DIY Apartment Shelving

Since we are renting, I have been working hard to get things done first that make the apartment feel like the space is really ours.   Hanging art, pictures, mirrors etc. helps to give a space purpose and clarity – which in turn helps make your home feel settled into.

A great way to add personality and function to a space is by adding wall shelving. They are functional, interchangeable and look really polished when done right.

While there are many great options to purchase, these DIY shelfs were an afternoon project (for my dad) and I was able to get exactly the look I had in mind.



I found these decorative l brackets originally here on amazon but they weren’t on Prime at the time so I couldn’t guarantee I’d get them in the time. So after some searching around I found the same style here at Home Depot. I love that they are a matte black finish and have a clean and simple look.  Home Depot also had options for pre-made shelves to match these brackets but I decided to use raw wood so I could customize style and size to what i wanted.


The renter friendly side also likes that the L brackets go directly into studs in the wall, but the screws aren’t deep enough to cause any damage that could affect my security deposit. Each bracket has two screws, leaving only 4 holes to fill in once we move out.

My favorite part of using shelving like these is how interchangeable they can be. I can mix the displays up with the seasons, holidays, or just when we get bored. They are both decorative and functional – which in design – is a win win.


shelf4How just working on getting some decor unpacked and purchased to style them up.   Also, stay tuned on the blog next week for a different way to use the same shelf.


The New Budget Friendly Area Rug

There are a few bigger ticket items I want to get now that we’ve moved into our new home. The area rug in our living room was first on my list and in case you missed why – check out all the things I love about area rugs here.

Here’s the before shot with the former area rug. It’s a great rug that will be used again but it wasn’t active enough for the living space – too beige to make the cut here.


Since the walls bring a huge about of blank white space to the room, I wanted to use an area rug as a way to add color and pattern. Area rugs take up a large amount of surface area so it’s a great way to break up all of the beige blotches here and add some further interest. Also, since our kitchen, dining and living room are all one larger room, I wanted an area rug pronounced enough that it would give a clear separation of space.

The area rug we had when we moved in was slightly larger than I wanted it to be, but it made for an easy template in searching for its replacement. In order to best define the living space from the kitchen, I wanted it a bit more tailored and centered around the sofa. After measuring and taping off some initial shapes and sizes we ended up with a 8×6 final size – a fairly standard size.

Here are some great options, all in my manageable price point – affordability comes first:

rug21. – 2. – 3. – 4. – 5. – 6.

Once I had a collection of various styles, we settled on the winner together.


This plaid number from CB2 arrived this week and I couldn’t be happier. It adds color, texture, and visual excitement while still being a neutral. Reducing the size from our original beige rug really helped define this seating area and gives it a centered feel. It was also within our $250 goal – which for area rugs is harder than it seems.




I love how changing one item in this space has transformed it in a great way. There’s lots more work to be done – but for now – I’m just standing here admiring our newest design purchase.


Biggest Design Bang for Your Buck

As a renter, rugs can be a really important aspect of your space. Though sometimes pricey, their overall mark on a room can be really transformative. Here are some of the reasons (or arguments if you need those) to consider area rugs in your space.

  1. Use Area Rugs for their Size

Since area rugs take up such a large amount of surface space, their potential to transform a space is ten fold. Think of it as an opportunity to add color, texture and pattern to your room when choosing the one for your space. While there is a time and place for the single note area rugs, step outside the box and don’t shy away from pattern. Neutral furnishings feel fresh when paired with a bold statement on the floor.


Studio Mcgee

     2. Use Area Rugs as Visual Guides

Open floor plans are all the rage these days – and for good reasons! BUT open plans can be hard to style if you need space to perform lots of different functions. Where older homes use walls to identify different spaces, think of using area rugs in the same way. They can anchor a dining table or seating area while still feeling open to whatever function is happening beside it.


Inspired by Charm

  1. Invest in Area Rugs as a Renter

As a renter, it’s not always easy to commit to investing in design. The space isn’t really yours and the ever ominous security deposit is always standing between dreams and reality. To get around this, try investing in things that can grow with you. While area rugs give you the homey and designed feel you’re looking for, they also move with you when its time to leave your rental. Plus: they don’t damage the space and won’t violate your rentals rules.


If you’re looking for the best design bang for your buck, area rugs are always a great place to start – and if you’re willing to shop around, you can find a deal worth the splurge.


Home Sweet Home

Well, we finally made it.  I say finally, because it seems like this has been the ultimate countdown that’s just now expired.  We moved into our favorite part of the city in the most unique and funky building and it’s been a wonderful change.  The ceilings are tall (I mean TALL) and the floors are original and the windows are what dreams are made of.  I have such a love for this place and I can’t wait to start making the bare bones of it more our own. 

Here are a few “before shots.” I use ‘before’ with caution as I do not yet have any “afters,” these are more like “current”.  This is the very first steps of making this space our home – so we have a place to go back to and admire or learn from where it started.  It’s to discuss a bit more fully where I want it to go, where we’ve been and a way to follow along this journey fully.  





