Home Decor

  1. Make College Move-In Day Easier!

    Ah, college. A time of self-discovery, personal growth, and hopefully some learning along the way.

    Before all that, though, there’s always one big hurdle to cross—moving into your dorm!

    Dorm life can be a ton of fun, but it’s got a lot in common with moving into your first new apartment, or moving at all, which means it can be a huge pain. The stress of making sure you have everything is compacted by the fact that dorms don’t typically offer a lot of space.

    But all is not lost! When your move-in day approaches, there’s a few things you can do to try and make it as stress-free as possible for everyone. Here’s a few tips we’ve pulled together to help try and smooth out some of the...less appealing parts of moving into your dorm:


    Make sure you have everything by day 1

    The last-minute scramble for school supplies doesn’t stop at college. In fact, it probably involves more stuff than ever because now you need to furnish your part of the dorm! Make sure to factor in enough time to buy both the regular round of school supplies (backpacks, pencils, probably a new tablet or two, etc) and the sort of creature comforts you’re going to need while you’re there like hampers, pillows, closet storage bins, and so on. You’re probably going to have a pretty long list, especially if you’re starting your freshman year, but going in with your list checked off will save a lot of time in the long run.


    Get ready to move in a hurry

    A lot of colleges will have set time limits on when you can move your things in, so whatever it is you’re bringing, try to make sure it can be set up quickly. Try to avoid taking a lot of bulky furniture, instead looking for things like office chairs and desks that can be assembled when you get there and moved into the dorm itself more easily. Keep all your clothes, supplies, and furniture neatly compacted and ready to move in a hurry—you don’t want to get shut out of your dorm with two bags left in the car!


    Don’t be afraid to move stuff around

    A lot of students think that the furniture that’s already in your dorm has to stay there, but in most cases it’s actually easier (and better in the long run) to move it around. Talk to your roommates to see what works best with what everyone brought with them, and feel free to relocate until everyone can stay organized. You need to make room for that fridge stand somehow, right?


    Look up and down for organization

    Due to the limited space of a dorm, you might have to think outside the box a little bit to make everything fit. Get some standing wire shelving for the walls without shelves (or hang wall shelves if your school allows it), store things under the bed or under the dresser as needed, and don’t be afraid to get a little more creative than you might have at home.


    Don’t be afraid to send stuff back home

    A big mistake a lot of people make when packing for their dorm is to overestimate how much they’ll need for their first few months there. Focus on seasonally-appropriate clothing and don’t get too bogged down on packing winter clothes just yet to save room. Bigger amenities like your video game collection and your favorite bike might be better off in your parents’ garage for the time being, as they’re going to be too much of a pain to store in such a limited space. It might be a little heartbreaking at first, but you’ll notice how much space you saved yourself and you’ll be glad you did it.

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  2. Using Wood Shelves For Neutral-Color Rooms

    There’s a big design trend in homes these days to use more neutral tones for certain rooms; a lot of whites, off-whites, and beiges to create a more ‘subdued’ look.

    It’s a look that goes great in a lot of rooms, but if you’re the sort that fancies yourself an interior designer you might notice that it can be a little hard to decorate with sometimes. The neutral colors can find themselves oddly contrasting with anything you try to decorate with, and it can make it more difficult than you expect to arrange things in a way that’s pleasing to the eye.

    We think we have just the thing: wood shelves! Wooden wall shelves are a good, neutral way to add more ‘rustic’ looks to a room and add storage space without worrying about contrasting colors or mismatched tones. The possibilities are nearly endless, but here’s a few ideas we’ve seen and liked:


    • Mirror storage: A good way to open up any room, especially one with solid lighter colors, is with strategic placement of small mirrors to make the space feel bigger. Use wood shelves (or other wall shelves) to hold mirrors and expand a space.
    • Coordination: For more neutral-colored rooms, an easy solution is to use earthy tones splashed about the room to provide greater contrast. Pair wood shelves with darker, wood-colored dining room furniture or living room furniture to get a more cohesive look.
    • Bathroom spas: For master bathrooms (which are generally white or lighter in color anyway), wood shelves are a great way to create a more relaxing, spa-like atmosphere. Use them to keep things like bath salts, lotions, and anything else you need to relax.
    • Office nook: Unless you have a dedicated office in your home, converting an unused corner in another room into an office can be a good way to maximize space but it can feel ‘forced’. Wood shelves can help complement your home office desk and maximize your space without the bulk of bookcases or other big shelving installations.
    • Room to sit: If you have larger bay windows or an unused corner in a larger living room, wood shelves are the perfect complement to a couch. Set up a couch or loveseat in front of the window and place wood shelves around it - if the couch matches the white room, wood shelves will help add a pop of color and give you somewhere to keep your books.


    Have you used shelves to decorate a primarily white or neutral-colored room in your house? Drop a comment below and tell us how it went!

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  3. Preparing Your Home For Rental

    Whether you’re looking to rent out your entire home while away on vacation, have an extra property nobody’s permanently living in yet, or just have a room to rent out for a little added cash, getting your home ready for rent can be a bit of a process.

