Plant Baskets & Jewelry Storage

A reader asked about the basket that holds our bedroom plant:

Plant Basket

It’s from Jo-Ann (which I always want to spell “Joanne’s”). The baskets come in three sizes and they’re really good quality: tightly woven with metal ribbing and plastic lining. They range from $39 to $89 at full price, but who pays full price at Jo-Ann? Only fools!

Jo-Ann Plant Baskets

I’m also happy with these stacking jewelry trays from The Container Store:

Container Store Jewelry Trays

The jewelry box I’ve used for years was much bigger than I needed and it took up valuable dresser top space. I reorganized my collection while catching up on Nashville, shouting “DO IT!” at Rayna and Deacon.

Jewelry Box

And now you know where all my precious jewels are located.

Container Store Jewelry Trays

Zero Dollar Laundry Room Makeover

One of the benefits of my basement hoarding is that I have frequently have enough supplies on hand to complete a weekend project without spending any additional cash.  This is particularly important for any communal areas I tackle: as an apartment renter, I don’t want to spend much money on a space that isn’t “mine.”  But this is our home and small, inexpensive improvements can make it feel even more so.  (Our landlords, I should note, are enthusiastic about all of my projects and they, regularly and hilariously, defer to me on decisions regarding the property. Jarrod jokes that I’ve been deputized.)

Laundry Room

This laundry room area has always felt unnecessarily grungy.  That little storage nook was full of unused products and left-behind items, including this baseball, which was signed, twice, by a previous tenant — who is a full-grown man.  It’s pretty endearing, really.

Signed Baseball

A few simple changes made our laundry area look much more finished.  I know this Before & After isn’t going crash Pinterest’s servers (for one thing, I didn’t use chalkboard paint or white vinegar), so I’ll just dive right in.

Before:

Laundry Room

After:

Laundry Room

Before: the unfinished wood was difficult to clean – not that anyone had ever tried.

Laundry Room

After: I unearthed a few peel-and-stick vinyl tiles from our landlords’ trash pile, which will be much easier to wipe clean.  I centered the middle tile and then trimmed the other tiles to fit around it.

Laundry Room

Before: You know that episode of 30 Rock where James Carville says “Cajun style!“?  Whenever I see half-assed jobs like this, I say “Landlord style!”  There was no need for this shelf support to be so huge, and there was certainly no need for that many screws.

Laundry Room

After: I cut a cheap garden stake to use as a shelf bracket and stained all of the wood to match.

Laundry Room

Before:

Laundry Room

After: A few wood trim scraps, caulk and white paint makes the shelf and moulding look much more finished.

Laundry Room

Laundry Room

I scrubbed the sink and put out hand soap and a towel.  I washed and painted the back wall and hung a clock.  I also had some Flor carpet tiles from our previous apartment that I used to cover the concrete floor – when you accidentally drop an item of clothing, it’s nice to not feel like you have to wash it again.  (Side note: while I don’t love their hard/unfinished edge, reconfigurable Flor tiles are great for frequently-moving renters.)

Laundry Room

Before: Once more, for comparison.

Laundry Room

After:

Laundry Room

A small victory! My next post will bring us back out of the basement, I promise.

Basement Storage Organization

Regular readers of this blog (thanks for that, by the way!) are pretty familiar with our apartment’s rather minimal aesthetic.  It’s now time to head downstairs and reveal what lurks below, in our enormous basement.

BasementMess

Whoa.  This is what happens you have virtually unlimited storage space. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

BasementMess2

From the few episodes of Hoarders I’ve seen, “That could be useful!” seems to be a go-to hoarding justification.  I get that.  Sentimental?  Don’t care. Pretty?  Sure, I’ll keep a few pretty things.  But useful?  I want all them things.  Get in my basement, potentially useful things.

BasementMess3

Thanks to a major Craigslist score, all them useful things are now organized on some amazing heavy-duty storage shelves. These are the utility shelves of my dreams. $15 a unit!

Basement Storage Shelving

It’s possible that someone could find more happiness on Craigslist for $45, but it probably isn’t legal.

BasementStorageShelves

BasementStorage

BasementOrganization

I have a potting station, by the way: it’s a $5 metal shelving unit and a tabletop the previous tenants left in the basement.  I keep potting soil in an IKEA SORTERA bin.  This station is proof positive that I’m turning into my mother.

