Tag Archives: decorating

No more “House arrest” in the living room

I’m pretty happy with the things I’ve done with my living room, which I’ve shown from time to time on the blog.  Inspiration hit again recently, partly from a memory from a number of years ago when Nate Berkus, the charming interior decorator, spoke on Oprah about people’s tendency to place their furniture under “house arrest” – it was all “up against the wall.” I looked around and stood accused; the furniture tended to cling to the walls but given the fairly small space, I wasn’t sure how to fix it.

I have longed to have seating which faced the window, especially for winter (if you can’t BE outside, it helps to at least be able to look). Here’s my solution: pulling the couch away from the wall and angling it and the 5×8 rug in the space. The couch now faces neither the TV nor the window straight-on but each at an angle, but not so much of one your neck will complain. And there’s still plenty of room to walk around.

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The couch is very deep and I thought it didn’t look good – big wall-o-couch – till I put the plant and small table at the end, which soften the appearance.

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I made other small switchups. I put the white IKEA chair cover back in my bedroom and brought the flowered one to the living room (restoring each to the chair they came with). I pulled the blue lamp with the old-fashioned pull chain at the base out of storage. I had thought the baby blue co!or wouldn’t work before, given my general color scheme, but for now it’s okay and picks up blue in the chair cover. (I have since made a larger wood off-white top to put under the lamp so there’s a place to set drinks. When I put a drink on the coffee table I am at risk of kicking it off as I did once this summer, breaking a clear glass and sending my beverage flying, oops).

I have previously shown a high, narrow shelf I put up, one with pretty white lights strung from it. The lights are on a timer, 6:30-10:30pm. Well, last winter I got the bright idea to hang them in front of the window, despite knowing they acted up when moved. When I went to put them back on my high shelf for summer they promptly died and all the shaking and  “rearranging” in the world wasn’t bringing them back. I was kicking myself – I loved them on the shelf. Why hadn’t I left them alone? However, in  mid-summer I went to a local church rummage sale, the same annual one where I’d initially found the lights, and damned if I didn’t find another set. Yay! In addition to re-hanging my beautiful lights, I painted the unfinished wood white. Aaahhh, happy.

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Finding a spot for the little metal shelf (finally)

Way back in March I found an interesting, small metal wall shelf for a buck at a rummage sale. I stuck it briefly on the wall for the purposes of having show-and-tell pictures in that post but after that it languished on top of the fridge, waiting for a permanent home. See, I’m running out of wall space and I didn’t like it the one or two spots I tried hanging it. So for 8 or so months I’d eye it and it bothered me! I needed to leave it out so I wouldn’t forget about it.

Perhaps the cool Fall air has invigorated me – I kind of think it has – and I’m feeling creative. It occurred to me to try an unconventional approach and go UP the wall nearer the ceiling with it. Bam! It works.

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I tried a couple different things on it and liked this white vase (a curbside find I picked up primarily because I thought it didn’t deserve to go to the landfill). Also, notice how the shelf metal matches the color of the hanger below it. A word on that copper(?) hanger. It’s actually some kind of construction equipment I found, again, tossed out (that is I didn’t rifle around a construction site and pilfer it, okay). There were two and I salvaged them because I thought maybe I could do something creative.

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The glass dish, which I think is vintage, was one of several items I got when the local arts theater gave away a bunch of old props they no longer wanted. I don’t know what it is,  I just thought it was cool. Occasionally I burn a tealight candle in it.

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Now you need to see the shelf in context. Since I last posted pictures the couch gained two new thrift store throw pillows, the lighter ones. Also, you can see how the metal shelf picks up colors in the painting as well as the pillows.

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And on the right let me reintroduce the bird cage thingie. It hangs from the other salvaged hanger. I decided the two hangers didn’t need to be matchy-matchy, which really isn’t my style.

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And finally, a different vantage on the whole wall and area. I am really liking it. Colorful and inviting.

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New little touches in the living room

This summer I added two small decorative touches to the living room. I’ve blogged previously about adding ethnic touches  to a simple, high, narrow shelf I made. In the summer I picked up white “icicle” lights at a rummage sale and centered them on the front of the shelf and then linked them to a timer so they’re on from 6:30-10:30pm every night. (I figure if I see them off, I should already be in bed.) I love the effect – and even after a few months, I’m surprised when they pop on “by themselves” every night.

