Small Backyard Ideas

Small Backyard Ideas for a Backyard Paradise because you can create your own private oasis even with limited space.

Your Small Backyard Paradise

 
Small Backyard Ideas: A small backyard nowadays is just not a design issue anymore. In fact, you can have practically everything a big space has but scaled down to fit your own personal backyard paradise. Today, with more people downsizing, there are all kinds of ideas and products to make your small space just as desirable as the ‘big boys.’
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First let’s consider what activities you’d like to do in your backyard space.. and look at ideas on how to accomplish that.

Small Backyard Activities

Relaxing, reading, sunning.
Eating, grilling, entertaining.
Gardening, flower and vegetable
Playing, swimming, spa, lawn games.

Obviously we all have different desires and opinions on what will make up our own personal backyard paradise, but you get the idea.

Consider a Pergola for Relaxing

small pergola
Photo courtesy of BHG.com

Whether you have a back porch or not, a pergola can offer a shaded, cozy sitting area. It doesn’t have to be huge to make a “paradise” statement. If you’re into gardening, you can grow climbing vines up the pergola to create that happy place you’ve always dreamed of.

You gotta have a Grill for Barbeque

For me, a backyard isn’t complete without a grill. Nothing beats the flavor of grilled foods. Amazon has loads of barbecue grill bargains and we’ve already researched the best reviewed for you!

[note color=”#F3F8FB”]Note: If you’re grilling steak on Sunday, include chicken and hamburgers that you can pack up and serve Monday and Tuesday of that week.. Easy![/note]

A complete outdoor kitchen is another possibility. I know we are talking small backyards here, but a compact kitchen can easily fit into a six foot stretch of your porch. Typically, grills for outdoor kitchens are more expensive than a free standing grill, but if grilling is your thing, you might want to consider the splurge.

Water Features: Spa, Fountain, Pool, Pond

Water Fountain - Cara Classica at garden-fountains
Elegant Water Fountain

You may have seen my water features at our ‘big house.’

I’ve bought my own water fountains here. Nothing beats the sound of trickling water on a hot summer afternoon.

Adding water features to your backyard paradise is a splurge worth indulging.. At least in my book! I just love the sound of a fountain..

Or, you might want the benefits of a soothing spa.

Even a pool for that matter! I’ve had my eye on those swimming-in-place pools myself. They don’t take up much space and you still get a pool.. The $20,000+ cost is the only thing holding me back from that splurge.

Tiny Balcony Instead of a Backyard

Tiny balcony
Photo courtesy of www.designsponge.com

I absolutely love this picture and had to include it in our Small Backyard Paradise article because it goes to show that even though you ‘backyard’ may simply be a minuscule balcony, you can still enjoy it.  Look how there is an appealing spot for sitting with a friend while sipping sweet tea.. And the small space didn’t deter this home owner from gardening, now did it?

Hope this gave you some great ideas for your own small backyard paradise.

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Five Tips to Selling Your Home in a Buyer’s Market

Five Tips to Selling Your Home in a Buyer’s Market: Selling a house in an extremely competitive market is

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Selling a house in an extremely competitive market is possible, especially if a seller is prepared to take action to help facilitate attracting a buyer. In a housing market where ‘for sale’ signs are springing up like mushrooms after a downpour, it’s not enough to hire a realtor who only puts a sign in the yard, enters the information about the home on the local multiple listing service (MLS), and waits for a potential buyer to find the home.

In a buyer’s market, it is imperative that sellers do everything in their power to stack the odds in their favor. In some instances, It may even be wiser to keep the home off the market until they are fully prepared to offer it for sale. Potential buyers may not reappear to see your freshly painted entry. How should you prepare yourself for this competitive market?

Here is a brief rundown of a must-do list to get your house noticed and sold:

The Right Agent

Rushing into choosing a realtor could be your first mistake in a competitive market. You must begin by interviewing several agents in order to choose the best realtor available for your individual circumstance, especially in such a competitive housing market. Begin by asking some standard questions to find out what marketing plans are offered, what internet presence can be expected, a list of past clients as references, and what type of administrative and communication systems are in place.

The realtor who understands the market, who is not interested in appeasing your over-priced value on your house, and who can explain what it means to sell a house in a buyer’s market is the agent for you. Choose the agent that gives you the straight talk while keeping a good rapport with you, and you will have a successful relationship and sale.

Price, Price, Price

Do not overprice you house! No, the buyers will not make an offer if you’re overpriced. No, you can’t come down later.. well, you can but by then you’ve lost all the buyers who never came to see your house because it was overpriced.

I cannot stress this enough. If you want to sell your house, you must get aggressive with price.

