OAL Home Tour: Julie

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Welcome to The Clarke family home.  A place not of perfection, but a place where family and guests feel welcomed and cared for.  Our 3,500 sq. ft. home was built around 1975 and continues to evolve over time.  Most recently, we updated our oak trim and doors with a fresh white!

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 I believe that our homes should be our sanctuaries, that great design need not be expensive and most importantly that a home should function well for the family who lives in it. Organization matters!

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A great kitchen is one that allows it’s occupants to complete multiple tasks, entertain favorites and is organized in such a way that it is a joy to cook in!  Decor should be simple and beautiful.  For example, this picture shows my favorite nesting mugs in fun, bright colors and my gurgle pot (a gift from my son and daughter-in-law) filled with a branch from a tree in my front yard.

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Another favorite in my kitchen is my couch (yep, a couch) in my kitchen!  Probably the best decor decision I have made in my home!  Who doesn’t love hanging out in the kitchen??

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Many people talk of having the type of home where they can entertain and enjoy having people over but all too often it never happens.  Life is just too busy and preparing for company is just too complicated.  I love to entertain and always keep my home ready, so that in a moment I can transform my table from 4 to 10 and set a simple table for guests.  It’s never fancy, but I try to be prepared in the way I set up and organize each space in my home.  I also cook really simple meals.

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The key to a great living space is making sure that it suits those who live in it.  Arrange the space for great conversation (hire help if you’re not sure how to do this) and always keep clutter to a minimum.  Even if you have small children keep toys and games limited especially in common spaces.

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I  believe that the art on our walls should be a reflection of what we love most.  It should make us happy!   Keep it simple, clutter free and hang at the proper height (about 60 in. from the floor to the center of your art).  Viewing art from a seated position should feel comfortable.  Family pictures are best kept in hallways and stairwells.  I can hardly call the pictures of my boys from K-12th grade art, but I love looking at these sweet faces everyday as I cruise down my hallway!

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I like to see what I own and for that reason I like storage that is open.  I know many of you would not like this in your homes but for me it works well.  I can see what I have and I think it’s easier to keep everything tidy when storage is visible.  I had bi-fold doors removed from both of my bathroom closets and I removed closet doors from my guest room closets.

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My house has multiple extra rooms now that my sons are all grown.  Their old rooms now serve as guest rooms; simple and clutter free.  I keep guest closets empty and only store one set of extra sheets per bed (these are stored in each bedroom so that changing sheets is simple).

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I also use a repurposed bookshelf to store towels and misc. items in my master bathroom.  It’s easy to keep tidy and well stocked since I see it all the time.  Oh and I really love Costco white towels!

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A mini desk area graces the corner of my master bedroom and provides a place to sit and jot a quick note or make a call.

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A homemade photo board hangs on the wall in family room.  I love that the pictures are easy to change and fun to look at.  I’ve learned that pictures in photo albums, bins or boxes are really never appreciated…get them out and enjoy them!

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We all hope that you have enjoyed our OAL staff home tour series.  We have loved sharing our decor/design ideas with you and we trust that you have gleaned some very practical and inexpensive ideas from this series.  We work hard to help our clients learn to love the homes they have and use the items that they love.  We would love to help you do that as well.
We welcome your feedback so let us know if you have thoughts or questions for us.
Stay tuned for our next series filled with front porch ideas!

OAL Home Tour: Sasha

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There’s a running joke in my home among my family, that each time I bring in a new furniture piece, “everything eventually gets painted white.”  That’s probably not far from the truth.  As a mother of two rapidly growing teen/tweens I find myself keeping a rather neutral and clean palette overall which keeps the mood calm. (And every mother of hormonal children will understand why this matters.)  I stick to mostly blues, greens and grays in my decor choices, and they run throughout the house in one form or another, which makes this small space feel bigger than it’s 3 bed, 2 bath, 1500 sq footage.
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We purchased this home twelve years ago and everything in it was builder grade.  Honey oak trim and cabinets, brass fixtures, ugly lighting and cheap carpeting and lino. The best part, was that we could afford this home, even though it wasn’t everything I would have chosen, cosmetically.  Little by little we began transforming this into a comfortable, almost farmhouse-like feeling home, all on a budget and with a lot of sweat equity.
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I love things with stories, but I also like classic choices which is why white works so well for me.  You never get tired of white and it always feels fresh.  It took me an entire summer to sand, prime and paint the trim in this house but it made a huge difference and didn’t break the budget.  The summer before that, I worked on the kitchen cabinets, installing slabs of bead board that we cut ourselves for the sides and wrapping it around our island and down our hallway, along with corbels and hardware. In my world nothing is off limits to the power of paint.  Especially white paint.
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The thing I love most about this house is it’s adaptability.  It worked really well for us with babies and toddlers with a nice fenced yard, but a few of the areas in this house were fairly useless as the kids grew, until we rethought the spaces.  For example, we had a somewhat useless room in the front of the house that felt enough out of the way that the kids never played in it, and we never watched tv in it either.  So, we created a guest bedroom room/family office by adding french doors, a bed and our computer desk.  Now it’s used daily and a very appreciated retreat for our guests!
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 The other space we have come to love was a little nook off the master bedroom (not shown here).  In years past, my husband had a desk there because he worked from home a lot.  Once he changed jobs I took it over as a sort of art studio. As our children grew into tall loungers who wanted to hang out with friends all over the sofa and take over the television for games and movies, my husband and I turned it into a little cozy retreat so we could watch our own shows and still be in hearing distance to the kiddos.  We use it daily now.
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I firmly believe that anyone can make any space work for them, with planning, simplifying, and rethinking how a space can adapt to what you need to use it for right now.  And I also believe that’s how you turn a house into a home.

