Love It While You Rent It


Let's get real, folks. This is how I live. With the computer right there so I can work during the day. With sacks of leftover shelf liner in a chair. And a myriad of paper bills or notes and such wherever they land.

Being as only one person and two pupsters live here, there is not a lot of stuff being generated. So it doesn't look like it would have when I had kids living at home. 

S

So let's talk about real life. 

We can't all have nice pretty houses with a picket fence in front that has loads of character before a stick of furniture is even placed inside.  Some of us are just regular folk who are pinching our pennies and hoping to get by. Just paying the bills.

But that doesn't mean you can't make your decorating dreams come true. And I'm going to show you how to get yourself off the couch and make it happen. 

First, you have to be reasonable about your desires and what you can accomplish. And align that with how much money you can spend.

And you have to get yourself off the couch. Which is where people loll around when they can't find the energy to change what is around them even though it is making them depressed to look at it. 


This, my friends, is the ugly kitchen. Not in butt ugly. Just not pretty. 

The fridge is white, the stove is beige, and the odious dishwasher that I'd love to get rid of is an even darker beige. Someone must be color blind. Or, as the corporate world turns, just out for a buck.

At first I stewed. But then I got over it. I will work whatever magic I can, and live with the rest. Because life is not perfection. It is not just pretty pictures on the wall. 

Life is where you are right now and you need to make the most of it.

It is not so much what you don't have. But how you come to accept it and move on. And then of course do the most with what you do have. 

This is called "the glass half full" approach to life. 


That space held the refrigerator until I moved it yesterday. The rusted rake just happens to be there because I am not going to move everything for the sake of this post. And all the other things that look out of place as well. This is real life.

I moved it to make way for the European-style washer/dryer that is one unit that will be coming in a few days. The space is not far from the sink, which is where I will have to hook it up to get water to the washing machine. 

So the lesser of two evils was to move the fridge and put it here. Unless something unforeseen happens. I don't want to be rolling this thing around, you see.


I did not really want this fridge on this particular wall. I wanted it on the other. But I had to have an electric outlet and it was on this wall. You do what you have to.

I wanted to turn the microwave cart the other way, because it did fit. But the vent would have been right against the refrigerator. And the refrigerator, which would never win any kind of beauty contest, has rust spots behind the cart. And the cart hides them.

The enamel lid I use as a place to put my dish towel is there because behind it is one of those wall phone jacks you don't see much anymore. And at the moment I had to deal with it yesterday, I was not in creative mode. I will wait until magic strikes.


Will I keep the appliances as they are? I'm looking into all kinds of ways I might change that. But what I do will be based on how much it costs and what's allowed in the lease. 

I certainly can't afford new appliances. Before I moved in I had already paid for a tall toilet (the old folks kind for when you can't get up and down too good), a new storm door to help keep the dogs in when the wooden door is opened (which has not worked out that well, darn it), and a new hand held shower nozzle for my back and ankle to get some love. Cost: Around $500. 

Cost for new washer so I don't have to hobble over to the laundromat with my boot (at least for smaller items anyway), $1300. 


I am frugal and I don't spend money without a great deal of thought. I don't go out for coffee or run to Hobby Lobby and fill my cart (yes, I once did just that) or eat out except for an occasional sandwich. 

I don't rent movies or do anything for entertainment that I can't just accomplish myself by reading a book or being out on my patio. 

So hear ye, hear ye...I don't want the person who emailed and told me how many washes it would take to pay for that washer to repeat herself. I'm not stupid. I can count.

I'm dealing daily with a seems-to-be-permanent ankle injury. I might have to take bigger things to the laundromat. But I'm not going to be toting baskets over there in the winter when I might fall on ice. Oopsy daisy. 


But I digress from the kitchen situation. I took a cabinet door off on top, I put it back. I have tried to align the doors, because I think someone who is blind put them up there. But I haven't had much success yet. 

I was going to take off all the doors, but they are stained inside. Stained as in not painted with paint, but with stain. And someone got sloppy with the paint brush and got white strokes in there too when they were painting the fronts. So I'm trying to think of a way to deal with the doors. 

I've put shelf liner down (the disposable kind), because some tenant put down the ugliest hard-to-get-up paper I've ever seen. I can't get it all off. It's like pulling bubble gum off your shoe. Yards of it.


So in my typical long-winded fashion, what I'm trying to say here is that life is not perfect and neither do our homes have to be. Make them pretty where you can and deal with the rest. 

I will be doing a lot of posts on how to decorate a rental. They do not have to be cookie cutter spaces inside, though they all look alike outside. No, they do not. 

You can put your stamp on them and give them some love and you can be happy with where you live, even if you didn't think that could happen.

Because life is too short to be wishing you were someplace else. 

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152 comments

  1. Brenda, Life really is too short to wish you were someplace else! The more I make my little duplex my own, the more I feel like it's home. Putting my touch on it, my personality on it....within the boundaries of a rental. You are right, it can be done and inexpensively. I look forward to this journey with you and I will continue to tweak my home and make it mine! I still think the washer/dryer is a great investment for you. Sorry you lost your 'pantry', but it's always about trade offs isn't it!
    Hugs, Linda

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    1. Do you think you'll move out of it when your mother is there?

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  2. This post explains why I follow your blog!
    I don't have your vision, but I'm getting there slowly. When the interior gets me down, I sit outside. I've been outside all day today. I don't live alone, you'd think that would help, but my other half has a favourite phrase."What do you want to do that for? It's perfectly alright as it is." It's got to the stage where I have to wait until he's in his shed before I can even start any alterations. I plan to decorate this summer, so he'd better get a comfy chair in his shed.

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    1. Which would, in some ways, explain why I'm thrice divorced. Like to live alone with critters. No one reinvents the wheel. We just alter it.

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    2. Jenny, wonder why it is that men don't like change ?? And you're correct , Brenda has the cutest ideas - I have used many in my house

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  3. Very few people have a "perfect life" and most of us have to work with our limitations. That is actually more fun - anyone can fill a perfect place. I totally get the hiding cords and stains issue.

    I love the little side table you have in one of the photos - it is quite colorful. Have I seen it before and missed it or is it new?

