Archive for June, 2010
What’s one thing that every office needs? Bingo – a lava lamp.
Ok, I kid, I kid. What I meant to say was “file storage.” And ours is no exception. We made a nice leap forward on the storage front with our hacked Ikea bookcase, but the desk I built was seriously lacking any place to stash papers and such. So after failing to find a perfectly sized file cabinet at our local thrift stores, we spotted a pair of simple embossed gray file boxes at Target (for just $14.99 a pop) that had our names written all over them.
Here they are sitting on the floor of our very much a work-in-progress office a few days ago.
I’ll give you a close-up of ‘em later in the post, but basically they were just about the perfect amount of hanging file storage for us (you know, the kind of boxes that have those rails that hold folders that you can use to label and categorize your papers?). Plus, with two of them side by side they were the beginnings of a perfect spot to stack the white Ikea storage boxes from Sherry’s old office that contain our receipts and our modem (we paid Comcast $28 to move our modem into the office so we’d have the strongest wireless signal in there).
But… it wasn’t the prettiest setup. And having to lift the white storage boxes every time we wanted to access the file boxes was a quick way to ensure that we’d never actually use said file boxes. So with my carpentry mojo still in full force, I decided to tackle another building project. And this time I wanted to create something to optimize our storage and file box sitch.
Once again I opted to rely on the Kreg Jig (can you tell I’m addicted?) to connect all the pieces. The pieces in this case being two $10 pine boards intended to be stairs (I bought them because I liked the finished-looking rounded edge). I’ll spare you all of the construction details this time around (just trust me that it was actually quite similar to my desk and shelf building projects). About three hours later, I had this little guy:
He was perfectly sized to fit the two file boxes snugly in the bottom opening while the two stacked Ikea storage boxes could be slipped in and out of the cubby above them (with plenty of room for the modem cords in one of those white Ikea storage boxes to feed out the back). We even left some room on top for a few miscellaneous items like our external hard drive and the radio that we like to listen to from time to time.
We brought it in unfinished because (1) I wanted to make sure I had measured everything correctly and (2) we weren’t quite sure whether we wanted to paint it white to match the desk or stain it dark to match the chairs (which are free leftovers from our existing dining set, since we substituted two of them for a bench a while back).
And once we had it in place… well, we actually decided to toss out both of those ideas. Instead, we opted to paint it the same soft aqua that we used on the back of the bookcase (Mythic’s Adanna Aire). Just for fun.
You’re probably noticing something else in that pic, sitting on the desk itself. It’s another little file system that we also picked up at Target. It’s actually intended to be used as storage for scrapbooking, but we liked that its shelves were a great size for our notebooks, bills to pay, and even the books that we’re currently reading. Plus, because it’s deep enough to store those big scrapbook sheets it creates a nice wide surface on top for us to place other items that we like to have on hand. Stay tuned for those accessorizing details in the coming weeks (for now we’re tackling the big things like larger storage, toy corralling, art, etc).
But back to the action under the desk. I promised close-ups of the file storage boxes so here’s a pic illustrating that we achieved our goal of making it easy to slide the boxes out and actually access our files. Then we can either pop open the top compartment which will be good for storing cables, cords, scissors, stamps and more (it stays closed thanks to a magnetic strip)…
…or flip the whole thing open to access our hanging files like insurance info and hospital bills (sigh).
And the subtle overlapping circles detail on the outside (and bolder version inside) is a nice touch – especially for the $14.99 price tag.
In general it’s a pretty simple update, but it’s already making a huge functional difference for us (since we’re using this office on a daily basis even while it’s a work-in-progress). Now we’ve got a place to stash paper and better manage the clutter on the desk. And we like that it’s helping to turn the long two-person desk into two distinct workspaces for me and Sherry.
But the room is by no means finished. In addition to simple things like wrangling our wires and cords, figuring out where to put our printer (and if we’re even keeping our current one), we’ve still got to decide on what the heck we’re gonna put on that big blank wall that we get to stare at all day long. Well, when we’re not staring at Clara.
Oh and in case you’d like to see the new setup in action, here’s how we get things done around here lately:
And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
So that’s the scoop on our end. How about you guys? Have you spotted or created any simple file storage systems lately? Or any other clever, sneaky, or beautiful ways to wrangle all of those papers, bills, mail, etc that tends to pile up? Please do share, because even if we can’t use ‘em in this room, we may just file the ideas away for a rainy day. Pun intended.
