Make Laundry Easy and Fun: two key essentials

Yeah, I know...laundry...fun? It doesn't really compute. I mean is there anyone who really likes doing laundry? I know I don't. But over the years I've found ways to simplify it and make it more, well, maybe not fun, but much easier and at least somewhat enjoyable! Two things are key:

  • being really organized; and
  • making the laundry space pretty.

An organized and functional space where everything I need is accessible makes the job easy, and taking it up a notch with style makes me smile and appreciate the time I'm spending on the task. 

First get organized

Get everything for cleaning, caring for and repairing clothing, accessories and textiles in one place. That means all cleaning detergents, stain formulas, dryer balls, clothespins, dryer racks, sewing kit, iron and ironing board, and shoe care. Designate a spot for everything in a laundry room or closet/shelving close to where your machines are. In really tight spaces maybe this means a moveable cart that holds everything and you can wheel it to the machines when needed.

Use baskets, bins and crates to keep everything tidy and separated based on task. Label them so everyone knows where to find what's needed - and where to put it back!  Keep detergents and stain removers in glass jars so it's easier to see when they're getting low and need refilling. Designate a bowl or hanging pouch for loose change, buttons that have come off and socks without mates. 

A laundry bar for air-drying clothes is ideal, but an inexpensive folding or tilt-out rack on the back of the door or wall works well and saves space. Or pull out a folding rack to hang over a door when needed and slid in between the machines when not. I also use pegs on the wall and have clothes hangers on them ready and waiting for wet clothing to be hung to dry. Get creative - even a long towel bar hung on the underside of the bottom shelf in the linen closet is a great option.

Designate a space to fold - whether it's a counter that's kept clear over or beside your machines, or a bed where you fold everything immediately and put it away. I recommend NOT folding on your dining table or coffee table where it could sit for days. Your bed is a better option if you don't have room within an actual laundry room. You can't go to sleep at night if there are piles of clothes on it! 

The other key to easier laundry duty is making collecting it simpler. Ensure there is a laundry hamper for everyone in the house, including one in the master bedroom or bath,  one in each occupied room, and one in every heavily used bathroom. Encourage everyone in the household to use their hamper in their room for their dirty clothes so you don't need to go around searching for laundry that needs to be done on the floors, under beds or buried on hooks piled high. Dirty towels, face cloths and kitchen dish cloths go into the bathroom hamper. And consider options for hampers that are easy to carry to the laundry area. Large canvas bags could work well - and two of them in each bedroom labelled for darks and whites makes separating loads a breeze. 

Then make it pretty. 

A laundry space that's pleasing to the eye will help you stay organized and make the task more enjoyable, as you'll be more apt to be present and at ease in your surroundings. Paint the room your favourite colour, or add a fun wallpaper to the back of shelving units. Choose textured baskets or vintage crates to warm up the space. Add a butcher block or quartz slab across the top of the machines to make folding a nicer job. Make cute cafe curtains and put them on an extension rod to hide the machines if they're out in the open in a bathroom or hallway. Put a beautiful and soft rug down for your tootsies. Install a barn board floating shelf over the machines for displaying pretty jars of detergent, stain remover and scented linen water. Keep lavender essential oil handy and put a couple of drops on dryer balls or cotton lint sheets- the sweet scent will put you at ease every time you enter the space, plus make your clean sheets and towels smell heavenly. Hang kid's drawings or an inspirational quote on the wall. Frame a handy stain removal cheat sheet (download one here) so it's both stylish and practical. If your space has a window, add a plant. Even (or especially) if you don't have a window, make the space bright with white paint and good lighting. 

Ideas for a Small Laundry Space

You can see below from the small laundry closet in my previous home (a tiny condo) that even the smallest of spaces can be organized to be very functional. I really needed to make the most of this small space for storage capability and better functionality. And of course, to bring in some style! Here's how I did it. 

There were 12 inches of space between the wall and the laundry machines, which is exactly what was needed for the IKEA LACK wall shelf. It fit perfectly and tightly so I didn't even need to anchor it to the wall. It's tall so takes full advantage of that awkward space and provides shelving for laundry soap, cleaners, an iron and lots of other laundry care and repair needs. 

I wallpapered foam core board from the Dollar Store and cut it to size to go behind the shelf unit. This hides the mess of pipes behind it and adds interest. I then wallpapered a matching strip on the opposite wall (it's removable wallpaper so great for renters) over which I hung pegs for air-drying clothes and hanging a small ironing board so it was off the floor.

DIY laundry organizing and labels

I continued adding style by using glass jars for laundry soap and mason jars for home-made cleaning solutions. Now I have them on hand quickly when I need them and can identify them by their handwritten labels. 

I also took old cleaning spray bottles, covered them with scrapbook paper and labels, and filled them with natural home-made solutions, including a lavender linen water that I use on the sheets and towels when they're dry.  

You can download the free labels and formulas for these non-toxic and simple cleaning supplies right here. 

Baskets keep sewing supplies, shoe cleaning items, lightbulbs and candles tidy and easy to find. A matching large basket on top of the dryer allows for clean blanket and linen storage.

Hope this helps you to simplify your laundry tasks so they are a little more enjoyable and generally make your life easier. 

10 ways to easily boost curb appeal (and boost your whole life)

First impressions are everything. But not just on others, on ourselves as well. Every time we come home and get that first glimpse of our home's exterior, we experience an emotion. Whether that emotion is calm and joy, or anxiety and overwhelm will play a role in how the rest of our day (and life) goes. So this weekend, why not invest some time in boosting your curb appeal so that it emanates an aura of pride, abundance, liveliness, peace, or whatever you want your life to feel like. The front door and front exterior of your house sets the intention for the rest of your home, and your home sets the intention for your whole life. It all starts here. 

