Tag Archives: organizing

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!

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:

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.

Redecorating a Living Room (or any space) – Step 3: Inspiration

2 down – 3 to go!!

This is the fun part! Before you dive into your space and redecorating, it’s helpful to have a vision of what you would like the end-product to be. While I do have a creative side, I love to look for ideas and inspiration from other people’s spaces. While looking for inspiration, keep in mind the words that you have brainstormed to describe your space. Sometimes we may find a decor that we love but when thinking about it in our own lives and homes, it may not be the best fit.

As I have mentioned earlier, I recommend printing out your favorites and making notes with post-its (or right on the photo) of what it is that you like about that space. Search for elements of a room that you adore and not just entire rooms. This will help to make the end result more an expression of you than simply  a reinterpretation of another person’s  style.

Another helpful resource for this step is sproost’s style engine. Once you have completed their ‘quiz’, sproost provides you with examples of your style. What a perfect place to start!

Here are some spaces I found that have helped with my living room redecoration:

I would love it if you would share some of your inspirational finds!

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.

A fresh and organized fridge.

Washington, D.C. native Alejandra Costello provides some great tips on keeping your fridge fresh and organized.

Design Dissection: My more organized and usable small kitchen (Part 2)

I’m so excited! I finally received all of my purchases and had some time to put everything into place last night. I love love love the result.

I already walked you through how I completed steps 1 thru 4 of my process. Here is what I did to complete the 5th and final step:

Step 5: Implement

In Part 1 of this Design Dissection, I mentioned to you my acquisition decisions and now you will get to see how I was able to utilize them to improve my very small kitchen space.

Starting with my entryway/kitchen closet and pantry:

  • I did not make any big purchases for the first half of this closet even though it looks completely different and is much more organized.
  • I had previously had a plastic drawer that I used for cleaning storage. Under the side table in my living room, I had two more plastic drawers that stacked together. By cleaning  out the two drawers under my side table, I not only got rid of many things I simply didn’t need or know I had, but I also created two more drawers to be used in my closet. I stacked all three next to the coat bag in the closet. The bottom drawer contained candles and air freshener in its old location, and since I kept some of these I simply kept them in the drawer when I moved it to the closet. The middle drawer was already in my closet and didn’t need any cleaning out. The top drawer I was now empty to use as needed! This turned into part of the storage for my plastic containers and serving dishes. While these drawers had been purchased years ago – you can still buy them at The Container Store and they are currently on sale for $16.99 each.
  • Remember all of those large containers and pans on top of my cabinets? They are no longer there. I have now stored them on top of the three stacked drawers so they are out of sight!
  • Being the frugalista that I am, I needed to find a way to use that three-tier hanging basket I purchased. One of my biggest storage frustrations is my plastic container storage. No matter how many times I have reorganized them they inevitably end up in a mess a few weeks later. I figured that the solution to this problem was more accessible and visible storage which was perfectly solved by the hanging baskets! The containers are easily visible to me when I need to find one, but still out of sight in the closet.
  • The top shelf of the left half of this closet didn’t need any real organizing this time around. A few months ago I had reorganized this shelf by using an expanding shelf that I already owned to make the space more functional. Using this shelf allowed me to better see and access the sandwich bags, garbage bags and what-not I had stored there. This shelf is also not factored into my budget, but you can still purchase it at The Container Store.
  • The other half of my closet is more for food storage. Here I already owner an ELFA organizer from The Container Store. This has been great addition storage for my pantry. As part of this project, I cleaned out the drawers and reorganized the space with my new storage purchases.
  • My favorite purchase for this project is the hanging shelf I bought for my pantry. This has allowed me to finally make use of the empty space above my ELFA unit and utilize the closet pole.
  • For the top shelf, I purchased a can dispenser. I also used many of the plastic storage containers I purchased to store my bulk items (ie. flour, pasta, sugar, etc.).
  • Lastly, I was stuck on how to best organize the many bottles on this shelf. My struggle has been finding a way to see and access all of them easily. My aha! moment (thanks to my best friend) was using the lazy suzan I had on my dining table for these bottles. I couldn’t have imagined a better solution!

Moving to the other half of my kitchen, I also reorganized my cabinets. I was thrilled at the amount of space I opened up through this project. Much of the space was not so much from discarding old or unwanted items but from simply better utilizing the space I had.

  • I have three cabinets above my stove and sink, as well as, two hard to reach cabinets above my refrigerator. The only item I purchased for this part of the project was an expandable tiered shelf for my spices.
  • For the cabinets below my counter-top, I had done much of this reorganizing earlier. One great idea to help contain the cleaning supplies under my sink was to use a plastic container. This not only contains them but also allows me to take the whole container out with everything I need for cleaning.

There you have it! My newly reorganized and much more usable small kitchen!

My ‘bad’ is great for you!

As I mentioned, I was planning to receive the last of my kitchen organization purchases yesterday – and I did! I started organizing everything and realized that I over purchased and do not have a great use for the hanging 3-tier basket I bought.

Why is this great for you?….because you can win this great organizing item simply by commenting on my blog and/or “Like”-ing the “Fabulous in Four-Hundred Square Feet” Facebook page. You can comment on absolutely anything you would like and you can find the Facebook page by clicking the “Badge” for it on the right side of my blog.

Here is what I am giving away:

From StacksandStacks.com

I will announce and contact the winner on Sunday, August 1st, 2010.

My 'bad' is great for you!

As I mentioned, I was planning to receive the last of my kitchen organization purchases yesterday – and I did! I started organizing everything and realized that I over purchased and do not have a great use for the hanging 3-tier basket I bought.

