Solving Decorating Dilemmas


Living in an apartment, I’ve learned that you sometimes have to be creative in solving dilemmas. I’ll explain in this post how I solved them.

For newer readers, I’ll first explain my decorating fix for the kitchen cabinets. 

In the three and a half years that I’ve lived here, I’ve taken the doors off and had an open look. And I’ve put them back on.

Since I had a mouse problem for awhile, I took everything out of the cabinets and put the doors back on. (I have storage in my dining space to make up for losing the cabinets.)

So then I was faced with very plain cabinet doors. No frills of any variety. I sought a way to remedy that. 

At Bed, Bath & Beyond, I found the multi-colored place mats very cheap, a few dollars a piece, and tacked them to the center of the cabinet doors. At the same store, I found the wooden utensils. 

I painted the wooden utensils, then I took small nails and arranged them on top of the place mats.

I thought it needed something else, so I dug around in my closet and found a roll of contact paper, the black and white squares that you see. 

I used the contact paper to finish off the look I was trying to achieve.

To get everyone caught up that might be newer readers, when I moved in, I really wanted a washer. There was no plumbing for one, so I got online and did some research and found out about European-style washers.

I ordered this LG washer/dryer-in-one from Austin, Texas. This way no matter the weather, I can do my laundry here in my apartment instead of going to the complex laundromat. 

But then I had to figure out a way to hook the hoses up to the sink faucet when I wanted to do laundry. 

When I moved in the refrigerator was in the spot where you now see the washer. 

I had maintenance come pick up the electric stove, then moved the fridge into that spot. 

Then I moved the washer where you see it now, and when I want to do laundry, I simply stretch the hoses across the counter to hook up to the sink faucet.

In the above photo, you can see that when I’m not doing laundry, I store the hose ends in a simple crock on the floor. 

That makes it easy to retrieve them when I’m ready to hook them up without having to dig them out from between the drawers and washer. 

Once per month I open the little hinged compartment you see above, where you drain a bit of accumulated water. 

Since I don’t have a stove, I don’t use my cookie sheets. And I store them in the dishwasher that I don’t use either.

So when I need to drain that extra water, I take the largest cookie sheet and put it down below the compartment and drain that water.

Last month I saw that my red cupboard was coming out of the wall. So I eased it down to the large rolling kitchen cart that I ordered from World Market a couple of years ago. 

But I had forgotten that the front of the cupboard had a lip, so the cupboard would not sit flat. I had a temporary fix. 

Earlier in the week I went out to do errands. And while I was out I went to Lowes and searched through the trash lumber bin for some pieces to go underneath.

I had one of the men there cut the lumber down to size for me. Cost: $0. 

And that is now what is holding up and leveling the cupboard.

Then I had the problem of the wood pieces showing. So I put one of my large chopping boards in front of the cupboard to hide that problem.

I’ve pulled the cutting board away from the cupboard so you can see. But when I push it back, it hides the wood pieces completely.

I only have one electrical outlet for two walls. But since the outlet is so high up, it creates a visual blight. 

So I put the knife block in front to hide it.

The electrical outlet isn’t entirely covered, but it isn’t quite the eye sore that it was. At least in my eyes.

Since I don’t have a stove, I need small appliances in order to cook food. 

In the photo above, you can see my Breville Smart Oven that I use nearly every single day. It will cook most anything. A 13 x 9 inch casserole dish will fit inside. 

I have two crock pots. One is a regular crock pot. The other is a casserole-sized crock pot. 

On top of the washer, I have my electric skillet. 

I always place it on the counter right next to the washer to cook with, because there are few electrical outlets in this kitchen. I plug it in the outlet where I plug in the washer.

The electric skillet also serves to hide that electrical outlet when not in use.

Since I don’t use my kitchen cabinets because I fear mice so much (though I haven’t seen signs of any for about a year now), I need storage space. Which is where this World Market kitchen cart comes into play.

I also have the red microwave on the kitchen counter. So really, I have not missed having a stove.

Since I don’t use the kitchen drawers, I put silverware in the containers you see above. 

If you don’t have much counter space, it is always good to corral things in fewer spots. 

I have arranged quite a few things I regularly use on a galvanized tray. (This tray originally came with an outdoor wooden plant shelf to collect water that I left in Texas!)

A few years ago I also took advantage of a counter top freebie kit a company sent me to redo the kitchen counter tops. It was a four-step process with specialized paints that created the look you see above.

Another idea when you rent: consider switching out your kitchen knobs and drawer pulls. It is not a terribly expensive fix. 

