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Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Guest Blog: Three Cheap-n-Easy Repurposing Projects

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Hi Everyone! Becky here! Please welcome Alex Levin, who is guest blogging for us today. Alex is a writer for Granite Transformations, agreen remodeling company that advances sustainable construction practices by finding new ways to reduce waste and recycle such as using broken Skyy vodka bottles to make countertops. Take it away, Alex…

Whether you are doing a complete re-vamp or just adding new elements to your home, there are endless possibilities for creating a unique and comfortable atmosphere for your living space. I try to be as green as possible, combining repurposed pieces with new ones in order to achieve a feeling of lived-in usability.  Here are a few tips for repurposing that will make you feel a bit like a Home Improvement MacGyver.


A Free Storage Solution For Mugs, Pots, and Pans: One of the biggest problems in kitchens is lack of storage space. I, for one, have more mugs than cabinet space. Some friends of mine found a great solution to this problem in their Brooklyn loft that will work almost anywhere: mounting a shipping pallet on the wall with hooks for hanging items. Pallets are available from trucking companies, warehouses and even home improvement centers, sometimes for free – keep your eyes open for them on the sidewalk, in the alleys, and leaning up against dumpster. Make sure the pallet you choose is clean and structurally sound. If you’re not feeling the natural wood, paint it or stain it.  Next, install hooks along the slats. The small, screw-in type of hook works well for mugs, but if you are planning on hanging larger items from your pallet, upgrade your hook quality accordingly.  You can also use “S” hooks is you don’t want to commit to your hook placement. Once you’ve got your hooks where you want them, mount the pallet on your wall, making sure to utilize the studs in the construction. Ask at your local home improvement store for advice on the hardware necessary for your type of wall. Voila! From beer steins to measuring cups, this is a great space saver.

Have an Old Door? Think Horizontal! Another resourceful idea is to use an old door as a table. With a repurposed piece like this, you can feel free to paint, stain or adjust whatever you want to work with your individual style. Scope out your local flea market or hit up an estate sale for pieces that will fit in your space. First, make sure your door is sanded and clean; this may require a wire brush.  Second, attach the legs. Home improvement and hardware stores sell table legs in various heights. Consult a pro when determining the best way to attach the legs. Before you know it, Knock, knock…who’s there?  Your dining room table!

If you’re still on a repurposing roll, an old ladder is a great piece for storage.  A short, fixed ladder can be suspended from the ceiling in the kitchen and used as a pot hanger. First, make sure you have a secure ceiling for this project as it will be quite heavy (in other words, don’t just screw it into a popcorn ceiling!) Simply grab some “S” hooks from a hardware store and hang pots and pans from them.  A ladder can also be used as a towel rack in the bathroom.  This is a great solution for a bathroom with tiled walls where installing a traditional towel rack is tricky.  Just lean the ladder against the wall at a suitable angle – no tile damage required!  If you have enough space in your bathroom, a step ladder can be a fun way to create even more storage.  Hang towels along the rounded rungs and place bath supplies, candles or houseplants on the steps.


Now that you’ve got a few ideas, head to your local flea market and go nuts! Look at things with new eyes and try to imagine how you could use it.  Repurposing projects aren’t just limited to large fixtures.  You’ll be amazed by what you can create from the most random of things – if you’ve ever used a coffee can for pens, you’ve already repurposed!

Images via Funky Junk Interiors

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Friday, February 26th, 2010

Organization D.I.Y.: Making Boring Boxes Beautiful with Anne Sage

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by Anne Sage of The City Sage


In the chaos and disorganization of life, there are two constants. One: Polka dots and feathers make everything better. Two: When in doubt, cover it in paper. In a recent attempt to get my odds ‘n’ ends under control, I put both rules to into effect—with great success!


I adore the look of boxes that have been customized using fabric or wrapping paper, but those materials can get expensive. So I grabbed some fabric remnants from a previous project, scanned them, printed the images on regular paper, and used it to cover my box lids. I bought my boxes at OfficeMax and disguised their sides using craft paper, but also try Ikea or an art supply store. Heck, you could even give your old, mismatched shoe boxes a new life!


I’m so thrilled with the result that I want everyone to be able to replicate the look—so I’ve shared a download that allows you to print both of these patterns and their accompanying labels! The PDF prints on 11 x 17 size paper, which covers a medium lid, but you can also print on smaller paper and join multiple pieces as needed. As for the technique I used to cover the lids, just paste the paper in place with a glue stick, then fold and trim the edges as though you were wrapping a present. Happy organizing!

