Fearless Home Features – August

It’s time for a round-up of July features from the #fearless home Instagram feed. In case you missed it, I launched #fearlesshome last month with fabulous co-hosts Arielle of Scotch & Nonsense, Cassie of Primitive & Proper, Kimberly of Swoon Worthy, and Jenna of Rain on a Tin Roof. The purpose of the tag is to showcase the bold, different, weird, and wonderful things you guys are doing in their homes. In just a short month, we’ve already been overwhelmed by your creativity! There were so many great submissions, I’d really recommend that you check out the #fearlesshome feed yourself. Here are a few of my favorites from last month.

I absolutely love this moody dining room from @ourgentlemadness! It’s so sophisticated yet effortless. The black/navy combo is something I honestly never would have thought of but I love it. Juls hasn’t found the right spot to hang her Anthropologie mural yet, but I think it looks perfect just tacked up like so.

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I was so excited when I heard @mepflug was planning to paint a pattern on her dining room floor, and the result did not disappoint! The design is so inventive and the colors palette is chic and beautiful. I’m amazed at the execution, too! Megan hit it out of the park on this one.

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A grand gesture is great, but fearless details can pack just as much of a punch. I love this amazing abstract art print with the floral cushion Jaclyn of @covetedhome used in this space. It’s such and unexpected combination but it makes this nook feel so vibrant and special.

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It was a WOW moment the first time I saw @nicholnaranjo’s ship chandelier. It takes guts to put such a bold piece in a living room, but Nichol never backs away from a risk. It’s so fun but glam, and I love how it works in this otherwise casual space.

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@thedelightfulfind always brightens my feed with her wonderful, whimsical home. This green and pink combination is so darling, and the floor-to-ceiling gallery wall just puts it over the top. As a lover of color myself, I really enjoy seeing people playing around with fun colors and punchy art.

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I’m already looking forward to seeing what great spaces you guys submit next month! We’d love for you to jump in share your homes in the #fearlesshome feed.

Click the links below to visit the other hosts for more of last month’s features!

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Primitive & Proper button

Swoon Worthy button

Rain on a Tin Roof button

Introducing #fearlesshome

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I’m exciting to be teaming up with some fabulous bloggers to introduce #fearlesshome, a new Instagram hashtag and series across our blogs. Today I want to explain what this series is all about, how it works, and give you a peek into the fearless homes of my stylish cohosts: Arielle from Scotch and Nonesense, Kimberly from Swoon Worthy, Jenna from Rain on a Tin Roof, and Cassie from Primitive & Proper.

The purpose of #fearlesshome is to celebrate spaces that don’t shy away from a bold gesture. Color, pattern, style mixing, you name it–we are looking to share design that shows how taking a risk (large or small) can help create something interesting, unusual, wonderful, and most importantly personal.

We really hope you will join us on Instagram by tagging your own photos with #fearlesshome. We will be sharing some favorites regularly on Instagram as well as here on our blogs the first Wednesday of every month. I can’t wait to see all the inspiring spaces that are out there!

You can find each of the hosts on Instagram here:

Now let’s spend a few minutes visiting each of the cohosts! Pretty pictures this way ——>>

Arielle from Scotch and Nonsense

Arielle lives in a beautiful historic home, and she has only enhanced its appeal with bold, moody paint choices, sculptural furniture and unique, often bright accessories. Just a few minutes perusing her photos, and you will want to paint your library a deep hue and restock your bar ASAP.

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Even her dogs are perfectly sophisticated!

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Check out more of Arielle’s home on her blog here.

Kimberly from Swoon Worthy

Kimberly rocks a boho glam aesthetic that says “yes, please” to color, pattern, metallics, bold art, and more–and it all works like gangbusters. If you’ve ever wondered how to flawlessly employ a wallpaper accent wall, Kimberly must have all the answers because she nails it EVERY time.

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Check out more of Kimberly’s house here.

Jenna from Rain on a Tin Roof

Jenna believes in flying your freak flag, and it shows in her totally fearless approach to decorating. Carpet on a wall–yep, she’s done it. In fact, I really believe that she might just try anything AND pull it off. If you need the push to commit to your next project, a few minutes visiting her 70s Landing Pad will almost definitely convince you to GO FOR IT.

