“Where Should I Keep My…?”: Solving the Ultimate Small Space Dilemmas

When you’re renting, square footage is something to be savored, not squandered. It’s hard enough finding a home for your everyday must-haves, let alone bulky, infrequently used, or offseason items like snowshoes,  pool toys, and holiday decorations.

Whatever your hobby or collection, there’s an organizational hack to help you store it. Here are some clever storage tricks for six of the toughest, bulkiest space-takers you may own.

Offseason wardrobe

Tuck those bulky winter sweaters (or shorts and flip-flops) in plastic bins under your bed. If your bed’s too close to the ground, lift it up with sturdy wood blocks. Even a few extra inches create enough space for a sizable storage container.

If elevating the bed isn’t an option, maximize your closet space with a few sets of cascading hangers. Put blouses on one set and T-shirts on another, and you’ll most likely double your closet space.

Extra linens

Extra pillows, comforters, and bedsheets are great for guests, but not so great for your small space. Try vacuum storage bags – stack your items inside, and use your vacuum cleaner to remove the air. Your items will shrink significantly so you can store them under your bed or on a shelf.

Shoe collection

A burgeoning shoe collection can take on a life of its own if not properly corralled. Take it back to dorm-room days with an over-the-door shoe organizer. These college favorites are popular for a reason – they store a dozen pairs of shoes or more, plus scarves, baseball caps, belts, and chunky necklaces.


Bikes can be one of the most difficult belongings to stash, especially if you don’t have a deck or basement. Try installing a strong hook in the wall, and hang your bike by the front tire. Pro: It’s a great way to get the bike off the floor. Con: It still protrudes into the room.

For a less invasive option, hang your bike flush against the wall – like you’re hanging a piece of art. The hardware can be as simple as two wooden dowels that support the bike’s horizontal bar. )(Just make sure you anchor the supports in the wall’s studs so they can hold the weight.)

Exercise equipment

An inflatable exercise ball is a great workout aid – and a real space suck. You could always deflate it, but the hassle probably isn’t worth it. So, why not get creative and make it a usable piece of furniture?

Repurpose medium or large exercise balls as dining room chairs, and store them under the dining table when you’re done.

No room for a dining table? The bike trick applies here, too. Install a couple of dowels high up on the wall, and set the ball there until you’re ready for a crunch session.

Decorations and keepsakes

Have a collection of things you just can’t get rid of? Maybe old photo albums, holiday decorations, or crafting supplies? Strategically placed shelves are your storage lifesaver when seeking space for infrequently used items.

There’s often a wealth of unused space above and behind your hung clothing in bedroom and hallway closets. While shelves in these locations may require a footstool or flashlight to access, it won’t matter if you only need the items a few times a year.

Top photo from Zillow listing.


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“Where Should I Keep My…?”: Solving the Ultimate Small Space Dilemmas was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

3 Design Tricks That Will Make Your Small Space Feel Big

Do you have a small space in your home that you’re unsure what to do with? Or is your cramped apartment forcing you to be creative in your living arrangements? You’re not alone.

Make your small room or living area fit your needs with clever solutions that will streamline your life and maximize your space.

Paint can work wonders

Choosing the right paint color for your small room can instantly give the impression of more space or emphasize it’s cozy feel. Traditional neutrals like whites, creams and light grays are a great choice because they provide a clean and streamlined look, while making the room feel brighter and more expansive.

Painting the ceiling white to draw the eye upward is an easy way to create visual openness overhead. You’ll have an airy and inviting space in no time.

paint it white
Courtesy of Orlando Soria.

Conversely, if you want to play up the small space vibe even more, go bold with dark colors. It’s a fun and unique design choice to emphasize the smallness of a room by making a cozy den-like atmosphere with colors like black, dark gray and navy.

paint it black
Courtesy of Allison Lind.

Whether you decide to go light or dark, adding paint to your small space will help you get the effect you are going for in a quick and budget-friendly way.

Savvy storage

With tight spaces, there isn’t always room for all the storage needed for belongings, clothing, office supplies and more. By incorporating creative and flexible storage solutions, you can easily keep clutter out of sight, while still keeping everything you need handy.

For example, the kitchen is a great place to implement clever storage. Roll-away islands and pantries create an adjustable cooking area to fit your needs.

kitchen storage
Courtesy of Sandra Bird.

Add storage by using the space beneath your cabinets for hanging spices or wine glasses, and attaching holders to the backs of cabinet doors to keep foil and cleaning supplies neatly out of sight.

Don’t forget about uncommon spaces like ceilings for hanging items like bicycles out of the way, or adding shelving high up in closets for rarely used items.

