Designing a room around Dark Furniture: Part I

One of my good friends and her husband just bought the most AMAZING dining room table from Restoration Hardware.  It’s actually this one (or very very similar to this one), and it’s absolutely stunning.

Now that it’s been delivered, they are in the process of making room for it in their apartment, and have very cleverly decided to split their huge living room, so that half is for the dining area, and half is for the living room.

The old floor-plan looked something like this:

I only know the general details of how the room is being split up, but I imagine the new floor-plan will look similar to this:

Genius, right?

By flip-flopping the room, you now walk into the “dining room” from the hallway, and in general have a good flow for entertaining.

What else is changing from the old layout?  Well the ottoman is going to be way too big to transfer over to the other side of the room, so that needs to be replaced.  By replacing it with a smaller coffee table, and eventually downsizing the TV stand, they will have room for living and dining spaces in the same room.  I LOVE this. City living at its best.

The challenge?  Designing the rest of the room around dark furniture (ding ding ding, the title of this post!)

The new dining room table is made of reclaimed oak – which is so incredibly gorgeous but the stain on it is a dark brown.  Their existing sofa and club chair that will live on the other half of the room are both made of dark brown leather, which means there is a lot of dark brown happening in this space.

The walls of the room are a very light taupe color, the crown molding is white, and a beautiful bay window that lets in tons of natural light. Oh, and the space still has original hardwood floors.  It doesn’t get better than that! The room has good bones, so it will be an easy task to use what they already have, and turn it into a complete and cohesive space.

Here’s where the room stood last week after the table was delivered.  Excuse the iPhone picture – it’s a little grainy here:

The knee-jerk reaction to having lots of dark furniture is to compensate with lots of light colors everywhere else.  On one hand, yes, bringing in light colors around the dark pieces (ie: light pillows on a dark sofa) do help to lighten the space, but the real magic needs to happen in the space at and above eye level when you walk in a room.  Think about it for a second… dark furniture sits below eye level when you walk into a room, so if you have light walls, and light curtains, and light art (or worse, no art), your eye goes straight down, and visually the space just feels smaller.  Adding interest through color and pattern at and above eye level, creates a feeling of balance, and so the “challenge” of dark furniture, sort of isn’t a “challenge” anymore.

Trust me, it will make more sense as you see it come together.

Ok, moving on… so what’s the plan in here?  Since the above picture was taken, my friend already ordered a natural fiber rug to go under the dining room table.  Good call girl.

The rug is going to define the dining space, and separate it from the living room.  Also, massive area rugs are SUPER expensive, so to even think of getting a rug to cover this entire room, we’re talking serious money.  No thanks.

