31 Days: Day 31!

I've decided. I'm going to end on a sappy note.

I've talked a lot these 31 Days about how to make your home look prettier via your camera lens. Well, I have to say I'm not convinced by perfection because it's the imperfections that make us us. So, for my final 31 Days post, I want to say... just take pictures you love and forget about them being perfect.

Yep, bobby pins in a jar by my bed. Not beautiful, but that's how I roll and I like this picture.

I'm in school for my doctorate so I have books everywhere. I like books though...

A pretty box full of our not so pretty things :)

The cats never leave the pillows alone, but I don't mind. Better for cuddling.

So go and take your pictures. Love them and they will be loved, regardless of how "good" they are.

Homeless Housewares: adopt a rug!

1. Office Conference Table and 3 Chairs - $50
2. Retro 2 Chair Set - $80

Two super deals on craigslist this time! To get three chairs for $50 or two for $80 is a pretty fabulous deal any day - especially if you also like the color of these chairs (which I happen to). If you don't like the color, the cost reupholstery would still keep you in the realm of totally reasonable price. A particular reason I wanted to point out #1 is that it's listed with a conference table. Well maybe you don't want a conference table. What do to? Buy it anway and resell the table for super cheap! If you listed the table for $15 it would probably go in a few days. Then you would have 3 great chairs for only $40 dollars! Don't want three chairs? Sell the ones you don't want. Selling one more for $15 would get you a set of two unique chairs for only... $25!!!! Don't be afraid to resell things you don't want!

3. Chest of Drawers - $85

I'm not thrilled at the $85 price tag for this one... I'm thinking more like $60 max. But if you could talk them down, this would be a super cute candidate for an ombre effect like this... (to the right there).

4. 5x8 Abstract Rug - $50

Rugs for $50 are a pretty good deal, especially if they're in good condition. If you've ever gone rug shopping, you know the prices can be a real shock. Why not just snag one second hand? Too traditional for you? If you're brave, you could take on an ambitious DIY like this one...

I'm dying to try it!!!


For those of you new to Homeless Housewares: I don't sell these things -  I just think they're great buys with a lot of potential. Hopefully you're inspired to search your local craigslistings, OR to find these pieces, search the San Diego craigslist furniture listings using the titles above. Maybe you can snatch these up before someone else does!


31 Days: Snapshot Sunday (Day 30)

This is it! The last Snapshot Sunday and the second to last 31 Days post!!

(from Louise Allana edited in Picasa - read the story behind the photo here)

(from Amanda at Colorful Goth - her outfit reveals are beautiful)

(from me! It took forever, but I finally caught a humming bird on our porch!!)

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who shared for Snapshot Sunday. You all are brave and superstars in my book. I'm so impressed with your pictures!!!


31 Days: Day 29

The big lesson for today applies more to life in general than to home photos - keep the camera handy! Some of the best pictures are spontaneous. If you have to go digging in your closet for your camera you might miss your shot!

I learned that lesson from Ashley at Under the Sycamore. She wrote a hilarious post about why she keeps her camera ready. While I don't want to spoil it for you (it's a super fun read) here's a little sneak peek...

"I heard water running in the kitchen and discovered my daughter with the hand washing obsession learned how to climb the cabinets.... Smile. Click. Smile. Dry everything up.... I groan, grumble, sigh and click because those are all part of the stories I want to capture. I would miss them all if my camera weren’t ready and nearby."

Definitely check out her site to see the picture she took - SO CUTE!

Here's a picture my Dad took of a perfect sunrise in his front yard.

That perfect angle of light was gone in a matter of minutes - he was so glad to have his camera available!

So keep your cameras out and snag that perfect moment!

Don't forget, the LAST Snapshot Sunday is tomorrow!! Leave a comment with a link to a photo you're proud of or email your picture to me at jen@insideways.com. It doesn't have to be something you've taken during the 31 Days Challenge, just something you're proud of. We can all enjoy and learn from each other's success :)


Put Things Where You'll Use Them

I opted for a pretty straight-forward post title today - ha!
Put things where you'll use them.

