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Monday, December 29th, 2014

Five Good End-of-the-Year Cleanup Projects

DesignPublic.com

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Well, it’s a cliche, but the end of the year brings a rush of organizing and swearing you’re going to abide by a few new systems. You probably won’t, but you should ride the wave of new year’s motivation and use it to get stuff done. Here are five ideas for putting that resolute energy to good use.

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1) Finally get those ornaments and other holiday decorations properly organized. This can mean designated ornament boxes (try the Container Store or use egg cartons), new labels, a better spot to store them and purging those popsicle stick God’s eyes your kid made thirty years ago that have completely unraveled. Along with this resolution is tossing the potentially hazardous Christmas lights. This is a great source for recycling them and benefiting a charity at the same time.

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2) While you’re in deep evergreen needle vacuuming mode, go to town with the attachments. Really get into those corners, clear the cobwebs from the moldings on the walls, flip up the sofa cushions and suck up that old piece of popcorn and pet hair.

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3) Clean up your finances. Hurry up and make those last minute write-off-able donations for 2014, and contribute to your Roth IRA and other savings if possible. If you have debt, make a plan for how you are going to take care of it in 2015. Research consolidation loans, take a long hard look at your budget and figure out what you need to cut to get the debt monkey off your back. Watch a few episodes of Extreme Couponing and get inspired. Every little bit will help.

While you’re at it, gather up your tax documents. While you’re doing that, figure out how to get rid of all this paper clutter and switch to digital bills and e-statements wherever you can.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.19.27 PMpsssttt … shameless plug, follow us on Instagram

4) Speaking of a digital cleanup, here is one that is much more fun — sorting through your digital photos. Figure out what is a waste of space and ditch it. Upload photos you’d like your family to see to photo sharing services. Label your events so you can find things in the future, and be sure to use keywords. For example “soccer” or “Maine” or “costume” will help you find things in the future with ease. Send images to the cloud so you can save storage space on your devices.

4b2e1bbe6a68b9833ad7052ee040d921Illustration by George Hughes for The Saturday Evening Post

5) Clean a closet. This is a big one but I promise, it is SO satisfying. Take everything out and thoroughly clean from the cobwebs on the ceiling and light fixture to the corners of the floor. Do not let anything back in that 1) doesn’t fit 2) doesn’t look good 3) you cannot remember the last time your wore. There are people who need these items more than you do. Donate these things to them and give your newly cleaned closet some breathing room.

 

 

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Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Financial Feng Shui Worked for this Dummy

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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I needed some financial feng shui for dummies this weekend, as I had  sequestered myself in my house to do my taxes. So of course, I immediately dove into a bunch of other ridiculous projects, like deep cleaning my house and watching all of House of Cards Season 2, in order to procrastinate. However, before I really sat down and looked for receipts in a haystack, I thought it might behoove me to give my financial corner a little feng shui zshush.

Following simple chart sloppily cut out from magazine and firmly placed in my sketchbook, I set off to work. You know, my kitchen cabinets are a source of pride for me and are usually really neat and organized. However, I realized the corner cabinets, both top and bottom, were the hodge-podge cabinets. The bottom one was where I toss coolers and pots and pans I never use, the top was full of old beer koozies, mis-matched china from my grandmother and plastic cups from ballgames. No wonder my finances are so disorganized.

I cleaned them both out thoroughly, and even came up with a dining table full of giveaway stuff. I also discovered I am a wine cork hoarder. I wrote and article awhile ago about recycling them and I’ve been hoarding them with that intent ever since. If anyone wants to do a craft project and needs wine corks, I’m your girl, you can have them! Anyway, this is still where I store my totally “uncool” stuff (the Eva Zeisel and Russel Wright stuff is proudly displayed elsewhere), but it’s clean and organized now.

The article also said “Place fresh flowers or a jade plant here. This is also a good spot in which to keep cash or a valuable treasure.” They are going to have to settle for some grocery store mums and a $3 Chinatown lucky turtle:

Then I shined up a fancy silver plate of my grandmother’s I’d unearthed in the cabinet cleanout and dumped my spare change into it, placing it in the center of middle shelf.

I know my photos are horrible but ignore that; here’s what happened. By Sunday evening I could procrastinate no longer. Knowing the moolah corner had some good mojo, I finally sat down to gather all of the papers I’d need to do my taxes. I found every single receipt and document I needed within 30 minutes. If you’ve ever laid eyes on my office and my “filing system,”  of clipping things to various lampshades and crumpling them up into bins, you know this is a miracle.

Now, I know there is much more to feng shui than what I did and I respect it very much. Perhaps one day I’ll hire a pro, but for now my next goal is to get some “awards, accolades or good luck symbols” into my reputation area. Right now the only object in there is a toilet plunger.

Do you use feng shui principals? Any stories to share about it? Please share!

