Category Archives: Art

Fashionable, Frugal and Fabulous!

While reading my many favorite design blogs, I ran across this amazing decorating ideas at

Using the dust bags that come with you favorite designer bags, this creative blogger made affordable and fashionable decor.

By simply framing some handbag dustbags, you can create unique and budget-friendly art.

I’m always looking for ways to create affordable and unique art – what have you done?

[Photos and ideas from]


Wishful Wednesday

I wish…

…I was in Germany this fall and had enjoyed Oktoberfest!

While I can’t be traveling the globe right now, Apartment Therapy offers some great ideas for decorating with maps. I really enjoy decorating with found objects from travels. While studying in Brussels, Belgium, I saved maps from the various cities I visited. Using some empty cans (from almonds, coffee, etc.), I made functional art with my own maps.

For a while, I also had some of these maps as a framed collage.

Lastly, I’m sure I have already shown you all my wall of art that I have collected on my travels. Each piece is unique and from a local artisan (not a gallery).

How do you incorporate your travels, domestic or international, into your own decor?

Monday Mall

As promised, here is today’s late edition of “Monday Mall”. Today’s theme, like my life, is hodge podge.

Clothing Wardrobe – $50

Tray End Table – $45

Wall Art – $10

If you would like your Craigslist item to be posted, just e-mail me the link to your item. All items must be under $50 and include a photo.

Drum roll please…

Tada! My finished living room – post redecoration. As I am sure I have said before, I am completely in love with the new space. On Friday, I showed you the design board I pulled together while deciding how to redecorate my space. Now, you will finally get to see what my new space looks like!

What do you think?

In regards to budget, you can find the shopping list of everything in this space here. While this total seems high, most of these items were purchased before the redecoration. My redecoration purchases were most of the items under “Living Room Redecoration”; I was able to redecorate it for about $250. My most expensive purchase was the area rug and was well worth it. I got the rug for an amazing price; it is also very durable and really makes the space.

Now it is time for you to share your space redecorations! E-mail me photos of your space. They can be before and after or just the final space. If you are in the process of redecorating and want some tips, e-mail me those too!

Redecorating My Living Room – Design Dissection: Step 5

Now that I know what I am working with (Step 1), have gotten rid of any clutter (Step 2), found my design inspiration (Step 3) and had a great time shopping (Step 4), its time for me to share with you my final living room!

I am a very visual person, and for me to feel confident about my decisions I like to see them all together first. This helps me identify if there is something missing (ie. a color, feeling, not enough or too much of a style, etc.) or if something just doesn’t fit. Here is the design board I put together:

