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My Little House Design: March 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

On Not Having it All

If you feel so inclined check out my latest article for twentysomethingindy.com - it's all about great east side thrift shops!

You can't have it all. It's a pretty common phrase but one that is easy to forget. The growing popularity of blogs can make people (especially women) feel like they are never good enough. I look at blogs like Oh Happy Day and I sort of want to crawl into a hole and quit my blog, but then I remember that I can only do my best with what I've got.

Chances are, like me, you do not make millions of dollars a year and so hopefully this blog is inspiring to you because I work on a very little budget. But maybe you look at this blog and think, 'how can she afford to do all that stuff to her house on a single person income?'

The answer is really simple; I don't spend my money on other stuff. I should really save more, give more, and prepare for retirement, but let's not go there... I'm talking about my discretionary budget for the month, how I spend the 'extra' money left over after bills, loans, etc. My house looks great and I'm happy with what I've accomplished so far, but the rest of my life isn't so together. So here is a list of the things that I don't spend my money on but would if I wasn't so into interior design.

1) Fashion. If I wasn't saving money for my dream bookcase I would have a much better wardrobe. In fact, the other day I got dressed and I realized that my shirt, sweater, and scarf were all purchased in 2008. Yeah, that was five years ago. I don't look terrible or anything, but if I threw away all my clothes with holes or stains... I would have no clothes. I have Pinterest, I look at magazines and blogs, I know what looks good, but man I'd so much rather spend $40 on a gallon of paint that will transform a room in my house than $40 on a fancy blouse from ModCloth.

2) Beauty. I've never really been a big products person. I have one small bag of makeup and I use it until it is completely gone and then I'll purchase replacements. I don't get my nails done or my hair colored. I only get my hair cut about three times a year and only when I can get it done for $15 (plus tip) otherwise I'll just cut it myself (curly hair is very forgiving that way). If I wasn't so obsessed with thrifting and craigslisting it would be nice to buy fancy lotions and get a haircut where they actually bother to wash my hair first.

3) Entertainment. I love going to shows, movies, the theater, museums, and eating out but all of those things cost money. Since I can't have it all I usually try to pick a few events to do and spread them out so I feel culturally fulfilled throughout the year. My little way of cutting costs when I go out to eat with friends is not drinking. Dude, drinking at restaurants and bars is expensive so I stick to Diet Coke and mentally move that $6-12 I saved into my 'Decorative Items' budget line.

4) Technology. Man, I really want photoshop and a new camera and iPhone 5 but none of that is happening any time soon. I have an awesome Mac Air for work and I love it and hug it all day long and hope that I can keep it forever (I can't) but if I didn't have this for a work computer I would probably have a Dell or something equally lame. My camera is six years old and it still works so *knock on wood* I'll keep it until it doesn't. Having an iPhone at all is awesome so I'm not complaining but I'll always be a generation behind because if I have to choose between spending $256 on a new phone or a new rug, I'm most definitely getting a new rug.

So now you know that even though my house looks awesome, the rest of my life isn't so chic. The only exception is travel. If I have to choose between going to Europe and screening in my porch, I'm definitely choosing Europe (I like interior design but I'm not crazy).

What do you spend your 'extra' money on? Are you a one trick pony like me? Or do you try and spend your money evenly over all areas of life (this is the smart thing to do)?

Wondering why all the images are just from my house and in no way related to the topic? Yeah, me too.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekend Update: Ceiling Paint

I wish I could say that I did something awesome with ceiling paint this weekend, like this:

But sadly I just did a few boring touch-ups. I moved into this house 14.5 months ago and all of these 'spots' have been on my to-do list for oh about 14.25 months. Thankfully, the previous owners left a gallon of ceiling paint in the basement which I finally made myself go down and get this weekend. 

It was ridiculously rusty but the paint inside was still good-to-go after a vigorous shaking (I should have taken it into a hardware store to have it shaken in that machine-thing, but ain't nobody got time for that). 

So after shaking it up, I got my trusty 2" angled brush and I got to work on those spots. 

Spot #1

This spot on the living room ceiling has been there since I moved in and since denial is my best friend I like to think that this spot got there magically and that there is no underlying issue. After a few coats of paint...

Okay, so it's still pretty noticeable, but at least there isn't that ugly yellow ring in the middle.

Spot #2

See that really hideous yellow ring around the dining room chandelier? Yeah, that's been there for a long time. I should have used one of those decorative caps when I had the light installed, but live and learn right?

Much better! I'm so happy that I finally took 10 minutes to do this. I hope no one noticed it before so I don't expect anyone to notice it now, but I know and sometimes that is all that matters. 

Spot #3

This is the kitchen light which I actually did buy a decorative cap for, but sadly, it was too small. Oh well, I knew a little paint would make it look better I just didn't think it would take me 14.25 months to do.

