Category Archives: Tips

Sleep Easy: How To Design A Room Around Your Pull-Out Sofa

The best get-togethers are those that seem to never end. Sleeper sofas make watching movies, playing games, or just catching up over a glass of wine an easy overnight affair. Host holiday visitors right in your living room with pull-out sectionals, or set up sleepovers for multiples in the guest room with loveseat sleepers.

When adding a piece of furniture that can dramatically expand and contract, it’s key to consider the room’s layout and decor. Here are our best tips for easy, functional designing around a pull-out sofa.

Choose the best size and shape for your space

With the range of sofa sizes and shapes available today, you can easily add a sleeper to nearly any room in your home—the living room or family room, the home office, or even a large guest bedroom. In most cases, these pieces will function first and foremost as couches and secondly as beds.

With that in mind, first consider how the piece will fit into the designated area as a sofa. For large rooms, get optimal seating with a full sectional arrangement. For a tighter space, a small loveseat pushed up against the way may be all you need.

Also, evaluate the mattress size that would be most appropriate for both your daytime couch-sitters and your overnight guests. A twin mattress is the perfect sleeping spot for a single person, but they’re typically only available within daybeds or two-cushion couches. If you can swing it space-wise, choose a queen-sized pull-out bed—it’s the most useful and versatile, providing enough room for one to two guests without overwhelming the space.

Keep comfort in mind

woman-making-sleeper-sofa

Just as important as sofa size and shape, the comfort level of your couch is integral to the perfect sleeping setup. The sofa cushions should be plush enough that guests sitting on them would never know that beneath them is an entire pull-out contraption. The thicker the cushions, the better. A firm fabric such as a tight-weave linen-like upholstery or slick natural leather also helps protect guests from the metal bars inside the furniture.

Next, think about the mattress itself. While you should look for sleepers with thick, comfortable mattresses, remember that you can always add a super-plush mattress topper to any bed for cloud-like coziness.

Place a thick and textured throw blanket in complementary colors over the arm of the couch—it can double as extra warmth for sleepover guests.

Use storage furniture to hold bed linens

Store extra pillows, sheets, and blankets in the guest room in attractive storage furniture that doubles as decor. Place linens in decorative baskets and bins in the corners of the room, or tuck them away in hidden media center drawers or cabinets. Choose a storage space that’s extra-roomy, and swap out bedding with sofa pillows and blankets until morning to keep the space clutter-free. You’ll save space in your linen closets, and you’ll make everything easy to access for your guests.

Add versatile furniture

If your sofa-sleeper just so happens to be the main seat in the living room, it will serve primarily as a seating area. You’ll likely need a coffee table and at least one end or sofa table, depending on the size of the piece. But to make the sitting area functional as both a lounge space and a makeshift bedroom, you’ll want furniture that’s easy to rearrange. For example, a lightweight acrylic or rattan coffee table is much easier to push aside than a solid stone or concrete drum table.

If you still want to incorporate a hefty natural material into the room, look for tables with marble, stone, or thick-cut glass tops and airy, open bases. The same advice applies to side tables. Or, if you still want to add a solid, sculptural metal or wood table with some weight to it, let that one act as a nightstand when the pull-out bed is in use.

Accent chairs, lounge chairs and armchairs should all be arranged clear of the pull-out space. To allow the overnight guest room to breathe and to avoid boxing the bed in with auxiliary furniture, arrange these spare seats so that they are flanking the sofa area. Angle the chairs out and away from the sofa to create a layout that feels open.

Illuminate with all-purpose lighting

As with furniture, you don’t want the hassle of rearranging the lighting when it’s time to pull out the couch for the night. Arc floor lamps are the perfect all-purpose option for sleeper sectionals, sofas, and loveseats alike. Specifically designed to fit behind a couch or chair, the arched neck of these lights maximizes the area the illumination covers, and the overhead design allows it to easily convert to a nighttime reading lamp for those tucked into the pull-out.

Another option that works for the entire space is a chandelier or overhead flush mount (use multiple flush mounts, if the space requires a little extra brightness) paired with a table lamp or two. Keep one table lamp on an adjacent side table that can do double duty as a bedside light for overnight guests.

Style decorative objects in the name of simplicity

marble coffee table with flowers and small books
Apartment Therapy/Pippa Drummond

Carefully consider the décor that sits atop the furniture pieces you’ll need to move when you pull out the bed. For example, think about the coffee table or ottoman in front of the couch. Instead of creating an elaborate tablescape of candles, hardcover books, vases, and other decorative objects, keep it simple and choose just a couple of items to display. You can still decorate with all the accessories you originally wanted—just spread them throughout the entire room, placing on console tables, wall shelves, and display pedestals instead of clustering most on the main surface.

If you plan to host overnight guests often, consider taking a minimalist approach to the decor in that particular room. As a DIY bedroom, it should be zen and welcoming, and a color palette of soft, neutral hues is visually comforting in a bedroom.

Pull-out sofas help you make the most of the space in your home. Try to make the most of the sleeper itself by surrounding it with accommodating furniture in a functional layout. Your future couch crashers will love you for it. Happy hosting!

Hannah Bollman writes inspirational and actionable content around home design and entertaining for Crate and Barrel, where you can find sleeper sofas to meet your hosting needs. When she’s not providing guidance on interior style, Hannah enjoys performing stand-up comedy and working to improve her 5K time. 

The 5 Best Dog Breeds for Small Apartments

Do you think that dogs aren’t the best pets for apartment dwellers?

Think again.

You see, a lot of people imagine dogs as these big, messy animals who need lots of space, will always run around, and will ruin every couch they can get their paws on. Sure, some of them are like that, but a lot of other breeds are actually quite peaceful and love nothing more than to lounge on a couch indoors with their owner.

If you live in a small apartment, don’t lose hope yet. You, too, can be the pet parent of a beautiful dog; you just need to find the right breed.

Find out which dog breeds are the best for small apartments. Maybe you will find one that suits you and fall utterly in love with it!

1. The Bulldog

black and white french bulldog on blanket

It doesn’t matter if it’s a French or English Bulldog, this breed of dogs is perfect for people who live in small apartments. Since they are low in energy and don’t mind just hanging out all day on the couch with you, Bulldogs are a great breed from those who not only own small flats but are also quite introverted. Loving and kind, this breed is one of the easiest to take care of: all they need is a good bed to sleep on, a healthy meal, and your company.

