Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Here are May’s must-haves, comin’ in hot…

The products a professional organizer swears by to keep herself and her clients organized.

1. Art Bins Storage satchel

(See also: Super satchel removable divider box & Super satchel double deep)

I know I have mentioned these in a past favorites, except then it was to acknowledge this product for its ability to properly contain art supplies. But as we all know by now, a good bin is a good bin is a good bin.

Something you might not know about me is that I am very into skincare. I am a Sephora VIB which, for the unitiated, is the highest echelon of their retail society. As such, I am given many samples of products, of which I keep a thoroughly edited supply that I can (and actually do!) use for travel and for backstock purposes.

I’ve been on the lookout for the right container to organize this modest assemblage of cosmetics. With all those little packets and tubes and vials, and each for a different region of one’s face, you need a measure of distinguishing–skincare from mascara, face masks from hair care. Thankfully, I remembered this container exists. Insertable, removable dividers; optimal height for travel-sized cosmetics; optimal depth for the shelf; ding, ding, ding!

Used in this or any other application, the art bin range gets a big seal of approval.


2. Shelf dividers

I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned these in a favorites post before (?), but regardless, they are that.

There are cases when, despite your best efforts to keep things neat, the items you’re attempting to control won’t play by the rules. Bulky sweaters are one example. Clutch bags are an even better one. You might try to stack such things neatly on a shelf, but they continue to tilt, flip, and flop every which way.

Shelf dividers are like picket fences between neighbors. They keep everyone in their own yard. If you don’t think that’s important, well, maybe you’ve never had neighbors. Anyhow, it’s the metaphor I’ve chosen so let’s all just go with it.

(Now that I think about it, painted lanes in a parking lot would have been a much more fitting comparison.)


3. Lotion saver

These are precisely the sort of thing I would never normally recommend, seeing as how they have “potential clutter” written all over them.

They’re small, they (regrettably) don’t come with any sort of case, both of which factors leads to the high likelihood that they’ll end up junking up some drawer in your house. HOWEVER, they are so darn ingenious that I’m mentioning them in spite of all that! (The risk!)

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been precariously positioning identical bottles together as a means of transferring the remaining drops of one bottle into the new bottle. It’s as common to find mirror-image bottles of dish soap, shampoo, and other such products sitting out on a countertop, a window ledge, a bathroom counter in my home as it is to find a salt shaker in another.

This balancing method is effective enough, until you deign to breathe in the vicinity, at which point the top bottle comes toppling down, interrupting the arduously perfected drainage path, causing the product to begin streaming down the sides of both bottles and the counter, and ultimately, causing you to lose all the product you were hoping to have saved.

There are moments in life where we’re hyper aware of our resemblance to our parents, and no act (besides forgetting about bottles of seltzer I’ve meant to flash chill in the freezer until the following day–that’s another habit we inexplicably share) makes me feel so like my dad than when I try to balance an olive oil jar on top of another. I stand back, look at the sight, and go, “Ah gawd, It’s for sure. I’m my dad. Yup.”

Not because I hope to shed that resemblance in the slightest, but because I hope to find a better solution for both our sakes, I decided this month that life is too short to squander precious seconds attempting to balance and match the necks of dish soap bottles.

Heads up dad, lotion saver to the rescue.


4. Ashcraft Bins

There are a couple of reasons why these baskets impressed me.

1. The height. Baskets are obviously a great way to conceal items, but most are lacking in the height department. This not only limits the storage capacity of the basket, but also means that whatever is towards the top is as visible as if there were no basket at all (organizer woes and such).

This guy, on the other hand, is gloriously tall. I used these in living room built-ins for a mom who wanted some playthings within her twin girl’s reach, but who also wanted to her living room to stop feeling like a playroom–that old delicate balance again. The height on these meant that a handful of toys, board games, and even children’s books barely poked their head out from their new basket home.

2. Unlike baskets made of natural fibers which tend to break down very rapidly or shed, these are made of a synthetic material (not that you can tell easily by looking at them!), which means longer lifespan and increased durability.

Win and win.


5. Postal scale

I don’t want to give away too much of my business secret sauce here, so suffice it to say I, like most people, mail things. The only trouble is, if you’re mailing anything thicker and heavier than your standard security-seal envelope with a couple sheets of paper, you’re left reaching in the dark when it comes to proper postage required.

Eventually, (it seems) I got tired of tepidly lifting the mailing up and down in my hand, pretending I was weighing it, pretending I knew how to use the information of weight to inform postage needs. Also, I got tired of running into the post office just to confirm how many stamps something needs. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So I wizened up and bought a postal scale and, wouldn’t you know it, applying the proper postage every time has become a seamless process ever since (the things they make these days!).


6. CB2 Filing Cabinet

I have talked about this dang filing cabinet ad nauseam (can’t ever spell any variation of that word). You’re probably quite ready for me to never mention the thing again. Bad luck! Here comes more!

I think this is the best, most attractive filing cabinet for household needs on the market for the price. I’ve ordered dozens of these for various clients. It’s a solution that’s become automatic–oh, you need a filing cabinet, great; we’re getting you this one.

Now I’m rehashing the rehashed because: CB2 done won me over by way of customer service.

The cabinet I most recently ordered for my client arrived dented. They pack those babies very securely, but, what can you do, things happen, ETC.

So I called CB2 all, “Hi, Laura, listen: I’m trying to get my client as excited as I possibly can about this new filing gig we’re teaching her, and the dent in her brand new cabinet is putting a damper on that. Can you help me out?”

