Adding color to your apartment with white walls

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When you’re in your 20’s, apartment living is great. It gives you the freedom to move out of mom and dad’s house, while not committing to a permanent residence. You wanna leave for the summer and travel Asia? No problem – your lease ends in June.

But sometimes, apartment living isn’t always what Carrie Bradshaw made us believe it was going to be. Fancy apartments are expensive and renting comes with a whole set of rules you never knew were possible. You can’t remodel, have pets, change the fixtures or hardware, and you definitely cannot paint. If you can paint, you’re making a huge commitment because if you want to leave when your lease is up, you have to paint it back. Not cool.

So, here are some easy ways you can bring color into your apartment and make your white walls look fabulous.

1. Area rugs

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Area rugs are a must for apartments that have hard wood, but for spaces that are already carpeted, don’t fear using a brightly colored area rug to cover up those worn-in tan carpets. Rug over rug isn’t typical, but it can add so much character to a room if you find one that’s unique. This one from Target brings lots of colors to the pretty party.

2. Removable wall paper

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You can use removable wall paper on your walls of course, but it can do so many more things. Use it as self liner in your bathroom or kitchen. Stick it to the walls of your closet. Decorate a fireplace. Wrap your old furniture in it, or use it on the back of a bookcase so you can take it with you when you move out. It’s the perfect solution to a neutral space. You can find removable wallpaper on Etsy, like the one pictured above by KateZarembaCompany in Washington, DC.

3. Two words: Gallery. Wall.

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I can’t say I’ve participated yet, but I’m so on board with the trendy new gallery wall. It’s a perfect solution to a blank white wall. Look at this one from Style Me Pretty Living. Even though there’s still a lot of white going on, it totally works. The bright pops of pink and gold really catch the eye and the flowers hanging from the deer head add the perfect touch of whimsy and femininity.

4. Colored accent furniture

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Before Matt and I moved to the Capital Region, I went crazy painting old furniture to look new again. I painted larger pieces of furniture, like my dresser, neutral colors to avoid a huge commitment to one color, but some of the smaller pieces I painted with color. I have to say – I was nervous at first, but I love this powder blue table and the pop of happiness it brings to our dark grey couch.

5. Accessorize

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Nothing is as easy as buying some hot pink silk flowers or colored glass jars to liven up a room. You can find really inexpensive home decor items at place like Michaels, T.J. Maxx and even the Christmas Tree Store. They’re all excellent resources for colorful, yet inexpensive, accents.

6. Canvas prints

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You can find a canvas print almost anywhere these days. And they can fill up a whole wall with color with only one nail hole. It’s pretty amazing. This one pictured above is a piece of art we got for only $50 at Kirklands.

Now that you have the tools to change your apartment from a neutral zone to colorful oasis, go forth and live a colorful (and organized!) life. Catch you next time!Signature

Links you need in your life: Lilly for Target, Joanna Gaines’ Twitter account and an organized pantry

So I’ve been thinking about doing a series like this for awhile now. Every week or two weeks, I’m going to post some links to articles that I found and loved. I’ve been wanting to share things form other bloggers that I love for awhile now, and I’ve been having some success sharing them on my Twitter account (follow me @LifeInOrderBlog), so I furred it was about time I got my act together and shared them here on my blog with you.

Before we get into it, if you like what you see here on my blog, don’t forget to subscribe by filling in your e-mail address in the sidebar and following me on Blog Lovin’! If you don’t know what Blog Lovin’ is … you need to look it up now (I mean, after you read this)! So here’s my favorite links of the moment …
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1. My coworker (and bestie) came back to blogging in full force after a long hiatus for her wedding. Her wedding–like everything else she does–was fabulous. She wrote not one, but TWO articles for bridal guide magazine. Read about them both on her blog, Perfection to Detail (she’s clearly one after my own heart).

2. The Lilly for Target look book is up on the Target website and I can already feel the sunshine on my face the and balance on my REDcard skyrocketing.

3. I spent like three days drooling over this pantry from organizing guru Jennifer Jones at iHeartOrganizing. I’m totes jelly to say the least.

4. These Money Saving Tips for Styling Your First Apartment from PopSugar are on point. Especially about mastering the art of spray paint. That’s an important apartment life skill.

5. Here’s a link to Joanna Gaines’ Twitter account from HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Follow her. Love her. Emulate her. It’s what I would do.

