DAY 9 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Laundry

Let’s make this quick today shall we? By now you’ve got the gist of how this will go down.

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I don’t want you to do laundry today. Today is about the laundry area.

Time for a clean up.

Do these things:

  1. If you were like my sister, Erica, and ignored that pile on top of your machines last week, tackle that first.

  2. Pull out your machines and clean behind and around them. Grab that sock that went missing ages ago and take it back to it’s partner.

  1. Clean out the gasket or the rubber rim around the door on your front loader. You can actually pull this thing out and replace it if it’s that bad. I just take a shitty rag and wipe it down.

  2. Grab some of this Oh Yuk washing machine cleaner from Amazon and put it to work.

  3. Clean out the lint thingamajig.

  4. Wipe down the machines.

  5. If you’re really going for it, unhook the dryer vent and clean that out.

  6. If you have any shelves or cabinetry, take out and purge anything that is necessary. Wipe them down and remove detergent gunk.

  7. Do any other deferred maintenance like replace light bulbs, hole patching, etc.

That’s it! Easy peasy. Go!

But, wait. I know you want extra credit. Bonus points if you want to beef up the space even more. Here are some ideas.

  1. Grab some good looking laundry detergent containers. These bottles would work well for some of the liquids or try something like this or this for powders.

  2. Hang some shelves to make things tidier and more efficient. I like these from Home Depot. Determine what you want to use them for so you can be sure to get the proper shelf that will hold the weight.

  3. Add a cart near the machines to hold even more storage. Check out this cute inexpensive one from Target.

  4. Go bold. Decorate your washer and dryer. Paint them. Washi tape them. Stick stickers on them. Whatever.

  5. Get an ironing board hanger and get that shit organized somewhere in your house.

  6. Grab some nice baskets to swap out for your old broken laundry baskets. See some more options below.

All of the stuff mentioned above can be found here. Affiliate links abound in this post. Affiliate links help me continue to put this content out! Thank you so much for your support!

i think you should be set there. Don’t forget to show me your progress via #updatedontrenovatechallenge!

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DAY 5 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Decorate Your Sofa

Day five we decorate our sofa! No I don’t mean we are going to color it or anything. I mean pillows of course!

Sometimes we can become comfortable with stuff we’ve had around for awhile. Comfort is good, ugly and gross are not. You may not have even noticed that your throw pillows are getting a little sad looking. Are they wonky shapes now? Are they dirty? Are they the pillows that CAME WITH THE SOFA?!? Gasp! No. This can’t be happening. Time to rectify! Believe it or not I have lots of ideas about just pillows, but first let me tell you my favorite:


One of the most fun things ever is to just go crazy binge shopping pillows. It will feel all sorts of wrong but also SO, SO RIGHT.

I give you permission.

I learned this when I started staging. Ain’t nobody have time to sit and ponder, “Should I get this pillow? Or wait a minute this one? What about this one? Should I do blue? But, oohhh what about this green one…” GAH. Shoot me now. I had to get that shit done like yesterday, but then I’d get to the house and be like, “HATE IT.” and have to go back and start all over. So, I learned to just go ape shit and grab EVERYTHING. Now, I head to Home Goods or Target (or both) and load up on all the pillows I have even the faintest love towards (and even mild confusion on it’s fugliness) and bring them all home. No thinking, just grabbing. Sometimes I’ll have 2 carts full, I kid you not. Leave one at the front, grab another. Once you have all of the pillows at your house you can mix and match and spend all night putting the look together (with a glass of wine of course). EVERY time I do this the one or two pillows I thought were shoe-ins end up going back to the store. The ones I was like “Hmmm is this pillow awesome or fugly?” end up being the big winners. Keep the tags on and take back the ones that don’t make the cut.

I offered this suggestion to one of my clients, Renee, and she took it and ran. I celebrated a little inside when she sent me this photo, followed by many more of the different styled options on her sofa. Grab some wine and enjoy this part!

Full Target Cart

I promise you you won’t spend a million dollars on this binge. BUT, in case you want to keep the budget to a minimum, here are some other helpful hints.

