How to Incorporate Minimalism into a  Home Renovation 

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Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

As we grow, our homes grow with us, and it can be challenging to keep up with home improvements due to the natural hustle and bustle of life. Over time, rooms can become cluttered, outdated, and dingy due to daily wear and tear. So, if you’ve found yourself in need of an overhaul in your home, look no further. Utilizing minimalism as a design style can provide you with added benefits of peace of mind, as well as a clutter-free, and inviting space. Here are some simple ways to incorporate minimalism into your next renovation that will leave your home feeling more relaxed and cozy. 

Clean Up the Kitchen

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Photo by Rustic Vegan on Unsplash

Seeing as the kitchen is the most utilized room in a home, it becomes easily susceptible to clutter and disorganization. It’s common to find a junk drawer, duplicate cookware items, and an overloaded pantry in many kitchens. If any of those sound familiar to you, it probably means that your kitchen isn’t as functional as it could be for you and your family. Thankfully, a minor and minimalistic kitchen remodel can do the trick. 

$$$: Reorganize Your Storage

If you find that your storage space just isn’t cutting it, you can incorporate new cabinetry in your kitchen to not only give it a face lift but make it functional to fulfill your minimalist design. Installing new cabinets in a kitchen can cost about $2,000 to $8,000 on average, but can vary based on the size of your space and the material you choose. Plus, you can customize cabinets to maximize storage by including a lazy-susan or double pull-out shelving. New cabinets will provide you with the opportunity to have clutter-free counter tops and more room to organize your belongings.

$$: Paint the Walls

When completing a remodel, color can make a significant difference in a living space. Neutrals—such as taupe, beige, and camel—can be used as accent colors to minimize any bulky furniture pieces like large tables or islands. You can also mix in black, white, or wood finishes to tie the space together and complete the simple and spacious design. Don’t underestimate the power a fresh coat of paint can have on the illusion of space—especially if you’re trying to keep it simple.

$: Declutter Excess Items

Once you’ve installed your new storage space and/or redecorated in your kitchen, take the time to purge any additional kitchen tools, expired items, or basic items you may have forgotten about. Be sure to give each piece you keep a designated area to prevent future disorganization. If you find yourself with duplicate items that are unused and in good condition, consider donating them to prevent waste. 

Keep in mind, though, that if you aren’t able to easily replace duplicate items, it’s okay to hold onto them in storage. If they’re contributing to a clutter problem in the kitchen, set them aside in a designated storage area in the event something breaks and needs a replacement.

Revamp the Living Room

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Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

Your living room should be a cozy space where you can kick back and relax. But when items start to accumulate on the tables and entertainment center, it can be easy to feel uneasy since clutter can leave us feeling stressed and anxious. So once you’ve taken the time to purge the room and reorganize the essentials, simple renovations can refresh your living room into a minimalist hideaway.

$$$: Build New Storage

Consider installing built-ins to give your decor pieces a place to shine. This can be a fun DIY project for you and your favorite handyman to tackle together and will be a great way to utilize all the square footage your room has to offer. Built-ins will help with limiting the amount of space for knick-knacks and will prevent you from over decorating or creating chaos in your area.

$$-$$$: Swap Furniture

Furniture can also make or break the look and feel of your living room. Keep in mind that minimalism focuses on quality over quantity; you don’t have to add more items to create depth in a room. Instead, try incorporating functional pieces such as a sectional couch matched with smaller accent tables, and accent with natural textiles. 

For cost savings and reduced environmental footprint, shop local resale shops like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore to find furniture at a much more affordable price. My living room is furnished with secondhand items and it’s just as comfy and cozy as something bought new.

$$: Revamp Floors

Another great way to add to your open-feel is to install new flooring. Light-colored wood or large tiles are perfect options to add to your minimalist style. These options will create the look and feel of a bigger room and can be accented with a colorful area rug. Be sure when choosing a rug, to assess the size options, as you want to be sure to show off as much of your flooring as possible. The larger the rug, the smaller the room will feel. 