I hope you’re as excited about my favorites as I am. I can’t wait to share more with you really soon!Signature

Why You Can’t get Organized: The 5 Most Common Organizing Mistakes

Have you ever organized your whole apartment just for it to fall apart within a week? Maybe you’ve tried to organize a space in your place but it just didn’t end up looking quite right or working like you had hoped. If so, you’re probably making one of the most common organizing mistakes without even knowing it. Here’s the top five reasons you can’t get organized.

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1. You strive for perfection over function.

Pinterest is the best thing to ever happen to the decorating and organizing world, but it’s also the worst. You’re number one source of inspiration can also be the thing that’s keeping you from getting organized. Instead of trying to make a space look like a pin on your Pinterest board, focus on making it work for your needs. The real reason to get organized is to live a more efficient life. Without proper function, a space isn’t really perfect, after all.

2. You organize a space to fit a bin or basket.

Beware the myth of “the bin.” A cute bin, basket or tray, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting organized. Many times, people buy organizing products without an intended use for them and then try to plan an entire space around a bin that’s too big, too small or just doesn’t work at all. Don’t force organizing products on your spaces–you may find you don’t need a product at all, so be sure you’re planning out your systems before purchasing products.

3. You don’t maintain.

An organizing system won’t work for you if you don’t work for it. It’s so important to be sure you’re taking responsibility of maintaining and nurturing the system you put in place, or it could all fall apart. That’s not to say that you can’t reorganize a system that’s not working for you anymore. Just like a bad relationship, you’ve got to know when to try harder, and when to try something new.

4. You think “tidying up” is the same as being organizing.

Throwing your mail in a pile on the edge of the desk, tossing clothes inside a dresser drawer or clearing off the dining room table doesn’t mean you’re getting organized. Clutter is still clutter even when you can’t see it. Take the time to put things back the right way so you know exactly where they are when you need them again. No exceptions.

5. You don’t focus on one-step organizing systems.

This is the biggest organizing mistake in the book. The key to effective organizing systems is making all of your essentials easy to put away and even easier to put back. If you have to move your blow dryer out of the way to put your hairbrush back and then move your blowdryer back again, you’re probably going to leave your brush on the bathroom counter time and time again. Make sure that when you’re setting up a system for an item you use daily, or even weekly, that it takes only one step to grab it, and one step to put it back.

If you’re struggling to get organized, you may want to consider some of the above mistakes before tackling your next organizing project. For organizing tips and tricks delivered to your inbox, please subscribe to my blog by entering your e-mail address into the right sidebar of this site, follow me on blog lovin’ or follow me on Instagram (@lifeinorder) or on Twitter (@LifeInOrderBlog).

Organizing the Pantry on a Budget

Before we get into the pantry stuff, I wanted to let you guys know that Life In Order now has it’s very own Twitter and Instagram accounts! So please follow me on Twitter @LifeInOrderBlog and on Instagram @LifeInOrder (you can also click the icons to the right to connect with me). And don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on bloglovin’!

Anyways, let’s get to the good stuff.

When we moved into this apartment six months ago, one of the things I was most excited for was to have a pantry! We didn’t have one in our old apartment and I couldn’t wait to tackle organizing this new space. I learned the challenges it posed pretty quickly: what things to put at eye level and which to put up high or down low, how to properly store food, and building one step systems for quicker meal times–I had it under control for the most part. But about a week ago, I decided to take it all one step further and really get a handle on the space. So here’s the infamous before and after of our tidy little pantry:

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Please excuse how dark and grainy these pictures are – my pantry is very far away from any natural light!

At a glance, it’s not so different. But it functions SO much differently than it did before. It’s easier to cook and putting ingredients back is a breeze. You can see the subtle but huge differences by taking a closer look at each shelf:

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What’s Different:
The lazy susan on the right hand side of the shelf stayed exactly as it was, but the bin on the left changed. I purchased the container from Walmart and use it to hold our drink mixes like hot cocoa, tea, and iced tea mix. I like it because it’s narrow, deep, and has a handle, so no inch of space is unused. Behind it, I put extra Brita filters and our electric knife; things we don’t use everyday or need to access often.

Why it changed:
The space to the left of the lazy susan wasn’t reaching its full potential. I kept things in the front that weren’t being used very often, and that piece of real estate is just too valuable to go untouched. So, I pushed things we don’t need to use to the back, and made more room for things we do in the front.

Why it works:
Every single inch of this shelf has a purpose and there is no wasted space. The lazy susan creates a one-step organizing system, making things easy to grab, use and put back. Also, it let’s me see and access things all the way in the back with just a flick of the wrist–I’m only 5’1″ so it’s a pretty big help.

