Friday, April 27, 2012

The Top Five Strategies for Decluttering a Small Space

Need to tackle that apartment clean-out project you've been avoiding? Don’t worry. Here are 5 simple tips from a lady who organizes other people’s homes for a living!

It is a lot harder to keep an apartment or small house organized and tidy — but it is critical that you do so. It only takes one pile of papers and one box to overwhelm a smaller space. What to do?

We asked organizing and de-cluttering guru Nicole Anzia of Neatnik in Washington DC what her top five strategies are for harnessing chaos in smaller homes and apartments. Here's what she said…

Embrace Storage Containers: People often think, "My apartment or home is so small, I can't fit a filing cabinet, bookshelves or a desk," but if you don't buy the appropriate storage products, things pile up quickly in a small space. In other words, embrace the fact that you have stuff and like to have certain things around — that's what makes you interesting. Just find a way to manage it all so you don't feel overwhelmed by it.

Furniture As Storage: Is there an ottoman you could also use to store blankets? If you're in the market for a new bed, consider looking at one that has drawers underneath or at least enough height to store some under-the-bed bins. Bedside tables are typically too small to hold all the things people want to use them for - magazines, glasses of water or tea, clock, newspapers, reading glasses, lamp, etc. If you're buying a new one, think about whether one with shelves and/or drawers might work for you.

Think Vertical: In small homes it is very important to maximize all of the space. Think vertical. Could you hang shelves above your desk for extra books, papers or pictures? If your desk is too small or you don't have a home office, maybe some hanging file folders would work in the kitchen to organize incoming papers. Bulletin boards and magnetic boards are also great places to display artwork, school reminders, travel plans etc. These don't require a lot of space, but can be super helpful for getting things off countertops and other surfaces.

A Little Bit Each Day: People often say that they don't have enough time to do any organizing, but everyone can find 10-15 minutes in their day to focus on at least one small space or project. I recently had a client say to me as we neared the end of our session, "I would love to clear off my desk, but 30 minutes isn't nearly enough time." Guess what? It was a perfect amount of time. We spent 30 minutes very focused on our project; she knew there was a limit to how much time we had, so we worked quickly, and were able to organize all of her miscellaneous papers into several categories very quickly: To File, To Toss, To Shred, and To Do. Done.

Get Rid of Things: Chances are you don't need most of the papers that you're keeping — shred them. If you haven't worn that sweater for three years, donate it. Expired food should be tossed. Clearing out even a few items will make you feel calmer.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Experts at Elle Decor on Interior Design trends

What Mitchell Gold, an interior design expert, tells Elle Decor about interior design trends (hint: it’s not what you’d think): 


Bob and I grew up in homes where comfort wasn't the focus. My mother told the kids: “Here is the living room. Now don’t come in.” When we started our company, we made comfort part of our mission statement.

We do very little market research. We introduced a butter denim some years ago. Everyone told us yellow doesn’t sell. Well, the wrong yellow doesn’t, but this one was so soft and great looking. People’s eyes were ready for it.

We had an English bulldog, Lulu, who came with us to the factory every day and made people smile, so we began collecting bulldog objects. My advice for starting any collection: Do it for the fun of it. Display pieces in groups—like items make a powerful visual statement.


Our eyes are wide open. An Herm├Ęs plum dress with a yellow scarf might inspire a sofa and pillow. I took our design team to Brasserie, a restaurant in Manhattan, to see the interior, which is white with cherrywood. We’re thinking of doing a collection with that feel.

Why is midcentury-modern style popular now? It’s a confluence of things: Mad Men is a gigantic influence. Young people are moving to neighborhoods with midcentury houses. They want the whole look.


In a living room, incorporate different kinds of seating—upright chairs that are easy to get in and out of, a comfortable sofa, pull-up chairs or ottomans as extra seats for a big group. For entertaining, I like a large cocktail table and a console for serving food. For a family room, get the most comfortable sofa you can afford.

Try to get your entire home done at once so it feels serene. Having a work in progress for three years can be a drag: You’re always looking at something you’re unhappy with.

