Home Is Where The Billy Bookcase Is

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that one of the things I'm most looking forward to about moving into our first house---seriously, a house, with things like (gasp!) a staircase and an office, and yes, these things are such novelties that the italics are totally required---is all the redecorating we're going to get to do.

Did you ever see my living room in Charleston? It looked like this:

And then when we moved to San Francisco, we did a little bit of editing and ended up with this:

As you can see, I'm a fan of stripy cushions, lots of pictures, and red. I'm also a fan of having lots of books and displaying them as prominently as you can; the spines of books give a room such a colorful pop and it's not like you have to do much more than just, like, arrange them on a bookshelf, is it? And how hard is that?

In the past, I've been a little wary of venturing beyond apartment-rental white---fear of having to repaint a room back when you move out, I think, which is exactly what we've just learned we're going to have to do when we move out of this place in a few weeks---but in the last couple of months, I gradually came around to the idea of having a little color on the walls. If I've heard it on one HGTV show, I've heard it on a million: paint is the easiest, most inexpensive way to change the look of a room. Check out this picture of my hallway looking super boring, for example:

Now check out how much better it looks after I got a little bored one Sunday afternoon before Christmas, remembered I had some people coming over for a party in a few days, and popped out to the hardware store for a gallon of paint:

So much better! Let's paint everything! Oh wait, we just booked the movers for June 24th. Maybe let's not.

It makes me laugh when people talk about decorating on a budget because the only kind of decorating I've ever done is decorating on a budget: what other kind is there? You mean people buy furniture from places other than IKEA? What?

Most of our stuff is a mish-mash of World Market, Target, CB2, parental hand-me-downs, flea market finds, travel treasures, Craigslist scores, and the ubiquitous HJARTDLs and SKLARPs and TUPPLURs from you-know-where. I'm curious about you, though: where do you look when you're redecorating? What are your best tips for quick room makeovers?

(PS: If you want to see our whole place---soon to be our old place, which makes me a little teary---you can check out our Apartment Therapy house tour here or find more photos here. It's okay, though. I think the new place is going to be even better.)

Jun 07, 2010

At least your budget can accommodate Ikea. Living as an impoverished student means the only thing I can afford to decorate my room with is old blue-tac stains from the previous tenants.

Sarah Ashley
Jun 07, 2010

I wish you and Sean the best at you new place. I am sure you will do a fine job at decorating. I am a person of interior decorating, and may I say that you can find some awesome ceiling lanterns from Anthropologie for $7! Yeah, I didn't belive it either! Here they are http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3470638&id=506439365

I've repainted our entire house, and made some huge mistakes. I love warm-ish colors, golds and reds, and when I painted our living room I was going for a kind of glowy sunrise color but ended up with something that looked like a pumpkin on its last legs, the stage right before it melts into a sludgepuddle on your doorstep. I tried again with our bedroom, and since I now (thought I) knew better I went with something a little less dayglo orangey brown. And ended up with the side of a schoolbus.

(cont. since your blog doesn't accept long comments but I've learned to circumvent the system.)
SO...what have I learned? Paint one wall (or better yet a portion of a wall) before you paint the whole room in a color you despise, which you're then too exhausted and upset at your own stupidity about to repaint. Also, Home Depot has this thing where they can match any color you give them using a magical color-matching robot thingie. What's worked really well for us is to bring in a fabric sample (bedspread or pillow) and ask for one of the minor colors on the fabric, like a skinny stripe or a leaf, which you think will look good on the wall. The wall will really reflect off that color in the pillow or bedspread...Looks SO sophisticated and subtle.

(And cont again. Wow, this was a long-ass comment.)
Last tip? Would be to do as much as you can while you're still excited about the new place, because after awhile you won't even notice that you hate the kitchen backsplash or whatever, and it'll never get done. But on the other hand, don't do too much or buy too much stuff until you've lived there for awhile and you're absolutely sure you know what you want. Or you might, to cite a random example, end up with baskets hanging from a light fixture in your kitchen, which your husband daily hits his head on, sending baskets flying and cursing you and the ground you walk on.

Good luck, Holly. Can't wait to see how it all turns out!

Jun 07, 2010

Paint is the way to go, for sure. One rental place I had right after college got some paint therapy after I'd had one too many days of staring at institution-white walls. My roommate and I were dreading painting it back when we realized that it was literally just peeling off the wall-we'd apparently painted over the original with a different kind and it had never soaked in. Easiest transformation ever, although I don't recommend it if you're looking for a long-lasting paint job.

