In the Trenches featuring Tinafb1…

Signs of Spring around Tina’s homeI can not believe that it’s MARCH! Yeah, I know that it’s been March for a good week now, but I’m just really adjusting to that fact. With Spring right around the corner, I’m feeling the need to freshen my home… not just beautify, but deep clean and organize. (And that feeling seems to be one that’s in the design blog air, if you’ve been wandering around!)

Because I’m a visual person, the beginning of any project for me is finding visual inspiration… and that means a visit to my favorite voyeur site… Flickr! That’s where I found today’s wonderful budget decorator.

Over and over I was struck by Tina’s fresh and eclectic style. I’m a huge fan of a home that looks lived in… like you could pull off your shoes and sink into a chair and just feel happy and peaceful. Or you could curl up on the floor and play a boardgame. No worries of breaking a thing, but still be surrounded by beauty. And that’s how I see Tina’s home. A place for joyful living… that happens to be AMAZINGLY organized as well. Definitely inspiration for me.

And for you. So read on, and be inspired!

Since I stumbled upon photos of your home via Flickr, I know nothing about you, except that I adore your home! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Tina and a stay at home mother of four boys, ages are 9, 8, 4, and 3. We live in central Maryland. My husband and I have recently bought our first home after 10 years of moving around while my husband finished graduate school and established his social work career. We’re SO excited to finally feel settled in a house that we love and that is located in a fabulous community.

What struck me from photos of your home is the sense of creative playfulness that comes across. How would you describe your style? What inspires you in decorating your home?

Tina’s Living Room
Hmmm, I suppose I would describe my style as modern vintage eclectic, with a touch of minimalism. How’s that for a mixed up answer? Seriously, I like clean lines and simple furniture. I like color and light to be part of my home. I’m attracted to things with a vintage look. I want my house to be comfortable for my family and guests. I have kids who run trucks through the house and jump on the furniture, so I want to keep it an open space for them to play.

I like to be surrounded by things that have meaning and that I love. I don’t like to be overwhelmed by stuff that has no purpose or special memory attached. For example, my grandparents helped to raise me and I have so many good memories of them. So my house today has a little bit of them in every room like the chest that my granddaddy built that sits at my front door, some of the books that I used curl up in front of their fireplace reading are spread throughout my home, and the scrapbook of Grandmama memories that sits on my desk.

Much of my inspiration comes from my mother and grandmother, who both had beautiful, thoughtfully decorated homes. And before we moved into this house, I spent hours looking at decorating websites, furniture catalogs, and flickr groups. My mother and grandmother gave me focus for decorating and the research gave me direction.

What would you say has been your greatest challenge in decorating your home? Have you found a solution to this challenge and if so, would you share that solution with us?

One of the biggest challenges is finances. With four kids, the decorating budget has to be low on the priority list. So I’ve learned to be creative. One thing that really helps is that Tina’s husband is crafty too!my husband is also a master carpenter, as well as being a social worker. He uses that talent to build stuff for us, like our living room entertainment center and 2 of the boys’ dressers. He has just started on a built in unit for our basement spare room. It will be a combination of desks, storage, and entertainment center. So for less than $300 and in a few hours, he can build a custom piece of furniture that he would ordinarily charge a customer a few thousand dollars to build in their home!

Another thing I do is repurpose things like all of my glass mason jars that were literally dug up from the back yard at my old house. I put them through the dishwasher a few times and now use them for all sorts of things like holding dry goods and craft supplies, as vases, and as part of the décor in rooms, like the one holding beach stones in the

I also shop at all sorts of places like thrift and consignment stores, yard sales, craft stores, and Craig’s List, with a good bit of Ikea mixed in. Freecycle is also a fabulous resource for stuff for the home, both to get and give away. We’ve gotten a complete set of
wooden bunk beds, metal shelving, one of the kids’ toy shelves, and much more from people who just don’t need them anymore. And we’ve also been able to give away our unnecessary stuff, knowing that it will continue to be put to good use.

One of the things that I admire about your home is the way that it is so organized. I know you’re a crafty person… how do you manage to contain your crafting stash so that it’s organized and doesn’t take over your home?