Of course, like every other dog, they need exercise. While they don’t have as much energy as, say, a Golden Retriever, a couple of walks during the day or a game of fetch in the backyard does their wrinkly body good. Just be careful during hot days, as they can overheat pretty quickly!

2. The Chiweenie

chiweenie dog on white fleece blanket
The Happy Puppy

Even this dog’s name tells you he’d be a great small apartment dog. A mix between a Chihuahua and a Dachshund, the Chiweenie is able to fit everywhere thanks to his small body, which makes him perfect for people who live in small spaces. Just keep in mind that the Chiweenie is quite hard to train, as he is a very stubborn fella, and might even suffer from the “small dog syndrome” if he’s not trained well.

Playful and low maintenance, the Chiweenie is the perfect breed for people who don’t have enough time or space to take care of a bigger dog. Note, however, that he might have some difficultly with kids, so if you have children, consider a different breed.

3. The Bassett Hound

tan and white basset hound
Flickr/Sally Wehner

The Bassett Hound is a “medium” dog that fits well in small apartments. Usually very quiet and calm, they are great if you are living in a building with really thin walls. After all, no one wants to stay awake at night because of one dog barking incessantly. All a Bassett Hound needs to be happy is daily exercise (nothing too excessive though: a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood or a stroll to the dog park is enough) and a loving dose of attention.

The Basset Hound is definitely not a small dog (compared to the Chiweenie at least), but he has nothing against hanging out in a small spot in your apartment the whole afternoon or just cuddling with you when you [both] need it.

4. The Pug

small pug looking scared

Of course, we can’t write about small apartment dog breeds without mentioning the Pug. This famous small dog is a ball of happiness, and you’ll be more than delighted to have one around at all times. Small and low in energy (just like Bulldogs), they are easy to take care of, even though they can suffer from many health issues due to inbreeding.

So, if you don’t mind caring for a dog who could sleep for hours after chasing his tail around (bonus points if you take a funny video), we’d say the Pug is perfect for you.

5. The Morkie

morkie dog with red and white pillows in background
Flickr/Toni Truong

The Morkie is a cross between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Maltese. As you might imagine, this dog is a bundle of cuteness. Thanks to his small stature, he is perfect for people living in small apartments.

Morkies do require some extra training—especially if you have human kids running around along with your fur baby—to take the time to ensure he’ll show love to every member of the family.

This is guest post by Houda from DiamondPup. She is a full-time writer, traveler, and self-proclaimed dog person. She also makes lame jokes, writes poetry, and loves eating weird food in faraway countries. Did she mention that she was a dog person? Yeah, give her all the puppies, please.

What Are People Looking for in a Property? [Infographic]

What are people are looking for in a property?

It depends on who you ask, and how old they are.

Millennials prefer a convenient location and open floor plan, and they would like to communicate with realtors through texts or emails.

Generation X members value a solid school district and house features over the location and would prefer to connect with realtors through emails or phone calls.

Baby Boomers are focused on first-floor master bedrooms and accessibility for future needs, and when communicating with a realtor, they prefer phone calls.

Members of the Silent Generation are focused on smaller homes close to friends and families, and they choose to communicate with realtors through face to face interactions.

No matter what age group you are in, considering your current and future needs is crucial when making such a big decision as choosing a home. If you’re willing to downsize, what will you do with all your extra stuff? If you relocate from the city to the ‘burbs, which once-necessary items can you potentially give away? Are you tired of taking on the responsibility of homeownership and are ready for the freedom that renting affords?

There are a lot of things to think about. The Realtors at Del-co Realty are ready to help you sift through it all.

del-co realty looking for in a property infographic

How to Build a Wedding Registry Fit for Apartment Living

Hand-picking a laundry list of new items for your wedding registry can be exciting—until you realize you need a place to store it all. If you live in a small apartment, it can feel daunting to build a registry if you can’t imagine where to put all those gifts.

The good news is that with just a bit more planning, you can create a useful and meaningful gift list that you, your future spouse, and your guests will love. Here are seven of our top tips for creating a registry perfectly suited for your space.

1. Take a moment to take stock

multiple wooden spoons grouped together

Whether you’re already living together or will be moving in after the wedding, it’s essential to take some time to figure out what you both already own. Schedule some time together and go room by room, listing any must-haves you currently lack. Then, you can identify any duplicate items that can be sold, donated, or thrown away to make more space.

2. Don’t be afraid to upgrade

couple sitting on bed hugging pillows

Now that you’ve gotten a clear picture of your belongings, it’s time to think about upgrading. You may find it hard to replace an item that still works, even if it’s out of style, part of a mismatched collection, or if your future spouse is not a fan.

Now is the perfect time to upgrade to a piece that you both love and that reflects your combined tastes as a couple. Plus, swapping out an older item for a newer one won’t take up more of that precious space in your apartment. You have the added benefit of donating the older item to someone who needs it.

3. Ensure that you have the essentials

blue and white towels rolled

Think carefully about your list of core, everyday items before deciding what to keep and what to upgrade. Even in the coziest of apartments, most people will need:

  • dinnerware and flatware sets
  • drinkware, including water glasses, mugs and wine glasses
  • bedding, including sheets, blankets and a duvet or comforter
  • bath towels and bath mats
  • cookware sets, including a frypan, a saucepan and a stock pot
  • cutlery
  • furniture

4. Understand your entertaining priorities

white plates place setting at a dinner party

Traditionally, couples are advised to register for both everyday dinnerware and fine china for special occasions. Small apartment dwellers, though, are less likely to host a sit-down meal for 10 additional people. You may not even have enough cabinet space to store 12 place settings, let alone a separate collection of china.

Consider two options: Register for more than you’ll need now and store extras separately, or register for only what fits in your current home. If you know you love to entertain and you don’t mind stowing a box or two of belongings in a storage unit (or a friend’s spare room), go ahead and register for a separate collection of fine china in addition to your everyday plates. However, if you don’t anticipate hosting a large group of guests, consider skipping the china and opting for a basic set that can transition effortlessly from formal to casual.

