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I have a disease…

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I’m having what is known in the medical community as “CRAFT BLOCK.”  It’s a severe disease that occurs after a major crafting holiday (typically in January) but only lasts usually a couple of weeks.  It can last up to years however if not treated.  Symptoms include sitting on your computer for hours at a time, feeling completely unmotivated, empty wallet, and empty brain.  
So in an effort to cure myself of this, I am going to do something very daring.  Are you ready for this?  I’m nervous.  
I’m going to show you my living room.
And it’s not clean.
It’s very very very NOT clean.  
I just put away the Christmas decorations and can’t summon the energy to put the rest of the house back together since there is SO. MUCH. CRAP.  
Are you ready to take our relationship to the next level??  Okay….
(I live in an apartment.  That is key to remember here.  A dumpy one at that.)  

 In my defense, that picture got knocked crooked when I was putting away the tree that was in that corner.  


Apartment:  Ditch it.  But that I guess isn’t going to happen for another 1.5 years.  So in the meantime I’ll deal with the ugly stained carpet. If I had my way it would be wood floors.  Preferable walnut. 

Couch:  Sew a custom slipcover in white cotton duck.  Maybe sew two.  But I plan to bleach the crap outta that thing.

Rug:  Ditch it.  So sick of it.  And its cheapness (no offense if you have this rug…I said ‘no offense, so that makes it okay to say whatever I want.)  I would like maybe a plain white braided one from IKEA thats dirt cheap (since we’re going to be poor for 2-4 more years, according to the husband.) Oh–I have to have an area rug because there is a huge stain on the carpet (that was there when we moved in, lovely, right?)

Ottoman:  Undecided…any ideas?  I’m so sick of it just being another piece of furniture but it comes in handy.  Plus it holds tons of stuff.

Chair:  I can’t part from this chair because it was a cast-off from our first married apartment and therefore holds sentimental value.  Plus I restained and re-covered it.  I think after I do the slipcover I’ll re-cover it again in some cute print.  And maybe paint the wood white.  Maybe.

Curtains:  I’m gonna keep these up since the alternative is $$ which we don’t have or putting up the even-more hideous vertical blinds that came with the apartment.  Who said “Hey lets make these the standard in ALL cheap apartments!!  They are SO attractive and not at all annoying!”

Kids crap:  I want to move our IKEA 8-cube Expedit to the corner (where the tree was) and put books/decor but also drawers to keep more toys.  Shwin & Shwin has a great tutorial for covering those AWFUL plastic Expedit drawers.  (And then I’ll buy the 16-cube Expedit for my craft corner because that is even worse than the living room right now.)


1.  My TV,  TV console and the Expedit are all black.  That’s a lot of black for one wall.  I don’t want to paint, so what should I do to brighten it up?  Pretty colored canvases?  Painted vases?

2.  Should I get the new 16-cube Expedit in white?  The black matches better, but I need more light in the apartment, plus I like white.  But IKEA white is very plastic-ey.  I have the white Expedit in my boys room and it’s fine in there…I’m thinking also of the future because I want to paint my crafting table white too.   

3.  I like the simple white and black/brown color scheme but I need a pop of one or two colors.  I am loving blue…should I do blue?  Is blue on its way out?

4.  We have one of the Lazy Boy recliners in tan microfiber.  Those chairs are hideous to me but my husband needs it for his back.  How can I make it blend in with the rest of the makeover?

5.  Does anyone have the IKEA white braided rug?  Does it stain or show dirt all the time?  Is it washable? 

6.  For future reference, what kind of window treatment should I consider?  I like curtains but what kind of fabric?  Print or plain? 

Is that a TMI overload?  Are you suffering from Craft Block just reading this post?  (Yeah, welcome to my world.)

Please answer my questions though, all you crafty, artistic, and decorating geniuses!  I need help! 

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  1. Meadowlark says:

    Yellow is the new blue, or so I've read.

    and i'm snickering at "I said 'no offense, so that makes it okay to say whatever I want" because it's exactly what I was thinking when I started reading where you wrote it.


    if EVERYBODY has white or if EVERYBODY has granite or if EVERYBODY has PB-inspired art, just run the other way. Yes, it's pretty. But why look like everybody else? Of course, you don't see pictures of MY living room, so I really have no room to talk. 🙂

  2. Hey lady! I SO feel your apartment pain!! We have more and more stains showing up each day! And don't get me started on the verticle blinds…

    I would say don't try to do it all at once. Find one great thing you love. Whether its a painting, or a vase, or a fun DIY. Just find one thing and start to branch out from there. If you love blue…do blue! Do what YOU love…not the trends. If you love the current trend..then rock it. But decorating to what's "in" can be exhausting as it changes often. I would say you know what your style is when you see something and it makes your heart happy:) Dont label yourself ONE thing.

    You could get the light birch expedit and then stain it with Ikeas white stain? I saw a sample at the store. I love those shelves! We have had our eye on the TV unit version for years.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with! We are in the same no $$ for decorating boat…and its hard to decorate a place you rent.

