Month: February 2014

New Couch & Chair

If you’ve been following us on the vlog, you know we’ve been shopping for new living room furniture for about six weeks now. The couch we had was less than a year old, but it wasn’t quite big or comfortable enough to make us happy. After weeks of saving and searching for just the right thing, it’s finally here!

Neutral sofa and paint with pops of persimmon and yellow

Isn’t it beautiful?! It’s much better than the old couch. Let’s compare, shall we? Pardon the crappy-quality iPhone photo, but you get the gist.

Living room before

Let’s rewind even further back to what this room looked like after we first moved in.

Old living room layout

Yes, this living room has certainly come a long way. But let’s get on with the tour of the new furniture! Take a look at the new chair, and don’t mind the blurry Cody in the photo below. He loves being in the middle of anything new.

Long living room layout

The chair is so comfortable, and its low profile allows for full visibility of the TV from the desk behind it. This is the view you see down the hall when you walk in the front door, so I’m loving all the visual interest this chair brings to the space. I know the print is busy and probably not the ‘safest’ pick, but I have a feeling I’m going to love it for the long haul.

Check out the living room now from a few different points of view.

The layout makes this long living room work

Long living room layout

I’m sure there will be some tweaking happening over the next few weeks as I get settled in. Our coffee table could really use a refresh (the wood top is pretty beat up) and the stain on the side tables doesn’t match perfectly, but I think this room has really come a long way. It feels comfortable, eclectic and collected to me, so it really represents my design sensibility, even if it’s not perfect.

See those yellow pillows on the couch? They’re looking extra fluffy, right? Our couch came with these throw pillows that just aren’t my style.

Ugly throw pillows

Totally not me, right? But these pillows were much better quality than my original yellow ones. So a light bulb went off in my head. I could take the stuffing out of the yellow pillows and throw the cover over these fluffy-but-ugly new ones.

Check out the ho-hum stuffing in the yellow pillows.

Poorly-stuffed yellow pillows

Pillow stuffing

Bad, right? No wonder the pillows always looked a little lifeless no matter how much they were fluffed and straightened.

Here they are now. Proud as a peacock.

Yellow and red throw pillows

So don’t count out your old pillows. Some new stuffing can work wonders!

Well, what do you think? Doesn’t the lighter couch color make the room feel bigger and more airy? I can’t get over the way a new piece of furniture can make the whole room feel so different!

Easy Art

I’m always on the quest for new odds and ends to decorate shelves and tables, and I wanted to share a quick 10-minute art project that I threw together Monday night while I was putting the finishing touches on my dining room sideboard. I’m a big believer in keeping old papers, posters and even wrapping paper because you’ll never know when you can reuse them. I wanted to replace my Valentine’s Day printable with something more neutral, so I went digging in my crafting supplies to see what I had on hand. This is what I came up with.

Easy Art Not bad for being free, eh?

I cut the middle image from a poster I had in my bedroom in college. The edges were ruined from sticky, oily poster tack (since I didn’t want to spring for a frame back then) so I didn’t mind cutting it up. I sliced it down from a poster size to an 8×10, and I think it looks great.

Italy poster

 

Cutting poster to fit frame

 

IMG_1248

When I fished the poster out of it’s round holder, a few pieces of leftover wrapping paper also fell out. I purchased it at a boutique while I was living in Philly (also during college) and kept the scraps because I love the print and colors so much. I chose two of my favorite flowers and cut them to fit my frame. The frame is double sided so I can reverse it depending on where it ends up in the house.

Floral wrapping paper

Wrapping paper scraps

White poppy art

Red dahlia art

What an easy, stylish update, right? I think this art will definitely come in handy to fill in some empty spaces while I search for more ‘forever’ pieces. To quote an anonymous pin, I think a room should feel collected, not decorated. So these easy art pieces will serve well in my collection for now.

Have you repurposed anything old into something new lately? What are your cheap and easy art tricks?

 

 

New Dining Room Chairs

I’m so excited to share my latest update to our dining room!

Dining room layout

Don’t mind the veeerrrryyy bright light. I guess I didn’t realize it was on full blast when I snapped these shots. But doesn’t this layout make the dining room feel so much more open than it did when I posted my house tour?

