3 Tips For a More Natural Home (Plus, My Natural Living Journey)

Shamrock plant | redleafstyle.com

I talk a lot about decorating here on Red Leaf Style. But there’s a whole different side of me that I haven’t really shared with you. Well, I’m really into everything natural. I eat organic food. I clean my whole home with baking soda, vinegar and lemons. I compost. I reuse. I recycle. I’m really into this whole natural and organic thing. I try not to take myself too seriously, but I do enjoy making natural living a part of my everyday life.

Natural and organic. What do these mean?
Let’s talk about these terms. Natural and organic are terms used to describe everything from food to cosmetic ingredients to fabric. I’d need more than this blog post to tell you about all of the differences. But in general, “natural” doesn’t really have any regulations behind it, but “organic” does. Organic means the food or ingredient has been grown without the use of chemical pesticides.

How do you start living naturally?
Most of us care about our health. Usually that starts with taking a hard look at what we eat. Maybe that leads to buying organic food or cutting out processed foods. An interest in organic food tends to lead to checking out more natural cleaning options. Maybe even making your own cleaning products. You probably also start to take a look at your personal care products. You start to wonder things like, “What are phthalates?” and “Are these ingredients I can’t pronounce bad for me?” Before you know it, you’re growing herbs on your windowsill and buying organic clothes (yep, that’s a thing). At least that’s how it happened for me. One step at a time.

Thrift Store Plant Saucers | redleafstyle.com

How did I get an interest in organic living?
It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly I started living an eco-conscious lifestyle. It probably started back when I worked as an editorial intern for Natural Home magazine (now Mother Earth Living magazine.) That was 2009. I was in college doing all of the things that unhealthy college students do. Eating awful. Drinking. Being wasteful. At the time, I had already started to develop an interest in going green and getting chemicals out of my life. I think the green movement was really becoming trendy around then. But writing about it every day really propelled me into it.

The more I tested out different natural remedies, green cleaners and healthier foods, the more I learned, and the more I cared about it. Living that way seemed important. It seemed like something that mattered. I got excited to tell other people about what I learned and discovered. So I kept writing about it.

After college I got a job as a freelance writer for OrganicAuthority.com. As the name suggests, OrganicAuthority.com is a website dedicated to the organic lifestyle. I’ve written about everything from food to yoga for Organic Authority, but I specialize in home and garden and natural beauty topics. I still write for Organic Authority today. You can check me out there!

How can you get started?: 3 tips for a more natural home
Wherever you are on your natural journey, I’ve probably been there. Are you just starting to buy organic food? Maybe you’re looking into healthier cleaning products? Are you already composting and recycling like a junkie? Maybe you haven’t started at all. (That’s okay, I’ve been there too.)

For me, creating a more natural home is about more than just being environmentally conscious. It’s about being health-conscious too. That means eliminating chemicals and toxins from your home whenever possible. Here are my top three tips for creating a more natural home.

1. Use natural cleaners

Cleaning spray bottle | redleafstyle.com

You don’t need chemical-filled products to get your home clean. You can do everything from washing laundry to scrubbing the toilet with ingredients like baking soda, white vinegar, lemon, salt, hydrogen peroxide and essential oils. They’re all safe, healthy and inexpensive! If you’re curious, I’ll share my cleaning recipes sometime!

2. Choose organic beauty products

Natural beauty products | redleafstyle.com

I know it’s difficult to quit cold turkey on a favorite shampoo or lotion. But you probably wouldn’t have such a hard time tossing those products if you knew all of the gross ingredients in conventional beauty products. I’m talking formaldehyde, petroleum and lead, to name a few. Instead, look for organic beauty products made with ingredients you actually recognize.

3. Decorate your home sustainably

Succulent | redleafstyle.com

When I think about decorating sustainably, my go-to methods are repurposing and buying secondhand. Reusing an item you already have or one someone else has cast off helps reduce the amount of waste on the planet. And I pretty much believe that a coat of paint can fix anything!

So what’s the verdict, do you want to hear more about natural living here on Red Leaf Style? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

Weekend Finds: Friday Night Rummage Sale

Yellow compost bin | redleafstyle.com

This weekend I went to Kansas City’s First Friday event, an art walk held once a month in the Crossroads Arts District. In between checking out the art galleries, I came across a rummage sale. What luck! There’s nothing I like more than rummaging. Besides maybe the word “rummaging.” Rummaging. Rummaging. It’s an excellent word, no?

Anyway, the rummage sale was held at Broadway & Penn, a local vintage-inspired clothing and home décor store. It was like an upscale garage sale. And of course I found a few goodies.

Here’s what I found:
Metal two-tiered basket: $10
Yellow plastic compost bin: $2

Oranges and coffee | redleafstyle.com Oranges and lemons in basket | redleafstyle.com

This metal basket is exactly what I’ve been looking for to hold fruit. We eat a lot of fruit. And I’m always moving bowls of fruit out of the way in our tiny kitchen. Now all of my fruit can live in one place!

Yellow compost bin | redleafstyle.com

It’s so funny sometimes how you can find exactly what you need at secondhand sales. For weeks now I’ve been thinking about how I needed some sort of bin with a lid to keep my compost in. But I’m too cheap to buy a new compost bin. When I came across this yellow bin, I knew it would be perfect for composting. And at $2, I had to have it!

