that’s a wrap: office reveal

So, the office is done. Well, mostly done. There are still a few finishing touches I have planned, but for the most part this room is finished. You might remember what it looked like just a few weeks ago but now, it’s clean, it’s organized, you can actually walk through it without fearing for your life. Overall all, I’d call that a success.

Now, let’s take the tour!

The most obvious change is the fact that you can actually see the floors! (Carpet! Who knew?)

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I finally hung up all of the art and frames that we own. There’s still quick a bit of empty space (and yes, that one frame still has the advertisement photo in it), so we’ve got room to grow, but stuff is on the walls which is the main focus! When Josh and I graduated from college, his dad got us a double frame which now houses both of our diplomas which is pretty cool.

ffinished-office-makeover-4By the window is Josh’s workspace. Being a first year teacher, he is in here a lot, so it doesn’t stay neat for long, but he did put in some creative storage solutions like the hanging file folders and wire shelving next to his desk.finished-office-makeover-5

Here, you can see the curtains I designed with bleach pens and also one of the Christmas presents I got for Josh, a signed Source Fed poster (which is a news program we watch on YouTube that is hilarious, but still super informative!!)

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On the opposite wall is our family calendar (which we snagged on etsy) and more art.finished-office-makeover-1

This small bookcase serves as storage for binders and all office supplies.finished-office-makeover-7And, in the last turn, we’ve got the door and Josh’s keyboard. You can also see that we hung the curtains super high which makes the ceilings look taller and also takes up that empty visual space about the window and doors.finished-office-makeover-2I do want to add something in that space around the rest of the room, but I’m just not sure what yet. Maybe giant confetti shapes or something fun like that!

And that’s our office! Finally functional and a little bit stylish. Like I mentioned, there is room to improve and add over the duration of our time in 816, but just the progress we’ve made is so worth sharing!

Have you overhauled any rooms lately? Discovered any floors you didn’t know existed?

get organized: craft storage solutions!!

I think craft organization is tricky for a lot of people. If you take your crafting seriously, chances are you have a lot of supplies with lots of little pieces and it can be hard to keep it all together and neat. Plus, I don’t know about you, but after I painstakingly finish a project, I hardly feel like cleaning up at all, let alone mess with some intense organizing system. I just want it to be easy and accessible.

And because part of getting the office cleaned up and into shape was getting my crafting accoutrements under control, I thought it’d be fun to share my organizing systems for the products that I have. I spent zero money doing it this past weekend and I feel like I know where everything is and it’s in system that makes sense but isn’t uber demanding. Win win!

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Paper: When I buy colored/patterned paper, I usually go for the 12×12 sheets. It makes big cuts easier, but I often end up with scraps that are not small enough to just trash but not big enough to store with my full sheets. So, I cut off all the straggling pieces and put them together in a magazine filer to store. We bought these bright green ones from a Crate & Barrel outlet a while back and it works perfectly. I also use this filer to store any 8.5×11 sheets of paper. My big 12×12 sheets are kept in a large folder to keep them nice and flat.

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Fabric: Fabric is another tricky one. Most times I end up with big cuts (1 yard+) and smaller scraps that I want to keep. I used to keep them all in a tote bag together, but it was bulky and impossible to see what all I had. So, I decided to separate them by size and use two different storing methods.

For larger cuts of fabric, I fold it nicely and use pants hangers to store them in the closet. You end up with less wrinkles and it’s much easier just to flip through and see what you’ve got.Craft-Organization-2-copy

For smaller pieces, I found this awesome cassette tape holder from Goodwill for just 99 cents!  I just fold up the fabric scraps, put them in the slots, and I can easily see every piece! Almost every time I go to Goodwill I find a cassette holder similar to this so it’s definitely a viable option for anyone interested! This could easily be hung to the wall, which I might do down the road, but for now, just the having the organized storage is enough.

