Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Organizing the Pantry

Most visitors will never visit your pantry, so organizing a pantry is solely for the benefit of you and your family.  It doesn't have to look fancy and it doesn't have to be extravagant.  It simply has to suit your needs and assist you in finding your ingredients in a systematic and foolproof way.

I tackled my pantry today!  Actually, my pantry is both a pantry and a laundry room.  This was both an organization project and a cleaning project.  Here's what I did!

clean slate
Pull out everything and start with at least one bare slate.  I decided to pull out every item that was on the floor and moved them into my kitchen.  I also began by sweeping the floors to have a clean surface.  Clearing and cleaning the main area in which you will work really helps the project become attainable and keeps you inspired to keep on.  If you are constantly tripping on objects and cannot see the end goal, the project will never get completed.

spot clean
Tackle the areas that you normally never think to bother with in your pantry.  If you have a trash can you may decide to do what I did.  I decided to wipe down the wall where the trash can sits and scrub it with a Mr. Clean magic eraser.  My wall looked so much better!  Also, you can wipe down racks, go around the base boards, and clean air vents.

steam the sucker!
Nothing is better at sanitizing a floor than a good and hot steamer.  I used my Haan steamer and got my floors sanitized and sparkling!'

organize the goods
I stood on a towel (floors were still wet) and began to organize the canned goods as well as my many, many bottles of oil, vinegar, and dressing.  I have four plastic baskets on my pantry shelves, because when we first moved into our house we realized how impractical the wire shelving was for storing bottles and cans.  The baskets allow us to minimize avalanches and allow us to section our ingredients.  I have a bean, veggie, and fruit can basket.  I have a baking ingredients basket.  I have a soup, packet, and jello basket, and finally, I have a tomato goods and pasta basket.  Sure, I have some items hiding in each that don't fit in each category, but it helps having sections.  On the next shelf up, we have all of our bigger bottles and bigger boxes.  The main thing is have a plan and manage your plan.

extra storage
My husband loves to bake, so all of our flours do not fit on the main pantry shelf.  I bought this three tier shelf from Target three years ago and it houses our sugar, flours, large stockpot, rice cooker, breakfast items, and snacks.  What a great investment!!!

crossing the t's and dotting the i's
Leave no stone unturned.  When I'm working through my pantry, I make sure to wipe down the trash can.  Each area of your home is filled with details, how many do you notice around your home?  Trust me, even if house guests do not notice your pantry, they will absolutely notice a dirty, splotched trash can.  Also, since my trash can is hidden in my pantry, I keep my recycling in a paper bag beside my trash can.  This way, I just pick up the paper bag and set it in the outdoor bin, no need for dumping!

together again
I kept on my project until completion.  After the floors dried, I was able to load the extra pantry room items back into the pantry room.  My pantry/laundry room hasn't looked so good in a long while!!! Sparkle sparkle, shine shine. Yeah, that looks nice!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My New Products!

As a designer, I have the challenge to learn a client's tastes, likes, and dislikes and help them to decorate their home according to what works best for them and what will bring them the most enjoyment.  However, my own taste and style often differs greatly from that of each client.  My job with my clients is to make their house their style, but in my own home and life I get to do my own thing and have my own style.

My latest creations for my Etsy shop are just that, my own style.  Personally, I'm eclectic, unusual, out of the box, bright, spontaneous, and passionate.  My artwork tends to reflect those traits.  Let me introduce you to my newest Etsy products.

abstract "clip art" clip board

During my college days, I had a brown clip board that screamed "Boring!" and never inspired me to write more than a couple words.  For me, creativity is often spawned from unbearable moments of boredom.  I began to doodle on my clip board, then I began to splot the clip board with white out, after that I tortured it with a sharpie.  Finally, when I got back to my dorm I pulled out the heavy artillery.  I used various hues of paint and all of the sudden my clip board was anything but boring.  I had created an inspirational work of art that happened to be utilized as a clip board.  These clip boards pictured on the right are the first three reinterpretations of my original clip board.  I hope one of them brings you as much inspiration in your writing as my college clip board brought me.

Clip Board 1:

This clip board is definitely a good choice for a guy.  It's a mixture of sci-fi and mystery with the green, silver, black, and white hues.

Clip Board 2:

Whether you work in education or simply love bright and beautiful colors, this clip board portrays patterns and colors to the inth degree.  Red on white, silver on blue, each stripe has a different pattern to offer.