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Check out more of Jenna’s home here.

Cassie from Primitive & Proper

Cassie’s business, Sweet Clover, has the slogan “No Rules, Just Passion,” and that completely epitomizes her effortless, eclectic style. Cassie is a mix-MASTER. Pieces of every era and style mingle in harmony in her house because they are just so very HER, and the result is sublime!

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Check out more of Cassie’s home here.

You can visit each one of these talented ladies today by clicking the buttons below! We hope to see you soon on Instagram!

Scotch & Nonsense button

Swoon Worthy button

Rain on a Tin Roof button

Primitive & Proper button

Britt KIngery button

Restoring the Entryway to its Former Glory

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Today I’m excited to share the full top-to-bottom makeover of our entry way. This is a project that took about 5 months to complete and then sat in draft mode for at least another month while I tried to figure out how to distill 5 months of somewhat tedious work into a not-totally-tedious but still informative post for you guys. This is my attempt.

Let’s start off with a look back at the entry way when we moved in. It was beige.

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Beige.

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BEIGE.

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You get the picture. As I’ve said before, the theme of our renovation is to try to make things look closer to how they looked originally. We aren’t aiming for “historical society” type precision, but where there are original elements that can be salvaged or exposed, we’d like to give it a shot.

So while the entry way was totally functional, I did want to get rid of the builder-grade tile and the carpet on the stairs. Especially because the original wood flooring was under both! I also wanted to create a space that made an impact. Naturally you want someone to walk into your house and say “WOW!”. Beige is the opposite of “WOW” in most cases. In fact, that’s why a lot of people choose beige–to blend in and be unassuming. I say, why not assume. 😉

Here’s what the project entailed:

  • Remove carpet and refinish stairs.
  • Paint the stair risers.
  • Remove tile and refinish floors.
  • Scrape the popcorn ceiling.
  • Paint the walls.
  • New baseboards and window trim.

As anyone who has remodeled or watched more than 30 minutes of HGTV knows, every remodel comes with a snag. Sometimes it makes you want to roll your eyes at home improvement TV shows because “the snag” is a set piece and some shows are better than others at making it seem organic and legit as opposed to “produced” and predictable. At the same time, I can’t roll my eyes too hard because the truth is that there is always a snag.

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The problem with this is a couple of things: 1) You basically have to have boards from somewhere else in the house in order for it to blend seamlessly, and 2) There is no subfloor under the original wood, which means you either have to have a board long enough to span the joists OR you have to build supports between the joists that you can nail shorter boards to.

This is where I hope I’m not going to absolutely put you to sleep. What we ended up doing, in short, was that Justin took a span of boards from upstairs (where we were going to paint anyway) and patched them in in a natural pattern where the random boards had been. This is what took a while, because chiseling out floor boards by hand is pretty laborious work. You can also clearly see the “no subfloors” thing in the picture below from the fact that in one spot you can see directly in to the basement.

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Justin did a really tremendous job with the floors. You can see the patch below because the boards from upstairs were not quite as dirty but now that the floors are refinished, you really cannot tell unless you know exactly what to look for. While Justin was working on the floor I took care of the stairs, which involved a heck of a lot of pulling tiny staples from various carpet applications (one of which popped me right in the vein and sent blood squirting) and then patching those 10,000 tiny staple holes. I also primed and repainted the spindles, which had been done in a high-gloss paint. High-gloss paint is extremely durable, but man is it a pain to paint over.

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The stair treads were pretty worn, but its amazing what a little sanding and a medium tone stain can take care of. Here’s how it all turned out.

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What do you think–does it have the “WOW” factor now?

I was looking for a place to do a dark paint color and I think it’s absolutely perfect here. The windows in there stairwell are both west-facing, so this space is dark for most of the day, and it feels very dramatic. Then, when the late-afternoon light comes pouring in, it’s equally dramatic, but in a different way. I considered doing the green on the lower half of the wall up the stairs, and while I think that could have looked cool, the contrast between the dark entry and the bright stairway is everything to me. I call it the Stairway to Heaven because it is SO bright in the afternoons and because I am cheesy like that.

