Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Living Room Update (and more craigslist shopping)

I realized that I've never really focused a post on the status of our living room, except for some little snippets and of course the lovely "before" photos.


Since then, we've been slowly painting, adding furniture, hanging curtains, and all that fun stuff to make the main living space look less like a house that was on the market for a year, and more like our own space.

Our most recent addition is this media center from Crate and Barrel.  Our old media stand, which you can see in the picture from our old apartment below, was too short and chunky and didn't fit the space.

My absolute dream media stand is a custom wall unit like this one that Morgan over at The Brick House designed, but I'm too chicken to drill into the wall and floors like that.  I'm also not sure it would be a great idea since our walls are pretty fragile plaster.

In any event, I had a bunch of the Crate and Barrel Sloane furniture in our old apartment, and I liked it.  Not love, but like.  It's a good blend of form and function, and pretty budget friendly.  Well, if you're like me and buy everything on craigslist anyway.   I also love the Sloane collection because it's ridiculously easy to disassemble and transport in a small car.

When I saw that there was a Sloane media stand available, I thought I'd check it out. 

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My first step was to sell all of our old Sloane furniture on craigslist, since they were all an older model than the media stand and the pieces wouldn't have matched up.  I sold 2 of our leaning bookshelves, plus 2 leaning desks and our old media stand, for a total of about $500 cash money - which left us plenty of money to play around with to assemble our new media stand.

Luckily, I found the media stand and one bookshelf on craiglist (in almost-new condition!) for $225.  That's almost a 60% discount without even factoring in tax and shipping.  Score!  We took a nice trip up to Hollywood to grab the loot, and happily loaded everything in my little Volvo 240 (with room to spare!).

After dealing with a lopsided media center for a few weeks, I couldn't find a matching bookshelf on craigslist - or at least not one in my price range that we could snap up quick enough.  Luckily, we have mad connections, and we were able to purchase the second bookshelf from a friend who works at Crate and Barrel for around $100,

Between craigslist and discounts, our grand total for the media center was about $325 - or more than $300 less than if we'd bought straight from the store. 

My favorite part about craigslist shopping, other than the obvious cheapness, is that I always feel like if I can sick of something I can easily re-sell it and make my money back.  If I tire of this media center and want to try something new, I'm pretty confident I can make my money back by re-selling and move on to the next thing.

So, that's how we got our new media stand.

Mabel approves. 

(I also don't know if I've mentioned that we put down Flor tiles in the living room, which the lovely Mabel is modelling.  I have a love-hate relationship with Flor, so I think I'll keep this topic for another post.)

We were able to hide all of the cables in a spare box from Ikea, because the clutter was driving me crazy. 

Translation: I made Sean do this because the clutter was driving me crazy.  The amount of wires around our media center is insane, we have way too many gadgets.  I worry a little that this may start a fire, but at least there's less clutter.

Another view, couch included.  I literally just threw random things on the shelves after we assembled them, so I'm currently working on making them more aesthetically pleasing.

View of the fireplace area, and an Ernie doozin.  This room is shaped for an awkward setup, so right now I'm envisioning a separate sitting area near the fireplace, and a TV area where the TV is currently set up.  I'm not sure anything else really makes sense but if you have brilliant ideas please share them.

View from the dining area.  That's our old coffee table currently doubling as a behind-the-couch console table. 

There's plans in the works for a DIY console table I'm pretty excited about, but it will have to wait for a weekend when I do something other than sit on my butt and read books and drink beer.

Same view, 100% more doozin. 

Please also notice the light fixture.  When we moved in there was a hole in the wall in that location with wires hanging out, which you can spot in the before photos above.  It wasn't a great look. 

I probably searched for about 100 hours of my life (that I will never get back) for a suitable replacement.  I looked at a million fixtures and couldn't find a single one I liked, or that I thought would look good without a pair - due to the spacing of this one, another light on the other side of the archway would look funny.  I found one I liked from Schoolhouse electric (this one), but it was $169 and Sean didn't like it.

Then, at a lighting outlet on my birthday (I'm cool like that), I found the fixture we ended up buying. 

It's an outdoor fixture. 

It was $30. 

I love it. 

It also ended the constant strain on my marriage from my inability to choose a light fixture which my husband could not understand.  Perfect!  Click on the picture above to zoom in on my lovely new light know you want to!

Another angle, more doozins.  I was going to hang that mirror above the fireplace, then I didn't, so it's just hanging out awkwardly for now waiting for a home.  Ignore the dining area, it needs work.

That's the living room for now!  We definitely need to keep tweaking, but for now it's a comfortable space to hang out and we're not embarrassed to have people over which is a plus.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Latest bedroom update

The last time I updated you on our master bedroom was back in March, and we've come a long way since then!

If you'll remember, the bedroom when we first moved in was kind of a huge mess and required a ton of sanding and painting:

We finally got it live-able, but I still wasn't crazy about our bedroom furniture, which we bought at Ikea when we first moved to LA almost four years ago.  The very utilitarian Ikea stuff was cheap and we've definitely got our money's worth by now, but I was itching to update it.  That said, bedroom furniture wasn't even at the top of my list because we have so much else to buy.

