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How to DIY an Organic Herb Garden with a Black Thumb


I not only love to wear black but I seem to have a black thumb, rather than a green thumb. How apropos for this city girl?

I managed to kill just about every plant—even cactus! My aloe plant is just barely hanging on. I’m great at making things look pretty, but only if I can actually keep them alive.

One of the main things I wanted to add to my backyard in my new Brooklyn condo was an herb garden. Of course, I’m on quite a budget so I needed something that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Here’s how I did it for under $100 (and I will have an endless supply of herbs if all goes well):


STEP 1: Pick out which herbs you would like to plant.

I chose ones that I cook with most like basil, rosemary, sage and cilantro. I also added lavender because it’s an insect repellent. Just be sure to not mix herbs that grow out of control like mint with these other herbs. As your garden store if you’re unsure and also ask if they’re organic.


STEP 2: Find the perfect planter.

I picked up a whiskey barrel planter that would hold a lot from Lowe’s for only $29.99. It wasn’t in the best shape but I loved that it looked weathered and old instead of a lot of the outdoor stuff you see in catalogs.

STEP 3: Make it mobile with wheels.

The one problem with using a massive barrel like this was that it’s not moveable if you decide you want it elsewhere, so we found a solution for that. The hardware store carried these wheels for just $2.50 each and we drilled them on so the barrel is now mobile so I can arrange it over and over again until I love it where it is.

STEP 4: Scrub the inside clean with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water. Let dry.


STEP 5: Make sure there are holes on the bottom of the barrel (drill if not) and  then fill the bottom of the barrel with drainage rocks. We used two bags of rocks, but you can use a layer of packing foam to make it lighter. 


 STEP 6: Pour in organic potting mix and Perlite (those white things) to break up the soil up until no more than 3 inches below the top of the barrel.


STEP 7: Carefully cut away at the herb containers and gently loosen up the roots of each plant. Don’t hold the plant by its stem—it’s like holding someone by their neck!

STEP 8: Dig a small hole to plant the herbs and space each kind at least 6 inches away from the other. Then fill in with the soil.


STEP 9: Add some mirrors to your garden. Someone from GRDN told me that squirrels hate the reflective nature of them, so they’ll keep away from your plants!


STEP 10: Label each of your herbs.

I used popsicle sticks and hand wrote them. There are a ton of other fun options on Etsy and Pinterest. I’d be interested to find a more exciting (and affordable) alternative to this if anyone knows of one.


STEP 11: Add some earth worms.

They add an instant and affordable fertilizer and will keep your garden healthy.


STEP 12: Water your garden and enjoy.

top:  Soft Joie (at Marshall’s, similar online) / sweater: Calypso (c/o friend who works for the brand) / jeans: J.Crew / bracelets worn as necklace: c/o E.Kammeyer / bracelets: etc…, Baublebar / ring: Sonya Renee / lip color: Josie Moran

Herbs from Carroll Gardens farmer’s market and Grdn, all other garden supplies from Lowes

How To DIY A Bookcase

DIY Book case

Okay, so you’re probably asking why are you showing that book case again? Well, Mariel of the home and lifestyle blog, So What’s Bloomin’, brought up a good point in my comments section yesterday:

“Love love love that blue paint! I’m a little bummed that a) you didn’t give a close up shot of the shelf/paint color combo bc it’s a real bowling alley, hello!, and b) you didn’t show the photograph of your lovely grandfather which just adds that much more character :P

Well, here it is…plus more…


Here you can see how we created the shelves with blocks of wood with heavy screws to support the shelves we had custom cut from salvaged bowling alley flooring from Build It Green (as well as my careful taping job before I painted).


This is what the shelf looks like. Pretty cool, right? I may lacquer it one day so it has the total bowling alley effect. See how it pops off of the navy walls and the supports just disappear.

STYLIST TIP: If you’re going to use a darker finish for your shelves, try a lighter or bold colored paint.


Next came the really fun part (besides nervously making sure the shelves fit to my measurements): decorating the shelves with personalized items. This nook is right next to my office, so I wanted to fill it with things that inspire me, like these old diaries that were my mother’s, where she actually wrote “Dear Andi” in every page.


STYLIST TIP: Break up books by categrory, like I did here with my “New York” books, or with art, cooking, travel, novels, etc. It makes it easy for you to find what your looking for and more interesting for guests to sift through.


STYLIST TIP: Shelves shouldn’t be for JUST books. Fill them with personalized items (like I did with my wedding bouquet in an antique silver pitcher) and art pieces to create an interesting focal point, rather than just a stuffy and overwhelming library. The rule of thumb is to break up the section after around 10 books.

button jar

I always hated that I would get these random buttons with a new piece of clothing, but could never find them when I actually needed one. I save them in an antique medicine jar so now they not only look cool, but are also in a spot where I can find them.


My art books are most important to me of all. They’re what inspire me—the older the better too. That Picasso book, which was my first book ever, as well as old magazines and sewing books are some of my favorites to get ideas from.


I’m a sucker for a beautiful book. I received this gorgeous cook book from one of my favorite restaurants in Brooklyn, Frankie’s Sputino and its antique gilded edges made me excited to display it on my shelf.

STYLIST TIP: Have some books that you love by hate the way they look on the shelf? Throw away (or recycle!) the dust jacket. I always discard mine and it makes for a cleaner look when I display my books.