So here are 10 ways you can simplify and positively boost your curb appeal for you and every person and opportunity that comes your way. 

1. Paint your front door. 

A nice front door really makes a huge difference to the whole look and feel of your home. But it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, just in good shape, easily visible from the curb, and welcoming. It should also be a colour or material (ie. wood) that gives you a good gut feeling. It's quite personal.  Laura Benko, a holistic lifestyle expert, recommends keeping the colour guide below in mind as a guide, but also "tap into your own mind, body, spirit needs and goals as well as your own visceral reaction to each color."

  • RED — Acts as a stimulator.
  • ORANGE — Uplifting color that promotes happiness.
  • YELLOW/GOLD — Symbolizes power, stimulates health, patience and wisdom.
  • GREEN — Represents growth and new beginnings, as well as healing and freshness.
  • BLUES-GREENS — Represent youth, new beginnings and inspire confidence.
  • DEEPER BLUES — Infuse wisdom and introspection. However, in ancient Chinese culture, this shade is a secondary mourning color.
  • PURPLE — Inspires spirituality, adventure and prosperity.
  • BLACK — Contemplative color that encourages reflection and mystery.
  • WHITE — Cultivates clarity, precision and communication.
  • GREY — Invites helpfulness and represents a harmonious union of black and white.
  • BROWN — Offers stability and security.
  • PINK — Represents love, romance and partnership.

2. Install new front door light fixtures (or just clean them up).

Consider forgoing a tiny sconce beside the door with an overhead hanging pendant if you have a roof overhead. Or add updated or vintage sconces (there's a good selection here) on both sides of the door for more impact. Or simply clean and touch up your existing sconces with paint for a quick refresh. 

3. Add shutters to front windows.

They don't have to be complicated or expensive. Use some cheap boards or even reclaimed scrap wood and put them together in the classic board and batten style - easy directions here

4. Add window boxes. 

Add a little greenery to soften a boxy facade with a window box overflowing with trailing plants. Do a little hunting for something you can reuse instead of buying a plastic window box. Construct your own with leftover lumber and line it with plastic. Or find a vintage long narrow tin vessel. A basket could even work! Get creative. 

5. Clean up your hardscaping.

A winding pathway to the front door feels soft on the eyes and gives a sense of going with the flow, putting both you and visitors at ease. Put in a little elbow grease to construct a stone or rock pathway. Or simply refresh an existing one by replacing any broken or unsightly stones or blocks, and clear it of all toys, bikes, tools, or anything else that might be intruding on it and block the path. And while you're at it, add permanent planters by the door or steps - concrete, stone or iron that will withstand freezing over the winter. These will soften the harsh lines of steps and the door, and you can add plants, shrubs, branches or boughs all year long that will attract the eye and add interest. 

6. Trim bushes and weed the front garden. 

Spend a little time trimming and weeding if your front yard is beginning to feel like a jungle. A well-manicured front exterior feels orderly and welcoming. Choose low maintenance bushes, ornamental grasses and plants that provide lush greenery. 

7. Add a door knocker. 

Shiny and elegant hardware can make even the plainest door look beautiful and intriguing. 

8. Get creative with your house numbers. 

Update your numbers to match the style of your home and do a little DIY project to make them stand out. There are so many good examples to give you inspiration, like these ones

9. Replace the door mat. 

If yours is tattered, dirty or worn, replacing it will instantly perk up the entrance and your mood when you enter the house. 

10. Add a bench or chair. 

Adding a very simple bench or chair to the front steps, porch or lawn close to your walkway or meandering path gives you a little nudge to stop, sit and enjoy your surroundings. It not only adds to the curb appeal but also to a calm and present state of mind. 

Yes, you may be in for a weekend of work, but it's time (yet very little, if any, money) well spent to amp up your curb appeal and bring simplicity and happiness front and centre to your home and life. Make sure to complete these tasks and not let them linger half finished - you don't want to have that feeling of distraction and anguish every time you arrive home and see the work that's still hanging over your head. Focus on this one area, and see the difference it will make in your whole life. 

For more simple ideas on how to boost your curb appeal, check out my Pinterest board

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DIY: Growing Hens and Chicks in a Shallow Tray

I've loved succulents for years now but never had hens and chicks until my Mom brought some home this summer. They're perfect for a little coffee table display on my outdoor porch, and then I'll transplant them into the greenhouse to survive our cold winter.  

DIY: growing hens and chicks in shallow tray

Hens and chicks will do well in shallow dishes, so I appropriately repurposed the bottom of an old watering tray for chickens as my container. I filled it with potting soil and a little sand,  planted the plants so that the roots were covered, and then filled the rest of the container with some moss and small rocks. 

succulents in shallow tray on coffee table

Most succulents, including hens and chicks (Sempervivum) are hard to kill, so those with black thumbs - these are for you. Sempervivum literally means "live forever" because they grow and propagate so readily. 

As the chicks (the babies on the runners) grow, I can just pull them off and plant again. The chick will begin producing its own babies after only one season. The hens will live for about three years and then die, but by then I'll have many more already thriving. 

Hens and chicks:

  • prefer full to part sun (I grow mine in full sun)
  • grow best in zones 4-8, but may need shelter in harsh winters
  • need good drainage
  • are drought resistant, so don't overwater, but make sure you give them enough water during summer heat
  • will grow a tall center stalk that blooms before the plant dies
how to grow succulents in a shallow tray. DIY repurposed succulent tray.

I challenge you to add some green to your porch or deck with these interesting and beautiful plants. Get creative with a repurposed or antique container and smile every time you pass them by. Good luck!