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Thrifting 101

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Happy Monday everyone!  We spent the weekend working outdoors on our patio, more to come on that project later this week.   Meanwhile, I thought I’d offer up my very best tips for thrifting, plus a peek at my latest thrift store before and after. 

There are plenty of people who don’t care to shop thrift stores.  Perhaps they dislike or are afraid of used goods, or their local thrift stores carry nothing but useless junk.  I’ve seen my share of thrift stores that carried mostly unusable items, but I’ve also scored a few finds in thrift stores that could be resold for hundreds of dollars.  It all depends on the particular store, they’re all so very different.  I’m asked now and then for my best advice on thrifting, so I thought it time to put them all in one place!

Here are a few of my tips for shopping thrift stores:

Stay Focused.   When you find a great thrift store, it’s like shopping in any second hand forum.  Your visit can quickly turn into ”Hey that’s cute” or “Oooh, I like that too!” and before you know it, your tab has climbed higher than you planned, and you’ve brought home things you don’t really need.  Before you walk through the door, remember what you’re there for.  Stay focused on your needs and your budget.    

Know The Sales Days.  Find out when your local store has sales and show up early.  My local St. Vincent de Paul has furniture sales when they have too much in stock (typically after a big donation weekend) so I’m in the habit of stopping in every Monday or Tuesday to see what’s new.  My mom loves to shop at the Goodwill on Tuesdays when anyone over 55 gets a 25% discount.  She’s found so many designer labels and even items that are brand new and have never been worn, you just never know what you’ll find!  It pays to know when your local store offers discounts. 

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Breaking Design Rules

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

A reader recently wrote in and asked an important question when it comes to designing a space.  Leah W.  wondered whether some design rules were made to be broken and were there a few examples or illustrations for successfully breaking those rules? 

I asked Courtney to tackle this topic, and he is back this month with his fabulous insight!  Courtney asked a group of designers to look at issues that they encounter on a regular basis with their clients, and asked what are those design rules or commandments that are made to be broken?

Design Commandments Made to be Broken, by Courtney Lake

“When I was researching this article, I was reminded of the countless essays I wrote in high school where I used the definition of a word or phrase to introduce an idea.  Strangely, using this clichéd approach makes sense when you are writing an article on breaking design rules.  There are some deeply held beliefs that have engrained themselves within our design psyches.  For better or worse, they prescribe how we have decorated our homes for decades. So when you “break” them, what exactly are you doing?  Well according to Webster Dictionary you are breaking:

One of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere…..

Design rules give guidelines for how furniture, lighting and accessories should relate and interact within your home.  But what if you “rocked the boat” as every good designer does, picking those which make sense for your space and tossing out the rest?  Before you break these design rules, it’s best to understand why they are important.

A solid understanding of the principles of design is crucial if you want to break them successfully, so I asked four design experts their opinions on what design commandments should be tossed aside.  They each gave insight on some old and new rules that we all should gleefully break to get the homes we want. 

Design Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Not Place Large Furniture in a Small Room

Common sense tells us that if a space is small, we should scale the furniture to fit the room.  Wrong!  Design legend John Dickinson built a career out of placing out of scale furniture in rooms.  A large bed can easily be placed into a small bedroom or a large couch in a small den.  The tricks to bending this design commandment are placement and color.  As long as the furniture doesn’t block the natural sightlines of the room and is within the same color palette, the furniture will read as a unified whole, tricking you into thinking the room is larger.

Image1_FreshHome

Freshome

Image2_CandaceOlsen

Candace Olsen

 

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All That Paper (and How I Organize It)

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Hey busy ladies and gents, I know I’m not alone in the constant barrage of papers that enter the house on a daily basis.  From mail to magazines to school notices, paper clutter piles up so darn quick you could drown in it.  Despite my best efforts to go paperless, I find there is still a constant stream of paper, paper, and more paper coming through the door.

It used to pile up in my house until I thought it would eat me alive.  It used to give me such anxiety, but I finally developed a system that really works for me.  The real key for me was eliminating as much as I could, and then finding a place for what was leftover.  I think that’s the key for keeping just about anything organized: purge often, and have a place for what remains, then you’ll stay sane.

My method for paper organization isn’t sexy and I’m no organizational pro.   I was asked about a month ago by a reader how I keep it all organized, so here are a few of the tricks I use to control my paper clutter.

1.  Identify It.  It took me years to figure this out, but now in hindsight it seems so simple.  The very best trick I ever came up with was sitting down with my piles of paper clutter and making a list of exactly each type of paper that was coming into my house, then creating a solution for each one.

types of paper

 

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