Monday, March 26, 2012

Upgrade your Ikea furniture- Ikea hack to the rescue!

It may not be the best quality of furniture, but Ikea does have a few benefits to offer when furnishing your home- their prices are amazing, most items are easy to assemble... and did I mention their prices? That's probably why Ikea is one of the world’s most successful retailers, with more than 220 stores
spanning 35 countries. In 2007 their stores saw more than a half billion visitors and they purchased over 22 billion in furniture and accessories. I guess it's safe to say that Ikea is not going anywhere anytime soon. SO, what's a designer to do? Well, there's beauty to be had in everything... and if you can't find it, why not make it? Enter the Ikea hack!!!

There are quite a few sites that tackle hacking (or reinventing) Ikea furnishings, whether through embellishment, replacing pieces from knobs to legs or chopping them up altogether to create an entirely different piece. Homeowners, DIY experts and crafters have become quite creative with beautifying this Swedish top seller's wares. There are even new online retailers dedicated to DIY fixes specifically for their pieces. Pretty Pegs is one of them. Their idea is simple. Fun legs for your sofa or bed in any color and exciting styles. Create drama with the bunchy style of Astrid in a bold orange or add whimsy with a touch of Beyonce's ballet heels (as seen in her video Green Light). While facing the sofa, they appear to be just minimal black legs, yet walk to the side and see a funky DIVA shoe... Too fun!

Astrid orange legs found at
Give the Green Light to your Ikea sofa with these fanciful ballet shoe style legs, also from Pretty Pegs.

Bemz is another great site dedicated to remaking your Ikea furnishings by incorporating their slip covers into your decor. Ikea offers a very limited, if any, selection of covers for their upholstered pieces. Many styles come in only one color. Enter Bemz and their wide range of covers for everything from sofas and chairs to reinventing their casegoods with slip covers for bed frames... Genius!
I love this take on industrial vintage by

Not enough for you? There are entire blogs dedicated to hacking your Ikea furnishings. One of the largest is, where homeowners can post their successful hacks, complete with photos and directions. I found lots of fun projects here, including this denim Lack table redo.
I love the embellished Malm 3 drawer dresser on the far right. Simple and stylish.

There are even some daring repurposed items, such as these rectangular vases being used as bathroom walls... Look at this!

Another great hack from, using the Rast dresser. Perfect for a boy's room.

There are SO many pieces of furniture that can have a new life, with just a little bit of creativity (or even borrowed thoughts from others online). Yes, Ikea furnishings are considered by many to be the poor man's version of decor, but one or two pieces restyled and mixed in with a room's decor can be just as brilliant as having a high end room with nicely appointed decor and a fantastic $20 vase from Homegoods in the mix. Do it well and no one will ever know. Do it even better, and you'll be dying to share!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Year, New Closet!

In a quest to help you make small changes to create a better life, I am starting with a room that is probably the most ignored space in your home- YOUR CLOSET. Not only can making simple changes in this space help with your interior, but you can also make changes that can affect your wardrobe and both will help you organize your life.

First of all- It's not just a closet, it's a room... so, treat it like one.

courtesy of

So, everyone may not see this room- but YOU do, and aren't you important? Of course you are, so why not give yourself something attractive to see while you are selecting your outfits for the day.
     1. Proper lighting is a must- you need good lighting to see what you have in your closet and since it's typically a dark space, it is always a good idea to swap your current fixture out. But while you're doing that anyway, why not make it fun and pretty? A mini chandelier or cool pendant can go a long way and doesn't have to cost a lot of money. If either or these options are not your thing and you have a little more money to spare, how about having a skylight installed or solar tube which will give you natural light during the day?

     2. Don't hate, donate- One of the easiest ways to organize your closet is to go through every piece of clothing you own and truly, and I mean TRULY ask yourself, "Am I ever going to wear this again?" Us women have the hardest time with letting go of our clothes that don't fit or that we rarely wear. We tell ourselves, "I'll get into that again," or "One day I'll have a special event to go to and I'll need that dress." Don't clutter your closet with the past! It's time to break free of your clutter and open your space for new opportunities... AND CLOTHES! It's hard to embrace your new size but keeping smaller clothing will not help you shrink any faster. Think about all of the women who are in need and can benefit from your old clothing that just sits in your closet doing nothing but taking up space. Donate your old clothing to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul or Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization and help those who can really use what you just store! It will make you feel great and that's it's own reward.

