Tag Archives: home

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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STL House Tour!

photo 6

The outside of my humble Dogtown duplex – those blue doors were not my choice.

Any self respecting DIY/design blog has a house tour and since I was going to start posting a few more projects, I figured this was the right time to show you the place, or most of the place, that I moved into in STL. (This is where you prepare yourself for a lot of photos and a long list of projects.)

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that this place is a work in progress. The second is that the lighting is bad. The third is that I have no control over the wall color, which means I lovingly refer to this place as the beige box. So, now that I’m done making excuses for myself, here you have it.

Living Room

Loving the big window in the living room.

Loving the big window in the living room.

Who doesn't love a good stained glass window?

Who doesn’t love a good stained glass window?

And now for the piece de resistance: a wall of books.

And now for the piece de resistance: a wall of books.

This room is probably the most complete, even though there are some big items that need to be replaced or added. Overall, it feels nice and homey enough that there isn’t a fire under my butt to get things changed – this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Right now, it’s very tone-on-tone so the goal is to bring in color, specifically more navy blue, key lime green and yellow/gold. This room’s to-do list includes:

  • Find some oversized artwork to go in between the two niches
  • Replace the coffee table
  • Replace the pillows on the couch
  • Put in a new entertainment center
  • Potentially put some artwork above the TV
  • Make a box of some sort to hold magazines, computer chargers and other miscellaneous knick-knacks
  • Get ahold of a more modern floor lamp – this one’s been through more moves than it should have
  • Replace the lamp on the console with something more modern
  • Think through a coat rack by the door

Hallway

Looking from the living room down the hallway.

Looking from the living room down the hallway.

My beloved wall of art.

My beloved wall of art.

This small stretch of interior real estate is very finished and I love it. It was the perfect place to hang all of the random prints and frames that were, up until a few weeks ago, lying around on the floor. You can find this great Chicago print I bought right before I moved, the vintage looking Gameboy artwork that used to hang next to my bed and even the old Mizzou drawing that used to be in an even bigger frame. My only goal for the hallway at this point is to:

  • Contribute more to the frame wall

Bathroom

This is about as exciting as it gets.

This is about as exciting as it gets.

The biggest downfall of this place is how small the bathroom is. It gets the job done but doesn’t leave much room for anything. A good shower curtain, some art and that’s all you need. Oh, and these items:

  • Buy a better toothbrush holder
  • Replace the horrible faux stained glass in the shower with plain contact paper – we’ll see if I can convince the landlord that this is better for everyone

Kitchen

Looking from the hallway into the kitchen.

Looking from the hallway into the kitchen.

If only I had stainless steel ...

If only I had stainless steel …

So, this kitchen is very nice: new cabinets, double sinks, and granite counter tops – most of the work is already done! There are a few small things I’d like to do, and already did with this project, but overall, I’m pleased.

  • Hang some oversized art above the kitchen table
  • Buy a better container for the dish soap
  • Streamline the magnets on the fridge
  • Add foam pads to the bottom of the chairs – they keep scrapping the floor and dirtying it
  • Find a centerpiece for the kitchen table – I’m thinking a mini herb garden would be nice
  • Find something to put above the cabinets that are above the sink
  • Come up with a better trash/recycling system – I’m afraid this is going to mean buying a new trashcan
  • Buy more wine – duh

Office

So many windows, which means more light to bring out the flaws.

So many windows, which means more light to bring out the flaws.

Ugh. It's so bad.

Ugh. It’s so bad.

This room is the catch-all for the random furniture that wasn’t used in the rest of the house. None of it matches, none of it is even nice so I’m basically starting from scratch. Get ready for the list from you know where:

  • Replace the desk; buy a desk chair
  • Modernize the desk lamp
  • Replace the bookshelf
  • Add a bar cart
  • Buy an area rug
  • Buy a lounge chair
  • Hang artwork
  • Find a floor lamp
  • Accessorize

Voila! My current quarters with a very long to-do list. I can’t predict when any of this is going to get done but I’m looking forward to the adventure.

Have you made any updates to your place? What changes would you suggest to the rooms? I’m seriously open to anything.

PS: Every time I proofread this, I keep adding to the various lists. This truly is going to be the never-ending project and I haven’t even talked about the bedrooms.

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Instagram on My Wall

Even though my sister was asking for a food-related post, I thought I would switch things up with a DIY project that has been on my radar for quite some time. In fact, it was one of my first pins on Pinterest over a year ago.

I’m a big fan of Instagram and when I saw this elegant solution for displaying the small, filtered-applied photos, I knew that this was going in my house. The problem is that I never found the right frame. Specifically, a chunky, ornate one that won’t break the bank.

After I moved to St. Louis, I became acquainted with the Goodwill Outlet Store – yes, outlet. Instead of everything already being ridiculously cheap, at this location, you pay by the pound. The POUND! Five minutes after stepping foot in the store, I was walking out with this $1 beauty – it’s big and ornate but streamlined enough to be modern:

photoNow for color! The only place for this project to go right now is in the kitchen, which has a burgundy tile border that circles the room and will be the perfect color inspiration.

