Browsing Category

Befores & Afters

0 In Befores & Afters/ DIY/ Remote Life/ Resources

Death by Fluff: The Kotatsu Quilt Square

How to Kill Not One, But Two Sewing Machines

This post could easily be titled “More like how a kotatsu square quilt managed to damn near kill one sewing machine, made one metaphorically throw its hands in the air and give up on this project because it was too fluffy, and Natasha seriously contemplated an industrial sewing machine.”

I would have purchased one too if said industrial machines weren’t, you know, a cool $6,000 that I could be spending on everything else save a sewing machine for one project. Because oh, this quilt gave me fits.

Best part? It’s still not finished. My Heavy-Duty sewing machine decided to drop bobbin tension and gave up so I have the beautiful joy of hand stitching the last 20 inches.

</sarcasm>

So Why Did I Make the Kotatsu Quilt Square?

I didn’t HAVE to quilt a kotatsu square. But my god, I wanted to. Just to say I did. This was entirely a mess of my own making and I’m owning that.

However, let’s go back a few months to the day I’m on the Facebook Mobile Site (oh Zuck, why) and skimming over my local East Fremont Buy-Nothing group when I see one poster gifting an old kotatsu. He was no longer using it, it was just sitting in a closet and he had no real reason to use it anymore so he was gifting it to a new home.

Naturally, I took the topic to Twitter. Gimme’ that sweet, sweet dopamine hit, baby.

Do I Take the Free Kotatsu?

After the eighth “YES” – I hopped into the post with “if nobody else wants it, I can take it off of your hands.” I received the “when do you want to pick it up” DM about three hours later. Much to my complete delight.

That meant I had a bona fide mother hunking kotatsu and my little weeb heart was never happier.

A Natasha Thrilled with a Kotatsu

What IS a Kotatsu?

A kotatsu is a two-piece heated table hailing from Japan. In your average household, winters plus straw tatami mat floors made for some interesting times, because they burn easily. Really easily. Until someone came along, slapped a super weak heater under a table, dropped a blanket over it all, and smashed a heavy tabletop over it.

We can get into the laws of thermodynamics but that’s not my field and let’s just say the kotatsu is like a haven of warmth. It’s great! Just don’t fall asleep under one. I personally cannot fit under this one because I’m a fat American, but some folks can wedge their entire bodies under it without burning themselves. Your average kotatsu’s wattage would require a step-down generator, but since the previous owner wasn’t using one, I decided not to. Turns out, this particular kotatsu is American wattage-friendly.

He Just Gave It Away!

Wylder was happy (why, Wylder, why) to get it out of his flat. Even helped me put in my car. However, I’m pleased to announce, he now has regrets. I sent him the updated photos sometime before Halloween. Since he lived around the corner. Literally. I could have walked to his flat and carried the kotatsu home. But I had plans later that day, so the kotatsu lived in my car for a month. And then I moved, so it stayed in my backseat for a second month.

I brought it upstairs in early October, grabbed a forty-year-old quilt my great aunt, Juanita, made for my parents when they got married, threw it over the frame, set the tabletop over it, and well… 

…I hated it. It served its purpose just fine, but in my designed flat, it stuck out like a sore thumb. Which meant two things needed to happen:

kotatsu before a makeover
  1. The tabletop would need a makeover
  2. I would have to acquire a better quilt for it.

OR

I could just do it all myself.

Let’s Start with the Makeover

Going in, I knew the kotatsu was showing its age. The plastic top was discoloring from red to pink, the felt under the tabletop was discoloring also, and it was starting to fray around the edges. The plastic edge trim was cracked and taped into place and honestly, it would have been super cute in its heyday.

Right then, it looked tired.

I had a ton of butcher-block contact paper scraps from the bookcase project and pattern-matching wouldn’t be a concern or issue. The paper would hold up to the heater and oh, I could always change the pattern out if I got bored or damaged the contact paper in any way.

Supplies Needed?

  • A knife (I used my ever-handy box cutter)
  • Contact Paper
  • Patience
  • Flat edge – remember the cardboard I used in the bookcase project? I used that here because it was within arm’s reach.