All in all, this makeover was way more about putting the time in than spending money. I didn’t keep tabs on the costs because they were spread out over a long period and there just weren’t many of them. The main cost was renting the sander to refinish the floors. Aside from that, baseboards/trim and paint were the only real expenses. I’d estimate we spent around $200 all told. It would have been more costly for sure if we’d had to hire out the floor repair, but thankfully I have an intrepid husband, and he has access to the This Old House YouTube channel. That made all the difference.

I hadn’t seen the before photos in quite a while before putting together this post, but looking at them now was definitely a nice reminder of how far we came!

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Framed Graphic Prints for Under $10

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It’s the last Tuesday of the month, which means it’s time for another addition the It’s So Ugly It’s Cool Challenge hosted by Jess at Domicile 37. This challenge about revamping secondhand finds and to fit your style. You can participate in the challenge on Instagram using the tag #itssouglyitscool to share your handiwork!

This month I did a super quick and easy update of some thrift store frames I had hanging out in my frame stash. I think everyone agrees that frames are one of the all-around best things to buy second-hand because they can cost so much new but are plentiful and in many cases cheap in flea markets, thrift stores, yard sales, etc.

The one caveat to that is that it is sometimes harder to find really good, attractive, well priced frames with glass, mattes, and other stuff, that–if missing–could quickly eat up your cost savings to replace. So when you find those frames that hit the trifecta, you buy them, even if they’re not perfect–yet.

Enter this set of red metal frames that Justin picked up last summer for something like $4.

FrameBeforeThey are good solid frames, nice glass, clean white mattes with a standard sized opening. All in all hard to pass up. The only problem is that I kind of hate red. This was also initially the problem with our bedroom rug, which I ended up loving, but that was the one exception. Why even attempt living with something you kind of hate when fixing it is so easy?

All these frames really needed was a coat of spray paint. I chose gold. There are actually quite a few good articles out there about the best gold spray paints (here and here are two) but I didn’t read any of them until I was in the spray paint aisle at Home Depot, and Home Depot only carries Rustoleum, so what kind of spray paint do you think I got?

I ended up using Rustoleum Metallic Paint & Primer in Pure Gold, and in truth I was kind of so-so on it. Come to find out, it only has a 2 star rating on the Home Depot website, so it’s not all that surprising. I am hereby guilty of winging it on the “picking a spray paint” front. It’s definitely more brass than gold, but that’s okay because in general I was just hoping it wouldn’t turn out orange, and it didn’t.

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I will say I give huge props to people who use spray paint on everything. Just yesterday my friend Maggie posted a project where she spray painted some nightstands, and they are the height of fabulousness (seriously, click the link right now). I know spray paint is supposed to be a pretty rudimentary crafting skill, but it seems like every time I do it something turns out wrong. I don’t spray the thing evenly or it gets stuck to something while drying, but usually both. We all have unique skills and I suppose lack of skills, too. I am uniquely unskilled at spray painting.

Thankfully these frames were hard to get too wrong. I didn’t have any art that I was waiting to hang, but I did conveniently have some beautiful samples of the Farrow and Ball Aranami wallpaper. I’m considering putting it in our upstairs hallways in a third color, but these two samples go perfectly with the colors in our dining room. This is really gorgeous wallpaper, and even in the small sample size, the graphic impact is striking. These particular wallpaper samples were free (although some companies do charge a small fee), so the total cost was about $10 between the frames and the spray paint. Not bad to add a little pattern punch to this previously blank space.

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Now head on over to the other participants for more makeover goodness!

Casa Watkins // Up To Date Interiors // This is Our Bliss // Vintage Romance Style // Domicile 37

Turning a Vintage Trunk into a Side Table

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It’s the last Tuesday of the month, which means that it’s time for another It’s So Ugly It’s Cool thrift store challenge hosted by Jess at Domicile 37. I have to admit I dropped the ball a little bit on this one. Here I am trying to give you a before/after post, and I forgot to take any before pictures. Oops!

The good thing is, I didn’t change the item in question that much, so I think you can use your imagine to envision what this trunk with no legs looked like. It looked like a trunk.

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Anyhoo–I found this particular trunk in the trash pile at an estate sale. It really wasn’t in bad condition, as you can see–I’m not entirely sure why they were throwing it away. I went super quick/easy in my makeover of this piece. I just cleaned it up a bit (as I said, it didn’t need much–it was more that I felt like it was dirty than that it actually was dirty) and added some inexpensive wooden legs from Lowe’s. The legs I used are about $2.50/each, and I had to buy some hardware to attach it (which I didn’t end up using–more on that later), so considering that the trunk was free, I am all-in at about $12.50 on this project. Not bad!

