Decorate by De-cluttering

26 Nov

It’s that time of year again. It’s time for  food, friends, and family. And you know what that means, home for the holidays. After spending months in my own place, basking in my own personal style, I had almost completely forgotten about my childhood bedroom. Until this school-free week arrived. I stepped into my old room, which had essentially been my extended decorating project for most of my teen years, and it now seemed cluttered and out of date. Piles of mail all over my desk, old catalogs littered the floor, and my closet looked as messy as Macy’s after black Friday. So what’s a girl to do? I have been putting off this disaster area since the summer. I mean, does it really matter if this room is incredibly disorganized? I come home for the occasional weekend, but other than that, no one else sees it. So for some time, I was satisfied with simply pushing the mess out of the way and placing my laptop and laundry in the bare spaces. But not this week. This Thanksgiving, I said out with the old, in with the new!

The first thing I did was go through all that paperwork that had built up in the past few months. Now, it wasn’t quite as bad as the picture, but the loads of junk mail and old delia’s catalogs certainly took up quite a bit of space.

I recycled a lot of the paper clutter and filed away important things like bank statements, etc. into a cute file organizer like this one from Ikea (left). My next task was to eliminate as much unnecessary teen junk as possible. While years ago, I loved to display the ounces upon ounces of sparkly makeup I had, these days I realize that cosmetics are not really suitable accessories. I threw away the old nail polish, the teen magazines that I thought would somehow come in handy throughout adulthood, and the multitudes of craft supplies. While I’m certainly not condoning throwing away awesome Michaels merch, there is certainly a better way to store craft supplies.

I wish that that was actually a photo of my craft corner, but perhaps someday my ideal craft retreat will be a reality. This great space is made possible through the Container Store. The great thing about these ideas, is that you don’t have to buy every one of these pieces to make this system work. For most of my craft items, I condense most of my craft items are condensed into one of those drawer carts. Not only do the come with different sized drawers, they also add another surface to your room so you don’t need to waste much-needed desk space for extra smaller drawers. Get a cork board to post up inspiration or photos rather than storing these things in yet another drawer.

After these few de-cluttering tips, my room was starting to take shape. It still didn’t look like a page out of the pbteen catalog (like I had envisioned in high school), but at least I could walk. It also made me realize all the potential that my childhood room had. Perhaps a redesign is in order for Christmas break…


Unconventional Holiday

22 Nov

We’ve all seen that Norman Rockwell painting of a huge family dinner that automatically hearkens back to those traditional holiday meals that  happen in the movies. However, like it or not, sometimes a huge long table with a massive turkey in the middle, flanked by taper candles, is not always the norm. In many cases, it’s just not possible. Whether it’s the tofurkey, or the fact that most apartments don’t have a dining room, adjustments must be made from a traditional idea of a holiday. But there’s no reason that an unconventional holiday has to make for a bummer of a decorating scheme. One year, my sister even suggested “Disco Thanksgiving” in which guests would sit under a disco ball while listening to some groovy tunes. Of course, being that ridiculous is just one of the many ways to shake up the holidays.

The magazine Real Simple has tons of great holiday decorating ideas on the cheap. This is a great way to decorate your table while adding bright colors to your space. While this is certainly a great idea for a kids’ table, it is just as fun for those who are young at heart. It’s also great for a modern place in which natural decor like pine cones and pumpkins would feel far too out of place.

Have a bright and airy space, maybe a beach house? Keep the decor light, even though the meal is heavy. Most people don’t associate pastels with fall, but not everyone has a woodsy country cottage. This decor scheme really shows that even around the holidays, you should stay true to your own personal style.

If disco Thanksgiving peaked your interest, add glitz to your space in unexpected places. An incredibly inexpensive way is by coating natural elements in glitter. This sparkling idea is from Martha Stewart, but there is no limit to the eye-catching decor you can add to your space this disco Thanksgiving.

And last but not least, if all else fails, set the mood with music…

Turkey Time

22 Nov

So it’s that time of year again. Those ghosts and ghouls are gone, and so is all of that scary decor filling your house. Now it’s time for the most filling time of the year. While I have no personal gripe with Thanksgiving, I do have a bone to pick with this gravy-filled holiday. Halloween is full of scary decorations and costumes, Christmas has a tree and twinkling lights, but what does turkey day have? A jiggly log of cranberry sauce, and a poultry carcass. It is, however, one of the few times in which a dining room is put to its full use. You know what that means…tablescapes! Amongst the mashed potatoes, the green bean casserole, and plates full of pie, why not tuck some gourds, or a few branches of berries. To me, thanksgiving means fall harvest, warm colors, and subtle lighting.

This candle scene is something that will serve you well throughout the holiday season. Tuck berries, gourds, or evergreen foliage around the candles for the months of October and November. Once the snow starts to fall, tuck in some small glass Christmas ornaments to add that extra bit of holiday sparkle. This arrangement is one of many great ideas from Good Housekeeping.

