DAY 30 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Storage + Un-Organize

This post started out as an organization post and then became an un-organize post. Not dis-organize. Un-organize. Read on to see how that development came about.

Ok, we’ve cleared just about as much stuff as we can at this point I’m hoping. The next part is to work on storage and organization. I hope you left this for towards the end, because want to make sure we are storing and organizing only the things we need and really like! No sense in storing and organizing first before we’ve cleared out the crap. But wait….


Think first.

Do I need these things organized to live and feel better in my home?

Do I use these things often enough to organize them?

Does it actually matter if these things are organized?

Will organizing these things actually make more work for me?

Will new storage create more peace in my home by concealing things?


About a decade ago my husband and I were on a “we aren’t doing what everyone else does just because they do it.” kick. Not to be different for difference sake. It was simply fun thinking outside the box about things you never really think about. What we learned was in some cases you may want to UN-organize things. That’s right. Marie Kondo will shit a brick about now….

We stopped sorting our flatware. Those are our utensils in the photo above, laying in the drawer all willy nilly and co-mingling. Sorting them after coming out of the dishwasher was annoying AF. We really didn’t need the spoons and forks separated to make finding one easier. It’s just not that difficult to find a fork when you open the drawer. Now we just grab all of it out of the dishwasher and dump it in the drawer. It’s liberating.

Now, I know that some of you are having a conniption fit about not sorting the flatware. Chill out. I’ll never say you have to or should do what I do. It’s just a fun practice in rethinking things. Another instance of this type of thinking….

I stopped folding my underwear and pairing up my socks. Laundry is dumb enough. It ranks as number two in annoying household jobs, just behind cleaning the shower. No need to organize these things. I get no pleasure out of opening the drawer and seeing my undies folded. You know why? They never stay that way. They always end up a jumbled mess anyway. Why spend the time folding them in the first place?

And just like the flatware, finding sock pairs in my drawer has never been a problem since I stopped pairing them up just out of the dryer. I’d rather spend 10 seconds picking out my socks every day than sitting there pairing them up while folding laundry.

Another area I might abandon all organization is in my cooking utensil drawer. The smaller ones are in little shoe box lids (free version of a drawer sorter) but yet more utensils go in there and it becomes a mess anyway. Why am I even bothering? It’s not like it is hard to find the carrot peeler when I open the drawer.

Consider these little jobs we are giving ourselves. What doesn’t actually need to be done? Do we need to be sorting things that don’t need to be sorted? Are we really saving ourselves any time and making things better or actually just creating more jobs for ourselves?


Something what does need to be fixed is a storage solution that isn’t working in its current state. For instance,, we leave our shoes by the door when we enter our home. I have put baskets there but it looks awful since the entry is in our living room. I then put a trunk there to conceal the shoes. Now we just leave the shoes on top or around it. Bags and jackets get thrown nearby, too. It’s frustrating. My next step is to buy a cabinet to go there to hold it all. Hopefully with us each having our own cabinet to hold things, we’ll find it easy to open the door and chuck the shit in. I don’t care what it looks like in there so long as it closes and I can’t see it. I’m excited about having a cabinet that blends in with the wall and calms the space down rather than a bunch of little things clogging the space and view.

In your case, buy storage for and organize the things that are an actual problem. Think about how those things will function and will you actually use it the way you are intending. I had a feeling before I bought the trunk that it would be a temporary solution. My hopes are the new cabinet will conceal the stuff (the real problem). Organizing it is not necessary. I don’t care if my daughter and husband throw that crap in there in a jumbled mess as long as I don’t have to look at it anymore.

This post is a little wonky I have to admit. I guess what I’m trying to get at is organize and store things to make life easier, not to create one more thing you have to do. Organized things are nice. Creating more work to be organized for organization sake is not.

Does this make any sense at all?

Your mission is to:

  1. Find an area of your home and store the items in a more efficient and pleasing way.

  2. Un-organize something. Stop organizing something.

Tell me about it! Use #updatedontrenovatechallenge when you share!

