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  1. The Art of the Cart: Five Ways to Use a Bar Cart At Home

    Maybe we have Mad Men to thank, maybe it’s the trend towards more people entertaining at home, maybe people are just looking for more ways to decorate, but however you slice it, bar carts are totally in right now.

    The humble bar cart has come back in a big way over the last few years, as both professionals in the restaurant business and regular folks alike discover the various presentation, decoration, and space advantages that bar carts can offer.

    Have you recently acquired an antique bar cart you can’t wait to put to work? Are you eyeing a new one but want to have a plan for using it before you click ‘order’? Wait no longer: here’s five fun ways to use bar carts & serving carts in your own home!

     

    Serving Drinks

    It’s pretty obvious but it’s still worth mentioning—serving carts are an ideal way to keep cocktail mixers, serving supplies, and favorite drinks close at hand. Depending on the design of your cart you could go about it a few ways, but the ‘conventional’ method is to keep glassware and serving supplies (coasters, stirring sticks, beakers if you’re a really devoted mixologist) up top and the drinks down below unless you’ve got a lot of them or there’s one you find yourself reaching for a little more than usual.

     

    Coffee Station

    Not too into the whole liquor thing? Serving carts are a perfect way to arrange a station to get your coffee going easier than ever. Keep your coffee maker/Keurig machine on top and spread out your favorite coffee flavors, creamers, and mugs through the rest of the cart to make sure you can get that jolt you need in the morning.

     

    Movable End Table

    End tables are a common fixture in many living rooms thanks to their versatility, but for a truly useful small table, a repurposed serving cart could be just the thing. Imagine how much easier it would be to eat, drink, or simply organize your magazines and remote controls if your end table could roll around—if you use a bar cart, it can!

     

    Dinner/Appetizer Serving

    In a similar vein, serving carts can provide a helpful function in the kitchen or dining room by providing a mobile serving station. Wheel everyone’s plates straight out from the kitchen, push around a tray of hors d'oeuvres during a party, or just use it to make appetizers easier to get to before the main course is ready.

     

    Party Favors

    If you’re the sort that loves having a get-together, you’ve probably encountered all kinds of storage issues with gifts, party favors, and the like. If you need to provide everyone a place to keep their birthday gifts, or if you’re laying out something like a guestbook or photo props, a serving cart is a perfect (and movable) way to get them out to the guests where they belong.

     

    Have you been using a bar cart in your home? Leave a comment below and tell us how!

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  2. Let's Play Dress Up: How to Make Wire Shelves Look Even Better

    Whether you’re redecorating a room, repainting walls, or moving everything around, we know how it feels to suddenly have something in your room that just doesn’t quite match.

    And as helpful as wire shelving can be, sometimes it just doesn’t match the look you’re going for—similar to how the TV stand your mother gave you when you moved just isn’t quite working in the living room anymore.

    But wait! Before you decide to relegate your wire shelves down to the basement and go through the cost and trouble of replacing them, there’s actually a lot you can do to make them match your current decorative mood without breaking the bank or leaving you stuck with a more-decorative but less-helpful shelving solution. Before you go moving those wire shelves around, try these steps first:

     

    Throw me a line: One of the easiest and most helpful ways to change up the look of your wire shelving is to add wire shelf liners across each shelf. This can have a twofold effect on your shelves: by adding a splash of color you can change up the look of your shelving without the cost and trouble of replacement, and the solid lining will make your shelf even more usable by providing a solid surface to keep smaller items/anything that needs more stability (salt shakers, picture frames, etc) close at hand and right on display.

     

    Get rustic: A common renovation trend these days is to try and go for a more rustic ‘natural’ look in homes and apartments, and that usually means one thing: a lot of wood. With a little creativity, even your wire shelves can get in on this new look while still providing the sort of shelving and stability you need. Use wooden shelf liners or butcher block tops atop your shelves to give them a more natural vibe (so long as you don’t still need them in the kitchen, of course), and if you’re really the crafty type you can cut thin plywood strips to glue along the front of your shelves to help them match their new liners and blend in better with your new surroundings!

