Making it Work

Remember that list of items I wanted to accomplish with Mom?

  • Paint backside of door
  • Stencil kitchen wall
  • Make upholstered headboard
  • Create office space in living room
  • Change out kitchen and closet hardware
  • Decorate in general:
    • throw pillows
    • hang artwork
    • rearrange furniture
    • add anything and everything from HomeGoods

Let’s check off a few more things, shall we?

When Mom arrived, this was as far as my living room inspiration had taken me:


I was a mess. I needed someone with vision!

Enter, Molly (my Mom):


Isn’t it amazing what moving some furniture around can do to your space? It seems instantly bigger! Now we had dedicated areas for TV viewing, dining (not in frame), and desk work (still in progress back by the window). We knew we were far from done, but I was finally feeling like there was hope in this shoebox!

Our current furniture was an assimilation of my husband’s (pre-relationship) Craigslist purchases, second-hand donations from friends and family, and a few very girly pieces that I insisted make the move to the new apartment. It was admittedly a mishmash, and I was “making it work” like it was my job.

Of course, we would all love to pick out the latest bright and shiny pieces from the West Elm or Crate and Barrel catalog and say, “I Decorated!!” Don’t get me wrong, I adore practically everything they sell and their catalogs are a constant source of inspiration. Unfortunately, my husband would never allow me to spend that much money on furniture – and that’s ok with me! Here’s how I look at it, I find it more rewarding to creatively work with what you have and add low-cost details that give your room character and style without having to empty your pockets. It also saves you from that embarrassing NYC moment where you realize that you and your friends all have the exact same furniture.


Throw pillows might be my mom’s favorite decorative detail…and my husband’s least favorite. What is it with guys and throw pillows? My best friend said her husband told her he feels like he’s at a throw pillow loading dock every time he wants to get into bed. Haha, Tough luck fellas! These little cuddly squares make a big difference in inexpensive decorating – just a pop of color and they distract, distract, distract!

That couch was a black hole until those little green guys made their entrance. And you noticed that little director’s chair in the corner because of the pop of green over there too – didn’t you?! It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the blue and green candles on the coffee table make a big difference too. (You can see better photos of those on my Sources page).

The ikat pillows jumped out at me when I realized they matched my chair seats perfectly! (Really they were the reverse pattern and a different color entirely…but who’s that detail oriented?). I found a matching red one (yes, I know “matching”) a few days later at TJ Maxx and thought it was the perfect addition to tie in the red sailboat painting and the oh-so-lovely red window frames.


Check out the difference checking off some items can make:

  • Create office space in living room
  • Decorate in general
    • throw pillows
    • hang artwork
    • rearrange furniture
    • add anything and everything from HomeGoods


Here’s the rundown of what Mom and I purchased (for under $200 total!):

  • Down throw pillows
  • Bulletin boards over desk
  • Desk lamp
  • Ceramic votives (pictured earlier)
  • Director’s chair (pictured earlier)
  • Technically, we also added the rug (secondhand IKEA from Mom) and hung the paintings (from Mike’s last apt)

Did I mention I love lists?! ;)

It’s an impressively short list considering the overall aesthetic improvement and added functionality of the room. Just look at what you can do for under 200 dollars! That’s less than the cost of almost every West Elm, CB2, and Pottery Barn side table…not that they aren’t pretty – just saying. Be creative! You might surprise yourself.

One thought on “Making it Work

  1. Pingback: Remember November? | Tickled in NYC

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