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    1. I decoupaged that back in Texas about three or so years ago. It's been around. At the other house was in the bedroom.

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  4. Hi Brenda, do you know you can get magnets to cover your dishwasher... there are some quite beautiful ones, this could be a cheap option for you. Blessings Michelle

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  5. Yes, looking into that. But that would almost be too conventional...

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  6. Brenda , can you place an extension rod between the two white pieces of wood that's on each side of the dishwasher. I cant tell from the picture if the dishwasher extends out that far. What I am suggesting is using a piece of fabric you have on hand to gather across the rod to hide the dishwasher. I have used this method between the bottom of cabinets below the kitchen sink when I wanted a farmhouse look and used burlap. If you can't use extension rods, I know they have magnetic rods you can use on the doors too. Just a suggestion for a different look. You always have the best ideas and are so creative. After you have rested up for awhile, I know you will come with more unique ideas for your home.
    Hugs,
    Connie, IN/FL

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    1. I'll look into that. I would like the look if it worked.

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    2. Brenda, check to see if the dishwasher has a front panel that can be flipped. I had one once that had several different panels that were different colors. If it does, it just takes a minute to switch them out.
      Your new place is looking good!
      Susan

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    3. The panels are behind the front door panel, stacked up. If I remember right you have to take the side strips off to change it out.

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    4. Hi. I bought a magnetic curtain rod that I actually use as a dish towel rack -- it hangs on the front of my fridge. (I found it at either Dollar General or Family Dollar, can't remember which.) Anyway, I just took it over to my dishwasher to see if it would fit, and it does. Of course, it has to be placed about five inches down to get it below the controls. But, you could put such a magnetic rod across your dishwasher, Brenda, and hang a curtain from it, if you so desire.

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  7. it is looking great! comfy looking too. having a washing machine in your house no matter the cost is something that will be right for you - safety first!

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    1. Yeah, she didn't figure out the cost of convenience or being safe in your home during the winter.

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  8. Putting my imperfect personality in my imperfect home is what makes my home so interesting. A perfect home is just well...boring. I once artfully arranged an old lace tablecloth over the top and down the side of an ugly refrigerator to hide it. Worked for me.

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    1. Forgot to say how much I adore your decorating. I love your new home very much!

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    2. Sounds good to me! I'll see if I have anything big enough that I haven't already given away! And you're right, perfect is boring.

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  9. I love what you said about getting off the couch and changing your decor. I've had a hard time since the lost of so many family members. Years ago it would have all been done the first month. I'm taking your advice and getting my hiney up after I take a short break lol. I love your space. You have done wonders with it and I think the washer was a smart investment!!!!

    Hugs,

    Valerie
    Cottage Making Mommy
    www.lovingmyheartandhome.blogspot.com

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    1. P.S. It's not because I'm lazy it's because I'm always doing something for everyone else maybe it's time to do something to make me happy.

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    2. Lord girl, tell everybody else to get out of your hair and make themselves a baloney sandwich and do for yourself for a change! They might learn how to be halfway self-sufficient. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

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  10. Brenda, I think everyone has to adjust to the spaces they have, unless they designed a home of their own and had it built. I saw what you did with the little blue house, I know you can decorate. I wish you much happiness in your new place. xoxo,Susie

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    1. Even if you build a home to your own design, your wants and needs change over time.

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  11. Hi Brenda! I think you're new place is looking wonderful! We all know what you can do! You've got a little stubborn streak, I do too, and I know you'll make it all look wonderful and at the same time teach us all something. I know they make colorful covers for a dishwasher and some dishwashers have a way of taking off the colored part and you just have to flip the panel over? You might ask your landload. Just tell me who that person was who emailed you about all the savings and I'll go punch her in the stomach! Virtually, of course! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

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    1. I don't know. I already deleted it. She must have extra time on her hands to have added up all those numbers. I told her to double it because then I had to dry them.

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  12. I can see that the expense of your new machine is well worth not having the hassle of lugging laundry back and forth and the time lost waiting for it to wash and/or dry while you could be doing something else at the same time. The pups will also appreciate not being left alone for those periods of time. Could you place your refrigerator on the other wall if you used one of those short heavy duty extension cords? After you get your new washer in place, it looks as if there may be room to install a shelf in the place vacated by the upper portion of the fridge, more room for storage or decor. I love the way everything is coming together.

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    1. I don't think so. I looked at all kinds of options yesterday. And so far this was the best location.

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  13. I have always made my rentals my own. It is the only way I can survive in them. They are your home and it is important that they feel that way. You know I share my messes, which are worse than yours, because it is real life. Looks to me like your new place is getting pretty cozy. carry on, my friend. xo Laura

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    1. Oh, I have had some real messes. Real doozies. That just happened to be the mess for today, and it wasn't bad!

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  14. It looks warm and cozy to me! Love the blinds !
    Let's see, if I had the place that I REALLY wanted it would be a large Victorian with a wrap around porch and perhaps a lake on the property. I'd be rich enough to afford someone to help me clean and while I puttered in my cottage garden, the hard work would be done by my handy man / gardener guy. He'd build things for me when needed as well.

    Would you like to visit me there and come for high tea ? :) :) :) Later we could watch some movies in my theater room and order delivery from some posh dining facility that caters to me since I am rich.

    Hmmm.... wait, I live in a little house with a weird shaped living room and a galley kitchen. Right now I have a long skinny card table next to my dining room table because I was basting a quilt yesterday and I'll be tying it this week at some point. Since the quilt is done the huge mess ...piles of fabric etc everywhere is now cleared out of the dining room but the kitchen's messy since I started cooking something. My fridge has rust spots on the front and I don't care since it is still working after about 17-18 years and they don't make them to work that way anymore so until it dies, I don't care about the spots. I"ll bet my sons are not even aware they are there...they are too busy opening the door to see what is inside.

    Your latest place has warmth, color, your stamp of personality on it...of course there would be a laptop on the couch and dogs on furniture and papers and bills / magazines / clutter here and there. And let's not forget dog toys..I tripped over one not too long ago :)



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    1. In your pretend house, would your handy man be a hunka hunka burning love? Well, then that would make me yawn. I'm post menopausal, which means my batteries went out a long time ago!

