How to hang a planter ala the ceiling (without Task Rabbit, a man, or breaking something).

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TVs, ceiling lamps, hanging plants are DAUNTING.  If not hung properly, they’ll crash and break and probably hurt someone in the process. I’m not denying I’ve learned this from experience. So, there’s limited space in our new apartment, which is why we (I)  decided to follow the trend and hang a couple plants! I found this cool (and cheap!) $10 planter at Ikea. It’s simply, clean… and when I have time I may just paint some fun stripes on it.

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To hang it, here’s what I bought: 

1. Instead of a rope or rod, I liked the idea of hanging the planter from a gold chain. So for $2, I bought 2 feet of  silver chain from our local lighting store. Then, I sprayed painted it gold :) You can also sometimes find already sprayed gold chains. Use a set of pliers to make it the length you prefer by removing excess links. I wanted out planter lower than usual so I could see the flowers better, water them easier, give them good sun, and break up some of the empty space.

2. a proper SWAG hook kit — you can get these at your local hardware store for $1.50 — Ace Hardware! ( I bought a gold one to match) Make sure it includes a spring toggle wing and screw bolt. They usually come in two packs.

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3. You’ll need a drill to make a hole to push the toggle and screw into the ceiling. Make sure the drill bit used is the same size as the bolt. The one I bought required a 3/16 in. bit. Also, know the material you are drilling into – if it’s cement or brick you’ll need a different type of drill bit. Check with your hardware store if you’re unsure.

How to Hang it 

1. Drill a hole into the desired spot. Again, make sure you are using the correct bit, it matches the material you’re drilling into, and it’s the same size as the bolt.

2. Attach the hook on one side of the bolt. On the other side, screw the bolt into the hole between each side of the spring toggle. Make sure the toggle isn’t screwed on too far, as it needs to be able to close completely to get through the drilled hole.

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3. After drilling the hole, you need to push the entire device into the hole — to the other side of the wall — except, of course, the hook. Once you do this, the spring toggle will pop back open – SUCCESS!

4. Once you’ve popped it in, pull down snuggly on the hook, and begin to turn the hook clockwise. This will screw the spring toggle closer to the hook (from inside the wall) so that all that is between the hook and the toggle is the wall – this will prevent the entire hook from falling out and ripping the ceiling on the way down. Whoop!

5. Then, hang yo shit and make it look good. (Who needs Task Rabbit anymore?) Daffodils and lavender purchased at Trader Joes! $5 each, what a deal. (Our local nursery is still closed for winter — on the first day of spring — and yes it’s about to snow. ugh).

Protip: Where’s all the water gonna drain? Below the plants, I placed a bunch of pebbles to help hold drained water. This will prevent your flowers from drowning. You can even buy pebbles at Ikea for like a buck.

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add a little lime to your powder room (and while you’re at it, get rid of that mold! )

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The walls in our apartment are all clean white. There’s original molding and glass,  simply, they’re beautiful. Growing up in a house where the walls were always changing colors, and even the ceiling was a “white lime” color, I’ve learned to appreciate the spaciousness that white creates, especially in a small New York apartment. That said, you can take the girl out of the eccentric home, but you can’t take the eccentric home out of the girl.

More so, I wanted to see what we plausibly could get away with in regards to rental rights. Because after moving in two sofas, we’re never leaving.

Our bathroom has a great sunlight, but other than that, it’s small. It’s mixed in white tiles where over time old ones must have broken off. There’s layers and layers of old paint, grey and white cements covering the tiles in illogical and messy ways. There’s also mold. A lot of mold. To top it off, the most recent paint job was one layer of white, so poorly painted you could see the lilac purple underneath.

I mean, it’s gross.

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Originally I wanted to paint it a dark slate grey/blue. But who wants to poo in not only a small room, but a dark and small room? So we nixed that, and I went to, obviously, my favorite color in the world — chartreuse.

Adding a lick of paint to your walls not only brightens the space, it cleans it up, makes things feel fresh, and is an inexpensive way to redecorate.