The Tabletop Process

  1. Start in the Center of the tabletop: Lay down your largest piece of contact paper so it covers the middle. If it doesn’t reach from end to end – no big deal, it’s why you have multiple remnants.
  2. Go side to side. Finish laying the paper along the middle. This is how you’ll match your patterns once you start working on the edges.
  3. Oh look, you have gaps. That’s going to happen when you work with scraps. Start in the middle of the edge and lay down another piece of contact paper. You can match the pattern if you’re feeling froggy. If there’s excess, cut it off once the entire side is finished. Do the same on the opposite side of the tabletop.

The Tabletop Corner Edition:

  1. Corner time: Grab more remnants. Pattern-match to the best of your ability. I gave up and hoped for the best.
  2. The corners themselves will need a little more attention. Get those bubbles out to the pattern to the best of your ability and use a thumbnail or your razor (gently) to smooth those corners out. The sharp edge of your nail will go through the vinyl for a smooth curve. Warning: It’s Sexy and sort of distracting. Your mileage may vary.
  3. Just the tip: you’ll need the tip of your razor blade and run it along the edging trim slowly and gently, cutting away the excess paper and leaving a gorgeous surface behind.
  4. Ta-da!

And It was Fine… sort of

Honestly, it was fine for a while. But I had started to tear and rip my quilt in odd places because it was so threadbare – the quilt itself was in its 40s, okay? Fabric doesn’t age that well when you’re constantly using it.

But something else was needed. I needed more pop and something to hold the heat in better. I needed one of those quilts I saw in the anime that were super fluffy and I could just design the damn thing.

So I did, from scratch. Remember, I created this mess all on my own. I’d do it again too, just with a heftier sewing machine.

The Kotatsu Quilt Square: Initial Phase

  1. Decide how the square will look. Mine was a teahouse tatami-esque pattern with a wide edge. I wanted the edge to be white because quilt sheeting is 118” wide, came in two colors of white and eggshell, and I was going to soak the entire thing in fabric protectant. Because lugging this thing downstairs to wash on the regular – no thank you.
    
  2. Draw it up! This is where I decided how big the square was going to be (85” x 85”). How fluffy would it be? Very fluffy, what materials would I use, etc.
    
  3. Order the materials: in this case, I only ordered the quilt sheeting. The rest of my supplies were either around my apartment or oh no, a trip to IKEA to buy things. Heavens. Whatever would I do? (I bought 6 of those comforters.)

The Kotatsu Quilt Square Supply Breakdown:

  • Gray velvet: leftover from headboard project
  • Hunter green broadcloth: initially slated for a duvet cover, but I had a 3-yrd piece because fabric comes in 22yrd bundles.
  • Hunter green velvet: leftover from a February 2020 sofa project
  • Stuffing: 3 IKEA comforters
  • Quilt Sheeting: Ordered from FabricWholeSaleDirect.
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Patience
  • A Sewing Machine capable of handling 15 layers of fabric. (It doesn’t exist on the consumer market.)
  • More patience
  • You thought I was kidding about patience?

The Kotatsu Quilt Square Process Part 1:

  1. Wash the sheeting: It’s 100% cotton, it would shrink in the wash. Pre-shrink it first.
    
  2. Iron everything. Which meant spending some quality time ironing 108” of 118” wide fabric. I wasn’t looking for pristine flat fabric, but I needed to iron the bigger wrinkles out.
    
  3. Cut your fabric to size.
    
  4. Assemble the top layer. My first sewing machine handled this part perfectly.
    
  5. Assemble your fluff – sew three comforters so they’re one squishy fluffy sandwich. Leave 20 inches free on one side so you can flip them inside out into one big puffy cloud. Don’t worry about sewing this part shut – you won’t see it once the quilt is assembled.

The Kotatsu Quilt Square Process Part 2:

  1. Assemble your quilt: Lay your quilt sheeting down on the floor > fluff > top layer.
    
  2. Fold up your edges and tack into place with a needle and thread. The corners will need to be faux mitered.
    
  3. Faux miter your corners – we’re not actually mitering the corners. They’re too fluffy. But we can fake it! Flip your corners over to cover the fluffy bits. Now fold in your straight edges so it looks like you painstakingly mitered the corner. Tack into place with needle and thread. If it just happens to look like an uncut penis, well, it’s because this author is mentally a 12-year kid and I can’t unsee it.
    