  1. It is almost embarrassing to admit, but in the 3+ years I have lived here I have not yet put up any sort of window treatments. While the vertical blinds already installed serve their practical purpose, I also think they make the space a bit less warm. With my relatively new sewing machine, I still seem to have quite the crafter’s bug; therefore, I clearly had to make my curtains. To be budget savvy, I purchased sheer curtains from World Market and modified them. I wanted the curtains to blend but still have a bit of style.
  2. As I have mentioned a few times, I recently made a slipcover for my futon. While this was less expensive than purchasing a new sleeper sofa or having a slipcover custom made, it wasn’t cheap. Therefore, this piece was staying pretty much as is. That helped to determine at least part of my color palette – brown.With the lighter brown used for the futon, I needed to bring in some richer colors to this piece. Being that the futon/couch is such a substantial portion of the space it was important to have a few more brown tones, particularly darker ones, included. I purchased a very inexpensive throw blanket from Marshall’s to do the trick.
  3. While I know it may be a bit taboo, in reality my TV is really the focus of this space. I already owned the TV and TV stand. The stand is on casters so that it can be turned towards my bed. To stay to a smaller budget, I kept this piece as is and decided to work to incorporate the lighter brown.
  4. The IKEA side table that I already owned (in birch) helps in tying in the lighter brown of my TV stand. I decided to keep the table lamp that I already owned since it could work with the pieces I had.
  5. You may recognize this chair in the photos of my living room. That’s because it’s the same chair that, in the design board, has only been modified in color via Photoshop. The old navy blue color just didn’t fit. I have purchased a brown slipcover for this chair in a brown darker than the futon to add darker browns to the space. This was a cost effective decision as I would have loved a new chair but just didn’t want to stretch the budget.
  6. I think that finding images of what you would like your space to look like or feel like is a step too often skipped. The importance of this was clear during my living room redecoration. As I was putting all of the pieces together, something was still missing. I referred to my binder full of print-outs and found that nearly every living room I loved had symmetry; more specifically, each of these spaces had two accent chairs. After purchasing a new desk chair from, I was able to use the old chair in my living room. What a difference it made!
  7. Possibly my favorite piece! This area rug is about 5 ft X 8 ft and will covers a much more substantial portion of my living space floor than my previous, very undersized, rug. My attempt with the smaller rug was to pull together the blue in the chair with the brown futon. I just don’t think this worked at all for various reasons. Long story short, this rug has various tones of brown and will really help to pull together the various pieces. The rug will also serve to help separate the living space from the other spaces in my apartment and I love the pattern.
  8. I have 2 of these ottomans and love them. They add additional seating and storage and the top allows for them to also serve as a coffee table of sorts. As you clearly see, these are not brown – they are black. Not a huge problem as they aren’t huge pieces and I have also pulled in some other black elements.
  9. To make the various tones of brown work, I needed to ensure that they were repeated in the space. The two solid dark brown pillows I already own and they will stay on the futon. The smaller rectangular pillow will go on the chair to add some lighter tones to it and give some contemporary style. The square pillow with circles will go on the futon/couch.
  10. There are a few things that either I couldn’t reasonably change or didn’t want to change. One of these is my artwork. As I have traveled abroad, I have purchased art from local artists in various countries and cities. These are very special to me and I have wanted them to take center stage to a degree in my decor.Being that these pieces of art are varying sizes and sometimes not standard sizes for U.S. frames, I purchased inexpensive black frames from IKEA and then had custom matting made in appropriate colors. This was much more affordable than having custom framing done for most of them. The black frames make the artwork all look as one composition, but the coordinating matting allows each piece to standout in its own way as they are all unique in style, medium, etc.

And there you have it – my redecorated living room. I absolutely love it!

Redecorating My Living Room – Design Dissection: Step 1

I hope that you all have enjoyed redecorating your space as I did! I’m just about done with my living room – The final step needs a little bit of help from my boyfriend. I love how my space has been transformed.

As I have with previous projects, I’, going to share with you how I made it to my wonderful final space!

My living room has been a constant work-in-progress. If you remember on of my earlier posts, I at first struggled with my small efficiency/studio looking like one big dorm room. Being that my futon is mobile so to speak, I first tackled that problem by making a slip-cover. While this definitely helped the situation, I still feel that this space has much more potential. Here are some photo of my living room space to remind you just what it looks like.

Step 1 of redecorating just about any space is “Inventory and Survey”.

First, I needed to take stock of what I was working with. Being on a budget, I need to work with most of what I have. Not so easy seeing as in my mind I want this space to look completely different when its done.

So there you have it – this is the inventory of my living room situation pre-redecoration. As you can see it doesn’t look like the prettiest, most stylish or cohesive little space.

Here is my apartment’s floor plan:

As you can see, I’m working with a pretty limited amount of space. Additionally, being that my apartment is an efficiency I will need to focus on defining my living room space.

To start, I identified specific problems with my living room that I would like to fix:

  1. How can I make my living space seem more like a living room? This is a problem I think most studio/efficiency dwellers face. While I embrace that it is all one big room, I still want to make various spaces seem separated and defined.
  2. I want to be just a little more grown up. I took care of the mobile appearance of my futon/couch, but still feel like this space has a just out of college feel. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just want to have a more sophisticated and pulled together look for this space in particular.
  3. How do I give it some sense of its own style? This is another problem that faces many studio dwellers and even those living in very small apartments. It can be challenging to give a particular room or space a defined style while trying to get the styles of other spaces and rooms to blend.

So many problems, such a small budget….

Design Principles: Color, Pattern and Texture

The final principles of design – color, pattern and texture.

While color adds a lot to a space, it can be further enhanced through the use of pattern and texture. This is particularly important in monochromatic schemes to avoid the room looking dull. Pattern and texture add depth and interest.

Short and sweet for these design principles (as I’m still recovering from yesterday’s surgery).

Here are some great uses of color, pattern and texture:

Design Principles: Rhythm and Repetition

When thinking of these next design principles, all that comes to mind are my days of being a band geek. Contrary to my musical associations, rhythm and repetition are very important elements in design, as well as music.

