Thursday, February 28, 2013

Inexpensive Furniture Finds

Let's play a little word association game - I'm going to name a store and then list out all the words that come to mind when I think of that store.

Urban Outfitters.

College dorm-room, overpriced hoodies, hipster clothing, weird coffee table books, knick-knacks, faux-vintage, mustache themed everything, slogan t-shirts.

Ahhhh, I feel better - now here's the thing... the other day I posted about that cool accordion side table from Urban Outiftters that was $75 compared to similar tables that retailed in the hundreds.  That led me to do a little investigating of my own, and I've come to find out, Urban Outfitters has grown up a bit since the last time I popped in for an over-priced (but super soft) v-neck t-shirt.  Turns out, they actually have some pretty FABULOUS home accessories, and it's cheap!  I would never have put Urban Outfitters in the category of "great home decor" but they seriously are!

Aside from this fabulous table, here are some of my favorite finds!!


Awesome, right??  I am especially loving the owl garden stool and the gold hexagon side table. I probably won't pull the trigger on the owl, only becuase it seems to be a little too trendy, and doesn't seem like something I'll love 6 months from now.  Also, not that we are in the market for a console, but the Draper style console is really cool - something I think my sister would be really into.  Her house is full of mid-century pieces, and this little guy would fit right in (in my humble opinion). 


Both of these have great lines, and details that I LOOVVEEE.  You all know how obsessed I am with nail-head trim, so both these beauties are A-OK in my book.


Let me start by saying that I probably wouldn't put these sofas or the chaise in my living room.  And by probably, I mean, never.  The day to night sofa (pictured in a heathered brown) would be great in an office-guestroom combo, since it does convert into a sleeper sofa.  And the chaise and Gramercy sofa are so overly feminine - I see those living in a huge walk in closet, dressing room, or bathroom.  They might even be good for an entry-way as well, but not so much for the living room.

I'd be thrilled to have any three of those chairs in our living room - the hot pink Madeline Chair especially jumps out at me.  That shocking pink for some reason doesn't look that "girly" although I'm sure Kris would disagree with me on that.  Luckily, also comes in a ton of other colors.  

A few of my other favorites were the tan, aqua, and navy:

I think this chair might even get added onto my growing list of potential side chair candidates for our living room...

All in all, I'd say I've totally changed my mind about Urban Outfitters...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Battle of the Occasional Chairs

This afternoon has been battle of the chairs...

Remember all my plans for the living room, and how I desperately want to replace that dang wicker chair with something lovely, and comfy, and grown up?? (BTW, I swear, this is one of the last time's I'll post this little diagram of the living room...)
Well, I've got a few contenders for the space - they are all lovely, and I want them all, but I have to make a tough call...

First runner up, is actually a pair of these white slipper chairs...
Cute right??

I'm imagining them with a matching pair of sassy throw pillows in a bright print to wake them up (perfectly fluffed and chopped of course)
Yeah, yeah... I know, I know... my copy and paste of these pillows was not my finest moment in image formatting...

Ok, so I have a few issues with these slipper chairs - as cute as they may be.  These are nearly $300 each - and for $600, I think I can do a lot better than Target (no offense Target... I still love you).  The other concern?  They are super plain from the back, which isn't ideal when these chairs are the first thing you see when you walk into the living room to view the seating area.

Finally, I'm not sure if they exactly say "come lounge in me" - they don't look all that comfortable... but maybe I'm wrong, and they are the most comfortable chair you'll ever sit in.  Who knows?!

So another option I found - and LOVE - is this cute little velvet number from Macys:
Trust me, I already know how awesome this chair is, with it's sloped arms, and angled back.  It has rave reviews online about how comfortable it is, how durable it is, and how everyone just LOVES this chair... you're probably thinking, what's the hold up??  
The hold up is this couch... that I have lusted after for over a year... and I do not want the couch and matching chair...  I'm not a fan of the matching set (I learned my lesson after buying a coffee table/end table "set" a few years back - no more "sets" for this little lady).