Instead of registering for 12 complete place settings, consider sticking to eight sets and expanding your collection when and if you move into a larger apartment, condo, or house. Your best bet is to choose a pattern that will stand the test of time. Ask a store associate what their customer favorites are for a collection will likely still be around for years to come. Otherwise, you can select a classic white dinnerware set and add to it over time. Classic white will easily complement other dish patterns and colors, and you can also swap pieces in and out as seasons change.

5. Choose kitchen multi-taskers

cheese, honey, and crackers on a wooden serving tray

Before you step foot into any store or create an online list, it’s a good idea to do some research and look for pieces that serve more than just one function. In any small space, choosing furniture, housewares, and decor that multi-task is the key to creating a home that is both stylish, functional, and scaled to your square footage. My favorite kitchen multi-taskers include:

  • coffee makers with integrated bean grinders
  • toaster ovens that can bake, broil, and roast
  • tools and accessories that are pretty enough to store in the open, including marble storage canisters, a matching set of cooking utensils in a decorative container, and a brightly-colored stand mixer or Dutch oven
  • nesting mixing bowls that double as serving bowls
  • durable, stylish cutting boards that you can use as serving platters
  • blenders that have food processing attachments and motors powerful enough to tackle a wide variety of cooking tasks

6. Find dual-purpose furniture

bar cart used for kitchen utensil storage
Design Sponge

Just like in the kitchen, pieces in your living area work best when they serve more than one function. Stools and poufs are the perfect apartment accessory, since they can act as seating for guests, side tables or coffee tables, and even plant stands by sunny windows. Nesting coffee and side tables can expand or collapse depending on your needs. Ottomans that turn into a single bed for overnight guests can also serve as oversized coffee tables for impromptu meals in front of the TV.

Another great choice?

Bar carts.

These on-trend pieces are once again all the rage. Apart from providing a chic way to serve cocktails and snacks during parties, they can store anything from wine bottles to books to decor, including plants, candles, and picture frames. Extra points if you find one on wheels for easy room rearranging.

Even storage pieces can serve a decorative function. Woven rattan baskets can hold throw blankets and pillows, magazines and books, pet toys, or even extra phone chargers and TV remotes. The nice thing about a pretty basket is that it can also be used for other purposes as your storage needs change—as a planter (just keep a plastic tray in the bottom to contain any water), a laundry hamper, or even a carryall for trips up and down the stairs. Wall-mounted or leaning shelving units are another great option, as they not only provide essential storage and have a small footprint, but they also add an architectural element to the room. Look for customizable shelving units that you can mix and match to fit your needs.

7. You CAN think big in a small space

comfortable living room with leather sofas
Apartment Therapy

Group gifting is growing in popularity, and living in a small space doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t register for a bigger purchase. Your wedding is a great excuse to pick out a few larger items that both work in your current space and could also fit seamlessly into any future homes.

A storage bed is a great option. A bed frames that incorporates drawers underneath the mattress makes the most of bedroom space. Many storage beds don’t require a box spring.

If you already have a bed you love but need something for your living area, consider an apartment-sized sleeper sofa. This is the perfect upgrade for those who enjoy hosting visitors but lack a spare bedroom. Another smart choice is an area rug that can pull any space together to create a finished, curated look. For smaller rooms, choose either a monochrome rug or one sporting a subtle pattern, so you don’t overwhelm the space.

Laura Love Bardell writes for Crate and Barrel, where she creates design-savvy content on the latest home-furnishing trends. Laura enjoys providing inspirational and practical guidance for couples who are creating a registry.

3 Super Common Moving Myths — Debunked!

You’ve finally found the perfect home.

After some careful searching through some of the best neighborhoods in Chicago, you’ve managed to discover the property that not only suits your needs and sense of style but also fits within your budgetary restrictions. Now, all you need to do is transport all your belongings to your new property safely and securely.

For many people, the actual “moving” part of moving to a new house is one of the most stressful experiences they will face. There’s so much to organize and do, it can feel as though you never have a moment to rest. Unfortunately, falling victim to the myths of moving can make your experience even more complex, because it means you need to fix problems you’ve accidentally created for yourself during the moving process.

To help you get ahead of the madness of moving, we’re here to debunk three of the most common moving myths:

Myth 1: You Have to Move Everything at Once

boxes stacked and packed for moving
Flickr/Becky Stern

It’s tempting to think that you only have a single day to move everything from one house, into another. However, this isn’t a realistic approach — particularly if you’re moving to Chicago from a different city or town. Not only will attempting to move everything at once give you more stress to deal with, but some movers will actively refuse to move certain items due to safety, ethical, and legal reasons.

To keep the frustration of moving to a minimum, consider storing some of your more valuable possessions in a space close to your new home, ahead of time. This will not only mean that you have less to handle on moving day, but it could also ensure that your most beloved possessions stay safe, too.

Myth 2: You Don’t Need to Label or Organize Boxes

home depot moving boxes labeled and color coded
Love Makes Life Beautiful

When you’re rushing to get everything packed, taking the time out to label and organize your boxes can seem like unnecessary additional work. After all,  you’re already at your wits’ end from cramming everything you own into boxes and bins — adding an extra step of writing on and color coding the boxes seems overwhelming.

However, it’s safe to say that you’ll regret failing to organize your stuff ahead of time when it comes to unpacking.

The last thing you need when you’re moving into a new home is to spend hours wandering around each room, trying to locate all the items you haphazardly packed in a hurry.

Free Bonus: 8 Expert Solutions to Your Toughest Moving Problems

Myth 3: Any Moving Company Will Do

bellhops shaking hands with a customer
Bellhops

Finally, it’s safe to say that if you want an easy, stress-free move, you need the right support from your moving company. Taking the time to choose an organization that can provide you with a consistent, comfortable experience from start to finish should guarantee that you encounter as few issues on the path to your new home as possible.

The right moving company will work with you on planning your move, and they may even be able to help you pick up some of the items you’ve stored in your personal storage facility when you’re ready for them. Find someone you can rely on, and stick with them for a safe, simple move.

This post was written by Bellhops, a moving company that combines technology with a team of talented workers to provide a fun, friendly, and professional moving experience. They developed the nation’s first tech-enabled platform, which streamlines the move-day process and ensures customers are matched with the most-qualified movers and professional drivers in their area.