Clip Board 3:

First Time OOAK Painting - Vinyl Record Art

recycled record art work

The other recent painted work of art that I have recently completed is my "The First Time" vinyl record acrylic painting.  I thought it tremendously appropriate to choose the 45 record labeled "The First Time" for my first attempt at painting one of the vinyl records.  I'm simply corny like that.  It is also available for sale on my Etsy Shop.  Let me know if you would like a custom painted 45 records.  I have 198 records still left in my 45 record collection, so I'm sure I'll be able to fulfill your request!

First Time Record Art:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Featured and Featuring

Designing Life has been featured on Heart Handmade's site today:

I am very thankful for sites like Heart Handmade that seek to express the importance of buying from real people making real handmade items, whether digital designs or crafts.  This Christmas Season I am seeking to buy more goods directly from the source.  Sure, I am still visiting Target and checking out Amazon, but I am also buying more meaningful, personal gifts from Etsy.

Fine Silver Snowflake Pendant
Etsy Shop: Wild Dog Studio

Etsy has some of the best handcrafted jewelry for sale at very affordable prices.  At times I find myself standing at a department store looking at the racks and racks of cheap jewelry just itching to find the "perfect" piece, but I'm realizing that it is much better to depend on the craftmanship and detail of Etsy sellers rather than giving my business to large retailers who care nothing about whether their jewelry will last more than a week.  If I do have a problem, Etsy sellers are more than helpful to work out a solution.  Most times, there are no problems at all because the Etsy jewelry makers take pride in their work.  I choose to trust in a craftsman (or woman!) not a mass retailer.

Adventure at Sea: Hand Painted Purse
Etsy Shop: Louche Lab


I have a policy.  I want to put more money into my purse than what I spend on the purse.  This makes me a stingy purse purchaser.  In my opinon, Coach and Prada can keep their over priced "corvette" purses!  Thus Etsy is the ideal place to find affordable, stylish purses!  I fully expect that some of the Etsy sellers will progress to fashion designer stardom due to their unique and breathtaking designs.  Until then, I am more than happy to fund their passions by buying their wonderful purse creations.  Consider buying a Etsy purse as a Christmas gift this Holiday season.

Jellyfish Acrylic Painting
Etsy Shop: Henna Swirls


Personally, I feel that artwork is one of the most precious gifts that can be given.  That is, real art.  A random print from Kohls or from TJMaxx really doesn't count.  What time did the mass retailer spend preparing the piece?  Did they pour their heart into making the machines pump out copy after copy?  No way!  Etsy artisans pour out thier time and their hearts into each piece of artwork.  Even prints are an expression of dedication in cropping, matting, and framing.  My husband bought me a wonderful teapot print from The Joy of Color who is all the way in Israel as well as an original painting by Mad Art . . . I ADORE them both.  Want to give a fantastic Christmas gift?  Buy a masterpiece for your loved one!

These products are only a few examples of the Etsy shops wares, just imagine what you can find to cross another person off your Christmas list!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

About Designing Life

I blog and I write about design, but I have not given much of a formal introduction about who I am and why I design.  Let me introduce myself.  My name is Brooke Shambley and I started Designing Life because I firmly believe that everyone should be comfortable and happy in their own home. The services that I provide are intended to do just that, make your home a place where you can live life to the fullest. 
My products are affordable and priced to appeal to every day people going through every day life. Since my mother is a nurse and my mother-in-law is a teacher, I realized that I would never want to be the designer who priced herself so high that amazing people like teachers and nurses could not use my services.  My prices reflect my passion.  I have a passion to help spectacular people, not just people with a padded wallet.

As a military spouse, I also saw the need to provide design services to the frequent mover. Moving repeatedly means your home environment needs to be a consistent refuge that can easily move with you. I want to help those who move often have a place of refuge to dwell in from day to day as they face the changing world around them.

The phrase "Designing Life" means intentionally planning one's life.  I don't think that life is an accident and I wish to help people live in their home environment with a purpose.  A home should be a place that pulls a family together, assists them in attaining their goals, and especially, a home should never be a hindrance.  Designing Life means purposefully creating a home environment that promotes life.

Thank you for reading a little more about what Designing Life is all about and what I am all about.  If you are interested in finding out more about Designing Life check out these websites.

Feel free to e-mail me directly at:

designinglife at juno dot com

Friday, November 18, 2011

Homeschool Room E-design

Homeschool Room Design

This week I have been privileged to provide an E-design to a mother who is homeschooling her two children.  My client really wanted to make her School Room go beyond average and really be a room that would aid her children in their learning and not be a hindrance.  Most of the E-design was designed using existing furniture, but I was also able to add in a few accessories to complete the look and add to the organization.  Here are a few photos of her E-design as well as a some pinterest photos that were my inspiration.

