Category Archives: Make It Work!

Make It Work: Living Room Storage

Thank you all so much for your sweet words and kind wishes last Monday! We have had a fun week of celebrating our engagement and getting the wedding plans off the ground. For a list lover, wedding planning is exhilarating! Anyway, I could go on and on about my strange adoration to lists, but I will save that for another day and, instead, get down to business.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the addition of the full wall of open shelving in the kitchen was a huge game-changer for the apartment. Not only did it roughly triple the amount of storage space and make the cooking process even more enjoyable, but it also caused us to slightly rearrange the kitchen (move the table towards the door) and, therefore, no longer have room for the little makeshift storage shelf that used to hand out along that wall. Forgive the old, ugly picture, but it is the only one I have with the shelf. I actively avoided taking pictures of this wall, because, as you can see, the shelf wasn’t doing the space any favors (though we were in no position to turn down any bit of storage before!).KitchenBeforeThe new arrangement in the kitchen freed up the shelf to be used for other things. Is it the prettiest shelf in the world? No. Does it hold stuff and prevent piles of junk on the floor? Yes. This is Make It Work, people. Sometimes we can’t be picky. So we decided to take advantage of the (free!) small shelf for the nook in the living room next to the heater. This area used to have a chair, but we hardly ever used it (once again, apologies for the old pic).Living Room Progress 4We decided it was better use of the space to replace the chair with the small shelf to hold the overflow of our record and book collections. Since we can always grab the chair from the garage if guests are coming over, ditching the chair wasn’t a big deal to us. In fact, having it gone makes the space feel so much bigger!

LivingRoomStorageIn addition to gaining some much-needed storage space for our media collections, I also managed to find a place for that gorgeous set of iron keys I got in wine country. Following your suggestions, I decided to gather all of my other keys from around the house and cluster them together to form a “key wall” (more like a key area). KeyWallThe newest addition to the key family is one of my favorites. When my Uncle Rick passed away, my dad found this key in his belongings and immediately thought of me. Whenever I look at it, I think of my uncle. It’s a nice little thing to remember him by. UncleRicksKey

Once again, a seemingly simple addition of storage has made our living room so much more organized and functional. We no longer have stacks of rogue records hanging around, and my keys finally have a home! The space is cleaner and more open… mission accomplished. For free. BOOM.

Make It Work: Custom Open Kitchen Storage for Under $100

Happy Friday everyone! I have been meaning to post this project for a while, but the last two weeks have probably been the busiest weeks of the year! No only do I have the usual school (especially chairing styles… it is heating up! More on that later when I get my head above water), work, and life stuff to worry about, but I have also had about 40 string art orders to manage and complete from the catalog launch! Since they take me 1-2 hours each to do (plus three days of painting in prep), that is a lot of “extra” time to find in my week! I just kept reminding myself of sending out that invoice… :)  Needless to say, I have finished the rush and am now back to the usual flow of orders, so I may be around more often.

I am finally getting my act together enough to share our first “Make It Work” project! Sadly, this project was completed almost a month ago, but better late than never, right?!

Like I explained, we don’t have much time or money to invest, but we NEED to find a way to make this apartment work better for us. When we asked ourselves, what’s the first thing we would change, the answer was the kitchen. I have mentioned our major lack of storage before and even proposed a cool counter-height table to add more counter space. However, what we really need is storage space, since we continuously acquire new kitchen appliances, devices and ingredients. Since we typically use the kitchen table to do out prep work, the counter space seemed less urgent.

So after a bunch of research for complete solutions under $100 (shelving is expensive! But this was the one place in the house were we were willing to spend a little dough on storage), I ended back at good old faithful: Ikea. I walked out with many shelving pieces in hand to make better use of this area of the kitchen:


Five minutes later (SERIOUSLY – the Ivar system is INSANELY easy to assemble. No tools necessary except for the back support brace!), we had a full wall of open shelving in the kitchen!KitchenShelves_WM

I am OBSESSED with it. Not only can we add $4-6 shelves whenever we feel like it, I also love that we were able to customize it so that my school stuff fits right underneath. Oh, and also Bo’s little eating area! :)KitchenShelves2_WM

Thankfully, we already had most of our food and chiles in these jars, so I only had to buy two extra! But like the shelving system, buying more jars as we need them is very inexpensive going forward.GlassJars

One of my favorite parts of the new shelves is the visibility of all of our spices. They used to be on a shelf I could barely reach, let alone see, so I hardly ever got creative. Now we have easy access and (seriously) our food has been better than ever this month!SpiceJars

Thanks to Design Camp, I also had a World Market gift card (woo!) for $10, so I decided to buy this awesome vintage oil container to keep our oil fresh (it likes the dark!) and a new spice shaker for our chipotle powder.OliveOildTin

Also, thanks to all of the new space, we were able to display our new Nebraska shot glasses that we got on our recent trip, as well as a book of my family recipes that my brother gave me one Christmas.NebraskaGlasses

It may seem like a silly thing to be excited about, but I can tell you that it has made an amazing difference in our lives! I already feel a thousand times better in the apartment and love the way it has complemented our cooking process. After a month of living with it, I wouldn’t change a thing, except that I need to find a new place for our “Life Is Good” letters.

I know I have been putting the blog as a low priority, but I really appreciate you sticking with me and riding out this busy time! I will be spending the next hour catching up on other people’s blogs… I MISS YOU GUYS!

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend. We had some lovely guests last weekend (and had a blast!), but we are looking forward to having an Erika & Walker (& Bo) weekend to just relax and spend time together after these busy few weeks!

Designers, Make It Work!

I am going to put this very plainly: Walker and I are very quickly outgrowing our apartment. A less-than-450-square-foot apartment can be a bit of a tight squeeze for two people, especially people who both have a love for media and cooking. Books, records, DVDs, CDs, utensils, small appliances, ingredients — these things all take up storage space… that we don’t really have.

That being said, we also happen to LOVE our apartment and don’t have the money, time, or desire to move right now. We also don’t have the budget to go all out and buy lots of new storage furniture. So that brings us to our current conundrum challenge: how do we make this apartment function more effectively for our needs without spending a fortune? Since we really have no other choice than to answer this question, I am going to defer to the advice of the one-and-only Tim Gunn: “Designers, make it work!”

And that is precisely what I plan to do: make it work! This brings us to a new blog mini-series that’s one part “Work with What You’ve Got” from Attempts At Domestication (home design on a budget), one part “30 Bags in 30 Days” from Country Mouse Tales (weeding through and cleaning out your stuff, one space at a time), and one part classic Erika ingenuity and delight (sarcasm). I call this beast, “Our Cozy Cubbyhole: Make It Work!”MakeItWork_Floorplan

Over the next few weeks (fingers crossed I don’t get too busy or distracted!), we will be tackling one room/space at a time, asking ourselves what needs to be done in order for that space to function better. Do we need to de-clutter (duh, yes.)? Reorganize? Add storage? Rearrange?

When all is said and done, I hope this exercise will make our apartment breathable again. Our space is truly unique and special… I want to fall in love with it all over again! :)

Before I embark on this mission, any tips, tricks, or advice? Let me know in the comments below!