Yellow compost bin | redleafstyle.com

Imagine me walking around a crowded arts district carrying this yellow bin. I have no shame when it comes to good finds!

Check out my past weekend finds!

What do you think of my finds this weekend? Tell me all about your rummage sale finds in the comments!

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

Home Tour: Kitchen

Bowl of oranges | redleafstyle.com

Welcome to my kitchen. I wasn’t planning to show off this outdated room in my rental house. But I realized something. When you rent, one of the main challenges is working with imperfections. And I may as well as show you how I make this room work. (Because it has a lot of imperfections.)

Renters, I know you feel my pain. I can’t paint the walls or replace the linoleum floor. I can’t update the stove or redo the cabinets. So, I make it cute with what I can. A pretty rug. A well-placed plant. A splashy apron. Call attention to pretty things and you won’t notice the imperfections as much.

Vintage kitchen | redleafstyle.comPlant | redleafstyle.comTea time poster | redleafstyle.comSink with plant | redleafstyle.comVintage kitchen | redleafstyle.comKitchen window | redleafstyle.comVintage kitchen stove | redleafstyle.com

Do you have a kitchen that you’re making work? What do you do to make it look good? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

Decorating With Botanical Prints (Plus Free Printables!)

Nature art | redleafstyle.com

Maybe it’s the spring season, but I’ve been noticeably obsessed with botanical and nature art prints lately.

I think my nature art kick actually started about a year ago. I was on vacation in Stockholm, Sweden. While shopping at a local outdoor store called Natur Kompaniet, I bought two small scientific posters of mushrooms and flowers. The posters are actually meant to help you identify poisonous and safe varieties. But when I spotted them, I knew I’d use them for decorating. (They wouldn’t do me much good anyway since I can’t read Swedish.)

Swedish mushroom poster | redleafstyle.com

The combination of the vintage science poster look and the Swedish language makes them even more endearing to me. I’m obsessed!

If you like the look of botanical prints, they’ll make a great addition to the art on your walls. Here are a few easy ways to score some of your own.

1. Scope out thrift stores

It may take longer to find exactly what you’re looking for, but castoff art at secondhand stores and thrift shops is an inexpensive way to find botanical prints. Just look for a print you like. You can change the frames and matting later.

2. Search on Etsy

A simple search on Etsy will bring up just about any type of botanical art print you could imagine. You’ll find vintage ones and modern designs. You’ll find prints of flowers and apples and carrots—oh my! These prints tend to be a little more expensive, but Etsy is a good option if you have something specific in mind.

3. Print your own—for free!

I saved the best for last! Why this idea didn’t occur to me before, I have no idea. You can print your own botanical artwork for free! The Internet is filled with free printables. But I have a favorite. Check out the free vintage printables on vintageprintable.com. This site collects vintage scientific, naturalist and botanical prints, plus many other types of vintage art.

So far I’ve used prints from vintageprintable.com in my bathroom and above the desk by my front door. Here are a few more I’ve printed out:

Vintage lobster scientific print | redleafstyle.com

Another great thing about printing your own art is that you don’t need to feel bad about cutting it up to fit in frames. And if you mess up, just print a new one! It’s seriously the best idea ever. Ever.

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

Bar Cart Styling: Picture Frame Tray

Picture frame tray holding glasses on a vintage bar cart | redleafstyle.com

For a while now I’ve been intending to create a stylish bar cart. I have a vintage cart that I found at Goodwill for $4 ages ago. At my old apartment I used the cart as a kitchen cart to hold my KitchenAid mixer and other odds and ends. In fact, this vintage cart was one of my favorite thrift store finds ever. But since I moved to my new home, it has just sat lonely in the sunroom accumulating junk.

But finally (finally!) I put in a bit of bar cart styling effort. It’s still far from the snazzy bar cart I’m imagining, but it’s getting there. Here’s what I did.

Picture frame tray holding glasses on a vintage bar cart | redleafstyle.com

I created a tray of sorts using a picture frame. By “created” I mean I got lucky. I was trying to figure out where I wanted to hang the picture frame and I set it down on the cart. Then inspiration struck. Why not use the picture frame as a tray to keep glasses organized on my bar cart? So that’s what I did.

Picture frame tray holding glasses on a vintage bar cart | redleafstyle.com

Lining up wine, martini and champagne glasses in rows looks nice, but I think this tray takes it one step farther. It’s just a little more interesting to look at and it creates a defined space for the glasses to go.

Picture frame tray holding glasses on a vintage bar cart | redleafstyle.com

Notice the fish print in the picture frame? It came from the same fish poster I cut up and framed on this mantle display. You could use just about anything to dress up your picture frame tray. Scrapbook paper, newspaper, artwork, drink recipes. You have so many possibilities!

Picture frame tray holding glasses on a vintage bar cart | redleafstyle.com Picture frame tray holding glasses on a vintage bar cart | redleafstyle.com

What do you think of my start at styling my bar cart? I hope I’m not the only one out there who is loving using a picture frame as a tray.

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.