Sofa, so good.

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:

  1. Hand-me-down (armoire, couch, coffee table)
  2. Purchased second-hand (dining room table, TV credenza, bedroom dresser)
  3. 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.

The IKEA Karlstad turned midcentury.

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.

Should I stay or should I go? The story of a hand-me-down armoire

It’s practically inevitable that despite our best efforts, we all develop sentimental attachments to things: clothes, pieces of art, even furniture.

Growing up my parents had this beautiful 1920s, dark wood armoire that, despite its somewhat awkward size and bulkiness, always managed to avoid being placed on the curb during garage sale season. It moved with us to every house.  Even during my mom’s grad school phase when we lived in a tiny 100-year-old duplex, the armoire was there. It’s an enormous statement piece in which my mother kept the family stereo…back before stereos were the size of shoe boxes.  I have vivid memories of watching my reflection in the mirror at age 8 as I danced to Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi in our living room.

In college when I got my own apartment but had no furniture of my own, my mom used a jigsaw to cut a hole in its back, converting it to a makeshift entertainment unit/TV stand. She even painted it in colors to match my apartment so I could feel like a genuine “big girl” with fancy furniture. Overtime I have become attached.

Red and green 1920s armoire, painted for me by my mother

And now for the bad. It was painted back when I was obsessed with paisley and doesn’t exactly mesh with the other modern elements in the house. It’s also extremely heavy, probably one of the most difficult pieces to move. On top of that, the mirrored door doesn’t really latch anymore and sometimes swings open on its own. And while it is good for extra storage, it was made back in the days when people were much smaller, so it doesn’t function as a true closet what with the size of our modern-day hangers. Plus, our TV now is too big to fit inside anymore. Finding a true purpose for it these days is not so easy, and it has essentially become a wardrobe to house random knick-knacks and our DVD collection. But I can’t bring myself to toss it.  It’s so much more personal than an IKEA book shelf or Target lamp or World Market chair. It’s a one-of-a-kind family heirloom.

Stay it shall. Like most pieces of yesteryear, it just needs a little sprucing up. We’ll patch up the back, grease up its hinges, and slap a more age-appropriate paint job on its surface. And, in true doodle house fashion, I’ve already perused pinterest for ideas to copy.

Another weekend project is on the books.

Was blind, but now I see: A five-minute kitchen fix

Mini blinds in the kitchen are just plain stupid. They collect dust and oil and keep out the natural light and are just about the most hideous things ever. So last week I decided to scrap the blinds on the kitchen door for a scarf I purchased for 25 cents at Goodwill. I definitely got my money’s worth out of that one.

Hooray for thrifty finds AND trashing blinds.

Lunchtime Lookyloo

Sometimes on your lunch break you have to grab a sandwich. Other times you have to grab some good design ideas to get you through the weekend. No, I don’t mind if I do spend 30 minutes of the lunch hour perusing the rooms of Uptown Modern, my favorite vintage furniture shop in Austin.

There’s a lunch where I won’t mind asking for seconds.

Another man’s treasure

I like to pretend that my fascination with and adoration of vintage furniture and knick knacks is rooted in and based on actual interest and not of the that’s-all-we-can-afford ilk. But who am I really kidding. Despite being out of college and now one of millions of living, breathing working adults in this country, I admit that 90 percent of the furniture in our house is either a) a hand-me-down, b) homemade or c) purchased second-hand… not ideal for the wannabe interior designer that lurks within. Luckily, we live in Austin and the city has no shortage of wonderful places to visit if you’re in search for a truly unique furniture find that is second hand, yes, but also completely funky and affordable.

Last weekend we took inventory at a few of our favorite second-hand shops in Central Austin. Even if you’re not in the market to buy, these places are least worth dropping in if only to oogle at their outrageously wonderful mid-century modern treasures.

Uptown Modern
5453 Burnet Road, Austin

This place is ideal for tracking down well put-together Danish modern finds at reasonable prices. We actually transitioned from window shoppers to real-life customers when we purchased a dresser there last year—marking our first major furniture purchase as a married couple. The prices are moderate, it’s true, but what’s fun about this place is the set up and showcase or each of their pieces. The organization is spectacular and walking through the doors really feels like walking onto the set of Mad Men.

Room Service Vintage
107 E. North Loop,  Austin

As great for its clothing, light fixtures, and kitchenware as it is for its furniture, Room Service Vintage is, to me,  the anchor vintage shop of myriad second-hand joints popping up in this corridor of North Loop. The atmosphere is hip, the shopkeepers friendly, and the walls always covered in wonderful ’50s through ’70s eye candy from retro clocks to back issues of Playboy.

Second hand? Yes. Boring? Never.