?Dots

Peacock Feathers

Anne Sage is the founder and editor of The City Sage, an interiors and fashion blog ruled by the belief that a life well designed is a life well lived.
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Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Clear the Clutter from Your Bookshelves by Erin Doland

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by Erin Doland of Unclutterer

I have an affinity for books that borders on an addiction. I usually read three books a week or more, and those books come in many forms — audio, digital, checked out from the library, and purchased. Even with relying heavily on audio, digital, and library books, I continually fight book clutter in my home.

If you’re a bibliophile like me, you may have more printed books than you can (or should) store in your home. Try these five tips from Unclutter Your Life in One Week to decide which books to keep and which ones to let go:

  1. Give away any books that you don’t plan on reading or referencing again, are in the public domain, and can be found in their entirety online.
  2. Keep the leather-bound copy of The Scarlet Letter that your grandmother gave you on her deathbed.
  3. Give away or recycle out-of-date reference books. They’re full of inaccurate data.
  4. Keep books that you love and books that provide you with significant utility.
  5. Give away books that you’ve been storing for the sole purpose of impressing your houseguests. If you’ve never read the complete works of Shakespeare, and you never plan to read the complete works of Shakespeare, get rid of the complete works of Shakespeare.

These tips also work well for books you may be storing in your office at work. Unless you are an executive with office walls lined with bookshelves, you might be sacrificing valuable storage space with books you never reference. Keep the books you regularly need, and take home, sell, or recycle the others.


Erin Rooney Doland is Editor-in-Chief of Unclutterer.com and author of the book Unclutter Your Life in One Week.

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Monday, February 22nd, 2010

My To Do List Hates Me by Meredith Schwartz

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Take Welcome to Organization Blog Fest 2010! I thought the best way to start the week would be with Meredith Schwartz of Penelope Loves Lists, and her advice on how to handle a Daily To-Do List. Take it away Meredith!!!

-Becky
We all make the Daily To Do List. Problem is, most of the time, we do it wrong. There, I said it.

This list, which should be our problem solver, becomes the problem itself. Like some huge, looming, cartoonish thing from our nightmares, the incomplete items from each day’s lists grow until we feel defeated under their collective weight.

Instead, you should have two To Do Lists, one called the “Daily To Do List”, one we’ll call the “Overall To Do List”. You can think of your own pithy names when you adopt this system.

The first step is to know, each day, what your most important tasks are. If you don’t know what your true priorities are, either at work or at home, your list will be a meaningless schedule of tasks. If you’re unsure as to how to prioritize, read this book. If you know what you truly need to do each day, you can then set about step two.

Each evening before finishing work, make tomorrow’s Daily To Do List. This should take less than 5 minutes to do.

This list should have 3-4 of your highest priority items on it, each one with SPECIFIC goals, like this:

  1. Check in with pending clients  - 10 clients
  2. Get product shipment ready for Monday
  3. 1pm Meeting with Jennifer
  4. …If I get that done, I’ll move to:

  5. Work through sales leads – 12 calls
  6. Emails – spend 1 hour getting email inbox cleaned out.

See how specific each item is?

Also, notice that, by separating it into items 1-3, and then 4 and 5, you give yourself room for the day to actually happen. Things take longer than we expect. Emergency items come up. You set yourself up for success by ensuring your top 3 items get done. Then, if you are able to move to items 4 and 5  (which are also very specific and serve to “chunk out” larger projects) you can feel you got ahead by the end of the day, rather than always feeling overwhelmed and behind.

While I use my favorite Bob’s Your Uncle grid paper notebook to keep my daily to do list in line, I’ve also had great success with the online tool Teux Deux. I like that it doesn’t try to be all things to all people. It’s super simple graphic interface just enables you to quickly and easily do what you’re there for: keep and update your daily task list.

Whether you use paper and pen to create your list, or an online tool, if you know what your priorities are and are specific with the items you put on your list, you’ll end each day with a feeling of effectiveness. And, maybe, you’ll have just enough extra energy to go get a margarita. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

What strategies do you use when creating your Daily To Do List? What’s working for you and what isn’t? Please share them with us in the comments section.

Meredith Schwartz is the Founder and Editor of Penelope Loves Lists, an organization inspiration blog. She’s a girl with a To Do List and she knows how to use it. Meredith and her fellow readers make no apologies for their love of lists, notebooks, pretty office supplies and all manner of cool organizational tools. Are you a Penelope?

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