Tag Archives: apartment & home

the ultimate gift guide for candle lovers

Use this gift guide to make your loved ones feel super fancy with this awesome list of the best luxurious candles.

I really want to dispel the notion that candles are a cop-out gift that you give to your great-aunt because you have to get her a present. Candles are a wonderful gift for the right person –  that person being a candle lover. How do you know if someone’s a candle lover? They probably have six or seven candles (or more) placed elegantly around the house, all with burnt wicks.

I’m one of these people. There are three candles on my desk right now, one by my bed, one in the bathroom, and another two in my living room. I think they’re romantic and moody, and complete rooms with a glowy, warmth.  I light different candles depending on how I want to feel – energized or relaxed.  I love them, and I put a lot of thought into the candles I buy, so do most candle lovers.

Why do candles make good gifts? Really nice candles can cost a good chunk of money. It’s hard to justify spending $45 on something that you plan to burn. But the fancy, sophisticated feel they add to your day is priceless.

Buying candles for other people can be tricky. Cheaper candles often hit heavy with a chemically smell. The best candles are light, airy, and clean burning.

To help you in your search, I’ve rounded up the best scented candles on the web.  These super-fancy candles will make anyone feel special. Don’t worry, you won’t find any Yankee Candles in this list.

Fifth-and-Madison-Cosmopolitan-SohoFifth & Madison Cosmopolitan Candle – I’ll start with my favorite first. Fifth & Madison are amazing candle makers. Their product smell fantastic and burn light and clean. People always ask, “where is that candle from?” when I’m burning a Fifth & Madison candle. The Cosmopolitan is a good candle for a sophisticated New York girl who likes sweet and fruity scents that aren’t overbearing. I also suggest the chai pumpkin latte and joie de noel as seasonal gifts.

Jonathan-Adler-Champagne-Candle

Jonathan Adler Champagne Pop Candle – JA’s candles have been my long-time love. Their elegant jars and scents make me feel just a bit rich. I’ve loved Jonathan Adler’s Champagne candle for a long time. They’ve expanded their boozy scent collection to include vodka and abesinthe, which I’m absolutely obsessed with. Burning these candles makes me feel so classy.

Henri Bendel CashmereHenri Bendel Cashmere Candle – Did you know Bendels has its own candle line? How refined does this cashmere candle seem? Looks like they removed it from their website today, of course (possibly sold out?), but I suggest browsing their other candles. I’d definitely take a risk on the white pepper.

voluspa-prosecco-bellini

Voluspa Prosecco Bellini – I own two Voluspa candles (they sell them at anthropologie) and love them both. The milky, classic jars are elegant, and the clean-burning fruity scent of Prosecco feels like such an indulgence.

Terrain-Hot-Cider-Candle

Terrain Hot Cider Candle – I cannot get over how perfect this candle is! That mug! Once you’ve burned the entire candle you can use the mug. And apple cider is the perfect holiday scent. This one is definitely on my wish list.

khall.moss_.screenprintcandle

K. Hall Studio Moss Printed Candle – My friend made fun of me when I said I owned a moss-scented candle, but the scent is somehow perfect and comforting for any time of year. I can’t wait to burn through it (120 hours) so I can use the screen printed jar as a vase.

luminous-candles-old-books

Luminous Candles Old Books Scented Candle – One of my favorite things to do is light a candle, curl up on the couch and read a book. How great would it be if my living room suddenly smelled like a library? This one is definitely a candle for the bookworm.

Bath-and-body-Works-Fresh-Balsam

Bath and Body Works Fresh Balsam Candle – I was really hesitant to put a Bath & Body works candle on here, but I own this one and I really do love it. It leaves the house smelling like Christmas trees. This  candle does hit heavy and fills the room, but the eucalyptus and balsam make it very pleasant.

Terrain-moscow-Mule-candle

Terrain Moscow Mule Candle – Another perfect candle from Terrain. Of course, I mostly want this for the mug (they retail around $30!), but filling my home lime and ginger reminiscent of a delicious cocktail doesn’t hurt.

laudree brioche candle

Laudrée Brioche Candle – Take a quick escape to the French countryside with this candle. Who doesn’t want a house filled with the soft, sweet scent of baked brioche?

