House Tour: Our First Family Home

Posted by Carly Morgan

Six years ago on a rather soggy day I stepped into this house for the first time with my mom and my friend, Jessica. I was too pregnant for words with fat ankles and a huge puffy coat that wouldn’t zip and the only thing I really remember about the day is that Jess kept trying to sell me on the house but I knew from the minute I saw it that it had to be ours. At least for a while.

And now I spent the morning taking some of the art down from the walls, putting sticky notes on things I need to sell in the next couple of weeks, and wiping at the little handprints that color the bottom third of every single wall.

I thought I’d do a home tour, partly for you but mostly for me. I didn’t pick up or anything because there’s a certain level of Pinterest-ness that is simply out of reach at this point so why not have a few dirty socks thrown in for good measure? I’m also including the original photos I took to show the house to Kyle a million years ago before we positively stuffed this home with children.

And there you have it – a photo essay on how exactly you fit two parents and three children into a 2 bedroom 1 bath home. Realistically, a more minimalist approach would have given us more breathing room and I think I only just realized that we probably need to reduce our stuff-on-the-wall ratio a little bit in our next home because our entire house looks like someone’s crazy refrigerator door but I will definitely retain some warm fuzzies about this one. All the heart emojis, right here.

DIY Home Decor: Three Small Space Solutions

Posted by Carly Morgan

I’ve been making some updates around the house in anticipation of getting a bunch of our stuff out of storage. My parents are remodeling their house so our stuff got an eviction notice a couple of months ago. Why would this necessitate full updates to our tiny home? Because, this:

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In all fairness, we did do some culling and sorting after I took this photo. We also got a bit of a reprieve because our stuff went with my parents’ stuff to the storage unit while the remodeling is being done. That being said, it’s not welcome once everything is completed so we’ve hit a “use it or lose it” phase. Personally, I’m actually fine with that since I’ve been living with stuff in storage for as long as I can remember. It will be nice to have everything back under one roof.

Unfortunately, as you know, our roof covers a pretty tiny home so we really had to think about using our space effectively. I have a lot of different projects planned but the good thing is that most of them can be accomplished in a day (or less) so it’s just a matter of getting them done. I’ve finished three so far (nearly) and thought I’d share them:

Closet Office Nook

Our front area has a coat closet that faces our front door. It has a curved arch top so there’s not an easy way to put a door on it. The tenants before us had hung a curtain over it, but we took that down not long after we moved in.

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For a long time we used it as open storage for our shoes and coats. I hung a mirror in there, used hooks on the side, and stuck a bench in front of the shoes but it always had a little bit of a cluttered look. Enough so that we’ve lived here for four and a half years and I don’t have a good picture of what it looked like. Use your imagination:

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Anyway, for lots of reasons it didn’t work out. It always looked dirty, tended to be a big jumble, and had that not-so-pleasant shoe smell right when people walked in. So, I cleared it out, hung a decor strip of Instax photos, ran an extension cord from a nearby outlet and created a little office nook where the kids can use the iMac.

Closet Office Nook

The retro stool is from Home Depot and the computer itself is supported across two shelves with a pair of boards between them. There’s a random metal shelf we had from something else under the shelves so I’m confident that it can hold the weight of the computer and the fact that it’s suspended like that will keep the kids from pulling the computer toward them if they get excited. I am going to decorate that space behind it at some point…big plans! For now, though, I’m happy to have a new work space and the coats and shoes are happy to have moved to the back door area with the linoleum.

Pots Stored Under the Kitchen Sink

Our under-the-sink area in the kitchen is terrifying. We live in an older house so we inherited water damage and old wood and dust bunnies from everyone living here for the past 50+ years. As a result, I’ve done nothing but tossed cleaning supplies down there so I didn’t have to think about it. We also had our kitchen garbage can under the sink area, which was a good theory but in practice just leads to germy hands not being able to get to the trash fast enough.

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I finally tackled that area this week since we need more storage in the kitchen. (The pots were stored where the shoes now are, blah blah blah.) It was gross and freaky and it’s possible that I ultimately finished “cleaning” the area by taping aluminum foil down with painters tape since I couldn’t get all the muck up with my cleaning supplies.