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    2. LOL NO. I could care less. He'd just be handy. Your batteries and mine are on the same shelf :)

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    3. Well , we all seem to have the same batteries. Lol

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  15. Your new place is looking awesome and thanks for taking us on that journey with you. :-) I bet your kitchen cabinets will be all "you" very soon. :-) Are you allowed to change out the knobs? Just that might help some, they make some cool funky knobs online. Well I am looking forward to seeing more and thanks for sharing with is all. :-)

    On May 9th forward I can be found at www.msmoozy.com, my new blogs web URL.

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    1. I shall remember that. I will be looking around for some knobs, unless something comes to me that includes the knobs. So far, nah.

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  16. I think your place is looking good. It has your stamp on it already! I think a good move to make a place for the washer closer to the sink and not have to move it around. My fridge is like the one you currently have. It was purchased in the late 80's or early 90's and still going strong. I'm going to use it until it dies. I prefer how it's made over the ones today with all the computerized parts.

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    1. I wish I could fine a real old one. Or one that was made to look old. But those cost a small fortune. I've been looking.

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  17. Your place is coming along beautifully and is starting more and more to look like "Brenda". I'm sure you will get your kitchen fixed up, it is no doubt the most challenging room you have. Would the landlord object if you painted the inside of the cabinets white? I loved the open look with all your pretty things on the shelves and your curtains and stained glass. I love your new bamboo blinds, they fit right in.

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    1. I mentioned it to her. She didn't really say. But I don't think she wants me to paint over the stain.

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    2. Hmmmm......tis' a puzzlement. I do like the suggestion someone made about changing out the knobs (keep the old ones in case). How about some pretty glass ones, and they come in colors. Also you could hang a few shelves between the washer and those upper cabinets. I am curious about the black and white check trim that you had on your kitchen cabinets in the little blue house. Were those stenciled on or was it a border? Any way you could use it again to trim the upper cabinet doors?

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    3. I have read in a couple of places the idea of cutting pieces of cardboard to fit the back of cabinets, or bookshelves or whatever, and the covering the pieces of cardboard with fabric or paper of your choice. Then you fit the cardboard into place, and it looks like custom but it's easy and quick and inexpensive and you can take it all apart again when you get tired of it or move out. I may be moving a rental any day now, and I'm keeping that in mind, it might work for you too?
      I LOVE the way the living room looks, love the blinds, the quilts, the puppeteers (of course), the whole thing! Looks wonderful. I know you will solve this challenge of the kitchen as well, and teach us all a thing or two along the way. I love the idea of the curtain across the dishwasher, or maybe peelable contact paper. Or one of those wall decals that peels off again. that might be fun on the fridge, too. This is helping me plan for my own rental! Creative challenge. yay.

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    4. Puppsters, not puppeteers, dang it. I hate spell check.

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  18. It is all coming together just so beautiful! Im so happy for your new washer dryer combo! We have to do what we have to do. I fell this past year and my knee wont be the same so I totally understand about being careful. You just can't be too careful.. I have no one to help me like you so we have to do our best alone. I can hardly wait to see your combo!! Take care. All looks beautiful!!!

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    1. I can't wait to see how the thing works.

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  19. Brenda, you are doing a great job in your new home. It all looks so cozy and inviting. Very pretty too! Your kitchen looks very nice also, its functional and works for you so be it. You'll do all the pretties soon enough girl. You'll love your new washer/drier, the first time I saw one was when my sis in law returned from overseas. It was all that was available and with three kids she said it was running constantly. It was small and compact and she loved it. Next was in a nail salon they used it to wash the daily hand towels. The owner loved it. So kudos to you for making such a wise decision. Hugs,Lucy

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    1. I've never seen one. I was just researching when I ran across these.

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    2. My grandma had one, and she put her towel in it before she took her bath or shower. Then when she got out, she had a lovely warm towel. Luxury doesn't have to cost a lot, the little things really make a diff. I too feel it's the right decision to have your washer/dryer in the apartment. Even in the summer, trying to drag a basket of laundry back and forth across a parking lot that may be uneven and have curbs and pebbles and so forth is not a good idea if your mobility is already impaired and you find that you are damaged when dropped. Good choice.

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  20. Way to go, Brenda. We can bloom where we are planted! When my husband passed, so did over half my income and none of the expenses . I had to buckle down and decide what to do. God blessed me and helped me get through. No, I have not come out on some mythical other side, but I feel I did and am continuing to bloom. I have always known we have to do what we have to do and no one else knows all the answers for us. Keep on putting one foot in front of the other.

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    1. If we don't figure out how to bloom where we are planted, then we will wither up and die.

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  21. You wrote this post just for me. I needed to hear every word. We rent our home also. I have been searching for a different place to move to but nothing comes up that would be better for our family. You at least have wood floors and a white kitchen. I like the simple white doors of your cabinets. Our appliances bothered me so bad that I ended up replacing them with some of my own and a Craig's list stove to help. I am getting attached to my neighbors here but I just wish I had more freedom to do a little more remodeling. I need to just be happy, it's not perfect but it's just fine. I am glad you got yourself a new washer. Someties spending a little money to make your life easier is worth it.

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    1. Does the owner want to sell it? I don't have wood floors. I have vinyl floors, but that's okay by me. I looked at a lot of places. In my price range, some were downright filthy and made you want to throw up. I chose this place by eliminating in my mind what I didn't or couldn't do without, and making peace with that. My prize was the patio and the location of this unit and the fact that they'd taken up the carpet and would let me have these floors. That was imperative to me. Everywhere you live, there's going to be something that isn't right. I've learned it's better to live than live always wishing.

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  22. Also while assuming this lady did not buy your washer dryer combo for you..... and I know you did with your hard earned money... she has no say. I know why you did it and believe me if you could have spent the money elsewhere... you would have LOVED TO. But we have to take care of ourselves!!! You did good. I never even heard of one till you bought it up!! You go wash girl!!!!! I can hardly wait to see it Brenda!

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    1. I never heard of it either till that day. Which was less than a week ago!

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  24. I think you are doing a fine job with what you have. I love the way you styled the table in the corner and your lamp is very similar to some red ones I have.