6 Super Satisfying Ways to Dip a Toe into the Spring Cleaning Waters

Spring is in the air, and with the flung-open windows comes the urge to clean and fix everything immediately. This is great! This is also unsustainable if its been, well, a pretty long time since the last fling open the windows/clean/fix everythingsession.

Ease back into a Spring Cleaning plan with these quick, satisfying household fixes, decluttering tips, and easy cleanups using things you probably already have around the house.

Let the sun shine in! (And then take a nap. Youve totally earned it.)

1. Put stuff into timeout boxes

clothing donation in a cardboard box
Huffington Post

Sure, this one works best for kidstoys, but who among us doesnt turn into a—ahem—less-poised version of ourselves when faced with giving up our prized possessions?

Create a maybepile of books, mugs, knick knacks, and housewares that everyones feeling medium about, and store them in stackable plastic bins. Dont panictheyre not going far. Keep them nearby in a closet, garage, or accessible attic space for a month (or slightly longer, if baby steps are needed).

Dont need em within that time frame? Guess what? You dont need em.

2. Dust with dryer sheets

dusting baseboards with a dryer sheet
Simplistically Sassy

Feel like youre forever wiping stuff down? Extend a little more time between dustings by using a dryer sheet to clean surfaces, baseboards, and shelves. Not only are they great cleaning cloths, but their anti-static nature repels dust, pet hair, and everything else that settled between the last time your parents visited and now.

3. Turn that shoe around

 

organized shoe closet

File this one under the Is this really going to make a difference?category (with the subheading of Yes, do it now): When putting shoes back in closets or on shelves, turn the right shoe in the pair backwards and keep the left one facing forwards.

Why?

When placed this way, the shoes naturally form a yin/yang shapeand save a ton of space for more pairs to be stored, too. Youll notice a crazy difference with high heels, the kind that normally take up a disproportionate amount of shoe real estate.

4. Refresh mattresses

vacuuming baking soda from mattress to clean
Curbly

If youve got the kind of mattress than can be flipped, nows a great time to do so. If it’s a pillow top, just rotate it and strip all blankets, sheets, and mattress protectors. Sprinkle the bare mattress with a good layer of baking soda, let sit for an hour or two, and then vacuum it up. (Psst: While youre doing this one, feel free to clean your comforter. It would love a little field trip out into the sunshine or to the dry cleaners.)

5. Flip your hangers

flipped clothing hangers for organization
Fun Cheap or Free

Here’s a great tip if you arent really sure if its time to part with that jacket or skirt: Put every last thing in your closet to the test by turning each hanger backwards. When you wear an item, replace it with the hanger turned the other way.

With the exception of special occasion garb, get rid of everything from that season still facing the opposite direction at the end of three months. If you didnt wear it, you certainly wont miss it.

6. Oil down fan blades

cleaning ceiling fan blades
The Organised Housewife

Ceiling fan blades are gross.

Ceiling fan blades in areas like the kitchen are even grosser. But guess what combats greasy buildup? Thats right, more grease.

After wiping down each fan blade with a pillowcase (to trap dust and prevent a greasy, dusty mess on the floor), wipe down the top of each blade with a little vegetable oil on a cloth. Rub in circles, repeat, and enjoy the fact that your ceiling fan no longer flings dust around your main living space.

There, now isnt that a breath of fresh air?

Keely Flynn is the creator of Tidyish, a site that touts decluttering and design from a decided non-minimalist. Check our her DIY tips, organizational tricks, and more hyperlapse cleaning montages than you can shake an 80s flick at. She loves your stuff (and she loves you, too).

How to Clean and Store Suits, Dress Shirts, Pants, and Shoes

Like snowboarding gear and winter boots, formal wear is one of those things that requires significant storage space. Unlike puffy nylon coats, you can’t toss suit jackets and pants into a duffel bag to shove under your bed, nor can you drop leather dress shoes into a plastic bin with the rest of your plebeian sneakers.

These well-made, fancy (read: expensive) items deserve — nay, demand — good treatment, especially if you want to make them last for another few years of wedding seasons and office presentations.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about cleaning, storing, and caring for your suits, dress shirts, pants, and shoes.

Suits

professional man and woman wearing suits

Cleaning Tips:

black handheld clothes steamer
Flickr/Your Best Digs

The key to cleaning your suit is regular maintenance. After you wear it, follow these steps:

  1. Using a suit brush, brush the fabric in a downward motion to remove dust, dead skin, hair, or food particles. Follow it up with a lint roller if you want your suit spotless.  
  2. Check for any small stains, then do a spot treatment using a stain remover or a clean cloth and a squirt of mild detergent.
  3. Steam your suit before you hang it up to air-dry. It’s a gentle, efficient way to refresh it, minimize odor, and eliminate wrinkles.

If you take these steps and your suit still has stains or smells ripe, bring it to the dry cleaners.  Just remember: the chemicals and products used at dry cleaning establishments are notoriously harsh on suit fabrics and can cause a lot of wear and tear to your digs over time. Dry cleaning your suit occasionally (and as a last resort) is totally fine — just don’t go overboard.

If you do take your suit to the dry cleaners, ditch the plastic cover they provide — it can trap gases inside and cause moisture buildup and mildew.

Storage Tips:

brooks brothers herringbone suit on wooden hanger
Flickr/Robert Sheie

The best way to store a suit so it lasts is to hang it somewhere cool, dry, and away from sunlight. Use a widespread, sturdy wooden hanger with rounded edges to hold the shape of your suit, and cover it with a cloth garment bag to protect it from dust, moths, and mildew. If you have multiple suits, space them out evenly on your hanging bar — if they’re crammed together, they won’t ventilate properly.

It’s a known fact that folding your suit and stuffing it into a storage box is a cardinal sin, but if you’re moving, traveling, or transferring your suit to storage, you can use a portable garment bag like the one below. It’ll keep your suit in good shape until you can bring it home to its hanger.

garment bag for a suit
Flickr/Eric Lin

Dress Shirts

organized men's master closet
Just A Girl and Her Blog

Cleaning Tips:

collar stays in a blue dress shirt
Flickr/Robert Sheie

You can send your button-downs to the dry cleaners, but it’s best to wash them at home if you want to preserve the fabric. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. First, unbutton everything, including the cuffs, and remove any collar stays before washing.
  2. Pre-treat stains by dabbing a bit of detergent on them and letting it soak for five to 10 minutes.
  3. Before you do anything, check the care tags. If your shirts are machine-washable, separate your lights from darks and put them on a delicate cycle with cold water. If you need to hand-wash your shirts, fill a clean tub or sink with cold water and mild detergent, then gently swish your shirts in the water to clean them.
  4. Hang your shirts on a wide wooden hanger to air-dry.

