Finding A Place For Our Thrifted Retro Sofa

We went to a Salvation Army store hoping to find a pusher for our then 9-month old baby girl and left the store with a new/old retro sofa!

Who would have predicted that would happen? Not us. We were not in the market for a new sofa at all, although we were talking about replacing our too-big-for-the-room queen bed in the guest room with a sofa bed. This would give us more walking space in the room and we could even use the rarely-used guest room as a playroom when we don’t have guests. We also have been on the lookout for a small sofa for our office, but we had no real plans to buy anything just yet.

We just fell in love with this retro sofa and the deal was even sweeter when we found that it had a bed in it as well. The mattress is in really good shape. It looks like it’s been barely used.


This photo doesn’t really show the colors of the sofa, but you’ll see a better photo soon that really shows what it looks like in real life. The colors include yellow, orange, coral, navy blue, white/cream, and brown.


What’s more, the sofa was already professionally cleaned and sanitized! Check out your Salvation Army store if you’re iffy about buying upholstered pieces from thrift stores (bed bugs, anyone?). We found a good number of upholstered furniture that were cleaned and sanitized.


At first, I thought that the sofa would be perfect for our office, since we need a sofa for that room, too. But then we remembered the situation with our guest bedroom, so we weren’t sure. To help us decide, I took a cushion and tested out how it would look in both the guest bedroom and the office.

The guest bedroom is painted in Kerry Blue (Martha Stewart) and it really helped the colors in the sofa cushion POP.  By the way, this is the best photo that truly shows you the colors of the sofa.


The office is painted in Intense Teal (Sherwin Williams) and it is SO HARD to accurately capture the teal color in photos. It always comes out looking like royal blue or bright blue. This random photo was unexpectedly my best effort in all of my years of trying to take a half-way decent photo of the color:


Just ignore the blurry and cute baby in the photo, focus on the wall color (especially on the left of Janella’s head) and how it looks with the sofa cushion.

No way, right? It just didn’t go. That cemented my decision: the sofa was destined to be in the guest bedroom slash playroom slash exercise room. Hopefully, that will help make that room much more functional and useful for our daily lives.

A huge drawback to the sofa is HOW FREAKING HEAVY IT IS. I mean, it’s so heavy that I’d rather attempt to lift an elephant than to carry this sofa again. Somehow, I was able to help Nick drag the sofa off the truck and into the garage without killing myself, but I just couldn’t muster the energy needed to carry it into the house. We asked a friend, Sean, to help Nick carry it into the house…

…and this happened.


I don’t blame Nick or Sean for this sad, sad, sad incident. I blame the brick wall corner on the exterior of our home. I blame the sofa for being so heavy. I blame our wallets for being too thin to hire professional movers.

It’s a good thing that the sofa has such a busy pattern. I’m sure I can stitch it up with a dark thread without it showing too much. Hopefully! I’ll share whenever I get around to doing that.

And when I think about it even more, the sofa is just a really perfect fit for the room. The coral in it will go great with the coral nightstands that are in my plans and the yellow goes well with the yellow lamps that are already in there. Perfect.

guest bedroom mockup(from my guest bedroom plans)

I’m so happy with the sofa and with its price tag. It was only $200 – a great price for a practically brand-new sofa with a bed in it. It is so comfy to sit in, too.

The next step is to lug it from our living room, where it’s chilling, into the guest bedroom, which is only around 10 steps away. I’m really not looking forward to that 10 steps.

Actually, before I do that, I’ll have to sell the bed on Craig’s List. I hope to get a good price for it. I’ll need to convince Nick to spend the spoils on house decor, instead of less important things like food and clothing. I mean, right?


Plan for Guest Bedroom Finalized! Now I can sleep…

Last night, while I was in bed and hoping that Janella would make the transition to the crib successfully (she did! yay!), I decided to formulate some kind of plan for the guest bedroom.

Why now? Aren’t we focusing on the laundry room?

Yes, but the cabinet painting is taking forever (I can only get an hour or two every night, but only if Nick gets home early and doesn’t have any work to complete at home) and I feel like I’m not productive, even if I’m making progress, because it ISN’T DONE YET.

Making plans — now that’s very productive. At least, it is to me. So, that’s what I did last night.

Instead of just showing you my plans and walking away, I’m going to take you through the process of planning. I’m not a interior designer (dream job!), but this is a good way to see how a few pictures of inspiration can really help you get ideas for a room design.

Here we go.

The Room:

Sorry for the bad picture. It’s hard to take a good photo when the light is so strong and when I took this, the roller shade wasn’t in yet.

The Process:

I just opened Pages on a whim and wanted to see if I could make an image that resembled my guest room using shapes like squares, triangles, and circles…

guest bedroom 1

Not half bad. It’s not Photoshop, but it works in giving me a nice visualization of the room.

I originally thought I wanted to paint the nightstands white and add white curtains, but this photo made me go BLAH. Too much white.

