Happily Ever After

Two coats of glossy gothic black, three coats (and counting) of high shine polycrylic finish, Anthropologie knobs... 
and the crowning glory: a tri-fold mirror discovered on Craig's List.  

The desktop and each drawer interior is finished with black woodgrain wallpaper.

Clearly organized with acrylic drawer inserts from Storables.

Mismatched goblets keep cosmetics at hand... and add a bit of sparkle.

My beloved branch make-up mirror, vintage aluminum trays, and a delightfully bizarre brass fly.

Every girl deserves the royal treatment now and then...

Even Matilda.


Linking it All Together

The hardest thing about living in a small apartment is the inevitable build-up of STUFF.  Too much clutter completely overwhelms an already tight space.  The rule of "less is more" doesn't apply only to objects- too many disparate patterns and colors only contribute tension.  If you feel stressed at home, it may be time to start editing.

If you're like me, and you love STUFF... getting rid of it can feel like shaving your head.  Heck, it might be refreshing when you're done, but no no no
However, maximizing your space doesn't have to mean going minimalist.  If you simply can't bear to part with your things, make sure they match.  Most of us have a handle on the concept of a color scheme- but have you thought about a pattern theme?  If you're already working with a harmonious color palette, find a couple patterns you like and repeat them (uh, within reason).  Subtle repetition (even in different scales or colors) helps the eye move around the room, unifying dissimilar items- and even blending in a little bit of clutter.

I recently wrote about a favorite find of mine- my pair of Chinoiserie lamps.  Since I've had them, their interlocking circle pattern has been catching my eye everywhere!

Pottery Barn recently used this pattern for a line of desktop items.  I picked out a bright red and white frame:

As modeled by Matilda and... Matilda.

These pierced ceramic candleholders were just a few dollars each at Target.  I usually use the larger one to keep remotes handy.  I love how the white one mimics my glowing lamps:

These look so neat when they flicker!

I spotted the perfect upholstery fabric and made pillows:

Now, that is style and comfort.

I'm still bummed that I missed out on the olive & bronze Andrea drapes at Ikea- but I'm watching them on eBay...

Count on Ikea to make it Mod!

Someday, I'd love to have a custom double wedding ring quilt made (though traditionally those are wedding presents- so I'm not holding my breath).  I envision one in very simple, tone-on-tone neutrals.

This could be the last piece in the puzzle!

As you can see, I sure do love my pretty things.  But, in the spirit of Spring Cleaning, I'll be sharing my tricks for weeding out excess stuff in a post later this week.  And- I promise to lead by example!  In the meantime, here's my motivator to get my act together.

Cinderella Story... My First DIY Adventure

The fairy tale begins, once upon a time, in the sleepy town of Spokane, Washington.  There, in an empty house on a hill, an unemployed girl had little furniture and a LOT of time on her hands.  

She spotted this standard issue girl's room French Provincial number for $15 on Craig's List and, (goodness knows why)... fell in love with it.  She just knew that somewhere beneath that incredibly tacky cream and gold exterior was a perfect vanity desk.

Oy.  Where's a fairy godmother when you need one?

After an arduous journey (seriously- 45 minute drive) to rescue the desk, she waved her magic wand and...

Okay, not really.  Actually, she spent the next year painstakingly sanding, painting, finishing, touching up, papering, and accessorizing.  But tomorrow night, decked it out in gems, the desk will finally be ready to make its debut.

See you then!


Read on!

An ardent bibliophile, I support local libraries- especially the one in my own home!  My uh... "generous donations" have nearly doubled its size in the last year.

Those of us with a large collection and a small floor plan still need a place to showcase our masterpieces.  Blown your budget on books?  Never fear (it happens to the best of us).  Turn to Craig's List for these best-sellers:

1 + 10  Curved shelving instantly makes a room feel cozier- it makes a nook out of a sharp, empty corner.  Place a chair in the center of the arch and you will be literally surrounded by books.  The current faux birch wood look is about as cheap as the price ($200)- enriching with satin black will allow your tomes to set the tone.