[note color=”#FFFFCC”]The first 30 days of your house listing are the most critical. All the people who have been looking for a new home (but haven’t found the perfect house yet) are going to look at yours.. Plus all the real estate agents. If your house is overpriced from the get go, you’ve shot yourself in the foot. [/note]

Repairs

It’s time to prepare the home for sale. Aggressive sellers will hire a home inspection company to conduct what is termed a “pre-inspection” of the house. This pre-inspection will identify potential defects in the home that will eventually show up through a buyer’s inspection, possibly terminating any offers on the table.

By discovering defects and making the corrections well before a buyer has an opportunity to back out, the home will get a second and third showing, resulting in more offers. When a pre-inspection is conducted, it is best to inform potential buyers of it by leaving a copy of the inspection report at the home as well as have it posted on the multiple listing service. Don’t forget to do those little repairs, too. It’s not just about whether the a/c works; buyers notice things like broken light switches and squeaky doors. It may seem trivial to you, but potential buyers are thinking if you can’t take care of the little stuff, who knows what else might be wrong with the house.

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Curb Appeal

In addition to making repairs to the actual home, taking a look at the landscaping and entry is another key to selling a home in a buyer’s market. Landscaping and your front door has a big impact on the first impression a buyer will get when they first see the home. Regardless of whether you think something like a few flowers and a fresh coat of paint is trivial, your buyer may not. Having a potential buyer come back for a second look because they felt welcomed by the first impression they got at your front step can make the difference between selling and sold.

Photos of your home will be posted on the internet, printed on flyers, and used in other publications if you have an aggressive agent. Simple things like potted plants, trimmed shrubbery, and neat entries make a difference. Photographs aren’t very forgiving. You can’t make up for that peeling paint or pile of dead leaves with a clever description of your home or even cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. Pictures are not forgiving, so be sure your landscaping and entry are meticulous, even if you have to postpone your listing until you get it done.

Staging

Take a look at your home from a buyer’s perspective. I know this is hard to do because you have an emotional attachment to your home. But, consider coming into your home for the first time as a new owner. You may have furniture that perfectly matches your purple walls, but not everyone does. You may have the perfect kids’ rooms for your toddlers, but not everyone has toddlers.

Invest in neutral tone paint and cover up all those lovely colors. You also need to take a look at replacing carpeting, putting away all your knick-knacks, rearranging your furniture, and even storing most of your items to clear the way for a buyer’s imagination.

Many sellers benefit from hiring a home staging professional. These experts are trained to see the potential, and for understanding how difficult it is to de-personalize your home while it’s on the market. A home staging expert is trained to see homes through the buyer’s eye and will present the home so that the buyer actually looks at the qualities and features of the home, rather than be distracted by the stuff the owner either loves or has become immune to.

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When selling a home in a buyer’s market that is saturated with a large inventory of homes for sale, it is imperative sellers take proactive steps prior to putting a for sale sign in the yard. Interview and hire the best realtor, review and repair any defects of the home, and properly stage the home so you will maximize the interest each time you show your home.

Garage Storage to Maximize Space

Maximizing space in your garage is not really a big problem anymore – with the help of some efficient garage storage. Storage tips

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It’s spring cleaning time! Maximizing space in your garage has never been easier with all the cool and nifty AND efficient new garage storage items available to us.

If you’re tired of looking at your messy… and what seems to be.. small garage, then we have some cool storage ideas that will get your garage spiffed up in no time.

But I have to tell you, if your garage is a wreck, then first and foremost, you have to do a big spring cleaning. Get rid of the junk and then start organizing what you have.

messy garage

Garage storage.. Do I really need it?

Yes! …yes, you do. It’s going to help you get organized and put everything in it’s place. Garage storage and cabinets are worthy additions to garage spaces of all sizes. Having some garage systems will definitely make your garage neat and clean, to say the least.

Here are some garage storage ideas that will surely take full advantage of your space – small or otherwise.

No place on the floor anymore? Install a ceiling storage in your garage!

ceiling storage Overhead storage bin

Having a ceiling storage installed will be one step to maximize your garage space. If you have a small garage, then getting one of these overhead ceiling storage units will be very practical – especially if you have a vehicle parked inside your garage. Easy and quick to install, you’ll make the most of your garage space in a few minutes (with the right tools, of course).

[note color=”#Ffff7e”]Are you just totally lovin this article? Then give it a tweet![/note]

Garage storage system

The most popular way of maximizing garage space, or any space or room for that matter, is by shelving. Shelving has a lot of benefits. For one, it will remove the “messy” look of your garage as it will surely reduce the clutter.

Aside from the obvious fact that it will maximize your garage space, it will also get you organized with the different tools, items and products that are normally stored in your garage. So remove those unwanted paper boxes – shelve the contents instead.

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Utilize your vertical space…

Pegboards for garage storage
… and that means hanging and storing all kinds of tools in one place – on the wall. Pegboards are known to do the trick of effectively hanging all kinds of tools, even bikes.  Pegboards are also known to last for a long time, and they don’t even cost that much.

