Holiday Home Tour: Our Living Room

House 13

Well hello there! Remember me? Probably not, I’ve been terribly neglectful of this blog. I’ll try to do better…

At any rate, I thought it would be fun to share some of the rooms in our new house, as well as our Christmas and Hanukkah decorations with you. We closed on the house in May and although it had “good bones” and the previous owners kept it in immaculate condition, it certainly qualified as a fixer upper. As soon as we took possession, we ripped up all the carpet (in every room) and replaced it with hardwood, removed a wall, painted, installed all new lighting, and installed a railing. And by “we” I mean mostly Carter, with help from contractors. So not really me. But I fancy myself as the brains behind the operation… (And the decorator, obviously.)

And that was phase one: the stuff that needed to get done in order for the house to be presentable / safe to live in. Now we’re working on saving up to do phase two which will include gutting and replacing everything in our master bathroom (WHHHHHHHYYYY did people put carpet in bathrooms in the 80s?!?), the guest bathroom (luckily no carpet in there), and sprucing up the kitchen and our fireplace. In the mean time, I’ve been busy scouring the stores and the interwebs for the best home decor deals and Carter has been busy doing smaller-scale, less expensive projects like replacing the rotting boards in our deck, and completely re-doing our closets (the latter of which he is literally working on right now on as I type this).

I’ve been waiting to share our house until it was “done” but then I kind of came to the realization that it’s never going to feel truly done, so I might as well share our progress. And what better time to take some photos than when it’s decorated for the holidays?

Okay, now that was my long-winded introduction to… Our Living Room!! Yay! Dining room and family room tours will be up later this week.

House 28

The high ceilings in the living room are what drew us to this house in the first place, but with high ceilings come massive walls that demand large-scale art, which can be be expensive. When we first moved in, the idea of decorating these walls was really daunting, but we were ultimately able to find some really budget-friendly ways do to it. You may recognize the cactus collage above our living room chairs from our old apartment. It’s a tad small for the space, but it will do, for now.


And for the art above our sofa I decided to embark on a DIY project with a giant canvas I got on sale at Michael’s Craft Store for $30. The whole piece, including paint, cost me less than $50 so I’m pretty proud of it, all things considered!

House 2

House 1

I get a lot of questions on social media about our sofa so I figured I’d talk about it here. We took a huge gamble and bought it online from Wayfair, without ever getting the chance to see it in person or sit on it. But we got lucky and it ended up working out perfectly. The leather is so incredibly soft (I think you can actually order a fabric sample so you can see the color and texture before you commit to the couch) and it the whole piece is incredibly comfortable. We’ve had it for about three years now and it still looks brand new even though we sit on it every day and our cat and dog both love to sleep on it. I really can’t say enough good things about it! So if you’re in the market for a new sofa and want something with the chesterfield shape, I highly recommend ours because it’s seriously the best you can do for the price. Here is the link to the exact sofa we have, in the color “Steamboat Chestnut”.

House 5

House 3

A note about our holiday decorations… I mentioned Hanukkah up above but obviously what you’ve seen here is our Christmas tree and snow village. Carter was raised catholic and I was raised partially jewish (with one christian parent and one jewish parent.) I do love Hanukkah and the message behind it, but I think we can all unanimously agree that Christmas is more fun to decorate for. So Christmas dominates our decor, which a few menorahs and dreidels sprinkled here and there (which you’ll see in this Wednesday’s post), and you better believe Carter has Hanukkah Gelt in his stocking!

House 6

I’m slightly neurotic and like our gift wrap to have a theme that matches our holiday decor. This year I went pretty traditional “Christmas” themed with red, green and neutrals. I actually snagged all this gift wrap at the end of last season on major sale. I’m already plotting next year’s color scheme, as the end-of-season sales have already started! I think I’m going to go with an all black and white theme next year.

And there you have it – our living room during the month of December! Check back in a few days for our dining room reveal and in the mean time, you can shop our living room by clicking on the products below…



Our Simple, Cost-Effective Entryway

Simple entryway bench and art

simple entryway art and bench

Logically speaking, it’s best to decorate the rooms that get seen most often first and the lesser-seen rooms last. So it really makes no sense that our guest room was the first room we finished and our entryway was one of the last. I have no reasonable explanation for this. Really.