So should I base my decision to buy (or not buy) this chair on a couch we don't have any intention of buying in the next few months? Who knows when we'll actually get around to replacing our small sad little love seats!  What if we go for this couch from Crate and Barrel (in taupe, not blue) that I've ALSO been lusting after... then it won't matter that I got this chair from the "set".

Ok, I can't think about it anymore... because there is a third and fourth option on the table as well!

What about... one of these chairs... 

Yes, I realize it's the same chair, but I am going back and forth on the colors!  On the one hand, a light taupe will work with whatever decor comes and goes, but the green is so dang lovely!  I love that sea-foam color and it brings some personality to the space...

And look how cute these are from the back!!
Pretty sweet right??  I found them online for ~$300 - the green version is more pricey for sure (closer to $400) but still a pretty great deal for the rave reviews it had on Overstock, Target, Brookstone, etc.  

I did a little comparison price check, and some places are selling it for up to $800!!  Crazy!

It pays to do a little research eh?

So... you can see my problem... I'm very torn on which chair to get.  And I'm a big proponent of trying things out before buying - what if the cushion is too hard?  Too cushy?  What if the color is completely different in person?

Since I want something comfortable, I think the slipper chairs, as clean looking as they are, are out for me, and it's really between the chair from Macy's, and the tufted nail-head Colin Club chair.

Any opinions would be welcome here!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Painted Curtains DIY

This weekend was full of birthday celebrations, but between the party hopping, I managed to get in a little DIY project.

I've long admired the curtains that Kristin Jackson of The Hunted Interior made for her living room.  They are playful, and graphic, and best of all, they are DIRT CHEAP to make.

Kristen's Curtains

If you've ever tried to buy curtains that are long enough to go from ceiling to floor, you know that the 84" panels they sell everywhere are not nearly long enough, but luckily for me, Ikea sells A PAIR of 98" panels for $24.99.  No I am not kidding.  For $25, you get not one, but TWO curtains.  For that, I felt that I literally had nothing to lose.  If you're interested, you can buy them here.

Of course, because they are SO LONG, you'll almost definitely have to hem them, but it's easy enough, and the folks at Ikea are smart - they include some stitch witchery in with the curtains to iron them hem for us non-sewers.  Dear Ikea, you are amazing.

Ok so into the project - this is what you'll need:

White curtains
REALLY good painters tape
At least one measuring tape (I found it was helpful to have two)
Fabric Chalk (or pencil worked fine too)
Paint (I just used some good old latex paint from the hardware store - nothing fancy)
Foam brush or roller

This project is easy... the hardest part was measuring these dang stripes.  I wanted two "peaks" for each of my navy chevron stripes, so I took the width of the curtain, divided by four, and measured that much in from each side of the curtain to determine where the top peaks would go.  Then I measured down - each stripe was 16", and marked out where the bottom point of my chevron stripe would be, and connected the dots with painters tape.  

Sounds simple enough, but I'm no math whiz, so it took me about 2 hours to get this first stripe measured and taped.  So sad.  After that things moved more quickly though...

Once I had finished measuring and taping the first curtain, I laid the second curtain panel over the first, and was literally able to see the tape through the curtain, so no measuring required for the second one - just started taping over the lines of the first.  The first panel took me probably 3 hours total - the second took me 15 minutes or so.

Once everything was taped off (REALLLLLLY good - press down hard on the tape to ensure a good seal) you simply need to paint in between the lines.  I used a foam brush - a roller would work, but I didn't trust myself near the edges with the roller since I used a thinner tape.  Take the tape off while it's still wet (I read online that this helps to ensure the paint doesn't seep under the edges). I'm not actually sure how true that is since some of my paint ended up seeping, but it's worth a shot.

Once it's dry (or dry enough not to smear as you carry it and hang it), get those babies up!