     

    Play paintball: Not literally, of course, but after a big wall repaint, a few cans of spray paint can go a long way towards dressing up wire shelves. Grab some spray paint that works on plastic or metal (in certain cases, chrome wire shelves or epoxy-coated shelves may require specific paints) and spray paint the shelves to match their current surroundings, or paint them a complementary color to help them pop even more.

     

    Add bins: If you’re not up to customizing the shelves themselves, a good way to change up the look of your shelves is to use storage bins. By varying up the color of your bins and using them to store all the smaller items your shelves usually hold, you can streamline the clutter and add color to your shelves that might have looked more disorganized beforehand.

     

    Got any other tips for making your wire shelves match your home decor better? Leave a comment below!

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  3. Clean Your Bathroom Once and For All!

    Cleaning the bathroom feels like a strangely endless process, doesn’t it?

    It’s clean one minute, then you turn back around and it’s suddenly littered with half-used shampoo bottles and those little boxes your soap comes in all over again. There has to be a better way, right? 

    And there totally is if you use your imagination! Cleaning your bathroom doesn’t have to be an afternoon-long multi-step process that gets repeated every few weeks if you take the time to plan ahead. (The tech industry calls this “future-proofing,” but we’re only here to clean your bathroom, not take the headphone jack out of your iPod.)

    Next time you clean your bathroom, follow these few extra steps to keep it that way:

     

    Prevent mildew in the shower

    If there’s one thing mildew loves, it’s a wet shower. And if there’s one thing everyone loves, it’s the idea of not having to clean up any more mildew. At the end of every shower, leave a squeegee nearby and start a house rule asking that the last person to use it squeegee the whole thing down to prevent water from accumulating in the tub. In really foggy bathrooms, consider spraying some RainX (the stuff you use on windshields) around the walls and maybe kicking on a fan or leaving the door open.

     

    Stick with liquid soap

    Hand soap is a necessity for cleanliness and sanitation when using the bathroom, but bar soap leaves potential for a bigger mess due to soap scum and other crud on your nice porcelain sink. Unless you absolutely have to keep bar soap due to medical reasons, try to switch to liquid soap—it’s cheaper in the long run thanks to refills, and it’ll drastically reduce the time you have to spend on cleaning the sink.

     

    Declutter your shower supplies

    Part of cleaning the bathroom inevitably involves moving the same five bottles of shampoo around until they’re finally out of the way, but what if you did something to keep them out of the way...for good? Throw up a shower caddy with enough space for everyone’s personal shower needs and make sure everyone can get to their own shampoo and soap without any hassle. It’ll save everyone a step in the morning, and cut down on your chores next time.

     

    Empty out that cabinet

    Bathroom cabinets and closets are one of the biggest sources of clutter in a bathroom thanks to the amount of stuff we all let ourselves accumulate. Purge everything you know you can live without (half-filled conditioner bottles, unused cleaning supplies, etc) and then move the rest onto bathroom shelves to free up space and provide accessibility.

     

    Keep cleaning supplies right where you need them

    Finally, cleaning the bathroom can be made so much easier if you do short cleaning jobs more frequently, and a good way to get started is to keep cleaning supplies close at hand to handle messes as they develop. Always have some wipes and disinfectant spray under the sink, and keep a Swiffer or some small dryer sheets around to do quick sweeping jobs as the need arises. It’ll save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.

     

    Got any other tips for keeping a bathroom clean? Drop a comment below!

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  4. Finding Your Book Organization Style

    Alright book lovers, it’s time to face the harsh truth: sometimes, it is possible to own ‘too many’ books.

    We’re speaking strictly from a practical standpoint, of course. Nobody is here to judge your multiple autographed copies of A Song of Ice and Fire, or your unfinished paperback of Casino Royale you bought forever ago when the movie came out because you had no idea the James Bond movies were based on books.

    What we are here to do, though, is help you find a way to organize them that suits your needs! Everyone has different styles of book collections, and as a result everyone has different ways to organize and store them. Instead of trying to suggest a one-size-fits all approach, let’s take a look at a few different book-hoarding scenarios and find an organizational style that works best for you!

     

    Do you like a neat, orderly shelf?

