Clean Sweep: How Couple Organise Tiny Home with Ikea and Kmart Buys

Ashlee White and her beautiful white, Scandi themed home, styled with budget conscious items from Kmart and Ikea.Clean Sweep is a weekly home organisation series, featuring tips on how to de-clutter your home.Source:Supplied Welcome to Clean Sweep, news.com.au's home organisation series featuring exclusive advice on how to declutter your home direct from Aussies who have spruced their way to success. Peering around Ashlee White's 50sq m Sydney home takes only a few moments, but the impact of her uniquely designed space leaves, lasts a lot longer.About two years ago, Ashlee and her fiance Ben packed up their life, sold most of their possessions and moved into the tiny space, after deciding they wanted to live a more minimalist life.The pair made the decision to downsize after a trip to Japan in 2017, where they experienced how simple life could be with less "stuff"."The houses in Japan were minimalist, organised and efficient," Ashlee told news.com.au."We sold all of our furniture and moved into a small 50 square metre house."The move into a home less than the size of four standard car parks has also led to a new career for the 30-year-old, who has made a full-time career out of home styling using affordable finds and homemade pieces.Ashlee with her chihuahuas Charlotte and Moon.Source:InstagramTRICKS TO TINY HOUSE LIVINGThe couple's house may only be small, but every inch of it has a purpose, and every item inside has a designated home."I would describe my home as a mix of boho and eclectic with a minimalist Moroccan twist," Ashlee said.The pair's lounge, the Ikea Holmsund, has a large storage space inside where she keeps her spare linen."It also folds out into a double bed," Ashlee said, explaining this eliminated the need for a spare bedroom for guests.According to Ashlee, styling a restricted space was a challenge that required careful preparation."We chose a home with open-plan living, high ceilings, white walls and lots of windows," she said."These elements combined to make a small home look and feel much larger than it actually is."Ashlee has made styling into an art form, creating beautiful spaces around her home.Source:SuppliedBut the stylish homemaker warned there were downsides to downsizing, which has forced her to create a strict rule to keep things under control."We have to be mindful when making new purchases as we have limited space," Ashlee said."If we want to bring something new into our home, we have to sell or donate something else to make room for it."She now sees this as more of a positive, as it stops her from "purchasing anything on a whim".Designating spots for each item in her home leaves very little grey area when it comes to tidying up, she said."You know where to put things, rather than just dumping them wherever."Ashlee is mindful of introducing something new into the small space.Source:InstagramBUILDING A CAREERAshlee landed in the home-styling industry under unorthodox circumstances.During a trip to Bali, in 2014, she contracted dengue fever, becoming so sick she was "totally house bound".With her immune system destroyed, Ashlee was forced to take time off from her work in the fashion industry and reassess her career path."It took me three years to be able to get back to a somewhat normal life," she explained."I started on Instagram and YouTube because it was so flexible."After a period of time off work, Ashlee found her true calling 12 months ago.Source:InstagramWhat started as a hobby to flex her creative muscles again would soon turn into a career, with Ashlee amassing more than 12,800 Instagram followers and 2200 YouTube subscribers in the last 12-months.DIY TUTORIALSAshlee's YouTube tutorials are like something out of an avid crafter's dream, offering step-by-step instructions to create beautiful handmade pieces.In one video, Ashlee shows subscribers how to style a bookcase in four different ways, and in another, she expertly uses twine to cover a plain cushion in a macramé-style pattern with tassels.Her DIY hacks are easy to follow, affordable and attract thousands of views - from revamping an Ikea coffee table with some Kmart adhesive vinyl to using linen and a staple gun to transform a Kmart bench.Ashlee used just string to decorate a plain white cushion.Source:SuppliedAshlee said she draws inspiration from her soon-to-be mother-in-law, Meegan, whose home is styled like something out of a glossy magazine."She has this gift of styling her home in such a way that you feel like you're on luxury holiday when visiting," Ashlee said."I believe a home should be your sanctuary, an inviting place where you can feel relaxed and inspired."A simple