Last year Tim bought a record player. He put it up in his office, but because his office was in an isolated corner of the house he hardly used it. So he hardly used his record player. It was so sad, because he was super excited to buy it.

Now, we have the record player front and center in our living room, hooked up to our vintage radio. We use it all the time and it makes us SO happy!

Just a thought... try designing your home based on how you want to use your things, not just where you want to put them. Who cares if your home looks right when it doesn't feel right? Mushy but true :)

good design + a useful spot = a happy home

31 Days: Day 28

Our 31 Days are coming to an end, and it occurred to me... some of you are probably totally over it (when will it eeeeeennnnd?), but some of you might want to keep learning (you know, the crazy folk).

Here are 5 great photography tip resources for all of you hard core studiers....

1. Photojojo! A super fun website that posts about photography from basic to super quirky - lens reviews to how to print your friend's face on cupcakes!

2. Digital Photography School! Super comprehensive and easy to use, Digital Photography School was started by the amazing Darren Rowse. If you need information, it will probably be here!

3. SnapBlog! This was formed more for product reviews and consumer awareness, but they have a ton of helpful how-tos as well. If you're looking to buy a camera or lens, they are a super helpful resource.

4. DIY Photography! These guys are the experts on camera hacks. For all you DIYers out there, check out their alternative solutions to expensive equipment.

5. Phototuts+! Like the name implies, these guys specialize in photo tutorials from beginner to advanced. They're all about educating and are part of the Plus Education Network.

There is an awesomely overwhelming amount of information to be had out there, so don't stop learning! Or if your brain is finished with photography for now, you can always use these sites as go-tos for your specific questions. Basically, there will be an answer out there for your photo questions and needs - yay!

The LAST Snapshot Sunday is this week! I would love to share your favorite picture for the big photo finish of this series. Send a picture you've taken that you're proud of to jen@insideways.com, or post a link to your favorite photo in the comment section. It doesn't have to be something you took during this series, just something you're proud of so we can all inspire each other :)


31 Days: Day 27

Four more days left! Four. I can see the finish line...

With these precious remaining days, I wanted to be sure to go over a really tough room to photograph... the bathroom...

(This is a picture of my last apartment's bathroom which was beautiful. I just can't start this post with pictures of my current bathroom.)

Really this post is for any really tricky room in your house. The bathroom is just the number one most horribly difficult room to photograph in my current apartment.

First of all, it's just not a cute room, and since I'm a renter there's not a ton I can do about it. Secondly, there is NO NATURAL LIGHT. None. It's all about the tungsten in there. As we've discussed, this makes photo taking much harder. Plus, it's a very small room - how do I even get the angles I want!?

Well I have a few tips for overcoming these problems and have attempted to take pictures of my ugly bathroom for your viewing displeasure.

1. Adjust your white balance: If you're not working with natural light and you can adjust the white balance, do it! Here is what my camera thought white looked like before I fixed it.

Not white camera, not at all. But it didn't know better until I told it so.
From yellow to white...

2. Don't use flash: It may be tempting because everything is so dark in there, but don't use your flash. With all of those reflective surfaces, the flash is bound to be super noticeable. Let your photo editing software add in the brightness. The chrome faucet, towel rack, and cabinet hardware would have been a big problem not to mention the mirror!

(How do you like my fabulous laminate counter top? *dripping with sarcasm*)

3. Clean: Yes, clean for the pictures, but also clean because you are about to get all up in your bathroom's business. Since it's a small room, you can expect to be on the floor, by the toilet, kneeling next to the sink, you name it. Clean for your pictures and for your health.

4. Try try try try: Since it's a tricky room, give yourself permission to take two or three times as many photos as usual. Just keep taking them until you start to see things you like. It might take a while, but that's just the nature of tricky spaces.

