Shayne Blue Inspiration

Can we talk about Shayne Blue. I think I have a new design soul sister. Hahah. I mean, I love eclectic spaces like these. When I picture my ideal dream home, it’s full of random things (you know I love that MIX). That’s why I love Kelly Wearstler so much. So much visual stimulation. Ohhh ahhh.

I recommend you check out her site and see lovely rooms full of unique pieces (like the chairs!!)



shaneblue6santa anita race track, shayne blue,

I like the simplicity of this mantle. What are your thoughts on blackamoors? There’s a very interesting history behind them if you care to have yourself a googlefest!


So good, fun, exciting to look at! 🙂

Staging to sell: the living room

I admit I have not staged a house before but hey there’s a first time for everything! I don’t really see what the difference is from styling. Just use less stuff. What I do know is, you want to show off your home’s true potential… make it look good so buyers can see themselves living there.

The first time my client listed her home, her realtor took some pretty crappy photos. Not being an expert in this, it seemed like as a whole he focused more on her furnishings rather than the unique architectural features of the house and took the photos in bad lighting, at the wrong time of day. Here’s my favorite photo he took and listed. I don’t have a clue what it conveys to the buyer. Maybe he’s showing off the wallpaper or the closet, but my eyes go to the bust and the piece of furniture (and the trash can in the other room. Ooops!)


I wanted to focus on styling the room to make it more presentable for real estate photos (stage it for selling) and generate some content for the blog! 🙂

She has moved the majority of her furniture to her new house (the french country meets beach) but we do have a few bits and bobs to work with. Since I’m doing this for the heck of it, there is no money going in to buy staging furniture. So, what goes goes.

Here are the before listing photos.


See, like what is this really showing the home buyer? Her taste in furniture? I see the fireplace but he cut off the windows and height of the room. I don’t know, I just don’t feel like he really tried to show the whole space. It reads more like, “Hey, here’s how I decorated, look at these styled shots!”lr3

Again here. You get a glimpse into the foyer but the focus is more on the work of art.

The room is a long rectangle, and the furnishings (well, what’s left) are French antique. But isn’t that painting amazing? It’s still on the wall so, score, something major to wow house hunters. “Yvonne, our [insert local artist] piece would look so chic on this wall.” “Why yes, Thom. I was thinking the very same!” “WE’LL TAKE IT!”

It would be fun to throw in some more modern pieces but there aren’t any so there! Wouldn’t it look so great painted white, with some low-slung cushy velvety mid-century sofa against that painting? Or some sort of lumpy 70s/80s crusty brown number?  Maybe an all black, brown, ivory neutral room with highlights of pinks. And plants. Ohhh, I wish we could do that.

See how dark these images are? That’s not how you list a property!!

Here’s what we were left with when she moved:


I feel like my iphone shots better convey the space of the room than his wack listing photos do! Like I said, I’m no expert in this but I’ve perused through TONS of house listings for my own enjoyment/ when I rent and I want to see as much of the space as possible!

Furniture-wise there’s not a lot to work with. She could clear away every single thing. I wonder how many houses sell naked vs. staged. Does one do better than the other? Judging by those morons on House Hunters with no imagination, I’d say it’s probably better to jazz up your house with some furniture and style than leave it empty. “John, I can’t picture our life in this empty room.” “John, they have a sofa there. That’s where OUR sofa will go!” “Yes, Carol.”

I cleared away the clutter, searched high and low for any useful piece of furniture, art, books, etc. that has yet to be completely moved/cleared out (attic, basement, you name it). Luckily, she brought back her coffee table which really helped!

This is what I came up with:


I moved the sofa under the painting and flanked it with these marble-topped side tables. The homeowner was using them as plant stands. I have no idea if that’s their original purpose but I love how they look as end tables! The coffee table she brought back is heavy wrought iron with a glass top. I found that floor lamp down in the basement. I think it’s the perfect accent to the table and I like the height with those [Christmas] candles (haha!). Those are actually my brass candlesticks. I left the coffee table fairly clean because house hunters don’t need to see too much style or clutter.