Multi-tasking furniture

When you have limited floor space, it’s important to make your furniture work double duty. Choose pieces that have hidden storage and multiple functions, or can be compacted and stored when not in use.

Photo from Zillow listing.

If you can’t fit a dresser in your bedroom, try using drawers or crates under the bed for clothing and extra linens. A pouf or leather ottoman can easily transition from a seat to a footrest or side table.

Add function to your entryway by employing a bench with storage inside to hide extra shoes, gloves, and scarves. And if you have wall space to spare, hang a fold-down dining table.

folding table
Photo from Zillow listing.

Using modular pieces that can serve different purposes or fold out of the way frees up room to make your space comfortable and livable for you and your guests.

Limited square footage doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice function and style. Small space living is a great way to lead a simplified and streamlined life. With creative thinking, you can go from a cluttered, cramped mess to an organized and inviting space with room for all.

Top image from Zillow listing.


Originally published August 19, 2015.

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3 Design Tricks That Will Make Your Small Space Feel Big was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

3 Steps to Creating an Organized Entryway (Even If You Don’t Have the Space)

Drop zones, mudrooms, utility rooms, entryways, “places to leave your stuff.” Whatever you choose to call them, these spaces are invaluable as a spot to kick off your shoes, drop your keys, and keep everything you’ll need for the next day right where you left it.

Sometimes these spaces can be hard to come by, especially if you live in an apartment or studio. Without organization, shoes usually end up piled in front of the door waiting to trip an unsuspecting victim, and an array of backpacks, mail, dog leashes and knickknacks can clutter your home to the point of embarrassment.

Photo from Zillow listing.

But having a dedicated, organized and stylish drop zone for all of your daily needs – and to welcome your guests – is absolutely achievable, no matter the size or design of your living space.

Try these tips to establish a functional entryway in a home of any size.

Make a little room

Since it’s generally not possible to remodel or add on to a rental apartment, you must work with what you have.

Try a narrow console table for tight hallways as a place to drop your keys or leave your outgoing mail.

If space is really tight and all you have is the wall behind your door, hang hooks for coats and bags so they stay off the floor.

Another small-space trick: Temporarily remove your coat closet’s door, and add a stool or small bench inside as a place to sit and take off your shoes – and still have room for coats.

If your apartment is inside a secure building, you may be able to leave out a basket or tray for shoes in the shared hallway.

Add functionality

A mirror can also go a long way in opening up and brightening tight areas by reflecting light and giving the illusion of more space.

Retailers like IKEA sell modern pieces that can be modified to fit narrow spaces or hung on the wall. Measure your desired entryway space, and find furniture that will make the most of the room you have.

Having dedicated spaces for accessories also will make your drop zone a functional center. A devoted bowl or hook to hang your keys, a folder to sort your mail, and a basket to keep your shoes in really makes a difference in the flow of your day.

Leave a message

Bump practicality up a notch by having a message center in your drop zone where you can pin important reminders or leave messages for family members. It’s a great way to keep everyone connected as they go in and out.

A docking station to charge all your electronics can also be useful here. Look for compact and small accessories that will fit your space, yet serve the purpose you need.

By customizing your drop zone with features you need that will fit your home, you’ll keep everything streamlined and easy to find when you need it.

See more entryway inspiration.


Originally published December 3, 2015.

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Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

3 Steps to Creating an Organized Entryway (Even If You Don’t Have the Space) was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

One-of-a-Kind Design: Freshening Your Space for the New Year

Give your home unique appeal with original decor that will energize your space for 2016. These statement pieces by some of our favorite designers, makers and brands will freshen your surroundings in an instant.

Gently used vintage, contemporary design, and especially artisan-made accents are trends you can look forward to this year. (Want to know more? Check out other top home design trends for 2016.)

Here are a few ways to bring these hot looks into your home decor.

Design your own side table

You are the designer with The Floyd Leg. Made in Detroit, these adjustable metal legs attach to any surface of your choosing. A cut of marble or salvaged wood is instantly a chic side table or desk. Pick a color that brightens your mood. Supporting American makers is good practice and smart interior design.

Score cool vintage finds – online

Virtual flea market Krrb is a community of local classifieds with curated pages of furniture, decor and more. Everything old is new again. Search near your home to check out some of the amazing pieces your neighbors are parting with in the New Year.

You never know what you’ll find. For example, given a little tender love and care, these Hollywood Regency style chairs are a plush and glam addition to a nursery or vanity area.

Vintage pieces with personal stories intermingled with newer furniture is a brave and contemporary design trend.

Create a statement wall

A statement wall is an easy way to create a new vibe in your bedroom or living space. Combine prints, original artwork, textiles, and other hangable objects that really speak to you and your space.