OAL Home Tour: Becca


You’ve probably heard the sayings, “love grows best in little houses” and “small houses build tight families” and I think those are both true! Our home has two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living space, dining room, kitchen, pantry/office and laundry room all in 996 square feet. That may not seem like a much, but the layout is fantastic and just the right size for a small family. My husband and I bought this 1920’s home about a year and half ago. All it lacked was storage, but I saw the potential.

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The home was fully renovated in the 1990’s which meant we didn’t have to deal with plumbing or electric. We painted all of the walls and ceiling and updated the light fixtures. When we removed the carpet we were pleased as punch to find hardwood underneath! We didn’t have the money to fully restore and patch everything so we painted them with a white floor enamel instead. We love the look and it’s durable!

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Unfortunately our living space lacks a coat closet. However, a coat rack does the trick. Eventually we are going to add built in cupboards and open shelving all around the piano and TV.

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Welcome to my work in progress! This has been our latest project. We raised all the cabinets and painted them (still awaiting crown moulding and base trim). We added the open shelving below for everyday items which is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Things like new appliances, countertops and backsplashes are not in our budget right now, but that’s okay! Don’t go in debt to renovate your home and don’t be afraid to DIY!

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When we first looked at this home, this space used to be a mystery. It was empty and had no clear purpose. We decided to turn it into a shared floor to ceiling pantry and office space. We bought cabinets and made the countertops and open shelving ourselves. The lower cabinets hold all our extra appliances while the drawers hold spices and paper goods. It is by far my favorite room in the house right now. 🙂

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A family command center is key in any home! My husband built this one by the back door.

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Our next project is to build a banquette in this dining space. It will maximize the square footage and provide additional storage for things like games and linens underneath! For now though, this dining set we found on Craigslist and painted with Chalk Paint works nicely!

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Our master bedroom is a cozy retreat. A wardrobe and small walk in closet hold all of our clothes.

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My DIY jewelry holder made from an old drawer.

Thank you all for touring my home! I would love your feedback and I’m happy to answer any questions!

OAL Home Tour: Liz

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Welcome to our home!  A newly constructed one-bedroom apartment with floor to ceiling windows, urban design and contemporary finishes.  My husband and I are in our second year of marriage, and adjusting to a new life together has been a wonderful adventure that has brought us closer.  Decorating our apartment has been part of the fun of melding our lives together as a new family; finding creative yet inexpensive solutions to create a home we enjoy together and entertain in.

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At 780 square feet, our storage spaces are very limited, so we’ve taken that as an opportunity, and to be honest sometimes a steep challenge, to keep life simple and eliminate clutter.  We’ve had to be creative and thoughtful in decorating and organizing our space, to make it into the space we want.

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You’ve heard the saying, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”? I’ll share with you just a few fun finds as well as a few treasures that were a steal of a deal!

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I love our bookshelf.  We use it  to display our travel memorabilia and it also serves to help define our dining room area.  It was scratched and covered in spider webs, but for $25, I couldn’t pass it up!  I actually bought it to hang as a giant headboard, but when my husband put it against the wall in our dining room to keep it out of the way, we realized how perfect it was for the space.

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We used an old twin bed headboard  as a TV stand ($20).  We needed something narrow that would hug the wall in our cozy living room.  It’s also a perfect home for our favorite movies and shows.

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Not everything was upcycled or previously used.  We also undertook a few projects or found deals to add fresh design to our space.

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We created handmade pendant lamps for our bedside for under $20 each (a fun Valentine’s Day project we did together) and added simple white, sheer curtains to bring in a little privacy while making the most of our wonderful 9 foot ceilings and expansive windows along with a DIY pallet board painting (gathered wood from a friend and leftover paint).

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As you see, little by little, we’re introducing fun, creative pieces to make our space a lovely home.  Thanks for stopping by!

OAL Team Home Tours Series

Greetings OAL Followers,

We’re excited to announce a new blog series starting next week called OAL Team Home Tours. Each week one team member’s home will be featured. We realized some time ago that we have the perfect variety of homes amongst us ranging from a 700sq. ft. apt. to a multi-level home of more than 3,500 sq. ft. We will take you inside our homes and give you a glimpse of how each of us lives and loves our space. We hope this series will inspire you to learn to love the home your in…big or small, new or old!

My current team of organizers bring a wealth of design, decor and delight to any space!

If you want to learn more about how to live a simpler and more organized life then don’t miss out on Julie’s next Simply Organized Home class on April 18th. There are currently only 5 spots left. Please join me!

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” ~George Augustus Moore