We’ve been introducing you to our blog columnists since last Thursday. Now that you’ve met everyone, we thought we’d compile links to their blog posts as our Friday Favorites! Click on their banners below to read their debut posts, and meet us back here on the At Home in Arkansas blog each month to get to know them better! They’re experts in their fields, brimming with fabulous ideas to share.
Katie Buchanan of Little Rock Paper Scissors has done it again, this time bringing us a fun, clever way to stay organized this summer and ready to hit the pool at a moment’s notice. From the woman who brought us this delightful tale of mother/daughter organization, here’s how to build your own ready-for-anything beach bag for summer. We can’t wait to put together our own fun beach bags and spend time soaking up the sun. And thanks to Katie, we’ll be prepared for anything that comes our way.
Beach bags are the quintessential symbol of summer. Once they come out from winter’s weary closet we know that school is out, vacations are imminent and cares will soon wash away with the falling tides. And when stocked properly, these bags can truly represent practical preparedness worthy of any proper sun god or goddess.
There are a million ways to fill the perfect beach tote, but I like to keep the organization of your getaway bag loose and easyâjust like summer. To accomplish this, be fairly relaxed and adaptable in your approach, beginning with only two big pieces of pre-pool-bag-organization homework:
1. Choose the right oversized beach bag for you and be honest with yourself, the thing will get super ratty by September, so it does not need to come from a couture house in Paris and/or cost more dollars than you would be comfortable watching dissolve into a chlorine-laced pool puddle.
For me, the go-to carryall is the L.L. Bean canvas Boat and Tote bag. I’m absolutely obsessed with these versatile, monogram-ready and highly durable classicsâthey are as timeless as a Chanel bag or a white, cotton oxford shirt, and oh so useful. As a matter of fact, if you come to my house, chances are you will see various sizes of the Boat and Tote in every room… playing the role of purse, grocery bag, portable filing cabinet, cat bed, you name it. I can’t get enough of them, and the best partâaside from their washabilityâis that they are made right here in the good ol’ USA.
2. Make a list of what it needs to hold in order for your days of sun soaking to be as easy as they deserve to be. Try to list items that can live in your bag all summer, making your bag as ready-to-go at a moment’s notice as possible. After you decide what things “live” in your bag all season, from sunscreen to trashy romance novels, you are ready to inventory what smaller bags will live inside the large beach bag.
Yes, you read that right. I said “what smaller bags will live inside the large beach bag.” It’s true. I’m a bag lady. Not even a bit ashamed. I just love things that hold other things. One day, my friend Mel said, “Oh Katie, you are a total bag junkie just like me.” Now I love bags, but please! I’ve never done anything even close to illicit or illegal in order to own one. Well, yet…
Your list will vary according to your needs, your kids, your locations and your sun-worshiping goals, but as the typical female pool/lake goer, this is what I like to keep on hand:
- Sunscreen and lots of it! Various SPF levels, sprays, face lotions, all of it. And remember, sunscreens expire after about six months, so it will be necessary to re-stock at the beginning on the summer. At season’s end, toss what you didn’t use.
- Books, real live books made of paperâleave the iPad inside. I love all kids of book from grocery story brain cell killers to large format New York Times crosswords and sudoku. One favorite idea is selecting summer books is to check out a teen’s English Literature summer reading list. As an adult, you’ll now have the time and desire it takes to finally enjoy those fabulous classics. I also love to keep summer reading coolâenjoy stories set in mountains and snow while you sweat it out in the Arkansas heat.
- Pencils, sharpener and a case, even though pens are my preferred tool for crossword puzzles. They just don’t do well as season-long residents of a pool bag. A nice, trusty pencil will never melt under pressure.
- Hair-care goods, such as color-protecting leave-in conditioner and a wide-tooth comb, and large clips (not breakage-inducing rubber bands). In the impossible, albeit rare event that my hair actually be submerged in lake or pool waters, I like to curb the damage ASAP!
- Deodorant, for the inevitable failures and post-shower application.
- Lip balm, because it’s easy to forget those lips, but they need as much SPF protection as the rest of your skin.
- Nail products, such as cuticle oil, travel polish remover pouches and emery boardsâsee the part above about curbing the damage.