Five Essentials

1. Chairs come first for me. I have ones I bought 35 years ago. We pay a lot of attention to the backs of chairs: The best ones float in a room like pieces of sculpture.

2. Invest in a well-made sofa with classic lines—either a track or roll-arm style—in a neutral color, perhaps with some texture. You can change the look over time with pillows, a throw, or a new rug.

3. An upholstered headboard makes reading in bed so much easier and more comfortable.

4. A bar cabinet stores your entertaining needs in one place and adds a touch of classic sophistication.

5. One piece of standout art can make a room. I have a photo from NASA’s archives called Saturn’s Rings. It has amazing hues that look great against the gray wall in my apartment.

In the Air

Today, everything moves so fast. At home we want a sense of calm. There’s less fussiness. I think modern design—architectural and clean in feeling but comfortable—is going to continue to be important.

Hard-edged modern leaves me cold. It’s not comfortable to look at or touch or sit on. Dressier traditional is on the horizon.

In 2008, when the economy got really bad, people were buying safe furniture. Lately they want more style. They’re committed to making good choices environmentally. We’re seeing more color: People want things to make them smile in our mixed-up world.

Read more

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to Pick Furniture that Goes Together

Selecting furniture, while fun, can be a little overwhelming sometimes, especially if you’re not sure what style you like or what looks good in your house. Fortunately, we’re in the age of “anything goes, if it makes you happy.” Furnish your space with what works for you! Here’s a great guide from HowStuffWorks with some tips on color matching and contrast, how to use patterns, balancing a room, and more! 

You bought a new house that you can't wait to furnish. Visions of comfy couches and dining room chairs dance in your head, but when it comes to putting it all together, your mind is reeling. If you want to make it easy, you can go matchy-matchy and buy a suite of furniture.

But many of us are more interested in creating an eclectic room with a personality, including pieces from different designers and even different eras. Eclectic isn't just a word for throwing together everything you have in hopes of making it work. There's a strategy to pulling off a harmonious, eclectic look, and it involves a decorating scheme with unifying elements.

Using Color
One strategic way to mix and match your furnishings is through use of color. It's a great way to provide continuity in a room with pieces of different styles. For example, you may be a flea market hound who owns a room full of mismatched wood furniture. So consider painting it all one color. A monochromatic scheme of white walls and painted white furniture in a variety of styles is the basis of the popular Shabby Chic decorating style, which has been in vogue for years.

Complementary colors lie across from each other on the color wheel and provide the most vibrant color combos, so don't be afraid to make bold choices. But if you want to use multiple colors in your furniture or accessories, consider a neutral backdrop, such as white or beige walls and trim.

Using Patterns
Choosing fabrics with bold patterns and contrasting colors is a great way to tie together a couple of furnishings that wouldn't ordinarily "go" together, from a color wheel perspective. Funky and vibrant patterns are all the rage, and the rooms that successfully combine a variety of patterns are wonderful to be in. For example, you could reupholster your couch in a striped pattern and choose a large scale floral in like colors for your guest chairs. Then choose a smaller scale of the same floral pattern for accent pillows on the couch.
If you want to keep it simple, find a rug that has the colors you want in your room. Take heed, it's wise to choose the rug before the furnishings. You could spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to find the perfect rug to harmonize your sage green couch with your orange patterned ottoman. It's much easier to find the rug first, and then choose upholstery that matches.

Mind the Scale
Another way to achieve balance is to choose furniture that matches in visual weight. For example, you wouldn't want to pair a comfy overstuffed couch with a spindly-legged coffee table. Instead, you should opt for a chunky coffee table that proportionally matches the girth of the sofa.

The scale of the furniture should work in tandem with the size of the room. If you have a small bedroom, you don't want to stuff it with a king-sized bed and matching dressers. It will make the room seem overcrowded and anything but an inviting place to lay your head. Conversely, if you have a cavernous dining room, a table for four and a small buffet will get lost in the vastness. As much as your furniture needs to have a sense of scale, it also needs to work well in the room.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why Do I Need a Rug Pad?

