Thanksgiving decor, pt. 1

I hope everyone had a happy Halloween!  I can’t believe it’s already November. Halloween was uneventful for me this year. There wasn’t a trace of Halloween present in my office, I had no costume, I attended no Halloween events or parties, and did not have one drop of candy. I did, however, decide at about 10 pm that evening to pull my old dog Jenny’s Old Navy bumblebee costume out of storage and put it on my dog Ella just long enough to point and laugh at her and get a picture…it’s so funny how sad and catatonic dogs get when you put them in a costume….lucky for her, she was only in it for a couple of minutes:


Despite my deep, burning desire for a reclaimed wood dining table, I figured I wasn’t going to throw down $1000 or more on a new dining room table any time soon, but at the same time, our small blonde wood 4-person table was too small for the space, looked a little too yellow in that room, and wouldn’t get us through the holiday season.  I ended up getting the Ikea Bjursta table in black brown.  At $250, and seating for up to ten people with the leaves inserted, it is a bargain.  I also picked up some Ikea Soaré placemats since they are cheap and very fall-ish.


We are having a “Friendsgiving” on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and then having some of my family over for Thanksgiving, so a decent table was a must.  We had 6 chairs already that matched our small table, so we’re holding on to those for the time being.  The cost of chairs can add up, especially when you want 6-10. We also really can’t decide on a style of chair…SO, in the mean time, we will just use the ones we have.

I’ve also been picking up a few decor items at Homegoods lately. AHHH I love that store! Everything is so cheap. I got a couple leaf dishes and apothecary jars on my last visit. I really don’t know why you’d go to a department store and buy an apothecary jar for $35 when they always have the exact same ones at Homegoods for $12.   This is my first year accumulating fall/Thanksgiving decor…hopefully in a few years I’ll have enough for a decently decorated house!


One thing I’ve seen a lot of on the PInterestsphere is fall and Thanksgiving-themed banners, such as these and this one and this one.  Back in the day when I thought that I might possibly enjoy scrapbooking, I accumulated quite a bit of crafty stuff – papers, lettering, etc.  I went to Michael’s and got some large letter stencils, glue sticks and some jute twine and for just a few dollars made a banner (well, banners) with the items I already had.


It was fun and easy to make! I was having flashbacks to Kindergarten with my construction paper and glue sticks.  I made a template from some green card stock and pretty much went from there.  I chose the colors, layout and size based on whatever I had lying around.




outdoor rooms…

Lately we’ve been spending a lot of time on the balcony. It’s definitely my favorite “room” in the apartment right now.  It’s about 7.5′ by 20′.  Our gas grill and Ikea Applaro set (table, bench and two chairs) are out there and that leaves plenty of room for me to lay out and take outdoor naps 🙂  So far, the bugs have been nonexistent.

In the late fall right before we moved we sanded and re-painted the Applaro set a dark grey/black color.  I should have had it covered for the past 3 years since the old patio wasn’t covered, but hindsight is 20/20.  That’s ok…we really like the dark color and it looks great on the new balcony.  Another plus, which I didn’t realize until we moved in, is that condo rules say you can only have dark green, dark blue, or black furniture on the balconies (I guess to blend in with the building).  Some days it can get very windy out there, but it’s mostly pretty pleasant.  This past weekend I slept out there on a beach towel one day, and the next day we spent several hours out there, talking, eating, having drinks, and watching the boats and other watercraft on the river.  I now REALLY want a boat but that is not happening! 🙂

When we were moving, I felt really bad to be giving up the fenced in (albeit small) backyard that we had before, since my dog Jenny loved hanging out there so much.  No worries! I don’t know what she can see or smell 16 stories up, but she loves the balcony as much as we do!  Only problem is that I clean a LOT of dog snot off glass these days.

There aren’t any lights out on the balcony, but I LOVE string lights so you know where this is going.  I found these Smith & Hawken patio lights at Target and I love them!!  I took 3 strands and hung them on the glass under the balcony rail with S-hooks. They’re more heavy duty and nicer looking than normal strand Christmas lights. Also, I was afraid that, being at waist level, the bigger-bulb patio lights without covers on them might get broken, so these are perfect,  They look VERY bright from oh, a mile away even, but in person they give off a pretty nice light.

