Our Memorial Day weekend was pretty excellent on all counts and though not quintessentially American, at least was quintessentially us. There wasn’t hamburger grilling or lake going, but there was Broken Spoke dancing, Grandfather visiting, Greenbelt hiking and—perhaps most excitingly—thrift store shopping. What started as a What-Else-Do-We-Have-To-Do rainy Saturday quickly turned into an OMG-I-Can’t-Believe-We-Found-All-Of-This-Affordable-Second-Hand-Stuff-That-Is-Precisely-Exactly-What-We-Have-Been-Looking-For awesome Saturday. We found stuff like…
…these two framed and matted Craig Holmes prints of the Brooklyn and Golden Gate bridges. We picked them up on the cheap from Corner Collectors Market, one of my favorite Austin junk stores. Heath is planning to hang them in his classroom as a classy and educational addition to his U.S. history curriculum. Pay attention kids, that’s what you call [hashtag] wining.
Another treat for Heath was getting his hands on some old books from Recycled Reads, the Austin Public Library’s used bookstore where they sell all the titles they no longer want in circulation for dirt cheap. Hardcovers: $2. Paperbacks: $1. Watching Heath make a pallet on the office floor so he can lay in a sea of his newly acquired library: priceless.
But the real “HOLY MACARONI” moment (For me at least. Let’s be real, Heath was checked out by this point, he had books to read and posters to hang.) was finding this midcentury dresser from Room Service Vintage. It was in great condition, it cost less than humdrum Ikea furniture and it matched our other bedroom dresser like its long lost twin sister. Or actually, a taller, skinnier, prettier sister. Those were great perks, but most importantly, it met the must-have criteria I was looking for in a new dresser. Namely, it fits perfectly against this awkward, small bit of wall in our bedroom and it’s stupid cute.
Months and months and months ago I posted about how I have pined for a bar cart for our living room. Why? Because they are fancy and decorative and useful and classy and awesome. Allow these next few photos to demonstrate my point for me (from houzz.com).
After months of online shopping, vintage-store cruising and craigslist scouring I finally found a decent looking bar cart for less than $100. It was Etsy that came to the rescue, with a ’50s brass bar cart for an affordable $60 (versus the $100, $200 and $300 pricetags most online retailers charge). Hallelujah! My dream of being a Mad Men cast member is that much closer to being a reality.
As a belated Christmas gift, last weekend Heath mounted the TV for me. For us, this is one of those pesky projects that (in the grand scheme of things) is pretty easy and affordable to accomplish but, for one reason or another, never made its way to the top of our to-do list. Though I don’t know why, as the end result has made a HUGE difference to our GDH. Just to jog your memory, here’s what our TV setup used to look like.
And here is what it looks like today.
It’s like people actually live here now! The project took about an hour and half to complete from start to finish. That time span includes Heath putting the TV up, me deciding it was too high, and him redoing the whole project again. Plus the time it took to hide the cables and arrange the fixins’ on the dresser. So basically, I’m embarrassed we didn’t get to this DIY fix earlier.
To say the living room has gone through many iterations would be an understatement. We’ve (I’ve) changed furniture and wall colors in here so many times I can’t event begin to give you the actual number of layout switch ups (maybe 5). Fortunately for Heath, now that the TV is on the wall, we are pretty well set with our current layout, and that’s just great with me. It’s quite possible I’m close to reaching my goal of having a living room that fits the modern eclectic description I was aiming for. Of course, once I achieve that, I’ll probably decide to switch things up again to fit a more Downton Abbey-ish lifestyle. I wonder how a flat screen fits into that arrangement…
There are lots of things Heath and I add and take away from our dream home checklist, but there is one item that has stayed constant throughout: the built in book shelf, or rather, a wall of books. Having a mini library, a focal point around books, would be alright by us.
The wall-o-books is appealing for 23426423 reasons.
Reason 1: We’ve got tons of books. We needs a place to put ’em. Book cases are perfect storage units for said books.
Reason 2: They can be completely fantastic to look at. Not only do they bring color and interest to a room, they can also serve as little windows into a person’s life. You can learn a lot about someone by checking out what’s on their bookshelf….pictures of family or friends, the trinkets they want on display and, oh yeah, the books they enjoy reading. And if they don’t have a bookshelf, you probably don’t want to be friends with that person anyway.
