Christmas Can Be Expensive; But it Doesn’t Have to Be
Christmas can be so expensive. Presents, food, and other fun can really add up! Not to mention if you’re traveling for the holidays. One area you can easily spend upwards of $100-200 for a family of 4 is stocking stuffers. I’ve seen store advertise $20 DVDs as “the perfect stocking stuffer”. Ugh – NO IT’s NOT! That needs to be wrapped and placed under the tree with the other presents! I have a maximum of $5 per stocking stuffer but really try to stay under that if I can.
If you don’t know yet, we (the hubs and I) are always trying to save money on “stuff”. We would prefer to spend our money on memories, activities, and vacations – not items that sit around collecting dust. So this year I went to the Dollar Tree for stocking stuffers and in years past I have also used the 99c Only Store. You can even view the Dollar Tree catalog and weekly ad online! Below are dollar stocking stuffers I found for all members of the family. If you haven’t wrapped up your Christmas shopping yet (I love puns!) then head to a dollar store near you and stuff some stockings on the cheap!
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Men:
You might be under the Impression that there is no way you could fill a stocking up for your husband or even older teenage son at a dollar store. Well I’m here to prove you wrong. Above are a few of the items I purchased for my husband and brother-in-law for their stockings this year. Below is a list of items you can get for a dollar each! If you buy all 10 items you could fill a stocking for $10 and they would still have a stuffed stocking and you would still have money in the bank!
- Microfiber Car Wash Mitt
- Car air fresheners
- Bungee cords
- Phone chargers
- Shaving Cream
- Coffee Mugs
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Women:
There are a lot of different options for dollar stocking stuffers for the ladies in your life at the dollar store! I was pretty satisfied with my loot (above) and really had a ton of options to choose from. You could easily purchase more items than you need when dollar stocking stuffer shopping for women. Here are 16 items you can get for your mom, sister, daughter, or friends all for only $1 each!
- Hand sanitizer
- Sewing Kits
- Mini Manicure Sets
- Nail Polish
- Mini Picture Frames
- Coin Purse
- Cosmetic Bags
- Hair Brush/Comb
- Tumbler/Travel Mugs
- Festive Hot Pads
- Make-up cases/holders
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Babies:
I don’t have any babies to buy for this year so I don’t have an awesome picture to share. But they have a whole section in the Dollar Tree near me with baby supplies. Putting together a stocking gift “bag” for a family in need this year could be a great way to give this holiday season because many of the items are ones that get used every day such as wipes and wash cloths. These aren’t always off-brand options either. I’ve gotten Pampers wipes in a 20 count pack for a buck. This is a great travel size wipe container.
- Sippy Cups
- Bath Toys
- Plush Toys
- Baby Wash Cloths
- Baby Powder
- Baby Books
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Kids:
There are literally 100s of options for stuffing children’s stockings at the dollar stores! Above are some of the goodies I got this year. YES they have FIDGET SPINNERS!!! My daughters have asked for these and I’ve said no a bunch of times because I didn’t want to spend $15 on a trinket. I’m okay with spending one dollar though! They really have a lot of fun options, last year I purchased puzzles from a dollar store for their stockings – they generally have multiple options ranging from mini to regular sized puzzles with 24-500 pieces. We’ve gotten activity books and bath toys from there as well. Check out these 20 super fun kid dollar stocking stuffers you can get for only a buck:
- Fidget Spinners
- Activity Sets
- Educational Card Games
- Bath Toys
- Small Toy Cars/Trucks
- Small Sport Balls
- Miniature Figurines
- Play Weapons (nunchackus!)
- Jump Rope
- Stuffed Animals
- Dress Up Accessories
- Coloring Books
- Mini Games
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Anyone:
The gifts below could be given to pretty much anyone. Depending on their interests and lifestyles. I grabbed some candy – what’s a stocking without candy? – and a few odds and ends to round out the stockings I’m stuffing this year. Would anything on this list be useful for you?
- Playing Cards
- More Candy
- Lip Balm
- Dog Poop Bags (for the avid dog lover of course!)
- Sudoku or Crossword Puzzle Books
- Hot Chocolate Mix
Additional Christmas Fun for a Dollar
If necessary, you can also buy the stocking! Plus they have plenty of cost-effective wrapping paper supplies. Why spend lots of money on wrapping paper that is going to be torn to shreds in a matter of minutes on Christmas morning? They have disposable bake-ware to make clean-up easier and paper plates, napkins, and plastic cups to reduce your dish washing needs/water bill over Christmas as well. There are even some really cute ornaments and other Christmas decor available! Check out this post on organizing your holiday decor and wrapping supplies to make sure you stay organized and clutter-free this year.
There is really no reason to over spend during the holiday season. I hope you enjoyed these money-saving tips for dollar stocking stuffers. If you’d like some tips for buying clothing on a budget check out this post. You might add some budget friendly yet stylish clothing items under the tree. Feel free to comment your favorite dollar stocking stuffers below. Don’t forget to sign up for the Newsletter to obtain more frugal living, money-saving, and other budget conscious tips. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
13 Functional Ideas for Your Dream Home
Although theme, style, and curb appeal are definitely things to consider, making your dream home functional is arguably the most important part of planning. All the bells and whistles are meaningless if you can’t use them to make your life easier. I compiled this list for those planning their dream home but also for those who already live in their dream home but could use a little more function in their current space. You can turn all of the must haves into functional spaces with the ideas below.
Built in Ironing Board in Master Closet
Don’t forget to complete the add on with a built in outlet to plug the iron into. A friend of ours has this and says they love it! Who want to trek back and forth to the laundry room or try and find space to set up the iron board some where else inconvenient? A built in ironing board set-up is definitely a functional addition to any home. If it won’t fit in the closet you can also add one to the laundry room and finally get rid of the collapsible space stealing ones!
Give Yourself an Extra Foot
Measure and remeasure space you want for walk ways in areas such at your kitchen, pantry, and closet. Adding a foot to walk-in closet could mean the difference in fitting between your clothing racks or not! A foot in the kitchen could mean having this dishwasher and the cabinets across from it open at the same time for unloading dishes. I’ve been in plenty of closets that look like they have a lot of space only to find that you can’t use all the bars because they overlap or the clothes would touch. Make sure your home is functional by planning for enough space.