2  You need a reading lamp, but don't be too literal.  A huge pearlized ceiling fixture ($50 for 2) provides plenty of ambient light and makes for an intimate space.

3  Low maintenance jade plants are quite prolific.  This seller was overrun with jade- I myself picked up dozens of little starts for a $4 "donation."

4  Bookshelves aren't just for books.  This $20 pitcher has an unusual shape, and the white ceramic will pop against black shelves and rows of reads.  

5 & 8 + 10  Perch a dramatic antique birdcage ($35) on the top of your bookcase, and place a smaller, matching birdcage ($20) amongst your books to create a Victorian theme. Chipped paint is giving this pair a seedy appearance- paint them in semi-gloss jewel tones to coordinate with your swanky new upholstery...

6  Crate & Barrel makes the best velvet pillows in the most gorgeous colors.  Paradise gained for only $32.95.

7 + 10  Ahh, the perfect reading chair.  Almost absurdly plush velvet, with a reclined back and a seat plenty wide for curling up in with a novel.  Heck, it's so comfortable, make it an epic.  it's in good shape for $125, but the orange-y wood legs are a little bit dull- modernize with black or white paint.

9 + 10  With curved shelving, bookends are definitely in order.  At $20 (or best offer), this pair will hold up your books and uphold your budget.  What a great scrolling shape- imagine them in bright, glossy white to match the other accessories.

10  Weren't we all taught not to judge a book by its cover?  Paint is the easiest (and cheapest) way to revise a lack-luster find, and a concise color scheme binds all genres of decor.  For a real deal, try mis-mixed buckets from your local paint retailer, or peruse left-overs on CL.


Things That Make Me... Hoppy?

I've had, for a while now, a leeetle obsession with bunnies.  The problem started when I read the book Marshmallow (winner of the 1943 Caldecott Medal).  It wasn't just the soft, delicate illustrations that captivated me- the story follows the friendship of a cat and a tiny baby bunny.  And it's not just a bedtime story: it was actually based on the author, Clare Turlay Newberry's own pets.

C'mon, how cute is that?

The owner of a desperately lonely little cat, I have since dreamed of bringing home her fuzzy best friend.
Matilda wants a honey bunny!

But, alas... I rent.

So, until I'm the mistress of my own domain, we'll settle for imaginary friends.  I snagged a set of four running bunny desert plates on sale at West Elm.  They look so cheeky dashing around amongst my traditional white place settings!

Sweet graphic impact!

The Bun-Bun necklace by Seattle jewelry designer Kimberly Baker has topped my wish list since I first spotted it in her Fremont shop.  It would look great nestled in with tougher jewelry.  *Sigh*  That certainly would put a little spring in my step... hint hint, eh boyfriend?

I'll keep batting my eyelashes for this one!

I nearly jumped out of my chair today when I discovered the Venucci website... and this charming trio.  I'm counting down days until they're back in stock- right in time for Easter.  They'd be a perfect centerpiece for Sunday brunch, but I'd keep them out year round!

So real you can practically see their noses twitching

Boy, oh boy, I could sure use some creature comfort right now... since my Bulldogs didn't do so well :(


Something New!

Have you all been on the edge of your seats?  Here's how I'd make this seat a little more... edgy.

First off, there are really only two options for furniture with a rip in the fabric- either you repair it by reupholstering it, or you ignore the problem by putting a slipcover on it.  I hate slipcovers.  Trust me, it's not going to have that "relaxed yet crisp" look- unless you've had it tailored specifically for your piece and you really, really enjoy ironing.  In most cases you end up with a look that says, "ohmygawd, what could be lurking beneath that wrinkly sheet??"

However, "reupholstering" sure does sound daunting.  With an upholstery project of my own looming (oh yes, friends- stay tuned), I've been reading up.  

It's true that large-scale upholstery is tricky, and probably better left to someone with some expertise (or a helluva lotta patience).  But, as proven by AT's DIY month, many projects can be completed with no sewing (so no pricked fingers and mumbled expletives).

