Friday, April 30, 2010

ALTER ALERT: Tiny-Ass Apartment

They say limitation breeds creativity, and that's just as true for interiors as it is with any other medium. And no one knows that better than the folks at our sister site, Tiny-Ass Apartment.

The Tiny-Ass Apartment blog was started when design enthusiast Simone Chavoor got tired of reading blog after magazine article after catalogue and finding only ideas for those with huge houses and tons of disposable income. She had none of these -- just a 300 square foot studio in Hollywood, a microscopic budget, and a strict landlord. Simone began gathering small-space ideas from other sites, as well as offering advice from her own experience.

One of the "Real-Life Tiny-Ass Apartments," featuring the home of a Boston couple (and their puppy!)

Tiny-Ass Apartment (or TAA) also has a regular feature called "Real-Life Tiny-Ass Apartment," which features both her own friends and reader submissions. It's refreshing to see real people's takes on real apartments, instead of homes that have had whole styling teams descend upon them for a photo shoot.

TAA covers everything from storage solutions to ideas for dividing up space to making clever use of often overlooked nooks and crannies. It's perfect for someone about to move into a TAA of their own (one Real-Life Tiny-Ass Apartment entry featured a dorm room, and I know lots of you out there are young, broke, and fabulous yourselves), someone already in one but looking to make their space more efficient and beautiful, or even those who don't live in small apartments, but are still looking for new ideas for their homes.

It's a blog about big-ass style in a tiny-ass apartment -- and that's why we here at ALTER love it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

B&A: House of Hoarding Horrors

Sometimes you gotta look at before and after pictures not to be inspired by the "after" pictures, but to scare the crap outta yourself with the "befores." After seeing this transformation on Hooked On Houses, I went and cleaned out my hall closet. Guys, don't ever let me live like this. If I start hoarding, just do me a favor and put me out of my misery. Otherwise I might end up trapped and suffocating under a pile of stuff, my corpse rotting away undiscovered for weeks...

Here's the exterior. Looks safe enough.

But inside is another story. Here's the living room...

... the kitchen...

... and who knows what the hell this room was!

Thankfully, this house was bought for a song and flipped. Even though the afters are kinda boring, it's such an incredible difference!

The living room after

The kitchen after

Whew! I feel like I was holding my breath in the "before" pics, and in the "after" pics I could finally breathe!

Maybe in addition to an "inspiration board" we should all have "anti-inspiration boards" -- the things we know we DON'T want our homes to look like! I know this one will be on mine.

Via Hooked On Houses.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Q&A: Rehabbing a Stuff-oholic

Dear Jackie,

My problem is that I'm a stuff-oholic. I have stuff everywhere, on every surface! I'm not exactly a candidate for A&E's "Hoarders" quite yet, but I'm afraid without an intervention I might get there! I see pictures in magazines of people's lovely tablescapes and vignettes -- how can I get my stuff to look more like that?

Clutter Junkie

Dear Clutter Junkie,

The battle against clutter is a neverending one, like the war on terror or my ritual morning battles with my hair. Some people are more successful than others...

Image from Remodelista

Image from Design*Sponge

... And yet, both places look equally stylish! Some looks rely on having a clean and austere room, while others benefit from cool knickknacks at every turn. Still, both of these are at the extreme ends of the spectrum. For you, let's aim for something a little more in the middle.

The first step is to evaluate the objects you have cluttering up your space so that you can determine what to do with them. But it's hard to do it when they're in their usual places. Ever get a stain on the carpet that's been there so long you just stop seeing it? You can stop seeing just about anything, from vases to candles to picture frames. To get a fresh perspective on them, take everything out of the room -- no really. Take everything from every surface and put it somewhere else, like your kitchen counter or your bed. Once your objects are out of context, it's a lot easier to look at them with new eyes.

With those shiny new eyes, figure out what to do with each item. Some items you'll want to keep, some items you'll realize are actually kind of fugly and you don't know why you were hanging onto them in the first place.

Now that you've got your keepers, do another edit. You want to keep only about half of the objects you already have. Don't worry, you're not getting rid of your other things! Those can go into storage so that when you're bored with your room later, you can go "shopping" in your own closet for new stuff!

By now you should have WAY less stuff than when you started. You're on your way to a home where you live, not your clutter! Take the objects that made the cut back into the room, and put them back out on display. Keep your objects in groups of three or five, and try to have varying heights and textures in each group. Your groups should still have something unifying theme, whether it's an artistic motif or color.

Image from CasaSugar

If you're still having trouble arranging your vignettes, go back to those magazine pictures you mentioned and blatantly rip them off. No one will know, and your place will look fabulous! Another place for item-arranging inspiration are home stores in your local mall. Those folks at Anthropologie and Pottery Barn sure know how to put out an attractive display, so the next time you're shopping make a mental note of how they do it.

Images from CasaSugar

Clutter will inevitably start to creep back into your life, but just repeat this process every season or so, and you'll have that ish under control. Clutter may win a few battles, but you'll definitely win the war!