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 28 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Hide It

So often I’ve come across instances where I, or my clients, think something “should be” sitting out as decor. We have nice (and expensive) stand mixers and books and a stack of magazines, etc and we display them proudly because we’ve seen others do it. The instagram accounts we follow have styled shelves and so we, too try to style shelves. But, there’s something wrong. It’s just not feeling right. I fee this all the time. As a flipper/designer/stager I feel like I should have perfectly styled shelves and niches around my home proudly displaying my vintage finds. Thing is, it sometimes feels like clutter to me. I’ve removed everything from my kitchen island. No decor. No more plants. No more fish, Popcorn, living in his bowl in the middle of it (RIP Popcorn). I prefer a large naked island with nothing on it.

One client was giving me a tour of her house and brought me to her dining room that they use every day. She asked, “What should I put here on this table?” My first thought and answer was, “How about nothing?” If the table is being used every day, anything you put there will have to be moved every single day. That’s fine, but if sounds annoying to you, then just put nothing! It’s allowed. She had not even considered this option and was relieved!

Your challenge for today is to look around your house at the things you have displayed. Is any of it just not sitting right with you? Maybe it’s just too much to look at. Note: this is not a purge challenge. By now you should probably have dealt with most items needing to leave your house. This is about the things you have and like, but maybe don’t need to be seen on a daily basis. Here are some ideas:

  • Extra toilet paper in a basket or on a shelf - - maybe it could be hidden in a cabinet

  • Too many pillows out at once

  • Books and magazines

  • Some small appliance sitting out on your counter

  • Decor that just feels messy by being there

  • Too many plants

  • Toys

  • Items on a dresser or vanity

  • Entryway stuff - - like keys, coats, shoes, backpacks - - we set these things up like a cute mudroom drop zone but do we really care to see them?

  • Tooth brushes on the bathroom vanity

Try finding at least one thing to put away out of sight and give your eyes a break from looking at it on the daily.

Missed a challenge? Find them all here.

DAY 7 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Kitchen Cabinets

My apologies on the rage that builds throughout this post. Kitchens fire me up.

The biggest complaint I get during consults is about the kitchen cabinets. No shock there. But, do we really need to go ripping them all out? Maybe sometimes. If you just want to and have the funds, great. But, if you don’t, today’s challenge is for you.

There are several ways we’ll tackle the kitchen cabinets today. The first one we will address is the biggest complaint about cabinets.

There Isn’t Enough Storage

To that I say BULL SHIT. I have yet to meet a kitchen that can’t be worked. Even the smallest kitchen I have ever seen I was able to figure out where to put everything. The trick is being realistic about your stuff. I’m not going to beat this to death because we have purged a bunch already and I will have a rage stroke if I go too deep on this. But a few tips here:

  • Small Appliances: Purge any small appliances that are redundant to your big ones. For instance a toaster oven is ridiculous to own if you have no room and you have a perfectly good ACTUAL OVEN that can….you know… toast things. And you can really go balls to the wall and just pitch the toaster while you’re at it because again…you have a giant full size toaster oven called an ACTUAL OVEN. Now move on to the others. The blender you never use. The panini press. The popcorn maker. If you MUST have these but don’t want them in the way, consider moving them to a place that is less in the way like a shelf in the garage, basement, pantry or laundry room.

  • Pots & Pans: What do you actually need and actually use to cook? Do you need 18 skillets? I think not. You can likely get by with a large soup pot or dutch oven, a larger skillet, a smaller skillet and a sauce pan. Maybe even less than that depending on how desperate you are for space.

  • Utensils: Look at your utensil. Purge the idiot ones. Replace any that are too far gone like that carrot peeler that the handle broke off of 2 years ago, yet you keep trying to get by like freaking a hero. Splurge today on a carrot peeler. You deserve it.

  • Dishes/Glassware/Mugs/ETC: How many sets of dishes do you have? How many sets of glassware? What about all those random plastic cups you got at baseball games or at Harkins Theaters 18 years ago. Tell those mofos to get a life and peace out. Try to keep a set if you can. It just feels better. Allow yourself to keep random mismatched if it feels like a collection to you. Like maybe your mugs. Otherwise, those random mismatched plates can take a hike.

  • Storage Containers: If you have an explosion of storage containers, then go through them and purge the ones that have no matching lid or container. If they suck, get new ones. Grab a little bin and throw all of the lids in there and stack the bottoms together.

  • Spices: That stuff goes bad. How old is yours? What is never getting used…EVER?

Be harsh. Your sanity depends on your ability to win out over the guilt of getting rid of that one mug and saucer your mom got you because it {insert fake high pitched mom voice here} “would be so cute for soup!” but doesn’t stack well and is taking up serious real estate only because it is “so cute”. Ok moving on to the actual cabinets.

