diy decorative mirrors and my office space

desk area with diy mirrors

I have been wanting to hang a big mirror in this corner of my living room for a long time. But big mirrors cost big money, and I wasn’t ready to commit.

But I was in trouble–isn’t it so drab with nothing on the wall?

desk area: before

So instead of one big mirror, I used six mirror tiles from Home Depot. I thought several little mirrors might have the same effect as one big one, and Home Depot (and Lowes, I think) sells a pack of tiles for just $10.

After looking for some frames, I realized 6 little frames would be just as much as one big one. So to save money but still look good (I hope) I got some decorative paper from Paper Source. I measured so that the mirrors would have a two-inch border of paper, and I used double-sided tape to adhere the paper to the mirrors.

diy mirror with decorative frame supplies

decorative papers

And then I used 3M picture hanging strips to get them on the wall. The whole project cost less than $50–way cheaper than the mirrors I had been eyeing. Actually, the most expensive part of the whole project was the 3M strips, so if you used a different method to hang them, it’s possible to make this even cheaper.

I’m so much happier to get to work now that my little corner office is bright and cheery!

desk area with diy decorative mirrors

inspiration for planning new projects

inspiration

Since I’m not going anywhere for the long weekend, I’ve been perusing some of my favorite magazines and catalogs for inspiration on projects I can do at home. I am thisclose to my home being totally done–whatever that means–but right now there’s still a few blank walls I want to fill with something more interesting.

The images pictured are from the most recent Ikea catalog (bottom) and HGTV Magazine (top; one of my favorites because it meshes with my style so well).

Hopefully next week I’ll have some finished spaces to show you, but until then, I hope everyone has a great long weekend!

vampires in the lemon grove: decorating inspiration

silk room decorating inspiration from polyvore

I haven’t yet finished Vampires in the Lemon Grove: And Other Stories by Karen Russell (Kindle here), but what I’ve read so far has been imaginative and beautiful–but with underlying horror and sadness. In the story “Reeling for the Empire,” a group of girls are held captive to produce beautiful silk for their government.

In this case, “produce” is quite literal as these girls transform into human silkworms. They feel the silk form deep in their gut, like a physical embodiment of their regret and shame. They hold on to their humanity for as long as they can, but it’s only when they submit to what they have become that allows them to build a cocoon and transform from slaves into something else.

It’s not a happy story. But it is beautiful. I love the contrast of something so pretty and delicate in the setting of such a dark story. The silk these girls create is colorful, every color of the rainbow, and each girl produces a color unique to herself. So in my design inspiration I focused on bold, beautiful colors in materials like velvet, chrome, cashmere, and–of course–silk.

The bed is a canopy bed, where you can be warm and safe in a personal cocoon, and the drapes over the bed are dip-dyed, from a light, pure white to a dark, sinister blue-black. The mirrored bed frame reminds me of an industrial factory, but it also represents how these girls had no mirrors and could not see what they had morphed into. The gold table, rug, and mirror call back to a moth’s wings in this story, which are gold and ivory with an intricate design. The oval mirror is the same shape as their only window. The pillows remind me of loopy handwriting–the handwriting that signed the contracts to work in the factory.

And the tea cup, of course, is where their transformation began.

living room sketch, two ways

rae's small cool space #smallcool

You guys know my living room, right? I just moved and decorated this year and I’m still quite happy with it. But it never hurts to imagine something new and play around with what if. So I drew a few sketches: one based on my living room now, and one with similar pieces that can change the whole look.

living room sketch

living room sketch

I’m really happy with my current furniture, but I could see myself hanging out with some pink shades and a navy couch. Plus nice wood and gold accents? I’ll need to figure out a way to use this somewhere…

tiny bathroom decor

tiny bathroom decor

I know it’s small and you don’t have much space for storage and it’s probably the last room in your tiny apartment you think about decorating.

But can I be honest? I really like my bathroom.

