Category: Home

Fancy Friday: Mint to Be

Welcome to my first ever Fancy Friday post! One of the things that makes me happiest is finding ways to elevate an everyday situation to feel truly special. Yes, some of my friends have called me extra as a result, but who cares. Paying attention to the details has always been my thing, and it helps amp up my ability to entertain. I’ll be sharing simple and attainable tips and tricks for making things feel fancy without much added effort on the blog (hopefully) each week.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen the incredibly awesome tiered planter that made a debut on my patio this season. It was a very thoughtful birthday gift from my best friends Joe & Laura last year. They gave it to me in May 2016 and it promptly sat in the box. All. Freaking. Summer. Mike and I were both swamped with work and traveling and we just didn’t have the time to dedicate to gardening the right way, so I resigned myself to being a complete gardening failure last year. Isn’t it nuts how our own negative thoughts can be the worst criticism? Ugh…

But when spring finally came again we both made a commitment to finally putting the planter to good use. (Read: we were prepping for my annual Cinco de Brieo birthday party when he suggested we finally put it together and I lost my mind because we had so much else to do excitedly agreed and jumped right in.) Needless to say, I was thrilled we finally made use of it early in the season to start a small veggie & herb garden.

I had no idea what I was doing. This is the first year I’ve really tried my hand at cultivating edible plants. So we chose a few of our favorite herbs and picked up three different types of tomato plants and two types of peppers and with a little sweat equity we were off to the races. My biggest piece of advice? Invest in a drip irrigation line! It’s a major time saver and it snaked easily through the tiers of the planter box. Mike handled this part of the project and once I saw it come together it was way less intimidating than it sounded. And all the necessary materials are available at your local home improvement store.

So, what has been the all star of my container garden so far? M-I-N-T! Mint. Mint. Mint. I’ve developed an obsession for this fragrant, hardy and fast-growing plant. After a juice cleanse and a whole hearted attempt at doing the Whole 30 (more to come on that) since the summer started, I was looking for no-calorie ways to amp up food and drinks, and mint was it.

Here are some of my favorite ways to use mint to make life a bit fancier:

Sweet Potato Toast with Almond Butter, Smashed Blueberries & Mint (Whole 30 compliant)

Take a sweet potato and slice it into several thin slices. You want them to be thin enough to crisp up in a toaster by not so small to fall through the grates. I don’t have exact measurements, so I recommend experimenting to see what’s best for you. Put two slices in the toaster on the highest setting. You’ll need to put it back in two or three times to get the right level of crispiness/warmth. I liked mine when it was warmed all the way through and slightly blackened on the outside. Once toasted, smear a tablespoon of almond butter on each piece. Smash a few tablespoons of blueberries in a bowl and spread on top of almond butter. Then top with julienned mint. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re not on Whole 30, adding a bit of honey or agave to the blueberries would sweeten it up a bit, but it’s not necessary.

Coconut Mojito Mocktail (Whole 30 compliant)

Cutting out fun stuff like alcohol, cheese and desserts was hard during my Whole 30 program. When I stumbled on this recipe for a Coconut Mojito Mocktail I knew I had to try it. I’m pretty sure I used too much fresh lime juice (hello, sour citrus) but it was still delicious. For looking fancy, it came together quickly and was super easy.

“Spa Water” with Lemon, Cucumber and Mint

Summer is a great time to try and increase your water intake. Drinking “fancy” water (either sparkling or flat) with lemon wedges, slices of cucumber and muddled mint was a way for me to treat myself and help change my habits during Whole 30, and it’s something I’ve continued because I love it so much. I keep all the ingredients prepped and ready in the fridge and it’s become a fun ritual in the morning to make my spa water for the day. I use a stainless steel tumbler so all I need to do is keep adding water throughout the day. It’s the perfect way to stay hydrated while feeling like you’re doing something special for yourself.

What are your favorite ways to feel fanciful? What have you been harvesting from your home grown garden?

 

 

Living Room Refresh

The “house tour” section of my blog is woefully out of date. It’s so funny to scroll through those photos and realize how far my house has come in the last few years. Old photos help me appreciate all the time and energy I’ve spent turning my house into a home since we moved here in March 2013 (shortly after we married). We were lucky enough to score a short sale at a bargain price and scrape enough money together for a very small down payment. And my favorite DIY project to date began as we started transforming the house room by room.

