Posts from the ‘Organization’ Category

2011 Resolutions

Is it really possible to leave all that we dislike in 2010 and bring only good things forward? Maybe not. But the point of New Years’ resolutions is to better ourselves over time, right? I like to think that I have the willpower to change bad habits as they occur, but the truth is I like to binge on the unhealthy and inconvenient until I can take no more. So here are my New Years’ resolutions for 2011:

1. Work out more. I am happy to say that I am 4 for 4 in the gym this week. (May be 4 for 5 due to this lazy snow day). You may be thinking “Day 5? Today is January 7th, where is she getting ‘Day 5’ from??” Obviously weekends don’t count when it comes to diet and exercise. This couch sure is looking cozy right about now.

2. Decorate more. As I went through old notebooks, cleaning up my workspace, I came across home plans that I drew up months ago. Some I accomplished halfway and some never got further than the pen hitting the paper.

Among such were dining room drapes. It is true that I bought, hung, and steamed the drapes. However, that is as far as I got. The drapes are still loosely hanging with no drawback. (I taped them back with electrical tape for the photo below. Shame on me). Instead of presenting the dining room like a pretty little package, it resembles the balcony of a beach house with wet, sandy towels drying to a stiff uncomfortableness (only more silky and soft than stiff and uncomfortable). It is also asymmetrical. I’m not encouraging perfect symmetry in every aspect of a home, but the entrance to our dining room is too wide to have only one side dressed.

Also on the list was the dining room bench. With the haste stapling and the lack of foam and batting, I had planned on reupholstering the bench while also adding sides and a back. This will ideally give a more sophisticated-lounge-like feel rather than a playground-picnic-like feel.

Last in the notebook of procrastination was the Master Suite Makeover. I started on my mom’s bedroom a few months back and progressed pretty far during the 2 weekends I spent on it. But with the holidays and my own home plans, the master makeover fell to the back burner. This morning I came across the original plans I had for the room, and while I’ve got to say that the floorplan itself is close to complete, isn’t it really all about accessorizing?

The footboard doesn’t yet exist. The 2 chairs in the ‘seating area’ have become 1 chaise, table yet to be found. The TV is on the opposite wall to the left of the bed. Other than that, this is spot on. But the accessories! The tables need lamps, the seating area needs an area rug, the walls need art, the windows need drapes, etc, etc!

This photo is pre-paint.

3. Take and post photos regardless of progress. In the past, I have hesitated to take photos in the before and during stages. While this may seem shallow and vein, it is really mere forgetfulness (with maybe a dash of vanity). I would clean from top to bottom in preparation of a photo shoot, and regret it later when I am explaining only in words how long and hard I worked on any given project. For example, in 2010 I would have never posted these cringe-worthy photos of our office during laundry day (laundry week).

Stage 1: Wait until clean laundry builds up on the floor and the closets are empty.

Stage 2: Sort laundry into his and mine, foldables and hangables.

Stage 3: Rejoice in clean room

 

4. Be more efficient at doing laundry.

 

I hope everyone’s 2011 is off to a great start and I look forward to jumping back into inexpensive elegance now that the hectic holidays are over.

Home Depot Designer Coasters

Coasters are something that you don’t go out specifically to shop for, but instead may remember to look at if you’re already out. We’ve acquired a few of the cheap cardboard bar coasters in our lives, not exactly worthy of my champagne tastes, but have made do for the time being. Well that time has expired. I grew tired of the coaster sticking to my glass every time I went for a sip. I needed heavy duty coasters to protect our hand stained coffee table. To Home Depot!

I know what you’re thinking: huh? Coasters at Home Depot?

Yes! Designer couture coasters!

These are heavy duty floor tiles, $2 each.

With a little glue and a patch of felt ($.49)…

My tables are protected from water marks and my glass can rest comfortably (and fashionably) upon.

If there’s someone you haven’t yet shopped for, or if you want to add a little supplement to the bar-ware you bought your mom, these are perfect. The malls are PACKED this week, but Home Depot is not! This project cost me 5 minutes and $8.50. Wrap some ribbon around the stack and present it beautifully under the tree.

Gifts that keep on giving

If you’re looking to save more in the new year but aren’t willing to give up certain luxuries, such as seeing movies, a nice hair cut, or eating to name a few, the following are great gifts to ask for this holiday.

Gift Cards

Some say gift cards are offensive, impersonal, and impractical gifts. They only make more work for the recipient who must go spend it. I wholeheartedly disagree. A gift card is the gift of shopping. Who wouldn’t love that! For those of you who disagree, I would like to present an exception to the impersonal gift card stigma. The salon.