5. Crop: I didn't know this would be in this post until I started editing my pictures. Because it's so difficult to get the angles you want in a small space, not many of the pictures looked the way I wanted them right out of the camera. Well the crop function saved my behind. Take this picture...

Here's the angle I took with the camera. I don't love it... but with a little cropping...

There's something I can live with!

There you have it, a lot of work for a little room. Which room is the trickiest in your home?


DIY Scrabble Art

The Scrabble wall art in my living room has to be one of my all time favorite DIYs. I've posted a "how to" for it before, but today I wanted to write an updated tutorial with pictures. (Because everyone loves pictures!)

The idea for this project came from Tim’s supreme ability to compromise with me.  I love letters.  I like those metal or plastic letters you can just put somewhere (they sell them at Urban Outfitters or Anthropology for example) and I’ve seen pillows sewn into the shape of letters that I love.

Tim doesn’t like either of those things, BUT Tim likes scrabble. He came up with the idea of having a grid of over sized scrabble letters as an art piece in our living room. Great idea.

Here's how it went down!

1. Cut wood squares (we used 9.5" x 9.5"squares cut for us from Home Depot) and sand the corners to make them slightly rounded, just like Scrabble tiles. Print out a high-res picture of the letter you would like in approximately the same size as the wood square. (I got my high-res image here.)

2. Scribble pencil on the back of your printed letter. You only have to scribble on the parts where the letter and number are. Basically, it turns the print out into homemade carbon transfer paper.

3. Put your printed tile (right side up) on top of your wood square.

4. Carefully trace the edges of the Scrabble letter and number. Push hard and try not to go outside of the printed black part. You'll end up with a light grey tracing of the Scrabble letter.

5. Paint the letter in with black acrylic paint. This could possibly take forever, but it's worth it :)

6. Wait for the paint to dry, then flip the wood over. Measure the half way point near the top and make a mark with your pencil.

7. Hammer on your picture hanging hardware. (I got mine from Michael's.) Then you have one tile all done! Just keep going until you give up have as many as you want!

Just hang them up and....

Three days, $50, and we have awesome wall art :)

31 Days: Day 26

I LOVE going to antique, consignment, and thrift stores. Even if I just window shop, it's so fun to imagine the possibilities of having all of those treasures in my home. When I get to bring something home? Forget about it - so excited.

I love sharing my finds through pretty pictures, but how do you highlight a particular piece in your home?

This has everything to do with the composition in your photo, or how you use light and the angle of your photo to direct someone's eye. Ok yeah I know... not such an obvious thing from that description...

So let's look at pictures!
This is a lamp DIY that I've never taken good pictures for. So for today's post, I've taken a bunch of pictures and we can talk about which ones showcase the lamp best and why.

I usually like to have three pictures of anything I'm showcasing: an object-centered shot to just show you the thing, an artsy closeup for fun and visual interest, and a wide shot that gives the thing context in my house.


I'm not head over heels about this shot, but I think it does a really good job of just showing you the lamp. It's clear and pretty, just not particularly compelling. But then again, I just want you to see the lamp, so it's not necessarily going to be a stunning picture.

This object-centered shot is very to the point. There is the lamp, which is good. But, what I don't love about it is that the photo is portrait instead of landscape. It's just a personal opinion, but I think landscape pictures look a lot nicer on the internet because they fill out all of the negative space. Portrait shots have a lot of wasted space.

Artsy Closeups

I like this closeup a lot. It highlights the bingo letters in the lamp and looks really bright.

This closeup is really interesting. There's lots of color and texture, but the picture doesn't focus on the lamp very well. It's more like an interesting view of my porch from the couch...

Wide Shot

Here is a photo of how the lamp lives in my space. I like this picture a lot because you can see a lot of context, but the lamp is still really central to the photo. 

This shot is nice, but I've gotten too far out and the lamp isn't a very central part of the photo anymore. Just a couple of inches back, but it makes a huge difference!

So there you have it, three ways to highlight a particular piece in your home! Pick one of your own treasures and try it out - it's a lot of fun!