Dining Room Updates and Holiday Touches

I realize that Christmas is over, but before the holiday decor comes down I wanted to share some pictures of our dining room all dolled up for December.  
The last pictures I shared with you of our dining room were quite a while ago, so we can treat this as a bit of a house tour as well to showcase some of the pretty little updates that have been made in here recently.  For those of you too lazy to click back through that link, here’s where the dining room had been:
It was fine before, but there were lots of little things that bothered me.  It wasn’t 100% our taste, and it felt really busy to me.  Kris loves modern things, so lots of pattern and color isn’t up his alley.  Myself, I’m drawn to more classic pieces, so the tribal rug – as much as I loved the blue – never felt right.  To me, the combination of the shelves, with the color and pattern on the rug, with the block of black in the middle of the room was disjointed.
Aside from the rug, and the chairs around the table, you might wonder what else has changed…
Look closely at the walls.  They’re no longer full of holes, scuffs, and cracks (not that you could easily see that in any of the pictures, but trust me when I say that they’d seen better days).  They got patched and painted!  And it doesn’t stop there.  The peeling paint on the heater got sanded off, and primed and painted.  Hallelujah!!
Between the fresh coat of paint, a second set of shelves on the left wall, the new rug, and the new chairs, this room went from feeling kind of chaotic and busy (to me), to completely calm. 
Because the shelves take up the entire left wall of this room they make a big statement  There is a lot going on – lots of color in the books, art and accessories.  Take all that, and with the blue patterned rug, the art next to the shelves, and the gallery wall on the opposite side and there was just too much going on.  Now, the room feels more balanced to me.  Taking out the bold rug, and using muted tones throughout the entire room allows the bookshelves to shine, instead of competing with them.
Normally, I’m not one to go with all whites and greys and taupes in a room, but since the bookshelves are the focal point, I absolutely LOVE the monotone palate.

Can I just take a second to tell you how much I love our new dining room chairs??

These are the Lydia chairs from World Market and they are an absolute steal for the quality.  Super plush padded seats, nice tight tufting, sturdy frame, and individually hammered nail heads trimming out each of the seat backs.  There is good support, and they are really comfortable.  Aside from the positive practical aspects, they are so pretty.  The linen and the nailhead is such a natural marriage together, and the tufting just sort of puts them over the top for me.  In a good way 🙂

I especially love that the nailhead runs around the sides and back, so that when they’re tucked into the table, you still get that great detail.

It’s love.

You’ll notice peeking out behind these chairs are two mini Christmas trees.  Tree twins in the dining room.

Since I work from home a lot, it’s been so nice to have the holiday decor spreading into this space as well as our living room.  The trees in here, along with stars, ornaments, and garlands are all from Ikea.  The ornaments in here are actually the same ones I’d used in the garland in our living room.  I really like the continuity from one room to the next – especially as these spaces are open to one another.

I once read in House Beautiful that one secret to making a small home feel bigger is to use the same color palate in every room.  I have never forgotten that, and ever since focusing the colors in our house to grey, black, white, tan, gold, and various shades of blue, it really has made it seem bigger.  Keeping the green and gold going in here from the living room makes it feel less busy, even though we have two relatively tall, fully decorated Christmas trees in a not-that-big space.


The tree’s themselves were really easy to put together, and from a glance look pretty realistic.  I love that the branches are spaced out.  It gives off that sort of sparse look that I’ve always admired in Nordic holiday design.

Not sure what I mean?  You can see some good examples of that sparse, minimalistic type of tree herehere, and here.


Up close, I loved that the ornaments ranged in tone from gold, to copper, to a pale frosted pink (shh don’t tell Kris).  I also loved that they are made of plastic, so they were light as a feather, and didn’t weigh down the branches at all.

Not sure if you noticed, but there is also a fairly large white ceramic deer head on our wine rack.  He made an appearance last year in our “winter wonderland” of a hallway, but this year, he looks so at home in between these trees.