Molton-Brown-Vintage-2015-Single-Wick-Candle_with_box_CAN181_XLMolton Brown Vintage 2015 Elderflower Candle – This festive and luxurious candle is filled with grapefruit, elerflower, and vetiver, and feels very special.

hanging yarn banner

I have historically categorized any type of wall art into categories like: “later,” “unnecessary,” and “not now.” When it comes to budgeting my time, money, and decision-making capacity, I can never commit. Even if it’s something cheap and small.

My homes throughout the years have suffered from a sad lack of art and decor. It stems from my minimalist and frugal tendencies,  but another part comes from the side of me that is loathe to pull any type of trigger.

In my mind, it goes something like this, “If I buy this piece unframed, I can save money by getting it framed locally. But where would I do that? I’d have to research this. How much money would I really save? God, this is turning into a lot  of work…” And the dialogue goes on until I decide I have other things I need to focus on. So I table this discussion another few months only to start it over.

I’m working on it. I really want art in my house. Until that happens,  I’ll continue to supplement my bare walls with interesting shelves, statement walls, and the few plants that manage to stay alive.

Wall-Art-3

I’ve seen a few of these yarn wall pieces floating around pinterest, and I thought, “why not?” I needed a reason to visit the Lion Brand Yarn Studio by Union Square. I was pleased to find the quality of yarn was much higher than I expected and the prices were on the low side, which is a relief if you know what it’s like to try to find reasonably priced yarn in NYC.

I settled on these three colors.

Yarn-Art-2

The gem of this batch was the light yarn with the gold leaf, which stays attached to the yarn quite well.

Yarn-Art-1

I was so thrilled when I found it, when I took it home to Ryan, I showed him with pride, exclaiming how it matches our gold and white theme in the house.

To which he replied, “I didn’t know we had a gold and white theme.”

Doing a face-palm never felt  more appropriate.

Wall-Art-4

Hanging Wall Art Supplies

-3 different types of yarn. You won’t use a whole skein, so this is a good project for leftover yarn.
-2 two-feet wooden dowels
-Copper wire or twine for hanging

This project is pretty simple and fast. You’ll want to prep the yarn by cutting it into a lot of equal-length strings.

Grab the bottom dowel, and  taking the cut yarn, loop some knots working left to right. Continue making knots to the width that you prefer. I stopped in the middle to change colors, making sure the outer colors had the same amount of knots to keep the symmetry.

Yarn-Art-3

Once you’ve completed the bottom row, do the same with the top row. I wanted my top row of yarn to have a smaller width, so I did fewer knots. Then I secured the two dowels together by tying them together with copper wire. You can also use string or twine for this step.

Wall-Art-1

Once they were attached, I took the scissors to it to try to even out the shape. It turned out nicely.Wall-Art-2

One of these days, I’ll get around to creating my own weaving to display on the wall. I’ve even taken a loom weaving class! But in the meantime, this piece adds a bit of texture and color to the room.

DIY Geometric Pegboard Tutorial

When Ryan and I moved into our new apartment, we saw it was lacking kitchen storage, but couldn’t let that stop us from signing a lease on an otherwise great place.

As a solution to our storage problem, I finally got to set up a pegboard! It’s been a dream of mine to have a pegboard. I know, I fantasize about the weirdest things for my apartment. I immediately knew it had to have some gold or copper and geometric print, of course. Since I didn’t want to spend a lot of time, I decided to go with a simple geometric triangle pattern.

DIY Geometric Pegboard

The entire pegboard cost around $15, including the paint and mounting supplies. I guess most pegboards are a bit more expensive, but we bought ours used at a local hardware store, so we got them for $5. They were a bit banged up, but mostly just dirty, so I gave them a fresh coat of white paint.

Peg Board-11

If you decided to do this tutorial, or any pattern on a white pegboard, I recommend giving it a base coat of paint. A coat white paint (I used some leftover semi-gloss) makes it much more vibrant.

You will need:
-two pegboard panels
-white paint (I used some leftover semi-gloss)
-paint brush
-spray paint (I used Copper Rust-Oleum)
-painter’s tape
-drop cloth
-triangle stencil (see instructions below for making your own)
-two pieces of 1-inch bracing wood, the length of your board
-mounting screws with anchors
-nails

For Triangle Stencil
-x-acto knife/box cutter
-cardboard
-pencil
-paper
-scissors
-ruler

To Make the Stencil

Fold a piece of paper in half, lengthwise and draw a few half-triangles on the crease. I used a ruler to help with creating straight lines.

While the paper is still folded, cut out the half triangles. Select the size you want for the stencil.

