Loving Up Our Homes Tips & "He & She Shed" Tales

Updated: May 14

Hello my dears and I hope you are all having a great start to October!

My husband Steve and I have spent the last month "loving up" our little Arizona home, a.k.a. Cactus View Cottage, -- i.e. decluttering, rearranging, problem-solving, and doing minor decorating spruce-ups. Yes, even though we've only lived in this home a little over a year, and it was new when we bought it, our lives and homes evolve, so we must evolve with them is my lifestyle motto.

Ultimately, you know the only decorating/organizing/decluttering "rule" I think any of us need?

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." --William Morris

Seriously, if you run everything in your home, garage, shed, and storage unit by this quote/sentiment, it will help you decide what stays and what goes when it's time to declutter and redecorate your home.

How do YOU love up your home?!

We personally like to repurpose and only keep what we love and use NOW in our home. At this life stage, we try to shop wisely so we are not constantly decluttering, but some things DO need replacing. (BTW, the little striped creamer above that I repurposed as a vase once belonged to author Alexandra Stoddard and I bought it from her when we visited their home in 2006 for one of her Happiness Weekends which she personally invited me and my husband Steve to attend. Alexandra pointed out to me that this creamer is shown on the cover of her color book -- if you look closely at her book cover in the back of the pix, the creamer has stamps in it -- another great use! Her favorite book of mine (and many other people) is Living a Beautiful Life. I've been blessed to meet Alexandra and implement her wonderful lifestyle principles she writes about in her books, and you can too! Her book about color is a wonderful resource as well.

Here's what we have done this fall to our little home and "yard" ...

I'm continuing to "flowerize" our Master Bedroom and I love this new floral blanket I found on Amazon as it's so soft, cozy, easy to wash and dry, and I love the bright yummy colors. I bought the 70x90 size for our Queen size bed and it's plenty wide enough, but does not cover the end of the mattress so I simply have a plain pink blanket underneath and that works fine.

I asked my hubby if our bedroom with all its flowers is too "girlie" and he said, "Nope, I like it!"

Whew! I love my easy-going man who lets me do my thing in our home 99% of the time.

In Type-A problem-solving mode one day, I was tired of putting our full trash bag by the living room door 'til we could take it out behind the house to the trash can, and I also needed a holding pen for items we will take to Goodwill once the bag is full, so I found these two clothes hampers and now both the problems are solved as a drawstring trashbag fits perfectly in each hamper. Yay! You can't see the bag, and maybe one day I will get around to buying baskets for the top shelf of each hamper, both for looks and to toss mail and keys etc. in.

The foyer cabinet we bought upon moving in and it works great for overflow groceries. Our gallery wall is composed of art collected from our travels over many years. Similar cabinet.

As usual, my hubby Steve assembled these hampers in about 30 minutes, God love him! Good thing he's handy, 'cuz I can barely pound a nail without smashing my thumb, trust me.

"You be the decorating brains and I'll be the decorating brawn," he always teases me.

Deal! (He is not a shopper so that's a fair exchange to him too.)

I like my blackout drapes that I bought when we moved in, but I've found it boring to look at them in all their blah taupe-ness while sitting at my desk, so I got the idea to hang my canvas floral painting (lightweight) from the curtain rod over my desk.

Much better!

The floral sheers I found at Home Goods a few months ago and just kind of slung them up there for some color and of course, flowers. Steve hung the rod (full disclosure!)

Easy peasy.

One day (soon?) I plan to paint the top of my desk a pretty rose color. I have the paint.

Did I mention I have the paint already? (And have for months.)

We made a Dollar Tree haul for a few home and personal goodies. I really like the oven mitts, coasters, spray bottles, and spoon/fork salad tongs. And I always buy my reading glasses there as I like to keep multiples of those.

BTW, I'm not too proud to shop at the dollar stores. I am selective though. I think it's savvy to save money so why pay more than you have to for storage baskets and bins?!

BTW, Do It On a Dime has some great Dollar Tree organizing videos and especially for kids toys etc. She'll get you motivated to get your home organized with her zestful personality! Also, How Jen Does It does a nice job with dollar store decor/organizing items as well and she has really lovely videos of her home and her m.o. of how she does so much of it herself, and does it well. Her videos with her husband are charming too -- they're a hardworking home duo. Jen also has nice budgetista fashion ideas. Jen lives in a large home now, but if you go back to her earliest videos she has great small home ideas, all done on a budget. I don't personally know either of these gals, but I like their videos and youthful organizing zest and if I had a daughter, I'd pick them (so they could organize my home in my old age, ha!)

Steve found this "locker-style" bin at the Dollar Tree and it works great for all our Rubbermaid containers lids.

BTW, I just found out you can also order from Dollar Tree online now. And even in bulk which is great if you are organizing your whole home from scratch as they have great organizing bins and baskets etc. Have I already mentioned that?! Or, it's great too if you're a teacher buying supplies for your classroom, like I used to do.

A woman who read my Small Space Organizing book said in a review I am obsessed with baskets. She's right! Bins and baskets keep life organized at home and in your office too so yes, I LOVE baskets. (But I only want to organize in my home at this life stage what I really need and use, not just keep buying "stuff" and therefore buying more baskets.)

I found this shower caddy at Walmart, but later saw them at the Dollar Store for only a dollar. (Of course; Murphy's Law.) :) I also bought these condiment bottles for our hair conditioner and shampoo and my hubby thinks they are a dream to use so we are done with the pump bottles that while pretty, quit pumping fast and cost so much these days too that I don't feel they are worth it anymore. I cut the top off a bit more so more product comes out at once and that worked dandy! These caddies work great for dorms too where you have to go down the hall to the bathroom/shower, BTW.