What You’ll Need  (to clean, caulk, and paint your poo room) — 

1. a flat head screw driver

2. paint. our bathroom is teeny tiny, and the tiles cover a lot of the walls, so we only needed 1/4 gallon. I recommend making sure the paint is mold proof and bathroom friendly. We used a satin finish — not shiny, but not chalky-matte.

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3. a couple paint brushes. I used a 1″ one that I already had, as well as the brush I swear by, the shur line paint edger — it’s smooth, and helps with painting corners and edges.

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4. painter’s tape.

5. something to place the paint in. Incidentally, the plastic cover to a container of Swiffer mops works quite well (just make sure you don’t need to use it again!)

6. maybe a ladder, or you can do the little dance I did while painting on the edge of the tub.

7. brush or vacuum and cleaning all-purpose spray. I like Method.

8. Spatula and wall putty – in case you have old holes in the walls. Maybe some light sand paper.

9. bathroom caulk. This is different from caulk I used to cover mouse holes. But the practice is the same, so if you’re unsure how to use caulk, read this post.

Directions 

Before you paint, clean up the space. wash the walls down — there’s definitely a layer of grime and water from showering, which also means gross bacteria that you don’t want under a new coat of paint. Wash down everything including all the tiles with a cleaning spay.

For us, there were holes all over the walls. And awkwardly placed HUGE screws, that of course were painted over from before. We patched them up, too. Once dried, I sanded them down just a bit with a light sandpaper to make sure the walls were smooth.

The bathroom tiles had old layers of paint and cement and caulk EVERYWHERE. Use a flat head screw driver to pull and scrape it up and off. Be careful to not make a hole into the wall. In addition, this is a great time to recaulk your tub. Where the caulk was once white  and water proof, it’s now black (mold) and gross. Use the flat head to scrape out the mold. Once you’ve scraped out everything nasty, make sure it’s clean and dry, and then use the caulk tube, and slowly squeeze out the paste. It will need 24 hours to dry, so don’t do this right after working out (note to self).

Before the paint pic, check out this beauty. After pic of recaulking the tub. Hallelujah, I’m not getting some weird growth on my feet!

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After you finish cleaning up the walls, removing old paint from the tiles, tape up where the wall meets the ceiling and the tiles. Oh yeah, remove the switch plates :)

photo 2-2 photo 5-1 Then, start painting. If you choose a bright color like we (ok, I) did, you’re gonna need to paint two layers. Use the edge brush to get the main bits, then use the smaller 1″ one to finish the corners or hard to reach areas.

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Between coats, spend your time getting crazy with spray paint. Just ask, would Beyoncé had a gold switch plate? Probably. (Make sure to spray by layer).

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Then, after painting your second coat wait like 30 mins, and remove the painters tape. Waiting too long can sometimes pull up the paint if it’s dried on top of the tape.

Not only is our bathroom brighter, it’s cleaner, the tiles aren’t covered in decades of paint, and it’s mold free!

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Next up, the kitchen!

how to fix up a new, old find (and remove the rust!)

Earlier this week I was walking to get my laundry, and happened across this retro, tiny, “little red dinette set.” It was made sometime around the late 40’s, early 50’s we’re guessing. On average, they can cost up to several hundred dollars, but this one was being sold for $150. And while a Johnny Rockets theme wasn’t ever what I thought would look good in our apartment — think boho, vintage, Anthro-feel, it really spoke to me. There is something really unique about the orangey-red, aluminum,  and grey seats. Plus, the size was perfect as we don’t have too much space for a dining table. (Also, ugh, I hate snow.)

photoAfter walking back and forth like three times, I knew I would miss out as it were to likely be purchased soon. The antique shop selling it had just got it in earlier that day, so we went for it. There was rust and dirt all over it, but I figured I’d clean it up some how.

::insert complaint about walking it six blocks and up three flights of stairs::

I called my mom for advice on how to clean it. She quickly knew the perfect trick, going back to her motorcycle days (Ha!) And based on my last post, she said I already had everything I needed to clean it up.

