every window of the house opened allowing each room to benefit from nature’s air freshner. A slight breeze, the sound of children playing and birds chirping, the hum of a neighbor’s mower, and temperatures in the low 70’s are the perfect backdrop for the last full weekend of Summer.

How are you spending the last full weekend of Summer?


Spring Cleaning

I’ve taken the opportunity presented by this three-day weekend to begin spring cleaning, or as my husband calls it “pre-spring cleaning”. Once spring rolls around, we’ll do this again, but there won’t be as much work. I turned off the heat, raised the kitchen and dining room blinds to let the sunshine in, opened the family room drapes, and opened the windows for a bit of fresh air. The house has been closed off for months, so I was happy to be able to get a sneak-peek at spring.

This weekend, my plan is to tackle at least one room each day. So far, so good. Last night’s chore was the master bedroom and while it’s not completely done, it’s looking better than it has been for a few months. There’s a ton of dusting that needs to be tackled. New bedding purchased and put on the bed last week gives the room a fresh, new look just in time for warmer weather!

Today’s chosen room was the family room and that was hard work! A little background: The room hadn’t been the same since before Thanksgiving when we started the whimsical project of constructing white, built-in bookcases on both sides of the fireplace. That project brightened up the room quite a bit, but I wanted to brighten it even more, so I painted the brick fireplace to match the bookcases. Well, Christmas decorating started while we were in the midst of building the bookcases and painting the fireplace, so I reconfigured the furniture to accommodate the Christmas tree. Fast-forward to the present: Today’s chore included moving around furniture in a manner that would maximize the amount of open space for playing the Wii or working out to exercise videos. I finally removed all the Christmas decorations from the bookshelves and dusted every surface. Lot’s of hard work, but well worth it!

The cleaner, reconfigured room only needs a fresh coat of paint (well, and new flooring) to be complete. I think I’ve settled on a color that’s three shades darker than the renovated kitchen. Since the rooms are adjacent, it’s a good idea to do so. The new color also compliments the existing family room furniture and from my husband’s standpoint, that’s a bonus, because it means spending less money. :-)

Another minor project began while I was working on the family room. My husband removed some dated decorative posts that were located on the wall between the kitchen and family room. I mentioned wanting to do so recently and today, that task was accomplished. Now, I have an unobstructed view from the kitchen to the family room and the space is much more open. No more bars in the line of vision between the kitchen and family room. Yeah!

Tomorrow’s after-church chore will likely be the kitchen. It’s newly renovated with lots of added storage, but I have a habit of shopping for an army-sized family and not the family of six that we have. Finding room for the extras should be an easy task, since we have overflow food shelving in the basement. I might spend part of the afternoon going through my closet and putting aside things that need to go to Goodwill. Or, I may just spend it bumming around with the family. We’re down to two children this weekend. One is staying with a relative and another is in West Virginia on a church retreat with the teen group. Board games or a bike ride might be fun for the four of us who are home this weekend.

Monday’s task could (should) be the office, but that will take a lot of physical and mental energy. Maybe I’ll wait ’til the next three-day weekend, Memorial Day, to climb this mountain. I could just sit back and enjoy the decluttered rooms and relax before the start of a new work week!

Have you started spring cleaning? Are you planning any home improvement projects in the near future?

Let’s chat!

Love to all!


The Guests Are Coming! The Guests Are Coming!

Guests are coming, but your house is a mess! What to do? Do you plan to keep them contained to the “clean” part of the house? Do you scramble to clean the guest bathroom just in case? Do you set the entire family into overdrive and send them into different directions of the house with cleaning supplies and stopwatches to make sure they move from task to task as if they’re participating in the first annual Housecleaning Olympics?

When guests are expected, most of us want to ensure that our house is presentable. Model-home spic and span clean would be great, but let’s get real. Who lives like that all day every day?

Does the relationship of the guest determine just how clean your house needs to be before their arrival? There’s sister clean, best friend clean, dinner party clean, or even worse, “mother-in-law is coming” clean.

