A new niche

With my wedding a little more than a week away, it is time for me to move the bulk of my belongings to my new home. The move won’t be far (about five minutes), but the effort and time it will take will be much more. Honestly, I am a clean person who likes orderly surroundings, but I hate organizing and packing. Although I would consider myself patient in many ways, there are some things that I have none for: one is slow technology, and the other is organizing. I might as well throw into the mix that I am a bit of a pack-rat (not extreme, I swear!) which will make sorting much more stressful. I was lucky enough to grow up in a home that was always flawless. My mother is a cleaning whizz around the house, albeit a little obsessed, but she does a great job multi-tasking. Since she keeps up with the cleaning everyday, there was never any need to devote an entire weekend to the vacuum or mop. While I’d like to say that I’ve inherited those same qualities, I cannot. I look for short cuts whenever possible. Moving into my fiance’s apartment will be like a blank canvas…a chance to decorate anew.

With a few of my items already placed around the apartment, it is starting to resemble a comfortable living quarter. Surprisingly, Carlos is a very tidy and mostly orderly person. That is one thing that I picked up on and admired from the start of our relationship, because lets face facts: for the *most* part, guys could care less if their shirt and socks’ draw is neatly organized or if there is a nice photograph over the mantel to add to the ambiance of the room. The area we will inhabit is very spacious for a first apartment, so it will be a fun time decorating together. For help on this endeavor, I consulted with OWL’s sections on Home Decorating and Storage/Organization to offer helpful hints.

The Living Room

Spirit of the Bedroom is a fun, inspirational book about decorating and organizing your sanctuary: the bedroom. Since we spend about half our life in bed, this room is important. In the beginning chapter, “First Steps”, Alexander breaks down the essentials for a clutter free space. For me, hanging onto letters, cards and other mementos is what causes clutter. Alexander writes to select the really important ones and put them in an attractive box or file. Most importantly “try to remember that life is for living now, not for reliving yesterday.”

Color in the bedroom is important too. We may not realize it, but the color of a room can affect our mood. In early Spring, Carlos and I explored some colors for our future bedroom. Carlos would have been happy with a beige, cream color: his favorite (beige sheets, beige walls, beige hand and bath towels–it wasn’t long before I was “beiged out.” ) We ended up deciding on a bluish-violet color: something cheerful but still calming. As Carlos was painting, we realized the color was more on the violet side, and less on the blue (as often happens when you look at a picture of the color and then actually paint with it). While it took awhile for Carlos to get used to being surrounded by “feminine” colored walls, I appreciated the soothing color. Indeed, Alexander writes that violet “calms the spirit at the deepest level. It soothes both body and mind. Therapists use violet for insomnia and tension so it can be a very useful color for bedrooms.”

On the topic of painting and color, another great book is House Beautiful’s Colors For Your Home . What I loved about this handy little book is the photographs of actual living space with the suggested colors, room by room. The book offers many color swatches with the brand and color of paint, as well as a suggestion for its use. There is even a chapter called “Colors Men Love” which I know Carlos would appreciate.

In preparation for packing and moving, Feather Your Nest and Storage and Shelving Solutions are two good reads. Feather Your Nest is geared more towards how to clean everything in your home, room by room while Storage and Shelving Solutions offers complete instructions on how to build storage structures throughout your home. From closet organizers to book shelves in the living room, this book gives you an idea on the skill level, tools needed and approximate cost for the project. Lucky for me, Carlos is a superb handy-man. He has built a box for wood for the fireplace, painted a TV console we found at Goodwill to make it look brand-new and match with our other furnishings, refurnished and re-upholstered a dining room set (he even picked a nice neutral color for the chair fabric. I’ll give you two guesses as to which color that is 😉 ) and he recently installed a small cabinet in the bathroom since we needed extra storage space.

Bathroom storageA Goodwill piece re-vamped

The ideas in Country Living’s Storage Style are very unique if you want to add some creativity to your pad. I loved looking through this book at all the photograph’s of various styles and decorations. Looking at books like these make me realize that your living space, each room, is like a painter’s canvas. With some creativity, you can design a home that matches your personality and style, and reflects your interests. I’ve always been a fan of flea markets and antique shops where you can find older, well-built furniture often for a great price with that weathered vintage look. It’s like a having a bit of history in your own home. (Check out Made From Scratch for some other ideas and hints on where to find these classic pieces).

Easy Makeover: 101 Quick Design Fixes You Can Do in a Weekend offers short, yet creative and inexpensive ideas to spruce up your nest. Author Michele Keith recommends keeping your eyes open and scouring flea markets, second-hand shops, church and tag sales for one of a kind pieces. One important thing she notes however is being mindful of spending. “Even if it’s only $1, if the item you’re considering ends up being useless, it’s $1 that could have gone to something wonderful.”

I truly enjoyed Sara Snow’s Fresh Living. Even as someone who has grown up eating organic and practicing “green” living, the book offered me many new ideas like how to make your own cleaning solutions at home with simple ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. Snow’s helpful information makes you conscious about choices you make each day, like average water use in your household and the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce which lists the “dirty dozen” in veggies/fruit.

Please Don’t Eat the Daisies is a fun film about moving starring one of my favorite’s, Doris Day as Kate Mackay. Kate, her husband and their four boys move to a large country home, and Kate tries her best to get the place livable while her husband is gone all day at work and her kids run around wild! You’ll be sure to have a good laugh.

Sarai is the Publicity Coordinator/Library Assistant and is making sure she takes some time to relax amidst all the last minute tasks!

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