The window is lovely and provides all this nice light. The white and blue I use keep things cheerful. And even though I don’t have much storage, I can keep my everyday items easily within reach.

I use only a clear shower liner to keep things open and so I don’t block any light from the window. It also makes this small space seem a little bigger. I use hanging net things (the official term) to store things both inside and outside the shower. That gives me light and airy storage for my shampoo in the shower, and hair dryer and make up outside the shower. I hate keeping the hair dryer stowed away under a cabinet when I use it almost every day.

Remember that shelf I painted for the entryway in my old apartment? It’s been reappropriated as a place to keep extra towels and toilet paper rolls. I LOVE the bright yellow–it’s such a fun piece and just narrow enough to fit against the wall behind the door.

tiny bathroom decor

You guys have already seen my easy glass cabinet makeover, and I still love the way it brings a pretty pattern into the space.

decorative paper project

I think buying a cute soap pump/trash can/toothbrush holder can go a long way to making your space seem more grown up and personal.

tiny bathroom decor

I can’t hang hooks over my door, but I am lucky to have two towel rods, where I can hang matching bath towels. For my bathrobe, I completely copied how I saw it at a friend’s apartment and I use an S-hook through one of the shower curtain holders.

tiny bathroom decor

I am normally not very matchy-matchy, but in this small space I like the cohesiveness and simplicity of using just blue, white, and yellow.

It’s a small space, sure, but that also means it can be one of the easiest and quickest to decorate. Renting limits my options, but I think there are always ways to work within your limitations to make your space prettier and more comfortable. This bathroom isn’t the most glamorous, but it makes me happy to get ready in every day.

mr. mercedes: olivia trelawney’s condo

Poor Olivia. In Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes, her car became a horrific weapon in a terrible mass murder, and instead of comfort or pity, she got blame and dislike.

Her money and her fancy condo couldn’t help her in the end–no one could. From the first interview with the police in her parlor she was doomed to rub people the wrong way and seem cold and uncaring after the Mercedes Killer took her car and ran into a crowd, killing men, women, and children in line at a job fair one misty morning.

After Olivia killed herself, her fancy condo by the lake was left to her sister, Janelle. Janey and Olivia likely had very different styles. But since Janey served Detective Hodges coffee in china on a silver tray, I imagine she left the condo much the same at first and was going to add her own touch as time went on. Here’s what I imagine it might look like.

olivias condo from mr. mercedes

I am sure the condo was coordinated. A mix of modern and traditional–Olivia had good, and expensive, taste. And she was always put together. You wouldn’t find this condo messy and wouldn’t find fake gold where it could be real.

I wish Olivia had better days in her condo before she died, and I’m glad Janey brought some smile and cheer into it. I’m sure it was a beautiful place, even with a dark past.

You can see some of my other thoughts on Mr. Mercedes here. (I really liked it!)

my small cool space 2014

rae's small cool space #smallcool

As I did last year and in 2011, I entered Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool Spaces Contest. I think I’ve stepped up my game this year, and I’m so glad it’s ready to show off. If you have a minute, step over to the contest page and vote for me! (You know, if you feel like it.) I believe you have to register for Apartment Therapy, but it is free.

This is one of my favorite times of the year on the Internet. It’s so fun to see all these different homes and how they are designed. I really really enjoy checking it out. And I also enjoy sharing my own home.

living room #smallcool

This is the other side of the living room, across from the couch. I love having my pictures framed and on the wall. Each year I try to make my apartment a bit more grown up, and having things framed and properly on the wall definitely was a step in that direction for me. Things can absolutely look sophisticated and nice without a frame–I just couldn’t figure how to do that in this space.

