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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gettin' Busy With Betty...Organize and Decorate your closet.

Why not have a closet that is functional and beautiful? Yes, I said that...beautiful. You can go all out and you don't have to consider what HE will think, after all, it's yours alone! Now, even if you have to share your digs with your man, you can still make it over and make it special. You don't have to have a giant, room-sized closet to make it fabulous. Think of your closet as another room in your house, except this little room doesn't have to match any other room. It can be your own special girl-cave, your little island of girliness in a sea of boys (wait, that's in my house, all boys over here except for me). Anyway, my point is you can do this...it's a small project with BIG dividends and it can be completed in one or two weekends depending on how much organization you need to do first.

I am going to show you actual photos of what my closet looked like BEFORE I completed the steps I am going to outline here for you.  Are you sitting down?  No?  Well, you should be!  Oh, and it might help if you go ahead and grab a glass of wine (and put it in a really pretty glass, ok?)...go ahead, I'll wait.

Ok, now that you're back and you've started drinking your wine, I'll reveal my before photos...Don't judge me!!

Ok, now I know what you are thinking..."Good God Diana!  How could you find anything in that mess?"  Or perhaps you are thinking I staged my closet to look worse than it really did for purposes of this post...sadly, NO!  That is the ugly truth right there and also, I had no idea what I had in that hell hole.  I just kept wearing the same outfits over and over because they were on top of the pile.

Believe it or not, even with a mess like the one above, you can get it organzied in a weekend.  Not only that, by the time I have finished giving you the other parts I am going to do for this closet project, you can also completely redecorate the closet, including new paint and special touches I will show you later.

First things first...you must have a girlfriend come over to help you weed out what needs to go. A second opinion of the female persuasion is essential when completing this task. You CANNOT be objective about what looks good on you and what you MUST get rid of clothing wise.  Your friend can help you pull outfits together with the seemingly random pieces in there and, if you choose wisely and get someone you know will be honest with you, you will be able to get rid of things that don't look good on you and that you will never lose enough weight to wear again anyway...cold hard truth here.  I have been through it myself and trust me when I say, you are going to feel so much better when the closet is all cleaned and organized.

To complete the organization stage of this project, do the following:

1.  Decide what color you are going to paint your closet.  I like bright, saturated colors, so I chose Benjamin Moore's Bahamian Sea Blue.  I have built in shelves in my closet, so I chose to paint two other colors inside the back of the shelves...a red and an orange because I liked how they looked with the main color.  I chose to paint the main walls with an eggshell finish and the insides of the shelves in a semi-gloss.  The color or colors you chose should make you feel good.  They should be colors that look good on you as well.  Buy enough paint to paint the closet.  You want to have everything ready when you get started so you can do this all in one weekend if possible.  Painting a closet only takes a couple of hours if you do your homework ahead of time and have things prepared...dropcloth, paint, tape if you need it, brushes, etc.
2.  Completely empty your closet of everything and then clean the inside of your closet.  Make any necessary repairs to shelves, etc..  There really isn't a bigger bummer than having your closet shelf collapse with all your stuff on it. This has happened to me and it is not fun. If you find something is pulling out of the wall, fix it. Home depot sells all sorts of fixtures for closets. If you can't figure it out, call in your man, he can probably do it. If that doesn't work, google it! 

3.  Paint the closet.  Doing this first allows the walls time to dry while you are sorting through your things.  You will notice in my photos that I painted some flowers at the top of my closet walls.  I liked the idea of doing something really special.  The flower design I painted was very simple and literally, anyone can do it.  Remember the types of flowers you drew when you were a kid?  That's what I did, I just made them big!  It's just paint.  If you don't like it, you can paint over it.  I did sketch the flowers on the wall with a pencil first though to make sure I liked the placement.  Don't try to be perfect...random looks great!

Also, I changed out the flourescent light fixture the builder installed in my closet with a chandelier that I found at Goodwill and spray painted red to match the new decor.  I bought new shades and voila!  Awesome light and beauty at the same time!

4.  Separate items into piles, belts in one pile, shoes in another, blouses in another, etc.

5.  Once you have your piles separated, start laying out items and inspecting them.  If the item is worn out or hopelessly out of style, get rid of it.  Donate it or place it in the garage sale stack or garbage, whatever is appropriate.