If you had a really nice trunk and wanted to do it up right, I’m sure you could get some awesome legs from Pretty Pegs or use some vintage legs and make it spectacular. With how low-to-the ground I wanted this to be, the legs aren’t too visible, so it wasn’t really worth it to me to invest in a pricier option.

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To clean the trunk, I used a combination of water, baking soda, olive oil, and dish soap (you can read a good post on cleaning trunks here). If that sounds like a gross mixture, it kind of was. But remember, the cleaning was mostly about the psychology of believing it was clean rather than achieving some kind of specific result. I read that using that mixture would provide a gentle cleaning, so as far as I know, it did! When it was dry, I finished by polishing it with regular old furniture wax–the same kind I used on my mint dresser makeover.

To attach the legs, I simply drilled into the bottom of the trunk to make a hole slightly smaller than the screw on the leg. Usually I am not allowed to drill things because I have a bad reputation for eyeballing rather than taking precise measurements, but in this case eyeballing (I think I used the width of two or three fingers from the edge as a guide) was good enough. This kind of old trunk is really only made out of cardboard, so it is not at all difficult to puncture with a drill.

After attaching the legs, the plan was to secure them with a washer and then a nut on the inside of the trunk, but as it so happens, my cleaning activities exacerbated the rustiness of the hardware, and I haven’t been able to get the trunk open since! I’m pretty sure I could if I pulled hard enough, but the trunk resting on the legs makes them secure enough anyway; it’s not worth risk ripping the lid off the trunk.

My only piece of advice is that when you go to buy the washers/nuts bring the leg you are using with you and let the nice folks at your local home improvement store help you out. There are about a bazillion sizes inside all these little drawers, and you will grow old trying them out or become crazy attempting to guess which would fit.

I didn’t have any spot for the trunk when I found it, but it ended up fitting exactly into this little nook beside my closet. Sometimes admittedly I throw clothes on top of it for days at a time, but when it’s visible it’s a pretty cool accent.

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Have you ever found anything cool dumpster diving? Tell me about your treasures in the comments!

And don’t forget to check out the other intrepid DIYers! You can also share your own projects on Instagram using the hashtag #itssouglyitscool.

 
 

Happy Feet + Happy Floors with Rug Pad Corner

This post was created in collaboration with Rug Pad Corner. Thoughts, opinions, and cute dogs are of course solely my own. 

Beneath every good rug is a good rug pad. I don’t know if this is actually true, but it should be! The other side of this is obviously that on top of every good rug is a good dog. 🙂

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As you guys know, I love rugs, and I have a small collection that I try to grow whenever I’m lucky enough to find a great deal. When you’re starting out decorating a home, a rug pad isn’t necessarily the first “must-have” that comes to mind. However, it is one of those things that once you have experienced the difference (in this case between a non-padded and a padded rug), it’s hard to go back to your old ways. This is not to mention the fact that rug pads protect your floors (super important to me because I know what it took to refinish them!) and keep your rugs from migrating slowly across the room.

That’s why, when Rug Pad Corner reached out about reviewing one of their rug pads, I was eager to team up. I believe in supporting and promoting companies with good business practices, and Rug Pad Corner is one of them. Their rug pads are made in America out of 100% natural, recycled materials. No chemicals, glues, or adhesives are used, so there’s no nasty off-gassing, and they’re totally safe for little people and animals (you too, of course). Rug Pad Corner even donates a portion of every order to charity!

But most importantly, their rug pads are really nice. For this review, I got a combination felt/rubber rug pad. It is safe for any kind of floor, and works great on our wood floors. It’s reversible and can be used on hard flooring or carpet. It came with instructions indicating that on wood, the rubber side faces down, and on carpet, it faces up. Very smart.

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It was an instant hit with all involved. It even managed to bring these two scrappy girls together for a moment.

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For something that was shipped folded, there was basically no flattening time. I let it out of the bag, put down the rug, and called it a day in about 5 minutes total (figuratively speaking…I think it was only about 9am at the time).

