Tagged: The Apartment

Easy Embroidery

Easy Embroidery | The Ultimate

I have a bad habit of making things and liking them a lot for about 10 seconds, and immediately thereafter deciding that I hate them, forever. Does this happen to anyone else? So I consider it a victory that I have quite a few DIY’ed pieces interspersed in my bedroom’s gallery wall, and I don’t hate any of them! Yayyy. Yet.

My favorite piece is the embroidered X, which is inspired by this amazingness. I was so excited when I saw it, because I had that hexagonal frame for ages and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Of course, it would’ve been nice to just buy that piece and call it good, but it was a sold out limited edition, and I knew it would be so easy to recreate. Also I wanted a high-contrast situation, so black thread was a must.

Easy Embroidery | The Ultimate

As is usual whenever I attempt this kind of thing, I made a massive initial mistake that involved a lot of work to fix: I tried using metallic black thread. NOT GOOD. It’s much more stiff than normal thread and looked very wonky, so I had to pick out all my stitches. Learn from me.

But from then on, this project was so easy. All I did was: wrap the cardboard insert that came with the frame in some leftover linen, stapling it in place on the back. Cut an X shape out of cardboard and center on the piece of linen. Mark little groups of dots all along the edges of the X, to guide me in my stitches. Stitch one row straight across. Stitch the opposite row, weaving through the first row as you go.

I love how it adds a little texture and dimensionality to the wall!


Gallery Wall

Gallery Wall Detail | The Ultimate

I finally finished my gallery wall! Well, finished as in it no longer looks like this:

Gallery Wall Before | The Ultimate

Except now I’ve got this far, I’m thinking it’s kind of a cop out. It should be floor to ceiling, wall to wall, right?? Right. I’m pretty sure I’m going to do that. But it’s at a good stopping point right now, and I really don’t want to buy more pieces to fill it just because they happen to be black + white + gold + silver, or some combination thereof (No seriously, I’ve developed a knee-jerk MUST BUY reaction whenever I see anything in this color scheme. It’s an addiction.)

Gallery Wall | The Ultimate

I used Adobe Illustrator (although Photoshop or any image editing software would work) to experiment with different layouts. It’s really helpful if you’re still in the process of buying pieces! Because unless you’re some kind of art-arranging savant, it’s really hard to know how all the pieces are going to relate to each other if you don’t already have them. I grabbed an image file from each piece that I was thinking about buying, and added it, to assess how it would look with the rest of my pieces. With a quick mockup like this, it becomes really obvious when you need a different color of frame in one area, a photo rather than another illustration, etc. You can see here that I stuck pretty closely to this general layout, although there were some changes made in the end:

Gallery Wall Layout | The Ultimate


Gallery Wall | The Ultimate

1. Handmade quote from Lolita
2. Ink Blot Kit
3. Handmade astronaut illustration
4. Calculating a Jump Over the Moon
5. Handmade glitter paper dots over found photograph
6. Handmade embroidery
7. Photo of my sister and me frolicking in Mexico
8. Photo strip (The only one I’ve EVER taken. I know, where was I in the 90’s?)
9. Luminares
10. The World at Night
11. American Ghost Bison
12. Joker from a set of Black Playing Card
13. Handmade quote from Woodcut
17. White Dot
18. Jaime Lidell Gig Poster
19. It’s Written in the Stars Handkerchief
20. Cirque D’Art Lungs
21. Origami Bird Papercut
22. Astrology Wall Calendar


Bedroom Update

Bedside Table | The Ultimate

Hi! I’m back! I had a lovely summer holiday, minus all the working. The real world (or actually just the good ol’ U S of A…) did not respond affirmatively to my respectful request that we all take a break for the past three months, which was very puzzling to me. But I tried my very hardest to forge ahead without support, with generally good results. Fun times were had. But now the long slog into winter has officially begun, as evidenced by the proliferation of pumpkin flavored items in every grocery store (btw have you tried TJ’s pumpkin flavored greek yogurt? GOOD.)

I decided (just so I don’t go into shock from the sudden resumption of normal life) that I’d ease into it with a little posty post. Just to dip my toes in. Just to remind myself I could. So here’s my bed! I was going to do a bed/closet combo but then my camera ran out of batteries, and I don’t know who I’m kidding thinking that I’ll ever take a decent photo of my tiny dark closet, especially given that I have the photography skills of a poorly-trained capuchin monkey. Hence, just the bed.

