Carmen and Jared Strong picked up the keys to their beautiful new home in January this year.

Unlike other decluttering projects featured in the Clean Sweep series, Carmen, 28, and Jared, 31, had a slight advantage, having just moved into an empty home with their two children, Leilah 3, and Louie, 7 months.

"I had a clean slate building a new home," Carmen told

"While the move was huge in itself, I have slowly focused on one room at a time, budgeting out each project to make sure they're affordable."


They make the perfect team - Jared works as a commercial plumber and is the muscle behind Carmen's designs around the house.

"I'm the creative mind behind our work, and he is the one that makes it all come to life," Carmen explained.

The mum-of-two manages it all, working as a retail manager by day and a full-time mum and part-time organiser after hours.

While many would struggle to maintain a tidy house with such a full schedule, Carmen said it was all about ticking off tasks quickly and keeping a cool head.

"Staying organised is such a time saver, which is something money can't buy … It means more time for you to spend with your loved ones, which is so important to us," she said.

The Strong family moved into their five-bedroom, double-storey home, on the picturesque Central Coast of NSW in February.

"My husband and I both commute approximately two hours each way to work each day," Carmen explained.

"The initial organisation takes time, but the maintenance is so simple and easy that you buy back that time and more in the future."

Their new home is the primary focus of Carmen's Instagram account - which now boasts almost 11,000 followers.

"My followers like that I use a mixture of affordable and slightly more luxurious pieces in my home," Carmen explained.

"A lot of my house has pieces from Ikea and Kmart. It's all in the way you style it."


One of Carmen's favourite DIY projects is her vertical hanging garden, which was originally a Colorbond fence in need of some lush revamping.

Rather than sourcing a pricey ready-made vertical garden, the couple made their own from scratch, using $100 metal angles, $100 artificial hedging and $10 spray paint, all from Bunnings.

"Overall, the cost of the project came in around $500 and we saved ourselves about $1000 from the ready-made panels out on the market," Carmen said.


Carmen's pantry is one of the most popular rooms in her home.

Since moving into their new home, her family has cut down on food wastage, as everything they need is right in front of them at all times.

"I can see exactly what we need and I don't have to move 500 things to find something," she said.

Carmen admits she spent a "small fortune" reorganising her pantry - just over $700 in total - but says anyone can create this look on a tighter budget and even offers her own services at $50/hour on her website.

She filled the space with Ikea jars ($8), wooden crates ($10) and baskets ($15) and sourced bread tubs from Kmart for $20.

Carmen is also a "sucker for labels" and has ordered them for most of the rooms in her home.


One of Carmen's most cost-effective and creative projects has been her medicine cabinet overhaul.

"I purchased three sets of drawers from The Reject Shop for $12 each," she explained.

"Then I collated the medicine into categories and filled up the drawers."

Once she was happy with her categories, she ordered labels for $30 - bringing the total cost of the project to $42.


This project set Carmen back $122, but she said it was worth every last cent and had been "a life aver".

"My daughter asks to do craft multiple times, every single day," she said.

"I quickly got over pulling everything in and out for her to be entertained for 10 minutes, so I created this trolley, which makes craft so much easier."

She purchased a Kmart bamboo trolley for $35, then filled it with plastic containers and tubs from Kmart and Ikea at a cost of $7 and $2 each, respectively.

"I grouped Leilah's craft items together into categories and created a basket for each of them," she said.

"Once I did that I ordered labels to finish the project."



This is major part of any project for Carmen.

"Plan it out or draw it if you can't visualise it in your mind," she said.


Carmen breaks all her tasks down and focuses on finishing a particular room before she moves on.

"Make sure you're proud of it and it feels good. Don't stop until it's exactly what you want," she said.

"Sometimes a project will take me weeks to complete."


Many organisers fell victim to pricey pieces when renovating areas in their homes, Carmen said.

"I've been stung so many times after falling in love with something in a store and buying it on impulse," she said.

"Then I've found I could have bought that exact item half the price somewhere else."


Carmen urged organisers to put a budget on a room or area in their home before tackling a project.

"Head to Ikea for anything wardrobe related, they are amazing for organising on a budget and they have something for everyone," she said.

"Kmart also has some great storage solutions."


Remember: you have to make a mess to fix a mess.

"If your organising or decluttering, it's not going to be fixed overnight," Carmen warned.

"You also need to make sure it's going to work for you and your family or you won't stick to the system."


by Rhian Deutrom19th Aug 2019 7:05 AM
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