February 20, 2013 by Savvy Style
I’m not sure what I was thinking about when I agreed to live on the third floor.
But you know what I wasn’t thinking about…? Groceries.
Holy cow, every week I’m sure I look like a crazy woman practically crawling up three flights of stairs, my arms so full of grocery bags that I barely fit in the stairwell…because I refuse, REFUSE to make more than one trip to get them upstairs!
Such is the life of apartment living! There are definitely some perks to living in an apartment:
- I walk to work
- Free pool & gym
- We each have our own bathroom and closet (gotta draw the line somewhere)
- If something breaks, I just make a phone call
But there are also a few drawbacks:
- Hearing your neighbors through the wall
- Losing hot water mid-shower if I get in after 8am
- What I call the lovely “apartment beige” carpet, walls, well…basically, everything. blech
- Don’t even get me started on the 1990′s hunter green tile that is on our fireplace and front door entryway. Oh em gee.
Hubby and I decided we wanted to do the apartment living for at least our first year of marriage so that A) he didn’t marry a Bridezilla attempting to plan a DIY wedding and buy a house at the same time. (trust me, nobody wants to meet that beast) and B) we want to be completely debt free and have some substantial savings before we land on the home we’ll be in for quite a while.
With that comes the challenge to make our apartment a cozy home, with the limitations that we can’t do just any decorating and/or remodeling that our little hearts desire. We have to live with certain things…like did I mention the horrible hunter green fireplace tile? Yep, just wait. we’ll get to that.
So welcome to Part 1 of working with what you’ve got. Today, we’ll focus on the living room…specifically the fireplace mantle, and how to decorate it without spending a month’s worth of rent.
I realize i’m fortunate I get to even say we have a fireplace in our apartment…we lucked out. So green tile and all, i’m going to take full advantage of this little house-like styling.
My goal was to make it look good using things that I already had, and buying only minimum items if needed. I also needed to give it a lot of height because the ceiling is two stories (we have a loft/office upstairs). So off I went. Here’s what I came up with:
Not bad, huh? I wanted to keep it fairly neutral in color…well, lets be honest, because that green was enough color for the entire room. (did I mention i’m not a fan of the tile?) And I wanted to balance out the height on each side without making it look completely symmetrical. So here’s the breakdown of what I have and where you can find something similar:
1. Mirror – I’m not kidding when I tell you i’ve had that mirror for 10 years…TEN YEARS! It’s hung behind the couch, in the hall, in the dining area (of two apartments). Let’s just say that mirror gets around. And I got it at Wal-Mart of all places! But putting it here and adding a little touch in front of it has totally given it new life!
2. Wreath – the cute little wreath cost me a whopping dollar. Ok, a dollar and ten cents. It’s literally a wreath from the dollar store that I hung with some rafia (also dollar store) and tied a rafia bow on it. It was also actually recycled from my wedding – I used these as aisle markers for the rows my family sat on…so technically I didn’t pay anything for them in this project.
3. Candle Holders – these I got at Hobby Lobby for about $20 for both. And if you download their iPhone app, you can get all sorts of cool coupons. Score.
4. Frames & Glass Vase with Jute String – I got both of these at Marshall’s for about $6 each (the frame to the left I have had for years). The vase was on clearance because the string was coming off. Nothing a little hot glue gun couldn’t fix! Boom! I love the texture these frames added to the mantle.
5. Sticks for vase – these came in a bunch from Garden Ridge for about $7.
6. Shutter – This was also recycled from my wedding! I bought it from Scott’s Antique Market and gave it a little refresh. Stay tuned for another post on what i’m doing with the rest of those from the wedding!
7. Star – This cute little star came from the dollar section at Target, of all places! If you skim past that section every time you walk in the store, you’re missing out…you can often find cute little treasures in there for cheap! (also got part of my wedding centerpieces there, but that’s coming in a later post!)
That’s it! In total, I spent about $40 to put this little ensemble together…and I love the fact that I can change it up, move things around, or use some of these pieces somewhere else in the house if I get bored with them here!
And here’s a few snippets of the rest of my living room (which is still a work in progress, but hey we’re getting there..we’ve only been married a few months!)
One tip I learned to make a room feel more open is to hang curtains higher and slightly wider than the actual window. You’ll see here, instead of doing one looooong bar across this massive window, we opted to hang 2 shorter poles (from Ikea) and take the curtains all the way up to the ceiling to make it feel less closed in. It really opened this wall up!
And don’t worry, there was still plenty of length to do this! I bought these burlap-ish type curtains originally because they were only $20 total (also from Ikea) and because I didn’t want to spend a ton on curtains for a temporary apartment home. But you know, once I got them up, I really liked them a lot more than I thought I would! Sweet!
That’s it folks, hope you enjoyed the tour of my living room! I would love to hear from you about what some of your favorite pieces are to decorate a mantle…I have a feeling i’m going to want to change it up a couple times a year!