Monday, December 3, 2012

Making Decorating Decisions

One of the hardest things for me when it comes to decorating my mansion less-than-1,000-square-feet apartment is making decisions. I like so many styles of design from industrial to French country and often have trouble deciding on the look I ultimately want. Ideally I want a perfect blend of all my favorite styles, but this can be harder to pull off than it sounds. I think the best way to do this is to only buy pieces you really, really love. And if you don’t really, really love them they better be cheap because you will probably be sick of them by the time they arrive in the mail before too long. Bonus points if you have loved a particular piece for weeks/months/years before you buy it because the odds are you will keep it for a very long time.

When trying to pick a certain piece (furniture, art, lamp, fabric, etc.) my “process” usually goes a little something like this.

1.       Find the absolute perfect piece, usually via someone else’s blog or one of my go-to décor websites
2.       Realize the piece costs 5,000 Euros and an unborn child
3.       Try to find a cheaper version of said piece. Find multiple knock-offs and grossly over-exaggerate their flaws/deviations from the original (i.e. “I like that rug, but it’s 1 centimeter shorter than the original and it just looks WAY TOO SMALL. OMG is this a rug for ants?!?”)
4.       Finally find a more affordable version of the original that I can live with (or spruce up on my own and then live with)
5.       Decide I don’t really like the direction this was going in the first place and scrap the whole idea. Go back to Step 1 and repeat until I am finally satisfied. Then make a purchase…LIKE A BOSS.

When I moved into my apartment this year (first time riding living solo whoop whoop), the only piece of furniture I really needed was a kitchen table and chairs. I must have gone through 10 iterations of the process above before finally deciding on two possible contenders.

Contender 1: A knock-off Saarinen tulip table with four upholstered square-back Louis XVI chairs.

Contender 2: Real or faux bamboo/rattan Chippendale chairs with a round, possibly pedestal, table

I ended up going with Contender 2 because I decided that if I could not get a real Saarinen tulip table, I did not want a tulip table at all (Brat City, USA). So I was left to hunt the interwebs for some version of this Jonathan Adler Chippendale chair that did not cost so much money. I even tortured myself by going to see the Jonathan Adler chair in person at Kuhl-Linscomb in Houston. If you are lusting after something outside of your budget/price range I really don’t suggest going to see it in person.

While there are a lot of knock-offs of the Jonathan Adler chair, I couldn’t find one that I liked enough for the price. Enter: Craig’s List. I am a semi-experienced Craig’s List user, and I really can’t say enough good things about it. I’ll eventually do a post on how I find good junk amongst the lotsa other junk, but for now I will just say that there is some great stuff out there for a real bargain if you’re willing to dig. Young House Love says it better than I probably could anyways so check out their tips if you're interested in Craigsing (it's a word). After a LOT of searching, emailing, waiting, etc. I finally found the table and chairs below for $250 total.

With a little reupholstering I knew I could turn the so-so “before” into something I would absolutely love. And the price was incredible considering a VERY similar chair from McGuire furniture with stock upholstery costs $1,600 per chair.

Hi, I am out of your price range.

Since this post is getting long, I’ll get to the good part: the “after” picture. I knew I wanted a green and neutral fabric of some sort from the beginning. Sans budget I probably would have gone with Celerie Kemble’s Hothouse Flowers in Verdance or Peter Dunham’s Fiddle Leaf Fig, but the money tree I planted last year still hasn’t sprouted.

Hothouse Flowers in Verdance

Fiddle Leaf Fig

I am super lucky to have an interior designer mama who pulled lots of green and neutral fabrics for me in my price range. After living with a few of the fabrics for some time I ultimately settled on Kravet’s Vari in the Fern colorway.

I got custom cushions and back pillows made for a very good price and am so happy with the result. I loved the look and fabric so much that I ended up making pelmet boxes to match (I will eventually do a post on how those were made - SO easy).

Moral of the story: make sure you really love something before you buy it and be patient enough to wait for the right piece to come along. If you wait long enough and look hard enough you can find the perfect pieces for YOUR dream home without spending a fortune.

What are your tips for finding a great piece? What’s your favorite piece of furniture, art, or accessory in your home?


  1. Random, but my mirrored bedside tables are from Pier 1 and were a nice deal - maybe $125-150 each. Occassionally they and World Market have really great...well stuff. Also, World Market has some pretty interesting gifts (per above post) and it's a place I often forget about.

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