And this velvety wingback?  Why fix what's not broken?  Instead of ripping the whole thing apart and starting from scratch, I suggest simply replacing the back panel.  Since the back panel is usually applied last, it can be removed without disturbing the rest of the fabric- and it can be reattached very simply with a staple & glue combo.

I don't know about the rest of you- but this concept opened my mind to a myriad of design possibilities.  A whole chair in a bright color or pattern could be an eyesore, but a fun fabric on just the back is flirty and unexpected.  I got so excited about these ideas, I could hardly narrow it down to three... and I can hardly resist snatching this chair up for myself!

Rockin' Retro

Warm brown is a subtle backdrop for a vibrant vintage floral.  Rich cranberry velvet on the back maintains the soft texture and matches the deepest color in the pillow.  Lines of tough, brassy studs temper the sweetness.  This is my personal favorite- so very me.

Sassy Modern

I've used the same concept here, but played it up with a more modern palette of raspberry pink and brown.  More is more with a delectable Amy Butler print + a simple Moroccan pattern, and the striped cording literally ties everything together.  Can't you see this surrounded by glossy white Ikea furnishings? 

Slinky Sophistication

And now for something completely different.  This is a great opportunity to use a rather non-traditional fabric- comfort isn't an issue with the back of a chair.  I went a little wild with this one, eh?  Reptile print looks rich in a complementary brown, and an art nouveau floral with a bit of gold is a rather posh accent.

With a make-over like this, nobody puts this baby in a corner.


Something Old...

I love, love, love to fix things.  I am always taking pity on the weird, flawed things out there that require a little extra attention- my oddball cat, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer I'm test-driving tonight (fingers crossed!!), my dilapidated furnishings, my boyfriend... (heh heh, just kidding Adam).  

I seek out items that will be a challenge for me, and the process of fixing them up usually teaches me a new skill. Plus, the result is always so satisfying- there is nothing better than seeing your vision come to life.  Well, almost nothing: it is pretty damn satisfying to say nonchalantly to your shocked friends, "Oh, that desk?  I did it myself.

However, there are only so many needy things that a girl can rescue!

So, today I'm introducing another segment of my Craig's List project. 
I'll post a deserving "as-is" find from CL every Wednesday morning... and on Wednesday evening I'll show you my ideas for an extreme makeover.

Today's Wednesday Fixer is...

Kicked to the curb!

The seller lists this chair at $40 or best offer: it's inexpensive because it has a rip in the back (oops!).  This is definitely not a typical apartment dweller's chair.  I tend towards a more traditional aesthetic, but this is really pushing it, even for me!  It's a classic shape more commonly found with doilies on the arms at Grannie's house, and that's probably not the look most of us are going for.

So!  How will I make this very formal and forlorn chair compatible with our 21st century Ikea stylings?  See you tonight!


Cure for the Common Tuesday

Tuesday is a mean-spirited, nasty day.  It wakes me up for work an hour early, and this is a trespass I don't readily forgive.  Tuesday evening usually finds me tired and surly.  

Bravo, Tuesday, you've outdone yourself once again.

This definitely calls for:

A Cup of Tea
Earl Grey with heavy cream & sugar, heavy on the cream and sugar

A New Read
Thought I'd see what all the hype is about.  I'm skeptical.

And of course, my most beloved Craig's List Find...

A steal of a deal, this cat.  Not only was she free- she came with fleas!


When I saw this kitchen (the House Beautiful Kitchen of the Month) on Apartment Therapy last night... I had a moment of truth.  My kitchen grail quest is finally over.

Can you hear the angels singing?

Those gleaming pots, the rustic wood, the frickin' glorious range... Wow.  Of course, that's not to say that I'd take it as-is.  Replace all of that white with mossy green and a soft velvety black?  Throw in some glossy red to match my prized mixer?  You've got a deal.