A fair amount of the stuff that had ended up under the sink got tossed including cleaning supplies we don’t use, sponges that had died a long time ago, and a large collection of plastic grocery bags that we were apparently saving in case of some kind of apocalypse. As a result, we made tidy little sections for our resulting cleaning supplies (a much smaller amount now that we mostly use dish soap, vinegar, and baking soda) and we cleared half of the cupboard out for kitchen storage.

I tucked soup pots around the corner and hung the rest of our pans from a wooden beam using hooks so they’d be easier to get to and spend less time getting scratched. As for the garbage, we bought a new fingerprint-proof trash can that opens when you step on the pedal so I’m hoping everyone spends less time touching the trash. Except for the part where the kids love stomping on the pedal, it’s working!

Cupboard to Barbie House

The last project is only 75% finished, but I don’t anticipate finishing it for a while so I thought I’d share it. Both of the kids have gotten interested in playing with Barbies, but we’ve had sort of a Barbie storage problem because they have a million little pieces thanks to handmedowns from generous people. We even have a few houses but we’ve never had the space for them so the bit that I’ve let into the house has been living in a big Rubbermaid tub in a giant jumble that isn’t inviting.

In the meantime, I had this cupboard that I had turned into a Ninja Turtle lair for Kyle’s birthday last year. It was a lot of fun for a while, but heavy play and lots of love left it in less than stellar condition and the turtles have also been a big jumble.

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So, since the rest of the Morgans are perfectly happy playing with the turtle jumble, I decided to evict the turtles and give the Barbies a permanent home. This involved using a hammer and duct tape to open the back of the double-sided cupboard, which had been sealed off by a previous tenant. It was loud and a little messy but look at how fun it is to have a two-sided dollhouse built into the wall!

This one is 75% done because we’re going to add a second shelf so the Barbies have another layer and Eva has requested a set of stairs so everyone can get around easily. I just don’t see me rushing that project at the moment so you get the almost-version. I’m just happy to get all those little Barbie shoes off the floor!

That’s all for now but I’m sure it won’t be long before I have more to share. Thank heavens for Pinterest inspiration!

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Small space storage solutions for renters with kids

 

DIY Instax Wall for Renters

Posted by Carly Morgan

This is one of those teeny updates that takes 30 minutes to install but makes a huge impact on your home if you’re renting. One of my least favorite things about renting is the fact that often we don’t have the option to paint (like in the house we’re in now). To be fair, we’ve been here long enough and the kids have scuffed the walls enough that we could probably paint if we asked, but we’re talking a fresh coat of white paint, not the gallery mural wall in bright metallics that you see on HDTV.

So, it’s up to us to come up with creative ways to make our walls beautiful. We’ve hung art, put up floor-to-ceiling coloring panels, washi-taped kid creations, and done all of that sort of thing, but until last night I had never taped photos directly to the wall. I have to say…I’m a fan!

DIY Instax Mini Wall

Backstory: we have one of those really shallow entryways that are common in older houses. You come in through the front door and there’s a little window and a little closet and if you take one more step you’re in our living room. Not quite enough space to consider it a separate room of the house, but still enough space to not want it to be the area where coats go to die.

Two years ago, I used a tension rod and some curtain rings to create a little area where the kids could get their own coats and shoes and I put our (the parents’) coats and shoes in the closet itself. It’s been a good-enough solution, but inevitably this area would turn into just a pile of crap on the floor or haphazard coats hung by their sleeves since Calvin doesn’t quite get the whole process of putting clothes away. Also, having all of the family shoes piled together in that front area was a little gross, since it was the first thing people saw when they came in the door and who wants to see a huge pile of dirty shoes? Blah.

Montessori Mud Room DIY

Anyway, I’m in the process of breathing new life into the space and we’ve moved the coats/shoes/mudroom to our back door so we can spend a season or two tracking snow into another part of the house. (Rental carpet! Blah! Am I right??) I’m excited about giving the closet a new purpose, but that short shallow wall by the door posed some problems. Should I hang art? Use starch to “wallpaper” with a nice piece of fabric? Magic Eraser the scuffs off the wall and just let it be?