I went over to my Pinterest and looked at this duvet, which I really love but won’t buy:


I had pinned the image to help inspire the room. So I looked hard at the colors. I already had the yellow in the lamps and the blue on the walls, but the kelly blue on the walls is much darker than the light blue color in this duvet.

I thought of the light blue paint we used in the laundry room… maybe that would work on the roller shade? Maybe stripes of light blue?

Not bad. But these nightstands are killing me. They are SO BORING.

Looking at the duvet again, I thought about painting them a coral color. Really? Coral? Would that work?

I LOVE IT. Okay… coral it is. Never mind it’s a trendy color and might turn into the avocado green of the ’70s by next year. Besides, I really love avocado. Eating it, I mean.

Then I was stuck again. And I didn’t really dig the roller shade plan. The color was still not 100% right.

Back to my Pinterest board, where I found this image that I pinned because the wall color reminded me of the guest bedroom.


I love how the green pops against the dark blue wall.

Green? Green!

I like it so much better.

But now I’m not sure about the stripes. I know Nick’s not a big fan of stripes and even though I love stripes, I wanted something a bit more unexpected.

I looked at the above image again… and was inspired by the floor pattern. Maybe it would look good on the shade?

Eh, not bad, but not quite there.

How about this?

Yes, I like it!

Great. Great. Okay… what’s next? Oh yes – I had planned to add two frames on both sides of the window and put my hippie cloth tarp thing that I’ve held on since college. The colors in it is really pretty and it’s free.

I didn’t have a photo on hand, so I just googled “hippie sarong” and found this fabric. Close enough…

But it doesn’t mesh with the coral nightstands and the roller shade. Everything kind of felt preppy and the hippie feel in the frames just didn’t work.

Oh! What about black swirly art that I posted about a while ago and was thinking maybe doing for the living room? What if I did them for the guest room instead?

Better than the hippie art, but not quite right, either. The lines on the shade is pretty severe, so I needed the art to be softer. And maybe colorful too, since everything else in the room so far is just one color.

Soft… colorful… Flowers?

Of course, it couldn’t be boring flowers. Nick would never approve.

I immediately thought of this photo that had popped up in my Pinterest feed (do you call it a feed? the pins that you get from those you follow… is that a feed?) that I admired but didn’t pin:

design sponge

I went back to Pinterest, found the painting, and pinned it.

And added it to the frames:

guest bedroom mockup


I’ll work on this room probably in 2013, but it feels so good to have a clear plan for it that I love!

What about you — what’s your process when you design a room? Do you use inspiration images or are you a design genius with 1,323,743 ideas in your pretty little head?

Flowers Make Everything Better

This is a really simple project that I did for our guest bedroom just before Nick’s parents came to stay with us for two weeks after Janella was born. This is something you can do with all the leftover wrapping paper you’ll probably end up with after you wrap all of your presents for Christmas!

We haven’t really done anything with the guest bedroom… yet. I can’t wait to tackle this room!

The nightstands you see on both sides of the bed – they’re waiting for a makeover. We got them off Craig’s List a while back.

The insides of the drawers are pretty grungy. I cleaned them as best as I could, but they didn’t LOOK clean. I know that if I was a guest, I would hesitate to put my clothes in these. And we don’t have a dresser in the room – the room is too narrow for that – so these nightstands are the only spaces for our guests to put their clothes in, other than the closet.

I wanted to line them but I didn’t want to spend a cent. I checked my stash of wrapping paper and found this pretty flower print. Perfect.

I measured the inside of the drawer and cut out the wrapping paper in the same measurements.

I used permanent double stick tape on the back of the wrapping paper and just rolled it on, like so:

Yes, my hand is that veiny and freckled. Ain’t that a beauty?

And that’s it. It’s better to cut the wrapping paper just a little bigger than smaller, so your paper will go up the edges a little bit, like this:

When you look at it from a normal distance, it looks perfect. On some sides I cut it too close and it left a gap, which was more noticeable.

This simple and free addition made the drawers just a little bit prettier.

That’s it. But I am really so ready to paint these drawers and make them pretty. I can’t decide what color to paint them, though. The lamps are yellow (we also have orange lamps standing by as an alternative), the walls are kelly blue, and I want to paint the headboard white. (Or upholster it in a cool fabric, but $$ and time)

White nightstands? Too much white? Gray? Leave it wood on the top and sides, and paint the drawers white? I can’t decide. Please, chime in and let me know what you think!! Here’s a close-up of the nightstands:


Make a wish on this star…

Behold – another Craig’s List find!

But we cannot claim any credit for this find, other than actually driving to the location and purchasing it. It’s all thanks to the awesome blog Design Crisis (written by Craig’s List queens Erin and Karly).