All the greenery I used was found in the yard around the house. The magnolia blossom filled the room with such a beautiful smell! What a wonderful scent to welcome your guests! There’s also Japanese maple in that bowl.



I always enjoy a good mirror above a fireplace mantle. This thing was tucked up in the attic. Jim and I carried it down 2 flights of stairs. Okay, he carried it down. But I helped! It was monster heavy and really ideally should be hung but I think you still get the look that I was going for. It did not have vertical hanging hardware nor was I about to mount some giant heavy mirror on the wall of a house trying to be sold!


I wish we had smaller slipper chairs. These guys weren’t the easiest to work with. Caddy corner? Straight on? I went with on the diagonal to make the conversational area appear more intimate/closed in. The room is so large!


Here’s a pulled back shot. You can see the room is lacking furniture but I did try to create a conversation area. While taking these photos, I also tried to get as much architectural detail in as possible. There is a lot of molding in the house. Something the realtor did not capture! :\


Here is the other side of the room, with the little mirror nook. I almost left it empty but added a stack of wee books to jazz it up.


The marble end tables are a nice repetition of the marble in this little nook don’t you think! I totally planned that (actually I’m just now realizing that…hahaha…nice how things work out!)


Here’s a shot of the foyer. I threw in that rug and table to make it a bit more inviting. I believe that mirror is going to the new house.


One side of the room.

And now the other!


This table was under the little mirror arched nook but I moved it to this wall. This table is a good representation of my searching hoard. I found the painting in the upstairs sunroom, the lamps were all that was left in the master, the books were stragglers between the breakfast room, study, and random closets and table tops, the vase and that juggy thing were on the breakfast room built-in shelves, the butterflies were broken in a closet box, and the bust was on a mantle in the study. Wheeeew. Oh and the ferns from the yard! You can scrape together a table top if you search your house high and low 😉


This vase/urn majig was also in the study. I knew it would be great with some big structural plant matter. I don’t know what these are but in a pinch I think they did the trick! Whoever buys this house will have plenty of plants to choose from if they can’t make it to the florist: ferns, hydrangea, magnolia, those pink butterfly bushes, holly, lenton roses, and more.


I did snap some pics of the room with all the lights ON, which is how realty photos appear…


There’s two floor pillows to sit on as well. I didn’t want them to be too noticeable. But they’re there, behind the far chair. So, if someone did live in this space, they could sit about 6-7 people!

So, that’s the newly staged/styled living room. What are your thoughts? Did I show you the full scope of the room in a way that if you were a buyer you’d want to come see the house? And as a stylist, did I style in a pretty way given what I had? I wish there were more pieces to work with because this is the size of room where you could create zones.  A little sofa area in the middle like I did, some chairs off to the side under the windows, maybe build a huge built-in where I put the table and house your book collection! Loads of potential!

I’d love to hear your thoughts! And don’t worry. She has a new realtor!


ROY G BIV: Using Orange

I almost forgot about this series that I wanted to do! If you recall, I started with red in the kitchen.  Let’s take a look at orange next.

I don’t like to use a lot of orange but I love it as a pop of color! Like my orange leather ottoman. Orange is one of those happy colors like yellow. Though you have to be careful what shade you use because you might end up with a overdone 1960/70s scene.

But some styles from the 60/70s are still so relevant. Looks at these blasts from the past!

(1, splatters by moi, 3, 4)


This living room from the apartment of Sergio Semak in Moscow is pretty dang cool. I love the giant burl wood cabinet floating with the other orange/pink cabinets. A sculpture in itself. The woods are warm and orangey in tone and compliment the brass and other oranges in the room. I love the bit of blue in the rug, too. Blue is ever as much a friend to orange as it is to yellow. The gray sofa balances all the color and keeps the room modern. I love the brass elements from the palm tree to the giraffe table.

I had my eye on orange velvet dining chairs for a time in 2015. I never got them but I see I was not alone in my lust for orange seating.



