Category Archives: Organization

Freebies and Friday!

Happy Friday!

First – Home Cure 20/20 Day 4 – Remove One Item and Set Up Outbox. I think it is so very important to clean out your home every now and again. You’d be surprised what you have accumulated. Until recently, this was definitely the hardest part of organizing for me. I have always attached some emotion or experience to items. Look at the item for its use. Do you use it? If not, why do you still have it?

I really enjoy the Home Cure’s idea of an outbox and have definitely utilized it in my own home. In particular, when going through my closet between seasons, I will put items I am unsure of in a bag in the back of my closet. If the end of the season comes and I didn’t wear them I give them away. Give it a try. Here are a few more of my thoughts on ‘purging’ items you don’t use:

Second – don’t forget to enter to win my giveaways!:

  • If you’re in the D.C. metro area, email me a picture of the space you want The Artist’s Eye to help you with and a brief description of why you need the consultation by  Friday, October 29th. I will select a winner based on the emails and photos I receive.
  • This giveaway is open to anyone in the U.S. (as I will be paying for shipping). You can win an arrangement of coffee filter flowers of your choosing (color, flower type, etc.). There are three opportunities to enter (you can do 1 or all 3). You must submit all entries by Friday, October 29th.
    1. Comment on this post
    2. Join the Fabulous in Four-Hundred Square Feet Facebook page (if you already follow my Facebook page, Contact Me and let me know and I will count an entry for you)
    3. Follow me on Twitter (if you already follow my Facebook page,Contact Meand let me know and I will count an entry for you)

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Looking for Inspiration

Yesterday was Day 3 of Apartment Therapy’s 20/20 Home Cure. Maxwell talks about looking for inspiration to help find your style and ideas for your own home. Definitely not a new idea on Fabulous in Four-Hundred Square Feet:

Have you joined the 20/20 Home Cure?

If not, you should! I did, and today is the first day. Today is the first day of Apartment Therapy’s new approach to the Home Cure. Day 1’s task – Clean One Room. As my apartment is just one big room – yay for living in an efficiency – I will at least be tackling the floor of this whole space. Here are my cleaning supplies…

…for the floor

Swiffer and amazing Hand-held Vacuum

…for the furniture (thanks to Lola)

Hand-held Vacuum and Lint Roller

…for surfaces

Swiffer Duster and Bleach Wipes

With my supplies in hand I was ready to tackle my apartment.

Seventeen minutes and thirty-five seconds later I had:

  • Swiffered the floor of my general living space and kitchen
  • Dusted every surface in my general living space
  • Used bleach wipes on end tables and desk
  • Vacuumed and lint-rolled furniture
  • Vacuumed my area rug

Not a bad start! While I am typically a bit of a neat freak, I do think that I will begin to clean every Sunday evening for 20 minutes. I think that a clean start to the week – literally – would be great!

In general, I have set some ‘rules’ for myself in regards to making sure I keep my home beautiful.

  • I don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink before I go to sleep
  • I ‘make my bed’ every morning. By this I mean I at least pull up the comforter to cover the bed. You would be surprised what a difference it makes.
  • When tidying, I make sure that if I touch an item it moves to its ‘area’ if not all the way put away.
  • Dirty clothes never touch the floor – they go directly to the hamper

You would be surprised what a difference this has made in my apartment.

Do you have any of your own cleaning rituals?

Best Home Cure Yet!

I’m so very excited to hear that Apartment Therapy will be starting its next Home Cure this coming Monday, October 18th. Better yet is their new approach.

In only 20 minutes a day for 20 days we’re all going to make our homes beautiful, organized and healthy.

So perfect! I certainly plan to follow along. I hope to share my experiences with you all and also hear about your experiences along the way.

What a great way to head into the weekend.  Also, here’s a great quote for you to consider

Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.

– Chamfort

Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend.

Image from Elle Decor.

Dynamic Design

While I had prepared myself for the transition of job culture from my last job to this new one, or so I thought, it has been a surprisingly frazzling first two weeks. My schedule is all thrown off, I don’t have much work to do, I’m still getting used to wearing “grown-up clothes” ….. the list goes on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still extremely excited for what the future may hold, and grateful for all that I have, but I’m drained. Hence, the short post today. I promise I will be much more on the ball next week.

I came across this quote the other day. I think it will help me to justify my current mental state and the physical state of my closet.

One person’s mess is merely another person’s filing system.

– Margo Kaurman

Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!

Monday Mall

Today’s ‘Monday Mall’ theme is – Office Furniture.