What products I used:
Clear Bin: Walmart, $6
Lazy Susan: Garage Sale, 25 cents! (the person who sold this obviously didn’t know what they were doing)

Total = $6.25

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What’s Different:
Actually, nothing is different about this shelf. It was functioning perfectly just the way it was. Other than some purging, it stayed exactly the same, hence the lack of before/after picture.

Why it stayed the same:
I’ve seen a lot of people organize beautiful Pinterest worthy pantries where everything is out of the box and put perfectly into color-coordinating containers. But, for me, this works just fine. I am far too lazy to take cereal, crackers and pasta out of the package each week after grocery shopping to put it into a separate container. Why would I do that when I don’t have to? That just sounds exhausting (and a little unnecessary).

Why it works:
Although you would never catch a pantry that looks like this on the cover of HGTV Magazine, that’s okay. It works well for me, and is cheaper than paying for containers. Just because you keep things in their original packaging doesn’t mean you’re unorganized–it just means your practical (as long as a space functions well). It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to work for you.

I used no products for this shelf!

Total: $0

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What’s Different:
I didn’t change this shelf too much either, I more tidied it up. I switched out my high school looking binder for a nicer, brighter, Martha Stewart Home Collection binder (that I already had) for our recipes. I added a mason jar for chip clips and wine stoppers and moved some things to other shelves where they fit much better.

Why it changed:
I felt like I could make better use of the space by clearing things out, and making sure I could see everything on the shelf. With the popcorn bag in the way and the jars of salsa and sauce that were all the same, I wasn’t making the most of the tiered shelving.

Why it works:
I can now see all the labels on the shelf. It really makes it a lot easier to grab and put back.

I used no new products for this shelf!

Total = $0

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What’s Different:
This shelf probably underwent the most change of them all. It’s completely different–but it needed to be. I took everything from that green bin and moved it up to the clear container on the top shelf. I unloaded the bread crumbs and quick oats into new, air-tight containers and moved the spice packets to another shelf. I used mason jars that we had around the apartment for smaller quantities of baking and cooking supplies and put cans of sauce behind them.

Why it changed:
I wasn’t using the space to it’s full potential at all. I just kind of threw things on this shelf willie-nillie, and broke my own rules of organizing. I’m pretty ashamed. I knew I could fit much more on this shelf with a little rearranging, and rearrange I did!

Why it works:
I moved everything to inexpensive air-tight containers to keep them fresh and staying good longer. The simple switch from round to square containers let me fit everything on the shelf so much better and gave me the extra space I needed for more items. I can take the lid off, scoop out as much of the ingredient I need and then put it back. I used to keep some of these things in plastic baggies, and it was really a pain to get them out when cooking–but I don’t have the problem anymore!

Chalkboard labels allow me to change the contents of the container easily without having to peel off labels and reapply. If I want to switch it up, I can just wipe off the chalkboard marker and rewrite it.

What products I used:
Clear Containers: $35 for a set of 3, $7 for additional tall container
They are from Walmart Better Homes and Garden’s Brand in the kitchen section if you’re interested!
Decorative Chalkboard Labels: $2 for 2 packs
Mason Jars = free!

Total = $44

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What’s Different:
In the before picture you’ll see that I have all our baking supplies inside ziplock bags and thrown in that red bin to be forgotten. The old setup made cooking a complete hassle.

Why it changed:
 I couldn’t get anything out of the bags without making a mess and it was difficult and heavy to take out the whole bin and put it all back, so I usually just ended up taking out one thing at a time and then throwing it back on top of the heap. Not good.

Also, Matt never put anything back in the right place with these stackable bins, so we needed some order and some labeling.

Why it works:
We rearranged the contents of the stackable bins according to usage, which is how onions ended up on top. It makes it easier to access the things we use more often. Also, we put the flour and sugar in cereal containers, ideal for such a narrow, yet tall space. The new containers make it easy to grab what we need, use it, and then put it back while keeping things fresh and mess-free.

What products I used:

Clear Containers: $8 each

Total = $16

The grand total for this pantry overhaul came in under $70, $66.25 to be exact! That’s a small price to pay for the amount of time it has saved us in the kitchen and the longevity we will get out of those beautiful air tight containers.