Organize, organize, organize!

We mentioned it at the beginning of this post.. You really can’t skip this part when you want to maximize your garage space. Even with the above-mentioned storage ideas, if you are not organized, your garage will still end up messy and not easy to look at. Not to mention, you’re really not maximizing your garage space when working tools and garden products, for example, are not stored correctly. So make sure that you identify and group things accordingly.

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Electronics Simplify your Small Office

Having a small office or just a home office doesn’t mean that you can’t splurge a bit on the electronics or

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Having a small office or just a home office doesn’t mean that you can’t splurge a bit on the electronics or gadgets in it. In fact, the more creative you are with the electronics you gather to your office, the more you are to think that the size of your office doesn’t matter.

Small office or otherwise, as far as I can see it, there are two main elements that determine how functional your work space is:  the small office design and the gadgets you have.

Here are some of gadget and electronics ideas for your small office.

Gotta have that Kindle Fire!

Electronics for small office - Kindle Fire

If you love to read books like I do, then your book collection can take up a lot of space.  Now I’m not advocating giving away all your books, but you can certainly cut waaaay back by weeding out the books you don’t care that much about anymore, and purchasing your new books to be read electronically.

The newer Kindle Firehas a higher price than the older one but it comes with a lot of possibilities and additional features, such as the vibrant color touchscreen you won’t see and experience in the regular Kindle.

Kindle Fire covers

When you have a Kindle Fire, you have to make sure that you have a cover so as to protect it against any impact or from plain scratching. You’ll need a durable Kindle Fire cover or case for that matter.  Think of your Kindle Fire as an investment.

Gotta Get that new Apple Ipad

Here are some of the upgrades to the newer iPad3:

Apple iPad 2 - Electronics for small office

    • 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi) This is a biggie!
    • iSight camera: 5-megapixel with autofocus; tap to focus; face detection in still images; video recording, HD (1080p) up to 30 frames per second with audio; video stabilization
  • FaceTime camera with VGA-quality photos and video at up to 30 frames per second

The weight is now 1.44 pounds (652 g) as opposed to 1.33 pounds (601 g)

Laptop or Desktop for your Small Office?

Small office Electronics - Slim CPUPersonally I have both a laptop and a desktop computer.  When you have a small office, it doesn’t mean that you have to think small as well. You just have to know what you need and look for alternatives that have reasonable sizes – not necessarily tiny.

For example, if you are more comfortable with a desktop computer, get that one instead. Nowadays, there are LCD / LED monitors and slim CPUs that will surely fit your tiny space. Don’t purchase a laptop just for it’s size… because there are an abundance of super slim desktops on the market today.

Laptop computer standOn the other hand, if you are a laptop-or-notebook-kind-of-person, then a small space won’t be a problem for you.

If your small office is really short on space.. like maybe you have just a corner of your room, you can just put the laptop on a laptop computer stand, and voila, you have a nice ‘little office.’

Compact Portable Printer for Small Office Space

Portable printersThere are lots of portable printers on the market for your small office space..

These printers are designed to be light and mobile without sacrificing the quality of printing it can produce. And I say, forget the cords and go for an inexpensive wireless printer!

Wireless Headset: The new “in” toy!

Wireless Office Headset: Small Office ElectronicsTechnology has, indeed, made our lives easier in a big way. Yes, you can now talk to a client even if you’re 300 feet away from your office phone. Isn’t that fantastic?

Some of these babies actually have a noise-cancelling microphone that filters out whatever background noises your place may have. A wireless office headset can make your life a whole lot easier.

That’s it folks!  I hope you found some new toys for your small office.

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Five Inexpensive Ideas to Brighten a Small Room

Five Inexpensive Ideas to Brighten a Small Room whether it’s a living room, bedroom or guest room, our creative ideas

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Making a small room ‘light and bright’ can be an easy task – with the right creative ideas. Be it a small living room, bedroom, study, bathroom or a simple guest room, it’s much nicer to look at when you can see all of it. It makes everything bigger, as a matter of fact. Certainly does the trick.

Brightening up a small room also gives out the home-y feeling I believe all of us want in our own abode. So not to worry if you have a small space.  Embrace it!  ..and lighten it up so your small room lives large!

How, you may ask. Well, here are some ideas on how to brighten up a small room.

Brighten Up a Small Room with Bright Fabrics



Fixate on the words, “bright fabrics”. You’ll be surprised on what an appropriate bright fabric like this window curtain can do to your bedroom, for example. In your bedroom, make sure that you choose a color that makes you happy.. perhaps a bright curtain, bedspread.. or even just a pillow or two to bring a little pizazz to your small room!

I know, I know, if your favorite colors are neutral, then we may have a problem :). But if you really want to brighten up your room, you may want to add a cheerful pattern. At the least, add a bold red or blue, or some pop of color to your neutrals.