Also, notice the “tree skirts”?  They’re from Ikea too.
They actually aren’t tree skirts at all – they are just the mini Sheepskin Rugs wrapped around the tree base, but I love how soft they are, and how they totally go with the mono-tone color palate of this room.  I could only find the faux sheepskin’s online, but if you can, get the real ones.  They drape so much better than the fake ones, and are SO SOFT.  Huge bargain too.  Something like $25.  I’ve had ours for a little over a year now – I like draping them over the backs of our not to comfortable wicker chairs for a little extra cushion, but for the holidays, they are serving as tree skirts in the dining room. #makethemostofwhatyouhave
Let’s talk about the new rug for a moment…
Hellloooooo loverrrrr!

Unsurprisingly, I agonized over the decision to sell our blue rug and get something else for way too long. I was never 100% happy with the blue one – it was always just a little too small for the room, and a little more “Aztec” than I’d been anticipating, which felt kind of forced in our more traditional dining room – so when RugsUSA had another huge sale over Labor Day (yes, that long ago) I decided it was time to make a change.

I thought about another natural fiber rug since we’ve had such a great experience with our other ones so far, but worried it would be too bland.  I looked at rugs similar to the one we had in our old living room (it now lives in our bedroom) but didn’t want another trellis pattern that competed with the bold navy trellis runner we had in the hallway.

I ended up finding the Tanger Kambal Moroccan Trellis rug from RugsUSA, and while I liked it online, I was still waffling a bit on my decision against a natural fiber.  Ultimately, I ended up ordering it since it was on sale for 75% off, but I second guessed my decision up until the day it arrived.  All I can say is THANK GOD I just pulled the trigger, because I absolutely love everything about it.

It’s hard to tell from these photos, but the print is a light grey quatrefoil on a cream background.  It’s a bit bigger than the old one, soft as a freshly washed golden retriever puppy, and it has a really pretty sheen. Depending on which way the nap is laying, the color changes.  For instance, if I’m in the living room looking at the dining room, it kind of looks like an all white flokatti rug, but as you walk closer, you realize there’s a pattern in it.  I just LOVE that.

One person complained online that the grey was more taupe in real life than the silver depicted online.  She is right, however that is one of my favorite parts about it.  It’s a color that can only be described as “greige”.  It’s not grey, but it’s not beige.  It’s somewhere in the middle which is preferable in my opinion.  It means that we won’t be tied to grey or tan in whatever room it finds itself in in the future.

Anyway, back to Christmas decor…

Here’s a close up of the fake tree branch… looks pretty good, eh?  Also forgot the mention before that the branches are moldable.  They must have wire in them, so you can bend them a bit to look less perfect and more real.

Notice how you can see me in my jammies in the reflection of that ornament?  Ha!  No judgement!  I actually took these pictures during a power outage, when San Francisco was pretty much shut down from a major storm.  What else would one be wearing other than jammies???

And here we are looking back at the bookshelves.  I’d already posted about the one on the right, but the shelves on the left weren’t there yet last time I wrote about our dining room.  

Here’s how this wall used to look:

It actually makes a HUGE difference in this room now to have the double sets of shelves – it never felt balanced to me with the painting next to it.  After a few days I knew I’d need to stain a second set of shelves stat, otherwise it would drive me bonkers.
Also, notice in the picture above how ragged the heater looks with the peeling paint?  Sanding that off and re-coating it with heat resistant primer and paint has made one of the biggest changes to me.  That peeling paint drove me absolutely nuts for the last year, so I’m happy to be able to point out how much better it’s looking!

And here’s a peek at the other side of the room – our pretty painting has space to breathe over there, and really shines now that it’s not crowded by other stuff.

It just feels really calm and pretty.

And there’s nothing like fresh flowers to make a room feel pulled together…

Not that I’m an expert in arranging flowers, but I’ve found a few little tricks that promise a knockout bouquet every time.

Stick to a single color palate (mixing colors can get tricky, so staying with one color – all red, all white, all blue and purple, guarantee that it won’t turn out looking like a hot mess will look more professional once it’s finished).

Group flowers in an arrangement by type.  This is optional, but I find I like the look better, and find more success when I group flowers this way.  Keep the large fluffy flowers together, fill in blank spots and edges with smaller fluffy flowers, fill in sparse edges with groups of smaller skinnier stalks.  For instance right now, I’ve got two hydrangia’s grouped together taking up 1/3 of the bouquet, three extra fluffy mums together taking up another 1/3 of the arrangement, and a few stalks of snapdragons taking up the last third – all white.  And it just works.