Storage Tips:

dress shirts hanging on wooden hangers
Flickr/david.dames

Like suit jackets, dress shirts do best when hung up in a cool, dry closet space. Steer clear of wire or plastic hangers, which can stretch your shirts and leave divot marks or rust spots on the shoulders.

If you don’t have enough hanging space, you can fold your dress shirts retail-style and stack them on shelves or in boxes. If you go for this method, make sure to keep your stacks small and separate each shirt with a sheet of acid-free tissue paper to help preserve its color and prevent fading or yellowing.

dress shirt in retail display box

Dress Pants

wool dress points hanging
Flickr/Menswear Market

Cleaning Tips:

hand wash wool pants
The Laundress

If your slacks or trousers are made from cotton, you can throw them in the washing machine on a cold, gentle cycle. To protect the material, turn them inside out first and use a mesh laundry bag so the zippers and buttons don’t get damaged.

Wool and silk pants, on the other hand, need to be hand-washed. Follow the same protocol as you would with a dress shirt: fill a clean basin with cold water and a bit of mild detergent, then soak your pants, swish them around, and rinse.  

Once your pants are crisp and clean, air-dry them using this method: lay your pants on a clean towel, then roll the towel up (pants inside) and squeeze out the excess water. Do this a couple times until your pants are damp but not dripping, then lay them flat again.

Storage Tips:

dress pants on felt clamp hangers
IKEA

Don’t try to fold your pants; instead, hang them by the hem from a felt clamp hanger. A felt hanger helps prevent your pants from slipping and stretching, plus it allow the fabric to breathe.

To prevent moths and mold from attacking your pants, place a few cedar blocks or sachets of lavender in your closet.

Pro Tip: Cedar blocks and lavender work well in your linen closet, too.

Dress Shoes

brown business casual leather shoes

Cleaning Tips:

leather shoeshine kit with brush

High-quality dress shoes can last years if you treat them right. That’s why it’s smart to invest in a basic shoe polishing kit so you can shine up your kicks after every couple wears.

Every kit is different, but make sure you have a bottle of leather cleaner or saddle soap, a bottle of leather conditioner, wax, and a couple clean cloths or old cotton T-shirts you don’t mind soiling.

Once you have your kit, follow these steps:

  1. Wipe off debris and dirt on your shoes using a shoe brush or a clean, lint-free cloth.
  2. Next, dab a bit of leather cleaner or saddle soap onto a clean cloth and gently work it into the leather by rubbing in small circles.
  3. Once the shoe dries, rub it with a squirt of leather conditioner to rehydrate and restore the material.
  4. Using an old T-shirt or cloth, rub in a bit of wax, then buff the shoes.
  5. Scrub mud, dirt, and scuff marks off the soles and bottom of your shoes using a toothbrush dipped in baking powder and water. Dish soap works, too.

If you have suede shoes, you can clean them using a mixture of two parts water and one part white vinegar. Dip a clean cloth into the mixture and gently wipe down your shoes.

Free Bonus: Check out these  20 genius green cleaning tips and tricks for every room in your home

Storage Tips:

black leather prada dress shoes in box
Flickr/Menswear Market

Keep your dress shoes far away from muddy trainers and sweaty sneakers; store them inside a sturdy shoe box somewhere dark and cool, like the top shelf of your closet or the space under your bed.

If you know you won’t be wearing your shoes for a while, stick a cedar shoe tree (like in the photo below) inside each one — not only does it help retain the shape of your shoes, it also absorbs moisture and reduces odor.

cedar shoe tree with brown leather men's shoe
Menswear Market

Want more smart storage solutions? These 13 easy DIY storage ideas will organize your entire home.

If your closet space is maxed out, use MakeSpace to safely store your suits, dress shirts, pants, and shoes.

Simply schedule a pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll grab everything from your home and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.

makespace storage app and website showing a customer's "my stuff" screen

And when you need your suit back for a big event, just browse your convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it back to you.

7 Refreshing Ideas for a Delightful Springtime Staycation in NYC

The weather here in New York has been a little unpredictable lately, but we don’t want that to keep you from having a good time and celebrating the (eventual) coming of gorgeous spring weather. To keep your spirits high, here are some ideas for a beautiful spring staycation in NYC.

1. Take a spa day

woman receiving relaxing massage nyc

A day at the spa is a great staycation option, especially if you’ve been stressed and feel like you just need to get away from it all. Forget about the weather, don’t worry about work, just go get a massage and relax for the afternoon. Whether you go by yourself or coordinate a spa day with your significant other, there are plenty of great spas in the area to accommodate all of your relaxing staycation needs.

2. Visit the American Museum of Natural History

dinosaur at museum of natural history nyc
Flickr/Rach

Just when you think you know it all… enter The American Museum of Natural History. They have incredible exhibits that shed light on the unknown depths of the oceans, the amazing ecosystems in the Amazon, and the development of our understanding of human health, just to name a few. Whether you’re a history buff or you just want to learn something new, the Natural History Museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon aimlessly perusing.

3. Tour a brewery (or two)

bronx brewery brew room
Flavourly

There are so many awesome breweries to check out in NYC. Threes Brewing and The Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, Heartland Brewery in Manhattan, and The Bronx Brewery and Gun Hill Brewing Company in the Bronx have hops and history to offer even the most scrutinizing beer lover. If you’d like to make it an all-day event, try mapping out a few breweries for your own little brew tour.

4. Check out the Botanical Gardens

new york botanical garden
Fodors Travel Guide

In the off chance there’s a bright and sunny day in the city, check out the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. The garden in the spring is absolutely beautiful. After all, what better way to celebrate the beginning of spring than frolicking in some flowers?

5. See a Broadway show

chicago on broadway in nyc

If you’ve been living in NYC for an extended period of time, the novelty of Broadway may have faded off into the distance.

Time to bring it back.

Check out what shows are going on and experience the excitement of Broadway all over again. Or, if you’re someone who’s never been before, there’s no time like the present.

