Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Glossy Situation" Update!


You might remember not too long ago I posted about magazine organization. I got a lot of great comments from readers who seem to have the same problem with hoarding magazines (thank goodness).

Well, I thought I'd give a quick update on some progress I've made in that area ('cuz I know you've just been dying to find out). The other day I was at Wal-Mart and ran across some magazine holders that were marked down (err... "rolled back") from $6 to $4.50 each. Not bad, considering the prices I've seen of some other fancy mag holders! There were only 4 brown ones left, so I just grabbed 'em all. I figured it was meant to be.

So instead of baskets overflowing with stacks of magazines that you have to dig through....

I now have these handy-dandy holders in our living room, guest bedroom, and office. 

Such a simple change, but I feel so much more organized! But once all my new holders get full, I might have to force myself to recycle some old issues (only tearing out and saving articles that really interest me, as some people suggested).

Hooray for specialized storage solutions!

Hey, don't say I didn't warn you this post was gonna be a boring one :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Couch Crater

For today's post, I present to you...  

The Crater:

The Culprit:

Phoebe. Acting innocent as usual.

The Solution:

The Dyson Absolute Animal DC17 (and mini turbine head for picking up pet hair). More on this lovely investment some other time.

The End Result:

A little cushion-fluffing doesn't hurt, either.
It won't stay like this for long, though. The crater will rear its ugly head (and hair) again in a couple days, courtesy of Phoebe.

Do you have a couch crater?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Glossy Situation

Inquiring minds want to know... or at least this girl's does:

 What do you do with all your magazines? I currently have several subscriptions... InStyle, Bon Appetit, House Beautiful, and Better Homes & Gardens. I also buy the occasional glossy off the rack when something in particular strikes my fancy.

I keep some of my magazines at work to read over lunch hour, and the rest here at home in baskets (which are starting to get a bit unruly). 

I think there are probably more buried in a box or storage bin somewhere in this house. Someday I'll go through them and recycle all of the really old ones, but I still like keeping most of them on hand. I guess I always think that I'll want to refer back to something, even though I rarely do. 

So, do you keep your magazines? Toss them? Recycle them? Organize them in magazine holders like these?

Do you display them out in the open, or hide them away in a closet somewhere? I've also thought about just tearing out only the articles that interest me and keeping those in a file. Maybe I would be more likely to give them a second look later on... 

I don't want to accumulate any more clutter than necessary, so why do I find it so difficult to part ways with all my mags??

Please divulge your storage solutions!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Look ma, no sewing!

Earlier this week, I was majorly inspired by Sara's DIY "curtains" over at Russet Street Reno. (In fact, you can see them over there on my list of DIY projects I want to copy.) I've been looking for some window treatments for the large window in our guest bedroom, which is currently covered with a bedsheet that's become much more permanent than it was supposed to be. Embarrassing. But I've been too cheap to buy any curtains because all the ones I've seen are so expensive (especially the 96" length, which is what we need). Sara's curtains looked very do-able and required no sewing, thanks to Stitch Witchery. Seeing as how I don't sew, I liked the sound of that!

So this morning, I headed out to Hobby Lobby to see if I could find some cheap fabric for this project. I didn't find anything I was crazy about there, so I ended up next door at Hancock Fabrics where they were having a big sale. I don't go fabric-shopping very often, so I was overwhelmed by all the different kinds. I was there for over an hour trying to figure out what to use, until I starting thinking that maybe I should try this on a project of a smaller scale first. The curtains were seeming pretty intimidating.

Coincidentally enough, I've also been looking for a runner for our dining room table. We have placemats now, but they seem to overwhelm the table, and I'd prefer something that disguises the hideous gap running down the middle:

So I decided to look for some fabric I could use for a runner instead. I ended up finding some on clearance for only $3 a yard. It had a similar look to our plain placemats, but I wanted something simple so I could still sit things on it without looking too busy. I got 2 1/2 yards just to be on the safe side, for a grand total of $7.97. I also picked up some 1/4" Steam-A-Seam 2 Double Stick fusible fabric iron-on hemming (that's a mouthful!) I got a 20-yard roll for $4.99. I was going to get Stitch Witchery, but the lady I talked to said that if I was going to do curtains, the Steam-A-Seam was more durable, so I took her word for it.

When I got home, I cut out a panel about 74" long by 16" wide. (The fabric was 54" wide, so I have plenty left for another project in the future... or another runner, in case I screwed this one up)  Using the Steam-A-Seam was pretty simple, but it took time to make sure that I was folding the hem over into a straight line. I'm sure there are more efficient ways of doing this type of thing, but I just used a measuring tape and measured every so often to make sure my width was consistent. 

Taking Sara's advice, I ironed the hem first without the adhesive in it, so I had a nice fold as a guide. Then I just cut strips of Steam-A-Seam and placed them inside the fold, removed the backing, and folded the hem over. 10 to 15 seconds with the iron, and voila! A no-sew hem! Amazing.

