Browsing CategorySmart Living

Transform An Ikea BILLY Bookcase Into A Stunning Kitchen Pantry

Ikea provides affordable and good-looking options for remodelers on a budget, and here’s how to make your money go even further! While designing our kitchen, using Ikea cabinets, we needed a large pantry for our family. The cost of the coordinating Ikea pantry unit exceeded our budget, so I decided to wander around Ikea for a while and figure out an option. That’s when the BILLY bookcase came into view! It’s estimated that every five seconds, one BILLY bookcase is sold somewhere in the world. Pretty impressive considering the Billy series was launched in 1979. Historically, these bookcases have become a home for books and chotskis to be displayed, but these days, they can be transformed into a myriad of functional furniture/storage pieces. You can find…

Give Your 1960’s Ranch Style House A Facelift For Under $100

Not content to pull into the driveway of a boring looking 1960’s ranch house anymore? These inexpensive changes can transform your cookie-cutter ranch and make it a modern mid-century joy to come home to! Same, same, same… All  ofthe other houses in our 1960’s tract home neighborhood had terracotta brick, plastic shutters, and a small cement porch with twisted iron railings, that jutted out inconveniently from of the center of the house.   Every other home in our neighborhood was an equally dreary version of ours. Most of our home improvement budget was earmarked for a kitchen remodel, so it would take ingenuity to transform the exterior of our home. Fortunately, I’m a penny pincher, and knew I could make this facelift dream a reality!…

Learn How To Grow Loofahs In Your Garden!

Peering out the window of our tiny house in Costa Rica, I saw our neighbor Josué slowly climbing up a ladder holding a basket full of what looked like overgrown zucchinis. He pulled each one out and placed them side-by-side on his roof, where the unobstructed sun would beat down on them for more than eight hours each day! Why was he doing this to his zucchinis? Josué climbed back up every morning to rotate the large veggies, and after a week of baking in the Costa Rica jungle heat, they’d transformed into a row of dark brown logs. I was dying to know what he was tending to up on his roof, so I asked, “¿Que son esos?” It turned out they were loofahs!…

What Should I Pass On to My Children?

I have inherited the possessions of two relatives in my life, and it was an overwhelming experience I am determined NOT to pass on to my children! From bulky wooden pieces of furniture to trinkets from world travels, I had to try to unravel the history and value of the multiple mementoes my grandmother had left behind. Like an archeologist, I unearthed studiously wrapped up and ferreted away treasures I discovered in the far end of bureau drawers and closets. Nana had surprised me by labeling a few of her more precious pieces, but knowing where they’d come from, or their age, wasn’t enough to take me back to that place and time she’d found so important. This is why most of us hold onto mementoes,…

How I “Tiny Housed” My Full-Sized Life In 7 Short Days!

“Would you take 3 bucks for it?’ the man said holding my stunning McCoy vase. It had come to this, all of my collectables, dishes, utensils and appliances lay out like lava on the kitchen counters, the result of a huge cabinet eruption. This was the final weekend before we moved to Costa Rica and our family of four could only take a few suitcases, so EVERYTHING else had to go. My husband had already moved to start working, so I alone had to get rid of a house and garage full of things I never thought I could live without; a chef’s kitchen full of my favorite things, a library of books I’d collected over a lifetime, 10 boxes of Christmas decorations, and craft/art supplies…

“Tiny House Your Full-Sized Life” · 7 Day Challenge

The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment. – Marie Kondo Tiny house living or downsizing may sound appealing, but if you can’t abandon your current full-sized life, you can still experience the joys of tiny house living. I moved back to the US two years ago after long-term tiny house living abroad and in just two short years back home, my drawers, closets, and life were bursting at the seams. I had innumerable decorations (otherwise known as stuff) out on display that needed constant cleaning and I’d begun replacing, rather than religiously repurposing or upcycling what I already had. As the amount of stuff increased, “clutter clusters” were spawned in almost every room. The materialism…

Easy Spring Cleaning Secrets And Tips

Frühjahrsputz (German) · lente – skoonmaak (Afrikaans) · dọn dẹp nhà cửa sạch sẽ vào cuối đông (Vietnamese) · pulizie di primavera (Italian) · nettoyage de printemps (French) · limpieza general (Spanish) · Spring Cleaning (English)                                                                   Spring is fast approaching, and with the continuous rain showers we’ve had here in the south, I’ve been able to postpone the dreaded spring cleaning my home so richly deserves. Our ancestors kept their homes warm with coal, kerosene and wood. On the first sunny day of spring, they’d throw open the doors and windows and haul everything outside to beat out…

HOW TO START “TINY HOUSE” THINKING

“I give them six months!” my spouse chortled, after watching an episode of a tiny house show.  I wanted the couple on the show to drive off happily into the sunset, but it did seem that the field was littered with red flags. They had St. Bernard, a bathroom space one spouse seriously compromised on, no private space for either of them (one of them planned to work out of their tiny home) and a refrigerator only big enough to hold pint-sized milk containers. They seemed adventurous and optimistic though, and had well-functioning knees, so maybe they could make it work. What is driving the tiny house movement? What is it about this lifestyle that’s so appealing to us? “Tiny house” living abroad Our family spent the last seven years in Costa Rica,…

5 WAYS TO “TINY HOUSE” YOUR FULL-SIZED LIFE

“Tiny house” living sounds incredibly appealing, but if you can’t just up and leave your current full-sized life, you can still enjoy “tiny house” living. 1.   Downsize – as a child of the 70’s, my rule of thumb was, “when everything you own can no longer fit in your VW bug, you’ve got too much stuff,” but then the 80’s, relationships, home buying, and children came into play, and that thought never again entered my mind. Our family moved to Costa Rica nine years ago, and with the exception of a few boxes of mementos, I got rid of everything we owned. We moved into a furnished (to Costa Rican standards) house, so we had everything we needed, I just didn’t know it at the time! There are…