Peg Board-1

Trace the paper cut-out onto a piece of cardboard.

Peg Board-2

Using an X-acto knife, cut out the triangle to create your stencil.

Peg Board-3

Decorating the Pegboards

Decorate your pegboards before mounting them. Place some drop cloth on the ground in a well-ventilated area. Coat the pegboards with a layer or two of white paint, waiting for the paint to dry in between coats.

To create a more symmetrical look with your design, try to center your stencil one the same pattern of peg holes. I found that centering the triangle on these five holes created a good guide.

Peg Board-5

Using the painter’s tape, secure your stencil to the board. Standing about a foot away, spray your paint with a consistent stream until you’ve filled the stencil.

Peg Board-4

If it’s a particularly windy day, you might want to cover up more of your board with a few pieces of cardboard, to keep the spray paint from accidentally splashing over onto the white parts

Peg Board-6

Continue with this strategy as you continue to put triangles around the board.

Peg Board-7

Mounting the Pegboard

To mount the peg board, you’ll want to frame it on the top and bottom with a piece of bracing wood that’s the length of the combined boards. It’s important that you mount the pegboard onto this frame, instead of mounting it directly onto the wall, because you need space for the pegs behind the board.

We used this very helpful step-by-step tutorial.

I really love the way we can store our pots and pans on this pegboard. And boy, do we have a lot of them.

Peg Board-11

Every time I see the geometric triangle pattern, I can’t help but smile at how fun and modern it is. It’s definitely one of my favorite pieces in the kitchen.

DIY Garment Rack

DIY Garment Rack

When Ryan and I moved into our Brooklyn apartment, we were so thrilled about the large backyard and extra storage that we didn’t even realize it was missing a closet in the master bedroom. We just sort of made the assumption that there was one and took for granted that, in our previous apartments, closets in bedrooms are a standard – but not in New York. We went about looking at different Ikea closet storage systems and none of them fit the room. They were too bulky and modular and would make our bright and big room feel more constrained.

After some stressing, which is what I do best, Ryan suggested we build a DIY garment rack. I was hesitant at first, thinking it would look junky, but it really did seem like the best option. After all, Ryan and I would be sharing a closet for the first time, so it needed to be big.

The total cost of this project was around $80. The steel pipes are a little pricy. But it took no time to assemble.

DIY Garment Rack

What You'll Need

What You’ll Need
I’ve linked to the amazon pages to help you get a better idea.

Step By Step Instructions

Start by assembling the feet. You’ll need four of the elbows and four of nipples. Screw the elbows onto the 12” nipples, one elbow per pipe.  Position the elbow so it’s facing down, to steady itself against the floor.

Feet Assembly

Once you’ve done this, connect two of the nipples with a Tee. You may have to adjust the way the elbow balances on the floor by re-screwing it a bit. Repeat this step with the other foot.

Feet Assembly

Put the feet to the side and start working on the frame of the garment rack. Start by screwing two elbows onto both sides of one of the 60 inch pipes. This will be the top of the rack.

Assembly Top Rack1

Place the top part on the ground to prepare for the next part.

Assembly Top Rack

Screw the remaining two 60 inch pipes into the other side of the elbows on the top rack.

Assembly Legs2

It’s easiest if you can get them to lean up against a wall.

Assembly Legs1

While the rack is still upside down, screw on the feet that you created earlier.

Assembly Legs

Once both feet are on, turn the rack right-side up and make sure the feet are nice and balanced on the ground. You may have to re-screw them if it’s wobbly. Also, make any adjustments to the elbows that touch the floor.

Assembly Feet

Here’s what it looks like completely standing.

Clothes Rack 2

A note about those yellow stickers: I left them on for this tutorial so you can see which sizes I’m using during the process. But they’re a pain to get off! You need some Goo Gone, a paint scraper, and serious determination.

I really love how large this closet is. It’s definitely big enough to fit both of our clothes. It has plenty of space underneath it too!

DIY Garment Rack 1

This method is flexible with sizing. Ryan and I added an additional foot-long pipe on the sides so we could raise it over our dresser. We’ve actually put a dresser under there.

DIY Garment Rack with Dresser

cute measuring cups – a roundup

I might as well have titled this post cute animal measuring cups. I didn’t intend on this post being only animals measuring cups, but I tend to gravitate toward these types of things – namely, animals. But why not have some fun, yet useful cooking tools to make your baking more fun?