The light fixture with all those colors is way cool. I like how the art on the wall (that x of primary colors) repeats that concept. The chairs are a warm orange tone but don’t overpower the room. Classic white walls keep the space modern and light, not to mention that glass dining table. Love that, oh oh! The styling of this space is so good. 🙂

In your living room, why not try a single splash of orange in your sofa or accent chairs?



orangechairs(1, 23)

In the bedroom why not go for an orange headboard?



You could easily replicate this look for a queen size bed (or however large you sleep). How fun would it be with two sconces on the board! I don’t even mind the nailhead trim! I also love the stripe on such a tall piece. This headboard would command attention!

Lastly, how about just some good old paint to freshen up your space! Melissa Rufty, one of my fave designers, shows us two different shades.



(1, 2)

There’s a lot of bad orange out there, so remember to choose a non-collegiate hue, maybe stick to just a splash, remember the pros/cons of decades before us and enjoy your happy pop of color!

Neutral Living Room Makeover

In my previous post I ended with a drab photo my mother sent me from some kids she knows on facebook. I may have been too harsh (naaah) and decided it would be better as a post all its own! Let’s imagine everything I’m about to say to you actually happened.

Haley and her fiance Josh recently purchased a home in Tennessee. Through the glorious wonders of the internet, they stumbled across my work and asked me to help them spruce up their living room. They just couldn’t seem to pull it together themselves.

They sent me this picture of some newly acquired furniture and decor. Guys, I can’t. And I told them so.


I could tell Haley and Josh were trying but really missing the mark. From the rug, to the matching sofas (which isn’t a bad thing but why do you need a sofa and a love seat in 2016? in such a small room?), to that clock (just no), to the too many matchy matchy pillows.

It’s obvious the couple was going for chic but not understanding you can mix in so many more colors and textures and still have a neutral space!!

I asked Haley to pull some images off Pinterest of her ideal dream room and together this is what we came up with:


You wouldn’t know it at ALL from looking at their current design situation that they like a mix of 50s-70s, with a mix of woods, metallics, and heavyweight fabrics.. We decided we needed

  • A new sofa, Danish design, narrow arms,
  • A large ornate floor mirror,
  • 2 vintage chairs (to replace the loveseat),
  • A new square coffee table,
  • A more natural looking media center, more mid century,
  • A shag rug, still black,
  • A fun chandelier

The couple allowed me to lead the way, suggesting vintage pieces I know and love so much. There was no way to use anything they’d previously purchased. So out with the old and in with the new!

This is what I came up with!


No room of mine would be complete without an animal. The sheep is a vintage ottoman! I need that for my own house!

I jokingly said “Guys, you already love drab paint colors, why not go all the way and paint your walls charcoal?” I mean…  So glad they loved the idea and decided they would go for it!  That paint color was killing me. What is that? No thank you. Please stop accepting all builder grade paint choices people. Paint your walls when you move in. Say no to “greige”. Nothing goes with this awful paint color. Look how sickly their furniture looks in there. Pitiful. I would know. As an apartment dweller I’ve seen this color time and time again. It is the literal worst.

Anyway, I really love dark charcoal rooms and light furniture. The dark walls make everything else POP.  Sunlight from windows doesn’t hurt.

So we’ve got a saffron sofa in a crepe linen. So nice. The luxury of this sofa is it’s a sleeper! So they can pull it out while they watch tv or have guests over. Sha-bang! Its Danish styling is just what we were after, slim square arms, boxy shape, skinny legs. This is not a crazy leap from what they started with. It’s still low to the ground and still boxy in shape (I was inspired to suggest this style because of the original sofas arms).

They told me they really liked their original black and white rug, so I made sure to stay within that color scheme. This cotton jute rug will be soft underfoot, and the graphic motif will give the room added interest. There’s grays, blacks, browns, and creams in the rug…plenty of neutral colors!

Needing an authentic vintage piece, I found 2 1970s cube chairs from a newly favorited Instagram source, Again & Again. The cube shape echos the boxiness and narrow arms of our sofa. The gray stripes from the upholstery pick up the grays and whites/creams in the rug. I liked the walnut base, adding a natural wood layer to our room.

