Let Your Home Breath this Spring: Small Steps to Simplify Your Living Space

By Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer

Spring is motivating.

The weather is lovely, signs of life are everywhere, and I personally, feel invigorated. It’s truly the perfect time to do some big cleaning and reorganization.

let your home breath this spring

Photo credit

Last spring I changed my daily reality by simplifying many areas of my home. It was an eye-opening time for me as I realized how much easier and better life could be with less stuff around to get it in my way. Read more about that HERE.

This spring I discovered an amazing resource on what it looks like to simplify an entire home, space by space and step by step:  Your Simple Home Handbook: 30 Projects to Help Your Home Breathe by Elsie Callender. She beautifully put into words everything I had discovered and so much more. As I read her book, I just wanted to say, “YES!”

In it, she offers 10 reasons to get serious about simplifying your living space.

Several of these that made me almost giddy out of total agreement.

My top five favorites are:

  1. Simplifying your stuff is energizing, addictive, and fun—once you start, you’ll want to keep going.
  2. Getting rid of stuff you don’t need or care about will help you have a more beautiful, peaceful home.
  3. With less things clamoring for attention, you enjoy the things you do keep more.
  4. Less clutter means less to clean and organize.
  5. Simplifying your life will help you define your style.

Elsie Callender, Your Simple Home Handbook

So, using her simple, practical steps, I’ve been simplifying my home once again this spring, and it feels wonderful.

Here are a few random projects I have done from her book. In just minutes, I’ve alleviated stress from my home and life and experienced all of the benefits listed above.

Pots and Pans

Your Simple Home Handbook gives several specific recommendations for simplifying the Kitchen cabinets.

For one thing, I’ve decreased the pots and pans stored by my cook-top down to the true necessities. While I still have a few others, I’ve moved the ones I don’t use frequently to another location.

I no longer have to stack pans or rummage around for matching lids. All of my “tools of the trade” are in plain sight and all fit perfectly in the space I have. This has improved my cooking and storage process and allows me to more easily function in my own kitchen. Brilliant. And, as an added benefit, I can’t let dirty dishes pile up, because if I need to use a pot again, I have to wash it then and there.


“You can get by without those complete cookware sets you see in the department store. If your stove is like most, it only has room for four pots and pans to be in use, anyway. Even though we both enjoy cooking, my husband and I have found that we can get by fine with just two saucepans of different sizes, a soup pot, a wok, and three skillets—cast iron, nonstick, and stainless steel.” Elsie Callender, Your Simple Home Handbook


Accessories accumulate easily because they don’t take up much space, sell cheaply at stores and we tell ourselves, “maybe someday we’ll be in the mood to wear it.”

I find I end up with a lots of accessories that I don’t wear for years at a time. That’s a good sign it’s time to move them down the line!

Reading Your Simple Home Handbook motivated me to downsize my earrings once again. This is something I’ve done before, but sometimes it takes multiple me “goes” at it to get to heart of the matter. I don’t wear earrings all the time, and when I do, it’s no doubt going to be one of my favorite, go-to pairs. The rest either don’t match my style or hurt my ears. By eliminating these extras, I can more easily decide what to wear and more readily find them.

PicMonkey Collage

Spring decluttering is so nice! And small tasks feel doable, yet produce marked benefits. Start small, and in no time you’ll have caught the simple-living bug.

I hope you’re now motivated to get at it!

What small thing have you simplified to make a big impact?

If you’re interested in purchasing the Your Simple Home Handbook, you can find it HERE:

Also check out some of my simplification tutorials:

Simplify Your Pantry Baskets

Simplify Your Utensil Drawer

Simplify Your Refrigerator and Freezer

Simplify Your Email Inbox

Simplify Your Medicine Cabinet

let your home breath this spring FB

My New (FREE) Hospitality Video Series

I am SO excited that my new video series is finally here and ready! My husband has been working hard behind the scenes to get everything ready for these videos on the technical side. And it’s not been easy…

Hospitality - every believer's command to joyfully serve blog post

Whew – This has been one crazy week! My husband and I left on Thursday for a Christian writing conference while in the middle of wrapping up everything on our new eCourse that launches next week. And at the same time, my site went down for most of yesterday while we were trying to get these finalized. It’s all back up and running now (yay!!) but it’s been tough finding reliable internet up here in the mountains to get everything up and going!

So without further ado, I want to introduce you to my brand new three part video series on hospitality! The first video is up and ready for you to watch now.

Hospitality – Every Believer’s Command to Joyfully Serve

The first video in my series addresses something so important. When I talk about hospitality, I often hear women express that hospitality just isn’t one of their “gifts” – as if it’s only a responsibility for certain members of the Church.

