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Thoughts and Reflections | 5 Steps to a Use-What-You-Have Transformation

Thinking through Micah and Betsey’s office revamp, I had lots of odds and ends thoughts, ideas, musings. I’m going to wander through them in no particular order in the hopes to encourage you to love your space more and take the leap to make it work for you.


You don’t need to spend money.

We approached the home-office-with-reading-nook dilemma with a budget of $0. It’s not that we couldn’t think of ways to spend money. Au contraire, I had LOTS of ideas to add more style and function (brighter overhead light, pendants over the work space, matching desk and credenza, curtains, rugs, etc. etc.). You could spend oodles of money updating a space, all in the name of function or style. However, Micah and Betsey revamped a space to make it more functional and displaying their loves and interests all by shopping their own home. Betsey is content with the space every time she walks by. Spending money on your space will not give you more joy or make you content with your space.

You don’t have to change the quirks.

Micah and Betsey did some painting when they first moved into the house. Surprise, surprise, the colors they chose didn’t turn out the way they envisioned. This room in particular. The accent wall is the deep shade of purple that was intended.

The other three walls? They are lilac. Lavender. Periwinkle. Heather. No two ways around it, they are purple.

What were they supposed to be? Grey. Oops. I totally understand how that happened because I’ve misidentified undertones myself (lighting and other colors in the room play a role too!). I’ve cried over mis-tinted paint myself. True Story. Ask my husband. In my defense, I was pregnant and hormones were raging.

We didn’t paint this room, but we did hang art on the wall that complemented the lilac. Is it everything Betsey envisioned? No, but it isn’t an eyesore. The colors are working together not fighting each other.

You do need to invest time.

Time planning. Time mulling over your issues with the space. Time contemplating solutions to those issues. Time dedicated to doing the work.

Time. Time. Time.

A well thought out space doesn’t happen overnight with little effort. All good things take work, even $0, use-what-you-have projects.

Before you start moving furniture, buying paint, knocking out walls, take some time to ask and answer a few questions:

  1. What is the primary (and maybe secondary) purpose of the space?
  2. What is prohibiting the space from being used to its fullest potential for this purpose?
  3. What do I need (furniture, lighting, space, filing cabinets, etc.) and do I currently own an item that could fulfill this need?
  4. How could I rearrange what I have to make this space more functional?
  5. Do I need to get rid of things in the room that don’t fit the purpose of the room?

Then spend some time creating a mock-up of potential floor plans either on graph paper or use a free floor planner website (I used floorplanner.com for this project.).

You do need a buddy.

Tackling projects are so much more fun with a friend. Grab your BFF, spouse, sister-with-irrational-love-of-organizing, or whoever and have them do it with you. You will have infinitely more fun and be more likely to finish the project with an extra set of hands.

A buddy will also add an objective opinion as you sift through the accumulated stuff in a room.

  • My “Most Improved” cheerleading trophy from eighth grade? Sweetie, those days are long gone. Donate to a worthy cause or toss it.
  • My half-read books that didn’t interest me? Honey, if they didn’t keep you interested the first time you tried to read it, they never will. Find another person who might enjoy it, donate it, or toss it.
  • Wedding gifts I’ve never used (I’m looking at you ceramic canisters, glass serving plate, and cracked cake stand!) It’s been 11 years, Emily. It’s time to let go. Let’s give someone else the opportunity to use that item. Donate the usable stuff, junk the broken.

You need someone to give you these honest opinions. It is so easy to get attached to all the stuff in our house, and yet, if we can only keep the stuff we love, we will find so much more peace and contentment in our homes.

Do re-think, re-purpose, re-use

Do you have a basket you like? Put the kid toys in them!

Unused coffee table? Use it to make a functional “L” desk! Extra end table? A perfect, sturdy spot to hold the scale for your home business! (Obviously very specific to Betsey and Micah’s office, but you get the idea. This can work for any area in your home!)

Want to implement new organization in your dresser or closet that needs small boxes? (Ideally like these or these) While the store-bought boxes, do look nice and tidy like in my dresser below.

Shoe boxes work too, and they don’t cost anything! In my closet, I’ve used a combination of store-bought and regular shoe boxes to organize my clothes.

Use Shoe Boxes to Organize Your Closet

Think outside the box! I love new things as much as the next person, but I the joy and satisfaction is just as great by using what you have (and your wallet will thank you!). Think of the pat on the back you can give yourself for finding an use for an item collecting dust (Gifts from your wedding!), organizing a closet in bad need of purging (ahem, linen closet, ahem), or actually using that lovely tray someone gave you (A perfect spot for all your coffee items)! I’m speaking to myself here with examples of my own home! Purchasing another “just right” item for a project introduces “more” into your home. The items collecting dust are still collecting dust. The overflowing closet is still overflowing and may even house this “just right” item too one day. Use what you have first. The solution to your issue is probably right under your nose!


So there you have it! A brain dump straight from me to you!

I left the office project so inspired to work on various areas of my home. I cleaned out my garage before I even unpacked the car from our trip. I was motivated. I am starting on other rooms in my house too. I’ll share when I have some finished.

What are you perplexed by in your home? What would you like to change if you could? Are you working on any of these $0 transformations?

Transform Your Home

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