Office Makeover – Before and After

You all know that I love a good “before and after” and I know that you do too!  

(Before I start sharing the pictures with you, I want to apologize in advance for the before pictures.  The angles are horrible.  I took them with my smartphone’s camera, before I even decided to share them on the blog.  Also, you will notice some strategically placed squares that hide private info.)

Office Organization

A couple of weeks ago, my friend asked me to help her fix up her office space at work.  Her husband owns an automobile business and she was helping her husband with the office work…except, the office didn’t work.  The men thought that the office was perfect.  They thought that it didn’t need a thing changed.  Why mess with perfection?

The thing is that perfection looked like this…

Office remodel

and this…

Office Organization

These men were so dedicated to the sales, maintenance and growth of the business, that the back office space was just not top priority.  The store front was beautiful and we needed to make the back office match.

With the help of IKEA, a screwdriver, and lots of good conversation, my friend and I embarked on a mission.  To prove the men wrong To make the office beautiful.  To create a space that was welcoming and practical.

We started by painting the walls with a color called “Cloudy Day” by Sherwin Williams.  We painted the moldings white.  We also purchased white IKEA furniture that would be easy to clean and to customize.

Here is the “after” picture of the wall pictured above.

Office organization

We chose open cubicles in the bookshelf for binders and we installed drawers in other cubicles for office supplies.  The idea was to leave out the practical and pretty and put away the practical and unsightly.

We purchased new filing cabinets, a desk, and the lamp from IKEA.  I found the clock at Target.

Office OrganizationOf course, we had to add a little “pretty”, while keeping in mind that the office had to remain somewhat masculine.  There went all my washi tape dreams…

We decorated with modern, inexpensive IKEA plants, like this one.

Office Organization

And this one that I found at Target.  It was kind of short for the cubicle, so I lifted it with a car part.  I am not even sure what it is, but I loved the end result.

Office Organization

I love decorating with practical items, such as these little IKEA buckets that hold all the pens and pencils.

Office Organization

So one more time…We went from this,

Office remodel

To this,

Office Organization

The men at the office LOVED it and even asked for their own coffee station on top of the new cabinet.  No one misses the dark furniture and my friend is a happy camper.

With a little bit of paint, some new furniture pieces and a lot of focus, any space can be transformed.  It’s important to feel comfortable where you work.  Maybe you can’t transform your whole office, but you can transform an area.  Anything to help you laugh while you work.  Actually, don’t laugh, just smile, abrupt laughter could scare co-workers.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and please share with me what is your favorite thing about your workspace.  Is it wall color, your desk, accessories, or your comfy chair?

Until next time,

Maria

 

 

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Adding Wheels to Baskets

I keep a basket in the hallway that leads to the boy’s bedrooms.  I use it to place small toys and items that I find around the house after the boys have gone to bed.  I don’t want to wake them up (especially my toddler…yikes) so I place the misplaced toys in this basket at night and in the morning, I place them back in their designated home.

End of story.  Perfect system, right?

Good system, yes.  Perfect, not so much.

I love woven baskets because they add warmth and texture to any space.  What I don’t like is how they are not easy to clean and they are a magnet for dust bunnies.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

I decided that the best solution was to add wheels to the basket, so that sweeping and vacuuming was easier and more effective.  I found some adhesive wheels on Amazon because screwing in wheels was not an option.

You can find these HERE in my Amazon store, but I am sure that any hardware store near you will also have them or similar ones.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

 

I followed the instructions on the package and adhered the wheels to my basket.  I also added a bit of glue to secure them further, considering the weave of the basket.  These wheels are intended for flat surfaces so I compensated with the addition of glue.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

 

Here it is with all four wheels.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

And here it is back in its place waiting for Elmo, Barney, or my favorite…tiny legos.

It’s hard to tell the difference (and that was the idea) but it is so much easier now to clean under the basket, and the wheels keep the basket cleaner.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

 

When I start spray painting, nothing in my home is safe.  I think it will be the same with wheels, no basket will be safe.

It’s worth mentioning that these wheels don’t swivel and I don’t know how much weight they can bear, but they are perfect for a simple project like this.  I think they may also work with under-bed storage since dust bunnies are another reason that I don’t keep anything under my bed.  I also have wheels on the baskets that I keep on my closets floors.  It is a simple solution that makes cleaning easier, and I am a fan of easy.