It helps to shop the house first when you’re trying to organize on a budget and use what you’ve already got before going out and buying new things. But when you do buy new things, make sure that you’re purchasing items that are worth the investment. The Dollar Tree is great, but when it comes to keeping your food fresh, you’re going to want something air-tight. The cost of replacing your food each time it goes bad is going to add up quickly if you don’ have the right tools to store it all.

If you want to cook, but you’ve given up, consider re-organizing your pantry and think about one-step organizing systems. This means one step to take it out, and one step to put back. It will help maximize your kitchen efficiency and may even help you turn into a pro in the kitchen (am I over promising?).

I hope I’ve given you some ideas and inspiration to try and tackle organizing your own pantry on a budget! Leave me a comment below if you have anything to add or share. I love learning from other people who are getting organized to live more productive lives!

Don’t forget to subscribe if you’d like to get updates from my blog to your e-mail account, follow me on bloglovin’, follow me on Instagram @LifeInOrder and on my new Twitter account @LifeInOrderBlog.

If you’re curious about how I organize something in my apartment, let me know! I would be happy to show you if I haven’t already. See you next time!

Controlling Paper Clutter: How to Organize Mail and Random Papers

Facebook The one thing that I have had the hardest time trying to organize is paper clutter. It’s seriously been the worst, especially without having an entryway and a place to drop the mail. But I finally found a good system that works for me and I’m so excited to share! This pretty pink paper box I got from Staples for around $5. I love the pink color and it was just what I needed to get everything together. The box itself only has 3 separate sections, and I knew I was going to need something else to separate all the different categories of paper I have. So, I went to the promised land–Target–and got these adorable file folders only 3 for $1! Whoot whoot!Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.04.11 PM 1. In the front, I keep two file folders: One for “action” items and one labeled “file.” The “action” folder is for papers that I need to take action on, such as call, schedule, a bill I have to pay, etc. Once a week or once every two weeks I will sit down and tackle whatever is in this folder. In many cases, the papers from “action” will get moved to the “file” folder, where I’ll put paper that needs to end up in my files–obviously. About once every two weeks or once a month I’ll pull out that folder, bring it over to my filing box and go to work.

2. The second section hold things I use most frequently, like my planner stickers, blog planning sheets, and labels. Planner stickers I use once a week on Sunday when I’m setting up my planner for the week (you can see how I decorate my planner by following me on Instagram @lifeinorder–or if you want to see a planner post, let me know!). The labels folder holds chalkboard labels, flags, etc. I use these things when I need to label something quickly, and sometimes I use them in my planner as well. They’re good to have on hand in an easily accessible place. My monthly blog planning sheets are essentially just calendars that I plan all my blog posts out on for the month before I transfer the final editorial calendar into my planner.

3. In the very back, I keep an accordion file with coupons–so nice for when Ulta, American Eagle or Victoria’s Secret coupons come in the mail. I just open them up and drop them into the accordion file. When I go shopping, I grab the whole folder, put it in my bag and go. I also keep the Welcome packet to our apartment complex for emergencies, an extra notepad, and my extra Freedom Filer tabs.

The key to making this system work is maintenance.
Sort through the mail the second you walk through the door.
It’s so key because if you let the paper settle somewhere else, it’s going to create clutter. Put it in the garbage or in the right file, don’t just set it down on the table, or it will stay there cluttering your life, and ultimately, your mind. Don’t be a victim to dreaded paper clutter! Try setting up a mail system that works for you, don’t settle for throwing your papers on the kitchen table–you’re better than that! You’re reading my blog all about organizing, so you’re already thinking about it. Now is the time to do it!

I hope I’ve inspired you to tackle paper clutter around your house. Do you have any ways you organize paper clutter that work for you? Please share them with me in the comments! I’m alway looking for new ideas, especially when it comes to getting Matt on board with clearing his paper clutter. If you’re interested in more creative, organized spaces, places and inspiration, follow me on Instagram, @LifeInOrder or on Twitter at @LifeInOrderBlog. Don’t forget to subscribe in the right sidebar or follow me on bloglovin’! Until next time!Signature

My Pretty Little Springtime Dresser

Happy Hump Day! Hope you’re all having a good week and are enjoying the weather! It was 36 degrees in Albany yesterday–practically balmy! Matt and I even walked to the gym on Tuesday, it was so nice to get outside. Since spring is just around the corner, I wanted to share my bright, springtime dresser with you guys and give you some ideas on ways to update your spaces for spring. Here it is!