Kmart bench was given a coastal vibe.Source:Supplied MACRAME PLANT STANDOne of Ashlee's most popular DIY projects has been a pot stand she embellished with macramé.Using a roll of $3 jute string and a hot glue gun, Ashlee covered the popular pot stands - available at Kmart for $6 - before hanging handmade macramé from them."It's a very simple design that anyone can make. I've used very basic macramé knots, which are perfect for beginners," Ashlee said."It's definitely been my most popular hack. I've had lots of people messaging me pictures of their recreations of it."Ashlee's pot stand tutorial gained a lot of attention from fans.Source:SuppliedThe finished result attracted praise from followers, one of them saying: "I would honestly pay for you to decorate my house!"Using some string and a $6 Kmart pot holder, Ashlee created this look for her home.Source:InstagramIMPROVISED PANTRYWith no built-in pantry in her tiny home, Ashlee had to improvise and ended up with a solution that was "both functional but also visually pleasing"."It's definitely the conversation starter in our home, and it's always the first thing guests will compliment me on," she said.To create her pantry, she bought the well-known Ikea Billy Bookcase for $70 and got the optional doors."We chose the half-panelled glass doors as easily accessing all of our ingredients is a must."She then used a selection of $5 plastic steps from Kmart to layer her spice jars - which cost $5 for a pack of four from Ikea."I labelled the jars and containers with an old school vintage Dymo labeller," she said."All of my containers were purchased from Kmart for under $50."The pantry cupboard is a well-oiled machine, custom-made by Ashlee.Source:Instagram ASHLEE'S TOP 5 STYLING TIPSAshlee said to use platforms like Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration before diving into a project."Start by having a clear idea of the style and colour theme you want to achieve," she said.Have a clear idea of the style and colour theme you want to achieve.Source:Instagram#2 REPURPOSE ITEMSThe home stylist is a big believer in using whatever is lying around at home."You'd be surprised what a difference some paint can make," she said.#3 USE BASKETSAshlee swears by baskets to "conceal clutter"."We use these cube seagrass baskets from Ikea to store our shoes in," she said.As a visual person, if Ashlee sees clutter, her "mind feels cluttered"."Having everything organised means that it's very easy to keep clean," she said.Ashlee uses baskets wherever she can to conceal her clutter.Source:Instagram#4 SELL OR DONATEIf you're planning on bringing something new into your home, Ashlee said it's important to make space for it."Make it a habit to sell or donate something else beforehand so your home doesn't become cluttered," she said.Sell or donate old items to create space, then get creative with what you have.Source:Instagram#5 GET CREATIVEYou don't need a big budget to have a well-dressed home, Ashlee says."If I'm set on a certain style but can't find a piece that's within my budget, I head to Facebook Market Place," she explained.Share your home organisation story with the Clean Sweep team at

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Taking a Cruise in the Lazy Land of Blue Lagoon
By LENORE MAGIDAAPRIL 28, 1991 This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems. Please send reports of such problems to archive_feedback@nytimes.com. ON Saturday around lunchtime, the sun came out, and suddenly everything sparkled. The sea glistened. Our white-and-blue ship, the Yasawa Princess, gleamed at anchor off the little island of Nanuya Lailai. For two days, with 46 passengers and a crew of 20, we had been cruising through the Yasawas, a group of 16 main volcanic islands and dozens of smaller, mostly uninhabited ones just northwest of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. With a few brief breaks, our weather had been -- well, we'd seen some weather. We'd been drenched, rocked, buffeted and forced to change schedule for one day of our four-day itinerary, forgoing the northernmost leg of our trip -- the part that would have taken us to Yasawa-I-Rara, which we'd heard described as the most spectacular beach in the South Pacific.Oddly, perhaps, none of that had mattered much at the time -- and it certainly didn't now. For now we were doing what we'd all come for: basking under a South Pacific sun, letting aquamarine waters lap at our feet, strolling the sandy beach hunting unusual shells -- and waiting, with not a shred of impatience, for our beach barbecue lunch to be ready. Some (especially, it seemed, the honeymooners among us) just lolled on beach mats. Others tested their sailboarding