Can you think of anything that you can add these wheels to in your home?  Do you have the same problem with baskets and dust bunnies?  If so, I hope this will help!

Until next time,

Maria

 

Design Corner – Tray Chic

I am starting a new section of the blog, titled: Decorate.

I am not a professional designer, but in my head, I totally am.  In that part of my head, I am also a skilled ballerina, so I don’t know if that tarnishes my credibility as a designer somewhat.

I love design books and design blogs, and I am constantly moving things around in my own home, until they are “just right”. I figured I would share some of the things that inspire me to not only organize my home, but decorate it.

Every couple of weeks, I will give a new decor suggestion. They will be easy to implement and hopefully will inspire you to continue adding touches to your home, so that your home feels like you.  So that your home makes you feel how you want to feel.

This week I will share one of my favorite decorating ideas…using trays to decorate, cradle, and anchor miscellaneous items.

Traditionally, trays are used for serving food items, coffee and tea.  I keep my nicer, sturdier trays for this purpose.

Decorating with trays

But I also use them all over the house.

Starting with the coffee table in our living room.

This is actually a cake platter from Ballard Designs, that I inverted to use as a tray.  It is perfect for this small table.

Decorating with trays

In the dining room, I have a gray, narrow ottoman (Target clearance…yay!) that is nice on its own, but needed some jazzing up.

Decorating with trays

This gold croco-embossed tray was perfect to anchor the plant that sits on the ottoman.

When you have a soft surface, such as an ottoman, adding a hard element, such as a tray or a stack of books can add structure and interest to an otherwise boring piece of furniture.

I also love the gray and gold contrast.

Decorating with trays

In the family room I have an enormous tray that I found at ZGallerie (also clearance).  It is also croco-embossed.

I should have named this post “The Clearance Crocodile”.  I see a running theme…

Trays are great for tables with miscellaneous items that may not go together.  Once they are on a tray, they look organized and somehow tied together.

This is a great idea if you collect perfumes or figurines.  If they are on a tray, they will look more like a cohesive collection, and more visually appealing.

Decorating with Trays

Lastly, on the kitchen table we have a tray that corrals our vitamins, napkins and ceramic trivets.  When I need to clear the table, I simply lift the tray, instead of all the items one-by-one.

Decorating with Trays

Trays can do more than carry a tea service, they can add beauty and function to a space.

So I encourage you to dust off the trays that you have tucked away in the garage, or in the very back of the china cabinet.

If you already use trays, please share with me how.  I love to hear from you!

I hope you enjoyed this new section of the blog!

In a few days, we will return to the Kitchen Organizing Series but for now, I hope that you enjoy your weekend, your family, your home.

– Maria

The Painted Smile

I love the color green and had painted the boys bathroom a celery green about 7 years ago.  The paint held up well, but I was getting tired of the color and it started to look dull.  After years of cleaning the walls from little marks here and there, it was time to make a change.

Kid's Bathroom

I went into Sherwin Williams and took a whole bunch of their paint samples.  I brought them home and placed them side-by-side.  I then chose what I thought was the perfect shade of blue for my kids’ little bathroom.  I chose an appropriately named color, it’s called Watery.

Kid's Bathroom

I also purchased some rollers, a tray and a paintbrush for edging.  I was excited to start!

As soon as I got home, I realized that I purchased the rollers thinking that we already had the roller frame (or poll) in our garage.  I couldn’t find it.

I was so anxious to start, that I decided to paint the bathroom with a paintbrush.  It seemed like an excellent idea at the time.  I would take advantage of my toddler’s nap time, and I would paint a room.  With only a small paintbrush.  Genius.  Interrupted.

Boy's Bathroom

I start painting the first wall and my arm starts to hurt.  I start losing steam ON THE FIRST WALL.  This isn’t good.  The small bathroom starts looking like Versailles from my vantage point.

Kid's Bathroom

I start convincing myself that the WHOLE bathroom didn’t actually need painting. I convince myself that only one wall should be painted.  I convince myself that the contrast between the blue and green is actually better than re-painting the whole bathroom. I convince myself that broccoli actually tastes better than cake.

But deep inside, I know the truth.  Cake tastes better than broccoli .  I must finish the project that I began.

Also, my husband was out-of-town and groveling for help, like with my Master Closet Remodel, wasn’t an option.  You can read about that “adventure” HERE.

Boy's Bathroom

So I kept going and positioned and re-positioned our ladder “cirque du soleil style” until I finished.  My paintbrush and I were done.  We did good.  We were rock stars.