  3. I have so been there! Oh, wait…I'm still there. It is so my wish to redo my livingroom. Our couches are at least 8 years old. They came to the marriage, already beaten up, missing the legs, etc. My husband looked at them a few weeks ago when I had casually mentioned needing new furniture and his response was "oh, they should be good for another 10 years or so". I don't know whether to laugh or cry. All my furniture is black at the moment. I'm wanting to warm it up a bit with brown. I'm going with a turqoise color in ours.

    As for your livingroom, I think it would be okay to go with the white shelf. It would blend into the wall a little bit. Black tends to look heavy and if you're wanting a more open/airy/bigger looking space, white would be the way to go (coming from someone whose furniture is ALL in black 🙁 ) And, you can always paint it later when you move into another place.

  4. banclothing says:

    I think the red couch is actually nice. I would leave it because slip cover never seem to stay in place. I think going with a lot of white will help brighten up the room. I hate the rug too so no offense was taken. The auto is functional so I would push it against the back of the couch… then kids can play with their stuff behind the couch where the ikea cube thing will be. Sometimes i feel like throwing everhting in my living room out and starting over….

  5. Stay away from white with kids. Too much work to keep it white. Love the red couch. As for the black furniture, you don't have too much black, plus it just makes accessorizing it with pops of color very easy.

    For the stain, try some baking soda, and a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Worked on pet stains in my house that were 2 years old!

    Also, my favorite thing to do to bust creative block…pick a museum and go to it, preferably without kids. Take a crafty girlfriend, it helps get the juices flowing.

  6. Caroline @ Atelier Caroline says:

    The couch slipcover is kind of a big undertaking – I've done chairs 3 years ago and it took 3 full days with the help/advice of all the ladies of my quilting group)
    What I would do for an immediate and inexpensive sprucing up :
    Get a piece of plexiglass cut to the size of the top of the entertainment center (minus a1/4 inch all around and put a piece of pretty fabric or crafting paper underneath to brighten it up. With kids and chances of spills it will keep it looking neat and make it easy to clean.

    Put those throw pillows in pillowcases. I have a beige fabric with poppy prints that would be lovely with the couch, with a chocolate brown border to tie in with the drapes' color

    Add a couple of strips of contrasting color – maybe a golden brown or slightly orangey yellow- across the drapes and maybe lengthen them a bit to let them slightly "break" on the floor.

    Make a coordinated slipcover for the ottoman : chocolate brown with lighter color strips (and keep the top as is so the ottoman can still dub as a coffee table)

    For a touch of blue pick some light aqua color decor pieces: Picture frame, vase or lampshade

  7. I always look at sales bins that have sheets! Pretty sheets can make really great curtains and throw pillows for cheap cheap! Wal mart actually carries a line of sheets that are about 12 dollars for queen set and I have made curtains from them before! Hope this helps good luck!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I totally hear where you're coming from (even down to the "we're going to be poor for 2-4 years part"–my husband is in a business where it takes several years to build a client base).

    First, I don't think you're apt is that bad; I kinda like the color of your couch. For color spashes in an apt, I like the idea of painting large canvases and hanging them (you could add easy stencil designs in white, or another color). Another favorite cheap trick: spray paint. http://www.centsationalgirl.com (not my blog, just a blog I like) spray paints everything with great results. I agree about the sheets for curtains idea. Also, the ottoman seems like it would be easier to cover than the sofa, don't you think?

    Now, I'm thinking about all the things I need to do to my living room!

  9. anjac_webster says:

    Would swap my couch (heck, have both!) for your red one! I do have slipcovers, and I splurged and bought good ones (cause that was still cheaper than new couches), and hate it. They shift around all the time and attract hair and lint like nothing else.
    With a red couch and black furniture you could actually make white your accent color, if you're so set on white. I do think you're brave, with the little one's around…

  10. So I hope you don't find this creepy!! I got to your blog from a different crafting one a few days ago, and thoroughly enjoy the mommy uniform, since I just had my 2nd baby and pretty much H.A.T.E everything in my closet (all size 2 or 4…oh the days gone by..*grumble*). LOL!

