A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

'The Magic of Tidying' Day One: Cleaning out my closet!

I've been fairly absent from the blog lately, and with good reason.  I very quickly devoured the book 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' by Marie Kondo, and immediately got to work. I'll go into a review of the book later this week [I gave my copy to my Mom to read while she's on a trip, so I don't have the copy to take quotes from right now]. But for now, I thought I'd take you through certain parts of the process, starting things off with clothes.

Marie has an order she recommends you tidy, and it first begins with your clothes, since they're usually the easiest to discard. There's less emotional attachment to clothes than there are to many of the other things cluttering our lives. Prior to this task, I'd already discarded two garbage bags of clothes, but I still managed to find A LOT more to part with. 

The first step is finding every single piece of clothing they own.  For me, that involved bringing all the clothes I have at my studio home, scouring closets, storage bins, and every possible corner of the house. It took me a good hour just to get everything in one place. As you can see, I found quite a bit of clothing! 

Here's what my closet looked like once I removed all the clothing, and all the storage bins and other bit and bobs cluttering up this space. The beauty of a blank slate!

After going through every piece of clothing, making sure to handle each piece and think 'does this bring me joy?', I was able to discard FIVE more bags of clothing! There were some pieces I was unsure of, since I wasn't sure how they fit, so I did try on some things, which helped me keep and discard a few more bits [including that striped tank you see in the photo above]. It was a target purchase, and I've never found it very flattering, so off it went!

I can't get enough of my color coordinated zip up hoodies! There's little that makes me happier [sad, I know!]. I always manage to use the same two hoodies, so maybe now I'll actually make use of the rest of my stash.  And if I find myself never using certain pieces, to the discard bin they'll go!

I've always been good about hanging and organizing my dresses and tops, but the biggest change Marie helped me see was the importance of properly folding your clothes. Above you can see all my workout clothes [ie: LOTS of yoga pants and tops] neatly folded and arranged.

Here, I've folded my sweatshirt collection quite nicely [I used to have MANY more, but managed to whittle things down a bit more]. Here's a link to a video for folding long sleeved shirts. I had to modify this a bit with the thick sweatshirts, but I'm surprised at how speedy I'm becoming at this method of folding!

One thing I did differently than Marie was my sock drawer. I did opt to start folding my socks a bit nicer [before I would just scrunch them into a ball and invert one sock onto the other], but rather than have them all sitting vertically side by side, I kept my sock organizer and just put the socks into each little cubby. This has always worked well for me, and lets me easily see which type of sock I'd like to use.

for my bras, I'm definitely preferring her method of having them all standing up vertically. Usually, this drawer is just stuffed with them, and I never manage to find the exact one I want. Here's a link to how he folds the perfect underwear drawer. I also have a few t-shirts tucked in the back, but things are SO much tidier!

Next drawer has all my skirts at the front, perfectly folded and organized, along with more t-shirts tucked in the back. [can you see already I have a tshirt problem...?!?]

Oh don't worry, more t-shirts! I got rid of a few more since I took these photos, so at this point I'm down to 30 shirts. I probably had at least 50 prior to this project, so this is pretty good for me! At least a quarter of these shirts are from Boston College [my alma mater] and I can't bear to part with ANY of them! They're also some of my most comfortable shirts, so I actually use them!

The final drawer houses all my pj pants, shorts, and a few winter sets [including my beloved doggy Christmas pjs!]. Folding all my tops and bottoms this way is just magical. At a glance, I can see every single piece, without having to rummage through my drawers. Yes, laundry day will take me a little more time and effort, but I can already see an improvement in my everyday life. I can instantly pick out what I want to wear, and when I decide not to wear something I've removed from the drawers, I promptly fold it back and put it in its place. 

I nearly forgot to include a shot of my dress closet! It's just to the left of my walk in closet. The reason I need this separate closet is because right now I don't have a spot where I have enough length to hang longer pieces like dresses and full length coats.  I did just put the closet rod in here, which is making hanging dresses a breeze!

Curious about how many clothes I started out with? Here's a time lapse video of the insane process of piling up ALL the clothes I own in one spot. the good thing about putting it all on my bed was I had virtually no choice but to finish this before the end of the night, or else I'd have no place to sleep! It was a massive success, and my brain already feels more 

Maui Week: Trip Update and What's in my Carry-on

TRIP UPDATE: So sorry I haven't been posting much here! I've been too busy prepping and now enjoying my trip to Maui!  We arrived Friday afternoon [after a rather bumpy and interesting flight...], and we've been nonstop ever since.  [also warning: this is a chatty, wordy post!]

Our first day involved a pre-5am wake up to head to an INTENSE ocean rafting/snorkeling adventure. We then spent the rest of the day recovering from said adventure, ending the day with fourth of July festivities. Second day was another INTENSE drive to Hana. It's a must do while you're in Maui, and has some of the most breathtaking views, but it's a one lane highway with a million bridges [or around 60] along the sides of cliffs and infinite S-turns that would make anyone a bit woozy.  We ended the day with a fantastic dinner at Mama's Fish House and another LONG drive back to our hotel.

I'll post photos and talk about everything in more detail once I've gone through all my photos and videos [over 700 so far, eep!]. In the meantime, I need a day to RELAX.  We've crammed a hefty portion into our first couple days since the weather will not be cooperating with us on this entire trip, but it appears I now need a vacation from my vacation. Today we slept in [in Hawaii life that's about 6:30am] and are now enjoying a leisurely breakfast in the room while soaking in our ocean view [more on our view and the hotel later!].  Today I thought I'd share some quick photos of my travel essentials. I packed a little heavier than I usually do, but my carry on stayed fairly succinct and organized. 

