Wednesday, January 29, 2014

3 Things That Actually Work

You know how sometimes I go on these excellent adventures and see these amazing things and post these fabulous pictures? 

Yeah, this post isn't anything like that.

This post is a list of things that actually work the way they are supposed to in my home. Ideas, that when implemented, radically changed my life for the better.

Things like, Excellent Idea #1 a Three Bin Wall Mounted Paper Holder.

This is one of those things I wish I had thought of about 5 years ago, but didn't. I have 3 children ages 14-10-6, and they go to 3 different schools. Can you say paperwork nightmare? Most of the time there is a huge pile of papers and mail on my kitchen table. I hate it. Really A Lot. 

I have the most beautiful hammered copper table in my kitchen. It reminds me of home and is one of my personal treasures. I never see it because of all the papers. So I sat down one snow day afternoon while the kids were out frolicking and thought about what I could do to lose the paper mess. By some miracle, I thought of wall mount bins! And after a fairly exhaustive search across the Internet, I found the perfect metal 3 pocket model at The Container Store. (It is called the "Silver Mesh Wall Ladder" and you can get it online here.)
One trip to Tyson's Corner later and I had my wall ladder. It was the last one in the store and I ran to it, held it in my arms like a lover, and snarled at anyone else even thinking about looking at it. Then I ran to the register and said, "I have found the Meaning of Life in this wall mount folder holder. Will you keep it safe for me while I look around some more?" 

I bet they get that all the time.

Once home, I realized it would be helpful to have names on the pockets. I already had these small chalkboards made out of old wooden coasters, so I just drilled some holes and wrapped some wire and viola! Chalkboard name plates. Hip and up-cycled. It makes me giddy.


It was also easy to install. It came with anchors and screws. 
Little ruler and level, little cordless drill, little hammering of anchors and screwing of screws
and then...
POW! paper problems solved.


It makes me happy every time I walk by and see the papers there and not on my table. 
Every. Single. Time.

Excellent Idea #2: the Blue Buffet

I don't know how many of you sew, but I only sew on occasion. And with my art studio in the utility room, having a designated craft room seems kinda nevergoingtohappen. So I just kept my sewing machine on a shelf in the studio and schlepped it upstairs to the dining room when I wanted to sew. 

Well you can imagine what happened. The sewing machine just ended up hanging out in the dining room. In it's original white and mint green cardboard box. Not so attractive in a taupe and cobalt blue dining room. Sometimes I would actually put it away and then talk myself out of sewing so I didn't have to go all the way down there to get it.

At the same time all this schlepping and avoiding was going on, my two younger children had decided that doing crafts on my dining room table gave them a sense of purpose in life. Now, I would not have minded this at all except that they never put anything away. We had mountains of papers and craft supplies and glue and pompom balls and glitter all over the expanse of the table.

After a few years of screaming at the kids to clean up all their crap pondering things rationally, it occurred to me that I might solve both problems at the same time. I simply needed more storage in the dining room than the two small drawers and open shelf of my side table currently provided. After getting beat out on "the perfect thing" by a quicker shopper at my favorite thrift store, I pulled out the big guns and headed for Craigslist. Enter my fabulous vintage mahogany buffet.

Yes, I painted it. Seven layers and two weeks worth of love to be exact. But the mahogany was just too dark and this is the blue dining room. And I LOVE how it turned out. I was inspired in the glaze layering and color choices by this excellent armoire redo from Savvy Southern Style. (I have been meaning to post a tutorial for a while, like 2 or 3 years, but it just never happened. Maybe this year's the one!)

 While I really do love how the finish looks like blue concrete and the wax makes it feel butter soft, the true beauty of this piece is the storage it provides. The two huge middle drawers store all the kid's craft supplies. The bottom center drawer holds all my table linens. In the dining room, where I use them! I know, right? The left side drawer holds office supplies and the right one holds my good silverware. And guess what fits in the side cabinet?

My sewing machine just slips right in here! Door closed and out of sight, but ready for action. Love it!

Excellent Idea #3: Repurpose an Industrial Etagere on Wheels

This idea I can't really claim. It just fell into my lap. 

I have a friend who knew someone in the design world who was going out of business. They had several of these for sale at a price so "I just need to dump this so I don't have to move it" low that I won't even share it. Even on last year's meager budget, I couldn't pass it up and bought two of them. They are solid steel with 2 fixed glass shelves and 2 movable shelves. I only have 1 of the movable shelves going at the moment. The only down side of this deal was not having enough shelf supports included. Eventually I will buy some more.

In the meantime, I am using them as a staging area for all the various things I am working on at the same time. I only have one primary work space in my studio and it gets really crowded and cluttered as I shift from project to project. Once I got these movable shelves, I put the "in process but not today" projects on the various shelves, to keep them out of the way, but not so far away that I forget to finish them. It works amazingly well. And I always have a clear work space.

At the moment I have the second one holding all the stuff that needs to be "dealt with"in the basement. Hopefully that will change soon, as I plan on getting rid of all that stuff and using this one to hold the toys the kids use the most. The wheels are an added bonus as the magnetic dart board sits right above these shelves. When the kids want to play darts, we just roll the shelves out of the way. It really is like magic.

So there you are. 

The three things in my home that have brought me the most peace 
through organization and functionality. Don't you love it when things actually work
as well or better than you hoped?

Will you guys leave me a comment and tell me what has worked in your home?
I am all curious what brilliant things you all have discovered.

Talk to you soon,
CM Shaw


  1. Love the wall organizer! I have a similar one in my son's room. but I would love something like that to corral all of paperwork.

    The dresser looks amazing. Love the new color. I need more storage in the house too. I'm off to search CL. Fingers crossed I find a gem!

  2. Great ideas, Marion! I love the tip on the sewing machine. I think I'm going to try it!

    Happy day to you friend!

  3. What great solutions, timely and practical and so fantastic looking--important to an aesthetician :). I've long loved your blue buffet, you did a stunning job on that.