Suffering from a Touch of Recession Depression

I'm thrifty. I live for the thrill of bargain hunting. I cackle gleefully as my pennies accumulate. And when I do splurge on something, I generally make up for it by trimming back on other expenses (usually the unimportant stuff, like, say... "food").  

However, as much as I pride myself on maintaining a strict budget and planning for the future, responsibility can be a pain in the ass. For example: gritting my teeth and using my tax return to supplement student loan payments instead of "stimulating the economy." Let me tell you- if I had this kind of willpower at the gym, I would be a much thinner Lizzie. *grumble*

So, in today's "doomed to wishful thinking" spirit, here's a Room Design that's also a Dare to Dream. If I decided not to pay the bills and redecorated my living room instead, it would look something like this:

Educated Decisions

Put a Vintage Twist on Storage
Antique Library Card File ($850.00, Craig's List) + Well-Traveled Steamer Trunk ($50.00, Craig's List)

Sink into Something Soft
Lovely Tufted Velvet Sofa ($400.00, Craig's List) + Sophisticated Black Velvet Pillow ($32.95, Crate & Barrel)

Help Yourself to Some Refreshments
Black Balloon Wine Glasses (6 for $29.99, Target) +  Pedestal Serving Bowl ($23.99, Target) 

Keep Things Polished with Chrome
MCM Eames "Laurel" Floor Lamp ($175.00, Craig's List) + Shining Serving Tray ($39.99, Target)

Take Notes
Salvaged "Hardware" Frame with chalkboard paint ($15.00, Craig's List) + Industrial Chic Wrought Iron Easel ($17.95, Crate & Barrel)

Achieve Studied Style

Pom Pom Chestnut Branches ($16.95 each, Crate & Barrel) + Test Tube Vase ($29.99, Target) + Black Globe ($39.95, Crate & Barrel)

Anyone want to give my living room a $2,000 bail-out?


Serious Inquiries Only!

Once in a while I find a real winner on Craig's List.  I've been admiring this one for a few weeks- and now I find that the price has made a significant drop.

"Urban Chic"

Built-In Lighting?
"Perfect shelves for keeping your paperback novel collection! Finished solid wood boards alternating with cement blocks padded with felt tabs where the boards rest against them. These create shelves the perfect size for storing paperback books efficiently. Cement blocks also make great locations for votive candles (see below). Top shelf can be used for additional books or for display. 

Entire setup: $10 

Cash only * You pick up * Serious inquiries only please."
True design genius.  I can hardly contain myself.


Painless Project!

Okay!  Y'all ready for a quick project on your long weekend?

The hardest part of this DIY is the window washing!  The $10 old window that I picked appears to be coated in antique grime, and that certainly won't do.  It also has one broken pane, which will need to be carefully removed so that no sharp edges remain.

When you can actually see through it again, let the fun begin!

Option #1...

A Picture Window

Because the panes of this window are roughly 9" x 6", it's just right for framing photos.  Easy, interchangeable, and vastly more attractive than most "grouped" frames you see in stores.  I'd set it atop a modern Ribba picture ledge from Ikea to keep the presentation streamlined.

Option #2...

Mirror Mirror

When I first saw this window, the first concept that sprang to mind was a calendar.  How about 5 days of to-dos? To add some sparkle, I'd suggest painting the back of the panes with mirrored finish spray paint (read my review of this product tomorrow!).  The window won't function as a real mirror, but the reflective surface would be lovely behind your notes-to-self written in dry-erase marker.  (Design*Sponge recently featured a similar idea.)
Hang it from a doorknob hook with a metal chain, and stash your markers in an ornate wall-mount cup.

Option #3...

Old-Fashioned Charm

The third and final option works on the same principal- but uses chalkboard paint.  I think this brings out the best in the rustic, flaking paint.  Sort of a schoolhouse feel, eh?

Choose a "handy" hook to hold on to your chalk- and maybe your keys as well!

This last idea reminds me of my very own vintage window...

A chalkboard for lists galore in my closet craft nook.

I used stained glass paint to add some color.  I don't recommend this product, by the way- thank goodness it's completely removable. 

Has anyone else used an old window as decor?


Fixer: Window Pain

There's nothing better than wandering through a hardware store or the "Materials" section of Craig's List.  I can hardly stop myself from skipping down the isles (or from post to post), filling my basket with shiny stuff.  Show me a handy doodad, a barrel of nails, a bucket of paint... my little DIY heart starts beating wildly and visions of home improvements dance in my brain.  I'll make this!  I'll fix that!!  

I get that this is abnormal, and that some of the projects that I dream up (and feature here) are a little far-fetched for the more casual do-it-yourselfer.  What, you don't enjoy painstakingly sanding and priming large pieces of furniture?

Today, a project that you could accomplish in just a few hours.  If you want to follow along, go pick up your own fixer...

A not-so salvageable $10 window.  No, that's not frosted glass, it's just filthy.

This clearly needs our help.  Come back tomorrow and I'll show you not one, not two, but three ways to make it shine!


Dare to Dream: Bathing Beauty

I love most things about my apartment, but I feel like my bathroom and kitchen have got a bet going about which can mortify me the most.  

Bathroom: You can see flecks of sky blue through my recent coat of "wilted vegetable" green paint!  My particle board medicine cabinet is disintegrating!

Kitchen:  My countertops are forest green laminate!  And my sink has stopped draining!  Again!  Ha!

Oooh.  Touche, Kitchen.

It's tough to call a winner, but right now the bathroom has got my full attention.  A routine cleaning last weekend has somehow morphed into stripping the entire bathroom bare of decor and starting afresh.  

Here's what I'm working with:

That's it, wonky peach tiles, low ceiling, globby yellow-green paint, tilted vanity et all!

