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Decluttering Help

If you have been reading this blog, or following my work on Houzz for any amount of time, I’m sure you know I am a big believer in decluttering. There is simply no way to ever get “organized” without paring back and offloading some of the excess things you’ve been allowing to take up space in your home. But you know what is even more powerful? Learning some tools to help prevent clutter from entering your home in the first place.

Shift Interiors

After going through the same process of sorting through and purging my belongings dozens of times over the years, a few truths have begun to dawn on me. Truth no. 1: Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you have to take it. This was honestly the easiest one for me personally to implement. Now, whenever I am offered a “free” shirt/plastic cup/magnet/whatever, I politely decline and go on my merry way, happy I will not have to stare at said item for however many months it takes me to get the guts to chuck (or recycle or donate) it.

Shift Interiors

Truth no. 2 is quite a bit harder: If it’s not perfect for you, don’t buy it. This is the truth I am having the hardest time with. But I am learning. I’m learning not to settle for just okay. Because if my home is going to be free of clutter, what I do have I want to be just right! Right? Thinking back to some of the (many) items I have donated to charity or sold at yard sales and on Craigslist over the years, most were things that I knew right from the beginning weren’t quite right for me, but I bought them anyway. I’m learning it’s far better to wait, even if that means going without something for a while, and taking the time to save up a bit more money for the item I really want, than indulging in an impulse purchase.

Shift Interiors

And last but not least, we have truth no. 3: Just because it was a gift doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. Your duty as the recipient of a gift is to warmly accept it with gratitude, and thank the person for being so generous with their thoughts, time, and resources. But if you don’t like the item, it is okay to let it go. I’m personally not a big fan of re-gifting (I don’t judge, it’s just not for me), but if I do not want or need something I was given, I generally keep it for a short time and then give it away. Do I feel totally okay about this? No! Of course it feels weird — but I remind myself that the gift was given with love, and was meant to make me happy. So if I know it will make me happier to give it away than to keep it, that’s what I do nine times out of ten. (Hey, I’m not perfect.)

Shift Interiors

I wrote about this topic recently on Houzz — the article is called 5 Ways to Pare Down Your Stuff — Before It Gets in the Door, and it has really struck a chord with readers. There are 200+ comments and counting! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic: do you regift? Give away things you were given? Have a problem walking past the Target decor aisle without shoving at least one unneeded item in your cart? Spill the beans!

The lovely images featured here are from Shift Interiors — their website is currently being updated, but you can view their Houzz profile here. Looking at beautiful, uncluttered spaces like these is great motivation to me to keep clutter out of my own home. :-)

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Let’s Get Organized with Chalkboard Calenders!

Well, my little guy is starting preschool today (I can’t believe next year will be kindergarten…) and I am thinking up some ways to get myself motivated to face a pile of work (as fun as it is…I’m not complaining!) after the lazy days of summer. And honestly, while I adored our beach days, flea market jaunts, and camping, I can’t wait to get some fall started around here. Fall is the best!

Chalkboard Wall Calendars

At the top of my get-stuff-organized list this fall is my workspace. I am swapping out my old desk (really an old kitchen table) for a DIY double-width desk using some simple Ikea sawhorse legs. And above the double desk I would love to put a giant chalkboard calendar. Above is a pretty version from photographer Hannah Lemholt for Love Warriors (via April and May). It looks like a blank canvas of the sort used for educational posters, with half used as a mood board and the other half painted with chalkboard squares for each day of the week (plus an extra for next week).

Chalkboard Wall Calendars

Or what about using chalkboard calendar stickers on a charcoal gray wall, as in the home of Milly Goodwin and David Cleveland featured on Design Sponge? The tone-on-tone look is unexpected and chic, don’t you think?

Chalkboard Wall Calendars Chalkboard Wall Calendars

A big wall calendar in the kitchen is smart for families — I like this DIY version from Jen Loves Kev. You simply mark out the calendar squares using painter’s tape, and fill in with chalkboard paint. Not only is it cheaper to DIY, in this case it gives you lots more options, too. You can make your calendar as large as you want, use colored chalk paint, or even do two months instead of just one.Chalkboard Wall Calendars

Here is a great example of a wall-size calendar from HGTV — I love the idea of using painted wooden letters from the craft store to label the days of the week. Chalkboard Wall Calendars

And another with wooden letters from Country Living. In this version, the homeowner used paper tags to write out the numbers — I’m guessing they are hanging from slim nails or hooks. Chalkboard Wall Calendars

If you are looking to buy, Ferm Living has a few options, including this slim weekly planner. This would be great for helping kids keep track of which activities they have on each day.

DIY Navy Chalkboard Wall - Tatertots & JelloChalkboard Wall Calendars

And over at Tatertots & Jello I spied this lovely chalkboard calendar. It’s on a navy chalkboard wall base, which is a nice twist, don’t you think? Rather than painting chalkboard squares, she used white painter’s tape to create the grid, and added vinyl letter stickers and a scalloped edge that she created using a silhouette cutter (but I’m thinking you could probably find something similar — and ready made — on Etsy).