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Ribbon: It’s kind of in the same vein as fabric. I store my rolls of ribbon in these boxes from Hobby Lobby. They’ve got a removable dowel inside to hang your rolls on and a window with a slit so you can just pull and cut. I bought them about a year ago, purchasing them one at a time with a 40% coupon on each one to bring the price down from $7.99 to less than $5.00.

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For scraps of ribbon, I use a glass jar for storage. It’s pretty easy to see what’s in there, and even though it’s not perfectly stored, I’ve never really had a problem getting anything out.Craft-Organization-15-copyPaint: I love me some craft paint! These little tubes of color get me every time I’m at the craft store! To make it easy, I just stored them in a plastic shoebox bin. They fit perfectly and it’s easy to grab the whole box and go.

I keep my paint brushed in an old coffee can that I covered with some bright orange paper. They’re always in the same spot and it’s easy to grab whatever brush I need. (Another totally free project!)Craft-Organization-(5)-copyRandom crafting: I also used the plastic shoebox method to store some miscellaneous craft supplies such as stamps and ink pads, crayons, map pencils, and glitter. They are things that I use but don’t have a lot of so storing them together makes the most sense.

Stationary: Some people might not consider stationary to be a craft but I’m a big proponent of hand-written letters and a funny card on your birthday so I thought I’d throw it in as well. I used these labeled cardboard boxes that I got from Wal-Mart over four years ago! They’re still in great shape and are perfect for storing cards and envelopes.Craft-Organization-(4)-copyI also keep any user manuals or product information for things we buy a third labeled box. I always know exactly where it is which makes finding information quickly a lot easier. Craft-Organization-(10)-copyAnd that wraps it up. Craft organization doesn’t have to be super rigid and extensive (unless that how you roll!). I find that easy groupings and using what you’ve got is more than enough to keep your crafting heart happy!

How do you store you hobby supplies?

apartment progress

An alternative title for this post would be “Unedited photos of our apartment that will make the finished product look even more awesome.”

I thought it would be fun to start off 2013 with a quick snap-fest of our not-so-new-anymore apartment, 816. They are unedited and mostly a representation of how our apartment looks on a daily basis. Except for the few junk piles that I photographed around, but who hasn’t done that, right? Right?!

First up, the living room. The view hasn’t changed too much. We’ve still got our awesome Ikea bookcase and the bold striped curtains I whipped up out of bed sheets. The biggest change is the addition of my hot pink desk and the gorgeous computer that now sits on top of it. This area doubles as my blogging headquarters and our Netflix theatre!

2013 Home Tour (2)

The dining room looks a little less put together now that our Christmas cards and the hanging leaves have been taken down. But we’re still loving the big, bright canvas art that I made last year. This area is also getting a little makeover, so have no fear! It will be returned to its former glory.

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There is definitely nothing super exciting going on in the kitchen. In fact it looks pretty lame. The only difference between this current photo and the one on our (largely outdated) home tour page is that it has all of our kitchen supplies in it (and a pineapple!)2013 Home Tour (7)

I’m hoping to add some style to this space this year with art and some creative customizing solution0s for apartment dwellers like us.

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Still empty hallway. Super boring. Soon to be fixed.

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After the living room, the bedroom has made the most progress. We hung our graphic IKEA curtains and tackled a DIY upholstered headboard. I also added a pop of purple to our white lamps with ribbon borders on the tops and bottoms. The best part? It’s 100% removable. I just hot glued the ribbon to itself so nothing is actually attached to the lamps. It makes a nice difference but can be altered down the road.

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We really want to spice up this room with some big colorful art. We’ve got a lot of neutrals in the room and it’s just begging for color!

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And, lastly, we arrive in the office. I shared these photos earlier this month to explain exactly what we’re working with. This room has been getting the majority of our attention for the past two weeks and we’re hoping to finish it up soon. Details and photos are on the way!2013 Home Tour (11)

2013 Home Tour (13) And that’s how our apartment looked on the first day of 2013. We’ve made progress but there’s a long way to go and with any luck, that will be wrapped up nicely before the summer! (Well, that’s the goal anyway.)

