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Topic: small space, lots of clutter, mismatched furniture...HELP!  (Read 3001 times)
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Mama Brymble
« on: November 08, 2009 09:39:22 PM »

It's been 2 years since a fire claimed most of our possessions.  We're still living with donated and thrift store furniture.  We have a small cottage, and storage is a problem.  I have few book cases and dressers right now to keep stuff in, and because the kids' room is small their dressers are in the living room.  Nothing matches, and it's pretty garish.  The bookcases are crammed with stuff in cardboard boxes, board games, and of course books (which seem to reproduce faster than coat hangers.)  A lot of this stuff was donated and so I felt guilty about getting rid of it, and really, decorating has been on the bottom of my priority list.

I still have very little money to work with.  However, I do have a gift for repurposing and fixing old things up.  I also realize it's going to be a slow process: decorating is still nowhere near the top of my priority list but its getting to the point where a makeover may help me feel better about my situation and move on.  I do have about a gazillion pairs of jeans, and I was thinking about using them to make furniture covers, shades, and/or a braided rug.  (In my fantasy, I'd like rustic furniture made out of logs with cushions made out of jeans in traditional quilt patterns.)  But I don't know what to do about the storage problem and all the ugly boxes on the bookshelves.  And while I wish I could make the ugly mis-matched furniture look better while I work on buying and making better things.

Suggestions?  This place looks awful!
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2009 05:27:29 AM »

First of remove unwanted scrap and managing you furniture.
It's most important. Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2009 10:03:17 AM »

Hi, so sorry to hear of your misfortune. I understand that I must feel like its a bit superficial to deal with things like the look of your furniture, but it might just be something to keep your mind occupied and boost your ego when you make something nice!
You could start by sorting the boxes into same styles, maybe ask for more of the same size/style boxes at shops or your office (I think the boxes for copying paper are a great size and they have lids!).
Then you could dress them up smart by decoupaging them, covering them in fabric, painting them. You could decoupage them with magazine clippings, wallpaper (they often have end of line rolls for discount prices at the hardware store) of pictures of teh contents of the box. Dressing all the boxes in the sameclour/style ties up the look.
If the bookcases are of the open on all sides type you could also make a fabric coverup for them with a curtain on the front part. Basicly you just make a big pillowcasay type of from which yu could slip over the book case. Or just get simple rods from harware stores, ikea, thriftshop to hang a nice curtain in front.
I dont know where you live, but over here (netherlands) we can often get logs from the council when they have chopped down trees (like from building plots).
If you have a lot of books and dont like them all you could even build a book case out of books! just pile up the unwanted books into equally sized piles and slip (very strong) glue in between. A friend of mine did this with book she inherrited.

With the old jeans you can do what ever you want, making pillows, slipcover etc sounds great!

good luck with your projects and let us know (see) what you made!

I'm never having kids, I hear they take 9 months to download
Mama Brymble
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2009 11:10:45 AM »

Thanks!  I thought I'd start with more attractive storage, and then deal with the furniture.  I'd considered hanging panels made from jeans (maybe using the pockets for additional storage and organization of often-used small items like scissors and pencils) and tension rods from a hardware store.  Some of the boxes jut too far out from the front of the shelves, so it might not work as far as improving the looks.

I thought about using those same jeans to cover the boxes.  Many of them are old shoe boxes, and this would work.  Some of them, however, are corregated shiping cartons, closed by tucking the flaps, and I'm not sure how to make the tops of those more attractive, because they do show.

With the games, I'm not sure I want to hide those, I think it's a question of keeping some sort of order; we don't have a TV so the kids o through the games on a regular basis and it looks cluttered quickly.

I was also thinking of maybe making a screen (out of the jeans, again) to put in one corner to hide some stuff behind, but I'm not quite sure how to make it stand stable.