I also found the marble coffee table through Again & Again. I chose a marble top Saarinen tulip table and vintage Italian arc lamp with marble base to sit by the sofa. Marble is fancypants and white always adds brightness. Especially since we have dark walls now. I forget who said something about layering on the white. Do you know? The arc lamp adds to our sexy 60s-70s vibe.  Aren’t they so fun?

Speaking of lighting, I originally thought about something celestial like this, but ended up with a Brutalist flush mount to replace what they already had. I haven’t really decided if I like that trend/style of chandelier. I think a lot of people that use them in their homes are using them in the wrong way — too small. If you have a gigantor room, you don’t want a chandelier the size of a light bulb sticking out from the ceiling. Just my 2 cents.

Anyway, love the Brutalist style. This adds texture through sculpture and keeps with our mid-century style, but not in a cheesy way. With a room as small as Haley and Josh’s, I think a flush mount is all we need.

So we’ve got marble and fabric, we need some wood! I went to West Elm for their console. They can put their tv on it or whatever they please. Just not that hideous clock (sorry, not sorry.) I think the hole in the middle would be great with books, or some sort of collection. If I had my way tv would not exist in any room. But I know that isn’t reality for the majority of American homes.

Lastly, I thought we needed something light in color and still something wooden/natural to occupy space opposite our cubes. I found this amazing Frank Gehry chair and ottoman on Knoll. Perfection.

I thought I was done but then I remembered we needed our mirror. I tried options behind the sofa but ultimately realized the space wasn’t balanced. I didn’t want 2 matching side tables for this room, so the other side of the sofa was empty.  I found a French Baroque floor mirror on Etsy. Now we’re set!!

This room is ready for major sexy party fun vibe let’s hang out all day and night times! And it’s neutral but still so interesting! So much texture and fun stuff to look at. Not just 2 boring sofas, blah blah blah.

All the pillows are from Mitchell Gold. The pillows in the chairs tie in the rug and the pillows on the sofa pull from the rug and the chairs. The fur lumbar is just a bit of fun and for added texture.

Major Players: Sofa, cube chairs, marble coffee table (2), 8×10 rug, floor mirror,  Frank Gehry chairwooden console

The Details:Sheep ottoman, white vase, brown vase, black and yellow vase,  arc lamp, Saarinen tulip side table (Calacatta satin), graphic pillows, circle applique pillow, black pillows, fur lumbar, ram bowl, mannequin head, Brutalist light fixture

Haley and Josh said we love this room! How much is all this?! Is this within budget? Let’s do it!! And I said, oh this room, without paint, is roughly $31, 075. I just wanted to pull a bunch of fun stuff and make you sad! Muhahaha.

But then I pulled a Property Brothers or whatever and gave them a similar room within their $5,000 budget.


I found a very similar Danish style sofa at CB2, in the color sunflower. Similar to saffron. It’s a little more orange than green but I think it works. Orange is very 70s! The downside here? No sleeper.

I looked for cube chairs but couldn’t find anything comparable to our Again & Again chairs.  There were 2 identical chairs on Etsy but in a red floral pattern. We don’t have money for reupholstery. Skip it! And really we need a vintage item and they’re just so good! So we decided that $850 was a steal and went for the chairs. So happy we did that! They make the room for me. I linked some alternatives below but I’m really not in love with those choices. You don’t want every single piece to be up on skinny mcm legs.

I checked out the Nashville craigslist and right there for $75 was a gold floor mirror. Sure it’s not as ornate as French Baroque, but it’s $75, it’s within budget, and I think it’ll work just fine for these cats.

We got a much cheaper marble inspired tulip table ($188) and a fun arc lamp with large marble base ($256). Still maintaining our pricey marble look but with affordable pieces.

I wasn’t able to find a cotton jute with a fun pattern like the Anthropologie rug (for a good price!) but I did find this black one with great texture on Overstock for $354. The colors are black and browns.

