Category: Decorating

Art makes everything better!

I am currently all jittery and skittery with excitement because today I ordered two new pieces of art for my house.

I admit, I’m pretty much obsessed with hanging beautiful things on my walls. It’s one of the best ways out there to add color and personality to your space — especially if you can’t paint. At least I’m lucky and my walls are a nice plain white which provides a good canvas for lots of cool artwork.

As much as I love getting my hands on free or really inexpensive art (and it can be done — I’ll have to blog about that sometime), sometimes you find something for sale that you LOVE and you know will make you smile every time you look at it.

That’s how I feel about the fun, quirky posters at Pop Chart Labs. No I’m not making any money by advertising for them in this post! :-) I just love their stuff. I’ve been ogling their coffee print for a few months, and I just bought it to hang in my guestroom / study room.

Pop Chart Lab 2

They also just came out with this new kitchen tools print, which I immediately fell in love with.

Pop Chart Lab 1

I’m going to put it up in my kitchen above the sink, where I really wish there was a window but instead there’s just a boring wall. This piece is huge — 2 by 3 feet, so it will fill up almost the whole wall (!). It will be fun looking at the cute graphics and details while washing dishes … a whole lot more fun than wall-gazing, that’s for sure.

I’m going to pick up some poster frames at Michael’s (they were 40% off when I checked yesterday) so I can frame and hang these babies the instant they arrive.

So – what’s your favorite piece of art in your home?

How to celebrate Galentine’s Day

Since yesterday was Galentine’s Day, my sister-in-law Rachel and I had a great time hosting a little get-together for some of our mutual friends. We all met up for dinner at Baker’s Crust (the best restaurant ever!!!), where we caught up on each others’ lives while eating large quantities of artisanal pizza and bruschetta. Then we bopped over to my place where we hung out, ate cupcakes, made homemade sugar scrubs and watched a chick flick.

It was pretty awesome I’m just saying. So now, obviously you want to throw your own Galentine’s Day party next year. No problem, here’s what you’re going to need.

1. Cute Decorations

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I used strings of white lights, candles, lanterns, and garlands to decorate my living room. The garland above was purchased at Target, but I also made one of my own using triangular pennants cut from pages of an old book.

2. Fun foods with a high sugar content

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Having dinner at a restaurant was a MAJOR stress-saver for this party since I neither have the time nor the space to serve a meal to a big group of people. I did want to have some fun desserts, though, since V-Day is kind of all about that. So I set aside the night before the party to make cupcakes (Rachel helped, which was much appreciated). Rachel also made some chocolate-covered strawberries, and that about took care of the food!

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By the way, the cupcakes were pretty amazing. I tried a new recipe for from-scratch chocolate cake made with two kinds of chocolate and coffee. In a word, WHOA. Oh, and did I mention they have raspberry filling and cream cheese frosting?! I need to make them one more time to work out a couple of issues and to get good pictures, and then I’ll post the recipe for you guys.

3. Whimsical Details

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I picked up a few packages of disposable cups at Party City — they had plain red hearts on them, which inspired me to write sweethearts-candy-inspired sayings on all of them.

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These silly straws with mustaches and lips on them were so fun! I picked them up at Target and everyone had a blast with them. They’d be super easy to DIY, too — something to keep in mind for the parties in the future.

4. Something fun to take home

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You know me, I like to make people smile. So does Rachel. So of course we whipped up some fun stuff for our Galentines to take home with them. Rachel bought everyone chocolates and cards (and even wrote messages in all of the cards instead of just signing her name, you go Rachel!). And I made everyone Treat Your Self favor bags (yet another Parks and Rec reference!).

The Treat Your Self bags contained a lot of shiny, sparkly stuff I found here and there for cheapie-cheaps. It was all body/beauty stuff to go along with the homemade sugar scrubs we made.

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5. Beautiful and quirky friends!

You certainly can’t have a Galentine’s Day party with gals, so get together as many of your girlfriends as you can. I don’t know what your friends are like, but mine are beautiful and quirky and some of them even have mustaches…

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(Haha, my mustachioed friend Anna is gonna kill me for posting this.)

So that was my Galentine’s Day, and man was it awesome!! I’m definitely going to keep up this tradition – it’s a lot of fun to get together with girlfriends and unfortunately I don’t do it NEARLY often enough.

XOXO

Bethany

Bathroom progress: storage!

For me, any day that I don’t destroy my marriage is a good day. Am I right?!! Let’s hear it for not destroying our marriages. So that’s why a DIY project that Ben and I did recently made me really, really happy. We assembled a storage unit together. And didn’t kill each other in the process.