Do you kick off the year with a photo home tour to see how far you’ve come? What are you home goals for 2013? We’re still in January so it’s not too late to make them!!

take cover! we’re tackling the office!

It’s the same no matter what apartment we’ve lived in. The office area is always a disaster and it’s never felt done. My biggest home related goal is to get our apartment, 816, whipped into shape and 100% complete before the summer. That way we have at least one solid year of living in a finished space before we have to pack up and move again. But before we start diving into the depths of paper stacks and craft supplies that currently fill our office, we should really reveal the damage… whatever. The worse the before pictures the better the after ones will look, right? Right?!

The primary function of this room is to store all of my craft supplies and holiday decorations and it serves as the primary workspace for Josh. All those papers on the random table in the middle of the room? Yup, that’s his students’ work, so you can imagine that we have a lot of papers going in and out of this space.

The Office - Before 1

Also, you’ll notice there is basically no design to this room. It is a beige box with no art, color, or even curtains. (Don’t worry, though. All of those are on the list!)

The Office - Before 2

If you can remember our “keeping it real post” from last summer, you’d know that the box in the corner below hasn’t moved an inch! It’s full of the art and frames that I wanted to fill the walls with.

The Office - Before 3

On the bright side, we did get our family calendar up, and a new addition is our House Savings Goal tracker! That’s right! We’re saving up to buy a house in a couple of years and this is just a fun way to keep us motivated to save! I also couldn’t resist snatching up that adorable Lego Darth Vadar print from iHEARTbricks on Etsy. It’s titled “Everyone’s a lover sometime” and it’s Vadar on a bicycle with some flowers! We’re Star Wars nerds in this house, so I just had to have it!The Office - Before 4

So, as you can very plainly see, we’ve got our work cut out for us. And it is my goal to get this room done before February! There, I said it. It’s out there. Now, I’ve got to make it happen!

Here’s our Office To-Do List!

  • Go through and organize all of my craft supplies in a logical/sane order.
  • Whip up some DIY curtains for the lone window
  • Literally fill the walls with all of our fun art/posters/nerdiness
  • Sort through and determine the necessity of everything in this room!
  • Implement some systems to make Josh’s work easier in this room
  • Add a fun and bright backing to the little book case

Just six “simple” tasks standing in the way of an awesome office. Here we go!

Is there a room in your home that always feels undone? Let’s tackle it this year!!

an ornament storybook for your special decorations!

Well, it’s finally the Friday before Christmas and I’m just in time to share the final project on our Christmas To Do list: creating a story book for our special ornaments.

Ornament Book Promo

We try to add at least one ornament to our collection every year that has a significant meaning or connection to our little family. Sure, sometimes I buy little random ones like an owl and these cute metal drink glasses from Crate & Barrel to fill out our tree, but my favorites are the ones that have a story behind them.

So, I fired up photoshop and created a template for each page going inside the book. Even though I really loved the idea of having an actual book made for this, I wanted to make sure it could be easily updated with new ornaments, so I chose a red mini binder from staples and also picked up some page protectors to keep my pages looking pristine from year to year.

Ornament Book - Solemateys

I chose deep jewel tones for the pages to keep it on the traditional side but still a little unique. I grabbed a cute free font from dafont.com (this one is Learning Curve) and typed up a little explanation of the ornament and the year we got it for each one.

Ornament Book - Golden Snitch(Yes, I’m an adult and I love Harry Potter. We both do actually! It’s amazing and awesome and I’m not afraid to admit it!)

I still need to create a nice cover page, but I am so in love with how it turned out and I can’t wait to keep adding to it every year. It will be really neat to share with our future kiddos and maybe even pass down.

