styling a black leather couch

It’s a true First World problem, I know, but about every other week I want to scrap our big black leather sofas for something different. They just aren’t my style, and they aren’t even as comfy as the ones we test-sat in the store years back. In fact, they’ve deflated rather than broke in. It’s a bummer, because we spent a good deal of money on them (besides our bedroom set, it’s the only furniture we have that isn’t either hand-me-down, refinished, or from IKEA.)

There are plenty of good reasons to keep them – mainly that they are already paid for, but also they are kid and pet-friendly. So I’m trying to convince myself they are more versatile that I’m giving them credit for by coming up with some different ways to style them. A living room makeover isn’t in my near future, but it’s fun to dream anyway. Really, I just like making collages in my insomnia. 🙂

1. Eclectic and Jewel Toned.

Leather Couch 1Rather than downplay the dark bulkiness of the couch, I could just embrace it with lots of deep, moody colors and patterns. I love an eclectic global vibe with a mix of patterns. I scout Turkish rugs on Ebay constantly just to torture myself, but maybe one day I’ll find an amazing deal on the perfect thing and it will just bring the whole thing together.

2. Traditional and Earthy.

Leather Couch 3This one’s definitely a bit masculine due to the earthy tones. I like the idea of using different wood tones, woven items, and metals. Lots of textures kind of makes the couch recede into the background, which I like.

3. Light and Airy.

Leather Couch 2This isn’t my style, but I think it’s pretty. The idea behind this one is just to pretend the black leather doesn’t exist by layering white, cream, and metallic items around it. Very feminine and classy (and not at all kid-friendly). I think I need more shiny things in my life.

4. California Bohemian.

Leather Couch 4This one’s probably the most budget and kid-friendly. And it’s actually my favorite because it’s livable. The dresser, side table, and rug are some IKEA favorites. The curtains, terrarium, and art are easily DIY ideas. The black and white with pops of color is really easy to recreate, isn’t limited to a certain palette, and easy to change out. Plus every item is something that could work elsewhere, which I like since I love changing things up regularly.

I’m inspired, so some use-what-I’ve-got rearranging is in the plans for the week. Which is your favorite?

decorating with scarves and pashminas

headwrapOne of the perks, or hazards, of my job, is I am gifted with an excess of souvenirs. I work with – and do lots of paperwork for – people who travel overseas. Many of them bring me back pretty scarves and pashminas, which is so thoughtful! I also am frequently gifted with scarves for holidays and I pick up pretty ones at thrift stores. And as a result I have a LOT of scarves. Somehow I’ve amassed a pretty ridiculous (-ly awesome) collection.

I wear scarves pretty often, and I use them as head wraps. But I have so many pretty scarves and so few places to go these days that I hate seeing them tucked away. The fabrics and colors are so pretty! So I’ve rounded up a few ideas (some that require cutting and sewing for the thrifted ones, but most that leave them in tact) for using and displaying a scarf collection more frequently.

how to tie a scarfMy friend Cassie actually got me a cute book, How to Tie a Scarf, for Christmas. It’s full of fun ideas. There are also tons of tutorials on Pinterest, including how to tie and knot scarves stealthily to turn them into kimonos and vests. Really awesome! There are plenty of head wrap ideas or tutorials on braiding scarves into your hair, too, though I don’t have enough hair or swagger to pull off many of them. I just go for the super simple wrap-styles.

But the ideas I’ve been collecting are more for decor purposes. I love the casual vibe that different patterns and fabrics give off when layered around the house. I suppose you could use any textile for most of these, which makes them even more awesome. I like scouting textiles. They are so versatile. So.. here we go:

I LOVE these huge pillows made from big scarves {plus the link has tons of other ideas I love for scarf-upcycling}.

big pillows - dishfunctional designsSmaller pillows wouldn’t require sewing; you can wrap the scarf and twist/knot the back. The link for this one didn’t work (found on Pinterest), but it directed me to All You.

all youI like the idea of using scarves to cover poufs and ottomans, like these ones: (left from from Urban Outfitters, now sold out; right from Plumo). The Urban Outfitters version is something I’ve wanted to make for a while now. A less pretty “collection” I’ve got going on is 5 gallon buckets (I know, random), and I think with a little creativity I could make a similar ottoman with some patchwork scarves/other fabric.