Let the flowers drape as they would in real life. Tulips want to fall over all loosey goosey.  Let them. They are rarely going to stand up straight, so pick a vase that will accentuate them draping over the side. Don’t try to force a flower to do something it wouldn’t normally.  These are wise words from the Barefoot Contessa.

Cut the stems short.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule – if you get long stemmed roses from your honey, keep them long – but I find that arranging shorter stems turns out a more professional looking arrangement every time.

Do you guys have any tips on arranging flowers?  I would love to know!

Taking a closer look at the shelves, you’ll notice that I didn’t go wild with Christmas Decor, but I did nestle in a few of my seasonal favorites… here, a few ornaments behind that handsome deer statue.

The below looks especially wintery, but actually the only addition here was the snowflake… the owl is a year round staple, as is that antler candle holder, but it does help that the coral is white to round out this little vignette.

All my old music boxes get a special place up here in December.  They are fragile, but I love them so much.

These garlands were really inexpensive from Michaels, and while I’m not hugely fond of the glitter, they look really nice woven across the top of the shelves.

Oh hello, inappropriate singing Santa!

All I’ll say is that his guitar mysteriously disappeared (Kristopher!  Ahem!) and his hand that was supposed to be strumming the guitar looked like it was doing something else.  Oh my.

After he was scolded for hiding the guitar, Santa is back to being “G” rated.

So that’s the updates in our dining room – in life, and for the holidays!
There are a few more updates I’d like to make in this space, but I’m really happy with how the dining room has transformed so far.  With our wedding this summer, I think my focus will likely turn to that this next year, and changes around the house will really slow down, but we’ve come so far in just 11 months.
I’ll be posting a 2014 recap, and can’t wait to get all the before and after pictures together for that.  Looking back through some older posts really illustrates how far we’ve come.
I will also say, I’ve been really trying to focus on the quality of the photographs I’ve been taking.  I broke out my tripod that had never been used, and I think that really helped.  I also was playing around with the settings to make sure that the light from the windows didn’t blow out the images as badly as they had in the past.  I wanted to see the drapes, the trees, and the dining table.  Not one or the other.
I’m learning!  Slowly, but I’m learning.  Hoping the pictures continue to improve!

Anyway, hope you all enjoyed!  We’ve now gone through updates in the living room and the dining room.  What’s next?  The bedroom – it’s not all THAT exciting and different from our old bedroom, but we do have some new bedding in there that I’m excited to share with you all.

What are your thoughts on our dining room updates?  Of the rug?  The new chairs?  The second set of shelves?

Would love to know!


Holiday Fireplace and a DIY Garland

Are you guys ready for some holiday house updates?????????

Let’s dive right in!

The fireplace is the center of our living room, and an obvious focal point to decorate for the holidays.  I was so excited to be able to string up garlands, and doll it up this year since our old apartment didn’t have a central focal point in the living room.  Everything was centered around our TV which was practical, but not the most attractive option.

As stoked as I was to decorate the fireplace, I REALLLLLLYYYYYYY wish that it had a mantle.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s a flat facade, surrounded by a piece of crown molding, so there’s no spot for long beautiful taper candles, leaning art, or cool decorative accents like that on top of it.

I’ve spent many hours scheming about how to create a mantle here, but with the fireplace being completely surrounded on all sides by a slab of mirror, it just won’t work… unless I dare risk 7 years bad luck by breaking it… which I’m not down for. Sometimes we just have to make do with what we’ve got…. right??  Kind of the story of my life, but let’s be honest – I’m just happy to have a fireplace to decorate this year!

When I lived here before, I always loved how we strung a pre-lighted garland across the fireplace, but after digging that garland out of storage it was looking pretty sad.  It was all smushed, and had little (if any) resemblance to real greenery.  Imagine something like this… but faded, and flattened after being stored in a box for several years….

It was time to find a new game plan for our mantle – I loved the idea of a garland, but wanted it to be super full, and really eye-catching.  And what would be more eye-catching than a bunch of gold ornaments strung together and wound up with fairy lights and greenery??  This garland DIY is super easy to pull together, so for anyone looking for a fun holiday project, this is the one for you!  In fact, the more wine you drink while working on it, the better.