What you need:

— Steel Wool! Yup, the same wool I used to stick in the  mouse holes

— Aluminum foil

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See what we needed to clean:

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It’s pretty gross, right? Before you start, make sure you are working on a surface you can easily clean — the wool particles and excess rust will get everywhere.

So first, wipe it all down and clean it as best you can. I prefer a natural cleaning product. Then, you’ll start to scrub down all the rust with the steel wool. You’ll quickly see a difference, the rust scrubs off quite easily. But note: be careful because the metal fibers in the wool will hurt your hands!

The side on the left was scrubbed with the steel wool:

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Next, use the shiny side of the aluminum foil, and scrub once again. The foil will make the metal shine! (Notice which part was cleaned with steel wool and foil?)

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Then, wipe it all down again with a cleaning agent. Use a mild one to ensure the shine keeps it’s pop. You may also want to use a little hand vac to suck up all the rust particles that fell off. Now, do the whole thing! This actually takes quite a bit of time, especially because of all the nooks and crannies. Remember to clean up even the little parts, like the screws and upholstery tacks. Take your time, and the results will amaze you.

Whoop!

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To curve that ‘diner’ feel, I added a teal blue platter (from Ikea!) with a couple succulents, and made it feel like ours. Now, for a dinner party!

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Ew Mice. (and how to prevent them)

We just moved apartments! Again. Going from the Finance District to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, you quickly learn to transition from elevators, doormen, salted streets, and doorbells. A brand new building to one built in 1890. We now have character and charm. But word on the street is, we may also have mice.

I’m not a big fan of mice. (no, really?!) While often in old buildings, they can’t be helped, you can still try hardest to ensure you don’t see their cute (and bacteria infested) faces.

So besides cleaning, keeping food in the refrigerator and out of the pantry, cleaning dirty dishes, you can also make sure all those little holes – between the floor and the walls, under the stove, in the corners – are filled up and cleaned up! If you didn’t know you had them, start looking around, and you’ll be surprised how many there are!

Here’s what you need.

– Steel wool. This is (apparently) the only thing mice can’t chew through. Ew. I researched, and the one pictured below is the best, most durable.

– A screw driver or knife or scissors to use to squish the steel wool into said holes

– Silicone caulking. If you need help with where to find this, ask someone at Ace Hardware, they’ll know which one you want. It’s silicone and water based.

– A caulking gun. You don’t need a fancy one. The $7 one is fine.

– A spatula. Like the one you would use the cover holes from old nails.

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First, you’ll want to make sure the holes and edges between the wall and floor are clean, dust free, and dry. You’ll just make a dirty mess if you skip this part, so don’t forget!

Then, you’ll want to stuff the steel wool into the holes. It can be sharp, it can cut through yoga pants (don’t learn that the hard way), and it can cause more of a mess. So use sharp scissors, or pull it slowly using your hands. Next, you’ll use the screw driver to help push the wool into the holes.

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Do you see the steel wool in both holes? You may find that the hole is actually larger than you thought. I know, this is terrifying. Keep adding steel wool ’til you no longer can. Then, and I mean technically you don’t have to do this, because  mice can’t get through the wool, but to make it visually attractive, and for peace of mind, you can then add the caulking, and cover up the holes. {insert caulking joke here]

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See how it kinda just squiggles out? You can use either your finger (since it’s water based) or a spatula (this is less of a mess), to smooth out the caulking gel and finish.

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It’s not perfect. But holler! no more mice. (let’s hope) In addition, even if the hole is so small that you can’t fit any steel wool into the crack, you can still using the caulking gun to seal the space between the wall and the floor. You may even enjoy this nasty little project. It’s quite satisfying! (just make sure to smooth it all out!)

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So keep your kitchen clean, fill in those holes, and you’re set. And please don’t use those inhumane traps – live or dead ones – because seriously, what are you then gonna do with a mouse?

 

reupholstery is cake.

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

honestly, kinda an ugly chair from Ikea.

Before: Ikea could have done better. 