What is it about the alarms that sound in our heads when we expect a visit from guests? I think it’s because we don’t want people to talk about us behind our backs. They’ll think we’re slobs and we don’t want to give them that impression – even if we really are slobs. Then again, maybe they’ll understand, because their home is inhabited by people who live in each room, move things around, and don’t always notice the dust bunnies on the unused coffee table.

I’d love to have my home look like a picture out of Home and Garden magazine, but the fact of the matter is that we’re a busy family of six. Although we have daily chores, the house never seems to get an all-over deep clean. Sure, we may get one room presentable enough for a photoshoot, but having two rooms in such condition at the same time almost never happens. We live in our home, which means things get moved around from room to room and don’t always make it back to their proper place in a timely manner. But anyone who walks into our home on any given day will quickly be able to determine one thing: this home is lived in and loved. So what we missed the cobwebs on the ceiling? Maybe we’ll get around to removing them tomorrow, but odds are that we won’t, because there are dance and music lessons, scout meetings, errands, work, school, church activities, and whatever else makes it onto the calendar.

Unless your house is on the market for sale, relax and enjoy it. Most of us don’t have hired help to pick up after us, so even though the furniture may be different, the size and style of the house may not be the same, and the fact that different people inhabit each house, we’re all human and we’ve all seen dust and misplaced cups.

If your guests don’t like the appearance of your house, invite them over for a housecleaning party then kick back, watch, and relax.

Let’s chat!

Love to all!


When Do YOU Start Spring Cleaning?

Sure, we’re still in the dead of winter, but I can’t help but to think about warmer days ahead. Today is the first day that the sun made an appearance in over a week, so I’m in a springy kind of mood! I can smell…almost taste…the warm, spring air despite the frigid reality that awaits outside my door.

In case you forgot one of the most important cold-weather holidays, Groundhog Day, is in just three days. And as we wait with baited breath for Punxsutawney Phil (or Buckeye Chuck for Ohioans) to tell us whether or not we’ll have six more weeks of winter, I’m already thinking about what kind of freshness I will conjur up in my home with a few gallons of paint, new fabrics, and a good cleaning of all surfaces. By the way, regardless of what either rodent has to say, spring will arrive on March 20 at 7:21 P.M. EDT.

With a lot of help from my personal cleaning brigade (A.K.A. husband and children), I’m looking forward to being able to clean every window, open every set of blinds and curtains, let in outdoor air through every door and window, clean or replace floor coverings, purge or donate piles of now-unwanted goods, and plug in the season’s sweetest air fresheners. That spells spring to me!

So when will this spring cleaning plan of mine launch? It depends on when the weatherman believes we’ve had our last snow of the season. :-)

When do you start spring cleaning? What are some of your spring cleaning rituals?

Let’s chat!

Love to all!


5 Quick Tips to Increase the Value of Your Home!

Our homes are the most valuable assets that most of us have, so protecting the value of our abodes is of great importance.

Here are a 5 quick and inexpensive tips to increase the value of your home.

  • Go neutral in your decor – homes that are too owner-specific can turn off potential buyers, friends, and family alike. Not to mention, you may get bored with a less-than-classic look quicker than you’d like.
  • Landscape – you don’t have to hire an expensive landscaping company. Simply browse the internet for easy DIY ideas and head to your nearest nursery. Don’t forget the landscape lighting while you’re there. Oh, you may want to enlist the help of a friend or two for this job.
  • Paint – if bright or dark colors aren’t your thing, go with something subtle such as various shades of tan. It will add color as well as hide blemishes that are easier to spot on stark, white walls.
  • Refresh window treatments – get rid of the old, dark, dusty blinds and drapes and opt for a fresher look instead. Look for a contrast to your current color scheme. If you’re crafty, even better, so you can make your own window treatments and save some $$$.
  • Replace flooring of poor quality. DIY’ers can save a bundle by installing their own replacement flooring. Big box home improvement stores have great selections at great prices. They also offer DIY classes, so stop by to see what’s in store for you!

Whether you’re planning to sell or stay put, these quick tips will make buyers (and you) do a double-take at how new and refreshing your home is.

Have any home improvement plans in the near future?

Let’s chat here and share ideas about how you plan to improve your home’s value (other than picking it up and moving it to The Hamptons).

Love to all!