- Toys and games, because even grown-ups should have fun at the pool, and there are tons of travel options out there from Scrabble to trivia games. And don’t forget the good times had with a Frisbeeâa flat, packable bit of entertainment.
- Laptop, with a very protective case, for those vacations when writing deadlines loom. I have a rule that I will only use my laptop in the morning, if I am fully dressed, do not have on a bathing suit and plan to be in a maximum of 85-degree dry, sandless weather. Late in the day, when I am by the pool or beach, the laptop stays inside!
- Non-SPF lotion is a handy thing to use after sand and chlorine have been rinsed away and you want to sit, dressed and waterside, under the protection of an umbrella.
- Insect repellant, because mosquitoes love lakes and nibbling on sweet people like you! Although they stink, sprays can be your friends in the fight to ward off those pesky creatures. If you are completely opposed to putting the nasty stuff on your delicate skin, some brands now make repellant devices that clip onto your bag or chair.
- Water-tight wallets so your iPods, earbuds, cell phones and keys can bounce safely between your purse and bag all summer longâthis year I found on of the best ever at By Invitation Only in the Heights in Little Rock, and they have quite a few styles that make a fun addition to any organized summer wardrobe.
- Flip-flops, but find a pair that won’t break your heart when they inevitably fade after 1,000 harsh rinses in the lake or pool. Like sunscreen, some well-used flip-flops have a shelf life of about six months.
- Hats, and although I love a big, wide-brimmed stunner of a hat, ball caps and visors can roll up with ease or attach to bag handles, taking up little space when it’s time to protect the hair and skin during the sun’s most dangerous hours.
- Cover ups. Locally, Cynthia East Fabrics and Bella Boutique in the Heights carry adorable, bold-printed tunics that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and they are thin enough to fold up teeny tiny. Other smart choices can be found at Old Navy, Gap and that little fashion-mecca known as Target. Instant, disposable fashion is key for outdoor fun!
- Mesh laundry bags are handy to hold all the grubbies that need to be washed in the house at the end of your pool/lake day.
- Insulated cups or water bottles are popping up in lots of stores, and they can even be monogrammed to keep the beverage confusion low!
- Snack bags, from insulated lunch bags to foldable coolers, carryalls for nourishment (and maybe a cocktail or two) are a much for all that important energy we need to relax.
Once the bag is chosen and the happy content list has been made, you are ready to get to packing. The process reminds me of pre-camp trunk-stuffing days… which I LOVED.
(Now camp itself I despised, by the way. Hot, crowded yuck-fest, almost like a bad food-and-wine festival… Ick. Now I wish I hadn’t even brought the whole thing up now. But my good childhood friend Anne, who is a few years younger than I am, reminded me that when I was about 13 or 14, her mother paid me to pack Anne for Camp Timberlake. She said her camp trunk was the picture of perfection, and every day’s outfit was bagged and labeled by day so that she could just grab and go. It’s amazing I had any friends at all, really…)
Just as we did for camp trunks back in the day, I like to begin beach- and pool-bag-packing by setting everything out so that I can see the big picture. As in most of my organization lectures, I will tell you again to label your items. Labeling can always be done with a label marker, but with out typical hot summers, labels sometimes do not hold up so well during outdoor playtime. Therefore, now is the time to go to a monogram shop and let the thread and paint fly all over your well-chosen beach items.
Mesh laundry bag and washable, collapsible food/game tote as well as a fabulous insulated to-go cup from By Invitation Only in the Heights.
Summer reading assignments, puzzle books and a zip top water-repellant plastic pencil bag courtesy of my extra-hip niece, Kate. I place all books and such in a smaller version of the Boat and Tote bag that willâyou guessed itâfit inside the larger one.
Plastic Ziploc bags are perfect for all things hair, nails and lips as well as a great way to add an extra layer of water safety to your Phone/iPod holder/wallet, the interior of which is shown.
Extra-large, monogrammed beach towel and (mostly unnecessary) wallet/phone/iPod pouch, laptop case, sunscreen, insect repellant, deodorant and a wonderful collapsible blue and white, waterproof pocketed tote from By Invitation Only that can hold it all from bug spray to sunscreen to beverages.
