Category Archives: Tips

How to Organize your Living Room for Living with Kids

Traditionally, the living room has been a formal space reserved exclusively for adults.

Many of us remember our grandparents’ living rooms as a forbidden zone for children: Sofas and armchairs enveloped in clear plastic, porcelain collectibles arranged strategically on the coffee table, crystal lamps with translucent silk shades resting on delicate end tables. These rooms often remained empty — even as the rest of the house bustled with life.

Today, many parents who want to make the most of their square footage feel like they have to make a choice: Great design, or useful functionality?

Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice a sophisticated aesthetic to create a space the whole family can use and enjoy.

Here, we’ve compiled our top six tips for organizing a kid-friendly living room that’s safe for all, yet still high on style:

1. Use a cohesive color scheme

pops of pink decor in a living room

One of the easiest ways to create a family-friendly living room with a sophisticated vibe is to stick to a cohesive color scheme.

For a timeless look, go with deep neutrals. Rich tans, beiges, grays, and taupes are all good options to hide stains. Plus, they serve as fool-proof foundations for nearly any accent color. Choose these hues for the biggest pieces in the room, including furniture, walls and the floor. Subtle patterns on sofas, chairs, and rugs create visual interest and hide wear and tear.

Then, select one or two accent colors to infuse life and playfulness into the space. Burnt oranges, deep reds, or mustard yellow hues add energy and pizazz. Muted shades of blues and green create a sense of serenity.

Prefer an eclectic look?

Mix and match colors and patterns for a whimsical, easy-going appeal.

2. Look to the layout

a couch becomes a work space

As you begin to decorate, think about how your family will use the space.

Consider creating dedicated zones within the room. Define an area for lounging, snuggling, watching movies, and reading. Elsewhere, a table and chairs tucked into a corner becomes a hub for homework assignments or snack-time. And don’t forget to factor in your own workspace.

A single area can also serve multiple purposes.

If you choose a sleeper sofa or sectional, the seating area can become a bonus sleeping space for overnight guests. That table and chairs in the corner? Perfect as an appetizer station, or impromptu bar during evening dinner parties with adult friends.

Once you’ve planned how you will use the space, think about traffic flow and safety. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least three feet of space for a walkway or path. Experiment with different layouts until you find one that works for your family.

Additionally, many online retailers have free room-layout planning programs on their websites — no graph paper needed.

Free Bonus: 20 Brilliant NYC Apartment Decorating Tips And Ideas On A Budget

For families with small children, consider substituting a coffee table with an upholstered ottoman or leather pouf.

Not only do these pieces minimize potential bumps and bruises while little ones are learning to walk, but they can also serve as additional seating for guests.

Round wood coffee tables and side tables are also good options. They reduce sharp corners and fit easily within multiple seating arrangements.

Consider furniture on casters, too. Accent chairs, sideboards, end tables and ottomans on wheels are easy to move around. Bonus: They give kids plenty of space for fort construction, gymnastics competitions, pillow fights, and sleepovers.

3. Choose fabrics wisely

a comfy leather couch with a blanket

When it comes to living room furniture that is both durable and stylish, today’s parents have a wide variety of options at their disposal.

If you’re shopping for a new sofa or sectional, one of the first choices you will make has to do with material.

Leather is a great choice for families, given its long-wearing durability, ease of cleaning and timeless style.

For those who prefer upholstered furniture, there are nearly endless patterns, colors and textures to choose from in fabrics that are durable, stain-resistant and easy to clean.

Keep in mind that darker colors will do a better job of hiding stains, whether from a spilled glass of red wine or an upended bowl of chocolate ice cream.

Slipcovered sofas, chaises and chairs are perfect for family spaces — just be sure to check with the slipcover manufacturer that the cover can be removed and machine-washed.

Another great option?

Outdoor sofas.

Thanks to advances in modern fabrics and treatments, indoor-outdoor furniture pieces are just as stylish and comfortable as their indoor-only counterparts. Plus, they’re treated to be especially long-wearing and stain-resistant.

(If you haven’t quite found exactly what you want, remember that many retailers offer custom options for upholstered furniture.)

Not in the market for a new living room set?

Consider wrapping the seat cushions of existing furniture with a graphic quilt or machine-washable upholstery fabric that fits within the color scheme of the room.

You could have a fitted cover made for the cushions (sew one yourself if you’re handy with a sewing machine). Or simply tuck the fabric in and around the seat cushions for a quick, easy update.

4. Storage, storage, storage

Leeds Storage Cocktali Ottoman is storing a blanket in a living room.

In family spaces, one of the most important hallmarks of style and function is plenty of storage.

Well-planned storage helps you make the most of your room so that toys, games, and other childhood accoutrements can live in the space… without permanently residing all over the floor.

Free Bonus: 5 Sanity-Saving Steps For Getting Your Kids’ Playspace Holiday Ready

Bins and baskets allow easy access so kids can help with cleanup and organization.

Woven seagrass baskets add texture to the room. They are durable and blend seamlessly with nearly any decor scheme. Stack them on low open shelving, on the floor next to chairs, underneath console tables, or tucked away inside armoires and media stands.

Round or rectangular canvas baskets are also great options since they are available in nearly any color. Choose a light beige to blend in with existing decor, or opt for some in your chosen accent color for visual interest.

Look for furniture with built-in storage as well. Ottomans, bookcases, media stands, side tables and even sofas feature convenient storage compartments for stuffed animals, coloring books, electronics, blankets, pillows and more.

For living rooms with a television, consider adding an armoire with doors. This provides additional storage space and allows you to create a focal point in the room other than the screen.

5. Plan out the decor

a clean apartment with white walls and a white sofa, end table, coffee table, and rolling shelving unit

One of the simplest ways to decorate a kid-friendly living room — while remaining effortlessly stylish — is to pile on pillows and throw blankets. By opting for machine-washable fabrics, you can add, remove, or swap out soft decor to your heart’s content. (Not to mention, easily clean up after accidental messes!)

Throw pillows with bright colors or graphic patterns add a touch of playfulness and whimsy, while blankets bring even more warmth and texture.

Use lighter-weight fabrics during spring and summer months. Layer on richer textures, such as washable velvet, during colder weather.

Want to add a rug to the space?

Wool or polyester blends do well in high-traffic areas, since they’re durable and easy to clean. Modern, indoor-outdoor rugs are also great options.

For smaller spaces, look for machine washable rugs. Remember that darker colors and intricate patterns do a better job of hiding spills, stains and wear.

In kid-friendly spaces, every parent knows to keep breakables out of reach. Reserve the upper levels of bookcases for glass, ceramic and other fragile items, keeping the lower levels open for storage baskets, books and sturdier pieces.

Give objects a bit of space on the shelves to create a look that is fresh, not cluttered, and consider positioning a few potted plants for life and texture.

While it’s a good idea to avoid selecting delicate decor to display on coffee, end, and console tables, you can choose a statement wall sconce or chandelier to illuminate the space and draw the eye up through the room.

One of our favorite ways to create a focal point is to create a gallery wall.

Collect favorite prints, paintings, family photos and kids’ artwork. Use frames of the same material to pull the collection together. Keep the look fresh by swapping out kids’ paintings or drawings as they create them.

Want to rotate your picks? Many frames allow for multiple pieces of paper to be stored in the frame itself.

6. Remember to have fun, too

a mom with her two kids on a couch

Create a space that you can live in and enjoy every day.

Kids don’t stay little forever. Choose durable, easy-to-clean pieces that you love, and get ready to have fun with your family.

Laura Love Bardell writes for Crate and Barrel, where she creates inspirational, design-savvy content. In her spare time, she enjoys triathlon training and spending time with her pets and family. 

7 Easy Tips to Throw a Major Housewarming Party (in Your Tiny New York Apartment)

You did it! You packed all of your belongings into a seemingly endless row of boxes, stored all your seasonal goods, and made your move to the big city.

And not just any city. New York City.

We’re certain it was no easy feat (unless you used these 20 brilliant moving apps and services, of course). And we know how excited you are to start celebrating.

The trouble is, you’ve never really had to host anyone in such a small space. Who knew living in the greatest city in the world meant squeezing into the smallest pad imaginable?

Not to worry. The folks from Postable, an online service that sends cards in the mail for you, have outlined these seven handy tips for hosting in a small space. Stock up on ice, make sure no plates were shattered during your move, and get ready to throw a major housewarming in some minor square footage.

1. Don’t rush the date

Young couple moving in new apartment. Standing by the kitchen and using tablet.You may be super excited to show off your new place as soon as possible. But after the stress of moving, you’re going to want time to settle into the rhythm of your new home.

No worries if you still have several half-full boxes scattered around the place. As PopSugar points out, seeing boxes will get your friends excited about the final outcome of your home.

Focus more on unpacking in the areas you’ll be hosting, so there’s room to mingle without the risk of guests tripping over a crate of fancy china.

