rachel’s home: after, part 1- mixing old & affordable

It’s been awhile since I shared my “before” house tour, although I did share a tiny preview last week (this post took me forever to write because, well, cleaning) of my living room with my DIY IKEA hack record cabinet and television stand. I had been putting pressure on myself to make the space look perfect before taking these photos (i.e. dog hair free and all plants alive and well), but it’s not ever truly perfect so I figured it was time to go for it.


Today I’m going to be sharing the rest of the most lived-in space in our little home: the living room and dining room!

Before I considered our home “move-in ready” I wanted to change the wall color. We took the walls and trim from grey and dark grey to bright white. Our shot-gun style home is naturally quite dark, and I didn’t need any dark trim bringing me down.

mid bedroom

Remember?! Boy, bye.

Once the space was nice and bright, it was time to fill it with stuff! There is truly nothing sweeter to me than shopping for home decor. I love everything about the process, from gathering inspiration from homes that I could never afford from design publications to meeting in the most questionable location to secure a piece of marble from someone on Craigslist (true story).

Having a small budget doesn’t get me down- I love the challenge of seeing something I love and making it into something I can afford. I would describe my style as “eclectic & homemade Mid-century with an appreciation for affordable Scandinavian design”. I know it’s a mouthful, but I get to name my style whatever I want.

What I mean is this: I love to scour a good flea market or estate sale for vintage treasures, but I’m just as happy to make something myself to achieve the same vintage vibe. I equally appreciate affordable Mid-century and Scandinavian-inspired designs from online retailers and of course, IKEA. I want things to be interesting (eclectic), personal (homemade), classic (Mid-century), and livable (affordable) yet clean (Scandinavian).

My only design rules are that the only person who needs to be completely comfortable and completely happy in your home is YOU. It doesn’t matter how much something cost you, or where you found it. If you like it, keep it. If you don’t, don’t. Simple as that.

My Pinterest boards were full, my walls were white, and I was ready to spend some money and time investing in lovable pieces for our new home.  There was only one problem: every time that I excitedly showed a piece of furniture to my husband, he quickly shot me downbecause he thought it was “too big” for our space. And he was right. I had never worked with such small rooms before, and I was quickly getting depressed that I would never find the sectional of my dreams to fit it. Spoiler alert: I did. More on that later.


One of the many great things about being married to someone whose brain functions quite differently from your own is that they think of things from a different perspective than you do, and therefore handle challenges differently. My analyst husband decided to take exact measurements of each room and all of the furniture we either already had to go in it or had in our carts online. He then mocked up the handiest tool of all time with the help of his BFFAE, Microsoft Excel, which allowed me to move furniture around to my heart’s content. We really are a perfect pair.

Of course, this tool didn’t stop me from impulse buying vintage pieces at my favorite flea market or on Craigslist, but for the most part, everything fits nicely into our little space. I’m so excited to share some (iPhone quality) photos with you below, as well as to be transparent about where things came from.

Dining Room

img_3715I’d be lying if I said it was more common for us to eat at this table than on our couch, but I love this room and use it for work almost every day. I love mixing mostly white hues with the natural browns of the cabinet, chairs, and floors.

img_3716The tabletop is one of my favorite elements in this room. We had a really dark wood table that I DIYed for our last apartment in here for a few weeks, but it just made everything seem really matchy-matchy and outdated. I wanted something shiny and modern to juxtapose the wood, and I am so happy with how it turned out.

img_3717This hutch was one of the first things I purchased for this home. It is from Craigslist, and it was actually being sold by a woman who lives .2 miles from our home. These pictures don’t do the wood grain justice. It’s a perfect Mid-century addition to this room, and unlike most hutches from this time period, it doesn’t take up an entire wall or block either of my windows.

Oh, and we typically have more dishes to fill it up. They’re just currently piled in my sink, waiting to be washed.


I also love our photo ledges in this room. It took me forever to get any wedding photos framed, and when I did, I felt a little like I was obsessed with myself. I still do, to be honest, and I love how easy it will be for me to swap some of these out when the mood strikes me.

