Built-in Bookshelf Makeover

I really never paid much attention to my mother’s bookshelves until recently. I admit I am not very observant when it comes to things that do not interest me, such as her collection of blue and white china, her annoying love for my horrible teenage years family photos, and tattered family bibles.

When I photographed the living room for “before” shots for the makeover I’m working on I was appalled at what I finally allowed my eyes to rest on: no attention to color or height. No books. Mostly everything is lined up in a row, no rhythm no reason.


The bottom right shelf has completely given up. It looks like a pile of trash down there! Books are obviously of no concern here. They’re just shoved in piles off to the side. Who needs books, right? We got dishes and cheeseball photos galore to show off.

At first I was hesitant to post this mini-makeover because it is only a temporary solution. There are not nearly enough books in this “case”. There were none in the house for me to pull from to add in. I am ashamed of the top and bottom shelves. But then I remembered the point of this blog, the evolution of home. So, we’re evolving mom’s home one step at a time.

I also desperately need real life content. ūüėČ Without ado, the newly styled built-in:


This is the view with that wretched tv I cannot stand! We’ll be getting rid of it soon enough. At least buying a tv stand that isn’t oriented in front of the bookshelves. BUT right now, it’s kind of nice because it hides the lower shelves from view.


I originally had the bottom left shelf arranged like so. Then when I moved the tv back over, as seen above, I realized I could take some books from a hidden-from-view shelf and boost up the plate. The height of books made a world of difference instead of this row of items. Like I said, these bottom shelves are bad/sad.

But I am fine with the meat in the middle:


I need to tell you a little more about this no books situation. I could have sworn there were more in this bookcase growing up, I thought to myself, “Maybe they’re in the closet?” So I went looking. All I found were a bunch of Little Golden Books (those cardboard books with the gold spines?), my college year books, and ton of bible story books.

But no adult books. Had we no Encyclopedia Britannica?

I also realized my mother is insane. Insane with china and space wasting figurines. There are 9 rooms in her house. That’s 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room, a kitchen, a hall/study, and an old playroom turned dog room. You know how many of those rooms have cabinets with dishes and figurines? Every single one of them except the 2 baths and 1 bedrooms (ahem, the guest where I sleep) and the dog room. So 5 rooms. ¬†5 rooms have dishes in them. There is a cabinet or TWO of dishes in nearly every room of this house. So books are not a priority.

In fact, there are 2 cabinets in the living room, 2 in the kitchen, 1 in the hall, 1 in the bedroom that is now a “jungle room”, one cabinet in her room…. I mean, it’s completely dish/figurine insanity.

Also, we need to discuss the Jesus-centric text in the house. There are 6 bibles on those shelves and I cannot even tell you how many children’s bible story books I used simply for height and color. Thank goodness for them because they really came in handy! But I honestly had no clue so much religious text was in the house. I don’t recall anyone reading those stories to me. If and when they did, it was at an early age, one I do not remember.¬†“Hello, child. You will now be indoctrinated into the Church, now and foreverrrrr.” It’s actually no wonder I’m the non-religious person I am today (rebel, run away…run awaaay from the teachings). ūüėõ

I kid (not really).


I began in the middle with a photograph of mom’s parents in their youth (the round gold frame).¬†I knew mom loved those crazy Bibles and that religion was important to her and her upbringing so I thought this would be a great “family” shelf. ¬†I’m not sure and didn’t ask, but I know some of those bibles were from members of her family, maybe grandfather. The teapots were given to her by grandmother, too. That special touch!

Across from that are a bunch of family photos- a wedding, great grands, grandmother, me at 5 in a clown costume- an egg (mom’s obsessed with Asian eggs), bible story mess. So, across the board this whole shelf sings the song of family ties.

This also sort of started the color story of the entire shelves: blue, black, brown, gold (yellow). I also threw in green.

Since I had a lot of yellows and blues in the bible books from the family photo graph shelf, I brought those colors down to the next shelf with the piggy bank and the children’s books. This shelf could tell the tale of childhood.


I just love the colors in the piggy and the colors in the egg from the shelf above. The way the eye travels around from shelf to shelf picking up moments of brightness. That was the intention.

The piggy bank was my father’s. Perhaps the American Indians, too. Or he got that for me. I haven’t a clue. I love me some Secret Garden.


If memory serves by now I’d hopped up to the upper cubbies and decided symmetry would look best. Mom had mostly all her blue and white china lumped together and while grouping is a good tactic for shelves, I wanted to group like things together and space them around the shelves. I felt like the 2 biggest pieces could stand on their own here. Especially given “stuff” was limited to divvy among all the shelves.

I nabbed the monkeys from the jungle room for color and their religious element. I threw the white pieces in for fun. Ha.