DAY 21 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Entry Update

Every day I come home I am reminded of the project that is my front door. It’s the first thing I see when I get home and dammit if it doesn’t make me depressed. The last thing I want is to be pissed off when I come home. Let’s make it a happy homecoming.

Here are some ideas to help improve your arrival home, both on the inside and the outside of your home.

Side note: I realize in most of the US, it is way cold outside right now and the last thing you can be doing is painting or planting anything. I’ve added some ideas for you as well. If your personal entry is through the garage, then beef it up there. Nothing says “oh great it’s you again” like a dirty run down garage Read on…

Outside Quick Updates

  • The first thing I do at a house when I buy it is remove the screen or security door. Nothing says “Go TF away” like another door blocking your front door. I usually just stash it in the garage in case the buyer still wants it. I have yet to take the security doors down at my house, 3 years later. It’s on my list.

  • Paint your door something fun. Even your garage door can be painted something more enticing.

  • Add some planters on either side of your front door.

  • Change your doormat out (even the cold AF people can do this one)

  • Change out your door knob. BETTER YET, GYST and rekey all of your exterior door knobs so they are the same key.

  • Add a boot scraper thing outside to help take care of the mess you’re dragging in.

Inside Quick Updates

  • Reseal around your door so critters and cold air don’t come in

  • Give your umbrella a place to live.

  • Find a solution for the shoes and backpacks that pile up

  • Add some hooks or a coat rack

  • Change out your rug

  • Paint the back of the door

  • Add a dish to drop keys or sunglasses in or hooks on the wall to hang them up

  • Give each person in your home a section so it doesn’t become a cluster of giant piles

Shit there is a lot here to do just for the front door. Good luck to you.

DAY 8 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Throw In The (New) Towel

Recently someone asked me what towels I buy for my Airbnbs. She commented that Airbnbs always have the nicest, fluffiest towels. The answer I gave her was this, “The thing that makes Airbnb towels so fluffy and nice is that they aren’t 5 years old.”

But, yet we put up with towels that are so old and worn that if you were to walk into someone else’s house and you saw them, you’d assume they were to dry off the dog after their bath.

Now, we’re not really suffering through using these beat up old towels. I mean they are just old towels. They still dry stuff.

But, there’s something to be said about what we expect in a hotel or as a guest at an Airbnb versus what we will tolerate at home. Having my Airbnbs, especially after outfitting 4 now, has really shown me how little I expect out of my own house compared to that of a vacation rental. At a vaca rental, mine especially, I expect the paint to be touched up, repairs to be made instantly and all of the towels to be perfect fluffiness. Why don’t we expect that of our own homes? Is it too wasteful? Maybe. But, maybe there is something to be said for letting too many of these things fall by the wayside and feeling like you’re living in a poorly maintained and outfitted house. You know how people fix a bunch of things before they sell, love it, and then wonder why they hadn’t done that stuff sooner? it’s like that.

Your challenge is two part:

Towel Purge

First weed out the towels that are best for drying off a dog. Trust me some people with dogs will actually take those off your hands. I once asked the Facebook group for my condo building if anyone wanted some old towels for their dogs and someone actually asked if they could have them for after yoga. People want them. You could reserve them for dirty messes in your house by stashing one in your car and some in the laundry room. Just don’t hoard them because you feel like you could use them some day and you feel guilty about getting rid of them. Purge what is no longer necessary. Purge the ones that are scratchy and look like vomit. You’re better than that.

Buy New

If you want to buy some fluffy new towels at a good price, grab some at Target. I buy these towels or these most of the time. Today they have 10% off with code HOME. I always buy white towels. That way I can bleach them after guests get make up stains on them or whatever the heck they do. Everything is white so it can get bleached. Towels, washcloths, sheets, pillowcases and bath mats.

And while we’re at it, buy a new bath mat. You know that thing is ratty AF. I’ll be upgrading mine. And you know I’ll be getting white. I always see so many cute ones but I always go back to good old white. I replace my towels every year at the Airbnbs, I have probably not replaced my own in 4+ years. It’s time. Not only will my body like it, my bathroom will enjoy the nice visual upgrade.