But for the past two years that we’ve lived here, our entryway has been completely neglected – cluttered by piles of shoes, dog toys, and whatever handbags I wore that week. It was sloppy and ugly. And it was the first thing people saw when they walked in our door.

That changed last weekend.

Simple cost effective entry bench and art

My design-conscious husband knew I had my heart set on a small bench for this area. But between budget restrictions and our own personal tastes, finding the perfect bench was a chore. But on Saturday when Carter stumbled across a rustic, reclaimed-wood bench with lots of character for only $200 at Grand Marketplace, he knew we had to have it!

As I’m sure you know, art can be very expensive. Even prints. The cactus prints hung here are vintage and were a great price from the Etsy shop Gnosis Picture Archive. I had a local frame shop cut custom mats to fit the prints then framed them with Ikea Ribba frames (the mats that come with the frame weren’t the right size for the prints). Overall, the art and framing cost me a little over $100, which is a steal for something of this scale that has this much impact on a fairly large wall.

entryway shelf for keys and god leash

Before we re-decorated this area, we had Carter’s old nightstand from college tucked in the corner to serve as a key stand. Neither of us were crazy about the piece but we were having trouble finding a table narrow enough and tall enough for the area so we lived with it for a while.

Then we came up with the idea to float a shelf and Carter picked up this corner one from Home Decorator’s Collection (Home Depot’s surprisingly stylish and well-priced line). He hung it in a matter of minutes and now our keys have a simple, chic little home.

The key dish, which doubles as a jewelry catch-all, was a wedding gift from one of my girlfriends from our Pottery Barn wedding registry.

entryway art bench and key tray

When we got engaged, Carter and I put home decorating on pause so we could focus our finances on our wedding and honeymoon. But now that we’re married and things have settled down, it feels really good to be able to put some attention toward finishing our home. We also made some good progress on our master bedroom last weekend so hopefully I’ll have some photos to share with you soon! xo


Our Guest Room: After Photos

Guest room nightstand

Our guest room is finally finished! And if I do say so myself, it’s pretty darn cute. I shared a preview of my plans for this room a few months ago but after posting it decided to go a really different direction. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but something about that design didn’t feel right to me.

Then I found these pillows on Etsy and everything fell into place. The pillows added a calming pattern that balanced out the chaos of the polka dot bedding.

Guest room before and after

Much improved, no? I mean, look at that warm, overhead lighting…

Guest room lighting

It’s such a happy room now! But what, exactly, is new?

New light fixture: $119 from West Elm during sale event
Fresh coat of paint: $45 from Miller Paint
Plant: Free (donated from a neighbor)
Decorative mirrors: $24.99 from Target
Pillows for a pop of color: $42.90 for two from Say It With Pillows
Total cost: $231.89

Guest room after

It isn’t new since you last saw this room, but the polka dot duvet and shams are from Ikea (a steal at $29.99). The solid gray shams are from an old bedding set from Macy’s Hotel Collection. The night stands are our old master bedroom nightstands, a discontinued style from Ikea. The bed frame is from And the buddha table lamps are from my favorite brick-and-mortar discount shop, Home Goods.

The wall across from the foot of the bed was empty when I showed you these photos, so we moved a desk in here and hung some art to make the room feel more complete. Carter actually made the desk for under $100 (lucky me, he’s so handy!) so that we’d have a place we could both sit and work. But as it turns out, I prefer to work at the kitchen table and the desk ended up being a little too large for our living room anyway, so it ended up in here. But that’s okay, because it means that guests will have extra seating and a work space if they feel so inclined.

Double desk

We bought the zebra chairs from Home Goods a few years back. They used to be our dining chairs but we only had a set of two and they didn’t look right with our new, larger table. But I still love them so we found them a home in the guest room. (Even thought they totally don’t match the color scheme I was going for in here, but whatever!)

