My Dream Living Room

Apparently once you hit a certain age, you actually imagine what your dream living room would look like. I had never been interested in decorating until I lived in my “own” (rented) place for a few years and realized that plain walls and generic decor made me miserable. So why is my dream living room on my DIY blog? Because my dream living room simply has to be a do-it-yourself endeavor. I can’t say my current space fulfills my wildest dreams, but I love it. Yes, I actually love my small, characterless, cookie-cutter, month-to-month apartment’s living room, and that’s because I put a lot of time, effort and thought (sometimes—overthinking can be overrated) into it. And after that process, I’ve figured out that my dream living room isn’t a clear, concrete picture just yet (and it’s always changing), but it has some essential elements that, combined together, make me happy.


Something Homemade

I mean, I do have a DIY blog after all. Besides the value factor (which is awesome), I love making things for my apartment (like this pallet table!) and having something that no one else does. Even if I imitate something I’ve seen, I love knowing that no one else has the exact same item as I do. Also, if you’ve never experienced it, there is nothing better than replying “I made it!” when someone asks where you got something (Note: this also applies to clothing, but then people will ask if you’ve made everything you wear for a week afterwards.).

Something Vintage

In the above picture, the statue, wooden crate, chair, foot stool, books, stamp, and slide are all vintage. And then there’s stuff from Target and Amazon. It’s so much easier than it seems to mix modern with vintage and expensive with cheap. Just make sure everything is your style. And vintage and antique items do not have to be expensive by any means. Curated antique stores can be pricy but flea markets, rummage sales, and second-hand stores usually aren’t. Plus, vintage stuff is super unique, something that has become more important to me. I want my living room to look as good as an IKEA ad; not identical to it.

Vintage and antique accents like this also elevate a room’s look when they’re done well. With an oversized, comfy couch, I was afraid it would be hard to make my living room still look classy but adding these pieces really helps. A well-placed globe, decorative rug, or stained glass lamp can do wonders! (Arhaus has really great inspiration for how to style an elegant living room with big, cozy furniture, too!)

Something That Doesn’t “Go”

I used to worry about nailing down my colors and style. Then I realized it doesn’t matter, and I can do whatever I want. I could never decide on my color scheme, so I just bought a neutral couch and added things I like. Nothing else in my apartment was as expensive as the couch and can prettily easily be swapped out down the road. I also know nothing about period furniture so I bought whatever I liked. The same applied to my gallery wall. I know some people lay theirs out prior, but I didn’t plan a thing. I nailed up some paintings, photos, and other weird stuff I liked (like a vintage cribbage board, an old book that was turned into a clock, and a clay sculpture that I bought in El Salvador), and added to it whenever I found something else. And I love how it looks. My living room is colorful, eclectic, a little messy, but fun—just like me! No one person has just one style so why not represent everything you love?!

Something Quirky

You know when you want to buy something but have no idea where you’re going to put it? Buy it anyway. (Also maybe don’t take advice from me, because I just bought a $150 fascinator.) For some reason, this vintage slide of a cell process spoke to me. Don’t ask my why, but I liked it and bought it and had absolutely no place to put it. Now, after moving it to about 6 different places in a year, it sits on my new favorite table on some old books and it fits there perfectly. If there is a piece you love and you know it will add something to your living room (and it’s not going to break the bank), get it. You’ll find a place for it eventually.

And in case you’re wondering what my DREAM living room is, it’s something like an English library/country club/sitting room/lounge. The kind with lots of dark wood, leather, antlers, paintings of horses, and shelves of books. And yes, I will start smoking cigars on the reg when I finally have it. Also it magically converts into a Martha’s Vineyard/Cape Cod summer cottage for the warm months. You know, something simple like that.