We’ve curated a neat wall featuring four of our favorite framed and unframed prints and accessories.

  1. This framed Freckle Topography by Kelly Place is a gorgeous watercolor-inspired print. Presented by West Elm’s collaboration with Minted, a community of independent designer and artists, it comes in two great sizes for your new statement wall.
  2. Also part of a collaboration with West Elm, these charming painted plates by designer Rachel Kozloski are perfect to break up the corners in your gallery wall. Mounting a few of these Dapper Animal plates injects some much-needed whimsy. Remember when curating a wall of objects to vary size and shape for a distinct and personal look.
  3. Multi-use wall hangings like macrame and rugs are a trend you’ll be seeing a lot in 2016. The ’70s-inspired piece entitled Rhapsody was designed by musician Lenny Kravitz as part of a collection of furniture and decor for CB2. It’s a bold wall-mountable statement – and when you refresh next year, it can come off the wall and serve as a new rug for your room.
  4. Hinged hanging picture frames by Anthropologie are a lovely architectural touch. Pick out a few treasured candids of family or favorite old-school black-and-white photos to invite conversation and make your space a home. Even without photos, these frames are a lovely touch in a bathroom or foyer.

Add stylish storage

Simply creating a new spot to display some of your favorite items can revitalize the things you already own. This strategy is ideal for one of the most-loved spaces in your home: the kitchen.

Efficient and stylish wire wall-mountable bin storage is perfect for tea towels, go-to kitchen ingredients, and frequently used dishes.

Shed some light

An alternative to a standard standing lamp is this three-legged oak lamp by Threshold for Target. Overhead lighting is the enemy of good design, and this beauty with brass accents and modern touches is a stylish, affordable solution.

Happy 2016! Here’s to creating a distinctive space that’s as unique as you are.


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One-of-a-Kind Design: Freshening Your Space for the New Year was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Bigger Homes and Gardens: Caring for Your New, Upsized Outdoor Space

When Lance Fort upsized from an apartment to a 2,350-square-foot home in Shoreline, WA, a bedroom community just north of Seattle, he ended up with quite a project on his hands.

The rundown split-level needed significant work, and he spent the first six months hiring contractors to gut and rebuild the interior. By the time Fort finally moved in, he was, as he put it, done.

But as any new homeowner knows, you’re never really done – especially if your home has a yard. As a former apartment dweller, Fort hadn’t given much thought to the home’s one-third-acre backyard until he halfheartedly tried to mow the lawn.

“It was 45 percent moss, 45 percent weeds, and 10 percent grass, with a massive mole problem,” laments Fort. The yard was full of rocks, and so unkempt that it was hard to determine where the lawn ended and the overgrown flower beds began.

Having no interest in gardening, and admittedly inexperienced with yard tools, Fort felt overwhelmed before even making a dent. “All I wanted was to get to the point where the backyard didn’t look like a science project.”

Fort isn’t alone. New homeowners often focus on interior improvements, like new drapes, a fresh coat of paint, and structural repairs. But those who upsize, like Fort, often forget that yards can take a lot of time, money, and energy – things that are often in short supply at the end of a big move.

Once he realized he was in over his head, Fort enlisted the help of a yard-savvy buddy. The two are tackling the yard slowly but surely on weekends, and Fort hopes to eventually get to the point where his property requires little more than occasional maintenance.

If you, too, are upsizing to a home with a spacious yard, consider the following tips for managing your new outdoor space.

Ask for advice

“Seeking help from a knowledgeable friend or professional is a great first step toward sprucing up a yard,” says Travis Meyer, one of the owners of Outdoors By Design LLC, a Washington-based landscape design and construction company. New homeowners are often new to yard maintenance, and there are plenty of resources available to help you get started.

“Start at a local landscape supply store or a big-box store,” suggests Meyer. “They can help you get the right tools to handle the weed situation or level the lawn.”

If that feels like too big of a first step, scheduling a consultation with a landscape professional might be the way to go.

“Many people have the capabilities, but they just need some direction,” says Meyer. Many landscape companies will spend an hour or two with clients, for a fee, leaving them with a bit of gardening knowledge and a starting point. “Sometimes all you need is a little hand-holding to get the ball rolling.”

Dig in

Armed with information and a few gardening tools, you’re almost ready to start getting your hands dirty. Meyer suggests breaking the job down into smaller tasks so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

Tackle the lawn first. Is it salvageable? If it’s unhealthy, uneven, and full of weeds, you might want to remove it and start from scratch. If it’s just overgrown, consider mowing, adding soil, and overseeding.

