Aside from major decor ideas I had before moving in to my new place, I realized it needed a lot of simple changes. For me, it’s all in the details.
The hardware had so many layers of paint over it, it was about an inch thick. The lighting fixtures were caked in dust and outdated (and not in the vintage-cute way I’m going for). The cabinets were dirty, and wouldn’t stay shut. The light switches were oddly misshapen. Needless to say, I got creative.
Here are a few ways to give an older home, especially a rental, some TLC:
Remove layers of paint from hardware.
Having ten layers of paint over hardware is a tell-tale sign of an old rental. (Gotta love lazy painters.) Clean the hardware to remove decades of old paint, or simply buy new ones. It’ll only cost you some spare change! How simple (and cheap) was that?
Upgrade boring lighting fixtures.
This isn’t necessarily a cheap fix, but one that still makes all the difference. Upgrade ugly, standard lighting found in most rentals with modern light fixtures. Save the old ones, and you can take your upgrade with you when you move! In my opinion, it’s worth the investment.
This type of job usually requires some hardwiring knowledge, which is super easy to learn. (Make sure you turn your electricity off, please!)
Add unique switch plate covers.
Changing a boring, white square plate to something more unique makes one of the biggest differences in the feel of a home. This one you see is from Allen + Roth, and I changed all my visible plates to this style. Instant class! The better the quality of what you choose, the more expensive. But again, this is something you can take with you if you rent.
My house is also really old (pre 1940′s) and I don’t think the actual light switches or outlets had ever been changed from the originals. I went ahead and upgraded those too. Believe it or not, these cost less than $1 for each on/off switch or outlet. Make sure you turn the electricity off, and then simply hook the wires up exactly how they were on the old. This not only gave me smooth, non-painted switches but actually improved the lighting response in my switch that connected to the outdoor lighting. I guess it wasn’t hooked up properly to the old one!
One final bonus — this easily allowed me to change my 2 prong outlets to 3 prong. Bye-bye, ugly 3 prong adaptors.
Additional ways to upgrade:
If you can’t paint your cabinets, sand and stain them to give them the “like new” feel.
If your cabinets don’t stay closed, add magnets.
Change your outdated hooks and knobs to something cute that matches the decor in the room. Anthropologie has the best finds!
Replace locks and doorknobs to something more modern.
Use cheap, unfinished wood from a hardware store to give yourself more shelf space. Then sand and stain. I did this for both my kitchen and my closet! You save so much money, and it allows you to have more space for storage in the most custom way possible.
While most of these take an hour or two of your time, they save you money and transform the look of your home.
I’d been contemplating how to solve the “empty” look in my living room. My decorating style is minimalist (big surprise) but it still looked too empty for my taste. I like a safe middle ground between simple and decorative.
I was performing my daily Pinterest browse when I stumbled upon a frame gallery board. Light bulb! That’s when I knew I wanted to add a gallery of frames above the TV.
Here’s how to organize your own frame gallery without making a million holes in your wall:
Decide on an arrangement. Search the web for common size arrangements, or use this guide if your stumped and want some frame arrangement ideas.
Get out some paper and cut (or tape together) the shapes for each frame you’ve chosen for your gallery.
Begin taping your paper to the wall. The idea here is that this isn’t permanent. You’ll quickly figure out what works best for your space, without consequences for moving the paper around.
Once you have your arrangement, go ahead and purchase the frames. I was looking at these from Pottery Barn, but cheaped out and went with IKEA alternatives. Hey, I’m a girl on a budget… But if you have change to spare, Pottery Barn currently has their frames on sale online!
Measure the location of where you’ll need nails on the frame. Take that measurement and place it onto the paper hanging on your wall.
Hammer nails in place!
Remove the paper. Just rip it right off the wall, and the nail shouldn’t budge.
Hang your frames.
Don’t sweat over imperfections. Not every frame will be perfect and some space may vary. Imperfection adds character! Mine aren’t perfect, but I love the results.
Simple, isn’t it? I used to use the trial and error method. Let’s just say my last apartment needed some serious TLC when we moved.
Now comes the fun part — filling the frames with artwork!
When it comes time to decorate, I often have a hard time imagining what would go well in a room. I have to see it with my own eyes!
I’ve started making mood boards, inspired by professionals I’ve seen work on some of my favorite TV shows and online blogs. These have helped me figure out what I want. (And just as importantly, what I don’t want!)
Here’s a recent mood board I made for our bedroom. It’s one I’ve just started, with the goal of finding colorful accents. I put in items I already have, and then slowly add in items I need to buy.
As you can see, I still need to add in my colorful accents. Right now, this is my base.
Here is how to start creating your own mood board:
Choose a medium: Decide which medium — digital or paper?
Digital tools: If you decided digital, you can use an image editor like Photoshop or a free tool like Picasa. (Here’s a Picasa tutorial for mood boards.)
Paper tools: If you decided paper, get a blank scrapbook and use it to collect all of your mood boards in one place.
Decide on a canvas: You can use a white background color, or you can do what I did and put in the color of your floor and walls. It’s up to you! I find putting these in help me with the overall color scheme.
Use what you have: Begin with what you already own and add it in, but remember you may sometimes not have anything to start with.
Adding pictures: To add pictures digitally, find them online and use your image editor to remove the background. Then paste them onto the mood board and resize to fit. For adding pictures on paper, simply cut them out of magazines or print photos from your computer.
Add new items: Now the fun begins… Using the same process, experiment with adding new items into the board. Remember nothing is permanent, you can always change it.
Annotate carefully: If you get a final vision you can go out and purchase the items that look similar. However, if you want to purchase the exact items you used on your mood board, remember to add the proper annotations so that you can remember where to buy them. Even better, write down the price. Then you’ll know how much you need to invest to create your dream room!
This process helps plan a design, and is incredibly helpful for seeing an overall picture of what something will look like when completed.
I especially have been loving my mood boards, because they keep me from being indecisive and I know exactly what I need to grab the next time I’m shopping for interior decorating supplies.
Don’t like interior design? That’s fine! You can also use mood boards for outfit planning, wardrobe overhauls, and makeup looks.
Have you ever made a mood board? Would you find it useful?
It wasn’t until I started following interior design communities that I realized one could pull off an office without a standard office chair.
Say the words “office chair” and I think of something like this — big, black, bulky, on wheels.
I currently have an IKEA Gregor chair, because I thought it was a bit different from the usual office chair without being unreasonably priced. It’s cute, but not comfortable. It’s also worn down after only a year. Worst of all, my dogs like sleeping on top of the wheels — I frequently run over them accidentally. Yikes!
Lately I’m seeing a lot of the following. Can you spot the theme?
As you may have guessed, we’re talking big, comfortable, plush chairs in front of a desk. I love this!
My only concern is that I’m a swivveler. Yes, I’m one of those people who can’t sit still and has to move from side to side. I’m sure I can put this to rest for a comfortable chair that won’t roll over my furry pups, but it’s still a fact that I would need to adjust to a different type of chair.
What type of chair do you have at your desk? Are you comfortable with it?