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Friday, July 19th, 2013

Making the Most of a Small Entryway

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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photo by Ben Anders for Dwell

Get clever with every inch of space. Rather than drywalling in the space beneath the stairs, exploit it. A bench for taking one’s shoe off Mr. Rogers’ style and hanging a coat is an ingenious use of space.

by http://muskokalivinginteriors.com

Keep it simple. In this relaxed entryway, clever hooks steal the show and play off the lantern, mirror and door hardware with aplomb. Shiplap siding adds a subtle nautical cottage touch.

by Ferreira Design

Add a big mirror to fake some big space. This mirror visually doubles the entryway in size. A sleek  console table keeps thing open underneath, a clear glass lamp lets the light and reflection through while a zebra covered ottoman adds some pizazz. For a funky modern console table, I recommend Blu Dot’s Strut version.

by Cococozy

Use a long narrow table where space is tight. This weathered piece works well with organic pieces like live branches, oversized glass jugs, sponges and wood bowls.

by Jennifer Weiss Architecture

Going more modern, use a cantilevered storage unit saves on floor space. The great thing about a unit like this is that you can integrate a charging station and keep all of your personal electronics in one space, along with your sunglasses, mail, wallet and other items you like to drop as soon as you walk in the door.

By Amy Lau Design

Use a closed console for even more storage. If you’re the type that requires shoe removal upon entry, a swanky mid-century modern style piece like this is a great spot to stash them. For something similar, I recommend you check out the goods from MASH Studios.

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Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Five Books To Help Get You Organized

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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Vitra Uten Silo

Alright you all, there is just a week left in January and if you’re anything like I am, you probably ran out of that New Year’s resolution organizing steam about a week ago!

Did you get anything done? A closet cleaned? A junk drawer straightened? Tell me you at least took one box to the Goodwill or labeled something? If not, don’t fret;  it’s a good time to give yourself a kick in the bum and  try again! True confessions: I currently have two toppling stacks of tax receipts and files in the middle of my floor. I was hoping looking at the mess would make me work on them but instead I’ve learned not to see them.

One way to get your organizational juices flowing is by picking up a good book. Here are five tried and true tomes that will help you get inspired:

1. Good Things for Organizing by Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Say what you want about Martha, but she didn’t get where she is today by being disorganized.

2. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I loved this book because I could totally relate, skip around and read it out of order and enjoy seeing how Rubin’s life improved as she organized her life and priorities. She has another book out now called Happier At Home that I can’t recommend as I haven’t read it yet, but based on how much I enjoyed The Happiness Project, I’m betting it’s a good one!

3. Speaking of happiness and books, The Happy Home Book. Nayar digs deep into all sorts of topics, from how to live a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle to ancient traditions like Vastu. Though packed with all sorts of information, her writing style is accessible and makes this a very enjoyable read.

4. Peruse Real Simple 869 New Uses For Old Things before you get started. You may come across some junk that might just be useful during your cleanouts. Plus, some of the ideas might get you excited to start sorting and see if you can unearth any of the “old things” and use them in new ways.

5. If you’re finally ready to get serious, get your hands on a copy of Unclutter Your Life In One Week by Erin Rooney Doland. Be warned: The amount of things Doland expects your to accomplish in one day is exhausting. I read this book as Unclutter Your Life In One Month and tried to get a day or two’s worth of Doland’s tasks accomplished in one week. It’s a great step-by-step guide that will take you through the entire house.

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Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Getting the House Ready for Fall

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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Well, I hate to say it, but if school’s not already back in session it’s about to be, and it’s time to get the house ready for colder months. It’s also time to enjoy the bright leaves, crisp air and perhaps a few Sunday football games. Here’s a starter checklist to get the house ready as we transition out of summer.

Merkled Coat Rack

1) Coat closet. It’s time to switch out your swimmy shoes and beach bags for fleece pullovers, gloves and fall/winter sports gear. It’s also a time to make sure schoolkids have good landing zones for after school. A designated place for their backpacks, coat, shoes, perhaps a flute or a violin and anything else that needs to be close at hand for that groggy morning dash out the door is always a huge help. This can be anything from a kid having his own hook to a basket to an entire locker, depending on how much room you have.

2) Football game kit. If you’re big into gridiron and lucky enough to have season tickets, get your gear ready. Have your stadium blanket cleaned, rinse off those camp chairs you bring tailgating, and corral your picnic gear, binoculars, foam fingers, car decals and flags (can you tell I live in the south?), and favorite team colored clothing organized. You may even decide to leave a bunch of this stuff in the car until after the last bowl game.

3) Family room. Call a chimney sweep and make sure your wood burning fireplace chimney is clean and safe for the coming months. While you’re at it, order a cord of wood from the woodman. Pull your extra throw blankets out of the mothballs, give them a good cleaning, and drape them over the sofa for chilly nights.

Designer’s Eye Kvadrat Pillow

If you like to do some design switcheroo with the seasons, switch out those cotton coastal-inspired throw pillow covers for more autumnal hues and felt or wool, and perhaps switch out an area rug as well.

Thomas Paul Elephant Duvet Cover

4) Bedrooms. If you’re the duvet type, give the cover a good cleaning. If you usually switch from cotton to down, find your winter duvets to have on standby. I also like to do the old mattress flip/turn each season; it’s an easy way to remember to do it. While you’re in there, do that under-the-bed sweep/vacuum that probably doesn’t happen all that often. Grab the extension pole and give your ceiling fans and ceilings all a good dusting; summers spiders have probably left quite a few webs around.

MASH Studios LAX Wall Mount Desk

5) Homework station. Make sure your kids have a quiet spot to get their homework done. Outfit it with pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, a reading lamp and any other supplies they may need.

Phew. You’re done. Google a few hot toddy recipes and start getting excited for fall!

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