Put in a Produce Sink
A produce sink in the island can really give a custom feel to a kitchen. They don’t take up much counter space and it can be a great way to keep germs away from your healthy snacks. You can easily keep your prep areas and clean-up areas separate in your kitchen this way. For a functional kitchen to work like a well-oiled machine it’s important to have separate spaces for prep, cooking, and clean-up.
Put a Closet in the Office
If you are going to have a home office or study. Adding a closet will help it sell in the future because it can be easily converted into a bedroom. The people who purchase your house in the future may have more kids than you. Fun fact: any room with a closet can be considered a bedroom! So plan ahead and put a closet in there. You can use it as a storage space for files, extra office supplies, or really any item that needs a home. Then when you are ready to move it will help your house sell for more money.
Window Seats Where Appropriate
First of all window seats are so adorable! Secondly, they make a great way to add extra functional storage space. These can be added into your plan early on if you are building or you can create your own after the fact or for remodels.
Source for DIY
Guest Bathtubs or Showers?
Consider which rooms need bathtubs, showers, or both. Our guest sweet will be a shower only. We believe that’s a good match because our family and friends that visit are most likely not going to be soaking in our tubs. Also, our parents are getting older and a walk in shower meets their needs much better. Our other spare room (which one day will become a nursery) requires a bathtub for future kiddos. So we still have the options and everyone’s needs (either present or future) can be met in the safest and best functional ways.
Designate an Outdoor Grill Space
You don’t have to plan the entire space until after your house is built. You can always build something with the space you already have as well. Consider future additions you may want to add: pizza oven, outdoor sink, or mini fridge. Of course to make it even more functional you will need outdoor seating as well. We almost forgot about this as we were designing our backyard because we’ve never had an outdoor entertaining space before. We figured we still need to plan to have a grill since we will have a pool and be spending much more time outside at our dream home.
Plan for Home Audio/AV
A built in AV nook may be a great option for you. The hubs wants to wire for speakers throughout the house and found the perfect little niche on our plans to put the AV equipment. He has such a good eye. Also, wiring ahead is way cheaper than going back in after the fact. Being able to hear the game on TV while in the kitchen can make a world of difference for house parties or other events.
In the master and children’s bathrooms at a minimum. My granny had a built in hamper in her bathroom. It makes perfect sense – I don’t know why more people don’t do this! Laundry baskets are an eye sore and don’t do much to keep the dirty clothes out of sight or wrangled. A built-in hamper can keep the clothes all in one spot when you are ready to make the rounds with the laundry basket. Out of all the tips on this page I believe this to be one of the most functional as both a way of organizing and keeping the house clean.
If you already live in your dream home and wish this was an option for you – your wishes have been granted. Check out these plans for a DIY closet hamper..
Many space in your home can utilize a private entrance. A home office, guest suite, and pool bathroom could all function better with their own door. These will allow more privacy for your home and for your visitors. Plus it will help with keeping the house clean (less people/opportunities to bring in dirt and such).
Consider a bigger laundry room than you think you need. My husband swears I need a crafting space in our laundry room. I think he has forgotten who he’s married to because I am not that crafty. However, every year we make at least 1 or 2 homemade gifts with the kids for Christmas. Plus I think he also remembers the mess I tend to create when I do get that crafty buzz going.
My bonus daughters are going to have school projects to complete and crafts that will need places to dry so we opted for a few extra square feet to keep it out of the way and organized. He really does have great ideas y’all! And he appears to know me better than I know myself! A functional space for sewing, crafts, hobbies, and even gift wrapping can definitely be useful.
Walk Thru Pantry
Most homes either have a pantry entry close to the garage or inside the kitchen. We decided to go with both. We figure the least amount of effort it takes to do something the more likely it is to be done (and the quicker). With both doors unloading groceries and cooking both become more efficient and functional. Some call it laziness. I call it genius. Our pantry will have a garage entrance and a kitchen entrance to make it as functional as possible.
Mudrooms are becoming a vital addition to new builds and many current homes are being remodeled to include one. Visit my Ultimate Guide to Creating the Perfect Mudroom for the most comprehensive list of ideas, suggestions, and more. Mudrooms are functional spaces by providing space to keep shoes, backpacks, sporting equipment, coast/jackets, and other daily necessities organized and out of the way.
What was your favorite functional dream home idea? Do you have another option you would add to the list? Leave a comment below if so! Don’t forget to sign-up for my newsletter before you leave.
The Story Behind Why We Decided to Build Our Dream Home
Our personal story.
Your story is probably different from ours – I would love to hear about it in the comments below! I am sharing our story in the hopes that it helps others along the journey to finding their dream home.The decision to build our dream home didn’t come lightly. When we initially starting planning for our dream home we discussed building and even looked into the cost of land, what types of lots were available, and other information pertinent to deciding to build. My husband and I had always wanted to build but something always prevented it such as: we couldn’t afford it, couldn’t find land to build on, etc. So in the beginning we decided that buying our dream home-made more sense and was preferable to building. Building would mean an additional year of living 1 hour away from work (for me), at least another year before we could consider adding to our family, and a whole lot of time and effort spent planning the home. Buying just seemed easier, quicker, and more logical.
Blessings in Disguise
Buying a prebuilt dream home just was not meant to be for us. When our apartment lease was about to be up after our first year in Arizona we went looking for houses. I would guess we visited around 20 houses before changing our minds on what we were looking for. We even put an offer on one we really loved! The offer was not accepted by the owners; which was ultimately a blessing in disguise. After the offer fell through we decided to purchase a smaller, less expensive house we could turn into a rental later. This was one of the best decisions we ever made! Our rental was a perfect little “starter’ home and we were able to save additional money to put towards the real home of our dreams.