This may mean waiting a few weeks (or even months). The good news is, you can use this time to charm your neighbors — and maybe even invite them to the shindig.

2. Keep your guest list light

two women enjoy a dinner party in the backyard
A Beautiful Mess

Think about how many people you can fit without basically being on top of one another. Jot down the names of everyone you’d like to see, and consider skipping the plus ones.

Jaclyn from Wife Aquatic — a lifestyle blog about the author’s experience living aboard a 46-foot boat in the bay — suggests rotating your celebrations:

“Consider throwing multiple parties with different groups of friends.

If you have a large social circle, think about throwing a separate party for each friend group. This way, your guest list will be totally manageable and you’ll ensure that everyone at each event gets along.

Sure, it’ll be a little more work for you, but each party will be way more fun (and way less crowded).”

3. Send your invites out in time

a handheld invite for a housewarming party

Once you’ve found the perfect date and finalized the guest list, it’s time to send out your invites.

You finally made that big move you’ve been dreaming about, so why not step up your sophistication game and send real paper invites?

Don’t forget to include an RSVP date, so you have enough time to prep accordingly. The ideal timeframe is three weeks in advance.

If you decided on a more last-minute affair, a good old Facebook event page will do the trick. Just remember to keep the event private, so as not to offend anyone that didn’t make your guest list. And toggle off the guests’ ability to invite new people.

As much as you’d like to host the entire neighborhood, your small space likely isn’t cut out for it.

4. Keep the menu light and fun

a table with snacks like dried veggies and beer

Cooking not your forte?

Then attempting to make an elaborate new dish in your tiny kitchen probably isn’t the best idea.

Instead, opt for finger foods, which will eliminate the need for space-hogging utensils. These bite-sized caprese skewers are a fun, easy spin on the classic salad. Or cater to every New Yorker’s love of brunch with some mini Belgian waffles.

Layering snacks on tiered platters follows the golden rule of small-space design: Make good use of vertical space.

Just make sure whatever you decide to cook up doesn’t take you forever — you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen for your big affair.

5. Embrace the small space

a candle lit on a cozy table

Think of it this way: The smaller the space, the greater the opportunity for creativity.

Turn your coffee table into the centerpiece of the party by stocking it with the food essentials and utensils. Try to keep the edges clear for people to set their drinks.

Use stools and giant pillows for alternative seating. Emily from the lifestyle blog House Method suggests investing in a pouf or two:

“When you’re not hosting, they’re great accent pieces. When you’re hosting, they’re double the seating.”

And as much as you’d love to display your most treasured decorative pieces, think twice before leaving anything precious out.

Your new home is about to get even less spacious with all the invited bodies roaming around — accidentally smashing a priceless family treasure will bring the party to a literal crashing halt.

If you’re not completely unpacked, just use pretty sheets or drapery to cover some sturdier boxes. Voila: backup seating.

6. Take advantage of all your new resources

makespace storage app on a white iphone

Living in NYC can be hard. Luckily, there are apps that make it easier.

While in the past you may not have needed an your clean laundry delivered on-demand, it’s now time to get acquainted with some tech-fueled game changers.

Want to send paper invites, but don’t have a single New York minute to spare?

Use Postable to easily send classy housewarming invites without ever leaving your apartment.

Need to clear room before the party, stat?

Schedule a MakeSpace pickup (your first pickup is free) to quickly get organized.

Mixing drinks? Stocking up on groceries and booze in advance may end up taking up more counter space than you have to spare.

To avoid cluttering up the kitchen as you prep those scrumptious finger foods, get booze delivered to your door in just before guests arrive, via the Minibar app.

7. Don’t forget to thank your guests

a mailed thank you note

Gratitude is good for your soul and for your health.

It doesn’t matter whether you thank your guests via text message, email, or sending a thoughtful, hand-mailed “thank you” note.

It’s the act of being grateful that will put you over the top as a, well… a gracious host.

This is a guest post from Postable, a website that makes sending seriously stylish snail mail as easy as sending an email. Postable prints, stuffs, stamps, addresses, and mails all of your cards directly to everyone for you. 

5 Easy, Mindful Approaches to A Zero-Waste Home

It’s no secret that we live in a society that prioritizes consumption — a consumption that comes with a hefty toll for our planet.

The average American throws out 4.4 pounds of trash a day, meaning more disposables than ever before are ending up in landfills and floating around international oceans.

Enter zero waste: An ongoing, concentrated effort around the globe to inflict minimal stress upon the environment.

Fostering a mindful, zero-waste home and lifestyle is a journey — and most likely, success won’t happen overnight.

Luckily, there are many areas in your home and life that you can shift toward zero waste with a couple of quick, easy, and fun changes.

1. Compost, compost, compost

radishes, carrots, and other produce items lined up

The easiest way to reduce your food waste is to grocery shop strategically, and only buy what you can actually use.

The second easiest way is to compost.

Globally, we toss out about one-third of all the food that we grow. And if all those wasted banana bunches and bread loaves end up in landfills rather than compost bins, they’re not able to decompose properly. Instead, they break down under oxygen-free conditions, creating gases including methane that pollute the atmosphere. (Talk about bad leftovers.)

To counter these effects, many cities offer curbside compost removal.

Some urban areas, including New York City, also accept scraps in large collection bins at weekly farmers’ markets.

If you’re into gardening, composting is a great way to utilize the nutrients from your leftover food and make “black gold.” Here’s a handy guide to starting your own compost, from Rodale’s Organic Life.

Our favorite compost tip: To reduce odors associated with composting, freeze your food scraps. Also, add old shredded newspaper to the bottom of the bin.

2. Think twice before you toss your leftovers

a collection of dried goods in mason jars

Instead of storing your next-day pasta in plastic Tupperware, try and reuse things like old yogurt and soup containers instead. Or pick up some mason jars from your local thrift store for a durable, fully recyclable food storage option.

Need something a little sturdier to bring to work?

Consider investing in a stainless steel tiffin, which is a two-tiered storage container that simultaneously doubles as a lunchbox for hot and cold food.

Instead of disposable kitchen items such as plastic wrap, tinfoil, and sandwich baggies, beeswax wraps are a great alternative. When the beeswax coated cloth reaches the end of its life (usually after one year), feel free to toss it in your compost bin — it’s biodegradable.

3. DIY some easy cleaning solutions

clean mama's lemon and clove nightly sink scrub ingredients: baking soda, lemon essential oil, clove essential oil, castile soap, and a ball mason jar
Clean Mama

It’s no secret that traditional cleaning products are packed full of chemicals that are harmful for you and the planet. And they usually come in plastic packaging that’s not recyclable.

Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to whip up your own effective, eco-friendly cleaning alternatives.

Citrus vinegar is an excellent and easy way to clean even the dirtiest of kitchens, bathrooms, and tile floors.

All you have to do is soak a handful of citrus peels (lemons, oranges, limes, etc.) in white vinegar for two weeks. Then, strain your concoction and slap on a spray topper. Spray away!

Free Bonus: 3 Easy Ways to Eliminate Plastic From the Bathroom

4. Stay prepared while you’re on-the-go

wine tasting is zero waste
Going Zero Waste

Setting yourself up for success in your zero-waste home is one thing. But many people beginning their zero-waste journey find it’s also helpful to always be prepared.

Stock up with reusable totes that can double as shopping bags or personal totes. Stash a set of different sized glass jars for your next trip to the bulk section, and keep some natural produce bags on hand to forgo the plastic produce bags at the store.

Another zero-waste essential is a reusable water bottle or coffee cup. Only 23 percent of plastic water bottles are ever recycled. And most takeaway coffee cups are lined with an insulator that takes up to an astonishing 30 years to decompose in the landfills.

Next, say a permanent goodbye to plastic cutlery. Invest in a cute and portable bamboo utensil set that you can bring on your next spontaneous lunch date.

Finally, do your part and not contribute to the 500 million plastic straws that are thrown away each day in the U.S. alone. You can opt to go straw-free altogether, or invest in a glass reusable straw.

5. Make it your own

a round table with coffee, a card, and macaroons At first, going completely zero waste may seem like an unattainable goal. But in reality, it can actually make your life simpler.

Many people who opt to go zero waste are amazed how much time and money they end up saving.

Of course, do whatever feels the most comfortable to you when it comes to your own journey. Incorporating some of these easy zero waste home hacks will change how you look at waste in your life.

The planet will thank you.

This is a guest post from EarthHero, an eco-friendly online marketplace dedicated to making shopping sustainably so easy, everyone does it. They research companies and their business practices to provide you with only the best earth friendly products, all in one place. You can support companies that care about the planet as much as you do with EarthHero.

How to Wash and Store Your Winter Coats

Spring is officially here. But before you start scheduling outdoor picnics to celebrate that extra hour of sunlight, you may want to add one more item to your spring cleaning list.

The task in question?