    Don’t despair just yet! There’s plenty of easy ways to declutter your home and get it ready for rental no matter how big or how long you’ll be renting it out—it just takes a little motivation, imagination, and the right organizational supplies. Read on for a few tips on preparing your home for rental and figure out how to get everything clean for your new guests!


    Protect your damage-prone items: We all have a few things in our house that we have to be a little more...careful with. That coffee table where the glass falls out if you bump it, that stain-prone carpeting, the couch with one foot missing that squeaks a little if you sit on it too hard—you know what we’re talking about. Budget allowing, replace some of these items with newer living room furniture to better entice renters (and prevent further damage!) And for everything else, just make sure everyone is as careful as possible. Let your renters know about the door that sticks or to use a tablecloth to prevent further scratches on your mom’s old dining room table.


    Repair major damage as able: Of course, some things are too big to throw a tablecloth over, and these issues should be patched up as fast as possible before your renters settle in (or before you even put the house on the market, ideally). Take a look around for big structural issues like leaky roofs, musty basements, broken doors/cabinets/etc, and get those repaired before you welcome your new guests, or before they move in at all.


    Declutter what isn’t needed: There’s going to be something of a balancing act to strike when it comes to decluttering your home for renters. Some things may be better left for them—excess plates and dishes, that stack of bath towels you never use—but some items could get tossed out no matter who’s renting from you. Ditch things like stacks of old magazines, dead batteries, ancient phone chargers (you know, what you could be decluttering anyway) to both free up space and make your home a little more appealing to potential renters.


    Work on curb appealbut not too hard: Speaking of, a good tip for renters is to try and make your home seem aesthetically pleasing and comfortable from the first glance, like a mowed lawn and trimmed hedges. That being said, try to avoid making it look like it’ll be a pain to upkeep. Not every renter is going to want to take over your gardening duties, and having an overly-complicated front yard could be a turn-off for some potential tenants. Stick with the easy stuff like a neat and tidy yard, leave out some entryway furniture to make it look more welcoming, and maybe skip the rhododendrons until the rental period is over.


    Leave behind some creature comforts: As opposed to an apartment, a lot of renters move into a home expecting it to be at least partially furnished if not fully. Even above and beyond the big obvious fixtures like beds and couches, make sure to provide things like coffee tables, nightstands, and the like so they’re not forced to bring in a bunch of their own furniture (especially for shorter-term rental periods, such as vacation homes). Things like closet storage and wire shelves for the basement are always welcome in rental properties to help them organize whatever it is they’re bringing with them.


    Don’t leave anything too personal: Finally, it’s a tip that might sound obvious but is worth mentioning—don’t leave anything too personal behind in your home while you rent. This can run the gamut from a number of things, but it’s important to ask yourself: is this too valuable for me to leave here (ie expensive jewelry, family heirlooms, etc), not something you want leaving unsupervised (medical records, sensitive documents), or just plain old too personal (pictures of you on vacation)? These are all good candidates for taking with you or moving. Get a safety deposit box for your valuables and needed documents, or take them with you if possible, and clean the wall shelves of those pictures of your last family trip to Myrtle Beach. The memories might be important to you, but the person renting it probably doesn’t care.


    Have you recently rented a room (or your entire home) and have some decluttering tips? Leave a comment below!

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  4. 10 Things to Clean & Declutter When Selling Your Home

    You’ve done it! You’ve finally decided to sell your home!

    You’ve got a realtor working out the deals, you’ve got listings all over the place, and you and your partner either have your new place picked or are still checking out spots in the new neighborhood. Either way, you’re all excited about the move and ready to go, until something dawns on you:

    You really should get this place cleaned up a little before you try to sell it.

    We’re not here to judge! We do know, however, that a lot of houses can use a little tidying up before showing them off at an open house, and during all the chaos of a move it can be hard to know where to start decluttering. Scan this checklist below and see what you can do to get a home that anyone would be happy to buy:


