A dear designer friend came over and helped me rearrange my entire apartment. I don’t have the words. There is something a person with a trained eye can conceive of and concept and do that us regular humans can’t. It was so fun to watch her brainstorm and start trying things out together. Girlfriend’s a complete genius. I learned so much. I am assured that in 20 years I will be able to do the kinds of things she does, even if it’s not my profession. Because it’s just years of rearranging and playing and living in new homes and growing out of Ikea into real things…homes always take on so many different iterations and you do learn. This is my first REAL place so I’m still very new to this even though I’ve loved interior design and visual-everything my whole life. I do think that by the time I’m 45 I’ll be able to make a bedroom look legit without trying and failing miserably (OK maybe earlier than 45). We’ve been in this apartment since November and it’s had like 4 different lives already. I think that happens when you FIRST move in to a place though. You just….keep trying and experimenting until you reach a certain state of “flow.” Apartment Zen?
My favorite part about what occurred is that not a dime was spent. Everything was done with moving things around. Simply picking up items and moving them. So much is spatial– just having an EYE and the imagination to see how items can be in a space to make use of it and make it simultaneously look awesome. Because ‘maximizing space’ doesn’t always equal ‘looking good’, so it has to be both. I was in total shock and awe at what we were able to do with MY OWN THINGS THAT I ALREADY OWNED. It was like MAGIC.
This isn’t supposed to be the real post about it however– this is just supposed to be a teaser because I am tired and it’s 10:45 and I need to go to bed because if I start on this, I’ll be up ’till 4 am.
So, this is a teaser on some of the changes around the apartment but I want to go into extreme detail about everything that was done because I’m obsessed with it.
We moved the white Ikea couch that used to be in the living room into the bedroom, to give the bedroom its own chic sitting area where people can hang out when we’re getting ready or sleepy on a Saturday morning (like out of town guests), or where we can read.
My favorite thing– possibly about EVERY SINGLE AMAZING thing she did– was using this stool as a coffee table for this area. It’s just so genius. It’s a shitty, ZERO DOLLAR stool that my boyfriend and I found FOR FREE in our building (I think I’ve told you before that people in our building leave stuff in front of the elevators on each floor, literally every single day (or put them up on our inter-building craigslist) so we’ve gotten this stool, our amazing tall wood book shelf, an awesome gold geometric mirror, and a rug, all for free. And the stool was sitting behind a door in our bedroom completely unused, in fact I was going to give it away; and like 5 minutes before she left she saw it and just goes “oh and you can use that stool as a coffee table for the seating area over the cow’s hide.” And it’s fucking GENIUS. Because IT WORKS!!! It’s this cute clean little wooden neutral stool that totally works as a ‘coffee table’, because that couch and that rug NEEDED a coffee table of sorts, and the space isn’t that big so it’s not like I would BUY a coffee table for the seating area in our bedroom (even if it WERE bigger), because who buys coffee tables for anywhere but your living room, unless you have disposable income, and so it was just the smallest, most ingenious little fix with something I already owned.
“OH you have a tiny little stool that’s hiding behind a door unused?– PERFECT makeshift coffee table for the couch/rug seating area we just created.” I would have never, ever, in one million years thought of it. I would have thrown the stool out and the rug would have felt too open and empty and the couch was begging for something in front of it. If you had put the stool in front of my face with a sign on it that said “coffee table” I wouldn’t have thought to put it in the bedroom as its own cute little COFFEE TABLE! I don’t think like that! I am learning. I honestly really do kind of operate in a box. “Wooden stools sit at the end of your bed or hide under desks to be used as chairs.” That’s me. She literally BLEW. MY. MIND when she spotted the stool and thought of that. I CAN’T EXPLAIN HOW PERFECT A FIX IT WAS, FOR FREE. USING WHAT I ALREADY HAD.
Anyways, so there was too much “couch on couch” the way the living room was before, if you remember. So we gave the living room “less couch, more seating”, by using 2 chairs we already owned and angling them towards the sofa/coffe table. (She used a flokati rug we had to drape over the back of the couch).