     3. Color it up- Since this is a room- give it a coat of paint. What's your favorite color? What's that wild color that you've always wanted to try on your walls but were too scared to do? Use it in your closet!
  Whether a small or large space, a little color will work wonders on your mood, will help accentuate certain colored clothing in your closet and make "shopping" for your outfit that much more fun!

4. Organize your rainbow- One of the most efficient changes you can make to your closet can actually save you time in the morning when searching for your daily outfit. My daughters and I practice this quite anally, I must admit. Organize your closet by color by placing all tops of one color together. I further break down each color by succession of sleeveless, tank, short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, then long sleeve top. It makes my life SO simple when searching for an outfit for any season. When it comes to a printed top, place it with the color that makes up most of the top.

I remember living back East when I was younger and then in my young adult life and, having grown up with the tradition of putting away the winter clothing in the summer and vice versa, I never realized how outdated a system that was. A tank can always be worn in the winter under another top or a short sleeve top can be worn with a shrug. The possibilities for creating new outfits are endless when it's all at your fingertips and well organized.

 5. Give your closet a personality- Have fun with this little hidden space. Decorate it. Print it up with wallpaper. Give it a crazy area rug. Add purple see thru shoe boxes. Go nuts! Be bold! After all, it's your space. Make it yours with a little pizazz. 
courtesy of

     6. Have an extra closet? Convert it- Are you lacking an much needed work area in your home? Consider using your closet. Measure the space for a desk, task lighting and the necessary organizational tools you'll require. If you are planning on using your desktop in here, have the nearest electrical outlet rerouted to your closet or easily use a laptop. If your closet currently has sliding doors, replace them with standard double doors and utilize the doors for additional storage like in the photo below.
courtesy of

This bright room above is one of my most favorite closet remodels because the otherwise dull, white room gets the biggest "HELLO" with this fantastic aqua print wallpaper and matching painted desk. They really had fun with this space and that's what this year should be all about! How can you not smile every time you work in this space? 

Small changes in the things you see can make large changes in the way you think and feel. Start with your closet and see where it can lead...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Countertop Resurfacing? Don't even go there!

I am all for being frugal where you can on your home remodel. What I will never promote, however, are do-it-yourself projects that will devalue your home, and the home stores are FILLED with them. Today I have to go into one of the newest and worst ideas I have ever seen for your kitchen- Countertop Resurfacing…
I can’t say enough to discourage you from ever using such a product, but I’m going to do my best! Rust- Oleum has some fantastic products. I use their spray paints all the time for various projects around my home, but this product is just WRONG! My strongest advice when you are ready to replace your laminate countertop- is to actually REPLACE your laminate countertop. Consider where you live and the materials that other homeowners in your surrounding neighborhood are using for their home. If you are not going to upgrade to a more luxurious material such as granite or quartz, I can tell you that Formica, Pionite, Wilsonart and a few other laminate manufacturers have come up with a slew of amazing laminates that resemble granites and slates and fantastic stones. Many have textures or scratch resistant coatings and are very affordable. I will most definitely do a post on one of my favorites by Formica soon. For now let’s get back to this horrible idea of resurfacing your countertops.
Have you ever seen a garage with a coated floor? They look pretty neat. The floor has a nice polish, thick coating of paint with a sealer and can contain flecks in the mix to give it some pizzazz. Would you ever put that on your countertop? That’s exactly what you are doing if you use this kit. Yes, it’s appealing to think you can do it yourself and save a ton of money. This kit can range from $140.00-$200.00, but a post-form laminate countertop can cost you around the same price and a custom laminate countertop- brand new- is not much more than that. The look that this kit offers is more similar to the older style laminates of the early 90′s or the older solid surface countertops that had small or medium sized speckles throughout. It looks NOTHING like a granite or stone, like it attempts to represent. The result of the work you will do with this kit will never look even close to the overdone flecking they show on the box and even that does not look spectacular. Furthermore, if you ruin this project or don’t quite like the look when you’re done, you’ve wasted time and effort and will still need to replace it in the future. This project falls under my “Measure Twice, Cut Once Philosophy”. A skilled craftman will measure twice to avoid a mistake. I use this quote all the time to inform homeowners that proper preparation avoids costly mistakes. Usually, when I say proper preparation, I mean hire a professional. It is great when you can do it yourself and some projects qualify for this, but specialized trades have come into existence for a reason. If everyone could do it, everyone would open up a business doing it. Things that require skill should be done by their trade professionals. Countertops fall under that category almost as much as refinishing your own kitchen cabinets (oh, don’t even get me started on that non-sense! That will be another post!).
Resurfacing is a process that offers a questionable time period of wear and tear. The look is not desirable so it is not an improvement and therefore it decreases the value of your kitchen. If you were to sell your home, this would deter buyers who would consider this an item that must be replaced, a cheap fix for the most important room of the home. My D-I-Y divas and divos, please don’t waste your time. You will be disappointed and pay twice as much for something you could have done right the first time. I hope this post will help you make an informed decision on this product. Hopefully, with enough complaints, dislike or lack of sales, the big box stores will take such a bad product off the shelves!

