Friday, December 18, 2009

Bathroom Storage Ideas

Since I've already shown you his medicine cabinet, I wanted to show you what else we've done so far in this client's bathroom.

These Muji drawers fit his tiny vanity perfectly giving him easy storage for extra toiletries. And since his vanity is so tiny, giving him hardly any surface space, we decided to install a little shelf over the toilet. We used a white wood shelf from Ikea, cut to size, attached to the side of the vanity with a simple bracket and held up on the other side with his old closet rod (will show you what I did to his closet soon).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Switching Out Ugly Rental Light Fixture

I was finally able to put the new light in the alcove! I used a ceiling canopy which had to have a hole drilled into the cap to let the wire come through, a light kit that was cut and attached to existing electrical mount in ceiling, and an oval paper lantern. LOVE IT!

(Just be sure to be careful anytime you mess around with any electrical work. I had this put in by an electrician).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Is Your Medicine Cabinet Ridiculously Small?

Use acrylic drawer organizers (on top and middle shelves) to hold smaller items. Acrylic risers (middle shelf) create additional shelf space. Try putting your toothbrush holder without the lid in the cabinet to hold toothbrushes and other oral hygiene tools.

If you click on the image to get a larger view, you can see a shot glass behind the toothpaste holding small metal tools; tweezers, nail clippers, etc.

Savings at

Enjoy 20% off and free shipping! Just enter promo code: HCDEC09 at the checkout or on the phone. Offer expires Dec 18th.

I personally love their metal tubular hangers...

Apartment Progress... Bathroom

Remember when I said I wanted something dark and dramatic for the bathroom wall? I eventually decided on a dark olive green but I'm not happy with how it came out. It looks a lot better in the pic than in person...

I don't like the way the white shelving brackets stand out so much and I also don't like the sheen of the eggshell finish (the larger samples only come in eggshell finish). I'm thinking of repainting it white... what do you think??

Monday, November 30, 2009

If You're in the NYC Area...

I've told you about my friend Ed and his amazing new stencil book. Why not join us this saturday in Dumbo Brooklyn, enjoy some champagne, chocolate from The Chocolate Bar and get your copy :O)

Living Better With Less... 'All or Nothing' Attitude

Being a realist, I've never understood the idea of 'all or nothing'. The thought that if you can't do something all the way or completely perfect (whatever happens to be your definition of perfect) that you wouldn't do anything at all seems a bit extreme and rather ridiculous. Now of course there may be exceptions to this rule (there always are), but here are a few examples of what I'm talking about:
  • living a more environmentally conscious life; instead of thinking you can't or won't completely change your lifestyle try just changing your lightbulbs to CFL, buy more locally grown food, switch to reusable bags, or whatever you know you can do and feel good about.
  • dieting; you couldn't resist a home made brownie at a party. This doesn't mean you have to throw your diet out the window. Just say oh well, enjoy the brownie and get right back to it.
  • home organizing/design; you know your home will never look like a page out of Real Simple magazine, but why not tackle one closet or one area of the home like your kitchen? Just having that one thing makes most people feel so much better...

Clever Wine Storage

If you only have a few bottles of wine and don't want them on display, don't have a wine cabinet or rack, and/or can't find a wine rack you like or fits your budget or space, try using a bookend. Pictured above is a simple L shaped metal one from Muji (can't find it online, but are available at Muji stores or the MoMA Store). I've also used a 6" acrylic riser laid like a U to hold bottles the same way. This solution also works in the fridge...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Living Better With Less... Shame


Many clients express some level of embarrassment or shame on how their space looks. Afraid of how others, even I, will judge them for the condition of their home. While I understand why someone would feel that way, the reality is I give all my clients serious props for reaching out and asking for help to make their homes and lives better.

Beyond that, one of the skills that allows me to do my job is that I don't see how things are, but rather how they could be. I see the potential, the way a client's things could be rearranged and repurposed to create a beautiful functional space that the client can enjoy. It's what get's me excited to dig in and get started!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Apartment Progress... Bookshelves

Just a quick post to show you some more shots of the third bookshelf. My sister-in-law is at the hospital now delivering my first niece so I need to keep it quick!

