How to Makeover a Room without Spending a Dime

It’s happened three times. We’ve had moved and had a baby at the same time, and a year later I looked around at our house and realize what a mess it was. Every. Single. Room.

I wanted to clear them out, throw away half the stuff in them, and give them a good makeover. The problem was, we didn’t have money in our budget for a makeover. My solution? Do it without spending any. During the past three months, I’ve been slowly working through each room in our house to clear it out and clean it up. This week I finished the whole house, just in time to get outside with the kids and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Not that I’m an expert on anything, but I thought it would be fun to share what exactly I do to makeover a room. Maybe someone out there has a room that needs some updating. 🙂

1. Survey the damage

I usually walk into a room days before I touch it and just marvel at how messy it’s gotten. Then I think about how nice and clean it’ll be when I’m done. Then I wait for a good day to move forward with my plans. This is the “get fired up” stage which I totally need to tackle any project with three little ones constantly trying to undo all my hard work. Here’s the girls’ room before I started…

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2. Clear it out

The morning I start my room makeover, I first clear everything out of the room. This is usually extremely entertaining to the kids, who then crawl all over the stuff that’s in a new place and is therefore much more fun to play with than it ever was before. They were thrilled when I dumped all the contents of Lydia and Abby’s room into the hallway. (I leave any big or bulky items and pieces of furniture in the room and work around them.)

This is also the time to make a trash pile, a giveaway pile, and a “this doesn’t belong in this room” pile. Items not worth owning (broken toys, ripped up pieces of paper, etc.) get dumped in the trash. Salvageable items I no longer want (books we don’t read, clothing we don’t wear etc.) get put in the giveaway pile, and things that don’t belong (ponytail holders, spare change etc.) get stashed together to be returned to their rightful locations later.

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4. Clean up

Depending on how long everything is taking, this is the prime time to dust, sweep the floor, mop, or wash marks off the walls. Usually I don’t spend a lot of time on this because the kids are already getting restless and Paul is already late for his nap. But it is nice to look around at the big, empty room because at this point it’s cleaner than it’ll ever be again.

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5. Rearrange

Now I move around any beds, tables, desks, chairs, dressers, or bulky toys to their newly selected location. Sometimes I move a lot. Sometimes I don’t move anything. The more I move, the more made-over the room feels.

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6. Put it back together

Next I put all the stuff back in the room. This is the hardest part if you have little Munchkins crawling around because they’ll want to come in the room and play with all the newly-put-away stuff. I happened to have a new toy shelf for the girls when I did their room, so that helped a lot with toy storage. I’m a sorter, so I love sorting through everything and grouping things together in their new storage spots.

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7. Admire your hard work

After you’re done admiring, get the kids outside so the room stays looking new for more than a few minutes! When I did the girls’ room, they were so excited to play with their new toys (which were not new at all, just sorted and put in nice, shiny, new bins) that I just let them play for a while. Don’t forget to take your pile of “things that didn’t belong” on your way out and put those items away too.

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And now you have a fresh, clean, made-over room without having spent a single dime. 🙂


Quilting Away

It’s been well over a year since a vision formed in my mind of a quilt for Abigail. It looks like that vision is ever so slowly becoming a reality, and I thought I would give a little update on how her quilt is coming along. Things go slowly when you’re working around two little ones, but progress is progress.

Here’s the original picture that I sat down and put together on the computer one night shortly before Abby was born. Next to it is the revised color scheme I decided on to make it more girly.

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Literally the weekend before Abby was born we went out and bought the first fabric and I got busy embroidering away…for the next six months!

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When that was finally finished, Dan and I put our mathy degrees to good use. We sat down together one night and tried to calculate the smallest amount of fabric I would need for the inner border and binding if I was to cut the fabric on a diagonal instead of straight across. The good part is, after all that calculating, we ended up just buying the amount I needed to cut it straight across. It just wasn’t worth the risk for the few pennies or dollars that would have been saved. The better part is, we accidentally did all of our calculating based on the shorter end of the quilt (my fault) and I had to cut it all on the diagonal anyway to get it long enough for the longer sides of the quilt. So I guess our mistake saved us a few pennies after all.

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Next it was time for me to tidy up my edges. I was afraid to cut into the fabric from my embroidery work. What if I made a mistake? That was six months of work I was cutting into!

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But I put on my most courageous face and cut away.

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Lydia had fun playing with the scraps.

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Then I laid out my freshly cut fabric to get a glimpse of the quilt-to-be.

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Sewing the inner border on was almost just as scary, but once I finished I breathed a sigh of relief and laid it out again to see what the corners would looks like someday.

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Then, for the hardest part of the quilt so far…I cut out the hills and sky. I laid it all out once more to see how the colors looked and if everything was cut well enough. Looks like it might work!

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But, that’s as far as I got. I still don’t know if those curves are going to work out, because shortly after that last picture was taken we had to pack up and move. Half of the quilting supplies made it to our new place but half got put away in storage.

I’m keeping busy around here, learning piano and cross-stitching a birthday card for Lydia, but as day after day passes I get a little gloomy thinking about this on-hold project. I had hoped to have it done by Abby’s first birthday but now that’s only three months away I’m re-hoping for an eighteen-month gift.

This week we put in an offer on a house. If it’s accepted I may just wait it out to get back to my quilting. If someone else gets this house, I’ll probably ask Dan if we can dig through our storage to get my supplies. For now, I’ll just post this update so I can look back on it and be encouraged that this little vision has come so far. For someone who has never quilted before (except for a rag quilt for my nephew), I think it’s turning out pretty nicely.