THIS IS WHAT INTERIOR DESIGNERS DO. THEY MAKE SHIT LOOK BADASS. I OWNED ALL THIS STUFF BEFORE, IT WAS IN MY POSSESSION, I HAD IT, AND YET I STILL CHOSE TO MAKING OUR LIVING ROOM LOOK LIKE THAT BEIGE PIECE-OF-SHIT ABOVE. I AM IN SHOCK EVERY TIME I LOOK AT THE PHOTO ABOVE, AND THEN THE PHOTO BELOW, AND THINK– you already OWNED THAT SHIT. And yet above is my execution of it. And below is hers. This is why interior design is a field of work.
She voted that I keep ‘scuba’ as I call the giant insane underwater photograph; and so we hung him and placed our round glass side table that’s very nautical underneath him. We created a gallery wall next to the bookshelf to fill up some of the wall space, and placed a bench underneath it that used to be at the foot of our bed and looks SO MUCH BETTER here/actually makes sense and is perfect for sitting on to put shoes before we leave for the day, or just to whip out for extra seating when we have people over, and it’s next to the bookshelf so you could also just sit and read. (That’s the bookshelf that was free, btw. It was definitely the best luck we’ve EVER had with free stuff b/c we’d been desperately needing a bookshelf, that was tall, and was dark wood. Awkwardly fit our needs).
She said she only liked having 4 chairs at the dining table, with how small it is, so she moved our 2 white shell imitation-Eames chairs away from the dining table itself, to flank the glass console, and moved our bar set-up over to that.
We removed the glass mirror that was above the console and instead hung this $45 abstract piece of art that Alex & I snagged at Good Wood 2 weeks ago (I literally still haven’t gotten over that it was $45, I nearly died when I saw the price tag because the blues and greens go perfectly with the story of the turquoise rug and blue scuba, and it has a chic gold frame). It was the perfect proportion to go directly above the glass console. I’m obsessed with this corner now, even though the lighting/photograph looks shitty because I don’t have a 2thousand dollar DSLR and instead use an iphone.
It was like watching a genius at work. I can’t explain it. She saw our railroad console (which we’d always used as just like……a surface to lean some random pieces of art/photographs on and to host our “bar”– which until this weekend, was empty whiskey bottles full of water because it looked better than nothing. I’m aware whiskey is not clear, yes. But we finally stocked it this weekend). So like I said, she took the bar tray off of it and put that on the glass console behind the dining room table, and instead said “why not make this like a desk area?” So she pulled the chair around, styled some desk accessories (again, EVERYTHING I ALREADY OWNED), including some notebooks, skeleton coasters that perfectly pick-up the ‘high-contrast’ look of the horse photograph, skeleton tray, letter opener, candle, vase, piggy bank, and little pyrite heart paperweight that I got in LA.
And it’s now not only my favorite part of the house aesthetically, but I USE IT. I DIDNT’ KNOW I WANTED OR NEEDED IT, And now, I blog and work from it!!!! (This is me, at it, tonight). It’s the perfect place to write.
I used to hunch over my computer on our couch; but then we got rid of our cable TV , and my friend rearranged the living room so all of the seating wasn’t facing the TV (more on that lesson later); so everyting in our lives lately has been pointing towards not having our lives revolve around the TV. And now, I’ve written this ENTIRE BLOGPOST from this new desk area that was just WAITING to be unearthed. All along, this table/area was begging to be a desk set-up, and it has been totally wasted/unmaximized.
And of course we moved the horse photo from the entry hallway to here; where it looks FUCKING PERFECT, and instead moved the glass mirror that used to be above the glass console to replace the horse in the hallway. Meanwhile the mirror was replaced by the abstract painting. And the black-and-white photo that USED to be above our couches was replaced by scuba, and went into the bedroom above the bed>
Of the two burlap pillows that used to be on the Ikea couch in the living room before we moved it into the bedroom, one joined the bed set-up (above), and the other, my friend put to soften up/texturize the blue hard-line chair in the living room (below).