Design Our Sign provides a very comprehensive explanation:

How objects relate to one another develops rhythm. This works the same way in a home as it does in a piece of music. Rhythm creates interest. It can make an area come alive. Repetition and contrast are key elements to use. A modern example of this would be a room that is mostly one color (monochromatic) and feels very harmonious and comfortable. This is achieved by using different textures and materials of this one color. The mix of textures (contrast) combined with the repetition of color provides rhythm.

Here are some examples of rhythm and repetition:

Design Principles: Scale and Proportion

First I have to say how absolutely excited I am to have a professional such as Catherine Schager comment on my blog post yesterday.

Ms. Schager was also so wise as to bring up the next two design principles – scale and proportion. According to, scale is

The proportion or size of a piece of furniture as it relates to a room.

Seems simple enough – right? Essentially, it is generally unwise to place a huge over-sized sofa and chair in a small apartment, such as mine. However, these same two pieces would fit lovely in the spacious great room of my dream home. Also, take into consideration the scale of the objects you are using in a space relative to one another. It is best to keep pieces of similar scale together. Don’t forget these rules when decorating with accessories. Get it? Got it? Good!

Here are some examples:

Please keep your comments, ideas and experiences coming!

Design Principles: Balance and Symmetry

Balance and symmetry help to give spaces a feeling of harmony.

Correctly implementing balance and symmetry in your own space will give it a balanced appearance. When placing items or choosing colors and textures, it is important to consider their “visual weight” in the space (Goulet). I’ve been reading FabJob Guide to Becoming an Interior Decorator lately, which I absolutely love. In the guide, the authors recommend asking yourself the following questions when deciding where to place an item or whether or not to use an item:

  • What is the visual weight of the item?
  • Where will the item look best?
  • What will need to be placed to balance the item?

Using these three questions as a guide, it will be hard to go wrong in creating a space with equilibrium and harmony.

To get just a bit nerdier, there are two type of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical.

Symmetrical balance is kind of like playing with shapes in grade school. The shape on the left exactly matches the shape on the right – Tada! Pretty straightforward.

Asymmetrical balance can help to add a younger and more fun look to your space. According to my new, handy-dandy guide:

Asymmetrical balance occurs when you have varied pieces of different sizes and shapes placed to create equilibrium.

Here are some examples of both symmetrical and asymmetrical balance:

Design Dissection: Entryway Vintage Makeover

Looking at the changes I made to my entryway/kitchen this weekend, I think I’m quite pleased.

What I love from the Entryway Vintage Makeover:

  • The price tag! I was able to do everything for under $50. My only new acquisition for this makeover was the poster order. The plates were already owned (along with the plate hangers), and for the door mat I simply switched the larger mat I had been using under the cat food dishes with the small door mat.
  • I was finally able to use something I had purchased for my “big girl home”. The Oneida Vintage Label plates have been moved from my bedroom at my parents’ house to storage in my apartment. It is wonderful to see them up on the walls.

To go back to the design elements that should be considered in an entryway:

  • Function. From the pictures I have posted thus far, the design elements addressing the functionality and organization of the entryway are not visible. The sliding closet to the left as you enter my apartment, serves two purposes – coat closet and pantry. I am a firm believer that everything needs a place and that like things should be kept together. Working in my limited space, I am able to keep item divided by function with some work. For the coat closet/pantry, I purchased a clothing storage bag from IKEA (I would share the link but I can’t seem to find it on their site). This keeps coats protected and in their own space. I use a hanger to keep umbrellas in one place and off the floor.
  • Style/Personality. I clearly went BIG with my theme/style for the entryway – Vintage. Since I am unable to paint the vintage posters and decorative plates served well to add color to the space. While the rest of my apartment is not nearly as overloaded with vintage items, I like that the entryway has such a strong and defined personality.
  • Lighting. This element is, in my opinion, one of the most important in any room. At the start of my apartment redecoration, I purchased an under-cabinet light. As a renter, I am unable to install nicer looking (and more effective) under-cabinet lighting. Wireless lighting options are the perfect solution to this.
  • Mirrors. There aren’t any mirrors in the space (as you can see). Being such a small and multi-functional space, I’m not sure if a mirror could work here. The only place I am considering is to mount a mirror on the back of the door. This would be a great last look-over before I leave the apartment, I’m just not sure if it will be too much….To Be Determined.
  • Artwork. There is clearly plenty of artwork in the space. The artwork is pulled together to appear better matched as a collection by its common vintage theme.
  • Door Mat. Not much to say here – I have one. It is nothing very colorful or fancy, but I think with all of the color in the art it is unnecessary.
  • Furniture. No room.
  • Organizers (an “In Box”). My “In Box” happens to be just outside of this space. I typically place my keys on top of the refrigerator, but as you can see in the photos above, all I had to do was add a serving bowl I had lying around to take away the cluttered look of keys and what-not lying on top of the refrigerator.