skills or took one of the ship's launches to the best snorkeling spot in the area. I spent a euphoric hour on a wave ski, a kayak-surfboard hybrid, paddling with the breeze and even catching a few minuscule waves.We were on one of the tours offered by Blue Lagoon Cruises of Lautoka, Fiji. If the name Blue Lagoon sounds cinematically familiar, you're right: the two films of the same name, one in 1949 with Jean Simmons and the other in 1980 with Brooke Shields, were filmed at the Yasawas' Turtle Island, today a deluxe resort. But there's more of a link than that: a New Zealander named Trevor Withers assisted on the Simmons film and adopted its name when he started his one-boat cruising project in 1950. Nowadays Blue Lagoon has six ships -- not ocean-liner luxurious, but well-equipped and casually comfortable. The vessels leave pretty, tree-lined Lautoka 10 times a week, at least once every day, to cruise the idyllic Yasawas.The ships are of modest size, with appointments that are generally adequate. These are not the ships to be on if you want an on-board swimming pool or dining facilities worthy of the finest on-shore restaurant. Cabins, all with private bathrooms with showers, can accommodate three; most have a double bed with a single top berth, though some have twin lower berths and a top berth. All are outer cabins with a porthole or window. Closet and bathroom space are limited, and the cabins don't have a lot of moving-around space (although that situation improves in the Club Cruise ships' bridge-deck cabins, the most expensive). On the Yasawa Princess, in the cabins and especially the common areas, my impression was that furnishings had been chosen but for functionality and ability to withstand the South Pacific weather.AdvertisementMeals on the cruise were at minimum satisfactory, even to the passenger on our cruise who is executive chef at a large hotel. Generally we far preferred the buffets that emphasized simple, fresh preparations over the two more formal dinners we were served on board. Dessert was always fresh fruit; the galley crew saved the cakes for our morning and afternoon teas.AdvertisementThere were a few key complaints. First, despite frequent spraying, the cabins tended to have quite a few tiny roaches, the kind that are about a quarter-inch inch long; the passengers understood that trying to purge insects in the tropics is at best difficult, but they still wanted the pests gone. Second, the new towels we were given each day tended to be a bit musty, as though they'd been taken out of the dryer a few moments too soon. Third, at least one time -- when all of us seemed to be taking showers after a snorkeling excursion -- the water completely petered out. And, finally, the coffee was barely more than hot brown water.At least among the group I was with, however, the complaints and limitations were far from serious. Our cruise members, who collectively had a great deal of travel experience, had a fine time with Blue Lagoon.The charms of the Yasawas are considerable, even if you end up seeing some of them through the windswept rains that roll in between November and April , with January through March the rainiest months. (The driest months are June through September.) Some are generic tropical-paradise charms, though surely no less beautiful for that: tall palms fringing curving beaches, green peaks rising gently from blue ocean, stupendous skies as the sun sets through layered streaks of clouds.Exploring the islands reveals some more unusual features. The Sawa-I-Lau limestone caves, a stop for all Blue Lagoon cruises, is one, though they seemed more a challenge than a charm for some on our trip. Precarious stone steps led us to a pool ringed by limestone walls some two dozen feet high, and most of us took the chilly plunge -- a jolt after the bathlike warmth of the sea.But that was just the beginning: next we ducked underneath one of those walls and emerged in a pitch-black cavern, where a flashlight-bearing crew member met us for a swim deep into the caves. It was no-sweat fun for some, scary but exhilarating for others, and inarguably memorable.Snorkeling in the Yasawas can provide the exhilaration without the spookiness. Fiji, which brims with coral reefs, is renowned for its snorkeling, but the reefs in the Yasawas have the advantage of being more pristine than those in the more developed tourist areas. The coral is dense and fantastically diverse: you can see varieties that look like flower buds or clusters of shells, like big cabbages or little sausages. The fish are mostly small, but they're vivid: pale green, yellow and black, iridescent blue. And there are large, languid starfish the color of Elizabeth Taylor's eyes.Not