  4. Tack your inner square down to the bottom sheeting. We could pin everything, but there’s too much fluff. The average quilting pins are not up for the job. Guess how I know? Go on. I’ll wait.
    
  5. Slowly sew your quilt. Start on the straight sides. I used black thread here. I say slowly because there’s a lot of fluff involved and your machine may not quite be able to handle it. It’ll try. My 20-year-old Brother was not up for the task. My Heavy-Duty Singer sort of gave up when I had to reset the bobbin.
    
  6. Give up on using the machine and hand-stitch the rest.

Next Steps

  1. Soak in Fabric Protectant and Waterproofing solution. Ignore how the green bleeds into the white underneath. It’s FINE. (Warning: Pomegranate seeds will test this. Why did we use white? BLEACH.)
  2. Toss over kotatsu frame
  3. Smash tabletop into place
  4. Enjoy!

Final Lessons Learned

First Lesson

Not even a 20-year old Brother sewing machine that could and had handled eight layers of upholstery velvet without blinking, couldn’t handle this project.

Second Lesson

Humans will packbond to anything. My mother heard me in tears over the phone because I was begging my Brother Machine to not hate me because I purchased a second machine.

“Natasha, are you apologizing to a sewing machine?” 

“Shut up, Mom!”

Third Lesson

My HD Singer tried to handle it and lost bobbin tension with 20 inches left. Consumer heavy-duty machines are not quite up for the task of a quilt this fluffy. Death by fluff, RIP sewing machines everywhere.

Final Lesson

Pomegranate seeds are the bane of my existence. That wasn’t the lesson I learned though. The actual lesson was this would have been a hell of a lot cheaper if I had just bought a kotatsu square on Amazon or something. It wouldn’t have been as fluffy and probably would have been uglier but this square is luxury-level cost, effort, and has velvet on it and we are in love. 

Initial Quilt Cost:

Comforters: 30$

Sheeting: 27$

Stain Solution: $12

Fabric: Free

And then I was forced to upgrade my machine. So…

Final Cost: $400

0 In Befores & Afters/ DIY/ Resources

IKEA EXPEDIT MAKEOVER

The Grand IKEA EXPEDIT Makeover. Also known as an IKEA Expedit shakes off two dusty previous owners and earns its sexy butcher-block makeover.

OR.

Ed gave me his old EXPEDIT 2×4. It’s your standard dark brown wood veneer affair and he was owner number 2. Part of his flat renovations included a kitchen bar, which meant he no longer had room for the shelf unit and I now had plenty of space for additional future. 

Fortunately, my landlord knows I have an affinity for “making things pretty”, Yvonne did not (she now stands corrected) and mentioned the unit didn’t quite fit my aesthetic.

Ed: “Don’t worry, she has an idea.”

Nat: “Oh, I have like eight ideas.”

– When I was signing my lease

This is true and I had like eight ideas off the top of my bed before I finished reading and signing my lease. I think I flipped through six or seven ideas and settled on the GRAND IKEA EXPEDIT MAKEOVER.

But you know those projects where you have high hopes and think you don’t need as much material as you think you do?

This is one of those projects. Half of the reason it took so long because I kept thinking “oh, six rolls of contact paper will be PLENTY!”

Narrator: That was incorrect.

The Contact Paper

I have a small one-sided love affair with DC-Fix Contact paper. Every variety I’ve used has this gorgeous, thick finish and that’s understandable, it’s meant to be used on countertops. I redid my Helmer Drawer units in the white-gray marble paper (which I think I need to redo).

It’s also staticky as hell. A sharp straight edge is required to get rid of the bubbles and in some cases, I just embraced the bubbles because they were happening whether I liked it or not. I decided to match my bamboo picture ledges (yay, IKEA), therefore I chose to use the butcher block colorway. 