See it on the blue chair there?
So basically….the living room is this layered, saturated room with a crazy rug and that crazy photograph and awesome pieces like the yellow-base steel round glass table and the visually dynamic photo wall, and the blue chair with the burlap pillow and the brown chair with the flokati rug-blanket, and the royal navy pillows and the map on the wall and the antlers above the bookshelf…just layered. And then the rest of the place is very crisp, neutral; from the mostly white/grey/brown of the bedroom to the white/grey/black of the desk area.
Taking the rug out of the bedroom, adding the couch, adding the burlap pillow to the bed set-up, putting the cow’s hide over in the seating area with the little stool and our new white lacquered dressers (not pictured), with the black-and-white photo of the bed against the grey wall, and our wood nightstands….I totally LOVE IT now. It’s truly gender neutral and the new set-up makes everything just look better. The white couch in there made ALL the difference along with the little details. It feels adult and mature and pulled together, not like a 13 year old girl (or boy, for that matter) or a kindergartner put it together, which is how I’ve ALWAYS felt. I’d really thought the room needed color, but really all it needed was some MASS (the couch) and some rearranging and adding.
This was what the bed looked like before, pre-rug (SO BLAH. Though granted we’ve put most effort into the living room/dining room and less into the bedroom up until this point):
And when the rug came and was initially in the bedroom:
But without the turquoise rug and having the royal navy pillows out in the living room instead of throwing everything off by bringing deep color to the white bed and its neutral surroundings, and with the addition of the big burlap pillow to make a “3″ set-up of pillows instead of a “4″ how I had it before (with the 2 big grey ones and the 2 navy blues), everything looks better! I’d really been “in love” with the rug in there when it first arrived because I thought it might be the answer to all my problems. Then 24 hours after it came the uncohesiveness of what was going on in there had been irking me but I couldn’t pinpoint it. And now the living room has the story of those deep blue/turquoise/aquamarine underwater colors and the bedroom has found its look.
That’s the thing is that those things sound so small but they are VERY, VERY, VERY much a part of interior design. You can have a room and something feels off— literally something just isn’t vibing right, and it can be the peach color of a specific BOOK SPINE, or the color of a single flower in a bouquet. The navy blue in the room just wasn’t meant to be there, with the color of the walls, the wood, the white bedding etc. And the dramatic effect a small tweak can have is the same thing with ‘number arrangements’ of accessories like chachkis and pillows. THIS–>looks so much more ugly and sophomoric than what’s below, and it’s because aside from the navy very clearly not vibing with the greys and browns, the pillows styled in 4′s like that looked bad. Simply swapping those two bad boys for a SINGLE burlap pillow to make it an arrangement of 3 actually makes a huge visual difference in terms of looking good with everything else in the room for a holistically pleasing sight.
Maybe it’s really hard to show in pictures, but you’d so be able to tell in person. The room GENUINELY feels pulled together now. Even when we were going in steps and we’d removed the navy so all that was left was the rug, something just wasn’t working. The space wasn’t maximized because even though the rug was gorgeous, you walked in to the bedroom and it was basically RUGRUGRUG and it was like “how is this rug ‘friends with’ everything else in the room?’ It wasn’t. It didn’t make sense for the pieces to be friends.
Now, I am FINALLY at peace. Just that ONE burlap pillow contrasting with the white bedding (its scale and graphic light blue stripes and texture), the wood of the floors and the nightstands, and the grey paint makes a COLOSSAL, GIANT, ABSURD difference. It changed everything. I was like “you can transformed a bedroom with a burlap pillow. wtf.”