It's a Porsche for my kitchen... Shiny, sexy, and just listen to this baby purrrrr

Of course, Adam will be designing the kitchen in our future abode, so I suppose I ought to run this by him first.  I'm pretty domestic and I bake a mean apple pie, but he's the boss in the kitchen.  That's what you get when you hook up with an ex-chef... and I am perfectly okay with that (as long as he keeps cranking out his signature dishes according to my whims).  So, what do you think, boyfriend?  Could you whip up a pomegranate-glazed leg o' lamb here?


Let's Get Our Hands Dirty, Shall We?

Craig's List is certainly not for the weak of heart.  Every purchase is an adventure- it may work, it may not, and there are no returns or exchanges.  

Most sellers are honest enough to list condition issues- but don't assume perfection.  Ask them to be specific about damage, and then do your research.  If you find an incredible chair with a broken leg, are you capable of patching it up yourself?

Be a savvy buyer and inspect your item inside and out before you hand over your fist of bills.  A hasty decision can lead to a lot of frustration... or a broken waste of money in your basement.

Early on in my CL career I spotted a pair of enormous ceramic lamps and fell in love.  I bought them without even plugging them in.  At a mere $5 each, I'm sure I would have purchased them in any condition- but I certainly wasn't prepared for what I found beneath their gorgeous exterior.  When the bulbs wouldn't light up, I dismantled them and discovered that the 50-year-old wiring had melted, rusted, burned and disintegrated.  They needed to be completely rewired.  No big deal for a standard table lamp... but did I mention that these are about 3 feet tall and use two bulbs each?

My local lamp repair shop gave me a discouraging news- their conservative quote was $90 each.  OUCH.

My second idea gave me better results.  I put up a post on Craig's List describing the work that needed to be done with a photo of the lamps.  I received dozens of offers- all between $40 and $90 total.  I highly recommend going this route if you lack the time, skills, or tools necessary for a particular task.  This is a tough time for electricians, carpenters, painters, etc, and many are looking for additional income.  Do yourself a favor by finally getting the job done- and help out a member of your community as well.  

In my case, I realized that I needed to uh... shed a little more light on the problem.  I did some research.  Lamp circuitry is not a complicated puzzle, but while most lamps have 2 wires, mine have 3.  Adam and I drew out several diagrams until we arrived at our solution (and he assured me that a little trial and error probably wouldn't hurt me too bad).  

I purchased all the lamp parts I needed for about $25 at Home Depot and set to work.  It took about an hour and a little cursing to get the three wires to their correct destinations, but at long last, the MOMENT OF TRUTH.  I held the fire extinguisher at ready as Adam plugged it in, and...

it worked!

The moral of the story?  If you really love it, put in the effort to make it work.  And if you find out it's a Hollywood Regency Era Chinoiserie Lamp worth a couple hundred?  Well, that's just the cherry on top, right?


Recipe for a Cheerful Bedroom

Adam and I briefly entertained the idea of moving (again).  Our list of grievances with our current apartment had grown enough that we thought there had to be something better out there.  We thought, "wouldn't it be pleasant to live in an apartment building, free from the nosy neighbor and the poor plumbing/heating/walls/carpet/you-name-it of this old house?"

We discovered that dropping an additional $400 per month would certainly get us privacy, water pressure, and, woo-hoo: an exercise facility... but we'd also lose the charm that our little bungalow has to offer.  In fact, in some cases, we would even lose (*gasp*) WINDOWS.  

I imagine that many renters are faced with the challenge of bringing life into their dreary shoebox bedrooms.  So, here's how I'd battle the bland (for under $1,000):

1 An Art-Deco Waterfall Nightstand is a classic that blends antiques and contemporary furnishings.  Who could resist those curves, especially at $40?

9 + 2 An $129 Almost-Matching Armoire maintains stylistic consistency in a small room, and provides much-needed storage for those of us with pitifully small closets.  A Fun, Swirly Knob for $6.95 is icing on the cake.