The Update, Don’t Renovate list of challenges can now be found up under the Learn section at the top of my site. Click here to head to that page and see what you’ve missed!

More Is Stupid: How To Not Design A Kitchen Like An Idiot

I have a problem. Well, I think it's more that other peopIe have a problem, of course. It's not me it's you. I guess it depends on how you look at it. The thing is, I can't stand things. I walk into other people's houses and immediately want to begin purging the things they just don't need. People have too much. I feel like I have too much even though I do massive purges of things quarterly. Ask my friends. It's like a constant sale on my Facebook page. 

Enter the fact that I am a design consultant, as well as an interior and renovation designer for client's homes. This gets really tricky (aka fun). I get to go in and design new spaces for people, all the while trying to throw out some of their things that they just don't need (45 old ratty towels). Fine line. Not sure I'm good at doing it tactfully, but I try. My mother-in-law gets no tact from me, poor sweet lady. I go on autopilot removing the "unneeded" things from her house. I have a problem, which I choose to view as a solution, obviously. You should've seen me during my sister-in-law's recent move to Phoenix. Everything had to go. It was so much fun. For me. I think she almost had a heart attack. 

What's this got to do with designing shit, Wendy? Listen! I've talked about how to design a kitchen to make it functional and beautiful, but I forgot to really hit these words of wisdom that must be heard. 

Consider what you actually need instead of what people expect.

Have a couple of good things instead of many crappy things.

Stop adding things. 

Don't be normal. 

Stop doing what other people are doing.
Think outside the box.  

That means you won't be hearing me say more cabinets! More storage! More, more, more! How about less? How about approaching your new kitchen differently? WARNING: Some of what you find below may not be what you normally hear on the subject of kitchen design. I'm guessing you've already gathered that much. I'm not the follow the current trends and do what everyone expects type. My hope is that it helps you feel confident enough to break the mold in your mind. Shock and awe, that's how we'll do this. Do things differently. Be cool.

Let's design something different...

Kitchen Takeover

No doubt you (hopefully) spend some time in your kitchen making some meals. You'll definitely need to store tools, food and serving wear in this area as well. However, I'm seeing a trend in kitchens where they are actually becoming larger than the living space. Should we be devoting more space to preparing food than an area in which to enjoy it and other daily activities? Hell no. Soon we'll walk into a home and it will just be one giant kitchen with cabinets lining every wall. No wonder people are spending $70,000 on a kitchen remodel. Some kitchens have so many cabinets these days that people feel the need to collect more things to store. Stop this. When designing a new kitchen, keep the size balanced with the rest of the rooms. Leave room for a sofa to sit on and maybe a dining area. Balance, people. Balance.

Standard Is Crap

Let's stop it with the "standard" everything. Appliances are no doubt important, but if the kitchen is small to begin with, then putting in standard sized appliances will overwhelm the space. For example, a tiny kitchen should not have a side-by-side refrigerator. NO. These fill a large foot print and feel like a giant is taking over the room. How much food are you trying to store in there anyway? Look in your fridge. Do it. Is most of the stuff in there actually food? Real food? Mustard and mayo is not food. Don't fight me on this. How about throwing out some of those half empty ketchup bottles? Are you trying to live more healthfully, yet most of the space in your fridge is devoted to boxed items? Fix this. Throw it out. Stop buying those things. Get ahold of yourself. 

Buy appropriately sized appliances for your tiny kitchen. Consider a 24" range or fridge instead of a standard 30" version. 



Or, break the mold completely and go for refrigerator drawers. I have a college friend who texted me asking if I think refrigerator drawers were a good idea. I had no idea! I'd never even considered them before, but of course I was already poo-pooing the idea. Buyers won't like that I heard myself saying. Her dilemma was that she wanted to completely open up her kitchen, but having a standard vertical refrigerator would totally break the open, spacious vibe. I thought surely I'd find a place for it, so I looked at her floor plan. She was right. There was really nowhere to put one without it feeling like a total eyesore. Let's face it, fridges are ugly (unless it's a Smeg). So, fridge and freezer drawers is what she did. It turned out awesome. After a year of usage, she isn't missing the standard fridge one bit. See them below in the cabinet run on the right.