And there you have it. One entryway redecorated and ready to go…kind of. Being that in my apartment the entryway is also the kitchen there is still work to be done. Now we will move onto looking at organizing and decorating your kitchen.

Entryway Vintage Makeover

My vintage posters arrived yesterday and I went straight to work.

  1. As I had mentioned earlier, I covered each poster in clear contact paper. This gives them a bit more of a finished look. I also prefer it to the option of having them laminated because the matte finish of the clear contact paper preserves the vintage feeling as opposed to shiny laminate.
  2. I first lady out the posters on my closet door using “Blu-Tack”. [Blu-Tack is a reusable adhesive. It has a consistency similar to clay or play-dough.] This helped me to see how to best position the posters before finally adhering them to the closet doors.
  3. Once I had a lay-out that I liked, I used 3M to adhere the posters to the doors. As a renter, I chose 3M because it will not leave any adhesive residue on the surface and shouldn’t damage the posters when they are eventually removed. If you aren’t a renter you may decide to use something else.

Viola! My vintage poster project was complete in a matter of hours and it looks great.

Vintage Posters on Entryway/Kitchen Closet Doors

Being the weekend warrior that I often am, I didn’t stop there.

Despite skepticism from some friends, I have saved various mementos from my travels. What may seem like odd to many people are part of a future project for me. For example, while in Europe and around the States as well, I have collected numerous cardboard pub coasters. I tried to use these in addition to the posters, however, I think it the end it was too much – too much variety, too much of the ‘alcohol-theme’, just too much.

Continuing in my decorating groove, I was happy to realize that I had some decorative plates that I have simply had in storage that I could now use! Several years ago I bought to sets of 4 Oneida Vintage Label Collection plates and plate hangers. I used these plates to add color and style to smaller places such as the back-splash, above the entry way door, and on a small wall that faces the doorway.

Decorative plates on back-splash and wall facing the entryway door.

Decorative plates on back-splash.

Decorative plates on side wall facing entryway door.

Decorative plates above entryway door.

Decorative plates above entryway door - close-up.

Great Item for Your Entryway!

I was looking for a birthday gift for my brother and I ran across this great item that happens to be on sale:

On SALE for $19.99 @

Birra, Bier, Bière

There is nothing quite like a good lunch time acquisition to get my creative juices flowing. I happened to be near a World Market yesterday and found, and purchased, my inspiration for the first step in my entryway redecoration. Sadly the item is not on the World Market website so I will take a photo of it later today for your viewing pleasure. In brief, it’s a metal sign in a vintage style of wine bottles. This inexpensive purchase (only about $13.00) sparked a great idea!

Thanks to, I was able to purchase 10 vintage advertising posters. The posters are varying sizes but they are all advertising various alcoholic drinks. I figured I would keep with my very small start at a theme (bottle cap magnets and Yuengling sign). Being the budget savvy person I am, I saved by not having the posters laminated (it was about $10 extra each poster) and plan to cover them with the extra clear contact paper I have from my bookshelf project. This will help them to resist wear and tear a bit. Also, the matte finish of the clear contact paper will stay with the vintage feel of the theme rather than the high gloss look laminating would’ve given them. My plan for these posters and metal sign is to put them on the large sliding closet doors.

Here are the posters that I’ve purchased:

I’m very excited for these posters to be delivered!

My next step is to find some sort of rug to complement the colors of the various posters and to add color and warmth to the space.

Welcoming the World to Your Unique Style

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

Your home is a great place to make others feel welcome, wanted and warm. As such, I think that the best place to first display your design style is in the entryway – set the tone for the rest of your home.