Spruce Up the Bathroom

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Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

The bathroom is another room in the home that can quickly become cluttered and disorganized, seeing as it’s usually our go-to room while getting ready each day. If you have the means to do so, replacing your bathroom vanity can provide you with more storage, as well as free-up any counter space that’s been taken over by brushes, cosmetics, etc. 

$$-$$$: Replace Your Vanity & Storage

Design options are endless, so assess your bathroom to help you choose a bathroom vanity that suits all your needs. Should you decide to install a larger vanity that offers more counter space, be sure only to keep out what is necessary. 

If you feel that you need more storage than what your vanity provides, opt for sleek bathroom cabinets to store all of your toiletries. To take your bathroom design to the next level, look into mirrors that provide additional storage and lighting to make your room as functional as possible.

$: New Fixtures

During your remodel, you can also consider updating the fixtures throughout your bathroom. Replacing your faucet, showerhead, and light fixtures with modern black pieces will tie the room together for a clean design. Fixtures can be found at a bargain at your local DIY store or Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

$: Declutter the Vanity

If you can’t afford a remodel or you’re in a rental space where you can’t make big changes to the space, take some time to re-organize and declutter the space. Be intentional with the items that you plan to keep on the counter top. If you find yourself knocking things over and getting frustrated, you’ll enjoy the peace from a less cluttered counter. But if you’re someone who needs to have all their stuff at arm’s reach, find a way to make it work for you within the existing space. Minimalism is personal.

Ultimately, the key to incorporating minimalism into any home improvement project is to make meaningful renovations by being mindful of your needs. Through the use of functional furniture and decor, as well as carefully selected design styles, you will be sure to have a finished remodel that the minimalist in you will love.

 

How to Repurpose Old Textiles Into Home Decorations

Today’s blog is a guest post from Brenda Kimble. 

Your old shirts, pants and scarves don’t need to end up in the garbage because of a stain or a rip. If you can’t donate your old items, try upcycling and repurposing them to decorate your house.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to find vintage scarves or affordable, quality t shirts in bulk, check out these beautiful crafts and get ready to get busy in your creative space.

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Repurposed T Shirts

One of the best things about t shirts is the way they feel, especially after they’ve been worn a few years. The soft, thin fabric lends itself to several projects that can make your home softer and more snuggly.

  • Start with this no-sew pillowcase. You will need a shirt with long sleeves to make the knot in the front. This is a good way to hide any holes or stains that can’t be fixed. Once it’s all tied up, no one will suspect this new throw pillow was once an old piece of clothing.
  • Have a lot of old shirts that no one is wearing anymore? Cut out the main body of each shirt and turn them into quilt blocks. The finished product is a soft piece of memorabilia that your children will have for years to come. Best of all, you save a lot of money by avoiding the fabric store.
  • Take any tourist t shirts and make them into cheap, easy works of art. If the shirt has some text or a nice design, like this one, cut it out and frame it. Once the fabric is behind the glass, it will look like an expensive, eye-catching piece. Have a few shirts? Do this as a collage to make the most of them.

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New Life for Old Sweaters

The thick, textured feel of a sweater can lend itself to a number of crafts and add some unique touches around your home. Add some of that knitted charm to a number of pieces with these fun projects.