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    1. Well thank you, Kim. You flourish in your home and know just how to decorate it. You've lived in it long enough to know what the walls tell you to do next. I find I really like a small space that I can take care of. Life deals you different hands. And you gotta learn to live with what you've been dealt.

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  25. Looking real good Brenda as I knew it would...you have a knack for creating such pretty and cozy spaces!! Love that bamboo shade and those pretty wood floors!

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    1. Uh, they look like wood. But they're just plain old vinyl. Thanks though!

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  26. I think your home is lookin good.... just temporarily I'd starch a pretty piece of kitcheny fabric and stick it on that diswasher:) or velcro some art on their-- light frame of course...

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    1. I was just looking at it. It doesn't really fit the space. There is a gap at the top. UGLY. I'll figure something out. Maybe I will try that. But I'm not decided yet. Hasn't worked its magic on me. Have to let my noggin do the talkin'.

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  27. Hi Brenda..my your place is coming along so nice!!I love it!why don;t you collect some pretty pot holders and hot glue a magnet on the back of them and put them in the front of your appliances you do not care for as much due to the color? I think it would look so nice and add some color also...just an idea! Hugs! Carol

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    1. A good idea, Carol! And a unique one at that. I'd have to collect some pot holders. My two are red glove pot holders.

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    2. I'll bet you could make your own patchwork pot holders

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  28. Hi Brenda. I just had to pop in and tell you how cozy your rental is looking already! I love the bamboo shades on your windows and I know you'll get your kitchen all figured out in time. When we moved into our current house, there was a dishwasher shoved into a space where somebody yanked (not kidding here) the base cabinet out. I donated the dishwasher to a coworker and filled the space with a rolling cart for much needed storage. I hung a cute curtain with spring tension rods and it worked for me. You've accomplished quite a lot in a very short time. Kudos to you!

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    1. Doubt they'll let me yank that thing out. But I may just have to ask.

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  29. Oooh, I like the look of those bamboo shades and the way the light looks filtered through them. Your "stamp" is already on your new place. I'm sure you will grow to love it as you continue to make changes and additions.

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    1. Oh, I already love it. It grew on me fast.

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  30. Hi Brenda, great to see you settling in so nicely. Re your the ugly beige of your dishwasher, you could try affixing patterned or plain mactac to the door. I mactacked a subtle blue gingham pattern to an old white fridge years ago. The colours blended really well and it peeled off quite easily years later. I have seen mactac in all sorts of designs out there... it is is quite waterproof, as long as you don't have to scrub it down. You could even make said dishwasher a piece of art in your kitchen ... imagine the possibilities... good luck my friend.

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    1. Mactac? First I've heard of that. What is it? Like contact paper or removable wallpaper?

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  31. I think things look great, I think you have carefully thought out the whys. I would soend the money on the washer, I hate lugging, driving, and wasting time away from home. I love being home, reading, writing, chafting, computering and relaxing

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  32. Hi Brenda. Your place is looking great. I hope your washer/dryer works out well for you. For the past seven months, I've been taking our clothes to a Laundromat. I cannot imagine having to do so while having a bad ankle. Instead of questioning whether your purchase makes economic sense, I instead am happy that you are able to work it into your budget. Sometimes, decisions are based on other things besides money; we also have to consider our physical and mental well-being.

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  33. I was a Navy wife for many years and lived in military housing back in the 80's where we were not allowed to paint, etc. Several of my friends put fabric on the front of their appliances with liquid starch - evidently you soak the fabric in starch, then stick it to the surface and sort of squeegee the excess starch out with your hands. When you move, just peel it off and wash the front of the appliance to get the starch off. Supposedly you can put it on walls too, but I don't know anyone who did that.

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    1. What is the saying? Creativity is the mother of invention? Or something like that.

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  34. I really like the look of that bamboo shade. It will definitely help w/the summer heat. You know now that you've moved and all the talk of the washer/dryer combo, I think everybody forgot about winter! You certainly don't need to be slipping/sliding on that ankle in the winter. I always have such horrible luck at the laundromat, weird things happen, washers overflow, stop mid wash, it's just crazy. So it's best you worry about your foot and the convenience for you. Maybe when the time comes you could pay Judy's granddaughter to do the heavy blankets and such for you. I'm sure she was thrilled to get your black bookcases you were using for your pantry.

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    1. Judy said she put the bookcases in her bedroom and lined up all her shoes on them! At least they are making her happy!

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  35. Hi Brenda, you're already on your way to putting your stamp and personality on your new place. love what you've done with your living room and know you'll do the same with your kitchen. Good choice in making room for the European washer and dryer. You're doing what works for you.

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    1. On the areas I haven't yet decorated or dealt with, they are areas that are still "stumping" me. I have to live with things and then stumble upon an answer. And when it comes, I know it is the right thing to do.

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  36. Brenda, your new home and puppies are looking so cute! Everything you said rings true. I had a "dream home" now I make the dream. I'm so glad you found that washer/dryer! I just noticed this: a cute curtain on a rod in your special colors might cover that dishwasher if there is enough clearance for it to still open. xoxo

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    1. Judy and I already thought of that. I won't even use the dishwasher. But for one thing, it is too short for the space it is in, so there is a dark gap up top. And second, it juts out and makes a curtain out of the question. Darn!

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  37. Your new home is really looking great! I love the bamboo shade. And, I'm happy you got the combo. I have a bad ankle, too, and I sure wouldn't be walking in bad weather to a laundromat! I wonder if you couldn't use liquid starch and put some fabric pieces on your cabinet doors? It's supposed to peel right off when you are tired of it. I've been thinking of putting fabric on the soffits above my cabinets to change the look.

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    1. I'm mulling that idea over for sure. I've never done that, and somehow it sounds messy. But if I don't come up with something soon, that may just be what I do.

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  38. My GF has that washer/dryer combo that you are getting and she loves it. I do not know if it is the exact one but she has had it for about a year and says it was the best thing she has bought in a long time. And she paid a little more than you did so I think you made a wise choice. Going to the laundry mat is a hassle on 2 good ankles, and it costs much more than you realize.
    I lived in an apartment complex for a year or so several years ago. I always loved being invited in to a neighbors apartment, because I loved seeing all the different ways we had all chosen to decorate, and place the furniture. Like you said, on the outside they were all the same, inside they were all completely different....