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It took me some thinking to decide on this set up with the mirrors above the shelf. I’m always wary of hanging things on the wall because trying to fix a hole in the wall is a pain. But I’m so happy with my decision to put the shelf where it is and keep all the extra stuff off of the actual dresser top. I love that it’s simplistic and is void of visual and actual clutter. As a general rule, keeping it simple is always better, and I knew that’s how I wanted this dresser to be.

On another note, I used to make fun of my mom for having fake flowers in her house, but now that I have a place of my own, I love them! These floral stems are actually real flowers that have been dried, I picked them up at the Saratoga Farmer’s Market last summer. I love the look their reflection off the mirror gives. It makes them look fuller and brighter. Oh–and they’re maintenance free. You don’t have to water them or care for them, it’s great!

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You’ll recognize my little milk glass pedestal bowl if you saw my jewelry organizing post. I love that little subtle vintage touch it gives and is the perfect place for my everyday earrings!

I refinished this dresser myself. It used to be a terrible linoleum wood, my sister painted it all black and then passed it down to me. I painted it white (my favorite color), and you can see some of the paint started chipping. It used to bother me, but as time goes on, I’m starting to like the weathered look it gives with the black paint showing through. It was a happy mistake!

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If you aren’t displaying your perfume bottles in some way in some area of your bedroom, you’re really missing out. They are a perfect and free home decor accessory that adds femininity to any piece of furniture! I am in love with the Viva La Juicy bottle and the bight pink bow that ads a pop of color to a mostly neutral color scheme.

image44I love the warm and fuzzies I get when I wake up and head towards this dresser to start getting ready for the day. It’s even better when the top is clear and there are no clothes or stray jewelry–I’m still working on making that happen everyday. How do you style up your dresser for spring? Let me know in the comments!

If you liked this post, please please subscribe! You can do so by filling in your e-mail address in the right sidebar. Also, follow me on Instagram @lifeinorder or on Twitter @LifeInOrderBlog.

The Struggle Sunday: Doing Laundry with Animated GIFs

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Doing laundry is the worst. Laundry for a week can take a whole afternoon to do and that’s so annoying. Sundays are for brunch and Netflix. It’s hard enough to go grocery shopping, how does the world expect me to wash and fold all of my clothes on top of that? Being an adult it like some sort of sick joke. Sometimes, I’d rather just not do it.

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Not only is doing laundry terrible, but for those of us unlucky fools who have to go to the laundromat, it’s even worse. You have to haul everything from your apartment, into the car, out of the car into the laundromat, and back again, whether it’s raining or snowing or sleeting. You barely get started before you feel like giving up.

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Not to mention having to wait at the laundromat for your clothes to wash is so boring but you don’t want to leave just incase someone wants to steal your $15 Target yoga pants and stretched out sports bras.

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And you have to do all kinds of sorting and folding, and if you don’t do it the way your mom taught you, it turns out to be a hot mess.

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Yep. Laundry really does suck, but with a little organization, we can get through it one load at a time.

The first thing you can do to make going to the laundromat a little bit easier is put together a “laundry bin” that consists of everything you need to bring with you to do laundry.

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Mine has detergent, dryer sheets, a mason jar of quarters and scent boosters. I put it all in a dollar tree bin and keep it in my closet right by the door so on laundry day I can grab it and go before my brain realizes what I’m actually about to do.

Another thing you can use to help make laundry day feel less like going into oral surgery is to invest in a triple bag laundry sorter, like this one:

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If you’re sorting all your clothes out as you throw them in the hamper, it takes care of you having to sort them at the laundromat, because let’s face it, if you have to spend 10 more minutes there, you’re going to scream.

The individual bags allow you to just grab them from the frame and put them into your car. Also, you can usually fit two of the bags into a regular plastic laundry bin, making the hauling process that much easier. And yes, you do need to bring a standard laundry bin because it makes transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer a million times easier and faster than doing it by hand.

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Another thing you can do to make it better is go with a friend or make your boyfriend go with you, treat yourself to Starbucks on the way there, or bring a book to read or some headphones to keep you busy while you wait.

Laundry day is probably going to be terrible no matter what you do, but I hope these tips have helped you make it a little less of a pain. If you’re prepared, it doesn’t have to be so bad … maybe.

Friends

Don’t forget to follow me in the right sidebar for organizing updates delivered to your inbox, or follow me on Instagram for quick tips and photos of my organizing adventures @lifeinorder. Let me know if you have a struggle you’d like to talk about for next week by leaving a comment below or tweeting me @lifeinorderblog. See you next time!

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