I am also pretty excited about this big fake tree I have in the corner. I think it looks pretty good and not too fake, and it’s safer for #fatcat because he tends to eat real plants.

craft space #smallcool

This is my sewing area, which you’ve seen before. I added an embroidery, and of course you can see the lamp and pictures on the wall next to it. It leads to my kitchen and dining area.

dining room #smallcool

Which I love. It of course has the table and chairs that I redid and the mirror that I spray painted. I like the bright primary colors, it’s just a happy space. But my favorite detail might be the shark coming out of the kitchen table. (It’s a piggy bank I got from Target. To put money in, you have to reach into the shark’s mouth.)

bedroom #smallcool

I really like my bedroom in this apartment. It’s got great windows and a ceiling fan. I have a new headboard, which also feels more grown up to me. And I really like having the shutters and mirrors on the side of the bed.

bedroom #smallcool

There’s room for a few dressers, and the jewelry rack I made by painting another one of those wooden racks–the same kind you see in the sewing area.

There’s still projects that I want to do, but I’m really excited for my apartment. I like spending time here, and I can’t wait to have people over. It makes me really proud to come home to something that I love and a space I created (with lots of help, of course). Don’t forget to stop by the Small Cool Contest!

easy project friday: spray-painted mirror

I have this mirror that I really like. It’s from Ikea–you’ve probably seen it before. I love that the frame is sort of ornate, but it’s small and different enough that it seems modern and fun. I like the black and I had it on my wall in black in my old apartment.

mirror

In this new place, I had just the right place to hang it, but the black wasn’t what I wanted. I have bold primary colors in this kitchen, so I tried to keep things light.

I covered the mirror with newspapers and used the same yellow spray paint I used when I spray painted a shelf last year–which I am now using in my bathroom. (It’s still yellow.)

spray painted mirror

And it’s like I have a whole new mirror.

dining area with spray painted mirror

I can’t afford to replace everything every time I change my mind or my apartment, even though I’m tempted to. But with some work and creativity, I really think you can make your home reflect your changing style. Even if it’s just details, like the color of a mirror.

Supplies:

decorating inspiration: valour and vanity

Last week I finished Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal. I completely enjoyed it, and you all should, too. In the book, Jane and Vincent face all kinds of trials after they lose all of their money and are stranded in Murano. After staying in a downright dreary small room for their apartment, they use glamour (super cool illusion-making magic) to make their hopefully temporary home look better than it seems.

You know I’m a big believer in decorating your home to lift your spirits.

Vincent turns their small, low-ceilinged room into a beautiful orangery with views of the countryside.

drawing from valour and vanity

Their bed stayed its same old wooden self, but they made the floor appear as if it were a gray stone. A fire warms the place up and allows them to cook dinner. Outside the glass walls, the landscape appears perhaps a bit more vivid than it would in real life–a relief from their claustrophobic dreariness. Ornate archways reach up to their vaulted ceiling.

I, for one, wouldn’t mind coming home to that one bit. If you wanted to use this style in your home, you could do something like this.

jane and vincent's room
Plenty of mirrors keep things airy and bright. Rustic wooden furniture would be charming, and architectural lamps would add beautiful lines reminiscent of archways. Don’t forget to add some fruit–Jane and Vincent had orange trees, after all.
Valour and Vanity (Kindle here) is the fourth of Mary Robinette Kowal’s Regency England histories that follow the couple Vincent and Jane, and their families.

the start of a sewing space

sewing and craft area

Remember that rack I bought for my jewelry? I also got one for my thread.

sewing rack before

I saw this idea on Sublime Stitching and thought it was really great. So one day as part of my tiny projects, I got some embroidery floss and sewing thread on my rack. But it still needed some work. I used some spray paint primer and painted it white to blend in more with my wall.

spray painted sewing rack

I have this wonderful big picture frame (you may remember it from my old jewelry rack) that fits around this rack as if they were made for each other. I hung the rack using two 3m hooks, and the frame just leans against the wall. It’s pretty heavy so I haven’t hung it up, but I think it fits pretty perfectly like this.

sewing rack

I’d still like to do some more things to this space, but this is a big improvement. I’ll probably add more to the wall and I need to do something about those cords. Plus maybe a rug? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Supplies:

I bought my supplies myself, but the links are affiliate.