Why else was it a good idea to go sisal?  It’s neutral, it’s easy to clean (it’s going under a dining table after all) and it’s mainly covered  up with the table anyway, so the focus of the room will be elsewhere.  Any pattern would go mainly unseen here with a huge table on top of it.
My friend also said that the curtains need to be replaced because they can’t find the same ones anymore, but she likes the blue so isn’t opposed to something similar.  
Sweet.  Perfect place to jump right in…
Here’s what I think needs to happen on this side of the room:
Minimal changes my friends.  
First, they need chairs.  They obviously know this.
Then, I think that filling that back wall out is priority #2, so that your eye doesn’t stop at the table. 
Oversize art will help… like OVERSIZE.  I always find that it’s hard to find large scale art… it seems so big when you buy it, but once you get it on an empty wall like this one, it’s like an island in the middle of an ocean.  My point?  We need to find massive, beautiful, and not ridiculously expensive art.  
What else?  A bigger lamp that takes up more visual real estate will help.  And plants.  I LOVE bringing in larger house plants to wake up an empty corner.
I started playing around to test out different looks, and at first, I went more “traditional”.  I think the table is so amazing – it’s a little rustic…. a little french-y feeling……… I loved the idea of adding Louis XIV chairs with it.  
Here’s the first look I came up with:
I love love LOVE these chairs – that dusty blue linen is so pretty, and I was thrilled to see it on two complimentary sets of Louis XIV chairs.  The blue fabric and lighter wood on the chairs surrounding the table will immediately bring life into the space.
LOVE.  
I also thought it was nice to have the taller rectangular chairs at the head of the table, and mix in the round backs in the middle, but again if you like the look of one over the other, you could certainly stick with one type of chair.
I should also take the time now to call out the fact that the wood on the chairs is NOT the same color (or even same type) as the wood on the table. 
That’s on purpose my friends.  
Some people are weird about mixing woods, but it doesn’t bother me!  I like the look of different woods in a space, because it looks “collected” instead of “we bought the set”.  If it will drive you nuts, the good thing about wood is that you can stain it, but I like the different wood tones.
Moving onto the art, I am SO into botanical art right now – you literally see it everywhere, from shelter magazines to the blog world.  These oversize prints from Ballard are SO GOOD.  They are massive – each one is 42″ high, by 27″ wide.  With prints this large, the frames should get pretty close to meeting the picture molding that runs around the walls, which will naturally draw the eye up, while taking up almost 5′ across that wall. Mission accomplished – these would meet the goal of filling the blank space out, without making it feel super busy (the way that a gallery wall can sometimes do).
The floor lamp has a bent bronze neck (shaft? stem? base? what IS that called??) and I like that this also helps fill out the space on that wall.  I also like that having the bent shaft makes it different than a standard floor lamp.  If the wall was still feeling empty once all of this was in the room, my recommendation would be to have two identical floor lamps similar to this flanking either side of the buffet.  I also can’t remember the overhead lighting situation in here, so they might actually need the extra light.  Boom. Kill two birds with one stone.
The fiddle leaf fig stands on the other side of the buffet in this mock up, but really any sizeable green houseplant would do in the corner.
And finally, the curtains… I thought that with the blue linen chairs, blue curtains might be a bit much, so I mocked this up with grey linen.  I think I like it.  The lightweight fabric will feel visually light (as opposed to a heavy fabric like velvet), while the grey still has enough of a color presence to draw the eye up to the ceiling.
Overall I like how this all came together, but I didn’t stop there… I swapped a few things out and came up with another version of this room:
What changed?  Well the chairs are a slight variation of those first ones, this time in a sandy linen.  With the sisal rug and all the wood, it feels like a lot of brown on brown, and so the accessories need to change.  I did a dark blue (almost navy) curtain, and swapped out the art, for a symmetrical gallery wall of… wait… what is that… more botanical prints!  Holla!
I told you I’m crazy for botanical prints right now.

These ones have a super saturated inky blue background with that green… I love it.  I think with the navy curtains, it looks awesome.  I’m still half and half on the chairs though… is it too much brown or are they ok with the art and curtains?  I think I need to see the color of the linen in person to tell if its more brown than cream.

My friend mentioned that they do like the vibe of West Elm, so I wen on to put together a third, less traditional, more modern version of this space…
…so another mock-up was born:
The starting point for me in here was the curtains.  I think these are so cool, and the pattern will definitely succeed in drawing the eye up, and bringing some color to the room.  The floor lamp also got switched up for an aged bronze pharmacy lamp.  I like alternative floor lamps, and these just look cool, although take up less visual real estate than the floor lamp with the drum shade.
I’m loving the color that these chairs bring to the space – I also love the detail of the individually hammered nail heads around the edges.  It just makes it a little more special.
Some of you might be thinking… If you’re trying to lighten up the space, why are you putting dark blue chairs with already dark furniture??  And I totally hear you… but the point I’m trying to drive home is the need for balance.  
The challenge is not how to bring as much light colored “stuff” as possible around the dark furniture, but rather in balancing the darkness with other rich colors at or above eye level.  So while these chairs are upholstered in a darker peacock colored fabric, the shock of color paired with similar colors in the art, and yet another variation of the color echoed in the curtains balances things out.
Even if none of these ideas make it off the cutting room floor and into real life, this is a good starting point for visualizing this half of the room…
Next up, I’ll be tackling some ideas for the other side of the room… the living room side.  Working on integrating accessories that accent their dark leather sofa, club chair, and some ideas on how to style a cohesive space to pair with their new dining room…