May I present to you our Gold and Green(ery) Garland.  It’s two separate garlands woven together to make one massive, awesome, holiday focal point.  It’s sparkly – especially once the garland is plugged in at night – and a little over the top but I’m totally in love with it.

The ornament garland was a DIY project I worked on one afternoon while catching up on bad reality TV.  Nothing to get you in the holiday spirit than watching the Kardashian’s bicker.

I actually tested it out last year on a smaller garland that we now have hanging in the kitchen (yep, even the kitchen got a little holiday love in 2014), and making it is soooo easy.  Look back at this post for the original instructions, but there isn’t much to explain.  
Basically you need to start with a TON of ornaments – do not use glass.  They WILL shatter.  I used 4 boxes of plastic balls in assorted gold tones from Ikea… LOVE the Ikea holiday section this year.  They win the award for “best everything”.  More on them later… back to the DIY.
Start with tons of balls {insert joke here}.
Get your hands on a long strand of thick wire.  Ribbon might work but I like that the wire forms to the shape you want.
Sting balls onto wire while accidentally drinking the better part of a bottle of wine and watching trashy TV.
Here’s what you’ll end up with:
Super technical DIY project *wink wink*
Once I had all the ornaments strung on the wire, it was time to hunt down a pretty green garland to replace our sad looking one.
I wanted one that was hefty, and that looked natural (at least somewhat).  I looked into ordering a fresh garland for about two-seconds until realizing fresh garlands in SF ran about $160.  Um, no thanks.  
Off to Michael’s I went (with my coupon of course) and scored this beauty for something like $25.  I think without the 40% off coupon it was in the high $30 range.  Still, not bad for a lighted green 9′ garland with pine cones interspersed and several types of faux greens in the mix.

Once I got the green garland home, I wound the two garlands around one another, and secured them to the wood molding around the fireplace with two small nails, and more of the wire that I’d used to string the ornaments.

The nails will leave the smallest of holes, and will be easy to conceal with wood putty, and a coat of white paint.

Another new addition to our holiday fireplace, is this starburst mirror.

I love a good starburst – we have one hanging over our bed as well – but this is one of the best finds of my shopping career… EVER.

Such a score!

I consider myself to be a pretty serious bargain hunter – not on the same level as those crazy extreme couponers, but I take the sale sections seriously.  As I was at the Home Depot over the weekend, wandering the aisles in search of a ceiling medallion (another story for another day), I found myself in the aisle with decorative moldings, hollow core doors, and what else… mirrors!

Easily distracted, I ventured over to the mirrors, and there, hanging on the wall was a mirror very similar to this one that I’ve been trying to hunt down!!  It was a bit smaller than I’d wanted, but I was intrigued.  I picked up the box below the sample mirror, and guess what?  It a box for a completely different mirror.  A sunburst mirror.

A sunburst mirror that was marked down to $6.


I cannot make this stuff up.

I grabbed that box so fast, and was out of there before anyone could fight me for my $6 mirror.

Not only was it SIX DOLLARS (which I still cannot wrap my mind around), but it was bigger than the octagonal mirror I was originally admiring, and it fills out this space above the fireplace so well.

Here she is close-up – isn’t she pretty??


I also love that the center of the sunburst is convex, so it sort of distorts the reflection.  Very cool.

It was a Christmas miracle actually.  I’ve been agonizing over what to hang here for a while.  The empty expanse of mirrors above and on the sides of the fireplace felt really 80’s to me.  
On the one hand, all these mirrors make the room feel larger, but with no mantle above the fireplace to lean art on, place picture frames, flowers, branches… basically anything to draw the eye up, and compliment the spot above the fireplace, it was just so empty.  It needed something.
I toyed with the idea of trying to hang a large piece of art here, but wasn’t loving that idea.  Every time I had Kris hold something up there it just felt odd.  I also toyed with the idea of hanging a mirror over here, but never found the right thing 

