How To

Where does it all go?

Photo by Kristofer Johnsson via  Nordic Design

Photo by Kristofer Johnsson via Nordic Design

The photo above is part of the inspiration for the redesign of my office. I've been sharing pictures of the process over on instagram.

While I love the colors in my inspiration space, I was also drawn to how clutter free this space is. Part of my redesign involved getting rid of things. 

Once I cleared out the space I was left with a pile of stuff. I didn't want to just throw it away and so I am trying to sell, donate or give away as much as I can.  

So, what do you do with all of the stuff that you have decided to let go of? First congratulate yourself on making space in your life. Second sort the stuff into piles. 

The first question to ask is 'Does it have monetary value'?

The second question is 'Is it vintage?' I use the Etsy guidelines and say that Vintage is an object that is at least 20 years old. 

The third question is 'Is it usable'? 

Use these questions to help you sort things. 

I'm lucky because I already have a vintage Etsy shop and I can just list items in the shop. Since most people do not have their own vintage shop I recommend using either Ebay, Krrb, or Chairish. Higher end items would probably do well on Krrb and Chairish but the rest I would list on Ebay. You can also list vintage goods on Craigslist, but keep in mind people are usually looking for deals on Craigslist. 

If it is not vintage I would recommend using Craigslist. You may not recoup the original value of the item. Be grateful for the use that you got out of the item and let it go. Here is a pretty good post about how to sell items on Craigslist. I would reiterate that you should only accept cash (note that in your posting) and keep safety in mind. 

There is a cool exchange community called Yerdle. You don't actually get money. Instead you get points for something you may need. They also have an Unshopping Challenge that looks kind of cool. 

If it is not worth any money, but it is still usable, then think about who could use it. For example, if you have art and craft supplies think about donating them to a school. Used cell phones can be recycled and used by a domestic violence shelter. Leave your books in one of the super cool Little Free Library kiosks (check out the website for a library near you). 

I will often post on facebook the item I am trying to get rid of and let people call dibs. I will also set things out by the dumpster in my alley with a note that says free. It's usually gone in a couple of hours. 

The third question was 'Is it still usable?'. If it is broken, dirty, worn or plain old crappy then please don't donate it. Nobody wants your shirt with stains and holes! In this instance if it cannot be recyled or upcycled then it probably should go in the trash. 

How do you get rid of your stuff?




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Holy Cow

I thought I had posted a before picture of my small room in the basement (no it's not a dungeon!) and then I found the picture below and my jaw dropped. 

No wonder why I avoided that room. It was crazy!! 

Now everything is in it's place and there is empty space on the shelves and in some of the small bins (which are semi-transparent). 

One thing I would recommend when you have a storage space is to not put everything in big storage bins. I had no idea what was actually in the room and the towering bins made it impossible to find anything. 

Every day I just cleared something out of this room. A lot of things went to charity or to be sold. I started in one corner and just worked my way around the room because when I looked at it as a whole I was paralyzed with indecision. 

I hope this inspires you to venture into the spaces you have forgotten and clear them out!

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How to Pick Fabric

This post is part of a larger conversation about color, which I'll be talking about more on the blog because I know picking colors can be overwhelming. 

I am usually a pretty decisive person. People who like to shop hate shopping with me because I want to be in and out and done. My couch is ten years old and it is still in really good shape, but it needs new upholstery. The fabric withstood the test of time, but I don't recommend dropping chocolate or spilling wine on your couch (apparently I was having a bacchanalian party). Therefore I needed to find new fabric. 

I knew that I wanted to keep the couch relatively neutral because it is easier to change up accessories then to change a couch and I really did like the existing grey color palette. I thought I wanted velvet, but I also wanted to test the notion of pattern.  

I went on a search for fabric. I checked out West Elm,, House, I searched Etsy for fabric, and I googled organic upholstery fabric. I was really trying to find something that was made out of organic textiles because the fabric industry is so wasteful and harmful to the environment. FYI somebody needs to make a portal for people to buy organic fabric. It's not easy to find and it is not easy to purchase. 

When I received all of my samples I laid them all out on the back of the couch. 

The green and pumpkin fabric went, along with the lighter greys and a cream with grey print. I really liked the dark grey with the geometric print, but I wasn't sure about it all over the couch. I had the same issue with the grey and star/cross pattern, which was organic. Plus that fabric, while upholstery weight, was not heavy enough for the wear that a couch receives. 

Moving on then I am left with the velvet's. I liked the color of the swatch on the right and it was organic, but I wasn't sure about the quality. 

I then tested the options against the rug and the top left was a little too gunmetal grey. The other two work really well. The West Elm fabric could work well, but the top right sample is Gibson fabric. While a couple of dollars more, I had already upholstered a chair in the fabric and I know that it looks great and wears well. 

At one point I had a fabric sample that was velvet, but the exact same color of my current couch, which is cement. I texted a friend and said I was thinking of playing it safe, but I wanted to go darker and she said change it up. 

To recap:

  • Get a lot of samples
  • Try to go outside of your comfort zone, but recognize that it may not work.
  • Make sure you have the right fabric for the job. For furniture it needs to be heavy weight upholstery. For pillows you use medium. Sometimes you can use light weight, but you will need to line the fabric for stability. Curtains can pretty much use any weight depending on the look you want.
  • Sit with the fabric for a couple of days.
  • Slowly take samples away. This took me almost a week.
  • Check the color against existing pieces or textiles in the room.
  • Bring in a second opinion.

So, now that I have picked a sample I need to order the fabric and reupholster the couch. I am going to make a snug fitting slipcover because I'm not sure I am up to reupholstering the couch. That will be an adventure for another day. 


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Making it Green

I used to always put up a live Christmas tree, but one year I found a vintage 1950's aluminum tree and well, pine needles and I parted ways. I've missed having that bit of green and the smell of a Christmas tree, so I brought it in through a different way. 

This isn't quite a 'how to' but more of a guide on gathering up your greens. I went to Gethsemane nursery in Andersonville and picked up some boxwood branches, red berry sprigs, juniper greens and flowering eucalyptus. 

My apartment isn't very big so I didn't want to buy any of the big pre-made garland (even though it was gorgeous). My next house will have a sweeping staircase and a wide entry way (kind of like Tara in Gone With the Wind) and then I'll be piling on the greenery. 

For the entryway that divides my living room and dining room I hung larger lights and clipped some juniper and red berry's to the lights. That was it. My only warning is tape will not hold this thing up (not that I'm speaking from experience!). Make sure you have the lights hung securely before you start adding the greens. 

I loved that it was quick and easy plus it smells delicious. 

My mantle needed some Christmas spirit. For my first attempt I lay down some boxwood and berries. I also added a couple of things I picked up from Target. I couldn't resist the wee tree and owl. My first attempt was very underwhelming. It definitely needed more...something. 

I took everything off and looped some lights all over the mantle. I used the bigger white lights again, but small lights would work just as well. I lay the boxwood and berries down and added the flowering eucalyptus to the mix and it felt much more lush.  

I still had some boxwood left and so I laid a couple of branches stem to stem and taped them up. I added some red berries to hide the tape (you could also wrap it in some ribbon). I looped some picture hanging wire around it and hung it on a nail over the entrance way to my kitchen. 

My apartment is now in the Christmas spirit. This is the first year I've splurged and brought home fresh cuttings. Having that bit of nature just feels good. Plus it smells incredible. 

P.S. You only see a glimpse of it, but that amazing piece of art on my mantle was done by my friend Doug Birkenheuer who is a gifted photographer. 




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