Category Archives: Mood Boards

Craigslist Palace: A Mid-Century Living Room for $665

I’ve always been proud of the way I’ve created the rooms in my home, using Craigslist and thrift store finds to keep things budget-friendly.  But over the years I’ve had friends and blog readers say to me that they never have that luck, or never know what to look for at thrift stores or on CL.

That’s why I’m introducing a new series today – Craigslist Palace – where I shop CL and put together a mood board for a room under $1000 (and preferably closer to $500).

I hope the image and my explanations help you develop an eye for decorating with solid secondhand finds.

Craigslist Palace:  A Mid-Century Living Room ($665)

I am in love with today’s room. I peeked at CL on a whim late Saturday night, and got so caught up in the design that I worked on the mood board until 2 am.  I’m in love with this room and would love to buy it all right. now.

Craigslist Palace a cheap Mid-Century Living Room

1.  Ikea Karlstad Sofa ($150):  If you’re going for a mid-century or a straight up modern vibe, you can’t beat the affordability of this Ikea sofa. Stalk CL until you find one.  It doesn’t matter how the cover looks, but make sure the cushions are in good shape.  If it needs a new cover, snag a $49 white one at Ikea, then use RIT dye to make it a neutral color like gray, brown, or navy.  (I did this to a white Ikea sofa in my old apartment – first pink, then brown.)  I found options on Craigslist ranging from $50 – $350.

Alternately, a new one is $500 at Ikea, with your choice of cover.  It could be worth saving up for.

2. Ikea Ranarp Work Lamp ($40): This isn’t the cheapest lamp, but I loved how it contrasted with the wood tones in the room. Good lighting is key in any home, and this one is stylish and adjustable.

3.  Mid-Century End Tables – Set of 2 ($50):  Two matching end tables for $50?  Unique and wooden?  What a find! I am considering trying to buy these.  A great pair of end tables is so important for a space, it’s worth stalking thrift stores and CL until you find a funky set.  Don’t run to Ikea and get their cheapset, most plastic-y ones.  They make a room feel cheap. A pair of matching end tables make a room feel more cohesive, even when it’s all thrifted.

4. Glass-Top Wooden Coffee Table ($40):  This table is a good counterpart to the mid-century end tables, and the wood tones appear similar.  The glass top is easy to clean, and adds some different texture to the space.  They’re asking $50, but I’d only pay $40.

5.Solid Wood Side Cabinet ($40): This piece may not be for everyone, but I’m in love. It’s the dimensions of a small sideboard or hall table. It falls somewhere between mid-century and the 1970’s, hence the fabulous detail.  I’m pretty sure it’s Broyhill – a solid, quality brand that will last forever. It would make a great entryway table where you keep a bowl for your keys, a mail holder, etc.  Bonus: storage inside. 

6. Dresser-Turned-TV Stand ($20): This mid-century dresser is a complete steal, and so perfect as a TV stand in this room. I’m sure it’s already sold, but this is to demonstrate the power of stalking CL.

Pay attention:  The TV stand can make or break a room.  There are so many bad entertainment centers out there. Ignore them and just find a sweet old dresser or sideboard.  Size matters.  It needs to be significantly wider than the TV that sits on it, so you can flank it with decorative tall lamps or vases or books or something to make it more a part of the room and not just a TV on a box.

7. Mid-Century Ceramic Lamp ($40), Target Lampshade ($20):  Despite my bad photoshop cutout, this mid-century lamp is to die for. I’d add a fun lampshade like this one from Target’s Threshold collection, or maybe I’d take a plain white shade from the thrift store and cover it in fun fabric.

8. Ikea Lappljung Ruta Rug ($70): It’s hard to find a good rug for cheap on CL, so I turned to Ikea for this big square rug.  I love the black and white, and the random teal/green border on the side.  With all the wood tones in the room, this bold geometric would bring a bit of modernism to the space.

