Tag Archives: decor

50 cents and 50 seconds later …

In my last post, you might have noticed the “artwork” housed in the niches of the living room. I put “artwork” in quotations because it’s hardly anything fancy and cost me a total of 50 cents.

If you’ve been in any of my old apartments, you know that those frames originally looked like this:

FrameThis was originally a project that involved cutting up paint swatches and organizing them in an ombre effect. Over three frames, the swatches would fade from gray to green to yellow, to match the color scheme in my old space. Needless to say, that was a much more involved project than what I’m about to show to you.

When looking to update the frames, I wanted to find something consistent for the two niches that wouldn’t compete with the oversized art that will eventually go in between them.

My first inclination was to find some black and white photographs that could still be meaningful but complement any other pieces in the room. After scouring the internet (mainly art.com), I ran out of patience and decided to get a little more creative with something that I could pick up locally.

Since HGTV always says to design a room around one piece – most of the time fabric, I figured this was the opportunity for me to buy some cool graphic fabric and insert it into the room. What I quickly found out, is that I have some pretty specific tastes, which considerably limits the fabric options available to me. That’s how I found myself at Michael’s going up and down the scrapbooking aisle where I finally found these:

Frame 3At 25 cents a piece, I knew this was the solution, especially since they already matched the colors in the room, were modern, and basically cost nothing. A little trimming around the edges and you end up with this:

Frame 2Voila! A 50 cent, 50 second project that can modernize any room. The best part is that you really could use fabric or even wall paper if you don’t find any scrapbooking pages to your liking.

What did you do this weekend? Any similar projects you’ve been working on? I went to an STL favorite so be on the lookout for a review later this week!

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Let the Sunshine in!

The sun finally made an appearance in the Windy City this past weekend, which means Chicagoans rushed outside in droves, myself included. While we didn’t have a particularly harsh winter, it was uncharacteristically long making everyone feel a sense of relief at the first glimpse of spring.

Instead of bumming the day away on my couch, I took the opportunity to visit some of my favorite Chicago shops. I don’t go to them very often since they’re in West Town and require a trek from my Lakeview apartment but I figured there was no better way to spend my Saturday afternoon.

The first place I bused to was RR#1, a hole in the wall at Chicago and Ashland where you can find anything from luxurious, scented candles to vintage kids toys. Even though it’s small, you can spend a good 45 minutes treasure hunting through the layered and stacked items. The last time I was there, I spotted a red metal arrow (see image below because that’s the worst description ever) but couldn’t bring myself to spend $26 on it. Fast forward four months and it was still winking at me from the back of a bookshelf so I took it as a sign that it was meant to be mine. It serves no purpose other than the fact that it’s awesome.

photo copy 4The second store was Paperish Mess, another small shop at Chicago and Damen. If you’re on the lookout for prints to put on your wall, this is the place to go.

For a while, I’ve wanted to feature some more Chicago artwork in my apartment and the only one I have so far is the Lakeview print I found at the Renegade Craft Fair last Christmas. While looking around, I was immediately drawn to the work of Hiroshi Ariyama because of his style that combines traditional photography with screen printing. I decided to purchase an 8″x10″ screen print of his “6 p.m.” piece because of its nod to Chicago with Willis Tower in the background and a scene that I’m very familiar with: the El platform. In all honesty, I view it as MY Chicago – not the touristy one you see on TV or the White City you read about in books. It’s the one that you only  experience as a Chicagoan commuting on the Brown Line every morning, staring out across the Chicago river as you cross Wells Street Bridge with the sun rising. Now, I just need to find where I’m going to hang it.

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 5.58.17 PM

What were you up to this past weekend? Any other shops you recommend I explore? What do you suggest I do with the red metal arrow?

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Crate & Barrel: January Inspiration

photo-2Crate & Barrel must have gotten word of my obsession from this post because they’ve now decided to stuff my mailbox with all form of home decor reading materials – or I’ve now given them my address so many times from all the weddings that they know I’m an easy target for their marketing propaganda …

The latest installment in the Crate & Barrel catalog guide comes from their “January Inspiration” issue – because none of these items are allowed to inspire you for the other 11 months of the year. But in all seriousness, it leaves you no choice but to spend your hard earned cash on items that you didn’t even know you needed! Kind of like walking around Target.

Similar to the Skymall gift guide, but with a much more serious tone, I’ve highlighted some of the items that I wouldn’t mind seeing pop up in my apartment. They’re on the higher end of the price spectrum but sometimes, a little splurging can be worth it.

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 11.01.07 PM1. Large Mixing Bowl, $29.95 – Growing up, there was always a large mixing bowl that was used for much more than cooking. It was the bowl to rule all bowls. The one that would aid in getting stains out of your clothes or even house the popcorn that you enjoyed on a low-key Saturday night. I’ve always sought to have one of my own but just haven’t gotten around to buying one as I make do with my large pot. However, this white ceramic beauty is speaking to me so it might be time to bite the bullet.