Brighten Up a Small Room with Paint

Paint the town.. so to speak! But not a dull, boring color.. but something light and bright.

It’s obvious. If you want to lighten up the mood of the room, small or not, you will want to settle on white or other shades that resembles the color white. Beige, cream, ivory, magnolia, vanilla, white wine; these are all shades of white. Go nuts! Paint your room with any of these colors.

[note color=”#FFffCC”]I found (in Coastal Living magazine)  a new white paint I can’t wait to try. Tim Clarke recommended it because he said it’s “a creamy white hue that isn’t bright and reflective like other whites.” Pratt & Lambert China White (33-8)[/note]

Brighten a Small Room when You De-clutter

This book Getting Organized: Improving Focus, Organization and Productivity has a 5-star Amazon rating. fyi, thanks if you purchase thru our Amazon affiliate links.. You help SmallHouseLife.com stay up and running! 🙂

I am not a messy gal but sometimes even with the best of intentions, my surroundings start getting a bit cluttered. Especially my office area.

I work at home so I’m in ‘it’ 24/7 ..  But if you want a light and positive mood going around your home (small house or not), you will want to de-clutter and remove those unwanted things scattered around. This may be a bit hard to maintain especially if you have a toddler, or work full time outside the house.  So, I really suggest decluttering – helps a lot in sooo many other ways.  I say declutter your home, declutter your mind.

P.S. When you sign up for our Weekly Magazine you instantly receive a free copy of Get Organized in 5 Easy Steps!

Brighten a Small Room with Indoor Plants

Add house plants. They help clean the air inside the room. There’s nothing more comforting than to see something leafy inside your lovely abode. Indoor plants tend to produce a calm, stress-reliever effect.

Brighten a Small Room with Natural Light

The simple solution sometimes when lightening up a room is to let the natural thing take over. Open those windows, push aside your curtains and just simply let the great sunshine in your room.  FYI, You can get this bright and cheerful Comforter Set here.  Light and bright small space – I can live with that!

 

Asheville Condo with Stunning Views

Asheville, NC penthouse condo. True upscale elegance in a modest sized condo. Built in 1894! Ultra modern and lavish for the ultimate

View to downtown Asheville

With a breathtaking view like this, who needs a big house?  Gorgeous living in this small space.

Asheville, North Carolina penthouse suite is a two bedroom, two bath condo at approximately 1,273 square feet of small space.

Another cool factor is that it was built in 1894!  Hard to believe with the ultra modern (and lavish) interior but that’s what is listed in realtor’s docs.  Stunning views of the city & the mountains from every room of this Penthouse located on a very private knoll just 5 minutes from downtown Asheville.

Kitchen

Here’s the kitchen. Wood-mania! I love it! Those light wooden cabinets look really neat. And since, there’s a lot of them, you will not have a problem storing those china plates or any kind of plates you’ve been collecting. This Nova custom kitchen counters is definitely a plus for this house.

Kitchen 2

Here’s a focus on one of the countertops. I included this image to give you a closer look of that Nova custom counters in the small kitchen? Are you lovin’ it? I am!

Open Room

It’s still not furnished but this room gives you a lot of good vibes. The glass windows really fit here as you can see those breath-taking views. What a feeling, right?  Ahhh, imagine at night gazing out at the city lights!

Open Room2

Here’s another angle of this room. Again, I have to reiterate the view. It’s magnificent alright. The bamboo flooring makes it unique and more enticing. Love, love the windows.

Open Room3

They even squeezed a fireplace in. Yep, this is one is strategically situated in that corner. Notice the private balcony to the right. A little outside furniture to that balcony and you’re ready to sip tea, or enjoy a cocktail while relishing the view!
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Open Room4

This is the other angle for this room …

Bath

Look how classy the bathroom is! For a minute there, I thought, “Why two toilets?” and then I realized, it was a mirror! Ha!  I love to use mirrors to expand space.  This bath looks spacious enough as well, don’t you think?

Balcony
Here’s the balcony!  The bannisters are so classic. And another look at the view, too.

Garage - Storage

Yes! This house comes with a two car garage / storage facility which makes it much appreciated being that the ‘house’ is really a condo!

Photos and info Courtesy of Realtor.com MLS# 508554

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Small Office Ideas

Small office ideas abound! With so many creative ideas and products to make life easier..

[adrotate banner=”30″]Small office ideas abound! With so many creative ideas and products to make life easier, there’s really no reason not to carve your own small office out of a spot in your home.

Most of you know my husband and I build houses in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country.. Well, we actually lost selling a spec house once because it didn’t have a designated office space.  The people ended up buying the same size house (in the same neighborhood) but it had a tiny office nook.

What made us crazy was that there were plenty of places in the house to carve a small office space from.. just as you see in the pictures here.  We simply have to use our imaginations.. yep!