My new, smaller dining room chairs fit so much better around our table than the older, more weighty set. My nana graciously gave us her set of five Ballard Designs dining room chairs and they served us very well during our first few years living together — especially since we didn’t have the budget to purchase quality chairs like those on our own. Even though the chairs are beautiful and very comfortable (the two against the wall in the photo above are leftovers from Nana’s set) one of the chairs was pretty badly broken and it always annoyed me that we had to break out a folding chair to accommodate a sixth dinner guest. Not to mention the fact that the big chairs took up all the extra space in the dining room making it feel cramped. Needless to say, I was constantly keeping my eyes open for a deal on new dining chairs in the hopes of getting something more functional for our space.

As I’m sure you know, dining chairs aren’t cheap. So, when I stumbled upon a treasure trove of SEVEN brand new still-in-the-box dining chairs at Ikea in the as-is section marked down to $35 a pop, I almost had a heart attack. Picture me guarding them hoping no one else would discover this awesome deal while I flagged Mike down to come take a look. He wasn’t convinced, but I loved the style and said, “trust me, this is a great deal!!!” And in the cart they went. Just four of them, that is. I hope those other three beauties found a home.

$35 Ikea chair steal

I’m sure you can guess what I did that night, right? I spent what felt like a lifetime putting all four chairs together. Damn Ikea furniture. So cheap but such a pain in the butt. Oh well, it was worth it. I even bought a hex drill bit to speed the process along, but of course my drill couldn’t fit in the teeny tiny space they left to tighten the screws. So cranking them by hand was my only option. Here’s a look at my setup:

Chair assembly tools

Chair in box

Half assembled chair

Chair assembly

See that enormous stack of trash in the background? Yeah, that didn’t get cleaned up until the next day. I was up into the wee hours of Sunday morning finishing the fourth and final chair, and by the time I finished it I was at my wits end. But boy did it feel good to have gotten all four of these chairs for $150.

Just to refresh your memory, this is what my dining room used to look like. So sparse. So lacking in style and interest.

Dining Room

The foundation was there, but it just wasn’t quite hitting a home run. But the new look is starting to fit the bill. I’m psyched!

Dining room layout

Dining room layout from right

Dining room layout from left

Dining room sideboard

The sideboard used to serve as a sofa table in the living room way back when the sofa sat in the middle of the room. When I switched up the living room layout for the holidays the sofa went up against a wall and the table sat awkwardly on the opposite wall. Another recent living room update (post to come) kicked the table out of its awkward corner position and my brilliant husband said, “hey, let’s use this table as a dining room sideboard.” Wow, does he surprise me sometimes. It was perfect!! I love the way the white breaks up the heavy dark chairs and table and plays into the light color in the art above. And it will be perfect for serving food or drinks during a party.

Do you have a war story from the Ikea as-is section? Did you try to hide your finds from fellow bargain hunters when you couldn’t get those deals in your cart fast enough? Commiserate with me!

Weekend Thrifting

I was itching to go thrifting since I started following Better Homes and Gardens East Coast editor/producer Eddie Ross on Instagram and he posted three to-die-for finds in the past few weeks. You can see them here, here and here. That bar cart and those shelves painted white or a fun bright color? Yes, please. Sign me up.

I’d love to have a lengthy list of thrift stores to hit up on the regular, but I haven’t uncovered many stores in my area. Why can’t there be a database of these diamonds in the rough? Wait, is there? Am I totally missing out on some amazing black market thrift store list? Is ‘thrift store’ a section on Yelp? If so, you better bring me up to speed in a comment!

Goodwill

My options were limited, so I headed to the good ole Goodwill last Saturday afternoon with visions of vintage treasures dancing in my head. As is often the case, reality didn’t live up to  expectations and a quick pass through the furniture section was sorely disappointing. A few folding chairs, an ugly TV and some sad 80s lamps were all that was left in the desolate section that’s usually packed with piles of quirky cast offs. It must have been an off day. But as you can tell from my photo above, I didn’t leave empty handed.