The Final Outcome
After our rental we ended up purchasing a house to flip that we moved into. This house is one hour (or often times longer) away from my work location. Initially the plan was to only stay here for 6-12 months. Here we are 2 years later – still in the same flip house. About 16 months in to living in our current house we started looking for our dream home. We searched and searched for 6 months for the house of our dreams. We spent numerous weekends looking at houses, going to open houses, and just driving different neighborhoods. After many unsuccessful hours spent trying to find our dream home we decided again to try looking into building and search for lots instead.
Finding Our Lot
The first day we looked at lots for building we found where our new home was going to be built! Everything fell into place and we knew we could follow our dreams of building. It was like a big shout from God telling us to BUILD our dream home. It only took a few prayers and a couple of serious discussions to determine this was the best choice for us! During our discussion we came up with the reasons below for building our dream home and they’re how we knew building was the best choice for us.
5 Reasons to Build a Dream home
To be completely transparent, some of our reasons are linked directly with my husband’s job. He is a general contractor so our budget for buying and building were very similar (although building was still slightly more expensive due to the cost of land in AZ). Also, secondary to that he can use our custom-built home as an example in his portfolio in the future. However, while these played a role in our decision, they were not in the top 5 biggest reasons we decided to build instead of buy. Of course your spouse doesn’t have to be a contractor to build your dream home! You can still decided to build instead of buy for the 5 reasons I’ve listed below.
Reason #1 – Your Dream Home Doesn’t Exist
Have you been looking for your dream home with no success? Do you feel as if you have looked into every possible resource for buying a home and have still come up empty-handed? Building might be a good option for you if that’s the case! You may find several houses that you could settle for; but your dream home is hopefully a place you’ll live in for decades. No one wants to settle for 30 years!
We couldn’t find our dream home without additional issues or things we didn’t like. I was starting to become frustrated and feeling defeated. We looked a several houses that seemed to fit the picture of what we wanted but they each had something that either concerned us (such as needing a new $30k roof), annoyed us (why were sunken living rooms ever a thing? It’s like you’re asking to be tripped in your own home), or lacked our “must haves”. Ultimately we couldn’t find a house we loved and wanted to make our forever home even though we searched for 6 months. We did find a ton of great ideas that we wanted to incorporate into our dream home; click here to learn how to find awesome ideas for your dream home too.
Reason #2 – You Want it All
A dream home should have all of your Must Haves. You want 6 bedrooms – it needs 6 bedrooms. You want a porch for a swing to sit on and read – it needs that porch! Your Must Haves can be a long list or a short list. They are personal and completely up to you. But your dream home should have each and every one or at least a way to create them if possible.
We are being very picky about our dream home. We want everything on our “must haves” list. Sacrificing something just because someone else didn’t think of it when they built their home just wasn’t okay with us. Planning our forever home has been a year process of discussing, searching, and defining our dreams. Instead of narrowing down our desires this has increased them and caused them to be deeply rooted.
We have big plans for our home. We want it to be able to meet our needs now and wants for the future. Our plans for our dream home include: enough space for out-of-state family to visit, a pool to keep us cool during Arizona summers and entertain guests, and the most amazing walk-in shower we can dream of in our master bath. Prebuilt homes didn’t leave room for our imagination to come to fruition.
Reason #3 – Being Realistic About Remodeling
Some people love to remodel or have house projects. If you are that type of person then you may be able to purchase a home that needs work and turn it into your dream home. This can be a great strategy for those looking to save some money up front. Just be realistic about the remodeling projects and what they might cost. Not only in terms of money but in time as well.
Several home we looked at needed work done or would have to be remodeled to meet our Must Haves. We didn’t want to remodel. Even though My husband’s business would allow us to remodel anything we wanted. We both decided we really aren’t up for redoing a house after moving in. I’m really looking forward to decorating considering I haven’t even hung up a picture in 2 years. But didn’t want to have to deal with a bunch of remodeling projects.
We also learned that some houses just can’t be turned into what you want after spending an hour trying to figure out how we would put pantry in a house that had everything else on our Must Haves list. (Trust me, it wouldn’t have fit. We desperately wanted it to). So if you do plan to purchase a fixer upper, spend some time in the house to make sure your dreams can be turned into reality before signing on the dotted line.
Reason #4 – Time is in Your Favor
Building a house takes time. The building process – from breaking ground to moving in – typically takes 9-16 months on average depending if it’s a custom build or a production build. But that doesn’t include the time it takes to find a general contractor and architect, picking out or creating plans, having surveys completed, and all the other things that come prior to being able to break ground. Plus once your plans are complete but before you can break ground they have to be approved by the city or county you plan to build in. Basically its a lengthy process and you need extra time if you plan to build.
We have time. Although I would love to be closer to work (my 1 hour each way commute means I spend 8+ hours a week driving in 4 days) and I would love to have a functional yard. We aren’t in a rush. Our current home has all the necessities but not all our wants. And if spending another year here means getting all the dreams in our dream home I okay with it. Plus I’m used to sacrificing to reach my goals.
Before deciding to build your dream home make sure you have the extra time before you need or have to move into it. Also, consider the extra time it takes to create plans and pick out paint, flooring, windows, cabinetry, etc. That is also extra hours you will have to be able to devote to planning your dream home.
Reason #5 – It Works with Your Budget
It is important to look at the cost of building versus buying in your area. Land costs vary widely across the U.S. The cost per square foot of a build versus buying prebuilt also differs around the nation. You will want to cost compare and determine what works best for your budget or which you can afford. Sometimes, you may be able to afford either and the other 4 reasons may end up holding more weight for your decision. It’s important to look at the big picture and the long-term outcome of your build or buy decision.
As I mentioned earlier, we knew we could build our dream without increasing our budget too much so the finances were a smaller part of our decision. Then the more we discussed it the more and more building made sense for us. But everyone’s outcome will be personal.
Write Your List of Pros and Cons
A helpful way to discuss whether you want to build or buy is creating a pros and cons list. Many people are familiar with this concept. I would encourage you to take it one step farther and score your pros and cons on an importance scale of 1 (low importance)-5 (high importance). Each items gets a score. You then add up the pros and cons and see which list has the higher number. This can help put your pros and cons into perspective. Here is another post on 5 questions to ask yourself before deciding to build that can also assist with your decision making!