I made a decision a few years back that my hair was an investment I was not willing to scrimp on. I have a thick pile of curls atop this head and the $15 Hair Cuttery trim just wasn’t doing it for me. If you have poker straight hair that only requires a steady pair of scissors and no product, by all means, Hair Cuttery is for you. But my locks require more maintenance. I try to stretch my salon visits to 3 times a year but sometimes it’s not possible. On top of that I purchase salon quality product regularly. This can add up to several hundred dollars a year. Therefore, a gift certificate to my salon would be personal, thoughtful, practical, wonderful, necessary, etc. etc.

Memberships

Along the same lines of a gift card is a membership. A membership still gives the recipient some freedom to choose their own gift, but may not be as broad. A gift card to Macy’s leaves many options. Do I want a jacket, a purse, a sofa, sunglasses… But a membership is 1 thing in a large variety.

ShoeDazzle is a monthly style service available for $39.95/month. You begin your membership by creating a “Style Profile” outlining your taste in fashion and shoes. Based on the results, 5 pairs of shoes, handbags and jewelry are selected by the stylists for you to choose from every month. You are charged only after making a selection and can also choose to skip months without the obligation to pay. Gift cards are available in 1, 2, 3, 6 or 12 months.

A similar service is Beer of the Month Club. With memberships starting at $22.95 a month, beer is chosen for you by a panel of experts and shipped in a 12-bottle variety pack each month. For those of you who don’t like beer, the same organization also offers wine, gourmet chocolates, cigars, cheese, and flowers. You can mix and match to get 2 months of each for a year. I love getting packages in the mail, even if it’s something small that I ordered as a gift for someone else. Just seeing the box below my mailbox gives me a warm feeling of excitement. I can only imagine my delight if it was wine in that box.

Are you a Blockbuster fanatic? If you love to curl up and watch a good movie without paying the $4.99 Comcast fee or a trip to the video store, Netflix is perfect for you. For $9.99 a month you get unlimited movies mailed to your home. That’s the price of 2 movies OnDemand. You can only have 1 movie out at a time so you may not be able to watch 3 movies each week, but 1 movie a week is good leisure time for such a low cost.

If you’re the head of a large household or just like to buy in bulk, a membership to Costco may be a rewarding gift for you. For a $50 annual membership fee, you will save hundreds a year on groceries, jewelry, furniture, electronics, basically everything but an iPad.

Food

If you’re someone who enjoys eating, but you can’t cook, or you’re always too tired to chop up all those vegetables, or you just don’t know any good recipes, there are plenty of gifts out there for you. Since fasting is not really an option to save money on take-out, viable alternatives include cooking lessons or just a few cookbooks. I request cookbooks every year because I like to have them on display in my kitchen, but I also enjoy reading them. I like to challenge myself with new recipes in order to make cooking fun. I look at cooking as a science experiment that you get to eat. I can have fun in the kitchen, toying with different spices and condiments, and I may end up having to order a pizza when all is said and done, but I always learn something. Next time I make a chicken wrap I won’t add french dressing, salsa, AND barbecue sauce.

Some of my favorites:

One thing I do hate about cooking is all the supplies needed. I don’t mind stocking up on produce for chicken pot pie, but when I get home and realize I don’t own ramekins in which to bake the pot pie…I get frustrated. That’s why I never leave Home Goods empty handed. I’m always picking up little tools that you don’t think about, a portable slicer, a lettuce saver, salad spinner, etc. I like salads and really wish I could eat more, but in the winter I’m more about soup. So when i buy a bag of lettuce and only have 1 or 2 salads a week, it will be bad before I can have my 3rd. My lettuce saver keeps the lettuce fresh and crisp for upwards of a month.I like to cook with alot of vegetables. Adding a bundle to plain chicken can instantly make a healthy meal. But all the chopping and dicing!This little baby is on Amazon for under $15.

But what to do with all the leftovers? It’s only Chris and me in our household and cooking for 2 can be hard to adjust to. Sure you can freeze it in tupperware and have it for dinner the next night. But when Target sells lunch boxes this cute for adults now, why not eat your chicken soup at work, saving the $7 you would’ve spent on a sandwich, and have fun cooking again tomorrow!All of these gifts will keep on giving throughout the new year and you’ll have more in your bank account as a result. What more from a gift could you possibly want!

What dreams are made of

I’ve had all kinds of closets in my 24 years. My first adult closet was a “walk-in” where the ceiling went from 6 feet at entry, to 2 feet in the rear. It was only 3 feet wide and 4 feet deep. It was more of a crawl-in.