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For some years I’ve had a mix of what I think all initially started life as chandelier glass, that is they hung from a chandelier or fancy lampshade. I remember buying at least a few from a vintage thrift store long ago and taking others from a cast-off lamp by the road. I thought they were beautiful but could never quite settle on the best use for them. Using tacks and dental floss (it’s great for both its strength and relative invisibility) I strung them up at varied heights along the length of a “beam” at the center of the ceiling. I hung them so none will knock me or visitors in the head ahem.  It totally works.

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Makin’ great updates to my living room (cheaply)

Earlier this year I did a post on my decorating-on-the-cheap living room and another on wall art made from somebody’s castoff IKEA shelves. I’ve since made updates I’m pretty pleased with and want to share.

First, somebody local on Facebook was giving away an assortment of paints and I’m all about free paint so I pounced on the offer. I originally painted my IKEA wall art using whatever I had on hand and the color palette kind of had a retro look which I liked. However every time I looked at it, which is daily, the fire engine red looked wrong to me. I only used it because I didn’t have a darker red at the time. The freebie paints included just the right shade so I repainted only those slats. Much better!

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I then took down the small white shelf and replaced it with this dark stained one I made years ago. It just works a lot better as does this different lamp.

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The bigger, darker shelf isn’t so dwarfed by the IKEA shelf-art

The major change in the living room was a splurge, a great, half-wool 5 x 8 rug, which while a “splurge” was still under $40. I am/was SO tired of boring rugs and dreary, old-fashioned “grandma” style rugs. This one suits me so much better. I removed the love seat’s red slipcover for winter just to have a change (and because I am more confident it’ll stay cleaner in winter; no sweaty bodies, no dirty bare feet, etc.).

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Does this rug not rock with the $1 painting, the $1 throw pillows, the free love seat and the free coffee table?!

I have to tell you a little story about those throw pillows… I was delighted to get them very inexpensively at a big, multi-person indoor yard sale early in the year. The only thing was they’re feather pillows inside and have made poor support or bolster pillows – this love seat is very deep so additional pillows were needed or it’s awkward to sit – because feathers just smoosh. Luckily, I later found sturdier thrift store pillows (don’t worry – I wash everything in hot water and only buy linens or fabrics that look good) and swapped them into the zippered pillow cases. Aaaah! The couch is SO much comfier now!

So now I had these two feather-filled “inserts” (that’s what the plain white pillows that go inside zippered covers are called – who knew?). I didn’t want to waste them and I DID need a new bed pillow so I got a bright (ahem) idea to open them up, remove the feathers and stuff them into a standard size pillow cover and then sew it shut. I was a little uncertain about the wisdom of this endeavor so at least I had sense to take the whole shebang outside to do it. Oh. My. As soon as I got one feather pillow open and grabbed a big fistful of feathers, I knew it was a mistake but I pressed on. The ground around me soon looked like I’d been slaughtering birds. White birds. Feathers were literally flying. Those pillows were never meant to be opened again!  But by god I ended up with a big feather pillow.

This next one is a small addition but I found an IKEA table runner (I didn’t immediately know what it was but guessed) for a buck at a local church-run thrift store (an odd little place open only one day a week – for six hours). I thought the colors would go well with the others so I added it to this wall.

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I was able to cram the top of the fabric in between the fake “bricks”

Here it is in the larger context.

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The corner “hutch”? Roadside find many years back. It was an ugly dark brown; so much better with a new paint job. And that’s contact paper from Dollar Tree accenting the lower doors.

Oh, oh! I must show you my best recent curbside finds! These are so awesome – and different – and blend perfectly with the colors I’ve been using. I already have several spots I want to use this chair.

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I’ve wanted a “bar stool” type chair for a long time and this one is over-size (16″ square seat), heavy, and well-made. And you can put your feet on the rungs. LOVE it.

Here’s the other find. The shade is fabric-covered and even has tiny mirror tiles, so unique.

It doesn't throw a lot of light but I like it just as decoration when it's turned off.

It doesn’t throw a lot of light but I like it just as decoration when it’s turned off.