Next, find your borders, and use a string trimmer or edger to clean them up. Adding a fresh layer of bark helps differentiate the yard from the flower beds, Meyer says, and does wonders to improve the appearance of your property.

Now, choose a few colorful plants, a bush or two, or a small tree to add depth and color. “It’s these little things that can really change the image of your yard,” says Meyer.

Save money where you can

Rent or borrow tools instead of buying them – at least initially. It’s hard at first to know what you’ll use often and what you might only use once or twice. Check online for a neighborhood tool-sharing site that lends out tools for a small fee, like this Phinney Neighborhood Association in North Seattle.

You can also ask for help. Sometimes friends and family members respond surprisingly well to requests for yard help if there’s the promise of pizza and beer at the end of the day.

Browse online for tips on a range of topics, from how to get rid of garden pests and weeds to what types of flowers and plants grow best in your region.

If you need ideas, check out any home and garden shows in your area. The Northwest Flower and Garden Festival, for example, offers seminars that range from basic landscaping tips to incorporating mosaics into your yard or garden.

Hire help

Sometimes all the encouragement in the world won’t change the fact that you just don’t want to do it yourself. Meyer suggests telling yourself it’s OK – that’s what he and other landscape professionals are here for.

“We have some customers who love to be outside, and some who don’t,” says Meyer. “A lot of people just want to go to work and come home to a pristine yard.”

For those folks, Meyer suggests getting more than one bid from landscaping companies. Prices vary, and you may find that you connect better with one landscaper’s aesthetic than another.

Whatever approach you take, Meyer suggests taking your time with the decisions so you don’t feel overwhelmed. “Pick one thing to do this weekend and another to do next weekend,” says Meyer. “Eventually, you’ve finished your whole project.”

Learn more about gardening and lawncare on Zillow Digs.


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Bigger Homes and Gardens: Caring for Your New, Upsized Outdoor Space was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Your New, Bigger Space: 5 Ways to Win at Upsizing Your Home

As a new generation graduates from renting to homeownership, they face plenty of uncertainties: How much homeowners insurance is enough? Is a home warranty necessary? How do you fill a 4-bedroom home with the stuff that used to be in a 1-bedroom apartment?

Transitioning from an apartment to a larger home is always tricky, but making that move – known as “upsizing” – is extra complicated for today’s young home buyers because they’re really going big.

“When Millennials do become homeowners, they leapfrog the traditional ‘starter home’ and jump into the higher end of the market by choosing larger properties with higher prices, similar to homes bought by older buyers,” states the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends. “They pay a median price of $ 217,000 for a home-more than Baby Boomers, and just 11 percent less than Generation X. The Millennial median home size is 1,800 square feet, similar in size to what older generations buy.”

Many millennial home buyers move from small apartments into 1,800 square feet or more. Photo from Zillow listing.

When you upsize from an apartment into a spacious new home, opportunities abound – plenty of closet space, a yard for the dog, and extra rooms for that home office, spare bedroom, or home gym you’ve always dreamed of.

But once the moving van’s gone and the boxes are unpacked, new homeowners often face the harsh reality of upsizing: The furniture, wall hangings, and knickknacks that fit so perfectly in your small apartment occupy only a fraction of your larger home’s space. And that spare bedroom would be perfect – if only you had a spare bed.

Many new homeowners’ first instinct is to hit the discount stores and buy affordable pieces to fill the space. While budget-friendly furniture has its place, it shouldn’t make up the bulk of your new acquisitions.

There are plenty of ways to use what you already have – and optimize your spending for the things you don’t – to make your new house a cozy home.

Don’t buy things just to fill space

It’s tempting to stockpile new furniture and decorations, but it’s an effort that can easily backfire, according to Jennifer Dwyer, professional organizer and owner of Seattle-based A Logical Mess. Inevitably, the measurements are wrong, or the piece doesn’t match your existing style or decor.

“People naturally want to fill the space, but you really have to consider how you’re going to use it,” advises Dwyer. “Wait until you move in, place the furniture you have already, and assess at that point.”

Start by placing the pieces you have, then decide what to add. Photo from Zillow listing.

It’s OK to sparsely furnish the new place while you get a feel for your new home and the style you’re after. “You can tell when people just go to, say, Pottery Barn and buy what’s on the showroom floor,” says Jason Mathews, owner of Seattle interior design and home staging firm, Jason Mathews LLC.

Prioritize with a special piece

To furnish a large living room or family room, Dwyer recommends investing in a sectional couch. Like a dining room table that expands to seat more people, a sectional sofa pulls apart and goes back together depending on design preferences. And such sofas often have expansion pieces you can buy later to further fill space, adds Dwyer.