When I know I'll have a full day of traveling [in this case total flying time was nearly 11 hours and travel time was closer to 14!], I always pack all the snacks. Between the three of us [my mom and bestie Katie], we had our bases covered. The only thing I wished I'd done was pack a sandwich [we had hardly any time to pick up lunch between our flights, and due to the time difference we ended up with two breakfasts..].

I always keep my pricier possessions in my carry-on [this time that included my laptop, camera, my makeup bag and its contents [oh Sephora...], clutch, blow dryer, curling iron and iPhone. I just don't trust to have these things out of my sight, no matter where I'm headed. I also always carry an extra change of clothes and my underwear for the trip [there's nothing fun about having to spend your vacation money on bras and panties because your bag didn't arrive on time!].  I also brought an empty water bottle [a must!], a giant scarf that doubles as a blanket, little books and a pen for writing or jotting down things, and of course most of my liquids in a ziplock bag.

All of this could fit in my one carry-on roller bag, but I like to split the contents up into a second handbag, so I can keep snacks and other in-flight essentials on hand.  This 'what's in my carry-on' is fairly standard to what I'll always pack with me no matter where I go, so nothing is too Maui-specific. My wardrobe, on the other hand has Maui written all over it, but I'll save that for another day! Back to the beach I go!

A brief chat about my day and cubbies

My post today is awfully late because I'm under the weather yet again.  I'm convinced my family and friends [and myself] are just a cesspool / incubator of disease and illness.  I thought this might just might be allergies, but after constant coughing for two days, I'm fairly sure I've just got the consumption. Plain and simple. There's also a terrible storm brewing in the distance, and all I'd like to do is go home and snuggle with the dogs and cats, but I've got to wait here to meet with a client. [a client who I imagine will get stuck in said storm or be frightened away by the menacingly dark clouds, and  I will have waited here for naught.]  So though I told myself, 'Jo, just take a day off of blogging and painting and photographing and moving furniture around' I managed to do ALL OF THE THINGS.  Here's a photo of the storm I will surely get stuck in sometime in the next hour:

And now back to furniture! Okay so brief discussion about the newest addition to the studio: my cubbies [or is it cubby? I prefer how the plural looks and sounds so I'll stick to that].

I had initially planned to sell this guy, but I've got a few storage issues to deal with here at the studio, so I wanted to see if there was a better use for it here....and there is!

Meet my new shoe storage system!  I've got a few closets here, but all of them are used for very specific purposes, and none of them have room for any shoes. Each individual cubby can hold my shoes quite nicely.  The extra high heels I've just turned on their side, which works just fine.  

I've literally had the shoes just thrown about in random parts of the studio, and I never seem to be able to find both halves of a pair, so I'm hoping now this will provide a functional spot for my shoes [and for guests if they wanted to get extra cozy over here]. Maybe this isn't the most riveting discussion, but finding storage / organization solutions is always something I enjoy doing. Not sure what this all says about me...hmm. 

Simple Tips for Staging and Styling a Kitchen

I've never been to a house where the kitchen countertops are completely cleared off and pristine all the time [At least not a house where the people actually cook and entertain or are humans...]. But when people are looking to buy a house, they don't care about what the kitchen will really look like once they live in it, make a mess of it and actually USE it.  They want to see the dream, the idealistic, perfectly in place kitchen.

Yes, if you have seven different electrics and small appliances you use on a daily basis out for all to see, your countertops will seem too cluttered and hint at a lack of storage issue.  So as much as it pains me to say it, each time you're having an open house or having someone come to see your home, stow several of those bad boys away [especially any unsightly ones].

Don't have cabinet space for all of them? Keep a nice looking basket with a lid handy to throw them in. It's the little things like this that will drastically improve the look and appeal of your kitchen.

If you're living in the house while selling it, constantly cleaning and decluttering your kitchen will be a pain, but it's an essential for getting the right person to want to take the plunge and make an offer.  These staging tips can work for literally any kitchen, no matter how big or small it may be. 

Process of Painting a Bookcase

I love bookcases. They're the perfect vehicle for organizing books of course, but for my purposes, a good bookcase can hold all my styling treasures. 


"Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? Wouldn't you say my collection's complete?" Oh Ariel, you and I are one in the same.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

I could easily fill a cavern much like my red headed friend here, but for now, this seven foot tall bookcase I found at a thrift store will have to do [until I find more bookcases that is...]. 

The previous owner of this bookcase was a little girl, judging from the shelves marked up with things like "girl scout gear" and "butaful stuff." It was now time for these shelves to hold my beautiful things, just as soon as I painted it.

Now I may love my bookcases, but that in no way means I love painting them. In fact, bookcases are my least favorite piece of furniture to paint.  They appear easy enough, but there are so many surfaces, corners, crevices that require tending to. To put it simply, they're a pain in the butt to paint. 

I always start with a quick and dirty first coat, not worrying too much about getting the paint on every square inch [see that top shelf? that's what a first coat should look like]. 

It also helps to paint the under portion of each shelf last, so you don't end up getting paint all over your knuckles.  There's not a perfect science to painting a bookcase, but it just takes several coats to get complete coverage.

Just like any other piece, I go ahead and sand every painted surface with fine grit sandpaper. I also opted for some extra distressing along the edges just for fun.  

Since I had some leftover tinted wax from my work table project, I brushed on wax tinted with Old White to give this fairly flat looking bookcase some dimension. 

Now my ever growing collection of styling treasures has a new home in my studio. Okay, back to an afternoon of painting for me!