DIY Drop Zone Storage Cabinet with Drawers

Has the new year sprung the organization bug in you?  We all yearn for a fresh start at the beginning of a year, and the best place to start is by decluttering our home.  Clutter is perhaps the #1 enemy of any household, and the best resolution is to have a designated spot for every little thing.

DIY Drop zone storage cabinet | Classy Glam Living

My ideal situation would be to have a designated storage space for all items, and they would be put back to where they belong after each use.  Again, that's the ideal, and our home is far from that.  Our entrance by the garage has long been a drop zone right after we walk through the door.  Sometimes clutter would find themselves extending beyond there and onto our coffee table and kitchen countertop.

DIY Drop zone storage cabinet with drawers | Classy Glam Living
DIY Drop zone storage cabinet | Classy Glam Living

I can't begin to tell you how the addition of the drawers cabinet at our drop zone has brought me sanity!  It has stopped incoming clutter right at the door and into the drawers.  Instead of a messy drop zone, it's now a gorgeous little nook.  Inside the drawers are notepads and stationery, folders for mail, battery organizers, etc.  It's the little things that make life easier, and I know where to find them when they're needed.  I'm sure I can organize the drawers better, but at least the mess is now out of sight. 

Again, I have to thank the Mr. for whipping up this little guy.  As mentioned in this post, finding the right cabinet at the right budget, style and dimensions was almost impossible.  I tried not to go too wild with the design of this piece...  I do want the Mr. to say "yes" when I have another build!  You can check out the design inspirations here.

DIY Drop zone storage cabinet | Classy Glam Living

Okay, enough of my rambling...  here's the video of the DIY process of this storage cabinet.

I was so glad we found alternate legs for the cabinet, and they go with the overall style much better than the thin legs.   

DIY Drop zone storage cabinet | Classy Glam Living

What do you think is the worst culprit for clutter around the house?  How do you deal with clutter coming into the house? 

You can shop the rest of the decor accessories at the drop zone cabinet nook right here:

Easiest Steps to Edit Brighter Interior Shots for Instagram - My Recipe

Easiest Steps to edit brighter interior shots for Instagram.jpg

A new year brings the urge to start anew by purging.  My own Instagram (IG) feed gets the same purging treatment.  As I went through my earlier photos on IG, I noticed how the photos have evolved.  It has definitely been a learning process.  From photo composition, to styling a space, to cropping a photo to hide unsightly cables (as most I could), Instagram has been a fun ride and I'm still learning lots from my fellow interiors enthusiasts!

Now that I'm not limited to taking photos at night with incandescent lighting, the photo quality has definitely benefited from more daylight shots.  Ideally, I would be taking photos at the time of day when the room has the most natural light.  Of course, this ideal situation rarely exists.  So, I started to experiment with photo editing apps.  

I apologize to have deceived you that our house is filled with an abundance of beautiful sunlight...  well, at times it does, depending on the time of day.  But sometimes it's just impossible to shoot with bright daylight, when we're experiencing a string of gloomy winter days.  This is when these photo editing steps would really come in handy.

I want to share with you these easy photo editing steps that will help your photos appear even more beautiful on your followers' feeds.

Disclaimer:  I'm not a professional photographer, nor a graphic designer.  I rarely take photos with a tripod (ya, and I'm an interiors blogger!).  This is not a tutorial on how to take nice photos, but a post-editing method that works for me.  Although I know the camera settings, sometimes I just want to turn the camera on and snap a photo, enhance my photo in seconds and upload it to Instagram.  (This post is NOT sponsored by the apps mentioned).

My goal is to enhance my original photo to be brighter, sharper, and yet still appear natural and untouched.

First and foremost, learn your own shooting style and start with a well-composed shot.  Secondly, try to take the initial shot as straight as you can (using the camera's on-screen level), or straighten the photo as the first step of editing.  

Just as importantly, since you're using phone apps for editing, make sure your phone's screen brightness is set to its brightest before you start editing photos.  If your screen's brightness isn't at its brightest, you may over-compensate the brightness, making the photo extra bright.

Without further ado, these are the steps that I go through before I post on IG.  They may seem lengthy, but it only takes me seconds now that I've got the hang of it.

Here's the original version of this interior shot:

It wasn't a particularly gloomy day, but the lighting from the window behind the sidetable made my shot appeared gloomy.  I opted to take the photo without cranking up the exposure compensation too high to avoid washing out the light at the window.

PRIMARY EDITING WITH A COLOR STORY

A Color Story is my favourite photo-editing app for interior photos.  It's an awesome free app that's user-friendly and comes with filters that suits my needs without resorting to in-app purchased ones.  Just like dirty laundry, I like the whites in the photos to appear white, not a light grey nor tinted.  A Color Story does just that, brightens and whitens photos amazingly!

Once I've selected a photo for editing in A Color Story, I usually up the exposure for the photo.  The quickest way to do that on the app is by going to Tools > Adjust > Curves.