Blank Entryway

Solution: Instax.

I used my Instax printer to print out a bunch of Instax minis, added them to the stack I’ve had sitting on a shelf, and hung them on the wall. I used painters tape both to hang them and to create a level line to balance the first row and keep everything from being crooked. Most of the Instax are vertical, but I added a border of horizontal images at the bottom since I had a few that just wouldn’t work otherwise.

Instax Photo Wall

It was a fast project and a little bit pricey if you consider the fact that the Instax film is about $1 a pop, but I had all of it on hand from a different project and I’m glad that it’s been put to good use. I’m also a huge fan of using the Instax printer instead of the Instax camera. Although I do have some candids mixed in, I would much rather have mini prints of my favorite edited photos than random poorly-lit, out-of-focus Instax shots…at least for this project.

Instax mounted on wall with painters tape

I don’t know if I’m going to keep going up the wall or if I’ll continue wrapping the installation around the corner, since that would involve buying more film, but for now I’m really happy with this little update. It was also fun to go through the photos with the kids and I’m excited to have this way of remembering the babies when they were babies.

What do you do with your Instax?

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Easy DIY Instax Wall for Renters with Small Spaces

Play Space Made from the KURA Bunk Bed from IKEA

Posted by Carly Morgan

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We haven’t had a playroom update in a while so I thought I’d show you guys what we’ve been up to. You might remember that shortly before Calvin was born, I created an art space for Eva. She’s been into making art for as long as I can remember and it’s the only constant that she never seems to get tired of. Unfortunately, as soon as her brother became mobile, he made it his life’s mission to destroy any art supplies he could get his hands on, so everything ended up in a box that I had to pull down whenever she wanted to make something.

Not an ideal situation for anyone.

At two years old, Calvin is still not to be trusted with markers, scissors, and glue, but I didn’t want Eva to be limited to only doing art on special occasions. So, we pulled the bunk bed out of our room and I used a large piece of thick styrofoam insulation and a piece of utility rug to make an art area that her brother can’t get to. The space underneath works as a playhouse and doctor clinic for both of them. We pushed the ladder side against the wall so Cal couldn’t climb up, but Eva either asks us for help or climbs up the little rails on the side of the bed like Spiderman. She’s very clever!

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The nice thing about Eva’s art space is that we give her a lot of freedom to be as messy as she wants most of the time so she doesn’t have to worry about always keeping everything in its place. She can also let things set and dry without worrying that Calvin the Destroyer is going to come by and “improve” her creations.

I was worried about how much space the bunk bed would take up in the playroom, since I know they do better when they have lots of room to play, so we’ve kept the rest of the room pretty minimal. The IKEA PAX wardrobe is still laying on its side under the window with toys stored in tubs underneath. The toys up top are mainly the large plastic toys that belong to Calvin and don’t store easily. He can take them down or play with them as they are because he’s tall enough. It’s crazy to think how quickly they’re becoming big kids!

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I’m pretty happy with the playroom as it is and it’s been functional as a place to do lessons, play games, or just stretch out. That being said, I would like to put a window treatment up for privacy, add a little color to the shelves, and consider adding a magnetic surface somewhere in the room.

Mom’s decorating work is never done!

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Play Space Made from the KURA Bunk Bed from IKEA

A Quick Disney Baby Toddler Bed Makeover and a Whole Nursery in One Cart

Posted by Carly Morgan

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MagicBabyMoments #CollectiveBias

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A quick project for your toddler’s room today and one you Disney fans will appreciate!

The sad truth is that Calvin is affected heavily by second child syndrome. I spent weeks planning the color scheme for Eva’s nursery and when we brought her home she came home to her own room, meticulously planned down to the handmade color-matched blankets folded softly in the corner.

