The Life Changing Magic

So this year one of my goals was to spend more time reading and to make my own home a priority in getting it to the same level of comfort as I work so hard to help my clients get to in their homes.

"The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up", Marie Kondo, KonMari Method, KonMari, LIfechanging Magic, Life Changing, Tidying UP, Organization, Spring Cleaning, Sorting, Home, Japanese art of decluttering, declutter

Well I’m busy, so time to read ends up falling pretty low on the totem pole, but I had heard so much about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo that I thought maybe that would be a good way to get two birds. Read something that helps me get my own home more in order.

So again, with no time to read, I posted on Facebook about audio book apps and what people thought of them. Most of my friends left comments raving about both Audibles and Overdrive, and I would be willing to try either, however Overdrive is a free service that works in connection with library systems so it is only as good as the library you are linked to and Audibles is a monthly fee for one book per month or a higher fee for multiple books. You can look into more on that here, but I ultimately decided to download Overdrive and connected using my Mom’s library card to start and see about the service.

Her library is amazing and so far has had every title I have searched for and I’m on my third book with more on hold… I might be addicted to audio books. 

That said, the first book we listened to was the life changing magic, to learn the KonMari method. I say we because I wanted to make sure that P and I listened together so that we could work on the process together, sense after all we share the 525SF space equally with equal amounts of possessions that add to our chaos and do not bring us joy.

We started listening to the book on Monday the 18th I want to say. On Friday the 22nd there was a blizzard brewin’ so I stopped at Home Goods on my way home to buy some organizational baskets and things. Friday night we listened to more of the book and Saturday morning we listened throughout brunch until we got to a point where we felt we had heard enough to get the concept and start working on it. (This was about 2/3 through the book where she had completed discussing the order of the process and how the process works, so we were in a good place really to start.)

"The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up", Marie Kondo, KonMari Method, KonMari, LIfechanging Magic, Life Changing, Tidying UP, Organization, Spring Cleaning, Sorting, Home, Japanese art of decluttering, declutter

Everything all laid out, ready to sort. No judgement!

I have to say, at first it was hard and I did end up with a lump in my throat sorting through some items. P and I discussed it and he said that he learned after a few ‘tough’ items to figure out, he realized that he really knew which way he should go on them and some things were just harder to detach from, but if they don’t look good, feel good, etc., then do they really bring you joy just taking up space?

We moved past the hump, finishing our clothes and by Sunday morning our closet was put back together in such a stunning way, and we had rearranged our bedroom minimally but gained so much space in the process! (Can’t wait to share more on this down the road!)

The order that Marie Kondo discusses in her book is first clothing, then books, papers, komono and mementos. Komono is a Japanese term that basically covers all of the miscellaneous items you may have, such as linens, cleaning products, medicines, accessories around the home, kitchen goods (from dishes to the items in your pantry), etc., so this is a vast category to get through.

Sunday we worked through all of our books, then started on the komono (there is a specific list/order to follow mentioned in the book).

Monday after work, we went through our papers, realizing we had skipped this necessary and evil step.

Tuesday we sorted through a few more areas of komono in the morning, and then started taking a few things to the car to donate.

Tuesday night we took out our narrow dresser that had been in our closet along with our old filing cabinet, both now empty, down to the street (in JC if you put any furniture on the curb, people will come pick it up in under 24 hours) and someone else had picked them up by the time I got home from work the next evening. The last few nights and mornings upon coming and going to work, we have taken a few more items and loaded them into the car.

This morning, I took the first car load to the Goodwill Donation Center. In this car-load alone, we donated 10 garbage bags of clothing/shoes/accessories, 2 boxes of ‘komono,’ 2 folding chairs. At home we still have 3 bags of closthing/komono, one box of books and one more folding chair to donate that wouldn’t fit in the car this time around. That and we still have about half of the komono category to go through. Not to mention, we have also taken something like 6 bags down to the garbage and recycling (mostly recycling when we can!) since we started sifting through everything, and we have one stuffed bag to take to the shredder.

Here is what I am feeling throughout this process. First of all, holy shit. How is it possible that we even had so many things just sitting around, stuffed in corners and hidden away in the back of our closet that we truly don’t love?! That in and of itself is crazy. Second of all, I feel amazing. I am starting to feel lighter in my space.

When I would come home from work before, it was always hard for me to feel calm. I always felt like there was something that had to be taken care of because there is always stuff everywhere and surfaces covered. Especially doing what I do I have always felt a bit of guilt that my home doesn’t look and feel as beautiful as my clients do.