Yes, I realize the picture quality sucks, but I was so excited I couldn't resist!

I actually need to take the curtains back down and touch up a few spots where the paint did end up seeping under the tape, and the lines aren't perfectly crisp, but overall I am loving my new wide chevron curtains!  The navy brings a bit of color to the room since everything else is white, or creme colored in there.  And with the new bedding... oh, I can hardly wait!

I keep reading that chevron is sooo last year, but I still happen to like chevron, and I LOVE my new curtains.  In my opinion, the wide chevron makes the pattern more unique - you don't see it often.  Not sure if you remember the curtains we'd had in here... since I NEVER post pictures of our disheveled bedroom, but they were creme colored silk panels, that have since made their way into the living room... updated pictures of that are coming too.

I took a panoramic photo of this wall on my iPhone, to give you an idea of what this wall looks like. Remember how I said the TV stand was too low??  Well, now you can see what I mean.  It is impossible to watch anything when laying down.  That TV stand is going on Craigslist very soon, along with the gold shelf.

Can't wait for more updates!

What do you think?  Would you ever paint a pair of curtains, or am I crazy??  When I told my mom, she definitely thought "crazy" instead of "brilliant" but I kind of don't care.  I love them.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Accordion Style

Can you tell what it is in this picture that has me enamored??

If you guessed the brushed bronze accordion style table in the forefront, than you'd be right on the money!!

Industrial chic is back in a big way - just ask Restoration Hardware.

Now that we are making progress in the living room, and I've crossed a few things off my never-ending list, I am thinking about what kind of chair I'd like to replace the wicker chair that's currently in there.

Once I start thinking about what chair to put in there, I start to think... well do we need one chair or two?  If we have a chair that people actually use (as opposed to one that I just like to look at), then what will people set their drink down on... the coffee table is a long ways away.  And so then I start thinking about what kind of table would look cool, be functional, and still be small enough not to get in the way or look awkward floating in the middle of the room next to our chair.

See what happens when I start thinking about chairs??  If you give a Mouse a Cookie... (have you read that story?? If not, please do)

I mean how sweet are these little tables - narrow yet functional - this one here is just tucked away in the corner...

And look how sweet this little accordion table looks tucked into this reading nook.  I decided to do a little recon, and see what I could come up with online...

This one is from Urban Outfitters, and it's only $64!!  I mean COME ON!!  $64??  I spent more than that at happy hour last night!  And let me just say, this table does not look like $64.  Thank you Urban Outfitters - this is definitely better than the fake glasses and $50 t-shirts you sell.

And then after that steal... I found this one.  Holy cow, did you see the at price tag on this baby??? DEFINITELY out of my budget (yeahhh, not going to spend nearly a grand on a teeny tiny table), but I love the shiny brass finish, and the marble top - so pretty!

This beauty comes from the same seller as the $800 brass table, but its a) cheaper b) shorter c) wider.  I am LOVING the mirrored top too... more room to put my book, remote control and glass of wine!

What do you think of these little accordion wonders?  I'm in loveeeee.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Campaign Style Wine Rack - DIY

As you know, I have a laundry list of things I want to change in our home, but when it comes to crossing things off the list, I feel like I move at a snails' pace!  Remember last month when I drew up the grand plans for rearranging the living room?? (original post here)  Well, for once, I got right on it, and have a few updates to share!!

To refresh your memory, this was the old layout:
Awkward short table next to the TV, wicker chair in the corner, desk blocking entry from entry-hall into the living room.  Not ideal.

This was the updated plan for the changes I wanted to make:
On the list...
 - Move the chair into the seating area (ultimately replacing the wicker with something else)
 - Get rid of that awkward short table next to the TV
 - Replace the awkward table with a bar cart or wine bar
 - Move the desk next to the window
 - Get a standing lamp
 - Put two small x-benches where the desk used to be

First change (and the easiest one so far) was moving the desk next to the window - it really opens things up when you first walk in the room, and it's so nice to work in this sunny nook!  The standing lamp was also an easy decision to make, and I love how it looks next to the desk!