UO Pouf   Plumo pouf

I use one pashmina as a runner on our dresser top to keep the surface from getting scratched. They are nice for table runners over a table cloth to keep them from sliding.

table runnerThere are lots of images out there for patchwork curtains made from scarves and handkerchiefs, but just hanging one in a window is really pretty and will allow it to be worn later.

windowI loved framed scarves like these, because you can see the entire design. It would be simple enough to switch out, too. (I wish I owned both of the ones below):

framed scarvesYou can hang a scarf on a wall without framing or doing anything special, like below. No cutting into the fabric for the special scarves I’ve got. I love this for the huge silk pashminas I’ve got from the Middle East.

wall hangingStoring scarves in plain view lets them be part of the decor and still keeps them usable. I’ve done this before in the bedroom, but it’s a great idea for an entryway.

hanging scarvesAny other ideas I’ve missed?

updating our spaces (planning post #1)

There have been a lot of changes in-work at our place. In November we recarpeted the house, repainted the formerly teal bedroom a soft, smokey blue (I miss the teal walls, but it works better with our black furniture), and J updated our fireplace with a new tile surround and mantel. We are in the process of finishing our basement (!!), which will eventually serve as our family hang-out space, play room, and office. That requires a whole separate post another day.

A new basement family room means that eventually we will be moving our living room couches, chair, end tables, ottoman, and tv downstairs. We will have a completely blank canvas upstairs to design! With the dark walnut mantel (I just stained it last week), and (eventually) darker cabinets in the kitchen, I will want to keep the furnishings light and airy, with the bigger purchases very neutral. I like to be able to switch up the pillows and art and not be too limited by anything.

I am a very visual person, so I like to create little boards on Polyvore when I’m making decisions for a space. That way I can picture how the things we already have can be best incorporated. It helps me focus and best use our budget. So while I can’t use the exact items I’ve got, I can still get a good idea of the feel of the room with similar items and colors. It works for me. Below is kind of my ultimate plan mood-wise:

living room ideas..
 Of course, this is just for a general idea/vibe I’m going for, using a lot of what we already have. As the budget is tighter than ever, picking a couch gives me anxiety! With dogs and a toddler, I have to be practical. But we also need to think budget-friendly. I am thinking sofas with slipcovers are the way to go. I am really interested in the IKEA EKTORP line of sofas (pictured above). Does anyone have an EKTORP, and would you recommend it? What about slipcovers in general? (BTW I am not anti-laundry. I have white IKEA curtains in most rooms, and we cloth-diaper! But I don’t want to spend hours every week actively maintaining a sofa.)
  • We already have the LACK coffee table and the LACK side tables I modified into a cube table; they have been collecting dust in the basement until we had a room for them.
  • We also already have some glass ball lamps we are using in the bedroom, which I’d be happy to switch up into the living room.
  • The purple chair above represents my fave thrift score that is currently in Hannah’s room. It is a nice small chair perfect for reading and additional seating.

I’ll be on the lookout for:

  • The perfect basic couch. The one above is the IKEA EKTORP but I haven’t decided for sure what I want to get.
  • A hutch for the wall where the tv currently sits. The one above is the IKEA REGISSÖR, which I like size-wise, but will more likely keep hunting for a used piece I can paint. Most of the media in our house will be in the basement, but we will need a place for a few books and toys upstairs.
  • Great curtains. I love the ticking stripe above from Anthropologie, but they never gonna happen. It would be simple enough to add my own pom poms to some stripey curtains if I could find something similar, or sew my own panels.
  • Not pictured, but more seating on the other side of the room. Probably a love seat, but I could be flexible since this will no longer be a lazy tv-watching space. (I want it to be comfy in there, but the seating doesn’t need to be as lounge-around-all-evening-friendly).

