before and after: kitchen table and chairs

table and chairs: after

I love paint. It’s such a fun and cheap change. And if you don’t like it later, all it takes is more paint. It’s easy and fixable, and it can be a great way to add color and character to your space on a budget. And if you’re a renter who can’t paint your walls, why not paint your furniture?

I started with a kitchen table and chairs that, though lovely, were not exactly my style, and I ended up with the perfect fun, bright table set for my kitchen. I guess I spoiled it by starting with the after, but here is the before:

kitchen table and chairs before

The chairs were covered in a forest green with woodland creatures. And the table was very nice, but not my favorite shade of wood.

kitchen table and chairs before

I wanted to add some color and make it my own, so I immediately turned to paint. With a few coats of paint and some new fabric for the chairs, I knew I could turn this table into something brand new and totally me.

I was inspired by an image I saw in HGTV magazine that unfortunately got tossed during the move. I love the strong red and the contrast with the white inside the bathtub. And the delicate wallpaper is so beautiful.

bathroom inspirationI decided on a two-tone table, using a bold color and white, and painted chairs to match. I started by picking out fabric for the chair cushion. I fell in love with this fantastic blue and white fabric that was delicate, graphic, and interesting–like the wallpaper in my inspiration. (Fabric is Valley of Azure, designed by Leah Duncan in the Meadow collection.)

recovered seat cushion

I waffled for days on what colors to choose and exactly how to paint the table, but I ended up with Midnight Swim and a pure white of True Value EasyCare paint in a satin finish. I decided on blue for the top and white on the legs. Continue reading

easy project friday: using decorative paper

Sometimes all it takes to brighten up your life is a small change. This easy project takes just a few minutes and is very inexpensive–you just need some pretty paper or fabric, a ruler, scissors, and tape.

I love a glass cabinet but I’m not the most organized person. And if you’re going to be showing off your things with a window, they should look good sitting there. I have this little cabinet on the wall of my bathroom, and–let’s be real–none of the things I need in the bathroom are super cute to look at.

glass cabinet, decorative paper project

To hide my things and add some color and pattern to the bathroom, I found some decorative paper at Paper Source, a super cute paper store in my new neighborhood.

paper source paper

All you have to do is measure your window.

measure your window, decorative paper project

Cut out your paper (I added an inch to both sides so that I had some wiggle room when I was taping it up).

decorative paper project

And attach it to the back of your cabinet. You can use even just scotch tape, or you could try poster putty or tacks. Anything you feel is best to stick it to your cabinet without causing damage to it.

back of the cabinet, decorative paper project

Voila! After just a few minutes, it’s like you have a whole new cabinet.

decorative paper project

Change doesn’t have to be expensive or scary! And this is a great option for renters to add some color and pattern to their space without painting or adding wallpaper. Happy Friday! Now that this project is done, let’s relax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tiny projects

I am still pretty overwhelmed. I just unpacked the last box over the weekend, to have something I ordered arrive in a brand new box. I am constantly shuffling my stuff–or my work or my plans–to figure out the best way to live here. And I’m a little sick of the mess*.

I have a huge to-do list. Actually, several to-do lists: one for work, one for home, one for this blog, one for regular life tasks, like sending a birthday card. (I’m late on that one.) There’s still so much around my apartment that I’m excited to do, but it’s going to take a lot of work and a little bit of time. So right now I’m focusing on some tiny projects.

Can I make my bed (even if the pillows don’t have covers)? Can I hang those mirrors using S-hooks so I don’t have to drill? Done.

bedroom

Can I organize my thread and jewelry on these super cool new racks from Amazon? Sure. I can paint them later.

jewelry rack

Can I set out my books using these amazing Sandman bookends that I got for Christmas? Easy peasy.

sandman bookends

Can I make the couch look good while artfully leaving out the rest of the living room? Absolutely.

living room

Can I take photos for a blog post on my phone because I’m not sure if my camera has charged batteries? No problem.

Tiny things are good. Tiny things help me feel a little more in control and a little less crazy. This weekend I may move on to some of the bigger things, like actually painting something or picking out my next book to read. We’ll see how it goes.

*Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful to be so busy with work and the lovely friends and family in Chicago. But real talk: my house hasn’t been clean in a long time and I’m starting to lose my mind.

bedroom inspiration

I am still trying to get my life in order. (How long can I use moving as an excuse?) It feels like I’ll be catching up for weeks. My new neighborhood is delightful, as is my new premium cable. But I’m getting a little tired of stepping through boxes in the living room. (#Fatcat, however, is very much enjoying climbing up and around the mess.)