Jun 07, 2010

I am a budget makeover queen. Paint is the best way to make a change. you may go through a slew of bad color choices, but that is half of the fun.... You mentioned many of the fave sources, but check out overstock.com (cheap shipping, some stuff really cheap and others inexplicable expensive. Worth a look), West Elm, Pier One, sometimes Urban Outfitters (weird, huh?). IKEA is really best for textiles and accessories (who am I kidding our couch, dressers are IKEA)... Have you been checking out Design Sponge? Good luck!

Jun 07, 2010

When we're redecorating, we always check out ZGallerie for accessories and West Elm for furniture. So excited to see pics of your new place, once you've made it your own!

Jun 07, 2010

Paint is a great way to change a room, as are window treatments. I'm a southener, so I'm all about shutters. But this time around I just quit working so I couldn't afford the shutters, so I did a combo of curtains and roman shades around the house. It really does add a lot of warmth without a lot of cost. (not to mention it cuts down on heating/cooling)...

Jun 07, 2010

I cannot believe your landlord is going to make you paint over all of those beautiful colours. He could probably up the price of rent for the next tenants if he showed the place while your furniture and fantastic decorating style is still there. Can't wait to see pics of the new place!

Jun 07, 2010

I'm really going to miss your old place, and for my own sake, I hope you don't change up your decor too much in the next one because I really love your style (and how YOU it is). Our most interesting pieces of furniture are those throne chairs in the living room, which came from a consignment store in Southern California. We drove them all the way home, and it was worth it.

Jun 07, 2010

I LOVE decorating. I am a little OCD about it - I measure the room, create a floor plan on paper, then cut out little furniture shapes (also measured) and then do lots of re-arranging. Paint is also key, as are pillow covers. I've gone through 3 sets of pillow-covers not, but the cushions underneath are still the same!
My #1 source for awesome furniture and decor is goodwill, or whatever thrift store is closest. I heart thrift store furniture.

Jun 07, 2010

We have similar taste in living room colors. I love how red pops out and makes a room interesting.

I have to agree paint is a great way to change up a room. Sometimes it is fun to update the rugs and rearrange instead.

Jun 07, 2010

I love your style, by the way. The way I like to decorate is by hitting up the thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales. I love old things, or things that look old. I also love very colorful, eccentric type of things. I think a bunch of things that don't normally go together can mesh well when placed properly around the room. I think paint is essential, too.

Good luck and have fun in decorating your new place!

Jessie C.
Jun 08, 2010

Love the deco! Billy looks great and practical in very way.

Jun 09, 2010


You must check out this website--it lets you choose a photo to virtually "paint" walls, trim, rooms adjacent, etc. This helped me so much when we had to choose paint colors for our house. Seeing a color on a full wall is completely different than seeing the paint chip!

Jun 10, 2010

People do underestimate color. I love my orange curtains. Our previous living room had orange walls, so this feels positively demure.

Jun 12, 2010

We got our keys on May 28th and we are moving into our first place on Thursday! Thursday! I am so excited to not have to deal with the crackhead neighbors downstairs, the barking dog across the way and the 6am (sometimes 2am) motorcycle guy. I am excited to plant things for the first time ever. We just painted a wall in our living room grey (which I was worried about being gloomy but looks tre chic). We are going for teal in the bedroom and dark turquoise in my office until we decide to need a nursery. I am excited to join you in the journey of home ownership and decorating. Can't wait to see pics or video!!!

Jun 22, 2010

I fall in love at the paint store! I get inspired by so many hues and different darknesses and lightnesses of colors.

Jun 22, 2010

we started with a rug, and based our entire living room around that and the colors in the rug!

Blue girl
Jun 22, 2010

I think starting with a piece of art is a good place to begin. Generally I just use what I have and add color to that, but if i could, I would start with one piece and work the room around it!

Deb Anderson
Jun 22, 2010

For me it starts with one outstanding piece of furniture, whether that’s an antique bed or dresser or lamp or picture or vase or whatever. Then I want to choose things that complement that piece, while keeping my own style throughout.

Jun 25, 2010

Hi - I am new to your blog and just reading up - I love it! One question... that gray color in the hallway looks like EXACTLY the color I want for a room in our new house! Can you tell me what it is? It's so hard to find the perfect gray.....

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