Another awesome thing about Rug Pad Corner is that they custom cut every rug pad based on the size of your rug. So if you have an oddly sized rug like many vintage rugs are (the one for this room is 6’7″ x 10″6), the rug pad will be a perfect fit from the minute you roll it out.

(PS, if you follow me on Instagram then you know a little about our latest project, but if not, here’s what’s up–Justin built us a window seat! More updates to come).

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At 1/3″, the rug pad is super comfortable. And you can obviously see just how cushy it is, because as soon as the rug was down it instantly became a prime napping location.

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We’ve had it down for about a week now, and I’m so happy with it. I still get surprised at how much nicer it feels to walk on, and it’s good, too, to know we’re protecting the hard work done on our floors. Because lawd knows that is not a project I want to tackle again any time soon!

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I would highly recommend Rug Pad Corner to anyone looking for a high quality, eco-friendly rug pad. The 7’x11′ Ultra Premium rug pad in this review retails at $137 with free (and fast!) shipping. You don’t have to take my word for it, though, there are plenty of other glowing reviews on their web site, so check them out!

And by the way–Rug Pad Corner is offering 15% off your rug pad purchase using the code REVIEW15.

For more rug lovin’, be sure to check out my Beginner’s Guide to Vintage Rug Buying.

Beginner’s Guide to Vintage Rug Buying

Beginner's Guide

Vintage rugs are one of my favorite accessories and are generally a hot commodity in design right now. Over the course of a few years we have collected several vintage handmade rugs that have become some of my most prized possessions, as well as a few new, vintage-style rugs. This guide is meant to offer tips for starting out in your rug search.

Why would I want a vintage rug?

Vintage rugs are very popular right now, and maybe you’re wondering what the big deal is. I think there are quite a few reasons that the vintage rug market has become so hot, but some of the fundamental factors are that old rugs are unique, beautiful, practical, and durable. Our dining room rug, for example, is probably at least 80 years old, and with reasonable care it should still look great in another 80 years.

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Our dining room rug, a handmade Iranian rug, is between about 80-100 years old and still very vibrant.

What should I look for in a vintage rug?

The most important thing to look for in a rug is simply a design and color palette that appeals to you. Secondly, keep condition in mind. Old rugs can vary a lot in condition, and what kind of imperfections you are willing to accept is mostly up to personal preference. You may want to be aware of missing fringe, unraveling selvedge (the non-fringed borders of the rug), areas of wear that expose the rug base, fading, and patching. These can impact the value of a rug, but unless you are a serious collector (in which case you probably don’t need my advice), they shouldn’t necessarily affect your ability to display and enjoy the rug in your home. Imperfections often enhance the character of a rug and add to the vintage appeal.

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The left and right edges of our kitchen rug have begun to unravel. While we take care not to fray them further, the rug is still very functional.

How much should I pay for a vintage rug?

As with most vintage items, there are a lot of factors that go into the value of a particular piece. The condition, rarity, age, and the market in your area can all play a part in how much you should expect to pay. Legitimate vintage rugs in good condition can easily cost hundreds and thousands of dollars, depending on the size. While this may sound like a lot, keep in mind that these rugs will basically never wear out, and as long as they are taken care of will generally hold their value quite well. So as long as you are buying from a reputable seller and the cost is within your budget, you can consider your rug an investment piece.

If you are buying from a Craigslist seller or from somewhere else and you’re not sure if the item is legit, it pays to educate yourself a little bit about how to identify a true handmade (hand-tufted) rug versus a machine-made rug. There are quite a few short but educational videos on YouTube to help you do just that, but here and here are a couple quick ones that cover the basics.

There is nothing wrong with buying a machine-made rug (my living room rug is one of my favorites and it is machine-made), but naturally you want to be able to evaluate the claims a seller makes and know exactly what you’re getting. Handmade rugs are typically more valuable and therefore more costly.

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Our living room rug is machine-made, but I still love it for color palette and design. We bought it on Craigslist and knew that it is not handmade.

Where can I buy a vintage rug for cheap?

Flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales, Craigslist, and eBay are good places to find a deal on a vintage rug. However, don’t expect to walk into the first flea market you find and hit the jackpot. Finding a real score on a rug takes CONSTANT VIGILANCE (for you Harry Potter fans).