After trying MANY white coffee table solutions, faux marble and other materials, I finally found this marble table on Chairish. Woohoo! I wanted to stay as close to the shape of the pricier option as possible. Atleast it’s a square? Ha! And marble! That was important. Nothing else looked right.

I really couldn’t find a console in reclaimed wood to fit the budget that didn’t look like industrial junk. I hate that look. Definitely not with our mid century-70s mood. So I found this dresser. When you can’t find a console/credenza, look for a dresser or top-opening storage chest. They’re always cheaper! However, it makes the room a little more casual/approachable.  Just depends on what style you’re really going for. Haley and Josh aren’t as froo froo as $31,000 and were okay with the trendy look of the classic MCM chest.

Finding the right wooden piece for the Frank Gehry chair was really hard. Like really really hard. I’m still not convinced I chose correctly. This chair puts us over budget with its $850 price tag. We’ll just have to hope the seller accepts a lower offer. I have linked to some cheaper alternatives.

The brass light fixture is similar in shape but not in the Brutalist style that is so shapely and cool. But this one is mid-century and also reminds me of the 70s. So it still fits with what we’re going for.

The Target pillows look a lot cheaper in comparison to the Mitchell Gold. Go figure. This room, as it is, with no lesser chair offers accepted, is $5,694. I really wish I could have found an affordable sheep ottoman. I think the room really needs it!! 😦

Major Players: Sofa, cube chairs (2, 3), 6×9 rug, floor mirror, coffee table (2), console/dresser (2), rattan chair, (2, 3)
The Details: Arc lamp (2, 3), tulip table, fur throw, black pillow covers, abstract pillows, gray loop applique pillow, faux fur lumbar,  light fixture, mannequin head

I can’t wait to show you the reveal!


The sofa will stay where their old sofa was, but the cube chairs will go where that cabinet and clock was. The media console/mcm dresser will go on the far side of the room opposite the sofa. We’ll anchor everything with our rug, center our marble table between our sofa and chairs, and diagonally sit our rattan lounger. The mirror with lay against the wall on the right of the sofa, behind the chairs. The marble side table and marble arc lamp will flank the sofa. Isn’t that great!

Jk this wasn’t real. But it could be, if you scroll to the bottom, click the contact email, and let’s do business! 🙂



Hope you enjoyed my stab at neutrals. I definitely prefer color but wanted to see if I could handle the neutrals. I wish I could have gotten a little closer to the expensive room when making the price comparison. I really like it a lot better. I would totally live in that room. Maybe if I looked harder across the internet I would have found a better rattan chair and a better reclaimed wood console. But I got tired of staring at this thing!

Would love to hear your thoughts on this neutral room.

Imagining my next space

I’m sort of obsessed with wallpaper now. I’ve always liked it but rediscovered my interest in it when I was searching for wallpapers for Mom’s living room. It’s funny how tastes change. 5-6 years ago I really wanted a damask wallpapered bedroom with an aubergine upholstered headboard (I wouldn’t be caught dead with that now! :P). At the time I started this blog in 2014 I was really into giant floral papers and still liked touches of antiques. Now I’m way more about the geometrics and mid-century modern furniture. I do still like some of the classics though! The de Gournay Chinoiserie seems to be so fitting with the right MCM table (or a traditional table) and a well-mixed chair.

Seeing as how my next dwelling will be a rental again, I decided to check out the removable paper trend. There’s quite a lot to choose from! I ended up imaging an entire dream room in my Art of the Mix style.


(if your browser supports it, click to enlarge)

Color color everywhere! I started with the removable wallpaper, Rapids, from Chasing Paper. It comes in 3 colorways and I knew blue was the way to go. All this time I’ve been trying to have a blue room and it hasn’t happened (Oh, I’ll just reupholster those chairs in blue. I’ll paint this room in blue…).