I repeated the process until I was done with both of the long sides. Then, I just used the trusty ol' eyeball method (shhhh, don't tell my husband) to fold over the two short sides. I used two strips on each side just for good measure.

When I was finished, I trimmed the excess hem just to clean it up a bit. It's the type of fabric that frays super-easy, so there were threads all over the place by the time I was finished. For that reason, I'm not sure I want to wash this runner much, unless I find a way to keep the edges from fraying. Any tips?

So it's not beautiful on the underside, but who's ever going to know? (Besides you.) You seamstresses out there would probably scoff at me for my feeling of accomplishment -- and rightly so -- but I'm so proud, I could just burst at the steam-a-seams! Ha.

I brought out a few PartyLite candle holders from our bedroom to dress it up a little, and I think this is a definite upgrade from the placemats. For an hour and a half worth of work, and coming in at under $10 (not including the Steam-A-Seam), that's hard to beat! 

So now that I've conquered this project, I think I might be ready to move up to curtain panels for the guest bedroom (and maybe other rooms?!). I have a feeling it'll take me a lot longer to pick out the fabric for those, but I hope to get around to it soon! The bedsheet must come down.

I think this Steam-A-Seam is going to open up a whole new world of possibilities that I previously thought was out of reach! Thanks again to Sara for the inspiration!

Update: I was so proud of my table runner, I linked this post up to the Saturday Nite Special party over at Funky Junk Interiors.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I need some console-ation, please

If there's one area of our house that has really provided some design challenges for me, it would be our front entryway. I don't even really know what to call this space. Calling it an actual room seems generous. It's just the space that people walk through to get from the dining room to the living room or the hallway. The layout is just weird to me... It's not a very functional use of space at all, and I just haven't figured out how to bring out its full potential.

I think the space in front of the picture window is technically a "formal dining room" because of the placement of the light fixture (which the builders put there). But if so, it's pretty small and impractical.
 Well anyway... for now I'll focus on just one corner of this "room"  -- the wall behind the door. It was just a few months ago that we finally hung up a picture there so it wouldn't look so empty. That helped a little, but it still seems barren to me.

I think that a small console table could be the solution for this space. And it would also give me more shelf space to display pretty things.  :)  I've been looking around for the perfect one, but haven't quite found the right combination of looks, size, and price.
Adams Console Table from Target - $125.99
A little bit too long and deep, but close to something that I'd want.

Anywhere Console Table from Pier 1 - $199.95
This has a different look with the drawers in the middle, but I think I really like it! Alas, I am too much of a cheapskate to spend this much.

The good news is, my husband is pretty handy with power tools and has built a couple pieces of furniture for us before (I'll save those for another post). He's offered to build a console table for me if I figure out all the dimensions and what I want it to look like. And considering that we already have some wood on hand, it would hopefully be an affordable project. The only drawback is it could take awhile because Luke has a lot of other stuff keeping him busy, too. So I wouldn't get the immediate gratification of just going out and buying something, but I suppose it's worth the trade-off! 

I know that I'd like it to have a simple, clean design -- nothing too ornate or heavy (I don't want to add to the production time!). A drawer or two would be nice, and possibly another shelf at the bottom. And maybe it should be taller than it is wide, so as not to block the sidelight. The other piece of furniture we have in this "room" (on the opposite wall) is black with a rubbed, antique-looking finish -- so a console table should probably match that?? 

What do you think? Have you seen any fab console tables lately that I could use for inspiration? Or maybe you have another idea altogether for this space, in which case, lemme hear it!

It might be awhile, but I'll be sure to update you on what we end up doing! (Will Luke actually build a console table? Will I get frustrated and impatient and just end up shelling out the $$ for one at the store? Or will I find a piece with potential on craigslist? Stay tuned...)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lamp Love

We don't have a lot of table lamps in our house, aside from an old one in our bedroom, and it's just not an item that I ever consciously think about purchasing. Perhaps it's because they're always too expensive, or the fact that we just don't have a lot of space for lamps.

Well, while I was out and about today, I stopped in Pier1 for no particular reason (always a dangerous idea). I almost ended up buying more Christmas clearance decor, until I discovered a selection of 50% off table lamps that I couldn't seem to drag myself away from. I'll be the first to admit it was definitely an impulse purchase, but I ended up leaving with not just one, but two lovely lamps:

Ecru Serena Lamp - $19.98 (originally $40)

This lamp replaced the antique-y looking one we previously had our bedroom end table. A very sophisticated upgrade!

Crackle Luster Lamp - $32.98 (originally $66)
I knew I wanted this one right away when I saw it, but wasn't quite sure where it would go. For now, this beauty is residing on an end table in our living room.