A Storage Solution for the School Room as well as the Kid's Rooms

Each E-design includes storage solutions as well as ideas for increasing organization.  While toys are not a standard addition to a School Room, organized toy storage bins are a great way to begin teaching children to clean up after themselves.  Toys are not just for playing, but they can be a great tool for teaching.

A Placement Plan for her New Accessories

Since my client had plenty of existing furniture to work with my challenge was using her furniture in the best locations to aid learning.  I needed to create a space where she could stand at the whiteboard while teaching, a computer space, a reading nook, a workspace, as well as ample opportunities for organization.

A Furniture Floor Plan Using Existing Furniture

E-designs are all about the details.  These particular details will help to bring together her classroom and provide unique storage.  Both red, yellow, and green were colors that were reused throughout the room.  This floor plan shows the placement of these items throughout the room.


Here are some Pinterest pictures of my inspiration!

Source: via Brooke on Pinterest

Source: via Brooke on Pinterest

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moving from "As Is" to "Just Right" in Your Home

As Is Vintage Eye Glasses - Etsy

I'm calling you out (and I'm calling myself out too)! Yes, you! You are living with your house "as is" and it's about time that you move on. When you go to a second hand store, you expect to find items labeled "as is." If you buy it, you plan to fix it or better it from that condition. No one would buy a product in "as is" condition and leave it that way. But we do it with our homes! We leave our home in the "as is" condition. Enough is enough!

From Etsy Shop:

From "As Is" to "Just Right"

One way to move on from having a home in the "as is" condition is by recognizing the areas of the house that are commonly ignored. Just because it's always been that way, doesn't mean that it is just right! For some, the area ignored is the garage, an extra bedroom, or a corner. Maybe all that is left alone is a pile sitting by the bed or a basket of clothes to be mended. No matter what area is left untouched in your house, it is time to pull back the curtains (or pull up the blinds, whichever the case) and get busy in your ignored area.

Moving from Room to Room

Each room has areas that are in "as is" condition. Maybe your pantry is an area that gets messy repeatedly and never gets straightened, or perhaps your laundry room has piles of lost socks sitting on the dryer. Why not upgrade your "as is" areas into being "just right" areas? Make a plan and make your life a little easier and a little more livable!

Just Right Doesn't Stay Just Right

Perhaps you have a room that was "just right" only that was four years ago! "Just right" can digress into "now wrong." You have new needs, new likes, and just as your life progresses so should your home! Keep your home moving forward and update those rooms that were perfect at one time, but need a change in order to keep up with where your life is at now.

In Our Home Sign
Maintaining It "Just Right"

Whenever you have a life change, your home may need a change as well. In order to maintain your home as a perfect dwelling, you have to recognize new needs that you have. Obviously, if you have a new child in your home, you have plenty of decor needs that will have to be thought through in order to make your home "just right." However, even a new job or a new hobby can bring about the need to update your home decor. You may need new storage for your new job in order to keep yourself organized. Or maybe your new hobby would be more relaxing if you repurposed a corner of your living room into a hobby corner. Think and rethink in order to maintain your home as it should be every day of the year!

Though we shouldn't settle for "as in" in our homes, remember the words of this plaque.  The home can look great, but what's more important is how you relate to others in your home! ;-)

From Etsy Shop:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

If Not Now, When?

I was recently faced with this question in the light of my personal life.  If I am not going to fully follow Christ now, when exactly would this happen?  While pondering this question, I realized that the shortened statement "If Not Now, When?" applies to so many areas of life.  If you are like me, you put off many things for later.  According to me, now is simply not a good time.

But if not now, when?

For me, I began to look at my house in the light of timeliness.  For all the projects I keep planning to complete, when would be a better time?  There is no better time than now.

I'm putting my house in order.  I'm cleaning up the piles that have collected because "I didn't have the time" to go through them.  I'm scrubbing up the spots that "I'd clean up later."  I'm painting the walls that "I'd get to sometime."  I'm buying items to help me organize my space that I thought that "I'd find the time to buy eventually."  What time is better?

I'm making my house a home today.  I'm working towards my goal of having my home be a refuge for my family and for others.  I want to be able to invite people into my home today . . . any day.  No room needs to be a room of disgrace.  Today is the day to open up the closets or the junk room and say "enough is enough".