I’m still pretty cool with all white walls so if I were to try out removable wallpaper in a rental, I’d probably just do a focal wall like this. Wallpaper is like art on its own, an added little bit of texture. I love that. I love the big announcement of color/design in your face! I’d have to really love it to commit to the entire room. That’s the beauty of this removable stuff. You could change your room as often as you fancy! 😉

In my next apartment, I’m going to have to find a tuxedo sofa with upholstered feet. I don’t know where or how but dang it, I will have one. I love my chesterfield but it is not really the sofa dreams are made of. It’s pretty rigid with the seat cushion sewn in. I want loose cushions that I can sink into. Also, Jim is a tall guy. He would like a sofa he can stretch out on. The Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin sofa (as shown) is plenty long enough for his 6 foot frame. You know my thoughts on buying vintage. Do it to it! The downside is shipping and paying for reupholstery. Whamp whammmp.

Those are my beloved swivel chairs. 2 laptops or so ago I had a photo saved of someone’s amazing chair. All I know is it was green and some sort of animal print. I scoured the internet last night trying to find that dang picture. I think it was of a gay man’s home. A fashion designer or an interior designer? I have no idea! But the fabric was fluffy? Like thick fur. It did not lay flat like crushed velvet. I want fluffy chairs! I don’t know where to find fabric like that. This tiger moss colored animal print is from Lee Jofa and is some $2000 a freaking yard. Uh…. I will be finding a cheaper alternative. If you pay close attention to design magazines/books you’ll notice this print everywhere. I tossed in a blue velvet pillow to tie in the wall colors.

One thing I know for sure, besides that I must have the tuxedo sofa, is I’ve finally realized what kind of coffee table I need!  BURL WOOD! Oh my god. Look how amazing that is. AHHHHHHH. This one is French 1940s Art Deco. A cute little platform. Perfect for all the clutter in my life. 😛

Something I’d like to incorporate into my next home, should space allow, is the slipper chair. I chose these because of their shape, to compliment the upholstered feet of the tuxedo. I colorized them purple to bring out the purple in the rug and in the wallpaper. A little lumbar pillow would be necessary.

Also, I think it’s important to note that this room would still need to be functional without the wallpaper. Purple and yellow are complimentary colors. Purple isn’t too far off from red and we know red and green are complimentary. And blue and yellow are dear friends. At first glance one might be overwhelmed looking at this room but I think once you look around you see that I did put a great deal of thought into my choices.

I like to splatter elements of black and brass around the room. Here we have a black planter for our cactus, black books, and a black plant stand for Buddha. Brass elements include Lassie (I don’t have one of those but I do have a brass poodle!), the task lamps by the sofa, and the tripod lamp between the slipper chairs.

One thing I’ve picked up from the McGrath ladies and Jeffrey Bilhuber, is the use of tiny little lamps by the sofa. I really kind of love that!! I’m not sure if that’s a carry over from Billy Baldwin (both of them heavily influenced by his work).BB def had thing for the tuxedo!

For newness and modern fun, and because I’ve always been leaning towards acrylic coffee tables, I chose acrylic side tables.

I started to do a gallery wall but in all honesty I’m not really a fan. I don’t have a large collection of art so I don’t want to even bother faking it. I’d rather buy key pieces like the tuxedo and the burl wood coffee table and fill in the art gaps later! I do however have the lady and the mirrors are from Target. A cheap fix! Do I like it? I’d have to see it in a real space.

So, removable paper– very doable.
Rug, got it.
Credenza, already mine.
Chairs, mine. Just need that fabric!
Animal decor, I got worlds of that.
Pillows, easy to find.
Target tripod, already mine.
Plants, no worries there. I don’t have the Euphorbia cactus but I got the fiddle!

Need tuxedo sofa, burl wood table, acrylic end tables, 2 Target round mirrors, and 2 task lamps to make this room a reality.


So, all of these sofas are sold out except for #2 from Jan Showers. But you can get an idea of what to look for! I believe all the burl wood tables are for sale!

