Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Victory Gardens are all the rage. Just ask Michelle Obama who recently planted one for her family and all the White House staff.
Don't have a White House-sized backyard for a garden? Check out this article in the LA Times. It's about balcony gardens for people who live in apartments. The plans to build your own are available for a small fee that helps fund the program.
"In New Westminster, a Canadian city where 70% of the residents live in apartments and 25% qualify as low income, Diane Cairns had to think creatively about how to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables. As director of the Living Well program for the community services organization Fraserside, she couldn't advocate backyard victory gardens -- not when most of the population didn't have a backyard. There was only one solution: Bring the dirt to the people. Despite having no gardening background, Cairns designed a compact, three-tiered planter made of a handsome (and rot-resistant) cedar -- just the right size for a small balcony. The 32-inch-wide planters are narrow enough to squeeze through small apartment doors, raised high enough so no stooping is required for planting and picking, and built with a trellis on the top tier to support bean and squash vines."
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
I've always felt that workhorse pieces such as sofas, dining tables and dressers should last for years and years. Temporary, low quality furniture ends up being expensive because it falls apart easily, needs to be replaced often and winds up in landfills.
Baker Furniture has long been the benchmark for quality in the design world. I have a Baker coffee table that my parents received as a wedding gift and it's just as beautiful today as it was in the 1960's!
I'm so excited that Baker has a new line called Baker Studio. The impeccable quality is all you expect from Baker, but the prices might surprise you. While the style is not downsized, the price points are. If this is what we'll find in the new economy, bring it on!
John Saint-Denis, Los Angeles Showrooms and Stores Manager for Baker Furniture says, "Our Baker Studio line focuses on the stylish young urban client who's taste is sophisticated even if their design budget is more limited. We offer a range of styles that are customized to the needs of the client."
John and his team are super helpful. If you're in LA, check them out at the flagship store on La Cienega just north of Beverly Blvd or at the Pacific Design Center.
Baker Studio speaks to the open architecture of daily life. We all have our own evolving personal taste and our own collection of found objects important to the way we live. The way we Dine, Lounge, Sleep, Store and Accent. Baker Studio invites us to mix and match, to explore distinctive forms and finishes, to embrace an unscripted new style. Your style.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Repurposing furniture is one of my favorite design tricks. It's also a great way to redesign a room for a fresh, updated look without spending any money. I have a buffet table in my bedroom and a dresser in my living room, so this article from the Journal Gazette spoke to me.
This is from the article titled "Repurposing Gives Furniture New Life."
“Most of us already have furniture, so it’s wonderful to use it in a new application,” says Kirsten Floyd, owner of Kirsten Floyd Interior Design in Hartford, Conn. “And a dresser is one of the best examples, because it is one of the most universal pieces of furniture and one of the most reusable.” Floyd says she has used dressers in entryways with a tray on top to gather keys and mail, and drawers to capture hats, gloves, scarfs and mittens. She also has repurposed them in a workroom to store art supplies, and in a kitchen for pots and pans.
“A small dresser with drawers can be used just about anywhere,” Floyd says. If you still have trouble picturing a dresser anywhere but in the bedroom – or a desk other than in an office, or a dining room chair matched with something other than its table – then try transforming the piece, designers say.
Adding a granite or butcher-block top can make a dresser feel more like it belongs in the kitchen. Changing knobs and hinges helps furniture feel different. And if you want a bigger challenge, you can transform furniture completely by staining the wood a different color or sanding and painting it.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
As most of you already know, I live in Los Angeles so I frequent many of the museums and attractions that the area has to offer. It's such a great way to get inspired while spending time with friends and family.
Not in the Los Angeles area? Don't despair, just check out the websites for your local museums and attractions to find out what special offers they have. You'll be surprised how many bargains there are to be had.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Years ago when I was in the depths of a particularly challenging time, a friend asked how I was doing. I told her I realized that I had been going through life like a person on a roller coaster who gripped the bar so tightly it left a dent. "I'm teaching myself to let go, wave my hands in the air and shout 'Weeeeee! 'Cuz I realized I signed up for the ride so I may as well enjoy it!' "
Some might say we're all on a giant roller coaster right now. Even if you didn't sign up, you're on it! Wouldn't it be a lot easier if you stopped white-knuckling it and enjoyed the ride?