I wish you the best on building your dream home. Please share any additional reasons you found to build your dream home in the comments below!
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Wasted Space to Avoid in Your Dream Home
Some fads come and go; some become classic styles. Sometimes it’s time for those once classic styles to be traded in for something more functional. Some classic home features no longer fit in modern life. These classic features often lead to wasted space in your home that serves no purpose. Wasted space includes areas of your home that don’t get used frequently, are larger than necessary, or serve no function. I’ve rounded up 5 of the largest areas of wasted space in most homes. As you search out your dream home or design and build your dream home consider avoiding these 5 wasted spaces.
~This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links you will not be charged extra but I will get a small commission.
Why should you be concerned with wasted space? Well, for one all the square footage in your home has to be heated and cooled which cost money. Additionally the spaces need to be decorated (wasted money), cleaned (wasted time), and maintained (wasted time and money). Our dream home will have over 4000 square feet. BUT we are very concerned with making sure that we have ZERO wasted space in our floor plan.
Why would you spend your hard-earned money for wasted space? Extra square footage that’s only purpose is to be empty and unused is not something you want in your dream home. So here are 5 examples of entire rooms of wasted space not to include in your dream home and how you can save up to 700 square feet of wasted space.
1) Ditch the Formal Dining Room.
Wasted Space Saved: 200 sq ft*
Via This Old House
Be honest. How many times per year do you use a formal dining room? I would guess most people use theirs less than once a month. Typically they are saved for holidays or other special occasions. Use that square footage instead as an extra bedroom, a home office, or a walk in pantry. Get rid of the wasted space of a formal dining room and make your space work for you
Check out this post from The Turquoise Home on turning a formal dining room into a playroom. Here’s a before and after from their tutorial:
I grew up in a house with a formal dining room. I have no memories of utilizing this room for it’s intended purpose; eventually it became a storage room.
We have a formal dining room in our current house (a flip we moved in to temporarily). Our formal dining room serves as a junk room for now, where extra things hang out that we are saving for our dream home but don’t have a set place for in our current house.
Most homes have an eat in kitchen that can serve as your dining area. New builds are often created with one large great room that includes the dining room, family room, and kitchen all in a single giant room. The preferred set-up for dining options and to eliminate wasted space would be an all encompassing great room.
Here is a great example of a great room from Proverbs 31 Girl. You can read all about a cabin remodel she did on her site. It’s a beautiful rustic, yet inviting design.
Newer builds can opt to have larger “breakfast areas” built into the great room instead of having a completely different formal dining room. Having an open great room allows for better fellowship with guests as well. No one is hiding or waiting alone away front the hosts. Formal dining rooms are wasted space.
2) Let Go of the Formal Living Room
Wasted Space Saved: 330 sq ft*
Nearly everything said about formal dining rooms apply to formal living rooms as well. We don’t use them efficiently, they cost additional money to furnish, and they tend to collect junk instead of memories. A home with a formal dining room, formal living room, and a casual family room averages about 900 square feet dedicated to these spaces; compared 500 square feet in a great room that has all of these spaces in one room. (click here for source).
Source: For the Love of a House
While they look beautiful, they typically don’t get much use. I don’t know about you, but my family is not fancy. We don’t need a separate fancy room with fancy furniture to fancily sit on that just ends up collecting dust. Living rooms are basically parlors and should have been done away with once we got indoor plumbing.
Growing up, both at my house and my grandmother’s house, the ONLY time I remember using the formal living rooms were during Christmas and hide-in-seek. We always set the trees up in these spaces at Christmas. So for 11 months of the year the formal living room sat empty so we could enjoy it for 1 month. The formal living room also held our piano – during piano practice a few hours per week it was utilized. A piano could easily be placed in another space or if used often; a formal living room could be remodeled into a music room. But it seems a bit wasteful for such a large space to only be used for piano practice and Christmas celebrations.
Don’t fall into the trap of wasted space in a formal living area. There are many ways you could utilize that space in a more efficient way. Consider a game room, home theater, library, or music room instead depending on your families interests. There are a ton of options for remodeling formal spaces into more functional spaces or just leave them out of new home plans completely.
Check out this home theater DIY from Jenna Sue Design
3) Forget Extravagant Foyers
Wasted Space Saved: 100 sq ft
There are houses that have foyers as large as a bedroom. Our current home has a 154 sq ft foyer, that’s about 100 sq ft more than I would prefer to sweep and mop! Large foyers are a total waste of space and also a money pit. Your foyer only needs to be large enough for a small bench and standing room for about 4 people. Any larger and you will just be looking at wasted space that honestly serves zero purpose other than to look pretty. This one from Southern Weddings is just right.
Meredith Teasley Photography www.meredithteasley.com
Great rooms that blend the foyer into the room are also nice option. No need to have an entirely separate space to decorate. Just add a table and mirror on the wall with storage space underneath for shoes and such. This optimized entry way from House Tweaking is amazing, check out the link for a tutorial.
Now if you plan to turn your foyer into a mudroom that’s a different story. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Creating the Perfect Mudroom for some design ideas and tips. Many people prefer the mudroom to be off the garage though, not the front door. So you can always have an amazing mudroom but still need to address your foyer space as well.
Due to some house designs you may have to have a small foyer area. For example, we will have a foyer because our front door will open into the middle of a hallway and without a small foyer space the design didn’t flow. But we kept it just large enough for a table against the wall with a picture frame or mirror above it. Shoes, coats, purses, etc will be placed in the mudroom off the garage entrance. Most of our guest will end up coming through the garage doors (where our driveway leads) instead of the front doors anyway.
4) Bye-bye Extra-Large Bedrooms
Wasted Space Saved: 50-100 sq ft per bedroom*
We spend 1/3 of our life sleeping. But we don’t need a large room for that! Especially for Guests or kids. You may choose a smidgen above the traditional 10×10 but there is really no need for a 16×14 guest room or nursery. All they do is sleep in there!
