For everyone who has been asking for the details on our new coffee table (glimpses of it have made their way into my InstaStories over the last few months – and boy did you guys notice!), I’m finally writing up all the details.
How many words can someone possibly share about the hunt for and the creation of a living room coffee table that checks every one of their oddly specific boxes, you ask? Well, settle in. I shall regale you with a tale of woe and triumph and there’s even a random not-sure-it-even-works alien joke worked in there for good measure. Plus I’ll show you exactly how to get this exact coffee table if you want to pull this same hack at your house (it is BEGINNER LEVEL EASY).
Let’s back up for a second. You know how sometimes you dream about an item that doesn’t exist and you’re like “I like this one thing but wish it had that other top or that other wood finish.” Like you want to pull a Frankenstein combo move and merge three things together?
Welcome to the post all about our future TV room. It’s not much now. BUT ONE DAY SOON it will be a cozy, intimate, moody room where we cuddle to watch TV and take afternoon naps. Because this room is so small, we decided it was a fun place to take a few risks, and trust me when I say we’re getting RISKY. But first, let me walk you through the room’s history…
This is what the room looked like when we bought the house, back in October 2018. There was a single bed in one corner, and it felt a little depressing. But those two big windows were pretty awesome and I knew this could be turned into something cool.
This room was added as a strange little addition either shortly after the original house was completed or sometime in the ’50s. We’ve gotten differing answers from different people and haven’t really done the research to find out the truth. Regardless, it was done in a baffling way that created a deep, sharp angle in one corner of the already long and narrow space which had be turned into a closet (below).
When we decided to reconfigure the layout of the house a bit, we had to make a big decision about this area. Technically, it did count as a bedroom. It had storage and two forms of exit (a window and a door). Apparently the bar is pretty low these days. But the only entrance to our master bedroom and bathroom was through the kitchen, which was not only weird but used up a decent amount of kitchen space in an already small and narrow kitchen (can you sense the theme of our house?). So we made a decision that I know not everyone will agree with, but was the right one for us: We closed up the entrance to the master areas from the kitchen, turned that space into a master closet, and opened up an entrance to the master from this small addition room, turning this “room” into a pass-through space. Already the layout feels so much more functional for actual life, resale decisions aside.
The truth is, having that third bedroom on the listing when we sell the place would definitely make it more attractive on paper. But once you saw the space in person, you would be BUMMED. On the other hand, all the renovations we’re doing (central heating and AC, new hardwood floors, renovated bathrooms, updated electrical and plumbing) will be FAR more attractive than one weird “third” room. That’s our thought process anyways. It also provided a great solution to our TV problem. This house was built in an era when TV was not everyone’s nightly ritual, so the living room really lacks a good piece of real estate for it. We were going back and forth about where to put that huge thing until we realized we could just…put it in another room. Sure, moving the TV into a smaller room means we’re not going to be hosting any huge movie parties anytime soon, but 99% of the time it’s just Mac, me, and the cats. Now we can have our living room laid out for entertaining and hanging out with friends, and our TV room as a cozy space to cuddle and binge Outlander.
It’s also going to serve as a bit of a library. I’ve always wanted a library, just like in Downton Abbey. A room where, on a rainy day, I can go lounge on a lush couch reading my regency romance novels until I fall asleep to the sound of the pattering rain outside all afternoon (not that there are many rainy days in LA, let alone ones on weekends when I have nothing else to do). This room is going to be my mini Downton Abbey, done Craftsman style. It’s not a big space, but we’re going to shove as much moody old library into it as possible.