Old Books

Some of my favorite things to look for at a thrift are cheap, beautiful hardcover books, and I found three that fit the bill during my shopping trip. Those plastic covers can be very deceiving, so you have to look behind them to see what you’re really working with.

Hardcover Books

Hardcover Book

Ta da! How great are they?! The spines are even better.

Book Spines

Pair a stack of these beauties with a frame and a piece of glassware (hello, Mason jars) and you’ve got a stylish shelf in no time. I like to choose books based on their color and title. If the title resonates with me in some way, I’m smitten. These books ended up on a shelf in my dining room.

Books on Shelf

The best part is the thrift store price. I got all three books for just over $8. You can’t beat it! That’s what I call affordable decor. Have you scored some awesome thrifting finds lately? How have you been styling your shelves?

Freshening Up the Laundry Closet

There weren’t many things I really loved about our old apartment. The position of the laundry closet five steps outside our bedroom door was probably one of the best perks of our one-bedroom place, so when I climbed the stairs of our townhouse while we toured it for the first time I was elated to see the laundry closet positioned just steps away from our master bedroom. A second floor laundry was one of those perks I wasn’t expecting to find in a house but quickly became one of the many reasons I knew this was the place for us. Now, nearly a year after moving in, it was finally time to give this functional space some much needed TLC.

This is what I started with…

Laundry Before

I know, right? Yuuuck. This closet looks the same way it did just weeks after we moved in and I shoved all those cleaning supplies and other random stuff on the shelf. Not functional at all. Nope, the clutter and dust had to go.

Speaking of dust…

Dusty Shelf

And in the spirit of keeping it real, here’s a close up.

Dust Close Up

Yup, totally horrible. I knew it was bad but when my clutter was no longer hiding this grime I was pretty appalled to find this shelf such a mess. G-to the-R-to the-O-to the -S-S. I was suddenly SO GLAD I decided to spend a random Saturday afternoon tackling this closet.

Cleaning Supplies

After emptying out the closet and sorting through all the cleaning supplies, light bulbs, sewing gear, detergents and even a spare shower head, it was time to de-dust all up in there. Thank goodness for the super suction Dyson handheld vacuum that my Mommom got me as a housewarming gift. I like to think I’ve adopted her knack for keeping these sparkling, though you wouldn’t know it by the state this closet was in. Ugh…

Dyson

The walls and floors were just as dusty as the shelf, so I spent quite a bit of time vacuuming before I was ready for round two. I mixed together a trusty concoction of hot water, bleach and Fabuloso and wiped EVERYTHING down – from the shelves and appliances to the walls and floors. It was sparkling!

Laundry Closet Progress

With the dust gone, I was determined to make the closet way more functional than it had been before. I really can’t stand clutter and I’m a big believer in not storing anything that I know I won’t use. I’m a vicious purger of unused things and I’ll tell you what – I rarely miss things I give away. It’s freeing. I recommend it.

I picked up two plastic storage bins at Target to wrangle the things I decided to keep in here.

Clean Laundry Closet

The bigger bin houses all of my cleaning supplies.

Big Bin

And the smaller one keeps my rubber globes and scrub brush out of sight.

Smaller Bin

So, there you have it. All in an afternoon’s work. I’m pretty proud.

Laundry Before & After

I’m even more proud that I’ve kept it this way for more than a week now, through at least three loads of laundry and one bathroom cleaning spree. That’s what happens when you make things more function. You stop. The. Chaos. I love it!

Oh, and this happened too.

Master Closet Before & After

It was a good Saturday, that’s for sure. I have big plans to add even more style to both the laundry closet and the master bedroom’s walk in. I know these spaces are rarely seen by guests, but they’re spaces seen by me every single day – so they’re definitely worth some beautification. I’m thinking about adding a stripe of color in the laundry closet for a fun surprise hiding behind those bi-fold doors, and maybe painting the ceiling of the walk-in closet a moody navy blue and adding a fun light fixture for some added panache. We’ll see what happens. But either way, I’m happy to have these spaces clean and organized for now. That’s more than half the battle.

Have you undertaken an organization project lately? What are your favorite tips for keeping closets clutter free?