Now back to the middle.¬†You probably don’t keep your cook books on the living room shelf but whatever. Mom had a bunch of these Southern Living Annuals. I wanted to bring in more green since I had the green¬†monkeys. I flanked the annuals stack with blue china tea pots. This is the cooking shelf.

Since the bible family shelf was black, I balanced the next corner shelf with black yearbooks I’d found in the closet. There’s a green picture frame tucked in there of mom holding me as a baby. Baby me, me in the high school yearbooks. Something about life and growing up shelf. Still on the childhood shelf so we’re making complete sense here.

I brought in more yellow and finally some books that can stand! on the next shelf. This shelf holds no significance whatsoever. It’s a hodepodge of kids bible books, other random books, some more monkeys, and blue and white china. But colorwise I’m diggin it!

Next to that we round off religion with more bibles. Since I had the brown teapots from her mom, I wanted to match that and found the brown pot in a closet. I know that is a family relic too. The magnolia bookend tosses in a teeny bit of yellow and green.

So there you go! This concludes the best shelves.

With 2 remaining eggs and trinket boxes, I again went for symmetry in the 2 small cubby shelves. The shelf in the middle contains college yearbooks, her nursing school books, jesus text for height, and dishes for color. This was supposed to the be college shelf.
We’ll skip the bottom because it’s stupid and pointless and ugly and the redheaded stepchild we throw in the basement…

On top, I tried to maintain the color story of blue, black, and green. The photos give the height. And look, Old Great Gran made it from the very bottom, forgotten under that stack of trash I mentioned at the very beginning, to the very top, where she can shine out over the shelf world for all to see!


On the top right are the last bit of kids bible books and family photos. Can you believe how many of those bible books there were? There were A LOT.


So, here we go. Before, Middle, End.






I’d like to end on these quotes:

“Even if you don’t collect any particular type of book, do have books. A house is bereft without them.” HouseBeautiful Quick Changes
“Organize and style your bookshelves. Group books by subject or even color. Stand some upright, and then stack some horizontally to break the monotony. Mix in favorite pieces of pottery, collectibles, shells, or family photos.” -Angie Hranowsky
“Don’t line up objects like they’re on a march. Vary heights.” – Dan Marty (Speaking about collections)

While these shelves are not perfect, I feel they’re in much better shape than before. I probably could mess around a little more for better solutions with the items available to me, but I look at the shelves now and I see color balanced as a whole, I see varying heights and eye movement, and I like that most of the shelves tell an individual story–but as a whole a story that makes up the life of my mom. Isn’t that what a home is all about??





Budget rooms: Walmart vs. Target. Living Room Price Comparison



I went to Walmart over the weekend to get batteries. As I was walking through, I passed by a bunch of canisters and Tupperware storage items and thought “I bet I could blog about this.” It’s so easy to walk into Target and ooh and aah over all the cute Threshold or Nate Berkus merchandise.

Target has been under fire recently for its new trans-inclusive bathroom policy and many folks are claiming they will no longer grace the aisles of Tarjay. Well…that’s too bad. But this may be especially helpful to them. Can we pull off a cute room with ONLY walmart merchandise?

Of course, there are those who wouldn’t dare shop at walmart. That it hurts local businesses, its foreign child labor, its underpaid employees and poor healthcare offerings. I get it! But let us assume the reader, or you yourself do not care about such and are interested in budget design.

I have never been on walmart.com for anything more than a bedframe so I was shocked to find they operate more like a furniture listing site, carrying merchandise from a multitude of dealers/brands. Much of which is found on Wayfair and Overstock. It even tells you “sold and shipped through Wayfair”. How about that. Target operates the same way they just aren’t as transparent about it. Both sites offer some of the same product, like this sofa w/t).

I was interested in knowing if I could create an attractive room with only Walmart brand merchandise.

If money is tight or you’re a frugal Sally interested in design and having a beautiful living space, you do not have to compromise aesthetics (quality, yah. Not gettin’ that at WM). No matter how small the budget, you can create something beautiful. And don’t forget there’s always the thrift store!

Here is my walmart brand only room, using only Better Homes and Gardens and Mainstay brands. Those are the only brands I know for sure belong to Walmart (like Threshold is to Target). I’m assuming you can walk into walmart and buy most of this stuff right off the shelf.


This was definitely challenging!! My goodness!! Especially limiting our selection to 2 brands. But hey, I think this room looks pretty good!

It was impossible to create an eclectic room like I would normally create because there really weren’t any¬†vintage¬†inspired pieces to choose from (I guess if you squint real hard, these folding chairs could be super dooper generic knock off Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs). So, this resulted.¬†Bonus points if you know what movie is playing.

