I’ve held off writing a new blog on décor and organizing for a long time for one key reason: I don’t believe there is ONE correct way to do it! I strongly believe your home should reflect your personal style and what makes your family unique.
One excellent example of this is the color white – I strongly dislike white. To me it’s a stark, harsh and boring color. I didn’t wear a white dress on my wedding day (for those curious I went with ivory) don’t like white walls or furniture because to me they’re just jarringly bright and lacking in contrast or depth and you have to walk around on (white) eggshells so you don’t get anything dirty. However, despite my personal dislike of white, some people LOVE it. They wear it, decorate with it, paint with it and it looks great in their homes and in their wardrobe.
However, despite the myriad of opinions on this topic, today I decided to write down a few thoughts on organizing and design (which, to me, are very much the same thing. My design style can be summarized by three words: functional, organized and cozy) because I genuinely enjoy it and love hearing people’s thoughts on the same topics.
Here are the top five things I consider when decorating my home, after you read it I’d love to hear a few of your tips!
1) Have a home for everything you own:
Maintaining a clean space is impossible if everything doesn’t have somewhere it belongs. Too many things will automatically equal a cluttered home which makes organization a challenge (to say the least). When we move into a new place (like we just did a few weeks ago) the first thing I do is choose where we will put things. Everything in our house has somewhere it belongs that is not a pile on the floor or on the kitchen counter. Living like this has required us to pare down what we have – I can’t find places in our small apartment for both of my children to have five ride-on toys so they’ll each have one and take turns using them. I would love to have a set of holiday dishes, formal dishes and everyday dishes (what can I say? I love dishes) but I have no room for them so we have one, multi-purpose set of dishes.
Ironically, I think I’m as organized as I am because I actually don’t really like spending time each day organizing and cleaning – there are a hundred other things I’d rather spend my time doing so I’ve found ways to allow my daily cleanup process to be faster by organizing ahead of time and fitting our possessions to our space. All of that brings me to my next point.
2) Create accessible storage for easy cleanup:
I LOVE BASKETS. I use baskets for everything; blankets, shoes, blocks, laptops, baby dolls, outside toys and books. Baskets allow for quick cleanup and, HUGE BONUS, they’re pretty to look at. Whatever form of storage you use (shelves, canvas bins, baskets) make sure you have it in a strategic place (i.e. near the toys/books you’ll want cleaned up) so you can quickly and easily straighten up (and so little hands can help with it!).
3) Don’t crowd your living spaces:
While there is nothing wrong with living room furniture you don’t actually have to have a couch set, coffee table and matching end tables. The goal is to create spaces in your home where people feel like they can move without fear of bumping into furniture and can manuever without it seeming like they’re walking through a maze. I chose to have our chest (which stores our board games) and our small cubby also serve as end tables and we did away with a coffee table entirely so we’d have a large, open space for children to play. The ottoman easily moves between seats and also stores behind the recliner if we want the additional space.
Our room is to small to comfortably fit two nightstands and a dresser so we chose to have our desk double as our second nightstand and have a cubby organizer be our dresser (can I also just say how easy it is to put clothes away?). There’s no right way to do this the key is just to strike the balance between having furniture and crowding your house with either too much furniture or items that are too large for the space you have.
Create spaces that serve multiple purposes – our entryway is also one of Evie’s art areas and this chest not only stores blankets but is where we sit to put our shoes on since it’s positioned right next to the coat closet. Take advantage of the small spaces in your home – empty walls and small corners are gold mines for children’s play areas, storage or to display decorative items!
4) Stick to classic themes:
I tend towards using classic color combinations and prints in my decorating style – even in my children’s rooms. It definitely fits my personal taste more to do so but it’s also because children’s interests change so fast that I refuse to spend money on a Frozen themed room that will last a year (though, if Frozen is your style, GO FOR IT! I refuse to make decorating a home the kind of thing where there is a right and wrong answer).
I put a lot of thought into my kid’s rooms because I want them to be spaces they can truly enjoy filled with things they love. Evie’s room has her play kitchen, small table & chairs, dolls and stuffed animals, doll stroller, books and dress-up basket. Those are the things she loves to do and I wanted her to have easy access to all of them – the things in her room are all on her level and she can get them herself (and, bonus, clean them up herself!). Miles’ room has his cars, car mat, blocks, and beloved walker and popper toys (also his favorite things).
I love warm, bright colors and prints (there are clearly a lot of both in my home) coupled with neutral items (like my couch, blanket on our bed, Miles’ crib, Evie’s toy cubby) to break up the colors so it’s not overwhelming. Figure out what colors, textures, prints and overall style you love and arrange your home around them. Choosing a consistent color palette will make your home feel unified and put together (even if you feel less so ;)) and will help you avoid spending money needlessly because you’ll know if something does or does not belong in your home. Another bonus of choosing a classic look is that you won’t feel pressured to update your home’s look on a frequent basis.
5) Put the finishing touches on your home:
A long, long time ago I remember being in a friend’s home shortly after they moved in – as was expected the walls were bare and the furniture was almost the only thing in the rooms. I was there again almost a year later and the house looked almost exactly the same (the main difference was that they had installed a wall-mounted television set). Don’t do that, inhabit the space you live in.
Add the touches in your home that reflect who you are and what you love. I love curtains, pillows, lamps, outdoor living spaces, plants, chalkboards, fruit bowls and bright colors. Getting to put those little touches on my home is what personalizes it and makes it feel lived in.
Arrange spaces in your home where people can sit and talk. We have chosen not to have a television in our home and one of the most fun things about that to me is that I can arrange all my living room chairs to face each other without worrying about whether or not people can see the television from them. Whether you have a television or not create spaces for conversation in your living areas, create spaces where people can relax, read books, listen to music, build block towers, eat snacks, pray together, dance in circles, look at the stars, apologize, laugh, cry and pray. If you make the space and explain the purpose then nine times out of ten it will be used.
I hope this post accomplishes the goal it was intended for: to give ideas. There is not a right way to keep a home and there is no best way to organize or decorate your living space. Enjoy where you live, make it a home and make it yours without a thought that you could be “doing it wrong” (I don’t think anything saps the fun from arranging your space faster than that).
Now, off to fold the laundry that has been piling up on my bed since 9 this morning.