Maloney living room refresh (with before and after pics!)

Over the summer, I received a request for a room re-design quote from one very busy mom.

The mission: camouflage the big-black-leather sofa!

“My living room is the one room in my house that I’m just having a hard time with,” Amy Maloney told me in an email. “We just bought a massive sectional (because my husband has wanted one forever) and I think that is what’s throwing me. I would love your help to work with the sectional and maybe see how we can redeem the decorating style a bit. I’ll warn you though, it’s big and cumbersome.”

Challenge accepted! 

After a home visit, followed by a few emails and some texts back and forth, I felt I had a pretty solid understanding of what my client needed aesthetically, as well as functionally. With three small children running around, it was important to use child-friendly, durable materials. In order to blend seamlessly with the design scheme of the rest of the house, we decided it would be best to proceed with a modern farmhouse design plan, adding a touch of mid-century, and maybe even some bohemian elements mixed in.

In an effort to save money, the Maloneys worked their rear ends off! Erik, who had done some home projects prior to my engagement with this one, demoed and remodeled the fireplace completely by himself! Amy, in the meantime, was selecting pieces from our shared Pinterest board I prepared that best fit the family’s style and personality, and she shopped for each piece, assembling them as soon as they arrived. The couple only needed to hire a contractor for painting the living room and stair railing, which Amy considered doing herself, but quickly realized what a massive undertaking that would be.

After about three months of remodeling and decorating, the Maloney living room refresh project had drawn to a close, and all I could say when I first walked in to the space was, “WOW!” The results were even better in person than they appeared in the pictures Amy had sent me throughout the process.

Tips and Tricks for Camouflaging a Bulky Sofa

1. Draw the eyes up!

This room needed something to carry sight lines up and away from the large sofa. By hanging curtains as close to the ceiling as possible and ensuring they reach all the way down to the floor, we created an easy, soft alternative to break up what appears in someone’s natural line of vision.

2. Create contrast.

The sofa was such a large, dark part of an already somewhat dark room. Since we couldn’t change the sofa, we changed the room! A bright – yet warm – white paint transformed the space and instantly made it feel airy and fresh. Its creamy tone served as just enough contrast against the floor trim and freshly painted stair railing. We chose a soft pop of green for the accent color on the feature wall (where the fireplace is). By replacing the taupey-greige with a creamy white paint, the sofa had a better canvas on which to showcase itself. Rather than somewhat blending in to the dark walls behind it, it now pops and acts almost as a featured piece!

3. Break up the darkness.

We used a mixture of throw pillows – bright, white, textured throw pillows – to toss onto the sofa to break up the chunk of black in the room. Using a combination of knit, woven, leather, and mudcloth pillows, we were able to successfully tie in elements from around the room to tie it all together.

4. Make the unwanted element feel welcome.

Nobody wants to be left out on the playground. Poor Tyrone (what we named the sofa due to his large-and-in-charge presence) was a resented piece of furniture, at least for Amy. Instead of sending him back (it was too late for that anyways), we embraced his unique features and brought in some accents he could be friends with. We pulled black accents into the room by way of some modern black metal vases from Magnolia Home, as well as a large black metal frame holding some fierce-looking breed of cow. By placing black accents throughout the space, the eye is able to travel rather than rest on the only dark piece in the room: the sofa.

5. Bring in natural elements.

Easy-peasy! Swing by the floral aisle in your local grocery store every now and then, and pick up some fresh greenery to bring life and color to your home! Not as obvious: use natural textures such as wood, jute, leather and fur (or faux fur) to give your home a laid-back, earthy vibe. Speaking of wood, as much as they said they’d love to someday install some hardwood floors, the Maloneys do have three little ones. This was why it didn’t make sense at this time to rip out the soft, cushiony floors for those that are hard and slippery. I suggested they layer two area rugs of slightly different sizes, using a natural jute rug as the base so that we could bring in some wood textures that would help tie the other wood elements (such as the coffee and end tables) together. It also breaks up the sometimes undesirable fabric-on-fabric effect you’d get if you were to place a wool or cotton rug directly on top of carpet.

Check out some of the before and after photos, with design mock-ups and links to products used.