So that was my big weekend project (just kidding it only took me like 30 minutes). 

Did you get any projects done this weekend?

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nearly Free Home Updates

I'm itching for spring which makes me want to do drastic things. Thankfully, my bank account doesn't allow me to be too crazy but since I am craving change I've compiled a list of zero to low cost home updates. Hopefully doing a few little tweaks around my house will appease me until the sun decides to come back out and stay.

Washi Tape

So washi tape is definitely a thing now. I remember it was about this time last year when I first heard of it. My friend was planning her wedding and she used it on her invitations. I thought it was cool but I didn't think too much about it. Then suddenly, it was everywhere. Washi tape has many uses but I never thought about using it on my walls. Thankfully, there are people out there that are more creative than me to think of it.

Want in on the animal head trend but don't want to pay for it? Done.

I love this door design, mostly because it is graphic and black and white, but also because it isn't permanent and that is a beautiful thing. Maybe today you want a large geometric shape above your bed and tomorrow you will want to frame out pictures with the tape... who knows? The possibilites are endless and all for just the price of the tape itself (between $2-15). 


I don't think I've ever been to a house or apartment that didn't have at least one can of paint in the basement or utility closet (you know I have like 17), so for the majority of you these projects can be free if you use what you've got. Don't be afraid to use the wall color from one room as an accent color in another. For example, I painted my kitchen with one color, used the same color for the accent stripe in the entry way, and then I used the rest of the gallon to paint the second bedroom after I repainted the kitchen a different color. Same for a gallon of glossy white paint that was used for my campaign dresser, to touch up the trim around the house, and to paint a small serving tray

I like the idea of painting the back of a bookcase, but it may be more work than it's worth. 

This is a picture of a kids room but you know I'd totally paint stripes on my own ceiling. This project could be free but dang would it be a lot of work. 

Painting a design on the wall can be a very simple and easy update. I painted a thick vertical stripe in my entry in under an hour (half of that was measuring and taping) and it cost me nothing. Not only is painting a design on the wall pretty cheap it is also super easy to cover up when you're over it.

Don't limit your painting to just walls, I love this door with polka dots. So cheeky.

Or if polka dots are too much for you this little sliver of pink is just enough whimsy to make anyone smile. 

Photo Wall

Frames can get expensive and hanging them can be tiresome so chuck it all and just stick the photos directly on the wall. Why not? This reminds me of my postcard wall art which only cost about $25. Chances are you have a bunch of printed pictures in albums lying around so grab a bunch and stick them on the wall. If you're anything like me all your pictures will be pre-2008 (which was the last time I bothered to print a picture), but who cares if everyone thinks you are obsessed with the year 2006 or your vacation to Daytona Beach, you just tell them you are frugal and that was the last time you spent the time and money to print pictures. 

I like this sort of circular pattern tucked in a corner. 

This is bananas. I love it. Also, they may be more expensive but I highly recommend 3M strips for projects like this. They stick good enough for a long term hold but they won't damage your wall or pictures. 

Fabric Wall Art

If you are even remotely crafty you probably have random bits of fabric hoarded away some where. Or maybe you have an old shower curtain or duvet cover lying around. Either way you probably have fabric of some kind that can be repurposed as art. Whether framed (I've used fabric as faux picture mats before) or hanging like a tapestry, fabric looks great on walls and if you use what you've got it can be a pretty cheap project too. 

I love this big ol' piece of framed fabric. They could have easily used that fabric for pillow covers but framing it is unexpected. 

With the aid of an inexpensive curtain rod these two panels of fabric look like a dramatic headboard. 


Making your own art can be hard and often more expensive than you planned but here are a few projects that are actually cheap.

I love this image for a lot of reason but mostly for that dark grey wall and the bright yellow branches. So go find a few branches to clip off and spray paint them yellow (or whatever color makes your heart happy) and stick them in whatever vase you have or lay them on top of a bookcase or on your coffee table and then just enjoy them. 

I've been obsessed with paper cranes since I was in the 4th grade, I still remember how to make one, so this installation of floating paper cranes makes me very happy. Gather some colorful paper, string, and thumbtacks, watch a YouTube video on how to make a paper crane and bam! You have an awesome art installation.

String art is majorly trending and I can't say I'm a fan, but I do like this one because they just nailed it right into the wall and wove the string around. It's sort of irreverent and I like that. 

I'm super inspired by all the creative inspiration boards floating around out there but there is something about this big piece of unfinished plywood leaning against the wall that I really like. It's bold and raw. Bonus points for the use of washi tape and the bulb draped over top. 

Good luck trying not to catch seasonal affective disorder!

