Five Days to Deadline

Still trying to figure out the art situation in the bathroom! So let’s change topics, shall we?

This weekend we are hosting our friends for a housewarming party (Saturday) and our family for a Father’s Day grill-out (Sunday) so we have a lot of things to get going before those two events! Nothing like a deadline for motivation. It was the story of college, right?

I have my priorities, and Doug has his priorities, so I had him write a little list while I was at work one day, that way I could see what he wanted to accomplish. It was a great exercise, having him put some thought into it (he isn’t usually as house-preoccupied as I am)  without influencing him so much. I, naturally, have a mile-long list in my head which is continuously growing. It was important to pick out a few important and doable tasks to conquer before our next big weekend. Here’s what he came up with:

  • Finish the curtains
  • Organize the spare bedroom
  • Put up several pieces of art
  • Paint the kitchen and dining room
  • Put up the pot /pan hanger in kitchen
  • Sell/give away headboard

As of right now, organize the spare bedroom and put up several pieces of art are complete! Last weekend we got some real work done in that area. The spare room’s floor is no longer a tripping hazard!

Hanging some art made a huge difference, too. We put up my antique advertisement prints in the bedroom, a couple vintage canvases in the dining room, and a few frames in the hallway. The total cost of giving our existing artwork new context? Zero dollars.

art over dresser

These used to live in the TV area, and it’s refreshing seeing them in a new context over our bedroom dresser.

Vintage Dining Room Art

These vintage scandinavian canvases came out of retirement and look right at home on our retro wood paneling!

Art in Hallway

A couple sentimental prints (aligned to the right) gives the hallway a bit of interest. In our last place they were part of a mini gallery wall in the bedroom. Also, check out our vintage doorbell! I love it.

Art to cover electric panel

Oh, and a huge frame to cover our enormous (almost two feet tall) electric panel.

Painting the kitchen and dining room will be a huge improvement, and we are going to give it our best shot to get it done by Saturday. I’m not sure if it’s realistic, but like I said there’s nothing like a deadline to get the rear in gear. I do plan on finishing up the living room curtains and am trying to think of strategies as to not get rid of the plywood headboard (I love it too much! Photo from the old place).

Point Blanket

Looking at this photo reminds me that we need lampshades, too! Gah!

Wish us luck!

Inexpensive Fabric Wall Decor

On Wednesday, Libby asked to know a little bit more about what was going on behind my couch. I am more than happy to oblige!

The fabric panels behind the couch have been with me a long time. When I moved into my first apartment (with a roommate) in 2007, it was 100% furnished with leftovers from my parents’ guest room. Okay, that’s not entirely true. The coffee table was a deeply discounted floor model from the local IKEA. Can you believe I dug up an old photo of my first place?

Old, old, old living room

Isn’t it amazing how far digital camera technology has come in the past 6 years?
This looks like it was taken with a cell phone, but I assure you it was not. 

While at IKEA nabbing a cool coffee table for a cheap price, some yardage of fabric caught our eye in the textiles section. It was so long ago I can’t remember if we grabbed the remainder of the bolt or just a couple of yards. Anyway, this fabric was being discontinued and my mom and I thought the pastel color palette would really go with the blue-and-white striped couch and easy chair. Note: looks like my addiction to sales, discontinued items, and the “as is” section at IKEA is not a new thing! 

Back in the late 80s and/or early 90s, my mom actually stretched canvases as a side job. Or something like that (I was a baby so my memory is, understandably, not crystal clear).

She was happy to revive her skills and help me out by doing these!

Wall Hangings

I like how they can be flipped and rotated to create different designs (compare this arrangement to the first photo in the post).

These beautiful pieces really haven’t had a home until now. They were just what the room needed to balance out the height created by the sliding door and barfy vertical blinds. They help the “living” area look finished.  I was worried that Doug would think they were too feminine, so I didn’t press the issue–but when he saw them he actually really liked them!

This is an awesome, and like I said, inexpensive way to make some large-scale art for your living space. Large-scale art is often expensive but it can really make a good impact–I think I have achieved that here! You could even use a tablecloth or textile found at a thrift store, or pick of fabric at the local JoAnn’s. I can picture an awesome ikat fabric, or suzani, or otomi… it seems like geometric or “native” types of print work really, really well with this kind of project.

I like this particular fabric because it has an ikat motif (gray) a sakura motif (green) and a moroccan/arabic star technique (blue)! Of course, I didn’t know what the terms for these designs really were when I bought the fabric… you don’t have to like something just because it’s trendy–just pick something you are drawn to! It’s what I do and it seems to work out well.

Wall Hangings

Want to create your own wall hangings? Grab some stretcher bars or any old wooden frame and stretch your favorite fabric!

I don’t have a step-by-step DIY tutorial for you, but maybe watching this guy will help.

