5 cheap and stylish throw pillows

I've been looking for bright, interesting throw pillows to add a punch of color to our chocolate brown couches. I've rounded up a few of my favorites from the web--perhaps you'll be inspired, too!

I love this one from Etsy seller HomeGrownPillows. It's just 10 bucks (on sale!) and features fabric by Amy Butler. It comes in a few other color schemes as well, so you can pick your fav.

LinkThis one will fit a bit more girly aesthetic. It's also from Etsy seller HomeGrownPillows. Check out the whole shop -- there's lots of good stuff to be seen here!

I'm seeing this type of graphic pattern everywhere lately. This pillow cover is from Etsy seller Karen Radtke and would add a modern statement to any living room. Again, it's just $10!

This one's stylish yet subtle, and is available from Etsy seller pillowtalkboutique for $12.

I'm also loving the "velvet spray" pillow from CB2. The silhouette thing is still pretty big--wonder when that will go out of style? See my "trend-spotting" post on bird silhouettes here.

(And no, I won't be using brown or gray pillows with my brown couch.)


Hot seat of the week

Go here to enter to win the Cole Chair from Room & Board from Apartment Therapy! Depending on your set-up, it would make a great complement to your living room or bedroom. Personally, I'd clear out some room in our bedroom and use it for a little reading nook.

Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving!


Spruce up your space for free

In this horrible economy, I’m looking for quick ways to save a buck—as I’m sure you are, too. Fortunately, there are many ways to spruce up your space using items you already have.

How to do it:

Mix up your tschotskies or switch around your wall art
Once about every month or so, I change up the assortment of knick-knacks and frames that are arranged on our tabletops and other furniture. I have several candlesticks and holders that have made their way around our apartment. Sometimes I also like to re-arrange our wall art for a fresh look. Sick of that canvas print in your living room? Hang it above your bed! However, make sure you cover up those unsightly holes!

Be creative with your overflow of vases and candleholders
I use vases for all sorts of things: one on our desk is full of pens and pencils, while another serves as a catch-all for our flash drives, earbuds and paper clips. I’ve also used a hurricane candleholder as a canister for our kitchen utensils. Be creative!

Repurpose your baskets
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got an overflow of baskets that I’ve received as part of a gift. One now holds magazines and mail on our coffee table, another holds important reading materials in our “second office,” and the other houses our cozy winter blankets. The best thing is the baskets are actually pretty attractive!

Drape a throw blanket over your couch
You can elegantly drape a throw blanket over the arm of your couch for a casual but luxurious feel. Just make sure your blanket isn’t loaded with coffee stains.

Add more lamps to the rooms you frequent the most
Most people have several extra lamps that are either buried in the closet or haphazardly scattered around their place. If you’re in need of more lighting, ask around – I’m sure people will be more than willing to pass them off to someone! Move the bulk of the lamps into the rooms you frequent the most, as good lighting is the key to a cozy atmosphere.

Rearrange furniture
See my recent post on the difference simple rearrangements makes.

Put that iron away and clean up clutter
We often leave our iron and drying rack set up in our second bedroom. As we use both nearly every day, it seems pointless to dismantle them. However, on days where you’re really stressed and sick of your space, clean up the clutter. You’ll feel so much better in under five minutes.

Clear off your dining room or coffee table
These two tabletops accumulate mail, jewelry, and other materials throughout the week. Keep the junk under control with some of those strategically placed baskets I told you about…


The Re-Arranger

Simply re-arranging your furniture brings a fresh look and feel to any space. We recently moved a hand-me-down bookcase down to our basement so that we could use our square footage more efficiently. As you can see below in the “before” picture, the placement of the bookcase resulted in an odd “faux nook” and a crammed-together seating area.

Now, as shown in the “after” picture below, the living room looks much more open and inviting. Although we subtracted a substantial and useful piece of furniture, sometimes less is definitely more!