Here’s the living room soon after we moved in.

Not the worst room I’ve ever seen, but looking back at that photo makes me cringe so hard.

Fast forward through four years, three couches, two area rugs and countless gallery wall attempts and the living room reflects my personal style now more than ever. It’s as close to feeling finished as ever. Part bohemian and part elegant with a dash of cozy and a hint of quirky is the best way to describe my style. I’m instantly drawn to anything with a tribal print like kilim or ikat — especially if it features an array of saturated hues. I’m a sucker for color, but a steady foundation of greige (a neutral shade of trendy gray mixed with *gasp* traditional beige) is the common thread keeping it all feel grounded.

Here’s a view from a similar angle of what the room looks like today.

So. Much. Better. Psst… see my little pup hiding behind the coffee table? His fur matches my color palette, but I swear that was a happy accident. 🙂

Here’s a more straight on view. This is what you see at the back of the house when you walk in through the front door, so it’s the first impression visitors get when they walk in.

Loloi’s gorgeous new Javari rug in Berry/Sunrise is the foundation of this room. It was certainly a splurge but I’m at a place where I’m ready to start investing in key pieces and this rug was love at first sight. I’m so happy I pulled the trigger and I’m thrilled with the quality and softness of this rug. Two thumbs WAY up!

The light gray fabric of the Paidge sofa (fabric: performance velvet; color: stone) and rich brown of the Henry power recliner (fabric: top-grain leather; color: tobacco) are similar tones to the rug and I love the way they all came together. Both are from West Elm and, like the rug, were investment pieces — so I went with neutral, durable fabrics that will have longevity. Did I mention this is my third couch in four years? It needs to stick around for a while.

Rounding out the seating area are two modern slipper chairs. The size and scale allow them to float in a high traffic area without making it feel too crowded. These are from Target’s budget-friendly Threshold line and at $129 each they helped balance the cost of the pricier pieces without sacrificing style. The color is called pepper and they throw a navy hue (not black) in person which adds a nice hint of color without competing with the rug.

Three cheers for finally seeing this room come together. It’s such a good feeling! What home-related projects have you tackled lately that make you take a deep, soothing breath when you look at them? What rooms are next on your to do list?

 

Fa la la la Living Room

I’m continuing this week’s tour of Christmas decor in my house with a peek at the living room where I’ve decked the halls with red, green and silver accents.
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I mixed some of my old favorites with a few new pieces this year to make the room feel extra festive.
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I splurged on a pair of green and white houndstooth pillows that coordinate with my table runner in the dining room. The couch is the first thing that draws your eye in when you walk through the front door so I focused my attention there this year. A trio of new pillows, glittery garland and DIY holiday-themed art transformed this spot for Christmas. My couch and rug are so neutral that it’s easy to change the look of the room by switching up a few accent pieces and swapping out the yellow pillows for green. My strategy for decorating the living room was to take away yellow and replace it with green which complemented my existing red accents nicely.

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A few silver accents go a long way to make this space feel Christmas-y, too. I found this wreath made of silver, vintage-looking ornaments that I placed on a tray on the coffee table as a statement piece. When we put the tree up it will make my large silver ornaments really pop.

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Silver also makes a statement atop my entertainment center where a bevy of glass Christmas trees in a variety of sizes add interest to this side of the room. I treat my entertainment center as if it were my fireplace mantel (because I’ve always wanted one). It’s one of my favorite decorations in the whole house and I love how it turned out.

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Last but certainly not least is the stairway where I draped the same glittery garland down the banister and secured it with some red and green striped ribbon. I like the fact that you can see the ribbon holding up the garland and I think it gives the banister added character.

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And with that, the tour of our indoor Christmas decorations is complete. Next up I’ll share with you my Christmas tree and our display of lights outside. Also, look out for a new vlog with a video tour of our Christmas decorations which will give you a better feel for the layout of the space!

Red, green and… Copper?