Book Photo (3) copy

Do you have a way to remember your special ornaments and decorations? I’d love to hear about them!

get organized for the holidays! {free printables!!}

I don’t know about you guys, but it is a yearly tradition for me to catch the “holiday bug” around the end of August. I just can’t help myself. Fall is my favorite season and I start to crave the warmth and excitement of the later months. And since my husband is faster than me (and also very apt to catching the decorating-crazed look in my eye), I get my holiday high from preparation rather than having to explain why exactly I’m putting up the Christmas tree in September before he has me committed.

My pride and joy as of late has been my Holiday and Party Binder. Its. Got. Everythinggg and it makes my heart happy. Today, I’ll give you a short run down of mine (to help you with yours!) and some free printables so you can get started too! Let’s go!

  • The first tab is dedicated to “Birthdays!” I’m a big believer in birthdays and try my darndest to make sure all my family gets, at minimum, a nice card. Here, I keep a calendar of all family birthdays and a gift planning worksheet.
  • Next up is the “Upcoming Holiday” Tab. With the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas (which get their own), I lump all holidays into one tab. Here, I keep our “Traditions Checklist” and also any decorating and party planning worksheets. Once the holiday is over, I’ll replace the worksheets with new ones for whatever holiday is next. Pretty Simple.
  • The next two tabs are “Thanksgiving” and “Christmas”, respectively. They both contain recipes (we have a different menu for each), menu planner, house guest planner, party planner, and a tradition checklist.
  • “Christmas” also gets a Christmas Card List, a Gift Planner, a General Gift Planner (for hostess/boss/secret santa gifts; we put together a few of one gift to have on hand), and a Gifts Received List (so we can be sure to send out Thank You’s!).
  • A tab dedicated to “Traveling” helps me keep trip itineraries and packing lists organized.
  • The last few tabs contain extra blank sheets, sheets from past years, and, at the very back, I keep an “Inspiration” tab. Thanks to Pinterest, this tab is largely unused, but I do have a few magazine pages I save for reference.

Now for the free stuff!

Here are my Gift Planning Worksheet, my General Gift Planner, and my House Guest Planner so you can start your own holiday binder (or add to the one you already have, you savvy thing!). These printables are uncluttered, work for all holidays, and won’t jack up your printer ink bill. I am hoping to get the rest of the planning sheets mentioned available to print, so stay tuned  for more.

When it comes to the holidays, do you get an early start or are do you love the later December scramble?

a home spending embargo!

Happy Monday, everyone!

I’m super excited because I’m instituting a “Home Spending Embargo” from now until the end of October. That’s right people, I’m challenging myself and all of you to refrain from indulging in any and all frivolous, home related purchases!

Recently, I’ve been exploring “small and simple living” and what it really comes down to is only owning and purchasing items that are beautiful, meaningful, and good quality (simple, right?). Plus, now that we’re officially a two-income household, we’re focused on paying down debts and saving for a house and a pause on unnecessary purchases will help us me reign in frivolous spending and reach our savings goals faster!

So, for the rest of this month on TLC, I’ll be sharing some easy updates, free holiday decorations, and other ideas to curb the urge to spend! Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a super quick, free project that added a pop of color to our kitchen.

get organized: 5-minute outdoor storage solutions

I tackled our outdoor closet this week as a part of the Home Organization 101 Challenge over at A Bowl Full of Lemons. (It’s actually garage week, but we don’t have one so… yeah.)

To be fair, it wasn’t horribly full or stuff, mostly just supplies left over from moving in and other painting projects. We threw a wire shelf in there to create a little storage but it was not organized by any means.

Obviously, not a lot of thought was put into this closet, but in our defense we’ve only lived in 816 for about 3 months.

And on a horrifying side note, all of the planting stuff in this picture is no longer in use because, yes, my tiny little succulents died. Whomp whomp. I, along with a nosy black bird who attacked my plants, are to blame. Maybe “let’s try to not kill a plant this year!” will become a TLC tradition.