The rules of re-arrangement apply to every room and object in your home. On days when I enjoy an HGTV marathon and subsequently yearn for a house makeover, I reorganize my tschotkes (no duck figurines here, mind you). I often switch out my dining room table centerpiece with a fruit bowl, candlesticks or flowers. And, if our bedroom layout allowed it, I’d rearrange the boudoir every six months.

Sometimes new arrangements inspire greater creativity and a simply refreshing change—or just make you realize how many dust bunnies gather underneath your couch!

Grown-up band posters

Until this year, the last time I owned a framed band poster was probably in 1988. When I saw that New Kids on the Block poster encased in a black plastic frame, I knew it had to be mine. Later, I discarded the NKOTB boys and the frame in favor of No Doubt, Silverchair and thumbtacks. In college, my hubs and I decked out our respective one-room dwellings with posters of such bands as Rainer Maria, The Shins and Ben Harper.

While our musical tastes have thankfully changed, our affinity for band posters has not. But these days, we forego the glossy mass-produced posters in favor of silkscreened gig prints. Not only are they much cooler looking, but allow you to showcase your impeccable taste in music without looking like you actually framed a poster.

Etsy seller Strawberryluna has some great silkscreened gig posters for indie rock’s finest bands. We purchased a Spoon poster (which is no longer available) that draws our living room together quite well. I’m also coveting her Death Cab for Cutie print.

Other sites that offer ultra-hip, silkscreened posters for the grown-up indie fan include:
The Small Stakes


Illuminate everything

Many apartments are outfitted with some grody, outdated light fixtures. To combat this issue, we ignore the overheads all together in favor of our own, much more attractive lamps. Good lighting can instantly change the look and feel of a room, so when we want to feel cozy and warm, we flip on virtually every light in the place for instant ambience. (Good thing we use energy-efficient bulbs!)

Within the past year or so, I’ve noticed that many stores are carrying moderately priced lamps in more modern, hip styles. When my husband and I moved in together over three years ago, we had so much difficulty finding affordable table lamps that weren’t “country” or gaudy. Now, the drum shades, glass-ball bases and overall simple look are “in,” which means you have plenty of options from which to choose.

Last year, we got two teal drum lamps from Pier 1, which we scored for $25 each at a crazy fall sale. Not only do they add a splash of color to our home, but they also are a little bit different than the style we usually go for, which allows us to achieve a more eclectic look.

Where do you buy your lamps?


Solutions for your entryway

After a long day, most of us tend to drop everything immediately. But rather than scatter keys, mail and shoes (so many shoes!) around your place, bring it all together with a cost-effective entryway solution.

I personally use a Bombay Company end table as an entry table, and it works great. We can store all of our crap in the front drawer and drop our keys in the little re-purposed "party plate." This doesn’t solve our massive shoe problem (who knew we had so many shoes?), but we’ll just have to be better about keeping those out of sight.

If you go for a console table, which is essentially just a little wider and slightly taller than an end table, you can add additional storage space to the tabletop with a decorative basket similar in shape to this one. I don’t have to tell you that baskets like this are available everywhere for super-cheap! I’ve even gotten compliments on ones purchased from the dollar store.

Another option I’m coveting is a wooden bench with “cubby”-like storage spaces beneath it, such as this one and this one. The baskets can be filled with gloves, scarves, shoes, or anything else you want to keep tucked away.

If you don’t have the room or budget for furniture, go with a couple decorative hooks to keep your purse, scarves, and light jackets together. I scored these branch hooks on clearance from Urban Outfitters last year—keep your eye out for sales. You can also kill two birds with one stone courtesy of Etsy seller magneticboardman, as he makes coat racks that double as wall art!

Happy hunting!


GrassrootsModern's Affordable Modern Kitchen Contest

For those of you who own your own home and are looking to remodel your kitchen without spending much money, check out GrassrootsModern's Affordable Modern Kitchen Contest. The Eco Modern entry is very inspiring--it's hard to believe it only cost $3,500! Voting began yesterday and ends November 30th.


