Thursday, November 14, 2019

16 Our HGTV Urban Oasis Experience

Did you all see that this year's HGTV Urban Oasis giveaway house is located right in my backyard? That's right! This year it is located in Minneapolis, MN and you are going to want to hurry and enter to win this beauty!

I know many of you come here for our organizing and house projects, but this quick story is just too great not to share! And I would be beyond thrilled if one of my readers happened to win this amazing home (and then invited me over for chips, salsa, and margaritas).

I have really gotten to know designer Brian Patrick Flynn over the past few years, and he is one of the most generous and kind humans I have ever met. He is ridiculously encouraging, really supports independent artists and small businesses, has an impeccable design eye, and can find beauty in just about anything.

Brian is the designer of the HGTV Urban Oasis home and he asked ME to be the organizing stylist! Organizing a house that no one actually lives in is slightly different than my typical duties; it has its own set of challenges but it is a bit of a dream at the same time. You have to work within the parameters of specific sponsors and design styles and be sure it is editorial, while also being able to use beautiful props. The ideas still have to be relatable and sensible, which of course is my favorite part! I wanted the folks that are entering the giveaway to be able to see the organization as possible solutions that they would be able to incorporate into their daily lifestyle.

Photo Credit: Kelly Christine Photo for HGTV

After the organizing was complete and the Urban Oasis was being prepped for media, Brian asked me back again. This time he had me bring my crew to be photographed enjoying the Hygge lifestyle at the house! My oldest son had college prep and work so he couldn't be there, but my younger boys were absolutely thrilled to take part of a really fun HGTV photoshoot. These pictures were such a treat and we will cherish the opportunity forever. Kelly Christine was the photographer behind the camera and she did such a great job of capturing us as a family pretending to live our best Minnesotan lives. As you can see, they definitely wanted to show the relaxed, comfortable, family-friendly lifestyle that this home provides. My son couldn't believe that he had a once in a lifetime opportunity to jump on a sofa and get away with it!

Photo Credit: Kelly Christine Photo for HGTV

This year's Urban Oasis is a Modern Scandanavian Farmhouse, which is an extremely popular design aesthetic around here. It is not necessarily my personal style (I lean more colorful and traditional), but I was still able to find so much inspiration throughout the entire home. It instantly hugs you when you walk through the front door and the entire place feels like a cozy nordic sweater. It is layered with plush and textural textiles and has art sourced from really incredible talent. And don't even get me started on the finishes and hardware and oak kitchen cabinets... #sigh

Photo Credit: Rustic White Interiors for HGTV

You can tour the entire house here, and enter to win here (GO DO THAT NOW!). Although this post is somewhat of a "check out this cool home and our awesome experience", I also wanted to share some images of my favorite no-fuss organizing tips that anyone can incorporate into their living spaces.


As soon as I was hired, I searched (the sponsor website) to recommend some of my favorite organizers ahead of time and crossed my fingers that everything would be fluid enough to work when I was finally able to see the home in person. My first day on location everything was a blank slate of freshly painted walls and empty cabinets and drawers. It was an experience in itself to watch the house transform as the team worked to install and style all of the rooms.


Photo Credit: Tomas Espinoza for HGTV

My biggest money-saving tip is to try and source products that are versatile enough to work in a variety of spaces and can move and evolve right along with you. I knew I would be tasked with organizing the master bedroom closet and bedroom, the studio armoire, and many of the kitchen cabinets/drawers. The key items I sourced were a mixture of wire and woven baskets, spring-loaded drawer dividers, clear bins, wooden hangers, and glass jars. I was able to mix and match these items in each area that I touched, which made my job much easier in the end. I do believe in measuring and purchasing storage that makes sense for each project, but by selecting items in basic and natural finishes, you are guaranteed that they will stand the test of time.


Photo Credit: Rustic White Interiors for HGTV

I have mentioned before that sometimes I am the last to hop on any trend train, and for some reason I wasn't quick to take advantage of spring-loaded drawer dividers. This experience flipped me completely. I am IN LOVE. I used the dividers throughout the kitchen and I now want to be the poster child for these special organizing tools. They were so easy to use (ANYONE can install them in a jiffy), and they instantly created flexible drawer dividers for all the things.

I used them for the maintenance drawers, utensil drawers, and even to hold pots, pans, and lids in place. A bonus is that the natural finish of these particular dividers fit right in with the custom wood drawers. Swoon.


I know that most of you know this by now but it is always worth mentioning. File your clothing. If your clothing is filed, it is always easier to see exactly what you have. It is also infinitely easier to take clothing out and put it away.

BONUS TIP: Use small bins and baskets inside of your drawers to corral the little things like undergarments and accessories. Sometimes the most obvious ideas are the most helpful.