I hated all the coffee tables so I chose to use 2 accent tables. It’s a ¬†pretty popular trick (1, 2, 3). Our color palette is neutral but we jazz it up with some fun throw pillows and a bright throw blanket. In real life the sofa is brown so you better jazz it up REAL good. The lumbar pillows are technically outdoor pillows but hey nobody has to know. And 2 come for the price of 1. The lamps also come 2 for 1! 2 lamps for $39. Duuuude.

The rug is walmart’s affordable attempt at a Moroccan beni ourain shag. Can’t pay $4,000? Pay $63! It’s only a 5×7 so in a real room you’d probably have all the furniture off the rug. Or maybe if you’re in a small space, the front legs on. I also liked these rugs: 1,2, 3. Not for this room, but in general.

I liked the BH&G runner a lot so I chose that to sit under our tv. I did not like any of the poopoo media stands so I went with a bedroom dresser. Dressers are beautiful and ever so useful/practical storage, why not put one in the living room!

The bookcases come in packs, ready to be assembled. I’m sure you’ve seen those in store.

We’ve got a diamond motif working throughout the room pulling all the pieces together. In the bookcases, the accent tables, the pillows, and in the rugs.


Bookshelves/ sofa/ chair/ side table/ accent table (for coffee)/ blue pillow/ gold pillow/ blue lumbar/ throw/ drum shade/ table lamp/ bamboo floor lamp/ planter/ tv/ dresser/ rug/ runner

Does this look like a room created with walmart only products? Looking at this room I don’t think you’d ever know it came from Walmart! You don’t have to buy a futon or an mdf desk. So, there ya go…some affordable¬†stuff arranged in a visually appealing way.

Now let’s look at Target in comparison. Using only Target brands.


Dannnng. ¬†This is completely different from Walmart. I really like the slipper chairs, chandelier (so trendy right now), and those parquet tables! Again, I didn’t care for the coffee table selection so I went with 2 end tables.

I’ve always liked lavender and yellow together. What a pair. And blue and yellow never hurt my eyes either. ūüėČ All tied together with a nubby 7 x 10 Nate Berkus rug.

Target’s sofa selection is slim pickins. I just don’t love what’s there. This¬†was my first choice, in taupe,¬†but ultimately I decided against it. Who says you have to have a full size sofa? A love seat and a room full of chairs would suit me just fine. I love chairs! Got a Manhattan apartment? You need a loveseat. Don’t have a gigantic boyfriend who complains about sofa size? Get a loveseat. ¬†If you move around a lot, or live in apartments up flights of stairs, a loveseat is great. I wish someone would have told me that the 10 years I lugged around a massive sofa (literally needed 3-4 people to move the darn thing year after year)!

I really wanted more of a muted pillow color scheme of greens, purples, browns, and yellows but that wasn’t available. So, I went with blues and yellows.¬†I also really wanted a beautiful buffet to hang a picture over but the only thing I ended up liking was the green cabinet. I couldn’t settle for any of the generic art so¬†I cheated and threw in a self-portrait of Josef Albers. That and the bust are not Target but everything else is.



Chandelier/ parquet side table/ mid-century table/ loveseat/ blue pillow/ stripe pillow*/ gold pillow/ peach pillow/ slipper chair/ ottoman/ mid-century chair/ blue wingback/ drum shade/ lamp/ mirror/ giraffe/ vase 1/ vase 2/ yellow vase/ basket tray/ tv stand/ cabinet/ tv/ rug

*Not sold in stores, oops.

So, for a difference of only $500 I don’t know why you’d choose to shop Walmart when Target offers a better product. I assume you have your reasons!

I am pleased with both rooms and welcome your thoughts and opinions! Which is your favorite?  Are you more traditional family-friendly with the Walmart room or like me more eclectic and vintage loving and into the Target decor?

Maybe I should have gone one step further and combined both sites! There’s an idea…best of both worlds.



For fun, and design inspiration for you, I took to walmart.com and target.com and created 3 more living rooms, utilizing the vast array of brands both sites offer (no brand filter).

Our first look is sort of Traditional, with mid-century elements..


(Benjamin Moore Bridal Pink paint color)

I love those leather chairs, but I don’t know if I could get past the fact they’re not real leather. But the overall shape and cushiness has me weak in the knees. I also really like that peacock rug.



Red pillow/ yellow pillow / blue pillow/ blue cheetah pillow/ floral slipper/ alternative flax slipper/ copper plate/ woven vase/ blue and white vase/ elephant table/ mirror/ end table/ club chair/ coffee table/ floor lamp/ curtains/ rug/ sofa

Next see a Hollywood Regency inspired living space.


I am in love with this amazing wallpaper.