Computer Desk – $50

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/fuo/1963085544.html

Corner Computer Desk – $35

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/fuo/1963042076.html

Plastic File Cabinets – $15

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/fuo/1963089771.html

This next item breaks my rule of only sharing items under $50, but I think it is great and still a reasonable price:

Mahogany Desk – $73

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/fuo/1963123723.html

If you would like your Craigslist item to be posted, just e-mail me the link to your item. All items must be under $50 and include a photo.

Wishful Wednesday

My first new decorating and organizing project during my time off is my desk. If I’m going to take decorating seriously, I need a very workable and accessible space. Mine is still in progress, but here are some workspaces I love.

I'm not sure I would be able to have anything like this in my real life (I don't like lots of 'stuff') but I just think this is an inspiring workspace. Photo Courtesy of Country Living.

I love how this workspace blends in with the living space. Photo Courtesy of Country Living.

In a perfect world, this would be my workspace (but just for 1). Photo Courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

See why it's so great!!! Photo Courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

Elegantly hidden! LOVE! Photo Courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

Happy Hump Day! I know I sound like a broken record, but for free decorating advice, or if you want to share your great projects and ideas, e-mail me!

Two weeks of freedom!

I had my last day as a “Research Analyst” on Friday, September 10th. My first day working as a “Fed” (Federal Government Employee) isn’t until September 27th. This means I have two full weeks of NO WORK!

I can’t remember a time, since I’ve been able to work at 15 years-old, when I had two weeks with absolutely no work and no obligations. It’s beyond amazing. I’m a few days in and still loving it. I’ve decided to use this time for a few different things:

  • Fitness. In the last year, with my health finally in check, my workout schedule has been sporadic. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy yoga. I hope to use the next two weeks to get into more of a routine with my physical fitness.
  • Crafts. I have lots of half-started projects that I would either like to finish or get much further on.
  • Decorating. I’d like to finish-up my office area decorating and organization and then move on to my closet.
  • Learning to build a Web Site. I would like to take this blog to another level, but don’t have the technical know-how. With the help of the library, a tech savvy friend, online tutorials and a lot of patience, I hope to learn a bit more about web design.
  • Getting ready for my job. I need suits. My previous job had no dress code – literally. I’m used to wearing jeans and a t-shirt to work. This will go along with cleaning out, organizing and styling my closet as I will need to go through my clothes to determine what work clothes I need to purchase.
  • Dotting my “i”s and crossing my “t”s. I haven’t been eating the best lately. This is entirely due to laziness. The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is cook a meal. This needs to stop. I need to figure out what steps to take in order to make cooking more enjoyable and easier. I also want to make sure I at least start this new portion of my life with as much organization as possible.

I could ramble on and on about how amazing these two weeks will be and how much I have grown and changed in the past year, but I won’t.

The weather is gorgeous in D.C. and I hope it is where ever you are as well. Have a great Tuesday and don’t forget to e-mail me your space redecoration pictures!

My cat, Lola, enjoying the sun and fresh air on my newly recovered chair.

Redecorating My Living Room – Design Dissection: Step 2

Step 2 of redecorating just about any space is – Purge and Purpose.

I’ve had quite a head start on this process as I’ve been doing a general purging of items for a little bit now. Also, for me, my living room doesn’t have much other than furniture in it. Each item is very purposeful and was intended that way. Working in a small space, I wanted to make sure I was best utilizing every inch.

  • My futon allows for my small efficiency to comfortably sleep a guest
  • The ottomans are a great find! Each ottoman has a smaller one inside. This means extra seating as well as storage in the small ottoman. Also, the tops of the ottomans turn over to serve as a flat tray-like surface.

Other than that I had a chair that had seen better days but I still need it in order to offer enough seating. I also have a small side table which is great as it holds a lamp.

How did you do with “Step 2” in your space?

Dynamic Design

An artist cannot do anything slovenly.

– Jane Austen

Tobi Fairley's, far from slovenly, office

Wishful Wednesday

Sorry, but today’s post will be a bit short. Being that I have been quite the procrastinator at work as of late, I have some catching up to do today.

I thought I’d switch it up and list some ideas that I daydream about rather than sharing some images of my dream spaces.

I wish…

  • I owned my place. I had set a ridiculous goal of owning a home by the time I was 25 and clearly didn’t meet that. Now, being a bit more realistic, I’d like to own something before I’m 30.
  • that my apartment had another door. By that I mean, a bedroom. Not sure why, but sometimes I just want to be able to get away from stuff and close a door so I don’t see it. In the meantime, my bookcase divider will do.
  • interior decorating was my full-time job. I love this opportunity to be creative. While I do enjoy being a nerd, the 9 to 5 sitting at a desk really conflicts with my ADHD.
  • I was a super model. Doesn’t everyone?

