5 Simple & Smart "Get Started" Steps for Home Projects

I began 2012 with lofty goals of transforming our apartment, but was quickly reminded that January 1st is just like any other day. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand for apartment makeovers. This time, instead of getting completely overwhelmed (and with some heavy encouragement from my boyfriend) I was able to let go and tackle the growing 'to do' list in a more organized, effective and less stressful fashion...

After beginning the process of fixing up our apartment, yet again, I compiled some tips for turning ambitious goals into tangible steps for making your pad the best it can possibly be.

1. Focus on one room or project at a time. Don't let yourself get weighed down by an apartment full of problems. Concentrating on smaller tasks enables you to see results quickly. After deciding to start by fixing up our bedroom, I had to continually remind myself to move away from organizing the spice rack (or some other distraction) and return to cleaning out the bedroom closet.

2. Discover what you have. In order to realize what you really need, start with going through what you have. Clean out your closets, shelves, drawers, and anywhere else you're stashing stuff. Determine what you can give away, what you want to display and what can get tucked away. While you're at it, a deep cleanse to get rid of dust bunnies, dirt resting on top of the base molding, and blemishes on the walls is always a good idea. This will enable you to start with a clean slate, and you might be surprised what it will reveal. (I found free movie tickets and my ipod!)

3. Think function first. After falling in love with a vintage-style mirrored dresser, my ever-practical boyfriend reminded me that, while the dresser might be a gem, it had super shallow drawers that would never fit all of my clothes. Living in San Francisco, where awkward storage spaces and tight quarters are commonplace, a useless piece of furniture would never do. The goal is beauty and function.

4. Shop prepared. Take measurements and keep them in your phone. From wall lengths, to window heights, to drawer depths, having these dimension handy will prevent you from making decisions that don't fit the constraints of your space. The worst case scenario is trekking all the way to Ikea only to find that you're not sure if the shelves you're eyeing will fit inside your closet.

5. Evaluate each addition along the way. For many people it's important to see and experience elements in their place before taking the next step. Making hasty decisions that compromise aesthetics or function will only set you back. Take time to strive for greatness. If you don't love it, then it shouldn't be an addition to your home.

Have fun, be patient, and don't let the process consume you!

(Image: Jason Loper/ Sarah's Farmhouse Vintage Modern House Tour)