I must say that I'm pretty happy with these purchases! Not too shabby for just over $50 (right?). I have a newfound appreciation for table lamps and how they can transform the look of a room. And I'm glad I decided to put my money toward these, which will be seen everyday, instead of more Christmas stuff!  :)

Besides lamps, are there any other basic home accents that you think have a big effect on a room's appearance?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The most under-utilized space in the house

Our master bathroom is huge. It’s practically as big as our bedroom, and that’s only a slight exaggeration (our bedroom is also a little on the small side though). The reason the bathroom is so big is because of the Whirlpool soaker tub, which we thought was a pretty sweet feature when we first saw the house:

However, since we’ve lived here, this is how we’ve utilized our tub:
1) A place to haphazardly drape pajamas and other clothing items that we’re too lazy to put away
2) A place to put my drying rack for hand-washed clothes
3) A ledge for dust-collecting tealight candles (as part of a pathetic attempt to make it look “romantic”)

 In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times that we’ve actually used the tub for its intended purpose. Most of those were probably during the sprinkler system and sod projects, when we wanted to wind down and soak our aching muscles. It’s really sad that the tub is so under-utilized. I’m not sure why we don’t take advantage of it more often, other than the fact that it takes a long time to fill, and it takes a LOT of water.

It would also probably help if this corner of the bathroom was more inviting. Don't get me wrong, the 10-foot ceilings are great, but they also make for vase expanse of empty wall that’s screaming for some TLC (a common theme throughout the rest of the house). Perhaps some candle sconces like these would make for a cozy atmosphere?

This one is probably too small (and much more than I want to pay), but I really like the style!

I've had these two mirrored sconces sitting on our bedroom floor for the past 3 months because I haven't been able to commit to a place for them yet. (I got them on sale at Z Gallerie for $15/ea!) Maybe the bathroom should be their new home?

I’m also intrigued by the vinyl words and phrases that you can apply to your wall, like those from Uppercase Living. I’m particularly fond of this one for the bathroom:

"Soak Your Troubles Away"

Now wouldn’t that look lovely with a sconce on either side? However, I’m not sure that these vinyl words will adhere very well to textured walls like ours. And I don’t want to spend $21.95 only to find it doesn’t work. Anyone have any experience with them?

Here’s the other idea that would be pretty friggin’ cool. There’s a cable jack above the doorway and enough room for a small, flat-panel TV. Nice, huh? Except that I don’t want to spend the money on a TV that’s just a pure luxury. So, scratch that idea…for now.

Truth be told, I’d probably rather trade the soaker tub if it meant having a larger bedroom, or a larger shower (with two showerheads!). But we’ve got it, and I think we’d be more likely to use it (or at least less likely to use it as a clothes rack) if it were all beautified. Do you have an under-utilized tub, or any other [cheap] ideas on how to dress ours up?

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Never underestimate the power of Rubbermaid

While Hubby was helping out his parents on a project of their own today, I took the opportunity to tackle a project that we've been putting on the back burner for months. It involves storage and organization, which Hubs isn't too fond of anyway. Since our dungeon basement is unfinished, we're mainly using it for four purposes right now: 
1) A game room (consisting of a dart board, ping pong table, and a crappy craigslist pool table)
2) A place for Phoebe's food and litter box
3) Laundry
4) Storage
And by "storage," this is what I mean:

This is just one of several areas of our basement that looks like this, but it's probably the messiest. No rhyme or reason to anything whatsoever. Since we moved in, we've pretty much been using the laundry "room" as a place to throw store mostly Christmas stuff, but also packing materials, random crap that we don't want to deal with, and empty cardboard boxes of all sizes. Lots of boxes. Boxes within boxes. Why do we need so many boxes? It's as though we're hoarding them in case there's a worldwide box shortage someday. But seriously, you never know when you're going to need a good box, right? Anyway, I digress.

It all started innocently enough, as I was just planning on putting away a few Christmas decorations today. Then I decided - especially since it's a new year - that this would be the perfect time to do some major re-organization. I ran all over Walmart like a madwoman, grabbing as many storage containers as I could. Turns out they're a hot commodity right now, as I had to go to a couple different Walmarts to find what I needed. (And somehow I also managed to accidentally knock a few more 75% off Christmas decorations into my cart...oops.)
But the real fun started when I got home. After several hours of this (which Phoebe was turning into her own personal playground):

I finally achieved this:

The transformation is even more impressive in person, but you can see quite an improvement here. I never thought I'd buy special containers just for wrapping paper and a wreath, but they make such a difference! Necessary? No. Genius? Yes. Much more attractive and sturdy than a plastic bag or a cardboard box. I also brought down the green plastic drawers that weren't being utilized very well in one of our closets upstairs. They now house our tissue paper, gift bags, and other miscellaneous gift wrapping materials. And thanks to a Sharpie and some white labels, it's easy to tell what's what. You'll notice there are fewer empty boxes in the corner, too. I managed to throw a few of the crappy ones away, consolidated some of the smaller ones, and put the rest up in our storage loft in the garage. 'Cuz you just never know...

I feel so much better after accomplishing this feat. This is life-changing, people! Ok, not quite, but it's up there. We still have a lot of other boxes to go through in the basement, but this is a big step, and totally worth the $45 in storage containers! (I also bought 4 other plastic tubs that I haven't even used yet.) And now I don't have to cringe every time I go do a load of laundry. 

Do you have any major organization plans in your near future?


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