Does anyone else have stories of furniture assembly that made you want to (a) bang your head against the wall, (b) bang your spouse against the wall, or (c) kill your spouse, tie yourself to the despised piece of furniture, and set it on fire? Yes, those are some violent images. Parental guidance advised. But really. There was this one day a few years ago that I’m pretty sure was the worst day out of my almost four years of married life, and that was the day Ben and I attempted to put a piece-of-garbage $50 Wal-Mart bookshelf together.

Note to self: Never buy $50 Wal-Mart bookshelves, and never EVER attempt to assemble them. If one of the gory scenes described above does not occur, someone will be Googling “cost for a divorce” before the end of the assembly process. In short, WORST IDEA EVER. DON’T DO IT.

After all of that, you’d be really surprised that a couple months ago I slapped down 100 dollahs for a some-assembly-required Target armoire. I was really nervous about the assembly process, but ya see, I really needed that armoire. You might remember tales of my sad, sad bathroom from this post …. and the attempts to make it a humanly habitable space from this one. It definitely has gotten a lot better since its ivy days, but there was still a major issue of bathroom storage. Or rather, LACK THEREOF. Since there was absolutely no storage built into the bathroom, I had tried to improvise with baskets and stuff. When we moved in there was a pretty shabby tall shelf thing which we used, but it didn’t provide any way to get things out of sight, had odd dimensions, and was extremely hard to clean. So what we had was this permanently grimy shelf that proudly displayed our entire collection of soap, razors, hairspray …. et cetera. It was an ugly situation.

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I had been looking for a long time for a storage solution that would fit in the tiny space. As usual, Target to the rescue!

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We spent a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon putting it together. It didn’t take very long. And it was like a MIRACLE! The shelves were strong and sturdy and didn’t crumble if you touched them. It wasn’t ALL CROOKEDY, EVERYWHERE. The screws were the right sizes, and there were enough of them, and the back of the bookshelf wasn’t made out of #!@$ PAPER!!!

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A couple of days later, I went to Target and found baskets to fit the shelves. Now all of our stuff is hidden away, but still easily accessible. There’s even a drawer that holds all of our medicines/medical supplies — what a concept! It really is amazing. I know I have a typically emotional apartment-dweller’s approach to talking about storage, but bear with me.

I’m still working on filling in the empty spaces on the shelves — I’m thinking maybe some vintage bowls or vases which I’ll use to store nail polish and makeup brushes, or some natural elements like a few birch bark candles grouped together. I’ve since added a big piece of coral to the top, too.

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So there you have it. Yay for a brighter, cleaner, neater-looking bathroom! And for Target instead of Wal-mart. And for intact marriages. Hurray! Everyone is happy! Nobody dies! If only everything were this simple. :)

Kitchen art ideas

Today I am thinking about art for my kitchen (because of course I would not be thinking about the 15-page paper that’s due tomorrow).

What kind of art do you like to put in your kitchen? Chalkboards with doodly drawings? Inspirational sayings? Food splattering the walls as an elegant testimonial to savory meals past and present? I definitely have plenty of the latter “on display” in my kitchen at all times… hah.

Anyway, if you read this blog very much you know that I love food very much. And I love kitchens, and I love cooking, and I love art, so gosh. I JUST LOVE KITCHEN ART.

Lately I’ve been on a huge art kick, finally doing something about all the blank walls in my apartment — and maybe going a bit overboard. We will see. But I’ve seen a lot of cool kitchen art inspiration lately, so I thought I’d post some fun pictures.

In collecting them from around the internet I’ve already been inspired to make more changes (DIYs and purchases!) to the art in my kitchen. I’m quite happy in the knowledge that in the end it will probably be far too much art than is necessary for the tiny space. All the better. My renter’s kitchen is so deeply ugly that I would be only too thrilled if all that people noticed was the art hanging on the walls.

1. Recipes as Art

via Apartment Therapy

Since the kitchen is such a practical room, it makes sense to have practical art. Featuring meaningful recipes — like ones that belonged to your mom or grandma — is one of my favorite ideas for kitchen art, and I’m a sucker for vintage things so it works on that level too.

2. Recipes That ARE Art

Ever since I heard about the Etsy shop Articipe, I have wanted to own one of their bright, fun prints. What propels this product from cute to IMUSTHAVEITNOW? The fact that you can get them customized with your own treasured recipes. Yeah. Pretty much, IMUSTHAVEITNOW.

