Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Ali is moving and needs your support


Posted by Ali | View all posts by Ali
15 Comments » | Published in Decorating Modern, House Tours, Lofts, Real Rooms  |  15 Comments

I am moving to a new space and I know I am going to need some mental support. I know, people move every day so it is not a big deal, but because moving is such a source of stress I think there should be a support group out there to help us who are feeling crazed (as I am). I’ve been bugging the folks in my office about the move for long enough that I now need a new outlet (aka the blog and you!).

The move is a totally great thing as we’ll be upgrading from 502 square feet to nearly 1200 square feet, but when you go from a cozy small craftsman style apartment to a spacious loft the headache in figuring out how best to use the space (let alone the moving process) is a little overwhelming.

Here is a photo of the space from the loft/bedroom area:

Ali\'s loft

To give you an idea as to what I am working with

  • It is a corner unit so there are two walls of windows.
  • The red industrial beam going across the theater curtains is about 17 feet high from the floor. From floor to ceiling we’re talking about 30+ feet.
  • The theater curtains (although not the most attractive) are staying which while keeping the sun out of our eyes also saves us from paying $283795729385 for fabric.
  • The floor space in the living area is huge…I am not sure what the square footage is but it is big enough for a living area, a dining area, and desks/office
  • I have to keep the format flexible so we can use the space for photo shoots.
  • The black line down the center of the photo is actually a cable to hang pendant lamps (no overhead lighting currently available, aye!).
  • There will be a dog involved…meet Finney:


So my questions to you are: What would you do with the space?!?! Consider that we are in an economic crises and our budget is about as tight as an empty wallet. Lighting at night is an issue and our wall space is essentially limited to only one side (i.e. two walls are windows, one wall is a kitchen, and the other is a massively tall wall). We currently have a couch, a chair (yes, just one chair), two Steelcase desks, a TV, and a smattering of storage pieces. No rugs, no lighting, no dining table and no ladder (ummm, yeah. We’ll have to get one of those).


I plan to share the progression of the move so you can give me advice along the way (and/or see how painful it is so you’ll never want to move again). Any support, design ideas, or even “It is going to be ok, Ali” coaching is very much appreciated. I’ll even send a box of cookies if your advice or encouragement helps keep me sane.

p.s. We’ve only packed 1 box so far…and we have movers coming on Sunday. Gray hairs are growing.

About Ali:
I enjoy wood paneled station wagons, German food and senior citizens (I am 80 years old at heart). Nearly every weekend I am taking photos at other people's weddings and I have a blog of my own (but I don't update it often enough). I love to paint, sew and knit. Check out my DP Staff profile on Hatch.

About Ali

Ali has written 149 post in this blog.

I enjoy wood paneled station wagons, German food and senior citizens (I am 80 years old at heart). Nearly every weekend I am taking photos at other people's weddings and I have a blog of my own (but I don't update it often enough). I love to paint, sew and knit. Check out my DP Staff profile on Hatch.



  1. kitpollard says:

    October 16th, 2008 at 4:43 am (#)

    Oh – stressful – good luck! I hate moving enough that I don’t think I’ll ever do it again.

    But what an amazing new space. I would love to live in a loft, if only so that I could dream about buying a cool screen to delineate space.

    What kind of storage pieces do you have? Because as much as I love screens, if I was moving into that space, my first purchase would probably have to be a bookcase that could double as a “wall”.

  2. Ali says:

    October 16th, 2008 at 9:20 am (#)

    Hey Kit!

    I totally agree with the “bookcase wall” to divide spaces. I proposed that idea to “the boy” and he said the only caveat is that he wants to be able to move stuff out of the way so he can set up a photography studio from time to time. I think I’ll keep pushing the idea though…

    Don’t ever move! I heard it is the #3 cause of stress for people (behind death and divorce). I can actually feel the gray hairs growing.

  3. Becky says:

    October 16th, 2008 at 11:36 am (#)

    Ali, don’t buy stuff just to fill it. Have fun combing the flea markets and finding things you really love. I highly recommend reading all of Victoria over at sfgirlbybays posts about her own pad and how she switches it up.

    It looks like an amazing space – a corner unit is a real coup! (did I spell that right?). It’s definitely a smart thing to keep those drapes, you’re right, it’s so expensive and difficult to replaces those, and they are an absolute necessity!

    This place is so tall you could actually build a second-story loft bedroom area down the road!

  4. Ali says:

    October 16th, 2008 at 11:53 am (#)

    I completely agree: no frivolous buying. We have made a pact not to do this.

