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How To Make The Most Of Your Home

In the age of the internet and HGTV, it’s easy to let comparison rob you of your contentment. It’s easy to slip deeper and deeper into a well of dissatisfaction with yourself, with your place in life, and with your home. It’s a sinking feeling with which most of us are familiar – as you scroll further and further down your social media feed, you make mental notes of all that everyone else is able to do, able to achieve, able to obtain. Young Miss Smith just bought herself a brand new car, one packed with features that yours doesn’t have. The Jones family just upgraded to a house three times the size of yours. That newly married couple just moved into their first house. When you were their age you were still in that tiny place with the window unit. Perhaps you are their age, still trying to figure out what you want out of life. Still trying to find yourself. You recognize that you are falling into that familiar feeling of deficiency. Stop! Your life is not a checklist to be completed by a certain time! What we need to realize is that we are all unique, each of us a collection of emotions, experiences, and observations unlike any other person alive. These unique qualities can shine in many ways, one of which is an area where Echterling Builders can help – your home!

When you think about your home, you may have a laundry list of imperfections that you think you can’t overcome. But what you may not realize is that you can turn a perceived weakness into a strength. Small homes are cozy, cute, and easy to clean. Older places have a vintage charm that is hard to find in new buildings. Your unique floor plan can work for you rather than against you. This is where we shine at Echterling Builders. We love to help people build their dream homes – whether we’re working from the ground up to build a brand new custom home, or we’re helping you remodel or redesign what you already have to accentuate the qualities of your existing home. Here are some ways in which you can make the most of your home, and love where you live. 

Declutter, Organize, & Clean

This answer seems like an obvious one, but some people may not know, and others may need a gentle reminder. The first step in making a more comfortable, more inviting, and all-around better looking living space is to declutter; to throw out what is no longer needed. Now, this is certainly easier said than done (especially if you’re like me and develop a sentimental attachment to every pencil and scrap of paper you ever touch). A safe way to decide what to get rid of is to set aside items that are under consideration for a certain amount of time, say one month. If the item goes an entire month without being worn, used, seen, etc. then it is likely safe to throw away or donate. It should be noted that there will be some exceptions to this rule, and you will just have to decide for yourself what items don’t get used very often but still have a functional place in your home. There is no shortage of resources which can help you declutter your home. A quick internet search is sure to yield more results than you can hope to read through! 

Look at the drastic difference in this room! You can see that they didn’t do much redecorating, they just got rid of the clutter and organized what was left!

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After going through your home and trimming the fat, the next step is to organize what you are left with. Organization can be a bit tricky sometimes, especially if you are living in a home with little or no closet space. But rather than lamenting your current living situation, look at it as an opportunity to be creative and to create a home that nobody else has!


Use those small, awkward spaces to your advantage! The space between the fridge and the wall could be perfect for a tall, narrow shelf on which you can store kitchen wares.

Use shelf organizers! Ikea makes cheap, easy to assemble organizers that can immediately expand your storage capabilities. I have used these all over my house, to organize my shoes, to increase storage in the kitchen, and even to increase the usable space in my desk cabinets. [1]

After you’ve decluttered and organized, the final step is to clean. Give your floors a vacuum, and a mop if you can. If you have a couch made of cloth, sprinkle some baking soda on it and wait an hour. Then vacuum the baking soda, and you’re left with a fresh, clean couch! If you hate having to buy fifteen different cleaning supplies just to maintain your home’s freshness, I recommend Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner. [2] It can be used in a variety of ways, such as mopping wood, vinyl, or tile floors, cleaning countertops, even washing dishes. Whatever you have to use, just get your place clean! You will feel better, and your home will feel more inviting. 

Painting Light, Bright, and Slightly Different 

Changing up the color of your walls is a fantastic way to breathe new life into an older space. A change of color can also make a small space feel larger, more open, and give it a light, airy feel. Many folks would be surprised by how drastic an effect a simple paint job can do for a home. Before anyone rushes out to buy a bucket of white paint, consider some of the different options. There are countless colors across the spectrum that can be used to brighten up a space, while adding a bit of color and subdued liveliness. A soft seashell grey, a pale grey-blue, or even a seafoam green – these are all colors that are not quite white, but still function beautifully in making a space feel more open and fresh. 

See how the light walls help this space feel open and inviting?