There are a ton of great posts out there with ideas on how to decorate, organize, and manage small bedrooms. Here’s one from the Debrief about small bedroom hacks. Home BNC has gathered 18 of the best DIY Murphy bed how-tos to maximize small room space. Marble Buzz has 45 ideas for small bedrooms; check out the post for info on storage tips, built ins, hideaways, and other ideas for a small bedroom design like these two below.
We decided to splurge on our master bedroom because we are set on having a space to set up seating in our room. However, it’s not necessary and depending on your home budget you could definitely easily enjoy a master bedroom oasis in a smaller room. Designing your dream home is all about figuring out what will work for your family. Check out this post from One Kindesign on small and beautiful masters.
5) Give Up the Guest Room
Wasted Space Saved: 150 sq ft*
Hear me out. For some of you guest rooms are wasted space, for others they may be well utilized. Be honest with yourself. If you only have someone using your guest room a couple of weeks per year it’s not an efficient use of space. Consider turning it into a multi-use room by combing guest bedrooms with home office or a home gym. Little Victorian has this awesome home office/guest room combo below.
We absolutely have to have an extra bedroom due to nearly all our family living out of state. We average about 3 months total of guests staying in our home. However, when no-one is staying at our house I still plan to utilize this space. My dream is to have a Murphy bed in the guest room so I can use it as a home gym for the majority of the year. I use free weights, resistance bands, DVDs, and a stationary bike at home. So I don’t need a ton of equipment space in the room but I will need enough room for a yoga mat and to be able to do a full burpee without hitting furniture. Reena Sotropa has an awesome home gym/bedroom combo in her portfolio.
This Murphy Bed would work great in a home gym or home office:
*Wasted space saved estimates were all obtained from the National Association of Home Builders. They are just estimates and could be more or less depending on the size of the home.
Bonus Idea: Wasted Space Under Stairs
There are many other areas in your home that can become wasted space. A popular wasted space area people have started turning into useful and functional spaces is underneath stair cases. Consider using under stair space as storage, a bathroom, a dog kennel, or a mini playroom.
Via Level Building Projects
Via Well-Made Heart
Via Ethan Abramson
Via Thrifty & Chic
A quick search on Pinterest will give you ideas for extra shelving in closets, making use of awkward corners, or installing shelving between wall studs. You can maximize space in your kitchen by installing baseboard drawers or use the space above your staircase for a playroom. The ideas and possibilities are endless. Aim to utilize all the wasted space in your home. Drop a note in the comments to let us know your wasted space turned functional tips!
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How To Organize Your Home: A Place for Everything
*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from the links provided I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
When buying or building a dream home you often picture your items throughout the house. What would your couch look like in the living room? Will your bed fit between the windows in the master? You walk through homes decorating them in your minds eye. It’s normal, natural, and fun! But we often don’t think about how we will organize our belongings.
Don’t get me wrong, of course you’ll make sure your home has a great walk-in master closet and plenty of storage in the kitchen. But what about your holiday decor or the kids sporting equipment? Where is that going to go? The garage some where of course. Okay, what about gift wrapping supplies? Clothing the oldest has outgrown but the youngest still has a year or two before they’ll fit into them? Your suitcases? Your crafting/sewing/painting supplies? Do these things all have a place as well? They’re about to!
Declutter Before You Organize
There are many, many blogs and books about decluttering and purging items from our homes we don’t need, use, or that don’t bring us joy. I’ve written some myself! If you’re still in that stage of your journey to organize your home then check out my posts on decluttering a garbage bag a week or this list of 12 items to declutter from your dream home. Many people just like you have found them helpful places to start. I’m still not done decluttering my home but I’ve been making some progress! Since we are building our dream home from the ground up I am simultaneously purging junk and designing storage for things I plan to hold on to long term. This got me thinking this week about how I wanted to organize the items we are moving with us to our new home. I knew I was going to have to have a plan or my new house would end up like my current one.
Organize Your Home
Maybe you’re in the same boat as me. You’ve already decluttered, donated, recycled, and thrown out many items but your home still feels cluttered and messy. That’s because having an organized home requires additional steps. You can’t just get rid of things and expect your house to be clutter free! You have to organize the things you’ve decided to keep.
In her now famous book, The life-changing magic of tidying up, Marie Kondo encourages us to have a place for every item. In her chapter on Storing your things to make your life shine, Marie states:
The reason every item must have a designated place is because the existence of an item without a home multiplies the chances that your space will become cluttered again.
I found that sentence so powerful. Of course my home is always cluttered because I have many items that don’t have a home! For example, I currently have gift wrapping items in 3 different areas of my house: my closet because the extra long rolls of wrapping paper I bought at the end of last year don’t fit in the original tote I bought for storing wrapping paper rolls, in the garage – where the tote resides, and in my “junk room” on a desk because I was too lazy to put the tissue paper I used a couple of months ago back where it belongs! Honestly at this point I don’t even remember the occasion that I got the tissue paper out for in the first place. What I do know is that I obviously need a system for storing gift wrapping supplies.
Are you also struggling with storing items rarely used but that you aren’t going to purchase and throw away every season? I’ve come up with a list to work through to find storage and organizing solutions to prevent clutter in my next home. I hope you find these ideas and tips helpful so you can organize your home too! I’ve included decluttering tips along with organizing advice so we can kill two birds with one stone. This isn’t meant to be an extensive list either. I’ll be adding another list of items in our homes that need a place in the future. But this will give you some areas to get started organizing for now and make sure to check out Part 2 of How to Organize Your Home Here.
Organize Gift Wrapping Supplies
Items that need to be organized in this category: Wrapping paper, gift bags of various sizes, bows, tissue paper, ribbon, boxes of various sizes, scissors, tape, cards, and gift tags. Phew!
First of all, pare down your stockpile to the necessities. Toss/recycle any broken or ripped items that are no longer useful or nice. Be honest with yourself – how many rolls of wrapping paper do you NEED. Have you ever noticed how long wrapping paper lasts? Years typically. Some families like to have a different paper for each person at Christmas to easily identify which presents go to whom. Other families just pick what paper has enough of the roll for the size of the present. Decide on the number of rolls you NEED and then donate or give away the rest. I’ve decided 10 rolls of Christmas paper and 5 rolls of non-specific wrapping paper is all my family needs.