To which Laura responded,”Oh, but of course! And I’m so sorry to hear that happened. And we’ll get that new cabinet shipped right out to you. Do you need it quickly? Alright then, I can overnight it, not a problem. Then, I’ll just have you put the dented cabinet back in its box and leave it–oh, you destroyed the first one’s box? Not a problem! I’ll just have you put the dented cabinet in the new cabinet’s box when it arrives, leave it outside, and it’ll be picked up from the front door. Was there anything else I can help you with today?”

The help all happened so sweetly and expediently I hardly knew what had happened.


Monday, May 30, 2016

The best way to start off your week? With a little dose of healthy insight about integrity.

When it comes to the smallest segments of society to which we belong, we are aware, or are made aware, of how individuals reflect on the whole.

Nary a field trip begins without a teacher’s reminding his or her students that their group is about to represent their school out in the world.

Athletes are reminded of how they’re meant to represent their team well, both on and off the field. Likewise, employees of all kinds, at work and in public.

Twitter profiles are chockablock with disclaimers about association to companies (“Not an endorsement–; “not the opinions of…” and so on).

Those in uniform are easily observed as belonging to a specialized group, and must surely have that fact impressed upon them.

If you become famous, every menial learning institution, professional association, club, or establishment you frequent will emerge from the woodwork to claim their association to you. To use you as their poster child. Their fan.

You are the commutative representation of every individual niche to which you’ve ever belonged. If you are a free agent, signed to no company and no school and no family, even, you are an example, nonetheless.

You are, unavoidably, a reflection of the largest aspects of who you are. You are not merely a reflection of your immediate family, your elementary school, high school, and college, the company you work for; you are the steward of the precious reputation of women everywhere. Of everyone in your generation. Of your countrymen. Of human beings.

If you don’t believe me, let me ask you this: have you ever lost something valuable–a piece of jewelry, a credit card, your license, only to have that item turned in? Do you remember how that made you feel? Besides lucky, I mean? Didn’t you feel assured of the existence of really good, honest people in the world?

When we remember that we are representing something a little larger than ourselves, we tend to carry ourselves with more grace, with more awareness of self and others. We tend to be more conscious of embodying integrity.

This is your responsibility and your choice–to destroy or restore the faith we have in each other. And this is not so much a burden as a gift that serves all, ourselves included.

Be kind so that others who come into contact with you know there is kindness in the world.

Be unexpectedly informed so that people who might judge you incorrectly at first are reminded to look past appearances.

Be noble and good and strong even when no one is looking because on some level, everyone is.

Be of integrity, so that we’re assured integrity exists.

Remember: your actions and your character are speaking for us all.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

We’ve previously lamented how the first home feature that seems to bite the dust when space is scant is a dining area. When you factor in the necessity of a bed (at least one) and a couch, well, if you’re seriously short on square footage that doesn’t leave you with a whole lot to play with.

And while our previous angle was to inject the option of possessing a dining space by way of a table of adjustable height, today I shall attempt to prove only that it can be done. You can have your miniature home and eat your cake at a table, too.

Without further ado, then, here are an assemblage of inspiring examples of small space dining areas (drumroll, etc.).

Exhibit A: a small table and pair of chairs get plunked into a corner and bam! Instant dining space.

Inspiring ideas on how to fit a dining area in a small space!

Strap in–the rest of this post is even more rocket-science-y than that.

Here’s how this same concept looks when the spot said table and chair get plunked in is kitchen-adjacent.


Inspiring ideas on how to fit a dining area in a small space!

Bistro-style. You can even go so far as to call that a purposeful choice, not a small space limitation is what.

But you’ll notice in almost all of these examples that the table, itself, does not need to be large at all. In fact, it can flirt with being defined as a pedestal and still: a surface which you can pull a chair up to, and which can accomodate a plate and a glass x2 is a table you can work with.

Notice how the space gets notably defined with the addition of a statement light fixture. That baby is all, “Oh, I’m sorry; this is an area.”

Inspiring ideas on how to fit a dining area in a small space!

Of course, once you have a table and chairs in your possession, you can always position them in your space according to your daily needs. If you happen, one night, to be hosting your downstairs neighbors for supper, yank that situation sofa-side and boom–dinner party.

Inspiring ideas on how to fit a dining area in a small space!

And for a more permanent iteration of this concept, there’s the small space exceedingly-friendly technique of using a corner bench and table. Add chairs on the other side of the bench for even more seating.

Inspiring ideas on how to fit a dining area in a small space!

Inspiring ideas on how to fit a dining area in a small space!

Finally, two examples of small space design brilliance…

The first, a cafe corner that takes up so little space it almost adds square footage (what?):

Inspiring ideas on how to fit a dining area in a small space!

And the second, a seriously ingenious dining space magic trick:

Inspiring ideas on how to fit a dining area in a small space! Now I want a table, so I raise this slab and prop it up with that other one and when I’m done, the table disappears. (Although I should probably not, in good conscience, sign off on that situation lurking behind the cover of cabinet door.)

I could go on. In fact! I wish I could go on! Only I’m sleeping while I’m typing this and thus I think it best to sign off here, before I do something horrible like make a giant fool of myself.

Oh wait, wait. Much, much too late.

(Wink face.) (X’s and O’s)


Image credits: Home of Alex Yeske, photography by Jaymee Harney via Design Sponge; Styling by Jessica Clayton, photography by Mikael Axelsson via My Scandinavian Home; via AlvhemJennifer Wagner Schmidt via Apartment TherapyDominoDesign Development NYC via Sketch42Offbeat and Inspired; Home of Angela Ellsworth and Tania Katan via Apartment Therapy