My sister studied in Austria, and as she travelled Europe, she collected espresso cups. Though they weren’t the easiest things to take back to the States (miraculously she only broke one), they do make great decoration pieces in our apartment. Here are a few of my favorites.
Munich, GermanyNice, France; Lake Forest, Illinois; Portsmouth, New Hampshire
My aunt and uncle were kind enough to provide a whole bunch of used furniture for my new apartment. Most of it fit well into the place, but this piece below was a little trickier. We didn’t have enough space in the living room and certainly not in our tiny kitchen. As a result, it ended up as shelving in the garage. I also happened to be missing a dresser and considered thrifting around for one until I realized that this piece could be the perfect dresser. I painted it a mauve-lavendar and bought cloth containers to act as drawers. The result is a versatile “open” dresser that matches my intended room decor and cost me far less than anything else I was considering to buy.
You would be suprised how much something is elevated by framing it. A mat and a simple frame can make a piece of art (or something else entirely) into a beautiful and affordable way to decorate a space. There are three main objects that make beautiful wall decor when framed:
1. Artwork. I am artist so this one is pretty easy for me. For one project, I found a matted poster frame at Ikea and framed a conte crayon drawing I drew in Florence. Matting it really transformed and elevated the work. I also collect artwork from street and art fairs around the world. When I travelled to Europe, I bought a painting (usually quite cheap from a local artist on the street) in every city I stayed in for more than three days. I did the same upon returning to the States but chose to purchase prints instead of originals as originals tend to be more expensive here. It was a fun way to collect memories and also a fun way to decorate my home.
2. Postcards. I also collected postcards from Europe, particularly postcards of my favorite artwork from galleries and museums. The postcards were usually less than a dollar and I found cheap matted and unmatted frames at GoodWill to frame them with. Framing the postcards, especially the art postcards, was an easy and affordable way to introduce some beautiful art to my space.
3. Sheet music books. My mom found a few old sheet music books from a garage sale, and they manged to fall into my hands and end up in my apartment. They were so easy to frame because they came in a standard frame size. I chose to use a matted frame because the edges of the sheets were worn slightly. The mat hid the wear and made the sheet (and the stunning art on it) really stand out. The results were fun, retro art pieces that added interest and needed ivory coloring to my living room.
I’ve been putting most of my decorating efforts into my living room. I spend much of my time there or in the kitchen, and (given my lack of dining room) I plan on using the space for most of my entertaining. As a result, after only a month and a half, my living room has already gone through a transformation.
I framed a whole lot of art, bought new curtains, add splashes of much needed ivories through cushions and flowers, and finally bought light bulbs for my lamps (you’d be surprised how much that changes the atmosphere of a place!).
My future plans include painting my coffee table neon green (seriously, trust me on this), creating some more art for the space, and adding more bright colors through painted jars (DIY project courtesy of Pinterest, of course).
I recently attended the Art Fair on the Square in Madison, WI, and, since I am now making an income, I decided to purchase a piece of art for my bedroom. I gave myself a budget of $50, which is pretty modest considering the price of much of the work. As expected, the most striking pieces were large…and expensive. I was nearly out of hope until I found collage artist Chelsea Hrynick’s booth. She creates amazingly intricate and symmetrical patterns out of origami paper and painted wood. The medium is perfectly simple, letting the details of her designs stand out.
To me, they reminded me of Venetian lace and Native American textiles. “I incorporate design patterns seen in different cultures throughout history such as Celtic jewelry, Islamic rugs, Modern architecture, and Ancient Greek pottery,” writes the artist on her website. “I feel a passionate connection when I work with patterns; decoration somehow transcends distance, time, and beliefs.”
I bought two small square pieces for $30, which I think is a great deal given the quality of the work.
I think the worse mistake I can make when trying to decorate my new place is attempt to do it blindly. I like to think that I have some vision for a perfect house in my head, but until I have some way of truly visualizing it, there’s not much hope that my vision will become reality. So, as well as finding inspirational images to get my house vision on track, I also utilized Polyvore to create my color pallet and pull some key images to create the mood for my bedroom. I’m going to introduce pops of bright colors through a couple Venetian masks, a vase of fake flowers, and my bulletin board/jewelry organizer. I suppose I’m going for a vintage, feminine, peaceful space.
Yep, the title is correct; I found Baroque style coasters complete with ultra-realistic, chiaroscuro-filled mythological and Biblical paintings. Did I mention they were $4? I picked up these treasures at a barn sale in New Hampshire, and not only did I come in under budget on coasters (I was expecting to spend more like $8), I found a coaster set that trumps any inexpensive one I could find at Target. Now if only I could find a real Caravaggio at a barn sale…
Have you had any great finds at garage and yard sales this summer?
I ran across this Vogue article about Bettina Prentice’s NYC apartment and found that her space has the essence of what I want to achieve with my bedroom (on a much smaller budget, of course). What I’m drawing inspiration from in Bettina’s apartment is the eclectic mix of lots of stuff. Having traveled Europe and having a penchant for antiquing and thrifting, I’ve collected a lot stuff, and I like the idea of displaying it all and incorporating it into your decor. I’ve chosen, for example, a pallet of purples, yellows, and blues to match my Venetian masks and vintage cameo collection. Centering the room all around these little things not only fills up space in an inexpensive way, it also keeps them from being stuffed into a box in my closet.
My sister and I just moved to a new town, and we recently explored the local antique shops. For my bedroom, I had decided to find a Native American-inspired rug in subtle pastels.
Urban Outfitters offered a pretty one, which was $40 at the time (and can be found here), but then I ran across a
beautifully worn down cotton rug at the local antique shop for $30. Not only did it cost less, but to me, it felt more real and less like a trendy buy. I’m excited to incorporate it into my bedroom soon.