  1. Chair
  2. Paint – just buy a quarter gallon – indoor, with primer is lovely.
  3. Sand paper – if the chairs are already painted, get the medium grind. If they are basic unpainted food, the smoother paper is fine.
  4. A paint brush
  5. Staple fun
  6. Fabric of your choosing – make sure you buy enough. If you live in the city, I would recommend looking on Etsy for fabric… not too many places in DC. Make sure you buy enough!
  7. Scissors (cut your fabric)
  8. Hammer

First, you will want to wash and sandpaper down the chair – give it a clean, fresh feel. It will help making the paint go on smoother. At this time, if you can, unscrew the seat from the chair.

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-07Then, you’re going to want to start painting. Make sure you shake and stir your paint to make it even. I recommend doing one basic coat, let it dry for 20 – 30 minutes, and then add another. I wanted a really bright, fun, summer color. Obviously throw-up green chartreuse was the answer. 

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-16After your first coat, let the chair dry, and begin working on the reupholstery of the seat. As I mentioned, I purchased fabric from Etsy. Make sure  your order enough to go around the top, and underneath where there needs to be enough to staple that baby down.

IMAG0335Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-17The key is to pull the fabric firmly around each side, to ensure there are no kinks or wrinkles in the fabric. The corners are tricky, I recommend treating it as if you are wrapping a present. Now, if you’re terrible at wrapping gifts, try something else. :) If you don’t have a staple gun, you can always nail in small hanging nails… but do consider buying a gun at Ace Hardware, they’re only like $30 and last forever. If not all of the staples go in completely (they can sometimes be a sucker), use a hammer to smooth them out.

Here you go! Mustaches!

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-46After the first coat is dry, work on your second paint coat. Touch ups can always be done the next day, too. I recommend waiting 1-2 days after painting to ensure the paint is 100% dry before reattaching your seat.

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mason jar bathroom organizing

I hate finding bobby pins everywhere. Or Q-tips at the bottom of your bathroom cabinets. If your bathroom is small like mine, you probably don’t have a lot of counter space to hold hair clips, tweezers, cotton balls, etc. I saw this project done on a couple other blogs, and decided to take it on… turned out pretty great. Below are step by step instructions – and photos! – for how to do this. One note: I spent exactly $25 on everything. Next time, I’m going to use recycled jars, which should reduce the cost like $8- $10.

Final product:

for the record, living alone means not caring about having tampons out in the open. boom.

What you’re going to need:

1. A drill – if you don’t have one, buy one. Mine cost $60 – it plugs into the wall, which means crappy batteries won’t be an issue. Trust me.. invest in one, and you will not only be pleased with your purchase, but damn will  you feel independent.

2. A piece of wood – pick out the size you want. I bought everything I needed at Ace Hardware, and they actually sell scrap wood for $1 a piece. Perfect.

3. Rubber fixtures – one for each mason jar. These are what attach the jars to the wood. They are found in the plumbing section.

4. Mason jars! Use an old spagetti or jam jar. I chose to use different sized jars, because I knew I wanted to hold long items (like mascara) and small short items (like bobby pins).

5. Automotive circular hose clamps – one for each mason jar. Found in the automotive or plumbing section

6. 8 screws – two for each mason jar. These will be used to screw the fixtures into the piece of wood

7. 2 big screws – to attach the piece of wood to your wall. Because I have cement walls, I needed cement screws. Check with an employee at Ace to help you figure out which screws are best.

8. Paint – I used what I had left from a previous project (see bathroom cabinet)

9. Flat head screw driver

10. A good eye, a piece of string, or a measuring tape – to make sure you drill the screw in at the right level.

Here’s how to do it –

First, paint the piece of wood. I wanted  just a lite, rubbed-on coat. I took a paper towel, and lightly painted the wood in the direction of the grain.

Drill two holes in the wood – on the outer sides. This will be where you screw the piece into the wall. If you want to get fancy, and make your piece extra sturdy, use a large bit to drill into the wood a little bit, then finish with a smaller bit, and go all the way – this will create a holder for the screw.