Bed | The Ultimate

The bedding! It took foreffing ever to find emerald green sheets, but Ebay came through for me in the end. The throw pillow is (sold out) from ModCloth. I’m dying to change up the duvet cover as I think we all know that chevron is OVER, but I’ve yet to find the right thing. I made the headboard, the big linen pillows, the side tables, AND the ceramics, so it’s possible I might also take a stab at making my own. Oh the decisions…

The headboard! That was a pain to make. It involved some very questionable saw usage, a ton of staples, and a giant dose of optimism, but it turned out just fine. (Oh god, for some reason that made me think of childbirth. What is wrong with me. Moving on…)

Bedroom | The Ultimate

The side tables! After much agonizing over more expensive options, I bought these super cheap ones and just spray painted them. It’s a bit difficult to tell, but the bottoms are painted the same dusty grey-blue as my desk, which fades into a glossy black at the top.

The sconces were also a concession to my lack of funds…ideally I would have loved these lovelies (or anything else by Schoolhouse Electric!), but the knockoffs do just fine for now.

Under Bed Storage | The Ultimate

Last but for sure not least are my amazing rolling storage carts. They’re lifesavers for my tiny-no-storage-in-sight apartment, and they’re kinda cute and quite sturdy. They’re from Walmart! Random. Those are chalkboards on the front, which I labeled using a liquid chalk marker. I had to buy them special for that purpose. Aaaand I’m getting a bit concerned for the kind of chalkboard-writing, chevron-cuddling, pumpkin-yogurt eating basicness that I’m betraying in this post…:)


Gallery Wall Wishes

Prints | The Ultimate

Row I

Cycling Sailors of SF: TOO CUTE.
Puako NW: That little cloud!
Clipped Wing: Comes from an awesome shop that was so hard to pick from.

Row II

Brave the Storm: This is actually a bandana, but how great would it be framed?
Nonsensical Infographic Two: I’d hang this series over my desk.
Humans and Hybrids: Such a great riff on the “group of related items” type of poster.


Antlers: Gloriously large, and so cheap.
Laser Cut Anemone: Love me some laser cuts.

Row IV

Shipwreck: Two of three; such a good gift.
Neon Indian: Great gig posters never fail.
The Moose: This shop has so many gorgeous, isolated images.

Hmmmm so what began as a two week vacation from the country ended up as a four week vacation from EVERYTHING, and by that I mean eating responsibly, exercising, cleaning anything (including myself), and all that other crap that responsible adults are generally supposed to do.

But I hereby publicly declare that for the next few weeks I plan on eating only salads, exercising daily, cleaning all the things, and probably embarking on various charitable projects in my spare time. Also I’m going to actually do some stuff that’s worthwhile to write about on this here site.

The one project I really need to tackle is finishing the gallery wall in my bedroom. Here it is in all its current glory:

Gallery Wall: Before | The Ultimate

You are probably relieved to hear that I don’t intend to to leave this with random blank frames displaying nothing but their Ikea stickers. I need to buy or make a ton more art, shuffle some things around, paint frames, etc. Much work to be done!

It will come as a surprise to no one who’s ever done a gallery wall, but it’s HARD! Mostly (for me, at least) to find the right mix of styles and sizes of artwork. I mean, at first it was easy, because I just bought a bunch of pieces that I loved, and assumed that those considerations would sort themselves out. But then I realized that nearly everything I was buying/wanted to buy was 18×24 and all in a graphic/modern style. Which is cool if that’s what you’re going for (actually that would be so cool, in a grid from ceiling to floor, right?), but I wanted a lot of variety. And I’d already filled all my big frames.

So I’ve been spending my free time all week searching for pieces that can fill out the smaller frames. And in the course of my searches, I found a ton of gorgeous pieces that I can’t use for one reason or another. Mostly because they’ll colorful, and clearly I’m going for a monochromatic look. It’s kind of a minor tragedy to me that I can’t afford to buy all the art I like and store it in a small warehouse, but for now pinning and endlessly blabbing on about them with have to do.


The Living Room

The Living Room | The Ultimate

My living room is 99% finished, so I thought I might as well share it! The walls are still a tad bit blank, and as I mentioned here, that little cabinet seriously needs labels. Also I want to buy another throw as ours is ratty enough at this point to have been stashed away out of sight :/ But everything else is pretty much how I wanted it, and I’m happy with how it turned out! Of course I didn’t think to take any pictures when we first moved in, but at least I found this from the original ad:

Old Living Room | The Ultimate

Clearly we painted it. This is where a legit interiors type person would talk about the shade of paint that they used. I just mixed a bunch of colors (and finishes–I know, you can cringe) until I got the shade of warm, light grey that I was looking for. Whatever, it was free and it turned out! Here’s the view from the entryway:

The Living Room | The Ultimate

You may wonder why we have not one, but two festive garlands in the room (as well as a trio of disco balls). It is possssibly a bit of an overkill. I actually stuck the little gold one, which is just some random trim I had lying around, up for Christmas and then never took it down. I might remove it once I’ve added enough art to that wall. But for right now I like it because it’s like a constant partay in the living room, erry day! I should probably strew some confetti on the floor just to complete the look.


