One Year of Home Ownership: Before & After

One Year of Home Ownership: Before & After

Yesterday marked our one year of home ownership. So, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some before and afters. Sometimes I don't even realize how much we've done to this house.

How to Reuse Old Artwork

How to Reuse Old Artwork

One of the best things about moving into this house was the fact that the former homeowners left us so many awesome things. They left us a lot of artwork. We donated some and kept some. I liked the frames of some of the pieces we kept, but not the actual picture in the frame. So I decided to get crafty.

DIY Wall Lamp Makeover

DIY Wall Lamp Makeover

I think I've mentioned before that the previous homeowners left us quite a bit of stuff. Some of the stuff was super cool and some of it we didn't really care about so we donated it to the local thrift shop. And some of it was kind of cool, but just needed a little touch of modern love.

Rensselaer, Indiana. Population 6,000 (give or take)

We're here you guys. In our new house. Finally. And I get to write my very first post from my new work space in our new house (will saying our new house ever get old?). So now we officially live in Rensselaer, Indiana. And I still don't know how to spell Rensselaer without looking it up. It actually took me months to learn how to say it. Rennsaleeeeeeer -- nothing link how it's spelled -- in case you're wondering.


It's been a long road as I'm sure you're aware. A road that left us in a dorm room for Christmas. But it was totally worth it.

We moved in exactly one week ago and I actually meant to write a post beforehand, but once we had the official date of possession my brain went into WE HAVE A HOUSE! mode and I couldn't really function. And then we didn't have internet and I was busy unpacking and settling and moving into a house is hard you guys. But I wanted to update you and show you all the things we've been doing. I have so many things planned for this place. I love this house. I feel like I find a new favorite thing every day.

So here's a little tour. And, as you'll see, it's all still very much a work in progress. (Sorry the pictures are of kind of crappy quality and so tall. I have to get the hang of this whole taking pictures of your house thing.)

Side note: I feel a little weird posting pictures of my chaotic, messy house. But this real life y'all. Moving is one big giant mess of chaos. And one of my goals for this blog (and my social media accounts) is to post more real life things. Not worry so much about creating the perfect shot. Show a little of the chaos (not just the collected) and be proud if it.

The living room

When you first walk in there is a little entry way with a closet (one of 994 closets). Then you're immediately in the living room. And just look at how cozy it is. The beams and gas fire place were a huge selling point for us in this house.

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The kitchen/dining room

I have wait my whole life for a kitchen like this. There is so much storage. What you can't see is a whole other set of cabinets on the wall that's not pictured. You also can't see the pull outs in all of the bottom cabinets. Seriously, you guys. The first thing I did was organize this baby and I was in heaven. The dining room area is pretty fab too. The little faux fireplace makes it so cozy and I love that it's part of the kitchen. The double doors lead out to a three seasons room (below) and the doors are actually from an old library.




The three seasons room

Look at it. Full of windows and all kinds of cozy peacefulness. Perfect for writing and hanging out. Our plan is to make it super cozy in here. Maybe set up a spot for games and puzzles. And eventually build a bar of some sort.


Laundry room

I've never had a whole room for laundry. What do you even do with it? Well, you put things in it and have room to clean your clothes and it's pretty amazing. There's also an attic up top.


The bathroom

It's small, but it's pretty awesome. There's plenty of wall space for cute things. And there's also a faux fireplace in there as well.

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We have three. Mama C has one (not pictured). Then one is ours which is severely lacking in the décor department at the moment. We have to wait for our mattress and box springs and our bed before we can do much. And then my craft room/office/shop which will need a week's worth of organization.

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Not pictured

The outside which is a super magical place fill with trees and plants and so many things that I can't even begin to capture through pictures. It's also a snowy winter day so it just doesn't do it justice at all. It's like Narnia out there. If I knew what Narnia actually looked like. I assume it's magical, right??

Three closets in the hallway. THREE. Coming from a Brooklyn gal who had NO closets, one would have been amazing. But three? I almost don't know what to do with them. In fact, one is almost empty at the moment.