Baby Rooms: Statement Walls and Ceilings

I am pretty sure that if you played one of those psychological word association games, and someone said “statement wall” the first thing you thought of wouldn’t be “baby room”, however I happen to think these two things… statement walls (and ceilings) and baby rooms kind of go hand in hand.
Why am I thinking about baby rooms you might wonder?  No, I am not with child.  
My sister and one of my best friends are both pregnant, and due very VERY soon! With babies on the brain, I’ve been mulling around the idea of my own future baby’s nursery.  And by “mulling around” I really mean, giving WAY too much thought to.  So much so that I even have a super secret baby board on Pinterest – it’s private, and yes, that is actually it’s name.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m hoarding my baby room ideas, but more that I don’t want my friends to think I’m accidentally pregnant before Kris and I get married this summer.
I digress.
Anyway, this post was born, after I was aggressively pinning to my super secret baby board over the weekend.  I was in a food coma after too much pasta, and a not so great Paul Walker movie, and found myself just pinning away… nursery after nursery, bunny eared hat after baby moccasin (yes, baby moccasin’s are a thing).  45 minutes into my pinning frenzy, I realized something.  About 90% of all the baby rooms I loved had one thing in common.
Statement walls, or ceilings.  Yes, a statement ceiling is a thing now too (along with baby moccasin’s), and they are AWESOME.
Example one:
This nursery, albeit beautiful is a little bland.  Grey and white galore.  It’s nice – clearly the parents have good taste (or a talented, yet, color averse designer) but just as you’re getting all judge-y about how this poor baby’s nursery is so completely and utterly neutral, you look up and bam.  
That ceiling.
Those stripes.
It just gets me.  And I bet same goes for the baby.
It makes so much sense to paint the ceiling something cool… that baby is lying in the crib, brainstorming how to escape, and all the while, staring at the ceiling.  It (the baby) will probably log countless hours staring at the ceiling, so why not make it something worth staring at.  Plus the stripes will probably confuse the baby and make it sleepy, which is the ultimate goal, right??
Anyway, I have one more note about stripes that I want to add in.
Warning: Some of you might hate me for what I’m about to say, but in my (very humble) opinion, stripes on a wall are SO DONE.  Please people, for the love of god stop painting stripes on the wall… at least for a minute.  
BUT on the ceiling??  Stripes on the ceiling = awesome.
Also, I wanted to add for good measure that I actually love this nursery – monotone colors and all.
Ok moving on… if grey isn’t your thing, you’ll LOVE this one.  Hello color!  And a wall mural!
Can you just imagine all the fun little games of pretend your kids could have in a room with a mural that conjures up images of the “It’s a Small World” ride from Disneyland???
And the magenta next to that yellow???
It’s just too good.
I will say, this room is much better suited for a small child (and probably a girl) as opposed to an infant, but it could be a magical solution for a room shared by baby and older sibling, or even in a playroom.
And if the last room wasn’t whimsical enough, check out the wallpaper on this ceiling!
Some of you may be familiar with this print from one of my favorites, Jenny of Little Green Notebook – she recently did the ceiling of her girl’s playroom in this exact wallpaper, and it is just so darling.  I love the little swallows flying around in the clouds, and the various shades of blue would work equally well in either a girl or boy’s room.
More striped ceilings, and this time in mustard yellow.  Now THAT is a statement.  Luckily, I happen to love it.
And with the dark walls?  Sooooooo good.  Can you imagine if the dark paint was also chalkboard paint?  Some people feel the same way about chalkboard paint as I do about striped walls, but you know, we can agree to disagree here.  
For a kid’s room what could be better than encouraging that kind of creativity and freedom to create??  It’s their space, let them go all Picasso on that wall!
Not to mention, you get to look like the cool parent with extra amazing taste. So there’s that.
Speaking of great taste, is there anything better than this animal wallpaper?
There are giraffs. There are birds.  There are geckos…  The entire animal kingdom is representing here, and the black and white almost makes it like a modern, and kid friendly toile, letting you play with color in the bedding and rugs.
Also don’t get me started on the Little Darlings prints.  They are so lovely I’ve almost ordered them multiple times for our place… and we don’t have kids.  They are just that cool.
More little darlings framed in this room!  And how hip are these walls (why do I feel so old and “not hip” using the word “hip”??)
Anyway, I’m not going to lie, this arrow print could be a little dizzying, but for the hippest of parents (omg, I need a new word other than hip, help me!), this would be really awesome.  I’m not sure I’m cool enough for something like this (clearly), but I like it anyways.  And I think it’s good to have aspirational design.  
Perhaps this is what our baby’s fabulous nursery would look like in our southwestern adobe villa in Arizona one day.  You know, for when we are alternating between Aspen, Hawaii, and the Southwest for the winter??
Actually, back to being serious for a second…. this is wallpaper in the photo, but I think you could totally replicate something like this with a stencil, or even a good eye and a steady freehand.
Just throwing it out there….
And then simply because I cannot resist its charm, the lovely swallow wallpaper again.  It’s just so sweet!  
And I know it’s hidden down here at the bottom, but it doesn’t make it less important.  On the contrary, this birch wallpaper has been a LONGTIME favorite of mine.  And it WILL be in my house one day.  
Whether in a nursery or in our badass powder room, or walk-in closet.  It will be mine.  It’s so chic.  I never get sick of it.
And finally, how sweet are these clouds??
Another simple stencil idea on a simple grey wall.  Yeah, that mom has good taste – that’s what he’s thinking too, as he’s all cozied up on his bed, refusing to take a nap.
So what are your thoughts on statement walls and statement ceilings in a kids room?
I already know my mom’s thoughts on the topic, and she’s totally on board.  
As kids, my sister and I had a room with rainbow wallpaper.  It was so cheery and fun.  Kind of perfect for a kids room, and let’s be honest – if you can’t be whimsical, and take some major risks and make a loud statement in a kid’s room, where CAN you??
Side note, I tried to find a similar wallpaper to the one we had in our room as little girls, and the result to a google search for “rainbow wallpaper” is a total throwback to Lisa Frank.  To you 90’s kids out there, you KNOW what I mean!

