Friday, May 30, 2014

Sleep Like A Baby Tonight!

(Image courtesy of Chicks 57)

We’ve all been there. Late at night your mind is buzzing with different tasks you didn’t quite get completed at the end of the day. Sometimes all the stress from the day can stop you from resting at night, creating a frustrating cycle of sleeplessness

Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t have to be a struggle.This list of tips, courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com, will have you snoozing in no time. Don’t believe us? Keep reading to learn more!

1. Do The Dishes - It's a proven fact that we're more likely to eat at home and make dinner ourselves if the area in which food preparation happens is clean. It's easy to cook dinner and leave cleanup for later, but making sure the dishes are done before the morning routine starts makes for a healthier day. Breakfast is a snap, dinner is easy and best of all the dishes are easy to do. Doing them each night eliminates those little bits of crusty stuck on food that can take extra time to scrape off later.

2. Pick Up Outerwear - It's easy to come home, take off your jacket, your shoes, your hat and get comfy! After all, that's what a home is for! But if your home is anything like ours, more than a days worth of shoes on the floor can be a disaster. Literally. Making sure that stray bits of clothing and shoes have been returned to their closets and baskets makes other chores on our list easier throughout the week. No one wants to clean their space before they can clean their space. Knowing you have a few minutes to spare to vacuum is easy when you don't have to tidy before hand!

3. Replace Entertainment - Most often our days are filled with busy stressful things and after our projects, homework or activites are done, there's nothing more we want than to sink into our couch with a snack and a great dvd or video game. The downfall to such habits usually necessitates a little clutter out in the open. Game boxes, dvd cases, controllers, remotes... they can seem simple and harmless, but keeping it in check each night means our main living spaces are ready to go for the next nights fun. Plus it keeps things at bay in case impromptu guests come over.

4. Tie Off Trash - Each morning before we leave the house we take the trash out. It's a great way to keep our space clean and to prevent having to drag more than 1 bag outside at a time. Because if more than 1 bag goes out at a time, that means there was a bag sitting and waiting in your home. And although it's easy to do (we've been there too), the thought of a bag of trash just hanging out is kind of... gross. By tying it off each night, it's ready to grab as we walk out the door to walk the dogs. We don't have any fuss, mess or frustration. We also have smaller bags than most, so if this isn't applicable to you, then adjust it as it works with your home.

5. Make A List - It seems silly, but there's nothing more annoying that having been out all day, only to return to discover you forgot to pick up something important. Shampoo, toilet paper, copies that needed to be made, whatever the case may be, a simple list of things that need to be picked up or done the next day can be quite freeing. We put the list in our pocket on the way out the door and it helps us keep track of the things on our agenda.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Get Your Thrift On

(Image courtesy of newsusacontent)

No matter if you’re saving for a luxurious vacation to Hawaii or worried about how much money is slipping through your wallet during the month, it’s always a good idea to take a look at what you’re spending. When hearing words like “frugal,” and “thrifty,” many people imagine that they will have to give up some of the finer things in order to save - but this assumption simply isn’t true.

If you’re interested in tightening up your budget, you don’t have to worry. These simple tips from apartmenttherapy.com will have you spending less in no time. Keep reading to learn more.

Cooking at Home: To save the most, cut back on ordering in or going out to eat. For tips on home cooking, recipes, and advice, check out our sister site, the Kitchn. Just to get you started, we're linking to a few of their ideas for cooking at home on a budget:

Recipes for Vegetarians (and Vegans Too)

More With Less: Frugal and Budget Cooking

Cupboard Challenges (working with what you've got)

Cheap Wines for Tough Times

Could You Eat on $25 a Week?

Repurposing and Reusing: Before you buy something new, try "shopping" within your own home. Look for items that could have a second life as something else. For instance, Rachel transformed this tea tray into a magnetic board for her kitchen. For a few repurposing ideas from AT, see these posts:

20 Ways to Reuse from AT:Chicago

House Tour: Rachel's Repurposed Mid-Century Place

Recycline: 10 Best Ways to Reuse an Empty Plastic Bottle

10 Upcycled Uses for Old Things

Creative Reuse: Best of 2008

Cleaning and Organizing: A chaotic, messy apartment is loaded with spending traps. You're more likely to overspend when you can't find something, you have no clean laundry, or you just feel depressed about your home. Before you throw any cash at the problem, start with a clean slate. You'll probably find that what you really need is less, not more. A few starting points from AT:

Cleaning & Organizing Tip: Start with the Bedroom

4 Steps for a Successful Closet Cleanse: S.H.E.D.

Tips, Tricks, and Tools: AT Cleans it All

Can Cleaning Your House Change Your Mood?