Small Office Ideas

This room is smartly efficient on many levels.  First you have the storage piece that goes almost to the ceiling.  Streamlined with lots of storage!  Then the bed has the drawers underneath. And then we get to the lovely small office space complete with extra shelving above.

The only thing I would change would be to have a wall-mounted light rather than a desk light to maximize the desk surface space.

Small Office Idea
Create an office nook. Photo: ApartmentTherapy

If you prefer to hide away the office when not in use, you can install (inexpensive) curtains to do the job.  Look how even the desk chair tucks neatly inside.

Small Office Ideas
Inexpensive garage shelving creates an entire small office area.  Add rolling file drawers, a waste basket, and seating stool, and you have yourself the complete small office.

 

Some of my favorite small office picks from Amazon.. especially the desk with hutch. With so much technology between small computers and tablets and going pretty much paperless, that’s about all I find myself needing anymore.

Small Office Ideas
Office Nook Photo ChezLarrson

If you have room for 12-15″ shelves, then you have an office nook.. because that’s how big this office is that you see. You’ve got 12″ shelves at the top and a slightly larger shelf in the center where you see the computer.

[note color=”#DDFF99″]Like this article? You never have to miss a thing when our Weekly Magazine is delivered to your email just in time for Sunday morning coffee.[/note]

Quaint 1600 sq. ft. townhome near downtown Austin TX

Quaint town home near downtown Austin, in a neighborhood called Clarksville, this 1612 square foot small..


Quaint town home near downtown Austin, in a neighborhood called Clarksville, this 1612 square foot small house gives great ideas of downsizing to a small space.

Remember, downsizing does not mean cheap!  I can attest to that in our downsizing story. It’s simply scaling back to create a home that works for you.

Front View

Simple, traditional architectural style that is timeless.  Not sure what’s up with the grill in the front because they have an absolutely tropical paradise in back.  But when considering a townhome or condo, do ask about grilling (if that’s important to you) because there are sometimes restrictions  on where you can barbeque.

Outside View

Here’s another view of the front façade. The outside furniture is tasteful to the town house exterior. Ahhh, ok now we see why the grill is in front.  Makes much more sense.

Living Room

Lovin the wrapped corner windows in the small living room.  Cozy, but gives a good visual with the windows.  A nice feature you don’t often find in Texas is the trim out of the windows.  If you can’t have wood windows, I personally think it’s a must.

Dining Room

Again, light and bright with the dining room windows.  FYI, bring that picture down about six inches.

[note color=”#FFFFCC”]Like this article? You never have to miss a thing when our Weekly Magazine is delivered to your email just in time for Sunday morning coffee.[/note]

Kitchenette
Very open plan.. A little too open for me, although I like the floating bar in the kitchen.  This is a very efficient design for a small kitchen to get the most use out of a smaller space.  Several elements of this bar that I like. One is the granite itself.  Universal color that would appeal to most people.  It’s a great contrast to the rich, hardwood floors.  And I like the slight curve which makes it better for guests sitting at the bar.

[note color=”#EBEBEB”]Note: If you’re building or remodeling, don’t let the Builder get cheap on you here. It’s not that much more $ to add a little knee room (I like 12″ minimum) with a bar.[/note]

Living Area

Here’s another angle of the main floor. I love the feeling that this photo represents. It’s cozy yet uncomplicated – simple and inviting… although they do need a little help with picture placement.  Gorgeous walnut wood floors.

Bedroom

The small bedroom has enough space for an amazing bed which goes to show you can have big living in a 1600 square foot house.

Bedroom 2
I’m tellin you, the abundance of windows is a huge plus for me with this townhouse.  Notice how this small bedroom multi functions to include a small study?  Double duty rooms are usually a must with smaller spaces.  Most likely this is a guest room.  A little crowded in here but nothing some IKEA furnishings couldn’t take care of.. [highlight bg=”#DDFF99″ color=”#000000″]See some of my fav IKEA picks below![/highlight]


 

Patio

OK, so I was 100% wrong on the patio.. That tropical paradise I was referring to is actually in the front here.  Hmmm, I’d have to see it, but I might be fine because it appears there’s still a lot of privacy.  It is lush don’t you think?

Pictures courtesy of Austin Land Company – MLS# 4146105

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8 Ways to Organize Your Small Bathroom

Eight Ways to Organize Your Small Bathroom: When you live in a small home, one of the top priorities is to


8 Ways to Organize Your Small Bathroom: When you live in a small home, one of the top priorities is to maximize your space. Contrary to popular belief you can store items in a chic way, and keep clutter at bay.

Organizing is becoming more mainstream with shows like Clean House and Hoarders, so we now have endless options to organize.

If you need a little help to get your creative juices flowing, don’t fret, below are eight ways to get started.

