Category Archives: Designer Secrets

10 steps to cut the clutter

As I talked about on Monday, Noel & I are hopefully going to be moving in the near future.  Chances are, we’ll be downsizing, which means we’ll need to go through all of our belongings and keep only what is necessary.  So today, I thought I’d share 10 tips to keep in mind as you sort through your own things to help you conquer the clutter.
1. Start small & stay organized:Start with one room, one section of a room, one closet, or give yourself one hour.  Whatever it is, choose a manageable amount of time/work so you don’t get overwhelmed.  Then get out two large boxes.  Label one “donate,” and the other “trash.”  Lastly, create a pile where you’ll put everything you’re going to keep.  As you go through everything and ask yourself the following questions, put each item in its coordinating box or pile.  Most importantly, once you’re done, put everything in the keep pile away, bring the donate box directly to your car, and the trash box straight to the trash.
2. Did you forget you owned it?This is the easiest one.  If you find something that you forgot you had, you can bet you’ll forget about it as soon as you pack it up and get rid of it.  Even if it’s something you haven’t necessarily forgot about, if you know you won’t miss it – in the donate box it goes.
3. When did you last use it/when will you use it next?
These are quite possibly two of the most important questions to ask when going through your stuff, and to help you clear everything out, implement the one year rule: if you haven’t used it in the past year, and you don’t know an exact time within the next year you will use it, it’s time for it to go.  This especially holds true for clothes/shoes/accessories.  If you haven’t worn it in a year, it’s time to donate it to someone who will wear it.  I’m guilty of this when it comes to clothes, as I have quite the way of convincing myself “oh, but it will look cute if I wear it with this…” or, “what if I want to wear it for x occasion…” and then guess what, another year goes by it and remains unworn.  No more excuses.  If you haven’t worn/used it in a year, it’s time to go.
4. Can it be digitized?
So much of the clutter in our lives comes from paper trails, but in reality, there are hardly any papers that we are required to keep anymore.  Try switching all of your bills to online statements – that way you always have access to them, yet they take up no physical space.  The same goes for receipts – have them emailed whenever possible, and scan any really important ones.  And if there are any important documents you need to keep, scan them in, just be sure you back up your computer so you don’t lose everything should it crash.
Old pictures can be scanned in to avoid having shoeboxes upon shoeboxes of loose photographs.  If you’re organized and keep all of your pictures in an album, you don’t have to get rid of them, but I would definitely recommend having them all scanned in at some point, because how awful would it be if anything ever happened to your home and you lost all of them?
Movies can be converted to digital formats, which frees up tons of physical space.  Noel and I have even stopped buying movies altogether because we’ve found we don’t watch a lot of movies, and whenever we do, we want to watch something new, so we either turn to Netflix or else hit up a local Redbox.
CD’s are a big one.  I can’t tell you how much space you’ll save by importing them all into itunes and saying goodbye to all those jewel cases.
5. Could someone else make better use of it now/could you repurchase it later?
Going back to the one-year rule, if it’s something you know you’ll need, but not for a while, and it is easy to repurchase, then donate it.  Chances are, someone else needs it now, so there’s no use in you holding onto it and it taking up your limited space.
6. Do I have another item that serves the same purpose?This one seems like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many of us have duplicate items that serve the same purpose.  As an example, for a shower gift, my awesome bridesmaids bought me an aqua stand mixer I’ve had my eye on forever.  However, I still have an electric hand mixer that’s practically brand new, that I obviously never use anymore.  I haven’t gotten rid of the hand mixer because like I said, it’s pretty much brand new, but how silly of me to keep it when I never use it, and probably never will again.  Especially considering someone else actually has a need for it.
7. Is it really worth it?Is the item you’re considering keeping more trouble than it’s actually worth?  For instance, is it broken, and you’ve “been meaning” to fix it for a long time now.  Or, look at it from another perspective: is it really worth the space it’s taking up?  Space is valuable, and would you rather keep that item over something else?
8. Is it a replacement for a memory?This one gets me every time.  I’m a huge advocate for photographs over things when it comes to memories, because things can break, get lost, and cause clutter, whereas pictures and videos literally take you back to that time.  I always try not to buy souvenirs when I travel, and if I do, I’ll have it be a scarf or a piece of jewelry that I know I’ll wear and use.
9. Stick to one box.If there are sentimental items that aren’t functional that you just can’t part with, confine yourself to one box.  There is no use to have boxes upon boxes of stuff that will always remain in boxes.  So keep the sentimental stuff that is actually useful, and then limit yourself on how much else you can keep.  This ensures you keep what’s most important, without filling your basement with boxes upon boxes.
10.  Do you need it/do you love it?
As you go through everything, if it’s something you need (emphasis on the need, not want), then you should obviously keep it.  However, you’ll quickly find that there are few things that you really do need.  With that being said, I don’t think you should just get rid of everything you don’t need.  However, you should ask yourself “do I love it?”  If you love it and it makes you smile, keep it.  If you don’t, it’s not worth hanging on to.
I hope this little list has helped you clear through some of your own clutter, whether you’re moving or simply just cleaning up around the house.  And to wrap things up today, I thought I’d leave you with one of my all time favorite quotes by good old Mr. Morris:

Through YOUR Front Door: reveal

Happy Monday, everyone!  Do you all remember Dana’s bookshelf from last Monday?  If not, here’s a little sneak peek:

Dana from five30three wanted to know how to create stylized shelves that were pretty to look at.  She’s off to a good start, she just needs a little tweaking, so I’m here today to tell her how!   
1. Pick a color scheme
When you’re decorating a bookshelf, you want everything to feel cohesive.  One of the ways I like to do that is through maintaining a consistent color palette.  At first glance, when you look at the bookshelves, what colors stand out to you?  What I notice most is black, white, red, and turquoise.  With that, I would recommend you go through and take everything off the shelf that isn’t one of those four colors.  
The exception to this would be with any clear or silver accessories.  Clear works great because it adds no color, just texture, and since silver is a cool hue (and I don’t mean cool as in awesome…although it is), and it lies within the black/white spectrum, you can feel free to keep those accessories in there.  Now if you had gold on the other hand, which is a warm color, you’d want to get rid of it because it doesn’t really blend in with the color palette we have going here.  
2. Group in 3’s    
When designing, odd numbers are often most pleasing on the eye, so try to put everything into groups of threes.  That doesn’t mean that you need to have three books grouped, instead, try having three groups of “stuff” per shelf.  Imagine you have a grid over your shelf, and place things within that grid.  When making your grid, it’s important to have a little variation in the grid itself, otherwise it will start to look too monotonous.  By adjusting the widths of the groups, you create visual interest while still keeping with a consistent pattern.  So, for a visual example, you would want your grid to resemble the grid on the right, not the left. 
3. Create depth
In order to create depth and dimension in your shelves, a successful strategy is to layer objects from front to back.  For example, place a large frame or picture by the back, and layer a smaller accessory in front of it.  Below is a great example with the frame behind the miscellaneous accessories.   
Image credit: {1}
4. Stack your books in different ways
You may not know it, but there are actually 7 different ways to stack books.  The Art of Doing Stuff has a great article on it…check it out.  Based on her seven techniques, here are my four favorite that I would recommend for Dana.
5. Group Colors
How you group colors is completely up to you and your liking…but I personally like to make sure each color appears on each shelf at least once.  Other people might do it other ways, just make sure you do whatever looks best to you.  The reason I like to have each color on every shelf is because it ties the whole bookcase together…but with that being said, I have seen many other beautiful examples done differently.  
So, now that you have those five tricks in your pocket, you’re ready to go to town on your bookshelf organizing.  By this point, I’m sure you’re all dying to know how I would organize Dana’s shelf?  Well, since you’ve so patiently put up with my rambling thus far…I would suggest she organize her bookshelf like something along these lines:  
Want a chance to submit your space?  Read here to learn how!  See you all next week when we reveal the next design dilemma!

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Through the Front Door

three steps to achieve the open cabinet look

It is a well known fact that when remodeling your house, you get the biggest bang for your buck in kitchens in bathrooms.  With kitchen remodeling being all the rage, it can get very easy to get carried away.  One thing turns into another, and before you know it you are looking at a $70,000 kitchen remodel.  Sure, everything looks gorgeous and wonderful, but the likelihood that you’ll be able to recoup that value?  Very slim.

With all of that being said, one of the driving forces that leaves a kitchen feeling dated is the cabinets.  New cabinets can cost thousands of dollars, and while if you don’t get carried away it can be completely worth it, here is another approach you can try for far less money.

Open cabinets are a huge trend that have been showing up all over the internet and in design magazines everywhere.  The clean, streamlined storage solutions gives off a contemporary vibe that will instantly update your house.  However, if you are going to do it, you need to do it right.  So here are three pointers to help you get the job done.

1.  Keep clutter to a minimum.
When you decide to opt out of cupboard doors, you are exposing your mess to the world.  You want to keep the items you display simple and clean, and you can accomplish this in a number of ways.  First of all, group like items together.  Stack plates and bowls, and anything else that can be easily organized.  I would suggest picking a color scheme and sticking with it.  One example would be to display all of your white dishes and vases.  If you want to add some accents, stick to 2 or 3 colors, or keep everything all within the same color family.  The moral of the story is to make everything looks cohesive.  Instead of thinking of these shelves as a place to store your dishes, think of it as one large artwork display.

Image credit: {1} {2}
Above you can see how a select number of colors were stratgically used in the items displayed on the open shelves, and the number of items displayed were kept to a minimum.  Simplicity is key.  

2. Add contrast.
To make the items you are displaying really pop, paint the back of your shelves a different color.  I also love the added touch of the beadboard that lines the back of many of the cabinets.  This helps the cabinets to feel like they are their own entity, instead of just some cabinets you took the doors off of.  If painting the back of your cabinets a bright color is too bold a move for you, you can achieve the same contrast in the accessories (as you can see in the second image below).  

Image credit: {1} {2} {3} {4}
If serious contrast isn’t your style, you can still achieve a similar affect by using a color that is just slightly darker than the color of your cabinets.  This provides slight visual difference, without going to an extreme. 
Image credit: {1}

3.  Make the shelves look like built-ins.
If you simply just take the doors off of your cabinets, its going to look like an afterthought.  It won’t have the same effect as built in open shelves that were intentionally put there.  As I said earlier, you want to treat the items you are displaying as artwork, so if your dinnerware is the art, your cabinets are the frames.  If all of your cabinets are open to one another (as you can see in the top image) the cabinets don’t feel built in, and the center posts feel unnecessary.  So you have one of two options: get rid of them, or build them out.  Personally, I like the idea of embracing them, and just adding a little more wood behind them.    
Image credit: {1}

Although I think the image above could benefit from a little addition of wood behind the center posts, I must say the display techniques of the items is wonderful!
By building out the center posts and making them span to the back of your cupboards, not only have you achieved a more custom, built in look, but you have successfully “framed” the artwork you wish to display.  The picture below depicts this idea beautifully.  If you look back up through all the gorgeous examples, you can see just how well the cabinets are framing their contents.
Image credit: {1}

 With that, I wish you the best of luck with your kitchen remodeling…and as always, let me know if you have any questions!

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