Faking a Sofa Table

Sometimes you have awkwardly large items you need to store, and no place to do so. In our case, two large speakers and two bar stools. Where to put them? One option is to get rid of them, but I really, really love these bar-height stools and look forward to using them in a future home, once we’ve moved on from our current apartment. The speakers will be cool when hooked up to a turntable someday (unfortunately, the turntable we have does not have any output capabilities except the speakers in its unit) so we’re holding on to those for the future as well.

That said, when you’re dealing with just over 800 square feet, every space must be maximized to its full potential. There is no spare bedroom, basement, or garage to hoard items in–which is quite the learning curve for my since the last place we lived had all three of those hoarding storage solutions.

I really (really, really, really) like the console table that John built to go behind the Petersik’s sofa in the living room over on Young House Love. It has a ton of hidden storage and adds a lot of dimension to the room. I thought perhaps I could take a clue from that and come up with some kind of storage/hiding place solution in our apartment! All it took was a little brainstorming and one pre-finished shelf board at Home Depot.

I love the look that a sofa table adds to a room. It gives the space much more dimension than just having the couch shoved up against the wall and in the corner.

The finished product:

The untrained eye would never guess what is going on behind the couch! It is a fantastic place to keep some of my more attractive (and more frequently thumbed-through) design books, a few pretty tchotchkes, and a much-needed lamp. It also provides an alternative place to put snacks and drinks while watching TV, since the coffee table is simply too dog-accessible.

And a peek behind the curtain:

The cloth runner (from Target) is up there for two reasons: a) it looks pretty, and b) the shelf board is a little shorter than I like so this hides that awkward fact pretty well.

If I ever get around to it, another shelf board slid on to the lower bar stool rungs will be a great addition for a little bit more concealed storage.

And a bonus shot, with a little explanation:

I realize I never showed the world the back of the couch cushions! When we purchased the gray microsuede for our upholstery, it was a remnant and about a yard short of the needed amount to cover all the cushions. We went ahead and selected an inexpensive contrasting canvas printed with french postmark stamps (I think?) to make up the difference. So far we have been able to arrange the furniture so that it remains hidden.

Now you know our (not so dirty) little secret! Have you ever gotten creative with something like this? I bet they do a lot of creative “faking it” for furniture on TV and movie sets, don’t you?

2-Second Tip: Add a Plant

What a difference a [silk] plant can make in a cold corner comprised of hard angles! An immediate injection of organic shape and life.

Grab a real plant at your local nursery, or Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc. Check out HomeGoods, Wal-Mart, Thrift Stores, or your mom’s garage for your silk plant needs.

Note: While live plants are great for purifying indoor air, this area of my home gets little to no sunlight. Kudos to you if you decide to get a real one!

Guest Post: The Best of Los Angeles for Free

Alyssa Bacon-Liu is a new wife, southern California native, and wannabe world changer who lives with her husband in Los Angeles. She is passionate about justice, equality, anything sparkly, and reusable shopping bags. She blogs about life, love, and the pursuit of all things beautiful at You can also find her on Twitter (@alyssabaconliu).

I am very vocal about the fact that I love living in Los Angeles. I know that big city life isn’t for everyone, but the City of Angeles has my heart. One of the best things about L.A. is that there is SO much to do and see. There is never a dull moment and you will rarely find yourself bored. Want to know the best part? You can experience the best of what this city has to offer and you can do it on a budget! I’m here to give you an inside look at how you can explore my favorite city in the world for practically free.

If you like architecture…

The historic Bunker Hill area of downtown Los Angeles has so much eye candy in such a relatively small area. First, you can make your way to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The architecture alone of this Catholic cathedral is worth checking out, but it also boasts a relaxing meditation garden, children’s garden, religious art, fountains and an open plaza where people can walk around or sit and talk. Next, head over to the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is home to the LA Philharmonic. The cool thing is that you can take free self-guided walking tours of the inside of the Hall when there isn’t a show going on. But even if that’s not your thing, you can just walk around the outside of the building and take in the awesome architecture. Finish your adventure at the California Plaza Water Court which is one of my absolute favorite places in downtown L.A. because of the beautiful skyscrapers and relaxing atmosphere.

If you like art…

The J. Paul Getty Museum is a must-visit for anyone in the Los Angeles area. The museum has an impressive collection of art and wonderful rotating exhibits. The grounds of the Getty are as stunning as the artwork inside. They have beautiful gardens to explore, plus an amazing view. Entry to the museum is free, but parking will cost you $15 so carpool with some buddies! You can also visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and get lost in the largest art museum on the West Coast! Their general admission usually comes with a price tag, but if you plan your trip right you can get in for free! Go on the second Tuesday of the month or go after 3 pm Monday through Friday if you are a resident of Los Angeles County and enjoy the expansive collection of art at no cost!