Why is this great for you?….because you can win this great organizing item simply by commenting on my blog and/or “Like”-ing the “Fabulous in Four-Hundred Square Feet” Facebook page. You can comment on absolutely anything you would like and you can find the Facebook page by clicking the “Badge” for it on the right side of my blog.

Here is what I am giving away:

From StacksandStacks.com

I will announce and contact the winner on Sunday, August 1st, 2010.

Some Great Kitchen Organizing Blogs

While I am impatiently waiting for the last of my kitchen acquisitions I have also been browsing to find more ideas on the best way to use my small space.

Organizing Small Kitchen Keeps Things Cooking – Rented Spaces.com

A Systematic Approach to Organizing Your Space – I’m an Organizing Junkie Blog

Less is more in our compact kitchen – DIY with ADD Blog

How to Organize a Small Space – Apartment Living

How to Learn to Get Organized – Organize Right Now Blog

Simple Kitchen Storage Ideas – Suite 101

Kitchen Organization – Spotless Kitchen Blog

If you come across any great resources please share. Happy reading!

Design Dissection: My more organized and usable small kitchen (Part 1)

Steps 1 – 4:

Inventory: It was great to fully empty all of my closets and cabinets. I realized I had quite a few expired food items. I finally cleaned out my food storage containers and now have a top for every bottom. It was almost odd to see my closet and cabinets empty.

Cleaning: I actually really enjoy cleaning, so I am always up for making time for a thorough cleaning. I must say that now having everything out of the closet and cabinets there were definitely some corners that needed to see a vacuum. It was great to see my kitchen in tip-top shape.

Inspiration: Searching for inspiration for this project was a bit different from other redecorating projects I’ve done. I needed to find organizational inspiration. I sought to find pictures that explained: What does organization look like to me? I looked for photos of spaces that appeared uncluttered, easy to access and practical for my budget (we weren’t going to be building any amazing cabinets in my rental). Here are some of my findings:

Shopping: As you already know this is my favorite part! Fortunately, I had already made some attempts at organizing so I had a few things I could use, but I definitely needed to make some organizational investments as well. For me, I have realized that part of making a space feel organized is cohesiveness. Things need to seem to match for my mind to feel like they are organized. Since I already own a white Elfa storage unit from The Container Store, I kept with white for most of my other organizational items.

While taking inventory of my pantry and cabinets, I realized I had quite a few items that would be better stored in plastic containers than their original packaging, such as – flour, sugar, oatmeal, rice, pasta, crackers, chips, nuts, cat food, etc. (I already had storage containers for my cereal). I found some great Snapware containers that come in tons of sizes and considered how much storage I would need for each item.

Being that I have such limited reachable cabinet space, my one kitchen drawer and the cabinet I use for many of my cooking and baking utensils were very crowded. I realized that this was in large part because I owned many sets of measuring spoons and cups that were all over the place and hard to find. It is very hard for me to rationalize purchasing something when I already own something that does the same job; however, I finally broke down and bought some great space-saving measuring spoons, measuring cups and a colander. I also purchased three containers for my silverware which had previously all been dumped into one container and would take me a while to find the silverware I needed. For my upper cabinets, I found a great expandable shelf at The Container Store that would allow me to stack spices so that I could much more easily see where things were.

My last organizational obstacle was my closet/pantry. I already owned a shelf that I could use to create more usable and visible storage space. I realized, however, that it seemed there was a large amount of space between the shelf and my Elfa unit that was unused. Being a rental I couldn’t make any major shelf installations, so I decided that the best way to utilize this space would be to take advantage of the closet bar and buy some hanging storage items. I purchased a hanging shelf which I found by looking through clothing storage items. Lastly, I purchased a 3 tier hanging basket that I think I may hang outside of the closet from the ceiling.

So there you have it, and here I am waiting for the last of my purchases to arrive. I am waiting for the 2 hanging units and they are supposed to be delivered next Tuesday (7/27). Until then, I’m at a bit of a stand still with organizing.

Now that I have a clean and organized kitchen – how do I give it more color, or are the plates and posters I’ve added as part of my “entryway” makeover enough? What do you think?

A More Organized and Usable Small Kitchen – Step 5: Implement

Now that you have all of your great new or re-purposed organizing materials, its time to put them to work. Here are some things to consider when deciding how to reorganize your kitchen:

  • Accessibility: What do you use most often? If you are like me and like to bake often, it is not a good idea to keep the flour on a top hard to reach shelf. Make sure that the items you use most often are most easily accessible.
  • Like things go together: This may not work with your organizational style, but for me, I like to keep like items together. For instance, all of my baking supplies are in the same cabinet; I keep all of my 100 calorie pack cookies and chocolates in the same drawer of my pantry storage unit. Similarly, I like to keep food items and cooking tools separate.
  • Keep the counters clean: While it may be tempting to put some of your organizing tools on your counter, I would recommend avoiding this if possible. One item on the counter may lead to two, which may lead to clutter.
  • Micro-Organize: It is not always good enough to just put things in a drawer or on a shelf. Organize that drawer or shelf. If its silverware – purchase dividers so each utensil is easily found. For cans, I have a ‘can dispenser’ of sorts where tomato sauce is kept on one level and salsa on another, etc.
  • Utilize every inch: When working with a small kitchen, every inch of space counts.
  • Everything needs a home: I have found that if an item doesn’t have a set storage location it often is never put away or is constantly in the way.

While this is step 5 of 5, there is still one more step – Re-evaluate. Now that you have all of your acquisitions put to use in your space, re-evaluate how things are working. Is a particular system of organizing not nearly as convenient as you thought? – Change it. Don’t be afraid to make changes. No one is judging you for trying an idea and then realizing it wasn’t so great in practice.

This is your space – your small kitchen. Make it feel like yours.