Washing, organizing, and storing your winter coats. Because you don’t want a pile of sweat-stained, smoky, rain-splattered jackets and puffer vests cluttering your closet when you need to make room for shorts and open-toed shoes.

But before you set aside your winter outerwear for the next few seasons, read on to learn how to properly clean and store your winter coats to keep them in tip-top shape.

How to Wash Your Winter Coats

1. Check the care tag for instructions

laundry care tag in coat
Paige Smith

This is the first rule of thumb when washing anything. The care tag will usually have all the information you need, like whether or not your coat is machine-washable, which wash cycle and water temperature it needs, special instructions about specific detergents, and how to properly dry it.

Needless to say, you should interpret these instructions as rules, not suggestions. Your coat will thank you.

2. Pre-treat stains

treat stains on coat with detergent
Paige Smith

If you haven’t washed your winter coat all season, it probably has a few stains from food, dirty snow, puddle splashes, or just serious armpit sweating.

Pre-treat these stains with a stain remover or a squirt of Dawn dish soap. Apply the treatment to the stain, then let it soak for 10 minutes before tossing it in the washing machine or scrubbing it with a wet cloth.

3. Fasten all buttons and zippers

black plastic zipper on down winter jacket

The metal teeth on zippers can damage other clothes in the washing machine. To minimize the potential of snags and tears, it’s best to zip, fasten, and button everything on your coat before washing it.

This also helps your coat retain its shape as it tumbles around in the machine.

4. Wash similar materials together

similar winter coats hung together on rack
Wikipedia Commons/BrillLyle

When certain opposite materials rub together, it can cause pilling, fading, or degradation to your clothes.

To keep your coats in prime condition, always wash them separately or with clothes of similar materials. Keep wool with wool, nylon with nylon, fleece with fleece, and so on.

Want more smart cleaning tips? Learn how to clean your bedding in five easy steps and how to wash and store your mattress properly.

Down Jackets, Parkas, and Puffer Coats

black puffer coat with plaid scarf and red sweater
Honey We’re Home

As a general rule, nylon and puffy, down-filled jackets, coats, and vests can all go in the washing machine. Wash them on a gentle cycle with cold water and regular detergent.

You can dry your puffer coats in the dryer, too. Besides being way more efficient than air-drying, the dryer is actually better for your these types of garments since it helps evenly re-distribute the down material. Just keep it on a low or gentle cycle.

To help fluff up your coats, add a couple wool dryer balls to your load. Dryer balls are an easy, eco-friendly alternative to fabric softeners and dryer sheets — they soften and fluff your clothes, reduce wrinkling, and speed up the drying process.

If you’re in a pinch, clean tennis balls are also great fluffing tools.

Free Bonus: Check out these five insanely easy (and ridiculously effective) cleaning hacks

Wool Coats

black wool coat with silver zipper
Fabulous Fashions 4 Sensible Style

Regular detergents, hot water, and normal washing machine cycles can all cause the fibers in wool to break down or shrink. That’s why it’s crucial to be extra gentle with your fancy wool coat.

You can either hand-wash it in a tub with cold water and baby shampoo, or put it in the washing machine on a delicate cycle. If you do this, make sure you use cold water and a detergent specifically designed for dealing with wool products.

To dry it, lay your coat flat and use your hands to gently reshape the shoulders and arms as it dries.

Fleece Jackets

multi colored geometric pattern fleece jacket
Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski

Fleece jackets are a year-round staple, but they do double-duty in the winter as comfy indoor loungewear and outdoorsy, sweat-proof outerwear. To freshen up your fleece jackets, turn them inside out, throw them in the washer, and set your machine’s settings to “cold” and “gentle.”

Your fleece will get linty and pilled — and may even become less water-resistant — if you wash it with materials like cotton, so be sure to keep it separate from your other clothes.

Hang it up to air-dry.

Leather Jackets, Suede, and Fur

hanging black leather jacket

Don’t even attempt to wash your fur coats, leather jackets, or suede trenches at home. Take them to your local dry cleaners for a thorough, high-quality cleaning.

4 Easy Tips For Storing Your Winter Coats

1. Use wooden hangers

wooden hangers on black sheet

Coats made of natural materials like leather, suede, wool, and down need a little room to breathe. Hang them on sturdy wooden hangers so they can retain their shape and stay wrinkle-free.

If you want to go the extra mile, cover your coats in fabric garment bags to protect them from dust and mildew.

Pro Tip: Before you hang your coats, you may want to get organized. Here’s how to easily organize everything in your closet (for cheap).

2. Stack coats in plastic storage boxes

Paige Smith

To save hanging space, store your fleece and nylon coats in plastic boxes. Gently fold and stack your coats so they don’t get misshapen.

If you have a pile of puffer vests and jackets made from polyfill (as opposed to down feathers), you can use vacuum-sealed plastic bags to squish them down to half their size and save double the closet space.

Free Bonus: While you’re at it, learn how to easily store your other winter accessories like hats, gloves, scarves, and boots

3. Store coats somewhere dry, cool, and dark

coats in dry dark coat closet
Just A Girl and Her Blog

To avoid moisture build-up, mold, and damage from sunlight, store your coats someplace clean, cool, dry, and dark. Aim for a spot that hovers around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your closet or entryway space is maxed out, slide your storage box below your bed or place it on the top shelf of your linen closet.

Want more clever tips for storing your winter necessities? We’ve got you covered: learn how to store your skis off-season, how to store your snowboards and snowboarding gear, and how to store your shoes, boots, and sneakers.

4. Store your coats with MakeSpace

MakeSpace ARKit app storage plan estimate screen
Download the MakeSpace app

If your apartment is short on space, use MakeSpace to safely store your winter jackets and coats.

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 something back, just browse your convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it back to you.

10 Intoxicating Ways to Store Your Liquor at Home

Whether you’re a liquor connoisseur, self-proclaimed mixologist, or just a lover of fresh cocktails, you probably have at least a small collection of hard alcohol at home.

But if you’re low on kitchen cabinet space (who isn’t?), where do you store your bottles of tequila and gin?

Here’s a hint: A well-styled bar cart, though aesthetically appealing, isn’t always the answer.

Here are 10 creative ways to store and display your liquor, plus three quick tips about how to do it safely.

Free Bonus: Take a look at these 13 easy DIY storage ideas to organize your entire home

3 Safety Tips For Storing Liquor at Home

1. Keep liquor out of direct sunlight

dark liquor stored in cabinet no sunlight

Harsh UV rays can damage your liquor over time (and might even change its color), so it’s best to store your bottles away from streaming sunlight.

2. Store liquor at room-temperature

whiskey stored at room temperature

Unlike white wines and champagne, hard liquor can and should be stored at room temperature (yes, even vodka).

It’s perfectly fine to chill your gin or tequila in the freezer before you drink it, but the cold temperature won’t extend the alcohol’s shelf life.

Another thing to keep in mind: while liquor generally stays good for years, once it’s opened the alcohol will begin to oxidize, which can significantly lessen the flavors over time.

3. Store liquor in a secure spot

safe and organized liquor bottle storage
Honey We’re Home

You can’t exactly glue your glass bottles to your kitchen shelves for maximum stability, but you can be smart about where you choose to store them.

Here’s the basic rule: Don’t store liquor in a place where it could come crashing down on someone’s head in the event of an earthquake or crazy accident.

And if you have children or pets, be extra careful: opt for high shelves with rails or utility carts with protective sides.

Free Bonus: Check out our list of the 12 best IKEA hacks and ideas for every room in your home

8 Fun Ways to Store Your Liquor at Home

1. Display liquor in a chic tray

lucite bar storage tray
Cupcakes and Cashmere

This method is simple, classic, and elegant, to boot. All you have to do is find a tray that matches your style (snakeskin, lucite, metallic, leather — the options are endless) and load your liquor into it.

You can display the tray on a side table, vanity, or kitchen counter.

2. Turn a console into a bar cart

console table bar storage
House Beautiful

Liven up a console table by using it as a makeshift bar cart. You can dedicate the entire surface to your liquor display, or mix your bottles with other decorative elements like a vase, sculpture, or stack of books.

Free Bonus: Here are 10 DIY storage and furniture projects you can make in less than one hour

3. Store liquor on open kitchen shelves

open shelf liquor bottle storage
The Creativity Exchange

Open shelves in a kitchen or dining room are usually reserved for glassware and china, but why not add your fancy alcohol to the mix.

It’s no-brainer storage, plus it adds a fun stylistic element to what could easily be a very plain shelf set-up.

Pro Tip: Learn how to organize your entire kitchen with these 11 clever tips.

4. Turn a sewing machine cabinet into a liquor cabinet

Pinterest/Andy Dobbins

If you have an old sewing table you’re no longer using, transform it into a one-of-a-kind storage space. The table’s small side cabinet is just big enough to hold all your favorite booze.