Maybe your house isn't the only place you have stamped with a permanent delay.  Take this question and distribute it thoroughly in your life, there's plenty to go around!  Today is the day you have.  Tomorrow doesn't happen unless you do it today.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Modern Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas

Unless you are enamored with country style decor, I would like to propose that there are much better choices for Thanksgiving than the traditional country style Autumn decor.  Below are some examples of what not to do with your Thanksgiving decorating.  Keep your decorations bright and significant.  If it doesn't make an intentional statement, it may be making a statement you didn't intend for it to make.  A mix of neutral colors do not neccesarily reflect a classy Thanksgiving color scheme.  Just because they are all neutral and seem to blend doesn't make them a perfect match for your decorating this Fall.  Finally, mixing holiday decorations in a basket, hurricane, or vase does not create a foolproof centerpiece!  Stick with two main types of items when filling a hurricane; in this case, more is NOT the merrier.

Personally, I wish to decorate for Thanksgiving without abandoning my class and my taste.  I wish for the comradary of the country Christmas with the decor that says "I have style."  If you are guity of some of the decorating faux pas, don't dismay.  Simply tuck those tired decorations away and take a look at some new items to jumpstart your Thanksgiving decorating.

Modern Brown Design

Modern Orange Design

I hope you enjoy this collection of Thankgiving Items!  If you are interested in more Holiday Decor ideas check out my Holiday Decorating E-design!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Repurposing with Blackboard Paint

Repurposing with Blackboard Paint

I love repurposing.  When I see a picture of an object that has been recreated with a new purpose, I get a warm feeling inside.  If I love a home decor item, I hate to part with it.  Repurposing makes it possible to hold on without being a packrat!
Today, I'm blogging about repurposing with Blackboard Paint.  Whether you use traditional black or get all fancy with the colored paint, you can repurpose like nobody's business by simply painting an item with the blackboard paint.  Why have a frame, when you can have a blackboard frame?  Why have a jar, when you can have a blackboard jar?  Not only am I inspired, I am simply rivited by the accessibility of the chalkboard paint!  What do you repurpose with chalkboard paint?

Chalkboard Cabinet Door

chalkboard cabinet door

Whether you utilize a cabinet door from Home Depot or paint the door in your kitchen, using a cabinet door as a blackboard is a great way to repurpose and multipurpose.  In the kitchen, a cabinet door painted with blackboard paint can serve as a menu list, a reminder board, or even a grocery list!
Etsy Shop: (closed)

Chalkboard Dresser
chalkboard furniture

While you may be tempted to throw out your dresser when it is helplessly dinged and suffering from damaged corner, why toss when you can sand it and repaint?  Sand the edges and soften the dings, then paint your dresser with blackboard paint!  Check out how awesome this dresser looks with blackboard paint.  Not only can you play tick-tac-toe, but you can pattern the drawers and leave yourself reminders.  Label drawers on a shared dresser "his" and "hers" or in a shared child's room mark their names on their drawers.  The possibilities are endless!

chalkboard repurposed board book

I'm not sure about you, but my son has so many board books that I have them coming out of my ears.  Looking for a way to move on from the toddler years?  Repaint and repurpose them with blackboard paint!  Check out this blogger's Chalkboard Board Book Tutorial.  She gives excellent advise on completing your blackboard painting project.
Blog: (post gone, but still a great idea!)

chalkboard wall

Why stop with furniture, books, and decor?  If you want to make a statement that changes with a stroke of a piece of chalk, then paint an entire wall with chalkboard paint.  Check out this bathroom wall that was painted with chalkboard paint.  Elegant and entirely flexible!  Suppose you tire of polka dots, no problem!  Paint stripes on Friday!  Christmas time?  Draw holly or snowflakes.  Your blackboard wall of destiny is in your own hands!

Blog: (This blog also is gone.  Still a GREAT picture and idea!)

Start Your Project Blackboard Painting Supplies
Buy it here --> Blackboard Paint
Item to Repurpose

 Supplies Needed to Make your Own Chalkboard Paint

                         1 C. Flat Latex Paint

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why My House Gets Messy

I am not sure about you . . .

But I have a monster in my house.

He's the reason it's messy,

There is no reason else.

He pulled the clothes out from my dresser

Took my dresses off their hooks

He even put my make up on

To see how it would look!

He ran into my kitchen

Left the coffee in the pot

I think he spilled some grape juice

That would explain the spot

Then he pulled the kid's toys out. . .

He must have had a heyday

Making sure he left one with wheels

Right . . . in . . . the hallway.

He must have gone in the garage

After he found our house a bore

I know because the boxes

Are now strewn about the floor

There is potting soil and mulch

Beach toys and shovels

I had no idea that monsters

Were so sloppy and disheveled.

There is no better explanation

Than a messy monster frenzy

My household couldn't possibly

Be so disorganized or so lazy.

I'm sure you must have a monster

Residing in your house as well

Let me know when you catch him

Who he is . . . . I'll never tell.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Buying a New Sofa - What to Know First

What to Know Before Buying a New Sofa

As you begin your search for the right sofa, you have many factors to consider. You may think you are well informed until you reach the furniture store. Most salespeople at furniture stores are expert salespeople, not experts on furniture. You need some basic truths about sofa selection in order to get the right sofa for your room.

