How to choose souvenirs that won’t become clutter

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

It’s that travel time of year! The time of year when we dream about hitting the open road with clear blue skies above. I may be in the minority but I love a road trip! Well, let’s be honest I love any kind of trip.

So regardless of where you are headed this summer, you will likely bring back a souvenir of some sort. But then you get home and that bright Mexican plate that you just couldn’t part with in the market, just doesn’t quite look as good in your very traditional home.

So what souvenirs can be turned into decor pieces that don’t just clutter up your home?

When I’m traveling, I think about these things before I pick up something that’ll also take up my precious luggage space.

  1. Where will you use or place it in your home when you get back? A colourful ceramic bowl or jug may be perfect thing to use at your summer cottage instead of your home.
  2. Is it useful or at least tasty? I often pick up speciality food products that are unique to the locale, it’s great to enjoy and share with friends or family when you’re back home.
  3. I also like to pick up Christmas tree ornaments, that way when I trim the tree I will be reminded of the vacation, but it doesn’t add to my daily clutter quota.
  4. Textiles are another favourite, a tea towel with a cute local saying or image or perhaps, an apron, both are useful. When I went to Paris, I picked up fabric at a flea market and once home, I had it made into cushion covers.
  5. Perhaps you can pick up some seashells, sea glass or special rocks from your vacation spot. Just make sure you are allowed to remove them. These can be placed in shadow boxes or just displayed in a bowl. Kids of course, love to get in on this type of collecting and it’s easy on the vacation budget.
  6. Do you take a million travel pics? I must confess I am guilty of this. But it’s great to pick one or two of your favourite and have them blown up and either mounted or framed for your walls. I’ve also made a personalized calendar with travel pics from the previous year. It’s a great way to remember the special moments.

So where are you headed this summer?

How decluttering can help you redecorate your home for free

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

So what do you do if your budget is tight but you’d love to give your home a fresh update for Spring? You may not realize it, but there is a way to revive and refresh all the rooms in your house – without spending a cent. Do you think it’s impossible to redecorate for free? Well, just keep reading and I’ll tell you how.

Take a look around the house for all of the accessories and artwork you own – including art work, sculptures, vases, candles, picture frames, even plants. Gather them all up and place them all on your kitchen table, this is now your own little decor shop.

Look at everything on your table with new eyes, as if you are seeing it for the first time. Just because that piece of art has always hung over the fireplace does not mean it wouldn’t look even better in the foyer. Or maybe the frame just needs a quick spray paint to be perfect over your bed. Perhaps that red vase that faded into the background in the family room will make your powder room pop.

Keep going, item by item and room by room, until you have redone your entire house. This is the perfect job for a weekend so take your time and it’ll definitely be worthwhile in the end.

Keep in mind that when it comes to decorating, less really is more. That means you don’t have to find a home for all the pieces. Inevitably, there will be leftovers that just don’t seem to ‘fit’ anywhere – at least for now. If you love some of the unused items, store them until you redecorate again, and if you don’t, then it’s time to say goodbye. You can give find them a new home or donate them, just don’t keep them around taking up your precious space.

Now with less items around you’ll definitely spend less time vacuuming and dusting and just think you did it all without spending a cent plus you’ll feel great giving some much appreciated things away for someone else to enjoy.

Lisa

The 7 essential steps to decluttering and what you should not do.

Organization and decluttering Clutter…it’s our society’s nemesis. Everyone has their horror stories, relatives or friends’ relatives that hoarded until it was a health hazard and we’ve all seen at least one episode of Hoarders on HGTV. Scary stuff.  But realistically, most of us have at least one area of our home that could do with a good declutter session. Spring is the perfect time of year to tackle one or more decluttering projects.

So, let’s take it step by step so it’s not so frightening.

  1. First of all, don’t do your entire home, just do one small area to start and then once you see how great it functions and looks you’ll be all in to tackle a bigger space. I’d suggest an entry, closet or even a medicine cabinet**. If you are feeling totally overwhelmed then just set a time limit, like 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes will give you enough time to tackle a junk drawer, medicine cabinet or cupboard. Once you see how great it feels, you can move on to spaces that require more time, perhaps an hour to do a closet. For this exercise, I’m going to use an entry closet as an example.
  2. Gather all your supplies first. You’ll need 4-5 boxes, one each for Keep, Relocation (for those items that have a home somewhere else), Donation, Trash and Recycle. I also grab the vacuum and any other cleaning supplies that may be needed.
  3. Remove everything out of the closet and give it a good cleaning while its empty. You may want to even paint it, while you’re at it or perhaps not.
  4. So now you sort. Look at each item and decide where it’s going or if it’s going back in the closet. When I’m doing this I like to think about the last time I used or wore the item. If it’s been forever, then let it go. It may help you to think of all the people that could use this item, so go ahead and donate it. One key to remember is once you’ve got the boxes filled and ready to go, bring them immediately to where they need to go. DO NOT let them linger in your home, that just defeats the purpose of the decluttering session. I put the garbage and recycling out immediately and I put the donation or giveaway items in my car right away, so that I’ll drop them off the next time I’m in the neighbourhood.
  5. Once you’ve got the small pile left of what you are keeping, decide how you want to put it back into the closet. This is where you may need to purchase a few baskets or bins. But waiting till now, will make sure you only buy what you need or perhaps you can repurpose some from another area of your home. Pairs of gloves, hats and other small items stay organized in a basket.  If you have many pairs of shoes and boots, perhaps a boot/shoe rack will be necessary and this often helps to decide exactly how many pairs are needed versus what we can store. Out of season clothing and footwear can potentially be stored in a guest room or basement closet.
  6. Hooks or over the door racks are also great for adding usable space to a closet. Purses, scarves, shopping bags, leashes, etc. can be hung here for a quick getaway.
  7. Keep it up.  So now that it’s all organized, remember that you may need to spend a few minutes each day putting things away. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste.

