Home Tour: Living Room, Part 2!

Remember my living room tour in January, shortly after moving in? SO MUCH has changed! I was missing two things in this room that, after spending several weeks checking Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, etc. I realized would probably just have to wait. Those things were 1. a couch (specifically, ideally, a grey couch), and 2. something for the opposite wall. For weeks, there was nothing on the wall across from the sitting area, except my router sitting on the floor.

And then I found it: THE COUCH.

I got an incredible deal on this couch on Facebook Marketplace, and while it’s used and I had to clean it up just a bit, it is perfect for ME.

The art above the couch was just a photo I took on my phone while driving out of Minersville, Utah a few weeks back. I changed up the settings in Adobe Illustrator to print it on multiple pages, printed it at home, and hung it up with masking tape. It cost nothing, and I LOVE IT.

The bookcase used to be vertical where the lamp is now, but I turned it back to horizontal and put it against the wall opposite the couch. The wall was still pretty empty as I don’t have a TV yet, so I DIY’d up some prints from Parabo Press* and hung them up.

Aside from the bookshelf that I bought a couple years back, I don’t think anything in this room cost over $40. I either already had the items, or I took my time finding them. I listed some of my sources in my first post, but just to recap / expound:

Blanket basket: HomeGoods
Blankets: if it’s a quilt, I made it myself a few years back
Lamp: vintage, from my late Great Grandma Mary
Beige pillows: vintage, from my late Great Grandma Mary
Floral pillowcase: made with fabric from Harmony in Provo, UT
Scandinavian inspired pillow: Ikea
Blue glass on bookshelf: vintage, from my late Great Grandma Mary
Pots with plants: inherited from my late Grandma Judy W.
Yellow chairs: vintage, Facebook Marketplace
Couch: used, Facebook Marketplace
Coffee table: used, Facebook Marketplace
Wood: from my wood guy, Devin Stratton in Orem, UT
Ceramic plate on bookshelf: from Busy Bee Pottery in Beaver, UT
Wood prints: by Light & Ink, Provo, UT
Mt. Timpanogos art print: by Annie Blake, Provo, UT
Beeswax candles: from Farm & Hive

And as I mentioned previously, the photos were printed through Parabo Press. I love their products and have used them for years. If you want to try them out, please consider using my referral code DDJRHF for $10 off your first order. If you do, I also get $10 off my next order, which is a pretty sweet deal for both of us!

I’m so glad this room has come together like it has. I would say it’s my favorite room, but I think that keeps changing. I’m just very grateful for this space to call my own.

Home Tour: Kitchen

The program I use to put our logo on photos is broken right now. Please don’t steal my photo though, k?

My kitchen is one of my favorite rooms in my house. That rug was one of the first things I bought for the house, before I even moved in.

My brother told me that HomeGoods has a great 30 day return policy, and that he bought and returned stuff countless times when he moved into his place, trying to find just the right thing. Especially rugs, he said.

Not this rug. Or anything. I haven’t returned a thing.

I really love the deep blues and grays in this room, with pops of green and a lot of white. The light also comes though the windows in the best way, and stays that way the entire day.

This picture isn’t perfect—notice the clean dishes drying on the counter? But I still love this photo. I took it while I was studying at the kitchen table a couple weeks after moving in. I just glanced over, saw the light pouring through the windows and decided, I love this room.

(Truthfully, I should be studying right now. But writing this quick post sounded a lot more fun).

Not pictured: my kitchen table that I made a couple years back, and my road bike. Yep, I’m storing the bike in the kitchen for now—I figured it was a good idea with the tile flooring, instead of putting it on carpet. I also don’t have kitchen chairs yet—I just have my office chair in the kitchen, and I move it to the office as needed. The kitchen is warmer anyway and I’m rarely in my office right now. Hopefully I’ll find the right chairs for the space soon.

Things:

Rug, HomeGoods
Towels, Ikea
Oven Mitt, Ikea
Soaps, Mrs. Meyers (from Grove Collective, free things!)
Sponge, Grove Collective (really though, so many free things. This is my referral code so we can both get free things if you want)
White Flour/Sugar canisters holding utensils, World Market
Beeswax Sun Catcher, Farm & Hive
Mixer, gifted from my mama <3

As usual, I purchased very little for this room: just the rug, canisters, and towels. Easily less than $40. The soaps and other disposable cleaning things aren’t included in that cost, but let me just say still, doing the free trial from Grove Collective was a great idea for just moving into a new place. It helped me take care of all the cleaning supplies, soaps, etc. right off the bat, and all of it is natural and good for my home. I’m not sure I’ll keep up with the subscription (so no worries if you don’t use that referral code), but it was sure a lifesaver when I first moved in. I literally timed it so well that my box arrived THE DAY I moved in. That felt like a HUGE win.

And that’s my kitchen! Thanks for reading.

Home Tour: Living Room (So Far)

I didn’t let myself start designing my home until I had signed a contract and paid my deposit. I think a big part of that was not letting myself get my hopes up—if you recall, I’ve spent a decade living with roommates in apartments, so I had a pretty limited space to call my own. When I finally had a place, I starting making Pinterest boards for every room in the house.