I am so thrilled with how this looks but I’m not completely sold on the ribbon that secures it to a nail above the mirror.  For now, with the holidays, it’s fine, but I’m not sure if the ribbon will stay – perhaps a string of clear fishing wire or something similar would be best, so it looks more like it’s mounted to the mirror, and less like it’s dangling from above.
Surprisingly enough, Kris is on board with the ribbon, so if we do keep it, I won’t have to worry about his complaints.
Also in the living room are several wrapped presents – I like to get them wrapped and under the tree as early as possible since they just add to the festive feel.  I’m liking the simple feel of this brown paper, and bold ribbon, and a sprig of douglas fir finishes it off so nicely!  And guess what… the branches were free! I may or may not have been scavenging the discard bins at the Christmas Tree Tent at Home Depot, but it’s fair game!  The guys working the saws at the tree lot confirmed that these branches that get stripped from the bottoms of the trees are headed to the chipper at the end of the day, so I see it more as rescuing them.
And how awesome is that red cardinal ribbon??  Michaels was having 60% off their ribbon over the weekend, so 25 yards of this stuff was $3.  Yes please!!  Red cardinals and festive tartan ribbon for everyone!!!

I’ve been spoiling myself this year with fresh flowers only in the house, and have found that I can make hydrangeas last for a solid month, if I take care of them JUST right.  I made this arrangement feel a bit more holiday-like with the addition of woodsy greenery, and some cool burgundy branches.
Apparently hydrangeas like HOT water, with a little bleach.  Cut the stems vertically so they can soak up as much water through their woody stem, and they are good to go. I learned this little trick from an episode of the Barefoot Contessa, and I never forgot it!  Just change the water out once a week, they tend to last and last and last.  
I think my record was 7 weeks of keeping a cut hydrangea alive. #impressive
So that’s our holiday mantle fireplace!  More festive updates coming your way soon, but the whole house got decked out – there’s a tree, an inappropriate Santa, and a really festive dining room still to share!

A Green and Gold Christmas

I’m in the process of photographing and posting some of the holiday decor we’ve got up in our house, but wanted to share where I was pulling my inspiration from this year…
Green and gold baby!
I’m loving the look of the overabundance of greens in the forms of wreaths, greenery in vases, swags of greens and garlands on stairwells (which we don’t have), across fireplaces (which we DO have), and everywhere in-between.
If it’s crusted in gold, or glitter, or both, chances are I want it.
I just think that the combination of the greenery with all the gold is just so pretty with all the twinkle lights, and I think it adds a bit of glam to what could otherwise really be a rustic, woodsy look.
I mean how amazing is that tree, and that entryway, and that staircase, and that garland?!?!  My future house in the Hamptons will look JUST like this at the holidays 🙂
What a muffin, although, clearly this is the most well behaved dog in the world.  All those leftovers on the table, and he’s not even trying to touch them?  
Yeah right.
How pretty are these trees by the way??  There are so many gold ornaments and gold lights, they take over the branches, and it looks like something straight out of Kind Midas’ palace.
That said, I’m a sentimentalist, and so every year our tree gets decorated with the ornaments I’ve collected over the years.  It is such a fun tradition, remembering where each ornament came from.  One of my favorites is a pair of ceramic ballet slippers that miraculously have not yet broken.  They are HEAVY but so pretty, and remind me of all the Decembers I’d play with them (carefully) as a little girl.
That said, I did go a little wild this year, and we have a few trees in our house……..
More on that soon!

I think the photos speak for themselves, but are you loving the green and gold as much as I am?? I also love classic red and green – red apples, berries, cardinals, and a crisp red plaid!  The gold is a really fun change for us this year though, and it’s all coming together so well!  
Literally cannot wait to share with you guys some of the decorations we’ve put up at home!!

Fall Decor: The Magnolia Leaf

Hey Guys… happy Fall!  Can anyone else believe that it’s the last day of September???  Seriously, where does the time go?

Our home still has some of it’s summer decor up, but with fall in full swing, and the days getting noticeably shorter, my goal for this week is to get some fall decor going at home.  It seems that everyone goes straight for pumpkins when decorating for fall, but I want to go for a less obvious approach.  
There will of course still be pumpkins and gourds in the mix as well, but for this fall, I’m really liking the magnolia leaf.  
It’s extremely classic, and I love that the leaves look as lovely bright and green as they do once they brown out.  I also really like that the magnolia leaf – whether in the form of garland, nosegay, or wreath will take you all the way through Thanksgiving… even into the holiday season!
Look how pretty this garland below is – very autumnal without needing in your face bright orange leaves.