And if you don’t have a vintage sewing table on hand (who does, really?), don’t stress. You could easily repurpose a side table, nightstand, or secretary desk to hold your liquor collection.

Pro Tip: Declutter your cabinets first using these 15 actionable tips from certified professional organizers.

5. Use a wine rack

wine rack liquor storage

Who says a beautiful wine rack can’t be repurposed as a cool liquor display?

Nix the reds and whites and use the shelf solely for the hard stuff.

Free Bonus: How To Properly Store Wine At Home

6. Display liquor among your books

liquor storage book shelf
Little Black Door

Showcase your prettiest liquor bottles alongside your book collection. Not only does liquor make a unique decorative addition to a bookcase (or China cabinet, like in the photo above), but it’s also a surprisingly convenient storage spot.

After all, who doesn’t love to sip a glass of whiskey while curling up with a good book? Hemingway would approve.

7. Build a DIY liquor cabinet

DIY wall mounted liquor cabinet
A Beautiful Mess

Sometimes you just want a designated storage space for your liquor, one that’s unique, crafty, and functional. We get it.

This charming DIY project from A Beautiful Mess hits all those points. Not only does this liquor cabinet safely store all your alcohol, it doubles as stylish wall decor wherever you hang it.

Free Bonus: Check out these 11 DIY wood pallet ideas that’ll increase the space in your tiny apartment

8. Display liquor in a mini bookcase

bookcase liquor bar storage
Pinterest/Jessica Police

Turn a small, unused shelving unit into a cute stationary bar set-up. Just clear the shelves and add bottles of liquor, glasses, napkins, and cocktail mixers.

The bookcase’s petite size makes it easy to tuck into a kitchen nook or living room corner.

9. Store liquor in an IKEA cart

ikea raskog bar cart
This Fairy Tale Life

IKEA’s Raskog utility cart makes the perfect liquor storage solution. It’s attractive, sturdy, and big enough to accommodate your liquor collection without taking up too much space.

The best part? You can easily wheel it between your kitchen and dining room whenever you need to mix a fresh cocktail.

Want more IKEA hacks? These seven ideas will upgrade your entire home.

10. Let MakeSpace store everything else

For everything you can’t fit in your home (like the collection of vinyl records and shoes you moved to make room for your liquor display, #priorities), 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 something back, just browse your convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it back to you.

Cheers to that.

10 Reassuring Ways to Prepare Your Home for a New Baby

It’s official: You’re having a baby!

You’ve bought the baby books, found your birthing coach, and are already putting together a birth plan.

But have you started prepping your home for your new addition?

If your to-do list is limited to “assemble crib” and “puree some peas,” don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

Below are 10 of the most important tasks to complete in order to prepare your home for your new baby:

1. Gather some baby room ideas and start building your nursery

a mobile of friendly knit stuffed animals

By far one of the most exciting ways to prepare your home for your baby is building them a space of their own.

Whether it’s a nursery or just a nook in your master bedroom, building ideas is easy thanks to Pinterest and mom blogs that are here to help.

Some things to consider are the room’s theme, functionality versus appearance, and what furniture you’ll need once the baby arrives.

2. Find the perfect crib — and get it home safely

And speaking of furniture nursery ideas, you’ll need to find the perfect crib for when you bring home your new baby.

Sites like BabyList publish annual “best of” lists comparing some of the top crib models, but regardless of which one is ranked the best, it’s important to ask yourself what your priorities are in buying a crib.

Do you want one you can turn into a toddler bed? How much do you have budgeted? What are your space constraints?

Once you’ve got your crib picked out, you’ll need to bring it home. Dolly will send a truck and background-checked Helpers to pick up your crib and bring it home safely, so you can focus on decorating your nursery instead.

Free Bonus: 5 Sanity-Saving Steps For Getting Your Kids’ Playspace Holiday Ready

3. Start baby-proofing your home from top to bottom

baby proofing a home

Baby proofing your home is a process — one that will continue to be necessary once your child is a toddler — but it’s one of the most important ways to make sure your newborn is safe.

Stocking up on cabinet locks and outlet covers is a start, but it’s also important to reevaluate what you keep within an arm’s reach.

Move your medications to higher shelves. Put all your breakables into cabinets instead of on the counter. And invest in plenty of plastic kitchenware to complete the process of baby proofing your home.

4. Use baby-safe products to clean up

homemade carpet cleaner made of vinegar, water, and dishwashing liquid
Creekline House

If your baby is born in a traditional maternity ward, it’ll be a relief to know that every possible germ or illness has been eliminated by alcohol, sterilizers, and the constant presence of Purell.

When you get home, it’s on you to make sure your home is as close to hospital clean as it can be.

But beware: Not all cleaning products are alike, so make sure the ones you’re using (especially on materials your baby will touch frequently, like the floors, their crib, and their toys) are baby-safe cleaning products.

You can find lots of advice on this topic on sites like Smart Mommy Healthy Baby. But if you’re ever in doubt, it’s best to look up whether the product is baby-safe before buying.

5. Take meal prep to the next level (for the whole family)

cooking in a small apartment kitchen

Meal prepping isn’t just for your friend who does CrossFit.

In the months after you bring your baby home, you’ll be tirelessly working to make sure they’re constantly fed, swaddled, and changed. This may leave you exhausted and unable to take on the additional task of cooking for your family.

Spend the last few weeks of your pregnancy doubling your recipes and freezing the extras. You’ll have something to eat after your baby comes home, and remember that a well-fed momma is a happy momma.

6. Make a plan for monitoring your baby

a baby slung in a baby carrier

Baby monitors and cameras are standard fare nowadays for keeping track of your child, but they’re not required for everyone.

Spend some time talking to your doctor and the rest of your family (plus any nanny you plan to use) about how you’d like to monitor your child.

Looking to go with an upgraded, tech-friendly baby monitor? Consider products like Nanit, which not only connect to your smartphone, but also tracks your baby’s sleep patterns.

7. Build up your baby’s wardrobe

pink baby clothes

Maybe you’re ready for your baby to be a fashionista with daily Instagram photoshoots. Maybe you’re more casual and want to focus on keeping your child comfortable.

Either way, it’s time to start building a collection of newborn clothes. Make it a big one so you don’t have to constantly do laundry!

If you don’t want to spend on new clothes, ask friends and neighbors — and even in new mom Facebook groups! — if anyone has clothes to spare. And when your child outgrows them, return the favor by passing them along to another momma in need.

8. Put any baby-unfriendly items into storage

MakeSpace movers lifting a couch on the stairs

While your medications and jewelry can be moved to an out-of-reach shelf, some products — like your one-of-a-kind art piece, or valuable leather couch — aren’t so easy to get out of your baby’s hands.

Protect your child (and your stuff!) from damage by putting these larger items into storage.

If you don’t want to store some pieces and are ready to part with them, you can donate them to a local thrift shop.

And don’t stress your body by trying to move it yourself — rely on Dolly Helpers to take care of taking your unwanted items to a donation center.

9. Prepare your emergency numbers

desk with list

The last thing you want to consider is something terrible happening to your child. But being prepared might bring you some piece of mind. Write a list of all the emergency information you might need, including phone numbers for:

  • Your baby’s pediatrician
  • Your general practitioner
  • The local fire department
  • The local police department
  • The closest hospital
  • The local poison control hotline

If you’re going to be using a nanny or babysitter early on, you should also include your contact information. Include emergency contact information for family/friends if you’re unable to be reached, plus your home address.

Laminate it and hang it somewhere easy to see so that if something does go wrong, you know these numbers are at hand.

10. Create a space where you can unwind and relax

unwind and relax with food and tea

Preparing your home for a new baby — and then bringing it home to care for it — is exhausting work.

It’s important to keep yourself from getting too stressed. Coordinate with your family to create a space in your home where you can go to relax, whether it’s by reading a book or taking a nap.

Make this space yours: No baby monitor, no to-do lists, only things that keep you calm. Because the calmer you are, the more you’ll enjoy life with your new, growing family.

This article was written by Dolly, which brings you truck and muscle anytime you need it. Dolly connects you with local pickup truck owners who are ready to help you with moving, store delivery, Craigslist pickups, and more. Learn more about at

How to Incorporate Lagom in the Home

The start of a new year is a time when many people try to redecorate their homes. There’s something about the changing of a season and the end of an old year that makes everyone want to start fresh. Redecorating is a great way to do that, since you may find that you’re inspired to make personal changes if things are different on the outside of your life.

Decorating fads come and go, but one that’s managed to stay around and become recently popular in the US is that of “Lagom.”

Lagom is a Swedish word that translates to “just the right amount.” It’s the middle ground between living a cluttered life and being a minimalist. Rooms that embody the lagom concept tie together functionality and harmony.

Intrigued? It’s actually easier than you think.

