We’ve Moved!!

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013

Decorating for Busy People has been consolidated with the other blogs in the Smart Solutions for Busy People family. No new posts will appear on this blog! Please continue to follow Decorating for Busy People at its new home!


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17 Shades of Green

Posted by on Mar 7, 2013

Every March my thoughts turn to green in all its glorious shades: emerald, kelly, lime, mint, olive, sage and everything in between.

Driven by the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and the approach of spring, green is the perfect color to bring into your home this month. Green is an important color in nearly every culture and religion and generally has positive meanings. In feng shui, green denotes renewal, new beginnings and fresh energy. It’s the color of peace, happiness and prosperity. And since green is most often associated with nature, it is psychologically very calming.

Adding green can be a just a touch: a painted cabinet in the hall, a tray on the coffee table, or a bowl of Granny Smith apples on the counter. Or, go bold and paint a wall (or two!) a deep, saturated shade, or hang green drapes. I created a board on Pinterest in honor of the classic, calming color: “17 Shades of Green” to give you some ideas. Click here to view it and share it on your own boards.

Green plays off of nearly every other color, it’s just a matter of finding a shade that compliments your existing décor. It’s important to experiment. For example, say you want green pillows for the sofa in the family room. You’re in a shop and there are a couple of options, but you’re just not sure which green would be best. I buy one of each, confirm the store’s return/exchange policy, take them home and pick the one that suits the sofa and the room. If you have time to return the options that didn’t work, great! But, most people don’t have time the same day. In that instance, be sure to put the receipt in the bag with the pillows you’re returning and place the bag in the car. Make a note in your day planner to return the pillows when you’re near the store again.


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10 Ways to Contain Clutter Under $10

Posted by on Jan 16, 2013

One of the principles of organizing is to contain like items together, particularly small items that can get lost easily. But many people stop short of this important step believing they have to go to a specialty store to find the “right” containers, or they simply don’t know what container to use for the job.

Sometimes the perfect container is already at your fingertips; it’s just a matter of looking at what you have with a fresh eye towards organization. What you don’t have around the house may be purchased at national retailers for under $10.

1. Boxes as drawer dividers – There’s no need to buy plastic bins or trays for every drawer. The drawers in my craft area are very shallow and it was difficult to find anything on the market to fit. So, I used a department store jewelry box (shown top left) to corral small items that previously slid all around the drawer. If you have a stash of empty boxes, one might be the perfect size for a hard-to-fit spot.

2. Bowls on a tray or in a drawer – For a step up from a jewelry box, use small bowls to collect hair pins, buttons, or other small trinkets. Look for vintage finds at flea markets or estate sales, or dig out that set of dipping bowls you never seem to use.

3. Cosmetic bags – Do you ever get those cosmetic bags as a gift with purchase from the cosmetic counter? They’re perfect allies in the fight against clutter. Use simple tags to remind you what’s inside and use them in the bathroom to contain hair implements, travel-size lotions and other easily-lost items. In my linen closet I recently traded out decades-old free cosmetic bags for matching cotton bags ($4.99 each at Cost Plus World Market; shown bottom left) to contain and conceal bits and pieces related to eyes and ears; dental; and small cosmetic implements.

4. Candle holders and vases – A vase has a dozen or more uses, and jar candle holders have just as many. Once a filled jar candle burns to the bottom, freeze the jar a few hours to harden the wax. Remove the wax and clean the jar with dish soap and warm water. It’s ready to hold makeup brushes, hair clips, paint brushes (shown above right), pens, markers … anything, really!

5. Lazy Susan – Whoever thought of securing a tray to a plate with ball bearings in between deserves a medal. The lazy Susan is a genius idea for keeping small bottles and jars organized and reachable in cabinets, under sinks and in closets. (Target, $9.99)

6. Zipper bags – When I have a gaggle of anything – cords, ribbons, cotton swabs – I know the perfect container is in a kitchen drawer. With a variety of sizes and a secure closure, zippered plastic food storage bags are the go-to container for an organized life.

7. Soup cans – If you need a quick container for pens, pencils, or crayons, have soup for dinner. Remove the label and you have an industrial looking aluminum vessel, but cover it with wrapping paper, colored paper, or self-adhesive shelf liner for a more finished look. Be sure the edge of the can is smooth, or glue double-fold bias tape over the edge.

8. Jars – Save the lids to jars from baby food, salsa and spaghetti sauce and re-use clean, label-free jars. Any ink lettering on the jar such as the expiration date can usually be removed with a little rubbing alcohol. Spray paint the lids in a color of your choice to give them a cohesive look and suddenly you have a collection of containers. Gathered on a window sill or shelf, they can turn chaos into a pretty display of sewing supplies or craft supplies.

9. Candy tins – I use metal tins from French fruit candy drops to keep straight pins, paper clips and even coins. The tins are beautifully decorated with a vintage motif and look great on their own or in a grouping.

10. Beverage caddies – I cannot take credit for this idea as I saw it first in the airport restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa. The idea is to take the paperboard caddy that holds four or six bottled beverages and use it as a carry-all. At the restaurant the sections were filled with bottles of condiments, which would be great for a summer cookout at home. Or, place a  plastic tumbler in each divided section and use it for hair products, craft supplies or garden supplies. If desired, cover the beverage logos with pretty wrapping paper or self-adhesive paper.

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Time for a New Pillow?