As a side note… I also really like the dark brown jug. It also feels very autumnal without being juvenile.

This garland is also a favorite – the mix of brown magnolia leaves with the green is so pretty, and while to me this looks like fall, it’s clearly something that can take you into the holiday season too.  Imagine that lit up at night.  So pretty. 
These nosegays clustered around lit lanterns is a very grand way to light up the stairs leading to your house… even along the driveway.  Or take this look inside, and cluster a few lanterns of varying sizes on a mantle, flanking a long dining table, or as a centerpiece on an outside table.
I am fairly sure that I’ve posted this idea last year, but I still love the look of magnolia leaves as placecards.  So simple, although my handwriting would look nothing like that.
And finally, one of my favorites…  the gilded magnolia leaf wreath.  I want to try and tackle a similar project this weekend.  Now that our front door is looking all fresh and pretty, I’m thinking of retiring our moss wreath until the springtime, and attempting a similar gold wreath.  
That would look so pretty against it, don’t you think??

Holiday Shelf Decor

Hello friends!

I’ve been sick as a dog, spending as much time as I can in bed resting, but I’m stopping in briefly today to post a few pictures of the holiday decor I’ve added to the shelves in our dining room / office.

Everything we added to this space was either re-purposed from past years, or it was free…
One of my favorite parts about the holiday updates on these shelves were the “chalkboard” printouts from online.  I just took the prints that were previously in these frames and swapped them out.  So easy, and it cost me nothing – my favorite kind of update!
I also took the faux holly berry sprigs that had been in our living room last year, and cut the stems short, putting the berry branches in a few small pots we had on hand.  Another super easy, free addition, and it added instant holiday cheer to the shelves.
The faux potted amaryllis was a score from Target last year, and is livening up our pretty little bar cart.
This is not a “Christmas” update, but you might also notice a pretty addition here… my mom gifted me one of her crystal decanters!  I am dying to get some port decanted in there, but for now, it’s just looking very pretty.
Also, not holiday specific, but the striped red straws were another Target find recently!
On the other side is a pretty close mirror image… in a small space, keeping things symmetrical helps keep things from feeling super busy…

Notice the fake snow tucked behind the pot of berries?  It’s actually fake cobwebs leftover from Halloween.  Woot woot!!

On each of these shelves is a little project I worked on – the stacked paper Christmas trees. I got the idea from this post on Style Me Pretty from last year, where they made all these adorable paper Christmas trees. Mine didn’t quite come out the same, but they aren’t terrible either…
I ended up cutting up one of my Sookie Stackhouse books for this project (don’t worry, it was not some piece of classic literature) – different sized square pieces, and stacked away.  I used the leftover branch from cutting down the holly berries for the tree trunk, and called it a day.
Next time around I’d use thicker / stiffer paper, and more of it, so each tree was bushier, but for a first attempt, it wasn’t a total fail.

I especially love this space at night… there are lots of candles in here, and it creates the most cozy atmosphere…

I kind of hated the full mirror wall for the longest time, but while it’s totally 80’s, it also does make the small space feel more open.  I also love that it reflects back the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree…

So that’s all for our dining room holiday updates…

It’s festive, without being over the top, and they were all easy, inexpensive (or free) updates!  Ok, back to bed for me…

I Cheated…

I cheated… but just a little!!

I’m linking up today with Michaela at Michaela Noelle Designs for a fun craft link up party!

There have been some AMAZING ideas posted already, and while I had grand plans to post up a fun paper Christmas Tree project, there have not been enough hours in my day.  Eh, you can’t win them all… so I’ve contributed to the link up with my ornament garland from last year that has held up SO WELL.

Last year it stood alone in the hallway, but this year, it’s a part of the winter wonderland I posted about last week!

Go take a look at some of the amazing ideas and projects!!  Some of them totally doable, and some I know are outside of my talent level…

A few favorites already??

This super charming Swedish Felt Christmas Tree from Southern Distinctions….

I’m obsessed with Sarah’s blog, so it’s no surprise that I loved her feather garland… I just love how it catches the light and sort of glows…

And this felt wreath from Life on Virginia Street is so festive, and relatively simple to make!