Even though we’ve got the patio furniture, grill, and lights in order, the balcony is looking pretty bare.  I’ve been trying to think of ways to make it look a little homier and softer this summer. I like the thick cushions and lights in this picture…

I also kind of want some tea lights or other candles to set out for outdoor dinners…..

Here’s an Applaro table like ours with the leaves out – luckily the balcony is big enough that we can extend them if we need to for more people…

I think some textiles would really soften up the space.  The balcony is covered and even in most downpours, it stays dry, so we wouldn’t really have to worry about bringing stuff in and taking it out every time we use it. There are so many pretty patio cushions, rugs, etc.!!! I cannot decide!

…and don’t forget plants!  Right now I just have a tiny cactus on the table.  I am seriously lacking a green thumb, so I am unsure what plants would look good out there that I could also keep alive all summer!!  I go back and forth between just getting a few small succulents, some potted flowers, or some sort of evergreen tree/topiary that’ll stay green year-round.

I am too indecisive!  Even with unlimited funds I don’t think our apartment would be “finished” to my liking any time soon.  I feel a little more hurried to get the balcony in order since this nice weather won’t be here forever!

the bedroom is (sort of) finished!!

After lots of planning (here), I think the bedroom is finished for the most part.  We still have a couple things to do, but overall I am pretty happy with it. I may get a second West Elm rug for the other side of the bed…we need something over the television…we need hardware for all the furniture, and we maybe need something else for the window…maybe?  What do you think?  I would put curtains on the windows, but the radiator is right below it.  I REALLY hate short curtains.  We added those faux wood blinds from Lowe’s (great quality for the price, BTW), but that alone seems unfinished.  I also think that valances look pretty cheesy, although I imagine valances come in many shapes and styles where maybe I’m just not thinking about it enough.  If anybody has any ideas, please, let me know!!  I am at a loss. We also need some accessories – more photos, etc., but we can figure that out eventually!

Source List:

  • Bed, dresser and nightstands: Ikea Malm
  • Cabinets: Ikea Besta
  • Cabinet Doors: Ikea Vara
  • Mirrow: Ikea Mongstad
  • Bedding: duvet – West Elm Pintuck; coverlet – Target Home; pillows – Target Patio collection
  • Rugs: larger one is West Elm Kite Kilim rug and others are from Ikea
  • Blinds: Lowe’s Basic Blindz Faux Wood 2″ Plantation Blinds



the process of bedroom planning….sketchup, pinterest and kuler

Hello, everyone!  This week we are moving to a new place!  Right now we live on the first floor of a duplex built in 1880, but we are moving to a mid-century modern style high rise built in 1966.  A lot of our furniture is pretty modern, but with the move, I think we’re moving a bit more in the modern direction overall – it just suits the space better and will be a nice change of pace.  I am back to my old habit of pre-planning the space in Google Sketchup, starting with the bedroom:

Right now I have a wrought-iron look, higher bed and about four dressers in the bedroom.  We’ve realized that we’re not drawer people.  They never get used! We’ve decided we’re shelf people and hanger people, and are taking this self-realization to the new apartment by putting 3 of the dressers in storage, and making better use of the shelves and the increase in closet space.  Isn’t it funny how it took 29 years of my life and four dressers to realize no amount of drawers are going to make me more organized??! On the other hand, the more shelves I have and the more hanger space I have, the more things get organized. Duly noted.

With that said, that leaves us with 3 black-brown Ikea besta bookshelves we use for storage of shoes, bags, and other small items and a black-brown ikea Malm dresser.

Since we’re definitely using all of those, we are going to swap out the current bed for a more modern Ikea Malm bed as well.  (Sidenote: I know….we have A LOT of Ikea…oh well! We’re renters, and until we own, no reason to spend more money on furniture! Since my living space changes every couple of years, my tastes tend to change at the same pace.  As long as that’s occurring, I have no problem on cheaping out and trying different things! )

We have some black and white artwork, the orange Ikea Mongstad mirror, a green pintuck duvet from West Elm, and as accent pillows on the bed, I have two outdoor pillows from Target that are the “Southwestern Tan Orange Geometric” print.  It’s sort of a southwestern-ikat.