The Weekend Antique Hall: The I-Deserve-This Birthday Edition

When your birthday lands on a Saturday and you need to kill time so you don’t start drinking at 11 AM, you treat yoself to some antiquing! I can’t believe how long it’s actually been since I’ve gone. So long so that my favorite antique store somehow managed to move their 8 billion pounds of tchotchkes to a new location. A visit was well overdue and my birthday seemed like the perfect occasion to break all my money-saving resolutions. Now, onto the good stuff.

First up: four vintage London postcards. Some of them even have old-timey cursive writing that I can’t read on the backs! I’m thinking I’ll frame three of them or put them all into a collage of some sort. At $1 each, I’d say these were quite the bargain.

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Fun fact: at one point in time, the Queen had non-white hair! Who knew?

Next, I found a small globe to add to my growing collection. I thought the size and color of this one made it unique and, at $16, who could resist this (self-given) birthday present? I couldn’t. I physically and literally could not stop myself from buying this.

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The fifth globe child in the family.

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Here’s a gratuitous bonus shot of the globe and all its mates on the great globe shelf.

FLAG TIME. I know, I know, it’s the wrong country. Of course I wish it were a British flag, but I like the U.S.A. too, guys. I even live there. For now. I might just have to relegate this one to another less-Englandy room so there’s no conflict of interest. It is a pretty cool flag, though. I don’t think it’s been used, but the colors are worn so that it looks good and vintage. The flag set me back the most that day at $24.

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U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Lastly, I found a whole gaggle of these cute “B” glasses and got four of them. I couldn’t resist since they already had my initial on them, the gold goes perfectly with my bar cart, and the polka dots were so dang cute (and reminiscent of Kate Spade’s style, I think). They’re the perfect size for wine or mini cocktails or giant shots. These guys were just $3 a piece. I love finding good vintage stuff that isn’t priced like some 500-year-old relic.

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B mine, you glasses.

A Knitted Union Jack Pillow

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That’s right—I’m not burying the lead. Here’s the finished product before I even say a word. #generous

Good gravy, it’s been ages since I’ve posted! Which is about how long it’s taken me to knit this pillow. Seriously, I started it at least a year ago and while, of course, I wasn’t working on it constantly, it was really putzy. It didn’t help that I had to start over twice (during which time I learned a new word and a new knitting technique called intarsia) and that the needles required for this were approximately the same circumference as toothpicks. But I did it! I’m finished! And no, I will not make one for you! Sorry. But just no.

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Aw, it’s already fitting in and getting along with my other pillows!

Even though the pillow is way bigger than I was expecting, I love how it turned out. I especially love the colors because they’re muted and go with almost anything. My apartment is starting to go a bit England crazy, so this is one relatively subtle addition to the decor. I used this pattern from Ravelry which, once I figured out what intarsia was and how to do it (look it up), was pretty easy to follow and execute—just time consuming.

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Close up of the colors (there are actually 2 slightly different dark browns that I used) and the INTARSIA I finally mastered.

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The finishing detail—buttons to close the opening in the back. I now see that the ribbing doesn’t line up 100% but screw it; it’s on the back anyways.

Now that I’ve finally finished my epic knitting project, I am jazzed about it again and excited to start knitting something else. I’m thinking this hat will be up next. Stay tuned, little turkeys. Yah? yah. #MakingAMurderer

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My picture-perfect apartment. Just kidding. I moved about 10 pounds of crap off the couch to take this picture and there are dead leaves all over the floor to the right. Oh well.

Gallery Wall

It’s been far too long since I posted—apologies to my follower. But now that summer/an active lifestyle is done, I am excited to get back to it! To get into the groove, I’d like to share something I’ve been wanting to post: my gallery wall. I’ve been a fan of this type of setup for awhile and have read (and ignored) lots of tips on how to create your own. And now I’m about to give you tips on how I made mine, so take that with a grain of salt.

My humble gallery wall.

My humble gallery wall.