I saw this article from Redbook, "What You Can Learn When You Stop Fearing Change." It has some helpful ideas for putting the "Weeeeee!" into your life.
" 'We're brought up to believe that we should do everything we can to live tidy, predictable lives: Map out what you want! Have a five-year plan!' says life coach Gail Blanke. 'But the truth is that you miss some of the best parts of life by living like that.' In fact, notes Blanke, it's the in-between, uncertain times, the moments when you're tempted to just pull the covers over your head, that can teach you the most about yourself and help you grow — if you let them."
Check it out...
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Last year, instead of buying new shoes and a new purse for the summer, I decided to take a friend's advice and try a shoe repair shop instead. I bagged up a few of my flats and a couple pair of heels, along with a nice Prada purse I had gotten at a second hand shop, and ventured off to my local shoe repair.
A week later, I was amazed at what I saw. My shoes looked like new (except I didn't have to go thru the gruelling process of breaking them in.) And the purse had been polished, the clasp fixed, and the lining mended. I was so pleased! I'm a convert of the shoe repair shop and never again will I throw away a pair well-worn and loved shoes before asking for the advice of a cobbler.
I saw this article by Melissa Magsaysay in the L.A. Times:
Shoe repair shops bring new life and style to classic bags, heels
Accessory updates are simple, and they're a smart way to extend the life of basic pieces, customize sale finds or reinvent something for a new season. A brown hobo bag, for example, loses the bohemian vibe when dyed black or deep gray. It can get even more sophisticated if you replace the rustic brass hardware with pewter or brushed silver.
We've found four local cobblers who don't just fix shoes and bags, but also rework, reconstruct and update them. They can restyle a pump, turn a gladiator sandal into a T-bar and give a trendy clutch new life as a classic evening bag.
“It’s taking what’s there and making something new out of it,” says Pasquale Fabrizio.
Note: You can only RSVP for the current week's restaurant. If you're interested in future events, add your profile to the facebook page or submit your email in the tab above. The facebook page will be notified a day prior to the email submissions, and thus more likely to get a reservation."
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Ever feel bad for throwing something into the trash because you didn't know how to recycle it? Check this out...
Real Simple magazine has made recycling, well, real simple. They have an article that basically tells you how to recycle anything from aersol cans to zippered plastic bag. It's all in there. Some of the tips can even save you money. For example, did you know you can save 10% on a new ipod by bringing in your old ipod for proper recycling?
Here's a preview:
Aerosol cans: These can usually be recycled with other cans, as long as you pull off the plastic cap and empty the canister completely.
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs: CFLs contain mercury and shouldn’t be thrown in the trash. Ikea and the Home Depot operate CFL recycling programs; you can also check with your local hardware store or recycling center to see if it offers recycling services.
Paint: Some cities have paint-recycling programs, in which your old paint is taken to a company that turns it into new paint. Go to earth911.org to see if a program exists in your area.
Pizza boxes: If cheese and grease are stuck to the box, rip out the affected areas and recycle the rest as corrugated cardboard. Food residue can ruin a whole batch of paper if it is left to sit in the recycling facility and begins to decompose.
Zippered plastic bags: Venues that recycle plastic bags will also accept these items, as long as they are clean, dry, and the zip part has been snipped off (it’s a different type of plastic).
For more recycling tips, go to...
Monday, March 16, 2009
Nothing grabs my attention like a sign that says "Cheap Eats for Food Lovers $3.99 or less" Yeah, baby! Now we're talkin'!
3 Buck Bites says..."Does the idea of a $3 kobe beef slider send you into culinary bliss? Do you know where to find the best and cheapest duck confit taco in town? If all of the above sounds like an average dining experience, then 3 Buck Bites is the place for you!