Psst- Wanna follow the entire office/guest bedroom/playroom makeover? Click here for the intro post, here to read about the big sleeper sofa hunt, here for the DIY desk play-by-play, here for the homemade light fixture project and right here for our hacked Ikea bookcase.
We’ve already shared a slew of homemade cleaning recipes, and chatted about our own housekeeping habits, but we’re back with an error proof roundup of fast and easy fixes to leave you with a sparkly clean casa in no time. And perhaps best of all, these are all 100% free solutions, assuming you have some basics on hand, and each suggestion has three steps or less to keep things oh so doable. But enough chit chat. Let the cleaning frenzy begin!
Oh and just to demonstrate how easy and speedy they really are, we’re including a handy little timetable, so you can pick a cleaning time span (either 7 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 45 minutes) and follow our minute-by-minute guide below:
If you have seven minutes…
- Place a bowl of coffee beans or a box of baking soda in a musty closet, cabinet or drawer and leave it overnight to absorb the odor (1 minute).
- Quarter a lemon and place it in a bowl of water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Then wipe down the entire microwave with a moist rag, which is easy thanks to the lemony steam you created (3 minutes)
- Take your quartered lemon and slip each part into your sink’s garbage disposal while it’s on with the water running- this will freshen the air as well as cleanse the actual disposal line (1 minute)
- Use a vinegar soaked rag to remove hard water stains from your shower head, faucets, etc (2 minutes)
If you have fifteen minutes then do all of the above PLUS…
- Sprinkle baking soda on a musty carpet, let stand one minute, then vacuum the baking soda up- along with the odor (3 minutes)
- Pour one part baking soda followed by one part vinegar down the drain, let stand for one minute, then rinse to clean out the pipes in an 100% natural way (3 minutes)
- Open all the windows to air out the house (2 minutes)
If you have thirty minutes then do all of the above PLUS…
- Add one part vinegar and one part water to a spray bottle and spray down mold or mildew, then just scrub it away with a textured sponge or rag and rinse it clean (6 minutes).
- Wipe down your stainless steel appliances with a vinegar soaked rag (9 minutes)
If you have forty five minutes then do all of the above PLUS…
- Dust with a microfiber cloth- see how we get ‘er done right here (15 minutes)
Then you pretty much just have regular maintenance like toilet cleaning and vacuuming to do. And look at all the bonus super-thorough cleaning projects you were able to bang out in just a smidge of time. We’re rarely “inspired” to clean, but seeing that it can be done simply, on the cheap, naturally, and in less than three steps per task really makes it not-so-bad. And it’s amazing how good a clean microwave or a shiny new-looking shower head can make you feel. But now we’re turning it over to you guys. We’d love to hear your affordable and easy house cleaning tips. Do tell.
When Jennae sent over her bedroom before and after photos we had to share her DIY headboard project. Here’s her letter:
My husband and I live in a rental, we’re on a budget, and we love all things green (as indicated by my blog) – so decorating the bedroom wasn’t the easiest task. Our biggest challenge was what to do for a headboard. We searched the web for headboard ideas & tutorials (including yours) and then I finally remembered a product I’d featured on my blog a while back: Wall Flats from Inhabit Living. Wall flats are essentially paintable 3-dimensional wallpaper, although it feels more like stiff lightweight cardboard. They’re made of bamboo pulp and completely biodegradable at the end of their life cycle, so they met our green criteria. And a box of 10 tiles typically costs $86, but ever on a budget, we bought their “second-quality” wall flats (think irregular clothing) at $4.50 apiece. A miscalculation on my part meant we bought 12 tiles, but we only wound up needing 9. Still, even though we bought too many, our headboard still only cost us $55, plus $10 worth of foam tape, and we’re thrilled with the way it turned out. You can see how the whole room came together in this post. You’ll see we changed quite a few things in the “after” photo, but the headboard and the bedding were the biggest changes. – Jennae
Here’s her room before the big headboard undertaking (ignore her husband, he was warned he’d be published if he didn’t move):
And here’s the same room after a little DIY headboard magic:
Didn’t Jennae do a great job? We love that she used discounted wall flats to get a great textured look on a budget- and since she’s a renter they’re completely removable (so they can go with her when she moves on). And considering that most headboards are hundreds of dollars (and she used eco materials- which are usually a lot more pricey!) we think she scored one heckova deal. Plus we love how modern and textured it all looks- especially when paired with such a lovely duvet with those great printed pillows and lamp shades. What do you guys think? Anyone itching to take on a project like this? It makes us wish we had another bedroom to tackle.