The art above the desk is a set of pieces we painted ourselves to go above our couch in our last apartment. (Tip: Buying large-scale art is expensive, painting your own abstract art is not!) They don’t look quite right on this wall, so they’re serving as a temporary placeholder until we replace them with a TV.

Wait, let’s back up! Did I tell you this room was finished? My bad. Because when is a room ever really, truly finished? You probably won’t see any other posts on this room for at least a year because the rest of this stuff is a low priority, but eventually I’d like to:

  1. Mount a TV above the desk
  2. Add a cute luggage rack (this one?) so guests have a place to put their bags
  3. Put together a little goodie bag of important items
  4. Get a mini alarm clock for one of the bedside tables

Side note: I googled “mini alarm clock” to find a cute example to share with you guys, and one of the first search options Google presented me with was “mini alarm clock hidden camera”.

Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 10.34.34 AM

^^^HIDDEN CAMERAS IN ALARM CLOCKS?!?! I didn’t even know that was a thing! Ugh. Some people are so gross.

Well, anyway, I’m so excited to finally have this room “finished”. Next up on the home front is refreshing our living room with some new pillows, finishing our “library” (which is coming along nicely, thanks for asking), and most importantly, tackling our master bedroom which is pretty much a blank canvas at this point.

It’s so much easier to be decisive about a room I’m not going to live in, like the guest room. The master is a whole different story. More on that later though.



Ikea Rast Hacks

One of the things Carter and I have been meaning to do ever since we moved in together three years ago is get new dressers and nightstands for our master bedroom. But those lofty goals have been put on the back burner in lieu of decorating rooms in our condo that guests actually see. But now that our living room, dining room and patio are almost finished (I’ll share photos eventually – I promise!), we’ve begun talking about replacing the master bedroom furniture again.

I’m not sure how well-versed you are in bedroom furniture pricing, but in case you haven’t had the pleasure of spending countless hours walking various showrooms, let me catch you up – bedroom shizz is expensive.

I’m not a terribly crafty person, but I’ve been toying with the idea of saving some money by doing a DIY project for either our dressers, nightstands or both. I considered snagging something on Craigslist and attempting to make it over (à la Emily Henderson) but I know myself and I know that kind of project would be a little over my head. So lately I’ve been leaning towards trying one of the many Ikea dresser hacks I’ve stumbled upon.

Honestly, up until a few weeks ago, I thought I was like, so over Ikea. Really. I was sick of the same old showroom, and sick of people walking into our condo and saying “Is that from Ikea?! I have that too!” But Ikea’s new, totally refreshed catalogue and all the amazing hacks I’ve been seeing online have totally changed my tune. Not convinced? Check out the 2014 catalogue, Google search “Ikea hacks” and/or scroll down through the photos below and I’m confident you’ll agree that Ikea is killing it right now.

So anyway, the idea behind a furniture hack is that you use the original piece as a starting point because it “has good bones” or whatever and then you DIY it from there to make it better and/or customize it to suit your personal style. The following pictures are hacks I found on the interwebs of the $35 Ikea RAST dresser ($35!! Yes, you read that right.) Most people ended up using the dresser as a nightstand because it’s tiny, or they combined two dressers to make it a TV console, buffet table, or just add extra storage to an entryway. So without further adieu, here is my roundup of my favorite Ikea RAST dresser hacks…


And now the hacks…

This beautiful room is the result of Aubrey & Lindsay‘s hack. The nightstands only improve the tranquility of this bedroom. I could totally see them in mine and Carter’s room as well.

It’s a close race, but I think this hack from Design Manifest is my favorite. Although I don’t think it’s right for a bedroom, I love how she made two of these and used them as her TV console. Perfection.

ikea dresser 4
The added texture on this nightstand hack from Crafty Sisters really elevates it to the next level.

This hack from Almost Makes Perfect is really pretty and reminiscent of some of the really expensive Asian nightstands you can buy.

Click on any of the links above to read the original posts about each of these dressers from their respective DIY bloggers.

What do you think? Can you believe these are all spawn of the Plain Jane RAST dresser? Have you ever made something like this?