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Lower rug layer: Urban Outfitters – Chunky Fringe Woven Jute Rug

Upper rug layer: Overstock – nuLOOM Geometric Moroccan Trellis Fancy Grey Area Rug

End table: Overstock – Simple Living Emmerson End Table

Curtains: West Elm – Bark Textured Jacquard Curtain

Paint color: Behr – Heavy Cream

Coffee table: Overstock – Emerald Home Denton Rustic Round Cocktail Table

Metal vases: Magnolia Market – Metal Framed Vase

Accent wall paint color: Sherwin Williams – Halcyon Green

Framed art: Urban Outfitters – Amy Carroll Wemmick Art Print

Lamp base: World Market – Glass Terrarium Table Lamp Base

Mudcloth pillows: Etsy – Stitched By Grace NY

Leather pillows: Etsy – San Junipiero

Moroccan leather pouf: Etsy – Moroccan Rooms

Knit pouf: Overstock – Orient Celebration Hand Knitted Pure Cotton Braid Pouf (Beige)

Mid century upholstered bench: Wayfair – Brayden Studio Ronquillo Upholstered Storage Bench (no longer available in color pictured above)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Quick and Easy Succulent Pens


As a teacher, you go through a ridiculous amount of pens and pencils as the months go by. Yes, teachers need to do everything we can to make sure our students succeed, even if that means lending out our favorite writing utensils when students lose track of theirs. You think you’re being nice, and then poof! You’ll never see that pen again. 

This year, I decided to take matters into my own hands by making fun little toppers for my favorite pens! Plus, the whole little setup doubles as desk decor. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cute pens
  • Pretty tape
  • One faux succulent for each pen
  • One julep tin the height of the pens
  • Scissors

First, cut the tubing off the stem of the faux succulents so you just have the wire and the flower. Next, wrap the wire around the top one-to-two inches of the pen. Then, use the pretty tape to hold the wire in place. Finally, arrange the pens in the julep tin and find the perfect spot on your desk to set it. 

No more guessing if that pen that one student has is yours — now you’ll definitely know!

Quick and Inexpensive ($150!) Laundry Room Makeover

…because we all need a pretty laundry room, right?

I do love seeing all the stunning laundry room revamps on Pinterest, and I wonder what it would be like to have so much money that I have nothing better to spend it on than my laundry room. Good for those people! :) I am not one of them. Maybe someday, with a lot of hard work and thrifty spending, I’ll get there.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I was absolutely fine with the builder-grade, all-white-everywhere, blank dungeon of a laundry room we had. I wanted this space to be not only a little more aesthetically pleasing (so I’d be okay with actually spending time in there and checking my laundering to-dos off my list), but also functional (so I wouldn’t leave angry).

Jason and I moved in to our first home about one year ago. We live in a tract-home neighborhood, and the Colorado housing market was — and still is — thriving, so we ended up spending A LOT more on the base price of our first home than we had ever thought we’d need to spend. This meant that we opted to pass on many of the upgrade options the builder offered us. We wanted to give our home some lived-in character using our own creativity and handiwork anyways.

After spending some time browsing through pins of gorgeous laundry rooms, I decided, “Hey, I can do that myself… maybe when Jason’s at work. Yeah, and it’ll be a surprise when he comes home to a brand new, pretty laundry room!” So that’s (sort-of) how it went.

And now, without further ado, I’ll walk you through how you can turn your empty, bare, builder-grade laundry room into a chic little area where you won’t mind spending some time each week.

Tools Needed:

  • A drill
  • A squeegee
  • Some 2-1/8″ inch screws
  • A stud finder (if it beeps when you hold it over yourself, then you might also be a stud!) ;)
  • A level
  • A yard stick or tape measure
  • An X-Acto knife

What you’ll need to purchase:

  • One upper cabinet (I went with a 30″ x 30″ unfinished door wall cabinet from Lowes, but you should definitely check out Craigslist, too!) [$72 for mine, but Lowes makes pre-finished options for around the same price — some even cost less than this, but keep in mind they might also be a little smaller]
  • One wood dowel — that’s a fancy term for “wood pole” — measured to 1-3/8″ diameter and cut to fit between the cabinet and the wall. These are available at your nearby hardware store. If you’re not comfortable using a saw, make sure you take an accurate measurement and ask someone working at the hardware store to cut it for you. [around $8]
  • One set of closet rod supports (I found mine at Ace Hardware, but here are some inexpensive ones you can order) [$1.58]
  • One can of metallic spray paint to coat the dowel (and supports, if they don’t match the rod). I went with brushed gold, but I’ve also seen copper, rose gold, and a good ol’ traditional matte black. [Rust-Oleum Vintage Metallic Spray Paint, Warm Gold — $5.37]
  • Two cans of spray paint to cover the cabinet. I used Devine Pepper, which is a matte finish spray paint by Valspar, available at Target. [2 x $5.99 = $11.98]
  • One can of spray sealer to make sure your awesome spray-painted cabinets don’t smudge off on your clothes when you carry them in! I used Matte Krylon Spray Finish from Hobby Lobby. [$7.99]
  • Two cabinet knobs (Hobby Lobby has a great selection of cute and trendy knobs and pulls!). [Mine were 2 x $4.99 = $9.98]
  • Devine Color Textured Subway Tile Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper — I only needed one roll for the amount of square footage I needed to cover. One roll covers approximately 27.5 sq. ft., but I’d recommend you use it as sparingly as possible, meaning don’t wallpaper behind where you’re going to hang the cabinet or behind the washer and dryer. [$34.99]
Total Cost of purchased items: $151.89

The process:

The Wallpaper

  1. Using a damp cloth, wipe down the walls where you are going to hang the peel-and-stick wallpaper. If there’s lint or dust on the walls, the wallpaper won’t stick as well. Also, don’t rush to hang it if the walls are still damp; wait for them to completely dry, and then hang the peel-and-stick wallpaper.
  2. Starting at the end of the wall where you are not hanging the cabinet, begin applying the wallpaper. Make sure you are lining up the edges so that each tile ends up being the same size. If you don’t do this, you are going to have some super short tiles and some really long ones. It’s much easier than I’m making it sound, by the way! You’ll use the squeegee to help get rid of air bubbles and push the wallpaper into the wall. There are more instructions for how to use the wallpaper inside the tube when you purchase it, so forgive me for not retyping them here :)
  3. Measure out the area where you plan to hang the cabinets, and then measure two inches in from the perimeter of the cabinet’s edges. Mark those overflow lines on the wall so you know where you can save wallpaper by not having to place it there.
  4. Use the X-Acto knive to make any cuts you’ll need (e.g. along the ceiling line, at the bottom, around piping, along the cabinet overflow lines, etc.)

The Cabinet and Dowel

  1. In a well-ventilated space (i.e. your open garage, driveway, or yard), lay down a canvas or tarp, then place the cabinet on it, with the back side down and cabinets facing the sky. Paint the dowel while you’re at it, too :)
  2. Hold the paint can 6-12″ away and cover the entire unit in spray paint. Note: You do not need to paint the inside, but certainly can be an overachiever and do that if you’d like.
  3. Once the first coat dries, add a second coat. I chose to not spray paint the left side of my cabinet because I knew it was going up against the wall anyways. I did, though, paint the bottom of the cabinet, because I’m 5’2″ and would be sure to notice that part every time I did laundry.
  4. Once the second coat dries, seal with matte finishing spray.
  5. Once that dries, bring the cabinet in to your laundry room for hanging :)

Hanging the Cabinet

  1. Along the wall where the cabinet is to be hung, measure 54″-57″ up from the ground. Draw a faint line. That is where the bottom edge of your cabinet should be, according to standard construction practices.
  2. Grab that stud finder and locate the studs along the back and side walls. Make pencil marks where there are studs that fall within the parameters of where the cabinet will go.
  3. Using 2-1/8″ screws and a drill, screw the cabinet in place. For this part of the process, I ended up having to call my husband in. Because I wasn’t strong enough to hold the cabinet in place myself, Jason placed one of our end tables underneath it, and we lucked out with it ending up being the perfect height to rest the cabinet on while it was drilled to the wall.
  4. Screw in your pretty knobs, making sure they mirror each other in both distance from the bottom of the door panel AND distance in from the door crack in the middle.
  5. Using the screws that came in the packaging for the dowel supports, pick a spot and screw those in to the side of the cabinet. (Hint! Grab a hanger and make sure you are hanging the dowel far enough away from the wall that the hangers have room to hang properly.)
  6. Measure the same distance out from the back wall, and hang the opposing dowel support on the opposing wall at that same distance out from the back wall. Use a level to make sure it isn’t crooked!
  7. Decorate and enjoy your new pretty laundry room!