Monday, February 28, 2011

Variations on a Theme: Eames Hang-It-All Coat Rack

wall-mounted coat rack

I've written about the ever-popular Eames Hang-It-All before, back in Sept. 2010 - the traditional multi-colored one and the much newer walnut version. The multi-colored one sells for $199, the walnut one for $249.

While direct knock-off products aren't so cool, it is cool to see other products that take some inspiration from the Hang-It-All.

very large wall-mounted coat rack

Most notably, here's an extremely large version of the Eames design. It's called Hang It All, Hang it Big, and it's by artist Ruby Anemic. There was a limited edition of 53; I'm trying to find out if any are still available, just in case any of you are interested. The price? 8,300 euros. [via Switched On Set] Update on March 1, 2011: Ruby has confirmed by e-mail that this is still available from the Colette gallery, although it is no longer on display.

wall-mounted coat hanger made with skateboard wheels

Here's a version made from skateboard wheels, from Skate Study House. [via Toxel, with its very cool post about skateboard-inspired furniture]

coat rack, wall-mounted

And this coat rack from Paul Smith also seems to draw a bit of inspiration from the Hang-It-All. Update on June 17, 2013: I'm no longer finding this product.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Donating Your Wedding Dress

wedding gown being sold by Goodwill

White satin dress with train, worn once, pristine condition.
The wedding and the marriage have been perfect, but she feels it criminal to put the dress away where it will never be worn again, so she offers someone else a sliver of the joy she has.

-- From the poem "14 Sentences On Goodwill Wedding Dresses" by Diana Heidem; I highly recommend you go read the whole thing on Manolo for the Brides

While some brides opt to rent their wedding gowns, many brides purchase their dresses. And perhaps, some time later, a bride might decide that she just doesn't need to keep the dress any more. What to do? There are a number of places to sell wedding gowns - but for today, let's focus on donations.

This post was inspired by my cousin Wendy Robins, who told me her story: "I sent my wedding dress to Israel with our rabbi's wife. She donated it to a place that provides gowns for brides who cannot afford one. I'm sure there are organizations here that do the same. It made me feel good to help another bride on her special day." [e-mail message quoted by permission]

And yes indeed, there are organizations here in the U.S. that make good use of wedding gown donations. The most well-known one is probably Brides Against Breast Cancer, which is currently seeking "contemporary gown styles, slips and veils dating from 2005 until the present day." Gowns sold by BABC raise funds for the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation. Update on Feb. 5, 2014: BABC now wants items dating from 2009 onward.

Another reasonably well-known organization is Brides Across America; this group "will pass on your precious donation to a military bride in need." Gowns must be not more than three years old.

There are a number of less well-known groups, too. For example, The Brides’ Project "has two very important purposes: to provide every bride with the things she needs for a beautiful wedding within her budget, and to support cancer charities by donating all our profits." However, you won't get a tax receipt from this group, because it's a "third party fundraiser." Gowns older than five years are accepted, but may be "used for alternative purposes" if the group determines they are unlikely to sell.

If you want your wedding gown to go to good use - but not necessarily as a gown for another bride - consider the Mary Madeline Project. As the project's web site explains: "We are a non-profit organization that donates infant / baby burial gowns and blankets to hospitals for bereaving parents. Women donate their cherished wedding gowns to the project and volunteers give of their time, talents and love by making the baby burial gowns and blankets."

Then there are the big-name charities you may not think of right away. In the U.K., you can donate your wedding dress to Oxfam. "Not only do your donations give another bride the opportunity to wear a fabulous dress that they might otherwise be unable to buy, the money raised by the sale really can make a difference to people living in extreme poverty."

And of course, as the opening poem suggests, consider Goodwill. As Lorie Marrero points out, "Each regional Goodwill member agency is autonomously operated" - so you'll need to check with yours to find out just how things work. Dresses may be sold at the stores or online.

Echoing the sentiment of that opening poem, Andrea DeBell of Britetalk comments on the Project 333 blog: "Even though I looooved my wedding dress, right after our honeymoon I put the dress in its original bag and sent it to Goodwill. I knew I wasn’t going to use it again so I wanted to share it with someone else that maybe couldn’t afford a nice dress. My dress made my wedding day special and I hope it did the same for someone else."

