How My Kids Stopped Leaving Clothes on the Bathroom Floor

I’m not sure what to say about this because I don’t know if I should be impressed with myself that I thought of it, or asking why I didn’t think about it sooner?

Every night when the little ones get their baths, tiny pants and shirts and socks are dropped on the bathroom floor. This is not a big deal to me. I don’t think about it, but every morning I’m in the habit of picking up the clothes and putting them in the laundry basket in another room. It’s not hard to do, but I’m not exactly teaching my kids good habits in the first place.

Then one day it struck me, “Why don’t I put the laundry basket where the clothes are dropped? Do I work for this house, or does the house work for me?”

I put the laundry basket in the bathroom where they can use it, and now there are no more clothes on the floor. It took me a few years to think of this, but I still don’t know what to do about the clothes left in the living room.

Where do you find clothes left around the house?

Good things happening around the blogosphere:

“We will never have a garage sale.” Sometimes you have to face and accept the truth. – Pancakes and French Fries.

Nobody’s Dream Job: the Stuff Manager – Nesting Place

Good advice for your life from a 7-year-old -Modern Mrs Darcy

How to Find the Right Fixer-Upper House

fixer-upper kitchen

Sometimes when I watch HGTV and people complain that a house’s closets are too small or the kitchen doesn’t have granite, I just think how they would have hated my house.

No one ever says, “Harvest-gold sink and counters? Sweet! Yellow is my favorite color.” or “This bathroom carpet is going to feel so soft beneath my feet after a warm shower.”

When we were looking for a house, I gave my realtor this wish list:

house wish list

I wanted pretty trees. I didn’t want to maintain a pool. I didn’t want a slick, modern kitchen.

It was kind of like when you’re single and you write this dream list of what you want in a mate, and maybe that list has things on it like “Can play guitar” and “Looks handsome but not too handsome.” It seemed reasonable.

As our house search progressed, we started to look more into fixer-uppers so that we could have the quality we wanted but still be able to afford it. I had to add a few more things to my house list.

Dream House or Deal Breaker?

If you’re looking to buy a fixer-upper house, first focus on the essentials:

1. Location

The location of your house is vital. You can’t do anything to change it. It’s the first thing people think about your house when you try to sell it later, and your home improvements have to make sense in the context of the neighborhood.

2. Outdated but not neglected.

You want a house that has been maintained even if it looks old. When buyers look for “good bones” they usually notice the trim and the windows, but it’s so much more than that. It’s the structure and the way the house is built, and it involves the foundation, floor plan, exterior, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, walls, and roof. If more than one of these needs replacement, then walk away and keep looking. You want a house that will be strong in forty years, not crumbling around you.

Getting a professional inspection is essential, but for a first-time walk through, you can observe a lot yourself. Look for cracks in the wall and straight roof lines. Watch for signs of water damage. Check the electrical panel. Find the age of the AC unit, furnace, and the water heater. Turn on the faucets and check the water pressure. Notice if the doors latch easily or not. Go around the outside and make sure the brick isn’t crumbling. (If a house is so full of stuff like a near-hoarding situation, I don’t even bother. Don’t get a house that you can’t see to inspect.)

3. Floor plan

A good floor plan makes a house livable now and in the future. There should be a good flow of traffic and sight lines from one room to the next.

Our house had nice-sized bedrooms, a big kitchen, and an open living area, but one problem. The living room was divided by brick arches going right down the middle. Tsh from Simple Mom even said it looked like an old Taco Bell.

Those arches quickly came down with a hammer, and you can see the living room before, during, and after:

living room arches before

The Potential

A fixer-upper is not going to be staged for you, so you have to think creatively. You will have to overlook wallpaper and ugly light fixtures. You have to imagine that house without the heavy curtains and all the stuff. Picture what it would look like if you cut back the overgrown hedges.

Assume you’ll replace the floors. (Go ahead and pick out the kind of flooring you’ll want so that you’ll know the square footage cost and can budget for it.)

In the kitchen we kept the original oak cabinets and had them painted white. They’ll last another forty years. We expanded the pantry and replaced the counters.

I made some concessions. I didn’t get to have pretty trees in the front yard, but I decided that I could buy trees for $50 each and plant them. In the end I got my essentials plus most of the things on my wish list. (Who am I kidding, it’s not the end. We still have a lot of work to do!)

What kind of experience have you had with a fixer-upper house, and what would you look for?

Laundry Room Organization

organize the laundry room wall

I want to show you the new bars I put on the laundry room wall to add interest and organization to this small room. It was so easy, and it made a major impact for just 21 dollars.

The laundry room is located behind the kitchen, and you can look inside it as you walk down the hall to the back door.

I bought the Bygel towel bars and S hooks at IKEA for $21. This happened on the same day that I wandered around IKEA by myself for six hours and came home with big plans and a reading chair stuffed into the back seat of my car.

First I taped red pencils to the wall where I thought the bars should go so I could step back and be certain before I put holes in the wall. The lowest one is twenty inches above the floor, and the rest are seventeen inches apart. (This is for my 8-foot ceiling.)

Then we mounted the bars to the wall. We painted the screws and mounting disks white so they wouldn’t be noticeable. You can see the bars and not the hardware.

To hang a basket, poke the S hooks through it, and that’s all you have to do. The spray bottles are easy to reach, and it’s nice to have a place to hang wet kitchen towels after wiping up a mess.

I like to use the bars for keeping extra hangers and giving me a place to hang up a shirt or dress if I don’t feel like getting out the drying rack.

It makes me happy to decorate with things that are useful, and since the laundry room is small, a little can do a lot.