Then it happened.

My luckiest craigslist week ever.

I wasn't even looking, but my dream bedroom set came and found me.  To give a little bit of back story - a long while back, Sean and I spent the afternoon poking around furniture at the Helms bakery district right down the road from us in Culver City, which houses tons of furniture stores like Plummers, Environment, H.D. Buttercup, and other places way out of our price range.  If you're a fatty like us, they also have some awesome food like the burgers at Father's Office and some amazing french onion soup at La Dijonaise which is perfect after a day of furniture window shopping.

I digress.  On this particular trip, we stopped into Room and Board to check out some of their beautiful furniture.  I love that Room and Board is always described in design sources as "affordable," because it's most certainly not, at least not to two cheapos like us.  It was on this trip that I discovered the Calvin bedroom furniture, which I became oddly obsessed with, particularly the night stands. 

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I honestly can't said there's anything special about these pieces, I just loved the look and the clean lines.  Not to mention that the craftsmanship is really amazing - most of their pieces are handcrafted and it shows.

The problem is that there was no way I was spending almost $1,100 (including tax) on a pair of night stands.  I thought about saving up a few times and splurging, but I just couldn't.  It is, after all, just a nightstand.

Then, one day during my normal craigslist trolling for cheapo nightstands for the guest house, I stumbled upon a listing for 2 Room and Board Calvin nightstands, PLUS a 6-drawer dresser.
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The price?  Not cheap by any means, but less than what we would have spent on the nightstands alone, and less than 30% of retail price.

You might say I flipped out.  I called the guy immediately and tried to contain my glee as I arranged to come look at them that night.  It turns out the guy was moving to Brazil (or Costa Rica or something, I was too busy obsessing over the furniture to pay attention) and was getting rid of his entire apartment's worth of beautiful high end furniture. 

I originally pondered just buying the nightstands, but the guy wanted to keep them as a set and since the price was so good I figured why not?  The guy wouldn't budge on his listed price, but he ended up delivering it for us in his Bronco which sweetened the deal because otherwise we would have had to rent a van and dealt with that whole hassle. 

I had dreamed of a mid-century modern dresser for the bedroom but I've never seen anything I like that's been even close to the price of what we paid for this almost-new Room and Board dresser.  I'm not sure I love a matchy matchy bedroom, but it'll do for now.  Plus, I'm pretty confident I can sell the dresser for almost what I paid for the whole set.

So, home we came with our Room and Board bedroom set, which was in almost-perfect condition.  There are a teeny few dents here and there, but nothing worse than what I'd incur in about 2 months of owning it anyway.

Remember how I said it was a lucky week?  Well, only a few days later, I found my dream headboard online. 

Similar to the Room and Board set, I've been drooling over the Crate and Barrel Porto Bed for a while, but have been too cheap to actually pay for it without some kind of super sale. 
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Plus, Sean is totally against the idea of a footboard even though I love the look (and at 5'2" on a good day, a footboard is not really an issue for me).  Even just the headboard was almost $400 with tax, so I put it out of my mind and we've been sleeping on our plain metal bed frame for as long as we've had our bed. guessed it...I found a Porto headboard on craigslist. 

For $50. 

Insane, right?  I dragged Sean into the car for another night of furniture hunting, and we even managed to cram the headboard into the trunk of my Volvo with the help of some bungee cords.  I was dead set on not renting the truck because it would make the $50 headboard deal a little less sweet.

It's also a great compromise because I get the headboard I want, Sean doesn't have to deal with a footboard.  I'm not in love with the idea of the bedskirt to hide the ugly metal bed frame, but it works.  Everbody's happy!  Compromise leads to a happy marriage.

So, after all that back story, here's some updated bedroom pictures!

I also snagged a new duvet cover - the organic pintuck duvet from West Elm.  It totally seems like I'm on a spending spree, huh?  Keep in mind that these purchases are over the course of 3 or 4 months, I swear I'm not spending every waking hour shopping.  I've had my eye on the pintuck duvet for a while, so I took advantage of their earth day sale on all organic bedding, plus a 15% coupon they sent me, and got an awesome deal (I think the entire set ended up being around $60).  You may notice a theme that I never buy anything unless it's wayyy cheaper than retail price.  It's an obsession.

We still need to do something about the ugly doors, but let's focus on the pretty furniture for now.  And the rogue flip flop.

Aerial view - I'm standing on my new dresser for this one, oopsie!  This photo actually gives a great representation of our new floor color as well, for some reason it always comes out really orangey-yellow in pictures.

Another angle - my vanity is still hanging out in the corner.

I also finally put up curtains!  In this shot I'm showing how they wonderfully hide the ugly pull that removes the bars from the windows in case of a fire or some other awful event. 