The living room board was one that I was most excited about. I found myself swooning over neutral color schemes. I knew exactly the grey couch I wanted to save up for, I knew a couple family heirlooms that would fit well in the space, and in my mind, it all looked so peaceful and perfect.

Screenshots of my living room Pinterest board

Before I even moved in, I found THE MOST AMAZING vintage yellow chairs for a steal of a price (or so I thought) on Facebook Marketplace. I snatched them up, and the gal was even getting rid of a coffee table and gave that to me for free. I had initially hoped to reupholster the chairs with a grey fabric, but the yellow grew on me, despite…

Cat hair.

So. Much. Cat hair.

And dried hairballs.

I spent 2 days scrubbing it out (plus repairing a couple of wobbly legs). Truly, it’s not perfect. There are still stains on it. But they no longer smell like cats, and at least I know that those things are CLEAN. There are still some things I want to do with the chairs (sand down the legs and re-stain them, replace the fabric underneath, and later, someday, reupholster them), but I love them as they are right now.

I ended up suddenly designing my living room around these chairs. This room is bright and bold, and it feels so comfortable. I LOVE this room. I still LOVE my Pinterest board as well, and maybe someday my home will reflect that, but I’m not in a hurry.

I only purchased 3 items in the living room. Everything was repurposed from things I already owned. I’ve spent under $50 (so far) for this room. (Okay, plus about $12 to fix those chairs so far, but doesn’t $50 sound better?)

Here’s the breakdown:

Vintage yellow chairs, $35
Blue Magic Upholstery Cleaner, about $7
Gorilla Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive, about $5

Coffee table, free
Basket, $15 at HomeGoods
Tan pillows, vintage from my family
Lamp, vintage from my family
Fabric on floral pillow from Harmony in Provo
Beeswax candles from Farm & Hive in Payson, UT
Wall art from Light & Ink (purchased years ago at Beehive Bazaar in Provo)
Art prints on the shelf from Hayley Nuenswander and Caitlin Connolly.

So much #shoplocal in here! I love supporting creative friends.

Big disclaimer: This room is not done! This photo is of the half that is. I am still looking for a couple key pieces to put on other walls, but I’m taking my time. I wanted to get this place feeling livable and cozy though, and I love where it’s at so far.

A Room Can Still Feel Like Home

Restored desk, thrifted chair, Ikea bookshelf.

I have been renting rooms in shared apartments for over a decade. My first place, an old on-campus apartment my first semester in college, lasted only one semester before I moved off-campus. That started a trend for me: I rarely stayed more than 1 or 2 semesters in any one apartment, so I never really settled down. Everything was mismatched. Nothing had a theme. And too many of the items were probably from Target’s cheap dorm room section.

A year after I graduated, my friend Cameron called me out on my lack of interior design skills.

“You can still create a home you love even if you’re just renting a room in an apartment,” he said. I truly had never considered that before.

There are some things I’ve still chosen to stay frugal on while living with roommates—namely kitchen supplies or other items that will be used by multiple people. But things in your personal space? This is your home, and you can absolutely create a space to feel like that.

Things I invested in:
Bedding
Frames and art
A side table
A lamp, etc.

Things I did not invest in:
Kitchen appliances
Cookware
TV, and other electronics in common areas

Optional:
A good shower head
Dishes and utensils
Throw blankets and pillows for the living room
Office/desk supplies
“Smart” technology (Alexa, Google Home, outlets, light bulbs, etc)

The things in my “Don’t Invest” list are things that are in common areas of the home and can be on the more expensive side. For example, I’d never spend more than $10/15 on skillets or pans for a shared kitchen, but I would definitely consider investing in quality kitchenwares in my own home. 

The optional things are things I have no opinion on. Did some of those things get used or broken by my roommates? Yes, but it’s not a big deal. I would personally just not invest too much money on things that are in common areas of a shared home. Whatever I purchase for common areas, I make sure I’m mentally prepared to part with them if they get broken or misplaced.

Want to start putting more intention into your design style, even in a rented room? I’ve really been loving the A Beautiful Mess Podcast, hosted by Emma and Elsie of the A Beautiful Mess blog. Both the website and the podcast have a lot of great insights into interior design, including some DIY projects. I think this is a great place to get started in finding your personal style, and what you want to invest in to reflect that. Here are some of my favorite A Beautiful Mess podcast episodes about design: Episode 2: Forever Homes; Episode 10: How to Decorate Affordable (And Not Just From Target!)


I started adding furniture into the mix in 2018 when I made my first table, then in 2019 when I restored a desk that my great-grandpa had made around the 1950’s (pictured). Because I was living in a basement apartment at the time with a roommate, the table went in a corner of the living room and was used sparingly when I needed extra workspace. The desk went in my room and acted as my office space (pictured). In the background you can see the Ikea bookshelf I used as both a bookshelf and a dresser—there are clothes in the cubes of the shelf. Beside the bookshelf is my bed (not pictured). By this time, after a decade of living in apartments, I finally had a style: a lot of white, green plants, and natural wood—basically, colors to brighten up a dark basement bedroom. While my next apartment won’t be in a basement, I’m still planning to keep everything very light.