Homes should be lived in, and that means they should have stuff. You should have things that are meaningful to you laying out on your surfaces. Things that when you see them bring you joy. But you shouldn’t have a seemingly bottomless pile of junk mail covering a section of your kitchen counter no matter how many times you clear away that section. You shouldn’t have your electronics (laptops, iPads, etc.) just laying around on the coffee table. And you shouldn’t have a pile of miscellaneous crap just sitting on the table for no good reason. For these reasons, I am completely absorbed and invested in the KonMari method. The life changing magic is no joke.

I can feel our life changing. I can feel the weight of the things that don’t matter to us that have been filling our lives being lifted away.

For now, things are still in a state of chaos as we are still sifting through things one day at a time and around the time when we are at work or my client appointments, etc., because this takes time. The more you have, the longer it can take. In the book Marie Kondo says that it can take up to 6 months for some people… I’m aiming to be done in less than one just because I don’t do well with things up in the air-I need some sense of finality, but I also want it to be done right, so we will get it done when we can.

We have still been listening to the book and are just about finished with it. I have started to get really excited about what this ‘life change’ means for us moving forward. I think we will be so much more comfortable and relaxed in our home.

I will report back once we are truly finished with the process and the book as a whole, but I had to share what we have been up to and how amazing it has been so far. It is certainly not easy, and I wouldn’t recommend starting the process without considering what it means and if you are really mentally/emotionally/physically ready for the grueling process. I also have to say that having your spouse (or house-mates) on board is HUGE. For me, knowing that P is in this with me has been so wonderful. I feel supported and that it is a joint effort to move forward with a tidier lifestyle, and thus I feel my efforts are not wasted but matched.

Have you heard all the rage on the KonMari method and this book? Do you buy it? Do you want to try it? If you have questions, chime in in the comments section, I’m happy to help if I can!

Let’s be social! Follow DBK on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Bloglovin’ so you don’t miss a thing!

100 Year Old Basement Renovation In Process

This project started out a lot like many others. When I first met with the homeowners, the wife was timid and anxious about even letting me see the basement, but upon seeing it and discussing the space with her, she became very excited to be moving forward with renovating this space.

When I presented the plans to the husband and wife they both became very excited about the space and anxious to keep things moving. This basement needs to consist of more organized storage for household items, their extra refrigerator, an appliance pantry for larger counter-top appliances that get used only a handful of times throughout the year, a laundry room, and gym. In addition to these shared spaces, we needed to create a space where family can crash when needed, so there is also a shared mud room with exterior entry and a full private suite with a kitchenette, living room, bathroom and bedroom, and knowing how amazing this space is going to be when it is finished, any member of the family who gets to crash in this basement is going to feel like they landed at a 5 star hotel.

Through shopping trips, research, planning and revising plans, I have become pretty close with the family and they have had some unfortunate news come to light. That said, we are doing everything we can to finish this project as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.

The space has been fully gutted and the french drains are going in. The space feels so much larger than it felt before and they are starting to be able to envision the plan within the shell of their basement now. We are at a pretty fun stage of the game with everything so raw right now. (All of the images above are pre-demo; below is where we are now.)

I wanted to share this seemingly nothing of an improvement so that you can see how these projects start. We have to knock things down in order to pick them back up again, and in this business it isn’t all pretty. Sometimes you might be ashamed of how your space looks now, but it will get there, even if it takes forever.

This basement is 100 years old, it has a lot of character, and we are intending to keep a good chunk of the character in tact. Can’t wait to show you more along the way as we progress.

WIP|Dressing Room

One of the projects I am really excited about right now is a dressing room I’m working on for a great couple. The house is an older home with tiny existing closets, but at the top of the stairs to their second level, there is a larger bedroom to the left, the master, a bathroom directly across from the stairs, a linen closet next to the stairs on the right and a smaller bedroom on the end of the hall just past the linen closet.

A look at the exiting extra bedroom just after moving into the home:

Since they have two additional bedrooms on the first floor, we’ve decided to convert the second bedroom upstairs into a large walk-in closet, or dressing room, creating a full master suite upstairs. The room has stunning hardwood floors, an existing closet, and for resale purposes it may need to be converted back into a bedroom, so we are anchoring all of the shelving into the walls which can be patched and painted easily enough when the time comes.

Personally, I think that the dressing room would be an excellent sales feature on its own without being converted back, but resale won’t be for a while.

The first thing we did upon my first visit to the home was take a look at all of the shoes, clothing and handbags that they were hoping to house in the dressing room. I then needed to see the space. I took my measurements and hit the drawing boards.

I came up with two options for them in the space calculating the number of items each could potentially hold and presented each to them. To help them better envision how each would feel in the space, I measured out some of the key pieces and marked them with blue painters tape on the floor, and once we could all really see how the space would lay out, a plan was very easily selected.

From the plan, we began furnishing the space. The largest piece of the dressing room is obviously the cabinetry, which had a lot of research involved. Although similar in many ways, the cabinetry for closets are very different from kitchens and baths.