So when I’m not catching up on laundry or sleep, I’m dreaming of what my new place will look like once the dust settles. I feel like I change my mind every few minutes but I am into this blue and yellow.

bedroom inspiration from polyvore

And here’s a peek at a rug I bought completely on a whim.

rug from target

What do you think? I hope my planning and scheming and impulse buying all comes together. For now, I’ll keep enjoying the neighborhood and learning about the city. I’m totally in love with the Jewel grocery store around the block. And tonight I’m going to a Cubs game! Wrigley Field is just down the street. So far, so good, Chicago.

I’ll be back to reading and crafting and outfitting as soon as I get my head back on straight. So…any day now.

apartment ideas

Moving plans are trucking along. I have juuust barely started packing and I’ve gotten rid of some things I don’t want to move. But mostly I’ve daydreamed about what to do in my new space.

I mean, moving is a drag, right? It’s a big pain and expensive and stressful. But decorating is fun, and so is a new apartment. I have thought of some very specific things I’d like and also some big ideas I haven’t worked out yet. Everything on my list changes on almost a daily basis, and ultimately I’ll likely need to live there a bit before I figure it all out.

  • Mismatched plates/dishes, likely from thrift stores. I will hopefully be having a lot more people over for dinners since I’ll have more space. But nice plates are expensive! I’d like to try to mix and match with what I can find.
  • Peg boards. Everywhere.

peg board

  • A shelf to display my favorite coffee cups. probably like a shadow box-type thing, painted black so they will pop. This is something I made up and would like to find or make. But we’ll see how it pans out.
  • Shower hooks or S hooks on either hangers or rods to hang scarves and purses.
  • How fun does this plastidip look?! But I don’t know what I’d use it on yet
  • I can’t let go of the idea of brightly colored beautiful velvet.

velvet

I have thought a lot about an entryway and haven’t decided on anything except I think a coat rack and umbrella stand sound fun. I also would love to have space for a table for my sewing machine and any projects I’m working on in addition to a desk just for work. I’m pretty sure I’m letting my daydreams get away with me–but that’s ok for now!

You can keep up with my daydreams on Pinterest.

that pillow

I joked on Twitter yesterday about seeing this pillow from Ikea all over all the design blogs I read. It seems like it pops up on every post and in every house. I like this pillow, sure, but I’d also like to see some new, fresh pillows!

ikea pillow

What is cool about seeing this pillow everywhere is seeing how people use it. It’s the exact same item, but these houses are all so different. Even if we all shop at Ikea, it’s your personal style that matters most. Click through each image to see the original post/more pictures.

chair with pillowfloor pillowbed with pillowliving room with pillowliving roomcouchhome with ikea pillow

So, time to spill: Do you own this pillow? Let me know–I’d love to see how you use it! Tweet at me or email raesdays [at] gmail.com

house wish list

your home wish list
(
Destruction’s house, as I see it.)

One of my favorite parts of The Sandman is how different each of the Endless are–from each other and my expectations. Death is charming and friendly; Destruction is jovial and caring. Dream is many things, but lighthearted is not one of them. And Delirium is too many things all at once.

Each member of the family has their own responsibilities and is in charge of their own realm. And each realm perfectly reflects its ruler. I love the unique and ever-changing landscape of Dream’s world. And Despair’s is gray and full of mirrors looking into others’ depression. It’s creepy and perfect.

I want my home to embody me, but I have to work within the rules of our physical world and think of what’s practical. I did some apartment searching last week, and this was my wish list:

  • A one bedroom*
  • wood floors*
  • lots of natural light*
  • close to the train
  • a dishwasher*
  • a doorman
  • an open floor plan
  • big closets*
  • Short commute
  • Outside space
  • Allow cats (obvs I’m not leaving #fatcat behind)*
  • A work out facility in building
  • Quiet street*
  • In unit laundry
  • Fireplace(s)
  • Elevator
  • Big kitchen*
  • Storage space*
  • Top floor so I have no neighbors stomping around above me
  • Close to a grocery store*

Ok, so maybe all these things aren’t exactly practical–there’s no way I can get all of that on my budget. But I went looking for apartments in Chicago and the one I picked has a lot of what’s on my (totally negotiable) list. Everything starred is what I did get. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to show you.

Five weeks til moving day! What do you guys have on your wish list?

decorating inspiration

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about reimagining my space. I love my apartment, but change is good and always fun to daydream about. When I was looking at inspiration this weekend on Polyvore, I focused on pushing my style a little bit and trying something new. I may not want to live with these styles in the end, but it sure is fun looking at them for a while.

rae's days polyvore home decor inspiration rae's days polyvore home decor inspiration rae's days polyvore home decor inspiration dark

The room with gray walls and pops of color is the most similar to how my apartment is now, but I think it’s the one I like the least out of these options. Which room would you pick? For more home decorating inspiration, follow me on Pinterest.

closet clean out

I want a lion the witch and the wardrobe closet. I want to open it and go to a new land where all my outfits are fit for a queen (or Princess Kate) and I have more handbags than a Kardashian sister. I want a Clueless closet that lets me browse for my white collarless shirt with ease. What I actually had, once, was a skeleton in my closet. Not so chic.

