Double-layer DIY

As I barely ever notice curtain rods, expensive ones were not high on my priority list when it came to decorating our place. Unless there’s a truly hideous decorative element at each end of the rod, I think it’s perfectly OK to purchase the cheapest ones you can find! And in many cases, you can create the look you want using super-cheap materials.

For example, I’m a big fan of the double-layer look, which consists of a heavier outer curtain with white sheers underneath. However, the double-layer rods are usually quite expensive, so I created my own.

First, we hung the white sheers using one of those ultra-inexpensive white metal rods, which you can pick up virtually anywhere.

Then, we screwed in a thicker metal rod slightly above the white one. The key here is to choose a rod with brackets that will thrust the top layer of curtains out a couple inches to cover the layer underneath.

Incredibly, the outer rods were purchased for just $6.99 each at our local Christmas Tree Shop (no, they don’t sell Christmas trees, but they do have verrrrrry interesting garden ornaments).

The result: an elegant look for a mega steal!


Design profile: Marimekko

One of the best ways to make a statement in your space is through the use of textiles. I’m a big fan of different textures, graphic prints and even solid colors. But if I had my way, I’d deck out our entire place (or a good portion of it) with Marimekko fabrics.

Marimekko is a Finnish textile and clothing design company that is known for its modern, colorful graphic prints. Various designers create the patterns, which can be bright and bold or relatively simple and subdued. The patterns are used for its line of fabrics, clothing and interior accessories. (I’d love a set of Marimekko plates! Can you imagine?)

If you’re good with a sewing machine, you could create your customized look with Marimekko textiles, which I've spotted for sale on specialty websites, at the NYC Marimekko Concept Store, and even on eBay. However, it doesn’t come cheap.

Believe it or not, you can bring a little ready-made Marimekko goodness into your home for relatively little money. I am the lucky owner of a Marimekko-print shower curtain (shown here), which I scored at C&B on clearance last year for just $22. I'm also coveting all of the following inexpensive items:

Magnets - $6, Etsy

Pillow cover - $16.95, Etsy

Shower curtain - $34.95, Crate & Barrel

60" square tablecloth - $19.95, Crate & Barrel

(Note: the neutral-colored items always seem to be a little cheaper, so be prepared to spend extra for a pop of color!)


Blogger Q&A: Sherry from This Young House

If you haven’t checked out This Young House, [UPDATE: This Young House has since been re-launched as Young House Love] do yourself a favor and read Sherry and John’s insanely cute blog about the adventures of renovating a little house in Richmond, Virginia. The couple, who are in their 20s, completely redid their entire home on a budget and have become DIY masters!

Sherry was kind enough to take part in my little “blogger Q&A” session on how to achieve a stylish look with little cash. Enjoy!

1. Which decorative accessory or element is OK to cheap out on?
Hmm, we're pretty cheap about almost everything, but some particularly great items to snag on a dime are little decorative accessories (we've found white ceramic pears for $1 at HomeGoods), pillows (they can dress up a room for under $20) and art (we're huge fans of DIYing it, and everything from house keys or corks to sea fans or black & white vacation photos can look amazingly "legit" once they're put behind glass).

2. What d├ęcor element is worth the splurge?
A good sofa and a good mattress are definitely worth a bit more dough (although gorgeous versions of both can be had for around $1,200 each, so we're not talking about 10K when we say splurge). They'll both be things that you'll have for the long haul, and when it comes to your sofa, you'll want to pick a classic shape and a neutral color, which will keep things looking crisp and current for at least a decade or two. We're huge fans of Rowe sofas (we got one for $400 less than our Pottery Barn Basic, which we're already completely over) and Room & Board sofas (they're such great pieces for the price). And as for our mattress preference, we're saving our pennies for an organic wool one and we can't wait to make the big switch.

3. When you first moved in to your house, what was the first thing you did to make your space feel like home?
The very first thing we did was rip up the gross thin carpets in the bathroom and the sunroom (ick!) to reveal amazing vintage basketweave tiles in our loo and some lovely concrete flooring in the sunroom (pictured below, which we painted a rich chocolate brown). Of course getting some soothing blues, tans, and creams on the walls along with painting all the natural wood trim a crisp white tone also helped the house feel clean, current and oh-so-ours.

4. What’s your top low-budget decorating tip?
Work with whatcha got. This is what we commonly refer to as our Tim Gunn philosophy (his "make it work" mantra really rings true). Keeping an open mind and trying to repurpose, repaint, and reinvent the things that you already have can really add style without putting you in the red. For example, we had an old CD storage box that we mounted on the wall in the bathroom. Voila! A mirrored wall shelf to hold pretty glass cups (stolen from the kitchen cabinet) full of cotton balls and q-tips. We also used inexpensive bamboo blinds to create concealed storage (pictured below) above our washer and dryer instead of buying budget-breaking custom cabinets. It's all about looking at things in a different way... and desperation paired with an empty wallet is a great motivator!