3 Buck Bites is the go-to guide and lookbook for food lovers who crave cheap eats while satisfying their visual pleasures. Times are tough, but a discerning palate has to stay distinguished!"
Don't cha love it?
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Sick of staring at your four walls, wistfully remembering when you used to actually get out and go places?
Try this... www.free-attractions.com It shows you of all kinds of fun things to do for free all across the US of A.
Just click on the state or city you are in and it will bring up a list of fun things to do and great sites to see. It's a fun way to explore places you've never seen...for FREE!
You can even take a vacation hitting all sorts of free attractions. Click on the site, plan the trip, pack up the kids and hit the road for some fun and adventure.
Let's all sing...
Now you go through Saint Looey
And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.
Got the itch for a boost to your wardrobe? A budget-friendly option is thrift stores. Although this is the most challenging time in retail history, thrift stores are seeing a 35% increase in sales.
Here's some great tips for scoring at a thrift store. I found them on a fun site, "The Frisky."
- “Thrift shopping cannot be rushed. Take your time.”—Christine
- “Definitely hit shops in upscale hoods. People donate locally!”—Sarah
- “Go with a fellow bargain lover or go it alone. Unless you want a friend to sit on a musty recliner and shoot you dirty looks while you dig for treasure, fly solo or go with someone who enjoys the hunt as much as you.”—Robyn
- “If your goal is to create a collection, take your time. Rome/Paris/your closet was not built in a day.”—Christine
- “As a general rule, vintage sizes are almost always smaller than 2008 sizes, so don’t pay attention to the number on the label.”—Sarah
- “If it’s stained, yellowed, stinky, or made of cheap fabric, it’s not worth it, even if its only $5. Look it over in good lighting to spot discoloration (especially armpits) and to examine the fabric and lining for tears or damage. Missing buttons and zippers are easy to repair.”—Robyn
- “Don’t get discouraged, some thrifting days just won’t be as successful as others. If you do get discouraged, leave the store, and return some other time. Good energy must always surround your thrifting experience. When you don’t have good energy, you won’t find that ‘find of all finds.’”—Christine
- “Hit out-of-the-way thrift stores. Because people are so fashion savvy these days, thrift stores in bigger style cities like Los Angeles and New York are really picked over, and prices are always more expensive. Deals can be had for sure, but for more options and better scores try to squeeze in a visit to a thrift store the next time you visit relatives in Ohio or have a work meeting in Orlando.”—Robyn
- “Try not to go to the store looking for something specific. Be open to what is there, take what is offered.”—Christine
- “Go with your gut. if you love it, and its reasonably priced, buy it. Chances are you will continue to love it.”—Sarah
Saturday, March 14, 2009
One of the best Upsides to Downsizing is shrinking on your monthly nut.
I've just made two phone calls and saved over $150 per month! Yep, I was being over-charged on my monthly bills. New plans had been offered since I signed on...but I didn't know until I asked. And when I combined my cable, internet and phone, I saved a lot.
Lately I've heard several stories of people saving on everything from internet hosting services to hotel rooms to salon services.
Chicago hairstylist Elizabeth Schuler says, "I'd rather have someone call me to request a lower fee than wait extra weeks between appointments or, God forbid, go to Super Cuts! And as I told my clients, please don't cut your own hair because it will honestly look terrible.
The reality is that everyone is up for some negotiation these days. No one wants to lose clients. So just call your stylist and work it out together."
Go through your list of service providers, search the web for competitive prices and make the calls to get crackin' on your monthly nut!
Looking for a new hair stylist in Chicago? Try Elizabeth Schuler. Here's her site.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Have you seen this video from my webseries? It's packed with tips to stop overspending. You might want to forward it to the shopaholics in your life!
This video features feng shui tips for a bathroom in the Wealth Area (but the tips really apply to all bathrooms).
Feng shui tips to stop money loss...
- Fix any sinks, tub, shower or toilet that are clogged or broken. Water symbolizes the flow of currency so don't clog it.
- Fix all leaks & drips. They symbolize 'money going down the drain.'
- Keep the toilet seat down. Toilets drain your energy.