I love the new color and I want to share some pictures with you.  What do you think?

Boys Bathroom

I did end up leaving a small nook at the very top, in the old green shade.  I added some blue pots to bring in some blue from the walls.  Not sure if I love the green nook yet.  Maybe I should go ahead and paint that too.  I have to wait and see.  Its a small area that I could paint it really fast, even with a paintbrush.

I hung up the towels and the shelves.  (The photograph does not accurately show the color. There is no natural light in this bathroom, making good photos a challenge.)

Kid's Bathroom

I purchased the towels from Frontgate and I love the quality.  They are holding up well and were a perfect match to the new color.

Kid's Bathroom

The shelf and a more accurate picture of the color.

Boy's Bathroom

Since my husband was out-of-town, he had no idea that I was doing this.

As soon as he got home, I proudly told him that I had painted the kids’ bathroom…using only a paintbrush.  No roller.

He smiled.

But I knew this smile.  I have given this smile before (Usually to my toddler, when he rushes in to tell me that he has “decorated” my bedroom.  I smile and excitedly say “YOU DID?!” and inside, I immediately start crying).

Boy's Bathroom

There is no joy in that smile.  Only fear.  My husband was afraid.

You see, according to him, he loves my decorating, but my DIY projects…

He says they either culminate in total success or…fear.  I think I have a pretty good batting ratio.  His opinion has no basis.  None that I would admit to.

Regardless, I was hopeful that he would love it as much as I did.  It would make the fact that I didn’t feel my right arm, almost worthwhile.

And…He loved it!  The smile was no longer forced.  He really liked it and so did the boys.

Even this boy.

By the way, that smile gets me every time.  Even when he uses toilet paper as streamers in my room.

Kid's Bathroom

Of course, I found the paint roller pole the next day.  God has a sense of humor.  I am sure of it.

– Maria

Organizing Christmas Gifts

I love everything about the holidays.

Except the long lines at the market, in the department stores and the post office.

I don’t know what it is about me and waiting in line.  I realize that no one likes waiting in line but…I could have a shopping cart full to the brim and when I see that there is a long line for checkout…I start to ask myself if I really need anything in the cart (besides my toddler).  🙂  Does this ever happen to you?

Now back to what I love.  Back to the merriness of Christmas.  Back to the beauty of giving.

Christmas Gift List

Back to how to avoid lines.  I avoid the lines by shopping way ahead of time and also shopping online.

I never shop during black Friday unless it is online.  With my fear of lines and crazy mobs at the mall, there is no way that I am leaving the house that day.  Visions of not finding a parking space and women fighting over the last special edition Barbie doll for their little girls, keep me home.  With my doors locked.

I am all about saving money but I find that the deals online match most of the deals at the store and even if I get an extra 5% off on black Friday, it’s just not worth it to me.  I need a cup of lavender chamomile just thinking about it.

Whether you are courageous enough to shop black Friday or just shop another time…have you noticed that there is always that ONE gift that drives you back to the mall during Christmas week?

To avoid forgetting that one gift, I started keeping a Christmas list years ago that keeps me on track for purchases and holiday spending.  I created a similar list for all of you to use.

I do realize that I should have thought of this a couple of weeks ago but I have been wrapping gifts like a madwoman and I figured it would still be useful.  You can either use it to check off the gifts that you already purchased and/or see what you still need to buy.

Here is the list:

Graceful Order Christmas Gift List Copy ”

I hope the list will be helpful!

I am excited about our Christmas breakfast and in a couple of days I will share with you my recipe for Cranberry Scones, so stay tuned!

Until then…Happy Wrapping!

Maria

Christmas Morning Breakfast

Every Christmas morning we host a pajama breakfast at the house.  Our whole family knows that they are invited to swing by, eat and hang out.  They also know that they are welcome to come in their pajamas.  I really look forward to this day and so do the boys!

Christmas Breakfast

The menu is plentiful but the cooking is really simple because most of all, I want to enjoy my boys opening their gifts.

The night before, I prepare a couple of casseroles and I place them in the fridge.  These casseroles are supposed to be refrigerated so that the flavors can marry.  One is sweet and the other is savory.  As soon as I wake up, I turn on the oven, get the casseroles in there and turn on the timer.

My husband buys a ham the day before.  I prepare a fruit platter the night before.  I bake some cookies with the boys the day before and also bring them out to the table.