Would you try a chalkboard wall calendar? Of the ones shown here, which is your favorite?

First Day of PreschoolP.S. — There is my munchkin on his first day of preschool! I asked him what he wanted to wear on his first day, and he said “something colorful!”…so there you go! xo Laura

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August Mini-Break + Vintage Life Magazine

Hello lovelies, it’s been something of a ghost town around here, so I suspect many of you are off having your own summer adventures … and now it’s my turn!

Vintage Life Magazine

We are taking a staycation and going on a short camping trip, which I’m really excited about! I will be signing off now, and we can meet back here right after Labor Day. Now, about these photos…

Vintage Life MagazineVintage Life Magazine by photographer Leonard Mccombe Vintage Life Magazine by photographer Leonard Mccombe

Aren’t they amazing? I spied the top image on Pinterest, and just had to see where it came from. Caren at Tea and Chickadees dug up a few more images from this series, which you can see right here. They were taken by photographer Leonard Mccombe, and I’m thinking maybe early 60′s? The lady is so Betty Draper!

Enjoy the last moments of summer! xo Laura

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Q&A With Rachel Ashwell

Just in case you have lived under a rock for the past 20 years or so, Rachel Ashwell is the founder of the Shabby Chic brand and pretty much single-handedly created a frenzy for white slipcovers, flea market furniture, and crystal chandeliers. Recently, I did a little Q&A with Rachel Ashwell as a feature for Houzz, and I thought I would share a peek here…

Rachel Ashwell - The Prairie

These images, all by the uber-talented photographer Amy Neunsinger, are of Ashwell’s newest venture, The Prairie B&B in Round Top, Texas. In addition to being a delightfully cozy looking place to stay (and a stone’s throw from one of the best antiques fairs in the country) The Prairie also plays host to a number of weddings and creative events each year. Doesn’t the barn, shown above, look like a positively dreamy place to get married?

Rachel Ashwell - The Prairie

And then there are the cottages themselves, each of which has its own style and is filled with furniture and decor hand-picked by Rachel…

Rachel Ashwell - The Prairie

Beautiful, isn’t it? I know I would stay there in a heartbeat! But beyond the gorgeousness of the place itself, I just have to say that I hugely admire Rachel Ashwell — through all that she has done, she has stayed true to herself and her vision, and that is no easy feat. She did not have her professional life handed to her on a silver platter; she worked for it and built it piece by piece, beginning with a single shop that sold her vintage finds and handmade slipcovers. And whether or not you personally connect with the shabby chic aesthetic, I think the approach has something we can all take away: using what you have to create an environment that inspires you. Because to me, that’s what it boils down to — decorating with what you love, in an easy, unfussy way. Decorating for life the way you live it.

I asked Rachel about why shabby chic style is still appealing to so many people today, how tied it is to her personal aesthetic, and more — read the full Q&A right here.

(all images: Amy Neunsinger for Shabby Chic)

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Follow Your Bliss Friday

Happy weekend, my dears! It’s time to ease into the weekend by giving yourself the gift of time to pursue something close to your heart. Go grab yourself a mug of tea and settle in for a chat … I’ll wait!

Vintage Domino Magazine

Ready? Oh good. Today I would like to discuss trying your best and putting out your best effort, no matter how small the job. Especially when you are trying to get your foot in the door of a new creative field, how you handle yourself on those first, small assignments can really make all the difference in the world. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself, thinking that because you are getting paid next to nothing, it doesn’t matter much, but I am here to tell you it does!

Now, I am not saying you should ever work others for free (pretty pretty please do not do this!) but whether you are a graphic artist, a writer, a floral designer, or a decorator, you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is probably going to be at the bottom of the totem pole. But by putting in your very best effort and paying close attention to the details, you can stand out from the pack, and capture the attention of someone who can offer you a bigger gig — and you never know where that may lead.

Vintage Domino Magazine

When I first started writing for Houzz, it was because one of the editors at the time was reading my blog and liked what she saw. I had only one writing assignment per month for Houzz — but I really went all out for that one assignment, and gave it my all. And guess what? Six months down the road when Houzz was looking for new contributors to help expand the site, my name immediately came up. When I landed another writing gig for a home company, I also gave that my all, even though it does not have even close to the readership of Houzz, and again, the assignment was relatively small. But when the marketing firm that hired me needed another writer for a new client, they immediately thought of me, saying I was their “most reliable writer”.

If you are at that place where you’re just beginning to test the waters of a potential new career, take yourself seriously. It’s important to do your best work, and push yourself to think creatively, but it’s just as important to act like a professional. If you do get an assignment or an order to fill, turn it in on time, be professional and courteous, and if you are offered constructive criticism on your work, accept it graciously.

Well, that about sums it up for today — I hope I have given you some food for thought! xo Laura

(images: a few of my favorite workspaces from vintage issues of Domino Magazine)

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