all the good times on our cruise happened in the water. On one of the islands we had a delicious lovo feast -- meats and vegetables cooked underground on heated rocks -- well complemented by bottles of Fiji Bitter beer.Please verify you're not a robot by clicking the box.Invalid email address. Please re-enter.You must select a newsletter to subscribe to.View all New York Times newsletters.On our full last day, we visited the lone village on the island of Matacawa Levu, and haggled with the village women selling shells, jewelry and other crafts from an impromptu market on the lawn. That night the same women and other villagers boarded the Yasawa Princess for a performance of Fijian songs and dances, and one of them brought with her, priced at about $2 apiece, the pint-sized grass skirts that a couple of us had asked her that morning to make as gifts for little girls.AdvertisementWe also had a lot of fun among ourselves, due in no small measure to the genial atmosphere the crew created. It's all too easy for someone describing the characteristic Fijian disposition to sink into happy-native language, but it's not accurate: yes, Fijians are cheerful, but at the core there seems to be a sure sense of self -- and self-respect.On our cruise that meant that the crew -- among them Semi, the bluff and bearlike captain; the cruise director Charlie, an eloquent ex-journalist; Sili, the busy but unflappable bartender; and the loose-limbed Semisi, a motorman who showed himself to be a natural performer when he conducted a crew songfest on our last night -- did their jobs quite well and efficiently, but never kept an obsequious distance from the paying folks. They were always ready for conversation or for a raucous poker game -- with or without passengers -- at one of the dining tables.WE also had a good mix of passengers. Australians, who have the shortest trip to Fiji, were the largest single group. There were also quite a few New Zealanders and winter-weary Canadians, a British couple and a Japanese couple who were all living and working in Fiji and four people from the United States.The newlywed couple from New York had made the longest trip, and they found plenty of fellow honeymooners on board, along with a number of veteran couples who described the cruise as their second honeymoon. Aside from two solo women and one man traveling with his teen-age daughter, all the passengers were couples. Of course, it's hard to imagine a more romantic trip than a South Pacific cruise. But it's more than the in-love sort of romance. It's the romance of having, as those of us from North America did, a thoroughly relaxing adventure half a world from home, under a sky full of new constellations. We laughed, sipped Champagne, danced with the captain. We stood hushed as the vil- lagers who had just entertained us fell into fervent prayer. We listened as the crew played guitars and sang Fijian songs, their lilting sound a bit Hawaiian, a bit Mexican. And we kept listening as they kept playing, just for the pleasure of it, as we all drifted off to our cabins to sleep. IF YOU GO The CruisesBlue Lagoon Cruises, Post Office Box 54, Lautoka, Fiji (telephone 61622) offers a four-day, three-night Popular Cruise every day (they last 72 hours), and a Club Cruise of that duration twice weekly.Because the ships on the Popular Cruises are smaller, they don't go as far; chiefly, they don't get to the reputedly most beautiful beach, Yasawa-I-Rara (neither did we, because of weather problems.There's also a seven-day, six-night Club Cruise, which both covers more ocean and lingers longer at various spots. Club Cruise passengers get a few other perks: a welcoming reception, a fruit basket in every cabin, Champagne on the last night and a Blue Lagoon Cruising Club T-shirt and sulu. I was also told that the Club Cruise food is better. The BoatsThe Yasawa Princess and the Nanuya Princess, which are used for the Club Cruises, are 151-foot vessels with 4 decks and 36 cabins. The four smaller craft used for the Popular Cruises -- the Lycianda, Salamanda, Maricanda and Oleanda -- are 118 feet long and have 3 decks and 22 cabins. The CostOn either of the cruises, you pay more if your cabin is on a higher deck. Following are all per person, two people to a cabin, with tax:Four-day Popular Cruise, A Deck $441, B Deck $374;Four-day Club Cruise, Bridge Deck $561, A Deck $523, B Deck $456;AdvertisementSeven-day Club Cruise, Bridge Deck $1031, A Deck, $987, B Deck $860. L. M.A version of this article appears in print on April 28, 1991, on Page 5005015 of the National edition with the headline: . Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe
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