Sofa 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Table 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
The Details: Rapids wallpaper, Target mirror, acrylic side table, adjustable pharmacy floor lamp, large black planter, antique rug, brass collie, plant stand (imagined black), Target brass tripod lamp, blue velvet lumbar pillows, Kuba cloth pillows,  lion, horse, similar swivel chairs (mmm, same dingy pink as mine!), slipper chairs 

What are your thoughts on this colorful Art of the Mix? I’m so heavily inspired by so many designers…so many are represented in what I do. I’m eager to move out of this garage and into a space of my own so I can start decorating again!!


a confession/ Tiny spaces; a vignette

Oh my gosh, you guys. I apologize for the lack of content. I want to be transparent on this blog like so many wonderful bloggers that I admire but then I don’t want to break my lovely little veil of internet anonymity. I will say that this has been a very rough year for me. I briefly posted that I left my graphic design job in December 2015. 2015 was ultimately the worst year of my life! I received devastating health news February 2015 that I am still processing. It has not been easy. Then the majority of this year I have been unemployed and dealing with depression and anxiety. I ultimately had to move in with my mother in another city, thus my lack of personal home posts. And why I was focusing so much on her space. It was very difficult living with my mother at 31. I haven’t lived with her in 13 years! Our relationship definitely felt the strain after 6 months. I sought healing but only felt worse being in my childhood home, isolated and jobless.

I am back home in Birmingham now, living with my boyfriend again. We broke up in 2015 after the health news created some tension in our relationship. I moved into a house on my own. Remember my bungalow? It was hard living by myself. I couldn’t keep up with the house maintenance, the lawn, the pest control, by myself. I was really really stressed at work. To the tune of losing 25 lbs and a good chunk of my hair falling out. My news in combination with my work stress nearly destroyed me. I just wanted to lie down and die. Just be dead until this sadness passed. But life doesn’t work like that. Life seemed meaningless and sitting in a windowless cubicle was literal agony. So I quit! I quit. I lived off my 401k a while. I moved. I drowned in my depression pretty much up until 2 weeks ago. My boyfriend has been there for me every step of the way, as a friend and as a mate. He and I are much better now, committed to each other. Moving away definitely made me realize a lot about what I needed out of life to have some semblance of happiness. One of those things is him. I am tired of being sad. Nearly 2 years is long enough!  So what if I can’t have children (yeaah, I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency with translocated chromosomes for a likelihood of miscarriage)? I am alive. I have my parents. My family. Jim. Jim’s family. Friends. I am still capable of achieving the goal of being a stylist, right? 😀

For now, I’m staying in his garage apartment. Here’s a little styling for ya! When I say little, I mean like…vignette little.

Don’t worry, Jim said I could embarrass him all across the interworld with this photo…


Before I even knew I was moving back, I came to visit and tidy up his space! You can see my bags/shoes on the dining chairs. He had them in the middle of the room. I still don’t understand why old dining chairs were up there but whatever. That was the only thing I moved before snapping these photos. Granted he and his brother mostly used this garage apartment for bottling their homebrew, he clearly was sleeping up here from time to time. It was NOT an environment I wanted to sleep in nor a room I wanted to spend time in!   A lot of trash everywhere, dirt and grime, dirty clothes, and all around a layer of man funk covering each and every surface.


With nothing to decorate with but the contents within the room, I moved the dresser from below the window to along the wall. The kilim rug is so good and colorful. I found an old patterned shirt in the closet and wrapped it around the ottoman to add a little more color to the space. I put the 2 dining chairs together and slapped a blanket and pillow on it and called it a sofa! The guys were so messy, that Matisse print was hiding behind the dresser. Matisse should always be displayed! It just so happened to be night time and the nearest visible plant life was a pine tree. I put it in a beer bottle for a masculine touch.

Jim was all smiles when he saw the cleaned up space. Yay!

Then a week later I moved in. All my furniture is still at Mom’s so I could only bring some accessories to make it homey for myself. I brought 2 chairs…and well, here, you’ll see:


I can’t tell you how much I miss my vintage credenza! Gah that thing is like my pride and joy. This old kids dresser doesn’t compare. But I knew my yellow chair and brass chair with white arm pads would pair well (I know, this is an outside chair but so what?).