All of the big changes will come at a later time, but in the meantime we're working to decorate and make this place feel like home. It's such a weird feeling, owning your first home. I still keep feeling like we live in someone else's place and worrying about all of the things I worried about as a renter. But I suppose that will pass in time.

I promise to keep you all updated as I DIY the heck out of this place and as we continue to get settled. We've done so many fun things already and I simply love this place. And we have some bigger projects too! It's in need of some painting. I want to paint all of the rooms gray so if you have any ideas, share them with me!

I plan on tagging everything I post with the hashtag #AChaoticandCollectedHome on Twitter and Instagram so feel free to follow along with everything.

Can you tell I'm excited about this place?!?

Decorate Your Walls Like A Pro: How to Hang a Picture Wall

I talked about making a picture wall over in this post and I promised to show you how easy it was to make your own. I love pictures. I mean l-o-v-e them. Especially since I live so far away from so many people that I love and adore. The problem is, however, that it's hard to put that many pictures around the apartment without it looking totally cluttered. If you hang them on every wall then it takes away from the ability to hang other artsy things. If you place them on a table then, again, you lose the space and it can make the table less functional. Well enter in the picture wall that solves all of those problems.

And I know, trust me I know. It looks like it would be really difficult to hang so many pictures all even and pretty. I mean, who has the time and patience to measure all that. And who wants to buy a bunch of tools that you'll probably never really use again? But if you eyeball it then you'll end up with a mess of 994 holes. And what do you do if you ever want to add to? Well, never fear my friends, it's actually pretty easy and I have a few little steps/tips for ya. Here's how to hang a picture wall.

What you'll need:

  • Frames you want to hang
  • Paper (you can use newspaper, scrap, plain white, notebook, whatever. Just make sure it's not the same color as your wall)
  • Marker or pen or pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Hammer & nails

What you'll do:

1. Choose a wall in whatever room you're planning to hang the pictures in. I usually try to opt for a small wall so you can just kind of take over the whole thing. But if that isn't an option, choose a section of the wall. Above a piece of furniture works because it's defined by the furniture and is easy to make sense. But you can also choose a section and define it with other art or wall hangings.

2. Trace each frame on paper and put a little mark where the hanger is. I also usually make notes as to what frame or picture it is so I can easily find what frame the pattern goes to. While frames might be the same size or shape, lots of frames have different placement for the hanger on the back which causes the frames to hang differently. You'll have a hard time getting everything even and correctly placed in the end if you have no idea what frame goes where. (And that kind of defeats the purpose of this whole thing).

3. Cut out all of the frame shapes.

4. Start with the biggest frame cut out and place that on the wall. I usually aim for somewhere in the center. Then just tape the paper where you want the frame to be.

Picture Wall



5. Start filling in with the smaller frame cut outs and tape them where you want them. I usually try to alternate shapes, sizes, and so on. You can measure if you want, but I usually just eyeball it because you can easily moved things around without ruining the wall. I also make sure that all sides, top, bottom, etc. of the space end in alternating patterns (i.e. a couple hang a little lower than the rest). This usually happens naturally as you're hanging different sides, but it helps if you want to add to the wall at a later time. Stand back and admire your work. Not just because you're awesome, but because you want to make sure everything looks how you want it. Adjust anything as necessary. It's super easy since it's just taped.

6. Put a nail through each mark you made for the hanger for the frame. Don't take the paper off and don't worry, you're not permanently nailing the paper to the wall.

7. Hang each frame on each nail.

8. Pull paper off the nail. I usually wait and do this as the last step so I can be sure each frame looks the way I want it to. It's a lot easier to take the frame down and have to move the paper again ever so slightly than it is to have to move the frame.