Happy hump day readers! Also, don’t forget to e-mail me with any great projects you’ve completed, have questions about, etc.

Attention bargain shoppers…!

One of my favorite websites, Uncommongoods.com, is having a “Secret Sale”. I had to take a look and came across 2 great home items I thought I would share.

I thought that this great magnetic organizer would be a wonderful catch-all!

And these wonderful melamine tile pattern plates are just too cute and only $24.99.

Getting a little personal

Apparently when I said I would post a little later, I meant MUCH later – my bad.

I thought I would get a little personal today.

I’ve loved writing this blog for the past 2 months! I’ve enjoyed sharing my ideas, experiences and projects while also sprucing up my own apartment. When I first started this blog, I’m not sure I had any real plans beyond just writing a few posts about my decorating projects. Since then, a lot has changed – my small plans have turned into big ideas and my life has been on a bit of a roller coaster.

BIG Ideas. I’m a dreamer a heart and have a creative spirit that I’ve apparently suppressed for the past decade. In the past year-ish, I have been discovering quite a bit about myself and as a result, I’ve grown and changed. All for the good (at least in my humble opinion). To make a long-story short, I have been toying with the idea of starting my own business.

My bestest (translation: best friend) and I have been meeting up every two weeks to work on a business proposal and explore the possibilities, obstacles and intricacies of starting a business. I think I have a name picked out, and am very anxious to get something started.

To be completely honest, this is all getting a bit scary.

My Roller Coaster of a Life. This year has been eventful to say the least! After several years of single-dom, I started dating an amazing guy in July 2009. I have decided to cope with some deep-seeded issues from my past. My ‘step-cousin’ died in a car accident at age 20. Most recently, my mentor and role model died of pancreatic cancer.There you have it – a very brief description of the past year.

There is just one more thing – my job. I have been job searching since January and was given a conditional offer from a government agency in June. All wonderful, except that for the clearance they had to contact my current employer. To make another long-story short, my employer has already hired my replacement. My replacement has started working and works in the cubicle next to me – awkward. My last day at my current job will be Friday, October 29, 2010. While I now have a conditional offer, I don’t have a start date from either agency as my clearance is still in progress. As you may have already figured out – I will, as of now, be unemployed for the first time since I was of working age (15 I think) in my life. Frightening!

So there you have it.

I’ve been able to post so frequently at the start as I have completely checked-out in my current 9 to 5 position. I have realized, however, that I need to check back in, at least a little bit. This is where you finally see how this sh*t-show affects you.

I will have to cut-down my frequency of posting. I will post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Should I become an occasional slacker at work, I may add an extra post or 3. Just wanted to give you all a heads-up.

I’m so grateful to all of my readers. I can’t tell you how happy your comments make me (to know that someone is actually reading and cares a bit). Keep reading and I hope that you all will start to share your spaces and decorating projects and challenges with me (email: fab400sqft@yahoo.com).

Redecorating a Living Room (or any space) – Step 4: Budgeting and Shopping

The end is in sight and it just keeps getting more enjoyable and rewarding from here on out. I told you the hard work would pay off!

Much of what I am going to say here is similar, if not identical, to some of the advice from 5 Steps to a More Organized and Usable Small Kitchen. The basics of planning your budget, shopping and sticking to your budget are as follows:

  • Know the space: It is important that you take thorough measurements of the spaces you are reorganizing. This includes, but is not limited to, cabinets, closets, floor space, etc. Make sure to measure every dimension (length – width – depth). I find it helpful to draw the space on graph paper so that I can better visualize how to use different organizational tools.
  • Solve problems: Remember the words that you brainstorms earlier in Step 2. Think of what elements you could add or existing things you could modify in order to make the space all that you want it to be. Try to think outside of the box as much as possible – just because you have used a particular piece of furniture or an item for one purpose doesn’t mean that is the only purpose it can serve.
  • Know your budget: If you end the project having the most amazing space with fabulous furniture, but are stressed out because you have overspent, the project really hasn’t achieved its full potential. Have a budget and stick to it. Make sure your budget is reasonable – for your finances and for what you think you will need to purchase. Remember that you may have things already that you can re-purpose. Also remember your position in life – is this a place you plan on settling in for a while, or is it more of a short-term home. This can effect how much you want to budget for items such as furniture. If you plan on moving in the near future, it may not be a bad idea to look for less expensive or even second-hand items.
  • Research: This is vital to staying on budget. I am a fan of using Microsoft Excel. I typically set up a spreadsheet to keep track of items that I think I want to purchase. This way I can get an idea for what the end cost will be before making any purchases. This helps to prioritize purchases when you near the end of your budget and helps you find the best deal for your purchase. You can find an example of the spreadsheet layout I have used as part of Step 4 of A More Organized and Usable Small Kitchen.

