General Inspiration Interior Designers Tips and Advice

Small Space Solutions

If you are like most people, no matter how big or small your space is, there still isn’t enough space for storage. But, if living in an apartment or condo, you are often presented with situations that leave you without a logical space to store an item. The key is to come up with creative solutions to add storage and shelving in places that you wouldn’t even have considered it! We have compiled a list of clever ideas that we have either seen used or tested out ourselves that made great use of otherwise “useless” spaces.

  • Kitchen
    • Use hanging shelves/containers to store things that usually clutter your countertops – think fresh fruits/produce or bread. Depending on your space, add hanging shelves to the end of cabinets, or find shelves that can hang underneath your cabinets and instantly free up counter space.
    • Make the most of your pantry. Even if it’s a small space – add storage to the inside of the door – think small things like spices, or aluminum foil/plastic wrap, that usually takes up shelf real estate that can be better utilized. When I did this, I got different shape desk organizers and drilled them directly onto my door and it added so much extra space!
  • Bathroom
    • Floating shelves! These can literally solve so many problems in small bathrooms – for giving you shelves next to the sink for basics – toothbrushes/toothpaste, cosmetics, q-tips, medicine (especially if your bathroom is lacking a medicine cabinet). They can also work over the toilet for towel storage, back up toilet paper, and any other bathroom products.
    • Shelves in the space between the toilet and sink. In most bathrooms, while not a lot of space, there is a space between the two that is completely un-utilized. Whether you find open shelving or shelves with baskets, you have added extra storage for anything you need, without taking away from the space in the bathroom (because honestly it was a wasted space to begin with).
  • Bedroom
    • Floating shelves again are key in the bedroom. Whether you have space to add them next to the bed – think over the nightstand or maybe in place of the nightstand, or over a vanity or desk – they can be used to store anything and everything. Again, keep in mind how neat you are – using baskets can always limit the amount of clutter.
    • Make the most of your closets. If you have hanging space in your closet, you likely have enough space to hang a shelf directly above that can be used to store more clothes. You probably also have enough space below for a shoe organizer – or even Rubbermaid bins that can store clothes that aren’t in season.

The thing to keep in mind when figuring out what space you can better use, is by looking at the room and seeing what space is being wasted, and finding shelves or containers that can make the most out of this space. Hope this helps a little with your spring cleaning/organizing!!

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General Tips and Advice

Kitchen Organization Tips

Organizing our kitchen is an ongoing project. One day everything is back where it belongs, the next it looks like a tornado ran past. I’ve slowly come up with a few useful techniques that help keep everything in one place and in order.

  • Make the most out of the spaces you have. Being that a lot of storage in the kitchen is tucked away in cabinets, it is easier than not to “shove” stuff away. What I’ve found, is making a designated “home” for things makes it far more likely to maintain organization. One example is using the inside of a cabinet to hang our measuring spoons and cups – by simply making hooks and labeling where each belongs. I also hung a tension rod underneath the kitchen sink – and all cleaning supplies are hooked on top to keep them off the ground. I have also attached metal paper holders to the inside of a few lower cabinets – store cutting boards in one and aluminum foil/cling wrap in another.
  • Labeling! While it may sound unnecessary, labeling containers in your pantry helps everything stay organized and in order – and helps when making the grocery list too. In my pantry we use the containers with pop lids and I just use simple tape and write the contents on the outside.
  • Create more shelving inside of your cabinets. Pots and pans are a huge offender in my house – we simply added a couple of more shelves, and suddenly everything had a place. The large pots had to fit on the bottom, the smaller sauce pans on the middle shelf, and the frying pans up top – because that was the only place they fit. Spices tend to take up a lot of space as well, so dividing a standard cabinet into smaller shelves allows you more space to stack them and makes them a lot easier to access!
  • Fruits/Veggies Storage. Fresh fruits/veggies that do not go in the refrigerator used to take up space and look like clutter on my counters. We purchased a metal wall hanger (designed for mail) and hung it on a wall that was out of the way. We now have one spot for fruits, one for veggies, and the third we use for extra storage.
  • Hooks. Purchase inexpensive stick on hooks for the back of appliances. When not in use, the hooks can serve as a place to hang the cords. There is nothing messier on a counter than cords hanging down all over the place!

Hopefully these tips will give you some order and organization in your kitchen as well!