6.  Work your way through each pile once keeping what you think you still can use.

7.  Once that stage is complete, go back through the piles and start trying everything on.  This part is crucial!  If the item doesn't fit or doesn't look good on you (your friend will tell you) get rid of it!

8.  After you have tried everything on, you should have smaller piles.  Go back through the items and start pulling outfits together...pants, top, shoes, belt, handbag, the whole thing.  This will also help you sort things and get rid of things you can't use with other things.

9.  Figure out how many hangers you are going to need and purchase all the same hangers.  I purchased white plastic ones from Walmart.  They came in packs of 10 and were only a couple of dollars for each package.  Retail hangers look nice too and you can purchase them in large lots on Ebay inexpensively, but make sure you know how many you're going to need so you can order them all at once and pay for shipping only once.  This one change will have a major impact on how the finished closet will look!  If you can't afford all new plastic or retail hangers, then at least make sure you are using all the same wire hangers.  It is impossible to get a neat, organized look if your hangers are all different designs.  Ok, enough about the hangers!

10.  If the walls are dry (it takes about half a day) you can start placing your possessions back into the closet.  Hang like items together.  I separated my hanging rods so that pants and skirts are hanging on the bottom of one side of my closet and blouses and shirts are hanging above the pants.  On the other side, I have longer dresses and coats.  I have a special hanger for my belts that hangs on the rod with my blouses.  I actually think this thing was designed to hang ties, but it works great for all of my belts.

11.  Figure out if you have any "special needs."  I have a lot of purses and shoes and not a lot of space.  My ceilings are 10' high so the interior of my closet is very tall.  My top shelf is about 7 feet high so there was still a lot of space above the two shelves and then there were the two walls that didn't have any shelves on the.  On one of the shelves, I decided to place identical wicker baskets I purchased at TJ Maxx for about $8.00 each.  These two baskets hold my smaller handbags and my larger, floppy ones and backpacks.  On top of the other shelf, I hung a multi-pronged hook that I hang purses from and then on the rest of the shelf, I put things like boxes and hats that I don't wear often.

On the wall where the sliding doors are, I hung three hooks near the ceiling over the closet doors.  I hang more of my purses from these hooks.  All of these purses so near the ceiling would be a pain to get to, so I purchased one of those retail hook things that you see the girls in the stores use to grab a hanger from way up high.  I purchased mine online for about $20.  Here's a link to one just like mine.

On the wall across from the doors, I hung a hook up high and hung my bridal veil (I got rid of my dress during my reorganization.  I knew I was never going to wear it again and I have two boys...that's all I'm going to say about that!) because it is pretty and I get to look at it every time I walk into my closet instead of it being tucked away inside a bag.  I also needed a place to hang my necklaces, so I installed a towel bar to hang them on.  It keeps them neat and untangled and also allows me to see all of them when I am trying to figure out which I want to wear.

My shoes were another problem.  I don't have a lot of space for the shoes I have and I don't think I have all that many.  I once purchased plastic shoe boxes and had them up on one of the shelves, but I couldn't see what was in the box and I found it to be a pain in the booty.  I like to keep things simple, so I purchased a two drawer Sterilite organizer from Target.  Here is a link to one just like mine, except mine is white.  I placed most of my shoes that I don't wear often in the drawers.  Yes, they get jumbled up and I have to reorganize them from time to time, but it works for me.  My larger boots and shoes go under my hanging clothes and the shoes I wear all the time are just on my closet floor.

I am fortunate because I have a built in closet system.  It came with my house and I really like it.  My closet has two tall but narrow areas of shelves on each side of the closet next to the hanging rods.  I use those shelves for many of my smaller items and things I need to get to, such as my small jewelry boxes and my gun safe (my husband and I are both cops...remember?)

To make the shelves look pretty, I simply wrapped them with beautiful drawer liner papers I purchased at the store.  I used two different designs because I like to combine different looks, but you can use just one or more...whatevery YOU like!  Drawer liner paper is heavier than wrapping paper so I think it works better.  I just wrapped each shelf with paper like I was wrapping a present.  I then used packing tape to secure it on the bottom.  With the shelves that sit above eye level, I placed the taped side facing up so the bottom (which is visible) looks pretty.  Once I had the shelves in place, in some of the cubbies I painted a flower, in some I hung a picture.  I just did what I liked.  There are no rules for this stuff, just do what makes you happy.  I used this as an opportunity to display things I liked, but that didn't really have a place elsewhere in my house.