Sectional sofa components can be separated and expanded to change the room. Photo from Zillow listing.

Mathews agrees that a sofa is a good investment piece. “It’s something you’re going to use every day,” he says. Furthermore, sectionals pull apart to create more than one focal point in a room – think an L-shaped seating area and coffee table in one part of the living room, and a smaller couch and lamp in another for a cozy reading nook.

Not everything needs to be a statement piece, both Dwyer and Mathews emphasize. Once your sofa is in place, find inexpensive side chairs or perhaps an antique table to repurpose as a coffee table.

Place furniture thoughtfully

Furniture arrangement can make a big space seem smaller. Area rugs are ideal for anchoring furniture groups and making a space feel more homey.

A patterned area rug defines a space within a larger room. Photo courtesy of S+H Construction.

“The great thing about rugs is that they don’t have to be expensive – even a large rug,” Mathews says. He advises centering the rug, then placing furniture on and around it. “Even if the rest of the room is empty, you’re starting out with a cozy spot.”

Homeowners often make the mistake of pushing furniture right up against the walls. But pulling the furniture toward the center of the wall helps minimize an expansive room.

In an expansive room, arranging furniture away from the walls creates natural living areas. Photo from Zillow listing.

“Even just six inches off the wall,” advises Mathews. “It gives the room a chance to breathe a bit.”

Decorate your space

Once you’ve furnished your new home, it’s time to decorate. Items like a standing coat rack in an entryway or decorative vases in a stairwell are classic pieces that also fill space – and they don’t have to be expensive.

“I’m a big fan of T.J. Maxx and Ross,” says Dwyer. “You can play around with ideas, and if they don’t work out, you’re not out a ton of money.”

A few well-chosen decorations give a room a personal touch. Photo from Zillow listing.

Give extra rooms purpose

Empty rooms hold such promise: Will you have a home office? An extra bedroom for visiting families? A place for a treadmill, weight set, and stationary bike?

It’s OK to take some time to think it over – just shut the door if the emptiness bothers you. But whatever you do, don’t use that extra space as a storage room, warns Dwyer, or it will never become anything else.

“Find a home for everything, and don’t leave those boxes lying around,” she says. “If you don’t know where to put it, you probably don’t need it in your new home.”

Top photo from Zillow listing


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Your New, Bigger Space: 5 Ways to Win at Upsizing Your Home was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

10 Crazy Ideas To Gain More Storage Space

No matter how spacious your apartment, chances are, you could always use more storage. This is especially true during the holidays, when adding festive decorations feels right — until you’re left with nowhere to put ’em come January.

Whether you’re moving into a Boston rental or an apartment in Nashville, TN, here are 10 surprising storage solutions to carve out more space for stuff in every room of your home.

Divide rooms strategically

Partitioning off an open floor plan might seem beside the point. But when you add shelves and cubbies, the right room divider can actually make a space feel bigger while also giving you more places to rein in clutter. Tip: This wheeled version from Ana White is ultraflexible.

Coffee table storage solutions

Kit out your coffee table

Coffee tables can quickly become catchalls for unopened mail, magazines, and other clutter. That’s why we love this DIY by A Beautiful Mess, with elegant compartments beneath a lift-up, translucent acrylic top. Such a cool way to show off colorful knickknacks while keeping them out of the way.

Boost your bed

Squeeze even more storage out of that prime space under the bed with an inexpensive set of bed risers. You’ll get a full 6 extra inches of height, enough room to stack up two layers of boxes if you play your cards right.

DIY a narrow pantry

While a wall-mounted spice rack works wonders in a small apartment kitchen, this DIY organizer on wheels by Classy Clutter is life-changing! If you have even a 6-inch gap between the fridge and the adjacent wall, you could swing this project and gain a ton of extra space for nonperishables. Roll it out when you need it and slide it back into place (and out of the way) when you’re done.

Exploit the ceiling

Perhaps the most underused space in any home is the closet ceiling, which is exactly where one clever homeowner found space to stow rolls of wrapping paper. A few carefully placed wires keep ’em corralled and out of view. This is a genius trick for the holiday season, of course, but we can picture similar suspended storage working for extra linens and handbags too.

Stack some boxes

Here’s a supersimple way from A Beautiful Mess to squeeze in extra storage in practically any nook, cranny, or corner: Cover small boxes (any size works) with patterned paper or fabric and stack them up. Inside, stash remotes, extra linens, shoes, sweaters, or basically anything you want to keep out of plain sight.

storage solutions breakfast nook

Build a breakfast nook

This deceptively simple breakfast nook designed by Arkin Tilt Architects (photo by Ed Caldwell) beautifully combines hidden storage with open shelving. Dishes and stemware go above the seats, silverware drawers pull out from the seat backs, and the benches flip up to reveal even more storage. If you can find (or build) a similar banquette to fit your apartment’s dining room or kitchen, you’ll be all set for storing culinary wares.