The first issue we needed to address was that sharp corner now that it was no longer a closet, and I came up with what I think is a pretty genius solution (if I do say so myself…which I do). We’re going to build a cabinet and bookshelf in that space. The cabinets on the bottom will use the depth of the space so it’s not wasted but keep it all hidden behind cabinet doors, while the shelves on top will give the room that library vibe. It will also serve as a method to flatten that area out without putting all that wasted space behind drywall. I did the first rendering on InstaStories, and I’m proud to say it’s the version I showed Velinda to help her understand my idea:
You can totally understand what I’m explaining and would know exactly how to build this, right? HIRE ME FOR YOUR RENDERINGS. Sadly, this is not what we passed along to the cabinet builder. Velinda took this idea and ran with it, making it her own and bringing in a lot of nice details along the way. As well as adding things like “measurements” to the rendering *eye roll*. But you’ll have to tune into the post she’s writing about it to get the juicy design details. All I can tell you is that it’s going to be amazing, and there may be a hidden whiskey bar in the works (if we can swing it—literally. UGH, you’ll get this joke later if we can pull it off). Then I’m going to fill those shelves with my vintage oil paintings, vintage books, and vintage objects.
It’ll look something like this…
The next thing we’re doing to make this old library-inspired space feel cozy and moody is going for a monochrome look. It’s very much a trend right now, but one that I’m fully behind and excited to explore myself. And this room feels like the space to do it. We once wrote a post over here about why you shouldn’t paint your small rooms white, so I’m using that as my hard evidence to go dark and moody in this small area.
This means the shelves, molding, cabinet doors, walls, window and door frames, baseboards, and back door will all be painted the same color. EXCITING! We haven’t yet decided if the door between the master bedroom and the TV room will be painted this same color on the TV room side yet, and here’s why. If we DO paint it the same color, it would create a very seamless monochrome look in the TV room when closed. But because the door will swing into the bedroom, when we have it open instead of having a pretty stained wood door swinging inwards toward our bed we would have a dark green rectangle sitting inside our room…but not painting it on the TV room side and instead just staining the door does rather disrupt our monochrome lewk on the TV room side. Happily taking opinions in the comments below.
We also haven’t yet decided on what color to do, but there are some strong contenders (all from Sherwin Williams, because looking at more than one paint deck is emotionally exhausting for me):
Paint caterpillar at the bottom so you can really see how all the greens differ…
Paint is one of those tricky things that you really have to try in a room, and stare at over the changing light of the day to make a decision about. Our walls don’t have plaster on them yet, but I already have all my paint samples. So as soon as those bad boys/walls are plastered up, I’m going to be painting big swatches of each above color and then spending an entire day sitting on the floor of that room just staring. I want something deep, rich, and green but not swampy and not so dark that it appears black. It also has to compliment our couch, which is a slightly teal velvet. It’s going to be a tricky tight rope to balance on, but that’s what makes it fun.
And now, so you’re all on the same page as me and my brain (aka Velinda), here is the current TV room mood board:
This isn’t 100% complete because we are trying to source a lot of vintage for this room, and that takes time. But the vibe is there. Right now I have Rookwood Shutter Green as the wall color and I love it, but the computer screen can vary greatly from a real wall. We do have that couch (from Article Modern in Pacific Blue) already sitting in the back of the house awaiting its new home. Will we have TWO velvet couches in our home? Yes. Is this a good idea? YES. I have no evidence that disputes this, and it turns out performance velvet is actually a very pet-friendly fabric. You won’t be able to see both couches at the same time, so we decided that it wouldn’t be an issue (and by “we” I mean me). The vintage rug is from Neon Dove, and was a gut reaction order several months ago when I didn’t even know where it was going to go yet. We’ll be installing custom blackout Roman shades from Decorview in a dark charcoal fabric on both the window and back door (for optimal TV watching ability). And I just made my first ever Chairish purchase by way of that little side table. It’s a vintage French piece, currently painted a gray-blue. But we’re going to paint it black and polish up the hardware to bring in a lot of old-world charm in a cool way. Plus, the drawer will provide remote storage in this no-coffee-table room.
