I moved into my first solo, independent, only-me home a little over two years ago (see my two posts about my move here and here). I started with a lot of hand-me-down or donated furniture, no artwork on the walls, but a new blank space where the possibilities were endless.
It’s been fun (and expensive) making my home, and it’s also been a big learning experience. I am a naturally very messy person. As long as the place I want to be, say my bed or the couch, is clear enough, then I can usually ignore most clutter and piles of things. Couple that with a tendency to buy too many items, and you’ve got a messy home on your hands. This is something I’ve always known about myself. I was always the messiest kid in my family. I tended to never treat my items with much care. I also have a tendency toward depression, which completely takes away any motivation for keeping things decluttered and clean.
Turning those habits around is an on-going challenge for me, but my home, and the desire to have a home that is welcoming to others, is pushing me to confront those challenges. After deciding to no longer date earlier this year and working through the summer straight to teaching this fall, I let my home really go in terms of clutter and mess. I could feel myself coming out of my depression in September, and I’ve seen a huge rise in my energy and motivation. I also happened to be introduced to organization/decluttering YouTube channels via Natalie of Natalie Means Nice. It sounds so silly, but these YouTube channels have been able to motivate me to clean and declutter so much. I guess it makes sense — reading blogs changed how I viewed clothes and myself — why wouldn’t normal, everyday people help me work through my home?
I started by watching a professional discuss home organization but then moved to someone, Sophia, who was trying to work through her own issues with decluttering and organization. Sophia has a completely different living situation and style from me, but she does have the same struggles as me (hello, fellow shopaholic). All it takes is a little YouTube, a list, and I’m off to clean. I’ve managed to work my whole way through my main living area: livingroom, diningroom, and kitchen. I even made sure to FaceTime my sister to show her my progress. I’ve also worked on getting more personalized style in my home, so I figured it was time to update you all. And if you’re a messy person like me, who actually likes a clean place, check out those channels!
Let’s start by my back door.
I picked up this wood pallet North Carolina piece at an antique/craft show. I also purchased the comfiest chair ever from my friend, Ashley, when she was redoing her apartment. Lola quite enjoys lazing on this chair, back behind the cushions, and keeping an eye on the animals in the back yard.
Between the chair and couch is this Windham 2 door, 1 drawer cabinet from Target. I had been eyeing this collection for awhile, so when it went on super sale, I snagged it in “Overcast”. I had some cut wood that was left over from my sister decorating a party, so I keep a faux plant on top of that and am almost constantly burning a candle on the cabinet if I’m in the room.
I also got this couch from Ashley. I think I paid $100 (!!!) because she was getting a new couch. I also put up this metal wall art from Kirklands.
Across the couch is a closet and then my TV center. The apartment came with built-ins, and I don’t have a big TV, so it fit perfectly there. They did have these oddly-tall sections at the bottom of the center, which ended up fitting my card tables and tripod perfectly. I also keep blankets, now in a basket, and a small ottoman and a basket of Lola’s toys. Lola spends a lot of time in the livingroom, so keeping her toys accessible to her but out of the way was what I needed. I purged all the toys that I hadn’t seen her even sniff in months.
Next to the built-ins is a bump out from my front closet. I have a simple squared bookcase there with all of my DVDs, some books, and other assorted items. I used some baskets to hide oddly shaped items. One holds a lot of tech things, like a lens for my camera, and the other holds some puzzles and games. The center holds some tech stuff that’s not-so-pretty to the eye. If anyone has a suggestion on how to hide that, let me know.
On top I have agate bookends, a lamp, and vase–all from Target. I also have a little photo gallery above that bookcase. Something that happened organically over time was that a lot of the decorations in my livingroom were wood and stone related, so I ended up going further with that in this space.
Next to my couch is a hallway to the second bedroom and a bathroom. There’s also a half wall that connects to my kitchen.
I put in a long bookcase with a shorter height along that wall. I keep all of my coffee-table type books here, as well as some games. I bought two wooden boxes from Homegoods with a chevron pattern to hide knickknack items. One thing I’ve learned from YouTube is “everything must have a home”. If it doesn’t have a place that it belongs, do I need it? If so, find it a place.
On top I have some items that I’ve collected over time. One is this letter box that can light up. I put that phrase on there awhile ago. Maybe I should change it to “Embrace the clean” — nah, not as fun :). I picked up the candle in front of it over the summer. Pineapples aren’t as in-season anymore, but I still think it’s cute so it’s still there. I just recently added this print of a tree ring. My sister had propped up a painting I did in this same spot, and I loved the placement of art but not so much my painting. This rounds out my wood-theme well. By the way, I just bought the print from art.com (cheap), and then bought a more affordable frame at Michaels. I think the whole thing was $40 in all, counting shipping prices.
I picked up the “yum” pie dish in the dollar section of Target. I thought it was cute, and I don’t make pies, so I used a plate display to prop it up for fall decoration.
On the other side of my bookcase are some more fall/Halloween decorations. I picked up these little dog figurines at Kirklands. I have a dog-obsession, not afraid to admit it, but what often happens is that I cannot find a lookalike for Lola. She’s some kind of yellow lab mix, and companies just don’t have the ability to make figurines to represent all the mutts out there. When I saw this figurine, with the standing up ears like Lola, I had to go for it. Then later I felt like it needed a friend and picked up another. I think they were around $5 each. I also picked up the “Hello Fall” wooden jar piece from Kirklands. This is about as southern as it’s going to get in my decor.
The little orange frame was a piece from my aunt. I think she put card stock or illustrations that she liked in the frame. The lamp is also from Target.
My diningroom is mostly the same, except with more things! The metal chair was bought to be my chair for my vanity area in my bedroom. It hasn’t made its way there yet, and I’m not sure that it will ultimately go there, but for now it’s in my diningroom. I did put up some wall art from Kirklands (I’m now realizing that my entire apartment is Kirklands+Target+Ashley :)).
I organized this bookcase by category. The left hand side is what I use most: a basket holding Lola’s important items, like heartworm pills, her Thundershirt, and paperwork for her microchip; a toolbox with a hammer; and the rest are random items that I use maybe once or twice a year, such as office supplies, flashlight, and hooks for hanging wall art.
On top of this bookcase is a desk organizer with some important mail/paperwork, a notebook, hand sanitizer, and an extra charging cord. I also have a picture from college, faux plant, and a cat statue I picked up at an antique store. So, this cat statue… it’s a little weird but I like it. Now, though, my sisters and friends like to laugh about me becoming a cat lady, even though I don’t even have a cat!! (but I want a cat). I also have a little dish that can hold my keys but often holds random jewelry that I take off when I get home. Above the book case is a little board that I got when I first moved in. I honestly do not use it or switch things out from it, but I see no reason to take it down.
Across the diningroom is my kitchen. It is as basic as can be, but I did go through and reorganize where dishes, pots and pans were. When I first moved in, I put things where I thought they should go, and I never changed their location. It’s just now that I rearranged based off of what was frustrating about my kitchen.
I think the only visual change is that I got rid of my microwave and got a toaster oven in its place. This freed up more counter space, which I love. I also put up this shelf that holds cookbooks and also has a rod for hanging items like oven mitts.
I am not that experienced with decorating a home, but I do for the first time feel proud of how my place looks, and I love that I now have little decorative pieces that I adore. Next up on the decluttering/organizing/cleaning list is my bedroom… And let me tell you, that’s going to be a huge project..eek!
What do you do to declutter and/or organize your home? Any good tips you can pass along? Any YouTubers that I should check out?