Grey and White Palette

My best friend has decided – OFFICIALLY – to move to Chicago, and while I need to come to terms with it… I think I’ll stay in denial for a while longer…
Possibly the only good thing that will come out of her moving half-way across the country from me, is that I get to help her decorate her new place.  
She recently mentioned that she’s been loving two things – chevron, and a grey and white palate – so I put together a few inspiration boards of how I envision her future Chicago living space…  It’s been a good long while since I’ve put together an inspiration board, and it feels good to be back in the game – creative juices flowing, and all!
She has the white Ektorp sofa from Ikea already, so I built everything based on the fact that she’ll likely be moving this with her.  She has always been fond of the shabby chic look and feel, but has been coming around to more contemporary styles (my personal favorite).  
Keeping the feminine feel of the shabby chic with a light color palate, I’d say this inspiration board is contemporary meets feminine… You know I love a good graphic trellis pattern, and this rug is perfection.  This rug is on sale right now too!! $222 on sale at RugsUSA (50% off)… go get it!
The bold striped curtains are really fun, and could be easily swapped out for a solid white during the summer.  Even though both the curtains and the rug make a statement, the soft grey doesn’t distract, and the fun pillows and art bring in color.  
I’ve been wanting a ginger jar lamp for the longest time, and these pale blue beauties seemed fitting to balance the pops of pink…
My second inspiration board takes girly to the extreme.  I kept details from the first inspiration, but incorporated more bold sweeps of blush (those curtains are not “pink”).  This is an apartment that CLEARLY belongs to a girly girl, but I think it’s still sophisticated, and adult.  Nothing about this says “little girls room”.
To balance out all the pink, I swapped in a bolder rug in dark grey chevron, and kept the lighting a little more quirky with a masculine brass reading lamp, and a fun ceramic owl lamp.
I LOVED the mint linen pillow, and the peach ikat is just fun.  During the winter months, it would be so easy to swap out the art for something black and white and moody, do switch out the peach pillows for faux fur.  Bring in some dark red (or snow white flowers), and do a cool Lucite tray on the table, and this room goes from summer to winter in a snap.
See what I mean??
So as fun as that was… I still think she should stay.  Chicago is sounding VERY far all of a sudden…

Rustic Coffee Table

I’ve decided that our living room needs some more “natural” elements.

The annual Restoration Catalogs may have helped sway me in this direction, but I’ve realized that pretty much all our furniture is painted, or made of man-made materials.  Obviously, a huge reason for this is because I’ve been making the most of what we have, and slapping paint on anything I can to extend it’s life in our apartment, but the main reason we have all this faux-material furniture is because I was on a TIGHT budget when buying furniture the first time around.   Particle board was my best friend.

Not anymore… we need some rustic up in herreeee!

These bad boys started this whole thing!!!

I’ve been toying with the idea of a little DIY on our coffee table to take it from this… shiny and really dark…

To something more like this…

Or this… (even though this is a dining table… you get the idea)

I even toyed with the idea of painting it white, and getting a plate glass top to protect the paint on top (something like the below photo).  The glass would be essential here since it gets A LOT of wear and tear, and I suspect paint wouldn’t stick so well to that slick surface.

But then, the point here is to get more rustic going on, and less painted furniture…. so I was back to the idea of using reclaimed wood (or at least wood that LOOKED reclaimed).
I had been thinking of getting some fresh boards from Home Depot, banging them up, and then applying this “aging treatment” that I read about here to oxidize the wood with vinegar and steel wool.  Will it work?  I’ve heard mixed reviews, but supposedly it takes brand new looking wood and gives it the weathered, greyed out look… ultimately, I’d be nailing these boards to the table top, and painting the base white, or a lighter neutral color…
I’ve been toying with this idea for a few weeks, but then today, I saw this table on World Market’s site, and it got me thinking….
The Cameron Coffee table is $229, and I currently have a 25% off coupon that would make it $172. Things just got interesting… While I haven’t totally ditched the idea of trying my hand at adding an aged wood top to our existing table, simply buying this new coffee table will be way easier (obviously), and possibly cheaper.  In the event that in the event that this DIY completely flops, I’ll need to get a new table anyway!
Here are a few few pictures from the glowing reviews on World Market’s site, that people posted of the table in their homes!

