For the past six weeks I’ve been taking the Simplify101 workshop: Organizing101. Aby has been a great instructor, and it has motivated me to take back my home!

A few of the projects I’ve completed are:

Bathroom Vanity Drawers

Underneath the Kitchen Sink

Hall Coat Closet


…Duh, du, duuuunnnn. Our linen closet:

This abyss is 5 feet deep with no light…I wasn’t sure what I’d find in there. Did I just see E.T. hiding in that closet?

Per Aby’s instructions, I emptied the entire closet.

Uh huh, all that stuff was in that one closet! I told you it was an abyss. Check out that tail in the upper right hand corner, Pretty Handy Dog is coming to the rescue.

Wow, look at all that room. I can store…two little boys? Does this photo remind anyone else of Hansel and Gretel?

Once I had the closet emptied, I cleaned the shelves with some Shaklee Basic H2 cleaner (still liking this stuff!)

Now comes the fun part! I got to pretty up those ugly painted shelves with decorative contact paper (found at Target.)

When I worked for a sign and banner shop (oh about 22 years ago), I learned how to lay down vinyl without bubbles and wrinkles. The same method works well for contact paper as well.


  • Contact paper
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife
  • Staple gun
  • Safety Goggles



Begin by laying the contact paper on the shelf.

Cut it about 2 inches longer than the front of the shelf.

Flip the contact paper over and peel back about 3-4 inches and fold the backing down.

Now turn the contact paper back over so the adhesive is facing down. Line the paper up with the back edge and the wall. And press it down with your finger.

Gently pull the backing off the contact paper a few inches at a time.

At the same time press your hand in the middle of the paper and smooth the paper from the center to the outside edges. The goal is to push any air pockets out to the edge.

Pull the backing out a few more inches and use your hand to smooth forward and towards the sides again.

Repeat until the backing is completely removed.

If you need to, cut a notch out of the contact paper around the shelf supports.

Then fold the paper underneath the shelf.

Tack the paper in with the staple gun, one or two staples should hold it. Be very careful that the staple gun is shooting into the wood and not towards your face. In fact, Meri-K would tell you that you should be wearing eye protection while using a staple gun.

I chose to label the edges of my shelves (so Pretty Handsome Guy would obey the new closet organization rules!) I used some decorative baskets and bins to hold other odds and ends.

At the last minute I decided to add a plug-in style under-the-counter florescent light beside the door frame. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have a light in this closet now! No more boogie men hiding in there.

And they all lived happily ever after with their newly organized linen closet.

Check back bright and early Saturday morning. I have an important announcement for y’all! Get those noise makers, party hats and confetti ready. It’s PARTY TIME!

Welcome back, I have a very special guest today. She’s another power tool junky, but she wears high heels (I myself struggle with that skill). Perhaps she will take me under her wing and show me some tips for wearing high heels comfortably.

If you haven’t guessed who my guest is today, it is Kristen from High Heels and a Hammer!

Well, if you have been deprived of Kristen’s blog and haven’t realized how amazing she is, let me just show you:

She built that headboard herself. Isn’t it beautiful! But, that’s nothing, wait ’til you see what she has for show-and-tell today! She is going to show you how to “Fall in Love with Your Home” via the most used room in her home, the mudroom. Grab your hammers and click your heels together as we welcome Kristen to Pretty Handy Girl! (Tee hee, get it, hammers and heels? I’m such a nerd.)

Hi everyone, I’m Kristen from High Heels and a Hammer and I’m thrilled to be here on Brittany’s blog today.  I have long admired her talent and creativity and was delighted to get the chance to hang out with her at Blissdom.  She is sincere, supportive, and has a genuine desire to help others.

I recently finished revamping my back entryway.  As my old house did not have a proper entryway, I was beyond excited to have a space for backpacks, boots, and snowy jackets.  There was only one problem with my new space, it lacked organization and function.  This is what our mudroom looked like when we moved in.

And here it is now.

After pricing out many options, I decided to build a bench and shelf system using modified plans from Ana White.  I chose to make my bench and shelf out of select pine.  Because I planned on painting them white, I knew I could afford to use a less expensive wood.

I varied the spacing of the cubbies for the bench because I wanted a few bigger baskets for soccer socks and shoes and a smaller one for the dog’s leashes and extra collars.

I made a cushion using foam and a bright, graphic fabric.  Now we can be sitting pretty while we’re taking of our boots and soccer cleats. 🙂

For the shelf, I chose to keep the spacing uniform because I liked both the look and the functionality better.  A set of hooks makes hanging up jackets an easy chore, and a few more baskets provide accessible storage for smaller items.

The finished result is a bench and shelf system that is both functional and beautiful.

Like most families, a tremendous amount of paper passes through our home.  Often this includes permission slips, notices, and other time sensitive items that could easily get lost in the clutter that tends to pile up on our counters.  Keeping these important papers in plain sight inspired another vital addition to an organized and efficient entryway system: a message center.  Because we are a fairly large family, I decided we needed a fairly large message center:

I built a message center (from Janell’s instructions) using a 30″ x 60″ project panel, 1 x 3’s, 1 x 2’s, cork, and a strip of magnetic steel.  I framed out the cork with the 1 x 3’s and added 2 1 x 2 strips at the top for interest.