    As for flea market buying…yes, yes, yes! There is a great junk/recycle warehouse (Urban Ore) down the road from us and they have some stellar items. I just bought a butter yellow/chartreuse-ish Steelcase desk from them a week or so ago…I’ll post some pictures once we get in the space. The best parts about the desk: the $0.22 cent USPS stamp in the drawer and the very old gum stuck under the desktop.

  5. Antoi says:

    October 16th, 2008 at 12:00 pm (#)

    Hi Ali,

    Happy Belated Bday, and congrats on the huuuuge space! That’s great to play around with. Don’t sweat redesigning the space right away. Things will come together, and it will be sweeter when you’ve carefully chosen all the bits and pieces to make it your own.

    Now with that said, those curtains are making me sad. There I said it! Perhaps checking a local theater to see if they have any sheer curtains, or scrims they can sell for cheap would help? Or maybe think about using removable white window film, which doesn’t cost too much. Although it will block the view. I also think any new curtains need to hang from either below that beam, or all the way from the top.

    The bookshelf idea is good. For a tight budget, I say check Craigslist as often as you can. I’ve found some amazing pieces on the cheap this way. Sometimes their “free” section offers up a gem or two. I also like what this guy did with bookshelves in his space to bring in a little privacy and translucency.

    As for lighting, I am not a fan of the standard overhead light. Of course, it’s great to have a beautiful pendant, but you can get some great lighting by strategically placing lamps around to brighten the space. I love lamp light so much, I used to have one in my kitchen! Not too hard to find these secondhand if you’re on a budget. Here’s an AT “smallest coolest” video I love, that shows some examples of beautiful, budget lighting.

    I’m excited to see how your space progresses!

  6. Antoi says:

    October 16th, 2008 at 12:01 pm (#)

    p.s. Finney = very cute

  7. Ali says:

    October 16th, 2008 at 12:24 pm (#)


    So much good lighting advice. We have plans to buy two of the Lights Up! Deco Delux pendants from DP and also hope to find lots of other floor/table lamps from various second hand places. I love lighting too but right now I am feeling like a novice…I hope to some day become a “lamp tramp” like Roy Marvin! Oh, and I love his floor lamp (and all of the ideas) in his bathroom!

    The curtains make me sad too, but they also make me happy because we don’t have to find something **fairly quickly** before we move in. In looking at the space yesterday I realized that I had no idea how they got the curtains up there! I think the rental company bought them from the previous owners so we may be stuck. I’ll try and get creative…

  8. Emily says:

    October 16th, 2008 at 6:22 pm (#)

    Congrats on the lovely, bright, open space, Ali!

    As a Professional Organizer, I work with people all the time who are moving, and I know it can be a crazily stressful experience. Here are a few tips that can help keep the madness under control in terms of packing and unpacking:

    1.) Take a bit of time before the packers come to weed out anything you’re not absolutely committed to finding a spot for in the new house. If you haven’t used something at your current place (and it’s not something you really, truly love), chances are you won’t use it at the new place. Letting it go now means you don’t have to deal with it in the midst of the chaos on the other end.

    2.) Aim to pack things together based on where you want them to be in the new space, which may not be the same as where they are in your current home. If there are things in, say, your kitchen that you know you’ll want in a different room in the new house, box them up together and label that box with its new location (Office, Living Room, etc.).

    3.) Pack a few boxes or bags of stuff you’ll need right away after the move: basic clothes, essential toiletries, a few cleaning products, a bit of food. Also, carry truly valuable/important stuff yourselves, rather than handing it over to the movers.

    4.) Consider enlisting a friend, or hiring someone, to help coordinate things on your packing and moving days. It can help *immensely* not to be the one (or the only one) who has to field questions, worry about logistics, and so on.

    5.) Think about the boxes and furniture you’ll need first once you’re in the new house, and arrange with the movers to have that stuff put on the truck last so it’ll be the first stuff that gets unloaded at the other end.

    In terms of using the large open space in your new home, I really like Ikea’s Expedit shelves (
    as a room divider. They’re not quite as monolithic as a set of closed-back shelves, but they still do a really good job of splitting up the space. Put them on locking casters and you’ve got a unit that’s easy to move when you need it out of the way.

    Good luck, and here’s hoping the pleasant parts of being in such a great new space ultimately outweigh the stresses of the moving process!