My boyfriend liked the Mongstad mirror in orange when we got it about a year and a half ago.  I would’ve personally gone for the easier-to-match with stuff black-brown color.  Recently Pantone named “tangerine tango” (i.e. reddish orange) the 2012 Pantone Color of the Year….this is pretty much the color of our mirror, and a color I certainly have noticed popping up a lot more recently.  Oddly enough, I also noticed in my Pinterest boards a trend with earthy-tones (reddish/orange, green..) combined with black, white, and brown.  Here are a few that I noticed that to me had a similar feel in color palette:

I really liked this last photo – it is from West Elm, and the combination of grey/green, white, black/brown, and orangey, southwestern print with a modern style to it really reminded me a lot of the type of combination I was envisioning.  I wanted to pull it all into a color palette to view together.  Enter the FREE color palette-making tool, Adobe Kuler.  This free online program from Adobe is really handy.  You can create color palettes in a number of different ways. I opted for the photo-upload function (I uploaded the one above) and from this photo, the color palette was automatically created.  Once I created it, I replaced the very light orange from the picture with my brighter Mongstad mirror orange, and voila!  I have the color palette that I am 90% sure will be the basis of our bedroom:

The sixth color is white, but unfortunately Kuler only lets you combine a maximum of five colors.  So that’s where I’m at with the bedroom! The floors are parquet…We still need to figure out a table lamp/rug/curtain combination as well, but I think I’ve gotten as far as I can with a mix of what I own and modern technology!!!  I’m going to wait until we get all moved in to finish it up.  Isn’t it amazing how much you can do these days with free programs?!?!

The Great Bedroom Organization of 2011….shoes, bags and IKEA Besta

I previously had a large number of shoe boxes on a sagging closet shelf. I complained about my lack of closet space here. The  shoes were hard to reach and I couldn’t fit even one more box into the space.  That’s when I decided to clear it out to make room for other things in the closet.  Consequently, the shoes sat on the dresser at the foot of our bed for about 4 months or so…..

I saw some ideas for shoe storage in Ikea Billy bookcases both over at the Purse Blog on their Purse Blog Forum, and also over at the I am Style-ish blog.  Since we also needed somewhere to store the bf’s shoes, the 11″ deep Billy bookcase just wouldn’t do.  We ended up getting the Ikea Besta bookcase instead, which, at 15.75″ deep, is deep enough to hold the bf’s shoes, some other storage containers and my bags. We got one 47.25″ wide one as well as a one 23 5/8″ one – just wide enough for the spot where they are supposed to go.  We haven’t gotten any doors yet, but we’re going to get the Besta Vara doors. They aren’t quite as nice looking as the many door options the Billy series has, but they will suffice.  We plan to get some decorative knobs to spice them up.

After lots of inventorying and planning, I determined we needed 21 total shelves.  The narrower one came with 4 and the wider with 8, so we needed to purchase 9 extra shelves.

I am still working on the bf’s side – he’s got quite a few shoes and other things that need to be sorted out.

Room Planning: 3D Modeling with Google Sketchup.

Previously, access to and the understanding of 3D modeling programs cost easily in the thousands of dollars.  “Home Planning”-Type programs that are virtually unusable have been on the market in the under-$100 range since the 90’s, but these are very limited in capabilities and difficult to use.  In addition to Google Picnik, which I talk about here, I also frequently use Google Sketchup – a FREE 3D Modeling program.  It’s somewhat unbelievable to me that everyone is able to get free access to such a highly functional program like this when other 3D programs are so expensive. FormZ is about $1100, while 3D Studio Max is about $3500.

A lot of people have not had CAD drafting or 3D modeling experience, but there are numerous Sketchup tutorials (video and otherwise) such as these that you can find online.  It really is amazing what you are able to do with just a few tutorials and some rough measurements of some rooms.

Maybe I am just a huge dork, but before I rearrange a room or get a new piece of furniture, I like to use Sketchup to move furniture around and see how it all fits together. Our bedroom is fairly large (about 15’ by 15’ plus the bay window).  Since we try to keep the other three rooms relatively free of clutter (kitchen, living room, and bathroom), the unfortunate consequence is that every other item and piece of furniture gets relegated to the big bedroom.  With two bird cages, a dog crate, four dressers, three chairs, a floor lamp, a bookcase, and a queen-size bed in the mix, planning exactly how everything will best fit together is quite difficult. That’s where Google Sketchup has been helpful.  You can even set it for two-point perspective, set your height, and click on the point where you want to stand, and see a space from a pretty accurate perspective:

We’re definitely a far cry from fully mastering the best arrangement in the bedroom.  Previously I discussed my shortage of closet space (particularly shoe space) here, but I recently saw this video over at the I am Style-ish blog, as well as this forum post over at the PurseBlog, which have inspired me to add Ikea Billy bookcases into the room for shoe storage.  Adding MORE furniture to the mix will take some finagling and rearranging, but it is possible.  Amazingly, you can add furniture to a Sketchup model by simply going to the Google online “3D Warehouse”.  There it is easy to find pre-modeled furniture that is approximately the same measurements as your own, or in the case of Ikea furniture, many of the exact items are available on there if you just type the Ikea name into search.  Here is my preliminary plan for where the two bookcases will go:

That’s as far as I have gotten – with exams coming up I don’t have much time to clean, organize, de-clutter, and make another trip to Ikea for the bookcases.  In the meantime, I will continue to torment my boyfriend with the “shoebox fort” that has sat 4 feet high on top of one of our dressers ever since I cleaned out the closet in January!  Once summer break comes up and I get some semi-effective clothes and shoe storage solutions going, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Do you have any “technology” you use in your everyday life to plan or organize in your household?


My Apartment: New Accessories.

I had a productive weekend with sale and bargain shopping.  The kitchen and living room have been greatly lacking in the details, and I found a few nice additions.

I got this Zebra Plate at Pier One.  The first thing I ever got at Pier One was a grey crackled-look soap dish in 1992.  Yep, even at the age of ten I loved that store 🙂 I kept jewelry in it and it was a sad day when I broke that dish.  So, redemption was warranted and I got this plate.  NO idea what I will do with it – I just must have everything zebra. And besides, it was less that $3. How could I go wrong?

Also from Pier One I got this awesome Wool Tuft Floral Rug. I saw this in the store in the fall and absolutely loved it.  It goes perfectly great with my kitchen colors and I love the print.  It was on sale this weekend when I stopped in, so I could not resist.  It also comes in the same print but with a black background.

I got these IKEA Ribba Frames for some old photographs I bought at the Historical Society.  We live in an older neighborhood and thought it would be cool to have some photographs of it from years ago.  I wish I could go back in time and see this town then – 100 years ago just down the street, one could get a “‘weinerwurst’ with each drink,” or so the sign in the photograph says.  Sounds good to me!

I knew when I got my Broyhill white sofa, chair, and ottoman, that the the whole “stain” risk was high.  I have been able to combat it fairly well on the couch and chair cushions with a wash in the laundry – however, the ottoman has not fared as well.  It only has a couple small spots, but that’s enough to drive me crazy.  I got this Ludde Sheepskin from IKEA to cover it and I love it! I just have to touch it every time I walk by it.  I know I have previously agonized publicly over my lack of throw pillows here, but I have finally committed to some.  I got the Target Home Outdoor Blue Fretwork Pillows.  I am not entirely sure if these will stick, but baby steps, right?

I loved this Crystal Table Lamp and have been eyeing this particular style for many years. Given my obsession with black and white, what really finally sold this lamp for me was its position directly next to this Lamp Shade with Black Piping in the homes section at Target.  I knew I loved the combination and had to get it immediately!  Once I get the end table project it sits upon all worked out, it’ll all really tie the room together.

I have a fear of clutter that has resulted in a pretty plain and empty living room for the past couple of years – I admire people who have a knack (no pun intended!) for accessorizing with photos, knick-knacks, and other items in a way that looks pulled together and inviting without looking busy and cluttered.  The shelves my boyfriend installed helped me along in that endeavor.  I found this White Lotus Candleholder at an awesome interiors store in town called High Street.  They have a ton of great accessories, modern furniture, and interior design services.  I have a feeling that if I am to add more accessories to the room, they’ll be white more often than not.

And last but not least, I was pumped to get these Brocade Office Accessories at the Container Store during their office sale this week. I am always trying to come up with ways to torture my boyfriend encourage my boyfriend to keep things, such as pens, mail, tiny flashlight (??), and keys that he regularly scatters about, organized and orderly, but it has been difficult.  I even got a nice black lacquer tray to put on the console table near the door and designated it “his” spot for those things.  I cannot say this has been working out wonderfully, but hopefully these desk accessories will inspire him to put things in their proper place….a girl can dream, right? 🙂