3. Utensils as Art

I have to say, it’s hard not to love the bright, rainbow awesomeness of these painted spoons from Little Bit Funky. It’s gone viral on Pinterest, and for good reason! They’d be easy to DIY and look cute hanging in a row…

I have a few vintage utensils from my grandmother that I’ve thought about trying to hang or display in some way, and I’ve never been able to come up with a good way to do it. The best thing I’ve come up with so far is hanging the utensils on the wall in a small arrangement, then hanging an empty (vintage wood) picture frame around them. I couldn’t find a picture of anything like this, so maybe I actually had an original thought with that …. doubt it, but maybe. ;-)

4. Utensil Art

If the whole “hanging spoons and spatulas on the wall” thing seems a bit contrived to you, how about instead opting for a Splendiferous Array of Culinary Tools? I recently came across this poster by Pop Chart Lab, and I am obsessed. With the poster, with the store, with everything they’ve ever made. I’m going to have to own one of their pieces at some point in my life. (Good grief, look at this coffee one!!)

5. Bright graphic prints

I’ve posted before about Graphic Anthology, another Etsy store that makes me really happy whenever I look at their products. I love this one a lot. There are lots of sources for punchy art prints out there, I imagine, but I’ve never seen anyone who does it better than Graphic Anthology.

6. Food = Love

I saw this idea on one of my absolute favorite blogs, A CUP OF JO, in the house tour she did of Abbey Nova’s lovely NYC home. This piece of homemade art was on display in the kitchen:

I love it and couldn’t agree more with the thought that it represents. To me, food does equal love. I put a lot of love into my cooking and I usually cook for people I love! I want to include this idea in my kitchen art, but I don’t have room for another big piece. So I have come up with an idea that I can DIY and that will work in my kitchen … stay tuned, I think I’m going to try to do it next week and then I’ll share with you all. (PS: If you love the Food = Love print you can buy it from Abbey Nova’s Etsy shop, Hungry Prints.)

7. Pans as Picture Frames

I saw this idea online today, and I didn’t know what to think so I thought I’d ask you! What do you think about this idea: clever or too kitschy?

Via Savvy Living

Using pie pans as picture frames, now that’s a fresh idea. I really couldn’t find any more example pictures of this, so I wonder if many people have done it. If I were going to do this, I wouldn’t use all round frames … I would get some rectangular or square baking pans and mix those in with the round pie pans. It would be like a culinary gallery wall. I have to say, I’m kind of intrigued by this, but at the same time, not sure I completely love it.

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So, let me know — which one of these ideas (if any) would you put in YOUR kitchen?

Botanical Bathroom

I haven’t done anything with my bathroom for a while. Ever since I ripped out the horrible ivy wallpaper border — which granted was a big improvement — it’s pretty much remained a plain, dead, white. And beige. And gray. And cream. (The people who built this place didn’t take a LOT of pains to match furnishings.)

I really had no idea what I was going to do about bringing some color or SOMETHING in there. Until the other day when I was in Target and I saw this rug.

In an out-of-character move, I immediately bought it on impulse. I knew it would be perfect. It combined a deep teal with brown and cream and a cool geometric pattern. I like that the rug has shades of brown in it, because it means I can keep the perfectly good set of towels I have — which are brown and beige. A lot of bathroom color schemes I was looking at used gray as the neutral, and I hated to get rid of towels that are still very fluffy and in fine shape.

Also, I like the geometric pattern. I am a pretty pattern-phobic person, and I’ve been wanting to try to introduce more print and pattern into my home. The bathroom is a safe place to do that and a fun place to experiment with something new. Plus, for a $20-or-so rug, I wasn’t exactly making some huge investment!

After bringing the rug home and living with it for a few days, I liked it even more. So I went back to Target to see if I could find anything else that would work with the rug colors, and I found this shower curtain, part of a line called Threshold.

Now THAT’s a lot more pattern than I would normally pick. But I love the fern print and the colors, and man, it makes my boring bathroom WAY more interesting. And again, yay for inexpensive things!

After finding these two pieces I started to envision an awesome botanical bathroom with teal, brown, a little gold, and all kinds of nature-inspired accents….

This mood board has the main pieces in the room: rug, curtain, etc. I’m going to track down either this Target storage cabinet or one like it, and paint the back inside the unit teal, like the inspiration pic from Young House Love. I’d also like to do the faux bois wastebasket DIY from Apartment Therapy.