Pillow Inserts

I recommend feather inserts as they fluff and remold the best where as polyester fill can get lumpy and lame. Once your pillows get the lumps, it’s game over. So, whenever possible, buy a pillow that has an insert that can be reused and save dollars down the line. The covers can simply be replaced or cleaned, thus extending its lifetime. You can then swap out covers for the season or when the mood strikes. For a fuller, firmer fill, use slightly bigger inserts to pillow cover size.

Here are some options on acquiring inserts.

  1. Reuse: You may have some already! Reuse these and simply buy new covers.

  2. Previously loved: Grab an ugly pillow at a thrift store that has a removable cover, but a good insert. You may not like the cover but you can just take it off and donate it back. You’ll have an insert for only a couple bucks instead of spending $10-20. I just throw these in the wash and then the dryer. Make sure the insert fabric is in good shape physically or you may end up with feathers everywhere.

  3. New: If buying thrifted pillows isn’t your jam, you need to get a life. JK JK. Ok so you want new ones. Obviously you can grab these wherever you can find pillow covers. I like to buy mine on Amazon. Here are some that will work.


Another budget friendly option is to buy the whole pillow at a thrift store. You never know! I’ve found so many pillows this way it’s unbelievable. I typically come home with pillows costing me $1-$3. I’ve found pillows from Target, Pier 1, Pottery Barn and West Elm at Goodwill. Check the hanging racks for pillow covers, too. Buy and throw them in the wash. If they get ruined, well then you are only out a buck or two. I also find covers with the inserts still in them. Win-win. I love thrifted pillows because you never know what gem you’re going to find. I have a pile of covers now that I swap out often BECAUSE I CAN WAH AH AH AH.


If you’re super excited to drop some money on pillows, go ahead and splurge on a great one. My pillow landscape usually includes one pricier splurge pillow I fell in love with alongside thrifted $2 pillows. One of my favorite places to splurge on pillows are DKRenewel, Etsy and Pottery Barn.

Sew Up

Grab some fabric and sew yourself some new covers or have someone who knows how to sew whip them up. Obviously you can find fabric at lot of places, but don’t forget searching through thrift stores or estate sales for some vintage-y fun specimens.

Switch Up

If you already have pillows you like and this is old hat to you, maybe just give them a little switcharoo. Move some into the living room from the bedroom. Change the covers out for the season with some from your stash. Swap with a friend. Maybe just wash the covers you have to feel fresher after the Holidays.


Don’t forget a new throw blanket! Do you have that pile of old blankets that are some obnoxious sports team colors or just not going to work with the new look? Grab a nice throw blanket or 4 while you’re out shopping. Home Goods and Target have good ones, but I also sometimes find these thrifted for mere dollars.


Ok so if you didn’t gather, I do all of the above on the regular. Grab your loot and line them all up in your living or family room, taking care not to get them dirty so you can return them if necessary. Start putting them all together to see which ones work well with each other. Return all the duds. Study photos from your favorite designers, Instagram accounts or on Pinterest to see the different ways people style them.

This sofa has a Target pillow, a splurge pillow, a thrifted pillow and a Home Goods blanket.

After seeing so many client’s houses over the years, one thing is for sure. Furnishings and decor can absolutely elevate or trash a home. Sometimes a nicely renovated home can look awful by the decor choices used (or lack thereof). Sometimes a home that hasn’t been renovated in decades can look awesome just because the homeowner has decorated it so nicely and keeps it well maintained. We’re going to try our best to elevate one day at a time this month so keep plugging through each challenge. I promise they will all make sense.

Show us your pillow progress! Tag your posts or stories with #updatedontrenovatechallenge so we can see all the pillow madness.

Don’t miss a day!

DAY 4 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Clear The Room

This is one of my favorite and easiest ways to update a room and a perfect Friday night project. I know, I’m a party animal. Invite some people over. Have some food delivered. Open some wine. (Yes that’s part of the challenge.) Tonight we…

Often times when I am staging a house, the room just doesn’t feel quite right. I always think I just don’t have enough stuff in it yet. I’m starting from nothing after all. Then it gets to a point that I have to remove some things. Such is often the case in my client’s homes. When I visit homes for design consults, specifically the ones that are having a hard time making the house “feel right”, the problem is simply all the stuff. This is precisely the stuff you hopefully already removed on DAY 1 and 3. Other stuff could be:

  • Something that “isn’t going to stay there”. That hutch that was your grandma’s but you haven’t found a good spot for it.