6. Go to a game

new york yankees at bat
The New York Times

If you haven’t been to a Rangers, Yankees, or Knicks game yet, you’ve got to check it out. The atmosphere at professional New York sporting events is unlike any other. Unless you’re going to a baseball game that might start in the middle of the day, most sporting events start in the evening. So if you’re looking to have some extra fun, try a new restaurant right before the game.

7. Spend the day at home

relaxing at home with book and coffee

If you’re not big on crowds, and an afternoon at the spa isn’t for you either, maybe a nice day at home is what you need to get yourself feeling rejuvenated.

Take a soothing bath with some relaxing music, sit in your favorite chair and read a book, or lay on your couch and catch up on your favorite shows. There’s nothing wrong with a mental health day. Or if you’re someone who needs to be a little more active, now’s the perfect time for spring cleaning. Take the day to get all your winter stuff packed away into storage and prepare for the nice spring weather.

Need more staycation ideas? There are always plenty of awesome live events going on in NYC no matter what you’re interested in. From food eating contests to salsa dance lessons to comedy shows, there’s bound to be something to make your staycation a success.

This post was written by Eventbrite, the world’s largest event technology platform that is bringing the world together through live experiences. From music festivals, venues, and marathons, to hackathons, air guitar contests, political rallies, and fundraisers — you name it, they power it.

5 Excellent Eco-Friendly Home Office Solutions

Anyone who has worked in an office would be familiar with the seemingly lifeless 9 to 5 routine. That stress and sedentarism is often considered bad for health and creativity for obvious reasons.

Working from home eases the gridlock and brings some balance back into your life. However, a lot of people tend to fall off the eco-friendly wagon when designing the home office. So, why not take a creative step forward to conserve energy and utilize even the smallest of space to create an eco-friendly workspace?

Check out these five amazing ideas for going green while working from home:

1. Let there be [natural] light

home office with skylight for natural light
Decoist

Good lightning is an essential part of an office. If you are going to spend a lot of time in the space, and the structure of your home allows for it, installing an energy-efficient skylight is a smart option. You’ll infuse the room with natural daylight while cutting down on electricity costs. Just be sure to actually head outdoors at some point in your day, too. Vitamin D does the body (and your productivity) good!

2. Invest in eco-friendly furniture

reclaimed wood office desk
Trendir

Take responsibility for your home office’s environmental impact by considering eco-friendly furniture.

A reclaimed wood desk, cork stool, or chairs made of recycled plastic can all contribute to your efforts to make the workspace as eco-friendly as it is efficient. You can also shop your home and give new life to bookshelves or cabinets that are simply collecting dust in the back of a closet.

3. Flourish among indoor plants

plants in a home office

Nothing beats bringing the great outdoors inside. Placing plants around your home office can improve air quality, decrease stress, and create a more peaceful environment, which are all important when you’re working on a deadline.

Incorporate greenery in the form of breathtaking terrariums, hanging planters, a miniature herb garden, or simple potted plants (English Ivy is an office favorite: It filters chemicals from the air).

4. Imagine your office in a closet

 

office in a closet

If all of Narnia can hide inside an old closet, so can your home office.

When you’re tight on space but your daily to-do list is overflowing, a spare closet is the perfect place to secretly tuck away your work area. Measure the closet to make sure you find a desk or other work surface that fits, add some chic desk organization tools, and slide in a slim office chair or stool.

When your workday is done, simply close the closet doors. You can get the big jobs taken care of without creating a big footprint to match.

5. Declutter with recycled shelves

salvaged wood shelf
Pat’s Color

You’ve heard it a thousand times: When looking for new ways to organize, look up! Utilizing your walls to create more storage space just makes sense. Buying brand new shelves, however, doesn’t.

Instead, install recycled, reclaimed, or salvaged wood panels. You’ll create a unique, rustic look that boasts the added bonus of being good for the environment (when properly sourced, of course). With a little touch of creativity, these shelves can be gussied up to further help declutter your desk by holding extra office supplies, documents, books, and more, leaving the surface of your space clear for, you know, work.

Creating an eco-friendly office shouldn’t mean more difficult tasks. Some quick research, selective purchases, and a keen eye taken to items you already own can infuse your area with style while being good to the environment.

This post was written by Tom Jennings, a freelance writer at Primero who is binging on Netflix series and food when not expelling some wisdom. Catch his words, he loves playing with them.

4 Key Reasons Stuff Keeps Coming Back Into Your Life After You Declutter

I always thought it was funny how we have a “spring cleaning” season. That one time of year where everyone looks at their homes and thinks, “Time to clean house!” And every year, people across the country trash heap-loads of stuff in order to declutter and cleanse their homes.

There are a lot of reasons why we choose to do this in the spring. But it seems only logical that once you’ve decluttered and cleaned your home, you wouldn’t need to do so again. After all, decluttering is the act of removing mess or clutter from a place, and organizing and prioritizing one’s material possessions.

So why is it that every year people find themselves right back where they started — amidst a pile of clutter that has no true purpose?

What people should be thinking this spring isn’t, “Time to clean house!” but, “How and why did this stuff find its way into my house again?”

Unless you fix the root of the problem, the cycle of clutter > declutter > clutter will continue.

1. You haven’t self-examined or self-reflected on why there is clutter to begin with

cluttered garage with messy shelves

Before you do anything to your home and the stuff in it, consider why every item is there in the first place: Did you put it there? Was it a gift? Is it something you use regularly in your daily routine? Does it bring you happiness? Can you live without it?

We need to ask ourselves these hard questions in order to effect change. Decluttering will not work for those who do not self-reflect on why things come into and remain in their lives. Neither will it explain your attachment to items and objects that have sentimental value.

Decluttering can change your home temporarily by removing the obvious things (junk, trash, expired foods, etc.). However, it cannot change your lifestyle and/or personal habits (what and how often you buy things, etc).

Stuff is imminent, and will always come into and out of your life. But you can control what stays and what doesn’t…

…for the most part. This brings me to my next point:

2. You may not have considered the other people who live in your home

messy disorganized colorful lego

The above sentiment is also true for any other person living in your home. Decluttering is simply about removing stuff that shouldn’t be there, so it won’t change the habits of your husband, wife, partner, kids, mom, dad, etc.