Hangers have come a long way over the years. Wooden and velvet options are both readily available and are fairly inexpensive in bulk. Anytime you can, swap out all of your mismatched hangers for ones that match. It will instantly take your closets up a notch and help them feel more uniform and calm.

BONUS TIP: Color blocking the items hanging in your closet will have a similar effect. I like to hang items in order by type first (jackets/cardigans, long sleeve, short sleeve, sleeveless), and then color within each category.


Organizing deep cabinets and pantries is always perplexing. It is truly wonderful to have all of that extra space, but making sure items are not being lost in the back can be a major problem. It is my goal to find the deepest bins possible in this situation because they turn into instant drawers. These bins not only categorize everything, but they also take items from the back to the front in a single motion. Also, whenever possible I like to organize from shortest to tallest. If space permits I will also add lazy susans to the mix.

Photo Credit: Rustic White Interiors for HGTV

Another tip is to place your small appliances inside of the deep cabinets and relocate your more frequently used items and foods into your standard cabinets and drawers. Small appliances are generally only used on occasion, so it may make more sense to store them in places that aren't as easy to access as the items you use every day.


This house didn't have closets in the two main bedrooms (one styled as an office, another as a guest room), so armories were added in their place. We use armoires in our own home where we are lacking in built-in closets also, and I love that they can offer customized and space-saving storage opportunities.

I especially appreciate the option of adding them to a home office, as they are an ideal way to conceal anything from printers, electronics, and craft supplies, to cozy sweaters and work totes. A clear workspace translates to a clear mind.


Speaking of clear... I love a good woven basket when I am actually trying to conceal and streamline visual clutter, so I find they are a great option for open shelves and in open areas. But when it comes to organizing behind cabinet and fridge doors, I say the clearer the better. Anytime you can quickly see what you have on hand, you are one step ahead of the game. It also allows you to identify items without the need for fussy labels. Heading to the grocery store? Clear jars and bins will give you a quick look at what you have and what you may need.


Photo Credit: Tomas Espinoza Interiors for HGTV

If you are limited on space, or even if you just love to keep things right within reach, find creative ways to use the walls as both decor and storage. Just off of the mudroom, Brian installed the most darling rail system and I was absolutely obsessed over how it was used to display and organize the ordinary in such a beautiful and organic way.


Dedicate a spare cabinet or drawer to entertaining essentials. Our homes are best when filled with folks we love, so be ready to entertain at a moment's notice by keeping a drawer stocked with your favorite linens, candles, vases, napkin rings, serving dishes, etc...

This eliminates the stresses that come with hosting last-minute dinner dates and happy hours, or at the very least, quickly and easily elevates the setting for a nice mood boost.


I was recently having a discussion with a friend about kitchen planning and storage and whether she should install lower cabinets or drawers. Drawers always get my vote if there is an option between the two. I typically find that lower base cabinets are a recipe for that deep and dark area of doom (standard depth is around 24"). Sure, you can add pull out drawers and mechanisms inside of the cabinets, but you have to open the cabinet doors all of the way, navigate around them, and then pull out the contents. A drawer is a quicker way to access everything while ensuring nothing is getting lost. Drawers are also much easier for kids to use and maintain while maximizing overall space (no need to install any extra components).


Last but not least, let's just celebrate this amazing backyard moment. I am so envious of this year's lucky winner!!

Photo Credit: Kelly Christine Photo for HGTV

Photo Credit: Rustic White Interiors for HGTV

Photo Credit: Kelly Christine Photo for HGTV


Brian and I had such a great time working together that he invited me to take part in another HUGE project last month. I can't wait to share more!


  1. That kitchen is amazing!! Loving all the organisation and storage x

  2. You did such a great job on this house! I love all the photos of your cute family. Congrats!

  3. I was so excited when I saw your IG post about this! What an amazing opportunity and you knocked it out of the park like always! I love everything about this house!

  4. What a fantastic opportunity for you! It looks lovely and I've been entering since before I knew it was yours. So cool!

  5. Congrats on your invitation to be involved! What a fun sneak peak into your project! :)

  6. Congratulations! Such a fun experience!!

  7. It must be so wonderful to use your gives on a fresh home! Congrats on your new gig :)

  8. Love this post! We moved from Minneapolis a few years ago and I’m dreaming of winning this home for all our & extended family visits back home! Since you have been a loooong time favorite and the first blog I ever started with- you will for sure be my guest when I win! What s fabulous bonus!

  9. Every part of this home is just all did an amazing job.

  10. So pretty! I know I can't organize to that extent but I love that it inspires me to do what I can with what I have.

  11. Love, love, love everything here! You always do such a phenomenal job, Jen!

    Speaking of interiors ... (and I know you're a busy gal) though would you consider doing a home tour update?(!) I absolutely love your home and would love to see how it's changed since the last one :-)


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