2014: A Year in Review

Can you believe it’s 2015?! Last year just FLEW by, but when I go back and review all the posts from 2014, it really is amazing how much happened. Thanks to all of you who have stuck around and continue to offer your advice and words of encouragement – I love you all!

I’ll create a to-do list for 2015 tomorrow, but first let’s take a look back of some of the best posts of 2014:

DSC00473Most popular post: A step-by-step look at how to turn an IKEA Ribba frame into a bar tray garnered the most clicks this year – and it was even picked up by IKEA Hackers!

Most commented on post: Remember when y’all helped me pick out a new living room rug? Great job, by the way.

DSC01014Best before/after: I’m so happy I finally bit the bullet and gave my living room a navy accent wall like the ones I’d been admiring on Pinterest forever. Will I regret it when I move out and have to paint it back white? Only time will tell…

Still on my wish list: This may just be the year that I tackle my first upholstery project, so I better pick up “Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design” to prepare.

11Best trip: Sometimes the best trips are the ones that are last minute and random and cheap – that happened to be Kansas City for me this year.

Best purchase: I know this is a home design blog, but this Kipling tote has been a godsend this past year. The blogging fashionistas of the world certainly don’t have anything to worry about, but I know a good bag when I see one.

friendsgivingBest party: I finally pulled off a Friendsgiving this year! The place looked great, and I hope it’ll mark the begin of many dinner parties to come. I love hosting.

Greatest accomplishment: I trained and ran a friggin’ marathon. 26.2 miles. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever say that. Hell, I could barely run the 5 miles during soccer two-a-days in high school! It felt amazing.

DSC00683Best recipe: I just made this Parmesan Ranch Snack Mix for a New Year’s Eve party… so, so good – and ridiculously easy!

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Gallery

A Happy Home-iversary!

Aug. 1 came and went so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to celebrate my two-year home-iversary! I resigned my lease, so I’ll be in my current apartment for at least one more year (barring any major life changes). There was a bit of a rent hike, but it’s only an additional $20 a month—not something I’m excited about, but definitely not worth the expense (and hassle!) of a move. Plus, the consensus seems to be that my place is a steal for the amount of space and the neighborhood (Chicago’s North Center). I do love it!

Let’s take a look at how far it’s come:

Living room

Dining room

Bathroom

Kitchen

Bedroom

It’s not perfect. It never will be. Design is a constantly evolving process—and that’s exactly what makes it fun!

Outside of a few little things here and there, I’m VERY happy with the living room and dining room. But putting everything side-by-side here makes me realize that the kitchen and bathroom are kind of a different style than the rest of the apartment… Looks like I know where my next projects will be! Stay tuned.

Finally! Living Room Reveal

I know I teased the new living room rug more than two weeks ago now… I’m sorry to leave you hanging for so long! My laptop has been on the fritz so it hasn’t been easy working on the blog from home, and I’ve been really busy at my 9-to-5, too, so I haven’t been able to sneak in much Urban Nesting time in the office.

Plus, it turned out not to be just a new rug, of course, so I needed a bit more time…

So here goes! This was the living room before, right after it was painted:

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During the rug back-and-forth…

DSC00909And finally, now!

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Thank you to everyone who chimed in on the rug choices! Your advice was much appreciated because it was no easy decision. As you can see, I ended up going with rug No. 3! I really wanted No. 7, but I couldn’t justify the cost when the bf has a cat that barfs just about every day… Gross.

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I’ll post a “Shop This Space” next week because I have new curtains now, too! That round tray on the coffee table was a thrift store score, but its paint job is a bit of a work in progress. More on that later.

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I’m absolutely smittten with the calm, cool vibe of the space, and I think the mood of the room will really be swayed by artwork. It’s still pretty bare in there right now. The three “prints” above the couch now are just drawings I made and threw up there so it didn’t look so bare at the Garden Party. I’m planning to replace them eventually, but art isn’t something I like to just buy to fill space—it’s expensive, so I want to love it with a capital L!

DSC01036So what to do you think about how the space is coming together? I hope you like it as much as I do—but I’m always open to suggestions!