If I had a mantle, you can bet your buttons that I’d be whipping up a few of these trees from Little Bits of Home!  I love the tinsel one along with the one with the pompoms.  So clever!!

Have you gone and checked out all the brilliant projects??  Prepare yourself… you’ll get totally sucked in!

It’s a Winter Wonderland… in our Hallway

Woot woot!!  The hallway is ready for the holidays!!
I tackled this area of our house last night, and I’m REALLY happy with how it turned out!!  I’d bought this deer head a while back when Target’s “Stag Head” collection came out, and while he’s been living on our bookshelves for the last month or so, he’s made himself right at home in this little winter wonderland scene!
We (sadly) don’t have a mantle in our apartment, so I like to decorate this area the same way I’d decorate a holiday mantle.  This year, it’s a snowy woodland scene…

This table has actually been in our living room for the last year or so, acting as the drop spot for keys, mail, etc, but since we had to make space in the living room for our Christmas tree, this table had to move back into the hallway.
Initially, I wasn’t a huge fan of having the table in the hallway – our apartment is pretty small, so to me it felt more cramped when you walked down the hallway.  The table is narrow so it doesn’t actually take up much space – it was more “visually” cramped than anything else, but now that it’s decked out for Christmas, I absolutely love it!
Well hello there Mr. Deer…
I can’t tell if he’s totally creepy or totally cute.
That blank stare looks totally “zombie killer deer” up close, but it’s much less creepy in person.  I kind of love him – although I think he’d be even more dapper with a bow around his neck…

And the trees!!  I picked these up at Target for like $8 each, and I had a coupon for 30% off, so I think my mini forest only cost around $18 in the end.  I didn’t love that they were all the same height though, so I got creative.

I still had some fake cobwebs from Halloween, so I just fluffed those up and stuffed them in the bottom of a clear vase to re-purpose them as “snow”.

I then propped the other two trees up on whatever planters I had laying around – you can kind of see in the above picture that the “tallest” tree is actually on a candle votive stacked on top of a planter than I quickly painted gold (for continuity). You can hardly see them, so it looks just fine to me!

I also love how the “mercury glass” frames look all frosty here.  Originally when I had hung all the frames on this wall, they were empty, but I saw some mirror spray paint, and in a moment of curiosity decided to try it out.

I’d read that it doesn’t come out as shiny as a normal mirror, so I decided to make it more like mercury glass – you just fill a spray bottle with water and vinegar, spray down the glass, and spray the paint, then wipe it off.  The water / vinegar mixture creates these cool splotches making it look A LOT like mercury glass…

The ornament garland was a DIY project that I worked on last year – click here to read the tutorial on that… super simple and inexpensive, and it has really held up!!

I was playing with the different settings on the camera and really like how crisp and clear the forefront of this shot came out.  
Despite taking these photos in the early morning light, its nice and bright…
And this next photo was a really proud moment for me… 
I was able to play with the aperture on my camera settings to get the background really blurred out, and the foreground really focused.  I’m still a total photography novice, but I’m always so proud when I manage to get a really great picture…

So that’s our little hallway turned winter wonderland.  The rest of our place is STILL a hot mess, but we’re getting there slowly but surely.  My goal is to have everything decorated and cleaned up by the weekend.

How is your holiday decorating coming along??  As slowly as mine??

Christmas Spirit = Christmas Mess

Whelp it’s been a rude awakening being back at work so far… I was just getting used to the life of leisure, and then 7:30 came around this morning VERY early.  Despite my ongoing depression of being back at work this week, we’ve started decorating for the holidays which is very fun… and by fun… I mean hard work.  For the most part our house is a HUGE mess – boxes everywhere, tissue paper galore, and a very fragrant, very busy bare tree in the middle of it.

I’m still in the process of tracking down all the boxes of ornaments, lights, and garlands, so for now, the only thing that isn’t a complete mess is this little shelf in our dining room…

Just one – the rest of them have been cleared off, and the dining room table is a mis-mash of it’s former contents as I contemplate what I want to put up for the holidays.
I don’t dare show you what the rest of our living room and dining room look like right now… it’s bad.
Better photos and more information on how to make those cute little paper trees is on it’s way once the shelves are Christmas-ified.
For now… 
Happy Monday!