Then just drag the middle dot out to the left slightly, until you're satisfied with the brightness.  I usually drag it to a point until the objects look like the photo was shot in good light.  Tap on the check mark after you're done with this step.

Next up, we go back out to the main menu to access the filters.  I found the ESSENTIALS > EVERYDAY filter to look most natural for interiors.  It brightens the photo and increases the contrast.

I usually choose a setting somewhere in the middle of the filter meter to avoid over-exposure and washing out the details of the photo.

Click DONE, then SAVE & FINISH.  

That's right, the photo looks a lot better than its original version already.  You can tell the white is now whiter, and the reflections from the accessories are shinier.  I used to just leave it as is and then would go ahead to post on Instagram.  

However, your photo can still appear better on Instagram!  Here are a few more finger-sliding edits that I would attempt at before the final posting.

SECONDARY EDITING ON INSTAGRAM

I don't use any of the filters on Instagram...  they just never seem natural for interior shots.  But their built-in editing features are great for interiors.  I go in the order from left to right, from Brightness, Contrast, Structure, and to Sharpen.

Start by accessing the editing tools:

1. Brightness

Increasing the brightness just a tad more (I usually go to at least 10) gives the impression that the photo was taken with beautiful daylight.  For this photo, I went to 14, and well, we all know this photo didn't start off like this:

2. Contrast

Adding brightness to the photo would wash out some details, so I would bring up the contrast to balance the brightness.  Around 10 would be a good point.

3. Structure

I love this editing tool, which gives some clarity to textures in the photo, making the objects appear less flat.  I usually go up to 15, anything beyond that would make the photo seem too harsh.

4. Sharpen

The sharpening tool is what makes everything pop in your photo, giving it a crisp finish.  For me, the magic number seems to be 27.

These are the 4 edits that I use every time before I post.  I would occasionally touch on some others, like Highlights, Shadow, and Saturation.  It all depends on the photo quality and the enhancements it needs. 

And that's it!  Now you can add your hashtags and post!

Here's a summary of the progression using the editing steps above:

This is the enlarged final Instagram version that I posted:

It might've seemed like a long process.  But it takes less than a minute for me to do all the editing involved.  To get an equivalent shot, I would need to set up my tripod, since my camera would have to be out of my shaking hands and be still to capture an equivalent amount of light for a sharp shot.  Again, I'm not a professional photographer...

Here are several more photos that went from drab to a bit more fab...

Original version of these white roses on our coffee table:

Editing with A Color Story using the same steps mentioned above:

Final editing on Instagram, adjusting parameters mentioned above:

Final product:

Here's the original version of our bar cart photo.  Taken on a gloomy day with my shaky hands...

First edit in A Color Story:

Final edits in Instagram:

Final product:

Another favourite photo of mine, our coffee table mirror tray adorned with freesias:

Final product posted on Instagram:

freesias final.jpg

Here's a photo of the largest white flowers vs. the tiniest, Hydrangeas vs. Angel's breath:

Final product:

hydrangeas final.jpg

I feel like a magician who has just divulged secrets of the trade.  I hope I'm forgiven for deceiving you with the bright photos you see on my Instagram feed by sharing these editing tips with you.  They're super easy, so do try them out and play around with the steps! 

I actually do enjoy the editing process as much as taking photos around the house.  It's almost an art form in itself.  Just remember the goal is to enhance the photo to bring out its positives, while still looking natural.  Hope this post will help you in your IG journey!

What are some of your favourite photo editing apps?  Do share in the comments section!

Annual Review of Home Projects

New House Home Projects | Classy Glam Living

After a mostly sunny and hot summer, it's like payback time now in Toronto.  I can count the number of beautiful crisp Fall days maybe with 2 hands.  Fall also marks the beginning of a busy season for our family, with weekends now being taken up by hockey practices!  The Mr. barely has time to continue or start any new projects around the house now.

As we planned out project after project, sometimes it's easy to lose sight of our accomplishments.  Having just celebrated our one year anniversary at the house, it's probably a good time to do an annual review of our progress thus far.    

With downsizing to a smaller house, our top priority has been tackling storage needs around the house.  From addressing what drives us (me) absolutely insane to storage that incorporates beauty, here's a list of the Mr.'s most accomplished DIY projects around our house this past year:

KITCHEN

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and it was naturally the space in the house that got the most attention from the get-go.  With it being used practically on a daily basis, it has the highest potential to drive us insane if it doesn't function well.  This was what our kitchen looked like when we closed the house last year:

New House Kitchen Before | Classy Glam Living

Terrifying, isn't it?  Since then, we've replaced the countertop, sink, and faucet.  

New House Kitchen | New Superwhite Countertop Kohler Karbon Faucet | Classy Glam Living

This was when we finally installed the integrated range hood (hidden inside the cabinet above the range) and replaced the solid doors with glass doors.