While other fads might have you running for copper plated mugs or crystal chandeliers, lagom will take use of much of what you own already, while still giving you the refreshed, clean feel that you’re looking for. Try some of the following tips to incorporate lagom into your home, so you can begin relaxing in a peaceful environment that gives off good vibes and encourages peaceful thoughts.

1. Use Natural Light

natural light sheer curtains over desk

Sweden doesn’t have the same kind of weather that Americans are used to. They endure very long winters that are mostly dark, and long, bright summer days. That’s why they use natural lighting so much in their decorating: When it’s there, they want to soak it in as much as possible. Do the same in your home by learning to embrace the many ways you can use sheer curtains.

2. Find Useful and Beautiful Objects

lagom simple side table and couch
Alvhem Interiors

Lagom is a practice that places emphasis on time with family and friends. It’s all about enjoying life, so you no longer have to feel like you need to match your home to a magazine cover.

Make your living space more authentic by using useful yet beautiful objects around your home. Find a simple side table and put it next to a couch that acts as the statement piece of the living room. Both are useful and work to promote the same design concept.

3. Always Buy Natural Materials

lagom reclaimed wood kitchen cabinets

Much like using natural light in your home, you should evoke nature in the materials that comprise each room, as well. Consider redoing your floors or kitchen cabinets with reclaimed wood, which provides a more authentic look and doesn’t put any production strain on the environment.

Helping the earth while making your home a more laid back and welcoming place fits right in with the lagom lifestyle.

4. Go Bold with Patterns and Colors

bright color kitchen table and chairs
Living at Home

Colors and patterns are where lagom differs from the minimalist style.

In lagom-centered homes, you’ll find lots of bright colors and bold patterns on furniture and walls. Instead of painting one kitchen wall red and the rest a cream color, paint it all red and bring in the cream through lamps, accessories, and hand towels.

5. Develop a Green Thumb

indoor house plant on window sill

Bring more of the natural world into your home with lots of plants set up in the areas you spend the most time. Even if you’re a gardening beginner, you can choose to grow easy indoor houseplants that are guaranteed to survive even the biggest green thumb mistakes. You’ll end up loving the way the soft, green plants contrast your bold colors and furniture.


Once you learn that the basic concepts of lagom are about embracing the natural world, throwing away what you don’t need, and choosing to be bold in your room designs, it’s easy to start implementing it in your own life. You’ll immediately begin to feel the relaxing effects of having a stylish but simple home, and you’ll never want to go back to the cluttered chaos you dealt with before.

This post was written by Kacey Bradley, the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Along with writing for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Style Me Pretty, and more!

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!

Feature image by Coalters.

3 Easy Ways to Eliminate Plastic From the Bathroom

In case you haven’t seen the headlines lately, plastic is piling up on our planet.

Scientists say there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Oh, and it’s also taking over our landfills.

Why? Because “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t really apply to plastic. Unlike other materials (e.g., compostable goods like food scraps and cardboard), plastic doesn’t dissipate into organic matter. Instead, it just breaks down into smaller, microscopic pieces.

The good news about our plastic problem? It’s something we can fix.

We can buy less of it, especially single-use plastic.

There’s no doubting the convenience of single-use items like yogurt containers and coffee lids. But purchasing something that lasts for 1,000 years… just to use once? It’s enough to make us want to swear off those disposable cutlery sets forever.

Luckily, we can all make easy swaps when we’re on the go.

Mother Earth will appreciate us carrying a reusable water bottle, reusable shopping bags, and skipping the straw (or carrying a steel or glass alternative) at restaurants.

And what about at home? A quick survey will probably reveal plastic lurking around the house — especially in the bathroom.

Here are three easy ways to create a plastic-free bathroom. None of these suggestions require giving up anything (sorry, you still have to floss 😉 ). They just offer a more sustainable alternative.

1. Use non-plastic versions of your daily staples

plastic-free alternatives to a toothbrush, shampoo and conditioner, dental floss, chapstick, and a straw
Plaine Products

Ironically, something that works so hard to keep our mouths clean is polluting our planet. In the U.S. alone, 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes end up in the earth’s landfills and oceans.

An easy switch? Bamboo-handle toothbrushes. Because it grows quickly and is compostable when disposed of properly, bamboo is a sustainable alternative to plastic. Two great picks are Brush with Bamboo and Mable.

You can do away with disposable razors and their high-priced replacement blades by using a safety razor like this one from the Package Free Shop.

Meow Meow Tweet and River Organics offer a variety of highly effective, all-natural products, ranging from deodorant to chapstick — all sold in sustainable, cardboard packaging. And instead of washing your face with single-use makeup wipes, consider investing in reusable washcloths — they’re softer on skin, too.

2. Skip the plastic packaging

toiletries in a sunny bathroom without any plastic packaging
Going Zero Waste

When it comes to toiletries, it’s usually not just the products that are single use — the packaging often is, too.

Dental Lace helps you avoid waste from both ends. Instead of plastic thread, the company uses biodegradable mulberry silk floss. This refillable thread is housed inside a reusable glass container.

Plaine Products offers shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, and hand wash in aluminum containers. Their products are organic, vegan, and sulfate-free. They pay to have the empty containers shipped back so they can reuse them, which saves a ton of resources.

Once each bottle is too damaged to reuse, it’s recycled and given new life as a different container. Unlike plastic, which is downgraded when it’s recycled (which means it can only be reused so many times before it goes to the landfill), aluminum can be recycled infinitely — with no loss of quality.

There are lots of other options to round out your plastic-free bathroom repertoire.

Who Gives a Crap offers TP, tissues, and towels that are made from either bamboo or recycled paper. None of their stuff has plastic packaging. Plus, they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those in need.

Free Bonus: Easily Clutter-Proof Your Bathroom In Only 5 Steps

3. DIY your own supplies

DIY ingredients for lip care
The Nerdy Farmwife

There are more and more resources for those crafty souls who are willing to go the extra step and make their own products. DIY is a great way to skip the plastic and cut down on waste.

Feeling nervous? Start with whipping up some toothpaste. Most toothpaste tubes can’t be recycled, so straight to the landfill they go.

Plus, it’s easy! The ingredients are all stuff you probably have in your house right now. You’ll need one glass jar, some coconut oil, baking soda, and peppermint essential oil (optional).

Simply mix 1/2 cup of coconut oil and 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a glass jar. (You can add 15 drops of peppermint essential oil for taste.) Mix it together, et voila: You’ve got homemade toothpaste.

That’s the entire recipe. Just dip your toothbrush into the jar and brush.

If that seems too simple, there are recipes out there with fancier ingredients. Check out Kathryn Kellogg’s post from Going Zero Waste. Her recipe includes extensive explanations and information on the ingredients.


Setting up your plastic-free bathroom doesn’t have to be a headache. With these simple swaps, you’ll be an eco-warrior in no time at all.

This is a guest post from Plaine Products, a company dedicated to the elimination of single-use plastics. They provide all-natural, vegan, amazing-smelling hair and body care products. Toxin-free, cruelty-free, and good for the planet.


Top image via A Beautiful Mess

The 5-Step Guide To Better, More Energizing Sleep During The Week

For most people, the work week is stressful. You have meetings to attend, appointments to make, and errands that need to get done. Getting enough sleep feels like another task to add to your to-do list, and it isn’t always easy. An estimated 68% of Americans struggle getting shut-eye at least once a week.

The results of consistently scrimping on beauty sleep aren’t pretty: Less than the recommended amount derails not only your workplace productivity, but your overall health as well.

Is counting sheep not cutting it for you? Here are five quick tips that will boost your sleep quality, bolster your energy, and help you tackle the work week like a champ:

1. Strategize in advance for a less stressful A.M.

clothes are laid on the chair ready for the next day 
One of the worst things about waking up on a weekday is feeling rushed during your morning routine. Prepping as much as you can the night before will leave you feeling less stressed at bedtime, and your morning will be a much calmer start to the day.

Some helpful things to get done ahead of time are:

Plan your outfit: Laying out your outfit the night before saves you not only time, but also the headache of realizing too late that your favorite shirt is at the cleaner’s.

Choose the items you want to wear the next day, make sure they’re stain- and wrinkle-free, and place them all together for easy access in the morning. Having trouble finding the time to plan? Apps like Stylebook allow you to plan your wardrobe weeks or months in advance.

Prep food: This is especially helpful if you brown bag your lunches. Pack your meal, including any snacks, the night before. If you tend to forget refrigerated goods, leave a sticky note by the door so you remember to grab everything on your way out.

And don’t forget breakfast! Overnight oats are a healthy and delicious option that will give you extra time to get ready.

Pack your bag: There’s nothing worse than getting to the subway or your car, only to realize you left your wallet underneath the newspaper on your kitchen table.

Make sure your wallet, keys, water bottle and any other necessities are all ready to go the night before, so you can get out the door in the a.m. without forgetting anything. Large zipper pouches are a good way to keep everything contained in one spot.