Cute right?  Rustic, natural wood, and apparently quite sturdy… Lots to think about!  Just need to make sure it’s not too small – I like a good sized coffee table.
I also saw this weathered leather chair…

There is something about it that I love – obviously the nailhead, but I also really like the mottled looking leather, and low back.  And as you know, I’ve been looking for a reason to get rid of the wicker chair that DOES NOT belong in the living room… I may have just found my reason.
I’d love to see this in person – sit in it, see how comfortable it is… I want a deep seat!  Something to lounge in with my coffee on Saturday mornings.
Very excited about my potential new living room finds!

Pretty in Pink

Isn’t this room the epitome of luxe?!
I am 100% certain that Kris would die if he came home to pink curtains in our living room, but one day after we win the lotto and make it rich, I will have a ladies only sitting room that looks just like this.  Bright and cheery – the pink adds just the right amount of sass, don’t you think??.  This room will be dedicated to book club (aka wine club), rousing discussions of Real Housewives, and crafting parties.  As I said… ladies only.
Alas, if you are a single gal living on your own, or your man has been perfectly trained to say, Whatever you want, honey (my favorite phrase, by the way), then get to work on recreating this dream room, and don’t look back!
I love how the soft greige (beige / grey) wall color, and white furniture keep this from being over the top girly, and brown is a natural compliment to pink.  It’s like they were born to be together.
This coffee table is pretty much what I am looking for to replace ours one day – I love the gold metal, and glass top, and I love that it is BIG, so it can hold a lot of stuff on the shelf below.  Add a few mirrored pieces to reflect light (and your pretty face of course) keep the floor neutral and fuctional, so there is no competition with the draperies, and you’ll be sitting pretty.  Take a look at my design board for a little inspiration…
If you are going to do it up right, I’d go custom on the curtains.  That can get expensive, so if you are handy with a sewing machine, this could be perfect for you.  I found these curtains on Linens and Things, and they are a steal if you are trying to recreate this look on a budget, but I still feel they are no comparison with the perfectly peachy silk drapes in the original room.  Dying white silk could be another option, but I am definitely no expert there, so I wouldn’t attempt it unless you were pretty confident on the outcome.
The other option here is to have someone else sew them – there are plenty of local seamstresses who could whip up some curtains for relatively cheap, so if you shop around, and find the perfect fabric, that is another way to go.
RugsUSA is literally my favorite source for rugs now – this huge woven number is a steal when comparing with places like Pottery Barn, or even local shops.  Etsy’s pillow selection is insane, and there are amazing deals to be found.  A word of caution – if you want the pattern on both sides, be sure to confirm they don’t use a solid backing on one side to cut costs.  Sometimes, it’s just worth it to pay more.
This mirror is from ZGallerie, and I’ve been lusting after it for some time now – it’s HUGE (and quite heavy) so for our apartment, we’d need to put some serious holes in the wall to support it’s weight.  Mounting this with anchors just isn’t worth it for us renters, but if you own your home, this mirror measures 39.5″ across – that’s over 3 feet!  A statement for sure, and it’s on sale for $214.  Someone needs to benefit from this if it’s not me!
Finally, Ballard was my source for the sofa and chair.  Elegant lines, good quality… need I say more??  The reviews online were rave, so I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment.
Enjoy the where to buy guide below, and of course, if anyone has interest in a custom design board for a room they are working on, send me a private message!

Knobby Loop Rug from RugsUSA
Pink Striped Silk Taffeta Curtains from Linens n Things
Manchester Apartment Sofa from Ballard Designs
Courtland Club Chair from Ballard Designs
Gold Edge Coffee Table from 1800 Lighting
Brown Ikat Pillow from Etsy
Brown Medallion Pillow from Rug Studio
Brown Patterned Lumbar Pillow from Etsy
Portico Mirror from ZGallerie
Mirrored Console Table from Target
Mother of Pearl Lamp from Bed Bath & Beyond
Mercury Glass Vase from Luna Bazaar

Design Icon: Kishani Perera

Kishani Perera is a total design maven – her work has been shown all over the internet – from design blogs, to Pinterest (which is actually where I originally fell in love with her) and she’s been consistantly featured in BH&G, House Beautiful… the list goes on.
One of my favorite Bloggers, Amanda Eck featured her recently, and since I am totally in love with her work, decided to create a design board for one of my favorite rooms.