Why no coffee table? Because this room is too narrow for both a couch AND coffee table. We’re opting against a coffee table and instead bringing in our leather pouf for feet resting, and our vintage side table for drink resting. Speaking of TV and narrowness, what is our plan for the TV? This single photo really sums it up:
It’s going to take some behind the wall electrical cord configuring and running, but we want to keep that wall as minimal as possible. Just the TV, wall-mounted, and a small custom-built shelf for a candle and some tchotchkes. We have one of those smart TVs that already has all the Netflix/Hulu options built in without requiring an AppleTV or Roku. But there are three things we’ll have to run to the TV: the power, the internet, and our PlayStation (which is how I play all my Harry Potter DVDs). The hope is to run all those wires behind the wall and either over to the side of couch or into our new cabinet. It’s still a work in process, but we’ll get there.
We’re going to be installing recess lighting on dimmers throughout the back part of the house, just like Em did up at the mountain house. But we’ll also have a ceiling light and fan, sconces on the bookshelf wall, and a table lamp in the corner so there will be lots of options for soft, cozy lighting. And we’ll be getting rid of the door between the dining room and the TV room, so it’s just a clean pass through. You’ll be able to see the living room and dining room from the back of the TV room and vice versa, so it was really important to Velinda and I that all three of these spaces feel like they can relate to one another. Even though this room is going to be dark and moody, the living room is going to pick up its green vibes through the couch and rug. And we’re bringing some dark hits into the dining room to help transition from a bright white space to a moodier one.
And that’s where we’re at! There’s going to be a LOT of work going into the room over Christmas break but hopefully, by February of 2020, I’m in this room living my moody romantic Downton Abbey dreams.
Gift-giving happens to be a pretty big part of the holidays. Have you heard? Heck, we’ve made NINE gift guides this year alone. And while buying a gift for your loved one who “has everything” seems like an impossible mountain to climb, we find it can be even trickier finding gifts for the neighbors, teachers, coworkers crowd…that doesn’t break the bank. So to show that you care, why not make a gift that you can give ALL of those people? Say it with me…Batch Gifting. It comes from the heart, but you are saving time, money and a whole lotta brainpower. Today we have rounded up seven of our favorite DIY handmade (and thoughtful) gift ideas that will make your gift plate look muuuuuch lighter. Shall we?
We genuinely did not know making candles could be so easy. You basically find a cute vessel, heat up some wax, add essential oils, and let it harden (definitely go to the tutorial for all the deets). So simple and a wonderful gift (and pretty gift) everyone will appreciate. No candle burning at both ends for you with this idea.
I’m pretty sure that if we took a vote in our office of what we could give up, either salt or sugar, sugar would win because everyone LOVES salt. These three handmade flavored salts are the cutest and I know that I would think this was such a fun and useful gift. So if you love to cook and your friends like to eat (I’m sure that’s at least 99% of your friends) then start prepping these babies asap.
We are already a big fan of Lea Johnson (remember her stunning home we featured??), but now she’s teaching us how to make a beautiful scrub that would be a wonderful gift to truly anyone in your life. Who doesn’t need a little self-care every now and then (more “now”, less “then”)? She says this one is great for getting rid of dead and dry, itchy skin.
This is another one that seems intimidating but according to the lovely ladies of The Merry Thought, it’s a breeze. They lay out all the steps and make it incredibly easy to follow. Then once you are done, you have an incredibly thoughtful and useful gift to give out. Say no to the winter chapped lip.
These puppies are perfect for those in your life who like to cook or dip bread. They only take 40 mins to make and look awesome. One thing she says to consider is that they are only good for about a week. So make sure to make them close to when you plan to gift.
How cute are these!?! Yes, you do need some sewing skills but if you have those, then get on these. Every sock and/or undies drawer needs a lavender pouch so why not make it pretty?
Hope this little roundup either eased some present finding stress or sparked some creative ideas of your own. There truly isn’t anything like a handmade gift because they are full of love (and maybe some blood, sweat and tears). Happy Tuesday and see ya tomorrow!