Stuff your stairs

From the “why didn’t we think of this?!” file, handy pullout drawers built into steps make the most of that often overlooked space under the staircase. It could be just the thing you need in a split-level rental (but even if you think your landlord will love the end result, get their signoff before hiring a carpenter).

Put up a pop-up

Does your building or rental home have outdoor or basement space? Take full advantage of it with a pop-up tent to house bikes, skis, or other sports equipment that might not fit inside. (Just be sure to clear it with your landlord before setting up.)

When in doubt, look up

Almost every apartment has vertical wall space prime for the taking. Whether you stack towels atop a wall-mounted cabinet or maximize the area above the toilet like My Fabuless Life, the possibilities for adding creative high-up storage are endless.

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10 Crazy Ideas To Gain More Storage Space was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

5 Ways to Make Your Space Feel Like Home

There’s a difference between a hotel room and a bedroom. Even if the wall color and the furniture is the same, personalization is important. It’s what will make the space feel comfortable – a spot you’ll enjoy coming back to or spending time in.

Here are five ways to make a house or apartment feel like home.

1. Choose a theme or style

What do you like? What are you drawn to? Your interests and aesthetic should figure largely in the way you set up a room.

Eclectic? Thrifted? What's your home style?

Eclectic? Thrifted? What’s your home style?

Find your style by exploring room designs you like, seeing what you enjoy in other peoples’ homes, and by looking at your wardrobe and the other ways you express yourself. Even in a temporary space, small touches can allow personality to come through.

2. Incorporate gifts

An easy way to personalize a space? Add items with meaning.

Natalie Ensor moved from Southern California to Nashville a year ago. When she began decorating her rental, she added pieces that were given to her by friends, especially in her guest room.

“Almost everything in there was a gift, which is why it belongs there,” Ensor explained. “Friends will probably stay here, so items friends gave me are there.”

When Lindsy Read, another Nashville transplant, made the trek out from Washington state with her family, she chose to bring decor that had meaning. The chosen items included a kitchen table a friend built, and shelving she and her husband made to fit a small spot in their former Tacoma, WA home.

A table made by a friend dominates Read's kitchen.

A table made by a friend dominates Read’s kitchen.

“I like the things in our house that have a story,” she says.

3. Remember your travels

Years ago, Read and her husband lived abroad in France. Small reminders of that year are scattered throughout Read’s apartment.

Ensor also makes it a point to add decor from the places she’s been. “We hit up a flea market or thrift store every time we travel to bring something back with us,” she said.

Kate Gazaway, also a Nashville resident, relies on photography to recall her travels. “I love printing physical photos, because having that tangible memory is so important to me,” she said.

Printed photos from Instagram line her stairwell, and a small vintage case in her kitchen contains more photos – memories she can flip through when she has a moment.

An easy way to personalize: print out photos and display them.

An easy way to personalize: print out photos and display them.

“I used to not put out homemade touches because I was so transient,” Gazaway said. “But when you actually place things on the walls, and you have a coffee table to put your books on – that’s when you begin establishing roots.”

4. DIY whenever possible

Even if you’re not the handiest, items you’ve made or altered will bring a strong sense of self into a space.

“So much of our home, we’ve built or made together,” said homeowner Blair McLeod. “I’ve attached memories to the things that are in the home. I can remember what we were watching or what we were wearing at the time. [They’re] sweet moments.”

The McLeods' dining room table is made of reclaimed tongue-and-groove flooring.

The McLeods’ dining room table is made of reclaimed tongue-and-groove flooring.

She and her husband bought the 1940s East Nashville home and have slowly transformed it from a 2-bed, 1-bath, one-story home to a 3-bed, 2-bath, two-story home with attached artist studio.

Doing things themselves made the process a little bit slower, but more personalized.

“We collect ideas, and then when we have the time and money, we try to make it happen,” she explained.

5. Embrace (real) life

Your home, like your life, will change.

“When we bought our first couch, that was a huge investment. Now I realize it doesn’t matter in the long run,” said McLeod. “The couch could go at any time, and that would be okay. A house is to be lived in, and for our family to be protected in. The things in it are secondary, and can be replaced.”

Want to add some personal touches to your own space? Zillow and lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess are partnering to give away $ 5,000 to make your home feel a little more like you. Enter for a chance to win.


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5 Ways to Make Your Space Feel Like Home was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

How to Personalize Your Rental Space (Without Losing Your Deposit)

Rental living can be the perfect option for your family – it might be a great way to save money, let you live close to work, or pick up and move whenever you want to.