I'm so glad I got it, it looks so much better than just the two. The black candelabra is not going to stay there, in it's place I'm looking for either a sconce or table lamp. The empty center shelf is for new books. The boxes on the bottom hold misc papers. For more info and pics, visit my Flickr page :O)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Apartment Progress... Dressing Area Finished!

(the last time you saw it, with my summer wardrobe)

(now with my winter wardrobe and new drawers)

After living with the dressing area as it was (first pic), I decided I needed more storage. I thought about getting a dresser or small chest of drawers but wanting to keep with a (semi-)minimalist feel for the apartment, needed to keep all the clothes storage along this wall. I envisioned a line of drawers that would give me storage as well as second shelf for open storage.

I looked around quite a bit for the perfect drawers; ones that looked great, not super expensive, and are the right dimensions... Making sure the drawers would sit back a little and not line up with the front of the existing shelf was important to keep the area from looking too packed in.

I eventually settled on these from Muji, one of my favorite places! The drawers are the same translucent white plastic as the Make-Up Bins I've spoken about before and are stackable. They weren't cheap, between $10.95 (1/2 drawer) - $18.95 (double drawer) but considering how they fit the space perfectly, look great, and are a good quality, I think they're totally worth it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Apartment Progress... Kitchen

So here's my small open kitchen; nothing special but at least it's new. The broker told me the cabinets would be white which I would have liked a lot better, but oh well. I'm missing doors on one of the cabinets which the landlord says is on backorder, but after six months of waiting I'm starting to doubt his story... I was going to paint the back wall a color but I don't want to draw attention to it so I'm keeping it white for now. The boxes above the fridge hold household items; lightbulbs, vacuum bags, extension cords; ski clothes; and my paint kit.

UPDATE: check out some more recent pics here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stencil Love

(courtesy of design*sponge)

(courtesy of chronicle books)

I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Roth of Stencil 1 the other night and not only is he super nice and terribly cool (he also wears sol moscot frames), he's amazingly talented. He showed me his new book of reusable stencils, Stencil101 Decor, the perfect kit to help you create a patterned wallpaper effect which I can't wait to try! I'm thinking the wall to the right of the bookcases, or the back wall of the bathroom. I'll keep you posted :O)

His brooklyn apartment was recently a sneak peak on design*sponge and it's really inspiring me to get my place finished. Be sure to go here to see his other stencils and here for his blog to see his designs in action.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Living Better With Less... Getting to the Root of the Problem

Have you ever hated everything you own? That's how I've felt for the past few weeks, more like months, about my entire wardrobe. Holding back from going on a major shopping spree (well, my wallet's been holding me back more than sheer will power) allowed me time to think about what I'm really unhappy with, and I realized it's my glasses. I had a pair that broke a year ago that were my favorite pair ever. I wore them for five years and when they broke tried to replace them with a similar pair but never love LOVED them. The 2 pairs above are the ones I just got and am crazy about them! Having them, now my wardrobe doesn't look so bad after all...

The point is we all go through periods where we hate everything we own. The key is to step back and try to identify what the main problem is before taking any drastic measures. For example, maybe you just need to replace your coffee table instead of getting all new furniture. Have you ever had a similar experience?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Living Better With Less... Reinventing the Wheel

(stefano tonchi home office courtesy of the selby)

I often tell people when organizing a space, it's not necessary to reinvent the wheel for every area or thing you're organizing. I apply the same general guidelines to everything I do with a few minor changes.

For instance, in the bathroom keep your regularly used products in the medicine cabinet for easy access and extras (or oversized everyday products) and not so often used things in the lower vanity. Apply the same logic to your home office; there's no reason to keep 50 pens and pencils and four reams of paper on your desk (unless you seriously use that much). Depending on how much storage space you have and how you work, keep a small kit near you: extra pens, pencils, eraser, stapler, and whatever else you need to function on a day to day basis, with any extras somewhere else and replenish as needed. If you find you're constantly replenishing then store more in your easy access spot. Personally I keep my extras in the kitchen cabinet...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Making Decisions: The Editing Process

Having moved twice in the past year and a half, I've been going through everything I own again and again, editing and re-editing. Some may call me a minimalist, and while I don't consider myself one, at this point in my life I'm pushing to get as close to that as possible...