Clip File: 8 Great Cleaning How-To's

Thrifting and Scavenging: You know those people who always have a story to tell about how they scored an Eames chair on Craigslist for $20 or a set of antique silver at a garage sale for pocket change? You could be that person; it just takes a little effort and training. Begin your education in thrifting by reading these posts:

How To: Restore Thrift Store Furniture

How To: Collect Quality Furniture When You Don't Have Much Money

Flea Market Shopping with Eddie Ross

Craigslist Buying and Selling Etiquette

Clip File: 10 Thrifty Tips

Sewing: We learned the basics of sewing in our Girl Scout Troop, and those skills have paid off much more than the training we used to earn our horseback riding or campfire badges. With our very basic abilities, we've made everything from bedspreads to curtains to pillowcases, saving lots of money in the process. Our advice to learning a new craft is to start small and work your way up. Here are a few basic how-to's to begin:

How To: Sew An Envelope Pillowcase

How To: Make a Simple Bed Skirt

How To: Sew Lined Curtains

How To: Make Your Own Cloth Napkins

How To: Luxe Faux Fur Throw

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bring Paris To Your Living Room

(Image courtesy of Wicker Paradise)

If you’re like us, you can never get enough of exotic design ideas. Often when you’re creating an idea for a space it can be easy to be drawn into the comfortable - and usually playing it safe comes at the price of a visually stunning room.

If you’re a bit timid when it comes to the idea of “letting it all hang out,” with your interior design, there are still options to create an elegant, yet eye catching room. These easy principles, courtesy of renters.apartments.com, are inspired by French decor and will leave you saying oui. Don’t believe us? Keep reading to find out more.

Snow White.

The most common theme you’ll find in French design starts with white. This means a fresh and clean palette where you can artfully add in soft pastels to bring color. Walls are often white with white wainscoted detailing and crown molding. Plush white sofas are also a must. Don’t overwhelm a room with color, keep white the clear theme – the ultimate goal is a clean palette. To keep things from going too white and mod, the toiles and florals come in….

It’s a Toile World After All.

Nothing says French faster than a toile print. For anyone who loves whimsy, these are your dream fabrics. Fairy-tale-esque scenes are printed in repeat and can be used as curtains, throw blankets, pillows and more. If the farm scene isn’t your thing, try the Chinoiserie toile.

Pillows and Flowers and Armchairs - oh my!

French design is nothing short of sophisticated yet it simultaneously should invite you to step in and have a seat, a comfy seat that is! Why? Because they understand the power of decorative pillows. Pillows invite but also make statements. If white is your overarching palette, you need pillows to provide your pops of color and break up the monotony. The French are known for choosing quality fabrics so don’t cheat yourself here, a cheap pillow will look cheap. Williams Sonoma has top notch options.

Perusing Paris you’ll remark upon how many flower shops there are, this is because the French love to bring life into their homes and what better way to do so with flowers? Try it out for a month and I’m sure you’ll soon get addicted to this little indulgence, this joie de vivre.

Finally, the French armchair is a staple in any French home. Often called the Louis XV chair, these delicate but sturdy chairs anchor a room and add the final touch. These chairs come at a price however so shop around. You can easily find a great option at Restoration Hardware but you may save yourself some money by scouring antique shops first. Consider having the chair reupholstered to suit your taste. The chair seen here was refinished and reupholstered by Time Treasures Antiques & Restoration.

Bon, you have a great starting point for French-ifying your home, bonne chance! And s’il vous pla√ét, share your favorite French design tips as well!

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Fresh Look For Spring

(Image courtesy of MyWallArt)

Cabin fever strikes at the most inconvenient times - even at the beginning of spring! If you’re tired of looking at the same furniture in the same spots, simply going outside may not be enough to make you feel better. There are plenty of simple solutions to keep your living space feeling fresh, even without an expensive trip to the furniture store to buy a new couch.

Simple changes in a limited space can make a BIG difference when it comes to home decor. If you’ve got some spare time, and are willing to put in a little bit of elbow grease, you’re living room (or bedroom, or kitchen, etc.) can feel brand new in no time. Follow these simple tips from renters.apartments.com to see what we mean!

Keeping a fresh perspective is key.