And voila! All packed and ready to goâ¦ Towels, supplies and bags-in-bags holding all of your essentials for a ready-to-go-at-a-momentâs-notice day of fun in the sun. As you can see, I like the BIG L.L. Bean tote bag. And if all else fails, I can sleep inside of it.
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Okay, now that organization how-to business complete, I HAVE to brag on my very favorite new product âfindâ in quite some time. Billed as a dorm shower caddy, this collapsible blue tote pocketed tote from By Invitation Only has about a million uses, and I could devote an entire blog to this bag alone! I LOVE this silly thing, and my head spins thinking of all the fun year-round solutions afforded by itâfrom bathroom to kitchen to the garden. So, in closing, a little bonus pictorial for making a college shower bag work in the grown-up poolside world!
Yes, I know. The concept is pure genius. You can thank me later.
It is a good idea to keep the bag on the ground after you take it outside, because once your ice melts, this little dandy can just drain out of the bottom poolside.
And finally, this last photo is for my friend Michaela who works at By Invitation Only. When I told her my stroke of brilliance for the shower-caddy-turned-ice-chest, she said, âOoh, yes! You could even put in all the supplies for margaritas in there! Limes, salt, tequila.â Great minds really do think alike!
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Cheers to you all for an always-organized and VERY extra-safe summer!
From editor in chief Diane Carroll: “I’m off on vacation next week and staying in the Alys Beach area. I only hope the skies are this blue and the water is as emerald as usual! Love the softly aged, soothing cool shades of whiteâitâs so simply chic and summery.” (“Alys Beach” from Living Under Spanish Moss)
From marketing coordinator Megan Lindsey: “Organizing my closet in on my weekend agenda…so I’ve been looking online to get some inspiration. I stumbled upon this blog and absolutely loved all of the glamourous walk-in closets. If only I could transform mine to look like this, and if only it were this big! I don’t think I would ever leave…” (“Organizing closets” from Glamorous Interiors)
From associate editor Paulette Pearson: “My, what a pretty post. Check out Camille Styles for plenty of entertaining ideas, including this tutorial on giving your goods a marble look.” (“Losing our marbles” from Camille Styles)
Â From account executive Stevi Jackson: “Red and blue is not a color scheme that I am normally drawn to, but I’ve seen some wonderful posts honor of 4th of July. This is one of my favorites. Great twist on American Classic!” (“Red, White & Blue” from I.O. Metro)
From art director Mandy Keener: “YES! All the texture & color makes me H-A-P-P-Y.” (“In Bloom: Flowers, Fashion, Art” from Sketch 42)
From assistant art director Laura LaRue: “I know exactly where I would put this in my house. Actually know about 4 places where I could put this. LOVE the color and the style.” (“Cute max side table” from Absolutely Beautiful Things)
From senior account executive Jennifer Hay: “Love this product! It’s sustainable and, the best part is that it’s available right here in Arkansas.” (“Get to know 3-form” from Blind, Shade & Shutter)
Katie Buchanan of Little Rock Paper Scissors has 13+ years experience in fashion, retail and event management, so it’s no surprise her business (organization, event planning, style consultations, holiday gift wrapping and delivery, you name it!) is exploding! We love her chipper personality and are thrilled that she allowed us a view of her own closet clean-up. Aren’t the results fabulous?
Thanks, Katie! (When can you come over to our house?)
Although I happily spend my time in a profession that involves organizing other folksâ messes, I rarely make time to sort out my own junk properly! Do as I say, not as I do, if you will. But with 2010 brewing, I decided to âhireâ myself to get my own disastrous closet in tip-top shape. After all, I had recently moved into my own house…ahem…eight months ago, and the shoes on my dining room table were making it difficult to serve a decent meal.
I have a philosophy when it comes to organizing the useful yet rarely-seen closet/pantry/attic spaces in a home: We all go to such lengths to make the obvious rooms in our homes look beautiful with well-chosen colors, fabrics, furniture and fixtures, yet when it comes to the closet we personally enter 85 times a day, we treat it like a trash heap. There is absolutely no reason that our private spaces shouldnât be as lovely as the rest of the home while remaining functional. After all, YOU are using that trashy closet, and YOU deserve to look at an extra-pretty space as much as sweet Aunt Hilda who has tea in your decked-out living room once a year!