Picture wall finished

9. Admire your awesome work because you just hung a cool picture wall that will amaze everyone you know (maybe).

Like I said, it's easy to add to if you plan to buy more frames down the line. But you can also change out the pictures. I also like to add other things, like other pieces of art or cute little sayings that are meaningful. You could do this in frames or just buy cute signs. Lots of stores have all kinds of fun things in their art sections. It just adds to the creativity and the fun of the wall. I added the states pictures I made a while back (they were originally above our bed) and then I also added the picture that Mr. T made for me as a gift for the wedding as well as our wedding sign. Then my sister gave us a couple of cute little signs for Christmas so I hung those on there as well (see picture below).


How to Organize Girly Things (Makeup, Hair Products, Jewelry, Etc.)

I fail. In my last post I gave you all of these fun ideas for home decor/improvements for the new year. But I totally forgot that I did some updates to our bedroom as well. I mostly updated the area where I keep all my makeup, jewelry, hair products, etc. It's been begging for a makeover for some time. I really didn't want to leave it out and I didn't mean to so that means I get to give you a whole post devoted to that. Here are some ideas to organize your girly things.


Mr. T and I have an insanely small bathroom with bad lighting, no storage (and very few creative ways to add storage), and a plug that doesn't work so I am pretty much forced to keep all of my makeup, nail stuff, hair stuff, etc. in our bedroom. I am technically used to it since it was this way when I had a roommate, but it is a little more difficult when you live with a dude. I don't want to make him trip over all of my products (and I really don't have that many). So I kind of have my own little corner in the room and that requires some organization. But because I'm that girl, I like things to also look nice and pretty. Here's how to organize makeup, jewelry, and hair products in a functional and stylish way.

The dresser


Dresser area

1. I used to have my jewelry box on my dresser. It looked beautiful, but it didn't leave a lot of room for anything else. So I relocated it (see pic below). That made more room for makeup and hair products and cleaned out my top drawer for more room for headbands and other things. It also gave me more room to buy a bigger mirror. I originally had the turquoise one that you see below above my mirror. I love it, but I needed something bigger to see my huge head. I bought it at IKEA.

2. You might recognize this tray from this post. I thought it looked much better here and it gives me a nice way to keep things organized while looking pretty. I have all of my makeup, perfume/body sprays/smelly goods, and bobby pins on here. It's easily accessible and makes it easy to just kind of toss things when I'm done. It also gives me a nice place to put the jewelry that I take off at the end of the day. I actually bought this tray at a garage sale a few summers ago.

3. These are jars that were left over from the wedding. I am obsessed with putting things in jars so I originally had everything in just regular mason jars and then was using these as candles. But then I thought I should try these for all of my makeup. I love the way it looks an d it's still functional. I have all of my makeup, divided by bases, eye makeup (eye liner, mascara, etc.), and lipsticks. I also have my brushes. It looks neat and tidy and there is still plenty of room to add to. You can purchase the jars at any store and I also save them from things like pickles. I usually only save the mason jars, but you could use any if you like. I will also be talking about how to make these jars in a later post.

4. I don't know why, but I love having bobby pins and hair things in something that's easily accessible and where I can just toss them as I take them out. This little dish works perfectly for that. I actually bought it at the $1 store. I kid you not. I've used it for various things around the house like to put jewelry in and for office supplies, but this is my favorite use so far. I also love that all of my smelly goods are out where I can use them.

The Corner



1. I love this stuff in the corner of the room because it doesn't seem to scream that half of my closet and belongings are hanging out in the bedroom. It's also really easy to get to.

2. I bought this thing years ago at a discount store. I used to use it for hair products and other things when I had a roommate. It's really great to store lots of things on. I actually think it's supposed to be a shower caddy, but I think it looks way better in a room. I turned it into a little nail polish center and now it houses all of my polishes, nail treatments, etc. It looks cute, but it also is a great space to keep my polishes easy to get to and organized.

3. You might also recognize this table from this post. Since I moved something else out to our bar that works much better I had to find a space for this table. This came in the bedroom really because there was no place else, but it's what allowed me to take my jewelry box off the dresser (and inspired many of these changes). I think it's pretty cute. I only wish it was round. Both the jewelry box and the table came from a vintage store (the box was a gift from my mom).