The kitchen/living area is all one big open area, so it needs to coordinate. We have some kitchen sprucing in the near-future plans as well. We are going to stain the now cherry alder cabinets a darker walnut color, and paint the island white. Here’s the idea I’ve got in mind for the mood of the kitchen area:

kitchen idea
 The blue rectangle with a chalkboard represents our pantry door, which I would like to paint a fun color. Really, paint and stain are the only required expenses for the kitchen area. I would like to find a great rug, but I am happy with some others I’ve got for now so it will only be if I find an amazing bargain that I will worry about that. I just threw that on there because I like the pop of color. I could work that in anywhere.
I made a board for our dining area a couple of years ago, and though it doesn’t look entirely inspired by this look, it does have a sort of similar mood, in my opinion. I still really like the look of this board, and think it ties nicely in with the living room and kitchen space I have worked up above.
dining room update
You know what is so hard for me? Figuring out what my style is. Even with creating those little collages to capture the look I want, it’s hard for me to not get too easily inspired by other styles. And I’ve been trying to decide what my style would be called. It’s a little boho (but not messy), a little farmhouse (but not country), a little Scandinavian (but not minimalist), a little traditional (but not matchy).

color palettes for the whole house

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We are currently in basement-finishing mode. J does all the work and my role is largely 1) schedule Hannah’s naps around construction efforts (harder than you’d think!), and 2) be completely overwhelmed about making decisions on all the finishes.

We are definitely DIYers and use-what-we-have-ers, so for me choosing all the paint colors, flooring, etc is not just about what I like the best. It’s also about using what we already have, stretching our budget, and being responsible consumers to the max extent possible. I don’t want to make mistakes that I end up wanting to fix a couple years down the road, but I don’t want to settle on the most simple and neutral, either.

I’ve been creating mood boards on polyvore that I will share soon, which are really helpful to me for planning. I make a quick digital mockup of the room’s style, color scheme, etc using as many items as I can similar to what I already own. I’ve made and blogged quite a few of these (like the dining room one below) in the past because it’s fun and what works for me.

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The challenge, and the fun, is to tie it all together in a way that represents our family style and budget.

One thing I struggle with in every decision-making aspect of my life is focusing and narrowing down my style. The mock-ups really help, but my style is pretty eclectic. To reign it in and keep it from getting too thrift-storish, I have been trying to focus on a color palette. But I never really defined what that is until now. I came up with two similar and coordinating palettes for each level of our house.

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Our house doesn’t fit within the parameters of these palettes and maybe never will, but it should really help me make future decisions that don’t derail our budget and look. I chose each based on what we already own and the mood I’d ultimately like to shape our house into. It is pretty neutral and airy with doses of dusty blues and teals, and smaller pops of more dynamic and warm colors I am most drawn to (Orange/coral, yellow, and purple).

More later on some of our plans for our spaces.

valentine’s day decor & our new mantel

Valentine’s Day has been a holiday I am mostly neutral about. I like the idea of going out to dinner or getting some flowers, but it’s not a big deal if the extent of celebrating is just something like making up some heart-shaped pancakes or painting my nails red. Whatever.

But this year I was inspired by our new mantel – decorating it is so fun! So here’s a little peek at my budget V-day decor:

mantel

J built the mantel and tiled the fireplace surround in November, and I LOVE it. Such an improvement to our living room. I’ve yet to stain it, but plan to after the 14th, between decor themes. 🙂 For Valentine-y decor, I just rounded up anything and everything pink, red and purple. I printed a free Valentine printable from HERE and framed it in a frame I had in a closet. I pulled a few framed photos from elsewhere (a selfie of me & J and a fave of Hannah as a newborn because ❤ ❤ ❤ ) and there ya go – a lovey-dovey mantel.

shelfIn the eat-in kitchen area I spruced up the trusty IKEA Varde shelf in a similar fashion. I pulled out varies Fiesta Ware, Pyrex and misc mugs of holiday-appropriate colors, added a gift bag from the stash, some conversation hearts in a jar and swapped out the cookbooks for a “new” stack in the right colors. It does the job!