Keep the knobs, etc., that you took off. Then if you move, you can take the ones you purchased with you and put the old ones back on.

So as you can tell, I had lots of problems that needed to be solved to take care of my needs. 

It just goes to show you that if you think outside of the box when it comes to household problems, there are often numerous ways to solve these problems without having to spend a lot of money.



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  1. I always love seeing these peeks into your cozy home, Brenda! You are one of the best decorators on the web, no doubt!! You just have such a knack of putting things together in a way that pleases the eye.

  2. If and when I move my top priority for a new/different kitchen is a window above the sink. I simply cannot wash dishes looking at a wall!

    I think all your ways of organizing your kitchen end up being very attractive. I don't know if I'm very good at thinking outside the box, but I love seeing how others do. I think I'm learning to think outside the box just by following your blog and others' DIY ideas. It's satisfying, isn't it, when you can achieve something without doing it the traditional way and without spending much money.

    Well, Fall is upon us and the cool weather is so nice. The petunias are looking sad, though. They have gotten so lanky and I couldn't figure that out as I have been plucking the wilted blossoms from them almost every day. But I read in a magazine today (Birds and Blooms) that instead of just pulling the wilted blossom off you need to remove the whole little stem. Otherwise the plant keeps going to seed instead of producing more blooms. That is a good thing to know. Not much help this year, but I'll certainly practice it next year.

    I am not liking the shorter daylight hours that come with the cooler weather. I usually work outdoors in the early evening because it's not so hot, but now there's not much time to do that. Guess I'll have to get out there sooner!

    Hope you have a nice weekend, Brenda. I hope you are feeling well these days. I am stuck at home as I still don't have a car and don't know if I ever will. They are so expensive. But I have plenty to keep me busy, with the yard and my houseplants and the four-leggeds and I could even just sit and stare out the window and be happy! Then if the grandsons come over, I will surely be entertained!

  3. I am just curious as to whether you has problems getting permission to do the changes…like the counters and uour bathrpom. ..might be apartment living soon and need a few tips…thanks

    1. I let them know I was redoing the bathroom. But I kind of just do what I'm going to do anyway to a point. If I moved, it might become an issue. Maybe I'd lose some of my deposit. But I'd rather live how I want. And so far they haven't had a problem with what I've done.

  4. Your kitchen looks great! I love how you have come up with so many great ideas to make it work for you, and your lifestyle. The European washer is an excellent idea.

    It is very hot and humid here so I know exactly how you feel about decorating for Fall. If you are looking for Fall pillows TJMaxx and Marshalls have some really nice ones and they seem pretty reasonable. I saw several for $16.99 and up.

    Have a great day!

    1. I didn't have a window in my kitchen in TX. I'm glad to have one now. I really like looking out the window as I'm sudsing dishes!

  5. As the saying goes "Necessity is the mother of invention", and you have certainly proven it, many times over.
    Necessity is why in my apt. I have taken over the LIVING room as my EVERYTHING room. I do my sewing, quilting there, as well as putting together zigsaw puzzles and many other activities.
    We shold define our space, not let it define us. I need room for all my fabric, crochet thread and knitting yarn, my quilt frame etc. so very
    much more than a big room for my sofa (there's a "baby" bed on mine too) and a chair.Most of the time it's just me and my yorkie Cricket so why not use it to MY best advantage.
    You have shown us so many ways to personalize a space, and for that I thank you.
    Looking forward to your next inspiration.

    1. I love where you say: We should define our space. Not let our space define us. Remember formal living rooms? Boy, those were a real waste of space!

  6. Brenda you are incredibly resourceful and adaptable. Although non of us have your precise decorating challenges, you help us develop the mindset to work around them. Adapt, improvise, overcome…you excel at this.

  7. I especially love how you have a w/d in there – boy oh boy do I miss that! Thank you for not only sharing your decor, but telling us the process and the places, too.

  8. I really like the open shelf look. You can see at a glance where everything is. I am curious about the washer dryer Brenda. I would love one to save space. I can't imagine how it works washing and drying. I will take a look on google. I love what you have done to the cupboard doors, they look fabulous and of course they are unique.

    1. The dryer part doesn't seem to work that well. But then I never leave anything in there long to find out. I like to dry my things naturally. It does spin all the water out very well.

  9. I always like your "thinking outside the box" because you create new ways to store things or to repurpose other items for a different look. No matter how many times you change your apartment, it always looks warm and inviting. Hope you and your sister are enjoying visiting each other via the telephone. Enjoy the holiday weekend! Where did summer go? LOL

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