If you want to bring permanent change to your home, then make decluttering a family affair. Sit down together and discuss a plan of action, and small changes you can each make to work toward your collective goal.

If you have kids, this can be especially tricky. One small way to help children make changes is to set ground rules for new things that come into the house: if a new piece of clothing or toy comes in, then a piece of clothing or toy goes out.

This small act of continual decluttering can also teach responsibility and charity. In our home, we love supporting our local shelters and non-profit organizations whenever possible.

Note: Don’t set goals that are unattainable. It is difficult to change our personal habits (especially for kids), and requires time and effort to do so. Not to mention, it can be very hard and literally painful to let go of things, so remember to take it one step at a time. Change is possible!

3. Your possessions give you an inaccurate view of your financial standing

antique audiophone

We all buy things with the understanding that they are worth something. Everyday, people invest in things (food, wares, services, etc.) that they view as essential to living. No one would spend money on something they thought had little or no monetary value.

The value we give to an item in our home is it’s economic value. More often than not, our notion of the economic value of things in our home is significantly higher than other people’s perceptions.

Free Bonus: Check out this segment from the TV show Adam Ruins Everything: The Economics of Gift Giving for a visual and more eloquent explanation of economic value.

Often, we hold onto things because we think they have value. But value to you might mean junk to someone else — the saying could just as well be, “One man’s treasure is another man’s trash.” If you have stuff you want to sell, go for it: but don’t hold onto it forever thinking it will eventually make you a pretty penny.

4. You aren’t actually removing the real clutter

grandma's tea set

Trash is trash, but that china from your wedding that you’ve never used? Clutter. The extra Christmas lights dad gave you just in case yours ever go on the fritz? Clutter. Those old college laptops you kept in case you ever needed something on it but haven’t touched since? Clutter.

Anything without a current, meaningful purpose in your life is clutter by definition. Anyone can throw out trash, but it takes a keen eye and serious contemplation to identify the real clutter in your home.

The important thing to remember when taking on a challenge such as decluttering your home is don’t despair: order can be created from chaos. Truly decluttering your home will take longer than just a couple of days of spring cleaning, but with determination and the right guidance, you will be able to finally declutter your home — permanently.

Jennifer Ferrari is the owner of The Chaos Boss Organization Solutions. Through her work as a professional organizer and organizational strategies blogger, she helps clients consolidate, organize, and simplify in order to optimize their lives.

11 Easy Design Tweaks That’ll Make Your Home Feel Brand New

Even the most timeless decor can feel stale after a while. If your apartment needs a quick makeover, don’t worry about buying a new set of furniture or scrapping all your art.Instead, look to the easily replaceable stuff to get the job done.

Here are 11 simple design tweaks to make your home look and feel brand new — no major renovations or tedious DIY projects necessary.

1. Change (or get rid of) your curtains

spotted curtains
A Beautiful Mess

Curtains are the window equivalent of expertly applied eye makeup. They highlight the view from your windows, add drama, and open up your space. In short, they can completely change the vibe of a room.

If your place feels too dark or heavy, switch your curtains to something white and breezy to let the natural light flow in. Or, if your living room or bedroom feels stark and boring, hang a pair of fun patterned curtains à la A Beautiful Mess.

If you’re not a big fan of curtains blocking your small window, nix ‘em and go bare.

2. Move your bed to a different wall

bed against dark wall with mural
Lemon Thistle

Before you groan about the amount of work involved, let’s get this straight: all it takes to move your bed is a helpful friend and 10 minutes of your time.

By moving your bed to a different wall, you can totally re-work the layout of your room to create more space. Not only that, but moving your bed is a surefire way to feel like you’ve updated your room without actually doing much.

Want to go the extra mile? Here’s how to properly clean your mattress and your bedding for an even fresher look.

Free Bonus: Here are four easy decorating ideas to make your small apartment look bigger

3. Swap out sofa pillows

assorted throw pillows on pink sofa
Cupcakes and Cashmere

Trading out your decorative sofa pillows is the easiest way to refresh your home. Don’t be afraid to mix it up — opt for pillows with different colors, patterns, and textures than your old ones.

If you want a cleaner, more minimalist look, try a set of pillows in complementary neutral tones. For a bold, eclectic aesthetic, mix in a few graphic and striped pillows in vibrant colors. To up the cozy factor of your living room, swap your plain fabric pillows for some with fur or velvet.

Want more ideas on how to create a cozy home? Read our guide on Lagom: the Swedish way of life that seamlessly combines semi-cluttered surroundings and being a full-on minimalist.

4. Install floating shelves

floating shelves with books and artwork
Sincerely, Sara D

A set of chic floating shelves has the power to completely transform an ordinary wall. Of course, they’re ideal for storing and displaying your books, dishes, or vinyl records, but they’re also a simple, more functional alternative to regular old framed art.

5. Paint an accent wall

pastel geometric patterned accent wall
Vintage Revivals

If you’re too scared to paint your entire apartment, pick one wall instead. Choose an area of your home that looks lackluster or uninspired, then zero in on the wall your eyes are most naturally drawn to — that’s the wall you want to paint.

As for the color, there are endless options. You can stick to a soft, subtle shade or pick a bright hue to contrast with the rest of your space. To make your wall extra eye-catching, try painting a pattern like Vintage Revivals did in the above photo.

6. Add greenery

fiddle leaf fig home interior
The Inspired Room

Liven up your home (figuratively and literally) with some strategically placed greenery. Plants add color and texture to a space, plus they make your home feel more lived-in and approachable.

Even better than that is the fact that plants can actually reduce your stress levels (for real).

As for where to display your greenery, anywhere works. Place succulents on side tables, hang glass terrariums from your kitchen ceiling, and tuck potted fiddle leaf figs or rubber trees in living room corners.

7. Hang art in your bathroom

bathroom with artwork and mirror
Young House Love

The ideal bathroom should be functional enough to store your extra toilet paper and beauty products, but also attractive enough to actually enjoy spending time in (and hopefully make flossing less boring).

To spruce up your bathroom decor in two minutes, display a small painting, framed photo, or cool print above the toilet or towel rod.

But first, here are 12 extremely easy ways to declutter your bathroom.