9: Throw Pillows ($20 each): I snagged these Pier 1 pillows to play up the green/teal border on the rug. If you know how to sew, even better.  Make your own!

What’s Missing?

There’s a few things missing that could really kick it up a notch. 

1.  A funky, colorful chair:  Find a funky chair in a bright color or modern pattern to mix things up a bit, and break up all the wood tones in the space. I’m thinking bright yellow or teal or green velvet or vinyl.  Even an upholstered granny chair from the 60’s or 70’s could work.  The point is, add something bold and unexpected!

2.  Your photos & artwork.  This space needs personality.  Even if you have drab apartment white walls, you can add some brightly painted canvases and then some enlarged personal photos in thrift store frames.

3.  Curtains: If you’re really tight for cash, go for some simple curtains from Ikea and then add a colorful border with paint or by gluing on some pretty ribbon.  Alternately, order some fun fabric and just use iron-on hem tape to make some simple panels.

So, what do you think?  Would you like this living room? And most importantly, do you want to see more Craigslist Palace posts?  I had so much fun doing this one – I hope you’ll say yes. :)

Basement Makeover, Part 4: “Mapping” the Color Palette

Weekend realization:  the design process is so much easier when you have a color palette to base your plan off of.

One reason our basement makeover was lagging behind (aside from the sewing studio changes) was our lack of a color palette.  With just some mid-century wooden furniture and a dark gray sofa, I felt overwhelmed with choices.  Anything goes with dark gray!  Where to start decorating?

Thankfully, an “aha” moment came during some blog reading last week.  Designers commonly build up a color palette around an inspiration piece early on in the design process.  Why don’t I?  Surely I know better.

Still, we had to have somewhere to start; and that somewhere came in the form of Ryan’s vintage pull-down school map, a Christmas gift from me to him last year, courtesy of Just L – our favorite mid-century modern shop.

Did you spy it hanging on the far wall of the basement in yesterday’s post?

I hung the map on Sunday night, and we realized that it offers a great selection of colors that all pair well with the dark gray couch.  Brightly colored accents are a must in a dark space like a basement, I think.

Vintage Map Basement Color Palette

Above you’ll see the color palette that I came up with.  When I asked Ryan about using the Tiffany Blue and the Orange as the main splashes of color, he said that he was OK with it, as long as we used more of the blue and less of the orange. I don’t blame him; with a color that bright, a little bit goes a long way.

There’s a lot of other greens and blues, and I think we’ll use them sparingly as well.  I’m excited to have so many options to play with.

Vintage Map Detail Ship Routes

One of the neat details are the apparent cruise liner routes marked on the map.  See how it says “New York to Southampton 3595” along a dotted line?  These lines cross all over the bodies of water shown on the map.  It’s amazing how much things have changed since 1956, the year this map was printed.

So much to see, I could stare at it all day.  I’m really excited to have the map hung.  Now why did it take 14 months?  Oh right, we were trying to figure out a design plan for the basement.  How funny that this map was the very solution, right under our noses this whole time.

Guest Room Mood Board, Take 1: How [not] to Mix Patterns

Now that I’ve got guest rooms on the brain, I’ve been going crazy with Pinterest. Ok, who am I kidding – I’m always dying over the Pinterest boards! :)  But this time it really came in handy for research!

With walls,  four poster beds, and rental-friendly wallpaper checked off the list, the next step in creating the guest room plan  is to settle on some duvet covers and then fun textiles to use throughout the room.  I may just sew two duvet covers for the twin beds, but I took a peek at what West Elm and Crate and Barrel had to offer.  This Spring Floral duvet cover,  on clearance now at West Elm, caught my eye:

West Elm Spring Flowers Duvet

The darkest blue tone would tie in with the wallpaper, and the other blues and greens would mix things up – just what I want.   But when I imagined the duvet covers on the beds, in the room, I realized that the combo may have too much pattern and color all colliding in that small space.