    1. Front Yards: Any real estate pro will tell you that one of the biggest factors in a successful home sale is curb appeal, and that means you should make sure your home looks great on the outside. At your earliest convenience, make sure your front yard is neatly kept and presentable looking, and people will flock to your door.
    2. Entryways: In a similar vein, the entryway is going to contribute to a potential buyer’s first impression, and making it clean and inviting is going to help a lot. If you have any entryway storage like coat racks or shoe benches, consider leaving them there for the duration of the sale to make your home seem more inviting and show off what can be done with the space—and if the seller seems really interested in them, consider cutting a deal to leave them behind after the sale. (You’ll have plenty of time to get more when you’re done moving!)
    3. Smaller Storage Areas: Especially these days when space is at a premium, a lot of people are going to prefer houses with smaller storage options all over the house to help organize things like coats, clothes, cleaning supplies, etc. If you have any smaller closets (hall closets, space under the stairs, places like that) make sure to clean off any available wall shelves and storage space to make them look as useful as possible.
    4. Living Rooms: This is one of the big ones. A lot of people base their home purchases around one or two rooms, and more often than not the living room is high on that list right alongside bedrooms (which we’ll get to later). Unless you’re already far into the moving process, you should consider leaving your living room furniture like end tables and coffee tables where they are so people can see what they do with the space, but try to remove any excess clutter (magazines, books, empty soda cans) to make your house more presentable. You also might want to move out any unused chairs and throw pillows and cut down on the amount of rugs to avoid making the space look too ‘heavy’ and give the illusion that it’s smaller than it actually is—the key is to show people what they can do with the space, not brag about what you did with it.
    5. Backyards: While the backyard might not make as much of an immediate first impression as the front yard does, you’ll still want to keep it presentable and tidy to show off its size and design potential. Make sure the yard is mowed, try to empty out any available storage sheds, and...well, there’s no polite way to say this, but try to clean up the dog mess.
    6. Kitchens: Kitchens are a big one for many home buyers, and there’s a lot you can do to make yours more appealing. Take whatever kitchen organization you have around (wall shelves, kitchen carts, etc) and purge it of anything that’s too gross, expired, or near-empty to be of use to free up space and make it look like a more professional kitchen. (Or at least as professional as you can get at home.)
    7. Hallways: Most hallways in homes aren’t going to be the roomiest, and likely only exist as a small space between rooms. Maximize this by removing any kind of visual clutter from your halls like wall hooks, pictures, dividers, and the like to help the hallway look less cramped.
    8. Bedrooms: Right up there with kitchens and living rooms, the bedroom is one of the most favored rooms when shopping for a house, and prettying yours up will do wonders. Clean your nightstands free of pictures, extraneous lamps, and excess cables to free up space, try to take down any art you might have hanging up, make sure your dresser drawers are all tucked in, and don’t leave any excess clothes on the floor. (Of course, that’s a pretty good idea in general.)
    9. Home Office: If your home has more bedrooms than you know what to do with, one of them probably wound up being a home office at some point—and the next buyer is probably going to do exactly the same! Try to purge this room of anything but super relevant office supplies (desks, file cabinets, etc) to show how much space it has and maybe plant some ideas in the heads of potential buyers.
    10. Kids’ play areas: Finally, if your home has (or had) a room given over to a kid’s play place, keeping it intact could help nudge any potential buyers with a family of their own into making a purchase. Of course, by now you’re already well-versed in how hard it can be to keep these rooms clean, and now might be a good time to try and make one big sweep of it all. Limit the number of toys on display (to better show off the space potential of the room), clean off any bookshelves you might have in there, and don’t let your kids put any new toys in there until the house is sold. That’ll both keep it clean and make it easier to move in the long run.


    Have you had any luck selling a house lately and have a tip you want to share? Drop a comment below!

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  5. Five Uses for Storage Benches

    Offering more storage than your average couch, while still working as a functional and viable piece of furniture, storage benches are an increasingly common sight in many homes for their versatility and style.

    The advantages are pretty obvious—additional sitting space while adding some extra shelves or storage room? Who doesn’t need that in a room or two at their house? 

    Most people get a new storage bench and assume it belongs somewhere in the entryway, and while that’s always a good call, there’s a few places you can keep a storage bench that you may not have thought of right away. If you’re trying to figure out if a storage bench is the right call for your home, look no further!


    Extra bedroom storage

    A storage bench placed at the foot of your bed can be an excellent way to both allow extra storage for things like shoes or out-of-season clothes and provide an extra seating area to make getting ready in the morning easier. Try to find one that coordinates with your bed (if it matches your dressers, even better) and watch how much faster your morning routine goes. If you’re thinking about going this route, you might be able to find specially-designed bedroom storage benches that meet your needs.


    Replacement coffee tables

    Instead of a standard coffee table, many living rooms are turning to storage benches to serve as their main table and hold things like coffee table books and other types of decor to help liven up the room a little bit. The storage capacity will let you keep things like magazines, TV remotes, and video game controllers safe at hand, and in a pinch you can use it as overflow seating if you have too many guests over one day.


    Dining room table seating

    Dining room furniture is a need that tends to vary depending on the home it’s used in, but one thing is always true: everyone needs a place to sit! A lot of modern homes are streamlining their dining room chairs with storage benches instead, to help cut down on the space taken up by chairs and provide a place to keep tablecloths, place settings, and the like.


    Porch seating

    So long as the fabric is kept safe from the rain, porches are a great place for storage benches. The increased seating will allow more of your guests to hang out on the porch when the weather allows, and you can use the storage options for picnic blankets, candles, and anything else you want to keep outside during the nicer months.


    Space division

    One of the biggest trends in homes and apartments right now is open floor plans, a style of design that removes many walls and doors to provide a more open flow between rooms and spaces. These areas still need occasional division for the sake of navigation and flow, however, and storage benches are an ideal solution for these issues. Lay some storage benches between rooms to create a natural ‘divider’ and help each room feel like its own entity without having to resort to walls and doors like everyone else.


    Have you used storage benches in your home? Leave a comment here!

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