Addicted to Tech

We are so completely surrounded by technology that we sometimes don’t even realize how much it consumes us. And if we do we will laugh about it, say something along the lines of “I should use less tech,” then proceed to check [insert social network of choice]. While there is of course nothing wrong with technology it is scary sometimes when we realize how much it truly consumes us.

Check out this post from Apartment Therapy.Jennifer Hunter writes about how she forgets her phone for a day and while we may all think “Oh, it’s no big deal,” if the same thing has ever happened to you you realize how dependent we have become on our tech. In the case of the phone, half the time we hold it and look at it simply becuase we are bored and we want something to hold. Tech has become a sort of addiction or a comfort object, and while tech may not be bad, the way we interact with it certainly has the potential to be.

Or at least it’s my opinion that it can at the very least be a detriment to our day to day lives. We notice less and become so dependent on our tech that we work ourselves into a panic without it. Butas Jennifer eventually concludes, going techless (or at least phoneless) for a day isn’t actually the end of the world. You may encounter a few minor inconveniences, but I would challenge everyone to go phoneless for a day… or if you are feeling particularly brave, unplug everything for the day (But don’t feel bad if you need to check your email at some point.)

Maybe see how well you fare without tech for a day.I have a vacation coming up, so it isn’t entirely necessary for me to have internet access for the entirety of the week. I may go techless for at least a couple of days. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Books: How to do the Small Library

I have talked about books before and how much I love them and the idea of a home filled with books makes me swoon. I mean, who doesn’t love looking at books all the time?

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They are so pretty!

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And they smell so good!

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However. If all of us book lovers were truly honest with ourselves, we would realize that the majority of our books were just collecting dust. I love to think of myself as an avid reader but I don’t read nearly as much as I would like to. There are a number of books on my shelf that I have had for more than a year and have yet to read…

I realize that the primary reason I still have a large number of books is because of the “I plan on reading it at some point” or “I will read it again” syndromes. I could easily get most of the books I want to read at the library, so why to I cling to these books that, if I ever get around to reading, will only read once? Why reason I am reluctant to actually bite the bullet and get rid of them?

I like the way they look. Plain and simple. But for me, because I really would like to purge the clutter from my life, liking the way something looks isn’t enough of a reason to keep it. A large collection of books is truly of little or no use to me and very few of my books carry any significance. It may be difficult, but in the end, I have to get rid of the books for which I truly have no need.

This being said, just because a book collection is small, does not mean it can’t look lovely.

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The books in this bedroom, for example, add a nice, subtle, pop of color to its neutral tones. There are enough books to feel them there, but not so many that it seems to be an overwhelming amount that won’t ever be read.

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Another lovely example is from Molly’s Coloring Book Modern Apartment on Apartment Therapy. Most of her books are [seem to be] tucked away in a cozy little nook, but there are several little clusters around the apartment. By spreading it out, the book collection feels more prominent, however, it still maintains a reasonable number that can be used fairly regularly.

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This final example has some regocnizable spines; the essential characteristic of your pared down book collection is love and use it or shrug and lose it. Keep the titles you love and use. The smaller the number of books you have, the more attention they’ll get. There is no specific number of books you should have nor are there certain titles that you should have. Keep what you love, keep what you really use, and get rid of the rest. Display your collection proudly so that, when someone asked, you can truthfully say “Yes, I have read all of these books.

Image Sources

Digsdigs
Artaberry
SeeYourInterest

HomeDesigning
Molly’s Coloring Book Modern Apartment
FantasticFrank

Dorm Room Tour

Since coming back from my first semester abroad, I have lived in two separate dorm rooms; one during January, the other for the whole of second semester. At this point in the semester (basically halfway done…) I finally feel comfortable enough in this room to share it.

First, it is a double room, slightly smaller than other rooms in the dorm, but the cool bay window we have makes up for that… for the most part.

The room has two closets (which have hanging space and a built-in dresser), a desk and chair, and a bed. I spend a lot of time on my bed, it is essentially my sofa, so I choose not to loft mine.