We don’t have plans for the holiday yet, but I will probably get some cute pictures of Hannah and the dogs, and make us something festive to eat (like those pancakes..;) ) What do you do for Valentine’s Day?

nursery progress

Only 5 weeks or less til welcoming a baby girl into our home (OMG), and we’ve done what we can to make sure she’s got a cute space to come home to. Babies totally know the difference, right? I can’t wait til it’s completely done (well, nothing’s ever completely done..) to reveal some pictures of the nursery, so here’s a progress update (and yet-to-do list).

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I shared the above picture on Instagram last night after we finished hanging the vinyl wall art we picked up at Target. I really love it! I have been trying to decide what to do over the crib for a long time; everything seemed like a potential baby hazard! Shelves or pictures would come crashing down (not that I’ve ever had anything fall off a wall before) or a canopy would surely cause suffocation. New mom paranoia! Vinyl art is the perfect solution and I finally found this one I loved.

That little white bookshelf has been everywhere in my house (and our old house, and our first apartment). It’s the perfect thing to store the cute blankets, books, stuffed things, etc I’m collecting and have saved over the years (including afghans that were mine as a baby on the top shelf!). Nothing too notable on there except this tiny wood elephant that was my grandparents’ and I think it’s so cute. I have all 4 of them, from small to big, and this is the tiniest. I made a cloche from a drinking glass and round wooden plaque I painted. I glued a broken brooch to the top of the glass. I don’t know why, but this little detail makes me smile.

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My parents gifted us the crib and mattress (from Babies ‘R Us) and it’s so pretty. I love the weathered grey finished and that it turns into a toddler bed, then a twin bed head/foot board. I kind of hate all nursery bedding sets I’ve found (and half of it shouldn’t be used for safety reasons anyway!) so I went with a simple white fitted sheet and fashioned my own crib skirt; really I just found some vintage fabric I liked on Etsy and cut it to size and used Velcro squares to secure it around the part of the crib supporting the mattress.

IMG_2027Moving slightly to the right, here’s the other corner of the same wall. I love how it’s all coming together. The night stand was mine as a kid, and Jonathan painted them green (Behr “Minted Lemon”) for me. The mirror above the night stand is from Target.

IMG_2029The closet is still a favorite feature. The whole room is pretty feminine, but the closet is uber girly, with coral walls and all those little dresses. The curtains are the LENDA’s from IKEA (same as my dining room and nursery window). I just hemmed them to the length needed and Jonathan installed the rod on the inside of the closet near the ceiling for me. I like it open while it’s so organized, but the curtains can be closed to cover up the chaos that will soon happen in there. 🙂 The bird and squirrel prints and frames are from IKEA, as are the baskets on the shelves in the closet.

IMG_2023The other side of the room still has some work left but I’m struggling with finishing it all. We are using my old dresser, also painted that lovely green (thanks, Hubby!) as the changing table. The changing pad takes up most of the dressed top width, so the mirror that accompanies the dresser can’t be installed until we no longer need is as a changing table. So, I haven’t decided what to hang on that blank section of wall. The owl print above the chair is an old calendar page I saved, and framed in a Target frame. The white shelf was mine from college and the bear on top was mine as a baby!

IMG_2031I really love the purple crushed velvet chair. Isn’t it a beauty? I found it at a consignment shop in Ogden and it was a steal. It fits me perfectly, and it rocks (literally and figuratively). The pillow case I made from an old vintage bed pillow case. There’s a lot of vintage clashy-ness happening in this room, and I love it.