And then the smaller decoratey pieces…

Sources:

  • Rug: Target
  • Shower curtain: Target
  • Bathroom storage cabinet: Target
  • Wood frames: Target
  • Gold frame: Amazon
  • Gold mercury glass candleholder: Luna Bazaar
  • Branches: decorativebranches.com
  • Porcelain acorns: Spark Living
  • Botanical print: Miles Of Light on Etsy (I already bought this and I LOVE IT!!)
  • Ocean print: mylittlepixels on Etsy

Inspiration:

  • Painted bookshelf: Young House Love
  • Branches in vase: Domestic Peacock
  • Faux bois wastebasket DIY: Apartment Therapy

The quest for green lamps

Thanks everyone for your kind remarks on my previous post about re-doing my living room.

In that post I did forget to mention anything about lighting. I think lighting is one of the most important things in any room. In fact, as the great Paul Revere said in Longfellow’s famous poem, “One if by land, two if by sea, and I on the living room couch will be.”

What, he didn’t say it quite like that? Well …………… that’s not important. CLEARLY Longfellow’s words hold great meaning for this discussion of lamps in my living room.

Anyway, I think lighting is important. At this point designers would start talking about “having a lighting plan” for your room, including “three levels of lighting,” and things like that. WHATEVER. All I care about in a room is that there are enough lamps, etc so that (1) you can read without eyestrain and (2) you never ever EVER have to turn on the overhead light in a room, ever, ever. EVER.

I hate overhead lights. Hate them.

So when we first moved into our apartment, and the lighting situation did not provide for the two necessities stated above, I immediately bought two cheap floor lamps from Target just until we figured out what we wanted and found something better.

Needless to say, they’re still there. *sigh* But hopefully on their way out soon. Once I locate end tables on Craigslist or at a thrift store, I’ll be replacing them with table lamps.

Since I’m going to be doing kind of a blue and green color scheme (cobalt/indigo and kelly/bright green) for the room, I’ve been lusting after various green lamps that I’ve located on the internets. Sadly, I can’t afford any of them. WHY ARE LAMPS SO EXPENSIVE? I mean …… two or three hundred dollars each is kind of ridiculous.

 

Both from Lamps Plus

The only one that might be worth the money this Jonathan Adler Capri lamp. It is so beautiful, I would sell a kidney for this lamp. Except I need two lamps. And that would cost me both of my kidneys. So …. no.

via Kristen Rivoli interior design

At least after gazing at all these pictures I know what I want. I like lamps that have a graceful, rounded shape — they’re sometimes called “gourd” lamps or “vessel” lamps. Glass is great, opaque is better. The hardest thing is finding BRIGHT green lamps.

This one from JC Penney is more affordable, but I don’t like the dull green. :(

I saw a tutorial online in which someone got a pair of inexpensive clear glass lamp bases and painted the insides of the bases with bright paint. It’s a great idea. I don’t really do that much DIY (not enough space or time), but if I can find some inexpensive lamps at a thrift store I may give one of the many lamp DIY ideas on the internet a try.

Speaking of which, here are a few that look interesting.

Here’s an awesome-looking tutorial using the painting-inside-glass technique to make DIY mercury glass lamps.

Spray-painting lamp bases.

How to update a lamp base and shade with spray paint.

Of course, it would be so much easier to drop $400-500 on a pair of bright green lamps, plus another $60 (at least) on shades. Ah, the lives of the rich and famous!

BHG via Pure Style Home

So, the quest continues. I’ll let you know how it turns out. ;-)

Evolution of a living room

Because of my commitment to stay within our (very small) decorating budget, progress on decorating our apartment consistently moves at a snail’s pace.

But even a snail will get there eventually … and almost 3-1/2 years after moving into our apartment, my living room is finally starting to look like I actually want it to.

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of what it looked like when we moved in. Please believe me that it was bad. The living room came furnished with a green-and-red plaid, uncomfortable couch; an antiquey wooden rocking chair; two small side tables in poor condition; a tiny old TV; and three lamps of all different sizes. Oh, and a scrap of lace where a curtain should have been on the one window.

As soon as possible I got rid of these furnishings and replaced them with other ones – not necessarily things I liked, but things that were free. A World Market couch that looked OK at first; a small loveseat with great bones but in need of reupholstery; neutral curtains because I couldn’t commit to a color.

We aren’t allowed to paint, so with blank white walls, gray/beige carpet, and neutral furnishings, it was SO boring.

Then the living room got ignored for a while as I worked on getting our bedroom in decent shape. In the meantime the poor quality of the World Market couch became evident. At seven feet long and L-shaped, it didn’t fit the tiny room, and left no room for much of anything else. And it was UGLY.

I did some serious thinking about the room. In our small apartment, we spend almost all of our time (except sleeping) in this room. But the room did not work for us. It was not comfortable, it was not functional, and it was not fun to spend time there.