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    1. Oh good! A positive vote from someone who has one! Mine is an LG. It is supposed to be one of the bigger ones, for they aren't all that big inside to start with. Don't know how that sucker weighs 201 pounds, but it does. My laundry is piling up (I use a bath towel about a week, and clothing several days in a row) and I just can't bring myself to torture my poor arthritic hands into squeezing water out of another towel! They're still hurting from last week!

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  40. I actually adore every inch of your living space. You have creatively chosen and placed each piece carefully and beautifully. My home is a small 1000 sq ft, but I would honestly love to sell and move to where my children are and rent a one bedroom apartment. My husband can come if he wants to:) or not.

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    1. Good for you! At least you know what you want. I have one caveat. Be careful about moving where your children are. Didn't work out so good for me. And then they can always move. And what do you do then? Move with them? Just be aware, because I was not and look what happened.

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  41. The kitchen is actually quite neutral to begin with so I know you'll work your magic on it somehow. I had also transformed the kitchen in the previous flat I rented and did so with very little money. Now that I have my own cottage, the kitchen is even worse because there are so many different things to work on ;)

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    1. Well, I love your little cottage. But yes, neutral is good because it is a blank canvas. Just have to work within the bounds of the lease.

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  42. Well, you must have known what I needed today. My husband just got up one morning and walked out. Just like that and he was gone. My children and I had to move from a large and beautifully decorated home into a small, OLD apartment. It is a bit rundown, and for months I did exactly what you said not to do...I sat on the sofa and felt sorry for myself. Now I am trying to make it feel like our NEW home. If you were closer I would invite you over to help me! I do have a question for you . Will you please provide me the information on your blinds? If they are not too expensive, I would love to order some as well.

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    1. I'm trying to recall if I ordered them from Home Depot or Lowes. They were not cheap. About $85. But then they are the widest I think you can get. I love the texture it brings to the room. I wish I could help you, because I would love to! If you want to ask me questions, email me and I will surely help from afar!

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  43. I love how you think and I love your blog! I have been following you for awhile now and you always give me ideas. Im the one that emailed you and told you I painted my kitchen cabs red and then saw on a blog that someone said,"Dont paint your cabinets red." :) I remember being "distressed" about it...thinking I maybe should not have done it. You set me straight on that, and I love my cabinets!! The remark made here "a perfect home is boring" is so true! I dont want all white...I want color....and you have helped me with that. (especially with my favorite color RED) So...anyway.....thank you for what you write. Your blog is the first one I go to.

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    1. Oh yes, I remember telling Judy about you and the red cabinets! Because she wants to do that to hers. I'm so glad you've made peace with the red, because it must make you happy just to walk in and see them. People should not be afraid of color. I know there are the bloggers who will do nothing but white, beige and gray. And I have to tell you, that just depresses the heck out of me! To each their own. They wouldn't like my reds.

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  44. I applaud your attitude Brenda! And that's as it should be...you must love the place your at! Wishing it different doesn't do you any good. Your home looks wonderful...warm and welcoming! I'm enjoying these posts...you have a lot to teach me! ;)

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    1. I have a lot to teach myself. I went from being married to a doctor and having money to do most anything. To living in the little blue house (quite a come down!) though I loved it, and having to deal with repairs for a 1934 house, and then the struggles with my daughter. (They are right when they say you shouldn't do business with family.) And now here I am in a generic structure, each one basically alike inside. But you know what, that is a challenge to me. It's like someone said: Here is a generic space and see what you can do to make it special. (I love a good challenge!)

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  45. This is probably my favorite post of yours so far, but that is not the first time I have said that! I do love the way you think about your home. I am a renter too. We came to this house becuase I knew my Dad was sick and wanted to be as close as possible. I have changed what I could and dealt with the rest. Perhaps things were not perfect by another's standards, but that did not matter. We have tried to love our home and make it better than when we found it. I think we have done that. My only regret is that we did not take "before" pictures. I changed some things and gave some things a temporary change. If something was not perfect, like my kitchen floor, I found a way to make it work. This has resulted in a home that we love and others think we have bought the place simply we chose to take care of it and create a home for ourselves. I can't wait to see the things that you do, feel sure that you will offer many ideas that will be inspiration for myself and others. Your creativity always inspires me!

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    1. We have to do things we didn't think we'd end up doing due to various circumstances. I could sit here and bemoan the fact that I had a beautiful home and yard in TX and structures built and everything the very best, and then had to leave it. But then I'd have to remember how miserable I was there. How I cringed when I heard the garage door go up. That was not really living. It was existing. Now I'm living. And on my own terms. Regardless of how much money I have. I have my power back.

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  46. Amen Brenda! You've hit the nail so well with this post...Life is not perfect and making the most of what we've got right now and being grateful is sometimes an easier choice than we think!

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    1. Yes, it is easy. I wouldn't have thought so ten years, or probably five years ago. I remember when I was younger and would think: I will be happy when... When might never come, and you might be run over by a truck. When is a word. It is not a verb. And verbs are actions. We need to take our power back and be grateful for what we have and make the best of it.

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  47. Hi Brenda, you are doing a grand job of making your rental your own and loving it. Things just seem to evolve over time and as we live in a place, making changes to meet our needs. My house had good bones but was a mess inside. We've been here 18 years and still working it out. Thankfully we are nearly done, but wow what a journey. I love what you've done so far. Everything is so comfy and inviting. For the cabinets, could you do that old treatment with fabric that you use like wall paper? I can't remember what is used for them to stick to not be permanent. Something like a baking soda formula allowing you to just peel them back off if needed. I am sure someone knows about this who is maybe reading my comment. I have not tried it before but I have seen this somewhere for renters.
    Have fun and thanks for stopping by. Yes, follow by email or feedburner is not working right!!
    Hugs

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    1. It is using starch. I have never done it. I wish I could see one that is done up close. I don't know how hard or messy it is. But that is one thing I am surely mulling over. Would be a cheap fix for sure!