IMG_2022I made the little hanging elephant garland just today! Well, I made the elephants several weeks ago with some scraps leftover from the quilt I’m working on, with the intentions of making a mobile. But I decided I would rather use the little animals for a beaded garland and I really love how it added something to the windows. Again, same LENDA curtains from IKEA. They are so cheap and the best!

IMG_2026My dad built the crib under the window for me, before I was born! It won’t reside in the nursery here shortly; it will be next to our bed for several months! But it’s really cute there for the moment.

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One final thing to share because I must: the cloth diaper stash! They are so cute, I can’t even handle it. In case you’re wondering what I picked, I have some snap Alva Baby diapers that you stuff with bamboo inserts, and some BumGenius all-in-ones with Velcro. I have collected unisex colors so they can be used on the next baby, which makes the whole thing more economical than it already is. I admit the whole concept of washing diapers is daunting, but I knew immediately it was something I wanted to try, for many reasons. The cuteness factor is just an added bonus. I mean seriously.IMG_2028

Thanks for taking the tour of our nursery so far! Here’s what’s left on the to-do list for this room:

  • Finish quilting baby quilt I am making! It will probably reside on the purple chair.
  • Hang something above the changing table/dresser.
  • Make a tissue paper garland to hang above window or off the small white wall shelf (just a fun DIY I’ve been wanting to try).
  • Get a lamp shade for the cute thrifted lamp I found. It will sit on the changing table.
  • Make a small row of mismatched knobs to hang near the door for diaper bags and such (and later for the little one’s jackets!) I have everything, I just need to put it all together.
  • Gather up diaper changing accessories and corral in cute basket or on something wall-mounted above the dresser).
  • General primping of the space. I definitely like where it’s headed but it can use a few more touches. That’s the fun part!

What do you think? Any ideas for some other fun things I can do?

it’s a girl!!

We had our targeted ultrasound this week (the 4D one) and finally got the Big Reveal. At 22 weeks it was finally officially confirmed, we’re having a little girl. We are so excited! 

Here’s the first picture of little missy on the Internet. 🙂 That ultrasound was an amazing experience.  I already adore her little face.

our girlieHitting the midway mark a couple of weeks ago, it hit me that this pregnancy is going FAST. It probably helps that it’s been a relatively easy one (compared to so many other moms-to-be I’ve known). It felt so far away when I found out I was pregnant back in early June, and here we are nearly approaching the string of fall and winter holidays. February will be here in no time.

I feel pretty good, I have energy back again, and I have lots on my mind. Here are a couple things in-work/on the brain, list-style.

1. Nursery. I blogged about my  nursery inspiration boards previously. I’ll have lots of fun winter projects to keep me occupied, like painting the bedroom furniture I had as a kid (thanks for hanging on to it, Mom & Dad!), making a quilt and mobile, and finding/making some artwork.  If its a girl2. Clothes and play stuff (buying & DIYing). Although there is nothing cuter than a newborn in a onsie with gigantic diaper-butt, toddlers in floral Dr. Martins and camo pants are a pretty close second. I’m already collecting some DIY fashion and playtime ideas. A tent or teepee is mandatory. This isn’t going to be any fun at all. 😉baby girl3. A baby book. I haven’t been into scrapbooking for a lot of years, but I definitely want to record some of the fun pregnancy stories, ultrasound photos, and predictions for the future in a little collage-y style book. Something graphic like this (source):

baby book4. The immensity of raising a tiny human. When I was a kid, it never occurred to me that my parents were learning as they went like I was. And even up until being pregnant, I never really gave much thought to that.

A household of kindness, reinforcing healthy body image and general self-esteem, taking care to not push any gender stereotypes, encouraging individuality and free-thinking, being confident in my abilities and intuition as a new parent… these are the things that truly keep me up at night, and make up the reading material on my nightstand. But these are the things I am also truly looking the most forward to- she will be adorable and amazing from the start, but she’ll keep growing into herself as a person, and I get to help shape that, encourage that, and watch that happen.