Speaking of displaying things, I also made a collage using a mirror frame I had on hand.  The mirror for this antique frame had broken.  I love the shape of the frame so I simply painted the frame and glued pretty paper to the wood on the back of the frame.  I then hot-glued mementos and objects that I like onto the paper...

It was really important to me to put things in my closet that I liked to look at and that made me happy.  Every time I go in it now, I get a big smile on my face.  I think it's beautiful and I have a much easier time getting dressed now because I know what I have and I can find everything.  I hope you will give this project a try...the payoff is more than worth the work!

Last Saturday before school starts...

What are you doing today?  We'll be spending our day at the football fields.  Have a great weekend and enjoy a groovy Saturday tune!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Why is it that everything you do annoys me?"

Tonight, we decided that it was time that the boys start going to bed at a reasonable hour again since school is going to start on Monday.  At 10 pm, I told Lee he could go to his bed and read a book after he brushed his teeth.  Jack agreed to take a shower when Lee was finished brushing his teeth.  Lee, meanwhile was giving me "the look."  The look is a practiced death stare that he (quite frequently these days) gives me when he doesn't like what I am telling him to do.  I am trying very hard to ignore this look so that he doesn't think it gets to me (not that it does really, it's just irritating.)

So I ignored the look and went about other bedtime preps.  A few minutes later, he was in his room after brushing.  Good.  Compliance, even when given unwillingly is still compliance.  That is my mantra these days as I try to navigate through these almost-thirteen-years-old-hormone-infested waters without choking him to death or just beating him to a bloody pulp.

At 10:30, I walked into his room to say goodnight and hear his prayer (he still says a prayer and kisses me goodnight, sweet!) and he was playing with a little bucket of slime stuff.  Okay, he wasn't reading, but I wasn't going to make a big deal out of it, because he was, after all, in bed as I had requested.  So I leaned over and he said his prayer and I kissed him goodnight.  As I turned to leave the room, he said, "I need my book."

I said, "No, it's time for lights out.  You could have read before, but not now.  Goodnight."

He said, "You said I could read."

I responded that we had already discussed that.

He said, "Why is it that everything you do annoys me?"

To which I calmly responded, "I think it's your age."

And he replied, "No, I think it's you.  I think you should think about that." 

And, God help me, the only response I had was a belly laugh.  I laughed and laughed and laughed as I said goodnight and turned off the light and walked over to Jack's room.  I could hear him yelling behind his closed door, "I'm serious!"

Jack was in his bed looking at me as I walked in and he said, "You should think about that!" and started laughing with me.

Sigh....I guess I will have to maintain my sense of humor if I am going to get through these coming years without finding myself in a rubber room or a jail cell.  Do any of you out there have a teen you are dealing with?  Do you find yourself in similar situations?  How do YOU handle it??

Writing prompt..."Name a totally useless possession and how you came to acquire it."

Russell.  Russell is my totally useless possession.  Russell is my dog.  He's totally useless.  And annoying.  Plus?  He sheds.  A lot.  I don't know what I was thinking when I was thinking we NEEDED to get a dog.  I thought that since we are a family with 2 boys, we needed to have a dog so we could be more well-rounded.  Also, a dog would be fun.  And teach my boys some resonsibility, you know, how to take care of and care for, something besides themselves (not that they take care of themselves because I don't want to mislead you here by any means!) 

I found his picture online and fell in love immediately.  I knew he would be mine.  He looked frisky and curious and, well, ADORABLE!!

This was him when we first met him at the rescue.  See what I mean?  We were suckers and fell for his sweet puppy breath and playful nature.  Plus, he was only going to be around 10 pounds when fully grown.  Little did we know...

He started to grow, but was still small enough to dress up for special occasions like Thanksgiving...

Or Christmas...

He now weighs 30 pounds.  Oh, I know he's cute and all.  He's lucky he's cute.  At this point, it's the only thing he's got going for him...he still has accidents, he jumps on people when they visit, he thinks he has a higher rank in our pack than Jack (he tries to hump him all the time), and he sheds...alot!

Still, he IS smart and has learned lots of cool tricks like giving high 5's (I know it's a high 10 if it's both paws, but "high 5" is easier to say) he can sit and stay and spin around like he's dancing.  He can fetch (sort of) and play tug of war.  I would say when I am not pissed off at him, he can actually be entertaining at times.  So maybe he's not TOTALLY useless.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The door got shut, but the window is open!