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!

xoxo

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.

SIX DOLLARS.

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 🙂
THAT DOG!!!! 
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!!
xoxo

Living Room Tour

Keeping good on my promises you guys!  I really wanted to start back writing on my blog somewhat regularly, and sharing some of the exciting updates we’ve made to our place!  First up, our living room.

Since moving back into our new/old apartment in February, I’ve been working slowly but steadily to attack each room with updates.

I actually used to live in this apartment with my best friend Kira, but when Kris and I moved in together, he and I found a new apartment, and Kira stayed in this one that we shared. Fast forward almost two years later, she decided to move cross-country to Chicago, so Kris and I moved back in. It has a great layout, lots of natural light, and so much more space than we had in our first place together.

The only problem was that after 5 years of wear and tear, things were looking a little worn.

I’ve got to say, it was somewhat of a surreal experience to be living back in an apartment that used to be mine – it wasn’t the normal process of getting to know all the quirks of a new home.  I already knew that the fake drawer front below the sink fell out from time to time…. that there is a super creepy clicking sound in the middle of the night as the steam heat turns on and the pipes warm up… that you have to open the refrigerator to open the dishwasher.  Nothing about the apartment was a surprise, but instead of feeling like I was coming back home, it felt like I was moving into a strangers’ apartment.  The apartment was the same, but somehow it had changed in the time I was gone.  It was older.  There were more holes in the walls.  There were more scuffs in the paint.  Nothing abnormal, just older, more worn, and not mine.

Luckily for me, the process of getting everything updated and back in tip-top shape felt like a fun project to tackle instead of a massive undertaking.  It’s been a slow process, but don’t they say “slow and steady wins the race”?  It’s taken me almost a year, quite a few gallons of paint, spackle, sandpaper, and elbow grease, but it’s feeling refreshed, and most importantly, like it’s ours.

Today I want to share with you the living room – it’s the room where we spend the most time, and one of my favorite spots in our house. Here’s where it started a few days after we moved in.

Here’s what we started with:

The Bones of the Room:
The walls were all scuffed from the multiple moves, had tons of holes from past pictures and shelves, and were painted a yellowed beige color.  The fireplace had a really dirty, cracked stone facade in a peach-y color.  The curtain rods I’d hung up when I was 24 years old weren’t hung straight, and were staggered to fit into the tight bay window space.

The Furniture:
We started with two sad looking love seats that I’ve been dying to replace for the past two years, a console table that really felt out of place for not only the space but our style.  We had our huge, dark, bulky coffee table, that took up more space than the love seats, and matching side tables.

This is not to say that I hated everything we owned.  Quite the opposite.

I really tried to be creative in our last apartment with how to make what we had work for our space – while nothing matched, and everything was a mish-mash of our starter furniture from our early 20’s, I used new throw pillows and decorative accessories to doll things up, and I’ll always think back fondly of our first apartment together, and all the things in it.

The truth was, all the stuff we were holding onto wasn’t functioning well with the new layout, and it wasn’t comfortable.  Aside from nostalgia and feeling frugal, there was literally no reason to hold onto any of it anymore.  What was worse, our old furniture, paired with the dingy walls felt especially bland and actually kind of dark and dingy, despite the light color palate.