Deck the walls with framed LPs

A stylish and cheap way to personalize your space and fill your blank walls is to frame your favorite records. Whether you want to display the cover art from your favorite indie rock album or show off your “ironic” collection of Journey records, you can do so on the cheap.

LPs are still available in local and national record stores, believe it or not. In fact, vinyl versions of your favorite current albums are usually available for under $15 each. Several stores now even carry inexpensive record frames.

For the blank wall in our dining area, we chose to deck the walls with some indie rock greats. Our selection of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Postal Service and Bright Eyes records not only conveys our music tastes, but also adds a nice visual element to our home. Now we can feel like Rob Gordon on a daily basis, minus the “what does it all mean” freak-outs and Cosby sweatahs.

If you’re not into indie rock, go for glam and make your place feel like a recording studio. Line the walls with LPs by your favorite R&B divas or rappers.

Or, peruse the local flea markets or secondhand stores and load up on vintage records from bygone decades. If you’ve got a wicked sense of humor, display a collection of records featuring Barry Gibb’s signature mullet-and-beard combo. (I think I just gave myself an idea for our second bedroom.)

Designing around wall-to-wall carpeting

Wall-to-wall carpeting is perhaps one of the worst features an apartment can have - you never know what may be hiding in those fibers! Things can even be bad if you've got a brand-new, plush beige carpet... all of your furniture could be beige, too. Apartment Therapy featured some great tips today on how to design around "uninspiring" wall-to-wall carpeting. While it may look funny to place an area rug over a carpet, try it out and see how it looks. Embrace an oddly-colored carpet and inject even more style and drama into your space. Or, ignore the carpet all together and go for the look you want. Either way, you're sure to find a look that works for you.


Hot seat of the week

A modern, whimsical chair can certainly dress up a dull space. If you've got lighter-colored furniture, check out the Poäng from Ikea. You can choose from a multitude of slipcover options that match your color scheme. The best part is it's just $129 (a bargain when it comes to chairs).


Cute, cost-effective accessories

A selection of well-coordinated accessories can really help draw a room together. The best thing about such items is that they are available everywhere for bargain prices.

I’ve compiled a few favorites from the web for inspiration.

1. Round swirl wall art, $19 – Pier 1
2. Ibiza pillow, $12.95 – CB2

3. Glass frames, $14.99-$24.99 – Pottery Barn

4. Green dendrobium stem, $1.98 – Pier 1

5. Lacquer pillar holders, $12.99-$26.99 – Pottery Barn

6. Fluted glass vase, $9.98 – Pier 1

7. Recycled album coasters, $16.00 – Urban Outfitters

8. Tiered pedestal jewelry stand, $26.00 – Urban Outfitters

Can you tell what my favorite housewares stores are?


5 low-cost coffee tables

The coffee table is usually one of the most prominent and most-used furniture pieces in the living room. Therefore, it pays to invest in a solid, stylish table that won’t fall apart within a year. Most of the tables I’ve found fall between the $160-$299 range. Depending on the style you want, you could find an even better deal. My husband and I managed to score a $130 coffee table on clearance from a local furniture store. The months-long search for a dark wood, mission-style piece with an extra shelf for storage proved difficult, but it paid off in the end.

Check out the following five (technically six) tables for some inspiration:

The Galerie coffee table from Crate & Barrel retails for $249.00 and features some simple decorative touches. It’s got enough space for your magazines, books and any other go-to items.

The modern, angled-leg coffee table from West Elm (above left) is on sale for $229.00 (plus $30 shipping). It comes in both “limed chocolate” and “cinnabar,” so you can go for a more playful color scheme. For a similar look, go with the Vejmon from Ikea (right) for just $169.00. It only comes in brown-black, but it’s got the same basic structure plus an extra shelf.

If your style is ultra-modern, check out this one from CB2. The $199 table is made entirely of glass with shiny chrome edges. I could picture this one placed atop a super-bright, fun area rug. Just make sure your other pieces are on the modern side, too!