2. Tidy up around the house

a laundry bag waits on the floor of a room

Going to sleep with a to-do list on your mind is pretty counterproductive — it usually means you’ll be too stressed to get a good night’s sleep, thereby zapping all the energy you’ll need to tackle said list. So while you’re prepping your things for work the next day, make sure to ready your home as well.

Clearing all the dishes, wiping down your counters, putting away laundry, and picking up miscellaneous items will help you wind down for the night — and ensure a good environment when you wake up.

For any tasks you don’t have time to squeeze in, simply write them down to remind yourself the next day. Unloading them from your mind will allow you to rest better.

Free Bonus: 53 Insanely Clever Bedroom Storage Hacks And Solutions

3. Schedule time to unwind and relax

a woman uses hot/cold therapy products to relax

With your home clean and your belongings organized for the next day, your natural instinct may be to watch TV, check your email, or grab your cell and aimlessly scroll Insta.

While all of these things might seem like a good way to unwind, they may actually be affecting your sleep negatively.

Instead of zoning out with tech, try pampering your way to relaxation.

One great way to wind down at the end of the night is by using hot/cold therapy. You can soothe muscles and induce relaxation with the heat factor, or comfortably lower your body temperature on hot summer nights with cold therapy.

Feeling tense, stressed, or just plain overwhelmed?

Try meditation or bedtime yoga. Make sure you have a comfortable mat, and don’t do anything too strenuous. The goal is to allow your body to relax in preparation for sleep.

4. Get your bed as cozy and comfy as possible

a woman lies down with a comfortable pillow in bed

Pampering yourself is a great way to unwind, but you need a comfortable bed to get a full night of rest. Bedding, pillows, light and the general state of your bedroom all affect the way you sleep.

You’ve already tidied up your bedroom, so now focus on your bed. The type of pillow you use and how you use it has a great impact on your sleep, so make sure you have the right pillow for your sleep habits.

Another way to ensure you are fully rested? Block out all light while you sleep. Blackout curtains are great for outside lights, but if you share a bed or need to travel often, a sleep mask is your best bet for optimal darkness.

5. Stick to your routine

a hand reaches for the alarm clock in the morning

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much planning and prepping you do — falling asleep seems like it takes forever, and then you simply can’t get out of bed when your alarm goes off.

Ironically, the culprit may be more sleeping: Napping or sleeping in on the weekend can totally throw your schedule off balance.

The solution? Pick a routine and stick to it. Waking up and going to bed at the same time on both weekdays and weekends will get your body in the habit, and drifting off will soon become easier.

Plus, waking up earlier gives you even more time to enjoy your days off.

Still having trouble waking up at a specific time? Start a sleep diary. Writing down the time of day you go to sleep and wake up will help you recognize your sleeping patterns — and eventually reveal your body’s ideal sleeping preferences.

This article was written by the team at Bucky, whose full line of natural and essential health and travel products has been helping millions of customers ease into dreamland since 1992.

Get Your Sweat On: The 13 Best Fitness Classes In NYC

What do you call a motionless New Yorker?

A tourist.

City dwellers are constantly on the move, whether they’re running to catch a train, running to steal a cab, or running their mouths about the drawbacks of their least favorite borough (while singing the praises of their own neighborhood).

It truly is the city that never sleeps, and New Yorkers fill every waking moment with activity of all kinds.

And if they have a free hour?

They exercise.

Of course, the home of the tallest building in the United States, most expensive pet wedding in history, and largest Chick-fil-A in the world doesn’t do fitness halfway.

These 13 fitness classes feature the sweatiest, heart-pumpingest, most unique workout experience the Big Apple has to offer. Get your best body in check so you can survive in the best city in the world.


surfset instructor nyc skyline

While SURFSET isn’t a “how to surf” class (kind of hard to pull that off in the waveless East Village), it’s surf-inspired to build balance, core strength, coordination, agility, aerobic conditioning, and lean muscle.

Don’t worry about being a total kook and snaking someone on a wave just as they were about to get pitted. Instead, get stoked on establishing total body awareness on their 6-foot long surfboards on top of three balance balls, which mimic the feeling of being on water and challenge you to engage all of your muscles as you find stability.

Incorporating “shred the gnar” into everyday conversation is optional.

Free Bonus: How To Store Surfboards, Paddle Boards, And Beach Cruisers

2. SLT

SLT class on reformer

SLT stands for “Strengthen Lengthen Tone.” Get ready for 50 minutes of engaging your core as you plank, twist, lunge, and pulse your way to a stronger, leaner physique.

“Most New Yorkers are very pressed for time and schedule their days to the minute,” says instructor Adina Silverstein. “SLT effectively combines strength training, cardio, and the most challenging elements of Pilates into a 50 min class, so in under an hour, clients can get a killer full-body workout. At SLT, transition time between moves is minimized, so that you spend the entire 50 minutes of a class working out.”

Think you’ve felt soreness in every part of your body? Think again.

SLT’s workout is performed slowly to activate the slow-twitch muscle fibers, so you’ll be exhausted by the end of each workout, and toned and tightened after a few weeks of regular practice. Unlike other workouts, which are specific to either cardio or toning, SLT combines the two for a session that’s as efficient as it is effective.

3. M Dance & Fitness

M Dance and Fitness
M Dance & Fitness

The great Jennifer Lopez once said, “I just wanna dance. Is that a crime? Alright then.”

Less worried about hitting PR’s and would rather just get down with your bad self? M Dance & Fitness welcomes you with open arms and a swivel of the hips.

“We’re one of the only companies offering a wide variety of classes — over 12 different formats — specifically geared towards beginners,” says owner Misty Clark. “There’s no sense of competition, intimidation, or pressure. All of our instructors and students are fun, friendly, welcoming, and encouraging.”

Fun class options like Hip Hop/Burlesque Cardio, Hottilates Barre, and Cardio TONE get your heart pumping and your booty popping. Your face might also be sore after class, but no worries — that’s simply from all the smiling.

4. Regenerate Fitness

Regenerate Fitness

One of your main goals this year is to lose weight, but you want to do it the right way.

Head straight to Regenerate Fitness.

This private and semi-private personal training studio specializes in weight loss and corrective exercises that help reduce the likelihood of injury while optimizing performance.

Their range of semi-private classes include an intense 30-minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Tabata class, Cardio Abs, restorative yoga, chair yoga, beginner pilates mat, and kickboxing.

The instructor’s passion for health, wellness, and fitness will help you effectively achieve your goals effectively and at a pace you can stick with.

5. Body & Pole

body and pole dance fitness
Body & Pole

If you forget to drop off your inhibitions at the door at Body & Pole, don’t worry —  after five minutes in any of the pole, hoop, or fabric classes, they’ll see themselves out.

“This city can be fast-paced and stressful. We hope to provide a safe oasis where you can learn new skills, express yourself, feel connected to a community, and have fun!” says manager Irmingard Mayer.

You’ll quickly discover that spinning around a pole and dangling from aerial silks require a lot more than momentum and a floor to catch you. If you’re new to any of the techniques, Body & Pole suggests taking their intro classes (a few times) to ground yourself in the proper placement of your body on the various apparatus.

Sure, you’ll get your heart pumping, but it’s about more than just earning a badge on your Fitbit.

“We hope our classes will provide students with an all encompassing experience rather than just a workout. If you want a workout, you can definitely get a sweat, build strength, and increase flexibility. But beyond this you also gain new skills by learning technique and increasing body awareness. It is about how you feel in the moment and what your body can do rather than what you look like.”

6. Mile High Run Club

mile high run club instructor
Mile High Run Club

We’ll skip the Forrest Gump jokes and get straight to the point: If you want to be a faster, stronger runner with more endurance, Mile High Run Club is for you.

A variety of classes help runners of all levels work toward their goals. DASH 28 helps you build your mileage in a 45-minute session that covers two to three miles on the treadmill and incorporates strength training. Expect to cover about five miles in the treadmill-only High 45 endurance class. Short on time? Get your cardio in for the day with 30 minutes of straight running in the DIRTY 30 class.

Becoming a great runner doesn’t take 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. Just grab a pair of magic shoes, and let the coaches at MHRC help you run like the wind blows. We have a feeling you’ll go together like peas and carrots. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

7. The Bari Studio

bari studio bounce class
The Greenwich Hotel

You’ve run all the miles, pulsed all the pulses, and danced til ya couldn’t dance, til ya couldn’t dance no more. Your muscles stopped responding to your workouts. You’ve hit the dreaded exercise plateau.

It’s time for the bari method.

Their Dance class moves and grooves you through a superset dance combination while interspersing toning moves for a full-body experience. Bounce marries trampoline work with hanging resistance bands to simultaneously challenge your strength and balance. Sculpt utilizes the barre, hanging resistance bands, bari balls and bari skimmers for allover conditioning.

Can’t decide? Opt for the Hybrid class to get a taste of it all. Body boredom doesn’t stand a chance with bari.