That was four years ago. Two years ago (almost!), Mr. Calvin joined the family and we brought him home to a house that was in a fair amount of disarray thanks to the four months of pregnancy bed rest that preceded his arrival. Instead of his own room, he got Eva’s hand-me-down crib placed at the foot of our bed. I always had this idea that I would hang some art for him or something, but it never quite happened. Since then, Cal has slept in the crib in our room, on the space under his sister’s bed, at the foot of his sister’s bed, and finally in his old crib mattress on the toddler bed in the corner of their shared room. I hung a few posters that we’d bought for Eva and always had this idea that I would turn it into his own space someday, but it just hasn’t happened.

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It isn’t like it’s a bad place to sleep, but it is a little sad that he’s never really had a place that was truly just for Calvin, created for Calvin because we love Calvin. Like a new puppy, he’s been shuffled into corners with a few old blankets because he’s the second and he’s the boy and honestly I was just better at parenthood before I had kids.

Then, I got the chance to shop the Disney Baby collection at Walmart and I knew it was the opportunity I needed to make a special corner of the house just for my boy.

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There were a lot of options in the Disney Baby line and we took a long time choosing between them. He was this close to getting the Lion King bedding because it’s just the cutest ever and I love the color scheme, but ultimately his favorite movie is Finding Nemo and I knew he’d be thrilled if his fish friends moved in. Plus, we had some prints in storage that had been gifted to us when he was born and a few books and stuffed animals to complete the look because we have a serious amount of Nemo love in this house. Just keep swimming…just keep swimming…

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Is that not cute?!

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It only took me a minute to hang up the prints and switch the bedding but it made the room feel so different. I don’t have too many weeks of having that baby boy be my baby boy before he turns into a big kid like Eva, so I’m happy that we finally made him a little nursery space.

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He was thrilled! Particularly when he figured out that he can hide under his new bed skirt.

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Not stopping there, I decided to make him a little nursery cart to keep everything at hand and make it easier for him to get to his things. His clothes have been piled in a big drawer at the top of an old dresser so he can’t get to them even though he’s starting to show an interest in dressing himself. Montessori theory says that you should encourage independently getting dressed as soon as possible because it’s one of the first skills kids can really master and it gives them a sense of control. But how to keep everything accessible without the room being a big mess?

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Recognize ye old craft cart? I’ve had it since high school and it keeps turning up because it’s just about the most convenient thing ever. It’s also bright and sunny and perfect for the new space. I just had to take a few drawers out to keep the color scheme consistent and make more room for everything we need in Calvin’s nursery.

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It is, by the way, a complete myth that you need a giant closet jammed full of baby stuff when you bring a baby home. I fell for this myth and had a room stuffed to the gills with tiny socks and onesies and a million extra things when we brought Eva home and I quickly learned that less is seriously more. Kids can’t wear more than an outfit at a time and even the messiest babies don’t need a hundred different looks.

For toddlers who are Calvin’s age, it’s even more important to limit choices so they (A) don’t make a mess and (B) don’t get overwhelmed. To create our nursery in a cart, I took out only his most used pieces of clothing and left the bulk in that heavy drawer so I can switch them out as needed. I also added the other things that are handy when it’s time for bed or diaper changes.

The top drawer has the extra crib sheets and waterproof pads for emergency swaps.

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The next drawer has the few favorite storybooks for bedtime. We have many more, as you know, but these are the favorites AND they’re inexpensive copies so Cal can be a little rough with them while he’s learning not to rip pages and bend covers.

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The next three drawers are shirts, pants, and socks. Like I mentioned, I only put about six shirts and six pairs of pants in the drawer to make finding an outfit easier (both for Calvin and for his busy parents).

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At the bottom, wipes and diapers. We change him on the bed so it makes sense to keep everything we need right there so we aren’t digging around. Extra diapers slid under the bed (keeping enough space for Calvin to squirm under there, of course).

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Voila! A toddler bed makeover and a whole nursery in one cart.

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I think somebody’s happy with the changes.

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So, which Disney Baby theme would you pick for your nursery makeover?

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A Quick Disney Baby Toddler Bed Makeover and a Whole Nursery in One Cart

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