August 2, 2012

My Living Room [Before & After!!]

I've been thinking about this post for awhile. I think a lot of people get stuck in a decorating rut- due to lack of support or finance. Sometimes, you start to think you'll decorate later- when you have more time. At least that's what happened to me.
Back in 2004-05 Zack and I built our house. It was our first home and I was pretty ridiculously happy with it. Here are some pics our realtor took when he listed it.
It was staged to sell in these pics, but devoid of personality. Mostly, I just removed anything that could come off a clutter, so plants and little furniture were removed. But if I were to be honest, I'd say it never had a lot of spunk to begin with.

But like I was telling you'll last week, we sold our house because we wanted to go back to graduate school. Since both Zack and I wanted to get our MBAs- {for separate reasons of course.} We had plans to attend the same school, so we needed to do reasonably well on the entrance exam to make sure we could do that.
A little more info about how we ended up renting...
We packed up everything and moved into a condo in UT, where we proceeded to shop for homes. The housing market was just beginning to fall apart, so we finally decided to ride it out and rented our little condo. All the while I was thinking, you know, soon we'd get our own place, and I could decorate again.

I thought I could put my head down and march- just get through it and then I could breathe again- and play around with ideas again. But then- I started to hate our furniture. Especially in the new space. 
And our decor- oh, I especially loathed our decor.
Circumstances be darned- I decided I would NOT live like *this anymore! 
{*By this, I mean the feeling that you're not at home when you are, in fact, in your home!...not like we were living in squalor or anything!}

These are some pics I took right after I decided to make the change. Because, of course, I had not been planning to take any photos of the space for the duration of our existence there!
 So one night I had had enough and I took some pics, so I would at least be able to someday show people a "before" pic. 
{Note: This was before I knew not to take pics at night with the lights on- oh, how much I've learned!! Note 2: These are not watermarked fr GOOD reason!! ;-)  }

I made up my mind to sell everything we had brought with us and decided to start fresh. 
Instead of buying from big box stores and purchasing matching sets, I would search out just the right piece. I made the decision to only buy things I loved. 
I sold our old crap things on Craig'sList and Ebay so we could get the most possible for them. I even spent some time to fix up/paint/ redo some of my old goods- so I would be able to modernize'em and get more moula!!

In fact- we made enough money to pay for almost all the projects, furniture and makeovers I have done ove the last year!! Crazy, right!? Even the custom sectional we got from Bassett was paid for from the proceeds- though Z did sell a couple of guns and added that to the furniture fund. {Now that's true love, right ladies?}

I judiciously decided where chunks of the budget would go- like the couch and printer's cabinet. While most everything else cost me less than 20 bucks each- 
Either used to rehab something we already had- like my end tables, ottoman, large art over the couch, clock
 OR to make something from scratch, myself. Like the map art flanking the window, the subway art, tree stump table---to name a few.
I know you gals are no stranger to buying second hand- but I'll share my criteria with you. The second hand item cannot be bought merely because it is a good deal!! ;-) This is tempting, but should be avoided! It must have the exact lines and scale that I'm looking for. No settling! 
If you wait long enough, the right item will come along! Like my tapestry chair- I paid 50 bucks for it, but Arhaus sells it for $2200!

When I look around my small space- I now feel like there is something to be proud of! It is a rental- but it is MY space, I feel ownership over it. It definitely feels like it's "me"- and who could ask for more than that!
I know you guys can do it, too. No matter what your budget is, no matter where you live. Just decide what you like- and bit-by-bit, make it happen!
Zack and I are on the vacation of our lives right now- it has been so fantastic...but I do look forward to getting home and digging into my kitchen project!