This space is girly… funky… and Kris would totally die if he walked into our house decked out in hot pink. My favorite thing about her, is that she takes risks, and creates rooms that are as livable as they are beautiful.  Simultaneously ‘relaxed and elegant’ if you will, and somehow it all works.

While I’m sure this room didn’t come cheap, that’s not how we roll in my household, so the design I put together below focuses on getting the same look, while staying on budget (dang that budget… I could throw it out the window!)

Enjoy the “where to buy” below for this affordable reconstruction!

Where to Buy:
Zebra RugGrey SectionalPink PillowsLucite Coffee TableFloor LampBookshelfChandelierMercury Glass VasesAbstract PaintingSilk Panels

Gallery Wall Layout

While we are on the topic of a gallery wall, I’m starting to collect the pieces I’d like to hang together, gather frames that work well with one another, and work on a layout that will look organized without being perfectly symmetrical.  Thank god I didnt’ decide to just start hanging things… I can just imagine trying to do a large gallery wall without at least a little planning…

This is what we are working with… a big empty wall.  Let’s get a good “before” here…

I cringe to even look at this picture, but this is what our living room looked like almost a year ago when we moved in – this was taken just after Christmas, so we’d been there for just about one month by this point.  The wall behind Kris’ sad little love-seat is big… REALLY big… and this picture does a good job of showing how much empty space there is.

If there were a title for my life, it would be called, Making Do With What You’ve Got – and I have gotten pretty good at it!  While I’d love two new sofas (instead of two old, mismatched, and very uncomfortable love-seats) it just is NOT going to happen right now.  Banishing the idea of a new sofa, my goal is to distract from what I don’t like with things I love.  Since these love-seats are smaller and lower to the ground, this means that I have even more wall to work with – if we were to replace the black love-seat with a sofa, this gallery wall might need a bit of adjusting, but since a new sofa is a very distant purchase on the “want” list, I think this gallery wall will be intact for some time.

Now that we’ve got a really good “before” pic (aka, a really awful photo that makes any improvements I’ve done look AMAZING) let’s take a look at what the wall looks like now.

We may or may not have one or two unpacked boxes shoved in the back of my closet, but I couldn’t stand looking at a huge blank wall, so a few months after moving in, I hung a few pictures on this sad, empty wall!  It currently looks like this…

This is the best photo I can find to illustrate how the wall looks now.  There is a trio of black and white photos hanging (even though this photo only captures two of them) and as you can see, the room is a far cry from last January.  The addition of curtains, coordinated throw pillows, and a new rug made a HUGE impact on what had been an empty shell of a room.  That said, you can still see that despite having a few frames on the wall, they are hung too high, and are just too small for the space (also, I realize after posting this that the frames are STILL crooked… I tried!!)

This photo shows the wall from another angle – excuse the horrid lighting.  The wall needs some love – it’s as simple as that.

Since it’s clear that I am not so great at hanging frames symmetrically, I am looking for a layout where I can have staggered frames of varying sizes while keeping a somewhat organized look and feel.  I searched online for some gallery wall layouts (why reinvent the wheel, right??) and I found none of them helpful.  Thanks for nothing Pinterest!

So, in an attempt to be resourceful, I started working on my own layout.  I have most of the frames I plan on using already, so taking their measurements, I began playing around on the floor of the living room.

This is what I ended up with after a few tries…

Eh… I wasn’t loving it.  I think I definitely need a couple more frames to round it out, so I turned to my computer to start mapping the wall out…

This is what we have right now…


I’m not going to continue to beat a dead horse… three frames = too small for large wall… moving on


I like that even though these frames are different sizes, having the four smaller frames on the bottom row still make this feel balanced and symmetrical.

