An Update on Haley's Living Room: Accessories Matter


It's only 3 weeks until littlest sister Haley moves away to Madison and into her grown-up condo. Because she's furnishing and decorating this place from scratch and on a budget, we've been spending a ton of time shopping, looking at fabric swatches and paint decks, and scrolling endlessly through the interwebs for the greatest and cheapest (fill in the blank).

I teased some concepts for her living room (and really her dining room and entryway because it's an open great room) a while ago and figured it was time to update you on how closely those plans had been followed and what we've bought. Most of your favorite design also happened to be hers, so we started from this "Classic and Cozy" concept.

I loved the idea of a mostly neutral and pulled-back space with some pops of color (blue couch!) and warm wood and leather. The aspirational part of this design was the notion of tiling the fireplace - we loved the look, but just couldn't justify the cost in a temporary home for a med-school student. Haley also really screwed up when she was budgeting and didn't budget for multiple leather Moroccan poufs which can easily cost $200 a pop. I tried to tell her that I needed EMERGENCY pouf money in the budget, but she's way more sane than I am about these things and said no. Lame.

I think Haley was like a lot of people who really struggle to make the first big purchase when staring at what is basically a blank canvas. She liked the idea of the blue couch but was hesitant to go with something non-neutral for the first and biggest investment in the space. And honestly, brightly colored furniture wouldn't be my recommendation in most cases, but we found this great, expensive looking fabric in just the right shade of blue, and Haley's fun side won over.

With the first big purchase made, a lot of other things came together quickly. The rug and chair matched the design plan pretty closely. Haley's not a big fan of mid-century, so we went looking for something more industrial for the coffee table, and she and my mom found a great one at Macy's, of all places.

And after a lot of looking for poufs with fairly specific requirements (not too tall, comfy to sit on, not requiring emergency funds) I found a great floor pillow at target. Now of course I only found one, and it was in an odd spot in the store, and they were sold out online and in all nearby locations. But middle sister Rachel came to the rescue and found one in a suburb of Milwaukee even after the store told her on the phone that they didn't have it - score! Here she is showing off her pouf hunting skills.

So with the "big things" purchased, I asked Haley how she was feeling about everything. Basically, she liked everything we had purchased, but was worried about the room/house being too masculine and serious. We hadn't gotten anything bright or cheery or girly or particularly young - so I got where she was coming from. Without any of the "extras" the room was coming together like this.

Looking at this, I understood why she was feeling that way - it was a whole lot of neutral without a lot of personality. I assured Haley that accessories would make all the difference. And guess what? They do! Even in a mood board before we have anything in the room.

Instead of making this post way too long, I'm gonna get fancy for just a second and show you how I plan on aaccessorizing the room with a nifty gif.

Well would you look at that - Girliness! Personality! A little youth!

Here's how this works in my head and the basic path we'll follow when we're actually loading in...

First, we found great paint stencils that are meant to give the effect of tile from Dizzy Duck Designs - she even ships fast and cheap from the UK! I was originally thinking we would do the stencil design in a charcoal, but I think the blue will balance out the space better.

Next, I picked some art to go in the big Ribba frames we purchased on our epic Ikea adventure. And honestly, 4 hours and 4 carts in Ikea on a rainy Saturday does qualify as epic. Here's a super cute picture of Haley to prove it.

The happy abstract art pieces are all from Minted. Haley was really struggling with what sort of art would work well, but the more I've looked, the more I keep coming back to these big shots of color that don't have subject matter to get sick of.

Because we'll have all these frames over the couch, I wanted to do something more sculptural over the fireplace. This big, brass line sculpture is from Target, and I think will be a good modern contrast to the more traditional pattern on the fireplace.

To bring the blushy tones from the art into the room, I added some vases that I got on clearance at Target a while ago. Next, I populated the mantel with a mix of blue glass from Ikea and some fake pink peonies that will look good all year long - ha. Plants are a must to soften up the space - even faux plants bring life and texture. And finally, a few throw pillows will bring everything together.

Just look a what a difference a few accessories can make! Of course, if she got sick of blush or wanted something more mellow all she would have to change is the art and swap out a few pieces. Now I just have to hope that Haley likes all this stuff. :)

Stay tuned for the reveal of the full space!

Where My Tax Return Fun Money Went


march_shopping Tax return season is my favorite! I recognize that it's not the wisest financial move to let the United States Government serve as your personal savings account, but they happen to be a little better at it than I am, so I don't fight it. Yes, I did put a chunk of my tax return in to savings, and I'm deep in the office redo process, but I still had a little extra to make some fun purchases I've been eyeing up. On to the shopping roundup!