Have you ever noticed how different a room looks when you stand in a new corner, sit in a new chair or stand on a table to replace a light bulb? If your living room has been arranged the same way for multiple weeks, months or even years, it can almost be shocking to catch a view you haven’t seen before. It lends to the refreshing feeling of new and exciting, and it’s good to keep the room juices flowing for this reason- especially if no plans for moving are in your future.

Planning ahead isn’t necessary.

Rearranging on an impulse can be extremely therapeutic. The idea here is to think less, do more. The freedom derived from an act as simple as rearranging whenever you feel like it can take form in other parts of life as well. If we’re open to change with our things, perhaps we’ll also be more open to encouraging change within ourselves. So next time you come home to the same annoying couch/bike/TV combo, crank up some music and slide some things around.

Start with removing tables, chairs and lights.
Keeping these items in the other room will allow you to focus on larger placements such as couches, bookshelves and entertainment systems. The right setup for now will present itself much easier when the room is emptier- think about how fun arranging stuff in a brand new, empty apartment can be. Add the little things later, keeping light placement in mind throughout the entire process.

Use the process to downsize on stuff.
If you find that every time you rearrange, the same light gifted to you last Christmas gets put in the corner on a table and never used, give it away. If you love that trio of comfy recliners but one always seems to get in the way of your morning stretches, give one the boot and chances are you won’t miss it. Care for your things but don’t be tricked into relying on them. As our lives and needs change, so should the things we keep inside of our homes.
Do you have a favorite tip to freshen up your apartment that we missed? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Design Your Way To A Comfortable Apartment

(Image courtesy of Karl Baron)

There's something about visiting the place where we grew up that just feels like home. Maybe it's the smell of the place, or the familiarity - whatever particular aspect stands out to you, the fact remains that nothing feels quite as good as feeling like you're at home.

The design of your apartment can speak volumes about how comfortable you feel there. If the furniture you have isn't comfortable, or randomly thrown together, it can make your apartment feel less inviting. Follow these simple tips, courtesy of renters.apartments.com, to start feeling at home in your new home!

Design for Use
The difference between a home and just another room is how much you really dwell in it. If you're ready to think of your apartment as a living space and not just where you crash at night, start designing your environments around their utility. Approach kitchen improvement projects around making it easier and more fun to cook and host company, tackle your bedroom as a pursuit of true coziness and relaxation, and think of your living room as a great leisure space just waiting to emerge from the blank canvas of the floor plan.

Color and Light

The cheapest, most functional way to establish a real decorative aesthetic is with careful color and lighting concepts. Look into whether your lease allows you to paint the walls. A fresh coat of the right color can really personalize a room. Even if you're not allowed to paint, you can start thinking of other kinds of decor along a color scheme that makes your home feel more intentional and personal. It's also a good idea to have plenty of lighting to open up each room and make the space feel more inviting.

Think Beyond the Now

Even if a given apartment is just a temporary arrangement, that doesn't mean everything in it has to be temporary as well. When you furnish and decorate your space, invest in items you'll want to see in your next home as well. By putting the effort and money into your belongings now, you'll feel literally and emotionally more invested in the space, plus you'll be less likely to have to start from the beginning the next time you move. Every chair, poster and candlestick can be the start of a continuous story, rather than just a lost chapter.

Add Some Life

Tending to your space or something within it is a great way to make your rental feel like home. When you're ready, bring a pet or some plants into the apartment so you'll have something you can help thrive in your environment. If you opt for something practical like a small garden of fresh herbs like mint and basil, you'll also have another reason to step into the kitchen and make your home a source of physical and spiritual nourishment. Apartment gardens are often as easy as a few potted plants on a windowsill, or even a small DIY project to install a floating shelf near a source of light.

Match the Mismatched

Especially when you're just starting out, it's pretty common to have a mishmash of furniture acquired more out of convenience than an eye for catalog perfection. Making a matching set just takes a little extra work, though. If you have wood, plastic or metal furniture, a fresh coat of paint can make them into companion pieces. Leather and fabric seating are good options for slip covers an upholstery, which will also increase the longevity of furniture that's either at risk of wear or is worn already. Taking on these small-scale DIY projects is not only a fulfilling and productive use of leisure time, it's also a great way to develop new skills that will serve you well when you're ready to take on larger home improvement projects in the future.

No matter how small your apartment or how short your stay, there are plenty of things you can do toimprove and customize your space. A little effort and TLC will definitely make your rental feel like a home you're happy to call your own
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