Where can I buy a vintage rug online?

There are a lot of great places to buy beautiful vintage rugs online. Here are a few sources you may want to check out:

Frances Loom

Semikah Textiles

The Woven Home

Greenbody+Greenhome

Canary Lane

Kaya Kilims

The Vintage Rug Shop

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If you are seriously in the market, I highly recommend following these and other textile dealers you’re interested in on Instagram. It’s a great place to see new inventory from multiple sources as soon as it’s available.

Where can I buy a new vintage-style rug?

Because of the popularity of vintage rugs, many rug manufacturers are offer products that mimic the design of vintage rugs. RugsUSA, Wayfair, Overstock, and Ikea are just a few places where you can buy new rugs with vintage-style designs. When buying a new rug, just be aware of the material the rug is made out of. Whereas most vintage rugs are wool (high-end rugs may also be silk), new vintage-style rugs can be made out of a variety of materials and may be synthetic, so you want to verify that the rug is 100% wool if having a natural fiber rug is important to you.

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I bought this rug on Craigslist, but it originally came from Overstock. It is a new 100% wool rug.

Other questions, tips, or suggestions from your own rug buying experience? I’d love to hear about them!

A Mint Vintage Dresser Makeover

Welcome to the first edition of “It’s So Ugly it’s Cool,” a new series hosted by Jess at Domicile 37. This challenge is about showing off how you makeover, re-purpose, clean up, etc second-hand items to fit with your style and needs. Does the item have to be ugly–not at all! But then again I have seen amazing things done with pieces I wouldn’t have given a second look, so it will be really interesting to see where people’s creativity takes them. This is an Instagram challenge, too, so if you are an Instagrammer and you have something you want to share, post a split screen and tag it #itssouglyitscool. We’d love to see your handiwork!

For me personally, my approach to DIY is usually to seek out quality vintage in need of a little love. So when it comes to crazy ambitious upcycling in which you discover X thing can be turned into Y thing you’d never imagine in all your days–you probably won’t be seeing that from me. Painting, refinishing, cleaning, reupholstering, etc, are much more in my wheelhouse.

Enter this week’s vintage dresser makeover. This was a very simple refresh that involved sanding, painting, and waxing, and that’s pretty much it. We’d been looking for a small, old dresser for our entryway, and I wanted something a little more antique-y than most of the furniture we own. I also wanted something that I could paint, and I feel bad painting wood about 99% of the time unless it is completely dilapidated or already painted. When Justin found this one in a local vintage shop, it ticked all my boxes, plus added a little extra cool with the hardware and nifty embellishment.

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There was honestly nothing bad about this dresser to begin with, and at first I considered the possibility of leaving it as it was. A couple things encouraged me to go ahead with a new paint job, though. The most important thing was that although I think farmhouse and shabby chic styles are completely charming in stores, in magazines, on the internet, and in other people’s homes, they simply are not one bit “me.” Plus I had the idea in my head that whatever piece of furniture went in the entryway would be mint green, which is why I wanted a paint-able piece of furniture in the first place. I think we all have the experience from time-to-time where an idea takes hold of your mind and won’t let go until you make it a reality. For me usually those unshakeable ideas have to do with ordering pizza, but in this case it was the that the dresser would be green. And so it is.

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This was one of those super easy projects anyone in possession of a paint brush can do. I painted the dresser with Valspar Chalky Finish paint and finished it with Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in Natural. I had never used chalk paint before but found it extremely easy to work with, and the super matte finish was great for hiding the imperfections in this piece. I did sand with a relatively fine grit sandpaper beforehand just to wear down some of the chippiness, though I think that is technically not necessary with chalk paint. The Valspar Chalky Finish paint is one of the few fully tintable chalk paints out there that I could find. Lowes carries it, and supposedly it can be tinted to any Valspar brand color. I used Valspar Pale Oak Grove, and although it didn’t come out the identical color to the paint swatch, it was honestly close enough for me.

Looking back at the before pictures, I definitely feel that I took the right approach for this piece of furniture in my home. It’s the perfect size and the green-on-green makes me really happy. I also think it looks quite a bit fresher now, and the pulls stand out more on the solid color.