So how do you test out a *very rough* design plan?  Make a mood board, of course!  Continue reading

Launched: Operation Living Color

We have 8 days in which to make our home presentable for a small dinner party.  Or something of that sort.   As usual, I seem to have bit off more than I can chew, by deciding we *must* finish painting and decorating the bland living room before this happens.  Oh, and did I mention that Saturday and Sunday are non-project days, as we’ll be busy celebrating Ryan’s 30th?  So in reality I have 6 evenings and one day (Monday) to get this all done.  So if I disappear from the blog, that’s why.

So I’m in a hurry to wake up the living room, but don’t want to waste money on poorly-planned purchases that I’ll later regret.  How to avoid this? I created a mood board.  Keep in mind this may not be exactly what we end up with.  It’s just a guide that does the following:

  1. Shows Ryan my ideas, so I no longer have to explain what a “box valance for the window” is, or what a “navy and white geometric pattern” looks like.
  2. Puts all my ideas and inspiration in one place, so that I can be sure they all work together.

So here’s the moodboard, as well as a detailed explanation.  And finally, I have a question – your opinions are wanted!!

Moodboard Blue Green Crate Barrel Dwell

Here’s the moodboard breakdown:

1.  Window Valance

Although the large windows are pretty all on their own, I think that adding some window treatments will help the room feel more coordinated and “finished.”  (I don’t dare write “pull the room together.”  Ryan’s ruined that phrase for me.)   We don’t want to do curtains because they would all be hanging behind furniture, and I think that would look silly.  Instead I’d like to build small box valances to cap each of them.  I think that will add some visual interest and height to the decor.   I’d like to use one of the fabrics shown.  (6 or 7?)

I am inspired by the valance shown, which I found at The Reluctant Blogger.

2.  Wall Art

Ryan and I still need to agree on some art for the empty back wall of the living room.  It’s the first wall you see when you walk in the front door – and it’s driving me crazy to have it bare!  I’m hoping I can convince him that two of these mid-century style prints from Jenn Ski on Etsy will fit the bill.

3. Decorative Crap

I don’t own many decorative objects.  It’s great from a simple living standpoint, but can be annoying when I’m trying to decorate a room with finishing touches.  I did, however, remember that I have two large white West Elm vases (thrifted, of course) that would add some good decorative interest against the newly painted green walls.  Now I just have to figure out where I can put them.

4.  Area Rug

Ryan and I both love the Lagoon Rug at CB2.  Ryan loves it because it looks like there is a Brontosaurus on it when you look at it sideways.  I love it because it’s a thick wool rug with gorgeous colors woven in an interesting shape.  Originally I wanted to put it in our dining “hall”, but neither size will work there.   Now I’d like to purchase the 8×10 for the living room.  It’s $550,  so this will not be happening in the next two weeks, but maybe in the next 2-3 months.

Fabrics / Color Palette

With our all-white seating against the olive walls, I thought that accent colors of olive, navy, and yellow would work well.  Between window valances, throw pillows, and the wall color, I think we’ll have kicked that all-neutral blandness in the butt!

5.   Dwell Studio Bella Porte Citrine

6.  Joel Dewberry Modern Meadow Sunflower

7.  Dwell Studio Bella Porte Twilight (not the movie)

So there you have it.  My grand plan for some living color.  The only thing I don’t feel totally confident is my choice of fabrics.

I think the best fabric for the window valance would be #7, the navy/white print.

I’m not sure that the Joel Dewberry fabric (#6) is right for the space at all.  I’m wondering if this Joel Dewberry Deer Valley print would be a better match, with its lighter and brighter colors:


I found the fabric used in the box valance pictured.  It’s the Logan Home Decor Blossom Lime.  Maybe that would be best for  my box valances, because there is more white space, and it incorporates the wall color along with the navy.  Or not.  looks like it’s green, white and black.  Hmm.

You guys always have great input.  What do you think?

PS:   My posts may be spotty for the next week, but I’ll be working hard on projects and will have tons to share when they’re done!!