One of my proudest “space-saving, think-outside-the-box” pieces or furniture is this very slightly hacked IKEA shoe cabinet. Because we don’t have an entry way, mail and other papers that typically get set down when one walks into their house were getting strewn everywhere. It was maddening, especially for a couple that typically sorts their mail once a year. This shoe cabinet was the perfect solution to fit in the corner of our dining room that would otherwise sit empty. I painted the metal handles gold to make it just a tad more “us”, and we were on our way.

Living Room

img_3711 The living room is the first thing you see when entering our home, and it was my biggest design focus from the beginning. I knew I wanted it to feel warm, familiar, and inviting, but not #basic. My main concerns were finding a great chair and a sectional. Oh yeah, and I wanted a real marble coffee table for less than $100. Clocking in at only 12.5’x13.5′ with an awkward little closet jutting out of the main wall, I knew furniture would be a challenge. img_3714 The chair is one of my proudest accomplishments. It’s vintage, from my favorite local antique mall. It’s an Eames-style lounge chair with an ottoman from the slightly lower tier designer of the time, Selig. I say lower tier, but really, it’s a miracle that we were able to talk the seller down into something we could afford with this one. It’s not my negotiation skills that I am proud of, but rather, how easy it was to talk Reid into buying this thing. All I had to do was ask him to sit it in for a few minutes, and he was in. img_3713 This marble table. I love it so much! It was a real labor of love to find and then to procure/enhance, but boy was it worth it. The top was the result of hours on Craigslist + a parking lot meeting (naturally), but the bottom that came with it was deplorable (#election2016) and didn’t make it home with me. I crafted a base for it using a wood round from Home Depot and some sturdy hairpin legs. The marble piece just sits on top of the table base, which makes it easy to move if needed. Which is good- that thing is heavy.img_3712I wanted this room to be full of warm colors, interesting textures, and green plants. These DIY shelves make the perfect home for my favorite green friends, as well as some art. These shelves make me happy every single time I walk in the room, which is just what I had hoped. One of my favorite home decor discoveries was to learn that H&M has a home section. It’s perfect for things like pillow covers (seasonal ones, too!) and decorative throws, because I love to change those small pieces up often without breaking the bank. These fringed ones are no longer available, but I love them so much! Fringe everything!

And lastly, the sectional. This sectional made our house a home. It’s my best friend! I miss it when I’m not home. Seriously. We were able to order it from Joybird during one of their sales, which allowed us to afford the custom sizing that we needed. This sectional (the “Braxton“) is traditionally 109″ along the back side, but we needed it to be 93”- which it is! It’s perfect.



That’s it for now! I’ll share more tidbits from my home in the coming months, but I figured this is all anyone could handle in one sitting. Are there still a million things I would change? Sure. I am fickle, love to shop, and am easily susceptible to inspiration. But this is our first house, and I love what I have learned from it so far. The biggest cheesiest lesson? Nothing needs to be perfect. The only thing that really matters about your home are the people you fill it with.


Source list- Dining Room :

Print above mantle: EBTH (frame painted from oak to gold using this gold leafing paint)

White table: Top from IKEA and legs from The Old Timber Mill

Dining chairs: Wayfair (obsessed with them. so comfy)

Bar cart: Urban Outfitters (sold out, but other cute options!)

Indoor/Outdoor rug (because I’m not crazy enough to put a high-pile white rug under my dining table): Wayfair. I’m not crazy about this rug, but it was a cheap placeholder while I decide what look I really want in here.

Mid-century hutch: Craigslist

Light fixture: West Elm

Photo ledges: IKEA (each one is made up of one long piece + one short piece)

Source list- Living Room:

Eames-style chair: Riverside Antique Mall 

Sectional: Braxton sectional from Joybird, custom size

Rug: e-sale rugs. See my note from the dining room rug about not totally loving this.

Shelves: DIY

Marble table top: Craigslist

Table table base: Home Depot + Old Timber Mill (linked above)

All planters: IKEA

Palm tree photograph: Art.com

Rothko print: Art.com

Throws & pillow covers: H&M Home

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