Please note that I did not intend this to be a shrine to my own artwork but when you’re a. into painting and b. too poor for real art, it happens. Deal with it. I thought I’d mention where the pieces came from and point out some of the vintage or thirty ones BECAUSE IT’S WHAT I DO!

Ms. Foxy: Hardcore fans of my blog (JK, that’s not a thing) will recognize this as a painting I did in my last art class. End of story.

The Golden “B”: The newest addition to the wall! The letter was a few dollars at Target and I spray painted it gold and drilled a hole in the back to hang it. So easy and cheap!

Whale Cribbage Board: A favorite of mine from a local vintage store.

My Passport: Six pages of my passport, separated and framed with a custom-cut mat. Hint: if the coolest stamps are on back-to-back pages, a color copy looks just as good.

My Dad’s Army Photo: My favorite picture of him, because I think he looks like a movie star.

Gold Framed Oil Painting: An original painting of Paris that I got at my favorite antique store by my cabin. Super inexpensive for an original anything.

Mask: A tiny little mask I picked up while volunteering in El Salvador that cost a couple bucks.

Dog painting: My beloved dog Bailey, painted by me.

White Framed Watercolor: This is a painting of the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Austria that I bought from a street artist in the same location.

Eiffel Tower Painting: Another one I did in art class. This one is a copy of another painting.

Wooden Framed Mountain Painting: A painting I did from life (is a mountain alive?) while in Seward, Alaska at a plein air painting weekend.

Silver Framed Boat Painting: Another from the same Seward plein air weekend with a frame from a thrift store.

Vintage Book: A vintage book made into a clock that I bought at a flea market in Brooklyn.

My Humble Advice and Tips:

  1. Mix and match everything. Gold and silver. Black and brown. Homemade and purchased. Photos and other media. Some people go with all photos or all black frames which can look really great, but I love the unmatched look of my wall (and I think it fits my apartment).
  2. Don’t think you have to spend a lot. The most I spent on anything on this wall was probably getting the custom mat for my passport, which was not all that much. Homemade art can look really nice!
  3. Include three-dimensional stuff along with two-dimensional art. It really adds another, well, dimension to the wall. Consider hanging things that aren’t normally meant to be hung. I had to nail a wire to the cribbage board to hang it up, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the wall (and since I don’t know how to play cribbage, no big loss).
  4. Search thrift stores for picture frames. Those can often be the most expensive part, but places like Goodwill are overflowing with them for cheap.

A Pink and Gold Vintage Cocktail Party

It all started with a Facebook article about the lost art of the cocktail party. So I decided to bring it back. And basically start a revolution. Definitely not just and excuse to dress up and have cocktails.

If you’re thinking these pictures look a lot better and more flattering than the normal crappy iPhone ones, you’re correct! One of my best friends and party guests just so happens to be a talented photographer and designer, too! Check out her company, Clark Creative! It’s awesome.

So without further ado, my first annual hello to summer cocktail party.

On my bar cart below, the decanters, pitcher, sign, lamp, and jigger are all antique/vintage. I used a lot of pink and gold candies to decorate for the party. It was an inexpensive and edible way to carry the theme all over my apartment. Plus, it looked pretty!

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Here’s a glimpse of my bar cart, actually made functional for once!

The other main piece I used to establish the theme colors were flowers and vases. Again, it’s an inexpensive, pretty way to add color and life to the party. I spray painted four thrift store vases in different shapes, patterns, and heights gold to make a mismatched set go together but still be unique.

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Some of the details on my bar cart. Can you tell I love gold?

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I’m just so passionate about my bar cart, I had to get a sign to announce it!

Here’s the thrift store tray I spray painted gold and recently blogged about (here if you missed it). Since I’m short on extra space and table room, I made a makeshift mixer table by setting the tray up on a chair. The cocktail tools are vintage.

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Does the tray look familiar?

I think the candy (or gum balls in this case) in martini glasses really makes for a fancy decoration! I’ll definitely use this trick for my next party. (Plus, I get to eat the leftovers!) Paired with another gold vase with pink flowers, the color scheme spreads to all corners of the room.