This past year was a big one, and for so many reasons, it felt like the start of a new chapter. I turned 30 and got engaged, so moving into a new place felt like the perfect opportunity to get rid of the falling apart “starter” furniture we’d been holding onto, and invest in things we love… pieces that we’d take with us to our future homes, and have for a long time.  What I wanted was a bright space that felt new, while highlighting the lovely architectural details this space has to offer, and pieces that could transition from an apartment to a home that we own.

So what updates did the space get??

Well first, we painted – all the walls got a coat of Intense White by Benjamin Moore.
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The first rule of renting is to not make changes that the landlord won’t approve of.  This color is so fresh, light and neutral, we won’t be re-painting when we move out.

It’s hands down my favorite color of grey – coming from the same color card as Grey Owl, it’s the lightest on the paint card, but it is definitely grey – not white, despite it’s name.  It’s a very bright, clean neutral grey, and doesn’t err on the blue side which absorbs light, and can make a room feel dark.  The first color I painted was very blue, and I ended up having to paint this room twice.  Lesson learned – paint swatches and lots of research when it comes to grey.

The trim got a coat of Decorator’s White – another Benjamin Moore color, and together the trim and walls look really crisp and fresh.
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My goal with the walls was to minimize all the imperfections – cracks in the wall, paint blobs from drips the last time this room was painted, and little bumps and nicks, holes from pictures and shelves but as you can see it’s not perfect.  I patched all the holes in the walls with spackle, sanded them down, but it’s an old building, and these walls are plaster from the 30’s, so there’s not just 5 years of wear and tear, but almost 80 years… at least. While there are still some lumps and bumps, the paint and the touch-ups changed how bright and new the room felt.

Simple, easy to do, and inexpensive fixes with paint = huge difference.

I also updated the fireplace.

I posted about that process a few months ago, and we’re still loving the updates.  The stone that was there was not very beautiful to begin with, and was so dirty and cracked – even scrubbing it, the years of soot were not going anywhere.
Here’s a close up of how it looked before:
Let me also add, that this “before” picture was taken AFTER scrubbing and scrubbing… the dirt was not going anywhere.
Here was how it looked during it’s facelift:
And a few more pretty afters:

Inside the fireplace, you’ll notice an abundance of candles.  I would NOT light a fire in the fireplace at this point.  It hasnt been used in years, it likely is full of soot and god knows what else, and I don’t want to risk setting this building on fire.

So candles are a good alternative – they are super cozy at night when they’re all lit, and in the day, they offer a pretty architectural element.  As we burn them, I love the wax drips that come down the sides.

The contact paper is holding up really well, and everyone who comes over always comments how much they love it.  No one knows it’s not marble, and I’m certainly not going to be the one to tell them 🙂  Read about the whole process here.

Another update?  The old coffee table (which was part of a matching set) got sold to a new home on Craigslist, and we replaced it with this beauty.

This is the Box Frame Coffee Table – Café from West Elm.  Overall, we’re really happy with it.  The wood is such a pretty warm color, the metal frame is incredibly sturdy, and without the storage shelf on the bottom that we had on our last coffee table, it invites less clutter, and looks really open and light.  My ONLY complaint is that it scratches easily.  It came with a few small scratches in it already, but after waiting for months for it to be delivered (it was back-ordered) the tray camouflages those little scratches, and some good wood oil also helps them disappear.

Padded coasters are our best friend.

You might also notice that those awful mis-matched love seats are gone.  Woooooo hoooooooo!!

They’ve also gone to greener pastures on Craigslist, and we replaced them with the BEST sofa ever made.  It’s the PB Comfort Square sofa, with chaise from Pottery Barn.

First I want to say how much we love this couch.  Second, let me say that Pottery Barn was THE WORST company to work with from a customer service perspective.  Truly awful.  I won’t go into all the dirty details on here since everything ended well, and we love the sofa so much, but if anyone wants to hear about our experience, send me a private message.

What we love most about it:

It has really deep seat cushions, a nice high back, and it’s BIG.  It looks kind of dainty in these pictures, but Kris and I can both lay down on it without touching – he’s 6’3″ and I’m 5’8″.  The pillows on the sofa here are 24″ square, so you can really see how large it is from a scale perspective.  It’s amazing.

