Mathilde & Jason’s Space

My friend Mathilde lives in a gorgeous home in Williamsburg. She and her husband have the top two floors — the upper level being used as a massive office and spare room. Their living room has so much potential – beautiful wide panel flooring, a maintained brick wall, bright, big windows. The space is great, and allows for a dining area and living room.

Like so many of us, Mathilde is on a budget! So most of her furniture came from Craig’s List, Housing Works, and the likes. She also has a great collection of art work, but isn’t sure exactly how to present it.

While we didn’t get a before pic (of course!), the space felt a little backwards – their large dining table was in front of the windows, and the sofa and red chaise were spread out. Because of the office upstairs, it was important that we make her living room feel private and spacious, and utilize the sunlight to the best of our ability. So we rearranged a bit. With a $500 budget (we only spent $450!), we went to Target and bought a couple basics — a foot rest, a couple lamps, a side table, an entertainment center (actually, the same one we used in Jenna’s space), light bulbs, and a hammer and nails. We also went to the nearby hardware store and nursery and bought — you know it — succulents! And some cute, eclectic pots. Check out what we did. A quick revamp, space changer, and now it totally feels personal, private, bright, and uses the space perfectly!

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Can  you BELIEVE that side table is from Target? What a deal, and it’s quite good quality for the price we paid! I personally like that the top moves up and down, which made matching it to fit the sofa height quite easy. Same with the lamp — great lamp, neutral but authentic feeling. For those of us that don’t have a massive budget, Target is SO great, especially their Threshold brand.

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Mathilde had this great large wood coffee table, and topped it with a bright and cheerful teal cloth. It was a perfect pop of color, and I loved the square shape of the table… breaks up the monotony of everything being rectangular in a space.

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And how great is this buffet/book shelf? We rearranged the books and photos, and tidied it up. Doing this changed the piece from a tool that organized books into a piece of decor — that’s high functioning.

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For next steps, we’re looking for a neutral, perhaps lightly patterned, rug. We think that’ll pull it all together.  In addition, we’re working on the dining space (not shown), and a bar station Mathilde has envisioned. Until then!

hurricane cleaning

While I consider myself a Type-A clean freak, I too have clutter. Messy piles. And – shudder – hidden messes. Good thing Hurricane Sandy has come, and forced me to stay inside and clean!

Living in a tiny studio, I’m very fortunate to have two – that’s right – TWO closets. The one I worked on today is the storage/coat closet. I hold coats, my way-too-many-Christmas-decorations, cleaning supplies, cat food and litter, and everything else that is ugly, but needed, when living in a house.

Here are the before and after photos. Let’s be honest, my goal wasn’t to make it pretty. And I spent NO money in this process. But here are a few helpful pointers to use when cleaning out your closet.



First off, dump out all the crap. Seriously, dump it out. And then sweep out the dust. Dust is gross. Spiders and bugs like dust. And spiders and bugs are gross. When you dump it all out, check out what you have.

1. Empty box of sparkling water from Costco – RECYCLE AND GET IT OUT.

2.The empty bag of paper towels – throw it away, and remember to buy more.

3. Tools and jars and bottles and cleaning supplies that are all over the place. Think about how to put them all together.

4. A brand new litter box that your crazy cat, Olive, never used.

4. Boxes and more boxes.


it’s like showing strangers my dirty laundry

Now. Check out what you have. What I realized quick was that I wanted to build another shelf – that was reachable without a stool – to hold my cleaning and laundry supplies. I found the extra shelf I never used when building my Ikea cooking block, and rested it on top of the bar. Consolidated all of my supplies up there. No mess now on the ground.

Please. Here is a recommendation from someone who hates clutter and keeping crap for no reason. There IS a reason to keep the box from a Kitchen Aid. Or the box from your drill. Moving is a b*tch, and if you keep the boxes that hold things other boxes can’t, it will make moving a heck of a lot easier. Said boxes replaced the litter box, and are now on top.

I then cleaned and gave away the litter boxes. Consolidated all of my grocery bags and recycled bags into one, and hung it in the back corner. No one needs that many bags until you need that many bags. So put em all together, and keep the clutter out.

Think about the things you use each week. Maybe your drill. Tools. The broom. Make them available, so that you don’t have to rip everything apart to find them when you need them.

And yes! By organizing all your unwanted but necessary crap, you WILL realize you actually have not one but THREE umbrellas, and therefore need to no longer purchase them EVERY time it rains.

Cheers to that. And cheers to Hurricane Sandy. Well, not really, but you get my point.

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!