4. I love to hang scarves on a hook. If you have them on the back of the door they just get lost in everything. Plain hooks are really boring those. My sister bought me these a few years ago as a present (I believe they came from Urban Outfitters and not sure if they still have them) and I love them. They are functional and adorable which is my favorite thing.

5. As I mentioned, this mirror used to hang above my dresser. My sister bought me it as a present years ago and I believe it also came from Urban Outfitters. I love this mirror because it has hooks on it and you can hang so many things to keep them organized and then use the mirror to make sure you look good. But it's too small to do hair and makeup. It served me well when I had a roommate because I didn't have so much wall space in my room, but now I can spread out a little more. The mirror works perfectly on the side because I'm able to grab a necklace or scarf and check myself out. And it's also amazingly functional because there are lots of hooks and they are really strong.



DIY Home Improvement & Decor Ideas

Well, it's officially 2015 folks. And I don't know what it is about the new year, but it always makes me want to clean and organize and buy new things. (Actually, who am I kidding? I always want to do that kind of stuff). So over the past week or so Mr. T and I have been working hard to do a little sprucing up around our apartment. I really needed some new storage in my office/craft room/closet and I wanted to replace a few things around the apartment in general. He moved in so fast due to some crazy conditions so we really didn't have a lot of time to put into making our place a home for both of us. I'm pretty excited about what we've done so far and I honestly think that this place feels like home. We actually only have a few pieces of furniture left that I purchased when I was single. And the best part is, I am still married. Mr. T is a saint and did not divorce me when I said "let's go to IKEA!" and then "let's go home and put together 994 things that we purchased at IKEA." Love that man.

Here's what we've done and a few tips and ideas to inspire you too! I tried to number things to help.

Office/Craft Room/Closet (I need a new name for this room)


I maybe, kind of ruined our dining room table. In my defense Mr. T did it first while making rock candy look like meth for a Halloween costume. I finished it off with gold spray paint and smashing candy canes for peppermint bark (oops). But I really didn't want to get rid of the table. It's not in bad shape other that what we did to it and I thought it would make the perfect craft table (especially when we get a bigger place some day). So we moved it into the office and, honestly, it's pretty perfect. Now I have tons of room to write, spread out papers and notebooks, and work on craft projects. I can't wait to show you some of the things I'm working on. I also redid the space around the table as well. The lovely board was a gift from Mr. T's mom and it's perfect hanging above my desk. I can hang papers, pictures, notes and anything on there that I need easy access to.


I've turned into a crafting machine. Partly because of this blog and a project I'm starting. But also because I love it so much. I love making things and I forgot how much I missed it. I acquired a lot of things over the past couple of months and I desperately needed something to put all of it in. The room is so small so I had to be careful of what I put in there, but I still needed a lot of storage. I found these little drawers at IKEA for like $40. They are perfect for so many little craft supplies. They're also small so they don't take up too much room. And there's a spot for labels so my anal organizing self totally went to town. Plus, I mean, labels are important when you have 994 drawers. Stop judging.

Living Room

Livingroomspace1Our living room has been 994 ways. It's been so many ways so many times that people always comment every time they come over. But the room is small and awkward so it's been hard to get all the things we want in it and make it functional. When we put up our Christmas tree we found a totally different way to put everything that we liked. We decided to keep it that way after taking the tree down and found actually created more storage without taking away too much space. It also gave me the ability to put in some fin touches.

1. I used the tray from our sand ceremony as a holder for our remotes. It's functional and pretty and also reminds me of that day.

2. I found that the red table we bought at Target a while back looks awesome next to the couch. Even better? It works for great storage for all of our board games. And they look pretty darn cute there.

3. I finally found a space for all the throw pillows. I bought the one with the circles at IKEA and I can't remember where I bought the other one. But I love it and it hasn't had a home.