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Thrifting Online = The Holy Grail of Shopping

I only like to shop if it is one of two ways, thrifting or online. Don't take me to a mall or a grocery store because I'll be bored and frustrated (obvious exception being Target because I have a soul), but take me to a big thrift shop or give me a computer I'll be a crazy happy shopper.

I love thrifting because you can find unique items at reasonable prices and online shopping is awesome because you can price shop and read reviews. I really don't shop any other way so it is logical that I would want to combine my two loves. The essence of thrifting is hunting for unique items that are marked with prices that are negotiable but unfortunately that experience doesn't translate well online. Well, fear not! Because there is a sliver of hope for those of you who love thrifting but are too lazy to leave your house (we've all been there). This post is all about finding unique items at good prices all from the comfort of your home.

The obvious first answer to online thrifting is craigslist. It's true, you can't have items shipped to you and there is some human interaction involved, but the selection is vast, the prices flexible, and all you have to do is pick up. I'm a huge craigslist fan because it is like garage sale-ing without all the driving around looking at crap. I can spend five minutes a day for a week searching 'dressers' and I'm pretty much guaranteed to find something I like for a good price. I can ask questions about the item, negotiate price, and schedule a pick up time all online. This isn't technically online shopping which would involve a shipping option but it is a heck of a lot faster and more efficient than spending an entire Saturday morning driving around going to yard sales and thrift shops hoping you find a dresser that you like.

Another good option is Etsy. While known for handmade goods, Etsy also has a large selection of vintage items. You can search 'vintage lighting' and find all sorts of cool options in a wide range of prices. The down side? You will pay for the convenience of having a vast selection of highly curated items to choose from especially once you add in shipping fees. But if the idea of searching high and low throughout the city for old leather suitcases (or whatever it is your heart desires) stresses you out then maybe paying extra is something you are willing to do.

Online auctions likes Ebay and Shop Goodwill can also offer you a thrifting-like experience, especially with the ability to price haggle. Of course, there is more risk involved since you may not get the item you want, or worse you over pay, but there are similar concepts involved. Auction sites are great for the specific and rare items you would hope to find while thrifting but don't have the time to search for every weekend.

If you are extremely lazy or maybe it's just super smart (let's go with super smart) you could email or message a thrift shop near you to do the work for you. Don't know what I'm talking about? Let me give an example. A few months ago a friend and I went the Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace (you should go!), she was looking for a specific item which she amazingly found... except that it was already sold. She was disappointed, but what can you do? Well, what you can do is 'like' that seller on Facebook and message them saying, "Hey, I liked this item that you sold, if you ever get another one let me know!" Guess what my friend had a few weeks later? Yep, the item she wanted and all she had to do was send a one sentence message (she's really smart). So if you are looking for something specific and you don't want to waste your time shopping all around the city or pay for it to be shipped from Australia, the next best thing is to ask an expert and maybe they will find it for you. It never hurts to ask! If you don't know what sellers to contact check out the Indie Arts 'Exhibitor List,' it's a great starting point.

Bottom line is this: thrift shops are a unique animal and the internet can't compete. I know that's a big statement to make since the internet is infallible after all, but sadly it's true. You can definitely find awesome and unique stuff online but you are probably going to pay for it. And there are lots of great deals to be had on the internet if you look hard enough but they may not be the most unique items. If you compromise on price or uniqueness you may be able to find some cool stuff, but nothing beats the experience of sifting through a huge room full of crazy items to find the one plaid wool blanket that fulfills all your desires and only costs $3.00.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Trend Spotting: The Swiss Cross

Do you ever look at Pinterest and see reoccurring trends? Over the past few months I've noticed several pins featuring the Swiss cross. Famous for being on the flag of Switzerland and the symbol for the Red Cross, the Swiss cross is a clean and bold symbol. I love patterns that are strong and simple (like chevron or thick stripes) so the Swiss cross fits right into my aesthetic. Bonus points for it being most often in black and white, my favorite color combination.

Let's have a look, shall we?

I can't tell if this backsplash is paint or tile, but either way I like it.

This garland would be a cute and simple way to incorporate this trend.

This is the image that got me thinking about this trend. I love the bright yellow. This would be a basically free project (you could use whatever paint you have on hand) and it would have such a big impact.

This is actually chalkboard paint and they just made little Swiss crosses all over it to give it a wallpaper look. Love it!

I'm not sure if that back wall is wallpaper or a stencil but either way I like it. Double like for it being mixed with the bold stripes.

This is actually an IKEA hack. The medicine cabinet came plain white and they painted a Swiss cross on it. Since this cross is an international symbol of health care it's funny that it's on a medicine cabinet.

This is one of my favorite interior designs ever.

What do you think? Are you into the Swiss cross? I love it! I'm going to keep my eye out for something with the symbol on it or maybe just I'll make something that features the cross... or maybe I'll just go to Switzerland. Anything could happen!

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