PlantingStation

 

A Project Room of One’s Own

We have the luxury of two small extra bedrooms in our apartment: one is used for the guest room, the other is used as my project room.  It swings wildly from tidy to chaotic.

Storage Room Mess

Storage Room Mess

It exploded into a mess recently, as you can see, but after a new year’s organizing frenzy, I think I have it under control for good.  I can now open the door and say to you, dear reader, “This is where the magic happens…”

Storage Shelving

I bought the IKEA IVAR shelving system off Craigslist last year for $60.  (Thumbing my nose here at the people who dismiss IKEA stuff as “disposable” – most of the IKEA furniture in our apartment was purchased second-hand.)

IKEA Storage Shelving

A digression: isn’t that vintage anatomical model great? Hand-painted, from Germany.  My brother-in-law saved her from going into the dumpster at the elementary school where he teaches.  I have since sold it on Craigslist to an oddities collector.

Storage Shelf Containers

The clear storage boxes are from The Container Store, provider of all perfectly-designed storage solutions.  Case in point #1: this simple, white, handled tray, which holds my most frequently used tools.

Tool Bin

Case in point #2: this adjustable divider box, which organizes all of my screws, bolts, hooks, etc. in an extremely satisfying manner.

Hardware Storage

The other side of the room holds the tool I will admit I don’t use as often as I should: my elliptical macine.

Elliptical Machine Room

Elliptical Machine Setup

We have a pretty nice mini-gym set-up: I have interlocking rubber tiles hidden under an IKEA HESSUM runner rug.  This base layer absorbs noise, provides stability and reduces wear on the machine.

Elliptical Machine Cushion

I mounted a simple shelf on the wall to hold a laptop.  Streaming a show or a movie on Netflix or Hulu is the only thing that can motivate me to work out.  (Well, that and the shame I feel because Jarrod exercises like a crazy person.)

Elliptical Machine Laptop Shelf

These days I’m working (slowly) through My So-Called Life and thinking (seriously) about wearing plaid flannel dresses.

Lighted Leaning Bookcases

My wariness of decorative items — as mentioned in my last post — extends to books, which might be an unusual stance for someone with a master’s degree in Library & Information Science.  But, having worked in three libraries, an illuminated manuscripts gallery and a rare books shop, I agree with the first law of library science (though I’m not sure it’s enforceable in any jurisdiction): Books are for use.  Sure, they’re pretty, but without use, there is little inherit value.  I got all preachy about this before our last move and streamlined our collection, trying to keep only the books that we love, would want to read or reference again, or would want to be able to loan to someone else.  Maybe I’ll hoard books in the future when we’re homeowners, but as frequently-moving renters, a smaller library makes sense.  Books are heavy, man.

Here’s what the bookcases looked like the last time you saw them:

IMG_0578

And here’s what the bookcases look like these days:

Styled Leaning Bookcase

I swapped out some houseplants, got a new stereo and moved the booze to a bar stand.  I tried to style it up a bit, which isn’t my strong suit, but I’m really happy with the current look.

Bookshelf Styling and Storage

Sloane Leaning Bookcase – Crate & Barrel
HEKTAR – IKEA
Big Jambox – Jawbone
Rugby Stripe Bin – The Container Store
It seems like the EcoLogic Pots may no longer be manufactured, which is too bad because they’re awesome looking. I have them scattered throughout our apartment.  Chicagoans can find them at Gethsemane; they’re pretty expensive on Amazon.

Leaning Bookcase Cat

We’ve had these bookshelves for five years and they’ve held up really well.  They’re available only in brown now; some similar white options are:

Bookshelves Storage

The striped bin is perfect for hiding ugly board games and whatever else we want to toss in there, and the HEKTAR spotlights cast a really nice light in the evenings.

Lighted Leaning Bookshelves

The Big Jambox was a splurge and well worth it.  It’s plenty loud for our apartment and it connects wirelessly via Bluetooth with my iPhone and iMac and Jarrod’s iPad mini.  It has a super long battery life, so we can move it to the kitchen or backyard for hours without a power cord.

Styled Leaning Bookshelves

See that electrical outlet on the floor to the right of the bookcase?  That is some crazy stupid luck.  I don’t know why it was placed there originally, but the location couldn’t be more ideal for this arrangement.  All of the cords are hidden neatly behind the bookshelf.

Leaning Bookshelves

Read any good books lately?  Or read Emily Henderson’s blog and been driven crazy by the fact she doesn’t spell “cord” correctly?