4. We created a cozy little reading and writing nook. We had this HUGE chair and I didn't want to get rid of it. But it just didn't work. It was awkward and not practical and I really didn't like it that much. We found this cute chair at IKEA and all of the pillows. It works perfectly in the corner of the room and would look awesome anywhere really. And it looks really awesome with the picture that used to be my grandma's. I've been waiting to be able to hang that and now I have the perfect spot.

Livingroomspace25. This is the view of our living room. See the chair?! You can't see the TV, but it still looks purposeful. And now our living room feels really cozy.

6. I already had the picture wall (and will be giving a tutorial on that later this month). The grey pillow is actually a big pillow cover from IKEA with two regular old bedroom pillows stuffed in it. It's so comfy. We also decided we wanted a table for behind the couch for function/decoration and to keep the couch in place. We found this awesome cube at IKEA for around $65. It has 6-8 little cubes in it so it doubles as storage while also working as a table because all you can really see is the top and if you need to get to the cubes, just move the couch. It's all kinds of function and decoration. We actually have all of our Christmas decor stored back there plus some other stuff. It seriously was one of the smartest purchases we've ever made. And I have no idea why we didn't think about this sooner.

The Dining Area

Diningspace11. The other half of our living room is our dining space. Since I ruined (and then hijacked) our dining room table we needed a new one. This round one is bigger than the one we had, but fits so much better in the space. You really need a round table with a small space. We were never able to have room for four people to sit at our old table so it really wasn't functional at all. The best part is that there is a leaf in the table so it expands and it's huge. You're able to fit at least two more people at the table, but I am thinking maybe even more and it will be perfect to put food on for parties. What's even better is that the leaf is stored under the table so you just pull it apart and then pull the leaf up. Genius. Seriously genius. I bought that at IKEA too.

2. We don't really have enough room to fit four chairs around the table without it being totally crowded looking. And we also don't have space to put two chairs around our apartment. But we still want to be able to seat four people at the table. So I bought stools instead. These fit perfectly under the table, but are also functional for people to sit at if we have anyone over for dinner. The best part is that they can double as seating or an ottoman around the apartment too. I love multi-functional things. I also purchased them at IKEA.

3. Our table is so cute and quaint now and I love it. And it didn't really cost a ton. I think I spent, like, $20 tops on it all. If you don't count the flowers of course. I found this cute little napkin holder at IKEA. The salt and pepper shakers are owls (one of my many sets) and they are from Target. The toothpick holder is a family heirloom. And the floral centerpiece is just my bridal bouquet dried and put in a large mason jar that I actually found at Goodwill awhile back. The placemats were a gift from my sister at one of my bridal showers. She actually made them and they are amazing (I have pot holders to match as well). (She's working on selling her stuff so see me if you want to order. She makes headbands and all kinds of cute things).


4. This is just the view of the other side of the table to illustrate how much better a round table is. I will get to the booze next.

The Bar Areamoreroomforbooze

I made more room for the booze.

1. I spread out all of the glasses and made room for some that were Christmas presents. I think shelves make the best storage for glasses in a small space. Read my other post for more about that.

2. I made this sign from a gift bag. Yes, a gift bag. It was what my mom and sis used to put my gift in for a bridal shower and I loved it so much that I bought a huge frame for it at IKEA and hung it. I think the words are fun and there's a little glitter for an added touch of pizzazz. But it doesn't scream anything while and crazy. Always, always be on the look out for ways to make art. It's everywhere and there are so many easy ways to make it. All I did was cut the front of the bag and put it in the frame.

3. Since I changed up the storage in the office/craft room/closet, I had this cube that was sitting behind my desk. I decided to move it to the bar area. There is plenty of room for all the booze we inherited from the wedding. It's also great for storing mixers as well. You know, pretty much everything that you need for a bar. The "drawers" at the bottom provide for great storage for napkins, placemats, and other dining related things. Never be afraid to re-purpose something a little. Just because you bought it for one thing doesn't mean it has to be it's permanent home.