Those of you seeking more traditional options might want to give the South Hampton cocktail table from Target a look. This one is $149.99 and comes with two baskets that keep your projects, remote controls, mail, and any other materials neatly tucked away.

If your coffee table budget is under $50, check out the Lack table from Ikea. It’s simple, sizeable and features plenty of extra storage space.


What to do with all your DVDs, CDs and books

My husband and I own so many books, CDs and DVDs that we’ll likely never read, listen to or watch ever again. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to throw them away or shove them all in boxes in our basement. Sometimes we like keeping these things accessible in case we feel like getting through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, reliving our middle school years with some Stone Temple Pilot jams, or watching Napoleon Dynamite for the hundredth time. But with a tight economy and the already high price of solid wood furniture, it’s not easy finding wallet-friendly bookcases and media storage solutions that don’t look too cheap.

My solution to this dilemma is a little store called Ikea. While I don’t recommend their frames, I am a big fan of their Markör bookcases and storage cabinets.
Any book collection would look fabulous on this cube-like bookcase (above), which has a casual modern feel. I would accent our hardcovers with these cute, squat vases.

We personally own this glass-door cabinet (above), which we’ve filled with our top DVDs and CDs. I like the fact that our collection is discreetly showcased; we can still see and access the discs we want, but the titles don’t look cluttered or blatantly displayed.

If you’re willing to refinish furniture, some good places for bookshelves and cabinets are flea markets and tag sales. Additionally, you can sometimes luck out in the clearance area of some national and local furniture stores. Otherwise, Ikea might be your best bet.


The search for affordable art

One of the best ways to customize your space is through wall art. However, it can be quite difficult to find inexpensive prints that aren’t hanging on the walls of dorm rooms across the country.

Thankfully, with the surging popularity of online sites such as Etsy, you don’t have to settle for the same old Salvador Dali or Ansel Adams print all your friends had in college. A variety of unique and attractive pieces created by independent artists are available online for surprisingly affordable prices. Plus, you’ll likely feel even better about purchasing from a “real” artist rather than a big box store, as the sellers are usually very gracious and ship your order right away.

I recently purchased this print from Etsy seller Swallowfield for just $26. As I was looking for a slightly larger size, she set up a custom order for a 12” x 16” print. It came in the mail three days later. I matted it nicely in a 16” x 20” frame that I scored for $22 at Michael’s. All told, I spent about $50 on a great focal point for our living room!

How to modernize your kitchen

The kitchen is a tricky area to decorate. If you’re renting, you may never get those wood-trimmed cabinets back to the original shade of white, no matter how hard you try. And forget about asking your landlord to replace them. If you’ve just purchased your first house, you may have to live with that gold stove from 1982 for a year or two before you can fully achieve the modern look you’ve been coveting. But with a few simple touches, you’ll forget all about those scorch marks, stains and wood-paneled appliances.

Find a pretty calendar - First, choose a bright calendar full of pretty artwork that you’ll enjoy all throughout the year. Post it up on your refrigerator or directly over the landline jack you’ll never use. (Do you use your landline anymore? Yeah, me neither.) I’m enjoying this cute little printable calendar from Etsy seller littlebrownpen - it's only $5! Or you could always hit up the calendar sales at the mall after Christmas, but there’s little chance you’ll find one that’s not devoted to precious little baby animals snuggled within teacups.

Choose your favorite snapshots -
Select your favorite snapshots or postcards and arrange them on your fridge. I’m a fan of funny and/or arty pictures that I’ll never tire of looking at.

Customize your own magnets -
You’ll need some cool magnets that will keep those pictures in place. Check out NotMartha.org to learn how to make your own out of decorative marbles. Yes, I know this is a craft typically enjoyed by children or old ladies, but trust me on this one! Not only will they liven up your space, but they also cost virtually nothing to make. I’ve got some great argyle scrapbook paper from Target that will work wonderfully for this project. (That last sentence really makes me sound old.)

