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Apr 30, 201411:59 AM
Bon Vivant

Design, entertaining and good living with New Orleans Bride and Homes & Lifestyles editor Melanie Warner Spencer

Contain and Maintain

Decorative baskets, bottles and boxes keep essential items at your fingertips.

After barely surviving the seemingly endless polar vortex, spring has finally sprung as we all hoped and prayed. With spring emerges the deep-seated inclination to organize everything that I ignored in January during National Get Organized Month (which I assure you is a real thing you can learn about here). I like to think the desire to clutterbust was bequeathed to me by my teacher, mentor, life coach and all around guru, Martha Stewart. No, I’ve never met or even interviewed Martha (that’s what I call her), but I know she’s here for me in spirit each and every day.

Being focused in January of course on desperate attempts to stay warm and properly moisturized, organizing my kitchen drawers and clearing out the closets was far, far below finding the perfect space heater, inventorying chenille throw blankets, perfecting my recipe for Mexican hot chocolate and experimenting with lavender essential oil ratios in my homemade bath salts. Frankly, I think Martha would have approved of this to-do list, don’t you?

Long ago, I came to the realization that I am and always will be a stacker and a collector. Not of knick-knacks, but of happy items that allow me to pursue my interests and favorite leisure activities, such as reading, taking long, decadent baths with those homemade bath salts and cooking delicious, simple meals. So, tables, countertops and any other flat surface in our house are prime real estate for the rotating collection of magazines, books and notebooks. Then there are items such as the bath salts, my makeup and hair brushes, the kitchen utensils, ceramic pitchers of varying sizes and shapes and an ever expanding selection of sandals and flip-flops, that all need proper homes.

That said, I like these items where it’s easy to see and use them, but if not properly stored, the rooms in our house will look like a cluttered mess, rather than an inviting, luxurious haven. Martha, in her infinite wisdom and creative panache has taught me how to not only contain my beauty and cooking accoutrements and back issues of Martha Stewart Living, Garden & Gun and — naturally — New Orleans Magazine and New Orleans Bride, but also how to display these essential items in a charming way.

It’s all about the containers.

Baskets, boxes, cups, pitchers and glass jars and bottles are your friends and should be employed in every room. The kitchen utensils live inches from the stove in a blue Le Creuset Utensil Crock.

In the living room, a basket filled with reading materials is tucked under the side table and remote controls are nestled in an antique pitcher on the side table on the other side of the sofa.

My bath salts are housed in a grouping that includes a lidded glass canister, a repurposed bourbon bottle and a mason jar.

Though hidden inside a cabinet, I keep makeup and hair brushes, as well as new razors in various cups and holders on a shelf.

Finally, my sandals and flip-flops are in a cute little weaved market bag beside my dresser.

The above is of course a mere primer on containerizing. If you’d like to go full-Martha with your organizing this season however, here’s a link to her “20 Spring Organizing Tips." 

My décor and organizing materials admittedly are a lot more eclectic and shabby chic than the crisply tailored look of the rooms in Martha’s multiple abodes and in the pages of her myriad magazines and books. But personalizing and staying true to your own style in your containerizing is key, so go with the design that’s right for you.

After all of this work, you’ve earned a long hot bath. Aren’t you glad those bath salts are out on display in pretty jars right at your fingertips? As Martha always says — it’s a good thing. 

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Bon Vivant

Design, entertaining and good living with New Orleans Bride and Homes & Lifestyles editor Melanie Warner Spencer


Melanie Warner Spencer is a native Kentuckian, but says she got to New Orleans as fast as she could. For more than 16 years, Melanie has covered lifestyle, design and entertainment at various publications, serving as the design columnist at The Austin American-Statesman, a senior staff reporter at the Houston Chronicle and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Houston Brides magazine. Her work also has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post and Reuters in the United States and across the globe. In her spare time, Melanie is an award-winning fine art photographer and has been honored by the Texas Press Association for her editorial photography. She also has been honored by the Press Club of New Orleans for its Excellence in Journalism Awards and is currently serving as a media member of the board of directors. Cooking and eating fabulous food and taking road trips with her spouse of 16 years, fellow writer and filmmaker Mark Patrick Spencer however, is at the top of her list of favorite pastimes. Click here to like Spencer's Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @MelanieSpencer. 


You can reach her at melanie@myneworleans.com.




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