TOPIC: Organizing

Cowan home decor DIY tips in Nest issue of SevenDaysVermont

 The editor of Vermont's premiere weekly newspaper, SevenDaysVt, follows me on Pinterest, and decided that a feature about my DIY home tips would be of interest to the paper's readers. This is from their quarterly special insert on homes, Nest. 

Regular readers of this blog will find some of these images familiar. I've posted them here on the blog, as well as on Pinterest and Flickr.

Liza Cowan Home DIY tips, decorating on a budget, coordinating patterns, wooden crates for home decor, make curtains with binder clips
Home Eclectic Home, Liza Cowan DIY home decor tips


Read the online version here.

 

 


Home projects: wooden crate wall, and pink seersucker curtains.

Screened in porch, white curtains, wicker chair, tin dollhouse, wooden crates, may 2015. photo ©Liza Cowan

The screened porch was a deal maker for me when I bought my house. At first, my plan was to build a half-wall around the room, but then I had the brainstorm of modular wall building with wooden boxes. The old owner had left a small cache in the barn, and I had my own collections, so I decided to stack them at one end, and to use some as a small "wall" on the outer deck. That's all I need. And in the Winter, they will go back to the barn because the porch fills with snow. 

My other grand idea was to put in white curtains for beauty, shade, and privacy. I had basic white curtains and tension rods on hand from an earlier project, so that was easy. A cheap and quick project, also removable for the winter months. 

Tin Marx dollhouse from my collections. 

Pink Seersucker Curtains. Lamp by Kileh Friedman. photo © Liza cowan photo

Joanne's Fabrics had seersucker on sale at 50% yesterday so I scooped up 8 yards of pink and white stripe. I love using dressmaking fabric for curtains. My curtain making technique: cut the material to twice the height of the window. Drape over tension rod on inside of window frame. Secure at the top with binder clips or safety pin. If you want to get really fancy, you can hem them. I usually don't, but if I decide to, liquid seam glue works just fine. 

Lamp by Kileh Friedman,  Burlington, VT. Shade from The Lamp Shop, Burlington, VT.


Home Design: Using trays for organizing.

Photo ©Liza Cowan. use a tray or charger  to organize a coffee table.
Tray/charger for organizing coffee table. Photo ©Liza Cowan

 

I like to use trays to help my organize my home. It's a little trick I learned when I was designing and maintaining retail spaces. I found them so useful for display, and they made cleaning so much easier. 

If you don't have some trays or platters already in your home there are so many wonderful options available. Of course, you can go look in resale or junk shops or at yard sales. You never know what treasures you'll find. Stores like Home Goods and Pier One are really useful too, as well as craft supply stores. I'm lucky that we have all of these stores in my small city. But you can buy online too. For better or for worse, it has never been easier to be a consumer. I try to be reasonable, really. I gave away 3/4 of my stuff when I moved last year and I'm trying not to collect more stuff. But I'm in the midst of huge organizing projects, so I do indulge in objects that make the process both easy and beautiful. Trays are part of that process. 

There is now a huge trend for what are called "chargers" which are basically big plates. They are popular now for what is being called "tablescaping."   When I bought the charger above at Pier One, the saleslady told me I should use it for candles on my dining room table. I'm not big on candles; fire makes me nervous,  and I have so many more useful and interesting things to display. Nevertheless, I was amused to find that "tablescaping" is now a thing. I think its an overblown name, but the concept is not so bad.

I use my trays and chargers to keep all the little things that I need in any given spot. Above is the wooden charger I found at Pier One, also very inexpensive. I keep an eye out for sales, of course.  This is my living room, and I had a pile of remotes to wrangle. I found the round paper container at Home Goods, for a song. One other box, also Home Goods, houses emery boards, nail clippers and nail polish. TV watching time is great for an impromptu manicure or nail repair. The final box is hand letterpress from Brookfield, holding their note paper, because I often find I need to make a note

Also vital for me, a box of tissues, these designed for Kleenex by Issac Mizrahi (I bought a dozen, just in case they stop making them) and a bottle of hand lotion. And my eyeglasses, which I tend to lose. But of course it could hold whatever it is that you find you need in your living room. 