I'm dreaming of a GREEN Christmas!

Being a design diva and thinking practically when it come to such an OVER THE TOP holiday can seem oxymoronic, but it can be one of the best things for your home and your wallet. And who made Christmas into the money sucking, super glitzy spend fest that it is now anyway? Uh, RETAILERS of course! They want us to spend, spend, spend and shop til we drop and pepper spray people in the store on Black Friday while trying to get that last X-box…(can’t believe she really did that, lol). How often do we ever sit back and think of the true meaning of the holiday? Have you ever considered alternate ways of GIVING? There are more ways to give than just hitting the mall.
The art of being “green” can be mastered in so many ways. There’s composting, reducing your carbon footprint, shopping locally and buying things made from sustainable materials. The D-I-Y diva that I am, I took to my favorite treasure hunt to kick off my green Christmas, beginning with the decor- on craigslist. Yep, that’s right- craigslist is one of the best ways to go green, save money and give- all at the same time.
There are some things that just don’t really have to be new. We had a pre-lit Christmas tree. It was 6.5′ tall and was a beautiful blue spruce and it worked out well, until two years ago when the middle section’s lights decided to go out. We tried to find the culprit dead bulb and when we couldn’t we strung a set of lights around the middle and called it a day. This year I longed for a taller tree, but the ridiculous cost of a new one sent me right to craigslist. There are so many great finds on there, in good or even like new (sometimes entirely new) condition. People sell their things for all sorts of reasons. I snagged a 7.5′ tree in like new condition with the box for just $20.00 because the guy’s wife decided she wanted a small, real tree instead of setting up and decorating a fake one. Their toss out is my gain and no one is the wiser! Best of all, purchasing on craigslist is also giving because that person makes money which in turn allows them to buy their own tree or presents or whatever else they will get as a result of your purchase. Buying from craigslist is green because you are buying locally and also recycling a used product. WIN, WIN, WIN! I saved $140.00 on a tree and helped out a local resident.
Craiglist can work for far more than just trees. I’ve seen outdoor and indoor lights and decorations too. How about younger children’s electronic gadgets? My seven year old wants an ipod touch or an e-reader. I’d never dream of spending $200 on something for someone so young who may lose or break it. However, I would buy a used one online for $50.00 and guide him on taking care of it in training for a real one one day. You can also find unbelievable deals on televisions or gaming systems that people can’t keep for financial reasons, even great laptops that only require you to wipe their memories clean. There’s an endless sea of goods that you can acquire on craigslist- clothing, toys, accessories, jewelry and furnishings. Why buy new when you can save money and buy used? Now, of course, there are situations when new is best- gifts for family members outside of the immediate, gifts for friends or others that require original packaging and the item in new condition.  But there are many times you can even find (especially right after the holidays) that people have duplicates of items that they will sell online. Maybe they received two laptops or two cameras and they obviously can’t use both.
So this Christmas consider going green. Search your local craigslist site and see what hidden treasures you discover. For an added bonus, check the FREE section under ‘For Sale’. You never know!