 

Next, organize each mason jar with a clamp and rubber fixture. Decide what order you want the jars to be placed on the piece of wood. At this time, use your screw driver to tighten the clamps around the jars. Remember: lefty loosey, righty tighty. :)

 

 

Stand them up, and put them in the order you want. Next, measure out the distance between each jar on the wood. You will use your drill to screw in the rubber fixtures.

 

 

Finish drilling in the fixtures. Helpful hint: It may be easier to do this with the mason jars OUT of the clamps. Simply loosen the clamps, and put the jars back in after you’ve attached the wood to your wall.

Attach the piece to your wall – mine is in the bathroom – and there you go! A pretty simple, and somewhat fast project that will create space in your bathroom, recycle jars (if you are smarter than me) and decorate your space in a unique and artistic way. Next, I’m going to make one for my kitchen to store utensils – mine are currently in jars as there is no drawer. Thanks!

succulents make a home go boom

I love succulents. They are green. They are cute. They are tiny. Most importantly, they are hard to kill. Scratch that. I’ve killed a couple. But if you plant them correctly, they can last decades.

There are several places you can buy succulents. Ace Hardware has great ones. You can buy them at the nearby plant store. In DC, there is a plant shop on 14th and R st (ish) that sells lovely succulents in great planters. Or, you can buy them in bulk online, where they ship the rooted plants to you in brown paper bags.

I’ve done all of these options. And pretty much, they all work.

If you are going to plant your own succulents, you’ll need little planters with holes at the bottom. Make sure you have a plate to hold the excess water underneath. Here’s why. Succulents are cacti – but cacti aren’t succulents. While succulents require a tad more water, they’re still desert plants. They don’t need a lot. They live in dry climates, and need to be able to release the water around them. Also, the desert is full of rocks. So it’s important that you also have rocks in your planters. You can also buy nutrient-rich cactus soil. By the way, succulents are cheap! The fancy planters and expensive plant shops are what make them costly. You can buy small plastic planters at Ace Hardware for $4. A bag of soil for $9. If you can’t find rocks – perhaps you live in the city – you can buy them in the decorating section at places like Target.

In terms of watering – you can water just a little bit every two weeks. Or month. It depends on how much sun they get. It depends on the heat. Use your judgement. If you question yourself, know that in this case, less is more.

Check out some of the succulents I’ve planted.. hope it inspires you to add green to your life.

setting up a living room

Besides having a fabulous closet (one that I will have someday), I think that a living room can be your most important space in a home — ha, particularly in a studio. In a lot of small spaces, it’s the first place people see, it’s where you spend most of your time, and it tends to even be your dining room.

For this space, I wanted to keep it basic, clean, home-y, and personal. Especially because I live by myself.

Let’s start with the photos;

Because the photos, frames, and albums I am decorating with are all different weights, sizes, and textures, I needed to use a couple different techniques. For the heavier items (the larger frames), I drilled a screw into the wall. Again, because I have cement walls, I needed to find the appropriate screws and of course, drill bit. Check out your local Ace Hardware.

side note: Ace’s are privately owned for the most part — so you can feel ok supporting them, or another local hardware store.

For the smaller frames and the painting, I used these velcro hanging strips from Ace, the box was like $5 for a set of six. They hold up to 12lbs (so it says, though I’m not sure I would trust more than 5lbs). Clean the wall and the back of the frame, stick two of the velcro strips to one another, and hang. Super simple, and they’ll come off the wall without leaving a residue. For the albums, I used the picture hanging screws. Those are actually quite tough – can hold 50lbs or more.

Contrary to the photo, the frames aren’t crooked, I’m just lousy at taking a straight picture.

From left to right, top to bottom: Dodger stadium, and old frame given from family, a record album frame, purchased at Urban Outfitters for $10, silver frame is from Target ($9) and a photo of my great great aunt and uncle, the purple frame is from World Market (a gift) and my grandparent’s wedding photo, the long black frame is from Amazon (only $5) and an awesome quote from First Lady, Michelle Obama. The green frame is way old as well, and from Urban Outfitters, as is the second album frame. And lastly the gold frame and photo on the right are from Eastern Market’s flea market in DC ($50 total).