That said, we began looking into a happy medium between big-box stores and Ikea options which turned out not to be customizable enough to fully customizable cabinetry lines. We found our happy medium with a local shelving systems company, Bella Systems, who thus far has been a breeze to deal with.

It took some back and forth between all the parties involved to find the exact right use of space and components involved before we settled on the final layout (the above left floor plan) and placed our order. While we wait for the cabinetry to come in, we are working on selecting seating for the space, a new makeup vanity and coordinating stool, new jewelry storage, art/details for the walls and other accessories.

I promise to update with some selections soon and I can’t wait for this space to come together! It is going to be a dream for the homeowners and the envy of all of their friends and family (myself included)! All digitally created images provided by Bella Systems, some modifications have been made from these plans to fit the current plan moving forward… I can’t wait to share this space with everyone!

Wedding Season|The Registry

When a couple is newly engaged and planning their big day, putting together a registry is often one of the most fun parts for both bride and groom. It’s something they look forward to and can have fun with, but it is also something that can be quite overwhelming! I wanted to give some pointers on what to think about while you are registering for items for your new home together.

Sunset on the Mediterranean during our honeymoon.

Sunset on the Mediterranean during our honeymoon.

1. First, there are fabulous websites that allow you to register for your honeymoon, register for some upcoming financial goals like your first house, etc., and these are great places to look. I highly recommend that everyone do a honeymoon within a few months of getting hitched. Don’t sweat the cost (but don’t go crazy if you really can’t afford it), you are likely to get some monetary gifts on your big day, although you won’t be able to count on how much, so plan to do a honeymoon fund as one of your gifts. Your honeymoon will build the memories that will last your entire marriage. Our honeymoon was amazing, and I don’t regret a single thing we did or didn’t do and we frequently talk about our time on our honeymoon like it was a dream. Check out Wanderable and Honeyfund. And if you love to travel in general, don’t forget to register for new luggage!

monogrammed luggage

2. Consider large gifts for your friends and family to be able to get you. Often times at showers a group of friends will go in together on one larger gift as opposed to each purchasing a few small pieces. A lot of companies also offer completion discounts for the items you didn’t receive from your registries, so after your big day, you may be able to splurge for that new sofa or those nightstands you’ve been dreaming of for less. But if they aren’t on your registry you won’t be able to apply the discount.

3. Consider all the little things. It takes a lot to make a fully functioning home and all the little pieces really add up. You will use those measuring scoops and cooking-and-serving utensils more than you think, so register for a few more pieces than you need. The worst-case scenario is that once you actually are gifted these pieces you may realize you don’t like to use a bagel stand to slice bagels in so you return it for credit and put it towards that bigger purchase that nobody was able to splurge on for you.

Place Settings

4. Look at the open-stock items for your dinnerware and flatware. A lot of times the sets come with pieces you won’t ever use, so why have them taking up space in your cabinet or coming out of what people can afford to buy you? Instead look towards the open-stock pieces in which you can mix and match pieces to create a place setting you really love and that you can actually entertain with. Once you’ve created your place-setting, ask for one or two place settings more than you think you will ever need (i.e., if you plan to host 8, order 9; if you plan to host 12 order 13), because let’s face it, dishes break. See more on the dinnerware we registered for here, also pictured above.

5. Have fun! This should be something that you and your future spouse can really enjoy. Part of planning your registry is planning what kind of life you want to live together and figuring out the essentials to get you started.

If you are shopping someone’s registry, remember these things too! Plan your purchases based on first what you can afford, decide if you want to go in on something with a group to get a larger item or if you would rather pull a few smaller items together.

In general, I like to get things that remind me of my friendship with that couple. If it is friends you always do game night with, get something on their registry that would help them host their own game night, maybe a chips and dips bowl; if they are friends you often grab drinks with, get them a cocktail shaker or some of their barware; if they are friends that you love to cook with, get them a few of their essential skillets.

Remember that these are likely all things that when they use them in the future, they will stop and think of you and how thoughtful it was for you to get them something that corresponds to your friendship together. It makes it a little bit more meaningful which makes the gift that much sweeter!

Addressing the Bedroom

bedroom before 1

I have decided that I need to change what I’m doing in order to really get my home in order. That said I decided I needed to stop working on little pieces of all the rooms in my home and work to complete one room. I discussed it a little bit last week, waffled around about which room would be best to work on and finally landed on the bedroom. I feel like this is a good place to start as it is where each day begins and ends for us. There are definitely areas of our home that need some attention too, but as P always says, one thing at a time, that way I won’t get overwhelmed with everything.

First things first, I want to give you a little peek at where things are now, and then we can go through the lists of what I would like to get accomplished throughout the course of the month. I’ll share a weekly or as-needed progress report, as well as some social media posts about what we are working on as we work through it.