Cute Measuring Cups

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

The owl measuring cups are my favorite! They are nesting, so the smaller one fits into the bigger one. What a beautiful way to display and store measuring cups. Which one do you like?

deer string art

The past few months have been nothing short of chaotic, and it’s been a while since I’ve had time to finish a craft. Deadlines and to do lists take priority over “create” these days. And despite all of this, I couldn’t get past the nagging feeling that I need to complete something that: 1. I’ve made with my hands and 2. Is beautiful.

Deer String Art

I saw this deer string art months ago on this blog and went out immediately to buy the supplies. Since then, I’ve taken my sweet time hammering in a few nails here and there, but never really committing to complete the project. Then yesterday, something just snapped and I knew I couldn’t do anything else without finishing it. So, I spent an hour or so hammering away (pun intended). I’m so glad I did! It is probably my favorite d.i.y. project I’ve made.

Deer String Art

The supplies:
– 1 round cross-cut wooden plaque
chalkboard paint
1 inch wire nails (project nails), I bought a 100 pack, but didn’t use them all.
– finishing hammer
– embroidery floss or string (I used string, but I’ve seen this done with embroidery floss)
– paper and pencil for tracing

I used this silhouette for the deer stencil. You can enlarge it to the size you want and then print it out. Or in my case, I just held a sheet of paper against the computer screen and traced it.

Coat the wood plaque with two coats of chalkboard paint. Let it set overnight to dry.

Place your pattern in the center of the plaque. You can add a piece of tape to secure it.

Take your nails and hammer them into the plaque along the edge of your silhouette. I found it was easiest to make them a thumbs-width apart. This makes it easier to hold the nails anyway. To create the fine edges around the antlers, you’ll have to place the nails closer together.

deer string art

Once they’re all nailed in, remove the paper stencil and tie the ends of the embroidery floss around a nail. Wrap your embroidery floss around the edges until you’ve outlined the entire thing. Then continue to fill in the middle, hooking the floss around opposing nails.

Deer String Art

Once you’ve filled in the center, tie off the string on a nail. That’s it, you’re done. The nailing can be tedious, but it’s well worth it.

I just love the way this looks. It turned out way better than I expected. i wasn’t sure if I was on board with the string art craze, but now I’m sold. What do you think?

Love it? Pin it here!

Deer-String-Art-Pinterest-Image

painted bookshelf DIY

I wanted a shabby chic bookcase for my apartment, but didn’t want to pay a lot of money for it. I decided to DIY it and was on the hunt for a bookshelf with lots of potential.

 

Then one day I was walking home and saw this seriously neglected thing in the trash. I walked past it, and briefly considered it for half a block. Then I turned around and called Ryan to ask him to help me carry it home (and up three flights of stairs).

While I’m no stranger to grabbing things out of the trash and bringing them into my home, I have always been too scared to do it in New York because of bed bugs. But I figured I was safe because:

1. It was cold outside. Bed bugs like warm temperatures.
2. It was only one item of furniture (if you see an entire apartment’s worth of furniture, stay away!).
3. I didn’t see any bed bugs.

Regardless, I wiped it down with bleach before I brought it into my apartment.

I just love the final result. Here’s what I did. I wiped down the entire thing. Its previous owner was using it for a makeup stand (pictured above). I removed the top tier, lowering the height of the shelf.

Then I repainted the white shelves with leftover paint. It’s Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace and painted the legs of the bookshelf with two sample sizes of Benjamin Moore’s Ticonderoga Taupe.

The whole project cost $3! I certainly recommend browsing the sample area of the paint store for cheap, high quality paint. Especially if you’re doing a small touch up.

This is not the first time I’ve rescued something from the trash and gave it a new life. Remember this adorable desk? Or this shabby chic window?

shabby chic decorating: farmhouse window tutorial

upcycled farmhouse window

A couple of months ago I saw an old wooden window frame sitting on the side of the road destined for a life in a trash heap. So, naturally, I took pity on it and turned it into something pretty.

Before

window before

After

window after

I really love it so much. It’s in storage right now, but I can’t wait to add this cheery addition to my New York home.

Here’s how I did the upcycle. The window was in pretty bad shape. Besides being filthy, it had paint peeling and some of the wood was badly cracked.

I cleaned the window with soap and water and busted out the last pieces of glass that were sticking out. Then I took an electric sander to it.

Ok, I did something very bad here. I should not have sanded paint off of this, especially since I didn’t know how old the window was. I could have really exposed myself to lead dust from the paint. The dust is toxic. So, luckily, I’m fine, but it wasn’t that smart of a thing to do.

