Decorating to Declutter: A Picture Tour of My Home

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Last week we started talking about Decorating to Declutter, and I mentioned that my husband often builds a custom piece of furniture to meet a function I’m looking for while still fitting with his modern, funky style, thereby balancing our individual preferences for form and function.

What I love most is that he is able to make many of these things inexpensively, saving us money while still decorating our home in a way we love.

I was going to make a vlog to take you on a tour of my home, but it was never really quiet enough around here to do so, so I thought a picture tour would work just as well. Here we go…


Couch Side Table

Because of the layout of our house is an open floor plan, we can’t really put a side table on this side of the couch because it would be in the “traffic lane” and most likely get bumped and run in to regularly. However, setting glasses on the arm of the couch –  despite it’s wide, flat shape – often resulted in a spill.

Sean made the table above using the same butcher block wood from our kitchen counters, and it fits perfectly against the couch, providing a little table for setting drinks on or using as a writing surface. It is probably my favorite thing he’s built to date because it’s so useful, and it’s really beautiful in its simplicity as well.

Book Shelf on the Stair Ledge

Book Shelf on the Stair Ledge

When I first realized that the ledge on the outside of the stair railing would make a perfect shelf for many of our children’s books, I didn’t even think of making an actual shelf for them to sit on. However, Sean didn’t want it to look just like we had randomly stacked books on a too-small ledge, so he used the same butcher block wood to make a coordinating shelf, and it has proved to be one of the most useful pieces in our home.

Side Table

Side Table

I absolutely love this side table that Sean built out of individual pieces of 4×4 treated lumber. It’s funky and unique all by itself, but what makes it even better is the secret feature he added just for me…

Hidden Compartment in Back of Side Table

Hidden Compartment in Back of Side Table

You see, I had been looking for a way to keep my Bible, journal and devotional next to my chair for easy access, so he built this little compartment in just for that purpose. (And it worked great until our 18-month-old discovered it. Now I just have to wait a few more months to put them back because it’s not worth the constant battle of keeping her away from the hidden treasure at this age!)

Floating Shelf in the Foyer

Floating Shelf in the Foyer

Our entry way is not very wide. In fact, in this picture, you see how wide the wall is to the left of the door, and immediately on the right side of the door is the closet. Because it’s on the narrow side, putting a full-size table with legs would have made it feel way too claustrophobic for our tastes, but we knew we needed something to put our keys, mail and other miscellaneous doodads on when coming in the house with our hands full of kids and stuff!

I love this floating shelf because it provides the surface we needed, and some added decoration, without taking up too much space or cluttering up the entryway.

Custom Baby Gate on Our Stairs

Custom Baby Gate on Our Stairs

And finally, when our toddler became obsessed with the stairs, we knew we needed a baby gate to keep her off of them. We quickly grew tired of a regularly baby gate, which was neither pretty nor easy to step over because of its height.

Because we have a custom stair railing, a commercial swinging gate would not work. Sean, however, was able to build this custom gate – at a height that allows the rest of our family, even our older girls, to step over it while keeping the baby off the steps. Even better, it matches our stair railing and looks as if it is part of the decor.

Thanks for stopping by! Now it’s your turn…take a picture of an item in your home that shows a balance between form and functionality. Post it on your blog and then come back and leave us a link in the comments so we can all see!

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About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5, 3.5, 2 and a new baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

14 Responses to “ Decorating to Declutter: A Picture Tour of My Home ”

  1. I love these pieces. Your husband is very talented (and has good taste!).

    I’m looking around my house and thinking … hmm … something needs to change here. :)

    Nicki at Domestic Cents’s last blog post…Getting Over Cabin Fever


  2. MANDI! I had no idea Sean made all that!!!! I thought you all had bought them from a store! Now I have one more thing to be jealous of since I hurt myself when I even try to think about how to be creative and artsy….lol!

    Britt’s last blog post…My Purse


  3. What a handy, wonderful DH you have! I loved the tour! I want more… I love seeing other ppl’s homes :)

    Watch out, b/c I may come visit! Lol!

    Those pieces are awesome and so functional. Love it!


  4. Can your hubby come over?! I’m lovin’ all that!! Especially the baby gate. Our new house has a giant staircase and I’m sad about getting a gate. This might be a great idea…my bro is a cabinet builder. I’m sure he can figure this out for me!

    oh amanda’s last blog post…Cuteness


  5. Love the customs your hubby built. Would he be willing to share the secrets to his baby gate. My good friend is having gate issues herself and I think that this would be the ticket!

    [email protected] Extraordinaire’s last blog post…Wordless Wednesday: Hanging out at the horse barn with my camera edition


  6. Thanks for the inspiration, Mandi! I emailed the post to my hubby to inspire him a little too. :)

    Nicole aka Gidget’s last blog post…Exciting News: A Contributing Columnist!


  7. [...] :: :: :: A Photo Tour of my Home by Organizing Your Way (scroll down to see the gate. [...]

  8. I love the use of butcher block, the way you carried it from room to room and how earthy & organic it looks as furniture.

    Thank you so much for sharing! I learned a lot!


  9. Hey, Mandi,

    This post helped me get to know you a bit! Loved seeing your home and getting some ideas of my own. As you know we are moving, you can join me in prayer to find a home where I get my own room – it can be small. It can be tight. But, it will be mine. A place to design, explore, write, pray, scrapbook, etc. I am just praying for a SPACE!

    Thanks for this post!

    Joline’s last blog post…Thrifty Thursday: A Day Late, but Not a Dollar Short


  10. Lovely side table, but treated lumber contains arsenic. Playgrounds in my area have high arsenic levels due to playground features made with treated lumber. As you have small children maybe you should put the table away for awhile.




  11. Hi Elly,

    Thanks for your note. It’s my understanding that CCA, the arsenic-containing compound used to treat pressure-treated wood, was banned in 2003 and is no longer used for this purpose. This is according to (and admittedly based on my limited understanding of the information I read there) the EPA site. If you have information that says otherwise, I’d love to see it.

    Thanks so much!


  12. [...] Barn for ideas. While most of the furniture and the fixtures in our home are actually from Ikea or handcrafted by my husband, we can find ourselves feeling like we need to spend $500 on a kitchen table (as opposed to the $85 [...]

  13. [...] shared other projects of his before, but I think this by far beats them [...]

  14. I hate clutter :( so ..thanks for all the innovative help above! Really love the butcher block will find very nice in the small country cottage I will be buying soon.

    Nice site I like design for mankind :) some great Design!



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