Cut the Junk in Your Small Bathroom

The bathroom is a wonderful place to store random items you don’t need. How many half empty hair spray bottles do you have? What about the number of half used disposable razors? One of the best ways to start any organization project is to cut the junk. Bring in a big trash bag or box and start throwing unused items away. If you don’t know if you should keep it or throw it, recall the last time you used it. Chances are you don’t use it often enough to keep it.

Baskets and Storage Bins

Once you have purged access items, it’s time to decide where to keep them. Group like items together to make access of each item easier. For example, all hair products can go in one area, dental care items in another and so on. But these items in decorative baskets or storage bins for easy access that adds a touch of flair.

small bathroom basket for vanity

Organize the Small Bathroom Vanity

Whether you have a single or double bathroom vanity cabinets, they need to be organized. Besides adding baskets or storage bins, purchasing drawer organizers is a great idea.

This allows for things like your toothbrush and other small items to be accessible and not lost in the shuffle.

Utilize Your Door in Small Bathrooms

Adding hooks to the back of your bathroom door opens up the space to hand extra towels, robes or even clothes if you need to. Whether you are organizing your small bathroom or other small space, it’s a good rule of thumb to go vertical. The more you hang, the less you have to worry about items taking up precious square footage.

Shelves for Small Bathrooms

small bathroom organizer

The space behind the toilet is often regarded as “dead space”, but this doesn’t have to be the case. You can find plenty of shelving options to use around the toilet. This can add a great deal of vertical real-estate in your small bathroom.

Less is More in Small Bathrooms

Keeping your counters clear in your bathroom is a must. To have a bathroom that looks decluttered, and organized, your counters are one of the first things in your line of vision. If you don’t have the cabinet space, investing in multi-purpose items is a great way to clear up the junk. Check out this 5-in-1 organizer.

Get Vertical in the Shower

How many times have you tried to squeeze more space out of your bathtub? Households with more than one person living in them can see how fast clutter is accumulated in the shower/bathtub area. A great option for this problem is to go vertical. Adding shelves around the bathtub, or a rack around the shower head really utilizes all the space you have.

Tissue Tower

With all the space you don’t have under the sink it can be a challenge in deciding where to keep extra toilet paper rolls. Tissue towers are a great way to keep multiple rolls close without taking up much space. A win, win.

Guest Post: Miguel Salcido is an avid blogger, father of 2 and a recent proud home owner. He loves studying home design and decor and has his eyes on purchasing some walk in bathtubs for his home.

Colorful Bulbs to Brighten a Winter Day

Easy Colorful Bulbs to Brighten a Winter Day. No fuss, no muss colorful bulbs will bloom year after year. Get the easy ones that

No matter how small your space.. colorful bulbs can brighten up a winter day.. even if your winter is more like springtime, as we’re now enjoying in Texas. Either way, these easy bulbs are a breeze to enjoy.

Paperwhites Bulbs
Photo: gardenerscom

Paper whites bulbs (Narcissus papyraceus) are one of the more popular winter bulbs because they’re super easy to grow.

Paper whites don’t require a chilling period, so forcing them is as easy as putting the bulbs in water and waiting a few weeks for bloom.

But if you don’t want to go through the time and work of forcing the bulbs yourself, you can simply pick them up at your nursery.

And of course, aside from the gorgeous flower, they are an extremely fragrant flower.

Next up is the ever popular bulb, the Amaryllis. Love, love the red.. especially as it’s showcased against the crisp white you see in this picture below.

Amaryllis Bulbs SouthernLiving.com Van Chaplin

Amaryllis planted in the yard, make a stunning display if you cut their flower stems and place them in a sturdy vase. The best time to cut the flower stems is when the first bud has colored and is just ready to open.

But like to just purchase Amaryllis and place in pots to enjoy..

Purple Crocus Bulbs
Photo: Crocus Bulbs from ufseeds-com

The crocus bulb (from the iris family) will also brighten up a winter day with the vibrant, intense colors.

I like to combine a deep purple with yellow for a shock of color.

You can add a white to soften the purple and yellow, if you like.

And you know they’ll come back right?  That’s why I like to plant in a planter out on the patio. Perfect for any small space, really.

After the blooms die, the plants withers away to nothing.. until next winter/spring when the shoots push through the soil to give you another riot of color!

ChipIt Takes all the Guesswork Out of Paint Colors

Step by step instructions on how to use ChipIt by Sherwin Williams. Handy free Chipits tool to take the

If you’re into home design, you’re into color.  Fortunately we have an endless supply of awesomely decorated spaces on the Internet to get inspiration from. The problem is, how do we translate the colors we see online into real life?  It’s frustrating to try and guess… not to mention, inaccurate. All that has changed.

Sherwin Williams just rolled it out an online tool called ChipIt that will instantly give you the colors, along with a paint chip and the paint name/number.  It’s unbelievably cool. Yep, and it gets better! ChipIts is totally free to use..