This post comes from Jeri's Organizing & Decluttering News; please see the copyright information included there.

1 Way to Avoid Future De-Cluttering Decisions: Rent the Wedding Gown

wedding gown

Has anyone else gotten rid of their wedding dress or contemplated it? What did you do with it? Any regrets? Sentimental clutter is hard for me to deal with. -- Maggie Sue, Unclutterer Forums

Questions like this come up all the time, and there's no one right answer. You may want to keep the dress, sell it, or donate it.

But some brides never need to ask this question - because they never bought a wedding dress. They rented it.

The New York Times points out that, in some parts of the world, this isn't a new idea. "Yoshiyuki Kohara, who works in Tokyo as director of the Asian market for the Association of Bridal Consultants, said that in Japan it has been common for 50 years to rent either a traditional kimono or a Western-style gown."

And now many more brides are deciding to save money by renting their gowns. "Why spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a wedding gown that you will wear for a couple of hours and then hang in a closet collecting dust for years?" asks One Stop Bridal in Ohio.

I'm seeing wedding dress rental sites far beyond the U.S. The photo above comes from Oceania Weddings in Australia; Ouijelevoeux does rentals in Montreal. In Paris you can rent a robe de mariée from Graine de Coton. [via Parisian Party] House of Arushi rents wedding gowns in Dubai. Update on Oct. 31, 2012: Oceania Weddings and House of Arushi seem to have disappeared.

A blogger on Weddingbee said her brother-in-law "got married a couple of years ago to a wonderful woman from Brazil. She wore a gorgeous dress that she rented in Brazil for less than $250! Apparently it is quite common for brides in Brazil to rent their dresses." And a commenter on that article said, "Renting is the norm for us Koreans."

And returning to the U.S., Gowns by Pamela, in Utah, specializes in renting modest wedding dresses.

If you want to go the rental route, you'll want to be clear on what services are provided - and do they cost extra, or are they included? For example: Will the shop make alterations - and if so, how extensive can they be? Are you expected to dry clean the dress before you return it, or does the shop take care of that? Does the rental also include items that go with the gown, such as petticoats?

And there are other important questions, too. For example: When are payments due? Are refunds available? How long is the rental period? What happens if the gown gets damaged?

For those who can find a good rental place - with a nice selection, good service, and reasonable policies - renting might be a perfect way to get a lovely gown. As Robin Callif says in The New York Times: "The guy should be forever. Not the dress."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

4 Staplers to Brighten Up Any Office

Pac-Man style stapler

A Pac-Man inspired stapler? Yes, indeed! While the Stap-Man stapler from Propaganda was originally available in just white and black (and you can still get it in those colors), it's now available in yellow, too. [via Retro to Go and GeekAlerts]

stapler designed to look like a shark biting

Propaganda is also the source for the Shark Bite! stapler, available in your choice of three colors from Panik Design and Zucker Online.

yellow stapler

For something much more conventional-looking, there's the Anything stapler - also available in a range of colors. It's sold many places online, including Rare Device and Velocity Art and Design. Update on Feb. 13, 2014: This stapler is no longer sold at Rare Device, and Velocity Art and Design has closed — but you can find it at See Jane Work, The Dwell Store, AllModern, and other sites.

stapler, yellow

And finally, there's this Italian stapler sold by Present&Correct, available in six different colors. P&C says these staplers are "used in offices all over Italy." Update on April 30, 2012: This stapler comes from Ellepi, and is also sold by Jasper Morrison.

Related Post:
7 Stand-Out Staplers, Plus a Staple Remover

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Step Stools for Safely Reaching Your Stored Stuff

wood folding stepladder

If you have storage that's higher than you can easily reach, please get a sturdy step stool (or stepladder) to use. The folding stepladder above is sold by Improvements - and, as the company says, it's much prettier than the metal one sitting in my garage. Update on April 1, 2014: I'm no longer finding this at Improvements, but what seems to be the same one is available at Frontgate and

plastic combination step stool and toolbox

Of course, you don't need to get something that fancy. This stool by Flambeau - a combination toolbox and step stool - is an interesting possibility. You can get it in yellow or pink from Awesome Tools.

