Saturday, August 27, 2011

Where to Start Organizing? In the Basement

There may be a small number of you out there that have houses so cluttered you might be fearful of being on a Hoarders episode. Maybe you just got done moving, or maybe all that stuff has been accumulating since the dawn of time, piling up higher and higher. Maybe it's only one room, and maybe it's taken over the whole house. And now you just don't know where to start.

I'll give you my advice: if you have a basement, start there. (If you don't have a basement, start with the attic.) Take three empty bins and sort through a small area, putting "give away/throw away" stuff in one bin, "keep (hidden)" stuff in the second bin, and things you'd like to display in the last bin. Once all three bins are full you will have enough room to move around. Immediately throw away or give away the stuff in the first bin. DO NOT keep it. Once it's gone, repeat the process, (and don't stall, or this will become part of the clutter problem, not the organizing solution). Start stacking the sorted bins and labelling them clearly. You should create a shelving system in the basement for these bins. Many people even designate an entire area as their holiday decoration area, so they're not digging through everything trying to find what they need.

How do you know what to keep and what to toss? If it isn't aesthetically beautiful, very useful, or doesn't have a deep sentimental value, you don't need it.
My basement (above) is not the greatest, nor is it finished, but thanks to the shelves and bins/boxes, it is clutter-free and has a lot of room left over for things I might need to put down there in the future.

Once the basement is sorted and there is no clutter left, you can move upstairs. The reason why it is important to start with the basement is a) because the things you've stored down there are often overlooked or unnecessary (you might be buying something you already have or keeping something you don't need that is eating up space), and b) once the basement is clean you will have enough space to store things that are upstairs and shouldn't be there, such as extras and holiday/seasonal items. Not everyone has space for storage upstairs, and we resort to tossing stuff in the basement and forgetting about it. It is much easier on us when everything is labeled and organized. Only you will know what can be stored in the basement, but at the very least it will be clean after you go through it and you will know exactly what's down there.
Since I have no room in the kitchen, all of my extra food and extra stuff is in the basement in one concentrated area so I always know what I have.

Repeat the process upstairs. You can find extra room in your closet if you put your seasonal clothes in waterproof bins in the basement, and likewise for coats and blankets. There might be a ton of stuff that can go into hiding - things like a relative's wedding dress, baby items you might need in the future, etc. For coats and dresses, make a closet in the basement. Pop-up closets are readily available at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond. The same goes for shoe storage. If you "think seasonally," you will have a lot more space year-round, alternating winter boots in a bin for summer sandals, etc.
Our shoe and coat storage is in the same place, half way down the stairs to the basement.

Remember the "give away/throw away" bin. Go through every room with this bin, and do this once a year. Once you've gotten rid of everything you don't want anymore you will have a lot more space. Next, tackle all those papers lying around. Every important document should be filed in a safe place, not just shoved in a drawer. Should you need that old surgery bill and the new electric bill at the same time, they'll both be in the same place. File cabinets can be stored in the basement as well, but otherwise, there should be a clear "office space" in your house. Try converting a bedroom closet into an office. Also, with new technology we are able to file papers electronically using scanners. This is a real space saver.

Everything else should be a breeze after that. Put pens in old mason jars, spare note paper in a shoe box, paper plates and plastic cups in a picnic basket, and magazines in a magazine holder. Everything should have a designated "put-away" spot.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Stripes in Home Decor

There are many things we associate stripes with: prison, flags, menswear, cabanas, circus tents, awnings, all things nautical, and outdoor furniture, just to name a few. Stripes in the home are classic and timeless. Just like how black and white is hard to not look chic, stripes can make the room complete. You can achieve a particular look with stripes depending on what else is in the room.
Dash and Albert rug via
I wouldn't put a baby blue striped nautical rug in a cabin filled with heavy brown leather furniture and antler chandeliers, but I would put one in a bright beach house. And that doesn't mean nautical stripe rugs can only be put in places near the water, it just means using certain colors and patterns to your home's advantage. That baby blue nautical stripe rug by Dash and Albert might look great in your city apartment (nowhere near the beach), or a little country home, if the walls and hardwood floors are a light color and you have fun, colorful or white accessories.
Warner Wallcoverings via

You might achieve a posh, modern, upscale appearance by using stripes on the walls, (as seen in the images above and below), either on every wall in the room or just on an accent wall. In the image above, the room could easily have given a different impression with a different console table and drapes. As it looks in the picture it is refined and somewhat...rustic, perhaps, but with a glossy bold-colored console table, glittery vintage accessories, and linen parachute drapes, it could easily have looked circus chic.
This room looks very posh because of the sleek furniture and modern accessories. Elle Decor

You can use stripes as a sort of backsplash to a vignette, or you can paint or wallpaper the inside of a bookcase for an interesting background for things you love.