And because I like things to look pretty I chose to cover the cork with a creamy linen fabric and trim it out with beautiful braided cording.  No more frantic searches for permission slips, or forgotten phone messages.

Our back entryway is one of the most used rooms of our home.  I want it to function in a way that is useful and practical.  The fact that it’s cheerful and pretty is icing on the cake.

I hope you all enjoyed seeing my back entryway/mudroom transformation.  Thank you so much for having me Brittany.

P.s. I am having a giveaway on my blog for a $50 VISA gift card. I hope you will stop by to ENTER!

So, what do you think? Are you loving her mudroom bench, coat rack, and message board organization? I am! I can’t tell you how important it is to have your mudroom organized and standing at the ready to help you on your way in and out of your home each day. Ask my friend Reneé how her mudroom organization has saved her sanity.


I know our mudroom bench and coat rack is the workhorse of our family.


It really is the one thing that makes me love coming into my home. Okay, so is this!
Don’t feel comfortable building your own? How about one of these affordable options? (Commission Links, click on image for more information.)

French Country "French Maple" & "Weathered Linen" Hall Tree with Storage BenchWhite Storage Bench with Seat and 11 in. Height x 10.5 in. Wide Cubbie StorageHall Bench with 3 Baskets by Winsome Wood

Easy Step by Step Guide to Decluttering Your Home

Need some help getting started on decluttering your home? This is an easy step-by-step guide with simple actionable steps to take. I’ll start you out with small steps and before you know it, you’ll be finished and loving your home again! Let’s work together taming the clutter!

easy steps to declutter home

Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Taming the Clutter

Okay, we’ve all seen an episode of Hoarders by now. The guy that hasn’t seen the carpet in his home in 5 years or the woman who saves everything! We see those extreme examples of clutter and can’t imagine how they can live like that.
You’ve also likely stumbled upon Marie Kondo and the KonMari method of organizing. Wherever you fall in the spectrum of hoarder vs. minimalist, you can likely benefit from this Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Taming Clutter.

Ask Yourself one Question:

Do you see clutter in your own home?

Are you so immune to that pile in the corner that you don’t see it anymore? Keep reading to find out why this small pile might not help your brain.

Visual Clutter:

I admit I have clutter. Not, the “OMG! Call Hoarders” type clutter. But, I do have small piles of things with no home. A few extra knick-knacks, some papers that need to be filed, or those horrid happy meal toys! This is an example of small visual clutter. It’s not “bite you on the nose” noticeable most of the time. Did you know even the smallest bits of clutter are noticed by your eyes, and your brain has to process it. This is why sometimes you stop seeing it. I call anything that sits out visual clutter.

In college, I used to have to clean my entire room before I could start on my illustration assignments. I do the same thing in our garage (which is cluttered now) before I can start on a new project.

You need the visual calmness of a clean room to be more creative and more productive. It helps focus your mind on the task you are doing.

This week, I want you to pick one room. Preferably the room you spend the most time in. Is it your kitchen or your home office? Whatever it is, this is the room that will make you happy when you are done. It is the room that will allow you to “Fall in Love with Your Home.”

Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Taming the Clutter:

I’m going to share with you a simple step-by-step guide to reducing clutter in your home. This process works in any area of your home.


  • Four Boxes (or laundry bins)
  • Large Trash Bag
  • Different Colored Sheets of Paper (if possible)
  • Thick Marker
  • Cleaning rags
  • Windex or general cleaners

Step-by-Step Guide to Reducing Clutter:

Begin by gathering your four boxes. If you are working in an area with larger items, you can set areas just outside the room instead of boxes.

Label each one with these labels:

  • KEEP

I like to use a different color for each label so I don’t accidentally toss something in the wrong bin.
cardboard boxes in front of closet labeled keep, donate/sell, recycle, trash

  • KEEP – Things that don’t belong in that room or to be stored away somewhere else
  • DONATE or SELL – Goodwill, Thrift store, or donation. Or sell by having a yardsale, on Craig’s List or Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or consignment shops.
  • RECYCLE – paper, glass, cans, and other curbside recycling. Also, dry-cleaner hangers, plastic bags, or other items that can be re-used. (Old cloths or linens can be cut up for cleaning rags)
  • TRASH – Anything worthless in value. I like to line the trash bin with a big plastic bag to make it easier to empty.

Where to Start:

Start in one area of the room. If you want to be systematic, start from one side and work clockwise around the room. Put things away or add them to the labeled box.

Once the zone is clear, clean off all the surfaces. Then move on to the next area in the room.

If you find yourself stuck ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have I used or worn it in the last 6 mos? 1 year?
  2. “Will this item help me create the home I want” – Peter Walsh
  3. Is this item irreplaceable?
  4. Do I need it?
  5. Okay, and finally if you like to KonMari, “Does it spark joy?”