After I sanded the window down, I pulled out my wood glue and set to work repairing the middle beams, which were broken. Then I covered the window in two coats of white paint.

Once the paint was dry, then I picked a pretty fabric to put in the open spaces of the window. This is super easy and looks great for minimal work. I just used hot glue to attach the fabric to the frame.

So, now for the fun part, the bunting! I’ve wanted to add something (anything!) with bunting in my house for a long time, this was it. I used some fabric squares from the craft store and followed this tutorial. It was exactly what I wanted. I left a little bit of bias tape on each side to have it hang around the sides of the window. And, I gave each side a dab of hot glue to secure the bunting.

What do you think?

upcycled farmhouse window

I’ve been spending lots of time in ikea and Target looking for home decor inspiration, but, truly, this type of shabby chic decorating fits my style and personality much more.

revitalize your couch cushions

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Revitalize-Your-Couch-Cushions

The biggest eyesore in my house is truly my couch.

Saggy Couch Cushions

I have big plans and dreams for this thrift-store find. Maybe one day I’ll get around to create a slip cover for it a la Honey Bear Lane, because frankly, I’m not even sure what color this couch is. Green? Brown? Regardless, if anything were to be done about the couch, it had to start with the back cushions.

couch cusions

I bought the couch with these saggy and lifeless back cushions. Over the past year and a half, they’ve just gotten worse. For some reason, only the middle cushion can stand upright. The side two are absolutely hopeless. So I set out to change it.

How to Re-Stuff Couch Cushions

*I apologize in advance for the terrible lighting in my house, which creates awful pictures.

For this project, you’ll need:

I took the pillow form out of the case and placed it on a flat piece of batting. I traced around the pillow, leaving about 5 inches of space on each side. You’ll need to cut two pieces.

pillow form

This pillow has a curve in it that fits over the armrest. I initially worried that I would really mess this part up, especially since I didn’t measure anything, but it works out because the pillow case holds a more defined curve than the pillow form.

On my second batting cut-out, I made the bottom piece a little longer, so I can create a wide base for the bottom.

pillow form

Pin the sides together and sew around the entire thing – sorry, no picture. I sewed at the 5/8″ line and didn’t even bother changing my thread color. It’s a tough sew. My machine made all sorts of bad noises. I recommend using a walking foot if you have one. I didn’t.

Leave a little opening big enough for you to put your hand though, so you can stuff your pillow. I left my opening at the bottom left corner.

opening

I didn’t trim my thread or seams. I didn’t even turn it inside out. No one will see this, ever.

Next, start stuffing. You can buy more stuffing if you want, but I just used the polyester mix that was already in my old pillow form, which had a big hole in it.

stuffing

Yeah, I didn’t cut that hole. It was already busted apart.

For the most part, this stuffing worked fine. I bought a huge bag in anticipation of filling the new pillow form, but only used a few handfuls. The filling from the old pillow just needed to be handled and spread apart a little.

stuffing

Pay attention to pushing the stuffing back into corners.

pillow

Once the pillow was stuffed, I started to freak out. It looked way bigger than my pillow form or the case. Also, it was a little crooked. I’m sloppy.

Then I went on to sew up the hole in the corner.

sewingI’m not an expert at hand sewing. It doesn’t matter. No one will see this.

And you’re done!

finished

Place it back in your pillow case.

beforeafter

I love the new full-bodied pillow. Any problems with the shape of the pillow form are fixed once you place it in the case.

Total Cost:
High Loft Batting: $17 with 50% off coupon: $8.50
Pillow stuffing (optional): $7, but I didn’t use enough to suggest purchasing it for this project

Total Time: 45 min! I think the time and financial investment are well worth it.

{linked up here, here, and here}

shabby chic desk makeover

 I found this little lady in a moment of impulse dumpster diving on my way home from the gym.

desk pre paintjob

I hate to see a perfectly good piece of furniture thrown away. Especially since this one had such unique shelving. It just needed a little love.

desk pre paintjob

Or maybe it had too much in its past life?

desk pre paintjob

I felt sorry for it, took it home, cleaned it up and gave it a new coat of paint.

deskI really need to stop feeling sorry for inanimate objects. But look how much better she turned out.

desk with paint

I used a Valspar Semi-Gloss.

paint

What do you think? What a cute shabby chic desk for my bedroom.