Then go through the same process for bows, ribbon, tissue paper (tip: stick with just a few basic colors and avoid glitter!), boxes, and gift tags. Get rid of the extra or out of date items (your kids are not going to turn 1 again…) and then you can organize the rest!
Tip: For birthdays, baby showers, graduations, etc purchase wrapping paper that is “non-specific”. Examples below. The idea is that each of these sets contain colors or patterns that could be used for a male or female for nearly any occasion! Including Christmas technically so you could even decrease your entire stockpile to 6 rolls. This will save on the total number of items you need overall and pare down your storage space requirements.
I rarely use bows on presents. Most kids aren’t going to notice if you put a pretty ribbon or bow on their gift. It’s more money wasted and more trash created so typically I skip this part. I have a couple of rolls of ribbons and a few bows that came in wrapping paper sets that I’ll be keeping but these items should fit into a tiny storage space. Also, I have quite a few gift bags which our family reuses to save money. I generally toss a couple each year because they get ripped. You can purchase these at the dollar store to save $$$. I should add that tip to my list of 11 ways to save money. One mistake I made with the current way I organize my wrapping supplies is that I really didn’t consider gift bags or boxes which purchasing the tote. I was really only thinking about the wrapping paper itself.
If I could do it again I would consider a system that has a little more efficiency for ALL the items that needs to be stored. One of these options would be a great choice, just make sure to measure your wrapping paper rolls before buying!
Since we are building our new home and are making our laundry room a multipurpose utility room, we’ve decided to include a gift wrapping station as part of the design. I haven’t narrowed it down yet but I’ve found some really great ideas on pinterest. The idea is to keep it organized, easily accessible, and easily re-organized when the task is complete. Some may prefer to hide everything in a cabinet while others may prefer an easier grab and go type approach; or maybe a mixture of both. I do know whichever I choose, I’ll have to make sure to only keep items that can fit and not over purchase just because its on sale after the holidays! These are some of my favorite ideas so far:
Via Morning Start Builders
Via Better Homes and Garden – check out more ideas here!
Via Traditional Home
Once we have our laundry/utility room designed I’ll definitely share! I can’t wait to organize and create a truly functional space for my family’s needs. It’s going to be epic. At least, it will be to me. Speaking of laundry. We need to organize our clothing too!
Specifically clothing that’s not currently being worn. My daughters are 2 years apart. Which means that there is a year between when the oldest outgrows her clothing and the youngest can fit into it. I’m not about to donate and repurchase an entire wardrobe a year later! Most of you aren’t either! So what do you do with those in-between clothing items? I currently have square tote for these items on the upper shelf in my closet. Preferably I’ll have a better system when we move. I do go through their clothes twice per year. Once for spring/summer and once for the cooler months. Things the youngest can’t wear gets donated. But I’m still not in love with this organizing system.
I also store off-season clothing in totes for all 4 of us. The kids share a tote and I’ve pared down my winter clothing into just 1 tote. My husband hasn’t joined my decluttering band wagon yet but we will be doing a closet clear out for him before we move. However, I’ve realized this isn’t the best solution for storing off-season clothing. The issue is, in my 1 winter tote I have light weight sweaters and long pants stored with sweat shirts and flannel pajamas. I don’t use all of the items throughout the whole winter. So I’m basically pulling this huge tote off the top of my closet and sorting through it every other month from October-March. Typically what happens is it sits on the floor of my closet for a few months half-filled with summer and winter wear. Case in point:
I got these down a couple of weeks ago and just went to snap a pic!
I’ve realized I’ve not been organizing this well. For a better option in my dream home I’ll be purchasing some bins that I can label and place on the shelves in my closet. I’ll organize them so similar items are placed together. For example: 1 bin can hold sweatshirts, 1 bin can hold dressy sweaters, 1 bin can hold warm weather sleepwear, and 1 bin can hold long-sleeve t-shirts. Then I can pull down just the bin I need at the time. Not only is this more efficiently organized, it’s also safer than me standing on a chair pulling a 30 pound tote off the top shelf! Wellesley and King has a great post about this organizing system. Every closet in our dream home will have this option for off-season clothing storage! I might also implement it for the in-between clothing sizes for the kids.
Click here for a cute DIY tutorial on these dollar store bins from Lemons, Lavender, and Laundry!
On the opposite side you can label swimsuits, shorts, tank-tops, etc for when you swap out the clothing for the season. Then you can place it back in the closet with the summer wear and just turn the tote around. You also won’t have to hunt for a particular item at the bottom a large tote with this option. You can purchase see-through bins, wire bins, stack-able bins, or any mixture that will fit your needs. Here are some excellent storage bin options to organize your off-season clothing:
Organize Coat Closets
I realize I just talked about storing off-season clothing. How on earth could coats deserve their own category? Be honest, do you pack up and store your coats every year or do they sit in your coat closet all year long? The thing with coats is, some of them get worn nearly every day or at least several days per week during the winter while others tend to just hang out in the back of the coat closet for special occasions. Make sure to be honest with yourself on what coats you wear regularly. If you haven’t worn a coat in the past couple of years it’s probably time to get rid of it. Coats and jackets that are worn consistently can be stored in the mudroom. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Mudroom here.
But what about the ski coat you bring out every year for your annual ski trip and then never wear again? Or the special rain gear that only gets used in emergencies? Hunting and camping gear is another example. These items aren’t used regularly but they still need a place to be stored for the few times each year they’re used. Designate a pace in your home for them. We are planning on adding a small coat closet in our laundry room or incorporating it into our mudroom for these types of items. It doesn’t need to be a large space but they do need a place to go. We can also clear out the mudroom clutter during the summer time by having a place to store and organize coats and jackets during the off season.
Great example of garage coat storage via creative closets
Organize Your Luggage
Want to know what takes me weeks to complete? Unpacking after going on a trip! I know I’m not the only one. We travel pretty regularly since our family lives out of state and we also have a 5th wheel. We have 2 large suitcases, 2 carry on suitcases, and several duffel bags, backpacks, and other bags of various sizes and purposes. I used to store the smaller bags inside the large bags to save space. However, this is really annoying when we use our smaller bags 3 times as often as we use the large suitcases but I still have to pull the entire set out to find the bags I need. For the large suitcases and large camping gear some type of garage storage would work just fine (watch out for pests).
