Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Storage Doesn't Mean Being More Organized


(credenza in open living/dining area)
(left, before)
(left, after)
(right, before)
(right, after)

A recent client needed help to convert her home office to a baby's room in her two bedroom apartment. The existing office desk didn't work anywhere else in the apt, so she thought about getting a new one, as well as an another credenza for additional storage. Before jumping to buy anything new, I prefer to make the most out of the existing storage. After editing, I look at organizing a space like playing the Tile Game; moving things around until they're in perfect order functionally and esthetically. It's what I call 'mapping out the house'.

We started with their four closets; deep closet in new baby's room, two closets in the master bedroom, and the coat closet. The former office closet held her husband's clothing and is now the baby/linen closet. The two closets in the master bedroom held all her clothes; the larger for current season plus household linens, and the smaller one for off-season clothes, shoes, bags, and more household linens. The larger now holds all her clothes and accessories, and the smaller is now for her husband's clothes.

We then focused on her existing living room credenza. We moved the serving pieces to her small kitchen pantry making room for all the household and her business papers now in Muji file bins (not on the internet), including the misc household manuals that were clogging a kitchen drawer (which is now holding paper napkins, aprons, and towels. sorry I don't have any pics).

In the end to the client's surprise, no new furniture was needed. Guess who wasn't surprised by that....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Taking Life Advice From Karl Lagerfeld?


(photo by Karl Lagerfeld)

In the March 2009 issue of Harper's Bazaar was a Q+A with Karl Lagerfeld (a client was clearing out her mag stash so I took a few to catch up on my reading). Although he's a fashion God, I doubted the relevance of his advice for the average woman. Boy was I surprised! His no nonsense, practical (yes, practical!) advice he gave was totally refreshing. Karl telling someone to go deeper and not take fashion as 'end-all-be-all'?! Love it!!

HB: Bright red lipstick, major chandelier earrings: I am constantly searching for fashion pick-me-ups. What do you think are the newest mood boosters?

KL: I am not sure the new 'mood boosters' are in fashion! This is perhaps the moment to think things over. Is your life that flat that you need a new lift all the time? Some people would call you superficial, but as your doctor, I say: Try to look a little deeper into yourself. Fashion is important, but it's not the only permanent booster. Change your hairdo. Reinvent your look. Start at the beginning. Look at yourself honestly, and don't ask me to tell you what you want to hear. I am not here only to please you. My job is also to tell you that it's time for a little change. I hope you don't mind.

You must check out the rest of the article here!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trusting Your Gut


(image and interior by Vicente Wolf)

I went to the Architectural Digest Home Show this weekend to see my former boss Vicente Wolf speak about 'The Zen Home' as part of the NY Times Designer Seminar Series. There were two other speakers with advanced degrees, one was a Feng Shui master, who spoke about symmetry, rules, and showed samples of their work.

Vicente, with no formal training, spoke about ignoring rules, following your gut, and learning to trust what looks and feels right for you. My friend and I commented on how Vicente's work was far superior to the other men's. Like his work, his speaking style was informal but informative, heart felt, and very funny. He speaks at design centers around the country, so if he's ever in your neck of the woods, be sure to see him, he doesn't disappoint!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Where Do You Find Inspiration?


(image courtesy of The Selby)

I often look at fashion and home design blogs and magazines for inspiration but I don't always look at something for exactly what it is. For instance, I love the pic above; the crispness of the word Lanvin, and the sharpness of the font opposed to the blurred background. The mix of black, blue, gold, green, white... I can see this being interpreted to an outfit (or a room); crisp black skinny jeans with sharp stilettos, a soft golden ivory cashmere cardigan with a light green silk camisole... What do you see?


How Connected Are You To Your Things?



Years back, I briefly worked for a fashion designer whose clothes are beautiful, delicate works of art (seriously they're
amazing). She made note of how I handled her clothing so gently, and how so many people were rough, even damaging pieces when they tried them on. We spoke about the common lack of connection and therefore lack of respect that people have towards things, whether it's theirs or not.

Considering there's a disposable option for everything these days including clothes, it's no wonder people have no connection with their things. There's no sense of ownership; no understanding that the things you take into your life are extensions of you and the life you want to live. And if that basic idea is lacking, there won't be this feeling that you have a duty to take care of your things.

I often hear people say that after a long week of work, they don't want to spend a Saturday 'organizing' or cleaning their space. I get people are busy but putting a little (focused) time and energy into arranging your home can alleviate some of the everyday stresses in your life; make it easier to get dressed in the morning, make a nice meal at the end of the day, to always know where your keys are...

How connected are you to your things?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Donate Your Electronics


(look how nice your closet can look when you clear out the unwanted
and unloved stuff you've been holding on to...)

Your old, broken electronics can and should be recycled.
But your newer things can and should be passed along to someone who can give it a new life:

- NY Mag did this quick article on where to bring your A/C, TV, computers and other things.
- NYC Stuff Exchange helps you find someone who wants your unwanted items.
- Laptop.org is taking laptops for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
- Make-A-Wish Foundation takes only new electronics and computers.
- Contact your local Police Department to donate cell phones for re-use at domestic violence centers.

