Home is Where It All Is
An interview with Construction Manager and General Contractor, Mara Horn of Marski Builds
Mara Horn (follow her on Instagram!), designs and builds new homes in the Northeast with her husband, Cody, their two boys, active pup and sweet cat. Unique in her industry, Mara isn't afraid to get her hands dirty - as a general contractor, she is involved in the entire homebuilding process, from planning and design, to building from the ground up (literally!). I love her perspective on creating a growing family business, having a hardworking, entrepreneurial family, instilling a love of learning and valuing work in in her boys, work-life balance (especially when you work with your family!), and her insight on creating a home that truly, fully integrates with your lifestyle. She also had some great tips about what to do if you're buying or selling a home (she's working on her realtor's license!). Did you know, she collects sea glass, loves antique butter molds, and is an avid gardener (with many amazing tips - so many, that I had to add them to another post!)? I loved reading Mara's answers, and I hope you do too!
What do you do?
Builder / General Contractor of new construction homes.
Any favorite projects or jobs that you’ve worked on/at?
Currently a house we are working on. It is a brick home, and this is the first time I have done anything with brick. It is also the largest home I have ever built.
What comes easy to you for your job? Hardest? Something you love about it?
Some days I love cleaning, other days I hate it. Whatever side you’re on, use my Deep Clean Checklist (a best seller this year!) to get your butt in gear as we head into spring. It’s a simple, yet comprehensive list of tasks to completely clean your home from top to bottom in a few hours. Set a timer, put on music or a podcast, and GO!
Don’t like cleaning all at once? Try spreading it out and do one task a day for a week. I personally like that “squeaky clean” feeling after your home is totally and completely cleaned all at the same time!
Shop printables like this best selling Deep Clean Checklist at my Etsy shop and get systems and routines going that actually work for you at home!
You Can't Organize Clutter [Pt. 2]
Only AFTER you dump the clutter can you organize what’s left!
Adding on to my organization tips from yesterday…
✨ Use what you can, BUT, if you buy new storage solutions, MEASURE and order extra!
✨ Clean your space before you organize/restock
✨ Decant pantry, laundry and bathroom staples to get rid of excess packaging and improve aesthetics
Don’t get stuck in a cycle of clutter by “organizing” it! My husband and I had a running joke before I ruthlessly dumped the clutter. He’d look for something and ask, “Where’d you organize that to?” I think that about sums up the “clutter cycle” so many of us continue to “deal” with.
LET ME HELP YOU GET OUT OF THE CYCLE! It’s a time waster, and a stress inducer for you AND your whole family.
You Can't Organize Clutter [Pt. 1]
Only after you’ve ruthlessly removed the “stuff” can you organize what’s left.
My top organization tips:
1️⃣ ✨ "Measure twice, cut once" - measure your space (and your items), THEN, figure out what you can use to store those items
✨ Use what you have or order your baskets/bags/bins of choice - Pinterest-perfect is nice, but useful is way better!
2️⃣ ✨ As Maria Montessori says, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Give absolutely everything a home
✨ Instead of putting it down, put it AWAY!
3️⃣ ✨ Chose a “method” and stick with it throughout your home - be consistent, whether that’s alphabetical, rainbow or something else; I like to do a “trial run” when I first organize an area, as long as it’s functioning well, I’ll keep the method/solution and I may update my storage bins only AFTER it's working well
✨ Label everything that is not in a clear bin
I used to buy new storage solutions all the time but I just couldn’t get rid of the mess. What I didn’t realize was that I was never actually getting rid of the root cause by RUTHLESSLY getting rid of the clutter and crap. When I stopped filling up bins with that clutter and slapping a label on them and actually gave what was left a designated home, I FINALLY became the more organized person that I always wanted to be. Can you relate? What’s your top organization tip?
Getting rid of 80% of your possessions can total A LOT of stuff. So how do you minimize waste when possible and do your best to put less in the landfill? Sustainable living and simple living go hand-in-hand!
Try one of these four ways to give something a second life…
ONLINE: Facebook Marketplace, Local Sales Groups / Swaps, Poshmark, Mercari, Kidizen, eBay | IN-PERSON: Consignment stores, pop-up events (lots of great kids ones out there!), garage and yard sales, estate sales, flea markets, auctions
Goodwill, Salvation Army, local shops, churches, family organizations, returning to work (ex. Dress for Success), animal shelters (old sheets, towels, blankets) [see my stories for more info on this!]
Special occasions, hand-me-downs, ask family/friends if they need or are looking for something, use a local service like buynothingproject.org
Paint decor, move it to a different room, refinish furniture, use something unused for something else (ex., an unused cute coffee mug as a pencil cup)
After the chaos of the holidays and the kids entering new stages during the first few months 2022, I have 4-5 boxes to donate - but, getting rid of that clutter is one way to avoid that dreaded cycle of it creeping back!
Have you given something a second life recently?
How to do this [what seems like] daunting and monumental task? Use what you’ve got!
You already have established habits and routines - use them to your advantage and make adjustments; build upon what you’re ALREADY doing. Yes, gaining your time back from all the stuff that was sucking it away is very exciting, BUT - implementing brand new systems and routines will be harder to maintain in the long run. Ease into it.
Home systems are the roadmap and routines are the action that will help you maintain a simple, efficient and functional home. These tools are especially valuable for “messy” people [like me] and help establish order, repetitiveness, and most importantly, WILL to get something done and maintain your minimalish efforts.
✨A few ways to get started with home systems and routines✨
🏠 Establish a loose daily routine that you can stick with about 80% of the time
🏠 Habit “stack”; when you do one thing you typically do, ADD something else you also need to get done - this is also great for adjusting bad habits!
🏠 Use a digital calendar that you share with other members of your household so you are all on the same page
🏠 Begin to create systems around one of these four home tasks - Laundry, Dishes, Tidying, Cleaning
Did I help you [I hope]? Please let me know and share with a friend!
Mindset Shifts with Minimalism
Mindset matters - shifting your mindset helps ensure you take baby steps towards accomplishing your goals. The mantra I say to myself on REPEAT now is “progress over perfection” and although whatever I imagined might not be EXACTLY what I envisioned, I get more accomplished and make small strides towards my goals (where as before, I might have had DREAMS, that I wouldn’t even act on).
Here are 3 ways I’ve adjusted my mindset since beginning my minimal-ish journey…
💫 You’ll always have to take care of your home, why not do it in the most efficient way possible?
💫 Make time to make memories; stop wasting it on stuff you don’t need or care about
💫 When something needs to get done, ask for help, make it fun, and take care of it quickly so you can shift your focus to what matters more to you and your family
Remember, anyone and everyone can be a minimalist - there is no “end goal”, you can call yourself a “minimalist” if you just decided the lifestyle was right for you! It’s a journey, not a destination.
What’s a mindset shift you’ve made recently?
Minimal-ish living doesn't mean getting rid of all your “stuff” - it means making the “stuff” you value work best for you.
💙 It’s saving you time, money and SANITY.
💙 It’s getting rid of the noise and excess.
💙 It’s having a home that’s efficient and simple to manage.
💙 It’s eliminating what’s preventing you from accomplishing your goals.
💙 It’s for both physical AND mental “clutter”.
It’s family-friendly, foundation-setting and efficiency focused - perfect for ANYONE who wants to bring what really matters to them to the forefront, but it’s especially valuable for busy, growing families. Spend less time on the mundane and more time on making memories.
Interested in minimalish living? Head to my Instagram at @thetidytot for easy-to-implement home hacks, and tips that you can try TODAY to take back control at home and gain back your valuable time.