Imagine yourself in the 1930s. You’re a famous movie starlet, traipsing about your shiny Hollywood hills mansion in a velvet gown,¬†stirring up cocktails for your nearest and dearest.¬†But wait! It’s 2016!

The white chairs jumped out at me because they look like these Mitchell Gold chairs. But at $277 a piece, not $1000+! This chair style is seen in a lot of designer rooms.

I would totally have a glamorous party in this room, how about you!?


Red crystal chandelier/ bar cart/ swivel chair/ alternative swivel/ python side table/ blue floral pillow/ white fur pillow/ polka dot bolster/ black geometric pillow/ lucite bench/ shell/ bird/ peace sign hand/ chandelier lamp/ alternative gold lamp/ gold side table/ etagere/ lucite coffee table/ alternative coffee table/ wall mirror/ mirror pictured/ black highback chair/ alternative stool/ succulent art/ convertible sofa/ pink rug


Let’s see what Target’s got going on!

A Scandinavian Rustic living room.



I’m digging the blue geometric chairs with the red floral rug. It’s important to have a print and color to balance out neutral pieces. I am not a fan of gray but I think the sofa and other chair work well in the room. I don’t understand Scandinavian style to be very colorful.

Target has a couple credenzas/tv stands (1, 2) but they did not go with this room so I used 2 media consoles pushed together. I was drawn to the long brass pulls and the mahogany finish.

I could spend all day looking at coffee tables but in this exercise I pretty much chose what I was drawn to first for each room and it pretty much worked out each time. This glass table is cut in an organic shape and is held up on hair pin legs. The glass is laid with teak, a popular danish/Scandinavian wood! Tralala! Also, this table is just like those chunks of salvaged/live edge wood coffee tables that are popular which lends to our rusticness.


Wall mirror/ brass lamp/ side table/ alternative side table/ convertible sofa/ throw blanket/ blue pillow/ plaid pillow/ chevron pillow/ rhino/ wooden vase/ wooden bowl/ white vase/ blue bowl/ gray chair/ pouf/ marble tulip table/ coffee table/ floor lamp/ blue chairs/ red rug/ media console

This was a fun exercise in putting rooms together.

Hope it inspired you in some way! What I learned from the non-filtered walmart search is they list from sites like wayfair and overstock, and list an even lower price. Next time I’m hunting on those types of sites, I’ll be sure to price compare on walmart, too. I also learned Target does not offer much in the way of sofa selection. I was surprised by that!


Overall I’d say walmart appeals to a more conservative, older crowd (Better Homes and Gardens) and Target appeals to a younger, hip generation that is interested in current design trends (Threshold and guest designer series).

I personally will continue to shop Target for side tables and lamps. I’m quite a fan of Safavieh. And based on my own preference for mid-century, it is the store that suits my tastes. If only I could get them to send me those Laurel slipper chairs….:D

But I hope the take away from above is that with careful thought and consideration, a die hard walmart devotee could easily create a beautiful room on a budget. There is no need to purchase this or that!

ROY G BIV: Red kitchens

I’d like to introduce a new series, ROY G BIV. I’ll go through the colors, discussing how to use them in a particular room. Or maybe I’ll show a bunch of rooms using that color.

To start, of course is red.

Red is one of those colors that can bring so much warmth to a space, but at the same time, can make it down right tacky and tawdry. Like overusing it in a bedroom because you think it’s somehow romantic to be cloaked in red or pairing it with black because that’s somehow goth. Nope, no thanks.

What is sexy about red is using it sparingly. Like say, the way we love red lipstick, a simple red dress, or a killer pair of red stilettos. Dressing in red head to toe, hair included would be a different story…

The only room I can think of where someone pulled off all red is Diana Vreeland’s Garden in Hell, designed by Billy Baldwin.

‚ÄúI love red because it‚Äôs happy and exhilarating,‚ÄĚ says New York designer Alex Papachristidis. ‚ÄúYou can also mix a variety of reds and they look great together; I don‚Äôt even mind if they clash a bit. Red is dynamic and adds life to a room. I agree with a quote from Diana Vreeland: ‚ÄėAll my life I‚Äôve pursued the perfect red.‚Äô‚ÄĚ (Source)

(Source 1, 2)

Sure it’s easy to buy a beautiful red sofa, to contrast an all beige room, or buy a red bedspread for a vintage iron bed, but what about in the kitchen?

How do we create a pop of color in the kitchen that still reads as warm, inviting, and classic? There are so many sad/bad red kitchens online. Here’s what I would do:

Choose one area of the kitchen to focus on. 