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  48. It looks like you've done a lot in a short period of time already! I know you will be happy having your own washer and dryer. I'm sure you will continue to improve on things as you live there longer.

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    1. But we never stop tweaking, do we? And that makes it fun. I have the "bones" of my patio done, I think. No telling what idea will hit me next out there. And when I'm able to wash the clothes and towels (and soon I've got to change the sheets! It's been nearly three weeks! Eek!) I will feel much better.

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  49. Brenda, it looks so cozy and you already. You have the touch. It also looks uncluttered. Your living space doesn't look small at all. You will have that kitchen problem solved soon. As far as the washer and dryer. When we first got married over forty years ago, you should have seen mine. I was so proud. It took forever but I loved it. Anything is better than hand washing. I'm excited to see how it works. You are inspiring for sure.

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    1. I know this will not be popular, but yesterday I rolled the coffee table into one of the closets. I stumbled over it and it scared me witless. A week ago my friend Dorothy came over with the aid of her husband. She just had surgery, and she stumbled on it. Though I love it, you have to make a decision about things. (Safety is paramount. How long would it take for someone to find me if I fell and cracked my head open?) And something else that is important is that when you get everything in, you have to then edit. The trick is to edit.

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  50. You are going to do something fabulous with your kitchen, and it's going to end up on the cover of Country Living Magazine.

    You heard it here first ;)

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    1. Oh, Doreen, it might be you in your cabin on the cover instead of me! Cabins are a wealth of opportunity out in the woods!

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  51. I think you are talking about starch, I remember spraying lace frabic on a section of wall with starch that came in a can - worked great, stays put as if it was glue but peels off easily. Glad you reminded me, now i will be looking for somethiong to use it on..lol
    Really impressed by your decorating and just love your patio. I'm the make do and make it work kinda gal too. We do what we gotta do and then enjoy it! As for spending a lot on your washer/dryer - I am listening to a lot of hammering going on right now as my son and a contactor turn a tiny upstairs bedroom into a laundry room for me and my poor knee, I can.'t handle lugging laundry two flights up and down into the yucky, damp basement anymore. Why shouldn't we make life easier for ourselves ?! or maybe just possible.I don't go out to dinner or on vacations - and don't feel that I'm missing anything - but i do feel that clean laundry and removing the likelihood of falling and injuring myself is an important priority!!! Obviously the same is true for you! We deserve it and I will think of you enjoying you new machine when I am enjoying my new laundry room. WE DESERVE IT and damn the cost and it is so not anybodies business how we spend our money!!
    Your laundry buddy, Gilly

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    1. Gilly, I am happy to hear that you're going to be safe while you do laundry. Or as safe as you can make it. So it is spray starch that one uses to do this? I am just clueless.

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  52. My body is off the couch, but my mind is still there! You are inspiring me to get to it again! Thanks! Can't wait to see what magic you will do in the kitchen. What about a skirt on the dishwasher? Velcro? I did love what you did to the blue house in the kitchen! So bright and colorful!

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    1. Already thought of a skirt. The stupid dishwasher sticks way out.

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  53. Brenda, your post echoes my very thoughts this morning, about making a home out of a less than perfect place.
    My dad had been sick for some time, then my husband and I lost our jobs. So we moved our travel trailer out next to Mom & Dads. Have been here 2 years. It is quite a challenge making a comfortable home in our space, but not impossible. Your posts are very encouraging and motivating
    I do laundry at Moms. I also have arthritis in my hips and legs. It is hard to lug laundry back and forth, so I am happy you found the combo. Your house no matter where you live always looks warm and inviting.
    Keep encouraging us to get off the couch and make the best of what we have!
    God bless,
    Kathy

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    1. Oh, no doubt I will do just that! I never was able to sit for very long.

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  54. I didn't read all the comments, just glanced through -- I can't believe someone had the nerve to say that about your washer/dryer! There is no bigger pain in the butt than hauling a bunch of heavy stuff to the laundromat. They charge a fortune, too! I think those machines are set not to dry very well, so you have to keep feeding them money -- I am no math wizard (the understatement of the century) but I think that machine will pay for itself not only in convenience, but in money, too.

    About your kitchen dilemma: the old decorating adage "if you can't rip it out, cover it up" is never more true than in a rental. I have a couple of suggestions. (1) Fabric applied with liquid starch -- it will peel right off and no one will ever know it was there. (2) Temporary wallpaper. I looked at some, and it was not cheap, but you won't need much for your appliances and/or cabinets. (3) Paint. See if the management will let you paint. I have seen some incredible redo's of refrigerators on some of the blogs. (4) Decals. Back in the 30s and 40s, I have seen kitchens with decals applied. I understand that now these are made to peel right off. I noticed one person offered a suggestion about skirting the DW. I used to always remove all the doors and skirt the bottom of the cabinets, but you could skirt the DW, too. If you don't use it, store stuff in there!

    If I were doing this for you, I would skirt all the bottom cabinets including the DW; remove all the upper doors, too, and cover up the hideous inside with temporary wallpaper or even fabric applied with starch.

    About your pantry and storage: can you go up any higher on the walls with shelves? What about inexpensive "tower" units tucked into tight spaces? That might solve the pantry issue.

    Hope this helps!

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    1. I can't do anything to what is here that can't be taken off, so I can't paint the appliances. I have looked into temporary wallpaper. I can't skirt the dishwasher because it sticks out too much. I don't think shelves would work because the only space is up and I don't know that they'd let me put them in the walls. I have looked into decals, and still am. I am considering the starch, but have never done it or seen it done. Have you done it? What was it like if you have? Yes, covering something up is about all one can do under the circumstances.

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    2. I have done the fabric/starch thing. It is pretty easy but messy. You might want to have someone babysit the pups while you are doing it! Cut your fabric slightly larger that what you are covering because the fabric might shrink a little bit. I forgot to mention that I saw on Valorie Hart's blog a few years ago a cover for the DW door. They weren't cheap -- about $100. I think they stick magnetically. Hers is a Union Jack, and looked very snazzy.

      Probably the starch thing would work on the appliances, too -- just try a little place and see before you make a lot of effort.

      Probably you need freestanding shelves rather than mounting them on walls.