One of my favorite things in the apartment is this little plaque above the arch in the entryway. I’m curious to know if it’s metal underneath all the paint, and what its story is! I happened to have the perfect-sized frame on hand, so adding that was one of this first things I did when we moved in.

The Living Room | The Ultimate

Fun fact: that stove is gas, and our only source of heat. And do you see a pipe for the fumes? No? That’s because they are left to spew merrily into the room. Even though we always crack the window, the fire alarm frequently goes off when we use it. But on the other hand it’s very warm and toasty! Charm > Asphyxiation.

The Living Room | The Ultimate

The french doors, by the way, lead into my roommate’s bedroom. You can see the door to my room peeking out from this shot. That print is the latest addition, and isn’t it amazing?! It picks up perfectly on the neon corally color of the console table.

Bar Cart | The Ultimate

Some sources: The couch is from Overstock. The curtains are from World Market. The library style cabinet is from Target. The mirrored side tables are from Z Gallerie. The coffee table is from CB2. The cowhide rug is from Rugs USA. The holding hands print is by Casey Ohngren. The tassel garland is from an Etsy shop called Paper Fox LA. The ikat pillow cover is from another Etsy shop, called Julia Sherry Home. The neon pillow cover is from Society6–but I wouldn’t recommend their pillows–the fabric is very rough :(

Everything else was either DIYed or Craigslisted!


Winking Eye DIY

Winking Eye DIY | The Ultimate

I’m just a few tweaks away from finishing our living room! (I know, super impressive given that we moved 6 months ago and it’s about 10 square feet) I just need a bit more art and accessories, and then I’ll share it! But for now, here’s a 10-minute DIY I did to fill out one of the walls.

Winking Eye DIY | The Ultimate

I had these two round frames left over from the gallery wall I’m doing in my bedroom, and I didn’t really have a plan for them. The art they came with was kind of cute, in a way. But definitely not what I was going for. I knew I wanted something cheeky and fun but also fairly subtle–across the archway is a neon-pink print, and right next to it is our giant 48-star flag. So I didn’t want it to have any color and compete with those things.

Winking Eye DIY | The Ultimate

Inspiration hit when I saw this poster; I loved the simple, primitive shapes and sliiight creepiness (clearly I love a touch of anthropomorphic creepiness in my decor). But I thought it would be even more fun if the eyes were laid out horizontally. I whipped these up in Photoshop, and I love the way they look! Not to go all literary on you, but don’t they remind you of the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg?? I don’t know why I think that’s a good thing.

Of course, everything still looks a bit sparse. I think the eyes could do with something else above them, but I’m not sure what. Also I’ve owned that little card catalogue thing for about 2 years, and I still haven’t added any labels. (I’m afraid to commit to them. What if I run out of balloons? What would happen to my balloon drawer label??)

If you want to play around with a similar idea, you can grab the source file here!


Done(ish) With My Desk

Desk | The Ultimate


Desk Before | The Ultimate

I don’t know why I keep calling this my desk when clearly it’s actually a vanity; I mean, it’s full of jewelry and makeup and I’m certain to never do a lick of work here (I prefer the couch, or better yet, my bed). But whatever it shall henceforth go by, it’s done! Ish. I need a pretty wastepaper basket and I’m considering painting the task lamp, because I want something over there to be emerald green to tie in with my sheets. If I were brave, I would try to dye the sheepskin. Wouldn’t that look amazing? Maybe I am brave?? Must research.

But it’s come a long way from before, right? After choosing the lamp (discussed here) and the mirror, (here), the only major piece I still needed for the desktop was something to organize all my statement necklaces. For years I used this little jewelry stand, and while it was pretty, it was also laughably bad at holding more than a necklace and a bangle at a time (as, I suppose, the product image advertises). I really had my heart set on a badass marble bust (I was thinking Aristotle, Napoleon, maybe Lenin), but after being outbid on eBay a handful of times i realized that I was going to have to settle for something a little more generic. But this guy gets the job done very nicely and as an added bonus, my hat and sunglasses fit him perfectly! Although the sunglasses caused my roommate to claim that he looked like a “scary transvestite robot from the future”, so I’ve left them off for now.

Necklace Organization | The Ultimate

But the best thing about this setup is what’s inside the drawers. For the first time ever ever I have all my makeup and jewelry ORGANIZED and IN VIEW. Hallelujah!! See??

