simple stuff: hangers.

    May 22, 2017

    Simple Stuff: A new series devoted to talking about the stuff that might prove useful or helpful or otherwise necessary while making a home in a small apartment or anywhere. Its aim is to provide a bit of inspiration for simplifying your space sustainably and stylishly. Its contention is that what’s useful can be beautiful, and that you might already have everything you need.

    There’s a funny thing that happens when you write about living well in a small space: people start asking you about your closets. They want to know what’s in them, and how those things are stored, and whether you, too, have a magical way of folding your socks. Eventually they come around to asking about your hangers. And eventually you start having opinions.

    I’m as guilty as anyone of engaging in some low-key closet porn. Peeks into other people’s beautifully organized spaces? Yes please. I maintain that the prettiest closets are the near-empty ones and that those are virtually impossible to come by, especially in a tiny apartment with four humans in it. Still, a bit of fastidiousness in the closet can bring with it a certain amount of joy. True story: Just last week I woke up feeling particularly bushy-tailed and realized after floating about the apartment for a few minutes that I was still riding the high of having reorganized the closet the night before. Simple pleasures, etc.

    Whether your closet is a pint-sized place smushed below the stairs, or a walk-in extravaganza that a New York City real estate broker would sell as a second bedroom, I’ll shock few by saying that on the road to closet perfection, a bit of hanger uniformity is a good place to start. 

    If you have a closet full of mismatched plastic and wire and wood hangers, consider how it might make you feel to streamline that space a bit. I’m not suggesting you need to do a wholesale hanger dump, but consider which of your hangers you love the best and edit the rest. As always, excising what’s generally troublesome or ugly or just not to your taste could be the thing to do to make you feel overall less gloomy about your space (and your wardrobe). Consider further that hangers are the place where you hang your small and expertly culled and curated or otherwise scrutinized wardrobe. (No pressure.) You want it to shine. 

    In a quest for a perfect hanger, you’ll discover that a clothes hanger is a piece of useful design that’s been near-endlessly “improved” upon. The over-designed results are sometimes dubious and often ugly. Hanger experts of the world will assure you that you need a moderately different hanger for your various hanging needs, but I’m a believer in sticking to classics. Just say no, for instance, to flocked hangers covered in that microfiber faux velvet junk. Darling of every small space article on the internet, those space-saving hangers eventually start to degrade and they’re not terribly pretty to start with. Some professional organizers would no doubt extoll the benefit of cascading hanger systems that allow you to fit a veritable army of pants in the space where only one formerly hung. I can imagine a scenario where such a thing might be helpful, but it’s not something I’ve ever done myself, and it’s maybe worth noting that such a device might simply encourage a slippery slope toward a closet that’s very full of things you can’t necessarily see (or use). Are too many hangers the culprit? Cull your hangers, cull your closet? Food for thought.

    In the meantime, a few ideas for humble hangers that do good work and look good too:

    For our part, our main hanger supply is made from a collection of plain jane wooden hangers, mostly purchased at Ikea years ago when space was aplenty, money not so much, and James’s turquoise and black plastic tube hangers a mighty motivation indeed. They make for a neat and uniform closet, even if they’re not the world’s most slimmest hangers on the market.

    If you’re after a similar look that’s about 30% nicer than ours is, allow me to introduce you to these very lovely unfinished hangers that I recently learned about through my friend Grace. All the classic styling of a wooden hanger with the added organic touch of unvarnished wood.


    For folks looking for space saving hangers minus the faux velvet flocking, I always recommend the humble wire hanger. Not perhaps ideal for either your most slippery or your heaviest items, but perfectly serviceable for most of a wardrobe and if you play your cards right, totally free. Our laundromat uses these hangers to air dry whatever selection of clothes it is that we ask them to, and so we constantly have a stash of them outside our apartment door, waiting to return from whence they came. On occasion, the hangers we get are of a particularly satisfyingly thick gauge that hold up well to weight and would look solid and low-profile, thank goodness, in a closet.

    If you’ve got extra time on your hands, and you find yourself tempted by the allure of those non-slip hangers, you might even embark on a wire hanger upgrade:

    + This one from my friend Justine, uses strips of humble muslin to turn simple wire hangers into non-slip and uniform workhorses.

    + This one, from Stephanie at 3191 Miles Apart, borrows from a DIY of grandmothers’ past and trades acrylic yarn for linen yarn to achieve a similar effect.