I have to tell you this is the most beautiful my home – anywhere I’ve lived that is – has ever been. It pleases me every day. Frugal creativity baby!

“Mirror, mirror…”

I got a Snow White mirror. Let me back up. I like mirrors. Most of the ones I have aren’t all that cool. Sure I paint them and do interesting things with them but on whole they aren’t especially unique. Colorful yes. So the other week I spied a big pile of junk/stuff thrown out. Naturally I had to check it out. I didn’t find much of interest but I did see this mirror that shouted “Snow White mirror” at me. (It didn’t actually shout or that REALLY would have made it a Snow White mirror.)

My first thought was that I’d paint it a bright color and hang it in my home somewhat ironically – I’m not the gilded or ornate type, style-wise. But damned if I didn’t find the perfect spot and love it as is.

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It hasn’t said anything yet. But then again I haven’t asked it anything.

Awhile back I looked around my home and thought, you know, there’s really nothing ethnic here. It’s not that I’m never drawn to objects or art from other cultures and countries, but I guess I don’t come by them naturally since I don’t travel to places I might pick up interesting trinkets and such. I resolved to make improvements to this decor oversight. This wood piece from Bali I bought was the first step. I would have said it was a horse but the tag said zebra so there you go. It spoke to me too (“so to speak”).

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Fixin’ up the living room

I was delighted to find two throw pillows in a decent pattern for a mere $1 at a big yard sale (lots of sellers) this past weekend. I’ve been looking for pillows like this for awhile, even on Amazon and in real stores, but was unwilling to pay what they wanted. It seems once you add a high-falutin’ zipper to a throw pillow, the price leaps upward. I wanted zippers so I could take off the covers and wash ’em once in awhile. I am done with washing zipper-less pillows and waiting days for them to dry. I needed them because the couch is a love seat, meaning it’s deep and it feels awkward to try to sit so far back. If you sit normally, your back doesn’t reach the cushions and what’s the point in that?!

 

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In the last 6 months or so I’ve made significant improvements to the living area. My goal always is beautiful-and-usable. The trouble with being a frugal decorator is waiting for the “right thing” to turn up – cheap. Patience is required. Previously, I wrote about making my own coffee table and although I used it for a year, it wasn’t quite what I wanted.

What I wanted turned up this winter – tossed out of course – a round coffee table. It’s different; a marble top that sets on a wood base. Once I painted the base from its original dark (not nice) shade to white, I was quite happy with it. Free! The couch originally came from a neighbor who bought a new one. It’s actually off-white and the deep red is a slip cover from Amazon. The off-white color is very attractive but I assure you I am not the sort of person who can live safely with white furnishings and fabrics. Sometimes I have the couch all-white and sometimes a mix-and-match, leaving just the seat cover red. Winter seemed the right time for all red, just to have a big punch of color. (Ironing the cotton cover was so horrible that I now feel obligated to leave it on longer to justify all that wretched ironing.)

Here is the whole look, replete with the $1 wall hanging from another yard sale a few years ago; I have no idea what is going on in this painting but I liked it – and the colors worked with the others in the room – and the longer I’ve had it the more it’s grown on me.

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The 8×10 carpet, which is a great dirt-n-lint hiding shade considering it’s light, was a $10 thrift store find. The trick to buying a second-hand carpet is to look under it where a rug’s true life is revealed. (Do whatever you like to the surface; all mystery stains and weird stuff will still lurk on the underside.) This carpet looked great. You may notice in the left corner below my bird cage decoration.

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Finding a spot for the “bird cage thingie”

I think I’m (still) in a show-and-tell mood. Last year I posted about fixing up a bird cage thingie I got dirt cheap (it was a little mangled when I found it so I stood on it in the store aisle to even it out a bit – I don’t need no stinkin’ mangled bird cage thingie). I liked it but just couldn’t find the “right place” for display. Till now. The quirky cat was a present and he too has drifted a bit not having the “right place”. Now this, this works. Ha ha ha.P_20160114_085431

 

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The cat’s resigned expression and pose are now most appropos

 

P.S. After posting this I noticed that I hadn’t painted eyes on my little bird so I got out a magic marker and remedied that.

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