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013

January “white sales” are a marketing strategy employed by retailers since the late 1800s. In 1878, John Wanamaker of Philadelphia, the pioneer of the department store, decreed that January would be the time for a white sale—selling bed linens at a discount. (At the time, bed linens were available only in white, hence the term.)

With many retailers maintaining this 100+ year January tradition, now is the perfect time to take a look at your bed pillows, sheets, mattress protectors and blankets. If anything needs replacing, now might be the perfect time to buy something new.

© karam miri – fotolia.com

Your pillow can either make or break your night’s sleep, as anyone with a sore neck can tell you. How can you tell if you need a new pillow? If it’s a down and/or feather pillow, fold it in half; if it bounces back relatively quickly, it’s in good shape. If not, the down could be broken down to a point where it is no longer functioning to support your head. (Moisture and natural body oils cause down to break down over time.)

Whatever type of pillow you have, if you notice any back or neck pain, or your pillows just aren’t comfortable anymore, it’s time to buy new ones. Also note if your allergies seem to be flaring up. Over time, dust mites feed off of dead skin cells we shed and they can cause allergic reactions. (Which is why I spray my bed and pillows with Lysol every time I change the bed, and wash the pillow protectors often.)

When shopping for a pillow, keep in mind how you sleep—on you back, your stomach or on your side—as this can impact the firmness of the pillow you need. Also keep in mind any allergies to down or feathers as several alternatives are available from synthetics to memory foam and natural buckwheat. And then there’s the budget; generally speaking, you get what you pay for in a pillow. A high quality (and high cost, $150 and up) pillow will last years longer than a $15 variety. Hence, the white sale is a great time to buy!

No matter what type of pillow you buy and how much you spend, pick up some pillow protectors if you don’t already have them. (I like the kind with a hidden zipper.) They do extend the life of the pillow by adding another layer of protection from moisture, perspiration and skin oils.

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Falling for Gray

Posted by on Aug 11, 2012

Color trend alert!!

I’ve been using shades of gray here and there for a couple of years now. The ceiling in my home office, a back hallway and the cozy powder room have all received an update with the hippest neutral: gray.

The other day I was thinking that charcoal and deep orange would be a more sophisticated palette for fall decorating this year, and I was right! Looking through catalogs and stores today, I am seeing that retailers are featuring furnishings and accessories in every shade of gray this season.

While it’s usually associated with a cloudy, gloomy day or a Russian prison uniform, gray can be soothing and quite chic. It all depends on the undertone — there are grays with a warmer feel, so don’t be afraid that it will make your room cold.

An easy way to bring it into your home is in small doses: an accent pillow on the sofa, a throw on a comfy chair, or a picture frame or vase on a side table. It’s less stark than black and plays well with nearly every other color, including all the metallics: silver, gold and copper. If you’re going all in and painting a feature wall, be sure to paint sample swatches of a couple options on the wall before investing your time and money.

You really can’t go wrong with gray!

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Student Bedroom Essentials

Posted by on Aug 1, 2012

Each year, thousands of teenagers transition from middle school to high school. New friends, new teachers, new study habits (hopefully!), new classes, new worries … it can be overwhelming. Having a place to call their own, while supporting their academic and social growth, is a vital part of the teen experience. Here are some ideas for creating a comfortable space for your high schooler.

1. Color cues. Color plays an important role in how humans act and feel in a room. Bedrooms generally call for restful colors like blues and greens, but study areas can be a bit brighter with more energizing colors like red and yellow. Consider desk accessories in these colors or paint a feature wall near the desk in a brighter hue.

2. Zoned out. Teen bedrooms serve a variety of functions: sleeping, studying, and even socializing. Designate areas for each using furniture, layout, color and area rugs. Look for modular, multi-purpose pieces like storage ottomans for extra seating and storage.

3. Functionality. The most essential pieces of furniture for a student bedroom are a desk and chair, especially if long periods of time will be spent hard at work. National retailers offer desks of all shapes, sizes and colors, so you need not blow the budget or use all the available space in the room. The desk should be large enough to accommodate a writing area for homework, a desk lamp, and frequently used items such as pens and paperclips. Select a chair comfortable enough for the average length of working time, and make sure that it will fit easily around the desk and any other items of furniture. A cork board, ribbon board, or magnetic board hung near the desk helps to keep schedules, photos and even homework assignments in view.

4. Does it compute? Whether to allow a teen to have his or her own computer in the bedroom or to designate a more public area of the home for computer work is a subject of great debate among parents. Every teen is different, and it’s a decision that every parent must make. The point is, there is no “right” answer except what works best for your family and your student’s development. If your child will have a computer in the bedroom, make sure the desk is large enough for the computer and open space for writing.

5. Storage, storage, storage. Teens tend to have a lot of stuff. Clever storage solutions can make a room appear larger, so look for ways to maximize the space you have. Dividers or cubbies for desk drawers keep office supplies and accessories in check. Vertical shelving units provide space for books, memorabilia and bins for stowing smaller items, while a bed with drawers beneath could eliminate the need for a dresser taking up precious floor space. Or, purchase bed risers that raise a standard bed frame to accommodate rolling bins or drawers under the bed for off-season clothing storage or shoe storage. Photo © nastazia/Fotolia.com

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Jewelry Solution!

Posted by on Jul 20, 2012

Mount double clothes hooks (available at any hardware store in a variety of finishes for around $3 each) on a wall in the closet, staggering the hooks up the wall. Sort necklaces by color and length. This works great even in the narrowest of spaces!


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