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.

DIY Mid-Century Style Beer Crate Side Table

Every once in a while one of my (many) project failures turns into an unexpected success.

I originally started out staining a smaller wooden crate in which I received some cheese I won (I know, I’m the luckiest girl alive) to make into a side table. All was going well until I tried to attach the hairpin legs that I ordered and found that their bases were too wide to even fit onto the box itself. Since all of my messier projects are done at my parents’, I scavenged around to find something else I could attach the legs to.

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I remembered an old wooden Pabst Blue Ribbon crate that used to hold firewood at our house and dug it out of the garage. After dumping out the wood scraps and cleaning the dust off, it was the exact style I was looking for, right down to the “Blue Ribbon” stamp on the side and the circular bottle marks worn onto it—and, more importantly, the perfect size for attaching the hairpin legs!

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I gave the crate a cleaning and a couple of coats of stain. After shaving down the length of the screws so they wouldn’t poke through onto what would become the bottom shelf (another perk of doing projects at home since I don’t exactly have a sawzall in my apartment—thanks, Dad!), the legs attached easily and I had a new-old table! 

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I absolutely love how this table turned out. From the size to the color to the beer theme, it was the perfect thing to use (and much better than the one I originally intended on using).

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It fits right into my apartment and is the perfect scale for a small space. I wasn’t sure what I would use it for, but it’s been working great to hold photo albums and assorted tchotchkes I want to display (like my antique mitochondria slide, duh).

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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.

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.

An Oil Painting of a Proper Cuppa English Tea

I’m taking an oil painting class again I’ve taken a few times before so I’m back in painting mode! And if you know me in real life (IRL as the kids say), you may have picked up on the fact that I have an infatuation with England/London/Britain/the royal family/the Harrys (Styles and the prince one). Well the good news (not psychologically, probably) is that it’s recently kicked up a notch! Brilliant! This painting is the first result of that but you can bet your ascot there will be more coming soon.

So here’s my painting! I think it turned out pretty well, which just basically means that I finished it in two classes instead of five. I’m happy it moved along and I didn’t have enough time to struggle over it and grow to despise it (that’s the normal painting process for me).

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I got the “idea” (I straight copied it!) from this painting I found on Pinterest (if you want to see more of my “artspiration”, check out my board). It always helps me to loosen up my style when I imitate another painting that has that style. Maybe it will eventually morph into my own. That’s the plan, anyway. The other plan is to paint more of what I actually want hanging in my apartment as art instead of what I feel like painting. However, I am running into the difficulty that this place is beginning to look like a shrine to myself and my art…It’s getting weird.

Pretend this is a flip book and scroll fast for a quick zero to 60 painting in three seconds.

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What a rush! If only it went that fast IRL! Har har. But here’s the new problem: I don’t know what to paint next! Help! Spoiler: it will probably be British in theme.

The Weekend Antique Haul

I swear, I didn’t even mean to go antiquing. But that’s how some of my best finds started out. There’s really nothing better than a Saturday spent brunching and browsing at one of my favorite antique stores in town. This place is really insane. Three floors of wall to ceiling STUFF. Furniture, books, barware, and, yes, crap. It’s amazing. It takes some patience to dig through but, as you’ll see, it’s always worth it!

Here’s what I welcomed into a new home:

A green leather footstool that perfectly matches an antique green leather chair I got from the same store another time. I darkened the legs to make it match better with a wood touch up stain.

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A pink tapestry-style (I made that term up, FYI) blanket. I was unsure about this one, but I already love the pop of color it adds to my all-white bedroom without the commitment of paint. I also think the pattern has something of a regal, tapestry feel to it, no?

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This would also add a pop of fun and color to a chair or couch, again without the commitment of completely redoing the colors in a room. I can see this moving into the living room once spring comes…and I get a couch.

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And lastly, another antique umbrella to add to my collection. (Since I can’t stop purchasing these, they have become a “collection” and I’m much more justified in buying multiple ones.) Here’s the cool, molded handle and decorative tassel hanging out on my new deer bottle opener (from World Market).

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And the fully opened umbrella. The great condition and plaid pattern (it feels so British countryside) were irresistible.

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  • Footstool: $25
  • Blanket: $25
  • Umbrella $12

Not too shabby for a day at the antique store! As I stand and survey my apartment, I realize almost nothing in here is new from a store (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It makes me so happy to have unique furniture and decor that I’ve hand-picked piece by piece and that have spoken to me throughout the years. They all add up to an apartment that really reflects me and my taste. (I’ve been told my place makes me look like an “old soul”, whatever that means). That said, I think I am going to make this a regular “feature” on the blog. I find so many great items for my apartment at different antique, thrift, and vintage stores, I might as well share my goodies!