The red floor in this kitchen and hall was the first thing I noticed in this Spanish-Mediterranean home. Followed by the all white walls and cabinetry. To tie the colors together we have natural wood elements in the table and oranges/yellows/blacks/browns in the art and tchotchkes. Here black is used sparingly and the space remains elegant. I can picture this room buzzing with family and friends!


Another way to bring red to the kitchen is through wall paint. Notice that this is not a blaringly bright primary color red, but a warm rust. It is kept warm and happy as kitchens should be with the mid-century teak dining table and cabinetry.

Paint only the bottom half of your kitchen cabinetry.



How vibrant and happy is this kitchen! I especially love the red cabinets with the blue tiles. No one ever said you had to do subway tiles or some snoozy backsplash in your kitchen! Keeping the color to the bottom half of the room keeps it from becoming overwhelming and dated looking.

Don’t use primary red.

As I just said, I wouldn’t recommend using bright red. This is how rooms go from warm to tacky. It’s harsh on the eyes and I don’t know why anyone would want it in their home!


(Color wheel red)

Instead why not go for blue reds, or rusty reds.


Use red as an accent. A small accent.



You know white kitchens are super popular. Bring red in with pops of pendant lighting. If this were my kitchen I would have brought some more color in with a rug underneath the table.



How about highlighting architectural details like window trim? Something unexpected!



I almost skipped over kitchen islands because all the ones I found online were atrocious looking. There are some sad red kitchens on the internet! Which is totally the point of this entry! Teeeheehaahaaa.  But this red island sits happy in this charming little colorful kitchen. The look is kept clean thanks to the all white cabinets (and fridge!) and hood. It contrasts well with the green and blue checkered floor without being color overload.

Bring in red via accessories.



Here a stool sits happy in this colorful kitchen.



In Marisa Tomei’s apartment, she pairs antique 1940s red chairs with her Eero Saarinen. I love the contrast of the 2 styles!







Most likely in a kitchen or dining room situation, you will need storage. Why not bring color in via a cabinet or a buffet? I love the idea of the bar inside the china cabinet! A great way to show off your glassware collection. I have seen ugly ol’ cabinets for cheap on Craigslist. All they need is your choice of red and maybe shiny new hardware. A customized piece!



Red Persian rugs are out there by the plenty. Add texture, warmth for your feet, and color with a rug by the sink or under the kitchen table. In this galley style kitchen, it runs the length of the room, breaking up the dark floors below. Also, look at that red rocker! Aw, so cute!

Use red appliances.

I personally prefer the pastel Smegs but seeing as how we’re on red…





They also carry stoves and other things that may be up your appliance alley!

What do you think of red? Do you currently use it in your home? How about in your kitchen? Any plans to incorporate it in the future?

The right red mixed with neutrals (whites, browns, creams, browns, and black in certain circumstances) will always be pleasing to the eye. But it can also be beautiful paired with¬†its complement, green and its primary friend blue. Just make sure you’re not singing Jingle Bells and the Star-spangled Banner!

Mixing Styles on a budget


I was curious how cheap I could make a room, in the mid-century eclectic taste we know and love. So, I set out to find the cheapest sofa possible, keeping in mind the sort of furniture you may find in your local thrift, consignment, or on Craigslist. I give you the Bohemian Mid-Century Eclectic space. Just add more plants and textiles.

If I were to buy a brand new sofa, I would not spend ANY LESS than $1,000. You want to make sure you are paying for quality. It will be worth it in the long run. Make sure you’re buying from a manufacturer that uses solid reinforced wood frames. I would also find out what type of coil system they use (sinuous or coil/ hand-tied vs webbing). ¬†There’s also things to consider like how much/what kind of fill is in the cushions, do you want down-poly blend, etc., to ensure your pillows stay cushy for years to come. Read more on this Good Housekeeping article.

Now, when you buy vintage you already know you’re most likely getting a top quality all wood¬†piece. “They don’t make them like they used to” is a saying for a reason. And thanks to people not wanting their junk anymore, you can get it at dirt cheap prices.

While at the thrift, make sure you’re testing out how the sofa sits, and inspect the frame as best you can. If it appears to have good bones and a great shape, but you aren’t loving the fabric, take your wee investment to the upholsterer!¬†You’ll still be spending less on new upholstery and still be getting a piece all your own.

When I set out to design this room, I knew I wanted a floral sofa. I thought about mid-century styles and French provincial styles. You can easily find floral or damask brocade sofas (I once had a beauty from the thrift store in perfect condition for $130!)

Check out these crazy deals on Everything But the Home. People are winning furniture for next to nothing. I am shocked at the prices these items are going for and eager to start bidding myself! Granted there is shipping cost if you don’t pick up the item yourself. But winning a $50 sofa, I’ll pay you $300 to ship across the country. Come on!