    Show of hands: who here was the kid with the neatest desk in the room? You’re probably the sort that needs a good, well-organized book collection, either alphabetically or by series (or both if you’ve got a lot of Dune novels to handle). Alphabetizing is a good way to start but it comes with some pros and cons—you have to decide exactly how everything is sorted (Title? Author, like at the library? Publisher? Don’t laugh, we’ve seen people do that) and you have to decide where to keep it. So long as you have enough spare bookshelves to keep everything on and know how the alphabet works, this could be a good way to go, but we don’t recommend it for smaller collections.

     

    Do you want to show off?

    Books, commemorative plates, Japanese Star Wars toys...whatever it is people collect, and whatever reason they give for collecting it, at least part of the reason is so they can show it off. If your aim is to inspire book envy in your fellow bibliophiles, a more ‘open’ and showy shelving option might be best. Take a few of your favorites—that autographed hardcover of Deathly Hollows, ancient Sherlock Holmes collection you got from your grandpa, or Tom Clancy novel you bought at the airport out of desperation that you wound up kind of liking—and put them up on some wall shelves to show off to everyone when they visit. This is a great way to help separate the “collector’s items” from the stuff you have yet to read, and will give them a nice space out in the open to be proudly admired.

     

    Do you need to separate the stuff you’ve read from the stuff you haven’t?

    When trying to organize a book collection, a lot of people tend to focus on looks or accessibility ahead of practicality, but your book organization can actually come in handy in many cases. When trying to reorganize any stack of books, take some time to sort out the next ones in the rotation from the well-worn favorites you’ve tackled a million times. This will give you a good visual indicator of what you want to read next, and help you sort and prioritize everything. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll stop you from buying more books before you’re done with the stuff you’re reading already.

     

    Ah, who are we kidding? We understand.

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  5. Sweater Storage Strategies

    The humble sweater: whether for fashion, business wear, comfort, or just plain warmth, the sweater is one of the most versatile garments around today.

    This, of course, probably means you own more than a few and need somewhere to store them, especially this time of year when spring is trying its hardest to creep around the corner. Sweaters stand out among cold-weather clothes simply by being a little harder to put away than normal items—too bulky for many drawers and too heavy to hang up, they can turn into a pain before you know it.

    When it comes time to put your sweaters away, avoid that yearly ritual of folding, stacking, and cramming sweaters into your already-overtaxed drawers with a few of our helpful Sweater Storage Strategies:

     

    Tips for Drawers:

    • Try rolling sweaters instead of folding them: fold the arms to the back, roll up from the bottom edge to the collar, and place the rolled edge up in the drawer (lined up single file) so you can tell each sweater apart. (Be careful not to let V-neck collars get snagged on anything!)
    • Sort your rolled sweaters by whatever system works best for you: type, color, style, even when you wear them (winter sweaters vs lighter stuff) to keep them easier to access when the cold weather comes back around—or for those freak days we have every May where it drops back down to 50° again.

    Tips for Closets

    • One thing to avoid when storing sweaters in the closet is using hangers; these can lead to a horrible condition many experts refer to as “hanger burn” that leads to wrinkles, puckers, creases, and worst of all ruined collars. Don’t fall for hangers that try to claim they’re designed for knits.
    • Instead, we suggest using a flatter storage system to avoid running the risk of damage. Take some sweater storage bins or garment bags and line the floor of your closet with them to provide an easy, flat storage solution for sweaters (that can be used to store other knicknacks when sweaters come back into season)
    • Not enough space on the floor? Get some closet shelves lined against the back or side walls of your closet. This provides flat space to safely lay all of your sweaters where they can be easily accessed whenever needed.

    Tips for Everywhere Else

    • Already out of closet space? (We get it.) As long as your home is temperature controlled and pest-free, anywhere can be converted into a space for sweaters. Set some rust-proof wire shelves up in the attic to keep them nicely out of the way, or down in the basement so long as it doesn’t get too musty. (Some of those moisture traps would be perfect here.)
    • Space under the stairs? Perfect place for some storage bins. Drawers in the stairs? Even better, just remember what we told you earlier about arranging them in that area.

     

    Got any other out-of-the-ordinary tips for sweater storage? Drop a comment below!

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