- Clear clutter. Remember the root word for clutter is 'to clot.'
You can see other videos from the series on my design site...
"All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune." Henry David Thoreau
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The New York Times hired five designers to help five New Yorkers who had been downsized. The hook? Their budget was $300.
"...since there have always been decorators who insist you can do a lot to improve a space with little or no money, using the furnishings and accessories you have, now seemed a good moment to put their theory to the test.
Last month, the Home section approached several New York interior designers (only a few of whom, to be fair, had ever espoused anything like that theory) on behalf of five people in and around the city who had recently lost their jobs and were beginning, by their own accounts, to go stir-crazy at home.
The designers were asked to remake a room for one of these prospective clients — whichever room bothered the client most — spending no more than $300 (just under the average weekly unemployment benefit in New York State), excluding their own labor."
Check out the article and the great photos, especially the Multi Media Slideshow "How the designers did it." Great stuff for all of us!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Just because you're downsizing doesn't mean you can't have style. Au contraire, mon ami!
Oprah.com has some budget friendly decorating tips...many identical to my Top Ten Feng Shui Tips by Elizabeth Chamberlain video (#1 feng shui video on youtube for the last two years!).
According to Oprah...
CLEAR THE CLUTTER
To make your home feel more open and inviting, clear out all the extra furniture and household items—clutter is claustrophobic! (Can I hear an 'Amen'!)
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY
Displaying family photos helps make a house feel more like a home.
SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Take care of small repairs as they come up, instead of waiting until there's a long list of things to fix.
All it takes to give an outdated bathroom a quick facelift is a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. (Use No-VOC paints!)
LIBERATE YOUR FURNITURE
It's time to set your living room furniture free and move it away from the walls!
Add value to your home by updating old or unappealing features with high-quality, inexpensive materials.
THE POWER OF PAINT
White walls are cold and uninviting, and the starkness can sometimes make every crack and imperfection in the walls stand out.
CLEAN UP THE CARPET
Unless you can professionally steam clean your carpeting to remove stains, it's best to replace it. Luckily, carpet is an easy and budget-friendly fix.
Fresh flowers can go a long way in adding ambiance to your home, and you don't have to break the bank to get them.
Some simple changes can take an outdated kitchen from ho-hum to wow with a coat of paint and new hardware.
To see the entire post, go to this link...
A big Upside to Downsizing is the opportunity to rid yourself of Guilt Gifts. What are Guilt Gifts you ask? They are the things in your surroundings that make you feel lousy.
- The hideous 'lucky shrunken head' vase from your aunt who looks for it when she visits so she can remind you how heavy it was to carry it all the way home from the rainforest. And the companion dollie.
- The framed photos of the spring break trip with friends you've haven't spoken to in years.
- The collection of kitty motif kitchen gadgets that you told your mom you liked...when you were 15 and she's never forgotten.
- That blouse you bought yourself as a special treat. Yeah, the one with the tags.
- And the cigarette jeans you swore years ago you'll fit into again someday.
For years, all of my feng shui clients have been hearing my little speech about the importance of plants. Best placed in the Family Area, the Wood Energy of plants symbolizes growth, health and vitality. Plants also produce oxygen, eat CO2's and act as an air filter in your home. What's not to love?
From a feng shui perspective, it's important to select plants with rounded rather than pointy leaves. Pointy leaves can lead to arguments, accusations and bickering. Who needs that?
But don't just take my word for it! NASA did a study to find which plants provide the best filtering of VOC's, or volatile organic compounds, in our homes. Here's a list of the best plants for absorbing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and other toxins in your home. Yep, they're all around, courtesy of your non-eco carpets, fabrics, flooring paint etc.
These plants below will help...
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')
Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Gerbera Daisy or Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
Pot Mum or Florist's Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
Got a jones for shopping that's on the wagon in this economy? Throw a Swaporamarama! Watch this video for a super creative way to shop for new clothes, be creative and repurpose items that would otherwise become landfill.