Floral sofa 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

“How do I pick my floral print without looking Country Grandma” you ask?


Look for the bright florals, not the dingy ones. Sometimes there are really interesting prints with animals, too. The florals may look grandma at first but once you visualize them in your space with modern pieces next to them, they’ll take on a whole new feel.

Take for instance this sofa and lucite coffee table combo.¬†I love the happy colors and all the florals of this room! Don’t you wish you had that coffee table! The closet I’ve ever seen is this CB2 tv stand. If only it had legs, not wheels.



Next, for texture and because I didn’t want wood with my tropical print sofa, I went looking for cool rattan side tables. I like these particular tables because of the shelf. Just enough space for a stack of books.

I don’t foresee you finding impeccable rattan side tables in thrift stores but you might get lucky depending on your area. This might be something you have to look in consignment and online for. These were only $101 for 2 tables. Really a steal! Also, flea markets. Yes, duh, of course. Get thee to the flea (but we already knew about that, didn’t we?)

Rattan side tables: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Next I chose a credenza for the tv that mimicked the look of the rattan. This particular piece is actually a chest, so you could have storage for things if you were lacking that. Mid-century credenzas can be hard to find in good condition with a unique look at an affordable price. This chest ticks off all those things.

Credenzas: 1, 2, 3. There are plenty of beautiful credenzas on Etsy (that’s where I got mine!).

For a cheap fix like the chest, actually much cheaper, look for record player consoles. In thrift stores they are always in abundance, with interesting detailing. They will be low too, so they’ll make great tv stands. The look can be a bit 70s sometimes but for the Bohemian Mid-Century Eclectic that wouldn’t be a bad thing. I personally like rooms with a touch of/nod to 70s.

I chose cane chairs to add yet another layer of texture. Again we have the square like in the chest and side tables. Repeating a certain style will pull the pieces in the room together, without being matchy matchy.

I am confident you can find these in your local antique store. Whether or not for cheap, who knows. If you find them at the thrift they may need re-caning. I would definitely check Craigslist for this item! Shouldn’t be hard to find at all. I went with blue upholstery here to match the blue in our sofa.

Of course in a mid-century room of mine I would have some type of mid-century chairs. I love the bright green of this upholstery. Blue and green will always and forever go together. And green makes sense with botanicals (tropical sofa print). You can find 50s style chairs in a lot of stores, from thrift to antique to Target to World Market and on up the price ladder. Though, keep in mind when buying vintage you’re getting a certain amount of quality over those poo Target chairs that will eventually break down. You could get dirt cheap thrift chairs and recover them in an awesome print to contrast with your awesome sofa! Cha-ching! Money! You so balla…

And ballers need shine in their rooms. So, we add a brass/glass coffee table. This particular one hails from the 70s but you can find them from the 50s – today. I’d stay in the mid-century to 80s.

Chairish is my favorite place to look for brass tables. I honestly do not see many out in the world. Is it my area? Might be tricky to find cheaply. Keep your eyes on the Craig!

1, 2, 3

And lastly, to keep the place bright and happy, an affordable World Market rug. This rug is jute which isn’t the coziest underfoot but whatever. We’re going for affordability here.

How much did the furniture cost?


Pretty dang good if you ask me. You could buy 1 sofa for that price, and we furnished our entire house! The sofa had a hole in one top cushion. If you found something like that at the thrift store, but otherwise the sofas was in great condition, I personally would go ahead and buy it. Let’s pretend this sofa was in the thrift store for $50-$150 with that mark on the top. Well 1, can you flip the cushion? 2, just throw a blanket/throw/fur over it and call it a day.¬†

Sofa, Green chairs, Side tables, Coffee table, Cane chairs, Chest, Rug

The art (1, 2) and lifesize Giraffe are Chairish, yellow pillows Target (1, 2), the lamps (1, 2) are Target, and pink Suzani pillows One Kings Lane.

Shall I price out another style of room? Let me know! I had no budget in mind for this, only to keep the price as low as possible. I started out making a Traditional room but it morphed into this lovely mix. If interested I’d be happy to put my spin on various styles like Traditional, Farmhouse, Hollywood Regency, Minimalism, etc.


Dream sofa: Tuxedo


These are 2 of my all time favorite living rooms, belonging to Cameron Diaz and Marisa Tomei. Kelly Wearstler, who designed Cameron’s apartment, can do no wrong. In fact, I purchased my vintage swivel chairs based on lust I have for Milo Baughman. Sadly his designs are out of my price range. These rooms are 2 different designers but look how similar they are:

Tuxedo sofa, large cocktail table, vintage chairs, shag rug, matching end tables and lamps, and matching stools.