folding step stool, orange

The last time I wrote about this topic - see Related Post below - I listed the E-Z Folds step stool. This time I'm listing the Easy Fold step stool from Kikkerland - similar, but not the same. It comes in seven different colors, and takes a load of 300 pounds. Update on April 1, 2014: Kikkerland has redesigned this stool, and is now calling it the Rhino Short Step Stool.

wood step stool with handle

Here's a step stool for those who feel more comfortable with one that has a handle.

long handled step stool, oak

And here's another style of long-handled step stool.

wood step stool - walnut and oak

Want a step stool that's also a work of art? Here's one made of walnut and oak; it holds up to 200 pounds. Update on April 1, 2014: I'm no longer finding the company that made this step stool.

wood step stools- ash walnut, teak

Or maybe you'd prefer Greg's Stools from Hardwood Artisans. I found these step stools on the company's blog and Facebook page, but I can't find them on the main site.

stepladder, in four colors

Finally, for something taller, there's the Trappestigen Stepladder, which holds up to 200 kg (440 pounds). You can buy it from Tegnestuen Hindevadgaard in Denmark; it's also sold by Great Dane Furniture in Australia. [via Better Living Through Design]

Related Post:
Six Step Stools for Short Folks (Like Me)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dry Erase Boards - Not Just Your Basic Whiteboard Any More

dry erase board, unique

"Dry erase boards are a staple of office life, but they’re not usually known as fashion statements." So writes Belgrave Trust in its blurb for the SkyPaper dry erase board. There's an interesting history behind it, too. "The striking design started when the team made a trip to look for reclaimed wood. But at the architectural salvage yard the team happened upon a set of giant rolls of anti-vandalism grade polycarbonate, surplused from a local construction project." [via Inhabitat] Update on July 4, 2012: Something odd is going on with the Belgrave Trust website right now, so I'm removing the link until things get sorted out.

bamboo dry erase board

Not your style? What about bamboo? This bamboo dry board comes from CB2; it's actually a bamboo veneer over engineered wood. [via Apartment Therapy] Update on July 4, 2012: CB2 doesn't seem to offer this product any more.

bamboo dry erase board

Three by Three has a whole range of bamboo dry erase boards; this is just one. [image from Uncommon Goods - another place you can buy these boards]

steel magnetic dry erase board with orange dandelions

You can also get a board that's a combination magnetic board and dry erase board - such as this one from Ekohdesign. There are a huge number of designs to choose from. These boards are made from steel, with printed overlays.

magnetic whiteboard shaped like a cow

I'm very fond of this ceramic magnetic whiteboard, made in Russia. The online store says "We can ship to nearly any location around the world."

whiteboard sticker - rhino

Finally, there are the whiteboard stickers. You could get a basic WhiteyBoard, or choose from the many Whiteboard Wall Schtickers - such as that rhino.

Related Post:
Chalkboards: Moving Way Beyond the Basic Schoolroom Blackboards

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Donating Your Stuff to Non-Profits: Finding Donation Information on the Web

Shelter Network web site

Information about donating physical items was often hard to find and rarely sufficiently specific. As a result of the low usability for non-monetary donations, users typically bounced between many non-profit organizations before finding one that they wanted to give their items to.
-- Jakob Nielsen, writing about usability test results for non-profit organizations' web sites.

Looking to find non-profits that could use the things you're ready to donate? You may come across the same problems Nielsen writes about.

My local non-profits must be better than average - while I used to see these problems a lot, things have definitely improved. It used to be that the big "donate" button almost always took you to information about financial donations only - but now, with most of the sites I've looked at, it also provides information about donating goods. For example, take a look at that Shelter Network page; it couldn't be much easier to find the information.

But that doesn't mean the problems are entirely gone.

1. Problems in finding the information

I've seen cases where the word Donate doesn't appear on the home page; in that case, look for something like Support Us or Get Involved. Sometimes it's much less obvious; I've seen donation information buried under About Us or Contact Us.

And if there's a home page Donate link, it won't always be the link you want; it might indeed be financial donations only. Here are some other places I've found information on non-monetary donations:
- How You Can Get Involved
- Ways You Can Help

Once you've found the donation section, you might find the information you want under titles like these:
- In-Kind Contributions
- Wish List

2. Problems with lack of specificity

My local non-profit thrift store has a nice brochure it hands out listing what it accepts and what it doesn't - but the information on the store's web site is nowhere near as detailed.