  • Anyone who has used a bunched-up sweater as a pillow substitute knows how comfy these pieces of clothing can be under a sleepy head. Take it one step further by making a sweater pillow. Feel free to incorporate any great buttons or interesting seams to add a special touch to this craft.
  • Do you have a little furry friend who likes to hang out in the kitchen or the mudroom? Then give your pet a special spot with this cozy sweater bed. Be sure to feature any nice patterns on the base to let it stand out like the argyle in the example. Your pet will love the warmth of the bed and the fact that it came from their home and family.
  • Decorate for fall with these fun and colorful sweater pumpkins. These come together fast, making it easy to make for a table decoration or an extra-special touch for your front porch. These are also fun to give away and for little ones to stack up and play with, thanks to their texture. Use any mix of colors and sizes you like — these look better with some variation.
  • A larger version of the pumpkins is this attractive sweater ottoman pouf. This is a cheap and easy way to add a footrest to your living room, home office or reading corner. You will have to buy some stuffing and plan a little more, but they’re worth the effort. It doubles as an extra seat that everyone will want to try.
  • Need to cuddle up even more? Try your hand at a felted wool sweater blanket. This requires a few different sweaters, as well as some cutting and sewing. However, the materials to make it will be easy to come by. Let your family and friends know you want to take their old sweaters off their hands, and the donated fabric will come pouring in. The author of this tutorial claims she made this quilt for a slim $11.
  • For a quick and little project, try making vase cozies. This changes up an old or fading vase with some new texture and possibly a few buttons. The thicker texture and softer feel means you can mix up your flowers with decorative twigs or taller flowers. These add a lot of visual interest and also help you continue a color story in a room.
  • If you need a nice little holiday touch this winter, take some old sweaters and turn them into quick holiday trees. These can be done as cones, as shown in the tutorial, or as flattened-tree shapes. Either way, they make a beautiful decoration for any buffet, a photo backdrop or in your centerpiece.

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Gather Your Scarves

Like t shirts and sweaters, scarves offer a great alternative to expensive fabric. If you have a few too many scarves you’ve collected over the years or come across a box of cheap scarves at the thrift store, get going on these great touches to your house.

  • Get your modge podge and scarves together in the garden to give your old, plain planters a new look. This scarf planter project helps you make your pottery funky and fun. Your plants will look even more fabulous than normal with the help of a recycled scarf.
  • Dress up a bedroom or a reading corner with a quick touch to the ceiling, thanks to your scarves. This tutorial shows you how to take your most colorful wraps and turn them into a bohemian decoration that makes your space a little dreamier. This one is quick and fun, so don’t wait to try it.
  • For the holidays, add a little warmth to metal chairs by adding a scarf to the backs. This hot cocoa party host added to the look with mini candy canes and little chalkboards as seating cards. This is so lovely no one will mind sitting outside on a chilly day.
  • Need a great wreath? Try using an old plaid scarf to put a nice twist on an old favorite. Grab a wreath frame from your local craft store and then wrap a big, basic scarf around it. The winding movement will add some texture and visual interest to the wreath. Accessorize it with burlap ribbon, buttons or leaves.

Extra Projects to Try

Need more ways to dress up your house? There are still plenty of ideas for adding fun touches to every room.

  • Start by using an old lace or ruffled shirt to create a new lampshade. The added texture and color will make an everyday lamp look unique and expensive.
  • Have some old jeans you want to use up? Try making this beautiful braided rug for the living room, the mudroom or even a bathroom. The fabric is strong enough to be tread on throughout the day and will feel great under bare feet. If you have some denim leftover, use it to make some basic draft stoppers to keep you warm all winter.

 

About Brenda Kimble

Brenda Kimble
Brenda Kimble is a full-time, stay-at-home mother of two daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! She loves blogging, crafting, and spending time with her family. She is a frequent contributor to The Talkin’ T-Shirts Blog. She also enjoys strolling the streets of her quaint neighborhood in Austin, Texas and finding the trendiest hotspots for fashion, food, and live music.

13 Life Lessons from a Half Marathon

I recently did something way out of my comfort zone: I ran a half marathon. I spent weeks training, running miles and miles, preparing for this huge day. The day did not unfold ideally, but I learned a lot from the experience and hope any of you working on a fitness goal (whether or not it’s running-related), a business goal, or any goal can learn from my experience too. After all, it’s all about goals, progress, and pacing yourself.