These old milk crates were my father’s “bachelor bookcase” back in the day, but now that they’re stained and fit nicely under this nook, they’re perfect to house our favorite photo albums. Yes, I still have printed pictures.


My new favorite addition to the shelves is this frame we picked up in NOLA with a hologram of what looks like it could be my grandfather (that’s my actual grandmother on the left), but then you walk by and it has that Disney’s Haunted Mansion effect. My husband and I chuckle every time someone walks by. I love decor with a sense of humor.

If you have any DIY or styling questions, send them this way (dearandistyle@gmail.com) and I may feature you on the blog.

How To Update With Paint

Not only do I style fashion, but I’ve styled home decor clients like One Kings Lane, Gilt Groupe, Plow & Hearth and Target. That means my personal home styling is as important to me as my own wardrobe.bookcase_paint_navyBookcase paint: Benjamin Moore in Midnight Navy

Since recently purchasing my first home in Brooklyn, I’ve been on a tight budget. That means I’ve had to get crafty with how I’ve been decorating. It’s kind of like how if I was creating a set of a room for a photoshoot and I wanted to tie it together cheaply and quickly, I would add a painted wall or backdrop. It’s amazing what a difference a little paint makes.

This alcove in my new place was screaming for something to be built in it. After a contractor suggested to go to Ikea for shelves that he could install for us, my husband and I decided to head over to Build It Green to get some eco-friendly and affordable materials—and to do it ourselves.

We loved the look of bowling alley flooring and wanted to have it stand out as shelving, while making it appear like it’s floating sans ugly brackets. The solution: Painting the alcove and the supporting wood blocks a rich navy color.

Now it’s become quite the focal point when I give a tour of my new apartment.


Mirror paint: Golden acrylic paint in Silver

I also don’t have the budget for new decor, so as you saw in this post, I’ve been trying to salvage the antiques that I didn’t totally love for my new place. This dark mirror frame looked out of place in my airy apartment, so a rough coat of silver paint made it like new.

Stay tuned for more of my home styling adventures on a budget!

How To Antique Furniture

Everyone knows I’m a sucker for all things antique and vintage—especially things with a story. This antique wardrobe that I found at Brownstone Treasures was the first piece I purchased when I left my cramped space in Manhattan for an upgraded Brooklyn apartment.

I love that it gave some much needed extra closet space, but I never loved the unfinished look of the wood. I finally got around to giving it a little makeover while still keeping its antiqued charm. Here’s how:


Tools you will need:
Benjamin Moore Primer
Benjamin Moore paint in Chantily Lace (trim)
Benjamin Moore paint in Pebble Beach (inside)
paint brushes
painters tape
steel wool or sandpaper
drop cloth
an antique piece of furniture with good bones!


Step 1: Paint a coat of primer on the furniture and allow to dry fully.


Step 2: Paint the trim with one color. You may need to tape it off before painting if it is a darker color and only do one coat if you want the antiqued look to it.


Step 3: Use painters tape to mark off the section you want to paint a different color.


Step 4: Distress the paint with a piece of steel wool or sandpaper. This works best before the paint is completely dry.


STYLIST TIP: Only distress the edges of the piece to make it look like it naturally aged over time. That’s where furniture wears the most.




How To Do A Frame Wall

Whether I’m designing a set on a photoshoot to feel like a well-designed room or just styling my own home, I try to plan out as much beforehand as I can with sketches or even laying out items on a table or floor prior to the final look. It’s kind of like how you may pick out an outfit and throw it all on your bed to see how it looks together. It always help to visualize your ideas.

I’ve only been in my new apartment for a week now, but I’m one of those kind of people that needs to get it all done as soon as possible. This weekend, one of my priorities was hanging up pictures to make it feel more like home.

Now that I own instead of renting my place, every hole needs to be precise and it feels more permanent than before. That’s why when I designed this wall, I took my time planning and measuring.

You can try this easy trick too:

dearandi wall DIY

What you will need:
-picture frames (works best in the same family ie. color/shape/style)
-tape measure
-paper (newsprint is cheap and large enough to measure your bigger frames)
-xacto knife (for more accurate cuts) or scissors
-ruler and board (if using blade)
-painter’s or artist’s tape
-picture hanging nails

pic fram DIY dearandi

Trace each frame on the paper and cut out to the size of the frame.

paper for frames DearAndi

Label each piece of paper with the corresponding image in the frame (ie, my image of Brooklyn was labeled “Brooklyn” so I could remember what it was).

frame DIY dear andi

Put up each piece of paper in a formation that you like with either painter’s tape or artist’s tape (both will not damage the paint on your walls). I left 2″ in height and 3″ wide of spacing between each frame, but you can do it by eye as well. This helps visualize what your wall will look like before you put holes all over your wall and you can keep changing your mind. I left this up overnight to see if I still liked the formation—which clearly I changed my mind.

Frame Wall _dearandi

Finally, you can put up your frames on the wall. I measured the length of the wall and then marked the center, which is where I put the middle frame. Then, I measured the rest of the frames against that one. Be sure to measure for where the hook is on the frame, which may be up to a couple of inches below the top of the frame.

Now you can enjoy your gallery of pictures that you’ve curated and get ready for your friends to enlist you to curate their walls.


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