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Pink and gold all over the place.

Pretty cupcakes are another thing that can be used as a decoration and a snack. I made these strawberry lemonade cupcakes with lemon cake, strawberry frosting (piped on with a cookie decorating set), and a lemon drop on top, just in case you don’t get the clever theme. Also…they’re pink and yellow which is so close to pink and gold!

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It’s not every day I get to break out the tiered serving tray! In fact, it’s been two days, ever.

Now for what’s really important—cocktails! This drink was a hit! Of course I wanted something pink so I decided to make a champagne cocktail. I blended a few different recipes to make my own. I used champagne, strawberry kiwi juice, strawberry vodka, and strawberries to make a lovely, bubbly, pink concoction. It was a hit, if I do say so myself. And of course, another gold vase with pink flowers and the champagne glasses that I decorated with gold paint.

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Cheers!

Nothing on this cheese platter is pink or gold (well, that sausage might be considered pink), but it just looks so darn delicious. While fancy cheeses are pricey, this is a party located in Wisconsin, so it’s always worth it.

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What a dream come true. Just me?

And here’s a look at my apartment living room, all ready for a party! I can’t decide if leaving the lights up year-round is trashy, but I just love the soft light they gave to my cocktail party (and I’m obviously too lazy to take them down at this point).

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Home sweet home. But 100x cleaner than normal.

And I couldn’t resist including this one because I have to show off the outfit I wore! This is a cream vintage dress with orange polka dots that I picked up in Alaska. I also got a chance to pull out the pearls, which is rare. So that’s my party. Now, please, leave me alone so I can sit here staring out the window, drinking champagne in high heels, like I always do.

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Standard Wednesday.

Pallet and Scrap Wood DIY End Table

I think this is the project I have been most excited about so far! I was cautiously optimistic about how it would turn out, but everyone I told was pessimistic enough to bring me down to earth. Pinterest pallet projects are trendy lately, so there were many examples out there so I could get a good idea of what I wanted to make. However, I didn’t follow any directions*.

*Having a super handy dad to guide you and try to take over the project helps get around this obstacle.

And so here is my Memorial Day cabin weekend project, finally done! This is the before picture. I started with a couple normal pallets and some scrap wood—2x4s and 2x2s. Step one: we pulled a few of the wider, less junky boards off the pallets.

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If you have a dream in your heart and let your imagination run wild, you, too, can see a beautiful table in this old pallet.

Then, I cut the leg and brace pieces to size. These were cut from the scrap wood because the pallet wood didn’t seem strong enough to serve as the support pieces. To decide what height I wanted, I measured an existing end table. Dad pro tip: measure each piece individually and cut before measuring the next one. Also make sure to cut on the same side of the line you mark each time. After this, I screwed the leg and brace pieces together to form the base.

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Craft projects AND power tools? It’s true, I am the total package. Shout out to my assistant, Doug.

Next, we cut the top (I had to pull the tools out of Dad’s hand to give myself a turn) pieces from the pallet wood and drilled holes in them so they align with the wooden supports they’ll sit on top of.

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Geez, give someone else a turn with the drill DAD.

Next, I screwed the top pieces onto the framework. Hey, it’s starting to look like a table (if you flip your computer upside down)!

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Yessir, the table has a top!

Then, since things were going so well, we got fancy and added a fetching little shelf, just for fun. This wood was cut from the pallet too, but from narrower pieces. The width didn’t exactly add up to the width of the shelf, so I left a little gap in between each slat.

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Top and shelf in place…almost.

Then comes a task I truly abhor: sanding. Oddly enough, the electric sander made a giant difference compared to the grating task of sanding by hand for hours. The fact that I decided this table is meant to be rustic and slightly imperfect helped, too. Tip from me to you: if you state that your intended product is a rustic and imperfect one, you will be very likely to get those results and be less stressed along the way.

