Living Room Makeover

When I moved into my new place this past September, I was unbelievably excited to begin decorating and personalizing my space. I’ve hopped from apartment to rental house to friend’s couch for the past three or four years while in school, and moving into this apartment marked the first time I’d stay somewhere semi-permanently (i.e. longer than four months…yay). With a new job and a new home and a new unhealthy obsession with Pinterest, I began fixing things up exactly like I wanted them. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on my apartment (I’ve actually given myself a monthly decorating allowance in my budget), but I don’t mind. I see it as something of a fun challenge, trying to figure out how to make things look and feel unique without spending a ton of money. Creating knock-off projects that look just as good as the originals at a fraction of the cost makes me feel frugal and industrious and creative and all of those good things. Plus, I hate the thought of having all brand-new pieces in my house. I want to create a space that has character and sentiment, not a place that feels about as cold and impersonal as a hotel room.

One of the first things I did this past fall was a living room redo. I’m still adding things month by month (gotta stay within that decorating budget, after all), so I’ll likely post updated pictures as I go. But this is what I’ve done so far:

-put a slipcover on the couch. I do love my vintage floral-coral sofa, but I was just ready for a change. I would have immediately put a white shabby chic slipcover on it had my walls not already been white, so I went with my next favorite color: gray. Thank you, Target.

-painted the coffee table. Although I’d already finished painting it before I took the “Before” picture, I feel this is worth mentioning. I found the table for about $35 at an antique store and liked the oval shape. I got it at a discount due to a huge smudge on the top and a poor paint job on the underneath side. Got rid of those problems pretty quickly by giving it a new coat of paint (once again…gray. I know, I’m obsessed). I drew inspiration for the gray shade, funnily enough, from Zooey Deschanel’s bedroom furniture on her TV show New Girl. 

I ♥ Zooey Deschanel

I ♥ Zooey Deschanel

-vintage-inspired throw pillows and throw blanket. I chose variations of primary colors like aqua/turquoise, goldenrod, etc., paired with natural fabrics like linen and burlap. I love all things with vintage text on them (I’ve even ordered a couple more vintage-looking throw pillows since I took this photo), so I allowed myself to play and be creative with the pillows. I love the subtle pops of color.

-cotton centerpiece. I saw a Pinterest project where a girl had spray-painted a glass vase to emulate milk glass, and I was hooked. I bought an old milk bottle from an antique store and simply spray-painted it white. It was an easy enough project. During the fall, I filled it with cotton, which is easy to come by when you’re from Georgia farm country, and which I felt like was a subtle, creative way to incorporate my Southern heritage into my decorating. (Right now, the vase is filled with flowers, but I still love the cotton idea.) The vase is so versatile, and I foresee incorporating it into my coffee table centerpieces for a long time to come.

preparing to spray paint the milk bottle

preparing to spray paint the milk bottle

milk bottle vase on antique silver tray with cast iron birds for Valentine's

milk bottle vase on antique silver tray with cast iron birds for Valentine’s

milk bottle vase at Christmastime with live greenery

milk bottle vase at Christmastime with live greenery

-the side table. This was another antique store find for about $35, and I love it! Again…it’s gray. I know. But I paired it with a cute owl lamp I found at Walmart and a pretty gold floral vintage-looking shade from Target (about $25 for the whole thing). The side table houses my prettier leather-bound volumes that I want to display, and the whole thing is topped off with an accompanying E-shaped book (cut out of a Reader’s Digest). This was actually an Anthropologie hack, since they sell book letters for approximately too much money. I had a friend of mine cut mine for me, and he did it free of charge, which was very generous!


-wall hangings. This was the trickiest part for me. For years now, I’ve wanted a space to hang my travel art. I love buying artwork as souvenirs when I’m in other countries, especially from artists selling their paintings off the street. I’ve collecting an alarming number of prints, photographs, posters, and original pieces over the years from tons of places, including England, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Frace, Spain, and Honduras, to name a few. I decided I wanted to do a travel-themed grouping over the couch, and after about four weeks of trying different picture arrangements out on the carpet, I am very pleased with how everything turned out. My wall decor includes two original oil paintings from my favorite Camden Market vendor in London; an original oil painting of the Oxford skyline I bought while walking down Cornmarket Street; a framed print of the Roman Forum I got outside the Coliseum; and another print I got from a little tourist shop in Seville, Spain. In addition, I added some of my own pieces in, namely this ampersand I painted:



I also got the grand idea to stencil a quote on burlap covering canvas (based on things I saw on–you guessed it–Pinterest), so naturally, I used one of my favorite Tolkien quotes. The quote comes from a prophecy about the character Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, and I have now officially proven that I am a nerd. I know a lot of people use this quote with religious significance, but in this case, it pertains to my love of travel.



If I could change out the carpet to hardwood and put down a pretty area rug, I would. But alas, you do have to compromise on some things with apartment living. At any rate, I have really enjoyed putting all my projects together and creating my own space, and I’ve found that these kinds of things are very cathartic for me after long days at the office.

Here’s everything put together! Hooray!

Thanks for reading!




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