Aside from the nitty-gritty of planning your purchases and budget there are other elements of style and design you will want to consider. Remember your style! This can be incorporated into your space on any budget. If you’re style is like mine and you would love an amazing accent chair, but are also on a budget like mine, no worries! Just because you can’t purchase a new chair doesn’t mean you can’t make a current chair look new. Think of using slip-covers, throw pillows and the like. You can also refurbish a piece of furniture or an inexpensive second-hand piece. If you are crafty, you may be able to save even more money by sewing an accent pillow that will really bring out your style or making a slip cover like I did for my futon.

When shopping, I would recommend bringing swatches of the colors or fabrics that you are working with to make sure you are getting pieces that will work together. Aside from color, don’t forget texture. This is especially important in monochromatic spaces. Without texture it may all look a bit bland.

Happy Shopping! If you find any great deals to share with fellow decorators – please do!

Redecorating a Living Room (or any space) – Step 2: Purge and Purpose

Step 1 – Done – Congratulations! You should know have a lay of the land and an idea of what you are working with.

The next step may be a very challenging one for some – it certainly was for me. It is time to clear out or ‘purge’. Everyone has some things around that they really don’t need or use – these just add to clutter and take away from fulling enjoying your space. When looking at your space, consider…

  • Are there any items that you need to keep (for budget or other reasons)? Are there any items you really want to keep and incorporate into your redecorated space?
  • What is no longer usable or useful?
  • What items are not part of your style or may be out of style?
  • What just isn’t working – visually and/or functionally?

Consider the above questions while going through all of the items in your space. I have had the habit of rationalizing that I may use or need something even though I haven’t used that item in a long time. As a general rule, if you didn’t know it was there, or haven’t used it in the past 6 months to a year you can, and should, get rid of it.

While deciding what items to keep and which to get rid of, keep in mind that an item can be re-purposed or re-faced to better work for you. This is particularly helpful when working on a smaller budget.

It can also be helpful to have a friend over to help. Not just as help with the physical labor, but to also help keep you honest with yourself about what you should and should not keep.

The purpose of the space also needs to be considered at this time. Write down some words that you would like to describe your space when it is redecorated (ie. uncluttered, comfortable, easily access files). These descriptions should address the style and functionality of the space and will help you in the next 3 steps.

Good luck and as always, please feel free to share!

Redecorating a Living Room (or any space) – Step 1: Inventory and Survey

Step 1 is just to get you started on the process of redecorating without getting overwhelmed immediately. Overall, for Step 1 you will be taking inventory and a survey of the land, so to speak. Basically you are going to establish what it is you are working with and where (the space) it all needs to work.

Inventory

  • Exactly what is in this space. Look in drawers, under couches, behind couches – everywhere. Make sure you know what exactly is in this space. Sometimes we all forget about something we ‘stored’ here or there.
  • Think of your day-to-day use of this space. Do you typically have everything you want and need to feel comfortable or to accomplish the tasks you want?

Survey

  • How much space are we working with? I prefer an exact answer to that. This involves measuring or referring to your floor plan. This is helpful for any future purchasing decisions and to be able to accurately lay-out, on paper, any furniture rearrangements you may have in mind.

Not too bad – right? You could do this while watching your favorite evening sitcoms.

Please share your ideas, challenges and accomplishments by commenting or e-mail me.

5 Steps to Redecorating Just About Any Space

Just like with organizing your kitchen, I have 5 steps to follow in the redecoration process that are very similar to those I explained during the kitchen project. The general idea when approaching anything is to look at what is in front of you, dissect it, consult resources/references, solve problems and put it back together. Here are the 5 Steps to Redecorating Just About Any Space (a Living Room this time):

  1. Inventory and Survey
  2. Purge and Purpose
  3. Inspiration
  4. Budget and Shopping
  5. Pull it all back together but better

I really wish I could come up with some saying or something to make this easier to remember, but so far no luck. I’ll keep thinking about it.

In the meantime, think of an area in your home you would like to redecorate.

Who doesn’t love steps?

step -noun:a movement made by lifting the foot and setting it down again in a new position, accompanied by a shifting of the weight of the body in the direction of the new position, as in walking, running, or dancing. (From: dictionary.com)

I certainly do. I love all sorts of steps – the ones you climb (great workout!), steps of the corporate ladder, and most of all how-to steps.