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Vroom, vroom! (Electric sanding noise.)

Look at that. Smoooooth like butter. You could rub your powder soft cheeks on it, (does she mean face or butt? I’ll never tell) but I don’t necessarily recommend you try. The table is all constructed already! Wasn’t that fast? Now comes the really exciting part: turning it upside down yet again! Hold onto your hats!

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Here it is, all constructed!

But really, this is actually the exciting part. Staining the table really starts to give an idea of what it’s going to look like when it’s finished. The stain was another leftover freebie that my parents had from somewhere.

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Oops, there’s a stain on my table. [Pause for laughter]. Coat #1 done.

As much as my dad stood watching and endlessly critiquing me while applying a second coat of stain disapprovingly, I went for it. And I love the final color. The darker wood is definitely my style and will fit with my apartment’s decor, too.

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Coat #2 complete.

And now for the fun, endless part: sealing. I ended up doing one coat on the entire thing, a second coat on all the visible outer pieces, and a bunch more on the top and the shelf, probably six coats total. The idea of the seal was to fill in as many of the rough and uneven areas as possible. Plus, it gives it a shiny, smooth look.

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Seal the deal.

So, without further ado (this got entirely too long but I am just so excited), here’s the final product!

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No, of course I did not stage this picture. I always read Emily Post by the dim light of my antique lamp.


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It fits perfectly in the spot I wanted to use it!

Oh, just one more picture, why not?

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Me so shiny.

As an added bonus, this entire thing cost nothing! I got the pallets donated by a friend and everything else was leftover from my parents or lying around the cabin. So I finally did it. My big pallet project. Whew 🙂

The Weekend Antique Haul: Up North Edition

A Memorial Day weekend at the cabin is just not complete without a visit to one of my favorite antique stores ever. Saturday was a lovely day so Mom and I made the excuse of obtaining rations and went to Cranberry Creek. I was on the hunt (as I remembered once I saw this) for pink dishes in preparation for my upcoming pink-and-gold-themed cocktail party and found this pink depression glass dish.

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Pink depression glass dish.

It’ll be perfect for candy and to establish the color scheme throughout my apartment, but the pink is subtle enough that it can be used any old time (since my life is basically a vintage- and pink-themed cocktail party). This delightful bowl was only $7.95.

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Check out those depressions! Also, someone please teach me what depression glass is!

The next object fits the definition of “I didn’t know I needed it or it existed until I saw it”. It also fits the definition of “I still hardly know what this is, but I love it nonetheless!” (In my defense, my mom bought a noodle drying rack. Hopefully I never have to actually use this defense.) This little sucker is a slide of the steps of mitosis (see also “science”), so it’s a learning tool as well. The slide looks a little blurry but it’s not me; it’s just how the drawings are! I really have no idea where this would have been used or what kind of device it would have been used in, so if anyone can shed some light, please do. And if you’re like “she bought this thing that she doesn’t even know what it is”, you can shut your mouth because it was a STEAL at $5.95.

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Antiquing sure tired me out, so I had to take an overnight break. The next day, Sunday, was a rainy day, so it was the perfect time to go to another antique store. (If you haven’t picked up on it yet, every day is the perfect day to go to the antique store.) Luckily, the antique stores saved the best for last! This is the mug of my dreams. It will be perfect to hold pens, pencils, letter openers, and various antique riff raff on the writing desk that I am currently curating. It’s also another learning item, so I think I can write if off on my taxes or something. It was $11.95 and I would have paid a million dollars for it.

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I’m obsessed with this mug.

All in all, an extremely successful weekend of antiquing! I just cannot wait to incorporate my new treasures into my apartment with never-ending space for objects. And, just for fun, here’s a bonus find that I got for free (FREE!!) at a rummage sale up north.

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The hat may have been free, but the discomfort it caused my parents is priceless.