I also mentioned "circus chic" before, which might seem really weird, but it can be very cool.
These red stripes in designer Kristiina Ratia's home are a good example, via Elle Decor

Maybe just a shower curtain? via Elle Decor

And I could see these pink stripes in a circus tent with ponies.

How about some cabana stripes for an in-home cultural, festive experience? This might go well with greens and browns or other earth tones for a natural atmosphere.
Lisa Stasiulewicz via Lonny Magazine July 2011

What about stripes that can make a room seem like a vintage candy shop?
Ofer Kamil house tour via Apartment Therapy
Or a little African animal exhibit in the nursery?
Dillon Kyle Architects via Decorpad
Lastly, there are "French stripes." You might give your kitchen, for example, a French atmosphere by pairing white and rattan bistro chairs, a small table to eat at with "French blue" and white striped tea towels. Another room might feature a baby blue and roses pattern and etched or painted mirrored furniture.
Or some French blue/awning stripes in your drapes...
Pottery Barn via

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dining Room Chandelier Options

A while ago I thought I had the perfect chandelier picked out for my dining room. Then I realized it was so tall it would almost touch the table. So I had to start looking again. My mother constantly suggests an airy wrought iron chandelier, and I tell her it is too "heavy" for the room. Then I found this beauty, made of bronze and crystal. It is foresty and magical.

What do you think? Would it look nice in my as-yet-unfinished dining room (below)?

I really hate the website for not having CLEAR, detailed, large photos. But I was extremely happy with the bedroom chandelier (see below) so I trust them.

Then they also have the smaller mate to it, which I would put in the living room.

If you see the pictures of my house you know that the living room and dining room are open to each other and you would be able to see both chandeliers at the same time. That is why it is important to me that they match each other. (See living room through dining room below.)

Oh this is so exciting...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Six Steps to a Home Makeover

1.      Separate items into three different piles: display, storage/hidden, and garage sale/giveaway.

2.      Decide on a color palatte and a general idea of what you want the room to look like. Maybe something in your "display" pile (from step one) will make you choose a certain color scheme, or possibly the color of the floors, or the colors in nearby rooms. One of the best things to do in order to find out what you like is to go through home magazines, home decorating blogs, online shelter magazines, and designing websites. Save the pictures you like and your room can be inspired by the colors and things you love from your favorite pictures.

3.      Once you have at least the color of the walls picked out, move on to how much furniture you will need and where it will go. Create a layout. Try using painter's tape on the floor in the measurements of the furniture, new or old, that you want in the room. Having to walk around the tape will give you a better sense of the space before it is finished.

4.      Once the layout is approved, move on to the color and style of furniture. Maybe you have furniture already that you would like to use. Otherwise, a budget will be created for new furniture and everything else that will need to be bought, such as bed linens, curtains, area rugs, lamps, art and accessories.

5.      Working within the budget, furniture and accessories will be bought on a slow basis. Not everything should be bought all at once, so that there is room to make changes. You might decide part of the way through the makeover that the wall color isn’t really working for you, or the rug doesn’t really match the curtains. Adding things slowly will give you time to assess the progress.

6.      A space should be continually evolving to meet your aesthetic needs and become as efficient for you as possible, meaning, you should always try improving and adding to the space over time, letting the room grow, and adding things you love or switching things around so that they make more sense for how you use them.