Should I DIY or should I not? It’s a common question that comes up for many homeowners anytime something needs repairing. Some things, like fixing a leaky faucet or minor drywall repair, are fine to DIY.
Bad air and pollution aren’t just problems when you are outdoors, they can also be an issue in your own home. Having dry air at home can dry out your skin and your respiratory system, affecting congestion or cause sore throats. It can also affect asthma and allergies by making them worse.
Earlier this year, while working on my MOTO (Makeover Takeover), there was one area where I felt like I had a little bit of a blind spot. I had a pretty good sense of the style I wanted to achieve, the blue velvet sofa was dialed in, but when it came to figuring out what to do with the top of my dining table, I was stuck. In the grand scheme of the design, it felt like an afterthought…because it kind of was. On an everyday basis, it’s normally the spot where my piles of junk mail land (until they topple over and I have to deal with it) and where our Amazon boxes collect, well, the smaller ones. It’s a bit of a “life” wasteland, so I didn’t want to super fake it with anything too set. I wanted to do something that, post-shoot, could still work for how we live. So I dug through our archives for inspiration and it was super helpful. So helpful, that now, months later, I think it’s time to share with you guys in case you’re tabletop-challenge like I am.
Read on for six different approaches to the “everyday” dining table, though leaving it clear is also a very real option…so let’s call that style #1. Now, for style #2:
I figured let’s start with where I ended with my dining table: the “centered vase” look. Yes, I also have a candelabra and some plates, but really that was more for styling the shot. In real life, you’ll mostly find just one thing sitting right there in the middle of my table (absolutely NOT surrounded by a bunch of other junk like my husband’s headphones or a random sweater and clutch I threw there one night after going out)…
I went tall (it was a vase I had on hand from Target years ago), but you could also go much shorter, like Sara did here in her old apartment. You can go the fresh florals route, or, for something much lower maintenance, pick a potted plant (as long as your room gets the right light to keep that thing kickin’).
This is maybe my favorite dining space from our archives because BOY THAT WINDOW IS GOOD. But besides that, the one centered vase with organic, asymmetrical greens feels so liveable and laid back, and isn’t that exactly what you want in a breakfast nook like this?
When you have just a little surface to work with, like in the dining nook (which she DIYed people…incredible) of Jess’ rental apartment, I personally think simple is best, so all hail the subtlety of the “centered vase” for spaces like this.
For larger tables, I’m ALL about the “collection,” like Emily did in the Portland dining room. It’s an 8-seater, so there was a lot of table surface area to cover and empty, it might have felt a bit bare and unfinished.
Something to note with the “collection” of things is how it looks from all angles. You’ll want to make sure you’re spacing things out so that whether you’re seeing it head-on or from the side, it doesn’t end up looking like the bargain table at your local thrift store.
In Portland, they went with a set of same-colored sculptures, but in this “organic modern” dining room, it was a mix-and-match collection of vases and vassels. Note the tight color palette and variety of shapes and sizes to keep things interesting. Always remember, just because your “collection” has 10 things in it doesn’t mean they all have to be displayed together. If it works, great! But you can always split things up if you’re after something a little more curated and edited down.
Grouping of 3
The “grouping of 3” is a close cousin to both the collection and the centered vase. All the same ease as the centered vase, more of the visual interest of the collection (but without thinking too long and hard about the set up). Three candleholders in varying heights is a great option (and typically are sold in a set just like this).
If you don’t want to go the candlestick route, there’s always the three-vessel route, like they did in Sylvia’s dining room for that surprise reveal. I think the key here is the varying heights like I mentioned previously. That way, you can more casually cluster things in the middle of the table, though if you have three things of all the same size, I’d go with something a little tidier such as lining thing up across the long-way of the table.
Here’s another option that I really love (I tend to like the more non-symmetrical stuff because it gives the eye a lot to play with). This one I’m calling the “high/low” because, well, there’s one high or tall thing (ideally with some greenery to exaggerate the height even more), and one low and wide thing (in this case, a footed bowl of produce…I think).