  • That pile of kids toys that “really should” go or “is going to go” in another room. I hear these two phrases often.

  • That table you have that hasn’t found a home yet.

  • Garbage. In the case of my staged rooms, it’s usually wrappings and tags from things I have purchased, the boxes I toted them around in, cleaning supplies, etc. In your case it might boxes leftover from Christmas, food wrappers, mail, whatever.

  • Stuff that is “extra”. Sometimes, like jewelry, there are just too many things.

Let’s assume you have been in your space for a bit and not just now putting it together…

Your Mission Should You Choose To Accept It:

Choose a room. Your living room is preferred, but a bedroom or dining room is also appropriate. Choose the room that needs the most help, but not the kitchen. That’s a separate deal.

  1. Take everything out of the room. Sometimes you can’t take the sofa, bed, dining table or TV completely out of the room because they are just too big or heavy. That’s ok if you know they will stay. If not, like the hutch, get it out. This is when you might need to rally the troops (and where the wine comes in). Try to pull as many things out of the way as possible. Put them in the hallway, the garage or an adjoining room. You should only have maybe a rug and a bed/sofa/dining table.

  2. TV placement: The TV, the ugliest thing in the room, is often the dictator of where everything else goes. Deal with the TV first because everything else will follow suit. Figure out if it is in the best place. Don’t be lazy. Really consider moving it. Unplug that shit and move it. You can survive without it for a minute. NOTE: above the fireplace is RARELY the best spot. It’s usually too high making it uncomfortable to watch or just a bad idea should you actually want to have a fire. Try a corner of the room if it is not gargantuan. Try on a media stand or credenza/buffet. Try getting rid of it altogether or getting a smaller one. DO NOT FREAK OUT ON ME HERE. STAY WITH ME. You can make your own decision, but maybe it just needs to go. <shrug> Don’t let the TV dictate your life.

  3. Try the biggest furniture piece in a new spot. See if your bed or sofa will be better in a new location. Here are some ideas…not all work in every situation so don’t try to force them if they aren’t working:

    1. Pretend you are going to photograph the room. Sometimes I find that the way I would photograph a room is exactly the way I want to see it every day. A bedroom with the bed centered on a wall would photograph well. It may feel better that way to you, too, even if it seems like less space.

    2. One option is to stand in the entrance or doorway to the room. That is the place you will see this room every time you enter it. Where do you have to put the big pieces in the room to make the view better?

    3. Try a new place you’ve never thought of like angled in the room (don’t lose your OCD mind), on a different wall, floating in the room, etc. Try a place that doesn’t seem to make perfect sense. For instance, in The Lounge Airbnb condo I just furnished, many people working with me wanted the sofa to face the large row of windows so one could look out the windows. My thoughts were to put the sofa under the window. While the windows are awesome, they don’t have a great view of anything in particular. Additionally, putting the sofa opposite the window put the sofa smack dab in the middle of the room. This would cut off the flow of traffic and the back of the sofa as the first thing you would see. That didn’t feel right and feelings are what matter.

    4. If the piece just sucks altogether, get rid it! Too often people choose sofas or beds that are just too big for the space. Sell it, donate it, give it to a family member. More on this later in the month.

  4. Move the rug. Again, like the sofa or bed you were working with, try a different angle or position. Take your time to position the big piece with the rug in different locations. It takes time. Sip your wine. Try again. Don’t lose it yet. It will look bare and uninviting. Press on.

  5. Start bringing back in smaller furniture items like side tables, coffee tables, dressers, etc. It’ll start to look a little better but still naked. It’s ok.

  6. Now, layer in the artwork, decor, pillows and blankets that you LIKE. There are two kinds of “like”. 1. You actually like the item. 2. You like the item in the room. You may actually like an item itself, but it just isn’t working with the overall feel. Try taking it back out for the moment. You’ll just feel it. Something won’t feel right. ***Don’t add something back “until I find something to replace it” unless it’s a dresser and you actually do need to put your clothes somewhere.