When it comes to Christmas decor I don’t play favorites. Red, green, white, silver and gold all have a place in my home for the holidays. This year I added a small splash of a new metallic tone to the mix — copper.
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My husband’s favorite holiday drink is the Moscow Mule which is traditionally served in frigid copper mugs. The bright hue was the inspiration for my dining room sideboard this Christmas season. It makes a bold statement and a little goes a long way so I paired it with some rose gold pieces, deep reds and classic greens for a playful holiday look.

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Take a closer look at my DIY Noel sign.

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I used the cover art from another pretty notebook as the background with a metal “Noel” ornament (both from Target) on top for a custom piece that goes perfectly with my color scheme. I nabbed that rose gold Nicole Miller frame and Earth & Vine cocktail mixer at Marshall’s a few weeks ago.

Here’s a closer look at the rest of the dining room:

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I’m really excited about how the dining room turned out this year. Have I mentioned how much I love that preserved boxwood wreath? Vern Yip’s go-to decoration for December in HGTV Magazine was preserved boxwoods because they look like real/living plants and are maintenance free. I got the wreath from Target last year but I spotted it in the store again this season along with a smaller version.

More photos of my living room are in the works and I still have to trim the tree, so more to come!

Holy Hiatus

March 13, 2014. That’s the date of my last post on La Vie de Brie. Ugh! I’m so sorry, guys. Life definitely got the best of me in these past few months and I didn’t keep up with the blog the way I would have liked to. But, I’m back!

Even though I haven’t chronicled my DIY projects for you in these past… gulp… five months, I haven’t slowed down one bit. I have four great projects and some new furniture and design choices to share with you in the coming weeks! Here’s a sneak peek (or a reminder if you follow me on Instagram).

I transformed my stairs…

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…refinished the top of my coffee table. Hello, Minwax shine…
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…gave my closet a sassy navy, pink and gold makeover. Yes, those eagle hooks are vintage. And Ahhhmazing… IMG_5627

…Painstakingly scraped, prepped and painted my backyard fence. What. A. Job…
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…found a new area rug for our living room. Pattern on pattern seems to be my thing right now…
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…refinished these cute benches that were handed down from my husband Mike’s late grandmother. Such a lovely family heirloom…
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…and finally, got new patio furniture, though I’m still searching for the perfect (and perfectly priced) outdoor rug to give our patio some pizzazz… IMG_6279

 

I also wanted to quickly update you on another big change that has happened to me in recent weeks. I left my job at a PR agency to join a friend’s company called ArizonaEast. If you follow the Vitales on YouTube, you may have heard Joe and Laura announce that I’m joining the team, and I’m so excited!

Well, that’s all for now. But I promise to be back soon with more DIY details to share. Until then, enjoy these last few weeks of summer and squeeze in all the projects you can while the weather is gorgeous and the sun is out!

Goodbye Office, Hello Craft Room

Mike and I recently decided to move our office downstairs into the living room for two reasons. One, the living room spans the width of our house and at 21×14 the far end felt empty and lost. Two, we rarely set up shop in the office upstairs because neither of us wanted to feel locked away up there by ourselves. I swear a post is in the works detailing the move and unveiling our awesome little corner-turned-office downstairs, but this isn’t that post.

Moving the Mac, extra monitor and scads of technology down onto the main floor left the office ripe for the picking, and boy did I take advantage of the newly-vacant space. I was so excited to get my crafting/DIY/gift wrapping stuff out of the chaos pantry (though it’s newly organized for the second time) and up into its own space.

Craft & Reading Room

This mix-and-match feel of this room is truly the epitome of me. Every. Single. Piece. is collected/thrifted/salvaged from somewhere. I didn’t purchase any of the furniture specifically for this room. It’s a little disjointed, but I love it.

Craft & Sitting Room

Notice the two nearly identical wingback chairs? One is navy, the other is hunter green, and I successfully made them work — staring right into each others’ nailhead trim…

You may recognize the green chair from our living room downstairs. It sat proudly across from our old charcoal grey sofa. A little too proudly, in fact. It was so tall someone sitting at the newly positioned desk couldn’t see the TV, and that just wasn’t going to work. Another fun fact about our pair of wingbacks is each one came from our grandparents. The navy was given to us from Mike’s grandparents, and the green came straight from my grandparents’ office. The style of both chairs is nearly identical which is why they both work here even though they’re different colors. Another neat feature of these chairs is that each relaxes into a comfortable reclining position, so my goal is to use this as a sitting/reading/writing room when I’m looking for some solitude.