8. Tone House

tone house fitness studio
Tone House

If you’ve never considered yourself an “athlete,” Tone House is ready to change your mind. The changes in your body will be an added bonus.

The first-ever extreme, athletic-based group fitness studio, Tone House’s classes are team-oriented, competitive, and fun, with a ton of sweat thrown in for good measure. While each class varies, the core focus is consistent transitions from explosive to non-explosive exercises paired with resistance and velocity training techniques.

Basically, after a few weeks, you’ll be a beast. Which is cooler than just claiming “athlete” status, honestly.

9. trampoLEAN


The last time you jumped on a trampoline, you were eight years old playing with your cousin and trying to bounce each other off the edge before your mom yelled at you to stop.

Things have changed a bit.

At trampoLEAN, you’ll contract and relax muscles in all parts of your body with every bounce. The low-impact workouts alleviate stress on your joints but keep you moving constantly for a full 50 minutes, which translates into a serious calorie burn.

“trampoLEAN’s low-impact class helps you stay laser focused on your mind/body connection,” says founder Louis Coraggio.

“This class helps New Yorkers improve their reactive time. If a biker or car swerves in front of them on the streets, they’ll be able to jump out of the way faster. The streets of New York are busy — you’ll keep your balance better the next time someone bumps into you or you step on something slippery on the streets.”

10. Sword Class NYC

sword class nyc class
Sword Class NYC

These days, it’s important to be prepared for anything. Nowhere is that more true than New York City. From mascot fights to surprise Broadway performances on the subway, you never know what each day will bring.

While we’d advise against participating in cartoon character brawls, and we assume you’d like to leave belting out showtunes to the professionals, there is a disciplined way to be ready for whatever. And you get to use a sword.

Different Sword Class NYC classes will teach you the techniques associated with various historical sword fighting practices. Big fan of Japanese culture and looking to channel your inner Samurai? Give Kendo a shot. More of a “knightly duel” kind of person? Get your Game of Thrones on with HEMA: Longsword.

“Sword Class NYC is the only school in the US dedicated full-time to the training of both eastern and western medieval armed combat arts,” says owner sensei Raab Rashi. “New Yorkers leave their fears, troubles, and worries behind as they train with sword in hand, making their mind, body, and spirit act as one.”

11. ChaiseFitness

chaisefitness resistance training

So you’ve tried barre and Pilates, and they were great. But they didn’t exactly live up to the hype that Instagram, fitness magazines, and your sister-in-law had built up.

What was the big deal?

Why the hubbub?

Give it another try, and this time, head to ChaiseFitness.

“ChaiseFitness is a unique workout because it takes the benefits of Pilates and adds resistance training, ballet, and aerobics into a variety of classes with the fun upbeat vibe of NYC,” says founder Rachel Piskin. “Our studios offer very personalized attention since our classes sizes are small, which is unique in NYC where many studios try to fit as many people as possible into a small space.”

Over time, you’ll watch your physique transform, thanks to the lengthening and strengthening effects of each move.

12. ConBody

man doing conbody workout

NYC: If you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere.

The same can be said for making it through a ConBody class.

“A lot of people say that this is the hardest class in the city,” says CEO and Founder Coss Marte. “We’re bringing the prison workout out to New Yorkers.”

The bodyweight-only program was developed using military bootcamp techniques. Squats, burpees, push-ups, planks — each move is taken to the max to inspire strength, endurance, and whole lot of burn. Each session is designed to be completed anywhere, anytime (in a prison cell, for example). It is not meant to be easy, which makes it incredibly effective. And exhausting.

“We don’t use any equipment in this class. We really push it to the next level in terms of what you can do utilizing just your body. You feel like you’ve worked out here. It can be addicting.”

13. Rumble

rumble boxing aqua punching bags
Rumble Boxing

Be a lover, not a fighter. Or take out so much pent-up aggression on a punching bag that your fighting spirit gives way to an abundance of love. Whatever works.

Rumble Boxing can provide the equipment and the endorphins.

Each class is comprised of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), strength training, metabolic conditioning (METCON), and cardio. You’re constantly moving through a series of grueling exercises for 10 rounds of heart-pumping fun.

“Rumble is simple by design, challenging by execution,” says founding trainer Andy Stern. “While the exercises and combinations are simple to follow, you push yourself at your own pace. No matter your level of boxing or strength training, you always have an opportunity to learn something and improve your craft.”


Life in New York City is unique, and the way New Yorkers stay in shape is no exception. The best fitness classes in NYC offer up something that 8.5 million people can’t seem to get enough of.

You’re obviously not going to miss out on enjoying a deliciously weird Spaghetti Donut or Burgrito. Work them off in just as unexpected of a way.

You might also not expect how easy storage can be. Save your energy for a cool workout class and leave the heavy lifting to 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.

When you need your foam roller and/or portable back massager back (and trust us, after these workouts, you will), browse the convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the items’ photos, and we’ll deliver them to you.

13 Free And Cheap Things Locals Love In NYC During Winter

It’s always a good time to visit New York. And the wintertime — despite its bracing, sub-zero temperatures  — holds particular advantages.

The atmosphere is magical. The coats are fashionable. And the need to hide from the cold provides the perfect excuse to explore some indoor hangouts.

Whether you’re looking for free and cheap things to do in NYC, or just want some fun weekend suggestions, we’ve got the 13 hottest spots to hit up during winter in New York City.

All have been curated by the movers and shakers behind Cool Cousin — an up-and-coming app that connects travelers to like-minded locals for unique city guides and personalized advice.

Grab your gloves, your camera, and your MetroCard. It’s time to explore New York City in the winter:

1. Put the “lit” in literature at Books Are Magic

Krystie, 28, Brand Strategy & Storytelling:

Krystie from Cool Cousin of NYC
Cool Cousin

“Magical bookstore opened up by local author Emma Straub after our beloved BookCourt closed down in Cobble Hill.

Swing by for a cozy author talk and don’t leave without some *magical* swag (and a photo at their new mural).”

Pro Tip: Bring a quarter so you can get a poem from their Poetry Gumball Machine!

the mural outside the bookstore Books Are Magic
Books Are Magic

Books Are Magic, 225 Smith Street, Brooklyn — (718) 246-2665

2. Perfect your figure eights at The Standard Ice Rink

Amir, 35, Software Developer:

amir from cool cousin holds a coffee and smiles
Cool Cousin

“If it’s a cold winter day — go ice skating. Granted, it’s not huge. But it’s also not overcrowded, and you can stop for hot chocolate at the Standard.

Awesome experience for kids, especially those who haven’t ice skated before 🙂 It’s also very easy to get or book a skating lesson.”

Pro tip: This isn’t the cheapest option for ice skating in NYC (that honor goes to Bryant Park, which offers free admission). But it does make for a cheap date when you pair it with a wintry walk down the nearby Highline.

a woman skates on the ice skating rink at the standard hotel
The Standard

The Ice Rink at The Standard, 848 Washington Street, New York — (212) 645-4646

Free Bonus: Get Your Sweat On: The 13 Best Fitness Classes In NYC

3. Catch under-the-radar flicks at IFC Center

Juliet, 32, Food Writer:

Juliet from cool cousin smiles in the snow
Cool Cousin

“One of my favorite winter traditions is going to this theater in March to watch all of the Oscar-nominated short films.

Throughout the rest of the year, the IFC Center curates a wonderful mix of old and new films from the most important filmmakers both in the U.S. and abroad. It’s a must-see for any film buff.”

a sunny day outside the IFC center

IFC Center, 323 6th Avenue, New York — (212) 924-7771

4. Go old school at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club

Kweku, 26, Data Engineer:

Kweku from cool cousin enjoying brunch on a spring day
Cool Cousin

“I stopped by this location last year because I was early for an R&B Only party on Degraw St. That was one of the greatest decisions I ever made!

A large selection of giant- and regular-sized board games are available for free and you can sign up to play shuffleboard. There’s a cool story behind its opening, and the DJ pumps pretty decent tunes.

Really good for a planned party if you’re gonna start early in the evening (around 6 or 7 PM). You have to be there in person to reserve a shuffleboard court, and at that time you may wait for 20 minutes to an hour.”

a closeup of the shuffle boards at Royal Palms
Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club

The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, 514 Union Street, Brooklyn — (347) 223 – 4410

5. Laugh yourself warm at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

Hannah, 24,  Content Creator for the NBA:

Hannah from Cool Cousin spins a basketball on her finger
Cool Cousin

“I have been to a few ‘ASSSSCAT’ shows here, and every time was a winner. One group called ‘Grandma’s Ashes’ was fantastic. I legit was crying from laughing so hard. Incredibly talented and clever.