To begin, I decided to paint the inside of my closet the same shade of pink as my adjoining bedroom. (Because, fun, hot single girls can get away with that sort of thing.) While a paint job is not a necessary step in this process, it did get my lazy ball rolling.
Painting the closet not only made me love it more, it forced me to TAKE EVERYTHING OUT OF IT. Removing absolutely everything is the very best way to really get down and dirty and purge what you donât need, hate, or, letâs face it, can never fit in again. I was resigned to only put back what I truly loved and needed, including my Mt. St. Mary high school uniform, but not including the dress I wore to Sigma Chi formal senior year in college. You see where Iâm going with thisâ¦..prioritize wisely!
The one downside of removing everything is that, well, everything is removed. This made the task look daunting! But it also forced me to get myself into gear, unless I wanted to sleep in a hotel.
…much less walk anywhere in my house.
When it was time for the actual closet re-organization, I followed the guidelines that I use when re-vamping closets for my clients:
1. Only keep what I really love or need.
Check the denial at the door and be ruthlessly honest with yourself. The cost of letting clutter pile up in your life far outweighs what it might cost to replace a silly skirt you havenât worn in 6 years.
2. Hang as much as possible.
Jeans, t-shirts, slacks, all of it. More often that not, if you canât see it, you wonât use it.
3. Use thin, sleek felted hangers; your space will double.
Although plastic and wood hangers make a closet look great, they are far bulkier and do not grip clothing well (without ugly hanger marks on the shoulders).
4. Hang pants and skirts on tiered, clipped pant hangers.
5. Only fold things like sweaters, lounge wear and pajamas.
Use extra drawer space for accessories.
6. Keep out-of-season items, eveningwear and rarely used specialty items in a guest room or spare closet.
Doing this will force seasonal rotation and purging.
7. Store out-of-season or specialty shoes, hats and handbags in safe, mildew and moth resistant containers.
Place containers in alternate closet or under beds. Do not store in attics that are not climate controlled!
8. Did you hear me when I said be ruthless????
Read our “New Year, New Style” issue, now online!!
This issue is about getting organized and refreshing your home decor for the New Year. Go inside a Little Rock home where classic style is redefined for comfortable family living. Tour a highly-functional kitchen that combines cooking, entertaining and work areas into one stylish space. Learn how to give everyday house old items clever new uses for organization. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll find:
Photography by Rett Peek
Photography by Nancy Nolan
Now, get cracking! Read the issue here and enjoy!
Diane Carroll was drawn to these architectural beams, featured on Nest Egg. She says, “Beautiful shots, love how rustic and elegant can combine. I’m a fan of white rooms, and textural beams add visual drama that all-white can lack.”
Laura LaRue says, of this DIY featured on Young House Love, “I have been saving corks for a long time thinking of different ways to use them, and this is such a good idea.”
“What great fabric! So springy and fun,” says Kathy Condrey of Jackie Von Tobel’s fabric line, featured on Cote de Texas.
Lauren Strother is craving design-oriented organization, which she found on A Life’s Design: “I especially adore the yellow wall papered office. Quite an inspirational room!”
Paulette Pearson says of this post featured on Haute Design, “Here’s to moody interiors with a hint of glamour, and just look at that kitchen chandelier!”
Does putting away holiday decor always spur a bout of home organization for you? It inevitably does for me, just something about feeling cleaned up and squared away for the new year. This year, it was my kitchen that needed the overhaul–and the fact that I had ended 2011 with a photo shoot in one of the most organized kitchens I’ve ever seen gets part of the credit for launching my clean up.
Open spaces, ample storage, large windows…can’t you just envision what a dream this would be to cook in?
And if you think it looks good on the surface, just look inside those cabinets! Designer Andi Stephens of Kitchen Distributors gets the kudos for designing this Fayetteville kitchen where there’s truly a space for everything…
(all photography by Rett Peek)
Guess you can see why my cupboards and cabinets needed a little tidying after working in this setting all day. Take a look at the rest of this great space here. See any ideas that will inspire your own kitchen cleanup?
Kelly Fraiser says her closet could use a boost from the Closet Factory. “My shoes are in need of some serious organization.”
Spring is in the air, and on the table, thanks to this inspiring post Diane Carroll found on Young Designs. “A wonderfully green way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day next year. Could up the ante from green beer and bagels to a beautiful spring party.”