Please Refresh Your Page


I had to edit the last post on electronics recycling since it wasn't sitting right on the page. Please refresh your page before reading to make sure you get all the info...

Thanks again for reading!!

Electronics Recycling is Back in NYC!



The Lower East Side Ecology Center is having electronics recycling events throughout NYC this spring. Drop off your unwanted electronics at any of these locations.

Residential waste only, they won't accept commercial waste.
There's no limit to how much stuff you can bring. Items they accept:
  • Computers (laptops & desktops, servers, mainframes)
  • Monitors
  • Printers, scanners, fax-machines, copiers
  • Network devices (routers, hubs, modems, etc.)
  • Peripherals (keyboards, mice, cables, etc.)
  • Components (hard drives, CD-ROMs, circuit boards, etc )
  • TVs, VCRs, & DVD Players
  • Audio-visual equipment
  • Cell phones, pagers, PDAs
  • Telecommunication (phones, answering machines, etc.)
MANHATTAN
March 28th
10am - 4pm
Union Square @ 17th St and Broadway

April 10th
10am - 4pm
Tekserve @ 119 W 23rd St, Chelsea

April 18th
10am - 4pm
Morningside Park, Morningside Ave between 113th and 114th St
Harlem


ROOSEVELT ISLAND
April 3rd
10am - 4pm
Good Shepherd Plaza @ 543 Main St Roosevelt Island


BROOKLYN
April 17th
10am - 4pm
Habana Outpost @ South Portland Ave and Fulton St Fort Greene

April 25th
10am - 4pm
PS 29 School Yard @ Baltic St between Henry and Clinton St Cobble Hill


QUEENS
April 11th
10am - 4pm
Travers Park @ 78th St between Northern Blvd and 34th Ave
Jackson Hghts


Don't forget to erase your personal data on your computers beforehand.
For PC's check out this great video from PC World.
Mac users try
these instructions from U of Delaware.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another Custom Closet for About $200

(before)
(after)


This particular client came to me as she was re-doing her apartment to make sure she was spending her money wisely and to make sure whatever she did, it was done right the first time.

She was originally thinking of using Elfa but I knew we could do it better and for a lot less money. I priced out Elfa vs a mix of hardware store options and Ikea. The Elfa came out to about $835, while the Ikea option came to about $210 (price not including tax, shipping, installation). The center unit (19 5/8"W x 22 7/8"D x 79 1/8"H) with it's 4 interior drawers, 2 shelves, and pull-out valet hook was about $140. Another pack of shelves and a closet rod that were all cut to fit around the center unit cost about $70.

For more pics, check out my flickr.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Quick Note...


I sometimes go back and edit posts after I've published them (like the recent Donations post). So please refresh the page if you're going to re-read something so you get the benefits of any changes I've made since you last read it.

Custom Closet for About $200

(before)
(after)




I love coming up with custom solutions for closets that don't cost an arm and a leg. This client came to me because she needed to make room in her 2-bedrm apartment for a new baby (due any day!). To do that, this closet needed to hold all her current and off-season clothes, shoes, and bags that were spread out in two closets.

The existing shelf was moved up to take advantage of the high ceiling. New Rubbermaid FreeSlide Shelves were cut to fit around a new center shelf unit to give much needed additional shelf and hanging space. The approximate cost of materials; center shelf unit, new shelves and brackets, valet hook, full length mirror, and small hooks was $200 (not including tax, transportation from lowes to apt, and installation).

In addition, on sale for 20% off, new metal hangers were bought for approx $190, two hanging hampers separate laundry from dry cleaning and canvas boxes store off season clothes on the upper shelf for approx $80.

This client has a beautiful collection of handbags, shoes, and boots that she prefers to keep in their boxes and dust bags. The bags she uses more often are stored on the center shelf. For more pics check out my flickr.

Where to Donate


Editing your things down can be hard, but sometimes figuring where to bring the things you'd like to pass along to someone else can be even harder. I hope this helps! Some of these are for NYC drop off only, but those with (*) are be sent to from anywhere in the country. Remember, bolded text is a link.

BABY/CHILDREN'S ITEMS
Baby Buggy, a 501 c 3 Accredited Charity founded in 2001, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing New York City's families in need with essential equipment, clothing, and products for their infants and young children.

CLOTHING/TOYS/FURNITURE
Room to Grow (NY and Boston)
Founded in 1998, Room to Grow is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of babies born into poverty throughout their critical first three years of development.

GAMES/BOOKS/VIDEOS
The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children.

BOOKS
SPECIALTY BOOKS FOR BUSINESS TRAINING
The Hope Program helps New Yorkers transcend the root causes of poverty by preparing them to find, keep, and grow careers. We blend vocational, educational, and social services with a lifelong commitment to a person's success.

DESIGN, COOKBOOKS, FICTION AND NON-FICTION, ETC
Housing Works is renowned for addressing the needs of people living with AIDS by offering a comprehensive array of health, housing, AIDS prevention, legal and case management services, we help our clients to empower themselves and actively manage their HIV.