Another site says simply: "Goods - Donations are gratefully accepted, including clothing." That's nowhere near specific enough to be useful.

And then there's the site that says only this: "The Foundation also welcomes in-kind donations. Please telephone our Executive Director at (xxx) xxx-xxxx to discuss your particular situation." (The actual phone number was included on the web site, but I saw no reason to include it here.)

If you're at all in doubt about what the organization accepts, call first - so you don't wind up wasting a trip. And confirming the hours makes sense, too.

Musuem of Children's Art web site

Let's give a big "thank you" to all the non-profits who do good work in the world; how wonderful when we can help them out by donating things we no longer need, even if their web sites are sometimes lacking. Let's close with this very clear message from the Museum of Children's Art: "Give Us Your Stuff."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

5 Recipe Boxes to Jazz Up Any Kitchen

decoupages wood recipe box

Yesterday we looked at recipe binders and journals - but what if you prefer a box?

If you want one of the lovely recipe boxes from Laurie at Gifts and Talents, you'll need to wait six weeks - but she promises it's worth that wait! The boxes themselves are handmade, and then they're decoupaged with scrapbooking paper - and then coated with Mod Podge. Each is one of a kind. [photo used with permission]

wood recipe box

If you'd prefer a wood recipe box with no embellishment - just some gorgeous wood - you can head over to Winfield Woodworks, which makes boxes in 10 different woods. There's a double-wide box, too.

recipe box, no lid, cute dividers

Rfrantzdesign asks "Why hide your recipe cards when they are so beautiful?" These recipe boxes come with 12 dividers and 75 cards.

recipe box with letterpress cards

OneCanoeTwo also has an open recipe box - the better to show off the letterpress recipe cards. The set includes the box, eight tabs, and 42 cards - and more cards are sold separately. [via Tanna Clark at Complete Organizing Solutions]

recipe box robot

And for something very different, look at the recipe box robots from Heavy Metal Milkman. Update on Feb. 24, 2014: I'm not longer finding these recipe boxes on the Heavy Metal Milkman website.

Related Posts:
Organizing the Recipes in Three Steps
Five Recipe Boxes with Flair
10 Recipe Boxes to Treasure
Recipe Boxes: The Woodworker Edition
Organizing the Recipes: Easy to Elaborate Approaches

Reader Question: Recipe Binders, Books and Journals

red recipe journal - says I will cook better than my mum

Have you researched cool recipe holders/binders/books?

Yes, but not since February 2009 - so it's time for an update. While you can make any journal into a recipe journal, and any binder into a recipe binder, there are some specialty products you might like. Many of the options are too cutesy for my taste, but here are some that I do find appealing.

The recipe book above come from Fabriano Boutique; it has "80 lined pages divided with symbols for starters, meat, fish, vegetables and puddings."

recipe journal binder

Emma Bridgewater has a few recipe journals: this one called Black Toast, a Union Jack recipe journal, and one with hearts. These are all ring binders.

recipe organiser binder

This recipe organiser comes from Kikki.K in Australia.

recipe binder with flowers

Over on Etsy, Plaid Pineapple has a recipe 3-ring binder organizer.

recipe journal

For Moleskine fans, here's the recipe journal from Moleskine.

recipe cooking journal interior page

And finally, take a look at Recipes - a Cooking Journal. It's part of the Write It Down series from Journals Unlimited.

Related Posts:
Organizing the Recipes in Three Steps
Organizing the Recipes: Easy to Elaborate Approaches

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Greener Organizing: Containers from Recycled Materials

baskets from recycled PET bottles

The greenest storage materials are those you already own - or ones you get second-hand. But if you want something new, you can choose something made from recycled materials.

These Restore storage baskets - made from recycled PET bottles - come to us from the Danish company Muuto. They're available both at the Finnish Design Shop (prices in euros) and Huset (prices in U.S. dollars). [via Bloesem]

box from

The Paperbox from Jos van der Meulen, manufactured by Goods, is made from unused billboard posters; most of the sites selling the Paperbox warn you that the design you get will be a surprise. The photo comes from GOEDvandoen in Belgium, but you can also find the Paperbox in the U.S. at Greener Grass Design and

storage box from recycled tires

And then there's this storage box made from recycled tires (or tyres).

nesting wood boxes

Finally, take a look at these reclaimed driftwood nesting boxes.