In the picture above, the color palatte is traditional, classic black and white. The soft dove grey paint color, crown molding, chair with draped robe, and black, white, and sepia framed photographs accentuate the comfortable, timeless ambiance. Nothing else is needed but a mirror.
Matt Camron in Elle Decor via Shelter (blog)
In the photo above, an unusual and elegant layout works well with an oversized black-framed mirror relflecting a dresser (instead of a sideboard) on the opposite wall. An elegant rug matches the apricot color of the French-style chairs and the same color in the drapes. A velvet settee adds drama and sophistication, while connecting to the other pieces with an apricot colored pillow. There are small console tables on each side of the settee to add balance and interest, each with accessories and art on them. The art on these tables matches the art seen on the dresser through the mirror, and the two lime table lamps give the space a pop of added interest, glam, and fun.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A New Page and Pretty Rooms

As you see above, I have added a new link on this blog called "Tour The Condo," located right next to "Tour My House." It is our family owned condo on the beach, which my mother completely remodled and decorated. (The beginnings of my obsession with all things home started with her, including my hobby of watching HGTV and the DIY channel, my love of vintage furniture and glasses, my need to have wine decanters and an ice bucket, my grandmother's dishes, and fancy bed linens.)

I thought I might do a regular post on the condo pictures, but since they're already on this blog, I have a better idea of what to post today. I'm sure these pictures are all over every blog by now, but of course they are because this is one nice bathroom.

Anile Prakash via Design Sponge

And here's a special set of photos found on The Nester...

Images: personal photos via

P.S. I found glitter paint at Home Depot and it is AWESOME! I think I might glitter-paint something if I have a baby girl one day, because what little girl doesn't love glitter? And it would give her room something special.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I hate you Anthropologie. You make such pretty things and offer them at such ridiculous prices for the average person. Your sale section is no different. You're just like Horchow. But, oh, how I want the following items... *cough* anniversary is coming up *cough*
Mount Yotei pillow (Anthropologie sale section)
my sofa needs this
Lakarri Curtain (Anthropologie sale section, only teal color available)
my dining room needs these

Immured Agate Bracelet (Anthropologie sale section)
Chapter bracelet (Anthropologie sale section)
LOVE the white + agate

Above the Fray Cap (Anthropologie sale section)
I totally could've used this on Mackinaw Island...maybe for next year?

Floridian Oasis Heels (Anthropologie sale section)
I would need a size 41 in these, either color, although the darker one is nice =)
By the way this is actually a good price for heels...

Stanzas Tunic (Anthropologie sale) size Large please =)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Pillow I Dream Of

Isn't it gorgeous? I found it in a little Mackinac Island shop and passed it by
because I thought my cats might shred it or pee on it.  (By Catstudio)
I have been missing this pillow for days.

But on a more pleasant note, look at this yummy home-baked pie!
Multiberry Pie (blackberry, blueberry, cherry) from a small country/lakeshore
drive-by place on our drive home. I ate most of it while it was still hot.

When I got home I checked my email and found this little gem:
Jocelyn Warner wallpaper via Design Sponge

And here is how I feel right now...
I love you food and Sailor Moon
Right now I am trying like hell to stop eating this mocha fudge before I get sick
but it's just sooooo good

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mackinac Island

This past weekend my husband and I visited Mackinac Island for a sort of one year anniversary honeymoon. We had a lot of fun and took a lot of pictures. We did the usual activities that everyone should do on the island: bike the 8 miles around the island, shop, eat, try to make it past the rocks in order to swim, and play glow-in-the-dark mini golf, which is a recent addition to the island. There is a lot more to do, of course, like visit the Grand Hotel, the Governor's summer house, the butterfly house, the haunted museum, parasailing, golfing, and horseback riding.

The ride up was nice. It would have been about a 6 hour drive from our house to the island, but thankfully my mom has a condo halfway between, so we were able to stay the night there driving to and from. (I'll share pictures of her condo next post.) We passed by very scenic towns such as Traverse City, Charlevoix and Petosky.

Mackinac Island has no cars, only bikes and horses (and possibly snow mobiles) so you have to leave your car on the mainland. We took the ferry over, and the weather was great during our whole stay.

We stayed right in the middle of town at the Lakeview Hotel, which was very, very nice. We were on the top floor and could see the pool down below.

I have an underwater digital camera, so we had lots of fun taking pictures in the pool and in the lake.

Then we went out and explored the town a little, admiring the architechture, old-style feel, Victorian charm, simple means of transportation and good food.

Then we went bike riding around the island and took pictures by the natural landmarks.

And because of my love of houses and decorating, I couldn't help but take a couple pictures of the pretty houses along the beach. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the best ones. Maybe next time.