I follow these key points when editing:
  • don't force the decision on whether to keep something or not; this takes the pressure off and allows you to think freely and more honest on how you use or don't use things
  • make immediate decisions first (things you have no doubt what to do with)
  • don't box the things you're unsure of in closets, cabinets, and/or hide them behind furniture, allowing yourself to forget about it
  • keep all the things you're unsure of out in a designated area of your home so you have to look at it, if you have a lot, pull out a few things at a time so you're not overwhelmed
As I see these things everyday (remember I'm in a studio, I see ALL my things everyday!) I gain a new perspective on them and I've actually kept a few things I was close to getting rid of and donated a lot more than I thought I would; kept a large frame I haven't used for years (pic above - I'm now looking for a cool print to put in it and I still need to repaint the back wall) and donated a lot of clothes and books that no longer spoke to me. Since I'm allowing myself to take my time with the process, I'm very happy with all the decisions I've made, so far no regrets :O)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top Organizing Mistakes

(marble cheese plate on radiator)
(candle holders, magnetic spice tins, misc smalls as chic storage in the medicine cabinet)

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to organize:

  • having no overall plan or idea for the space in question
  • over thinking a decision; make immediate decisions first, when you're unsure of something keep it to the side until the answer reveals itself

  • buying storage products before editing; many times clients need few or no new products to complete a project, either they've edited out enough so their existing storage pieces are now adequate and/or we figure a way to reuse and repurpose existing pieces in a new way
  • buying storage without having a specific purpose for it
  • not taking measurements of the area, closet, and/or shelf you're buying something for

  • not seeing beyond what something is; I ask clients who edit on their own between sessions to keep things on the side they want to get rid of so I can show them new uses for things like using a small plate or dish for soap and sponges in kitchen, using boxes in drawers as dividers...
  • editing blind; having no overall plan gives you no guidelines to help decide whether to keep something or not

Reader's Questions: Handbag Storage

hnxing asks "There's a Rubbermaid Wardrobe Shelving (which I also do not like, but can't take out at the moment) installed in my closet. I have IKEA drawers and hanging organizers for my clothes which is working out nicely. But I end up putting my purses/bags on the shelf which you hang the clothes from. The purses and bags all lean against each other. I usually end up with bags on my head when I try to pull one out to use. Because of the wire shelf, I haven't found a way to make them "stand" up on their own. Any ideas? Thanks!"

You have a couple of options:
  • there are shelf dividers for wire shelving
  • use an open bin either on its side like pictured above, or right side up and pull down when needed
  • hang the bags on hooks inside the closet or on the back of the closet door. just make sure the bags are empty otherwise the weight will damage the handles
  • this is a nice option too
note about real patent leather: you shouldn't lean it against anything since it can absorb color from other materials.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Apartment Progress... Change in Floor Plan

original floor plan

new floor plan

recent shot with new bookcase

Moving twice in a year has drained me financially, so I'm not as far along with my new place as I'd like to be. The upside is thinking and rethinking all of my decisions. I've changed the floor plan:
  • I've decided against the dining table; I don't have dinner guests and when I eat at home it's usually at my desk while working, or watching TV on the computer.
  • I bought another bookcase for a total of three (above) and love the way they look. I like keeping storage on one wall in one large unit instead of spreading it around to keep a space from looking cluttered.
  • The sofa is now going where the dining table was, facing the windows which have a nice view of the backyard, with either two chairs facing the sofa like above, or maybe a chaise. Considering the cost, the sofa will be the last thing I buy.
I've thought of curtaining of the bed but that'll cut light and the view from the windows. I feel like whatever, I live in a studio so you see my bed... There are worse things in life :O)

NOTE: the shot above was taken this evening without the flash so the walls look yellow which they aren't, they're BM Super White.