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Place some mirrors in locations that allow them to reflect light, such as on a wall opposite a window. This adds some decoration, and helps throw some additional light around the space!

 Your walls don’t all have to be light colors, though. Dark colors can be used in creative and strategic ways, in order to work with the strengths of a particular room. For this example, I might direct your attention to a room in my house that is a bit dimmer than others. There is one north facing window, so the room doesn’t get very well-lit even at the brightest point in the day. In this room I opted for a darker color in order to maximize the cozy, contemplative feeling that the room naturally puts off. The paint choice ties into a concept that will be discussed in the next section.

The dark green wall helps support the cozy feeling this room naturally exudes!

Work With The Room

Each room in your space has something about it that make it best-suited for a particular utility. That is, the qualities of the room will lend themselves best to a specific function. This is true in most cases. A bright room with high ceilings and an inviting atmosphere is an optimal choice for a living room, while a more dimly-lit room with a naturally cozy air is a perfect place for a reading nook and a work-space. Some folks may find that their personal taste leads them to conclusions opposite of those that I’ve just presented. This is fine! Decide what you like, plan to apply your preferences in the best way possible in your home, and then begin to work with your space. It takes just a bit of practice, but everybody can learn how to feel out the natural disposition of a room. Also, for our uninitiated friends, the secret to furnishing your space on the low – Thrift! You can score some affordable, unique, and functional pieces if you’re willing to look around.

Get Some Green In Your Space!

Without plants, humans don’t exist. On a functional physical level, we need them to breathe, we need them for subsistence, and we need them to construct shelter. What is interesting is that humans need plant life on a psychological level as well. Numerous studies suggest a direct correlation between exposure to plants and nature, and increased health in humans. So, bring some of that life into your home! Having plants in the home has been linked to increased air quality, improved concentration and memory, and reduction in the likelihood of stress-related depression. [3] Plants are also beautiful living ornaments that can immediately make a space feel more comfortable, more inviting, and more relaxing. Now, some folks have been duped into believing that they are unable to care for plants. But I am here to dispel that idea. There are many kinds of plants which require very little in terms of care. Plants such as the snake plant don’t require high amounts of light, and are incredibly forgiving with folks who are less than committed to a consistent watering schedule. I will also leave a link below for more easy-care plant ideas! [4] 

Look at the way a few plants can make a space feel more inviting!

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Hang some of those plants! Get a couple of macrame plant hangers, and place them in different locations around your house. The hanging ropes make for beautiful, cascading plant ornaments, and they also make your ceiling look higher! 

Check out the way these hanging plants help dispel any claustrophobic feelings in this small bedroom space!

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Bring some plants into your home, and immediately notice a difference in how your place feels. Start breathing cleaner air, and feeling more at ease. 

Go Vertical!

One of the first casualties of a small space is usually storage. When closets are limited and large pieces of furniture aren’t an option, you may wonder how you can hope to store things in a way that is functional, and without being a total eyesore. The answer is to use vertical space. Installing shelves is the most obvious way to utilize vertical space, and also the easiest to implement. Shelves require very little in terms of tools, and when they’re up you can immediately put them to use! Another trick if you’re short on space is to hang things that can be hung. For example, I have several cleaning tools which had been getting in my way until I realized they could all be hung in one small section of the wall. Now, my broom, mop, dust mop, and dustpan are all gathered in a two foot wide section of the wall next to my washer/dryer, and take up essentially no space. You can also use the top of your kitchen cabinets to store bulky items such as pressure cookers, food dehydrators, and large pots. A tip to keep these items from making for an ugly mess – put some fake plants above your kitchen cabinets as well! This will draw the eye to the touch of green, and if you place the items with some thought then they might almost look decorative! Remember those shelf organizers I mentioned earlier? These are perfect for going vertical inside your kitchen cabinets, in your closet, or elsewhere. Make the best of the space you have by going vertical with shelves and employing creative hanging techniques. The results may be even prettier than you thought!

Look at the way vertical storage can free up some much-needed space! This small corner easily becomes a functional work-space with some overhead shelves!

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Hopefully by now you have come to the understanding that the space you have is functional and unique, you just have to work with it! By viewing the limitations of your space not as shortcomings, but as challenges to overcome, you allow yourself the freedom and creativity to create a truly beautiful living arrangement for yourself. And if you ever get stuck, and aren’t sure what to do, reach out to me and I would be happy to help in any way that I can. 

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