Monday, July 5, 2010

Guest Post: Before & After by Alaina of Live Creating Yourself

I am well aware it is a holiday for those of us Stateside, but that doesn't mean a break from designing! I wanted to share a before/after project (and everything in between) that I've tackled in my home. Since moving into an apartment on the Northside of Chicago this past January, I've put time into decorating almost every week in an effort to transform the vintage space into a comfortable and pretty home. Whether I've been at the flea markets scouring for unique decor, grabbing the drill and hanging curtains, or painting an old piece of furniture, I've quickly learned that decorating a home on a budget is almost a never-ending project. Anyone who has been to my blog has likely seen my home office, so I apologize if the first three photos are repeats for you! But what's a before and after without the full story? So our story begins six months ago...
The apartment has this awkwardly small den/third bedroom that's really too small to be a bedroom. It gets great natural light but as you can see, it's a very small space in which to produce a creative respite for working 8+ hours a day. In fact, the room is just under 7.5' by 9.5'. But I knew I could make it work. The landlord agreed to paint the entire place and allowed me to choose the color. I went with Behr's Dolphin Fin grey.
I work from home as a graphic designer so I had to set up a workspace rather quickly. As you can see, a lot of art needed hanging, and the room cried out for some pizazz to keep the creative juices flowing. The room sat like this, however, for about a month as I worked on the main living spaces.
Eventually, one Sunday morning, I shot out of bed, ran to Benjamin Moore, painted the main wall black, and created a gallery wall. As for the large blank wall to the right, I knew I wanted an inspiration board so I headed to The Container Store and grabbed the largest one I could find. It was pretty darn ugly so I had plans to make it over as soon as I paid for it. But that project was to be held off for a later date. Instead, when I got home, I hung it on the wall and immediately began pinning up photos I'd saved from my online files and magazines. It was a bit disorganized, but pretty to look at. All in all, a good Sunday. And the room looked like that for the next several months...
...until I began my little Etsy shop. This included the addition of a printer and loads of materials (envelopes, paper, etc). I needed new storage stat, so in came a set of my favorite Expedit shelves from Ikea. I already had a set in my dining room that I use as a bar/buffet, so I knew I couldn't beat the price. And the storage capabilities are bonkers awesome. With the new slick shelves, I thought this was the perfect time to tackle the bulletin board, so you can see it got a clean sweep.
I serendipitously found DIY steps to create a nailhead trim bulletin board on the Bryn Alexandra blog. After a couple trips to Michael's craft store and an hour or so on the back deck, the nailhead bulletin board was finished! It's so pretty I almost didn't want to cover it. Of course it wouldn't be much of an inspiration board then, would it?
still JUNE
So with a bit of inspirational styling, here it is now! Unfortunately I took the photo at an inopportune moment with the light shining in, but I think you get the picture. I am not crazy about how busy the corner of the room is with the shelves, bookcase, and desk all crowding around one another, so that will probably be changed in the near future. But for now, it works considering how small the space is. And let's be honest. I haven't reached for that GRE prep book on the bottom shelf in a while. Note the Expedit cubes could stand to be styled a bit, as well. But as I mentioned in the beginning, these things take time.
Close-up of the nailhead trim and the LCY business card designed by yours truly. I'm pretty much a Jack of All Trades. Or should I say Jane of All Trades? Hmm... food for thought.
And for a few other views of the room, here you see my personal art museum above my desk. This collection grew over time and includes an oil painting from Montmartre in Paris and a painting found at a flea market in Virginia. Most others are photographs and prints purchased on Etsy, and a few I did myself. Fine, I won't lie, there is one item up there from Bed, Bath, and Beyond that I've had since high school and will never tire of. Can you guess which one?
Oh, and I added some of Target's black grommet curtains because I was literally being blinded by the afternoon sun day after day.
So that's that! The never-ending, real life design process. Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day. I hope you all enjoyed and can find some inspiration that creating a space which works for you likely won't happen overnight! But with a bit of effort and an ever-expanding inspiration folder, you can easily make progress bit by bit.
And thank you so much, Paloma, for including me among your guest bloggers this week. It's truly an honor as your blog is one of my favorites! Enjoy, Barcelona!
Oh, and HAPPY, HAPPY 4th, fellow Americanos!


Alexis L., The Studioist said...

Love it and thank you for sharing your process. I'm trying to decide if my own space can 'handle' black paint. Do you mind sharing what shade and finish of BM you used?

Diana said...

I really enjoyed reading this, I love seeing the process, not just before and afters. Thanks for sharing!

Torrie said... the bulletin board transformation. thanks for sharing:).

Lovely Little Nest said...

She's one of my favorite bloggers/designers, and I absolutely LOVE her office makeover.

Thanks for sharing! :)

Bailey@ peppermintbliss said...

Glad to see I am not the only one who takes a more, erm, long term approach to decorating! The space is looking great Alaina! xoxo

Semigloss Chic said...

I'm in love with that black wall!

Lupi said...

lovely office!

Averill said...

Love how you made your computer part of the gallery wall.

Helena - A Diary of Lovely said...

I love your office Alaina! I must admit I check it over and over for inspiration! xo

Carole said...

Hasn't it turned out great! I love seeing the process too. We all have to work around what we already have, what we can afford and what is practical and to see it eventually looking so beautiful is alway rewarding.
Thanks for sharing.

fashionable palette said...

I really love this post. I have never been to the LCY blog, but I am going to check it out right now. Seeing the process of how this office came togther is just so inspiring. I love the outcome.