But today,  I want to challenge you to think outside the box when it comes to hospitality. In this first video, I dive into Scripture, starting in the Old Testament and working our way to the New Testament to discover what the Bible has to say on the subject.

Screenshot of hospitality video one

Then, throughout the next two videos, we will cover what hospitality looks like in the life of the modern believer and a practical beginner’s guide to extending hospitality so you can start TODAY!

To get the free video series, all you have to do is head over here, and you can begin watching video #1 right now!

All new hospitality Video series

How to Create a Welcoming Entryway

By Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer

An entryway is the first thing most people will see when they come into our home. It’s our first opportunity to set the scene for the rest of their time with us. It’s our first opportunity to make them feel at ease, welcomed and comfortable. It’s our first opportunity to set a pleasant tone for our home and time together.

An entryway is the first thing most people will see when they come into our home. It’s our first opportunity to set a pleasant tone for our home and time together.

I believe it’s a space that’s worth considering. Creating an inviting entryway is one way to proactively invest in a hospitable home.

Of course, the home itself is not the answer to true, godly hospitality. That comes from the hearts of those dwelling therein.

However, for me, putting thought into my entryway has been a fun way to express my heart for welcoming others.

So, let’s consider it for a moment.

How to Create a Welcoming Entryway

When guests come through our front doors, are they greeted by chaos or beauty? Are they greeted by a jumble of backpacks and dirty socks or by cozy and welcoming decor?

If your answers were the former, here are some suggestions for changing the tone.


Grow flowers.

Nothing adds life quite like life itself. This year for the first time I created plants outside my door, and the effect is delightful.

I’m sure many of you have green thumbs, but I certainly don’t. My planters look amazing anyway! Great soil and regular watering make this nearly fool-proof.

Place a wreath on the door.

It’s beautiful and welcoming. A wreath on the door is an easy and effective way to add a touch a care. You can find one for every season.


photo credit

Invest in a cheery door mat.

Give those entering a place to wipe their feet while greeting and welcoming them with a fun message or print. Sometimes it’s the little things that set the tone.


Keep it clutter-free.

It’s practical to store certain things near the front door. However, no matter your particular set-up, a little de-cluttering can go a long way in beautifying this area.

  • Reevaluate the items you’re storing in your entryway. If they’re not used frequently, they probably shouldn’t be there. This is a key traffic-way in most homes, so de-cluttering it will promote good flow.
  • If you have an entryway closet, organize it. Remove items that take up space but don’t deserve this prime location. Include only items that are accessed regularly. If necessary, invest in organizers to keep it in shape. An organized closet will be used more frequently, meaning fewer shoes strewn about the floor.
  • If you con’t have a closet, consider investing in a chest, coat hanger or bins. Find some way to hide and organize unsightly items.

For more motivation from Katie to de-clutter your home, click HERE.

Add fun decor.

If you want to take things a step further, decorate! Don’t overlook this space just because you don’t tarry here. You will be surprised how much you and others will enjoy the attention you place to creating a visually appealing entryway.

  • Consider a fun piece of furniture if you have the space. I recently bought this fun console table in aqua for my entryway, and I’m super happy with it!
  • Add a pretty mirror. This is functional (you can check your hair before you leave the house), and it creates an illusion of space light to a likely small area. I love this one from Target for example.
  • Use other decorations at a minimum. Remember the “uncluttered” thing? A fun tray can be a nice touch. This entryway by Better Homes and Gardens is one of my favorites. In fact, seeing this very photo is what first motivated me to redecorate my own entryway.
Place an accent lamp to your entryway table.

Family members and guests arriving after dark will appreciate this added touch. Cozy light is always welcoming and allows those coming through your doors to see their way.

  • Accent lamps can be placed on a timer such as this, which will allow you to set it and forget it. Then, every evening your lamp will come on automatically as evening nears and shut off at the time you’ve pre-selected.
Create a perch

If people will be putting on and removing shoes, this is an especially good idea. Seating also creates a homey, comfortable feeling.  Consider tucking a stool under your console table or setting one in a corner.


photo credit

Be ready with a warm greeting.

As mentioned above, while entryway décor can set a fun and welcoming tone, it’s nothing compared to a warm greeting and heart of love. So when someone knocks on your door, the most important element of a welcoming entryway is YOU. A smile. A hug. An “I’m glad you’re here” or “Welcome, come right on it” are far more important than any detail.

So go, exercise hospitality this week!

What’s your favorite or most clever entryway design element?

For more from me, check out and LIKE my Facebook page!


