Giving Windows the Right Treatment (without breakin’ the bank) Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

I was cruisin through cyberspace looking for innovative ways to add a little flair to my sweet pad, ivillage.comwhen I came across this awesome how-to from iVillage. Cost and source of materials has been added by me! Your guide in a frugal-filled life.

Moroccan Inspired Hanging Box Valance
Artist wooden stretcher bars $14.82
Fabric/paper I found a piece on sale at $4.99/yd Joann’s Fabric and Craft
Cording $5.99 Joann’s Fabric and Craft
Hot glue gun
Staple gun
To Make:
1. Measure window and purchase stretcher bars for a wooden valance frame that extends 3 inches to the left and right of the window and about 18 inches long (or to desired length).
2. Assemble stretcher bars into a valance frame. Designate top and bottom. Nail extra vertical bars (about four per side) to the back so the valance will stand out about 4 to 6 inches from the wall.
3. Cut a custom design out of cardboard and staple it to the front and sides of the frame.
4. Stretch your fabric over the cardboard frame. To make a smooth, taut fabric surface, stretch and staple the fabric from the middle out rather than from the edges in. Alternate stapling top and bottom, left and right.
5. To stretch around the inverted corners of your frame, cut a diagonal slit through the corner of the fabric. Now you have two flaps to stretch behind the frame.
6. Staple fabric into wood on the back, and hot glue the fabric to the cardboard if it doesn’t reach the wood.
7. Glue down a pretty design with cording and attach tassels from behind.

Hang in There! You’re Something Special Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

Try as I might, I’m a horrid picture hanger. I often finish my projects with pencil marks all over my walls, many nail holes and pictures hanging in a crooked fashion. Hanging multiple frames in a horizonal line? Forget about it. That is when I discovered frame clustering. It’s easy to do and can be used as an inexpensive design element to your home. You can hang similar frames with black and white photos, or incorporate a more eclectic feel with varying frames styles. Here are some ideas you can use to create a mixed cluster.


This can be relatively cheap and easy to do. Check out JoAnn’s or Beverley’s for clearance fabric; usually there are some really great patterns out there that would make a god-awful Mumu but an excellent piece of work. You can typically pick up fabric for as low as $3.99 a yard. Cut the fabric and staple to a piece of cardboard for a tight appearance (don’t glue it or it may bubble) and frame. Voila! A fine piece of art for under $10.


Empty Frames
I wouldn’t recommend an entire wall dedicated to this particular element, but hanging a few empty frames among a cluster can help simplify a design technique that can be overwhelming

to the eye. An ornate frame works best for this since it is, in and of itself, aesthetically pleasing to look at.

Personal Photos
I have a printer that has photo pronting capabilities. Usually I take the photos I have on my computer and, using a photo editing function, make black and white pictures. Once i’ve compeleted editing (takes all of 5 minutes) I print these photos out on bargain photo paper; I’ve picked up photo paper at the dollar store and have also spotted generic paper for as low as $5 for 100 sheets. The reason I choose black and white for most of my photos is so the graniness and poor resolution that can often result from using cheap paper, is far less noticable. I find it to average out less per photo than going to CVS or Walgreens, and it’s easier too!

a primordial living space Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

I recently downgraded from a one-bedroom apartment to a studio. Living in San Diego as a young, single female, this decision was the most logical in saving money, simplifying my life and also seeing if maybe Carrie Bradshaw was onto something. While the extra money I save in living in a smaller space will not go to expand my non-existent collection of Christian Louboutins (oh the humanity), it will go into an ING Direct savings account I opened that is currently earning 3.00% APY which is far more than my credit union. Thus, building that famous “emergency fund” we are always reading about from personal finance blogs (see, The Simple Dollar’s Emergency Funds: How and Why You Should Get Started Right Now)

Anyway, for your reading enjoyment a brief list, according to Suite101 on the sweeter side of studio living:

Keeping Studios Clean

Most studios don’t have room for dust-collectors like coffee tables, china cabinets, and entertainment centers. Instead, buy double-duty furniture (day beds and decorative chests), some functional items (computer desk, small dining table, television stand), and if space allows, a sofa or bookshelf. The flip side is that small spaces magnify anything that is less than white-glove clean. If you forget to make your bed or mop the floor when a visitor stops by, you can’t close the bedroom door or shoo guests out of the kitchen.

Decorating A Small Space

Keeping clutter to a minimum goes a long way. Keep the kitchen area neat and free of dirty dishes, and vacuum and dust frequently. A studio is not the place for knickknacks any more than it is for large furniture. These things take up valuable space. Make sure that furniture and decorations don’t impede movement around the space. It pays to measure the furniture and make a floor plan before moving in. Don’t rent sight unseen and plan to just fit everything in once you get there.

Organizing Small Apartments

Plan before going grocery shopping. Small spaces have limited storage room. Bargain shoppers beware – there may not be room for jumbo packs of paper towels. Clutter makes a small space seem even smaller. To achieve a cozy but airy atmosphere, store things in sneaky spaces – under the bed or sofa, in the cabinet over the fridge (just not in the stove – it’s dangerous). Try dividing the space into mini-rooms. Place a small telephone stand in one corner. Create an entertainment space: buy a shelf that attaches to the top of the television to hold a stereo.

Add Simple, Personal Touches

Life in a studio is simple living at its finest. Everything you need is there – a roof over your head, a place to sleep, a place to cook and eat. You also have room for those touches that make a space home. Walls to hang pictures, a window ledge to place a vase of flowers, a closet or corner for mementos and books. What you do not have room for, you truly don’t need right now.