New House Kitchen | Glass cabinets | Classy Glam Living
New House Kitchen | Glass cabinets mirror back cabinet hardware | Classy Glam Living

When I was making too many one-pot pasta to avoid crawling into the pots and pans cabinet, the Mr. built some drawers in lower cabinets.

New House Kitchen | DIY pots and pans drawers | Classy Glam Living
New House Kitchen reveal | Classy Glam Living

Our kitchen has come a long way from its ugly duckling beginnings.  It may be small, but it has functioned really well for us.  Even when both the Mr. and I are in the kitchen, we never seem to be in each other's way.  Cooking isn't my forte, and I'm not an organized cook at all.  When you think making one-pot pasta sounds as easy as can be, I can still manage to spread out everything onto the 4 countertop spaces around the stove, ie. both sides of stove, plus both sides of the sink.  The Mr. can laugh all he wants about it, but we both appreciate all the counter space our integrated appliances (fridge/ freezer drawers and microwave drawer) have freed up.  We still think it's the best design decision we've made for this kitchen.

DRESSING ROOM

New House Dressing Room reveal | Folding table station | Classy Glam Living

Another space in our house with a humbling beginning was our DIY custom closet/ dressing room.  As mentioned in my previous post, we made a video of the building process and there have been 15,000+ views as of writing.  

I'm so proud of the Mr.'s ultimate build of my dream closet; it's both beautiful and functional.  The pull-out folding table gets the award for beauty in function.  It has made all the folding more bearable, as I've taken the Marie Kondo* route to organizing my closet.  The Mr. was also worried that I wouldn't have enough room for my clothes in this shared closet, but I'm happy to report that I still have extra space even after some shopping 😁

You can see more photos of the dressing room in this post.

If you missed last week's post on the YouTube video, here again is the video:

PLAYROOM WORKBENCH/ STORAGE

New House Playroom reveal | Classic Gray work building bench | Classy Glam Living

I can stand my own mess (oh ya, anytime), but this is one room where mess can actually be hazardous (imagine the pain of stepping on a stray piece of Lego!).  Little man doesn't actually have much toys, but for some reason, the floor was covered with so much stuff at one point where I had to part the Red Sea to get to his desk.  

Thank goodness the Mr. came to the rescue!  He quickly whipped up this table top part of a storage bench that I designed.  It's been a great spot to store and display some of little man's Lego collections.  He has also used it as a building table; this ottoman is just the right height for him to work there.  

New House Playroom Reveal | Gallery wall Classic gray work building bench | Classy Glam Living

As for the storage part, the pieces of wood for the drawers that go underneath the bench have been cut...  just waiting for the Mr. to stain them and put them together!  That's the main (and most important) missing part of this playroom!!  (Can you tell I can't wait for it to be done by my exclamation marks? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I've sourced out decorative items that are suitable for a playroom, namely a low pile rug, vinyl-front frames for the gallery wall, caged light fixture instead of one with exposed bulb, just to name a few.  You can see my playroom design board in this post, and the reveal here.

UPCOMING PROJECTS

Basement Family Room

The Mr. and I started working on the basement family room design, which I wrote about in this post.  The walls have been painted to a more neutral colour, which is more pleasing to the eyes than the original too-yellowish cream colour.  

New House Family Room Layout Plan | Classy Glam Living

We had a poll for our basement DIY storage furniture - to build from scratch or do another IKEA hack?  You can submit your choice here!

Laundry Room

New House Laundry Room Design Board | Classy Glam Living

Oh, our laundry room can definitely use some storage help.  Back at our previous house, I used to store off-season decor items in our cabinets, which were of abundance.  I would love to clean up the laundry room once and for all, with the cleaning supplies hidden behind closed doors!

Here's the post of my laundry room design, which I hope will come into fruition one day!

Master Ensuite Vanity

Well, if you've been following along, then you would know how much I love (LOVE!!!) drawers.  Currently, this is our master ensuite's vanity situation:

New House Master Ensuite Bathroom Design Plan | Classy Glam Living

Yup, not drawers, and that means lots of wasted storage space inside the cabinets.  I know I need to purge some products, as they're now carefully sitting on each other like I'm building a pyramid.  That's what happens when I'm not working with drawers πŸ˜“

Ideally, these cabinets will house two drawers under each sink.  One would be for products and the other our linen drawer.  Between the Mr. and I, there should be plenty of room in each drawer.

This is one of my inspirations for our vanity.  You can read more about my bathroom design plan here and colour choice here.

Between work, family commitments, and other minor home projects, I think the Mr. has done an excellent job around the house.  He's meticulous with his planning (measure twice and cut once!), never rushes through his work, and gives his projects an amazing finish. I would give him an exceed expectations for his grading πŸ˜‚  There're still loads of work to be done in our house, and they're enough to keep the Mr. busy for a long while!  

It's been fun to look over at the before's and after's of the projects.  You can see all these and some other projects on the Mr.'s honey-do list.  Yup, he'll be a very busy man!!