And for something a little less remarkable, a look at our attempts to master the bookcase–albeit on a smaller scale.
Heath built this moveable unit for me back at the rental. Not bad for a DIY storage project, still not quite the Lordship’s library.
Trying to give some gusto to an Ikea unit.
Literally going outside the box with a floating book shelf.
Trying to get a little unconventional with something pink.
The book case from long ago, stained and re stacked.
So we have not yet created a room, a wall, or sadly even a focal point of books. But perhaps singing this ode to the book case will get us on our way.
The little-known mid century Karlstad couch makeover would win a doodle award for excellence in ikea furniture customization if there were such a thing. There’s not, but there is my complete copying of it here on this blog.
Allow me to recap. Here’s the couch before…
And here she is after…
It’s like a brand new(er) couch! To review, here’s what we did to make it 50s-friendly:
- Tufted the back cushions-$50 (Should you choose to take this on yourself, take note that ikea is not liberal with their fabric swatch disbursement. To get matching fabric we had to buy a $20 cushion in the same fabric to cover the buttons).
- Added modern legs from tablelegs.com-$8.95 each (Make sure to request the correct hardware to be included with the legs on your order.)
It’s not much, but it makes a huge difference. Our grand total came in around $700, which is pretty great when you consider couches of a similar style usually range from $1000-$2500.
Putting the finishing touches on my modern eclectic living room is a small victory in the grand scheme of things, but it feels good to write about it and see a project come together, especially on a day like today, where Heath and I celebrate the one year anniversary of signing on our first house (more on that to come). Until then, we’ll continue cruising the internets for more intriguing inspirations from the comfort of our new couch.
Before I get too far into things, I will start with a disclaimer that my emotional investment in the forthcoming subject matter is a little ridiculous. But that’s how I roll…just slightly on the side of ridiculous. That being said, I announce the following: Heath and I decided to ditch the sectional sofa formerly known as The Most Comfortable Couch in the World.
I admit the sofa wasn’t much to look at, but the hand-me-down sectional was a pretty big part of our lives for the past 4 years or so. It moved with us from our place in North Campus where Heath and I first lived together, to our 36th street cottage, and now to our current abode. I had gotten pretty accustomed to having it around. It’s been the resting place for dozens (Maybe hundreds? No…dozens.) of overnight guests throughout the years and was THE place to be on movie nights. It was a magical sofa that endured splendidly the wear and tear of my playful pets and red wine spills without showing stains. It was the sort of couch that, even if you had the intention of resting there for only a few moments, could convince you to stay and hang out for the duration of, oh say, an entire season of Downton Abbey. It was that good. Ask anyone.
So, it was sort of a big deal that we decided to put the old girl on craigslist. You see, in our house, most of the stuff is either:
- Hand-me-down (armoire, couch, coffee table)
- Purchased second-hand (dining room table, TV credenza, bedroom dresser)
- Made by Heath (office day bed, office desk, our bed, book shelf)
Nothing’s wrong with any of that of course. In fact, normally I prefer it. But after a point I REALLY wanted the opportunity to pick something out for ourselves; something that felt like us and not like the discarded collections of others. And since I’ve settled into my new job and Heath’s been enjoying his new title at work, we thought why not “TREAT YO SELF.” And the couch was put up for sale in the hopes we could trade it for something a little more slick, stylish and, dare I say, sexy?
And what’s more sexy than IKEA couches?! AmIRightLadies?!?!?!
Yeah, I know that saying an IKEA couch is some kind of an upgrade over any situation might be treason to some folks, but bear with me here. I recently stumbled upon of the most genius, cost-saving ideas invented in the history of ever: the customizable Karlstad. It was brought to me by the folks at our mid century who proved that IKEA affordability + creativity = wonderfully attainable personal design. They picked up the Karlstad sofa, switched out the legs and tufted the cushions for a look that is completely, one-hundred-percently up my alley—a 50s-60s vibe on a comfortable sofa for a fraction of the cost of what designer furniture costs. Sign. Me. Up.
After making that discovery, all bets were off. I knew what I had to do. The sectional went up on craigslist and we headed to IKEA. Next thing we know, this is our living room.
It was a little sad to see the beloved old sectional go, but we’re all pretty happy (Stella included) with the new addition. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some couch potato-ing to do.