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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DIY Christmas Ornaments

Well darned if I didn’t get into the holiday spirit this year! Or, more likely, looking at my sad, tiny fake tree with 5 ornaments on it was so depressing that I had to do something about it. Instead of retrieving the thousands of ornaments stashed away at my parents’ house waiting for me, I figured I’d make some more to add to the pile.

I found some patterns and ideas on Pinterest, naturally (they’re all pinned on my DIY board).

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Know anyone with two tiny hands and an even tinier head?

These tiny mittens (pattern here) and hat (steps here) just turned out so cute! And the best part was that they were so fast and easy to make (as opposed to some of my year-long adult-sized projects). The mittens probably took an hour each and the hat was even faster. These were also ideal for using up scraps of leftover yarn—I didn’t have to buy anything.

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Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how fake are your branches.

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This one came within an inch of running out of yarn. DRAMA.

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P.S. There’s a piece of toilet paper tube under there.

I had been on the hunt at Goodwill for a Scrabble set with the original wooden letters for so long that once I finally found one, I forgot what I wanted it for. So I’ve had a bag of the letters sitting around for a couple of years, and I finally put them to good use!

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Guess which one is my favorite.

These were super easy to make. I just hot glued the letters together and glued a piece of ribbon to the back. Again, a project where I didn’t have to buy anything—hooray! The only thing I don’t love is that the hot glue can look a little goopy in between the letters, so I think if I made them again, I’d use wood glue.

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Snow day vibes.

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Be careful who you give this to. You don’t want people to think you’re calling them fat.

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It had to be done.

Merry Christmas & happy holidays (sung to the tune of the ‘N Sync song, of course)!

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 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.

Spray Paint is Magic, Part Deux: The Golden Edition

I’m not saying I’m a gold digger, but I’m really digging everything gold lately. And, if you saw my other spray paint project, I really dig spray painting things, too. It’s cheap, easy, and completely changes an item into something else. So you can see where this is going: gold spray paint! I’ve also been into trays like everyone else so when I found this metal one at Goodwill, I snagged it up. image1-4 Once I had the gold spray paint in my grubby little hands, I couldn’t fathom just spray painting one item in my apartment, so I settled on an amount between one and everything I own (everything was tempting but I chose two). That’s how this boring pencil holder got roped into the deal. Sucker. image1-5 If you haven’t looked at metallic spray paints lately, there are a lot of options. They range from insanely shiny and reflective to toned down and matte. I picked one on the matte side in a gold tone. I first washed the tray and pencil holder and then sprayed them with a coat of primer. I wasn’t sure if the paint would stick to the shiny surface of the tray without it. Then it was just three-ish coats of the paint and here’s how they turned out! image2-5 image3 As you can see, the only thing that didn’t work out is that you can still slightly see the logo on the tray. I’m debating whether I will try spraying a bunch more coats to cover it up or try mod podging something onto it to cover it up. Otherwise, I love the color and the finish. And in the meantime, once the tray is styled, the writing doesn’t really show at all. See?! image4-2Cost of the project:

  • Tray: $3.99 at Goodwill
  • Gold spray paint (Valspar quick-drying metallic): $3.14
  • Primer: already had (ha! I WIN!)

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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!