3 This $80 Blue Glass Lamp is glowing with personality.

4 + 12 A Huge Mirror with a gleaming gold frame will make your room feel ten times bigger and brighter for a mere $125.  Add a $20 Ikea Lack Shelf to create a vanity station if you don't have room for a desk.

5 A bold Ikat Throw Pillow is a great way to establish a color scheme and nod to a design trend... without breaking the bank at $24.95.

6 Luxurious & Shimmery Silk Drapes work even if you don't have a window.  Place them around your mirror to mimic a window, or use them to cover up a dreadful sliding door closet.  Impressively rich for $40, eh?

7 This Furry Rug should be the first thing your feet touch in the morning.  $75.  Ahhhhhh.

8 $40 for possibly the Cutest Vanity Stool ever?

10 A $5 Blue Glass Dish is a perfect catch-all for jewelry and change- and it matches that amazing lamp.

11 I'm a Craig's List devotee, but not for linens.  I love how these Pottery Barn Sheets ($89 for the set) mimic the gold circles of the armoire knob and vanity stool- and they're basic enough to mix and match.  

13 Invest $260 in a Brass Bed Frame- it's a better bet than Ikea for a comparable price.  Metallic and linear, it's a great counterpoint to the curves of the waterfall nightstand and armoire.

How does it all come together? How's this:

P.S. Erm, let's try to ignore the general shoddiness of this illustration.  Design sketch + Glass of water + OH-MY-GAWD = Well, we all learn from our mistakes.

Curious about this project?  Learn more in my Mission Statement...

My Mission Statement

So, it's a little awkward to write an introductory post for a blog that has... no readers.  



I'm Elizabeth. I'm quite young, quite thrifty, and yet... quite happy with my home.

Myself and Boyfriend, Adam

My friends and family have frequently asked me how I've managed to create such a decent-looking space (I'm being humble here) without going hungry or maxing out a credit card (I've done neither).  So, this blog is born.  I want to show you how to shock the hell out of the design snobs.  

A disclaimer: I am not a design professional.  Yet.  Apparently you have to have a license for that sort of thing.  Now's not really the time to give up gainful employment for more schooling- but I see no reason to put a passion on hold.  So, outside of my 9-to-5 I'm an avid do-it-your-selfer, sneaky eBay bid sniper, second-hand store scavenger, and most of all, a Craig's List addict.  

However, there's only so much design you can squash into a one-bedroom apartment.  Because neither my floor plan nor my wallet will allow me to snatch up every amazing find, I thought I'd share them with you.

So, every week I'll be posting an imaginary room furnished almost entirely with items from Craig's List.

The rule are as follows:
  • I will post a picture and link for every item I've picked out.  There are no guarantees that these links will not die- eventually or immediately.  That's the way it goes on Craig's List, folks.  I'm not advertising any one item.  The point is that there are MANY amazing pieces available.  So no whiny emails that my links are dead, I'll only respond rudely :)
  • I will only post items that I find in a one-week period, in one Craig's List region.
  • Okay, I admit it: not every item in the room will be from Craig's List.  CL is a marketplace for all things second-hand, and that usually excludes current trends.  I advocate buying things you LOVE- and I'll be throwing in items from my favorite stores, especially if they're on sale.  I also don't recommend purchasing things like... say... "mattresses" from Craig's List.  In fact, personal experience with this (don't judge) leads me to warn you against it most emphatically.
  • I will post the asking price for each item posted, as well as the grand total.  Remember, I'm not suggesting you drop $1,000 in a week- the idea is that a small income CAN allow you to refurbish piece by piece if you are careful.
  • I will, to help demonstrate how I've envisioned each room, enclose a small sketch with each post.  I'm not an artist, so let's be gentle, eh?
I'd also like to show you that I practice what I preach- so every week I'll be inviting you into my own home (uh, in pictures only) to show you how I've made the most out of a tight budget.

And because I'm fairly wordy (have you noticed?) I should have no problem posting once daily.  If I haven't, you have permission to harass me.  I work best under pressure.

So.  Let's get to blogging, shall we?