Chip It Bed

Say you’re looking at the beds we have at beds for small bedroom and you want to obtain the colors. Here is an example of the color palette you’ll get with this new tool..

Here’s how it works.  Go to LetsChipIt.com.  Below their little video, you have two options.

1) Place the image url (that you want to know the colors) in a box and hit go.
2) Drag an icon to your toolbar.

There’s nothing wrong with using the toolbar method, but it’s not necessary.  I want to show you how easy it is to simply use ChipIt with the url option.  If you know the image url, you just place it in the box, and voila, you have an amazing color palette as shown above.

But what are the odds that you have the image url?  Not likely.  Don’t worry.  Check this out.  Let’s say you see Romantic Cottage by the Sea, and you’re dying to know the colors.  Here’s what you do.  Take the url of the page and place it in the “Enter an Image URL” ChipIts box.  You’ll instantly get all the pictures on that page like you see here..

Chip It

When you hover your mouse over a picture, it will instantly give you an overview of the colors in the image. You don’t have the paint name and number, but a quick look to see if you want to explore further.  How fun is that?
chip it small bedroom

Once you see an image that you want the full color information of, then you simply click on it. The image with color palette (and names) instantly appears with a column of colors..

There’s one more small step if you want the full color display.  Underneath the column of colors, you’ll see “More Colors” with an arrow.  Click on the arrow to get the full color palette as seen below.

chip it

There you have it.. all the colors with corresponding paint chips and names/numbers!  Just for fun, let’s do one more.
Chip It Romantic Cottage

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Small White Kitchens

Love, love white kitchens! ..and now you can get small white kitchen ideas with newer, fresher kitchen decorating tips for your small home.

Small White Kitchens: I have to laugh at myself because this post did not start out to be about only white kitchens. I was just looking for gorgeous small kitchens where I thought we could all enjoy good small kitchen design tips, but then noticed they were all white!

So I improvised to bring you “Small White Kitchens!” LOL.. but seriously, I do love the fresh, clean look.. don’t you?

white kitchen
Southern Living Photo Alexandra Rowley

White Kitchen Design Notes: Where to begin? OK, notice how the kitchen sink cabinet has drawers underneath the doors! We did this in a bathroom and really liked that feature. Lots of shelving for maximum storage.  Smart to use a grey grout instead of white in the backsplash.

Beautiful white kitchen
White Kitchen photo: HouseBeautiful.com

This is a more upscale white kitchen. But if you take away the pictures on the wall and bar stools, it could actually go casual. So it just goes to show how home accessories can dress a room up or down.  Nice skylight although if at all possible, I’ll take a kitchen window over a skylight any day of the week.

small white kitchen
Coastal Living Photographer Tria Giovan

Minimalist white kitchen with the open shelves. My suggestion is that if you go that route, make sure you have a nice pantry as you see in this image.

Kitchen - ruthie sommers house beautiful
Photo by Ruthie Sommers HouseBeautiful.com

Oh how I adore kitchen windows.. so, how about two! This is my absolute favorite white kitchen of the bunch and I think largely in part because of the windows. We had three kitchen windows that wrapped a corner in our big house.

If at all possible, I’d like to have an apron kitchen sink, next time we build a house.  Typically, they are super duper expensive, although I did find one at Lowes for less than $500 bucks!  >> Stainless Apron front Kitchen Sink

Kitchen House Beautiful
Photo: HouseBeautiful.com

Gotta love the black accents in this white kitchen.  It’s rare you see anymore a tile counter top because I think most cooks want a solid service, but I do like the traditional look of it.

small white kitchen
Photo: sarahrichardsondesign.com

This is one of my favorite white kitchens because it blends the best of old and new.  White cabinets warmed by hardwood floors.  Salvaged wood inset in the freshly painted new wood.  Traditional glass cabinets with a shelf in between.  Large kitchen windows!  Circle or ‘penny’ tile backsplash.

white kitchen
Photo: sarahrichardsondesign.com

Had to give you a second look from a different angle of the same kitchen. I don’t think there’s anything I don’t like about this kitchen.

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Mortgage Refi – Don’t Make My Dumb Mistake!

Thinking about a mortgage refinance? That’s all well and good, but don’t make the dumb mistake that I made whenever

Mortgage Refinance

Thinking about a mortgage refinance on your house? As much as it drives me crazy to get a new loan, with the interest rates at an all time low, we really have no choice but to consider refinancing our home loan, right?

That’s all well and good, but don’t make the dumb mistake that I made whenever I got a mortgage refinance.

Quite frankly, even with the current low interest rates, I was ignoring the possibility of refinancing my mortgage, until we got a ‘looks too good to be true’ letter in the mail about refinancing one our investment houses.

Rats! Now we needed to consider a refi.