Supply List

The IKEA Makeover Process:

  1. Measure: Every single surface. 
    • Your shelves from front to back, side to side. Rinse and repeat for the entire unit. Yes, even the little transition pieces. Measure it ALL! 
    • Write those measurements down. 
    • Go measure again. I’m serious. You probably measured wrong.
    • Confirm your first measurements were correct. Bet you measured wrong, didn’t you?
  2. Mark: With your pen and ruler, unroll your first roll of paper and with the helpful grid on the backside, mark out your pieces. I started with the interior pieces, knowing my external sides would take up the most paper. Work carefully here, because you’ll want to puzzle together as much on one roll as you can actively get away with.
  3. Cut: Now carefully, cut your pieces from that roll. GO SLOW. Use your straight edge or in my case, an acrylic ruler to make sure I stayed on my lines and cut slowly.
  4. Save: See how much you’re cutting away as scrap? Don’t throw it away, reroll it. I found two other projects to use and I have 3 more on the way. The waste will get used. Calm down.
  5. Peel: Once a piece is cut, carefully peel an edge away and set that edge into place. Use your straight edge as you peel away the backing paper.
  6. Press: Once your paper is set, use your straight edge or thumbnail to press the opposite edge into place. If you have excess hanging over your edge, use your razor blade to cut off the bits.
  7. Do It Again: Only 35 more surfaces left! This project took ME about two weeks at 6hours at a time, but also because I kept running out of paper. Be patient.

The Final Result?

Ta-da! The unit now sits in my bedroom under a set of picture ledges. I originally had plans to set up a pole in the bedroom, but now that I look at my budget, I think it’s a project I may cut for future reasons. 

So now your chance. Tell me about your favorite IKEA makeovers or the ones you wish you could do. Let’s share the makeover fun!

IKEA EXPEDIT Makeover Final Result - butcher-block contact paper covered shelf unit sits on the long side under a set of bamboo picture ledges against a light gray wall
0 In Befores & Afters/ DIY

The Art of Perfection

Perfection is Impossible – but I can get damn close to it

Every studio needs storage. Mine happens to have 10 ft worth of closet, a small coat closet, and a lot of cabinet space in my kitchen. But since I can’t shove clothes into a space that I’m currently using for cookware and food storage, and I needed another horizontal surface that was counter-height, a dresser was where I went.

And since my funds were running a touch lower at the time, I opted for the star of our humble tale:

The IKEA Tarva.

Sometimes, you get lucky because this dresser is 6 drawers of pure, thirsty pine that you can paint, stain, or hack at your own leisure. I found a pin I had liked on ye olde Pinterest, and decided to paint mine white, stain the bottom part, and add different handles than the cute but not my style ones the dresser already had.

Which meant I got to use my drill to make new holes for the handles I purchased in the IKEA kitchen section.

First Phase

I spraypainted my dresser in my kitchen. Half of it was in a huge chair box in my hopes to contain the overspray – but oh god, I failed, so hard. I did paint the dresser before I assembled it, mindful of where grooves and holes were. Spray paint was light enough to not fill said holes but would give me the coverage I wanted without brush strokes if I was okay with the occasional rough patch.

I am also not a professional painter.

I stained the bottom with a stain called Gunstock that I picked up at the local hardware store and since the bottom part of the dresser wasn’t going to see a lot of daily friction, I skipped the sealant. And it was fine, for the first oh, six months.

Not Quite There Yet

But I wasn’t quite happy with it. Mainly because I could see every imperfection I had left behind with lazy sanding and even lazier spraying. The top wasn’t quite even, the lamps I used left felt behind because I hadn’t let the paint cure enough, you know this song probably as well as I do.

It didn’t make me happy.

Marble, on the other hand, makes me very happy, and I had a roll of Marble contact paper leftover from my Helmer project, which surely would be enough to cover the entire top of the dresser. I’d worry about the sides after I covered up my sins. Which should have been fine. I used a straight edge to push out my air bubbles, was careful to go super slow to make sure I had limited bubbles, to begin with, and it was glamorous, but well, not quite the bang I wanted.

Well Fine, I’ll Just Fix It

For Christmas 2016, my brother asked me what I wanted as a gift. Knowing that he could get power tools at a discount, and I was in the market to purchase a home, I asked him for an orbital sander.

Which then sat in a box for the next two years. This comes in handy later.

So here I was with a dresser lined with contact paper and since I’m from Cincinnati, my mind doesn’t think “oh wow, this is pretty.” I go straight to “cockroaches feed on contact paper glue” even though German Cockroaches are not a thing here in Seattle, WA.