Via Zillow. See the suitcases on the top right.
But for small bags this type of organization system would be extremely inconvenient. Meaning they would probably sit on the floor of the closet even longer! Use space wisely. Most guest room closets would make a good option for storing extra luggage or even the floor of your own closet depending on the size. Some people opt to hang luggage or store on shelving. Here is a great post from The Sunny Side Up Blog on organizing a luggage closet. Here is another good post of 7 ways to organize luggage on Make Space. Check out these ideas below for finding a place to organize your luggage.
Via Home Storage Solutions 101
Via House of Anais
You will need a basket or shelf to organize the smaller toiletry bags as well. One hack I have implemented is I now store my small travel bottles inside my toiletry bag so I don’t have to search for them when it’s time to pack. I know exactly where they are and just refill them before the next trip. This will help you stay organized and prevent stress when you’re packing for your next trip! Also, if you haven’t decluttered these items yet – do a thorough assessment before storing.
Are any of the bags ripped? Missing a zipper? Are the straps frayed or broken? if it’s not repairable the toss it. Only keep items in this category that are useful.
Organize Cleaning Supplies
You need cleaning supplies. You also need a place to organize and store them. Often you need several places! Most people have brooms and vacuums that will go in a larger pantry area with other large, bulky, or other general cleaning supplies. Under the kitchen sink typically there are additional cleaning supplies needing to be organized. Somewhere in the bathroom there is usually toilet bowl cleaner and a plunger. It doesn’t make sense to store all of these items together and then carry the items to the specific room you’ll be cleaning that day. You need easily accessible and easily re-organized cleaning supplies. Let’s start with the main storage area and work our way through the home. Below are two great posts on creating a main cleaning supply area.
Read The 36th Avenue post on DIY cleaning closet here
Find more info on the School of Decorating Cleaning Command Center here
Using their tips you can organize your large and small cleaning supplies in a neat and accessible system. I particularly like how School of Decorating incorporated plastic bins to carry cleaning supplies to different areas of the home and The 36th Avenue’s tip on storing paper towel rolls for easy access. Although you could create a kitchen sink bin to carry, its much more likely that you will store kitchen cleaning supplies in the actual kitchen. Here are some ideas to organize the area under the kitchen sink.
Little Bit Funky used a tension rod
Just a Girl and Her Blog got a little fancier
Bathrooms are another area in our house that we often store cleaning supplies. Typically just a few items are needed but we don’t want to forget them as we organize our home.
Morganize with Me has a How-to Create a Cleaning Kit Post.
This kit would easily fit under a bathroom sink!
The Kim Six Fix has a great DIY tutorial on this under sink storage system with pull out baskets.
You might have trouble thinking of everything off the top of your head that needs a place so do a walk through of your home. What areas need to be organized that contain cleaning supplies? Can you consolidate some of the items? Do you have cleaning supplies from the early 2000s you haven’t used in a decade? Toss items that are expired or that don’t work well. Here are some items that can help you get started on organizing your cleaning supplies:
These two can work well if you aren’t very handy or much of a Do-it-yourself-er
Here are some handy baskets or bins that you can store and carry:
Finally some hardware to help you organize and hang those brooms, buckets, and other items:
I know there are more items in my home that need a place. In fact, I’ve already been brainstorming my next post on this home organization topic. I would love to hear from you what areas in your home always seem to be cluttered and what items you are struggling to find a home for within your home. I’ll do my best to help you find more solutions in my next post! Please leave your top clutter areas and top clutter items in the comments section.
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This post was so popular I created part two; check out How to Organize Your Home: A Place for Every Item Part 2. Also, I have an entire post for organizing holiday decor so check that one out too!
Mudrooms are all the rage! And why shouldn’t they be? We love adorable ways to organize and declutter our homes! Every dream home needs a mudroom.
Whether you have a large family or a small family, a large space for your mudroom or a small space this is the post for you!
*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from a link I’ll get a small commission without any additional charge to you. I have not personally used all of the products in this post.
First we will start with the essentials for your mudroom. Even with these essentials the possibilities are endless! You can arrange them in a multitude of ways. Next we will look at how to add a special, personal touch, then I’ll walk you through some special considerations, and finally you can choose the design best for your space.
5 essentials for any mudroom:
Hooks are great for jackets, beach towels, backpacks, hats, purses, or diaper bags. They are versatile and simple to use for young kids. They can be arranged at multiple heights and offer a quick view of the items you need for the day.
You can purchase hooks on a bar, ready to hang. Add some creative hooks like these wooden birds. You can also install your own hooks at your desired spacing with individual hooks. Consider these awesome design ideas below for even more creativity for your mudroom.
Antique for a unique charm:
Rustic option for the farmhouse:
Musical for the band nerds:
Personalized for everyone in the family:
With the hooks alone there are so many options!
2) Shoe Space
No matter how you design it, every mudroom needs a space for shoes! There are a lot of creative options such as shelving of different heights, cubbies, baskets, hooks, and drying mats. Pick the best option for you based off your family’s needs. You might even want more than one option!
These two double as a benches:
Some people prefer using baskets to hold shoes. Check out this DIY post from Shanty-2-Chic for this lovely mudroom option and notice the cute baskets!
Baskets are perfect for smaller items such as keys and wallets. They can also be used for sport equipment, shoes, or library books that need returning. They come in many shapes and sizes to fit your family’s lifestyle. You might choose multiple sizes or keep them all the same for simplicity’s sake. Now matter what they’ll be used for baskets are a must have for your mudroom.
Check out this post on the anatomy of a great mudroom for tips and info on creating this adorable mudroom space:
4) Storage Space: Cabinets, Lockers, Open shelves
Some items can’t be hung up easily and will need alternative storage space. Typically each person has multiple jackets/coats and those not used for daily wear can be hung in a cabinet.