Hang a bright print - Personalize the kitchen by hanging a colorful print you enjoy. If you're a fledgling look looking for encouragement, you could go with one of the popular $20 “Keep Calm and Carry On” prints from Etsy seller cutpasteprint.

Invest in an attractive fruit bowl -
Not only will a fruit bowl look great on your countertop, but it will inspire you to eat better! Check out your local Home Goods for some decently priced options.

Display your functional items - I keep two of our ceramic pitchers out on the counter because I love how they look. Cluster a few in a corner or other free space, or just showcase one. You can use this same idea for pretty vases, mixing bowls, or other such items

Opt for a bright tea kettle - If you’re a regular tea (or hot chocolate) drinker, get your brew on with an ultra-bright tea kettle. Even if you don’t like hot drinks, it looks cool on your stove. This one's only $24.99 at Macy’s, but check Home Goods or other discount retailers for some even cheaper options.

Show off your wine collection -
You can find some great bargains on wine racks in a variety of discount stores. Fill the rack with bottles that not only contain delicious wine, but also feature pretty packaging. I highly recommend Big House Red.

Bring in a plant - I’ve had many plants in my kitchen over the past few years, none of which have lasted more than three weeks. How I wish I could care for them! If you’re lucky enough to have a green thumb, get yourself a colorful and super-cheap pot from Ikea. I’ll be over here dusting off my fake cherry blossom branch.

Ditch the dish soap bottle -
Dish soap packaging is not very attractive, so why not dress up your detergent a little bit by pouring it into a decorative olive oil bottle? This one's only $4.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond. The only catch is you’ll need to clean the goo out of the dispenser every once in a while.


5 fun doormats for under $25

As this is technically the first post on Making it Home, I thought I'd welcome you all with a selection of cool, affordable doormats - all of which are available for under $25!
Ditch the basic black rubber for this fierce leopard-spotted doormat from Pier 1. Extra points are yours if you answer the door with your best purr.
$15 - Pier One

Cherry blossom branches are have become quite popular elements of paper goods and home decor. World Market is offering this cute cherry blossom doormat for just $14.99. Check out a more expensive alternative at Pottery Barn.
$14.99 - World Market

If stripes are more your style, head to The Home Depot and pick up the "sunset stripe" mat.
$15.97 - Home Depot

My husband and I almost picked up this skull and crossbones mat at a little housewares boutique in Brattleboro, Vermont last month, but decided we might frighten people away. However, after realizing how annoying the trick-or-treaters in our town are (parents apparently collect candy for themselves, too), perhaps we will shell out the $25 bucks.
$25 - Pure Modern

Avid sports fans don't have to collect team memorabilia to show their love of the game. Instead, you can be a bit more subtle and opt for the home plate mat from Uncommon Goods.
$25 - Uncommon Goods

Welcome to Making it Home!

About Making it Home
It’s certainly not easy to transform a boxy, beige apartment into a stylish, comfortable home on a limited budget. Personalizing your starter house or condo is even harder, especially after you’ve blown your savings on the down payment. Whether you’re looking for affordable art, low-cost furniture options, or budget-friendly alternatives to Jonathan Adler pillows and Crate & Barrel throw rugs, Making it Home is the go-to resource for cost-effective design ideas that will truly make your place feel more like home.

About the author
My name is Rachel and I’m a twenty-something newlywed who has struggled to create a stylish place on a meager budget. Over the past four years, I’ve learned that you don’t need to load up solely on Target and IKEA goods to get the low-budget version of the look you want. Instead, we’ve managed to collect a diverse range of artwork, accessories and furniture from an array of places for very little money.

My biggest design tip is to be patient. Don’t settle for something if it doesn’t fit into your overall aesthetic. And, to be truly cost-efficient, add pieces that reflect your style one-by-one over time. Our space continues to evolve – as do we!