A few more glory shots of our amazing sofa…

We got the cushions filled with down, and let me just say, it’s worth the extra money my friends.  Not only can we re-fluff the cushions, but it adds this element of sinking in and being so cozy when you’re curled up on it in the evenings.

Here’s a close-up of the fabric.

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We ordered the Textured Twill in Oatmeal after seeing it in the store on another sofa.  It is really durable for scrubbing IN CASE something spills, but has the look of a more organic linen which I love.  The other twill options are flat looking – similar to denim almost – and this color is wonderful at masking everyday wear and tear.

Kris was the one who wanted it, and he could not have made a better call here.

Final details?  The new lamps, the woven rug, layered with the cowhide from our last apartment, the new pillows, and long white linen curtains.

I ordered the pillow covers off of Etsy, and agonized over which to get.  I loved the large greek key trim, but matching the navy velvet was tough.  I wanted a small scale print to coordinate, and ended up with this Schumacher fabric.  I love the heavy weight of each – perfect for the colder months right now, and my mom and I are working on others pillow covers that we’ll swap in for the spring / summer months.

The knit creme colored throw was a find at Ikea (of all places), and it’s so cozy, and adds a bit of texture to the sofa.  It also lives on the chaise lounge, and protects the sofa from dirty feet.

You can kind of take a peek into the entry and the dining room, but more updates on those spaces later…

The lamps are from Target, the side tables were the ones we had in our last apartment, and while I wasn’t crazy about them before, they don’t bother me anymore now that the big bulky coffee table is gone.  They just sort of blend into the background, and the idea of replacing them is in the very very VERY distant future.  Like years maybe.

The large frames are from Ikea also.  A great find – the wood ties in with the coffee table nicely, and you cannot beat the price for a frame that size.  The sailing prints are from Art.com, and as my dad aptly pointed out, I’ve hung them in the reverse order.  It’s actually two prints of one single boat!

Oops!  Need to rehang those…..

There are a few last pieces to finish to room off – a nice chair to fill in the seating area around the coffee table, a small side table for placing cold drinks, and a few more small details, but I’m really happy with where we’ve come in the last year.

It feels clean, refreshed, and is incredibly comfortable and welcoming, which to me was the most important part.  It was impossible to lounge around watching movies on those old teeny love seats, and all the furniture we’ve got now, are things I want to keep for a long, LONG time.

OH!  And I almost forgot one of my favorite things… rounding out our coffee table is the new book from Erin Gates – Elements of Style.  I love her so much, and her book is absolutely beautiful – from the striped spine that kills me, to everything inside.  One of my favorite books to flip through – not a surprise coming from her #designporn

So that’s where we are!

It’s taken a year to get here, and I’m sure that there are more (minor) changes to come, but I’m so happy with the space as it stands now, and let’s be honest… I’ve got a wedding to plan, so our house will be the furthest thing from my mind in a few months.

Next update coming your way… the dining room!

Happy Monday friends!
xoxo

An Apology

So… it’s December.  Where oh WHERE does the time go??

If 2013 was the year I really dedicated myself to my blog, 2014 has been the complete opposite.  I’ve completely neglected you guys, and while I feel awful about it, the truth is, I’ve just been lazy.  And kind of un-inspired.

You’ll notice that the more recent posts on here aren’t some of my best.

I’m sorry for that.

But there is a silver lining!! As a result of my neglect, I’ve had the opportunity to dedicate myself to being creative outside of this blog, and it’s allowed be to turn our apartment, into an actual home.  It feels so different from when we moved in – so cozy, and so refreshed.  Nearly every room has gotten a fresh coat of paint – just the hallway near the bathroom, and our bedroom are still outstanding right now.

There’s also a lot of new furniture – a new couch!  Yes, it happened.

A new desk and office space!

A new coffee table.

A new side table.

New lamps.

New dining room chairs.

New shelving.

New rugs…

…And possibly soon, a new dining room table.  Boom.