I love all the colors!! The rug, the chairs, the white in the dresser, the greens and blues in the art, and then the plants. Gah, it just works so well. Then there’s the touches of brass in the candlesticks,the legs of the Target tripod, the brass elephant, and the chair. Lil bling bling! There’s texture in the leather ottoman, the nubby white and yellow pillow on the brass chair, the velvet on the vintage yellow chair, the grain of the side table.


Chloe approves! The side table is decked out with Buddha and the cutest brass elephant I ever did see. I got that Buddha for $2 from a friend at a flea and he’s been with me in every apartment for years and years and years. Move after move after move. Where I go, Buddha goes.


There are pops of orange balanced by pops of black. I’ve come to find that one of my favorite things is to make a not so great situation as good as you can in that moment. To work with what you’ve got. Like what I did with Mom’s living room.

I only brought 3 of my little animal friends, 6 styling books, 1 piece of art, 2 chairs, and 1 rug (not shown). I am h-u-r-t-i-n-g for all my friends! but soon enough they’ll be back in bham too! 🙂

I hope my plants continue to grow here. The backroom at Mom’s house, where my room is now, does not receive much sunlight. My plant Bergita that I’ve had for 3 years bit the dust. I loved her. Oh, Bergita. If Fiddle dies I will be so mad! But anyway, I sit in the yellow chair and put my feet up. For little ol’ me it’s not too shabby. For giant ol’ Jim it’s a lil cramped. Here’s to hoping 2017 means a job I enjoy, financial stability once again, and much needed happiness.


(please don’t encourage me to adopt or tell me everything happens for a reason. i’ve heard it all before and it doesn’t help. i know everyone means well but it doesn’t help my broken heart when you want a biological child of your own with your loved one)


Hughes living room refresh (but not a redesign)

I like to think of this as a step along the way to a makeover/living room redesign. A few weeks ago I surprised my mother by rearranging her living room. She loved it. Whew!

When you have 0 dollars to buy new furniture you can definitely breathe new life into a space by moving your current furniture into a better flowing/more logical floor plan! I also wanted mother to get a sense of how the living room might be once we get new furnishings for her. She saw the light and approves!

If you recall, the old space was dark and the full size of the room was cut in half because mom had the sofa sitting in the middle of the space!


I opened all the blinds, moved the armoir, put in a rug, donated 2 chairs, and the space really opened up.


I moved the sofa to its most logical position, on the longest wall between the 2 furthest apart windows. Just like mother is short on books for the built-ins (as written about in the entry below), she is short on art. But that’s okay…we’ll get there. I put what I could find above the sofa to fill the empty space. And guys, don’t look at those pillows. HAHA.

I also got rid of EVERY SINGLE fake plant. Now all plants in the room are 100% real. Whew!

The crystal lamps flank the sofa on either side (though the sunlight here washes them out).

This rattan/glass coffee table came from another room in the house. To add texture and mix things up a bit (be not so traditional) I switched out her old coffee table for this one. I could have styled the table with a tray of knickknacks. Lord knows mom has oodles of those fake fruits and those twine balls from Kirklands (anybody?)…but I didn’t care to bother. So…clean space it is! It’s been a few weeks and she still has the vase sitting there.


The red recliner that was in the room was too heavy and dark seeming so I got rid of it! Having the daintiness of this chair (the open legs) keeps the flow of the room light and airy.


The poo tv is still in focus but not blocking the built-in like before. The 2 new chairs provide much needed seating for guests. In fact, shortly after she had visitors! And they had a place to sit! How about that! 😛

There was some clutter on the mantle, which I removed, and like the coffee table chose to leave bare.


Look how big the space is as opposed to before! The rug makes it so much cozier and now she opens the blinds every day. She never did that before. 🙂

Plenty of room for 2 animal print stools in front on the coffee table, switch out my high backs for Billy Haines brentwood chairs, get a new sofa, some sort of coffee table (burled walnut or acrylic), strip the fireplace so the natural wood shows, find a vertical mirror, paint the walls, accessorize, find a boat load of books, add a floor lamp, get new side tables, wallpaper the focal sofa wall, buy some art and presto!



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. 😉 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). 😛

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??