My 2nd could hardly be defined as a closet. At 3 feet wide and 1½ feet deep, it was smaller than my current pantry. The bar was so close to the door that a hanger would prop the door open. To make do, my whole 12′ x 10′ bedroom became a closet. I had racks of clothing against the wall, shelves for jewelry and hats, as well as bureaus and baskets for additional clothing storage. My bed became a substitute for that cute little stool commonly seen in luxurious dream closets, upon which you rest to dress your feet.

My present closet was nothing but a long pole under 1 long shelf before I got to it.I installed the center compartment for shoes, gym clothes not pretty enough to be displayed, jeans and decorative accessories. The shelves down below are additional storage and allow just enough room for my bathing suits and socks to fit beneath, in the canvas drawers.

This is all good and well. Everything is within sight (except for fancier dresses and seasonally-inappropriate-but-too-good-to-stash-until-next-year-clothes that are toward the back). The point is, it works for now. I wake up, stare into my closet until I decide on something, and then I dress easily and without a struggle, unlike with previous closets. I’ll take it…for now.

But it doesn’t hurt to dream. In fact, experts say day-dreaming exercises the brain. I think I read that somewhere. So let me concoct my dream closet for you.

It’s got to have an island, with drawers. Similar to the Victoria’s Secret 4 for $20 underwear display.

It needs ample seating. Practically a living room for me to retreat to for inspiration, cat naps, social gatherings, etc.

Plenty of natural light, and mirrors also to bounce off the illusion of even more natural light.

A luxurious chandelier.

A fancy writing desk with beautiful stationery because my dream closet will give off so much inspiration I’ll need to instantly write down new ideas every time I enter.

Of course my mannequin Bella will be there, and she’ll have a friend so I can display outfit choices for the day…it’s all about organization.

While we’re displaying outfits, let’s throw in a few pedestals. If I’m going to have friends in here we’re going to be trying on clothes. And because…well why not?

Lastly, I want a wine bar. Because what’s a social gathering without wine.

This dream closet is a far cry from all previous spaces my clothes have resided in. It’s undoubtedly excessive, completely unnecessary, and in no way is it frugally smart. But how boring would dreams be if they stayed within our budgets! While it is responsible and mature and, some would argue, mandatory, to make smart financial choices, if I didn’t dream big I wouldn’t have the desire to make champagne out of beer. Where would we be then?

Reach for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.

You’re all invited to my closet party in 2021. Please RSVP by 2018 so I can build accordingly.

Pictures from top to bottom:

My closet: My camera

Island: Closets by Design

Seating: Fabulous Bridal Boutique, Cincinnati, OH

Mirrors: Stylistsinthecity.blogspot.com

Chandelier: Maison Classique, $6100

Desk: Horchow, $1399

Mannequins: Paris.unlike.net

Catwalk: Blush Bridal Boutique, Las Vegas

Wine bar: Baller Toys, $2025

Pretty Practical

I am on a constant lookout for new ways to stay organized. Owning a piece of property will bring out Danny Tanner-esque habits that one never knew existed. In previous residences, I never put much time into storage and de-clutter because the lease expiration date was always looming in the distance. I was always thinking of moving. Knowing that I will be staying where I am now for several years, I have no qualms about improving the space. Really, organizing is just a way of making a space easier to keep clean. Who doesn’t love that?!

Better Homes & Gardens really gets me. They know what I’m about. That’s why they’re always sending me emails with new storage ideas. Of course, some of the slide-shows they send me are a complete waste of time, especially when they fore-go instructions for a measly “Find a decorator in your area” link. But every relationship hits rough spots. They always make it up to me with flowers (I’m talking beautiful centerpieces in my email).

I can’t possibly use all the ideas given, especially with my 20 sq. ft. pantry/laundry room/coat room, but I can sure as heck pass the good ones along. Think of me as a weed whacker. I cut through the unsightly disaster to bring you beautiful, inspirational ideas for your home.

This small red laundry caddy was once an entertainment center, before the days of wall-mounts. A can of paint, a few screws, and a metal pole later: stress free laundromat.

Lazy Susans are not just for picnic tables anymore. I have 1 in my fridge for various sauces and condiments. Everything is within easy reach, refusing to be forgotten about to the point where it no longer resembles its original state. Seriously, these things have saved me so much money. I can’t tell you how often I used to make my grocery list, jotting down an item I already have because it has been relegated to the back of the fridge. AND..they’re under $10! Make sure to get one with a raised lip to avoid sliding.

I LOVE this floating ironing board. I, myself, use a steamer for all my wrinkly garments, but if I had an ironing board, I would definitely mount it to something. If you’re new here, I love things that float. Floor space is very valuable in a condo.