I’ve had these components in mind for my next home. While I love my pink chesterfield, I can’t stop thinking about a sexy velvet tuxedo in a neutral color. A tuxedo sofa has a boxy shape due to its back and sides being¬†the same uniform height. When you think about it, it’s the logical next step to go from a chesterfield to a tuxedo. The chesterfield is a tuxedo in a way. All its sides are uniform as well. It’s just overstuffed.


This Jan Showers tuxedo sofa is the literal bees knees dream. Covered in velvet, even the feet! I want it right now! Haha.


(Billy Baldwin)


Below is a list, ranging in shape.¬†I’ve had my eye on #1 for some time now. I love its skinny sides, reminiscent of the rosewood frames of mid century sofas (also made popular by our friend Milo). Perhaps it’s really more of a shelter sofa? If I couldn’t get a custom sofa made with the feet upholstered, I would probably not want my sofa feet showing.

tuxedo sofas


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

What do you think of the tuxedo? What is your favorite style of sofa?

Grey Gardens design inspiration

A year or some months ago, I attempted to watch Grey Gardens, the documentary by Albert and David Maysles  about fallen socialites Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter of the same name. I had no idea what the film was about at the time and after a few boring minutes of watching this strange scarfed woman yelling at her half-naked mother in a house of squalor I turned it off. Last night I watched the HBO movie special about the women and was in awe.

If you’re unfamiliar with the documentary or the lives of the mother and daughter, read on.

Big Edie and Little Edie as they were referred to lost their fortune when Edith’s husband, Phelan, left her and refused to give¬†her enough money to upkeep the house.

In 1895, 4 acres of ocean front property were purchased by F. Stanhope Phillips and Margaret Bagg Phillips in the wealthy neighborhood of East Hampton on Long Island. In 1897, Joseph Greenleaf Thorpe designed the house as well as other houses in area. In 1913, Robert C. Hill and Anna Gilman Hill bought the house and hired landscape designer Ruth Bramley. The Hill’s built ornate walls around the gardens, creating what would become the center of Grey Gardens.

The Beale family, Phelan, Edith, Little Edie, and 2 sons, came to Grey Gardens in 1923, when Phelan, a lawyer, bought the home for Edith. It was apparently put in her name.

In 1946, Phelan divorced Edith (via post from Mexico. How rude). For some time he sent her $300 a month to maintain the property but eventually the money stopped coming and the house began to fall to disrepair. Wikipedia says $300 in those days was the equivalent of $4,000! What were they doing with their money! The sons left home. Little Edie, who had her eyes on stardom in New York returned home and remained there until her mother’s death in 1977. Big Edie did have a trust which was managed by the sons but that money wasn’t enough to upkeep the home. I suppose it kept them in cat food, liver pate, and ice cream.

As the money ran out, and the house declined, eventually the women were unable to pay to keep the lights on. There in Grey Gardens, in a house with no electricity, no running water, full of cats, fleas, and racoons, these 2 women lived. For decades. Can you imagine? In an interview a relative recalls,

“When you got to the house, by the time you got halfway up the stairs, your ankles were in agony by being chewed by fleas. I would go there and light up two cigarettes and just wave them around.” –Christopher Beale

In 1972, the health department paid the Beale women a visit and threatened to kick them out on the street if they didn’t clean up the house.

What’s so interesting about the family, is their relationship to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and their fall from social grace. Big Edie was her aunt, Little Edie her cousin. Jackie finally came to the rescue and hauled away bags of trash, cleaned the house, freshened up the paint, gave them new beds, and paved the way for the documentary. I’m curious when Adult Protective Services came about because clearly these women were not functioning at a level of most sane people? I imagine if Hoarders came to the set what would the psychiatrist says was the root of the mess? Phelan leaving Edie might be the traumatic event in her life that forced her to hoard/stay in the house? Or was it the Great Depression? Was it that the one thing Edith owned was the house and she wasn’t going to let it go? She survived the Great Depression. You know how those survivalists held on to the strangest things (Cheerio boxes, anyone?)

What about Little Edie being forced to give up her hopes and dreams? Perhaps the loss of her hair (she had alopecia). Maybe she put all her beauty/identity in that hair and a part of her died when it finally all fell out. Who knows. She could have left her mother in that house or forced her to leave with her but neither left. In the film/documentary she talks about wanting to leave, hating the winters, that a rat hole on 10th in Manhattan would be better than Grey Gardens but she continued to stay. ¬†They just lived in filth. It’s amazing and sad and crazy and fascinating! I wonder why the sons/brothers didn’t try harder to save their loved ones. Perhaps they really did try. You cannot save those who don’t want your help. We all have eccentric relatives.