Preparing your home {and your heart} for Hospitality

This post is part of my series on The Joy of Hospitality: Practicing the Biblical art of serving others! You can follow along and read all posts in the series HERE.

I have a passion for hospitality and have grown to love it. But that doesn’t mean hospitality is always easy for me. In fact, when we practice hospitality monthly and even weekly, it takes a lot of preparation and planning for it to all run smoothly.

But with a little preparing, of both your heart and your home, hospitality can run a lot smoother and more efficiently. This will leave you more time to focus on the guests in your home and to be good witnesses of Christ!

Preparing your heart and home for hospitality

“Management skills are important for Christian women primarily because such skills are the key to extending hospitality with ease, enjoyment, and resourcefulness…Management helps us maximize our time, energy, and resources. Simply put, management allows us to plan and organize events so we are free to focus on our real priority – people!” Practicing Hospitality, pg 102-103, emphasis mine.

Preparing Your Heart for Hospitality

Put on Humility

Practicing hospitality takes humility. It’s so easy to fall into the sin of pride when inviting others into your home or bringing them a meal. It’s easy to make hospitality about your home or your cooking {this is what gets me}.

But at the end of the day it isn’t about either. It’s about Christ and our service to His Kingdom. We practice hospitality because we want to reach people with God’s Word and encourage them in their walk. Hospitality is a Biblical command.

Come up with a list of questions

Because hospitality is about so much more than food and center pieces, we must be intentional about keeping a Christ centered focus when practicing hospitality. It can be so easy to fall into easy chitchat about the weather, what’s happening at church, or your kid’s latest funny thing.

But to really come together for fellowship or evangelism, we must get to heart issues and really learn who our guests are. A great way to do this is to come up with a list of questions that you know you can always pull out to get conversation started.

Easy ones to get conversation started is so ask if they have lived in your town their whole life. This can lead to questions of when they became Christians. You can ask how the couple met and got married and then dig deeper into knowing them and hearing their story.

Develop your schedule for the night intentionally

Make sure you are the one leading where the night goes. Come up with a game plan before your guests arrive. If things go a bit off schedule that’s okay – but at least be prepared for a plan so your guests know an appropriate time to leave.

After dinner you can invite the family to all play a board game together. Or show the kids to the play room and offer the adults coffee and dessert so you can talk more.

Study what Biblical Hospitality Means

An important part of hospitality is the Biblical meaning. Without God’s Word guiding us, hospitality is nothing more than empty entertaining.

Study God’s Word as well as Christian books on hospitality to help give you encouragement and ideas! Here are some great resources to help get you started and a few great books I recommend are:

My favorite hospitality books

Preparing Your Home for Hospitality

Plan Ahead

I know the first few times we extended hospitality to people we didn’t know very well, it felt like it took a week to get ready. Things I don’t normally notice {such as cobwebs and dirty mirrors} were suddenly obvious to me!

I felt overwhelmed and I was exhausted after the first few people came over. But as time went on, I became more comfortable with the routine. We started practicing hospitality so often that I was always planning ahead to the next get together.

This way the house never got too out of hand. After one night of hospitality I knew I better stay on top of the house and cleaning because a new family would be in our dining room the following week!

“Planning is an important part of hospitality. Without planning you will not be prepared to meet the needs of guests, and you might miss opportunities to extend hospitality. Planning suggests you are anticipating opportunities to prepare a meal, invite a guest to stay the night, or open your home to others in some way…Any time you extend hospitality, planning is required. Unfortunately, we are often unprepared because we have not anticipated opportunities.”  Practicing Hospitality, pg 103

Stock the Pantry

Normally when we have guests into our home we make one of our family’s favorite recipes. These recipes are tried and true and I’m comfortable whipping them up while I am juggling other things {like making dessert and watching my babes}.

Plus I usually always have these ingredients in my pantry. There are many meals that I keep the staples of in the freezer and pantry so with last minute guests that day, I can still make a delicious and healthy home cooked meal!

Freezer Cooking

Freezer cooking has revolutionized the way I do cooking. Not only do I freezer entire meals, I have also become very comfortable with freezing all kinds of other things {bread, pizza dough, cooked beans, ect}.

I love having entire meals ready in your freezer to put in the oven or on the stove. This is great for last minute guests because all the cooking {and clean up} has already been done and you have all the ingredients you need!

 Practicing hospitality may seem overwhelming at first! But I promise, with a little preparation and doing it a couple of times, you will become a pro in no time!

Just remember, hospitality is far more about your heart than it is about your home! Spend time in God’s Word and ask Him to help you let go of you fears and your insecurities {i.e. PRIDE}!