Along the same lines…

Most of us have those few articles of delicate clothing that won’t hold up in the rough and tumble of the dryer. We’ve all seen the fold-up drying rack that gets propped in the middle of your bedroom/ living room/ kitchen, etc overnight until your clothes are dry. Or worse, if you’re like me without such rack, you resort to draping your clothes over pieces of furniture. You should see our place after laundry day, it’s as if our bedroom closet spit up.

But this little treasure is out of the way even when in use. I don’t hang my wet clothes like shown here, for fear of them losing shape, but all the wooden bars are perfect for draping articles over. These are somewhat pricier than their cumbersome counterpart, but given how much I hate waking up to wet clothes in the living room, I’ll spend the extra $30 on the floating variety at Amazon.

Moving on..

I am a fan of glass containers. I have several on my vanity for hair ties, make up brushes, earring studs, etc. I have 1 in my laundry room as a “lost & found” for quarters and such that fall out of our pant pockets during the wash cycle. I also have several under my bathroom sink for shaving necessities, chapsticks and the like. They are very affordable…as low as $2 at Walmart, and can come in all shapes and sizes to meet your needs.

Always remember that practicality can be pretty. Guests may not see your laundry room, but that does not mean you should neglect it. With simple solutions like these, you’ll be looking forward to laundry day before you know it! Wash on!

Making things pretty

I’ve shown furniture pieces that I wallpapered in previous posts, but never before have I shown the process. That changes now.

I’ve been wanting to wallpaper the built-in center unit in my bedroom closet for a while now, but didn’t want to deal with taking it down. so I started smaller.

While cleaning up the office for our housewarming, I came across a small drawer that I bought months ago from Target when we were first moving. It had been sitting under the desk for months, unused. So I inserted it into my vanity without measuring…luckily it fit like a glove!Then I applied wallpaper glue using a neat little rolling sponge. This baby goes miles!

This wallpaper is from the same roll I bought off ebay for $10. More wallpaper than I could ever need…who am I kidding, I’ll find a way.

Press the wallpaper on with a smoothing tool..any straight edge will work really..to get out all air pockets.Go over the edges with a box cutter to obtain neat edges.Finito!

Pre-vanity I kept all my jewelry and makeup in drawers at the bottom of the office closet. I freed those up for guest linens, arts & crafts, miscellaneous storage, and sewing accessories. Any chance I can to improve storage, I jump at.

My vanity gets better looking each day 🙂

Now that I am experienced with wallpapering vertically, I can tackle the closet built-in. Stay tuned!

Hiding cable wires

It has been a busy busy week. We have our long awaited housewarming party tomorrow (we’ve been living here 6 months now) and I had much to get done before showing our new place off to a bevy of friends. Loads of DIY and even more loads of photos.

Among such are:

  • hiding cable wires
  • creating a one-of-a-kind wall art on the cheap
  • upholstering wooden barstools
  • wallpapering furniture

I will also post some beautiful “after” shots of my dining room, living room TV wall (very rare in previous posts), bedroom vanity with improved storage and organization, and our office closet that was once used as what-we-have-yet-to-unpack-because-we-have-nowhere-for-it-to-go storage.

Let’s get started!

Our TV wall with our fancy new fireplace was greatly devalued by this unsightly cable wire. I knew what had to be done, but between all my trips to Home Goods and Boscov’s, Home Depot just wasn’t a priority. With the party quickly approaching, I could put it off no more.

The materials: This 9-piece cable concealer kit came in a pack for $10. The 3 ft. cable extension and connectors were an additional $6.

The tunnels have a tight opening that the wire must be squeezed through. It can be a little difficult initially but with the help of some pliers and maybe a second person, it’s easy enough.

There is a self adhesive strip on the back (which is flat) for easy application to any wall or molding. Just peel and press.

The corners are a little tricky. They don’t have a back because the wire would be very difficult to feed through, and if you were able to feed it through (which I have never tried) I can imagine it would be tough to adjust if need be. Instead, it just snaps on, which maybe look messy at first, but once both straight ends are on, it will look professionally done.

Paint it accordingly and Voila! a wall mounted TV sans wires. I only painted the section that crossed the wall, mostly to avoid using painter’s tape, but the molding conceals the concealer enough for my taste.

 

I may have mentioned before our dilemma with where to place the TV upon move-in. Our breakfast buffet is the only divider between the kitchen and living room. Therefore, we really only have 3 walls in our living room, and 1 of those 3 walls (above) is part of the “hallway” from the front door. But in a small condo, utilizing every inch is necessary. If we used this wall as the said “hallway,” we would cut approximately 64 sq. ft. off of our living room and the TV would have to be watched from an uncomfortable angle. Seeing how it came out makes me wonder how we ever doubted this option.

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