Did you know…that a rug pad is as much to protect you as it is to protect your floor? A pad is great for keeping your rug in place when you step on it (so you don’t go flying!) but it also serves as a buffer between the underside of the rug (which can be very rough) and a hardwood floor or carpet, which can both sustain damage from a rough rug. Check out this article for more info, and don’t forget to pick up a rug pad the next time you’re in a Home Decor!

Area rugs accent a decorating theme, add warmth and create focal points in a room. Use of a rug pad underneath an area rug increases its lifetime and functionality. Most rug pads are fabricated from synthetic materials with nonslip, acoustic properties.

Rug pads are sized to fit underneath area rugs, from edge to edge. They can be trimmed to fit without showing. Rug pads are made for the type of floor or carpet underneath the area rug. For example, a rug pad for hardwood flooring is heavy polyester and PVC. A thin polyester pad is used between carpet and an area rug.

Rug pads keep an area rug in position, preventing bunching and sliding. A rug pad keeps an area rug from becoming a slip hazard.

Rug pads reduce wear and tear on an area rug by preventing the rug fibers, especially wool or cotton, from crushing. Rug pads provide ventilation between the floor and the rug. They make vacuuming more effective by allowing air flow and preventing embedded dirt.

Other Benefits
Rug pads help absorb impact and soften noise. Rug pads provide additional cushioning that adds comfort to an area rug.

Benefits for the Floor
A rug pad protects hardwood or laminate flooring from being scratched by the backing on an area rug. A dark area rug should have a rug pad underneath it to keep color from bleeding through onto carpet or light-colored flooring.

We would also add…our rug pads are made of a lightweight, flexible material that can be easily cut with a pair of scissors. This lets you size the pad to your specific rug. And the extra pieces are super useful for opening jars as rubber grips and keeping kitchen cutting boards from slipping!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring cleaning 101

Happy Spring! Have you started your cleaning and decluttering yet? If not, here are some great tips to help you get everything done (and still have fun):

I love cleaning. Weird, I know. I especially love a fresh, clean, organized, and clutter-free home. Please note, I have that approximately two to three hours per year, and spring is one of those times. Here are some tips that make cleaning a breeze...

Make your goals and reorganize accordingly. Spring is the season of rebirth, and thus it's a great time to revisit your New Year's resolutions and other stuff you've been meaning to do. It's a great time to set yourself up for success. For example, move your exercise gear to an accessible location. Want to lose weight or clean up your diet? Clear out your pantry and restock only healthy stuff.
Involve the whole family for a cleaning "power hour." Here's a "game" I came up with when babysitting my sisters. We pick a room to clean (for us it's the kitchen/family room) and togethermake a list of everything to do: dishes done, toys away, pillows fluffed, and so forth. One item that must be on the list is making a playlist of upbeat music. Then we delegate and sort out who does what, with the grown-ups getting the yucky chores (compost out) and the kids getting age-appropriate tasks (folding blankets). Finally, we set the clock and GO!
That, my friends, is how to clean a disgusting room with help from kids in one hour. Afterward, we all must sit down on the couch and watch a TV show and eat ice cream. Do not skip that step.
Put winter stuff away. It's an easy place to start and it makes room do to more. We put our coats, sweaters, and boots in plastic zipper bags and take them to my mom's basement.  (Thank you!) A storage locker is another option. While you're doing that...
Declutter, recycle, think of the animals. Old sweaters can go. And while you're in your closet, pull out other stuff you don't wear. Look at the stuff around your home and ask yourself, "Could someone use this better than me?" If yes, get rid of it. If no, and it's because it's broken or gross, recycle it. I like for local recycling centers--especially for stuff like old cords and DVDs. Many animal shelters will also take old bedding for the dogs, who don't care if it's stained or has holes.
Launder everything. If you can, hang everything out to dry in a spring breeze and sunshine. I have to haul my stuff across state lines to make this happen, but it's so worth it. Pillows, curtains, down comforters especially need a good washing. Trust me, going to sleep on freshly cleaned sheets, blankets and pillows is worth all the effort.

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