  7. Steal like a thief in the night from other rooms to complete “the look”. Take from your kids rooms. Take from a bedroom. Search your basement and garage. Even your kitchen might have a tray or plant or something that might finish it off. You should start to see some life in the room now. It will finally feel warmer and inviting.

  8. Anything left over that hasn’t made it back into the room SHOULD NOT GO BACK INTO THE ROOM. Find a spot for your pile of misfit items. They could come in handy in other rooms if you try this clear out again. Otherwise, make a plan for the things that didn’t make the cut (donation, give to a friend, trash, list it for sale, etc).

OK you should have a pretty fresh looking room by now! If you have holes to fill, don’t worry. We’ll get to that soon.

If you tackle this challenge, show us! Use #updatedontrenovatechallenge in your posts or stories to show us your progress and final results!

DAY 1 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: GET IT OUT OF HERE

Happy New Year! Welcome to day one of the Update, Don’t Renovate Challenge! I hope you’re ready to kick some ass! It was tricky picking the very first challenge. The first one has to be something good. Impactful. EASY. Can’t scare you away from the rest of the challenges. And since it’s New Year’s Day, we may need to go low key with that hangover of yours. You don’t even have to put a bra on or leave the house.

The first challenge is to clear some space…

I’m sorry this is a boring first challenge but sorry not sorry. it’s IMPORTANT! The NUMBER ONE recommendation I give to my clients AGAIN AND AGAIN is to GET RID OF THAT THING. It’s so easy, but never seems obvious or that it will be impactful for some reason. Everyone is so wound up about having perfect tile and the right paint color. Those are great, too. But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a decent renovation also ruined by someone’s stuff. We need room physically and visually. Not only will the space feel better but your brain will feel like AHHHHHHH a weight lifted. Something ticked off the list that has been at the back of your mind, sometimes for way too long to admit.

Today to start the month off, let’s get rid of something that has been in the way, once and for all! Here are some ideas:

  1. Move It: A lot of my clients have furniture that is “just there” because it doesn’t have a home yet or they haven’t committed to a location yet. It might be a chair, a dresser or an antique that someone gave them… like grandma’s hutch. Today DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. You don’t have to throw it out. Just get it out. That might mean giving it to another family member, moving it to another room, moving it to storage, the garage or basement. Let storage rooms be for storing that thing. Get it out once and for all. You can always bring it back in if you feel you have finally found it a home..

  2. Donations: Take that pile of donations you’ve been meaning to get out of your house and do something with it. At the very least put it in your car. If you get a wild hair, actually drive to the drop off location.

  3. Put Your Christmas Away!:

    • Take down that Christmas tree and deal with it. Don’t just throw it in the garage. Take it to the curb or drop off area in your community.

    • Put your Christmas lights away.

    • Throw out anything that is broken like ornaments or lights. Do it now. Don’t store it for another year.

    • Grab a container or bag and fill it with Holiday items you no longer want for donation. Put it in your car immediately.

    • Throw out the trash from gifts like boxes, instruction booklets you can find online, wrapping paper, etc.

  4. Furniture/Rug/Thing in your way: That thing you’ve been meaning to sell, DO IT. Consider doing it even if you don’t have something to replace it with yet. For instance, instead of waiting to find a new dining room table and then having both the new one and the old one taking up space, just get rid of the old one now. You can suffer through not having a dining room table for a minute. Take photos that are focused and bright. Use your Photos app to brighten the photo if it is still a little dark. Now share it! Here are some ways to sell your stuff from easiest to most difficult, although still not that difficult. If it’s me I just do all of these at once. I dislike waiting.

    • Ask friends and family if they want it.

    • Post on Facebook to your friends.

    • Post on Facebook Marketplace, Offer Up, Craigslist, etc.

    • Bombard everything like a maniac

If you can’t get an entire task completed today, no worries! Get the ball rolling by at least listing and item or scheduling someone to come help you if that is necessary.

These challenges are going to come at you fast and furious, so don’t delay if possible! I know you won’t be able to complete some tasks right away or in one day (or maybe ever), so don’t fret. Just try your best and try to have some fun with it!