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Over the summer, after I grew sick of my dark blue comforter, I decided to splurge, at least it was for my college student budget, on a new duvet cover from IKEA. This one is the Alvine Kvist set. In place of buying a new duvet, I used an unused full-sized comforter, which I am pleased does not show through the white duvet cover. Honestly, this bedding change was one of the best decisions for me; when you spend as much time in bed as I do (sleeping, working, reading etc.) it’s important to love it. With the whites and blue theme of my bed I am (almost) always relaxed, which is so important for me right now. Underneath my bed I have a bit of extra storage, namely my suitcases, dry food, and laundry basket. And of course the chair which I can’t actually use to sit at my desk.

At the head of my bed is my desk. Given the small size of the room there isn’t actually any room to sit at my desk (I had to make sure there was room for my refrigerator at the otehr end of my bed) so if I work “at” my desk, I usually just lean on a pillow over the head of my bed. Over the past couple of years I have realized that the key to my sanity is minimizing the amount of clutter I have in my space, so I work to keep only the essentials on it. I have to contain my books to a reasonable amount, keep up with dishes, and make sure everything is in its place.

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Even so, I keep it lively with some of my favorite (and dorm friendly) art pieces. To hang them I use a small bulldog clip and a command hook (like I said, dorm friendly). The piece on the left was a gift from a graphic designer, the piece on the right I got in an art trade with one of the senior art majors last year, and the one in the middle is mine.

And of course I try to keep my books as color coded as possible.

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I also have a semblance of a kitchen; with a fridge, electric kettle, and an assortment of kitchen ware which I can use in the communal dorm kitchen downstairs. And a large stash of San Pellegrino at the end of my bed.

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All in all, I am very pleased with my room this year. I was sad when my string of twinkle lights, which of course are a necessity for any dorm room, were broken and the giant flower above my bed isn’t completely in line with my tastes (It was actually from the girl my roommate lived with first semester). I would prefer a simpler gradient of color along the top of the wall, but I’ve learned to make my peace with it.

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This year was an exercise in seeing what I could do without. I cut back on the amount of everything I brought; I wanted to make the most of the least. I am going to see how far I can take that next year and see how much I can push a space like this to being more airy and organic. For the time being, I think I will just focus on bringing a plant into the space.

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Tata for now.

Cabin Apartment

I mentioned in my last blog post living at my cabin during the summer of 2014 so I would like to share my living space with you. First I will say that my living space was technically a garage; my parents are planning to move to our cabin at some point in the next few years and the first thing we had to do was build some extra space (In order to sell our house we need to move out but in order to live in our cabin we need to expand the 400 sq foot space, so the garage is for the time being a transitional living space.) But enough about that; on to the space itself.

The space has a large open area, which at some point in the future will be a space for two cars, a fairly large bathroom complete with all the essentials, and a kitchen area with a sink, dining table, refrigerator, and (spot for) a stove. There isn’t much in the space, but it has all of my essentials as well as a potted plant to bring in some life. The “living room” is divided from the rest of the space by the sofa, which floats near the center of the room, and two chairs act as a barrier from the kitchen. Because I decided that I could not live without seeing my books all summer, I brought most of them there with me, so the room didn’t feel so empty.

Lastly, my “bedroom,” was rather makeshift. An old chest of drawers and clothing rack served as my closet, and my bed frame was literally a 4×8 board of plywood on cinderblocks.

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Basically, because I was there for only two months, we didn’t want to spend a lot on a bunch of furniture that was more in-line with my tastes. It was an exercise in making the most of what we had so that I could make a space that I could actually enjoy living in.

I will add more photos once I can get them.

Until next time.

Italian Homes

After a very long hiatus I am back. I spent two of the last seven months at my cabin, which did not have adequate internet, and abroad in Florence Italy, where I was far too busy with school and with exploring that beautiful city to do much beyond my travel blog.

But now that I am back, I would like to get back into design blogs.