Because I’ve owned those big burlap pillows for over a year and they have never once been anywhere but the living room. And they’ve never once been separated. Always in pairs, always on the couch. Like I said– I [used to] think in a box. When all along, the pattern/scale/color just desperately WANTED/WAS BEGGING to be friends with the bedroom story. It was made for the colors/pieces that were already in there and I had it all along and never saw it because in my mind, those were “couch pillows” and always had been. WRONG. Can you even FATHOM of that bed/room WITHOUT it now? But I’ve learned!!!! That’s what happens as you go on through life I guess. You learn from people older than you and from just trial and error. We just spent the day together experimenting, trying things out, changing thing up, attempting to move giant pieces of furniture into doorways they wouldn’t fit through. It was all a big learning process. Seriously look at the photo, mentally remove the pillow from the scene, and die. Because that is how much ONE. FUCKING. SINGLE. SOLITARY. PILLOW can make a difference in a room. The right pillow. I would have NEVER. PUT. IT. IN. THERE originally because I typecast it as a couch pillow. Poor pillow, stereotyped by me. And yet the bedroom was beggggggggggggggggggging for it!!!! If I tried, I couldn’t invent a better pillow for that space/story. The burlap with the very light blue stripes? Live and learn.
I am so thrilled. I am FINALLY happy with how it looks. Like legitimately, full-on, THRILLED/CONTENT/SATISFIED/SETTLED. All we need are some books/bigger objects for the nightstands since we used a lot of what was on them to style the coffee table/desk. So now they’re just…this sad (but adorable) collection of brass $8.00 Etsy Swan, and two Good Wood vases.
I got the black/turquoise/purple one on the right last weekend during the Dog Days of Summer sale in DC and it was $5! I was DYING. It’s my favorite item in the house right now. I got it because I thought the turquoise sheen would pick up notes of the turquoise rug. The one on the left was a pair for $35.00 and as you saw earlier, its counterpart is out on the desk.
Wider view of the bedroom so you can see where the dressers are in relation to everything else:
What I want to do in another post is a simple before/after side by side of the various pieces that we moved/repurposed for different uses; from the bench at the foot of the bed, to the stool (old photos of where it used to be), to the dining chairs, to the desk area (old photos of what it used to be side by side with the new set-up), to the glass cube side table, blue chair, and leather chair in the living room; and what the couches used to look like when it was couch-on-couch versus what it is now.
I learned so much but it was most fun to realize that what you like and what you think you like can often be very different. I thought I liked Bohemian stuff in interiors, and certainly there’s an aspect of eclecticness to what I buy and own, but my girl just about spit out her drink with laughter when I described my style as bohemian. It was like a light bulb moment. Right then and there, it all clicked into place and she didn’t even have to elaborate. It was like, as I said the words in slow motion I looked around and was like….’hmmm yeah my place is pretty much all crisp, clean, graphic, modern, high-contrast, neutral, black-and-white, and not bohemian AT ALL.”
She kept saying “crisp” and it’s totally right. So much of what I buy and gravitate towards is crisp. My style is crisp! Well, and bohemian too, I’m just working it all in slowly. And she also kepttttttttt pointing out HOW MUCH black and white I had. Once we finished the living room, she said she wanted the gallery wall to be exclusively black/white and sepia-toned (no color), but then she was like “other than that, not one more black and white thing in this room. You can add whatever you want, but it can’t be black and white.” What we did to the living room did TOTALLY transformed the previous set-up and added some serious layers that were needed. Now it’s like this crazy deeply saturated room that feels SO COZY and SO LIVED IN, and SO LAYERED, with aspects of Hollywood glam/drama and ’70′s insanity with a warm deep-sea-diving feel and I LOVE IT. While the bedroom remains a serene white/grey/tan oasis that’s not boring (thanks to the addition of the cow’s hide rug, white Ikea couch seating area, burlap pillow and moving the bed from the windows up against the grey wall), and has no non-vibing colors (thanks to the removal of the navy blue pillows and turquoise rug), the way it was before.
And remember when I said I was going to bed and this was a teaser? What a fucking joke. Once I start I can’t stop. Great. It’s 1 a.m. FML.