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  1. Ask for Advice: I spent a couple of hours in the days before my race browsing through Pinterest, asking in my running groups on Facebook, and chatting with a coworker who has run several half marathons to ask the very important question: What do I need to take with me for race day? The answers varied but they were all really helpful and helped me to prep a race day kit that had all of my needs covered. I could have made up my own kit and flown by the seat of my pants without too much hardship, but asking people who had been there before gave me different perspectives and things to consider that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. For example: A long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt from a thrift store that you don’t mind never seeing again. Many people tossed their sweats along the path to be collected later (many race organizers donate the unclaimed items), but I stalwartly tied my sweatshirt around my body to hang onto it. A volunteer took it for me at the halfway point and said it would be in the finisher’s tent — but when I realized I had forgotten it as I got back into my car after the race, I couldn’t have made my legs go back out there if I’d wanted to. Goodbye, sweatshirt — and thank you, people who have done this before me.
  2. Nothing New on Race Day: This was said to me several times as I asked for advice. Should I wear compression socks for the race? Should I try an electrolyte drink I had never tried before? Should I do this, or that? The answer was always the same: Nothing new on race day. With this advice in mind, I picked an outfit made up of clothes that fit comfortably and that I knew I could run in. I packed snacks I knew I could eat on the run without upsetting my stomach. I ate a typical post-run lunch when I finished (spoilers: it was Chipotle). This advice relates to many aspects of life. Going for a job interview? Don’t wear brand new makeup you might be allergic to, or new shoes that pinch you in ways you didn’t anticipate. Getting ready to pitch your boss for a promotion or raise? Stick with your usual communication style vs. an approach that’s recommended in a one-off article you read about negotiating at work. Wedding day? Don’t skip breakfast if you usually eat it, or eat something if you normally skip. When it comes to a big day you’ve prepared for… stick with your routine. The time to try a different approach comes later, when it’s not all on the line.
  3. Find a Focus: I like to focus on a positive affirmation when I am doing something new, or difficult, or anxiety-inducing. For this race, my ongoing messages to myself included “I trained to finish” and “Unafraid of toil.” More on training to finish in the #4, but “Unafraid of toil” is derived from the description of Hufflepuff house in the Harry Potter universe. No matter what you’re up against, having a go-to positive message can help you remind yourself that the stress is temporary and you’ll get through it.
  4. Done is Better Than Perfect: When I repeated to myself, “I trained to finish,” it was a reminder that I had trained to be able to run 13.1 miles. I didn’t train to do it fast, I didn’t train to win, I trained to finish. And finish I did – dead last. I was dead last from almost the beginning of the race, and I didn’t mind a bit. I got applause when I crossed the finish line and it was just for me! It was awesome to complete a run longer than anything I had done before — and though I was exhausted, sore, and cold from the rain, I was also proud of myself. No matter what project you’re working on, remember that done is better than perfect. Perfectionism will paralyze you into not even trying, because why bother if you’re not going to get it right, or be the best? I weigh over 200 pounds, I run a 15 minute mile, and I just completed a half marathon — you can do that thing that’s scaring you.
  5. Get Your Head in the Game: I was really distracted during my half marathon, because I had just dropped my husband off at the airport the day before and he wouldn’t be there to see me finish like we had initially planned. It was a sudden change of plans due to illness in the family, and I felt not only worried but guilty for being out doing this half marathon for myself when I felt I should have been at home babysitting the phone for bad news and crying. I did end up crying, when I passed the ten mile mark, making this my official longest run even if I hadn’t finished. But my husband adamantly wanted me to complete the race and would have been upset on my behalf if I had decided to quit before I started. “You trained for this, you deserve to run it,” he told me. He believed in me enough for the both of us and got me through the moments when I was out of my head. Stay in your head!
  6. Make a (Flexible) Plan: When I set out to do a half marathon, my planning went something like this: I’m going to do a 10K. I found a 10K race in early October. Better look up a 10K training schedule since I’ve never run that much before. Should I do a half? I found a half at the end of October. Can I train for a half with this 10K in the middle? OH MY GOSH I CAN! And thus began my plan. Things did not go according to plan, as I totally nailed the first week of training, started skipping cross training in week two, and had given up both cross training and yoga days by the third week. So I ran a few times a week for several weeks leading up to my 10K, and then the subsequent three weeks leading up to the half marathon I was in rare form. I ran four or five days a week, including a long run on the weekends (eight miles two weeks before the race, and ten miles the week before). I made it happen even when training didn’t go perfectly — but having the built-in reality check of that 10K assured that I would have to show up and put in the effort on my way to the big goal. You can break down any goal into manageable baby steps and just go one day at a time until you achieve it. (A 90-day goal setting planner like BestSelfCo can help you break down big goals into weekly and daily targets – use this referral link to get $10 off any purchase until 12/15/17).