I would just like to share a few of the things I noticed about Italian homes during my time in Italy. First of all, partially because they were all within the city, the Italian homes I saw were far smaller than any American home. The size of the two and three bedroom apartments I saw were more akin to an apartment in New York, and not one of the large ones. My host mom’s bedroom, for example, fit only a full sized bed and a writing desk. (She also maximized the space in her room with under bed storage and bookshelves.) The bedroom that I stayed in, which was probably the original master bedroom, had two twin beds, a small desk, built-ins on one wall, and a headboard bookcase combo on the other. There were bookcases throughout the house, which allowed all of my host mom’s books to be on display. The kitchen was small, with a modest refrigerator (about half the size of our enormous American ones) and the bathroom was even smaller, two people would not have been able to stand comfortably together in there. The same sizing was true of the other houses I saw, and the layouts of all the houses were similar with a hallway linking the living room and kitchen, which were on opposite ends of house, bookending the one or two bedrooms.

But in spite of the small space (which didn’t feel incredibly small because each home had adequate and smart storage) the homes were beautiful and comfortable. My house, like many of the others I saw, was tiled throughout (except my bedroom, which had parquet wood floor). The tiles formed lovely designs and had the feel of patterned rugs (just be sure to wear comfortable socks or slippers). The walls were white, which opened the space, and since my house was on the top floor is had sloping ceilings, adding to the spaciousness. The decor was a lovely mix of contemporary, scandinavian style (I wish I had gotten the chance to actually go to Ikea) and antiques; It seemed as though every street had an antique furniture or decor store. Even looking in the windows I saw a number of beautiful pieces. This mix of styles, which I saw in more homes than only mine, resulted in a lovely comfort; the cleanliness of the modern styles balanced beautifully with the rustic antiques.

And on a sidenote. This was the first time I had lived in a legitimate city, as opposed to the suburbs. And I loved it. I loved being able to walk everywhere; it was great exercise and so green. And convenient. Everything one needed was within a block; grocery stores, clothing, etc. And being able to walk out your door at anytime of the day (or night, theoretically) makes a large house unnecessary. The city becomes an extension of your home and makes an incredible tradeoff with a larger house.

Small Cool

Apartment Therapy is just about to finish up their Small Cool contest, in which they ask people to submit photos of their small homes (under 1000 sq feet). It’s really great to see how people work with their small spaces. My favorite is always the teeny-tiny division (under 400 sq feet) because some people do some really amazing things, even in the tiniest of spaces.

A couple of my favorites this year are Anna’s Serene Studio

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and Vina’s Minimal Impact on the Earth.

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Both of these ladies have created wonderfully simple homes with little to no clutterand remain spacious in spite of their small size.

Click the Small Cool link above to see the rest of the entires.

What to Get Rid Of

I feel fairly confident in saying that most people are familiar with the rule “Don’t use it? Don’t love it? Get rid of it.” But like so many rues of thumb it’s a lot easier to say it in theory than in practice. Like many others, I keep things (specifically chotkes) that I’m not exactly in love with but that I just don’t want to get rid of quite yet. The reason? I might use it in the future. Granted, being a college student this statement may be more true for me than for others, I have not yet had the privilege of having a home which I get to decorate all by myself, but the “I might use it” trap is still dangerous.

So how can you avoid this trap? Try to look at things objectively. For example, a while back I was cleaning off my bookshelf and came across a book a bought at a rummage sale. I was on the fence about getting rid of it, I kept thinking I really wanted to read it, but when I tried to imagine myself reading it, I found it difficult. Now, seeing that book as I actively sell it in a garage sale, I experience none of the one the fence feelings I had from it a few months ago.

If you’re experiencing the “I might use it” syndrome one of the best things to do is imagine that object on display in your house or imagine yourself using it. If it’s difficult to imagine yourself getting any concrete pleasure from the object, get rid of it. (If all you’re getting is a vague sense of pleasure simply because you have it that also means you should get rid of it.) Essentially, it’s like ripping off a bandaid. Once you rip off the bandaid and get rid of it there’s no more discomfort and you’ll find you don’t miss having the object at all.