However, it can be a real drag when you can’t customize your apartment or rental house the way you want. Being limited to the chosen colors, fixtures, and finishes can put a dent in your style.

Never fear! You can change up the look of your bedroom, kitchen, living room and more – all with zero commitment or permanent alterations that might cost you your deposit.

Follow these tips and tricks to make your home fit your style – without ticking off your landlord.

Lively living spaces

Your living room is where you spend the majority of your time. When you’re chilling on the couch, watching football, bonding over family game night, or hosting fancy soirees, you want this space to reflect your style.

Blasé beige is not super stylish, so cover up drab walls with colorful posters, tapestries, and family photos. Add statement pieces of furniture like a poppy end table or a killer credenza to draw eyes away from boring builder-grade construction.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Layer pretty rugs over bad carpeting. If you live in a small space like a studio without a ton of living space, create designated areas for working, playing and relaxing by using curtains or bookshelves to cordon off and customize what you need.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Kitchen style that cooks

The kitchen seems like it should be a hard room to customize since you can’t really change up permanent elements like countertops, cabinets, fixtures, or paint colors.

However, there are actually a lot of cool options to up the glam factor in your kitchen without breaking your lease agreement. Switch out cabinet knobs and pulls with some you love – just keep the originals so you can put them back when you move.


Retailers such as Anthropologie offer stylish knobs and drawer pulls.

A great high-impact trick is to put up realistic-looking peel-and-stick tiles over the existing backsplash, then simply peel them off when your lease is up.

You can also make your kitchen look cohesive by adding splashes of coordinating color using dishes, bar stools, hand towels, flowers and more for a collected and intentional look. Try incorporating some of the art deco flourishes or one-of-a-kind artisan accessories that are on trend for 2016.

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Courtesy of Stephen Shoup.

Bedroom bliss

You want your bedroom to be an oasis where you can recharge after a long day. But when you’re met with cramped quarters, boring paint, and old dirty carpets, it can be hard to find your Zen.

Soothing colors, statement art, and natural textured rugs (a hot look this year) can create the perfect escape.


Courtesy of Orlando Soria.

Play up what you have to work with. If your room is small and dark, make it into a cozy getaway by stringing up twinkle lights, piling up cozy blankets, and adding a plush rug.

Or conversely, brighten up your pad by infusing pops of color. Use adhesive strips or double-stick tape to hang inspirational prints and family photos without leaving a mark.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

And if you really need to mix it up, try making over your furniture for a new take.

Whether you can’t stand your shag carpet or are bored to tears by beige paint in every room, there are ways to get around permanent rental features.

By getting creative and adding color, covering walls with art, and working with what you have, you can easily and temporarily transform your home to fit your desires. Keep your landlord happy without sacrificing your style.


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How to Personalize Your Rental Space (Without Losing Your Deposit) was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Tour a Designer’s Brooklyn Live/Work Space

Interior designer and maker Michala Monroe‘s Brooklyn loft is a welcoming blend of eclectic and personal. Mixing organic textures like marble and wood with starkly modern vintage pieces in acrylic and glass make for a thoroughly chic space.

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Black metal standing lamp from IKEA; salvaged and repainted dresser with original hardware; vintage acrylic tables topped with marble tiles from Home Depot

Excitingly neutral, the front room of the Clinton Hill home Michala shares with partner Jason Barnes boasts a refurbished vintage couch, delightful heirloom chairs that harken to the ’60s, and the couple’s bikes, which pull double duty as storage and sculpture. The loft plays host to an inspired home office, organized craft table, and pair of four-legged interns — cat Gray Gray and dog Einstein.

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House pets Gray Gray and Einstein lounge in the front room, which blends a vintage couch and acrylic pieces with an abstract snake pattern rug.

In a candid Q&A, Michala shares where many of the items were sourced and how they fit into her home aesthetic, and reveals her favorite pieces among the enviable wall-mounted collections, classic heirlooms and striking street finds.

Do you have any standout favorites in the front room?


Michala Monroe; photo by Elizabeth Andrews

The sofa was a real testament of love. It was a broken mess stored at my mom’s house in upstate New York for 12 years before I finally chose the fabric and had it repaired and reupholstered. It was an expensive fix, so I waited a long time until I had the right apartment to settle into. It was given to me by my first boss at the New York Designer Fabric Outlet upstate.

The rug from Safavieh is one of the first things that Jason and I picked out together when we moved into our two-bedroom last August, so that is dear to me. It has an abstract snake pattern that reminds Jason of his childhood in California.