I like to go around my home once in awhile with furniture touchup pens similar to these and cover up knicks and scratches. Presto!

Steve installed shelves on both sides of our shed so now we have a "he & she shed" since his things are on one side and mine on the other, making it much easier for me to find things I need during the day when he's at work, and I don't invade his storage turf with my things either. Similar shelves. This is our fourth pass through our shed after moving states last year and we are finally to the point where we don't think we will have to do it again as we don't keep much these days, purposely, and we are also pretty much paperless now. With the shelves, if I need a bin on the bottom, no problem, rather than lifting eight bins off the top to get to the bottom bin!


I suggested to Steve that in order to get little things off his work bench where he drills etc. that he hang one of these shoe pockets by his work bench and he loved the idea as now he has more room on the work bench and his work things are right at hand and easily visible. Those pockets I use so many places and am now going to take two of them when we travel too. They'd be great on a cruise!

Now we even have room in our shed for bulk TP which Steve loves to buy at his beloved Costco. (He's been a career banker for almost 40 years, so saving money and keeping track of our dollars and cents comes with the um ... turf! And I started working at age 12 so trust me, I know where a dollar comes from too: hard work.)

Don't laugh now at our bulk discount TP; my good friend when I was young was the daughter of a successful doctor who loved to save money as he had grown up very poor and he had so many rolls of TP-on-sale+double-coupons in his garage along one wall (next to where his luxury car was parked) that we used to tease him mercilessly about his TP-on-sale obsession. (He also owned half the buildings in the town, along with a lovely home and his luxury car, and he put several children through multiple college degrees, so I guess his penny-pinching ways worked well for him: I think he was a Millionaire Next Door before it had a catchy name or um ... was a book title!

I'm big on repurposing before we donate or recycle or finally toss something. I don't like putting things in our landfills that don't need to go there ... yet. This pains me! Steve's work bench was once an inexpensive desk we already had, so instead of throwing it in the dumpster or burning it and contributing to air pollution, he turned it now into his shed "workbench."

We decluttered and hosed off our patio. My kind of "yard" at this life stage -- low maintenance! (And that's the outside of our little shed. Similar style.) Chairs and pillows are from Home Depot, and rug is from Big Lots -- I love their outdoor rugs!

Our cactus/succulents are now all faux as they are no maintenance too. Our table is from Pier 1 last year.

I re-organized our coffee/tea bar and I like our new mugs for taking coffee out to the patio as they won't break on the concrete enroute, or splash either as they have a lid. Similar mugs.

I set up a new "system" for organizing our fridge. At 61, I figure I've cooked about a bazillion meals over my lifetime, so don't laugh at my OCD fridge because I'm tired of cooking, so I want to simplify the process. The baskets with our names on make it easy for me to set aside our respective lunches, and the one labeled "dinner" reminds me to take frozen veggies out ahead of time for stir-fry etc.

I can't live without my label maker. And I like these containers for keeping salad fresh, and if you watch the video you'll see why.

These Dollar Tree "juice boxes" work great for freezing smoothies! I plan to use them for Costco-size apple juice one day too to individualize the portions and save money.

I added a riser to my kitchen cabs which enabled me to have more dishes. I have switched to all melamine and acrylic due to pain in my hands as I don't want to break (any more) glass in my kitchen and have to clean it up. :) Dishes from Big Lots and I just bought this nice white set from Amazon, and although not the least expensive set, they are very sturdy and nice so were worth the money in my opinion.

I switched my spices from glass bottles to these plastic bottles and really like them. The holes are big enough that the spices actually flow. My new apron was a gift from Steve to me and he said he found it at Wal-Mart after searching high and low for a pattern he thought I'd like. Flowers? Now how did he know?! :) Similar.

Since we eat lots of meals at our "232 Cottage Cafe" (in other words, our dining nook at home), I like it to be organized and pretty. I bought the sign at Wayfair and they have many custom signs styles.

I now store our cloth napkins that we use every day in a Dollar Tree basket and when I take them out of the dryer I put the napkin rings on immediately instead of folding the napkins. That way, they are ready for the meal!

And you see those books on the shelf there that say Small Space Organizing on the spine? I wrote that Amazon bestselling book years ago, but the tips are still relevant, and always will be, in case you need help organizing your own home.

I absolutely love my new lightweight pans. They are great for stir-fry and boiling noodles etc. The little ones are great for reheating leftovers. Easy on the hands too as so lightweight, and easy to clean. Win! Similar pans.

If you have hard water, this non-toxic product works great! My sink before I used it in photo above, sorry. Bring it on cleaner.

I also re-organized under my kitchen sink. I love these door mount racks to save your back! I repurposed other things I had, and then also bought this for foam paintbrushes etc.

I have years of our travel photos on my computer so I had lightweight canvas collages made here of many of those and put them in a corner in our Master Bedroom. They are very nice quality and you are able to customize the border color/size etc. and they shipped fast without damage. Love! The floral pix to give it "punch" and break up the visual repetition I bought on Amazon.

When our homes are clutter-free, the simple pleasures of life shine through!

I hope this inspires you to "love up" your home this fall.

Disclosures, policies, photo credits

#decorating #organizing #homedecorating #homeorganizing #downsizing #streamlining #declutter #decluttering #kathrynbechen #authorkathrynbechen #kathrynbechenauthor


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