So, my promise to you is that I will start actually sharing some of these projects, and updates with you all soon.

xoxo

Pillows that take your House from Summer to Fall

Hands down, the EASIEST way to bring a season into your living space is through textiles – most specifically, throw pillows.  You don’t have to make a ton of big changes to make your home feel like summer, or Christmas, or in this case fall, and they are the easiest, and cheapest way to do so on a budget.
Obviously, there are certain fabrics and pillows that easily run into the hundreds, but there are so many affordable options.  Some of my favorite sources… Etsy, Target, and Homegoods.
A few of my favorites out there right now??
BOTANIC PRINTS:
I love a good floral print – combine a large scale floral with the colors we associate with fall and bam, we’re in business.  I ALMOST bought the top pillow here from Target, but could only find one.  Sad day friends.  It’s so luscious in person, and a sweet deal too!
I also love the look of the branches and leaves, and the more understated print of the lumbar pillow here.  It could really be used in any season, but the rust red and mustard yellow say “fall” to me.

ETHNIC TEXTILES:
In a different color, any of these pillows could be perfect for other seasons, but something about the texture (especially in the Kilm pillow) along with the colors, these would be perfect for the season.  In colder months, I especially like thicker fabrics.

They just say, it’s cold outside, so come snuggle on the couch. 

Am I right, or am I RIGHT??

IKAT PRINTS:
Again, it’s all in the colors that make up the ikat print, but I’m loving the soft melon colors with lots of white.  These are kind of perfect for those that live in more temperate climates, so your house doesn’t feel bizarre on those random warm days.

Mixed with neutral pillows, these are lovely and warm for fall, but mixed with fun blues, you could re-use them again in summer!

Any good ones you’ve seen recently?  I missed the boat for the blue and white pillows I have yet to make – I have a few months to stitch those up, and we can use them after the holidays are over, but for now, I’m on the hunt for some good autumnal pillows!
xo

A Revamped Office Plan

Hola friends!!  How’s everything going for you this week??
Just wanted to check in since some ideas have been spinning around in my head.  We’re re-working our office space at home as we speak, and I’m really excited about the inexpensive changes we’re making.  

I’d been pretty happy with the mini makeover we’d given this space a few months back… the office had been functioning fine for me when I’d work from home, but as I think it goes with most projects around the house, it always starts with one little thing…. our thing was a computer monitor.

Kris has been working from home, and really needed a computer monitor to be more productive.  We talked about it, and agreed that if he needed one to be more productive when working at home, it was a good decision.  So he went ahead to choose which one he wanted and ordered it.

Fast forward a few weeks, and there was a massive box sitting in the entryway.  What was in this massive box, I thought?  Turns out, the massive box held an equally massive computer monitor… like big-screen TV massive.  Why am I not surprised…. men!

What this meant was that we now needed a new desk.  The desk we already had was WAY TOO SMALL to house his behemoth computer monitor, laptop, and various other desk stuffs, and so the hunt for a new desk, and the mission to revamp our office was born.

To refresh your memory, here’s how the room had been looking……..

All the updates we’d made in this space were really inexpensive.  I sanded and painted an old desk that was literally falling apart, painted the walls, and hung a drum shade for overhead light.  Since this photo was taken, I’ve also painted the grout white, and brought in some life in the form of an enormous, gorgeous plant.  
I swear people, plants make everything better.
All the updates we already made were extremely friendly on the wallet, and surprise surprise, we plan to keep the second phase of this room’s makeover equally inexpensive.  Since we will be replacing the above desk with one almost twice it’s size, we’ll also be changing the layout of the room.  The desk will live on the right hand wall perpendicular to where it is in the above picture.
I also want to clean up those curtains.  They are too sheer, so I’d love to line them, and they are also way too long, so they need to be hemmed.  I got lazy when I worked on them the first time, so even though they needed to be hemmed months ago, I just rolled them under and called it a day.  Shameful!  Having them hemmed with a crisp edge will make them SO much better.
We’re also going to have one big empty wall to fill up, so there will be a project there as well… maybe a nice shelf above the monitor to have some pretty frames lined up… or a gallery wall around the monitor could be nice… not sure yet!
A few more things… we need a desk chair that is as comfortable as it is beautiful, and a comfy spot to perch in the window since that space will be freed up.  Can’t you just imagine me cozied up in the sunshine on a winter afternoon??
In terms of a desk, here’s what we’re thinking…….

Kris likes modern, I like a warmer look, and this sort of combines the best for both worlds.  Kris likes the clean silhouette, and I like the warm wood top. Done!
We started out looking at desks from West Elm, World Market, Target, and everywhere in between since this was not a project we wanted to put a ton of cash into, but even options from there were adding up to several hundred dollars.  Our solution is going to cost us less than $100, and I can’t wait to share more details once it all comes together! 
More updates soon, promise!
xoxo

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??