Super affordable (tickets run $5-12) and well worth it. A lot of shows are free and you just need to get there a bit early.”

comedians onstage at the UCB theatre
UCB Theatre Facebook

UCB Theatre, 55 West 42nd Street, New York — (212) 366-9231

6. Put your record on at Academy LPs

Malu, 39, Producer:

Malu from cool cousin sits on a bright couch
Cool Cousin

“Very nice spot to spend a few hours submerged into a bunch of good vinyls.

These guys have a pretty good collection of vinyls that goes from the early Velvet underground to some Somalian Orchestra. It’s also near Franklin Avenue, one of the most beautiful streets in the lovely [Brooklyn] neighborhood of Greenpoint.”

a line of records for sale at Academy
Academy LPs

Academy LPs, 85 Oak Street, Brooklyn — (718) 218-8200

7. Discover live music and art at Brooklyn Museum: Target First Saturdays

Chanel, 31, Filmmaker:

chanel from cool cousin in a colorful eatery
Cool Cousin

“If you’re in town the first Saturday of the month, stop by for a free good time. All of Brooklyn comes out to enjoy some art, libations, and typically a good performance.”

Everyday People Dance Party with Jade de LaFleur at December 2017 Target First Saturdays
Kolin Mendez/Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn — (718) 638-5000

Free Bonus: The Top 28 Apps + Services To Make Moving To NYC So Much Easier

8. Watch cocktails come to life at Death & Company

Justin, 36, Digital Strategy and Standup Comic:

Justin from Cool Cousin stands in the middle of a subway car
Cool Cousin

“One of the best places to get a drink in the city. This place makes you appreciate the art of bartending.”

a bartender makes a concoction
Death & Company

Death & Company, 433 East 6th Street, New York — (212) 388-0882

9. Beat the cold with old-school donuts at Peter Pan

Michael, 34, Musician:

michael from coolcousin in front of grand army plaza in brooklyn
Cool Cousin

“This is a fantastic old-school donut shop located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. My pick for best donuts in New York, and more than likely the cheapest too. I recommend the maple donut.”

Peter Pan Donuts, 727 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn — (718) 389-3676

10. Get cultured at the Museum of Modern Art

Max, 31, Designer:

Max from cool cousin standing on a rooftop in NYC
Cool Cousin

“Of all the museums, MoMA is my absolute favorite.

I like to arrive early, before the crowds. I think art is best viewed in solitude, and the MoMA is a testament to this. Early in the morning, it is nice and quiet and the experience always revelatory…  even after countless visits.”

This is a fantastic old-school donut shop located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. My pick for best donuts in New York, and more than likely the cheapest too. I recommend the maple donut.

Pro Tip: Skip the admission fee on Friday nights from 4-8pm.

two women peruse an exhibit at moMa on fashion

MoMA, 11 West 53 Street, New York — (212) 708-9400

11. Feast on açai bowls and Moroccan fare at Pause Cafe

Inma, 37, Photographer:

Inma from cool cousin smiles at brunch
Cool Cousin

“One of the best places for a healthy breakfast in the city!”

a salad and acai bowl from Pause cafe

Pause Cafe, 3 Clinton Street, New York — (212) 677-5415

12. Enjoy top-tier performances for cheap at the Juilliard School

Natalie, 27, Corporate Trainer:

Natalie from cool cousin smiles at the farmers market
Cool Cousin

“Often there are free or cheap concerts (of all genres) at Juilliard. The performers are typically Lincoln Center material — but because they’re students, you can have the experience for a portion of the price. Go to their website to see what’s playing.”

students performing chamber music onstage

The Juilliard School, 60 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York — (212) 799-5000

13. Dance yourself silly at The Bell House

Sarah, 28, Human Resources Manager:

Sarah from Cool Cousin in front of a chalkboard mural
Cool Cousin

“This massive venue has the best ’90s party once a month, as well as constant comedy shows. Tickets to shows are always cheap and usually sell out quickly, so check the calendar for the dates you’re visiting and pick something out in advance.”

musicians perform to a riveted crowd at the bell house nyc
The Bell House

The Bell House, 149 7th Street, Brooklyn — (718) 643-6510

7 Signs You’re Ready To Graduate From Apartment Living To Homeownership

Does the smell of fresh-cut grass make you yearn for a yard of your own?

Does your idea of a relaxing Sunday afternoon involve working on a car or building a DIY pegboard in your garage?

Do you dream of a house with a white picket fence?

Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re slowly becoming the resident grumpy person. You shake your fist at your night owl neighbors with their too-loud music. Or you knock on your ceiling with a broomstick in response to heavy footsteps. If any of these things describe you, then the idea of owning your home is probably starting to sound great.

But liking the idea doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to sign your name to a 30-year commitment. If you’re trying to decide if you’re ready to buy a house, here are some solid indicators that it’s time to move out of your apartment and into a home of your own.

1. You’ve called in a noise complaint more than twice

man in bed complaining about noisy neighbor

You’re tired. You’re frustrated. All you want is a good night’s sleep. But your work-hard-play-harder-until-4-AM neighbors insist on keeping you awake at night with their bass-heavy music and boisterous laughter.

Paper-thin walls are a common grievance among apartment dwellers. Maybe at first it was funny to hear your neighbor’s shower serenades, or convenient to be woken up by someone else’s alarm clock.

Free Bonus: 10 Exceptional Organization Tips to Make Your Morning Smooth Sailing

But if what was once a minor nuisance has become a major point of discord, especially to the extent that your sleep and well-being are affected, then that might be a sign that renting an apartment is no longer working for you.

2. Beige walls are making you blue

woman painting beige wall blue

Have you started to suspect that your apartment’s neutral walls are making you tense, anxious, or restless?

You’re not crazy. Paint color is known to affect mood. For instance, blue can have a calming effect, and red is known to be energizing. But despite common advice to stay safe by painting walls with versatile neutrals, too many neutrals can have a negative effect on your mood.

If you’ve been experiencing the overwhelming urge to finally personalize your home without having to worry about filling holes and painting over walls when you move out, then begin your hunt for a permanent living space.

3. You’re spending time and money on repairs

woman repairing sink

It’s 2 AM and your toilet is running. Do you take the lid off the tank and start tinkering until it stops? Or do you immediately call your property manager?

If you prefer to hold someone else responsible for even the smallest of home repairs, then it’s not the time to purchase a house.

Owning a home means that you’re in charge of maintaining it – including all of the unpleasant tasks, such as unclogging a toilet, cleaning a 10-year accumulation of hair out of a shower drain, or replacing a part in a broken dishwasher.

If you’re a handy do-it-yourselfer who prefers to roll up your sleeves and take care of things (or you can afford to pay a professional to do it) then you might be ready to own a home.

4. You feel cramped


MakeSpace movers lifting a couch on the stairsIs your bedroom more “bed” than “room?” Have you already tried all the storage hacks and space-saving furniture out there, yet you still feel overwhelmed by clutter? These are signs that you need to move into a bigger house.

Storage can be a great short-term solution, especially if you’re going through a transitional period and need to get situated before you’re ready to move all of your things into a permanent home.

It also gives you a chance to “clear the air” and then gradually move your belongings back into your new home, evaluating each trinket or piece of furniture to keep it around or donate It.

5. You’re not going anywhere

kid riding bike through neighborhood with dad

You finished school. You finished paying Sallie Mae back. You settled into a job you love. You have go-to restaurants and the barista at your local coffee shop knows exactly how you like your latte.

Maybe you’ll have kids one day. And you know that if you do, the schools in your area are fantastic.

But before you sign your name to a 30-year contract, be sure that you’re ready to live in the area long-term.

If you’re positive you’re not going to move in the near future, purchasing a home in your neighborhood could set you up for years of happiness.

6. You’re ready to start investing

man and woman signing home contract

It’s dawned on you that all this time you’ve been sending your rent checks out into the abyss, you could have been investing them in your own property.

You’ve done the math, and the  equity you could have been building with your rent checks makes you hyperventilate.

Purchasing a house is an expensive process. But if your finances are sound and you’re already thinking in terms of long-term investment, taking the first steps toward home ownership just makes sense. Which brings me to sign #7 …

7. Your finances are in order

calculator and bills

Have you been in your current job for at least a year?

Do you save at least 15-20% of every paycheck instead of betting it all on cryptocurrency?

Are you focused on organizing your finances to plan for the future?

These are important stepping stones toward owning a home.

It’s not enough that you have the income to meet your mortgage payments (here’s a mortgage calculator). You should understand how much you can really afford and also have plenty of cash ready for a down payment and other expenses.

Many people are surprised to learn how much money is involved in purchasing a home. Inspection costs, earnest money, closing costs, and initial repairs can easily add up to several thousand dollars. Be prepared.

This article was written by Phil Karp. Phil leads Brokerage Services at, where you can save money buying your first home. Phil prides himself in educating first-time homebuyers to prepare them for an upgrade from apartment living. He owns his own home in the Greater Atlanta area, where he resides with his wife and rescue dog.