Moving on to the second change... here is a good snapshot of that awkward little table next to the TV.

It was WAY too short, and this is pretty much how it stood for the last year since we moved in.  It's not AWFUL, but it always drove me crazy.  To say I wasn't sad to see it go is a gross understatement!

Sayonara sucka!

While I'd been lusting after a bar cart like these bad boys, they really are not in the budget at $700 a pop (for the cheap ones!) and so I had to get creative.

We had a wine rack in the dining room, sort of tucked into the corner - you couldn't see it, and it ultimately made the room feel a bit cramped.

One day I had an ah-ha moment, and decided that the wine rack would be the PERFECT solution for this area of the living room.  Moving it out of the dining room would open up that space, and re-purposing it for the living room would mean one less thing to buy!

It's not some unique, heirloom piece (it was from Target to be completely honest) but it was the right height and width, so I was determined to make it work...

I snapped these photos really quickly after I moved it over from the dining room - I was super happy that it was just the right height for the mirror but the cheap look of the faux wood was not doing it for me.  

I'm also VERY over the black/brown wood look, which I went a little crazy with a few years ago when we were buying furniture for our first apartment.  Now, I feel like EVERYTHING is black / brown wood, and it HAS to change.

Here is a close-up of the finish, and that glorious hardware...

Blah.  Boring. Cheap.

I've long admired the look of campaign furniture - the brackets, and hardware really dress things up, and so with this image in my mind, I set out for a mini makeover...


I needed paint, and hardware, but the weather had been really cold here, so I was in no mood to walk down to the hardware store and pick up a new quart of paint.

Feeling lazy, I decided to try mixing some paint I had laying around.  I had a dark blue-grey quart of oil based paint that I had used to paint the back of our bookshelves with, and another quart of taupe chalkboard paint that I had used on the console table in our hallway.  My little experiment could have ended disastrously but I figured that if it looked awful, or I ended up with peel-y paint, I could just sand it off, and start over.

I grabbed a Tupperware, started mixing, and much to my surprise, the color was PERFECT - a true grey, with blue undertones - JUST what I wanted.

I wasn't quite sure how the paint would go on since it was half oil, and half chalkboard, but I have to say, the combination brought the best of both worlds.

The oil based paint made the application go on super smooth, and since the chalkboard paint was also in there, it dried really fast, and feels REALLY durable.  Time will be the true test to it's durability, but after waiting 24 hours for the paint to "cure" it was ready to get some hardware!

While I really admire the look of the traditional campaign pulls, most of them require you to bevel out an indent in the drawer so that it lays flush with the piece.

I decided that trying to bevel out an indentation on a drawer that is probably made of particle board (god knows what it's made of) would be a terrible idea... even if it were real wood, I think that's probably way above my skill level.

With images in my head of myself royally messing up the face of the drawer I decided to go with an alternative - cup pulls have a similar look and feel, but I could just drill them right in - no muss, no fuss.

I laid everything out, and started drilling - since there was just one drawer, I just eyeballed it for the center, and the pull strategically covered up the centered hole from the original knob - no need to fill it, sand it and paint it.


Here she is - the finished product!

Isn't she pretty??   

I love how the grey paint looks with the brass hardware, and most of all, I love how we now have a little variation to our living room that is FULL of black/brown furniture.  I left the back of the wine rack black - mainly because it was too hard to fit my hand back there to paint it, but I like the contrast.

I'd had grand visions of putting casters on the bottom, but I think with all the brass hardware I added that casters would have been a bit much.

The best part of this project was that it cost me next to nothing!

The whole project cost me about $9 - mainly the cost of the hardware - the paint was free, and I used a $1.00 foam brush that I tossed afterwards.