The Kitchen

kitchenOnce upon a time we had our table in the kitchen. It was cramped, but not too bad. And we both loved the function of it. It was so nice while we were cooking because it gave us added space to work with and you didn't have to walk across the kitchen to get to stuff. I wanted an island of some sort, but they are big and bulky (and expensive). I found this little kitchen cart at IKEA and it works perfectly as a slim island. We have another cart that's similar and I was originally thinking about buying another one and using that. I think two together would work as well. What I love about this one, though, is that it has drawers that open from either side. It's perfect for cooking. I also love the amount of storage space you get. I put all of our cook books on there and had room for a variety of other things. And with it being in the middle of the kitchen like this, it makes stuff so easy to get to from either side.



7 Ways to Make a Functional Home Office (That's Also Fun & Homey)

I work from home and I've found that having a dedicated work space helps me to be productive. I used to work from the couch or my bed, but, well, that's not that great because I tend to be too relaxed and end up watching TV (those court shows always suck me in) or napping. The only problem is I've found that sometimes it's hard to have this amazing office space that gives me everything I need, but that also feels like it should fit inside my home. I don't want some boring corporate cubicle in my home. So, here's how to make a functional home office that's also fun and homey. The best part is most of them are pretty inexpensive too. Decorate

1. Decorate

I am pretty sure that I would die if I didn't have art work in my home. There is just something about it that really brings a space to life. I make some of my own stuff, but I also buy it or utilize pictures and other things. So my office isn't any different. Add some of the touches you would add to any room. Get a cute rug or lamp. Hang some pictures. Be creative and make sure you're showing a little of your personality there too.


2. Organization

I'm an organization freak in any room of the apartment. But I find in the office it's even more important. A stack of papers here and office supplies there can make it feel a little too corporate like or like I should be on an episode of Hoarders. Clearly that's not a great environment to be productive.  So invest in some good storage so you can keep things neat and tidy (and by that I mean hide things away when you want to/need to). You don't necessarily have to buy office storage either. I actually found a lot of good stuff at IKEA and it's always an excuse to check out the thrift/antique store to find some cool pieces.

Office seating area

3. Make a seating area

We made our seating area by accident. We have this huge ottoman that I love and don't want to get rid of just yet, but we have no room for it anywhere. So into the office it went. I discovered that, with a few pillows, it makes a really cute little seating area. It's good for reading or if Mr. T is in the office with me. It also just helps to give that comfy home feel.


4. Hang things in a different way

I like to hang papers with various bits of info near my desk. That way it's always handy when I need it. But bulletin boards suck (in my opinion) for that kind of thing. And just hanging the papers with thumbtacks leaves 994 holes and really just makes me feel like I'm back in my room as a thirteen-year-old with all of my unicorn posters. I saw an idea on Pinterest where you use clips instead of thumbtacks. It looks cool because you can use fun clips, but it also eliminates the other issues. I also like it because you can hang way more than any thumbtack would hold.


5. Buy cool office supplies or repurpose things as office supplies

Office supplies don't have to be boring. They also don't have to function in their proper way and you don't even have to use office supplies for certain things. I keep all of my cute notebooks in a cute mail holder that I found on clearance at the Container Store. That way I can easily access them, but they still provide a little something to the decor. I bought a mug in London that I thought was cute, but it’s too small to drink out of so I use it as a pencil holder. When I had a monitor I set it on a stack of cool old books so it would be higher. It was way better than those plastic things. I use my bulletin board for cards and cute things rather than boring papers. You get the idea.  Get creative, the possibilities are endless.

6. Paint an accent wall a fun color

We can't really do this so I don't have an example (I will explain our office situation in a later post, but I'm sure you remember me mentioning that it's part office, part closet). I love fun paint colors, but I can admit that it would be hard to work in an office everyday if it's too crazy. However, you could paint an accent wall something really cool or with a really great color. That way it gives you a little pop of fun without going overboard.


