10 Ways to De-Clutter

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein

 1. Give it a home! Take a look around your house, what stands out the most to you? Do you have lots of random papers everywhere? Kids toys? Dog treats? Shoes? Give these items one specific place and keep them there. For example, when you bring in the mail, have a designated place for it to go so that papers don't pile up around the house. 

2.  Start clearing a starting zone. Give yourself a starting point. Depending on how ambitious you are it could be a high-traffic area, or a smaller space in the home. Make this one area completely clutter-free. Once you're done removing the clutter from that area (no matter how small or large), keep it clutter-free and keep expanding the space until your whole house is clutter-free! 

3. Clear off a counter. I think this is my mother's favorite de-clutter rule. She will not go to bed until all of the counters and tables are cleared off and everything is put away. This is a great rule to live by because it's much harder to keep clutter if you have no where to put it! If you're like me, and love to leave stuff everywhere because "I'm going to use that again in a little while", it's best to start small with one counter and work your way up to all of the flat surfaces in your home (tables, kitchen island, etc.). 

4. Pick a shelf. This is great if you only have a few minutes. Pick one shelf in your house every day and make it clutter-free. Get rid of all of the things that don't belong. Either throw them away, put them in their proper place, or donate them. You don't have to do all the shelves in one room or on one piece of furniture, just clean one shelf.  

5. Schedule a decluttering weekend. Ask a friend if you can borrow their truck one weekend, and block off one weekend for the family to de-clutter the house. Pick up some boxes so you can choose what you want to stay, donate, throw away or relocate. Make sure that each room has four boxes so that the items in that room can be categorized. At the end of the day, haul the throw aways to the dump and take the rest to Goodwill. If there are some items that you aren't sure about - you don't want to get rid of it per say, but you don't want to stare at it every day either, make a "maybe" box. Put everything you're unsure of in the box, and store it in the attic. Then, put a note on your calendar in 6 months and decide what you want to do with it then. This give you an opportunity to see how often you actually use those items and how badly you want to keep them. *You also may want to add a 5th box, if you want to have a yard sale - but make sure you actually set a date for the yard sale and follow through.  

6. Re-learn how to buy. One of my friend's had a rule growing up, that he wasn't allowed to buy anything with his allowance the day he saw it. He had to wait a month before making a purchase, that way he knew that he really wanted it. What a great idea for his mom to instill in him at such a young age! It's so easy to go by the $5 bin at Wal-Mart and pick up several DVD's that you have wanted forever and they always end up taking up more space and you only watch them once. Instead, make a list of things that you want to buy while you're out that isn't a necessity, and put them on your calendar. After 1 month, if you can't get that item out of your head, go get it. Most of the time, they are impulse buys and this will save you lots of money and clutter! 

7. Teach your kids where things belong. This only applies to the parents among us, of course, but if you teach your kids where things go, and start teaching them the habit of putting them there, you’ll go a long way to keeping your house uncluttered.There is nothing worse than stepping on a Lego at 2am and trying not to wake up the whole house - just to go to the bathroom! Of course, they won’t learn the habit overnight, so you’ll have to be very very patient with them and just keep teaching them until they’ve got it. And better yet, set the example for them and get into the habit yourself.

8. Pull out some clothes you don’t wear. You may have seen this on Oprah. Take all of the clothes in your closet and turn the hangers around backwards. At the end of the year, anything not turned back needs to go to Goodwill. Let's face it, if we haven't worn it in a year, then we probably will never wear it again. You can something similar to your drawers, and just put the clothes in upside down (have the folded half of the shirt face the back of the drawer instead of the front).  

9. Clear out your medicine cabinet. If you don’t have one spot for medicines, give them a home! Clean out all of the expired medicines, anything that is empty, trash, etc. Only put medicines in here that will be used regularly or are not out of date (pain relievers, blood pressure medicine, band aids, etc.). And no, the Vodka and Bourbon don't belong here! 

10. Pull everything out of a drawer. Just take the drawer out and empty it on a table. Then sort the drawer into three piles: 1) stuff that really should go in the drawer; 2) stuff that belongs elsewhere; 3) stuff to get rid of. Clean the drawer out nice, then put the stuff in the first pile back neatly and orderly. Deal with the other piles immediately!

Refinishing Laminate Cabinets

Want to redo your kitchen cabinets without spending a fortune? I know the feeling. I moved into a house that was screaming 1985 every time I walked into a kitchen or bathroom. So, being a penny pincher, I turned to the internet for affordable options that would give me a better look. The biggest challenge that I faced was the material. My house has laminate counter tops and cabinets - which you can't just paint or stain. Here's my step-by-step guide to doing what I did. I only spent about $300.00, and that includes all of the hardware, paint, drop-cloths, etc. You may already have some of these materials at your disposal.

