Reuse – Refinish – Repurpose

March 14, 2012
Ayesha and I recently refinished and repurposed an old buffet for our friends  who just had a baby girl. Ayesha helped them come up with a design for the nursery that included the idea of a substantial piece of furniture, deep and tall enough to be used as a changing table now, with tons of storage, that can continue being used for years to come as a dresser, as the baby grows up.

We found a great, sturdy, solid wood piece at the Rebuilding Exchange – a Chicago nonprofit that sells donated materials from sustainable deconstruction projects, as well as furniture pieces from local artists and on consignment.

We sanded the old finish down and repainted the exterior with a semi-gloss super white so it would be easy to wipe clean – a MUST for a growing family.  Inside the drawers and cabinets is a colorful pop of deep raspberry – Ayesha’s brilliant idea!

We love how it turned out!

The great thing about repurposing a buffet, side-board or other non-traditional piece of furniture like this one, is the potential for storage possibilities. Not only does this piece have wonderfully long drawers of varying depths (perfect for putting tiny little baby clothes along with diapers, blankets and other essentials) it also has nice big open cabinets on the sides – perfect for baskets of toys, blankets or other large items.


Stop the junk mail insanity!

February 21, 2012

Keeping up with that growing pile of mail and paperwork would be so much easier if you didn’t get so much CRAP sent to you all the time, right?

If you find that it takes you twice as long to sort through all of the junk as it does to actually open the important pieces of mail, consider unsubscibing. There are a growing number of ways you can ward off tree-killing snail-mail spammers:

  1. PaperKarma for iphone, Android and Windows phones is a new, totally FREE new app that lets you snap a photo of credit card offers, catalogues, coupons and anything else you no longer wish to receive.  Submit your address and the PaperKarma peeps will contact the offending company to get you off the mailing list and send you a message when you’ve been successfully removed.
  2. Register with the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). It won’t guarantee you a life free of junk mail, but it can help. DMA will list you in its database in the “Do Not Mail” category. The Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS) lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. This will reduce most of your unsolicited mail. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations that do not use the DMA’s Mail Preference Service. To register with DMA’s Mail Preference Service, go to
  3. You can also go to, which can enable you to remove your name from lists that mortgage, credit card and insurance companies use to mail you offers and solicitations. It’s a centralized website run by the four major credit bureaus in the United States: Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion. You can opt out of receiving unsolicited mail for five years or opt out of receiving it permanently.

With fewer pieces of mail cluttering up your entry-way, have an easier time staying on top of your paperwork. Open mail right when you receive it. Keep a recycle bin or shredder within reach to immediately get rid of non-essentials.  Put all of your “action” items, like bills that need paying, in one place (with your checkbook, for instance, or near your laptop).

Organized Kitchen

February 6, 2012

I worked with a client this weekend on an ongoing kitchen organization project – and I’m having a blast. I love organizing kitchens more than ever – now that I’m cooking more than ever in my own home and can truly appreciate how a well-organized kitchen can help with preparing meals, storing ingredients, cleaning up and all of the other living that happens in the heart of many homes.

Here are a few of my go-to tips when it comes to making sure your kitchen is well-organized:

  1. Rev-A-Shelf Spice Drawer Insert

    Keep necessities within reach of where you use them. Everyday items should be kept between waist and shoulder height – things used less often should go up high, and heavy items should go down low. It usually makes the most sense, for instance, to find a place near the stove either over or under a counter space for spices, oils, and vinegars. Storing everyday items like plates, bowls and glassware, close to the dishwasher makes unloading clean dishes quick and simple.

  2. Kraftmaid Deluxe Roll-out Tray

    Group like-items together. This makes things really easy to find. Keep all of your mixing and serving bowls together; all flatware and utensils near each other; baking dishes should be grouped; as well as pots and pans.  Do you have a number of small mobile appliances that you only use occasionally – like a blender, hand mixer or Panini press? Store those together in an area near where you might use them to make accessing, and putting away, as easy as possible. A roll-out drawer or tray – found at most most home supply stores and online – is easy to install and eliminates crouching down and digging around a lower cabinet space.

  3. Modular Storage Canister Set

    Clear containers are a pantry’s best friend. Basic mason jars are affordable, classic and easy to replace, and great for liquids and leftovers because they don’t absorb odors or colors like plastic sometimes does. There are also a number of companies that make tall, slim and stackable canisters that are great for limited dry goods storage and small spaces. No need for labels if you can see the contents, plus air-tight containers keep food fresher longer.

  4. If you don’t use it in the kitchen, don’t store it in the kitchen. Sounds logical, right? But how many people end up with a “junk drawer” full of pens, tape, tools, rubber bands, buttons, and other random items in the kitchen? We had a drawer like this in my house growing up. Try to relocate these items to their proper place in the house – or if you really need a catch-all collection place, use a cool basket with a lid or designate one drawer off to the side, and keep it sorted and organized with labeled plastic baggies or drawer dividers.

What’s the big deal with Pinterest?