Vanity Organization | The Ultimate

For the outer drawers, I used two of the tiers of this “crafting box” that I got for super cheap at West Elm because the lid was pretty banged up. The fabric on the bottom stops all my bracelets and charm necklaces from shifting as the drawers open and close. The inner drawers have inserts that I found on an expedition to Home Goods. They’re covered in fabric with a pretty metallic trellis pattern you can’t really see…which is good in a way as my blush has already stained the crap out of one of those cubicles. Whatever.

Ring Organization | The Ultimate

All in all, I’m pleased with how my room is ever-so-slowly turning out! Stay tuned for sprucing up my bed, which at this rate will probably happen the month before I move out. But it’s going to happen!


Console Table DIY

Console Table DIY | The Ultimate

I love my apartment so much, and for the most part I appreciate its pocket size; less to furnish, less to clean. But it must be said that our living room is a challenge; it’s tiny–and I mean TINY–(In a normal house, it would be charitable to call it an atrium). And all four walls have giant windows/archways/french doors, so there’s basically no empty space to back furniture up against. It immediately became clear that we’d have to float a loveseat (an actual couch wouldn’t fit) in the middle of the room, and that would be it for the seating.

The only way this was going to work was by turning the loveseat towards the window, stove, and tv, which meant that it had to face away from the entry. And because the back of a couch is one of the least lovely sights to encounter upon entering your apartment, I knew I needed a console table STAT. Problem was—again, sooo tiny–any and all console tables I could find were too wide; they blocked up too much of the space between the edge of the archway and the back of the couch.

So that was one tragic circumstance. The other was that I’d always admired these tables, and had even bought them once before to use on either side of my old couch. But they had to be returned because they’re just bizarrely tall. I bought them again for the same purpose, thinking they’d work because our loveseat is also quite tall. But alas, no. And the most frustrating thing was that the nice leg design meant that they could expand and lower, or contract and raise. But the table tops needed to be screwed in at a certain point, which meant that this adjustable feature was totally useless.

I think you see where this is going. While sitting in a heap of styrofoam, boxes, and broken dreams, I realized that the abnormal height of the legs, while weird for side tables, was absolutely perfect for a console table. And I could get a piece of wood cut down to the perfect width! All was well.

So here it is in all its glory!

Console Table DIY | The Ultimate


Mirror Reflections

Mirrors | The Ultimate

  • Top Row:
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • Bottom Row:
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

Back to decorating my desk area! Which maybe on my next post I’ll actually show you. I have a really unattractive “before”, but as of yet the “after” lives only in my dreams.

Anyway. The next item on my to-buy list was a (hopefully) big-ass round mirror. (I actually plan on using the desk almost entirely as a vanity–I don’t like to stare at myself while I work or anything, I swear!). I knew I wanted a round one to mirror (ha!) the round shape of my headboard…something you also haven’t seen, but patience, grasshopper. But then I stalled for quite a while because I couldn’t make up my mind between the two different styles I was considering. Did I want something simple and almost masculine, which would complement what I’ve got going on (in my head in the) rest of the room? Or did I want something a little fancy and glamaaa? To break up all the streamlined-ness?

So I’ll tell you right now what I reeeally wanted was #6, the Restoration Hardware salivation-inducer that is double the price of the next most expensive option. Isn’t it the perfect combination of all of the qualities I just discussed?? WAH. Moving on. Then it was between #3 and #4. I lurve me a good Venetian mirror, and that one is gorg. But it wouldn’t have looked right with the lamp I decided to go with. I briefly considered redoing everything, tearing out my hair, or never finishing it at all, but in the end I decided to go with #4.

I just got it today and it’s gloriously large and in charge. The finish is actually quite coppery, which isn’t what I’m going for so I’m going to lightly spray some gold over it, but leave a little copper peeking out for texture and whatnot. The only disappointing thing is that it’s beveled!! Which is not AT ALL noticeable in the product photos, and which in theory I hate so much…but in practice it’s actually not that noticeable IRL either, so I’m going to deal with it. Unless the Restoration Hardware one goes on sale, in which case it will be MINE.


Easiest Ever Pet Bed DIY

Pet Bed DIY | The Ultimate

This project is so easy that it hardly counts as a DIY. Actually it definitely doesn’t count, which in a way makes it ultimate DIY? Anyway, let’s discuss dog beds, and my multi-year search for one that wasn’t ugly, expensive, or both (shudder). I never found one that fit (what you’d think were) these basic requirements, so Lucy has always had to lounge on the piles of clothing I very thoughtfully leave out for her.

But no longer! She loves her little bed. I should mention that this DIY is easiest for a little dog or a cat…if you have a bigger dog it would work, you’d just need to find an oversized tray and a larger sheepskin. But if you have a midget like me, then all you need is a rectangular tray (this one is cute too!), an Ikea sheepskin, and a couple old dish towels (Or grab a few of these along with your sheepskin if you have nothing handy).

Pet Bed DIY | The Ultimate