For this particular project, you’re going to need:

  • Paint – a sample size of Valspar Cut Ruby did the trick
  • Sand paper
  • A hook – unless your frame is already equipped with one
  • Wood screws – #4×1/2″ were small enough that they wouldn’t keep the frame from lying flat but long enough that they weren’t going to fall out
  • Wire to hang the photos – I liked the mirror wire cord since it’s a little more industrial but jewelry or fishing wire would be just fine
  • Mini wooden clothespins

The first step is sanding. You need to sand to not only get the finish off but also to rough up the frame a little bit so that the paint will stick. I used 80 grit to strip the finish but that was probably a little aggressive – anything between 40 and 60 would work. After about five minutes, you end up with this:

photo 3Step 2 is painting. Lay some newspaper on the floor and brush on some paint. After the first coat, I noticed that the wood grain was still showing through and while I didn’t love it at first, two more coats later and I decided to keep it that way – it adds character and breaks up the bright red color. If you’re looking for solid color, a coat of white primer would help you achieve that effect more successfully than painting color directly on the wood.

photo 2Now, it’s time to prep the back. This involves adding a hook, screws and wiring. To determine spacing, I laid my printed Intagram photos directly on the ground in a grid to see how many I had to work with – in this case, 30 (six across, five down). From there, I figured out the right measurements were 3″ between each wire with an inch from the top and the bottom. Put in the screws, add taut wiring between the two and voila! A clothes line for your mini clothespins and prints:

picstitchThere are plenty of different patterns that you could hang your Instagram photos in. Personally, I went with a layout that was a little more organic, less organized and ultimately easier to make look deliberate – the perfect grid would have been much harder to keep up.

photo 5So there you have it: an easy, afternoon project that gets your digital Instagram pictures onto your wall. From a cost perspective, this is how the budget breaks down:

  • Frame – $1
  • Hook – $1.58
  • Paint sample – $2.98
  • Sand paper – $4.47
  • Mini clothespins – $2.99
  • Wood screws – $2.36
  • Mirror wire – $5.88
  • Total – $21.26

The key to keeping this cheap is the frame. Steer clear of Michael’s and Hobby Lobby where they go from $30-$50 and you’ll be doing just fine.

What projects have you been working on lately? Any Pinterest pins you’ve had your eye on?

PS: If you’re looking for the perfect site to get your Instagram prints from, I recommend Prinstagram – 50 photos for $12.

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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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YHL Project #104: Deal with Bookcase Clutter

photo-2If you’ve scrolled through my blog roll, you’ve already stumbled upon DIY pros Sherry and John Petersik, the creators of the popular home improvement blog “Young House Love.” Started as a way to relay to their families the progress on their kitchen renovation, the blog quickly turned into a full website as more and more people visited to get DIY tips.

Fast forward five years and they turned their influx of visitors into an empire that spans from a line of lamps to a book of nearly 250 ways to “show your home some love.”

I was lucky enough to get this tome for Christmas and in case you can’t tell, I’m excited to put it to good use. My roommate makes fun of me for my enthusiasm but let’s be honest, he gets to reap the benefits as much as I do.

One of the simplest things they suggest doing is decluttering bookcases. Some of the ideas include staggering books, being selective about the items you display on the shelves and showing variety. One look to the foot of my bed, and you can tell that this is something I needed to take to heart. See for yourself.

photo-2 copy 3Just in case, you can’t tell what’s wrong, I took the liberty of pointing out each flaw: cards on top, one full row of cluttered knick-knacks, running out of space for books, exposed wires etc. A couple of months ago, I even tried the trick of organizing books by color starting with white of the right and working your way through the rainbow. I quickly learned that I have a LOT of white books and very few of the same color after that. Overall, it just wasn’t working.

Slide1After 30 minutes of editing items off the shelves, mixing up the colors of the books and taking advantage of the depth of the bookcase, I now had something more like this:

Slide1 copyYes, that is the Hallelujah chorus you’re hearing in the background. The differences are obviously subtle but they do revitalize that area of the room. Not only do I have more space for books, it feels cleaner and more deliberate. The best part is that this beautification project cost me $0.

What simple DIY projects have you been up to lately?

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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:

photo-2

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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Time to Be Thankful

I’m thankful for pie – can’t wait to dive into these today!

All over the internet, Facebook and TV, you catch celebrities, friends and newscasters proclaiming what they’re thankful for. What’s great about this holiday is that it forces you to take inventory on your life and boil it down to what’s dearest to you.

At Thanksgiving, my family traditionally goes around the table and shares what we’re thankful for and since I’m not home to do it, I figured I’d use this outlet to celebrate and reflect.

Family: This one is obvious and usually comes first for most people but I’m very fortunate to have a close-knit family. All of us experienced change this year  and through it all, we supported each other with long phone calls and an abundance of laughter.

Friends: Having spent three years in college, more than 2,000 miles away from familiar surroundings, I had to rely on other people, namely my friends, to be my support and my home away from home. Luckily the relationships that I cherished at that time are still alive and well today – crazy to think that I’ve known some of them for close to eight years now! I’m also extremely lucky that I’ve been able to make close friends since graduation. My friend Alison wrote about her love for these cities but more than what those cities have to offer, it’s the people living there that make them all the more precious. Thank you, friends! You keep me on my toes.

And that’s it! I know my list is short but when you have those things, what else do you need? With that, I’m off to chow down on some sweet potato casserole, stuffing and pie. Notice the missing turkey because we all know that sides are the best …

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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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