The frames aren’t a final product. I want to add more, move things around, take things off, etc. But that comes with time, my mood, and what cool think I “must buy” next at the flea market. Right now, I love the colors, textures, very different images. Again, it’s personal.

Sidenote #2- If you live in DC, definitely check out the Eastern Market flea market. They have a lot of amazing stuff, and for the most part, it’s all quite unique, making your space extra special.

Alright, back to the living space. Here’s the final product, at least for this wall. My couch is from Macy’s. A few years ago I purchased it new for $600. A bit pricey, but I’ll be honest, buying your first new piece of furniture is unbelievably liberating. The little coffee table was $15 (originally $30 – talk ‘em down!) at the Eastern Market flea market. The green planter is from Antropologie for $12, the olive green vase from West Elm for $18. The coasters were handmade by children in southern Cambodia, about an hour south of Phnom Penh. The TV tray on the right was $9 from Target. And lastly the pillows – the cream one is from Target, about $20, and the little one from a market in New York, I think I bought it for $5.

Let me know what you think

-Summer

thrifty, no-hole curtains

No, I did not sew these curtains. Like making a three course organic meal, sometimes it’s just cheaper to buy the product at the store as opposed to spending a fortune on the materials.

The curtains are from Target – about $19 each. Curtain rods are $5 each, also from Target. I really didn’t want to put more holes in the walls, so I found the rod holders at Ace. They’re actually stick-ons — probably for hangin’ keys or something lightweight.  They look bronze, but are actually plastic. And only $4. To make sure they are hung in a straight line, use either a level, ruler, or heck, a good eye.

Side Comment: this sounds ghetto. real ghetto, I’ll admit it. But check the photos – they look pretty nice. And they certainly do not look like plastic. 

To make sure they didn’t fall off the wall, particularly because my cat, Olive, likes to jump on and behind them, I glued them up with Gorilla Glue. I bought the “dries white” kind, and the bottle should last me a few years. You can buy it at any hardware store. I’m pretty happy with them, and it took genuinely no time at all.

make it a kitchen

I’m struggling with how in the world I’m going to not only cook and clean in what the realtor calls a kitchen, but how I’m going to organize all of it!

I don’t online shop for kitchen tools, I no longer even have one of those 1-800-Chop It’s! All I really have are the basics, but alas, three cabinets hold diddly squat. Check out what I’ve done to organize the space, utilize the cabinets to the best of my ability, and keep the itty bitty kitch lookin’ sweet.

1. While it’s all mismatched, I love my dishes. My mom’s made some of them, some are from Ikea, some were stolen from college roommates, and others were taken from free street sales. I figured I would need additional storage in the kitchen, so why not store my pretties — and not boxes of flax seed and canned beans — in the open space, leaving my food, what can quickly appear cluttered, in the cabinets. Check.

I made one purchase from Ikea. It’s a $40 shelving unit that I’m pretty sure is for storing towels and bathroom supplies, but hey, it works.

sadly the space is so small, it’s near impossible to get the whole unit in a photo

** Another trick — Use old jars to store your silverware. Those on top are the bruschetta jars from Trader Joe’s. Nice little addition, especially when you have no drawers.

2. Next, I needed somewhere to store my pans and colander, and heck, maybe some more space for mugs. I purchased a coat hanger for $10 at Ace Hardware, and reused a couple hooks I had purchased years ago from World Market (each were like $4). Since my apartment is way old, I needed to use my drill, and a drill bit for cement walls which you can easily buy at Ace for like $5. Not only are these handy things to have at home, but damn will you feel accomplished. Make sure you get the right screws, too.

3. Lastly, I must admit, I’m an old lady at heart, and try to save all my receipts, old cards, birthday cards, recipes, you name it. There was no space for my old desk (stay tuned for that project), so I decided to mount my paper holder to the wall. Find a magnetic one and you’ll be happy you bought all those cheesy magnets while traveling abroad. Again, get two cement friendly screws (30 cents a piece?) and begin!

Next up: the living room!

-Summer