I have one large piece that I’d like to hang as a portrait, but it’s large… in order for it to be hung vertically, the largest frame would need to move, so I played around and came up with this…


Again, I like it, but want to feel 100% confident before putting more holes in the wall.  Now for the fun part… choosing all the art!

Stay tuned for updates!!

Re-envisioning a Living Room

For those of you who have been reading, you know how much I love to work on our apartment, taking it it from a blank slate, and turning it into a a home that reflects us.  Well… I recently started helping my friend re-envision her own space, and it turns out, it is even more fun, because I get to collaborate with someone else!

I actually used to live in this apartment with her, so trust me when I say that it is a great space.  Big rooms, high ceilings, and beautiful crown molding.  She has great taste already, but the challenge is finding a cohesive look and making a space work for both her, and her significant other (ie: How do we get rid of the boyfriend’s hideous bachelor stuff in the nicest way possible, and revamp the space they are living in?)  I can sympathize…

As it stands, the living room is open to the dining room, connected with a large archway.  It gets great light mid-day with a Northwest exposure.  The room is a good size at roughly 17′ in length – so one of the challenges is maximizing that huge expanse of wall, and filling the room out.
In the current layout, the majority of the furniture is grouped in the alcove of the bay window, and there is a lot of negative space in the entryway from the dining room and hallway.
I’d love to see the furniture more spread out, so that the room feels more balanced:
The great news is that she has all the large pieces, and they are all in good shape.  The sofa and over-stuffed armchair came from her parents, and she has some solid Crate and Barrel side tables and a matching coffee table – all of them came from Craigslist.  
Facing the sofa, the room currently looks like this:
While the room has good bones, there are several changes she wants to make – she wants a new, larger rug for the space (the pretty oriental she already has will make a new home in the adjacent dining room), and she wants to bring in more color into the room as well, adding throw pillows, and more art to the wall.
I had some free time on my hands on Sunday, and got a little carried away putting together an inspiration board for her.  I based this on the things we had talked about, and bookmarked online.
This was the original inspiration board…
The adjacent dining room’s walls are a bold orange, and since the rooms are connected by a large entryway, we felt it was important to echo those colors in the living room as well.  
Ultimately, everything had to work with the dark olive colored sofa since this piece isn’t going anywhere, and I think that the palate of blues and oranges work well with it, and almost turn it into a neutral. 
Most of the pattern and color will be coming through the accessories, so the pops of orange will compliment the dining room, but won’t necessarily compete.  Obviously I’m partial to this rug since Kris and I have it in our living room (in grey), but she loves it too, and this sea foam blue works well with orange as the accent color.
After I had the initial inspiration together, I took it a step further, and tried mocking up the room to see what it will start looking like once she starts making changes.  This is what I came up with…

By moving the large chair to the other side of the room, the super comfy chaise lounge can now be pointed towards the TV for optimal relaxation (that’s where I’d be parked EVERY night). 
The larger ginger jar vases are sculptural as well as pretty, and along with a gallery wall behind the sofa, I think they fill out the space nicely.  The accessories are what gives a room personality – especially when you are re-purposing furniture you already have, and working on a budget .  Pretty pillows give new life to an old sofa, and a fuzzy throw gives softness to a leather chair.  I am actually loving the hammered bronze side table I added in next to the chaise lounge (from World Market).  It’s on sale right now for $139!
With that side of the living room re-envisioned, I decided to take a stab at the other side as well (yes, I got WAY too carried away)!  Right now, the 17′ wall looks something like this… (ok, this is a terrible representation… don’t judge me!)
The point here is that I’d love to see this wall filled out, and create storage for her boyfriend’s stuff.  The ultimate goal? Get rid of the un-necessary side tables her boyfriend brought over from his bachelor days (I didn’t even have the heart to try to re-create them in this “before”)
Anyway, here is what I’d love to see this room ending up like:
I need a new program for angling furniture to face the correct direction (chairs will not be angled toward the sofa) but you get the idea.  
On this wall, my friend already has the large armoire for storage, along with the TV and TV stand.  To replace her boyfriend’s tables, I think a bookshelf is a great solution.  They can pack in books, CD’s, paperwork, etc, and use woven baskets to store (and hide) the less visual things.  The lamp on top of the bookshelf is currently on one of her side tables, so once she gets larger lamps to flank the sofa, this little guy can make a new home on top of the bookshelf.  
A tall, wide mirror will help fill in the space between the armoire and TV stand (this photo is not to scale – the gap between the two is actually wider in real life) and my favorite thing about the mirror (and any mirror), is that it opens the space up.  Finally, I am a strong believer that every room needs one living plant in it, and I am LOVING the fiddle leaf fig – an easy care plant that has waxy bright green leaves.  So pretty! 
– — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – — – —
Anyway, this is just my interpretation of what the room will look like, and obviously, as she prices things out, and heads into the store the room will end up with other pieces outside of these inspiration boards.  Making a room come together is definitely a process, so I’ll keep you updated once the room starts coming together!!
If you like any of the pieces from the inspiration, here are the direct links to buy.
Where to Buy:

I’ve got Throw Pillows on the mind… Again


If you weren’t sick of hearing my talk about throw pillows, then you definitely will be now!  Yep… we’re back on the topic.  AGAIN!  I’ll be brief, but I can’t promise this will be the last time you see me agonize over them…

Quite awhile ago, Emily Clark posted photo’s of her friend’s living room, and after stumbling upon this post, I thought, hmm… that rug is pretty much the same as the rug we have in our living room… and yet… even with all those crazy colors and patterns on the pillows, it looks just right.

And, that’s when it hit me… I’ve been going about it all wrong!  I’ve been looking at patterns that are too big and mirror the pattern in our rug.  I need to look for smaller, scaled back versions of that pattern, and invert the colors of our rug to avoid feeling like the pillows are competing.  Duh.  Why I had such a hard time with that, I have no idea.  What I do know, is that come this weekend, I’ll be hunting down a small grey and white patterned fabric (similar to the two outermost pillows above) to compliment, our lovely trellis rug.


Also, not sure if you noticed, but she’s also got the Chiang Mai Dragon Print throw pillows (in china blue).  I’m still holding out for Mocha, but they look pretty fabulous, no?  Perhaps that will be my Autumn splurge once October rolls around….

Living Room Updates

Time for a few updates on our living room!

As I mentioned here, I pulled the trigger on a grey trellis rug that I’d been eyeing for months.  I originally thought it was back-ordered until May, but when it arrived early, I was thrilled!  It REALLY brings some life to the room… I think I’m in love.

I literally scoured my hard-drive for some good “before” pictures, and was shocked that it was so hard to find any!  In advance, excuse the poor quality, weird light, etc.  P.S. don’t mind that the edge of the rug is rolled up in this picture – I had JUST layed it out, and since then it’s flattened out 🙂


I still love the sea-foam colored Persian rug that was in there before, but with strong sunlight from the floor to ceiling windows, and the very neutral colors, the room was feeling very washed out.  The old rug is going to be making a new home in our bedroom, while the grey trellis is here to stay.


A few other small changes – the tall $15 lamp from Target moved across the room (you can see it in the first “before” next to my beloved wicker chair) – we both hate this lamp but it’s here for the meantime.  There are other things on my loooonnnggggg list of “wants”, so it will have to wait.  

The small glass top table moved in between the desk and the wicker chair, and the lamp is actually a total re-purpose.  Remember those tall candlestick lamps from the bedroom post here??  Well a new lampshade later, this little guy is looking much better!  This table was a steal from Craigslist that I bought when I first moved to San Francisco.  It’s not really our taste, but replacing it is not a top priority.