Read more in this series:

Come with me on a journey to discover the Biblical art of serving others in The Joy of Hospitality Series!

Practicing Hospitality on a Dime

This post is part of my series on The Joy of Hospitality: Practicing the Biblical art of serving others! You can follow along and read all posts in the series HERE.

A common concern about practicing hospitality is the cost associated with it. This is a concern that I know all too well.

Practicing Hospitality without breaking the bank

Photo by Elin B

When I envision practicing hospitality, I picture a beautiful buffet table laid out with fancy appetizers, a wonderful dinner, yummy sides, and delicious desserts! The table is finished with beautiful centerpieces and fancy tableware {complete with amazing serving dishes for each course}.

After dinner we move into the living room where the host brings out a regal tray loaded with a beautiful tea set complete with matching cream and sugar jars.

I don’t know about you…but when I picture doing hospitality like this in my home, I think about all the money! Sure I would love to host a dinner like this but with our budget and my priorities with little kids…it’s simply not possible right now.

Hospitality Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

“Many people don’t practice hospitality because of the expense. You don’t, however, have to impress people with sumptuous meals or be the best entertainer in your church. Hospitality is to be a service to others, not an ego inflater.” Hospitality Commands, pg. 51 {emphasis mine}

When practicing Biblical hospitality, we must remember that it’s about service to others, and not about ourselves. Do I want to impress people with my amazing cooking skills and my perfect kitchen? You bet I do!

But that’s my sinful pride talking. When you put on love and humility, those things don’t matter. What matters is welcome that new family in your home. Making them feel welcome and at home at your church.

What matters is sharing the Gospel with the new neighbors. Invite them into your home and share the Good News with them. Bring meals to the newly single mom who just needs some support and love…even if that means picking up a pizza on your way.

“Hospitality from a Biblical perspective is to recognize that God is more interested in caring relationships than the mold behind the shower curtain…It need not matter if we live in a single-room apartment or a split-level ranch, the only real requirement is allowing God to use our lives and our possessions…Our homes and our lives are indeed the most powerful combination of ministry to our world.” ~ Hospitality with Confidence, page 9

 Frugal Tips for Hospitality

Hospitality is not about having the perfect house or showing off your cooking skills. Hospitality is about meeting people where they are and learning how you can best serve them - whether that be with a warm meal or friendly conversation.

Hospitality doesn’t need to be expensive. You don’t need special skills or resources. All you need is a willingness to serve and the motivation to go do it!

“Hospitality is about a heart for service, the creativity to stretch whatever we do have available, and the energy to give the time necessary to add a flourish to ordinary events of life.” Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others,  page 15

Host a Simple Dinner

This is our favorite form of hospitality. I love having people over to our house {plus it’s easy to put our babies to bed at 7:30 and still have the rest of the evening to enjoy our guests}. But having people over for dinner doesn’t have to be expensive fancy.

Make a simple meal of spaghetti and meatballs with a simple side salad. Or have breakfast for dinner and make french toast with fruit. The real reason you are getting together is for community, so don’t put all your focus on the food…it doesn’t matter that much!

Host Dessert and/or Coffee

This is another favorite of ours! If we have had a really busy week {or month} but still want to invite new guests into our home, we will invite them over for dessert and coffee. Sometimes I make a yummy chocolate cake. Other time we have snickerdoodles and muffins.

Keep it simple and serve the dessert {could even be store bought cookies if you are busy} and offer coffee or tea. Easy and you get to sit around and enjoy conversation and maybe a game or two!

I particularly like doing this when I have women over to my home during the week. I like to connect with women both older and younger than myself. Make a few scones and muffins once a week doesn’t put a huge financial strain on our budget and allows me to weekly have women into my home for coffee and dessert during the day.

Meet at the Park

Since we currently live in an 800 sq ft house, we don’t have a ton of room to invite large families over. So we propose meeting on Saturday at the park. Each family brings their own lunch {and I usually grab a dessert} and we have fun with our kids at the park. That way it isn’t a strain on either family!

Host a Potluck

We have a large Bible study we are part of with five other couples {plus children}! Hosting a potluck outside is a great way to show hospitality even when you don’t have a lot of room or money! Ask each couple to bring either a main or side dish and you instantly have a great party!

Ultimately, hospitality is a form of service. It’s a service that God has called all Christians to. Will it cost a few dollars extra to make spaghetti for another family? Yes. But God calls us to be good stewards of HIS money and one way we do that is by serving Him with our finances.

Read more in this series:

Come with me on a journey to discover the Biblical art of serving others in The Joy of Hospitality Series!