Christmas Baking

I prefer to buy or make everything myself because that way I know that all the food is laid out on the table and I don’t have to fuss with it again.  If I delegate the dishes, then I constantly have to come back to the table to re-arrange once the guests arrive, I have to re-heat dishes…you get the point.  It may sound easier to delegate but if your goal is to spend time with little kids…consider an easy menu that you can execute yourself.

My husband gets up really early and starts making the hot cocoa and grinding the coffee beans.

Christmas Cocoa

We put both the coffee and the hot cocoa in carafes so that they will stay hot for the duration of the breakfast.  Thermal carafes are a great investment because you wont have to re-heat or make more coffee.  These are pretty inexpensive and you can find them “here“.

I set up this coffee/cocoa station the night before.  Hence the dark cell phone picture!

Christmas Drinks

I sometimes make scones and freeze them in zipper bags with instructions for baking.  If I have any left in the freezer come Christmas morning, then I will bake them but only if I have extra time.  They are delish!  The ones below are cranberry scones.

Chirstmas Scones

Whatever you do, keep it simple.  Do as much as you can ahead of time.  Buy some of your items, they don’t all have to be homemade.  Have a checklist.  Have fun!  Whatever you do…don’t miss this!

These are my boys opening their gifts…this is my favorite part.  There is no scone that is yummier than this moment.

Christmas Gifts

I love you all!  Remember to give.  Remember to live.

Maria

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6”

Organizing Thanksgiving

Yes!  Even the holidays can and should be organized.

There is definitely an art to hosting a dinner party and my goal is to share some of my tips with you so that you can avoid some of the mistakes that I have made in the past.  These are general dinner party tips but you can definitely use them for Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving table last year.  I buy items right after the holiday is over so that I can decorate the following year to my heart and wallets content!

Our Thanksgiving table last year. I buy items right after the holiday is over so that I can decorate the following year to my heart and wallets content!

Have you ever had a dinner party that 30 minutes before your guests arrive you are still running around like a chicken turkey with your head cut off?  The moment they arrive everything is done and you think to yourself…”if you only knew how crazy my day has been in order to pull this off!”  Basically, they are ready to start having fun and you are ready for a nap!

Situations like this make us want to avoid having people over.  It’s a shame to avoid dinner parties altogether considering that when we move into a home, when we buy new dishes…we think of entertaining.  We think of well orchestrated dinner parties.

In my case, I love to entertain and have dinner parties.  I have had great and not-so-great dinner parties and I can tell you that planning makes the difference!  The ones that were not so great had nothing to do with the people I invited.  I was just simply too exhausted to enjoy what I had worked hard to put together.  Nowadays, although I have small kids and I can’t entertain as often as I would like, I still have dinner parties.  And….

I plan.  I plan EVERYTHING.

I have a timeline of when things need to get done.  I even write down when to turn on the candles, when to start playing the music…those are the little things that you can easily forget to do until after the guests arrive.  Those are the things that really set the ambiance for your party.

Whether you like to be really fancy or really laid back, a list will make all your gatherings more enjoyable.  Whether its paper plates or fine china, a list will keep you on track and relaxed.

These little pumpkins were about 1.00 each on clearance.  I had to wait a whole year to use them but I loved the result!

These little ceramic pumpkins were about 1.00 each on clearance. I had to wait a whole year to use them but I loved the result!

The point of the to-do list is not to stress you out or to try to impress anyone with “the perfect dinner party”.  The point of the list is to help you relax and know that everything is on schedule and that you don’t need to be anxious about anything that you may be forgetting because everything is written down and accounted for.

The point of a dinner party is to have fun and to entertain but that is impossible if by the time that guests arrive you are so tired that you are counting the minutes until they leave and you can take off your shoes.

The truth is that even with a schedule, things happen.  Food can burn, overcook, things can spill.  However, these events are much less overwhelming when you have a schedule.

So with Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to share some printables with you to help make this dinner party go as smoothly as possible.

Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is the mother of all dinner parties!  There are so many dishes to keep track of that without a schedule I would not be able to pull it off AND have fun.

Even if you decide not to do a list for all your dinner parties, consider doing one for thanksgiving.