WorkspaceWhen we moved here, I knew that my craft space would be in the living room, so I searched Craigslist for a few weeks to find a secretary style desk so I could do my crafty stuff freely, but be able to hide it away when necessary. On the open shelves, I use a combination of different boxes, baskets, and drawers to keep everything in. Everything has a space that makes sense to me.

The most important thing is that when I’m done a craft, I clean everything up. It sounds so simple, but it was a technique that I had to learn. I used to have stacks of paper and scraps out on my desk, thinking I’d use them on the next project, only to keep adding to the stacks until they took over my table and no crafting could take place until I spent hours cleaning up. Now, I put everything away each time so I know where it is the next time I sit down to create.

I’ve also learned not to jump into new crafts all at once. I just Freecycled a boatload of jewelry making supplies that I bought and only used for about a month. So now, if I want to try something new, I buy the supplies for one particular project and see how it goes.

Another thing I noticed about your home is that you have managed to keep toys from overtaking you… how have you done this?

The simplest answer is that I don’t buy a lot of new toys. I know what toys the kids love (legos, dress up stuff, Little People, foam dart guns, etc), so I always have them around. And I try to keep them relatively organized by using bins for different categories of toys, so action figures have one bin, matchbox cars another bin, etc. They don’t always stay organized because kids’ idea of clean up is usually to throw stuff in the closest bin, but it’s pretty easy to get them
back under control if I take a few minutes to help.

Careful paring of toys
For birthdays and Christmas, they only get a few new toys and we do something fun as part of their gift, like take some friends to the movies or have a sleepover. That way, they have material gifts as well as good memories for their birthdays. And as I’m buying gifts, I visualize where they will go in our house. Everything that comes into my house must have a place, if it’s toys, decorative items, or even food. There has to be somewhere for it to go or it just becomes clutter. So if there’s not a space for new toys, I try to make one by either moving stuff around or getting rid of things.

I also use the kids’ closets to store toys. Since I have boys, there aren’t a lot of kids’ clothes that need to be hung, so their bedroom closets have plenty of space for shelves and bins. For the younger kids, I usually keep the closet doors closed until they get bored, then I open it up and they feel like they have a whole set of new toys to play with!The older boys keep their precious collections and not-to-be-touched-by-younger-brother toys in their closet.

Materials for organizing can often be really unattractive… especially inexpensive organizing products. Do you have any tips to share with readers about enhancing the visual appeal of inexpensive organizing products?
This is another place where shopping around has helped me. For example, I just bought a huge bag of high quality baskets and bins from Craigslist for $10! Yard sales, craft stores, and Ikea are also good places to find better looking organizing stuff.
Tina is a crafty organizerYou can also dress up ordinary organizing products with basic craft supplies. Take the drawer unit on my desk, for example. It was $12 at Ikea. I used about $4 worth of scrapbooking paper and some glue to make a custom looking piece that is very useful. I did the same thing with the boys’ landing area “mail boxes” by painting chipboard letters and gluing them onto each box to personalize them.
You can do all sorts of crafty stuff to ordinary objects that you already have in your recycle bin. Think about using paint, paper, or wallpaper scraps to cover cigar, lunch, or shoe boxes; decorating inexpensive baskets with ribbons or a fabric liner; or even covering tin cans or glass jars with decorative paper. Think of how cute a row of paper covered baby food jars could be if they were put in a windowsill, holding a few small spring flowers from the yard! Those same jars could then be used to hold buttons, paint brushes, spare change, paper clips, etc.
Finally, if you could offer readers just one piece of advice for creating a cozy, pretty, organized home like yours, what would it be?

Keep what you love and/or use regularly, get rid of the rest. It’s that simple.
Wasn’t that just the best advice?  If you’d like to see more of Tina’s cozy home or pictures of the lovely crafts she makes, check out her photos on Flickr.  And please leave your comments here to let her know how much we truly appreciate her sharing such great advice with us!
And don’t forget to come back tomorrow and check out the plan for baby Elizabeth’s nursery!  

6 thoughts on “In the Trenches featuring Tinafb1…

  1. Felicity says:

    Hello… it is nice to meet you… hope you are having a fun party… it is fun ‘meeting’ all these new people… party hearty, take care and don’t be a stranger… an aussie in Florida

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