Having realized this I’ve been thinking about how I might give my own entryway a splash of my style. My entryway, however, poses a particularly challenging situation; the entryway is also my kitchen. With limited wall space, and a need to maintain functionality I’m having a difficult time coming up with ideas to add style and color to my kitchen/entryway.

Here’s what I’m working with:

Not much space to work with. This is to the right as you enter my apartment.

This is the "above cabinet storage". Really its just space above the cabinets that I've used to store larger items.

As you can see, there is a closet to the left of the front door. I use this closet for coats and as a pantry.

That's all there is to it. Very small.

So there you have it. There is a lot going on in a very little space.

When first looking at redecorating this space I got very overwhelmed and so I stopped. My beginning efforts were to give it a theme of beer/wine (real classy, I know). Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • The wine rack has been there for a while
  • I made the “cork” board
  • I purchased the tin Yuengling advertisement replica
  • I made magnets from various beer bottle tops for the refrigerator

Not much but it’s a start. What I think is missing is some color and character. Some ideas that I have:

  • I like the ‘vintage’ feel of the tin advertisement and want to do something more with that. I have collected some interesting beer bottle labels from around the world and am thinking of framing them in small square frames to put on the wall above the cat food.
  • Color: I can’t paint (yay for renting) so I need to look for some other ways to add color. Artwork is one way – which I hope to do with the project above. Another way is with a rug. While my entryway mat is functional for keeping dirt from the rest of my apartment, it is also dull and very small (the cat food mat is bigger – pretty pathetic). I’m thinking I can pick up the blue in the Yuengling sign in a rug and/or maybe the colors from the labels I will be framing.
  • That big closet door takes up a lot of the space in the entryway/kitchen and I’d love to do something with it. I think this could be a good place for storage and/or more artwork.

So that is what I have thus far. A much better start than before, and when I’ve broken it down it is much less overwhelming. I think that by the end of this weekend I will be able to make a big change in this small space and on a small budget.

I’m still trying to think of more ideas and options so what are your thoughts….

My laundry list of ideas (and it keeps growing).

When this whole project started I knew I needed to decide what it was I wanted to change and what my budget was. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the best way for me to get ideas for what to do with my apartment was looking online for ideas and inspiration. My problem, however, is that I am constantly seeing new things that I like. Here is my list of projects thus far:

  • Futon Slip-cover – DONE
  • Overall purge of clutter – DONE
  • Finishing my art wall – DONE
  • Covering the back of my bookshelf – DONE
  • Sheer draping around my bed – DONE
  • Make my bathroom more presentable
  • Bed skirt to hide the storage under my bed
  • Give more warmth/color to my living space
  • Find a way to make my small cluttered closet feel uncluttered
  • Look for a way to give some sort of design/style to my kitchen

As for my completed projects, I already showed you the fabulous work I did with my futon slip-cover (my first sewing project ever). Here are the details for the other completed projects:

  • Overall purge of clutter: Not much to explain here. I finally let go of my clothes that were two sizes, or more, too big and I haven’t worn in years. I got rid of ‘things’ I was holding onto for some unknown reason.
  • Finishing my art wall: I studied for a semester in Brussels, Belgium. While there I was lucky enough to travel to about 13 different countries. Whenever possible, I purchased art from a local artist. Most of my art were odd sizes (thanks Europe) and so they needed custom frames and/or matting. After having blank walls for about a year and a half I finally decided to spend the money. More importantly, perhaps, I figured out a way to unify all of my very different pieces of art. I chose all black frames of different styles. To make the unique pieces stand-out, I had custom mats made in colors according to the artwork. I saved BIG on the frames (thanks IKEA) and custom mats are very reasonable. Here is the finished product:

  • Covering the back of my bookshelf: I originally bought my large bookshelf to help divide my living space from my bedroom space. It has worked wonderfully for that. My only problem is that the back of the bookshelf, facing the bed, is unfinished press-board. Being that this is a part of my apartment few people see or ever notice I found an extremely low-budget solution. I covered the back of the bookshelf with black contact paper and then, using clear contact paper, posted black and white photos. You can find more details on the Projects page.

  • Sheer draping around my bed: This project required a trip to home depot – and a very helpful boyfriend. I used the instructions I found through Apartment Therapy’s website on “How To: Hang Curtains Across Any Space”. The curtains have made the space more separated from the rest of my apartment and have given the bedroom space a much warmer feeling.

And now on to attack the rest of my list….