Living Room Envy and Tartan

I am crazy in love with Erin Gates of Elements of Style.  She has great style – what I wouldn’t do for 5 minutes to paw through her closet – but her home is what I’m most obsessed with.  They bought this home roughly a year ago, and have been renovating pretty much ever since.

While we’ve had a few small glimpses into the new spaces (the kitchen for instance, and her fabulous stairs), she just posted a few first images into her newly remodeled (and styled) living room – it’s A-MA-ZING.  It’s been all done up for the holidays and it’s TOO GOOD not to re-post!!


The neutrals, those custom draperies (with the taupe greek key trim)… and that brass rod??  So SOOO good.  The layered rugs (if you look closely you can see a sneak peek of a zebra print cow hide), the hammered brass and glass coffee table, the pops of green… oh my gosh, the antique buffet is so beautiful, and of course, that chair.  That chair is (in the words of Rachel Zoe) “everything”.  It is absolutely the crown jewel of this room (aside from her sweet little puppy).

Let’s have a closer look at it, shall we??

I mean…. stop it.  That chair is SOOOO GOOD.
But you know what subtle little accent I loved??  The tartan throw, draped over the arm of this awesome chair.
My sister and I had these adorable tartan holiday dresses when we were little girls, and I’ve always loved the classic look of this pattern.  
While it might be a little much to dress up in an adult sized tartan dress for the holidays, I love the idea of cozying up a formal feeling living room with a tartan throw.  You still get to wrap yourself up in the classic pattern, and its 100% acceptable…
I’ve gone ahead and rounded up a few of my favorites – some more affordable than others *cough* Williams Sonoma *cough* and all have distinctly different patterns.
Doesn’t the camel version kind of look a bit “Burberry”??  There were a few other color-ways, but these were my favorites from Sierra Trading Post.

Williams Sonoma is WAY overpriced for their throw – double the price of any other option here, but it is an easy one-stop-shop, so if you’re running around for a last minute gift, it might be worth the premium…

Always a classic – and they come with a cute leather strap for toting this around on picnics… so cute.  Do I even need to say more??
This is actually a kid’s blanket, but who cares????!  You could totally make it work for a grown up’s living room, and it’s the least expensive version on this list.  It’s a win-win!
What is your take on Tartan??
Love it?  Hate it??  Is it something you’re planning to incorporate for the holidays??

We’re calling it "Pre-Christmas" Decor

Let me preface this post by saying, yes, I am fully aware that we haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving yet… 
But let me also just say, Thanksgiving is the latest it’s ever been… EVER… so since Thanksgiving is so excruciatingly late, I figured it couldn’t hurt anyone to hang a few harmless wreaths in our living room over the weekend….

I LOVE boxwood wreaths. Possibly more than any other wreath.  They are fresh and simple, and need no adornment, which around the holiday season – when the motto is “the more lights, tinsel, and general bedazzlement, the better” – a simple wreath is subtly festive.

In my case, I went with four subtly festive boxwood wreaths… for $10 each, how could I say no?!

I decided to hang them in each of the windows of our living room…


The best part about boxwoods is that they dry so well.  These windows get direct sunlight all day long – pretty much from about 9am until 4pm, but boxwoods keep the bright green color even after they’ve dried!  Last year, I kept our wreath from the holidays, and hung it on our front door through the summer.

Now, I never normally take photographs at night in low light like this, but, with the wreaths in the window, I found it nearly impossible to photograph them during the day.  They were completely blacked out with the sun behind them in every shot , but I guess it’s nice to document our house with the cozy lamp light too… this is actually how I like our house the best, even though it doesn’t turn out in photographs so well.

God… we really need to do something about the coffee table – the bane of my existence.  Its SO scratched up on top, and the storage below is just not attractive.  Functional… yes, but I’m sure we could get rid of half that crap and not miss a thing.

Perhaps that’s something tackle next weekend… the decrapification of our coffee table… and then the selling of the coffee table and buying of a new one……….

Anyway… enough talk of my hoarding ways… let’s get back to my pretty wreaths.  Don’t you just love how they get a little up-lighting from the side lamps?
And notice my new lampshades… $5 on clearance!  Woot woot!!

Gotta love a good deal – ok last glamour shot of the wreath….

Hope you all had a lovely, productive weekend too!!