Almost every sofa can come in handy for a period of time. If you have a low budget and have an immediate need, you might choose a sofa that will last you for a short period of time. Be sure though, that you are willing to buy the lesser sofa in order to meet your immediate needs. Mediocre sofas will last you for at the most two years before the foam inside begins to sag and the fabric begins to fade. Is this worth even a cent of your money?
Instead, remember that you are making an investment in a sofa. The money you are putting into this sofa must be a sound investment, or you may lose more money in the long run by having to replace a substandard sofa. If you think of your sofa selection in this light, you will be able to make the best decision for your home. The four things to consider when choosing a sofa are your budget, the preferred quality, the desired appearance, and your room size.

Your budget is of great importance when it comes to the purchase of your sofa. While you should not waste your money on a mediocre sofa, you should also research the range of cost for a good sofa. If you decide that you are ready to put a large investment into your sofa, you are basically guaranteed to have a good quality sofa, with a custom appearance, and have it be the perfect size. If you want to save a little money, you can decide to sacrifice either quality, appearance, or size. The main idea is to know which one you are sacrificing by knowing the product. Most times, if you are getting too much of deal on a sofa, you can be sure that you are sacrificing either quality, appearance, or size. You have to choose your budget and know which factors are most important to you and your home.

When observing quality, you must know that quality is a variable word. What means quality to one store, will mean absolute rubbish to another. You must know about your product in order to define quality for yourself. Being aware of these following features will help you to ask the right questions when choosing a sofa.

Fabric Selection
When considering fabric selection, do they tell you what type of fabric is on the piece of furniture? If no information is provided on the fabric, what does this tell you about the quality of the fabric? If information is provided, is the type of fabric going to clean easily? Also, will it hold up after being sat on every day for four years? When a fabric has been tested for double rubs, the higher the amount of double rubs, the better the durability of the fabric.

Inside the Sofa
What type of foam is used in the backing and in the seating? Unless the foam is high density foam, it may sag within a year of purchase. If there are springs in the cushions, are they eight way hand tied? Springs are better than foam, but springs that are not tied well may become loose and cause an uncomfortable bulge in your sofa. The eight way hand tied springs are the best in sofa cushion padding.
Where was the product manufactured? Overseas production can be less monitored for quality and are more likely to have manufacturing defects. Do they truly care about the product they are making? Some soft line goods are actually put together by hand not by machines. Do they stand by their products? The better companies producing sofas will actually guarantee the product against manufacturing defects and will replace or repair damaged products.

Each of these factors is important to consider when determining the quality of your sofa. Just asking informed questions of your salesperson will help them know that you are well informed and are looking for a sound investment. Some stores you will enter may have salespeople who cannot even answer the most elementary questions. You can then make the best decision and not give these second rate establishments your business. Mainly, you want to decide in advance what you believe to be quality and stand by that decision.

Another part of the sofa selection process is determining the desired appearance for your sofa. You have to decide whether you have a specific look for your room that you would like to attain, and decide whether you want to pay the money to get that look. Many furniture stores have furniture that comes in only one fabric, so you might find the fabric you want, but not the style. Or you could find the perfect style sofa, and it is in a drab fabric. You can get a neutral sofa and add accent pillows if you are trying to save money. Another option when choosing the appearance of your sofa is to go custom. Custom furniture stores will work with you to help you choose the fabric and style of your sofa. Though this option is likely to increase the price of the sofa, you may want to pay more to get the exact color, pattern, and style of sofa that you desire.

Finally, you must know what size sofa that you need before you start shopping. Salespeople will sell you the "perfect" sofa with "incredible quality" and "exactly" in your price range, and you get it back to your house and it looks like a giant compared to the other pieces in your room. Start by measuring the available floor space. Then, always consider the other pieces of furniture in the room. If you have delicate existing furniture and you come home with a monster sofa, your whole room will feel unbalanced. Also, if you have very substantial pieces of furniture and you come home with a pretty delicate sofa, the sofa may be dwarfed and seem to be out of place. Be sure to decide on the size of your sofa and not be sold on something too large or too small.

Finding the Perfect Sofa

Always know your budget, the quality you desire, the desired appearance, and your room size when you go shopping for your perfect sofa. Give yourself a range on your budget, and decide not to sacrifice quality. Find a good balance for the desired appearance and how much you would like to spend, and be creative. Finally, never forget your room size or the balance that you need to create the most attractive and functional living space. Happy shopping!

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