If you like the beach…

Los Angeles has so many beaches to choose from and any one of them is great for basking in the California sun and working on that tan. But I recommend Santa Monica because it has so much more than just the beach. When you’re done being a beach bum, you can do some serious window shopping at the Third Street Promenade. Towards the end of the day, make sure you head to the Santa Monica Pier for a breathtaking view of the sunset. An entire day full of fun with the ocean as your background, and it doesn’t have to cost you a thing!

If you like history…

The perfect place for history buffs is Los Angeles Plaza Historic District, nestled in the oldest district of Los Angeles. The area is a living history lesson and there is a lot to explore in this little gem. The three standouts are the Plaza, Olvera Street, and Avila Adobe. The Plaza is usually coming alive with live performances in Mexican music and dancing.  Olvera street is a bustling Mexican marketplace with colorful souvenirs and trinkets. Avila Adobe is the oldest residence still standing in the entire city of Los Angeles and it is well preserved for visitors. And if you can spare a few dollars, indulge in a delicious cinnamon churro. You won’t be disappointed!

If you like being a tourist…

If you want a quintessential Los Angeles experience, look no further than Griffith Observatory and Rodeo Drive. Griffith Observatory is a Los Angeles icon and landmark. Perched atop Mount Hollywood, it gives you great views of the greater L.A. area and the famed Hollywood sign. The grounds of the Observatory are great place to take pictures and take in the sights. And entrance to the Observatory is always free! I know that “Rodeo Drive” and “free” don’t seem like they belong in the same sentence. But fear not, my friend on a budget! Rodeo Drive is the infamous shopping playground for the ultra-rich and glamorous, but it is also a window shopper’s dream! The luxury stores on Rodeo Drive only stretch out over 3 palm tree lined blocks, making walking up and down the entire Drive very doable. Take your time and enjoy the scenery of Gucci, Armani, Versace, and Chanel…as well as some plastic surgery jobs gone wrong.

I hope this post inspires you to not only have fun, free adventures in my favorite city, but also inspires you to find the fabulous and free places to explore wherever you go.

Free Pillow!

Last night a new decorative pillow made its debut in our house–it only took a year!

Here’s the story: we went to the Kansas City river market in, like, April of 2010 (or some absurdly distant time like that) and bought this 15 lb bag of basmati rice from an African grocery shop. It took us this long to finish the bag.

DIY steps:

  1. Use 15 lbs of rice
  2. Remove plastic bag from inside burlap one
  3. Cut off handles from the top of the bag
  4. Insert one sad, faded, depressed looking pillow from my freshman year of college
  5. Sip top closed
  6. Enjoy new decorative item!


So, for the longest time, I’ve been having issues with what to put above the headboard in the bedroom. That is, what’s cheap to put above the headboard in the bedroom.

First, we had a map of New York City in a frame we got for our wedding, but the proportion was killing me. The wide bed+bedside tables and wide wall really deserves something with a more horizontal nature to it. Image below: awful, right?

So, I had the courageous idea to do a New York skyline mural on the wall. In my first inspiration board, which this room is loosely based on, I’d envisioned a headboard cut out to look like a skyline. I still think it would be totally awesome.

For my skyline, I looked up some stylized NY skyline prints and adapted one onto my wall in pencil, then taped it off with blue tape with the plan to paint it. It was around this time that I started sending out lots of job applications to outside states, and we got our new landlords and Mosey, so I put off painting… and put it off, and put it off.

(Photo taken Sunday: bed not even pretending to be made) I think it would have looked really cool, I was just too hesitant to do something too permanent to a rental that, when I did it, we could have moved out on short notice. Now, a few months later, I know I could’ve done it because we obviously haven’t gone anywhere. Guess I’m starting to dig in my heels for a little while longer.

Sick of the blue tape, I took it all down (carefully, because I think the wall is in fact painted-over wallpaper, which likes to peel off) and put up some of the extra antique postcards I got in preparation for our wedding guestbook (we had guests write us a note on the back and we keep them in a box). I tried out a couple of different patterns flat on the bed before they went up on the wall.

It’s not perfect, but the arrangement meets our color scheme (sort of–I mean there is a fair amount of green, and the blue goes with the blue baseboards and curtains–features of the room chosen by previous tenants that we’ve just left as-is). It’s wider than it is tall, although I could add one more “layer” around the edge to give it a grander scale–I just don’t have postcards that look like the rest (I tried to stick with illustrations rather than photos for a more antique feel). I used sticky tack, for the first time since my freshman year of college, since I didn’t want to do anything permanent to the cards and would feel guilty putting that many holes in the wall.

Here’s another shot, closer up and from a fancy-schmancy angle:

My favorite is the first one directly to the left of the two vertical Chicago cards. It’s a view of Shelter Island and San Diego bay as seen from Point Loma! So cool that I found that old card in Kansas :)

What do you think?