HBO did a special in 2009 with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange recreating scenes from the documentary and telling the story of how the women came to be in the house. It’s very beautifully made and I highly suggest you watch it. After seeing it, I am motivated to watch the¬†documentary. Drew does an amazing job playing the role as Little Edie. It shows you how dependent the women were on each other. I’ve read comments here and there that Big Edie ruined Little Edie’s life. Maybe. I don’t know. I read another comment that said the door was never locked. Little Edie could have left. Family relations are hard. Mother daughter relationships are complicated. Little Edie never married. She had no job. Her mother wouldn’t leave the house. Ya know?

My all time biggest question though, if Edith loved Grey Gardens so much, why didn’t she just clean the house! ūüėõ

The props/costumes¬†from the movie are spectacular. Here are stills from the foyer, living room, and dining room. While rooms of white/beige may be all the rage today, there’s no question that people from the past loved color. Have you ever walked into an antique store and sat on an all white chair? Doubtful. It’s always embroidered, patterned, or a color. How about the novelty prints of vintage dresses? So much fun. And when you think about how the 40s-50s¬†(mid-century)¬†were a pairing down of the ornate detailing of 18-19th century furniture did they lose sight of color? Heck no.

 For more in-depth information on Grey Gardens, Joni Webb goes room and by room on her blog. The movie stills are sourced from her as well.


A perfect combination of purple and yellow (or maybe the sofa is chartreuse. Whatever, purple and yellow always go together).




I love the chinoiserie wallpaper with the red chinese chippendale chairs.

Here are modern day Grey Gardens houses. Living rooms full of color and texture with a good bit of antiques. Perhaps you can picture the ocean outback and a secret garden for tea parties. I warn you, once you have this aesthetic in mind, you can go far down the internet rabbit hole clicking clicking clicking…there’s a visual feast for days! ūüôā


Bunny Williams is all about comfort and class. She came to town about 3 weeks ago and I missed her talk. Could kick myself.


Melissa Rufty is one of my all time favorite interior designers. She lives in New Orleans and mixes styles like no other. I may have posted this living room in the early days of the blog. I love her use of color. Here she does a Greek Revival. Big Edie and Little Edie would be right at home in this bedroom with matching twin size beds.


Miles Redd…can you stand it?

Here’s a living room he did in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, GA. It can seat 40 people. How many people can your living room seat? Big Edie could party for sure in here.

I was a bit concerned about having wall sconces and table lamps so close together in mother’s room (in the entry below). If Miles Redd does it, so will I. Don’t you also love the square and round end tables living harmoniously together?


Jackie Onassis might say “I like that blue paint! I painted Aunt Edie’s foyer the very same!” What would the room be without that giant ficus in the corner? Plant life is everything.


This Manhattan townhouse has my heart. Also by Redd. HBO Edies would love the purple and yellow! I love that gold mirror and giant nude woman. The white marble (?) coffee table and the 3 types of chairs (and a greek stool).

I recently read if you don’t know what do between the fireplace and the doorway put in a bench. Looks like Redd agrees and has put in a purple tufted wall bench.

But this dining room is my favorite part. Recognize those chairs! Another Grey Gardens style (at least from HBO).


Here’s blue and brown again, by Richard Keith Langham. I love how open these 2 rooms are. So bright and cheery, too. However, I dislike his repetition on the 3 chairs. He could have had much more fun.That rug is great.


I love big windows like this. Like if you walked outside you’d in Savannah or New Orleans. Was a¬†door tax a real thing?


That modern starburst feels right at home on the wall even with all the antiques.


When I saw this living room I freaked over those green silk slipper chairs. Beautiful. This is my favorite room of all in the post. It’s so bright. I’m a wee surprised by the small scale rug. I wonder why the designer broke the design rule there (large room, large rug needed). I bet it’s because that wood floor is amazing on its own. This home is designed by Rose Anne Pampelonne.


Symmetry but lamps of unequal height. Have you noticed all the animal print touches in these rooms?


Who do you think sits in those tiny chairs? What’s the point of that tiny round coffee table. Ha! Love it.



Lastly, Jonathan Adler. A bit more modern but the portrait reminded me of Big Edie’s over the fireplace. Adler loves his mid-century just like me and is no stranger to color!

So, what can we glean? Use color and pattern everywhere (do have a¬†color palette in mind or you’re going to have a big ol’ mess), have a myriad of chairs in every style under the sun (18th century Louis to 1950s mid-century would work. They can cohabitate since they’re short/small in proportion), use luxurious fabrics like silk and velvet, include large painted portraits, detailed colorful wallpapers, sculptures, and plants! Daybeds, tufting, iron, chippendale chairs, round tables, square tables, ornate detailing, metallics, woods. It all will work when you find that balance. These are my favorite kinds of rooms.