I’m keeping to a few pictures today because I’m trying not to show too much of the entryway. I do plan to do a reveal post once the last bit of baseboard trim is in. The floors came out so beautifully thanks to some pretty intricate patching on Justin’s part. I’m sure no one remembers, but there used to tan tile in this space! (You can see the pictures from when we moved in here.)

So I’ll end with one side-by-side picture…

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And one picture of Fatty, because he was there too.

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Looking forward to showing you more of this space a little farther down the road (but hopefully not too far).

Now be sure to check out the rest of the It’s So Ugly it’s Cool participants! I have no idea what kind of projects the other ladies took on, but I’m eager to find out!

5 Easy Tips for Styling a Desk

Principles of No-Fail Desk Styling

Hello all! Welcome to a grand 2-day blog hop/EVENT that will give you plenty o’ tips for styling any table you come across. Kicking off day one is yours truly, and I’m here to talk to you about DESKS.

Most of us have at least a couple pieces of furniture in our homes that are mostly just aesthetic–a console table or book case that is only used to display favorite objects. But a desk isn’t usually one of those pieces. A desk really has to serve the dual-duty of looking good and providing functional workspace.

Today I’m going to share with you my 5 principles for putting together a desk space that is easy on the eyes and helps create a pleasant space for taking on sometimes unpleasant work (mmm, paying bills, anyone?).

All you have to do is think SMALL:

S – Storage

M – Movement

A – Art / Accessories

L – Layering

L – Lighting

A desk is just a horizontal space, so in many ways, styling a desk is no different than styling a shelf, console, or table top. Because of this, M for movement and L for layering are just applying basic shelf styling tips to your desk area. Let’s talk about what each of these letters means.

  • Storage – Storage is part of what makes your desk a functional space and can take many forms. A glass jar or small vase can store pens and pencils. A decorative canister can hide supplies or organize small tools. A tray can corral bills and paperwork you may not want to put out-of-sight in a drawer.
  • Movement – You can create movement through styling in a lot of different ways. Incorporating objects of different heights and varying colors, patterns, and shapes are just a couple examples of how you can keep the eye moving through all the elements in your vignette.
  • Art and/or Accessories – Art and accessories look nice for styling, but they also give you something to look at and enjoy while you’re working. There’s a reason why desks in front of windows seem so logical and office cubes seem so deadening. Humans crave visual stimulation! Art and other accessories can also do a lot of heavy lifting in the movement/layering aspects of the styling equation, and smartly chosen accessories double as storage as well..
  • Layering – Layering objects in any vignette creates interest. It provides depth within a horizontal surface and adds interesting tension between what is concealed and revealed. You can layer objects literally on top of one another (like leaning one piece of art on another) or simply by arranging objects at different depths front-to-back so that they appear layered.
  • Lighting – You need to see when you’re working, right? A light is functional necessity for a desk, but it can also help add height and bring in color, texture, or a sculptural element, depending on the type of lamp you choose.

Here are three different examples that show these principles in action.

Desk Setup 1

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You guys may remember this vignette from the New Year, New Room reveal. I’m going to let you in on the secret that this is probably my favorite of today’s three examples. I just love everything in it, especially the paint-by-numbers and the vintage tin (+ storage!). This has clearly got all 5 principles going on, but my best tip here is that some items can double to cover more than  one category. For example, I used a vintage brass canister as a pencil-holder. I couldn’t fit the lid on it, but it was interesting enough that I was able to use it as an accessory in its own right.

Desk Setup 2

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Setup 2 uses a big piece of art that fills the space and unifies the other, smaller accessories. A bulletin board would also serve this purpose well (and could be used for storage/organization). In lieu of art, you could also do a wallpapered or stenciled wall (or canvas, for less commitment) to provide visual interest. It’s not always possible (or preferable) to keep your papers away and out-of-sight, but here’s a tip if using a tray for random stacks of paper–use a small (and preferably heavier) art object on top to distract from your mess. Vintage ashtrays are cheap and plentiful in flea markets, and they make great paperweights. Sometimes they can function as coasters, too!