    I had the same apartment issue until last year when we finally left California. If I were you, I'd do the following: 1. look for curtains on walmart.com (Shopping online for some things is soo much better because they often have things there they don't have in store).. I got some that are cream 2/3 of the way from the top down, and tan the last 1/3..they are classic without being BORING. Try a straighter curtain (one that hangs in the same shape as vertical blinds do), rather than a drape like you have. It will open the window up more and make the room brighter (and less dated). My color suggestions would be tan/turquoise or robin's egg/and dark brown with cream accents OR dark brown/tan with cream, green, yellow, or orange accents. I have a habit of decorating in sage/tan and its pretty timeless, but can get really boring. If you didn't have kids I'd go with the white/yellow look all the way, but its IMPOSSIBLE to keep clean. We have a black tv stand and coffee table, and the tan/green looks nice with them. I can totally see how your couch is probably driving you nuts because its such a bold color and it stands out against the white walls. If you were willing to paint walls back (we always had a clause in our apartments that the walls have to be white when you leave) then you could paint the walls a brown-sugar color and the couch wouldn't bother you, but the room would look smaller. If you're going to do a cover for it, I would try to buy one rather than make it. They're a total PAIN to make and it seems like they never fit right (plus apholstery fabric is so expensive it almost washes out the cost of purchasing one). I'd try a large flower/scroll-y print in dark brown and tan, or dark brown and cream if you make one (IDK what you can find to purchase for a reasonable price since I haven't bought one since 2003..). Try to get a textured fabric, they actually hide grime better. For the floor I would be tempted to get a rug the same color as your carpet. That way it opens the room up and you still have the stain coverage. You also don't have another color to contend with. A lot of carpet stores and even Home Depot sell carpet-style rugs that are often less $than true "area" rugs. Also try Overstock.com, Amazon.com, and Hayneedle.com stores once you pick a color. Sign up for Amazon mom (if you haven't already) and you get free 2-day shipping for 3 months (side note..you can also get diapers for like 5 cents per diaper less than in retail stores..). Add throw pillows (easy to make jsut get a yard and a half of fabric and sew a cover for your current pillows) in a bold fabric once you get your couch figured out. There you can use yellow or even a yellow/orange/brown combo if you go with brown/cream or if you go with robin's egg/brown you can use a darker turquoise and a cream to accent. Try turning the ottomon long-side to the recliner which might pull it out of the way of the door-to-sliding door walkway. I'd move the shelf you have beside the sliding door to pair with the one over the TV and flank either side of the TV at about the level of yoru lowest picture frame here, and put different sized thick candle sticks and a couple cool-covered books from the local 2nd hand bookstore on them (also a good place for fresh flowers/vases). Move the picture collage to beside the door, and add a 2 or 3 more and arrange them in a less predictable format, a little more collage like. Behind the couch you can put a canvas toy storage bin (Target, 10-15$ depending on size)(I pick up toys with the kids before bed and toss them in an open bin. Not the most organized but they're off the main floor) and make that their play-storage area.

  11. Lastly I'd oblique-angle the couch back a bit more, opening it a little flatter to the room and reducing it as a "wall" feeling. IDK whats between your couch and the recliner but you could move that lamp there instead, too. The leftover love chair can go against the wall beneath the shelf (where the frames are now) as a timeout chair unless it sticks out too far (hard to tell from the pic here). I might also get a couple low baskets (like that kind that go in a bathroom and are only 2" tall" from TJ max or michaels to go beside your TV and collect all the little junk that accumulates there. It'll look less junky but you dont have to clean them out so often.

    Hope that helps! I'd probably go for the dark brown, brown-sugar, tan, cream theme and then *pop* with yellow/oranges…but if you like blues you can go with that other one. Good luck! I hate decorating apartments. They're a royal pain. It does make decorating a house sooo much more fun though!

  12. Ms. Kimmy says:

    GAH i love your blog LMAO! your personality sounds like it was split from mine, no seriously..it does!! And my living room looks soo much like yours..and believe it or not. I HAVE MORE BLACK THAN YOU!!! I got caught up in some weird gotta all match so that meant it had to be black deal! lol…and theres NO fixing the cheap furniture you get from walmart (which we bought because I was preparing for my 2 year old to tear it up)….I have child proofed my house to the point that we barely even decorate!! 🙁 So Sad, and to top it off, im an HGTV addict, and I cant do anything about it in my house….okay enough, on to your questions, lets see what I can leave my opinion on…..for your tv console and all other stands, picture frams, colored glass vases, knick nacks bright colors will liven up the black (would do this myself but yea the two year old…)…umm as far as the cubes that you have, you could leave them in black and do some black and white damask print to line the back (sounds crazy but ive seen this done, in all different colors, its like walpapering your walls, only you do it for the back of cubes! You can do this really cheap with cardboard and your love of fabric! and just use the colors you plan on using in the room! ….black and brown color scheme works well with pale blues. Its creamy and relaxing!! And its NEVER on its way out if YOU LOVE IT! you have to live there so never decorate for the moment!! Its your house and if someone doesnt like them…umm "screw em"..<sorry Im having a rough day at work…

    If you are not overloaded with print, I think some kind of faint stripe or print is gorgeous in curtains! I envy those who can throw this altogether! (if you go out on a limb and try to walpaper the back of the cubes, you could use the same type of material some way with throw pillows or your curtains?! Just a thought….

    And I dont own anything from Ikea as pitiful as that is because the CLOSEST one to me is 3 hours away, and they dont ship "little things" to homes?! WTF you have to buy couches to have it delivered lol!!

    Lordy I hope this helps…

  13. I am no interior decorator as you know but I vote for staying away from white–no, run from white for anything. Think prints, variagated and darker colors for less or no cleaning.

  14. Love what you've done so far!! One idea I love to do (ala Nate Berkus) is either paint the backs of bookshelves/cubes or line them with fabric. It really changes the way you feel about that piece of furniture. To use the fabric, just use spray starch and then it peels off nicely, and you can change it!!

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