My space finally started to feel like home, but it took years. I’m grateful that Cameron started me on the path to designing a space that feels like home and not just a temporary dorm room. What can you add to your space to help it feel more like a home? What’s the right investment for you right now?

An Intentional Home + Wood Side Table Tutorial

Photo by Gary Barnes

This podcast is primarily about figuring out education and career paths— but I think it’s also about the paths we take alongside those primary paths. I think it’s about learning to be more mindful about our choices. It’s about being responsible consumers and creators. And it’s about creating a life—including a home—that we love.

In a few weeks I’ll be moving into a new place, and for the first time I get to really dive into designing the interior of my home. For years, out of practicality and necessity, I’ve lived with roommates in pretty cheap apartments. In short, it wasn’t great. I’m so excited to, for the first time in 11 years, truly create a home.

This is the first post of hopefully many about this process.

Today I want to talk about being intentional.

Most of the statement pieces I’m bringing into my home are ones I’ve inherited or ones I’ve built:

  • My first woodworking project: A table I made in 2018
  • The desk my great-grandpa made in the 1950’s, that I restored in 2019
  • Beautiful mid-century lamps that belonged to my great-grandma
  • A side table I made to match the one I made for my dad last year

I’ve spent days scouring Apartment Therapy (favorite, favorite) and other design websites (article: “How Not To Design A Boring Neutral Room” from Emily Henderson). I’ve been making notes about things I have and things I need to buy, and things I need to buy sooner than later. I have at least one Pinterest board for each room in the house.

Late one night as I was getting into bed, I finally realized—so many of the design elements I am hoping to incorporate in my future home are things I saw in my great grandma’s home.

From the cream colored pillows and dark wood accents, to the lush green hills outside her living room window; from the soothing blue tones throughout the house (reminiscent of her sailing days), to the bold pink kitchen and metallic green guest bathroom. I could walk into her home and feel safety, comfort, and familiarity. I want to walk into my home and feel the same.

Fresh wood cookies, sawdust still on them!

Earlier this year, I made a side table for my dad out of a wood cookie from Utah (silver maple, if that means anything to anyone). This winter I decided to make myself a matching side table. I brought it home to my parent’s house for the Christmas holiday and finished it up. While I have other furniture I’ve made for the home, this is the first piece I’ve made specifically for this space.

Drying out a wood cookie in the oven (see tips below!)

Want to make a similar wood side table? Here are some tips:

  • I bought the wood from a local lumberjack who was selling wood on Facebook Marketplace.
  • If the wood is freshly cut (within the last few weeks) you’ll want to let it sit out to dry out. Make sure air can circulate on either side of the wood. I just had it propped up against a wall, but if you have a lot of wood to dry out, you can put spacers between them to save space and still get that air flow.
  • If you’re really in a hurry and your wood cookie is small enough, you can dry it out a bit in your kitchen oven. I would set the temperature to about 175-200 degrees Fahrenheit and check on it every 20-30 minutes (or longer when I realized this likely wouldn’t burn my house down; but don’t forget to set an alarm to again decrease your chances of burning your house down). (I still set a fire extinguisher within reach just in case.) I think drying it out in the oven also helped the bark to fall off of the first table I made earlier this year.
  • If you’re unsure as to whether there is still moisture in your wood or not, you can always buy a moisture meter to test the moisture level. I did this for the first table but forgot to use it for the second. In retrospect, I don’t think it’s necessary. If your wood has started cracking and if the bark is falling off, you should be good.
  • Ideally, the wood will be dried out and the bark will be off before you start constructing your table. If they aren’t, your table could crack or the bark could fall off later, and while the bark falling off isn’t a big deal, a cracked table could ruin the entire thing.
  • After the wood was dry, I sanded it smooth with an electric sander. Start with more coarse sandpaper then work down to finer sandpaper.
  • I stained it with a wood stain. Read the directions on the container!
  • I then sealed it with a clear gloss water based polyurethane. Again, read the directions on the container! Let it sit for at least 48 hours (or whatever the label on your sealer says) before putting anything on it.

    *P.S. I’ve used both fast drying polyurethane and regular, and I think I prefer regular. The fast drying one I used for this project is thicker, and I feel like it’s less forgiving than regular polyurethane.
  • And lastly, legs are from hairpinlegs.com! This is by far the most expensive part of the whole project, so if you aren’t tied to that particular style, you could probably buy or craft table legs for far cheaper. You can look around online for some ideas (like here).
Staining and sealing the wood cookie.

I’m grateful for the blessing of having family heirlooms and the opportunity to create new ones. If you don’t have items that have been passed down to you, I encourage you to learn a new skill to create your own! What a blessing that will then be to future generations, or whoever you choose to share them with when you’re done with them.

Over the next few months, I plan to keep creating and purchasing items for my home, both new and used. Come back soon for more updates. Have any articles about amazing neutral color rooms? Send them my way on Instagram (@lookslikewandering)! I love this stuff.

Photo by Gary Barnes!