Here's what their site says...Swap-O-Rama-Rama is a clothing swap and series of do-it-yourself workshops in which a community explores creative reuse through the recycling of used clothing.
When you attend the swap bring at least one bag of your unwanted clothing and a small donation (say $10). Every swap begins with a giant collective pile of clothing, the unwanted clothing of all who attend. Everyone is welcome to dive in and find their next new/used items from the pile. Take as little or as much clothing from this pile as you like, it's all free.
After you have chosen your new clothes slide on over to one of the sewing stations and attend a workshop. Learn to make modifications or totally transform your finds. Each swap features a variety of workshops by local artists who are there to share their sewing and modification secrets with you. All the materials you need to sew, embroider, bead, fix, repair, knit etc, are suppled.
Wanna organize a Swaporamarama in your area? Here's the 411... http://swaporamarama.org/swapstart.htm
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Working from home these days? Then you know how important it is to have a desk area that suits your needs. But sometimes it's tricky when downsizing, adding a roommate or creating a work space in an already tight area.
Here's a solution for creating a corner workspace out of an inexpensive Ikea cabinet, some paint and a little personalized touch (aka elbow grease). You might want to paint the inside a fun color!
By the way, I got the info below from Domino Magazine, which you have probably already heard is folding. It was such a great magazine so I hope to pick lots of downsizing ideas from it before the site is pulled!
- Begin with the unit in its unassembled state. Use fine-grade sandpaper to lightly rough up the lacquered finish of all pieces—inside and out—that you intend to paint. NOTE: This is a bit of a job, but you've got to do it or the paint won't adhere properly.
- Use a clean, damp cloth to remove the sanding dust from all surfaces. Allow the wood pieces to dry completely.
- Lay the pieces flat on newspaper with the unit's outside surfaces facing up. Use a brush to apply a thin coat of primer to each piece, avoiding edges that aren't visible on the finished piece (the unit will fit together better if edges that meet are left clean). Allow the primer to dry according to the directions on the can.
- If you intend to paint the inside of the unit, turn the pieces over and repeat step #4. Don't bother painting the backs of the particleboard panels (the thin pieces that serve as the unit's rear), which will face the wall, anyway.
- Once the primer is completely (completely!) dry, assemble the unit following the instructions provided by Ikea. (Sorry, but you and your Allen wrench are on your own for this one.)
- If you've scratched the primer during assembly, touch it up with a small brush. Allow it to dry completely.
- While you're waiting for the primer to dry, use painter's tape to mask off hardware, such as the knobs and hinges, that you want to keep free of paint. Keep in mind, the better a job you do at masking, the better the finished unit will look.
- Now you're ready to paint. Use a brush to apply a coat of paint to all primed surfaces. Allow the paint to dry according to the directions on the label.
- Once the paint is dry, use another sheet of fine-grade sandpaper to lightly rough up the entire surface. (Again, a drag, but this will help your final coat of paint to cling for dear life.)
- One more time, use a clean, damp cloth to remove the sanding dust from all surfaces. Allow all surfaces to dry completely.
- Apply your second and final coat of paint, taking care to cover every nook and cranny of the unit. Hint: If you are painting the cabinet's inner walls and shelves, paint the undersides of the top two shelves—when you sit at the desk, you look up at them.
- When you've finish painting, immediately remove the tape and use a damp cloth to clean off any bleeding paint from your unit's hardware. Allow the paint to dry completely.
- Move in to your new corner office.
- To have good feng shui, be sure to place a mirror in a location where you can see anyone behind you. You don't want your back to the door!
As you may know I have an extensive background in feng shui. I found this article to today's New York Times interesting and thought you would too! To learn more about feng shui make sure to check out my webseries "Space Lift - Feng Shui Your Home." The video above features a lot of feng shui basics.
"In Western culture, interior designers attempt to create a happy and harmonious environment by careful selection and pleasing arrangement of the elements within the home. They usually start with a functional furniture arrangement. They then add decorative elements -- color, texture, effective lighting and accessories -- to create a satisfying or dramatic atmosphere. Function and esthetics are the primary guidelines in Western interior design.