January 20, 2012

Seriously. Why is EVERYBODY talking about Pinterest like it’s the greatest thing ever? The thought of sticking all kinds of random things onto a virtual bulletin board did not sound very organized to me when I first heard about this new internet phenomenom – I’ll be honest. So I had to check it out…

I requested an invite at approximately 8:30 a.m. CST on Wednesday, January 18th. I got an email reply thanking me for “joining the Pinterest waiting list,” and that “we’ll be sure to send you an invite soon.”

Um, ok. How soon? Is it just me, or does that sound like a blow-off?

Since I couldn’t create an account and start playing right away, I visited the site to see if I could learn more about how this thing is supposed to work. Apparently the concept revolves around using “boards” (think of a bulletin board or drawing board) to add collections of pinned items in an open forum with the goal of connecting “everyone in the world through the things they find interesting.” Pinning through a “Pin It” button that you add to your browser adds content with links to the original source – allowing for ethical content sharing no matter who pins or re-pins the content. People can set up multiple boards for varying interest areas, such as recipes, parenting tips, art projects and inspiration, wedding planning, and more.

The more I read about Pinterest on its website and in independent user reviews, the more I start to think that this could be a useful tool for Place for Everything to keep track of organizing, cleaning and home design projects, tips and ideas. And there’s an iphone app – so it seems like I could access my pins or search other people’s boards of stuff anytime I want…

So when do I get my access login?!? Why the delay?

Anybody else running into this virtual login-block? Leave a comment about your own experience with Pinterest…

Packing up holiday cheer for a cheerier next year

January 17, 2012

Ok – it’s January 17th and I still haven’t put away my holiday decorations. I don’t want the holiday season to be over! I love twinkle lights and ornaments and wreaths. I love all of the silly holiday photo frames with family poses from years past, and homemade ornaments that prompt the telling of silly stories. I especially love all of the photo holiday cards from my friends and family that I have displayed around the house.

All good things must come to an end though, I suppose.  Here are some packing-up tips that will help make the season that much brighter next year when you bring out all the holiday cheer again:

1. Wind lights around a piece of cardboard to keep them from getting tangled, and make it easier than ever to re-hang them. HINT – use a piece of cardboard 12″ wide and for every time you wrap your lights around once, you’ll know how many total feet you have. You can write the length on the cardboard and take the guesswork out of next year’s lighting scheme ideas.

Curved ends keep lights from slipping off

2. See what’s tattered, broken or missing now, and hit the sales to re-stock! Many department stores have large holiday clearance sections throughout January with really quality items. Don’t be surprised that you’re one stocking short next year and have to shell out a small fortune, go hunt for a bargain now.

3. Love to try to save the prettiest gift wrap you received – only to never use it again? Wrap your delicate ornaments in tissue and gift wrap to keep them safe until next year. You can feel good about re-using while protecting your baubles and bits!

4. Change out holiday photos in seasonal frames now before packing them up, with some of your newest favorite moments from this year’s celebrations. That way you can concentrate all your energy on enjoying your friends and family and taking new photos!

Best family photo ever (till next year!)



Organize your dinner party like the pros do!

November 10, 2011

It’s party season, people.

Birthdays, holidays, cookie parties – you name it – with cooler weather brimming, kitchens are heating up everywhere. People are cooking, gathering, drinking and juggling festivities galore. Yay!

Check out these tips that I totally stole from my latest e-newletter from The Chopping Block (ok, technically I’m borrowing since I’m giving credit and linking you to thier awesome website).

Don’t let hosting be a hassle! Here are some holiday entertaining tips from our chefs so you can enjoy your time with friends and family:
– Always make a prep list of what can be done in advanced.
– Create a timeline when everything needs to go into the oven or reheated, especially if you have just one oven.
– Set out all of your platters and bowls and stick a post it on each with the specific dish it will be used for.
– If you have a dishwasher, make sure it is empty. Loading as you go will prevent a kitchen full of dirty dishes and you won’t have to wash dishes with guests in the house.
– If you have guests who like to help out in the kitchen, have a plan of what they can do in advance.
– Assign a willing guest to provide beverages as guests arrive, which will make them feel welcomed right away.
– It’s okay to use a store-bought spread or starter to simplify things.

Happy hosting!


Softer, safer stairs

November 6, 2011

Our most recent house project has been to add stair treads to the front stairwell. Our nearly ten-year-old pup has been getting a little arthritic and occasionally slips on the stairs, so we needed to think about a safer way for her to get up and down.

We knew we didn’t want to go the traditional carpeted stair route, but after searching online and all the home supply stores in the area, we couldn’t find anything that we thought looked simple, modern and in line with our style.  Ayesha had a great idea to check out Flor, and we learned that we could get their standard tiles custom cut to use as treads.

We found a great subtle gray-on-gray stripe in a low pile, and Ayesh did some research to find a good adhesive double-sided carpet tape from Global Industrial that is non-toxic and fume-free and supposedly won’t damage the finish on the stairs, should we ever wish to remove the treads in the future.


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