The thing about design is that the possibilities are endless.  While on one hand I walk around these new walls and see what I want it to become, on the other I wonder about what my ideas will be if I just wait until tomorrow.  Will they be better, cool, easier, cheaper? Will they be more inspired or become more us? Will I make a mistake I can’t come back from or will I make something so amazing, even I can’t yet fathom what that is? 

Lately I have been listening to a lot of Elizabeth Gilbert’s speeches and podcasts.  The author of Big Magic, and Eat, Pray, Love; she motivates me in such an unbelievable way.  She talks about fear as being this thing that you address, and welcome, but you also tell it step aside to make way for what you are capable for creating.  That it’s always there, you’ll always be fearful, but the worst thing to do is play it safe and listen to your fear over your creativity. 

So here it is, the promise I am making now as I start on this design whirlwind and blog process.  I promise to make without fear and share without reservation.  I will honor this insane and gritty passion I have for making and find a way to just do it. 

So for Elizabeth Gilbert, for myself, and for my creative side; let’s make, remake and follow this journey wherever it goes. 

Cheers to the future “after” photos and the things waiting to be made. 


Our Design Plan – The Living Room

And so it begins! Since I’ve been doing very little except planing and waiting patiently to move April 1st, I thought I would share a bit of our room by room design plan.  It’ll be a fun way to look back as we start to execute and get settled.

Our first priority for our new home is having a main functional living room that reflects who we are and optimizes the space we have.  It’s a smaller room that will act as the main heart of the apartment, so we need it to carry on a lot of jobs.  Ultimately, we need more storage, more seating than the floor plans account for, and something we love for years to come.


The building is also an old school house, so the charm of the old floors and high ceilings are too great not to celebrate.  Since it is a small space, and still a rental for us, I’ve been working on getting my creative juices flowing to think outside of the box and get all we want without breaking the bank.

If you missed it, I talked earlier this week a bit about starting the design process and approaching that blank slate with a proactive mindset.  So I started with my Pinterest Board for this space first, and broke down what we like and how we want our space to feel.


From here I knew we wanted neutrals, texture, and an industrial style that matched the charm the space carries on its own.  The main gist of the Pinterest Board was pattern and neutrals; more of a masculine/urban feel.  From here, I took a more purposeful approach to an inspiration board and that helped get us one step closer to what we wanted.  living-room1

We also know we want to use the same sofa and recliner we already own.  They are in perfect condition and theres just no reason to start over when we don’t need to – so I approached the next decisions knowing the vibe we wanted while incorporating the pieces we already own.

LivingRoom Design Board.jpg

Once Tommy and I talked about the final mood board and narrowed in on some minor tweaks, I finalized the feel with a visual idea of space in the room.


It matches our style, where we started with our Pinterest boards, and who we are perfectly.  I have one more larger scale project in mind for this space – but that’s a story for another day.



It’s oscars season and it’s one of my favorite awards show to watch.  I have seen most of the nominated movies in anticipation and its always a fun night to see the outfits, wins and speeches.


This year we’re starting a tradition in our home of cocktails and Taco Bell and I am so looking forward to a cheat and treat night in.

Since our menu is done and all the food prep needed is a run to our favorite fast food joint, I am having a bit of fun with our drinks.  In honor of the golden oscar award, I’m making a golden drink with a bit of glamour. It’s part mimosa part fruit smoothie and fully delicious.


Triple Sec
Mint garnish

In a blender blend fresh mango and the juice of 1 lime and blend until smooth.  Pour the fruit puree into champagne flutes.  Top with a splash of triple sec and fill to the top with prosecco. Garnish with mint and enjoy!oscars-cocktail

It’s the perfect ‘golden’ drink for any red carpet viewing party.



How to Start the Design Process


A lot of times, the hardest part of the design process is staring at a blank slate.  There are too many options and decisions to be made all at once that it can be overwhelming.  Finding ‘your style’ isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but here are some tips and tricks to help get the process started.

  1. Utilize Pinterest

Pinterest is the best tool to find things that know you already like.  If you’re able to filter by space or function, it’s even better! If needed, start a new board and go through things you’ve already pinned, repining them to your new board, narrowing in on your needs.  This is the best way to get a clearer vision of what you’d like without having to make decisions quite yet, plus it’s a good way to validate all those hours you’ve spent aimlessly scrolling through the site.


  1. Step Back

Now that everything you’re inspired by is all centrally located in a Pinterest board, take a step back from it.  Zoom out the internet browser and get a visual of as many ideas as possible at once.  Look for similarities or overlapping ideas you may have liked in multiple spaces.  Is there a lot of one color, style, or repeating accents? Identifying the repetitive styles will give you a great place to start narrowing in on your plans.


  1. What already exists

Take a minute to wrap your head around what you already own.  This is (clearly) the best way to save money and a lot of times what you already own can be transformed into what you’re looking for now. Compare what you own to your Pinterest boards and see what matches or what could match.  Some paint or new fabric can transform a lot of whats already an option for you – theres always an opportunity to make an old piece fit your new style with some DIY muscle.

  1. Just go

Now you have an idea of what you like, what you have, and where you want your space to go. Now, just do it. Trust your style and try new things – starting is the best place to start.