But, back to the matter at hand.

My goal for this space was to get things organized by category and spend as little dough as possible. Here it is now:

A quick trip to the Dollar Tree and $3.00 later, we were in business.

The caddy sitting on top holds all brushes, putty knives, and other miscellaneous tools.

Below that, we have a shorter round bin that holds the smaller paint and stain cans, as well as putty.

And, one more shelf down, we have another short bin to hold all spray paint cans. This was the biggest improvement. Because the wire shelving has large gaps, the cans would fall straight through. Now they are all grouped together and easy to access.

It literally took me 5 minutes to complete this project, but it made such a huge difference. Huzzah Dollar Tree!

Done any quick organizing tasks lately? What are your best ‘under 5 minute’ organizing tips?

get organized: keep it clean!

“Chores are awesome!” – said by nobody… ever. But what’s the point of putting all of this work into our new apartment if it’s too dirty to enjoy? This is the argument I have in my head as I work to convince myself to clean. But maybe making a cute cleaning schedule will add a little more incentive? (Maybe not but it’s worth a shot!)

Chore schedules are definitely things that are unique to each household. They can range from non-existent to super structured and it’s up to you to decide what works best for your home. Josh and I are somewhere in the middle and I thought it would be fun to share our cleaning system with you.

I whipped up this custom little chart in photoshop:

It has everything that needs to be taken care of separated out by ‘weekly’ and ‘monthly’ items. The idea is to use this chart on a monthly basis, utilizing the five columns in the ‘weekly’ section to designate the weeks of the month.

All you have to do is put a check mark next to the completed task, and you’re good to go. It’s flexible enough to work with your schedule but structured enough to make sure you clean!

I just popped this bad boy into a frame and used the Command Photo Hanging Strips to hang it in our laundry room. I use vis-à-vis markers to check things off. At the end of the month, I can wipe it clean and start over! Effective yet cute! (Sorry for the dim photos. Our laundry has no natural light!)

How to you organize your cleaning schedule? Do you have a daily list of things to complete or just do it when it needs to be done? Share below!

Link Parties:

Little Inspiration’s Create and Inspire Party

entertaining tips for overnight guests

This past weekend, we hosted Josh’s sisters (Rachel and Jennifer) in our new apartment who were in town for Rachel’s college orientation. And even though I am the self-proclaimed “aspiring hostess” in my family, overnight entertaining is a challenge.

Here are a few tips to make it easier!

Set everything out in advance – There are certain things you can anticipate your guests needing. Towels, pillows, water glasses, and extra blankets are a few examples. You can avoid running around to pull these things out after your guests need them by setting them out in advance.

via Emily Henderson

Have a snack basket – We always have one of these set on top of our refrigerator for easy access but if you don’t it would be a great way to make sure your guests are never hungry! We filled ours with granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, and a few popcorn bags.


via Teal and Lime

Set up your coffee maker to start automatically – It’s hard to get the timing right in the morning with guests. Someone has to wake up first and if it’s your guest(s), you’ll want to make sure they have something to start the morning. Of course, non-coffee drinkers (if any of those exist) need not worry about this.

via Apartment Therapy

Have something to do – With my family, good conversation is usually the primary activity at get-togethers but it’s always good to have something else on hand. We are huge advocates of board games! They’re fun and can create some really hilarious memories. Depending on your guests, you might stick with something classic like cards or dominos or you can go a little bit silly with a game like Quelf (one of our favorites) or Apples to Apples, which we played this past weekend.

our game shelf

Make sleeping arrangements in advance – knowing who is sleeping where early on lets everyone relax a little bit sooner. They can have a designated place to put their belongings and when they’re ready for bed they already know where they’re going!

our bedroom from 1313

And there you have it! Just a few things to consider before your overnight guests arrive!

Do you have any other overnight entertaining tips? Share below!