You can either go the way of putting your high/low goods in the center of the table, or off-setting them to one side if you are casually placing anything else on the table if you find yourself entertaining.
Tray + Gather
There might be a chance you found yourself thinking anything up there I showed you previously felt a little too “floaty” so you, my friend, are the “tray + gather” type. You’ll want to be sure your tray is on the larger side (about 1/3 the wide of your table is a good rule of thumb) or else you risk things looking a little dinky. Now, what exactly do you put ON that tray? Well, that’s up to you. Ginny did a high/low thing with florals which I think feels really nice and not overly stiff, a low bowl of nuts and a small carafe, but you can go with a candle, a small collection of things…there are no rules!
In Emily’s previous Glendale house, she went with the tray + gather, too, but in this case it was styled out more like a refreshments/snack tray with a drink pitcher, some glassware and, again, a bowl of nuts (never underestimate the power of a bowl of nuts for styling, ha).
And lastly, our final category here…the “casually set” table. This one is less for everyday, I think, and more for “company’s coming over and I have a few snacks but not a full sit-down dinner happening.” You can use all the same ideas for the main anchor pieces, but shift them a little to make room for a stack of appetizer plates, napkins, glassware and anything else you want to set out.
Hopefully that was helpful for you all. I know it can be easy for us to forget to talk about these little everyday styling questions and conundrums that come up for EVERYONE, design novices all the way to the pros, but the key is to tap into inspiration, see what you think would work best for your life (and you like, of course) and play with what you have to get there.
Please let me know in the comments what other “no-brainer” type styling ideas you guys might feel stuck on and we’ll round up that inspo to help you out. Thanks for stopping by and see you this afternoon.
For more styling ideas, head to our ROOMS page for all the scoop and help you need!
I’ve started crafting. It’s could be part of a larger post titled “My Shocking Shift into the Parody of a Domestic Housewife” that I’ll write later, but for now, I’m very happy to report that my crafting blood has been ignited by a 4 and 6 year old. FINALLY, they are old enough to participate and enjoy it. The weekend craft sessions are truly living out a fantasy that I didn’t really know I had.
Now I want to be very clear, this is a hobby, I love the process far more than the result. I have decent taste, but lack skill and attention to detail, as you’ll see. I won’t be setting up a booth at an artisanal market anytime soon. I’m more doing this with the kids to have something that we can do together that we actually ALL enjoy (plus I get adorable mementos for trees or scrapbooks that will help memorialize this time together).
Sitting at that table together, creating garbage ornaments feels incredibly bonding. The energy is so happy, the creative freedom has no restrictions and there is ZERO pressure on the results.
I went on the Pinterest and found some ornaments that kids could make, some inspired from the mountain house, others just looked like fun.
Then I popped over to Michaels early on a Saturday morning and trolled the aisles for inspiration. The first time, I brought Birdie with me, accompanied with a fantasy that we would get creatively inspired together, that she would be drawn to the same colors and finishes that I would. I was brought back to reality when she somehow found the only Frozen related everything in the store and then tantrumed when our “craft” wasn’t coloring in Elsa’s hair on an already drawn ornament. Shockingly she wasn’t impressed with my raw wood embroidery hoops that I envisioned as wreaths or my white buttons to make snowmen.
The next week, I did a solo mission that was wildly more productive. I hadn’t gone to a craft store in forever, to just look for me, in a leisurely way. Up and down every row I felt a rush of serotonin that screamed I’m back.
So here we are. Currently joining the ranks of domesticity by way of haphazard DIY ornaments that I’ll cherish likely for the rest of my life.
I’ll show you the ‘inspiration’ first and then ‘what we did’ – although it will be obvious.
There really wasn’t much of an inspiration out there for this, but our preschool has them do self portraits all the time as art, so I figured why not have them do it on a little wooden person, instead. It turned out SO sweet, if not a little janky.