Which meant the contact paper had to come off. The dresser was starting to upset me, but the final straw was being told to stay home after a friend’s event because I was in rough shape after several events and unlike my friend who got a day or two off where she could hide at home, I had to go right back to work.

No recovery for me means my temper flakes off in small bits and pieces and my light zingers meant to be couched in sarcasm, come off mean-spirited and I tend to aim for ankles when I’m not in a good mood.

Or to quote friends who saw me, I just looked depressed. Smiles weren’t bright. My tired “I’m fine’s” were complete lies and not even convincing ones.

Anxiety Brain

But I was still upset because Anxiety told me I fucked up a valuable friendship, even if that friend was telling me “I don’t get a chance to do it often, but I’m taking care of you” and “we’re fine, but you need a break” and I believed her.

My nerves did not. I told her exactly that too.

So they took it out on my dresser and frankly, helped me avoid that friend for a week under the reason of “Project time, must not lose momentum or it stops entirely”. A trip to the hardware store provided a paint stripper (useless), masking film (not useless), wood conditioner (required), chip brushes (required), and Polyurethane (definitely required).

I started with a “safe” paint remover, but when it didn’t work fast enough, I brought out my big gun.

The sander, which yes, I used in my kitchen, and no, my neighbors honestly thought I was just vacuuming for hours at a time. My landlord didn’t even believe the noise was in his building. (I can hear some of you laughing, I was when I told him that yes, that noise was definitely coming from your building.)

Worked like a charm. Then went down a layer of wood conditioner as Pine pines for paint and stain. Seven layers of the same stain I used on the bottom of the dresser and a layer of polyurethane to make things nice and shiny, and a good day for it to cure and I had a bone fide dresser that I was happy with it.

It’s not perfect.

But it’s damn near close.

So sound off in the comments if you had a project that just wasn’t done until it was “DONE” months later. I’d love to hear about it.

0 In Befores & Afters/ Mental Health

Mental Illnesses and Small Spaces

Safe Harbor:

I am not a medical professional. I cannot nor will I diagnose you with anything other than what can be cured with affectionate snuggling, kind words, and hugs.

What I do have is a lot of things I know that work for me.

Our situations will be not the same, so what works for me may not work for you.

The trick to all of this is accepting that you’re human, you’re allowed to exist, and to please be patient with yourself.

Welcome to Seattle

Land of the small apartment. These fall into roughly three categories:

  • Micro Suites: A studio(ish) under 250 sq. ft. These can get super tiny but are typically furnished for you, utilities are included, and I hope you don’t mind sharing a common kitchen or washing your hands in your kitchenette. Think of them as hotel suites without the housekeeping or towel refresh. Or dorm rooms depending on how tiny you go.
  • Studios: 250 sq ft and I’ve seen them go up to 700 sq ft if they’re using an open floorplan. You can do a lot with a studio as they usually have their own kitchen and bathroom. Some have high ceilings allowing the use of loft beds, others are like mine where 400 sq. ft of space is plenty of room for one person if they’re smart about it.
  • Junior One Bedrooms: These may have the bedroom area marked off by a half-wall, so listers and property managers can say it’s a one-bedroom, but let’s be honest here. It’s not. It’s a studio with a half-wall.

So what do all three of these categories have in common here in Seattle?

They’re all really bloody expensive and prices can soar the closer to downtown Seattle proper you go. I mean, I pay $1350 (utilities included) for my 400 sq ft here in Wallingford and that’s more than I paid back in Cincinnati for a 3 bed, 2 bath apartment.

Now out-going people who aren’t homebodies (aka: not me) can survive in Micro Suites. They’re a popular option and they go pretty quickly.

I like to cook in my own kitchen. Sometimes naked if I’m feeling frisky. Which is usually frowned upon in shared spaces.

I like to stay home to save money otherwise spent going out.

I also work from home, so Micro Suites were right out for me. A coworking space here in Seattle can get costly over the year, so I opted for a studio.

Since I couldn’t afford the Jr. one-bedrooms with my credit card bills, loan payments, and car payment.

That and a small space can get really claustrophobic for me, especially when I have a bad day.

The Bad Days and the Bad in General

Pictured is a bad day. It wasn’t one of the days where it takes everything in my power to not go to bed during the middle of a work shift.