Before and After: Interior Accent Door

Before I painted the living room and dining room a few weeks ago, everything in my apartment was this gross chalky white. Not like a crisp, Scandinavian starkness. The kind of white that, say, you touch with a dirty finger, and when you go to wipe it off, it just disintegrates into a little pile of dust on the floor…

Like I said, gross white.

Not only did they use this cheapo crap on the walls, they also covered all of the interiors doors with it to. Why not just leave the wood stain? Or at least something other than white. I mean, look how great these accent doors look:

So that got me thinking… I did have some leftover paint from the living room…

Ta-da! Say hello to my new navy door! Now I’m probably going to regret this decision when I have to paint it back white before I move out (all those little nooks and crannies did take awhile), but I love the way the brass padlock looks. Now if only the door handle matched… oh, rentals. I guess you can only do so much!

Aside

Design for You

I don’t often dole out advice on here—an expert, I surely am not—but I (accidentally) learned a valuable lesson recently, and I think it’s important to pass it along.

I’d been going back and forth for a few weeks about where to hang two photographs—beautiful images I bought while traveling in Cambodia. They were originally part of the gallery wall but, as you know, I dismantled that after painting the dining room.

So my idea was to move them to my little foyer. Option 1 was to hang them on the wall you see as you as you open the front door, a great first impression for guests. Or Option 2 was to hang them on the wall to the right, next to the bathroom door and perpendicular to the front door.

Before

Option 1 on the left, Option 2 on the right

While Option 1 seems like the obviously choice, there didn’t seem to be enough visual space for both images on that wall. It’s a little narrower than Option 2, and they’d have to contend with a light switch.

Finally, I stopped humming and hawing and just went for it—Option 2. I wasn’t crazy about the fact that guests would be getting a side view of the frames when they walked in instead of the images themselves, but I could always change it later, right?

AfterThen the next morning when I woke up and opened my bedroom door to hit the shower, there they were. I realized that every day I get to start my morning with these serene images and memories of a great trip long past. It’s been about two weeks, and still every single morning, I take a second to look at them.

after2So here’s my advice: Don’t forget to design for you. Think about how many days a year you live in your home without guests, and then think about the number of days you entertain. Unless you’re a socialite or run a business out of your home or something, the time you’re there alone probably greatly outweighs those days when you’re playing host.

So don’t just think about what would make others happy. What would make you happy?

Weekend Rewind: Gallery Wall Reversal

Monday’s are the worst, and since I’m taking a grad class that meets on Monday nights, they’re even more agonizing. So I apologize for my lack of Monday posts lately—there’s just not enough time in the day!

That’s what it felt like this weekend too. Run, bridal shower, bachelorette party, training, open houses, cleaning, reading… I packed A LOT in.

I’d never been to a bachelorette party before. Luckily, there were no strippers, penis straws or tiaras, and it was generally a low-key affair. I wish I had taken pics of our food at Quartino’s, where we started the night. Pizzas, bacon-wrapped dates, caprese salad, fondue… YUM. We ordered pasta, but we cancelled that part of the order because it was coming out last, and we were all already so full. The place is packed and loud (not somewhere to take Grandma), but I’d definitely go back. The prices were reasonable too, especially for River North.

Outside of all that other stuff, I also managed to fit in a few household projects. I still haven’t completely “recovered” from painting the living and dining rooms, but I did get a handful of things back up on the walls.

Before painting, I knew the gallery wall just wasn’t working for me. As much as I love all those beautiful mixed-and-matched gallery walls on Pinterest, mine just had too many colors, mediums, frame styles, etc. And this is after I’d already taken a few things down…

IMG_1111So I decided to get back to the basics. Five photographs. Five matching frames. Done.

DSC00870I think it’s a huge improvement. It’s just so much cleaner. Do I wish the images were a little bigger? Sure. But I think it works… for now : )

Speaking of, I used those 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips, and while I love that I don’t have to put nails into my freshly painted wall, I’m not sure I’m crazy about them. Hopefully they hold! Have you used these products? Love ’em, loathe ’em?