What We Made:
We used plastic jars (so they are cheap), mini bottle brush trees (that you can buy in bulk), cotton for snow and wooden bead letters for their initials. I did the bulk of the assembling but the kids chose the trees and colored in their faces and clothes. You might think they are creepy, with little charlie leaning almost dead-like against the side of the jar, but I will always remember the afternoon that we did this together and as I look at them on the tree, I feel very happy. (I used hot glue to secure the ribbon, its kinda messy but that’s okay).
There were a lot of inspiration on these and I liked the simplicity of just one material, stacked. I thought that the kids could do it…
What We Made:
I literally made all of those because despite using a low heat glue gun they still hate getting burned by hot glue (boring) and inevitably you do get burned when using a glue gun. We had to buy a decent amount of bags of buttons from Michaels (here) to have enough that really stacked so this isn’t the most cost effective. But we all know that crafting with kids is rarely about saving money and more about creating something together. So much hot glue all over that top snowman, but again, I love the process and memory not the result.
Please note that I signed and dated mine making it clear that while it looked like a child crafted this masterpiece, it was indeed the “skills” of this mama, in 2019. That one has broken a couple times as its fell (the hat coing off the body) so I would stick to the stacked ones.
How sweet are these? I thought that they would be great for the mountain house, so Scandi and pretty. They currently live on this tree but when we go up for actual christmas we’ll bring them up.
What We Made:
I actually LOVE how these turned out. The kids found their initials and chose the tree, but I did all the hot glue-ing. I don’t think they’ll last for long with the cotton being so fragile, but I think I’ll just rip it off and replace it when it gets gross. Easy peasy. I did one for “mommy” and “daddy” to practice before we did the kids’ ones, and it turns out having a custom ornament that says “daddy” feels totally creepy for unknown reasons.
Sure, I thought it would be fun but I had no idea how much my kids would love shrinky dinks. Hours, HOURS of drawing on different occasions.
What We Made:
The biggest hit by far. At first, these turned out way too small to even be readable, but then I had them do larger ones that took up the whole page and once shrunk down were big enough for ornaments. 100% the most fun for them. Watching them curl up and then flatten out in the oven is always nerve-wracking and then so satisfying. We use colored sharpies or paint but please let me know if you can use other mediums to do this. We are ever-expanding our shrinky dink portfolio.
One night, when they were out of town, I took some of my favorite drawings of theirs from this year and traced them to memorialize them as ornaments. They didn’t see the fun in that when I first proposed it, but once I showed them how a drawing could be a hard permanent ornament, they felt very special, like artists whose work was worth the effort.
You really have to use one big page for each shrinky dink. We made so many the size of our hand which turned into tiny ornaments the size of my fingerprint. If you want a white background get the matte white paper, but if you want to color all of it then get clear. Google how to do it, but I set my oven for 340 degrees and do it for about 3 minutes until they flatten out. Darker colors go even darker so stay light if you want bright.
When the kids saw the above ornaments, they were sooooo happy.
Nordic Style Ornaments
These wood circles are at every craft store and are incredibly cheap (or you can saw your own, obviously). The potential is certainly huge, but I kept it simple as this was our first one and just put their initials and the date on them. The letters were readymade and just used hot glue and ribbon.
What We Made:
So easy. Not very impressive, but so pretty. Next time maybe I’ll do the date on the back or in something more intentional.
So here they all are…
This is just a snapshot from my iPhone of all the ornament types we made together this year and they all make me (and us) so happy. If you go back and look at my living room holiday reveal here, you’ll absolutely see these on my more “personal” tree and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are moving on to snowglobes next weekend and the kids are VERY excited.
We’d love to see yours so DM us on social (or tag #showemyourholiday) especially if you try any of these “ideas” that we can repost on stories.
I know ornaments can be a big tradition for some families, and I’d love to hear about yours in the comments…