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  55. You'll do a bang up job decorating the kitchen area once the dust settles and your washer/dryer combo is installed and in place. You have such a creative mind and I can't wait to see what you come up with. I too, like many others am happy your kept the round coffee table. You made it work darlin'! I also love that decopaged side table, so very kitchy and fun..

    I noticed that you placed a coverlet of sorts on top of your ottoman. If you have time, you might want to check out this link : http://thewhitebuffalostylingco.com/softening-up-a-dark-leather-chair/. This blogger covered her ottoman with store bought rag rugs and I think it looks divine. Slips on/slips off. The style seems like it might be right up your alley. Maybe not, but I thought I'd pass it on.

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    1. Oh thank you! I shall go check it out. I'm waiting to see how the washer/dryer looks before I continue in there. I want the bones in place first.

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  56. I rented for 12 years, and I put as much love into it as if I owned it. My landlord loved me! :) When I finally was able to buy my own house, he was so sad to see me go. When I drive by it now, it is so sad to see what's happened to it. Unfortunately to many renters don't care and just trash the property. My philosophy is, I'm paying the rent, it's mine and I'll treat it with respect and make it look better than I found it. I wish you all the luck with your new place. So far, it looks absolutely darling and I know you will make it shine in the way you do.

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    1. That's what just amazes me. I can't believe people would treat any dwelling they reside in with such carelessness. You should have respect for the roof over your head and treat it properly.

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    2. Hi Brenda. I don't know the dimensions of your new washer/dryer, but I'm wondering if you could put one of those shelving units over it like you put over toilets in a bathroom. Maybe one of those would fit under the overhead cabinet on the wall, and still leave enough space for the washer/dryer to slide in and out. I did a quick measurement of our bathroom shelf unit, and it is about 61 inches tall and about 24 inches wide. But, the space into which the washer/dryer would slide is about 33 inches tall and 21 inches wide. That might not be a big enough space for the appliance. Maybe none of those dimensions work. If not, there's bound to be some sort of interesting way to create more storage.

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  57. Brenda when you first moved into your new home I commented that I was sorry you couldn't like it more. I see now that I jumped to conclusions. You were just acclimating yourself to a new situation. I love what you are doing with everything. You continually give me ideas for my home.
    When we first left the city and moved to our woods we didn't have a well let alone washer and dryer. We had to drive to town, fill 5 gallon Culligan water bottles, bring it home and then fill a 40 gallon tank. My ingenious husband rigged something up so water in the tank was pumped throughout the house. We had 10- 5 gallon jugs. We had 30 one gallon jugs for drinking water. We did this a few times a week. I knew at the time exactly how much water was used for everything. We went to town to do laundry...22 miles one way. Winter, rain, or sunshine we did this for 9 years. We finally got a well and a washer dryer. Never have I been so happy as that day! You will be too I know. Whatever inconveniences you are feeling now in trying to make a place for it will be shadowed when you can do your laundry in your own home.

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    1. Well, you sure trump my situation with having to drive to town for water! Wow!

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  58. Oh, Brenda your home is wonderful, warm and cozy. The first thing I notice when I popped in was the bamboo shade over your mini blinds. I love, love the texture and way the light filters in with a major glare. Awesome idea!

    You've taken 'ownership' of your new nest; good for you. People like me simply don't know how and wish we did. I fear judgment and seek acceptance (long story) so my poor home is barely breathing.

    Keep doing what you do best. :-)

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    1. Well send me photos and I'll gladly help you! And I'm free.

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    2. What a sweet offer, Brenda. I will consider taking you up on your offer. :-)

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  59. I love the way you think and it let's us all breathe a sigh of relief that we aren't the only ones living with a lack of perfection. Since we're talking about washing machines, let me just say that no one will ever see my laundry room on my blog or even "in person". It's in an unfinished room in an unfinished basement that is dark and dusty and actually pretty scary looking. The overhead pipes are a great place to hang things to drip dry and the utility sink (which is called a slop sink in these parts) has the pleasure of getting all the bucketfuls of dirty water when I clean. That said, when I see pictures of perfectly clean, decorated and bright laundry rooms, I just want to cry!! Some of these are practically showplaces! Am I envious? Heck yeah!! But it's not a reality for me and I accepted that 30 years ago! And now reading what you have to do to wash a load of laundry, I feel guilty and frivolous.

    I love your bamboo blinds...I've had mine in the living room for about 20 years. Lightly wash them down once in awhile with dishsoap and water...they seem to get "greasy" and then dust and who knows what else builds up on them.

    Have a great Monday!

    XO,
    Jane

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Jane, about washing the blinds. I "try" not to see dust.

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  60. Hey there Brenda......I haven't read through all the comments....but has anyone suggested hanging a curtain in front of the dishwasher (red and white checked maybe) and use it for storage of rarely used or seasonal items.

    I'm so happy for you...everything seems to be coming together nicely and you do seem like a weight has been removed from your shoulders....Blessings to you......Vicki

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    1. Yes, it's been suggested. But it juts out too much at the top.

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  61. I hope you can find some sort of open shelving you can put above your new W&D. With your pretty things that would really brighten up that corner. Have you thought of using 2 sided velcro to put some fabric on your dishwasher? You just press one side of it on the dishwasher and the other side onto your fabric. It wouldn't use any rods or anything and you could position it on the dishwasher wherever you wanted it, regardless of how it sticks out, I think. As I said before, some people have WAY too much time on their hands to "help" you calculate YOUR laundry costs. Seriously!! Everything is looking so nice. And you are so right.... dwelling on the "coulda/ shoulda/ woulda" of life is truly a waste of time and energy. We all have to bloom where we are planted. You are a great example of just that!

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    1. There's another idea to mull over! No, hadn't thought of that.

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  62. I love the way you ended up decorating your living and dining area. I knew you would pull it together. And your plants will really add some depth to your place. I can't wait to see the Washer/Dryer set up. Once you get that in you will be able to come up with some idea of what to do with the rest of the kitchen. I like the velcro idea. Tina from
    Cherry Hill Cottage put the tin looking cover on her dishwasher. Maybe you could do that with velcro.