The beauty - other than the visual appeal - is that I can whisk the tray right off the table for a game of Sorry or Monopoly with my neighbor's kids, or to make room to serve food for a party. 


Tray platter on dining table desk
Melamine tray on dining room table. Photo ©Liza Cowan

 

My dining room table also serves as my downstairs desk. I like to sit here next to the window for all kinds of projects, including paying bills, and some craft projects. But I also eat here, and the tray is so easy to remove if I need the whole table to serve guests. This melamine tray is from Pier One. Melamine trays are so hot right now, and the new technologies that allow for printing surface design make almost any look possible. This one mimics a worn ceramic. You know I'm all about FAKE!™ so I love this. 

For my table/office I like to keep pens and pencils in a chipped, old cup I painted, back when we still had a paint your own pottery place. I miss that! I have a ceramic dog dish with my ever handy Sugru, and my checkbook in the folder I designed from my FAKE!™ line of paintings, this one a Liza Leger. The checkbook holder was made for me by Flashbags. And another box of note paper from Brookflied. I used to sell Brookfield hand letterpressed note cards in my stores, and I'm happy to have several boxes left over. So pretty. Paper clips are in a little plastic box from Amac, which I also used to sell, and have managed to keep a few for my own use. 

The gorgeous lamp was made by one of my favorite local potters, Kileh Friedman. The round platter in the background was made by another favorite  potter, Pam Black, Paradise Pottery. On it are some examples of bowls I've been making with Crayola play clay. I used to do this all the time with my kids when they were little. Now my young neighbors enjoy coming over for craft time.

Liza cowan photo shinzi katoh tray as organizer for office desk
Tray by Shinzi Katoh for desk supplies. Photo @Liza Cowan


 This is in my studio office. The tray is from Shinzi Katoh, whose adorable products I used to sell at Pine Street Art Works and at Small Equals. I was smart enough to save one for myself. This hold several lucite boxes with pencils, pens, scrap paper and of course, more hand lotion. It too, can be swooped up to clear my table for large projects. 

Happy tray- scaping.!!

 

Organizing with trays seen on see saw

 

 


Tabletop cord wrangler DIY

Cord wrangler seesaw.typepad.com ©Liza Cowan
De-clutter your table top with an easy DIY cord wrangler,

 

I couldn't stand all the cords and cables sitting on my table...chargers for my iPhone, tablet, computer and speaker. So I found a nice old cardboard box I had put away, and made it into a cord wrangler. It's an easy DIY to help de-clutter. 

I cut a rectangular hole on the bottom of the end-side, just big enough to insert the surge protector/extension cord. Make sure your box is long enough. 

Then I cut enough holes for three of the cords that I need on the side, the iPhone, the tablet and the computer. Then I cut a hole on the top for the speaker-charger, because I keep the little speaker on top. 

The holes only have to be big enough for the ends to go through, not the plugs. 

Yes, it would have been neater if I'd had a little drill or a good little saw. But I didn't, so I used a scissors and a kitchen knife. Good enough. 

Time to make it: 15 minutes, once I'd found the box. 

 


HOW TO: cheap and easy way to organize small cables for mobile devices and games.

Organizing: a chore and a fascination. I've searched high and low for an easy way to orgainize an ever-growing collections cables and accessories for all those phones, players and games that can accumulate. My kids and I were always misplacing ours, so I had to figure out a way to keep track.  

 

Easy way to hang small cables and chargers with binder clips
Organize small cables and chargers with binder clips


So far, this is my favorite. It's cheap, easy and quick. The only thing you'll need is a bunch of binder clips, available at stationery stores, and they come in an assortment of sizes and colors.