For most of my life, I never knew that I was ADHD, and therefore, was un-medicated until the middle of my undergraduate years. As a result, I had unknowingly taught myself methods and systems to help me be successful. Looking back, I’ve learned that one of those systems, which I still use today, is breaking tasks, or pretty much anything, down into steps.

You will notice that I did this earlier with my 5 Steps to a More Organized and Usable Small Kitchen. These weren’t just steps I made up to help explain to others, but they were steps I had applied to help myself accomplish this task. Now that I am correctly diagnosed with ADHD, I find that I still break down tasks into steps for several reasons:

  1. A sense of accomplishment. Each time a step is completed a goal has been reached. This great feeling of accomplishment and completion can be a motivator to continue on in the project and help when you are losing focus. With steps, you do not need to wait until everything is 100% completed in order to feel accomplishment.
  2. Less overwhelming. When approaching a task, particularly a large or important one, it is easy for anyone to feel overwhelmed. This can be discouraging. To prevent this, breaking it down into steps allows for the once large task to be viewed as several smaller ones.
  3. Keeping on task. I have purposefully made steps very focused. There aren’t several tasks or goals to be accomplished in each step – just one. This helps prevent being easily distracted and taken off-track or off-task.
  4. Time management. Large project can be time-consuming. While recognizing that is a start in planning and scheduling your time, it’s often not enough. It can be challenging to determine how much time a project will take especially if it is something you have never done before. Defined steps provide individuals tasks or goals which are much easier to schedule.

I know that recognizing this organizational method I have used for years, and applying it to most things I take on, has certainly helped me to get to where I am today. As such, I figured I should be a bit more methodical in the projects I share in the event you would like to try them at home (which I hope you do). I will begin by breaking down the redecoration of my living room into more defined steps.

Who doesn't love steps?

step -noun:a movement made by lifting the foot and setting it down again in a new position, accompanied by a shifting of the weight of the body in the direction of the new position, as in walking, running, or dancing. (From: dictionary.com)

I certainly do. I love all sorts of steps – the ones you climb (great workout!), steps of the corporate ladder, and most of all how-to steps.

For most of my life, I never knew that I was ADHD, and therefore, was un-medicated until the middle of my undergraduate years. As a result, I had unknowingly taught myself methods and systems to help me be successful. Looking back, I’ve learned that one of those systems, which I still use today, is breaking tasks, or pretty much anything, down into steps.

You will notice that I did this earlier with my 5 Steps to a More Organized and Usable Small Kitchen. These weren’t just steps I made up to help explain to others, but they were steps I had applied to help myself accomplish this task. Now that I am correctly diagnosed with ADHD, I find that I still break down tasks into steps for several reasons:

  1. A sense of accomplishment. Each time a step is completed a goal has been reached. This great feeling of accomplishment and completion can be a motivator to continue on in the project and help when you are losing focus. With steps, you do not need to wait until everything is 100% completed in order to feel accomplishment.
  2. Less overwhelming. When approaching a task, particularly a large or important one, it is easy for anyone to feel overwhelmed. This can be discouraging. To prevent this, breaking it down into steps allows for the once large task to be viewed as several smaller ones.
  3. Keeping on task. I have purposefully made steps very focused. There aren’t several tasks or goals to be accomplished in each step – just one. This helps prevent being easily distracted and taken off-track or off-task.
  4. Time management. Large project can be time-consuming. While recognizing that is a start in planning and scheduling your time, it’s often not enough. It can be challenging to determine how much time a project will take especially if it is something you have never done before. Defined steps provide individuals tasks or goals which are much easier to schedule.

I know that recognizing this organizational method I have used for years, and applying it to most things I take on, has certainly helped me to get to where I am today. As such, I figured I should be a bit more methodical in the projects I share in the event you would like to try them at home (which I hope you do). I will begin by breaking down the redecoration of my living room into more defined steps.

My next project

I have successfully conquered my kitchen/entryway both in my decor and organization. In fact, I was looking in my kitchen closet for something last night and just had to remark on how much I love love loved my new organization! Just a little insight into my theory on organization – anyone can organize. The key that most people overlook is functional organization. It can’t be organization that will last for a week or until you get busy. Everything must have a ‘home’ and it needs to be easy to put things where they belong.

Now that I have barely dipped my toes into this whole interior decorating/designing passion I’m very excited to claim my next project. The dining area of my apartment is right after you enter through my kitchen. I have thought about redecorating this space next, but (1) I have not had any great ideas on what to do and (2) being that it isn’t a large space, I’m half tempted to just skip it.

Here is a photo of my dining space. What are your thoughts?

My dining area. This space is to the right of you after you pass through my kitchen.