The curtain installation was a total disaster.  We have hollow plaster walls, and after waiting months to put up curtain rods, I found that where I wanted to hang these curtains was particularly hollow.  Meaning that whenever I tried to screw in the rod, even with a special type of screw, I kept ending up with giant holes in the bedroom wall.

Let's just say this debacle ended with me in tears after several trips to Home Depot, and for the sake of my sanity Sean took over and now we have curtains!  After toying with the idea of patterns, we went with the plain old Ikea Vivan curtains.

I don't usually keep my stuffed animals out, and I'm not sure why I left them in this picture, but they're cute, right?  That's Lambie on the right and Noogie on the left.

View from standing on the bed.  Luckily when I hung the curtains at ceiling height, they were just long enough to skim the ground so I didn't have to hem them.  This is especially lucky because I have curtains in the living room from months ago still waiting to be hemmed.

Another view of curtains, since I'm seriously so glad they're finally up.  I think these curtains are just thick enough that we don't need extra blinds, and if not our next door neighbors get a show every time I change.

Where my Room and Board obsession started.

So, that's it for bedroom updates for now.  I don't envision any major changes any time soon, other than adding some wall art and possibly switching out the bedside lamps if I find something I like.  For now, I'm loving the bright and airy bedroom, it's really a great place to relax (and sleep!)

Creating an Office: Part II

Pardon my absence, after a long weekend away and a loooong week at work trying to catch up on what I missed, I barely had a chance to eat and sleep, nevermind update.

Although there's some more recent updates to share (get excited!) I figured I'd finish up our little office update.  See the first part of the office progress here.

Once my desk was finished, the only thing left to do was move it into the room and clean up all the junk that we'd been stashing in the office.

The desk finished product:

Not bad, right?  The iMac is actually Sean's work computer, but he brings it home for the summer so that he doesn't have to worry about theft.  I'd actually love to get an iMac of our own at some point.  I'm not the biggest fan of mac computers (even though I have and love an iPhone and an iPad) but I looooove the aesthetics of this computer.  Beautiful form, sleek keyboard and mouse, only ONE cord to deal with!?  SOLD!

A slightly different angle.  I stole these chairs from the guest house because they were the only matching chairs I could find.  They're not super comfy for long hours at the computer, but they'll do for now.  And they look pretty.  I love this Ikea Patrik chair in dark gray, but at $149 a pop it's not a purchase I'll be making any time soon.

I got rid of our file cabinet a while back because it seemed to take up a lot of unnecessary space, and switched to these file boxes I saw on Young House Love.  I love them!  These days almost everything is online (insurance paperwork, mortgage documents, etc.) so the amount of paper that is actually necessary to have around is very low.  I think these look way cuter than a clunky file cabinet.

I picked up this cheapo Solsta sofa bed on Craigslist for $40 or so.  It's a dead ringer for this Urban Outfitters version I've been eyeing for a while, but wayyy cheaper.  Normally I shy away from upholstery on Craigslist, but this was formally in a little girl's room in a ritzy house in Manhattan beach, so the ick factor was pretty low.  I wanted some small seating in the office, and I loved that this can fold out into a makeshift bed - we've actually already had guests sleep on it and they said it wasn't too bad. 

My biggest complaint is the upholstery.  There was a few marker stains on it that I tried to get off, which bleached the fabric and made it look way worse than when I started. Probably my bad, but I hate that the slipcovers aren't removable so I'm basically stuck with it. 

For $40 I can't really complain, and it's nice to have a comfy place to sit while one of us is sitting at the desk and the other wants to chat.  The dogs also loooove this couch (it's very low to the ground), so maybe it's better that it's cheap and we don't really care if it gets ruined!

I guess Ikea is the theme of this office.  We use our beloved Helmer drawer unit for office storage.  We've had this piece for a while and it's perfect for office storage, especially since we've never liked desks with drawers.  We have every office supply imaginable (and some random accumulated junk) hidden away from view.

Arial view - since this room is so teeny it's hard to see everything!  I think in this photo I'm actually standing on a chair in the hallway.  Obviously this room hasn't been painted yet so you can still see where we patched up the doorway to the garage.

Alas, this is the state of my closet doors, still.  We removed the beat up mirrored doors as soon as we moved in, thinking "how hard could it be to find plain white closet doors?" 

The answer: really f-ing hard. 

We found the perfect ones at Home Depot, only to figure out they had been discontinued (thanks Home Depot guy who gave us the pamphlet to take home and drool over).  We honestly can't find anything in between cheapo looking plastic doors, and $400 (each) custom made wood doors.  Sad face.

Another view!

Aaaaand another!  I was playing around with camera settings on my Nikon D40 this day, so I have a million photos of the same thing.

What do you think of our new office?  I'm loving it, it's already such a clean and inspiring place for me.  I have some ideas up my sleeve for office decor.  This was also one of the rooms Sean painted for me while I was away, so stay tuned to see what color we chose!  We actually picked the color ages ago when we moved in, so it was a surprise to us, too.