7. Add some air fresheners or fresh flowers

I know it sounds weird, but I love to smell nice things. I absolutely love these fun oil diffusers I found at Target. They have great inspiring words on them (and who doesn't like a little push to achieve greatness while you're working in an office). They are also in great colors and they smell amazing. I highly recommend them or something like them that's a little more fun than the regular air freshener. I also love to have fresh flowers when I can. Everything about fresh flowers brightens the room which provides a great atmosphere for working.

Make Room for the Booze: How to Store Barware and Accessories

So I've told you how to be creative with kitchen storage and with coffee mugs and such, but what about all of your alcohol and related necessities? Well, it's actually pretty easy to get creative with that too. I wouldn't say that Mr. T and I are boozers, but we do like to have a drink sometimes with dinner or while we're hanging out at home (watching movies like Coyote Ugly and SciFi. Don’t judge. That's why we need the booze!). So we enjoy having a variety of alcohols, glasses, accessories etc. at home. That way we don't always have to go out. And obviously that's a good idea since we live in New York and it's expensive to go out all the time here.

The problem is that living in New York also means we have a limited amount of space (as I've mentioned a few times before). Our living room is also half dining room and library so we really don't have room for some big cabinet to house all of our boozy items in.


So we decided to get smart and utilize our wall space. Technically I had already done this project before he moved in, but we changed it up some. I like it because it sort of doubles as art. It's also easy to add to or take away from. And, we can easily find use for the shelves if we decide to do something different.


All we did was hang four shelves. We put all of our glassware, shakers, cocktail recipe books, etc. on the shelves. You can also buy a rack for your stemware that goes under the shelf. It adds a little space and looks cool. We just decided not to do that.



Originally we had the alcohol on one of the shelves. It looked really cool, but as we added more mixers and things to our collect it started to become really heavy. We were afraid it was too much so we put it on this cool table that used to be in our living room. You could really do any small table or a cute little bar cart.

Bottle Opener

We wanted to give it some personality so we added this awesome bottle opener that we found at Target. It hangs on the wall and there is a little basket like thing for the bottle caps to fall into.

Bar is openWe also put a chalkboard sign that says "the bar is open!" because, well, it almost always is. The chalkboard sign was actually left over from our engagement pictures.  Then we also hung the bottle cap art I made for Mr. T while we were dating.

And all of the above is really what makes this idea so great -- the possibilities are endless. You  can add to or take away from. You can make it a little more fancy or less fancy. You can really do whatever you want to.

So there you have it. A homemade "bar" that looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

Antique Store Finds & How To Find Them

I have a confession to make. I'm totally that gal who likes everything in my home to be just so (I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that before). I get it from my grandma and in some ways I kind of like it because it helps me to have a pretty great apartment (with some really neat stuff). A while back, I bought this awesome owl cookie jar. When I decided to put it in the kitchen, Mr. T and I didn't really know where to put it. It's kind of large and we don't have a lot of counter space. Seriously, why don't people give you a double sink when you don't have a dishwasher?

Owl Cookie Jar

We played around with so many ideas and decided to look for a piece of furniture to put in this weird blank space we have in the kitchen. There's this awesome antique store near us and Mr. T talked me into going there first. IKEA is quite a trip and, honestly, I kind of hate furnishing our whole apartment with that stuff (so he made a really good suggestion).

We walked around for a really long time. That's the thing about antique stores. They're huge and have a lot of stuff. We toyed with so many ideas including utilizing furniture we already have and buying something different. It was taking forever and I was afraid we wouldn't find anything.Antique Store Tables

Then we found these two tables which weren't what we were looking for (no counter space or storage). However, when we brought them home I fell in love. We put one in the kitchen and then one in our living room and they really add something to our décor. It makes it feel kind of rustic and unique which I love.

Antique table in kitchen

We've since moved things around some to make room for our new toaster oven. I was forced to go to IKEA (lame). But we found room for the tables in other parts of the apartment which makes the finds even more awesome. Obviously this was definitely an antique store success, but it can be overwhelming and frustrating. It's definitely worth it though. So here are a few tips help make it as awesome as possible.