Update on Feb. 15, 2011: I got a note from a reader which said: "I live on an island -- there is a HUGE problem with folks using 'reclaimed' driftwood on our beaches... many marine animals and shorelines depend on this material staying in place as part of the ecosystem. When it is removed, beaches erode and habitat is destroyed. One box, one piece of furniture -- maybe ok. An industry? Not OK. Just wanted you to be aware of the issue, since you put the boxes down as "green" -- they are natural, maybe -- but NOT "green" in my book!" I thank the reader for educating me - I had no idea, or I would not have included these boxes in this post.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Office Organizing with Clipboards: Beyond Basic Brown

Photo by messtiza / bianca francesca, found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

A series of clipboards hung on the wall can be a great office organizing tool for some people; take a look at the recent "clipboards on the office wall" photo at Apartment Therapy, or this older one in Lotta Jansdotter's studio.

red and white clipboard

If you like this idea, you might also want to look at the range of clipboards available. Kelly Stephens at box64studios has a number of gorgeous clipboards. Update on Jan. 10. 2014: I'm no longer seeing clipboards on this website.

clipboard in browns and greens

This clipboard comes from Astoria Lane. Update on Jan. 10, 2014: Astoria Lane doesn't seem to sell clipboards any more.

patterned clipboard, multicolor

And this one-of-a-kind clipboard comes from Laughing Taffy Designs.

two clipboards, different sizes

The Macbeth Collection clipboards are available in a huge range of patterns.

two clipboards - one with polka dots

BlueDogz Design has some very nice clipboards, too, in three different patterns - the one not shown is the houndstooth. Update on Jan. 10, 2014: This company doesn't seem to sell clipboards any more.

skeletal system clipboard

And for something completely different, let's end with this skeletal system clipboard from the Anatomical Chart Company. There's a muscular system clipboard, too. Update on Jan. 10, 2014: It seems these products have been discontinued.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reader Question: Organizing the Greeting Cards

greetinb card organizer box in black and white, with flowers

Do you have any ideas for boxes to organize greeting cards?
-- fellow professional organizer Liz Jenkins

I love going on a product hunt - so thanks to Liz for the question.

One note, before we begin: Some greeting card organizers have tabs for type of card (birthday, get well soon, etc.) and some have tabs for months (so you put the cards you want to send in March in that section) - and some have a combination. Consider which approach would work best for you. You can probably relabel the dividers if you find an organizer you like, but would prefer different groupings.

While there are perfectly fine basic greeting cards boxes from The Container Store and from Iris, there are some other choices, too. Let's start with the card organizer box sold by Current.

greeting card organizer box

Phoenix Trading has this greeting card organizer — which also has a drawer to store stamps, pens, etc. Update on June 15, 2014: I'm no longer finding this product.

greeting card organizer tin

Kards by Jon has a greeting card organizer tin. Update on Oct. 27, 2012: I'm no longer seeing this product listed.

greeting card organizer box in pink and brown with flowers

And La Loupe has some nice-looking greeting card boxes in four different patterns - but they are sold as a package deal with some cards. Update on April 1, 2012: La Loupe's website has disappeared.

greeting card organizer

Although Liz didn't ask about this, you might also want to consider other styles of greeting card organizers - not just boxes. For example, here's a greeting card organizer from Regreet, a company that helps you reuse greeting cards - and track them as they get resent, serving as sort of the Bookcrossing of greeting cards.

greeting card binder

Over on Etsy, Creations Abloom has greeting card binders; there are seven different covers to choose from. Update on Oct. 26, 2012: I'm no longer finding this company.

And Current, mentioned above, has a greeting card organizer book in the same pattern as its box.

Celebrations greeting card organizer book

Finally, there's the Vera Bradley Celebrations Book, a "card organizer extraordinaire, with pockets and monthly date lists all packaged in rich Vera Bradley colors." Update on Oct. 27, 2012: I'm no longer finding this product.