If the answer to any of those questions is “No”, then say adieu to it now!

1 Year Box Rule:

If you still feel stuck, try the 1 year box rule:

Create another box and put anything you are undecided about inside. Seal it up and write a note on the box to assess it one year from today. Next year when you find that box in storage, get rid of it. Don’t even open it. If you didn’t miss the items inside then you don’t need them. Just donate it.

Get It Out of Your House!

When you have finished going through the whole room start removing the bins from the room. Empty the trash, dump the recycling in your recycling bin.

Do not leave the boxes in your home. Put items in your car to recycle or donate while you are running errands (dry cleaner hangers, grocery store plastic bags, packing peanuts to a local shipping store, batteries etc.)

The Keep Box:

Assess the “KEEP” items and decide which ones can go back in that zone or need to go elsewhere. When you put them away, be sure to store them out of sight. Don’t allow items to become visual clutter. Here are some ideas for finding additional storage in your home.

Storage Ideas:

Maybe your home lacks enough closets or storage areas. I get it, some homes don’t have plenty of storage. If you don’t have an attic, basement, or storage spots I have some ideas for you!

  • Pie Safe or armoire
  • Cabinet
  • Dresser
  • Hutch
  • Desk
  • Bins
  • Storage bench
  • Shelving

After our kitchen remodel, I bought an old desk from the Habitat ReStore and built a wall-mounted hutch over the desk. This area is my command center and it’s prefect for paying bills, storing papers, chargers and mail.

Holiday Home Tour 2017 | Pretty Handy Girl

Before the command center, I used a pie safe in the corner of the kitchen.

Although it is a small piece of furniture, there’s lots of storage inside.

Top Shelf:

  • school papers
  • school work
  • kids artwork
  • Workbooks
  • Coloring Books
  • Favorite Magazines
  • Coupon Binder Sleeves

Next shelf:

  • charging station (tutorial to come)
  • Cell phones
  • Cameras
  • Battery chargers
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Recipe Box


  • Left: Pretty Handsome Guy’s mail
  • Rigth: Pretty Handy Girl’s mail

Bottom shelf:

  • Cookbooks

My friend Renee found a credenza from Craig’s List and she utilized this piece of furniture for mail and her daughter’s art supplies.

We also built a wall-mounted mudroom cubby and shoe storage bench in her small entryway from the garage.

Build a built-in bench in a bay window and store linens, games, or large pots and appliances.


Any closet, corner, or nook in your house can store more if you build or purchase a set of shelves.

Sport Gear Storage in a Small Space | Pretty Handy Girl

This sports gear storage area takes up only a small footprint, but it holds more equipment than a soccer team! See how I built these shelves in a small area at the bottom of our bonus room steps.

Garage Corral:

Sometimes you just need an area to corral items that are tall or tend to roll around. In our garage, I built a corral for tools and sports gear using scrap wood and large PVC pipes.

Install Cabinets:

Cabinets are the best storage solution for visual clutter. They look uniform and hide everything inside. You can shop for used cabinets at a ReStore location, look on Craig’s List, or purchase unfinished cabinets, or unassembled cabinets to save money. My favorite storage cabinets in our house are the ones that can be easily reconfigured on a hanging slat wall. You can read how I installed them in our laundry room first, then loved them so much I used them in our bonus room.

Storage cabinets don’t necessarily have to be cabinets. This set of old gym lockers adds loads of hidden storage in the mudroom at my Saving Etta project.

What to Do with the Donate/Sell Box:

Sort through the Donate/Sell box. Grab a notepad to jot down anything you will be donating. Then put that pile in a bag and put it in your car as well. Be sure to run by Goodwill or the thrift store one day this week. Put the items you intend to sell in a dedicated spot in storage. Make a commitment to yourself to sell them within 3-6 months or donate them if you haven’t after that time frame. (I might have been slacking on this rule. Pretty Handsome Guy might be calling me out on this one.)

cardboard boxes in front of closet labeled keep, donate/sell, recycle, trash

Keep Box:

Finally, sort through the remaining items in the KEEP box. Walk around the house with the box and put items away. Go room to room until all the items are put away. (If you have to, go ahead and leave items in the room where they belong, and put away later. Remember today you are only tackling the one room!

Magazine File Box Facelift | Pretty Handy Girl

Go back to the room you just de-cluttered. Sit there and breathe in. Allow yourself to enjoy the calmness of a clean and clutter-free space. Let yourself fall in love with this space. Anytime you find yourself disgusted with your home, go back to this space and rekindle that flame! Or start on the next room to declutter.

I hope you found this Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Taming the Clutter helpful! Please pin it for later or to help a friend declutter.

easy steps to declutter home


Looking for a quick way to hide small items? Use one board to create this adorable storage bin:


Or use one of these 16 DIY Built-In ideas to add more storage to your home.

16 diy built in storage and shelving ideas pinterest image