I have another prospect in the employment arena!  I used to work for the School Police Department years ago and left to work in my own decorating business.  When I decided I wanted to go back to work last year, the  department was not hiring, but now they are.  It looks like they are going to give me a shot at a spot back in one of the schools here in the county.  I am very excited about this position because I will be working basically the same days my kids are in school and off when they are off...how perfect!  I'll keep you posted on my progress.  I should know something soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Well, it looks like the police department can't hire me right now...

Tonight, I am feeling a little sorry for myself.  I found out today that the job I was offered as a full time police officer is not going to happen right now.  There is a problem with the fact that I'm already an axillary and never filled out a full time application.  It sounds ridiculous, but that's a bureaucracy for you.   Although I was wondering how in the world I would make everything happen while working on the midnight shift, I was really looking forward to being able to contribute in a significant way to the family income.

On the one hand, I wonder if this isn't just happening because it wasn't right for us.  On the other, I am so disappointed.  I feel conflicted and confused and sad.  Geez!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gettin' Busy With Betty...Instant Window Treatments

I couldn't wait to do my first post for this feature, so I decided to do something super fast and easy...

Sometimes you have windows that need to be covered and the coverings need to be special, but you don't have a lot of time or money to get that done.  I have two great ideas for you that I have actually used on projects for clients in the past.

For a window that does not reach all the way to the floor, like a bedroom window, a really terrific substitute for boring drapes is shower curtains.  I have used beautiful shower curtains like this one from Anthropologie in the past...

This particular shower curtain would make a very full curtain on a window.  Although it is a little pricey, if you compare it to the cost of custom drapes, you will spend a lot less with this option.  You can also find beautiful shower curtains on sale as well. 

With a shower curtain like this one, if the window isn't too wide (less than 48"), you can get away with just one.  I would suggest that you  tie it back with a pretty ribbon and a really great hook like this one, which is also from Anthropologie...

You hang the curtains on a plain white tension rod like the one below which you can get at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  To hang the drape, you would simply weave the shower curtain onto the rod using the button holes which are sewn into the top (where you would normally hang the curtain from shower hooks.)  You could also use rings, but that will increase the weight and expense and is not necessary...you really won't see the rod at all once the curtain is on it if you do it right.  You shouldn't hang a curtain so that it fits the window's width exactly, you should have extra width so that it drapes nicely.

If you have a wider window and need to use two shower curtains, you can't really use a tension rod as it won't support the weight of the curtains.  In that case, you need to use a simple utility rod like the one below from a company such as Kirsch which is super easy to install and will carry the weight of the drapes without sagging.  (I prefer this method for hanging the drape since it mounts above and outside of the window opening and looks more professional when you are done)  Again, you hang the curtain on the rod by weaving the button holes onto the metal rod.

Here is an example of this treatment.  With the window below, I used a shower curtain that I had cut shorter and then I split it down the middle and put a decorative stitch along the edge to make it pretty, but you get the idea.  (This is an actual client window.)

For a window that only needs covering on the bottom, such as a kitchen window, here is a super cute idea that you can get really creative with.  First, you need to hang a rod half-way up the height of the window (think of a cafe curtain) and hang the rod like that.  I have personally used this particular rod and rings for this exact window treatment before...

This hardware is again, from Bed, Bath and Beyond and is simple to install.  After you install your rod, add the rings from which you will hang kitchen towels.  I have used vintage flour sack towels for this particular treatment and I have also purchased kitchen towels from Anthropologie.  I like to mix the styles of the towels whether vintage or new, but make sure they are all similar in size.  For example, I might use the following towels on a single window depending on the size...

Now, how many towels I use on a window depends on the size.  On a smaller window, I would probably only use two and I would make sure they were similar in style (but not matching!)  For a larger one, I might use four or six towels and I would make sure that I used two of each towel and match the positions of the towels on opposite sides.

Here is an actual example from one of my client's homes...

You don't have to spend a lot of money on either of these ideas.  You can use towels or shower curtains you already have, or you can find great looking vintage ones at garage sales and thrift or antique stores.  You can also get inspiration and great deals from my favorite store, Anthropologie (I just love going in there and lurking!)

I hope this inspires you to get creative when it comes to covering your windows...it's a lot of fun and your friends will be so impressed with the results, trust me!