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DIY General Tips and Advice

Garage Organization

Garages are amazing. After having a home with one, I honestly can’t imagine ever living without one – especially during the winter time. The downside; it’s almost a guaranteed mess! When company is coming over for the holidays, you need to clean out your car, or you don’t have time to run something down to the basement – it suddenly all ends up in the garage. We’ve come up with some handy ideas for keeping things organized – and a great winter project to tackle after the holidays (when you probably acquired more of a mess out there).

Create/designate certain areas of your garage for certain items. In our garage we have one wall designated for rakes/shovels/ladders and all other outdoor equipment you need regularly accessible. We have one other wall designated for recreational “stuff” – a section for fishing, bikes, golf clubs, and outdoor toys. We have a section on the back wall designated for tools – with a workbench and peg board. The last area on the back wall has shelving where we store items that are not used as regularly and don’t need to be as easily accessible. (think Rubbermaid storage bins!) Even make sure to designate a space for your garbage and recycling bin. They tend to take up a lot of space, and if they don’t have a designated ‘home’ often get left in the most inconvenient space. If all of that still leaves you needing more storage, there are some simple ways to mount hanging storage from the ceiling of the garage – we haven’t gotten there yet, but I imagine it’s in our future!

Within each area, make the most out of the space. For the walls, the more hooks, hangers, and shelves you have the better use of the space you will get. If you have all the rakes and shovels hanging off the floor, you’ve suddenly cleared up space – or at the least made it easier to get in and out of your car. Make sure to build shelves that are heavy duty. They will be permanent, so you want to be sure they can hold whatever you may decide they need too down the road – and keep in mind that it’s your garage, so function outweighs décor every time.

Once you have created a space that has purpose, it is easier to keep things in order. And if by chance, things get messy (let’s be realistic – “when” things get messy), it’s an easier project to put everything back in its place.

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General Tips and Advice

January Resolution: Organizing

Sometimes your resolutions may not reference your own health or fitness, but rather may take on an issue in your home: clutter! When tackling this resolution, the same rule applies as it does to any other, this is your plan for the year – not just the first week of the year! Just like you won’t lose 25 pounds in week one, you won’t declutter your ENTIRE house either! Using the first week to come up with a manageable plan you can hold yourself to throughout the year is actually a great way to start any resolution!

  • Make a checklist of everything you want to tackle. Divide it by room, and then by task. (This gives you a great sense of accomplishment as well!)
    • Kitchen – top cabinets, Tupperware cabinet, bottom cabinets, pantry, under sink.
    • Guest room – closet, under bed storage, dresser, bookshelf.
  • Take the list of each area you want to tackle and prioritize it. Come up with one project for each week – of course some weeks may be easier – under the sink vs the guest room closet, but that will make you not dread it each week!
  • Take the priority list and divide it up on a calendar. Generally best idea to use the calendar you reference the most – phone, wall calendar, planner, whatever you look at weekly!
  • Go to work! Once you complete a task, check it off the list. If you come up with new ones along the way, add them to the weeks following what you’ve already filled up. If you have a bad week, push your “to-do” until the following week – make sure to not forget about it completely.

When you get to tackling whatever item is on your list each week, make sure you are setting enough time to thoroughly complete the project. If the task is to clean the closet, make sure to pull everything out and start from scratch. Use the mindset of – trash, donate, keep – with whatever area you are tackling. My theory usually is if you haven’t used something in over a year, you don’t need it! The idea behind only taking on one project a week is to give yourself time to complete it, and be completely done with it when you move on – so don’t leave behind a pile to sort out, or a bag to bring to the thrift store, use the week to tie up all loose ends. And, like any resolution, don’t lose sight of the reason you decided to make it your resolution to begin with! (And hey, organizing is easier than exercising everyday isn’t it?!)

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General Inspiration Tips and Advice

Closet Organization Solutions

Often times, closets are an afterthought when it comes to home design. You may have ended up with the world’s narrowest linen closet, deepest entry way closet, or longest bedroom closet. Especially in a lot of older homes that were designed before closet organizers were trendy. Sometimes, it takes a little bit of creativity to make the most of these spaces, but it is always key to remember any space is useful no matter how awkward!

When we had first moved in our home, we were faced with all the above-mentioned problems. When we first moved, the obvious choice was to open the closets, and just throw stuff in, and close the doors – I mean, that’s why they had doors right?! Well, as time went on, and as seasons changed (where did all the winter boots go…??) it became obvious that being organized was more important. Starting with the small narrow hall closet, I took a step back to realize what we were working with. Although it was a narrow/tall space, it was evenly divided by five shelves. Initially, it was full of towels shoved at different angles. Instead, I completely emptied it, and found different baskets that would fit perfectly. When you have a basket, you can slide in and out, we were able to utilize the closet for all our bathroom items. Now, rather than things falling out at you, you pull out the baskets (each labeled) to easily locate a fresh toothbrush!