I scored an old desk from someone's curbside, and it looks hideous now but I'm already fond of it.  It's my current craft space, in my bedroom so the kids don't get into the drawers, and I figure even if I can't dress it up right away organizing that area should be my next task after the living room. 

The thing in both spaces is that I do a lot of crafting with scrap fabric, beads, metal tins, and found objects, and so I have a lot of odd-shaped, reused containers and boxes with all sorts of weird odds-and-ends in them, and it so looks cluttered even when everything's neat and in order. 

The good news is, working primarily with altered art and repurposed found objects it was cheap and easy to start building up an inventory of stuff to craft from.  But now I have all these yogurt containers filled with bottlecaps and shoe boxes of altoids tins, and it looks messy and out of control.  Covering them may help, but I feel like I need to find some way to contain my containers, rather than just dressing them up.
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2009 11:09:22 PM »

I'm sorry for what you've had to deal with the past couple of years. I can sympathize, as we lost our home to a fire a few years ago. We lived in my grandfather's RV for six months and I remember how displaced I felt.

A couple of suggestions. First of all, consider donating items that were donated to your family that your family is no longer in need of. Passing on a benevolent act is nothing to feel guilty about or ashamed of. Perhaps a family is in a similar position right now that you were in when you lost your home. Culling items that are no long of use to you (a good rule of thumb is if you haven't used an item in six months and really can't foresee  yourself using it within the next six months, it's time to part with it, save for sentimental objects) can be very liberating and make your living space seem less overwhelming.

Right now you're using boxes to store items on shelves such as toys, games, etc. Perhaps you could cover them with some denim fabric to look similar to these. Fabric bins never go out of style and they can fashionably store and conceal objects.

Do you have any furniture that can be stripped and refinished at a reasonable cost? Drawer pulls can be insanely expensive, but if they are metal you can cover them in polymer clay in any design you want (I saw a cute child's dresser online with fishy knobs) and bake them according to the directions. Check stores like Lowe's and Home Depot for "Ooops" paint, the paint that was mixed incorrectly or a customer brought in the wrong color sample. I painted an entire bathroom in oops paint once. Paint that was originally way out of my budget ended up costing me substantially less by purchasing from the "ooops" pallet.

I think one of the most difficult aspects of losing a home under any sort of disastrous circumstances (flood, fire, tornado/hurricane, etc.) is that while you're grateful for your lives, it's hard to come to grips with the magnitude of losing your possessions. Most of the things that were lost could be replaced, but some things could not. It's difficult to not hoard things after you've lost personal belongings. It took me a couple of years to where I was willing to part with a lot of my clutter.

Even if you make a small, redecorated space (such as making storage bins or reupholstering a chair or making a braided rug) you will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride and that tends to affect the whole family positively. Keep your chin up. Things get better and they tend to get better when you least expect it.  Smiley

My Artsy Fartsy LJ:
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2010 04:11:57 PM »

I would choose a color that goes with the denim, maybe a antique white, tan or brilliant red and paint most of the mismatched furniture that color, then upholster the fabric bits and cover the boxes with denim.  That should help with the visual clutter of mismatch furniture and such.  good luck.

« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2010 09:08:43 AM »

I agree with painting the furniture - having it all white (or a couple shades of white) would help bring everything together, even if it still mismatched a little bit.

Since you are living in such a small space, get rid of as much as you can. There is no good reason to feel guilty about it, and I'm sure no one wants you to feel burdened by the things they donated. If it isn't beautiful, or useful, or loved - out it goes.

As for the cardboard boxes - if you have a sewing machine you can make boxes out of fabric. http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/?p=717 and you could also make little "cozies" to go over top of the boxes. Keep an eye out for cardboard boxes with lids. See if any local stores could save some up for you - I worked in an office supply store and we had tons of those boxes, because reams of paper come in them. You could also buy some from an office supply store, I think they sell them as file boxes. If they are obnoxiously colored, you could spraypaint them white or blue (to go with the denim).

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