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  63. I very much enjoyed this post. I so agree with you that making the very best out of what you have, will make you happy. I'm also a big fan of your decision to buy the washer/dryer. Begin frugal is smart, as is smart spending. I also love that all of your lamps are unique. And, before you know it, the mismatched appliances will be overshadowed by peace, happiness and your love of your new place. Thanks for sharing your progress.

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  64. Considering you have only been there a few weeks, the place looks great and I can't wait to see what you do with the kitchen! Consider it a blank canvas for your colorful imagination!

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  65. If you cannot figure out how your dishwasher front comes off so you could see what color the other side is, look up the brand online for info. I think if the other side is an ugly color you can't use, then take it out on your patio and spray it white and use that side when you put it back on. If you ever move, the beige side can be put back by turning the panel around. Brenda, I'll bet you that EVERY dishwasher you have ever had, has had a removable panel with another color choice on the other side!!

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  66. OH wow!!!! Everything is so pretty! Pictures on walls, things in their place !!! You are AMAZING! We once lived in a house 2 years before we hung pictures LOL It looks so cute - I wish I had your special touch and style !! HOME SWEET HOME - it looks wonderful and the best part is the pups look happy too! ox hugs

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  67. Miss Brenda, your place is like a little dollhouse! It's so cute, warm, and inviting!! I use a white ironstone dish to hide my thermostat. Those things are so ugly, but I managed to turn the area into a right pretty gallery wall. I'm sorry you're not exactly thrilled with your kitchen, but I think it's really cute. You've managed to make it your own with loads of personality. And because of that, I don't even notice the "ugly."

    Oh, and the person who emails you about your W/D? My question is why does he/she even care? Goodness!

    Carol

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  68. Oh my goodness! Your place looks so cute! You're doing a great job. You're right, life is too short, and you're inspiring me! We're in the middle of a move, and on my grumpy days I read your blog. Thank you!

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  69. Well Brenda, seeing all your lovely quilts, I'm surprised you hadn't recognized that your kitchen is just like a patchwork quilt. One of the prettiest ones I've ever seen had whites and beiges mixed together. It's the way you put things together, and you have a great eye for that. I agree that changing the knobs would be a plus, and I would gently nudge the landlord until she/he agreed to let me paint the insides of the cabinets. Looks to me like they would be happy you want to make improvements. I'll bet if they see what you have done in such a short time they will know for sure you have great ideas and everything you do will make it look prettier. Keep on prettying!!

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  70. You are now my favorite blogger! So practical and down-to-earth, honest, endearing. It's so comforting to just "know" someone else who is dealing with a limited budget in a rental that otherwise would be "ugly" or even downright depressing if we couldn't figure out how to make things look cheery, incorporating our own "look" and personality into a small space that we call home. You are doing great and I love reading your blog...I was sad when it came to the end of this article. It's like I was wishing this was a book. Keep on keeping on. You have a magic touch.

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  71. You might try getting a large piece of magnet...the kind that is use for car door advertisement. Decorate the front and stick it on
    Some times the sign companies goof up one and throw it away.

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  72. I didn't read all the comments, but here's a suggestion if you like the look of stainless steel - they make stick-on sheets to cover ugly dishwashers and the like. I live in a rental and fortunately I have pretty stainless steel appliances - but if I didn't, I would consider covering them up with the stick-on stuff.

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  73. YOu could make a pretty little skirt to hide that ugly dishwasher mounted on cord rod or on velcro.

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  74. Kudos to you for keeping it real. I have a love for decorating and a passion for organization; therefore, I am subscribed to a million of blogs. Okay maybe not a million, but too many to actually read them all every single day. But I never miss your's. With that said, let me say this...my niche is finding an inexpensive way to make a regular place look and feel exceptional. Like you, I'm not rich, never have been and at this stage of my life, unless God has another plan, I never will be. I will take it if that is His plan. :) But here is where I realized God has a great sense of humor. He gave me a sense of style. He gave me good taste. He gave me the desire for a pretty and organized life, and he provided a comfortable life for me. But comfortable does not equal designer or wasteful. So like you. I just do what I do. I said alllll of that to say this, thank you for helping me to realize I am not crazy. I can love beauty and have impeccable without being affluent. I can love extraordinary while being ordinary. Thank you. Because of this one blog, I may FINALLY stop researching and begin my very own little corner of "we can do this". Thank you.

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  75. Brenda!! THIS post is the exact reason I love your blog! You call it like it is and make lemonade out of lemons. I've learned so much from you and I think you're an inspiration!!
    Keep on keeping it real, Girl!!

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  76. I think you are doing a wonderful job decorating your apartment. Looks very cozy. As for your kitchen dishwasher, why not use it for storage for those items that are used less frequently, like baking sheets, trays, etc. you could also cover it with a piece of fabric . I've seen others do this around sink areas. It would also give you a pop of color.

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  77. I'm sure you will make that ugly duckling kitchen into a swan!

    I love the way you decopaged the cabinets in your last place. Could you decopage the rusty side of the fridge? It could tie in the colors on the cart and the red microwave. I know you'll come up with something special!
    nancyr

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  78. Being an Army wife, we move often. I was lucky to have owned a home while we were stationed in Colorado, but now it's back to Army Housing--Bleh! BUT, like you, I know that I can "put my stamp on it" and make it our home. Since we just moved into our new place in Germany, I am starting from scratch--again. But that's okay! I love the challenge and I love to let my creativity flow. I recently posted a blog about some of my plans for a few of the spaces that I am working on at the moment.

    Also, I love that you posted pictures that share "real" life! I have two dogs, two teens, and a husband, so my house is definitely LIVED in and never stays picture perfect for very long. My motto is: Life is messy.

    Thanks for sharing this, I loved it!

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  79. Hi Brenda,
    You are an inspiration. Thank you for the reminder of growing where you are planted. Sometimes life takes on some tough twists and acceptance can be so difficult. Enjoy your new home and I look forward to following your blog. Hugs, Mj

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I always enjoy reading your comments and having you join the conversation here at Cozy Little House. It is like having a gathering of friends sitting in my cozy apartment. Enjoying coffee and dessert, chatting and having a good time. I appreciate each and every one of you! However, if you are a no-reply commenter, I cannot reply via email to your questions or comments.

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