I keep the lights off because of my raging headaches. It’s messy, it smells funky, and something has probably gone off because the mere idea of cleaning up after myself sends me into panic attacks that require medication or threatening myself to go to the nearest dispensary to pick up edibles.

Which are cheaper than meds if we’re honest here.

Depression in a small space is a constant fight. Some days are okay, some days are terrible, and some days, I call in the heavy artillery in the form of hired help that doesn’t judge the state of my place. They just help me deal with the mess in a manner that does not require my input. I can hide at a teashop nearby or in the comfortable cocoon of my headphones and music and just point to places things need to go.

And then they go away.

Anxiety coupled with ADD, on the other hand, makes small space life interesting. It’s calming to be able to almost see every corner of my apartment from one spot. I fill my space with textures that delight me and calm me down so when my hands want to take on yet another project that I’m never going to finish, I can pet them until I ground myself and remind myself that I’m allowed to feel.

I’m allowed to feel strongly.

But I also have to acknowledge that the feelings are temporary. They are not facts. They will indeed pass, even if it feels like a damn kidney stone.

The Good Days and the Good in General

Below is a good day. My apartment is usually spotless and outside of the monthly cleaning visit, I can usually keep it that way. Domestic activities are soothing activities for the most part and my space brings me a lot of joy.

It beats the Depression back a few feet. The fog will always be there, but for the most part, my space stands pretty firm.

I take advantage of those good days by reminding myself that I’m giving myself the needed space myself to recover from Ohio. That I need to be patient with myself and if all else fails, I will pet one of my chairs until I feel not so “mannequin covered in feathers in the wind”.

Lessons I’ve learned

  1. Embrace my space as mine. I’m here for as long as I need to be and since I’m allowed to put holes in my walls, I can add my own personality here.
  2. Be patient. Some days are good, some great, others awful. I just have to be patient on those days until they’re over.
  3. Feelings are temporary. They will pass even if it feels like one of my terrible period cramps.
  4. Feelings are not facts. I’m allowed to feel, but I need to also let it go because it will not serve me to stew on it.
  5. Being grateful. Not everyone can just pick up and leave their home state on what equates to a whim. I need to remind myself that I had that opportunity and I need to remain thankful for it.
  6. Reminding myself that help exists. I just have to ask for it. Which is the hardest part most of the time.
  7. I’m not alone. I have amazing neighbors, a fantastic landlord who is savvy to my mental issues, and friends who sit on my wavelength and somehow always know when I need them to text me as a pick-me-up.

This is how I survive in 400 sq ft here in Seattle.

I hope this can help you survive wherever you are.

0 In Befores & Afters/ DIY/ Resources

Decorating a Studio Apartment

[av_one_fifth first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_three_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”]

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’Decorating a Studio Apartment’ color=” style=” custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
This entry will be long.

This entry is necessary because it’s a journey that’s taken me at least a year to be content with my space. And I’m still changing it.

Decorating my studio began before I even moved in, so let’s break the process down into bits for easier consumption, shall we?

To decorate a studio apartment you need the below:

  1. Ideas and Resources
  2. Budget
  3. Room dimensions & Tape Measure
  4. Your own style & Color Scheme
  5. A least a second set of hands – or White Glove Delivery so somebody else can do it
  6. Patience
  7. More patience.
  8. A Buy Nothing Group when you give up on attempting returns.

[/av_textblock]

[/av_three_fifth][av_one_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_one_fifth first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_three_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”]

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’Ideas & Resources’ color=” style=” custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
When your living room and bedroom all together are 17′ x 10′, you better consult every Google Search for “Small Space Ideas”, and every pinterest board so you have an idea of what you can get away with.

And then what you can afford.

In my case, I had the luck of growing up in a bedroom that as an introvert, I practically lived in with the measurements of 17′ x 10′. That was consequently how I knew my studio was going to be mine. I grew up knowing just how to turn a room into 3 micro-spaces. One for sleeping, dressing, and living. For this part of your journey, you will want to hit up sites like Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, and DesignSponge, where you can view room tours to see what speaks to you.

Or just stick around this website.