Let’s break it out before the interest rates start climbing back up again.. And they will, you know! Remember when 6% interest was considered to be good? Heck, we got a 9% interest on our first house and were thrilled about it. So don’t fool yourself thinking that these ridiculously low mortgage rates will last forever.  Trends turn.

Should you refinance? Look at your options here.

First, a disclaimer:  I am not licensed.  I am not an expert.  Hopefully this article will get you thinking about if you should do a mortgage refinance… and avoid my past mistake! Consult with a professional before making a decision.

Whew.. now that that is out of the way.. let’s move forward. There are two key points to consider.

Mortgage Refinance – Point 1

How much is it going to cost? In the past, refinancing your mortgage cost as much as it did to get the original loan.. Not necessarily true today.

But you still need to know pretty much the exact cost to obtain a new mortgage.  Mortgage companies tend to classify the costs under a whole variety of names. It they state your closing costs will be… let’s say $3000… you still need to dig a little deeper. Let’s pretend you currently owe $200,000 on your mortgage.  Ask what the total costs are to get the refi.. don’t say ‘closing costs’, but ‘total costs.’

If they still say $3,000 I ask one more time but it in a different way like: “You’re saying that if my mortgage is $200,000, and the closing costs are $3,000, I don’t bring a penny to closing, AND my mortgage will be $203,000 plus the better rate?”

My point here, is that it’s imperative to get the true (total) costs for the mortgage refinance so you can make an informed decision about what is best for you.

I’m including a home loan calculator so you can do a little figuring, because once you know the cost to get the new loan, you still need to know if it’s to your benefit.

You’ll also want to know the break-even point of adding the closing costs to your original loan.

For example, if the closing costs for the refi are $3,000, and you’ll start paying $150 less per month, it will take 20 months (3000 div. by 150 = 20) before you actually break-even.

After this break-even point, you’ll benefit for every month you live in your home.  So if you’re planning to be in your home for a minimum of 20+ months, a mortgage refinance might be a good idea.

But, wait! Not so fast, because there is one more piece of the puzzle.

Mortgage Refinance – Point 2

How many years are added to your new loan? Dumb mistake alert! Most people don’t even consider this. They simply base their decision off the break-even point. Big mistake! Let me tell you why.

Say you started with a 30 year mortgage and now you have 23 years left to pay on it. So you go out and get a new 30 year loan. Do you see where I’m going with this? Adding 7 years to the life of your mortgage is probably not going to save you money in the long run.

So what should you do? How about a new 20 year loan? Or even a 15 year mortgage.  Check out refinancing here.

The embarrassing fact is that while my husband and I are in the business… investing and building homes almost our entire adult lives… we didn’t figure this out until a few years ago. Can you believe it? We should have known better! And it cost us big time.

If you want to learn from our mistakes, I highly encourage you to consider the length of your new mortgage.

Ideally, you want to reduce your monthly payment AND the time left to pay on the loan. Quite frankly, with the interest rates where they are at the time of this post, that may very well be possible!


30-Year Fixed, FHA Loans, VA Loans

Lighting for Small Spaces

Lighting for Small Spaces. Get fresh, bold and new lighting ideas for your small spaces. From modern to classic lighting to whimsical

Lighting for Small Spaces: Furnishing small spaces can be challenging, especially figuring out the lighting. Use too big a lighting fixture and it could give off too much light. Go too small and you might be living in the near dark. Layering small fixtures at strategic places within the room will help give a nice even lighting to a tight space.

small space lighting
Photo Credit: Blog.lumens.com

This lovely swing arm lamp works perfectly in a small as it can be adjusted easily to read or for mood lighting.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: furnitureandhomefashion.com

Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean you can’t make a big statement. For example, this bedside table lamp seems large on its own, but put it in a tight corner and it works beautifully.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: Yakal.net

This room is quite large. However, the focus here should be on the possibilities of that incredible lamp/table combination. It would work well in a little living room between a chair and sofa.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: casacullen.com

Wall sconces in a tiny bathroom shed enough light without taking up much needed space.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: casacullen.com

Blink and you might miss them. These might just be the tiniest pendant lights I’ve ever seen. I bet they give a nice glow to the vanity area below.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: squidoo.com/small-space-living

This brilliantly colored living shows how successful a small room design can be when elements are layered.

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: apartmenttherapy.com

I would love some of these Ostrich egg pendant lights on each side of my bed. Aren’t they just so sweet and perfect for small spaces?

Small Space Lighting
Photo Credit: apartmenttherapy.com

A little galley kitchen has four light sources in one small space—the desk lamp by the door, then down to the counter top and a little red topped lamp, over to the hanging lights above the table and into the natural light.

[note color=”#f8f8f8″]Guest Post from ArcadianLighting.com: Visit Arcadian Lighting for inspiration and a large array of gorgeous lighting fixtures for every style![/note]

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