With the recent holidays of Easter and Passover, we have been striving to dress up our dining room tables. Now comes graduations, reunions, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Valentine's Day....the cycle of celebrations never end. How to avoid having too many boxes and drawers filled with holiday-specific linens that are never ironed when we need them to be? Restaurant white is an option, but we can also discover the power of red!
It doesn't have to be lipstick red - it can be crimson or red-orange. But a shade of red works with almost every holiday. Valentine's hearts, fall harvest, candy canes, patriotic fever...the common thread is a red one.
Even for Easter, mix the red with its analogous colors of purple, orange, and yellow, and the table will look like someone had a lot of fun dyeing Easter eggs. By investing in a great, deep crimson table cloth, then buying several set of cloth napkins in many different colors (white for formal, mint green for a modern Christmas, deep blue for Bastille Day), we can have a great holiday table without bothering with linen storage.
Add some flowers and some holiday-themed candies scattered for effect, and we're ready for the bet part of holidays: the food!
Pottery Barn has some sharp new table linens in the latest shades of red. In particular, take a note of the Jackie Floral http://www.potterybarn.com/products/jackie-floral-table-runner/?pkey=e|jackie%2Bfloral|4|best|0|1|24||4&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules-_- , and Leila Block-Print tablecloths http://www.potterybarn.com/products/leila-block-print-tablecloths/?pkey=e|leila|6|best|0|1|24||1&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules-_- .
Probably 95% of front halls have a single table, waist height, with a mirror or picture over it and perhaps one basket under it. This look is visually pleasing, but unfortunately it doesn't provide enough organizational wattage for all the items which cycle through a front hall: keys, papers, small outerwear, boots. So, the table ends up piled high, and the floor around the table becomes a drop spot.
A walk-in closet would be lovely, but not easily added after the fact. So, the key to organizing the front hall without forfeiting good design is linear feet. By this we mean adding more shelving, both high and low, to the front hall so the places that can hold items in transition multiply. The Container Store exists to sell you baskets for these shelves, so you don't have to see the mess of life and can preserve good "curb appeal" when you enter your home.
If your design style is contemporary, one easy solution for hallway organization is the ubiquitous leaning shelf unit, with ever widening shelves. Room and Board has attractive ones like the one shown in the photo, but so does Staples on a budget.http://www.staples.com/Staples-Wire-Shelving-4-Shelves-36-x-18/product_810835?cmArea=SEARCH
Shelves can also be added to the wall above your beloved free-standing table, with the same baskets and books and pictures that you would use for the leaning shelves. One sets of shelves that we like are these from West Elm http://www.westelm.com/products/flat-bar-bookcase-g128/?pkey=cbookcases-storage-shelves
Once the shelves are in place, some great baskets are these from Container Store http://www.containerstore.com/shop/storage/openBinsBaskets/naturalMaterials?productId=10029541&N=71225. Add them both to the shelves and floor, and you won't have that sense of dread when you turn the key in the front door!
How often do you look for your purse in your own home? If you had to run out of your apartment, would you be able to grab your purse without thinking?
Every woman needs a parking spot for her purse. You wouldn’t want to look for your car in ten block radius, so why look for your purse in an entire home? Designating one spot where your daytime purse is one of those life tricks that is so simple and so effective.
The ideal parking spot for your purse would have these characteristics:
1. Convenient to your walking path between your entry door and your usual next stop – kitchen, desk, bath. Not having to go out of your way to put your purse down helps it get parked as a habit.
2. Near a small basket for items you have collected during the day. Throughout the day, we accumulate business cards and brochures and the office item we had run out of and the extra band-aids for the kitchen. Once we park out purse, we need a little basket or organizer next to the parking spot where we can immediately unload those items in motion. That way, our purse stays neat and we get the items in our home where they belong, rather than carry them around for a week when our too-full purse drives us to distraction and action!
3. Near a charger for your cell phone. Since our fancier phones need charging more often, having a phone charger next to your purse parking spot makes it easy to plug in the phone immediately. That way, when you leave the house, you have a fully charged phone when you need it most.
4. (If there is space), a place for your other day bags. Women come in two flavors: those who use one purse for everything, and those who like to change it up. If you have three or four day bags, keeping them near your parking space makes it easier to switch between them.
Here are some ideas for ways to “furnish” your purse parking spot:
Today’s DIY project is something that’s not only fun to create while you’re gluing the pieces together, but you will be sure to have some fun for months before saving up all of these wine corks! Not only is this upcycled wine cork board really fun and interesting, but it’s functional as well.
Cork boards are one of the necessities for keeping your home organized. It is a great thing to have in your kitchen to keep a favorite recipe, doctor appointment card, important receipts etc. It keeps your countertops uncluttered and your important items in front of your face so they don’t slip your mind. It also works in a home office, or you could use it in a living area and put up some of your favorite photos on it. Cork boards are usually not very pretty. They come in standard 1” wood or painted frames and they are very boring. This one will take some time and effort, but it’s really a focal piece that will enhance your home rather than make it feel like a boring office space with the standard staples cork board.