Paulette Pearson thinks lemon yellow, especially as interpreted on A Life More Fabulous, is one of the happiest colors. “I once heard you should have an element of yellow in every room, and I think there’s some truth to that.”
Laura LaRue fancies this space featured on Delight by Design. “Love all the open space…helps me to justify to my husband that we need to knock down a wall!”
Lauren Strother is looking forward to spring when she can don some of these pretty, feminine skirts, which she found on The City Sage.
New Orleans-based designer Tara Shaw (center) is debuting her Maison line to be sold exclusively at Cobblestone & Vine in Little Rock, and Kathy Condrey couldn’t be more thrilled. Check out Providence Ltd. Interior Design for details.
Check out Katie Rawlings’ Friday Favorite on the Beth Davis Interiors blog. “Mirror, mirror, on the wallâ¦ I want them all! I have a wall in my dining room dedicated just to mirrors, all shapes and sizes. Would love to add one of these!
It’s October now. The weather is cooling, the pumpkins are out in plenty, and it’s time to pull on that favorite sweater. But wait, what did I do with that thing?
We’ve all done this, to our frustration, and it’s time to take back our closets, our chest of drawers, and shelves. This month I’m sharing my secrets to keeping a well-run wardrobe, even for little spaces.
1. “Season” Your Closet
At the beginning of every Fall (and Spring), I go through my closet and remove all clothing, shoes, purses, scarves, etc. that are not practical/fashionable, what have you, for the next six months. (Example: This month, I’m packing away all my white pants, linen shirts, and sandals) By removing the clothes you won’t be wearing, you’re limiting your choices and saving yourself time when it comes to choosing what to wear.
|Annya (dog) reassures me that I won’t need these things for months to come|
After clearing the Spring and Summer from the closet, pull out your cool-weather duds. I store mine in plastic totes in the attic and in a spare closet. But those ‘space-saver’ bags are great too– the ones on infomercials that use a vacuum to stuck all of the air out.
But no so fast! Before putting your cozy garments back into the closet, take a moment to examine whether or not it deserves the real estate. Did you wear this item last year? Can you wear it this year? If you answer no to either of these, then dig deeper…
Why didn’t you wear it last year? I was pregnant or I lived in Florida or I didn’t know I owned it obviously gives the item a get-out-of-jail-free card.
However, if you didn’t wear it because you just didn’t wear it, that probably means that you don’t really like the item very much in the first place. Or if it was too small last year, and it’s still too small this year, it’s time to come to terms with the new you. (And that’s OK.) These items are just clothes. At that, they are non-essential clothes that you don’t even wear once a year. It’s time to part ways. Goodwill is always happy to get gently used clothing, and (bonus!) it’s tax-deductible.
|This giant stack is going from my closet straight to Goodwill|
3. But It MEANS Something To Me
Clothes, shoes, purses aren’t just garments. These things can also be memories and keepsakes. Even I have several things I’ve kept for years and years without ever wearing. BUT the trick is to keep these things in storage with your other special tokens–your hope chest, the attic, a hat box under the bed– and NOT taking up prime real estate in the closet.
|These ridiculous shoes will probably never be worn again but I love the memories they hold|
4. Now It’s Time to Shop
Once you’ve parred down your cool-weather goods, take an inventory of what you have and don’t have. This means looking at magazines, doing some window shopping, and making sure you cover the basics (black dress, dark slacks, nice jeans, etc.). With all of the space you’ve freed up in your closet, you’ll have plenty of room for this season’s cute whatever-it-is. Plus, you know what you’re starting with so that you don’t keep buying the same old thingÂ over and over again. (Not that any of us every do that…)
|Closet: ‘seasoned’ and ready for the fall|
Katie Rawlings says, of this post from Decor 8, featuring retro storage boxes and desk accessories from Daisy Home, “Everyone could use a little more organization in their lives! What a darling way to keep it together!”
It’s the details that count, and Lauren Strother knows it. She loves this kitchen update featured on The Little Things, from the paint to the art to the colorful cookware.
Who said dining chairs have to match? If you want to go out on a limb, take a cue from Apartment #34 and mix it up a little! Paulette Pearson loves the lucite chair especially.