Navy Nailhead Wingback Chair

The Sicilia print is an old linen piece from Mike’s grandmother, too. It used to live in the bathroom of our old apartment, and I think it looks great on the wall in the office. That small chest next to the chair was a second-hand find from my grandmother’s neighbor. She was giving it away and I decided to spray paint it black and cart if off to college with me. It’s been tagging along ever since. When I made this room the craft room, I gave it the new job of housing my plethora of gift bags and displaying my Keyboard Cat and Andy Warhol print — both treasured gifts. A noble task, indeed.

Hiding Gift Bags

Moving to the right of the navy chair, I placed my DIY’d crafting table/cabinet/shelf-like thing-a-ma-bob. This is a TOTALLY makeshift piece. The two white cabinets used to house canned goods and glassware in the kitchen of our old apartment. With an entire room devoted to storage in our new townhouse, I decided to repurpose these into storage space for my crafting supplies. The wooden top is made up of two solid-wood Ikea shelves that I screwed together with brackets to make them extra sturdy. It’s floating on top of the white shelves so it’s easy to disassemble and move if need be. I do want to paint the top white to help it blend in, though.

Craft & Sitting Room

Kate Spade & Craft Paper

Tray & Metal Hooks

Crafting Supply Storage

The black shelf next to it is a hold out from the old office. It was laying on its side housing some office supplies, novelties and the printer. It wasn’t very useful in the office, so I decided to sit it right side up and get some extra baskets/containers to house my crafting and party supplies. I tilted it on an angle a bit to break up all the straight lines in the room, and I took a small globe-shaped light out of storage with a teeny tiny bulb that stays on pretty much all the time to act as a night light in the upstairs hallway since we always leave the door to this room open.

Crafty Shelf Styling

See that graphic black and white pillow up there? It kept catching my eye on Pinterest and in several blog posts so I snapped it up. It’s not the most practical pillow in this space since I already have two other throw pillows in here that work well together and the graphic pattern is a little too much next to the curtains, so I plopped it in a basket above the shelf for visual impact and as an option for future floor sitting. Looking at it makes me happy, so it stays. And those curtains? They dressed the window in our bedroom at the old apartment and I was thrilled to be able to reuse them here. They’re a perfect match with the wall color I chose. What a happy accident.

Gift Wrap

Onto one of my most practical sections of the room – my gift wrap storage. I started keeping all those rolls of gift wrap in that gold bin in the pantry when we first moved into the house and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s so easy to grab what I need in a rush to wrap a stylish gift in no time. And that even more stylish gold bin is a hand-me-down from my Mommom. I know, right? Score!

And finally, to keep it real. This is the office-turning-craft-room transition that I started with. Yeah, a lot of work when into getting this room organized. The closet is even spic and span now. What a relief.

Craft Room Before

Second Craft Room Before

And to go back even further, this is the office I started with.

Office

Book Shelf

Do you guys have a dedicated space for crafting or gift wrapping? Even just a dedicated closet, perhaps? I’m pretty lucky to have a third bedroom at my beck-and-call, that’s for sure. And I’m basking in the glow of extra useable space for now.

Vintage Shopping at Reminisce

I found myself with a few free hours last Saturday afternoon, so I jumped at the chance to explore a new vintage store that just opened in a neighboring town. I mentioned in a previous post how I wished to have a list of go-to thrift and vintage stores, and I’m slowly starting to uncover a few local gems thanks to my friend and fellow thrifting enthusiast Natasha.

Reminisce

Enter Reminisce in downtown Pitman, New Jersey. Pitman is a unique small town in that it still has a bustling main street full of quaint restaurants, boutiques and even a thriving theater scene. Reminisce was opened in January by owner Jessica who has curated one of the best collections of vintage decor and novelties I’ve ever come across. I’m used to walking into a thrift store and digging through junk in the hopes of finding a rare diamond in the rough. At Reminisce, I nearly squealed with excitement at every turn. A vintage Hershey’s Kisses tin, upcycled guitar-turned-shelf, glass door knobs and an array of old glass bottles were some of the first treasures I encountered. And that was just in one small corner of the store.