  7. Hold Yourself Accountable: An accountability plan is crucial to achieving your goal, whether it’s a race or a debt payoff or getting your degree. I actually kept my half marathon goal pretty quiet, telling only a few close friends rather than making a big announcement on my social media pages. I did announce my 10K plan so that my sudden uptick in weekly runs didn’t rouse any suspicions, but I kept the half quiet because publicly sharing your goals can actually hurt your chances of achieving them. So when you’re working on a big goal, loop a few close friends in to help motivate and keep you accountable to your plan (pick the friends that will actually hold you to your word, not help you make excuses), but try keeping the big announcement to yourself until it’s done. You can also hold yourself financially accountable (like I did when I spent money on my race registration or like someone who commits to applying to college might pay their application fee, or like somebody might sign up to attend a conference or book a vacation they keep putting off).
  8. Make Things Fun: Finding a way to put a little pep in your step is always better than the alternative! When running, I like to listen to music or run with a friend so we can chat. Since I had no friends ready and willing to run a chilly, rainy half marathon with me at dark o’clock in the morning, I loaded up a playlist with over three hours of music and set on my merry way. My phone died after mile 11. See #6 to make a flexible plan, and pack a backup battery and charger if you’re going to be running multiple apps on your phone. I used Charity Miles and Map My Run as well as Spotify. For non-running goals and plans, you could build in rewards (a new lipstick for each week you declutter one room of the house, a three day weekend vacation when you pay off a credit card, etc.) to keep things interesting and engaging. Because slogging along with nothing fun to do is, well, no fun.
  9. Hydrate: Just, all the time. Go get some water. Yes, right now.
  10. Find Your Power Groove: You might have a song that gets you super pumped up, a snack that gives you energy (try Delish Fish!), or a time of day when you work at your most efficient and effective. Whether you’re running a race, writing a book, or painting a bedroom, take note of when and how you do your best work. While you can’t guarantee conditions on race day, you can make the most of the things you can control and keep yourself in a positive forward-moving state of mind and body.
  11. Know When to Quit: While I didn’t end up quitting the race, at the back of the pack you tend to acquire a helpful cop or two driving by slowly to ask if you’re okay. “Yep, I’m good,” you will say — but for a moment you might just think about hopping in the car and considering 11 miles as good enough. There is a time and a place to quit running — if you are injured, if you are over-exhausted (especially in the heat), if you are violently ill. And there is a time and a place to quit on other projects too — if your goals change and the project no longer makes sense, if you leave one job to start another, if you decide that you don’t even like zucchini anyway so who cares if you stop weeding the garden this summer (true story). Know when it’s okay to quit and do it with confidence — but make sure you do it for a reason you won’t second guess forever.
  12. Get Professional Help: Between my 10K and my half marathon, I hired a running coach via Thumbtack, which is a great resource to find local professionals for basically anything. He ran and walked with me for a mile or two, observing my gait and pace, answering my questions, and giving me practical tips to improve my training for the half marathon. His most important advice that I wouldn’t have figured out on my own: run more frequently. Rather than running three times a week, he advised me to run upwards of five or six times a week in order to effectively improve my pace. And it worked — when I started to run more often during the week, my pace improved and my long runs didn’t seem as arduous. When it comes to planning for a goal, you can probably figure a lot of it out by yourself. Or you could spend a little money and get a professional to help you get back the hours you’d spend researching and planning on your own. See a therapist, hire a business coach, even hire a freelancer to help you handle day to day tasks for an online business or website. There’s always someone who can help make it easier.
  13. You’re Competing With Yourself: My first lap of the half, I was behind these two older women who were literally power walking the whole time. And I was behind them until about mile 5. Five miles of constant running from the start line and I start telling myself, “Really, you can’t outrun the power walkers?” But then when I did catch up to them, it was time for my first snack break and a quick recovery walk. I chatted with them and they said they were so proud of me and I was doing a great job, and they loved my hair and my headband, and I was gonna do great. I went from envy to appreciation in no time. They wished me luck as I finally pulled ahead and onward before they finished their lap (they did the two person relay but did it together instead of one runner at a time). The second lap, I was on the heels of a young woman in a bright yellow jacket. Yellow Girl, I called her. She had been just ahead of me the whole race. At one point I caught up to her and pulled ahead. “Hi!” I said to her, excited for a little human contact. “Hi,” she said back, with less enthusiasm than I mustered. She pulled ahead and I didn’t catch her again. She finished a couple minutes ahead of me and I completed my half marathon in 3 hours and 23 minutes, dead last. And 100% victorious. Because I wasn’t racing Yellow Girl or the power walking ladies. I was proving I could run 13.1 miles. Success. Now I have a time to beat, because I will definitely be doing another half marathon, and I will be even more prepared.