2. Heritage Hill Glass Jars with Lid, $41.85 – Nothing says “I bake” or “classy kitchen” like jars to hold your flour and sugar. Yes, the trio can be rather pricey but when you’re trying to hide your rental’s ugly backsplash, these traditional containers add just the right touch of “homey.”

3. Marin Media Console, $849.15 – So, no. I would never buy this. Not because of the design but because of the price. However, if you saw the TV stand that my roommate brought with him, you would understand that we’re in need of an upgrade. What I like about this console is the fact that the front panels hide all the wiring and hardware that would otherwise look messy. The natural wood tones are just the added bonus to mixing up the black and white theme seen throughout my apartment.

4. Large Wire Basket, $15.9 – While these are advertised as being suitable for your bathroom and toiletries, I would challenge you to think outside of the box. This basket could be the modern touch you need in your kitchen by holding fruit and vegetables or it could reside in your living room as non-traditional magazine storage.

5. Chevron Off-White Pillow, $29.95 – Chevron has been making it’s way around the DIY circuit, whether on walls, furniture or art, but this throw pillow is neutral enough to go with everything and still trendy enough to add visual interest to your bed, chair or sofa.

So there you have it: five items sure to bring your home to the next level. But only in January.

For those of you that were lucky enough to receive this issue, what were your must-haves? Did anything grab your eye?

PS: If you’re wondering why this post is stored under the “DIY” category, it’s because it relates to home decor and just might inspire you to tackle the remake of a media console all on your own to save the arm and leg you almost handed over for the Crate & Barrel one. 

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The White Wreath with a Heart of Coal

I’d like to preface this post with a quick message: if you’re looking for a practical tutorial on how to create a garland made of paper leaves, this story is not for you. If you enjoy reading about someone embracing obstacles and eventually failing, you’ve come to the right place.

When reading Curbly recently, a popular DIY blog, I came across a craft for paper leaf garlands. Since I was looking for a cheap way to decorate the apartment for Christmas, I thought I would give it a shot. For this particular project, they say you’ll need:

  • A used book ($1 from the local bookstore)
  • Green paddle wire ($2)
  • Natural green wire ($4.50)
  • White card stock ($3.50)
Sorry to

Sorry to John Downton Hazlett for using your book as scrap paper. It had the whitest pages!

What they fail to mention is that you’ll also need:

  • A lot of patience
  • Fingers of steel
  • An aversion to carpal tunnel

This is how far I got into writing this post before I was faced with a dilemma: give you a step-by-step how-to for “the garland from you know where,” since I did manage to make one, or provide a brief parody on how painstakingly slow it was to put together a measly 2 feet of paper. There’s no doubt that it looks pretty cool but it at this point, the cons definitely outweigh the pros.

Some of the downfalls that have come to my attention:

  • You basically need 75-100 leaves per foot of garland. That’s a lot of cutting and folding.
  • Playing with wire hurts.
  • Since you keep turning the wire around to get leaves on all sides, the ones touching the floor get smashed or torn.
  • The garland will never look as even and full as you want it to.

Don’t worry, I’ll show you what I ended up with:


It’s really not that bad. There are a few things that I would change on it but overall, it gets the job done. The reason I quit is because what originally was supposed to be a fun evening of handiwork was quickly turning into a full week of cutting, folding and wiring for mediocre results.

Verdict: this DIY project is a no-go.

On the plus side, I did get my Christmas tree up last weekend with very little difficulty so my little abode on Sheffield still has the trappings of holiday spirit:

photo-2 copy 2Anyways, here’s to trying, failing and sharing it with the world.

Have you ever attempted a project gone wrong? If you’ve succeeded at this particular craft, I’d love to know your secret.

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So Shoe Me!

I’m basically on a roll with blog posts and improvements around my apartment. Not only have I posted more in the past two weeks than I have in the past five months, I’ve managed to make two small changes to my bedroom that breathed new life into it. The first one got this off my bookshelf. The second gave me back about three square feet of floor space.

The first thing you should know about my apartment is that there is no storage space. The only reason a girl lived there before me is because she was using one of the bedrooms as a walk-in closet. With that in mind, please don’t judge me when I tell you that my floor usually looks like this:

Clearly, I gravitate toward black and tan …

Encouraged by what a little initiative and a few dollars can do, I set off toward my local City Target in search for a shoe organizer to hang from my closet door. My options were the $15 behemoth or this $8 looker (my prices are cheaper than online since they were discounted in store). Since this was supposed to be a temporary fix until I move into something bigger, I decided to go for what was cheaper and would blend in the most with my door. Five minutes later, the east side of my bedroom looked like this:

Ignore the mess on top of my dresser. That’s a project in and of itself.

So. Much. Better. It’s like there was a whole part of my room that had gone unexplored this whole time. Yes, I can no longer walk in and kick my shoes off but I’m willing to make the extra effort to hang them on my door to keep things looking clean.

Side note: George, my roommate, caught me standing in the doorway to my room just staring at it in awe. Needless to say, when he found out why I was so mesmerized, he didn’t waste a second to make fun of me for it. 

What simple updates have you made to your place? Any good organization tips?

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