TEXTBOOKS AND JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE
The Corporation for National and Community Service provides opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to volunteer and help meet community needs in education, the environment, public safety, homeland security, and other critical areas.

CLOTHING
ATHLETIC SHOES
Your worn-out athletic shoes can live on in something new: a track, basketball court, or a playground.

BRAS
The Bosom Buddy Program is a a textile recycling company, specializing in recycling bras and providing deserving women in our communities who are facing challenges with a basic lingerie staple.

PROM DRESSES AND ACCESSORIES
DonateMyDress.org is the first national campaign to encourage girls to donate their prom and special occasion dresses to those who cannot afford them for prom, sweet 16, quinceañera or formals.

Operation PROM was originally established to help low-income students attend their proms
by providing free prom dresses and tuxedo rentals.

Operation Fairy Dust was created in 2002 to provide NYC high school girls in need, with formal prom dresses, cosmetics, and accessories.

BUSINESS APPROPRIATE ATTIRE
*Dress For Success (women's only)
Founded in New York City in 1997, Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization offering services designed to help our clients find jobs and remain employed.

THEATRICAL COSTUMES/PERIOD CLOTHING
Theatre Development Fund (from 1950's and prior)
Contact Jim Crochet at jimc@tdf.org for details
Theatre Development Fund, a not-for-profit organization, was created with the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured. TDF’s twofold mission is to identify and provide support, including financial assistance, to theatrical works of artistic merit, and to encourage and enable diverse audiences to attend live theatre and dance in all their venues.

MISC CLOTHING, SHOES, ACCESSORIES, JEWELRY
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

Goodwill Industries International enhances the dignity and quality of life of individuals, families and communities by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need reach their fullest potential through the power of work.

All proceeds support the creation and design of costumes for new productions at New York City Opera.


FURNITURE/ART/HOUSEWARES
Founded in 1983, the Partnership for the Homeless is committed to building a just and equitable society and creating lasting community change through solution-oriented programs and policy initiatives that eliminate the root causes of homelessness.


FOOD (canned, non-perishable)
The Food Bank solicits, warehouses and distributes food to more than 1,000 food pantries, soup kitchens and other food assistance programs throughout the five boroughs. These programs, in turn, prepare balanced, nutritious meals for people who don't have enough money or resources for one of life's most basic necessities: food.


LARGE ELECTRONICS/APPLIANCES/BUILDING MATERIALS
Build It Green! NYC, is New York City's only non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials. Our warehouse has everything from panel doors to high end refrigerators and shutters to movie props. Our mission is to keep these materials out of the landfill, while offering deep discounts on their resale.

PRESCRIPTION GLASSES/HEARING AIDS
*Most eye glass stores take glasses for various redistribution programs. Simply go into your local store and ask.

Eyeglasses in good condition are sent to medical missions and international charitable organizations for distribution to the poor in developing nations. Proceeds from the sale of scrap metal, hearing aids, jewelry and giftware are used to purchase new eyeglasses for poor U.S. residents.

SHEETS/BEDDING/TOWELS + PET FOOD/TOYS/CRATES E
TC
*Most local veterinarian's office or animal shelters accept these things that would otherwise not be accepted. Ask you local place if they do.

SPORTS EQUIPMENT
Materials for the Arts, NYC helps artists realize their visions, provides students with a richer educational experience, and furnishes businesses with a simple and efficient way to enhance the cultural life of their city while promoting environmental awareness and reuse.

Sport Gift is focused on providing sports to underprivileged children throughout the world and promoting sports related community service among our youth.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thanks for the Mention!







There are so many great blogs out there that offer such a range of material that inspire me. I'm flattered that my work and my blog is an inspiration to others. I wanted to take a moment to thank those who've mentioned me and encourage you to check out their blogs if you haven't already:







Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Reader's Questions: Constant Moving + Staying Organized


(me a couple weeks after I moved into my current apt)

samia asks "I'm all about organization as well, but so far am not that successful with my endeavours coz we are frequent movers; as frequent as six months or worst 2 months. It's just my hubby and his projects... dont ask! Any tips or advice as I'm frustrated with my efforts to organize but still losing things and you know failing..."

Moving is truly the worst, so I feel your pain. Sounds like you need to take the time to properly edit and sort all your belongings. I'm guessing from moving so often, there are boxes that stay unpacked which says you probably don't need a lot of the things you have been dragging around with you. Editing down will not only make your life easier where you are now but that much easier when/if you have to move next time. Note: be respectful of your husband's things and don't edit his things without his permission! You wouldn't want him doing it to your things.

Sort your things together (all kitchen, all office, all memorabilia, all clothes, etc) and figure a way to store them where you are now, and reuse these techniques for the next place. There's no need to reinvent the wheel when setting your home up each time.

As far as your husband's things/projects, is it possible to keep those things separate so they aren't in your way? When working with couples I separate the storage for their personal things; things that aren't shared like clothes, personal memorabilia, hobby materials. It's so important to have some areas of the home that's yours only.

If you find yourself having to move again, here are a couple of good resources for you: Real Simple and the Gilbert Guide.