They live in Austin, so I always enjoy reading their CL finds. A few weeks ago, I saw this post: Austin Craigslist, Cheapskate Edition. I fell in love with the star light on their list and eagerly clicked over to the CL ad. However, the link didn’t work, so I wrote them a comment asking for the weblink. They sweetly sent me an email with the link… and that led us to a cool little house with a cool little dog and this cool big star light!

Nick installs all the lights in this house, so he naturally installed this one. But his method was a bit different this time around:

Yes, he’s standing on a chair that’s dangerously balanced on the bed. I wonder if mom slept with dents in the mattress that night? Sigh.

Well, what’s important is that it’s installed and I love it so much that I want to put it in a room where I’m in more often so I can enjoy it more! The guest bedroom is off to a great start.

Ignore everything else in the room – we need to start working in that room sometime soon, but I’d prefer to focus on the nursery first. It’s OK for now for guests, but I just love how that light makes the room look 34 times better.

The best thing about the light? The shadows that it creates at night:

A blank slate – in more ways than one

Currently, our guest bedroom looks like this:

guest bedroom 3

It’s a blank slate, waiting, watching, and quiet. It’s used only by the cats for sunbathing these days. It feels like my future, sort of. Except for the cat part.

After many hours of discussion and reflection with Nick, we’ve decided that I won’t be going back as a teacher next fall. I feel both sad and relieved at this decision – sad that I won’t be seeing my students again next year after working so hard with them this year, but relieved that we won’t have to worry about day care and that I can be 100% focused on the baby when it comes in October.

guest bedroom 2

I’m looking for writing opportunities that I can grab while working at home. I’ve found some small jobs here and there and plan to put in more hours once summer break starts (only five weeks left!). I bought a few books on working as a freelance writer and did the math on how much writing I would have to do in order to bring home enough money for essentials such as food, baby stuff, and of course, decorating this house.

We originally thought we would have to eliminate the house budget completely from our budget (which is used for decor and furniture, not essential stuff like filters or the electric bill), but after thinking about it for a while I just couldn’t stand the idea. After all, our house is our home and I can’t just leave it in this unfinished stage for however many years I’ll not be working as a teacher. And this is my hobby, as much as watching sports is Nick’s hobby (as well as playing Alhambra online, his current obsession). If my hobby, my most favorite way to spend my time, is cut from our budget, the tv and internet budget would have to be cut as well to make things “fair”. Nick understood what I was talking about and so we decided that our house budget will still be a part of our overall budget, but it will be drastically reduced.

guest bedroom 1

This should be very, very interesting. I hope that this will be a positive change for us – it will force us to be much more thoughtful and selective with our decorating decisions and to put more energy in finding the best deals. We do have a lot of projects waiting around the house that require a lot of hands-on time and not too much money. And I will definitely have more time on my hands to finish these projects as well as blogging about them. So I am feeling positive and excited about the changes and look forward to seeing what happens. I hope you’ll join along for the ride!

Guest Room Finally Lightens Up

We had planned on swapping the cheap builder light in our guest bedroom with a equally cheap IKEA paper ball light, but after we took out the builder light we realized that the IKEA light just wouldn’t work. It was too big. And cheap-looking.

It was one week before our new roommate would move in and all we had for a ceiling light in the guest bedroom was a few ugly wires sticking out.

Our budget: $50.

Lowe’s? Some possible options, but nothing we loved that was under $50. Home Depot? NO. Vintage stores? No luck – all over $50 or ugly.

I decided to check out Craig’s List and found this retro chandelier for $30.

After some texting back and forth with the seller, we finally got our grubby hands on the light fixture outside of a grocery store. She handed us a paint spray can and recommended it to us – in this brass color that you see in the picture above. Thanks, sweet lady, but we want to maybe do something a bit funkier.

Not sure what, though. Spray it black? Teal? Orange? White? We will wait. Once we make some more progress in that room, we can reevaluate the colors in the room and make our color decision with the light fixture. We also need to add a dimmer… This is a bedroom, after all.

Decided to bad-photoshop-Andy-Warhol-style the photo to show you our paint ideas…

Our light fixture, pop art style:

Hmm… That original brass color is looking better and better…

Some math for the guest bedroom

Remember when I declared that February would be the month of the guest room?


Wait, I’m not finished.


We painted the room. We got a side table and a dresser. That’s how far we got before Adam came to stay with us for a few months for his internship.

So, I stopped working on that room. But did I stop mulling, obsessing, and plotting about it? I’m sure you can guess the answer to that.

Here are some Room Formulas I’ve whipped up in honor of my sweet Nick, who’s a math teacher!

For the bed…

And for above the bed…

Of course, I still have some more formulas to show you for the guest bedroom. Later.

What do you think?? Suggestions? Feedback? Scoffs? Give it all to me. I can take it.

* Sources: Bed, IKEA; duvet, West Elm; orange throw, Apartment Therapy; orange pillows, Brick City Love; black frames, good question; postcards, google.