As far as the entry way – good problem to have – too much space – unless poorly used. We ended up needing to add shelving to this closet – and did it the easy way with the easy assembly kits from the local hardware store. We also added small battery-operated LED lights so that we could see in the back of the closet. Once we added these shelves, we could use half the closet to line up our shoes, and then still had a hanging space where we could use the closet for its intended use – coats. We even now had space on a shelf to add baskets for all our cold weather accessories.

The bedroom closet was the best problem to have – because there was a lot of space. Unfortunately, being off the bedroom and over the garage it was an awkward space, with no shelves or hanging space. While it took a little more effort, we ended up adding shelves, hanging space, and drawers – again all from the easy DIY section of the hardware store, and made it a closet you would be envious of. A space for clothes, accessories, even the towels which no longer had a home.

In the end, all of the space was so useful, and so much better utilized. Just remember, like any household project, it takes some time, some planning, and some patience.

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DIY General Inspiration Tips and Advice

Mudroom Design Tips

A lot of New England and Cape Cod style houses have an entry space which is commonly referred to as the “Mud Room.” The problem with most of these spaces is that they go from neat to disaster very quickly. Being the first room, you come into from outside, it is usually where shoes get thrown, the jackets tossed, and the book bags left behind until morning. While no solution will force your family to be neater, if you set up the room to make it as easy as possible, you might be surprised with what they are capable of!

The best tip we can come up with is to make it as “user friendly” as possible. For example, a specific place for shoes, a specific place for clothes, etc. With any of these elements, make features as decorative or simple as you want the space to be.

A necessity, especially in places where seasons change, is somewhere to fit jackets. If you don’t have a closet space for that area, a hanging coat rack can work great. A tip that is helpful, is to label each person’s name above two/three hooks. That will designate that each person is responsible for hanging in that space. Install a shelf, either above or below the coat rack, that will be home for a basket assigned to the same person. This will be specifically for hats/gloves/scarves. On the floor below, use separate mats that will be wear any shoes will live. It’s good to keep this all in one area, so when the kids come in from outside you will keep all the wet/dirty/snowy clothes in one place.

In a separate area create a space for everyone’s “things.” Whether it is your work bag, your husbands golf clubs, or your kids backpacks, designate an area where these things will belong. Consider your family, and decide whether hooks, hangers, or baskets would be the most useful.

A great feature I like to include in this space is a calendar. A whiteboard/chalkboard are great options, so you can update every week with any activities or events that everyone needs to remember. This can be your central space to fill in the family about what’s going on. I’ve seen some houses use this area as a space to write down any supplies/groceries that are needed or even what is for dinner on what night.

Hopefully, if you take these steps to neaten up the space, everyone will notice and try to pitch in. Good luck!!

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DIY Tips and Advice

Dorm Room Decorating!

Ok Back to School has come and gone and now you’ve had a chance to settle into your new dorm room. You’re “getting use to” that stranger you were stuck living with and the small living space you now call home; so – how do you organize, design and decorate now that you’re into the hustle and bustle of your new day to day independant life?! We put together a list of a few good tips on how to decorate this “new home” of yours.

  • Lots of pictures! While you may have been super excited to get out on your own, now that you’ve unpacked and settled in, reality has surely set in that you are suddenly far away from family and friends you have been use to seeing all the time! Having pictures around your space is a great way to remember they are only a phone call away. And make sure to get some fun picture frames – kill two birds with one stone – bring the memories, and dress up your walls with colorful/shiny/bright frames!
  • Add some personality! The long and short of it – dorm rooms are bland. The walls are boring. The furniture is boring. The window coverings are boring. Whatever elements you bring with you – make sure they are anything but boring. From area rugs, to your comforter set and throw pillows, even your towels! The styles this year include bold chevron prints, nautical patterns, and natural prints (think leaves/florals). A pretty timeless way to bring in colors is by hanging fabrics on the wall (almost like wallpaper – but much easier to remove at the end of the year).
  • Stay organized! Being that the space is limited, the more organized you stay the better. Utilize any space you have in the room to your fullest potential. For clothes – get bins that fit under your bed, and add hanging closet organizers. For school work – make the most out of the drawer space in your desk – add dividers and folders, and add shelves on top of your desk to separate paperwork by classes. For toiletries/accessories – make the most out of your dresser space (think folding clothes rather than shoving), and again build up (usually where you find the most space), by adding shelves on top of your dresser.