Bought some pumpkins on sale? Make an easy centerpiece, the Better Homes and Gardens way:

Gettin Thrifty with It

19 Nov

For me, a part of decorating on a budget is the thrill of the hunt. If you’re going to be a frugal designer, you have to be willing to search for deals everywhere. And one of the best places to look, is at thrift stores. While during the spring and summer, there are garage sales and flea markets abound to meet your vintage needs, when the weather outside gets frightful, it’s time to move indoors, and into some deals. Now once you get over the fact that all of this stuff is used, and a lot of it is ugly, get creative. The best part of getting old furniture from a thrift store is that it can easily be modified. Think it would be cool to have an orange dining room table? Just buy one at Goodwill, without the fear that grandma will be offended if you paint her hand-me-down.

My personal favorite part of shopping at these places is the fact that you never know what you’re going to find. Perhaps a new addition to your kewpie doll collection is just around the corner! And even if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you could always stumble upon something you never knew you wanted but just have to have. But unlike in most stores, this spur-of-the-moment purchase will only cost you a few bucks. You can also hit several of these places a day, and the merchandise will all be different. Even if you want to make this a new weekly ritual, you can still head back to the same stores and find a completely new array of treasures. There’s plenty of local thrift and consignment shops, along with better known places like Savers, Salvation Army, and Goodwill. A lot of these stores also donate their profits to good causes which gives you yet another reason to buy that painting of dogs playing poker.

Some of the best things I’ve gotten at my local Salvation Army were things that I certainly wasn’t looking for, but uncovered under an ugly 80’s picture or behind a rack of old jackets. Take for instance this lovely gem that I picked up last year for $2.

If you’re still not convinced, the folks over at casasugar have a wonderful slideshow which lays out exactly how to get the most out of thrift store shopping.

Bare windows are a real pane

12 Nov

I know, I know very funny title. It seems like the more I do of these, the cornier they get. Apparently the craft paint is getting to me or something. But I decided that if I was going to talk accessories, I needed to address a growing problem amongst today’s youth. Maybe they enjoy the overexposure, or maybe they are just craving some vitamin D, but every day, everywhere, people are leaving their windows bare. While I don’t blame all those dorm residents, many rooms don’t have curtain rods and have concrete walls that are difficult to attach rods to (not to mention those terrible shades). But for everyone else, there are no excuses. They sell curtain rods at the Christmas Tree Shop for roughly the cost of a chai latte. Curtains are versatile, can have a huge decorative impact, not to mention the fact that they enable you to sleep in without any annoying interruptions from Mr. Sun. Some of you may be saying “But I tacked up an old sheet, and it does the same thing!” While yes, an old sheet could do the same thing, an actual curtain set-up can make your place go from “Animal House” to “Sarah’s House“. I have to admit that while researching this particular post, I had quite a time finding curtain ideas that would work in a young, hip apartment. I did find plenty of ideas if you’re remodeling your space after the set of “Designing Women“. So I’m saving any balloon valance or lace drape ideas for my ode to the Sugarbakers and relaying to you the most useful curtain tips I could find for those of us who don’t wear shoulder-pads.

And what do you know! Martha to the rescue yet again. These adorable pom-pom fringed curtains featured above are just one of the many wonderful homemade or modified curtains featured in this nifty slideshow. The instructions are simple and pretty easy to do with a tad of sewing know-how (or a helpful friend who sews). Just plain linen shears with a bit of a fun colorful fringe can add the perfect touch to a window, or in this case, a shelving nook.

These roller shades are usually cheap, effective, and ugly alternatives to blinds. However, Martha has worked her magic yet again, adding a beautiful detail to an otherwise neglected surface. While the instructions are easy enough, the stencil they used is a pricey $33. If you’re really feelin crafty, you can cut out your own stencil using acetate, or buy a less expensive one at your local craft store. You can  use stamps or even just use the rim of a plastic cup to make circle patterns on the shade.

But what about those places that are literally all window, all the time. For all those hip cats living in a loft apartment, with no walls and little budget (since rent on those places are sky-high), I found a penny-pinching way to drape your place in fabric. It comes from another favorite of mine, If you think that you can’t find cheap ways to cover an expanse of windows, think again: they did 30 feet of window for $40. That’s about $1.33 per foot (who says journalists can’t do math?!) So I hope all of you are thoroughly convinced of the healing powers of some drapes. It can make your place feel more like a home, and if you’re one of those people who likes to air guitar around your bedroom while getting dressed in the morning, I’m sure your neighbors will thank you too.

Random Splurge: Lighting

10 Nov

I probably have made my love of lamps pretty clear in previous posts, especially that slide-show the other day, but I can’t help it! In the words of Debbie Boone, they light up my life (cheesy, I know). So this is the one item that I will allow myself to drop a little bit of cash on. Now, when I say splurge, I don’t mean go out and buy a crystal chandelier for hundreds of dollars. I mean splurge in the cheap college student way, spend the same amount as a pair of jeans, or a few trips to Starbucks. A cool lamp not only adds a much needed light source to often dark apartments or dorm rooms, but can also act as a funky focal point for an otherwise neglected corner.

I’ve been really into these more modern looking lamps that have been popping up in stores lately. I can’t help but pick up a mod-vase lamp  when I see one in TJMaxx, Marshalls, or Walmart.

Geometric shapes are another unexpected touch in a lamp and the one featured above is on sale at for the low, low price of $29.99!

And last but not least…if you’re still feeling on the frugal side, and have a crafty streak like me, check out this video from Threadbanger.


8 Nov

The title says it all, I love accessories!

Here’s a great slideshow to give you a few hints to make your place feel like a home:
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