Love the vintage plastic chairs. What’s their story?

They were my great-aunts’ and uncle’s. They were eccentrics that lived in New Jersey together — three of them, forever single, spending their lives traveling and enjoying the things that made them happy.

They had a large and interesting furniture collection that included ’60s mod-type pieces, as well as warm wood mid-century pieces. Since they passed, in my home I have a tall dresser/secretary, the acrylic living room chairs, and the coffee and side tables in my office — all from their home. Each piece reminds me to do what makes me happy, and surround myself with the people and things that I love.

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A vintage secretary inherited from Michala’s family provides storage in the bedroom.

The apartment features several standout mid-century inspirations. Is there a piece you recommend starting with when acquiring furniture in this style?

This is a tough one. Mid-century is my favorite period/style. My preference is vintage, of course, so my desk (a dining table) is actually from an auction upstate, and belongs to my brother. He has his own large collection and hasn’t needed this table in years, so it’s on long-term loan. The tall storage unit with the project bins on it behind my desk is vintage as well.

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A tall mid-century storage unit graces the office.

A lot of companies are doing a pretty good job with contemporary remakes, so our bed frame is from WestElm, and our bar is from Crate and Barrel.

Who is that regal lady in the painting above the bed?

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This elegant portrait was a lucky curbside find.

I wish I knew. She looks like Zsa Zsa Gabor to me, which I love, because I grew up watching Green Acres. I found the painting leaning against a huge construction dumpster on the Upper East Side six years ago. I asked the workers if I could have it, and they said yes, it was trash, and they just didn’t have the heart to throw it away.

The jewelry storage in the bedroom is awesome. Where did you find it?


Whimsical wall-mounted jewelry storage saves space in the bedroom.

My good friend Steph Mantis is an industrial designer, and the “pack rack” is one of her products. You can purchase it through [online retailer] Kikkerland. I have the “heads” version, but I need to get the matching “tails” version — as you can see, my necklace collection is a little full.

Your personal collections of beautifully mounted shells and jagged quartz populate your office and lounge areas. Tell us about starting and maintaining collections like these.

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Shadowboxes filled with shells are a stylish way to display personal mementos.

Jason and I are huge nerds. We love animals and all things that represent the beauty and design of nature. During our travels we collect shells, and sometimes skulls and bones, and once we have enough, I go through them to curate the best ones and mount them into these shell boxes. It’s a really fun craft activity. It’s the kind of thing that I do while Jason works on his painting.

Similarly nerdy, I love gems, geodes and minerals. This sometimes manifests itself in jewelry design, and sometimes something far more primitive and hilarious. Last Christmas, Jason bought me a collection of rocks that, when smashed open with a hammer, produced the dusty quartz pieces on our bar. He is the best gift giver.

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Graceful crystal decanters mingle with rough quartz pieces on the bar.

Balancing a home office and an area for your passion projects while creating a relaxing space for you and partner is a tall order. What tips do you have for renters who are trying to strike the same balance you’ve curated at home?

Home plus office is always a tough one. I think the key is a closed door. When I first started out, I didn’t have and couldn’t afford a second room for my office, and working in my bedroom or living room was tough. Work/life separation is a lot easier when you can work, say, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., then close the door and live your life.

The space to relax is a must. I spend most of the day here when I’m not on job sites. If I didn’t love the space or it wasn’t comfortable, that would be very difficult to do.

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The comfortable lounge offers space to unwind, plus a well-lit spot to work on art projects by the window.

A comfortable home was a no-brainer to us. We both grew up in very casual environments with pets, so nothing can be too precious. We have a pretty big dog and a pretty big cat, so being able to relax knowing that they can’t really hurt anything is a good place to start.

Making space for passion projects (such as making art) was natural. I grew up always having a little arts and crafts space, and I still love creating with my hands. Sometimes I sell my projects on Etsy. Creativity manifests in different ways, so sometimes if I am feeling uninspired by work, I’ll play around for a while — maybe making something cool, and maybe not. By the time I get back to work, I’m feeling inspired again.

For our home, we planned out the space before our move, because that’s how I roll — I am an interior designer, after all. However, I think you have to understand that not everything is planned. Sometimes your home evolves with you over time and becomes what you need it to become. You can’t force it.

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Vintage trunk; photo by Sean Sheffer; bar from Crate and Barrel

This comes up with clients occasionally, especially when I’m curating art. I encourage leaving a few blank wall spaces open for the pieces you might collect on your travels. Our home is not perfect, and there is a lot of wall space just begging for art. We’ll get there.

Photographed by Erin Albrecht on location.


Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News » Home Improvement

Tour a Designer’s Brooklyn Live/Work Space was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home