1. Decide the color choice for your new kitchen/bathroom. 
Keep in mind, if you have white cabinets and very little sunshine, that the color could really change the mood of your room and make it much darker. Also, it's terrible to have to get half way through your project and start over because the color isn't right...not that I did that more than once...

2. Clean your cabinets.
I used hot soapy water to clean the dirt off of the cabinet doors. We also had some issues with mold inside our cabinets due to a water leak, so I made sure all of the cabinets were cleaned inside and out with mold spray.

 3. Take down the doors
This is a surprisingly difficult process if your doors have been up there for a long period of time. Don't forget to take the drawer fronts off - otherwise the whole set up may look funny. The clutter can be overwhelming, but I chose to see it as inspiration to finish faster! **If you have as many doors and drawer fronts as I do, you should probably write on the inside of them where they go, that way you don't spend extra time trying to figure out where they go when hanging them back up.**

4. Sanding Time
This is so much fun. At least pretend, because you have a lot to do! Sand every door, drawer front, and face frame. Make sure to get all of the edges/sides so that the paint wont chip. Don't peel the laminate off if it's stuck on there pretty well, otherwise you may have bumpy paint.

If the laminate is peeling off of the boards, this step is the most important. Take your time and make sure that the surface is completely smooth. You may need to apply a thin layer of putty to the door if it's really rough, that way you don't sand into the door too deeply. You want the surface to be as smooth as possible, otherwise every little imperfection will show in the paint job. 

It's best to do this outside, otherwise you'll have very dusty furniture. You may also want to wear a mask because if you have as many doors to do as I did, you'll be breathing in a lot of dust. 

5. Paint Party
Time to grab your rollers and get to painting. Depending on how your painting your project, keep in mind that there are rollers specifically made to paint cabinets. These are very helpful if you're not doing a design or if you just want a really good base coat. You don't need any special paint finish because you will be painting a sealant on top of the paint, so get whatever is cheapest. The only thing you should care about at this stage is the color!

Make sure to go in the same direction each time you roll your paint, otherwise you will be able to see lines. Also, it's very easy to mess up the edges while painting because many laminate cabinets have round edges at the tops and bottoms so there is no stopping point when painting, so make sure you go completely under the door if that's the case. Make sure to use thin, even layers. I recommend doing at least 2 layers of paint, I did 3 on my cabinets. I also had paint/primer in one, so if you don't buy that type of paint, you should probably use a primer, especially if you're going from dark to light or light to dark. Be sure to read the label on the paint can and give it sufficient time to dry and cure between coats. Otherwise it wont dry or it will get bumpy.

I'm not sure how much space you have to paint, but this is the only system that worked for me (space-wise). I didn't want the paint to get everywhere, but I also didn't want what I've painted to get smudged, so I placed each door on a ladder so that the paint wouldn't get messed up and I could paint the edges at the same time.

6. Seal It
 This is the most important step. Don't forget to seal your doors. I highly recommend using Johnson's Water Seal on your cabinets because it's nearly impossible to scratch. I have redone my bathroom cabinets and my kitchen cabinets, and so far nothing has scratched or chipped! This is exterior, oil-based sealant, so be sure to purchase the proper brushes for the job. I couldn't find rollers for oil-based paint, so I had to use a brush. The finer the bristles the better - it makes for a much smoother finish. Be careful in selecting your sealant because many of them are tinted and it can throw off your paint color. You can pick any finish - I chose satin and I love it!

I applied two coats on my cabinets just to be safe. The key to a smooth sealant is to make sure your brush/roller is completely saturated. If there is any beading on your doors, it will dry that way and give a texture that you don't want. Don't forget to let it cure between coats or before hanging. I waited at least 24 hours between coats, usually 48 hours (unless it was raining). If you don't, you risk scratching and smudging your work - and at this point it's worth the wait not to have to redo them!

7. Pick your Hardware
This is where most of my budget went. I spent about $150 on hardware. To me, this was completely worth the cost because it gave my cabinets a whole new style. Depending on what hardware you choose, the price can be much higher or lower than mine. I chose knobs and pulls that were between $3.00 - $3.50 each.

Installing the hardware was tricky because it's very difficult to drill evenly into plywood. I ended up making a template out of some old cardboard and using that to guide me in the installation process.

8. Hang the Cabinets!
 This is the most fun because you get to see all of your hard work pay off!