I was subleasing a room, and the skeleton wasn’t mine. It was a life-size model and he looked a little sad all scrunched up in the corner. I did my best to store my clothes around him, and when I left that apartment he didn’t come with me.

Now I’m in my own place and the skeletons in my closet are much less literal. Over the weekend I got a head start on cleaning for the new year by cleaning out my closet. When I purge, I tend to think fast and go on my first instinct–stay, donate, or trash. I try to be ruthless and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit and or that I haven’t worn in a season or two. I usually drop off clothes as quickly as possible so it doesn’t sit around my apartment for too long. (But full disclosure, I haven’t dropped these off yet. I didn’t want to in the cold and snow.)

I don’t have a car in New York and I struggled at first with finding where I could donate clothes. I donate to Housing Works. Housing Works provides services to people living with HIV/AIDS. They have thrift stores around the city where you can donate and buy second-hand items, and money spent there goes toward their organization and services. There’s a shop close to me where I can donate, and they take accessories as well as some home goods like lamps or certain pieces of furniture. I usually take a car there–either a cab or a car I’ve called–and take the train home after I’ve dropped off my load. Housing Works thrift stores are in New York, but I urge you to research where you can donate clothes and other items in your own area.  

my closet

My real life closet looks nothing like my dream closets. But now that it’s a little cleaner I can get it closer to my fantasies.

I’ve got huggable hangers, which take up less space and are soft like velvet. They are good for those in small spaces and probable even in a large space. But my biggest closet conundrum is how to store accessories. I have my shoes and jewelry on display (you can kinda see them here). But what do I do with my bags?

I’ve almost never met a purse I didn’t like and I have no idea how to keep them safe and pretty in my home. I don’t have space to keep them in a closet of their own. I used to put them on shelves, but in this apartment I use my bookshelf for crafts in the kitchen. Right now I have them hanging on hooks and door handles, but that’s hardly ideal.

And what about scarves? And belts? My too-full drawers can’t be the best way. I’ll keep thinking and keep my eyes open, but do you guys have any tips on accessory storage?

One day I hope to have a walk in closet. If I had a second bedroom now that is absolutely what I would do with it. I’ll keep looking at inspiration like this and this, and if I make any headway on my dream closet, you’ll be the first to know.

characters’ christmas trees

christmas tree

One year in college I left our Christmas tree up so long it became an Easter tree (complete with Easter egg lights). For a few years in New York I lived in a 400-square-foot apartment, but I always made sure I had room for my boxes of Christmas ornaments.

Right now I have a small fake Christmas tree that’s roughly three feet high. The lights built into it burned out last year–I might need to retire it soon. For now, I just added extra strands of lights (including the Easter egg ones).

I don’t know what I like more: the twinkling lights, the bulbs of bright colors, or the sparkly garland.

christmas tree

My tree is a Doctor Seuss tree. Its ornaments are too large, and too small, and the giant glitter star at the top makes it a little lopsided. I use (and save every year) the tackiest, most colorful garland I can find. I only wish I could fit more ornaments and lights on my tiny tree (and figure out how to take a better picture of my narrow tree in my tiny narrow living room).

I love my little Christmas tree, and I think it does a good job of representing my unique brand of Christmas cheer–more is more and the brighter the better.

After all, your tree is a reflection of your style. Are you traditional? Modern? Minimalist? Tell it to me in Christmas tree. I love seeing my friends’ (ok, and strangers’) trees. It’s a peek inside their holiday brain–and sometimes there’s a bit of personal history in the branches. I assume this is true for fictional people, too, so what would some characters I’ve met this year have on their Christmas trees?

jon snow christmas tree

Jon Snow from Game of Thrones. Jon Snow’s tree on the wall would be pretty sparse. They’d have crow decorations and black ornaments. Some books might be under the tree as a gift to Sam, and it would definitely be covered in snow.

delirium tree

Delirium from the Sandman. Delirium’s tree would be a delight–at least at first glance. It would be rainbow, like her speech bubbles, and it would have whimsical ornaments. I have a feeling Delirium decorated until something else came up, and then she promptly deserted her tree in favor of a new distraction. Or maybe she hit the eggnog a little too hard before she got started.

bernadette tree

Bernadette from Where’d You Go Bernadette. Once Bernadette was a great architect. She used recycled materials and wasted nothing. Her tree would be made of materials found around her Seattle home, and the blue glass would be a tribute to her daughter Bee’s trip to Antarctica and the glaciers she saw there.

So how do you like your Christmas tree? Whimsical like Delirium’s? Or maybe upcycled like Bernadette’s?