We have a bag we take on long car trips that holds CDs, games, and coloring supplies for the kids that will sit in our future mudroom cabinet.
Larger sporting equipment likes baseball bats can fit here as well. You prefer open spaces and visible shelving? That can work in a mudroom too. Making it easy to find what you’re looking for as you usher the kids out the door.
Cabinets: Great for hiding items and for a nice clean look
Lockers: More functional for a family with kids
Open Shelving: Best for adults who won’t fight over their space!
5) A Seat
Enough room for 1 or a family of 6. Anyway you please, there must be a seat or a bench in your mudroom. You can use Plain wood or a custom cushion and throw pillows. This is a nice way to put personal flair in your mudroom. You can even use a stand alone chair if your mudroom will be in your entry way.
This entry way is adorable! All the essentials are present and the bench doubles as extra storage.
This bench comes in several designs/colors and could be added next to a single locker like above or placed between two lockers if you have the space
Built in seating: Probably the most popular type of seating for a mudroom
Once you’ve determined your needs for the essential items. Next it’s time to consider what personal touches you might add.
Here are 6 mudroom design and decor ideas to help you create your perfect mudroom:
1) Personalize it!
Get some chalkboard paint. Add painted letters. Decorate with photographs. Or try something else to have a cute and creative way to determine each family member spot. It really makes a mudroom feel homey.
Chalk board Lockers:
Full name option:
2) Try a theme
Are you thinking farmhouse or modern? Minimalistic or decorative? How will the mudroom compliment the rest of your house? You want to make sure your overall design flows and is consistent.
Coastal and Beach:
Add a cute sign or a family photo across the top. Consider placing Greenery nearby. It’s a great idea to add a rug or mat so dirt doesn’t get tracked in as well. Mats can be cute and functional for mudroom needs.
Mats: Functional option for rainy or snowy areas
Pillows: Great for a decorative flare and to pull in a theme
4) Counter Space
Have a space to place items that just need to be dropped for the moment. Maybe you’re carrying groceries in and you’re about to drop something or you’ve got a stack of books from the library that need to be dispersed to the kids. A functional place to set items and then organize can be just the thing to complete the perfect mudroom.
We all appreciate having one last look before we head out the door. Mirrors can also help make spaces appear bigger. You could add floor length or just head height mirrors to your mudroom. You could add several for a decorative flare of just keep it minimalistic and clean.
6) Focal Wall
Having the wall of the mudroom as a design feature can give it an added flare and help separate the mudroom from joint spaces. Ship-lap, chevron, bright paint, or other fun designs can be used on the walls.
Decluttering is the first step to an organized home. If you’re feeling a little stuck on decluttering you can signup for the Triple 10 declutter Challenge. To learn more check out the info here. If you’re ready to get started sign-up below!
Special Notes for Dog Lovers:
Do you need a place to wash the mud off of Fido? Place for their kennel? Food and water bowls, toys, and leashes need a spot too. Dog owners should keep these in mind when designing their mudroom.
What type of space are you working with?
1) Long Wall Mudroom
Any long hallway in your home could work for this. Especially one that has the kids’ rooms off of it. Most people prefer it to be right inside the door. But you can definitely get creative. This is probably the most common type of mudroom.
2) Corner Space Mudroom
Have a spare corner that’s just empty space? Why not make it functional with a mini mudroom? Check out these great ideas.
3) Garage Mudroom
Don’t even bring the “mud” into the house. Leave it in the garage where it belongs! These simple garage additions could be the perfect solution if your house is short on space inside. Check out this post for more ideas on garage mudrooms.
4) Mini Mudroom
Mudroom don’t have to be huge to be functional. A single seat and a couple hooks can do the trick!
5) Foyer Mudroom
No place to add built ins? A cute foyer can double as a “mudroom” with a few simple touches such as a basket for shoes that you can slide under a bench. Add a table for your wallet and keys and you’re all set
Source: Dixie Delights Online
Consider these for new builds where you can plan the mudroom from the beginning or if you have a large space to work with:
1) Opposing walls in an extra wide hallway
This can work wonders coming in from a garage. You can double your storage space or make one side a “drop zone” for sorting mail, stashing coupons, and organizing your life. You can never have too much storage in the mudroom.
2) An Actual Mud Room
Having a door to separate the junk and grime from the rest of the home can help you feel calm and clean. It’s a great way to leave work, school, and the outside world behind you when you get home at the end of the day so you can relax and focus on your family.
3) Combined Mudroom and Drop Zone
Drop zones are nearly as useful, if not more somin their own way as a mudroom. Why not combine the two for a 100% functional and organized space.
4) Large Family Mudroom
Would you like each of your 6 kids plus you and your spouse to have your own space in the mudroom? You can make that happen.
5) Small Family Mudroom
If your needs are smaller there are mudroom options for you as well. This space would work great for 1, 2, or 3 people!
6) L Shaped
I find this mudroom design very clever. It’s a great use of awkward spaces and allows for all the essentials with more storage.
7) Combined Laundry and Mudroom
Having your mudroom and laundry room all in one can be optimal for organization. Many times the laundry is close to the garage and can make a perfect detour to drop items to keep contained from the rest of the house. This can double the size of your laundry room and really give you space to work.
Still need some more ideas for your mudroom?
Check out this post from Mom of 6 or this one from the Turquoise Home. Need organization ideas? Check out these posts: Find a place for every item part 1, find a place for every item part 2, organizing holiday decor. Ready to declutter your home but don’t know how to begin? Click here for a 10 day decluttering challenge.
Prefer to just purchase a kit for your mudroom?
Check out these options from Amazon (I swear they have everything!). Listed in price ranges below:
Less than $100
More of a Do-It-Yourself type?
This post from Farm Fresh Vintage Finds is a great one for a large mudroom pictured below:
Obviously a mudroom is a must have for any dream home. Check out this list of other “Must Haves” so you can design the ultimate dream home. If you’re working on organizing your existing home check out How to Organize Your Home: A Place for Every Item Part 1, Part 2, and Holiday Decor Edition.
Can you think of anything else that’s essential for a mudroom? What about other design or decor ideas? Drop them in the comments below.
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