So, because I am a list-maker, I made a list of what I wanted the room to do and be.

  • It had to have seating for a few people to sit and have a conversation.
  • It had to include  room for my books. Our one bookshelf was relegated to the spare bedroom (a.k.a. junk room) but I wanted them in the main living area because I LOVE BOOKS and they make me happy.
  • It had to have places to set a drink or book down (end tables).
  • It had to have an ottoman instead of a coffee table. Ben and I like to put our feet up.
  • It had to have storage. Because this room does everything.
  • It had to be cozy.
  • It had to be colorful even though the biggest pieces in the room (couches) were neutral.
  • I also wanted to have a big map hanging in the room – because I happen to love maps – and a collection of vintage family photos.
  • And it had to have a TV. I grew up without a TV, so I would be OK without having one, but Ben loves watching sports and it’s his house, too. Plus we like to watch a TV show (hello, Parks and Recreation!!!) or movie from time to time, and where else were we going to watch that if not from the couch?

So I came up with this plan of action:

  • Replace the huge, ugly couch with a smaller loveseat.
  • Buy a flatscreen TV and mount it on the wall.
  • Using this now freed-up space, bring in a nice-quality bookshelf to house books…
  •  And some end tables for additional storage and places to set things down.
  • Replace the center table (too small and awkward!) with a storage ottoman.
  • Find a beautiful map and get it framed and hung over the couch.
  • Add colorful pillows, throws, rug, etc.

Slowly, over the spring and summer, things got done. In the spring, in-laws gave us a beautiful all-wood IKEA bookshelf as an anniversary gift, for which I will be eternally grateful. I searched endlessly for a new loveseat on Craiglist, not wanting to spend $600+ on a new one, and after a few disappointments I finally located one in August, in great shape, about 6’ long, and only $180. Also in August, we bought a 39” flatscreen LCD TV on sale for under $300.

Oh, about that Craigslist loveseat. Since we don’t have a truck, this is how we got it home (it was a rainy day):

Here’s the room with the Craiglist loveseat, the old loveseat (still badly in need of reupholstery, but I’m keeping it because I love it), and the flatscreen TV before we mounted it on the wall.

You’ll notice I brought in a gray ottoman from my bedroom to see how it worked in the room – and I ended up loving how the smaller (about 20” diameter) round ottoman broke up all the boxy rectangular shapes in the room and was easy to get around. Huzzah for no more stubbed toes!

Then my very kind father-in-law helped Ben mount the TV on the wall, an arduous task…

…and I moved my books and bookshelf into the room, while a multitude of angels sang “glory in the highest.” OK, not really, but adding the books made a HUGE difference in the room – they added so much color and coziness. I instantly felt so much happier being in there.

Of course, we had a messy wire situation, which was easily fixed after a quick trip to Home Depot.

Ben did a fantastic job getting those wires covered up, and then he also hung my framed map on the opposite wall (which you last heard about in this post).

And that left us with the living room as it is now. Not finished yet, but much closer.

Here’s that to-do list again…

  • Replace the huge, ugly couch with a smaller loveseat. DONE!
  • Buy a flatscreen TV and mount it on the wall. DONE! 
  • Using this now freed-up space, bring in a nice-quality bookshelf to house books… DONE!
  •  And some end tables for additional storage and places to set things down. in progress
  • Replace the center table (too small and awkward!) with a storage ottoman. in progress
  • Find a beautiful map and get it framed and hung over the couch. DONE!
  • Add colorful pillows, throws, rug, etc. to do

The biggest pieces are now in place – the loveseats, TV and bookshelf. What’s left is the smaller pieces. I’m working on getting a brown leather ottoman so I can put the gray one back in my bedroom where it belongs. I’m also searching for the perfect end tables – I’m so eager for the day when I can chop up those useless too-small, too-short side tables for firewood. :-) Oh, you think I’m kidding, huh?…

The ottoman and end tables are top priority for now since they’re an important part of the room being fully functional, but once those are done the last thing will be adding colorful textiles like pillows and possibly a rug. I’m not too worried about those for now, but they will add the finishing touch.

It’s been really exciting in the past couple of months to see the room FINALLY come together after years where I really hated it, honestly. It’s still a teeny, tiny room with various unattractive aspects (tile ceiling, sad carpet, not much sunlight) that I can’t do much about, but I’m happy with the changes I have been able to make. Already the room works so much better for us, and we feel a lot better about spending time there.

I’ll post more about this room as progress continues to be made on it!