Jessica truly has a vision for her burgeoning store, and I have a lot of respect for the mom of four who is working hard to make her dream come true. I love that she hasn’t rushed to fill up her shelves with less than stellar goods just to make the place feel packed, but instead chooses to sell only the pieces that she truly loves. I snapped a few of my favorite finds to share with you.

Join me for a virtual tour of Reminisce.

Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Vintage cream and gold plate at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Shabby chic molding and tins at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Vintage glass bottles from Philadelphia, Pa at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Vintage Tetley tea tin at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Vintage Pepsi bottles in carrying crate at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

A variety of old novelty items in a vintage Pepsi crate at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Poppies chalk paint at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Vintage clutch and shabby chic bowl at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Upcycled cane back chair and guitar-turned-shelf at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Coral Tom Thumb 50s typewriter from Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Upcycled table and vintage Coca Cola print and tin at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Upcycled cane back chair and vintage Barbie print at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Upcycled chest of drawers at Antique glass table at Reminisce Vintage and Novelty Shop in Pitman, NJ

Are you hopping in the car and heading to Reminisce yet? Isn’t it amazing! I felt like I died and went to heaven, and my mind was racing with inspiration. It was so difficult to choose what I wanted to take home out of all this great stuff.

After about an hour of admiring every nook and cranny of the store I landed on four items that I couldn’t leave without.

Vintage coral Tom Thumb 50s typewriter

As soon as I saw this vintage 50s Tom Thumb typewriter I fell in love. Writing has always been a passion of mine and I’ve wanted to own something like this for a while. When I saw the Tom Thumb in this perfect coral color I almost couldn’t believe it was real. I mean, c’mon. That’s MY COLOR! I have pops of this color throughout my house. My living room pillows, a frame, a glazed vase, books, prints… The list could go on. I nervously asked Jessica how much this typewriter would set me back, and when she said $20 my jaw dropped. It was SO going home with me.

Jessica’s mission to make these vintage goodies affordable is the icing on the deliciously sweet cake that is Reminisce. Everything in the store was priced to sell and much less than I’ve seen both online and in other stores.

Vintage glass bottles, ball jar and coral Tom Thumb 50s typewriter

I also decided to take home two glass soda pop bottles from Frank’s Nectar and Hires root beer. Not only was the color spot on, but the bottles were from Philadelphia so I loved the local tie. Don’t they look great on the shelf above the Tom Thumb? They fit perfectly in the square shelves of the Ikea entertainment center in our living room.

Vintage Palmolive soap ad fits perfectly in the master bath

Last but certainly not least I snapped up this vintage Palmolive soap print that already came with a navy mat. The old soap ad was aptly themed for a bathroom, and the navy mat worked perfectly with the navy, gray, cream and light blue color scheme of our master bath. The wall above our towel bar had been previously bare, so I thought this was the perfect finishing touch.

Vintage Palmolive soap ad fits perfectly in the master bath

The print cost just $12 and I found the grey 11×14 frame at Christmas Tree Shops for $6 – a steal for this perfectly-themed art.

Natasha and I also visited a few other thrift stores the next day close to her home in Salem County, but I didn’t have much luck. The visit made me realize just how special Reminisce is, and I know I’m going to be a regular. Do you have any vintage pieces you’ve uncovered while thrifting? Have you pined for a typewriter like my prized Tom Thumb? Any furniture upcycling stories to share like the awesome repainted and recovered cane back chairs above?

Psst… This is in no way a sponsored post and all opinions shared are truly my own. I fell in love with Reminisce and wanted to shout it from the rooftops! None of the links included in this post are affiliates. 

Psssst… If you love Instagram like I do and live in the Philadelphia area, follow Jinxed Philadelphia @jinxedstore for some awesome vintage and thrifted finds. They’re constantly posting new merch for sale on Instagram as soon as it hits the store and you can purchase right from your phone. But act fast, I totally lost out on my dream coffee table because it went in less than an hour. Happy thrifting! 

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!

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?