Monthly Archives: April 2010

How to: Pack like a pro

We spent the last two weekends packing things up over here at the Borrowed Abode, and wouldn’t you know -  I don’t feel anywhere near finished.  To think I thought my apartment was clutter-free!

At least I know I packed like a pro, staying organized and structured despite the upheaval.  I tried to keep things eco-friendly, opting for “green” packing materials rather than the standard bubble wrap or foam peanuts.  If I lived in California, I’d surely have opted for the Earth Friendly Moving company, packing all my items in rented plastic storage bins.

Heaven knows I’ve packed and moved more times than I’d like. Here’s a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way for organizing an easy and chaos-free move:

1.  Start early

Start packing so early that you think you’re nuts for doing so.  Trust me, it always takes longer than expected.  At least a month ahead of time, save money and a few trees by snagging free boxes and packing paper off Craigslist or Freecycle.

2.  Hunt and gather

Go through your house, gathering up everything in categories, so you can pack like items together.  Here’s my dining room-turned-packing area with all my books, candles, and small decor items ready for packing.  (Yikes.  We’ll have a yard sale after the move to pare down the junk to just our favorite stuff.)

How to Pack Like a Pro

2.  Label everything

Know where your stuff is, even when it’s in boxes at your new house:  label everything. In detail.  Each box gets at least two labels:  Contents and Location.  Prior to packing, I print adhesive labels for every location in the new house.  Those labels get stuck to the upper right hand corner of every box, to help the movers know where each box goes.   I also print out large adhesive labels that read “Contents”, so that I can create uniform, easy-to-read box inventory lists as I pack.  When the box is full, and I tape it up, I slap the contents label right next to the location label.   Sounds OCD?  Maybe.  Uber-useful?  Definitely.

If the box is fragile, I stick those labels on every side.

3.  Wrap resourcefully

Save the environment and your wallet.  Use towels, sheets, rags, and fabric to wrap breakables.  I also picked up some Geami paper for wrapping the super fragile items.  It’s good stuff – made from recyled paper, and just as good as bubble wrap at swaddling wine glasses and other delicate items.

4.  Make space

Let’s face it, you’re gonna have to have a spot to pile all those boxes you’re about to pack.  And if you’re like me, you want to keep the house feeling uncluttered and organized despite the upheaval.  Corral the clutter as much as possible by devoting a wall or section of a room to stacks of boxes.  Bonus:   Storing them in one place makes for a faster, easier move on the day-of.

That’s it for my tips.  Did I leave anything out?  Any other tips and suggestions would be greatly appreciated – we’re moving soon!

Speaking of moving, this will be the last you hear from me until after the move.  I’ll return on May 1st bigger, bolder, and better than ever!  (Or not.  I just liked the way that sounded.)  But I will be blogging from a new borrowed abode, and will have a fun surprise to share with you all!

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How to: DIY Privacy Bamboo Blinds

On Monday I promised to return and tell you how I took my budget bamboo blinds from see-through to peep-proof in a few easy steps.

I saved a ton of dough by opting for the unlined blinds in my living room and dining room-turned-office. . . but they allowed both strangers’ eyes and cold drafts straight through the windows.  So, in one afternoon I DIY’ed them into privacy bamboo shades.   Here’s the scoop:

How to line and insulate Roman bamboo shades:

1.  Purchase white insulating lining fabric from a sewing store.

2.  Spread out the shade, fully extended, on your work surface.

3.  You’ll see that pull cords run down the back of it, going through little rings.  Untie the pull cords from the bottom, and remove from each ring. Leave them attached at the very top, where all the fancy hardware is.

4.  Figure how much of the back of the shade you need to line.  (For example, I didn’t need to extend the lining to the very bottom, because the shade is doubled up at the bottom.

5.  Cut a piece of liner fabric to fit the shade.

6.  Grab a glue gun to adhere the fabric to the back of the shade with hot glue.

**Notes: I found that three thin vertical rows of glue worked best.  The blue arrows and numbers in the image below show how I applied the glue in three rows.   The red circles show where the rows of cord loops are.   Be sure not to apply glue too close to where the cord loops are.

7.  Once the liner is glued to the shade, carefully use sharp scissors to cut a notch in the fabric where each metal loop is.  Pull the ring through the notch.

window treatments

8.  Run the cords back through the metal rings, and tie at the bottom as they were before.

9. Hang your shade, and enjoy your newfound privacy.

Tips and tricks:

  • If you have a single shade that is wider than 54″ you will need to line it in sections.  For example, if your shade is 60″ wide, you’ll want to line it with two 30″ sections just to keep things nice and even.
  • Shop around for the best price.  You should be able to find the fabric for less than $7 a yard.
  • If hardcore insulation, and not just privacy, is your goal – be sure to buy “insulating” liner fabric, not just privacy liner fabric.

By all means, if you are confused by my directions, please let me know so I can improve them!  I really love this inexpensive privacy remedy, and hope it helps!

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Small Space Solution: Beautification Station

If you rent and/or call a small space home, it’s possible your life isn’t overflowing with bathroom storage options.  Here’s how I tackled that design dilemma in my condo.

As the last two homes I rented  had small bathrooms with pedestal sinks, I had to improvise a decorative and utilitarian  storage space for all the girly stuff I primp with daily.   A beautification station.  In each situation, I created a space in the guest room for a small vanity area, usable by both me and my guests.

Thanks to a bookshelf I had on hand, and a mirror that I snagged on a serious budget, I put the space together for almost nothing.  At Pier 1,  nestled amongst the mirrors, was this gorgeous wooden one – with a bright little clearance sale price tag announcing the price of only $19.  Marked down from about $100!  Hello, bargain.

Old Condo Vanity in Guest Room | TheBorrowedAbode.com

It was on clearance because there was a crack running through the glass.  It was still awesome.  Heck, that crack made it more awesome.   The manager wanted to get me a new one.  For full price.  He reached out for the mirror, and I held tightly to my bargain, as he tried to tell me he couldn’t sell it to me. I argued that it was tagged with a price, displayed on the floor, and he wouldn’t get my money for a full-price one.  Then I literally tugged it out of his hand. My stubbornness paid off.  I got the mirror!

And you know what?  To this day the crack shines proudly, like a battle scar.  From the battle of the broken bargain.  But I digress. . .

The top of the bookshelf became the landing pad for my makeup, hair product, etc.

I grouped like items in brown wooden storage containers for a more cohesive look.  I collected the containers over a month or two.

Old Condo Vanity | TheBorrowedAbode.com

The white wicker bins, which I already owned, fit almost perfectly on the shelves – providing storage for hair accessories, travel toiletry bags, hair dryers, purses, hats, and other girly stuff.

I think I enjoy this cheerful little vanity more than I would have enjoyed a built-in cabinet in my tiny bathroom.   And now my guests have a convenient place to primp, without tying up the only bathroom in the joint.

At the end of the day, the key to making your small rented home personal and functional comes down to one thing:  creative thinking.  If the apartment doesn’t have a functional space that you need, just create it.   There’s always a way.

And now I’m curious. Do you have a vanity area in your home, or do you just use the bathroom area?

*New to this blog?  Check out another small-space storage solution I whipped up in my guest room.

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