My list is slowly dwindling in the living room, and I LOVE crossing things off...  after these updates, here's how the list stands:
 - Move the chair into the seating area (ultimately replacing the wicker with something else)
 - Get rid of that awkward short table next to the TV
 - Replace the awkward table with a bar cart or wine bar
 - Move the desk next to the window
 - Get a standing lamp
 - Put two small x-benches where the desk used to be

Of course, I've since added to the list...
 - Hang two additional curtain panels on the center windows
 - Replace wicker chair (with a white slipper chair perhaps)
 - Replace black and white Ikea prints
 - Replace or revamp coffee table

I'm sure as I continue to make progress, the list will continue to grow, but at least I've made some headway!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Office Space

Sooo... you know how I had mentioned I'd just started a new job??  Well everything has been amazing so far!  It's all really fast paced, I LOVVEEE my coworkers (kind of helps that we were friends beforehand...) and I really feel like I'm getting into my groove.

Our office is downtown, in one of the oldest buildings on Montgomery.  I feel like a total grown up walking through the financial district every morning, and love looking up to the tops of the skyscrapers.
The entry to our building is stunning - really intricate tile floors, amazing stonework, and gilded elevators.  It's really hard to tell from this picture of the elevators, but between the gold are bits of really deep emerald green, and it looks so freaking amazing.  

The inside of our office is however... well let's just say it leaves something to be desired.

Woof.  The walls are painted in the same god awful off-white paint as my landlord had painted every single wall, cabinet, and crown molding in our apartment (it just looks DIRTY).  The beige carpet is as boring as it gets, and it comes complete with mystery stains, and don't even get me started on the faux wood desks and matching bookshelves.

For a building with tons of history and character, this office has NO character.

Luckily, I can see past the drab paint, and old carpet, and I have grand ideas for what I'd eventually like to do with my office - it has a ton of potential, with large windows letting in lots of natural light during the day, high ceilings, and plenty of space.

On my to do list, I plan on....

Bringing in Interest with a Graphic Rug!!
Aside from covering up the mystery stains in the carpet, a big graphic rug will give some much needed visual interest and character to this otherwise colorless and lifeless space.  I'm thinking black and white or navy and white - nothing too jarring (orange anyone??) and something I will want to take with me if I ever leave.

Bringing in some lighting!!
The lighting in any office building is awful .. those overhead fluorescent bulbs??  Aside from being unflattering, it also gives me a terrible headache, so I keep it off whenever I can. I love how the funky lamp on the desk here doesn't take itself too seriously, and that would pretty much solve the issue of overhead lighting.  I also love how the desk is turned to face the window... genius!

Styling (and painting) the Bookshelves!!
A bevy of books make a big visual impact on this wall.  I have a few hideous bookshelves in my office, that if pushed together and painted a charcoal grey (with the approval of our office manager of course) could make a lovely statement.  It's a real talent to be able to style a bookshelf - Jenny of Little Green Notebook has written several very helpful articles organizing books.  I wish I could just take these built ins and magically transport them in here!

Bringing in some Art with Character!!
Source: Vogue
Great art.  Perhaps the hardest thing to achieve, but it makes such an imact in a room.  It brings the walls to life, and inspires the work you do, and since I spend at least 8 hours a day at work, I want to feel inspired by the things around me.  With 20 foot ceilings, I'll be on the hunt for some larger scale pieces and interesting frames...  can we also talk about the chair??  What I wouldn't give to snag that!

Accessorizing, Accessorizing, Accessorizing!!
Finally, what this space needs to make it feel like mine, are some small personal touches - a stack of books, a few candles, and a sweet little tray to corral everything together.

And that lamp??  Amazing.  Don't even get me started.

I Dream of this Wallpaper!!
No Source
If I really had free reign over my office, I'd wallpaper it from top to bottom with the amazing Tanzania print from Thibaut Design.  It's busy for sure, but the small scale of the print makes it almost a neutral... no?  Every space I've seen it in, I die all over again.  One day - even if it's in my home office, I will have this wallpaper.