Stop pinning, start doing

We live in age where knowledge about nearly everything is at our fingertips.  We are plugged in and constantly connected, and “I don’t know how” is no longer a valid excuse for anything.  If you can type it into Google, you can learn it.

I recently made myself a degree from the University of Google to display on my wall.  I think I have learned more from Google than I did at college.  I don’t have a problem with that.

I have noticed, however, the phenomenon of learning without follow-through.

Pinterest is the most obvious offender.  On Pinterest, you can soak up a ton of information in the form of pictures and links and recipes and how-to guides, stick them on a board (perhaps entitled “Craft ideas” or “DIY” or “Recipes” or “Must do this!”), and then never, ever look at them again.  I am guilty of this.

For instance, the following pins are ones that I pin with the intent to read later and execute but then forget about:

But look! These are things I have actually utilized:

Some other pins are things I can’t follow through on until I have a house or kids, so those are okay to wait on.

I’m making a new goal to learn something new, or follow through on some project, each month. In this age of information, there is no excuse not to learn something new!

What have you learned lately?

No ‘poo

I have not used shampoo in a little over a month.

Google “No poo method” and you will find over one million search results teaching you how to clean your hair without using shampoo and conditioner.  The miracle ingredients are two of my favorite things: baking soda and vinegar.

The general recipe is this: one heaping tablespoon of baking soda per cup of water, and one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water.  I eyeball mine, partly because I don’t have measuring spoons but mostly because I can very easily adjust as needed so I don’t need to bother being super precise.  You can adjust the baking soda or vinegar more or less depending on how your hair and scalp respond.

I use a plastic bottle (I had it lying around in my donate pile and salvaged for this operation) with a pull-top spout to mix the baking soda solution. The small spout makes it easy to get the solution into the roots of my hair.  I use a spray bottle for the vinegar mixture.  I use organic apple cider vinegar, but you can use distilled if that’s all you have.  I encourage the organic stuff though, it has given me better results.

The good: This method is free of nasty chemicals that hide in conventional shampoos and conditioners, which strip your hair and scalp of its natural oils.  You won’t have to wash your hair as often either!

The bad: People will probably think you’re a weird hippie, but it’s okay because your self-esteem is awesome.  It will fade your hair dye, but you don’t want those chemicals on your head anyway, right?

The ugly: There is usually a breaking-in period when switching to this method of haircare.  Because your scalp is used to being stripped of its oils, it may overcompensate for a while and your hair might get greasy pretty fast.  This is usually over within a couple weeks.  I didn’t even have this adjustment period, my hair just got awesome.  Your mileage may vary.

My results: I love it, and I have no plans to go back to shampoo.  I think my hair has better volume than it did when I used shampoo and conditioner, because the shampoo weighed down my hair with buildup, and there is no residue or buildup with this method. My dyed color has lightened, and it appears that my natural color, which I hate because it’s a dirty mousy brown color, actually seems brighter and doesn’t make me as upset when I see my roots — perhaps there is hope for a totally chemical-free head.  I also use the very same baking soda and vinegar solutions to scrub and tone my face in the shower — my acne is nearly gone!

Next project: DIY toothpaste from baking soda and salt.

What DIY bath products do you make at home?