Organize In A Way That Makes Sense

Now we put things back in a way that makes sense to how we use the kitchen. Put cups, plates, silverware and bowls near the dishwasher to put away more easily. Pots and pans can go near the oven or even in the oven drawer. I feel like this is obvious but I have been in homes where the cookware was nowhere near the cooktop. And actually, just last month I bought myself a little mug tree and put it by the blender, which may make no sense to you, but to me is genius because that is where I blend my bulletproof coffee (coffee + butter). Life has become so much better being able to pick up a mug right there and pour my coffee in.

If you have everything put back and you still don’t have the space you need, then you maybe weren’t as ruthless as you needed to be. Try again.

Remove A Cabinet

And everyone loses their shit. “Why would I want to remove a cabinet!? I need storage!” Well, upper cabinets feel like giant heavy boxes hanging over our heads because that is exactly what they ARE. You can feel it. It’s like bad feng shui or some shit like that. Find one random one that is poking out. Hanging there. All willy nilly. I double dog dare you. All you need is a screw driver. There will be consequences though. Holes to fill. Paint to paint. Maybe a shelf or two to hang. Or if you don’t need storage because you have purged half your kitchen belongings, hang some art! Your heart will love it. There should be more art in the world.

Replace These

i almost don’t even want to say this next one because the minute I do you’ll tune out. Every other design website and show has said this is the way to update your kitchen and I don’t like to be like “them”. But, changing your YOU KNOW WHATS can be good if you do it right. Be creative. Don’t go with the obvious. Sometimes what you think is a decent handle will look terrible strewn all over your kitchen. Imagine looking into your kitchen and seeing black (brushed nickel, brass, whatever) bars dotting the landscape. Does that look good or annoying to you? What about handles that “match” your cabinets? They disappear! Could you like that more? I have done that in this kitchen because I didn’t want the hardware to ruin the color scheme. Finding white handles was near impossible so I spray painted some nickel ones.

There are loads of options here and I’d say that one size doesn’t fit all. Look up some kitchens similar that to yours on Pinterest and see what you might like. A good place to find hardware is Amazon because you can often find packs of 10-20. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve used over and over.

Remove These

Take that stuff down from above your cabinets.. Just try it. See how it feels for a few days. In most cases it doesn’t “work” in my opinion. More things looming overhead. Not good for the soul.

Add Storage

LAST RESORT. Now we get to it, but not until way after the purge. Why add storage to fuel the hoarding fire? That makes no sense. If after all of that you still need a bit more storage, or maybe just a more suitable type of storage, consider these options:

  • Try using some of your cookware as the “art” of the room. Hang pans somewhere, alleviating the need to take up a cabinet

  • Add shelves for glassware, dishes, mugs, etc Let’s hope you chose to keep a good looking set or collection

  • If you have an empty wall, bring in a buffet. It can double as storage and extra counter space.

Try your best to keep most things hidden. More things to look at usually result in a cluttered head. At least for me.

That’s It

That’s a lot to take in and for some of you a lot of work ahead so we’ll stop right there. Show us your work in progress and your after photos over on Instagram or tell us about it below!

Missed a challenge? See the last week here.

From Pinterest to Real Life: World's Largest Spice Rack

Ok so one of the best things about flipping houses and doing renovations for others is getting to put Pinterest projects into play. For real, yo. You think I come up with this stuff on my own? No. I wish. I research (aka Pin), take mental notes and then BAMMMM a project comes up that is in desperate need of Pinterest magic. Like this little gem....

Shoot. I just went to find the Pin to show you guys and got lost for 15 minutes pinning away other things. Ok. FOCUS>>>

That was it. That was the answer to all of our storage problems. See the linen closet in this bathroom before pic....

Right there ^^^ that tiny little door. That's what we had to work with. And, we didn't have much logical space to add storage in this renovation, so I opted to convert a tiny hard to reach space into what all normal people want. A giant spice rack. 

Behold the new storage space in all of it's reachable beauty!

Spice Rack Style Linen cabinet
Spice Rack style cabinet for Linens in a bathroom

My contractor, All Around Joe, built the rack into a wood case that then slid into the original linen closet space. This way nothing will fall back into any holes and be lost forever. He also put a backing on the right side of the cabinet so nothing goes tipping over and toppling out when opening and closing. This gives the homeowner a wall to lean things up against for stuffing, stacking and storing things. Even more importantly, this backing is where the glides are that help it slide in and out. There's quite a bit of weight on this thing with all of the wood, plus anything they put in there, so there needed to be lots of support and ease moving it in and out. 

