Category Archives: organization

Where’s the Wastebasket?

A letter to the editor in a recent American Bungalow posed an interesting question. In all those beautiful photos of featured arts and crafts-style homes, the reader pointed out, the magazine never once included a wastebasket. Where the heck do these people put their trash?

 It got me thinking – not just about trash, but what about remote controls? What about computer cords? What about the litterbox?! Do these immaculately decorated homes have handcrafted accessories to match? Or do the homeowners just grab the most convenient doodads from Target and then hide them from the camera?

 Since then, I’ve had my eye out for ways to prettify the typically un-pretty – like this wastebasket, for instance. Problem is, when you have to request a price quote for a trash can, you probably can’t afford it.

 

Meanwhile, we’ve managed to wrangle the remotes into a bowl, keep pens, sunglasses and other small items in another dish, and toss my boyfriend’s guitar tuners, cords, and mini-amps into a bread basket.

 

And then we got this guy.

 

No, it’s not some futuristic ottoman – it’s a  litterbox. A ModKat litterbox. (FYI, our walls aren’t really fluorescent yellow, that’s just my camera playing some weird tricks).

 

I never thought I could love a litter pan, but I guess I really am a crazy cat lady, because I’m over the moon for this one. It keeps the litter (and most aromas) contained, is a breeze to vacuum around, and resembles a piece of furniture more than a bathroom receptacle – a large, candy-colored plastic piece of furniture, mind you, but you get the point.

This one, on the other hand, might be going a bit too far.

 

 All jokes aside, you never see pet accessories in photos, either – probably because there aren’t many decent-looking options. Thank goodness for Bungalow Bob’s Pet Designs. Past kitty Christmas gifts (stop snickering!) have included the pet hammock – which as you can see, has since become a home for toys – and the cat maze.

 

I’m sure if we had a dog, we’d be all over the quarter-sawn oak den.

 I totally understand that the homes in publication pages are, much like human models, part illusion — they’re primped, touched up and ultimately transformed into something quite different than the way they looked when they woke up in the morning. But since I get most of my design inspiration from magazines, it would be nice to catch a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes things that are usually left out. Like, is there a built-in pet box or cubby hiding around the corner? Or maybe a cool trash can or remote control holder? How do the design-savvy mix form and function when it comes to typically un-fun home products?

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Renovation Motivation

So I was feeling a tad sorry for myself last week, which may have led to even more infrequent posts than usual.

I was thinking that I’ve got all these big plans in my head, yet all I’ve accomplished recently is purchasing some kitchen canisters  and sink organizers.

Not that the updates weren’t absolutely necessary, of course. I mean, we’d been using the same soap jars since we moved in together. 

I’d like to think the end results are somewhat more sophisticated than the straw-hugging panda and his Softsoap tiger brother, who resided in the kitchen.

I might add a glass soap jar in the kitchen, too, but for now a cute Mrs. Meyers bottle in a white dish will do the trick.

 But a few days into my wallowing, I got some news that changed my outlook. After more than 10 years in their current house, my parents are finally remodeling their kitchen.

To appreciate the significance of this situation, you’ve got to understand something about my family. They have not completed a single renovation project in my 27 years of life. When we moved out of our first house, it was half green and half white because we’d started painting once and never finished. It’s been all downhill since.

Yet, they’ve hired the contractor, they’ve ordered the cabinets – they’ve even (perhaps a bit prematurely) torn out their inherited mustard and deep brown 1970s kitchen. It’s really happening. But the part that impressed me the most? The way my parents held their ground when their contractor suggested they rethink their dream of white Shaker cabinets and subway tiles and instead consider knotty pine and stainless steel, which he thought would have better resale value.

We went through almost the exact same thing when my boyfriend’s family, who was very kindly (and thankfully) helping us with the work, couldn’t understand why we didn’t want Corian counters and Tuscan-style cabinets from Home Depot. Then again, they also didn’t understand why we didn’t want a house built after 1990.

I get that we all have different tastes. I even appreciate it – it keeps things interesting. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have light birch cabinets and a recycled glass backsplash, or colored cabinets (like the cover photo on September’s This Old House) and a checkered floor.

But we wanted white cabinets, white subway tiles (apparently I really am my parents’ daughter) and a warm wood floor. We wanted to go from this…

To this! How-we-did-it post to follow sometime in the future. Please ignore the odd tiki display-turned-clutter above the sink.

Yes, in hindsight there are some things that I wish I had done differently…and there are many, many things that still need to be done. But my point is, we had a vision once, we stuck to it, and we made it a reality – and we can do it again. Any time I doubt that, all I have to do is look at our before and after photos. Two years later, I still smile every time I do.

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Filed under interiors, kitchens, organization, renovation

Over the Counter

Nobody would ever mistake me for a neat freak. But just because organization isn’t in my blood doesn’t mean I can’t change, right?

 That’s why I thought I’d use the inevitable burst of motivation that comes with the onset of autumn to tackle a few organization projects. Rather than overwhelm myself and end up doing nothing (a common occurrence around here), this time around I aim to focus on very small areas of the house, starting with the oft-cluttered kitchen counters.

 With space tight in our pull-out pantry, we were amassing a pile of plastic bags full of sunflower seeds, pasta, oatmeal and the like, all secured with twisty-ties and aging chip clips. Not a very pretty – or convenient — arrangement. So I picked up some simple glass canisters from Target and, lo and behold, the room was (very subtly) transformed.

I can’t believe I’ve been so slow to embrace such a timless kitchen organization system. By the way, we aren’t crazy over sunflower seeds – they’re for the chickens.

 The gleaming glass containers so easily spruced up our countertops that I’m thinking of going back for more – or picking up some of the half-gallon Ball jars I hear they carry at Michael’s. I was so excited, in fact, that I whipped up my first roundup/inspiration board/mood board. It may not the most aesthetically-pleasing one out there, but I’m no interior designer and this was my first try. So without further ado, here’s a collection of cute and classic counter space savers.

 

1. anchor hocking heritage hill jars, target, $10.79 2. vintage jadite flour canister, etsy, $58 3. deruta-style canister set, sur la table, 69.95 4. old dutch decor copper canisters, amazon, $64.99 5. ball 125th anniversary jar, JC Penney, $19.99 6. Pfaltzgraff small country canister, pfaltzgraff, $9.99 or $49.99 for set of 3 sizes 7. le creuset 4 qt. cherry canister, amazon, $49.99 8. enamel bread box, the vermont country store, $59.95

Next mission in operation anti-kitchen clutter: finding some kind of caddy or plate for storing our soap, dish detergent and sponges so we don’t have to constantly wipe the wet, sudsy spots that collect beneath them on the counter. A pretty ceramic dish, perhaps?

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