  9. Jackie Von Tobel says:

    October 18th, 2008 at 10:28 am (#)

    WHEELS – the key to effective loft living. Slap them on everything, that way you can rearrange to your hearts delight — It’s a great space – have fun!

  10. Antoi says:

    October 20th, 2008 at 10:14 am (#)

    Yup – casters are your friend!

  11. ali says:

    October 20th, 2008 at 11:30 am (#)


    Your list of tips was so incredibly helpful. I read it before the move yesterday and there were facets that I would have overlooked if I hadn’t had your list (like a bag of toiletries!…although I did forget my toothbrush, aye). Luckily we had an amazing duo of movers who were smart enough to load the big/important furniture pieces last. I don’t know what would have done without the movers!


    Casters (with locks for us earthquake prone folks) are brillant. I think we plan on investing in these for sure.

    Kit, Becky, Antoi, Emily, Jackie…What kinds of cookies do you guys like? You all have certainly helped me immensly!

  12. murphy says:

    October 21st, 2008 at 11:16 am (#)

    Hi Ali,

    I’m a designer in LA and I just happened upon your posting while searching for something else on AT. Your space is amazing!

    You could hang painted canvases from the ceiling in front of some of the window sections to break up the weight of the (ugly) curtains. Also, burlap is a beautiful textured material that’s super cheap ($1.50 per yard) and it makes a beautiful window covering and or space divider. The same goes for cheesecloth — it’s inexpensive and looks good draped over windows.

    Floor lamps will certainly help make the separate sections of the space feel more cozy and intimate. Rugs will do the same thing and will delineate areas and provide a focal point for the eye.

    Potted tress will soften the edges of the room and give it some life.

    I could do a quick couple of furniture plan options for you if you’d like (I’ve got a temporary lull in work) but you’d have to measure the space for me.

    Good luck!

  13. ali says:

    October 21st, 2008 at 2:27 pm (#)

    Thanks for all the suggestions, Murphy! We are thinking we are going to put the theater curtains up half way so we can have something that is a little less cirque du soleil in the room (but we will keep the theater curtains for heating/lighting issues…plus we have no idea how we’d get them down). I like the idea of the burlap or cheesecloth…I’ll have to look into buying those in mass quantities.

    Rugs and lots of lighting are on the list of things to buy (along with a ladder and a dining set)

    Yes to potted trees! I have one kumquat tree at the moment but hope to start adding to the collection.

    I’ll be posting more photos soon so you can see what we are working with. If you are bored and want to draw up a few furniture plan options, I can’t say no! I’ll get the dimensions of the space shortly. (I’d love to post your ideas on the blog too if you wouldn’t mind…just e-mail me: ali [at]

    Thanks, Again!

  14. murphy says:

    October 22nd, 2008 at 4:18 pm (#)

    I sent you further suggestions to the email address, but I’m not sure it went anywhere…..Let me know if you got it.

  15. Ali says:

    October 23rd, 2008 at 9:02 am (#)

    Hey Murphy,

    I sure did get your suggestions…thank you! I’d like to share with everyone what you sent:

    “The center wire for hanging pendants is good, but it forces you to visually slice the space in half lengthwise. If you add 1 or 2 wires going across the space then you’ll have a lot more options for overhead lighting locations, and/or fabric panel space dividers. You’ll just need masonry bolts and heavy fishing line.

    Are you a photographer? Is that why things need to be movable? Having everything on castors sounds cool and flexible, but might end up making things look industrial and prop-like. It’s your home, so certain areas need to feel stable and solid and super comfortable.

    Don’t feel constrained to placing furniture only on the wall side. You can certainly put a sofa or a pair of chairs up against either of the window walls. Plus, as someone else suggested you can create walls out of bookcases, as well as fabric panels, big presentation boards on casters, trees, etc.

    Ok, last thought for today: try to keep your office space (wherever it ends up going) separate from your living space. You need to be able to close it off so that it’s not beckoning to you every second of every day.”

    GREAT suggestions. It would be very wise for us to hang a cable cord perpendicular to the existing cord so we are not limited to placing furniture around where the pendant lighting has to be. Genius!

    At the moment we have decided to put our two Steelcase desks on casters because those guys are HEAVY and hard to move. I don’t think we will plan to put too much else on casters but plans may change.

    I think we hope to keep the space as open and (hopefully) as uncluttered as possible so we may try to shy away from separating areas by way of fabric panels, room dividers, etc. A bookcase may make it into the lineup but we have not yet unpacked enough to make that decision yet.

    I’ll be posting more on the space soon!

Leave a Response