Start saving your wine corks; tell your friends and family to also! After you have collected enough for your board (depending on the size) decide what you want to create your board out of. The board in the photo uses an old window frame which creates two cork sections, but you could use a piece of plywood or an old mirror or art frame. Depending on the look you are going for you can go from an ornate frame filled with cork to a plain frameless cork board on a piece of inexpensive plywood. Once you have decided what to use, buy one of the tools pictured below…we don’t know what it’s called but you are sure to find one at home depot, lowes or your local hardware store. When you’re there be sure to pick up your wood glue and plywood if you need it. Finally, cut the corks in half and start gluing. We love the look of the board when the wine corks are different. So do some tasting and save up different ones- it will give it a more interesting and artistic look. And don’t forget to eat some cheese along the way!
Do Clocks Add Stress or Help With It?
We're sure that the first big fight back in the era of cave dwellers was because the hunter gatherer was late for dinner, according to the sundial! Clocks are a fun decorative item, and they are often well priced, but do they add to the serenity of a home or disturb it? Especially now that cell phones are the new wrist watch....
We still like to have clocks at the transition points in our homes. It's nice to look up and see how much time you have left to drink your morning coffee and read the paper before you head out the door. (And looking at a clock is more fun than looking at your microwave!) So here are the places we consider our transition points - yours might be different:
1. Close to where you wake up;
2. Close to where you enter and exit your home;
3. Close to where you eat most of your meals;
4. Close to where you keep your household papers (bills, mail, manuals),
so you can squeeze in a few minutes of checking the mail without stressing about when you have to leave; and
5. In the bathroom where you get ready in the mornings.
With those five spots in mind, here are some of our favorite clocks of the moment, and one hour glass to celebrate the past. To shake things up, play with the scale of the clock. Choose an oversized clock like the Fresh Ink clock from CB2 which at 39" will catch anyone's eye.
Since we are doing a gut renovation of our 2,500 square feet apartment, we have to decide which closets we’re keeping, expanding, or tearing out. Such a hard decision! According to Wikipedia, closets, through French from Latin clausum meaning"closed," began life in the 17th century as small private rooms, often behind a bedroom, to which a man or woman could retire, for privacy, reading, or enjoyment of personal works of art.
Today, we don’t use closets to enjoy our works of arts, but we do need them to organize our coats, shoes, and party items. However, (and this is a big however), if we don’t have the places to hide stuff, we won’t have the stuff – and part of the point of this move is to lighten up, switch to a roller bag lifestyle rather than live like an overstuffed duffle. Closets can morph into dumping grounds, and then we have another thing to procrastinate about: cleaning out the closets!
What has worked it for us in the past is to let each closet have a main purpose. Of course other items sneak in, but naming each closet creates that sense of a place for everything and everything in its place. We need closets for these items: rain and winter coats, cleaning and laundry supplies, party and holiday gear (serving platters, coffee maker, etc.), clothes for each of our four family member, linens, athletic gear, technology, and fix-it supplies.
From there, it’s personal preference. I like my coat closet used only for coats, and I like it to be shallow and well-lit (so one black coat can be distinguished from another). Combining cleaning, laundry, and fix-it supplies in one space makes sense to me. Separate closets for the master bedroom help marital harmony, and my husband likes the idea of one closet dedicated to all the technology supplies even if it is small. The athletic gear can go in the small guest room closet, and the linens work in a small hallway space that isn’t good for much else.
So we are voting for smaller closets that can’t get that cluttered. Easier to add in more storage someday if we need it, but we are hoping we forget that option!
Rock, Paper, Scissors…And More Scissors!
Great interior design organizes the mess of daily living into something calm and beautiful. But sometimes beautiful means having several versions of the same item. Yes, too many pillows can look silly, and yes, too many chairs in a small dining room make your home look like a furniture showroom. But some items repeated in every room of the house can actually make your life simpler…starting with scissors.
How many times have you started to wrap a present, only to run out for your scissors in another room? Scissors cut pizza, they open packages, they snip the tags off of your new area rug. You don’t carry your TV from one room to another; why should you carry your scissors!
To make your life more organized, we recommend one pair of scissors in every room – kitchen, desk, living room (where you are most likely to open presents!), bathroom, bedroom - and a second pair on top of your desk and kitchen counter for quick cuts. The good news is that there are many beautifully designed scissors that can be a fabulous design element in your room. We love Karim Rashid’s sculptural scissors, available for $26 through the MOMA store: http://www.momastore.org/museum/moma/ProductDisplay_Sculptural%20Scissors_10451_10001_102645.
More affordable for only $5 through MOMA are the MUJI clear handled scissors: http://www.momastore.org/museum/moma/ProductDisplay_Clear%20Handle%20Scissors_10451_10001_47445
And if you want to save a lot of money, there is a pack of twelve Snippy Scissors with a lot of design pizzazz for only $11.81 from the art supply store Blick: http://www.dickblick.com/products/snippy-scissors/
With twelve pairs of scissors in the house, you’ll never get frustrated getting the shrink wrap off the DVD again!