1. Hip Twist Print by Teil Duncan

There is a new favorite lady in my house, painted by an amazing artist I recently discovered. Teil Duncan does figure prints and other whimsical prints in amazing colors, and I couldn't stop thinking about this one after I saw it. The colors will be perfect my office, and her prints are super reasonably priced, and often can be found on One King's Lane.

2. The Inspired Room: Simple Ideas to Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels

I have a serious love for design books of all styles and varieties. They're great sources of inspiration and fun to page through with friends. Most of these books, however, are very aspirational and not at all practical for us regular folks. The Inspired Room manages to bridge the gap between practical life advice and beautiful design, and would make a great gift to friends and relatives diving in to new homes. Their mantra? Your home should be a sanctuary, not a showroom - everyone can get behind that!

3. Bone Links Necklace | BaubleBar

This necklace is pretty, so I bought it. I have no idea what I'll wear it with, but it's tax return season so I'm not bothering with any of that normal logic business.

4. Midnight Floral Curtains | Pier1

The dining area right off my entryway has been practically begging me for new curtains for a while now. Now, this rant could probably be it's own entire post, but WHY DID THE CURTAIN INDUSTRY DECIDE TO ONLY SELL CHEAP CURTAINS THAT ARE TOO SHORT FOR EVERYTHING???!!! Sure, big box stores sell some decent looking curtains, but 84" just DOES NOT cut it for most spaces. Well guess what, Pier1 has a bunch of their extra long curtains on sale! These dark floral printed curtains are even sexier in person, and I cannot get enough of them.

5. The Modernist Lena Ankle Pant | LaneBryant

I struggle with pants a lot. I'm a curvy girl and pants really fit my thighs, butt, and waist well, but I am going to wear these pants all spring and summer. I got a basic black pair first, but loved the fit and the comfy stretchiness so much I went back and bought more fun colors and patterns. Well done, LB.

6. Masterbuilt Pro Dual Fuel Smoker

Andy is pretty lucky that his birthday falls pretty close to tax return season, which encourages me to spend a little more and spoil him. This year, he got a smoker. He hasn't fired it up yet, but has been all over the place looking at recipes and techniques to perfect his meat smoking skills. He's excited because this smoker runs on either charcoal or propane. I'm sure I'll be posting some results this summer!

7. Artisan Glass Lamp | Target

Target's home decor has been SO INCREDIBLE lately. I've been picking up pieces for my office redo and other nooks and crannies of my house here or there, but for $25 this lamp was easy standout.

8. Vivacious Leather Wedge | Nine West

Spring means the reemergence of lots of things - flowers, green grass, and most importantly, open-toed shoes! I thought this pair was neutral enough to go with a lot of different work or casual outfits, but had a little something extra special about them. Getting them with Amazon Prime meant they were at my door before the weather got cold again - Minnesota is kind of a tease like that.

9. Distressed Foggy Medallion Rug |

My office needed a big rug to warm up the expanse of wood floors, and Andy actually picked this one out of my top 3 options. I was super impressed at the quality of it when it came - it's obviously not actually overdyed, but it gives it a really cool, almost pixelated look. The blues are a little lighter and brighter in person, and I can't wait to show it to you when I reveal the office!

10. Fossil Preston Flap

You avid readers might be saying, "Hey Carrie, didn't you just buy a pretty nice purse back in January when you did this shopping roundup the first time??" And to you I'd say, "Yep. Sure did. But this one serves an entirely different purpose so it's totally justified." Andy bought that line of thinking, so I hope you will too. This was a splurge for me, but after being on a business trip and having a little cross body bag that didn't fit my camera (major pain), I really wanted a nice bag that fit my camera plus the stuff a purse has to carry - wallet, phone, etc. This one is the perfect size and is made from beautiful leather. It has lots of compartments to carry all my stuff, and I couldn't be happier with it.

11. Macrame Throw Pillow | Threshold for Target

Another day, another Target impulse purchase. This pillow was just too special to pass up. I'm not going all hippie dippie macrame crazy, (my mom was shocked when I told her macrame was back in!) but I liked having a little touch of it in my new office.


I've also had a ton of great thrift store finds this month, but it always drives me crazy when other bloggers post unique vintage finds and say things like "look at these amazing chairs I found for $1 each!". Well that's great for you, I'll never find amazing vintage for $1. ever. But anyway, that's the stuff I bought - let me know if you have any questions or any great purchases of your own!