This giant spice-linen cabinet even has a soft close feature. Ooh-la-la. Jury is out on how the homeowner likes it compared to the former narrow linen closet cave. I'll keep you posted. I don't care how cool it is if it doesn't increase efficiency or functionality. We don't just do things for the fun of it.


Check out all of our Pinning madness.


Bathroom Redesign: Modern Gray and Teal with Sneaky Storage

The Before

Jen wrote to me about her bathroom which was outdated, lacked storage space and needed to handle teenager use. The bathroom seriously lacks storage, with the only space being under the sink. I checked out the photos and quickly realized it was a small bathroom, and unfortunately, not much could be done to change it. But, with a little finagling, some storage could be added in some tricky places. Jen's budget is $10-$15,000, so there was room to add some custom elements as well as nicer finishes. She's ready to start completely over. GUT JOB! My favorite. See before photos below. 

The Design

She wanted something modern, neutral with a pop of color and worthy of teenager use. Here is the design.

The Road Map

Keeping most of the room neutral is a good call. It will allow the design to hold up over the years without becoming quickly dated. Leaving the punch of color in the decorative items, such as towels, artwork and soaps and lotions, allows you to change the color scheme easily. Tile is not as easy to change but new towels can be swapped out every season if you wished. There isn’t a way to improve the layout as that would require diminishing the size of the shower which would then be too narrow or lessening the size of the vanity, meaning less storage and counter space. I do believe some creative storage could be added next to the shower and in wall niches. Let’s dive deeper…

  1. Storage: There are two areas storage could be introduced to the space.

    1. Cubbies: Floor to ceiling storage cubbies behind the shower will add lots of vertical space to store towels. Baskets could also be added to the cubbies to hold loose items. A contractor will have to frame this to size. Accounting for the framing and drywall and leaving space for the shower, it will be pretty narrow. However,  it will be ample when considering it is utilizing the vertical space.

    2. Niches: A recessed cabinet with a full length mirror as a door will add some shallow storage space to keep items like hair products and accessories. This can fit on the wall opposite the toilet where the towel bar is currently. When the room is gutted by the contractor, they’ll remove some of the drywall and reframe to the desired cabinet size provided the wall can handle this change. If not, or if cost is an issue, there could be a smaller, narrow nook or two the size of the space between the studs. This will be a custom project so anything goes here. The new “cabinet” will be a recessed nook whatever size you and your contractor decide on. Consider white wood or glass shelves.

  2. Tile: The shower floor will be tiled which requires a mosaic for the pitch toward the drain. I recommend these marble hexagons with a gray grout. The hexagons can be carried up the back wall of the shower in a wide 3 ft. stripe to the ceiling. Consider adding a shower niche in the center of the stripe, in the same tile, for soaps and shampoos. The rest of the shower walls, as well as the bathroom floor will be in a coordinating gray plank tile. Lay the tiles in a stacked pattern for a more modern look, as well as to draw more attention to the mosaic. A Schluter strip can be used to finish off the edges where the shower tiles end on the walls.

  3. Vanity: The vanity is 36” and will sit exactly where the old one did. There is no room for improvement in size or storage here, unfortunately. The marble countertop coordinates with the accent tiles in the shower. Use the bottom shelf to store more towels, or add baskets to hold small items.

  4. Decor and Accessories: The towels, artwork and soap are your ticket to color in this bathroom. I included teal, but any color will work with the gray. The artwork is inexpensive and can easily be printed and inserted in a white Ikea frame.

  5. Toilet Seat: I added a Toto toilet seat like you wanted so we could see it in the budget and with the design. I’m not sure which one you’ll choose, but I recommend that you choose a toilet with a rounded seat. This will allow more room in front of the shower and be less intrusive in the space.

  6. Fixtures and Hardware: The finishes in the room are nickel and modern. The rain shower head will be impressive looking through the glass shower doors, as well as probably feel amazing!  The  vanity light, fan, sink faucet and towel bars all work together, but aren’t from  the same line  in order to keep from looking too matchy. Glass knobs are included in the design to replace the ones on the new vanity which don’t really work with the scheme. Their geometric shape work with the hex tiles.

  7. Paint: The paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Wickham Gray. You can buy this color anywhere you want (i.e. Home Depot or Lowes). Every paint store has other paint store’s color formulas.

If you're thinking about getting your own design, we have a Cyber Monday (week) discount for 10% off any of our virtual design products. Just use the code CYBER10 at check out. You can gift it to a friend or family member for the Holidays or keep it for yourself. Discount good until December 8, 2014.

Change some ugly.