Don’t forget – college is an awesome experience, you make great memories, great friends, and hopefully learn a lot along the way!

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DIY Tips and Advice

Decorating + Back To School

As the summer draws to an end, the unfortunate reality sets in that school is right around the corner. If you are disappointed, imagine how your kids are feeling! From our personal experience, it always seems to help to do some fun projects together before the kids get back to school. To get in the spirit of school, there are a few around the home projects that can be both fun and helpful to get everyone in the swing of things.

  • Creating/Updating a “Family Communication Center.” It always proves to be useful (even with all of the technology available) to have one central area in the house with a central calendar, areas for notes to be left for other members of the family, and a place to put any flyers that come home from school. Useful tip – when recording things on the calendar color code things for each person, so at a quick glance you know what is going on that day. Using one central calendar can help to not double book as well! Get your kids involved by letting them help you to design the space – generally a section of the kitchen or mudroom work best so everyone has to pass by them! In my house, we painted a wall in the mudroom an accent color, with six months of whiteboard calendars (which allows them to be re-used but have things marked in advance), a cork board to hang up all notices/flyers, and a plain whiteboard where we can leave notes for each other. It’s also a great place to use chalkboard paint – but that does tend to require a little more up keep!
  • Create a backpack/coat organization area. Create a space where each child has their own space to put their stuff when they get home from school – ensuring they know where it is before getting on the bus in the morning! Depending on how old your kids are will dictate how much/what type of storage you need – but a hook for a backpack, jacket, a bin for gloves and a hat, a place to put paperwork, and perhaps some shelves to leave books. The best part, aside from knowing where everything is in the morning, is that having this separate area tends to cut down on the mess of things thrown throughout the rest of the house. Make it fun for the kids by allowing them to decorate “their space” however they want!
  • Create a homework station. Get together with your kids and create a list of all of the items they will need for homework – from paperclips to pencils to crayons to colored paper to markers to folders to scissors. After you have compiled the list search the house for the items you have, and shop for whatever else they may need. Stop by the dollar store and purchase different size/shape containers that you can store the different items in. Find a place in the house you know the items will stay (this will hopefully give your kids a sense of accountability too – at least for a little while!).

Whatever project you decide to do with your kids, make it fun and let them personalize it!!

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Care Tips Tips and Advice

Fall Organization

“Spring Cleaning”

Since you should probably organize more than once a year when “spring cleaning” comes along, in my house I also have “fall organizing.” I basically use fall as a time to go through the house, and get rid of anything I don’t need, while forcing myself to do a more thorough cleaning as I go.

  • Summer Clothes/Shoes – One thing that we seem to hold on to for longer than necessary are worn out swimsuits and flip flops. Make sure to sort through any of these items before you store them away for the winter – if chances are you won’t wear them again next year – just throw them out now. At the same time, when you pull out the warm weather clothes, if there is anything you or your kids grew out of – donate them now – someone who needs these items will be very grateful.
  • Outdoors – Similar theory as with the clothes, but sort through both swimming/toy related items as well as gardening items. Anything that looks like you will need to replace next year, toss now, and make a list of things to replace during the year – chances are you’ll get better deals on these items over the winter when they go on clearance too!
  • Bathroom – In my house, the counter under the bathroom is a catch all for products – whether first aid or beauty related. Take an hour, and sort through. Anything expired, toss, any beauty item you’ve had for a more than a year, toss. Just using this criteria the space will double!
  • Kitchen – Fall and winter are when I do the most cooking, and definitely when I do the most baking. I always try to do a thorough cleaning of the pantry so I know what I have and what I don’t. There is nothing worse than going to make a pie and realizing the spices are three years old – after you’ve already started baking. At least if you’ve already tossed the old items, you’ll know what to add to your shopping list.
  • Windows – As much as I hate cleaning windows, they are always on my list during spring and fall cleaning – if for no other good reason than not forgetting to do it every six months! But in reality it is also the time you generally change your window treatments, so why put clean curtains on dirty windows.

Don’t forget to clean as you go – it goes by a lot faster when I focus more on the organizing, less on the cleaning!


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Tips and Advice

And Now They’re Off!

The stores are buzzing with parents scrambling around to find everything on their childrens back to school lists. It’s the time with the kids are sad because summer is over and the parents are happy to finally get their sanity back. Unless you like me, a mom to little ones.
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