5. What are your favorite sources for low-cost decorative accessories and furniture?
Everyone who reads our blog knows that we're big Ikea, Target, JC Penney and Overstock fans. We also love virtually dropping in on CB2, West Elm, World Market, ZGallerie, and even Urban Outfitters for pieces that can be combined to create a look that appears to be a lot more expensive than the sum of its parts. And don't forget thrift stores, Craigslist and even garage sales! We have found some pretty amazing pieces by looking beyond an old peeling paint job or some terrible upholstery to see a diamond in the rough that we can transform for under $15 in an afternoon.

Thanks Sherry! If you’re looking for some design inspiration or want to learn your way around a hammer, check out her blog here.


Spatial hues: choosing a color scheme

I usually have a tough time making decisions, but when it came to choosing a color scheme for our place, I knew what I wanted: chocolate brown and light blue. I liked it so much, it also happened to become the scheme for our bedroom. I know a good thing when I see it, I suppose.

When it came to the other rooms, it got a little trickier. My momma always says that each room should flow into another. So in the kitchen, we’ve got blue, green and beige—a nice complement to the brown and blue. Upstairs, we have a green and brown scheme in the bathroom and a way-too-beige second bedroom that will be addressed soon in our upcoming spring-cleaning project.

When I walk through our home, I can see where each color picks up in each room and is carried throughout—and it wasn’t even really intentional!

Do you have a color scheme? How did you choose it?


Need. More. Art.

In two weeks, I will be embarking on a super-intensive spring-cleaning mission, which entails reorganizing and redesigning every single room in our apartment (including the basement). Naturally, I’ll do it all on a budget, and I’ll chronicle the entire “makeover” right here on this newly redesigned blog. But before I begin this massive project, I’ve been gathering ideas on what I’ll need… and I’m thinking it’s more wall art!

The project will begin with the second bedroom, which houses our well-loved iMac, a couch, and usually our ironing board and drying rack full of wet clothes. When we moved in, we hung some of our least-liked wall art in this room just so the walls weren’t totally empty. But now I’m thinking it’s time to take down those framed college diplomas (they’re nice, but not very stylish) and put up some artwork that reflects what we want the room to be—a fun place to come and relax, listen to music, peruse Google Reader and just cheeeel.

Right now, we’ve got this print from The Poster List above our couch:

I’d like to find another print to accompany this one, as it looks a little lonely. So far, I’ve come across a few contenders, both of which are gig posters (my go-to wall art):

From Insound

From The Small Stakes

The bird and phonograph-style flower in the Andrew Bird print above remind me of the print I already have. It would be kind of funny to echo that element. Hmmm... so many options!

What would you choose? Are you into posters or more traditional wall art?

Similar posts:
Affordable art: the work of Matte Stephens
Grown-up band posters
Deck the walls with framed LPs
The search for affordable art


Deal on dinnerware

For our wedding, my husband and I received 12 beautiful place settings of the Pottery Barn "Sausalito" dinnerware in Natural. Now, nearly two years later, we have thrown out several chipped plates and bowls. Not to mention, we've probably packed on a few extra pounds because the plates are abnormally large (or perhaps we are just lazy).

Either way, I was always sad when it was time to throw away yet another dish. Who wants to throw away their wedding gifts? So we are now eating our daily breakfast and dinner off an inexpensive stoneware dinnerware set from Pier 1. You get 4 place settings for just $25! Not a bad deal. It's great having normal-sized dishes that can actually fit inside our dishwasher, although I will miss our pretty PB plates. We'll bring them out on special occasions (or just when we're too lazy to wash the new ones).

Have you had to discard any of your wedding gifts?


Inferior design: Orla Kiely housewares for Target

This past weekend, the new line of Orla Kiely housewares made its way to Target stores. I, along with many other bloggers, was excited about this new line, which includes bright and boldly patterned textiles, organizers, canisters and many other items. However, I wish I had previewed this line before I excitedly wrote about it here.

That’s because I am disappointed with the quality. The coasters and certain placemats are made of material that reminds me of jigsaw puzzles; if you placed a condensation-soaked glass on the coaster, I think the sticker-like overlay would likely peel off. And while the dishtowels are pretty, they are made of cheap, coarse material that would not soak up any droplets from your wet dishes.

While it is certainly cost-efficient, I feel it is more appropriate for students moving into their first dorm room or on-campus apartment. The cloth shoe organizer, magazine holders and melamine dishes would have been perfect for college! (The full line does not appear to be on the Target web site yet, otherwise I'd link to the other items.)

I haven’t checked out the full line yet, but I am fairly sure I will be disappointed all around. That’s why, going forward, I will try to only feature products I really stand by, with quality I can attest to… because otherwise, what’s the point?