Look everywhere. Don't Give Up. Antique stores often have stuff stuck in weird places so you really have to pay attention and make sure you're looking at all kinds of nooks and crannies.

Do the rounds. Mr. T and I found these tables out in front. We had already looked in front. Twice. But we decided to give it a go one more time. You never know when people are bringing in stuff or when new items are being put out so taking a second look never hurts.

Think outside the box. Just because it's a dresser doesn't mean it has to be a dresser. Mr. T and I are currently using a dresser I bought at this same store as a TV stand. Things can have many uses so use your imagination a little. You can also paint, refinish, reupholster, etc.

Be prepared to spend time browsing. What you're looking for might not just jump out at you. It might take a couple of rounds before you even notice anything that catches your eye. Make sure you plenty of time to thoroughly check out the merchandise.

Bring a measuring tape (and measurements). This isn't IKEA. There are no boxes that tell you exactly how big it is. Things also aren't set up the way they would be in your apartment. Furniture is often crammed and stacked into really tight spaces so make sure you have your measurements and way to measure the merchandise. (Side note: they will often have a measuring tape too, so don't be afraid to ask).

Look for the deals. Every antique store I've ever been in has some stash that's lower priced than anything else. Sometimes it's not a collectible. Sometimes it’s not as fancy. Sometimes it's just not in high demand. You can find some really amazing steals in there so be sure to check it out.

Don't be afraid to bargain. My mom and I snagged my dresses (that's now our TV stand) for like half off all because it had a hutch on it and I didn't want it. You never know when someone might knock down a price for something. Things can also be combined (two dressers, matching pieces, etc.) for even bigger steals. Don't be afraid to try to make a deal.


How To Store Coffee Mugs & Coffee Accessories

Last month I told you how I moved my dishes to the open shelving unit in our kitchen. I absolutely love it. But, Mr. T and I are avid coffee and tea drinkers so that means we also have quite the collection of mugs (and coffee and tea). With all the dishes and serving pieces, I didn't really have room to also put the coffee mugs with the rest of the dishes. I could have added additional shelving, but I wasn't the one who put the shelves in the apartment, so trying to match them is simply impossible (though I did get a cool tip from a reader on my article about open shelving). And obviously buying something additional isn't an option given that we have no more space left in our somewhat small kitchen.

I'm pretty anal about organization. Things need to be in groups and they need to make sense. So, obviously not having all the dishes together made my anal stuff off whack.

So, after some thinking I realized I could actually put the coffee mugs near the coffee pot. It makes sense since they're pretty necessary for coffee. And then it looks intentional so my kitchen is still as organized as I want it to be.



We ended up hanging three shelves just above our large butcher's block which is where we decided to put our Keurig (it's closest to one of our only plugs). We really needed additional shelves in the kitchen and had some shelves left over from another project.

On the first shelf, I put all of our mugs along with sugar, creamer, and honey. I also put some silver spoons in an old creamer container that I don't really use anymore. I also put some powdered creamer in one of my canisters. That way it looks really fun, but it's also functional and serves a purpose.

On the shelf directly above it, I used two large storage bins for hot cocoa and tea. I also store extra k-cups in there as well.

Then, the shelf above that is for decorative purposes. We can't reach it easily, but decided to hang it so there wasn't too much weird white space. I plan on putting some of our wedding "leftovers" (vases, watering cans, etc.) there after the big day.

The second option. Then I put the coffee, tea, extra k-cups, etc. in some drawers below the butchers block.

I really love having everything in one place. It's awesome in the morning when you're still waking up and don't want to move a lot. And it's great for guests too because then they don't have to ask where things are. I also love having the extra storage and options to put other things on the shelves as I add to our kitchen. Next month I will show you what I decided to do with all of our alcohol and beverageware.

Kitchen Storage Ideas for a Small Apartment

I love living in New York. But, as I mentioned before, our apartment is definitely lacking in the storage department.  So it's probably not a big shocker to say that my kitchen doesn't have a lot of options. Here's how I decided to organize all my goods without feeling like I was living in chaos.