The resources I used were primarily:

  1. Ikea
  2. Amazon
  3. Tuft & Needle
  4. Pottery Barn Teen (I wanted a Queen-size daybed with mattress and I couldn’t afford Restoration Hardware if my life depended on it)
  5. Urban Outfitters
  6. Target’s Opalhouse line
  7. Locally-sourced Art
  8. Vintage/yard sales
  9. My local hardware store
  10. Home Goods

The entire source list can be found on the Resources Page just in case you wanted to purchase anything you see on the blog for yourself. Except for those steamer trunks. I’ve had those for two decades.
[/av_textblock]

[/av_three_fifth][av_one_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_one_fifth first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_three_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”]

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’Budget’ color=” style=” custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
For most people, the act of moving is enough to kill any budget, much less have funds left over to also purchase furniture.

In my case, I took out a personal loan to make the move, purchase furniture, AND pay off credit cards in the process. So I gave myself a budget of $3,000. I must admit, my bed/mattress took up a good portion of that, so I got super creative with the rest of my furniture. For those with smaller budgets though, don’t leave me quite yet. Because rest of my things either came with me, were freecycled, or are DIY projects. I’ve got you.
[/av_textblock]

[/av_three_fifth][av_one_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_one_fifth first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_three_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”]

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’Room Dimensions & Tape Measure’ color=” style=” custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
If you don’t have access to a blueprint or floor plan with dimensions, ask your landlord/property manager for your room dimensions. Bring a tape measure to help measure your doors – because you WILL need to know how wide your furniture is…

…So you can get it through the door! Bring your measuring tape with you when you go furniture shopping also. Because it’s one thing to “guesstimate” how large something is – it’s another thing to be armed with actual numbers.
[/av_textblock]

[/av_three_fifth][av_one_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_one_fifth first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_three_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”]

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’Your Own Style & Color Scheme’ color=” style=” custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
Please keep in mind, I’m in my 30s. I’ve had a long time to figure out just how I like to decorate my spaces, but this came with time.

A lot of time.

I was 13 when I first decorated my 17′ x 10′ bedroom with ribbon yellow wall paint and bees.

I was 19 when I divided that space up into “micro-spaces”: where I crafted, read/wrote, and slept, leaning heavily into Gem tones that would later dominate my entire style.

I was 26 when I moved into my first apartment, opting for a broke!glamorous approach that was more Goodwill and hand-me-downs then it was actually “me”, but it was my first apartment and I loved it none the less.

I was 27 when I moved in with James, whose style skewed neutral tans, browns, and if the place had enough sunlight to support plants, we would have had them.

That apartment was where I painted my small bedroom a deep dark purple-gray (Sherwin Williams Special Gray) and leaned into Glitter/Shiny.

I was 33 when I moved to Seattle in an apartment that I can’t paint. One wall is a deep mocha brown, another tan, one eggshell yellow and my brightest window wall is white. I chose my color scheme not only out of a way to play well with all of my “neutral” colors but also because I was 32 when I dyed my hair teal.

You read that right. I typed teal. I knew I wanted white to be my main focus, but the teal came when I found out that teal hair dye bleeds onto EVERYTHING. All of the time. So to hide any accidental dye bleed, I opted to for teal as one of my main apartment Colors.

There’s a hefty dose of silver and crystal in there as well if it shimmers, it has a place in my studio. I wanted to keep my dark colors to operate as pops of color because the studio is indeed little, but it receives amazing daylight from two exposures.

But not everyone is so lucky, so you’ll want to hone your scheme (or go for full chaos, it’s your life) to help chase out whatever light you can get. Complexes like tucking the studios on the first or basement floors, so you will want to decorate in a way that doesn’t turn your space into a cave.

Unless you like caves. Who am I to judge? You do you.


[/av_textblock]

[/av_three_fifth][av_one_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_one_fifth first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_three_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”]

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’White Glove Delivery OR a Second Set of Hands’ color=” style=” custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
Chances are, it’s just you moving into a studio and carrying things is great if you’re strong. But add in a loaded steamer trunk and pulling it up a set of stairs or three sounds like a great weight-lifting day at the gym.

And hell on your arms, legs, and core.

Now I know it may feel like you’d rather do anything, like go buy a drink, find a coffee shop, or chew glass then asking for help, but in this case, it’s pretty necessary.