8. Upgrade your rug

blue patterned dining room rug
Honey We’re Home

Rugs don’t just anchor a room, they also add depth, texture, and personality to your space.

If your living room lacks energy and intrigue, get a rug that has a vivid color or graphic pattern. If, on the other hand, you want to bring more calm to your space, swap out a visually interesting rug for one in a solid earth tone.

Don’t forget about kitchens, bathrooms, and long hallways, either — a fresh, cool rug will give these areas new life.

9. Paint your front door

bright blue interior of front door
Young House Love

If your front door is run-down, faded, or covered in peeling paint, it can inadvertently make the rest of your home look and feel old.

To refresh your entryway, give your front door a new coat of paint. Try bright white, sleek black, a pop of neon, or a cool accent color to bring out the different shades in your decor.

Free Bonus: Check out these 15 amazing multi-purpose entryway storage hacks and ideas

10. Install a pendant light

modern pendant light in bright new office
Cupcakes and Cashmere

A hanging pendant works for two reasons: 1) it adds light to your space and 2) it makes a cool focal piece.

Hang one above your dining table, work area, or entryway.

You can even get rid of the ugly fluorescent lights in your bathroom and hang a small, pretty pendant in there instead (the soft, flattering glow will make you smile every time you look in the mirror).

11. Store your stuff with MakeSpace

An empty MakeSpace storage bin that reads "Pack me."

The most underrated design trick out there? Decluttering and letting go of the stuff you no longer need.

For the things you do keep but don’t have storage space for (like your bike, luggage, or snowboard), use MakeSpace.

Simply schedule a pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll pick up everything from your home and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.

And when you want something back from storage, just browse the convenient online photo catalog of your stuff and click a button to get it delivered right away.

12 Clever Ways to Organize Your Book Collection

If you’ve been in the habit of carelessly cramming your books wherever there’s an extra inch of shelf space, it’s time to step up your organization game.

A solid book organization system doesn’t just make it easier to find what you’re looking for — it also makes you more likely to actually pick up a book and read.

Organizing your favorite reads doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming, either. We’ve rounded up a list of 12 easy, smart ways to organize your books — no professional librarian experience necessary.

Pro Tip: Before you organize your books, you may want to declutter. Here’s how to decide which books to keep or get rid of.

1. Separate your hard covers and paperbacks

book organization by paperback or hard cover
Flickr/Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill

Divide your hardbacks and paperbacks for a cleaner, more streamlined look on your bookshelves. It’s also a great way to organize if you’re a visual person.

2. Arrange your books by color

books organized by color
Honey We’re Home

This organization strategy is ideal if you’re the type of reader who tends to associate certain stories with their covers, or if you’re just really into the idea of statement bookshelves.

The best part about this method is that you can get super creative — stack your colors, try an ombré pattern, or opt for a rainbow look.

Pro Tip: If you like color-coordinating your books, try doing it to your wardrobe, too.

3. Don’t be afraid to stack books

stacked books
Flickr/EvelynGiggles

Keeping all your books in neat rows is a thing of the past. If you want a handful of select books to stand out, stack ‘em. You can stack by theme, cover, or size, and keep stacks on their own or use them to break up a row. There’s no wrong way to do it.

4. Organize books by genre or subject

books organized by genre
Flickr/Alan Levine

Group your mysteries together, your travel memoirs, your 18-century English literature novels, your cookbooks, and so on.

Organizing by genre and subject makes it a cinch to find the right book for your current mood and interests, so you’ll know exactly where to look when you need to satisfy your World War II curiosity or want a little romance story to spice up your Saturday night.

5. Display your favorite books front and center

display your favorite books
Flickr/Dan Taylor-Watt

Instead of lumping your favorite books in with all their mediocre peers (then frantically scanning the shelves every time you want to reread them), display them front and center where they can shine.

Free Bonus: Having trouble fitting your books on your shelves? Check out these 9 creative book storage hacks for small apartments

6. Organize your books alphabetically

alphabetical book organization
Flickr/Sarah J.

Alphabetical organization works best if you remember book titles and author names more than genres and plot points. It’s also ideal if your collection of books is so massive it’s basically a mini library.

Even better than the sense of accomplishment you’ll get from organizing your books alphabetically?

The satisfaction you’ll feel when your friends stop by to borrow a book and know exactly where to find it.

7. Organize your books according to how they made you feel

woman reading while sitting in bean bag chair

Maybe some books made you weep with sadness, while others had you laughing aloud to yourself at two in the morning. Maybe you read books so gripping you didn’t leave your couch for hours at a time. Maybe some books inspired you to pursue your passions, while others shattered your innocence. Maybe you read books that changed your life, and others that made no impression at all.

If you tend to have strong emotional responses to books, this organization method is an awesome way to categorize and distinguish what you’ve read.

8. Group together the books you haven’t read yet

new books never been read
Flickr/Brittany Stevens

Gather all the books you haven’t read yet and place them in their own special TBR (To Be Read) section so they don’t get lost among the other titles.

The best part?

You always have a book or two (or maybe five) to reach for when you need a fresh new read.

9. Arrange your books by height and size

bookshelves organized by height

Keep books of similar size and height together to give your collection a clean, uncluttered feel. The goal here is to create straight, even lines with the tops of your books — no staggered mountaintop rows allowed.

10. Separate your books by author: contemporary or classic

jane-austen-books-grouped-together
Ciao Domenica

This method works best if you have a diverse collection of old and new books. We’re talking Stephen King and Toni Morrison types, plus your Fitzgeralds, Austens, and Hemingways.

You can define contemporary and classic however it suits you: living and deceased authors, books written before and after a certain date, or books published in specific time periods.

11. Organize books by the condition of their covers

books with worn covers
Flickr/Alan Levine

This is another way to limit visual clutter on your bookshelves. Keep your torn, tattered, and weather-faded books all in one place, and your books with beautiful, well-kept covers in another.

12. Separate fiction and nonfiction

books separated by fiction and non-fiction
Flickr/George Redgrave

Every bookstore around the world employs this method because it’s simple and classic. Just group fiction books together and store everything else in another spot. Easy.

 

For all the books you can’t fit on your shelves but don’t want to say goodbye to, use MakeSpace.

Simply schedule a pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll grab everything from your home and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.

And when you need that box of 1980’s crime novels back, just browse the convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it straight to you.