Desk Setup 3

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Clearly I am a fan of mirrors in this (or really any) styling equation. At a desk you can look up and recite positive affirmations while talking yourself out of sending a really nasty email. 😉 Mirrors are a great alternative to art, though, and are often more cost effective for their size. Another tip — don’t forget to include some greenery in any good desk setup. Sanseveria and ZZ plants are super easy-care plants that will grow nearly anywhere (the plant in the yellow pot in pic 2 is a Sanseveria), but fake plants can work well if you want to avoid the hassle. For fresh plants, flowers are lovely on occasion, but simple branches off of small trees or shrubs will last longer and dry out less conspicuously.

Think you would try out any of these tips for your desk situation? Let me know in the comments!

Now, hop on over to Up to Date Interiors and visit Kathy for some sofa table styling tips! And PS, come back tomorrow for even more goodies!

Day One Bloggers

Britt Kingery – Desk Styling

Up To Date Interiors – Sofa Table Styling

Pretty Practical Home – Console Table Styling

Domicile 37 – Bar Cart Styling

Casa Watkins – Coffee Table Styling

Day Two Bloggers:

Monica Wants It – End Table Styling

Shabby Grace Blog – Buffet Table Styling

Vintage Romance Style – Round Coffee Table Styling

This Is Our Bliss – Mantel Top Styling

Choosing Accessories for Every Style

I received complimentary products as compensation for this post (thank you Lamps Plus and Minted!). All thoughts, opinions, and stylin’ ideas are my own.

Welcome back to the final week of the New Year, New Room Refresh Challenge. It’s an exciting week with another round of room reveals from half participants, and more tips and tricks from those of us who revealed last week.

Today, I want to talk a little bit about choosing accessories for your home style, whatever that is. Given the choice, I think we would all live in homes with plenty of character and charm, but in real life, we are often tasked with enlivening sometimes unexciting spaces and making them feel like home and like us. Luckily, furnishings and accessories can go a long way to making that happen!

As you know, we worked with a number of generous sponsors during this challenged, and I’m very grateful to have partnered with Minted and Lamps Plus. I’m so, so pleased with what the art and lamps they provided added to my room.

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One of keys to successfully choosing accessories is to choose pieces that create a certain vibe. A unified color scheme and cohesive mix of materials is also important, of course, but that also factors into how a decor feels in a space. A mix of different styles can work well if used to create a singular vision. So let’s break a few examples down!

Country Chic

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I would not usually describe my style as “country” overall, but given the herd of cattle I put on my wall, it’s time to concede on this one. The white lamp with an organic shape jives well with the country feel, but the sleek glass base and streamlined shade keeps it modern.

Double Gourd Lamp / Land of Infinity by Debra Butler

Fun and Feminine

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This gorgeous mid-century sofa from Lamps Plus (yes, they do furniture, too!) is elegant but not too serious. Accessorized with colorful art and lamps in pastel shades, the vibe is fun, happy, and little bit girly.

Christen Bard Mid-Century SofaOvo Table Lamp / Gold Now by Nell Waters Bernegger

Cool and Contemporary

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Lots of white and cool metals always contribute to a contemporary feel. A clean-lined console and retro arc lamp work together because they both feel slightly futuristic. The art, which has the look of both a photograph and a painting, is contemporary but also brings an organic element.

Whitaker Modern Console / Basque Steel and Nickel Floor Lamp / Going for a Swim by Whitney Deal

 Bold and Glam

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Bold, saturated colors and luxurious materials (this is another Lamps Plus sofa!) like velvet and satin pump up the drama. A traditionally shaped gets an irreverent twist from a fresh color and mingles perfectly with an abstract art piece.

Namora Plush Teal Sofa / Apothecary Table Lamp / The Mountains Before Us by Mande

Fresh and Mod

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A retro shaped lamp and shades of green and blue give a mod feel. The abstract pillow continues the geometric theme and fresh color palette while keeping the decor feeling very current.

Emily Blue Ceramic Table Lamp / Waiting Pillow by Amelia Allen / Horizon Series by Jennifer Morehead

Neutral and Organic

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Colors, materials, and subject matter all give these accessories an organic feel. The ceramic lamp that mimics weaving links together the fantastic nature photograph and the pillow with a traditional Southwestern tile pattern.

Diamond White Woven Ceramic Table Lamp / Southwestern Tile pillow by Hooray Creative / Earthly Gradients by Elena Kulikova

Thanks for following along on this challenge! It’s was tons of fun. Make sure to head over and check out the rest of the participants for some fabulous reveals!

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