Help usually comes with moving blankets and dollies of their own that you don’t have to store in your super tiny space.

I had a delivery company deliver my big furniture for me, mindful of my buildings angles and I’d rather guide someone to my space than bring up the furniture myself. My chairs were from Amazon, so my neighbor slid those over one day while I was passed out in bed (I didn’t hear him come in at all).

But my bed – I leaned into the Pottery Barn schtick and leaned into White Glove Delivery and Assembly. Which meant I told the crew where to put the bed; they unpacked it, assembled it, threw on the slip-cover and even put the mattress slip on so I wouldn’t have to maneuver it myself. I was already paying top dollar for a PB Teen daybed, but the White-Glove delivery meant I didn’t have to deal with packaging and box disposal either – because they took it with them.

So if you find yourself completely overwhelmed with boxes, don’t be afraid to ask for help, or pay for it. It’s worth not just your peace of mind, but your back, arms, and brain will thank you later.

Why brain?

Moving is traumatic enough. The idea of carrying my daybed parts up the stairs and figuring out my hallway – that makes me panic just thinking about it. Just remember to be patient with yourself and respect your limits.


[/av_textblock]

[/av_three_fifth][av_one_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_one_fifth first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_three_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”]

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’Patience’ color=” style=” custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
You’ve probably figured this out already, but you’re going to need to give yourself time to put together your studio or itty, bitty one bedroom place.

Don’t be fooled by the pins you see, the Instagram posts that promise fast results in days (usually in exchange for thousands of dollars), your space and you need some time to get to know each other.

Which means you’re going to have to be patient.

I know, I know, hearing that sucks. But sometimes you need months to figure out how to make your apartment work for you and with you. Layouts will change, furniture may change, just remember that if you don’t like the way something looks – you literally have the internet at your disposal to help you change it!

Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty when you do. My dresser took me nine months to figure out just how I wanted it.


[/av_textblock]

[/av_three_fifth][av_one_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_one_fifth first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_three_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”]
[av_heading heading=’Patience’ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
Just in case you missed it the first time. You’re going to need to be patient with yourself. Nobody is expecting an Instagram-worthy space here. But if that’s your life, by all means, go nuts.
[/av_textblock]
[/av_three_fifth]

[av_one_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_one_fifth first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]

[av_three_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”]

[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’A Buy Nothing Group’ color=” style=” custom_font=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=”][/av_heading]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
Sometimes, something you purchase for your space just does NOT work. It could be too small, too large, different style that doesn’t flow well, or it just isn’t what you were looking for.

All of which are valid reasons to either:

  • Return/Exchange the item. Which I’m terrible at doing, so I do a lot of the following – because while it may not work for me, it may very well work for somebody else.
  • Give it away. Except I’m not donating anything to Goodwill/Value Village here. Oh no, this is where the West Wallingford Buy Nothing group comes in.

Did you know these groups exist? Think the Craigslist free section except they’re your neighbors and they’re much less creepy when you can meet them on a nearby block corner rather than you know, letting said stranger into your apartment.

The gist of the group well… it is exactly what it says on the tin. You buy nothing in the group, but you’re freecycling everything and you usually have a response within minutes of posting. You can either offer a porch pick-up so you don’t actually have to see anyone, or be adventurous and go meet your neighbors. The best part is that you don’t actually HAVE to keep anything. If someone needs to borrow a tool or an item, I’ve seen them reach out to the Buy Nothing Group first.

And somebody will have that item. It’s pretty wild. My first items to the Buy Nothing group in my neighborhood was:

  1. Curtain rods (I ended up purchasing a blackout set from Amazon)
  2. A bed frame (my bed came in and I needed the closet space)
  3. A cube shelf
  4. A towel shelf that just wasn’t working for me
  5. Clothing
  6. Lights that I no longer had a need for
  7. My orbital sander. Well, I didn’t give that one away, but I did help someone learn how to use it safely so she could redo her bathroom. It came back too.

To learn more about the project, you can check it out over at https://buynothingproject.org.
[/av_textblock]

[/av_three_fifth][av_one_fifth min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=” mobile_breaking=” mobile_display=”][/av_one_fifth]