That's not to say that everyone in every house should have small or different fridges. If you have a family of 6, you're gonna need ample food storage! Go for 2 fridges. Maybe two sitting next to each other or a beverage fridge nearby. But be honest with yourself. Don't just throw in a beverage fridge to be fancy. Consider if you will use such a thing. The condo we are living in came with a beverage fridge. We don't drink soda. We drink water, coffee, beer and wine. Great, a place for the booze! Not so fast. We typically pick up a bottle of wine when we want one. No booze gets stored in our house. That beverage fridge sits empty. If we had a wine rack, it too would be sitting empty. Wastes of space for us. If you're trying to cut out soda or sugary drinks from your life, don't make a place to store them. You'll feel obligated to buy that crap. 


But, WAHHH I need more storage! Maybe you don't. First of all, sell some of that crap you aren't using. How long has it been since you used that stand mixer or panini press? Are you trying to cut sugar and bread from your diet, yet continue to have baking items at hand? I know it hurts, but get rid of that shit. Sell some things. Use the proceeds to buy better appliances. You've got a lot of crap. I know it. 

A well planned out kitchen will have ample storage to hold all of the tools a homeowner might use making the most of every inch of the room. However, let's not plan a kitchen that will hold every tool known to man. Do you really need 2 blenders, a food processor, 50 dishes and 18 skillets? I think not. Get rid of the crappy stuff. You know, the 15 melted and broken spatulas? Keep or buy ONE good one. JUST ONE. You'll be astonished at how often we think we need more of something, but then realize you just keep using your favorite decent spatula over and over. Do you need more drinking glasses because there aren't ever clean ones? WELL, CLEAN THEM. Use it, then clean it. Does it feel good to have a pile of dishes to do? Of course not. 

What are you keeping that someone else thinks you should have? Are you saving that one giant mug that doesn't stack on top of anything conveniently because your mom says it is great for soup? Whose kitchen is this anyway? Use a bowl. Don't be an idiot.

Open Up

Now let's say you've eliminated some things, let's keep going. How about those upper cabinets? Maybe you don't like open shelving. You're afraid you'll be looking at a bunch of chaos and you like being able to close it up and not look at it. But, hold up. You just threw a bunch of stuff out, right? Only the necessary and beautiful remains! If you have floating or open shelves, you'll be able to reach it all so easily! No more open cabinet door dents in your head. You know what I'm talking about don't you? I know you're worried about the dust. If you're using these things regularly, because you only kept the necessary, then you're golden. Not enough time to get dust on it anyway. 

What about just having an open space? Not every inch of this new kitchen has to be utilitarian. Allow some room for art, decor and plants. Now you're designing a room that blends in better with the rest of the house instead of the warehouse, workspace area next to the relaxing cozy area. This kitchen below is a screaming example of this concept. I love it. This kitchen may not be functional enough for you, but take the idea and morph it. Stop being so literal. (I'm sorry i don't know whose kitchen this is. I hate not giving credit so if you know, please inform!)

Now, Make It Last

A good kitchen is one you actually want to be in! If it is too dark or ugly, you simply won't want to spend be there. We can debate what colors to use all day long, but for me there is no substitution for a light and bright kitchen. Plus, they feel cleaner. 

You know that outfit you still wear or piece of furniture you still have because you liked it once and spent a lot of money on it, but that style has moved on without you. That's your kitchen. Those accent tiles are going to become old pretty quickly. Pretty easy to fix this, though. Stick to classic, simple design and natural materials. Natural materials don't go out of style, usually. They've been around forever and will continue to be. Trendy tiles or colors will quickly become tired and dated. Worse yet, you won't even know it because you've looked at it for so many days in a row. You'll be that person that says, "We just spent $20,000 on this kitchen! It's not outdated!" Um, lady that was 10 years ago and that style didn't travel very well. Marble is always in. Says me. 

Ok, end rant. Sorry to go all hardcore on you but I tire of trying to conform. Why do I even bother? Time to go throw some things out.