Things that need our attention:

  • Window Treatments
  • Closet Area-Refold/Reorganize and hem-white curtains.
  • Work Space Completion-Address task lighting, project organization system, and chair.
  • Lighting-change overhead fixture and add desk lighting.
  • Storage-increase and reconfigure to work better.
  • Art & Details-styling the surfaces horizontal and vertical.

So it isn’t too bad. Things like the window treatments, we have (they are in the West Elm box on the floor) and they just need to be installed. Everything else I have a major plan for, I just need to lay it out, finalize and take action to implement. More on that through the course of the week, and hopefully these scary before pictures will just lead to a much better after with all the wow factor a transition can have!

Oh and for those who have been looking for the final office-space area.. these pictures show a sneak peek at where it is now…and although it isn’t fully finished, it is functional and working well for now.

I’m excited to be moving along with this space (and hopefully more in the future), this refocusing is just the push I need to get my ducks in a row and get this room finished!

Motivation for Mondays

I was chatting with a friend this morning about how Mondays get such a bad rap. And why is that? It’s not their fault that they fall where they do, they didn’t choose to be the most hated day of the week! I wanted to come up with some ways to turn those Monday blues into positive notes for the beginning of the week, after all that is what the Motivation Monday posts are all about!

Maximizing Mondays

Your Mondays are about to get a whole lot better.

Mondays are the first day of the new week. Let that on it’s own be a blessing. You get another week to start fresh, tackle a new list and get it done. Don’t stress out, you have the whole week in front of you for that!

Treat yourself. Stop on your way into the office for your favorite coffee and breakfast treat. I used to do this on Fridays, stop and get a latte or macchiato on my way to work, but why wait until Friday? They already get all the glory so they can afford to share their sweets with the Monday crew.

Prepare everything the night before. I think a large part of why Mondays are hard is because we have just had a nice relaxing weekend break from the work week. We got a chance to spend time with our loved ones and use all of our energy for adventure and fun. Then all of a sudden, beep-beep-beep, your alarm is ringing again and it’s time to haul your butt to work. Do yourself a favor and plan for this rushed and hectic Monday morning routine to be a bit more calm. Get out your clothes laid out the night before, shower and dry your hair at night so all you have to do is style it in the am. Pack your bag and prep your lunch and breakfast the night before. If everything is all set, you can feel free to hit snooze just one more time, knowing that you will be just fine. Heck, now that you’ve mastered the night before prep after the weekend, do it every night and you’ll rarely ever be frazzled and rushing!

Make your to-do list a mile long. Add monotonous every day tasks to your list. Things like “get coffee,” “brush teeth,” “refill water bottle,” mixed in with the things that are more serious and need to get done will help you balance out your list with things that you are doing anyway. When you get to cross off more things on your list, you will feel a better sense of accomplishment through your day.

Turn that frazzled feeling into motivation. If you are still feeling crazy despite getting ready for Monday morning, turn that frazzled feeling into motivation and get things done. If you can work through the crazy to encourage that hectic energy into momentum, you will be rolling through your day getting more done than you have before.

What do you guys do to trick encourage yourself through those tough Monday blues? I want to know what I’m missing out on so I can feel better too! Help a woman out!

Whatever it is that you are doing today, have an awesome Monday!

The January Cure Project

For the January Cure over at Apartment Therapy, you are supposed to make a list of “problem areas” within your space, room to room, and if it is bothering you or wreaking havoc on your day to day, write it down. Then you are supposed to decide which area you could actually tackle and get done within the month that would greatly benefit you and your space. We chose our entryway.

Entryway Update 1

The whole entryway is a bit of a struggle – or was, anyway – because of its awkward space with all the doorways off of it, small wall spaces, etc., it has always just not functioned well for us. We tried putting a chair there, we added coat hooks, nothing made it feel better. Until, I decided to add the Ikea Trones.

These little cubbies are like the best creation ever. They are a simple, stackable storage solution in a variety of colors, and I can really see how you could get a ton of mileage from them in many areas of the home. For us, simply stacked and attached to the entryway wall was the best thing we could do for that space.

Now that they are in place, there is a cubby dedicated to Brantley’s stuff, a cubby for our shoes and for now, the top cubby is used for winter. I had thought about getting some sort of more finished shelf to put on the top of the cubbies, but I’ve been really enjoying the top tray shaped area to use for our keys, gym locks, etc., it really has be acting like a great landing zone for our home.

We shifted some of the hooks around, put up a lovely frame that was gifted by a dear friend over the holidays and voila! We now have an awesome functioning entry space that doesn’t make me crazy every time I’m coming or going.

Now, if only I could find a mirror for the other wall and get a new light fixture up in there…