** If you are decluttering a medicine cabinet, keep in mind that most drug stores will take back expired medications so that they don’t end up in the landfill or water system.

Lisa

The 6 questions you need to answer before you start designing your space

6 questions you need to answer before you start designing your space.

When I’m starting a client’s decorating or renovation project, function always comes before form. What I mean by that, is the function of the space has to be determined before we get to the layout or furnishings. The foundation has to be solid so that we can move ahead with the pretty. You wouldn’t spend money on having fabulous wallpaper installed when the wall is crumbling…right? Even the prettiest room has to function properly.

So on my first client visit I ask these 6 questions:

1. What do you use the room for?

All rooms have a purpose, perhaps even many purposes. If you need a room to function as a family room and as a home office, then that will determine how the layout gets decided and what furnishings are needed.

2. How many people will be using the room?

A dining room that sits 12 will be set up differently than one that sits 4. So think about the number of people using the room on a daily basis and perhaps those special occasions when you’ll need to accommodate a larger group.

3. Are there young children and pets that will be using the room?

Of course, if you have pets and young children that live or visit your home  you’ll need some adjustments for them and likely for your piece of mind. In this case, think easy care fabrics, hard floors (like hardwood and tile) and washable throw pillows.

4. Are there any allergies to be aware of?

This is something that is often missed but critical if you or a family member has environmental allergies. Those goose down feather pillows may cause needless suffering and that paint should be low VOC.

5. What is the feeling or mood you want the room to convey?

The answer to this question, shows me the direction to go in design wise. If you say you want it to feel like a hug, then I’m thinking mid-tone warm colours, lots of soft textiles and larger “sink-in” sofas and chairs.  If you want it to feel like a fresh breeze, then light toned cooler colours and clean minimal furnishings are what I’d be suggesting.

6. How long do you plan to stay in your home?

This is the big budget question. If you are in your forever home then you can decorate to your tastes exactly and also you will likely feel comfortable with a larger budget. If you are thinking you’ll move within 10 years than perhaps temper the design to appeal to a larger audience and the budget will likely be a little stricter.

Answer these questions and it’ll lead you in the right direction to set up your floor plan, the style and type of furniture you need and what your budget range should be.

Lisa

Classic, warm, beachy home

Classic, warm and beachy, these were the adjectives my client used when describing to me how she wanted her home’s living room/dining room and kitchen to feel. She also wanted to have lots of storage in all three rooms. And we achieved just that. I visited her last week and took some photos to show just how great the transformation turned out.

This is the view from the entry now.

After – beachy living and dining room

The befores:

before living room before living room

I did up a couple of mood boards and sourced products for her so that she could follow the plan along at her own pace as her time and budget allowed. She also has an extremely handy father who did alot of the hands on work. Trades people were hired for the jobs that were not DIY and I think this makeover shows just how much you can do on a fairly strict budget.

So obviously this was a fairly extensive makeover, new hardwood floors were installed in a medium tone brown to keep the look classic and timeless. The dining table was an existing one that her father had made so it was incorporated into the space.  The sofa was custom made and the case goods were picked up from big box stores.

I suggested that she use some of her own family pictures in the 4 large frames and they have turned out perfectly. She already has plans to rotate in some newer pictures. The drapery was ready made and adds some graphic pattern to the palette.

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The bird and octopus artwork was purchased by my client on her yearly trips to Prince Edward County and they are the perfect compliment to the space.

after - beachy living room

after - living room

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Now onto the kitchen. Here’s what it looks like now.

After - warm beachy kitchen

And here’s the befores:

Before - kitchen before - kitchen Before - kitchen

We continued with the same drapery as the living room and dining room as the windows are literally right beside each other. The hardwood floor was continued throughout the kitchen as well to keep the flow from room to room. The existing dark wood cabinetry was painted out to match the new pantry and open shelving.

An antique feeling dark wood table was added to tie in with the dark wood floors and the chairs were my client’s grandmothers, which serendipiously match the table perfectly.  I selected a clear glass pendant to keep the sight lines open to the new backyard deck, as well as a glass and gold flush mount fixture (not shown) for the working area of the kitchen. Under cabinet lighting was also added during the renovation.

The bronze/gold Brizo Talo faucet sparkles like a piece of jewelry on the Caesarstone Quartz white counter and the backsplash is actually tile that looks so much like barn wood, you have to touch it to believe it.

After - warm and beachy kitchen

After - kitchen pantry and open shelving area

These extra cabinets added much needed storage to the space challenged kitchen and a little touch of display area, which can be changed out to a bar or appetizer area when guests are expected.

After - kitchen wallpaper and mirrors

This long, long wall opposite the stove, was treated to some softly textured wallpaper that is wipeable and adds a little extra pattern to the kitchen. My client found these adorable mirror spheres that hide the unused and unsightly phone outlet.

Kitchen faucet - Brizo Talo

The Brizo Talo faucet.

After - kitchen open shelving

Some added display area that also showcases the backsplash.

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My client is thrilled with her home and it’s new look. She says when she gets home she breathes a happy sigh and settles in for some R & R. Which just makes me smile!

Lisa