In my hands it could become a peaceful refuge... with pearly gray paint, a vessel sink on an antique wood side table, low white subway tile wainscoting, brass fixtures and a little pendant light over the vanity.  But true bathroom improvements do not come cheaply- and nobody likes to invest in a rental unit (especially not a landlord).  
So, I'm left with an oddball bathroom, a fair amount of frustration, and a notebook full of inspiration photos...

This antique brass faucet is the one that got away on Craig's List... *sigh*

The Kohler "Pallene" Spun Glass vessel sink is utterly mesmerizing, like a church window carved out of ice.

Kohler describes the "Finial Avian" faucet as "exotic and whimsical."  I agree!

This Georgian master bath was recent feature on Apartment Therapy.  I love how the metallics elegantly fuse the modern with the traditional.  I have a few quibbles with the decor (a bit sparse, and where's the mirror?), but oh, for a soak in that spectacular tub!

The ultimate bathroom, found in the home of Jenna Lyons, J. Crew creative director (image from the late great Domino).  Jenna, your home is so beautiful it hurts.  You are clearly my long-lost, very rich sister.  I will move in tomorrow.  

See the dilemma?  How do I bring in the essence of these images (dark, luxurious & natural)... without using a jackhammer or a paintbrush?


You Win Some, You Lose Some...

I totally have an excuse for skipping my blog post!  Erm... late night meeting!  Crunched some numbers!  Did some research in the ... "field?"  Definitely work related.  Heh.

Fine, I give up!  We played hooky- and scored some primo seats at the Mariner's game!

Honorary members of the Terrace Club, yay! Adam almost caught a foul ball.

We ordered Mac & Jack's and snacks right from our cushioned seats!  This is the life!

We enjoyed watching #24 hit #2,700!

And we totally didn't have any fun at all.

Our team might have lost- but we came out winners. (Especially when we got to take a covered sky bridge to our reserved garage parking spot, whilst the peasants other fans trudged through the rain on the street.  *smirk*)


This Weekend's Take

It's been an exciting weekend!  On Sunday we were treated to an Alki Beach outing and handmade gourmet burger dips courtesy of friends (and fellow foodies) Scott and Megan.  And Saturday... we Craig's Listed.  Oh, how we Craig's Listed.  

First, a set of five large apothecary jars that will showcase Adam's huge collection of shells and curiosities.  This week I'll be reworking my bathroom around a nature theme, like so:

Remember those lovely green bath sponges?

I'll also be experimenting with mirrored finish spray paint to mimic the look of mercury glass.  I'm cautiously optimistic.  Full product review coming at you later this week!

The goods, the goal.

And now, for my grande finale... (drumroll please)

Tada!  It's the glorious Breville 800ESXL, the $400+ espresso machine of my steamy, over-caffeinated daydreams.  

Oh, my cup runneth over.

I'm jittery just knowing this handsome thing is sitting in my kitchen, ever ready for a frothy breve latte.  Can anyone guess what I paid for this marvelous machine?  Give it your best shot.  Certainly not $400!  

$300?  $200??  $100???


Friends, you're in the presence of a Craig's List Master.  Drinks are on me!


Match Made in... Sweden

Craig's List and I have a very healthy relationship, but I've got to come clean.  I've got a little thing on the side... with Ikea.

When I was tired of sleeping on a floored mattress, Ikea stepped up and sent me the Hemnes canopy bed.  When my life was a mess, Ikea picked up the pieces and neatly stashed them in a Helmer drawer unit.  Ikea, you've been there for me and my wallet.  

That being said, I think it's a little weird to get exclusive with Ikea.  Ikea has been around.  Everybody has Ikea.

So I've set some boundaries to avoid the cheap furniture catalogue look.  I try to avoid large or especially recognizable pieces, like the ubiquitous Expedit bookshelf or Lack side table.  When I do cheat and bring home a popular piece (a-hem, a-Hemnes...), I usually have a major Pretty Woman-esque make-over planned.  

It's a rarity for me to peruse the Ikea catalogue and see perfection instead of potential.  But here it is.  

Perfection = The Ikea Edland Series

The Edland Linen Cabinet

How do I love these?  Let me count the ways.  The slim, curving legs!  The smoky gray finish!  The beveled drawer fronts and mouldings!  The contrasting drop pulls!  The flat packages that will fit in my Ford Taurus!

And the best of the bunch?  The Edland Wardrobe.

Oh Edland!  We have so much in common- our love of French Provincial style, our obsession with keeping clothing neatly organized!  If you are anywhere near as handsome in person as you are online... I'd be a fool to not pledge $399 and my eternal love.


Dare to Dream: Love, Naturally

Today, a little exploration in self-decoration.  I received an excellent tip on the work of NY jewelry designer Gabriella Kiss, and well... obsession ensued.  

I like the organic look of her cabochon pendants and rings, with sharp, toothy points on the settings.  
That lustrous, pale gold is so beautiful against skin (even for those as pasty as me!)

I love these contrasting pins as a pair- like a still-life for your lapel.  
The necklace is a bit Cleopatra for day-to-day wear, but with a slinky dress...?  Tempting.

These Snake hoops with diamond eyes and green sapphire briolettes?  
Love at firsssst sssssight.  Ssssubtle, shhhapely, gorgeousssss.

Kiss's background in sculpture is obvious in her Silver Femur Bracelet, also available in gold.  
Hmmmm.  Would a stack of three be bad juju?  I think not.

The simple vessels on the left are cute, but the Clipper Ship Earrings really float my boat.
I'm notta nautical girl, but these are just incredible- the black horn sails, the frothy waves!

If anyone has more information on Gabriella Kiss or her work... do share.  Miss Kiss was recently featured in InStyle, but she's a mysterious woman.  Gabriella!  A website!  Please!