Some of the things that I suggest adding to your list are:

  • Setting the table one to two days before a dinner party.
  • Make ahead anything that can be so that you can check it off your list.
  • If a dish cannot be made ahead then perhaps do the chopping and prep-work ahead of time.
  • Take out all your servewear so that you can have all the platters handy on the day of the dinner party.
  • Print out or make copies of all the recipes you are using so that you can staple them together and have them handy on the day of the event.
  • Set up your coffee maker ahead of time so that you don’t have to fuss with it when your guests are there.  Just press a button and you can join your party once more.
  • Set up a coffee station or a platter with coffee cups, sugar, creamer and stirrers so that you can just bring the pot to the table along with all the necessities.
  • Have a couple of music playlists that you can play during parties.  A more soothing one for the dinner portion and a livelier one for later.
  • Try to wash dishes as you go to lessen the clean up later.
  • Empty your dishwasher so that you can fill it up after your dinner party is over.

The most important TIP is that you have fun.  I love lists but the list goes out the window the moment that my guests arrive.  It’s all about them at that point and about enjoying myself with them.

Your guests will feel it if you are stressed out, so relax.  If you are relaxed then they are relaxed.  If something burns, just move on…laugh about it.  No one really ever remembers what they ate or the table linen that was used…they remember how they felt.  People remember having fun, good conversation.  In the end, the list was never to assure that they had fun.  It was to assure that you could have fun with them.

Here you can find the lists that I made on JPEG format.  I hope they make your holiday a more enjoyable one!

THANKSGIVING MEAL PLANNER

THANKSGIVING MEAL PLANNER

THANKSGIVING GUEST LIST

THANKSGIVING GUEST LIST

THANKSGIVING COOKING SCHEDULE

THANKSGIVING COOKING SCHEDULE

Below you can find them in PDF Format :

THANKSGIVING MEAL PLANNER

THANKSGIVING GUEST LIST

THANKSGIVING COOKING SCHEDULE

Remember: Do as much as you can before your guests arrive but when they do (regardless of what still hasn’t been crossed off your list) throw this list away and just have fun!

With that being said, Have a Happy Thanksgiving and count all your blessings.  There are many.  You can make a list about that too!

Happy Organizing,

Maria

Breaking out the Spray Paint

Spray Paint Mirror4

This isn’t really a tutorial.  Its more like an idea that you can apply to many things in your home.

Before I was introduced to how easy it is to spray paint an object, I would purchase gold picture frames when I was tired of the silver.  I would want to replace weathered doorknobs instead of just repainting them and so on…

When you get into spray painting you start walking through your home (with a scary look in your eye) looking to see what’s next.  What will you transform next?

I think everyone should have basic colors like an Silver, Gold, Antique Bronze, White, Heirloom White and Black in their spray paint arsenal.

In this case I found the perfect mirror for my master closet but the color was wrong.

Spray Paint Mirror

So I took it outside with a can of Rust-Oleum Silver Metallic and lots of paper to cover the mirror.

Spray Paint Mirror2

And I went to TOWN!

Spray Paint Mirror3

As soon as it dried I put it up in my closet and it was perfect!

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So look around your home.  Is there a patio set that you have been wanting to replace but didn’t want to spend the money?  It is a lot less expensive to buy 3 cans of spray paint than a patio set.  Maybe you have grown tired of some picture frames; give them a refresher coat!

Door knobs also get lots of use and the finish starts to wear quickly.  I need to touch up mine real soon.

So that’s it!  Just an idea to break out the spray paint.  As you read this is there anything you have in mind to tackle next?

Until next time,

Maria

By the way, always spray paint in a well-ventilated area! 

How to Fold Towels

That sounds kinda silly right?  I mean we all know how to fold a towel quickly and put it away but don’t you love the way they fold them in the department stores?  Beautiful white towels with no seams visible…Sigh…

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It’s actually pretty easy to fold them like they do in the stores and they look so nice that its worth the extra step.

First, you lay out the towel.  I actually just hold the towel under my chin while I fold but that series of pictures was not flattering AT ALL.  I opted for the couch approach.

I always have your best interest at heart.

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Then fold one side towards the middle.

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Then the other side towards the middle.

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Then fold in half.

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If it’s a small towel then you are done.  If it’s a bath towel, give it one more fold.

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You are done!  The department stores have nothing on you.  Except a full staff to keep things tidy of course…

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I want to start doing some mid-week short posts on simple ideas that you can implement right away.  Last week I did the one on “how to fold your sheets” which you can find here.

What do think about that idea?  Are you enjoying these shorter posts as well?

Until next week!  Happy Folding!

Maria