Did you do it? Comment below or use #updatedontrenovatechallenge on Instagram to share!

If you’re not yet subscribed to receive the challenges in your inbox, sign up below!

The Update, Don't Renovate Challenge!

I’ve been doing consults for many years now. I’ve seen so many houses! About half of my consults are for renovations, while the other half are with clients simply bringing me in to get my opinion on anything from rugs to curtains to furniture placement. They sometimes wonder if they need a renovation or what they should do in X room to make it feel better. MOST of the time these homes do not NEED a renovation to feel, look and function better. Sometimes a homeowner has wanted to change up their home by doing a renovation and that is fine….great! I obviously understand that in my line of work and I love renovation. However, many and MOST houses DO NOT NEED a renovation unless they are trashed and literally falling apart whether from neglect or faulty construction. For most of us, our house is in decent condition, just maybe a tad ugly or not our taste.

Update Don't Renovate Challenge

For the entire month of January I’m hosting a challenge for that group of people that don’t want, don’t need or can’t afford a renovation. And guess what, that’s me, too! My house is in good shape, but I didn’t renovate it. We bought it the way it is and have been tweaking it here and there. It’s not my favorite, but it’s fine. It just needs a little more oomph. I’m not in love with the kitchen, but it’s not something I care to rip out, nor do I have the money to do so. Same goes for the bathroom and the rest of the home. Like any good flipper, I want to spruce it up doing as little as possible. I know that isn’t what we’re seeing much of these days on the flipping scene, but you see I’m an old school flipper from back when we just painted walls beige and called it new. I’m bringing that back. Wait no. Not the beige. Just the concept.

In the Update, Don’t Renovate Challenge we’ll work on our homes to make them feel updated….without renovating. That means there will be no demo. There will be no walls coming down or new cabinets going in. No tiling. No drywall dust. No, 10s of thousands of dollars spent. Once we’re done, our homes will feel as if we had, though!

How It Will Work

The challenge begins January 1st. Every day for 31 days will be a challenge to help you move toward a better home. Some challenges are big, some are small, some have 18 parts. Do some. Skip some. Do them all. Whatever. Up to you. Some will result in AHA moments, where as others will be exactly the thing you’ve been meaning to do, you just needed a little nudge.

For each challenge I’ll offer many options so everyone can get something out it. Sometimes I’ll recommend you buy something to spruce up the space or help things function properly. Sometimes I’ll recommend removing, pitching or donating things. Sometimes both in the same day! Do what works for you, in your space, with your pocketbook. As always, I will recommend thrifting to find something at a discount but new is also fine. I know thrifting isn’t as prevalent in some areas so I’ll give as many ideas as I can think of to pull something off. I don’t care if you ask someone to buy something for you or gift you that item for your Birthday (thanks Mom!). Maybe you buy something off of Craigslist, Offerup or Facebook Marketplace. I don’t even care if you buy anything at all. Can you tell I already know people will be whining about spending money? The point is that sometimes we’ll want to bring new things into our home to make it feel a little better (HELLO PILLOWS) but that doesn’t mean we have to spend a ton. Or do! I don’t care. Let’s just have fun tweaking our homes for the better!

Are you ready!? You don’t have to do anything to officially join in, although I recommend subscribing (see below) so you don’t miss a day.

But wait.

Everybody Is Doing It

I’ve done these challenges before (remember my School of Badassery?!) and nothing makes a challenge better than having friends join in. The people that had their friends and family do it with them had the most fun and were the most productive holding each other accountable. I can already envision moms and daughters tearing through closets together. Oh!!! Or friends on a Friday night with a bottle of wine rearranging a living room. It’s fun to have someone to bounce ideas off of as well or help move your couch to the other side of the room. What are friends for? Forward this email or blog post, however you got here, and get them involved!

Show & Tell

If you’ve made any progress, show us! The more people share, the more motivating it is to keep going! Post your progress by tagging your Insta posts with #updatedontrenovatechallenge!

I can’t wait to see what you guys do! I’ll be sharing the ones I tackle as well. The challenges begins January 1st! Don’t miss it.