I also won a small battle, and finally got rid of Kris’ HIDEOUS filing cabinet.  The paperwork has been temporarily moved into the black and white chevron print file box under the table next to the TV.
Next up on my grand list?? Replacing all the mismatched pillows with new covers.  They are so shabby, so I am going to have to make some tough decisions.  I want them to have both color and pattern, but nothing too wild.
Also, after looking through these pictures, I notice that we’ve got cords EVERYWHERE.  Must fix that with some strategic taping, and anchors along the walls!!
I love coming home now to my freshened living room, but it is by no means “finished.”  I find myself picking it apart when looking at these photos, and there are still SO MANY things I want to change.  I want to replace both couches, get two lovely Chippendale’s to define the sitting area (remember this post??) Replace the wicker chair with a big comfy overstuffed chair, swap out the wrought iron side table next to the desk, update the art on the wall over the black sofa (maybe a gallery wall here?), and the mirror in the entry needs to find a new home – I’d love to put some shallow shelves up there, but it is what it is.
Anyways, despite my never-ending laundry list of things I want, I always remind myself, I’m only 28, I have years to accumulate pieces I love, and right now I am very happy with the mini updates I’ve made.

Grey Trellis Rug: I Pulled the Trigger!

That’s right!  The Homespun Moroccan Trellis Charcoal Rug is mine all mine in 7-10 business days! (Just wait until Kris finds out *devilish grin*) The decision to get this rug has been a long time coming and I could not be more excited!

Rugs USA Homespun Moroccan Trellis Charcoal Rug

My love affair with this rug started with a few rooms I stumbled upon online – several admittedly coming from A Well Dressed Home‘s blog.
Love this woman's entire blog!

A few Google Searches later, I was officially obsessed and needed a grey trellis rug in my house ASAP.  Unfortunately, this rug was on back-order indefinitely!  I hemmed and hawed over other colors, but kept coming back to the grey!  All the reviews said it was a very pretty grey with blue undercurrents – so perfect for our space!  I had accepted defeat, but on a whim, I decided to check the site last week.  What do you know?! It was back!  In less than five minutes, the order was placed, and I was sitting back happily at my desk, flushed with excitement!

(Side note: remember this post and Inspiration Board I created several months back?  This was completed just before I learned that I couldn’t get my hands on that rug!)

Anyways, since creating the above inspiration board, I’d say that I’ve fulfilled about 80% of the ideas! Of course, as things have been hung, bought, and moved around, I have a few other ideas that I’d like to try, so the inspiration will need some tweaks.  The owls are on hold along with the star-burst mirrors.  I am actually now contemplating a gallery wall and a few sea fan art installations… more on that later!

We are also STILL looking at pillows (the seemingly never ending conversation) but I want to put any pillow decisions on hold until we get the new rug. I think it will really transform the space, and maybe I’ll end up hating all my initial pillow options!

Also on the table?  A new sofa.  Macys is having a sale (again) and I am kind of loving the Chloe Fabric Velvet Metro Living Sofa.  Here it is in the sample photo and again from DecorPad.

Macys Stock Photo


The sofa is a great deal, and truth be told, I am dying to get rid of one of the love-seats we currently have.  A nice long sofa will be so nice to stretch out on.

Another secret? As much as I hate Kris’ black love-seat from his bachelor days, I’m almost willing to let him keep it for now, and sacrifice mine because his provides better back support!  Wow, I’ve never sounded more like an old lady.  We need a new mattress, and a slew of other things before a new love seat, so I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Replacing the cushions on mine seems daunting, and re-upholstering his seems WAY out of my league.

Anyways, the rug will make me happy in the short term!  Stay tuned for updates on my little sea fan project 🙂

Ikat Print Pillows

Ok, back to the pillow discussion.  This has been pretty much consuming my thoughts, so I need to start making some decisions!

Unfortunately, my day job has nothing to do with design or decor, so I live vicariously through other bloggers who are invited to fabulous design previews.  Emily of A Well Dressed Home recently posted the below photo from the grand opening of the Bel Air Studio & Design in Dallas, and take a look at those pillows!!  They are SO close to a few I had been looking at last week – I think I should definitely get some, but which ones?!

Ikat Pillows at BelAir Studio & Design – via A Well Dressed Home

Pillow Cover - Decorative Pillow - Throw Pillow - Toss Pillow - Ikat - Chartreuse - Both Sides - 17x17 inch
Kyoozi via Etsy
One Bansuri by Kravet Grey Tan Gold Cream Ikat Pillow Cover 18x18
Home Living via Etsy

Olive and Garland via Etsy