    If covering wire hangers with tiny twists of fabric or waiting on the neighborhood laundromat to come through with the perfect gauge of extra-thick hangers does not sound relaxing, here are two lovely wire alternatives:

    + These bronze hangers from Fog Linen are modestly sized but sturdy enough to support the weight of clothes and very lovely to look at. (Additional points for the very handy rectangular tie hanger and circular scarf hanger, which can be used for all manner of household hanging needs from ties and scarves to dishtowels to washcloths to play silks.)

    + A set of five copper-colored steel hangers from Schoolhouse Electric are also very low-profile and very good looking, plus they’ve got little notches to help you along with any slipping business.

    + We’ve yet to relinquish any of our closet space to our children, but if we eventually do, I might look into a set of these child’s size stainless steel hangers.

    If you feel compelled to read an exhaustingive account of all the very best hangers out there, The Sweethome has a good one.

    my week in objects (mostly).

    May 19, 2017

    five little things that made my week.

    1. this batch of strawberry almond milk
    {worth whirring up in the chaotic minutes before leaving the house on monday morning.}

    2. these cozy things

    {made right here in brooklyn and comfy as a dream.}

    3. these peonies.

    {hand-delivered by a sweet kid i know.}

    4. this laurel soap.

    {the kindest mother’s day gift, handmade in damascus.}

    5. this wonky stack of bibs.

    {for catching so. much. spit. up.}

    other things:

    it’s hard to leave a stage you still love.

    introducing the core club.

    museums are places to forget.

    close talkers around the globe.

    a year of picnics.

    bien, monsieur.

    ps. there’s a newsletter coming in three, two, one. ish.

    baby proof: what to read when you’re expecting.

    May 17, 2017

    Whether you’re carrying the child yourself and preparing for childbirth, or expecting a baby who will arrive in another kind of way, here’s a petite list of reading that I found to be helpful and inspiring while waiting on babies to arrive myself. 

    For my part, checking in with a manual to calm nerves about every strange tug or pull in pregnancy only inspired more of them (nerves, not tugs, though I swear the two can be related). I never had any interest in books that told me what kind of schedule I should plan to feed my kid on, or if I was doing sleep right. I didn’t really want to read about every possible gestational hiccup that could be coming my way. 

    But there were other kinds of books that did feel at least a little bit helpful. Books that humanized the mothers (and the impending babies) were especially welcome to me. These books all embraced pleasantries and unpleasantries, but unless I’m too inured to recognize it, none of them fall into a fear-mongering or stress-celebrating habits common in the genre. 

    Little Labors by Rivka Galchen (Amazon/Indiebound)
    This slim volume is just right: part intellectual investigation of the absence of babies in literature, part personal stories of parenthood. It’s a quick and encouraging read without ever being insipid.

    After Birth by Elisa Albert (Amazon/Indiebound)
    This brutally honest novel was riveting. There were passages that I didn’t identify with at all, and others that made me want to cry from the raw, relatable humanity of it all. Maybe a better read for sleep-deprived nights post-birth when you may or may not be wondering how many hours until morning, but worth a read at some point all the same. 

    Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott (Amazon/Indiebound)
    Anne Lamott is an original in the elusive writers who write about infancy club. One of my friends gave me this book when I was pregnant with Faye and I so appreciated Lamott’s characteristically honest and funny account of grappling with the first year her son’s life.

    Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin (Amazon/Indiebound)
    Designed to prepare women for natural childbirth, I’m inclined to say that there might be something useful for anyone preparing to give birth (and partners planning to stick around for it). More useful than any of the techniques offered, is the simple recounting of birth stories more generally. Reading them made me remember that “Yes. This is a thing. People have done it before.” And it just made a whole lot of murky stuff seem a lot clearer. Childbirth can feel daunting and unknowable, this made me feel less that way.

    Expecting Better by Emily Oster (Amazon/Indiebound)
    I listened to this book on tape after Silas was born which meant it was a little beside the point by then, but I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who does want some concrete answers and who isn’t terribly interested in myths or legends but would very much like some cold, hard facts.

    If you have favorites to share, please do.

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    May 15, 2017 19 Comments
  • my week in objects (mostly).

    five little things that made my week. 1. this stack of books. {because they’re flagrantly breaking my nightstand rule of one. ah well.} 2. this food scrap news.  {because after six years of bringing compost to…

    May 12, 2017 17 Comments
  • out and about: seattle.

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    May 10, 2017 10 Comments
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