Our Interior Design Journey

This post is alternately titled: How Ikea Contributes to Divorce OR

The Magic of Photography in Making Things Look Way More Awesome Than They Ever Were

Don’t be alarmed, Eric and I are doing fine! But I’ll talk about Ikea and how it leads to divorce later.

To start this post I’d like to share some pictures from 2010 of our home shortly after we refinished the floors and I thought I could refinish vintage furniture to be awesome. These pictures were taken by THE FABULOUS Diana Palmer of Yan Photography.

thealisonshow-2009-house

I got the table and the chairs off of Craigslist when we were first married in 2008. I thought yellow was a good idea, but I used the wrong paint. So it was impossible to eat off of. The table is now totally ruined and in the shed. I recovered the cushions on the chairs, but they were SO OLD to start with that now they are FILTHY with gunk in every corner, the staples I used to recover the seats tear your clothing (I’m serious) and the joints are super rickety. They are more of a cream than their original white. Haha. The rainbow organized bookcase was a BATTLE with Eric but remains to this day!

Screen shot 2013-02-26 at 10.05.01 AM

That couch is now grey and those legs broke. To see what this room looked like post-Gigi pre taking over our basement…go here. We bought a new cover about 2 months after these pictures, but it’s now covered in stains, and the sidearms are broken …the rug was demolished and too dirty to keep past a year. The gold lamp was a wedding gift we didn’t register for…we still have it, and I made that skirt! Haha. If I could fit into it I’d give myself an award. Unrelated but worth mentioning.

For the full journey READ ON!

When Eric and I were first married I became OBSESSED with interior design. I read Design*Sponge and Decor8 everyday, and scoured the Internet for what we “needed” to compose our dream apartment. The perfect items that would define us as a couple and impress ANYONE who came over.

Then I realized we didn’t have any money, and instead of waiting and saving up for the things I really wanted, Eric insisted we needed to just buy cheaper stuff. So we took a trip to Ikea. In fact I wrote all about that first trip, and how I realized how many divorces Ikea is the catalyst of, and you can read about it here, and see a picture of our first place. Haha.

In short, I had to compromise. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m an ALL OR NOTHING woman. That’s also about the time I started teaching myself to sew and got into Gocco screen printing, and I became obsessed with that and stopped noticing my surroundings as much. And that’s how my home turned from EVERYTHING I thought about, to something I just noticed every once in a while and got annoyed with.

In the past 5 years I’ve kind of given up trying to convince Eric that, “Yes, you CAN get a couch for $600, but that couch will be crap in a few years and we’ll have to spend another $600.” Because there’s always the promise that in the future you’ll just have the ethereal “more!” So you spend the $600 on the stupid couch and 5 years later you curse it, but don’t necessarily have the “more” you thought you might. Or you do, but you have to spend it on things like children and new computers for work.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there have been bursts of “I’m gonna make this place something we’re proud of!” every so often. Of course I loved getting Gigi’s room ready, and when we moved into our house (the one pictured, and that my husband had bought before we were married) there were a lot of needed updates. Not wanted, needed. 6 college-age men had lived in the house for 4 years, so you can only imagine how disgusting things were.

But we did the basics (refinished floors, painted rooms) and then I get distracted by something else, or discouraged that I’d have to settle, and I’d move on to another project.

Then we took over our basement, that we had been renting to college students (it can be a completely separate dwelling) and I was excited once again! We had DOUBLE the space!

In fact I boasted all about “The Great Basement Facelift!” I was about to embark on, but you can see how long that lasted. About 2 posts. We basically painted the walls, got new carpet, and put our old furniture in the space. There’s nothing on the walls, and there’s a full length mirror sitting on the ground in our bedroom that Gigi kisses daily and I never clean.

And that brings us today! Are you still awake? Still enthralled? Is this story similar to your own? Want some more pictures?!

home-chairs-and-floor

Here are those DAMN chairs again. I seriously never liked the fabric to start with. I was peer pressured by the people I worked with at the time to buy it. Haha. But it’s not that it’s the worst fabric ever, it’s just it’s really not me. Eric and his dad ripped up our carpet and got us those AWESOME floors. However, we never touched up the base boards we splashed with varnish. I know. WE ROCK! That dish cabinet was AWESOME, but again, very dirty and non-functioning in person. It needed new paint, but I sold it as Gigi was learning to crawl because it was a total hazard and we had no space for it.

home-bedroom-2010

Another side note, I cannot fit that dress over my giant post-baby knockers. Or my hips. But I did look good, huh?! The bedspread…cough, Ikea, got some bleach stains, but we still have that Malm bed! The Ikea frames I painted have mostly all broken. Haha, I swear I don’t hate Ikea! It’s just the facts people.

Now that we are working from home, and we are in our house ALL the time, I’ve started getting obsessed with vamping things up again. And with a tax return around the corner (I know I said I don’t care about money, and “stuff is just stuff” but that doesn’t mean if I have some money I don’t want to BUY some STUFF!!) There is the promise that I MIGHT be able to save for a few things here and there.

And I want to do it right this time! I’m not saying NOTHING in my home can be from Ikea, but I don’t want everything I own to be bust. Because when I’ve found when I take the time to care about my space and create something I love, I am more inclined to keep that space clean and it does bring a sincere sense of joy.

I’d also like to note I HATE PAINTING. I hate painting furniture and walls, and I don’t really like updating vintage things. My actual HOUSE is old and decaying, and I’ve done this quite a few times (yellow table, those chairs) and I just end up annoyed and slightly disgusted with the finished product. Some people are SO GOOD at that stuff, but it’s just not me. I’m not saying I NEVER buy anything from the thrift store or a consignment store. I totally do! But I’m kind of over it for now. I’m not the Craigslist savant that I’m sure many of you are. And I’d rather sew my own shirt than refinish my own cabinets. Does that make sense?

So all of this is a long way of saying I’m going to try again, and I’d like to share the journey with you. But who knows. I’m hormonal and fickle.

But I’d love to hear if you have taken the time to make your house a home?! Do you have pictures, a blog post for me to look at? Have you actually revamped a piece of vintage furniture YOURSELF that you adore and cherish?

This was a really long post and I’m sure if it was interesting to anyone but me. I actually started writing this post about some children’s rooms I’ve been loving. But somehow this happened?

Either way, happy Tuesday!

Love you all,

xo
Alison

17 Comments

  1. What are you doing to your IKEA stuff woman? Just kidding 😉 I’ve had my IKEA sofa for 9 years now and it’s still going strong. IKEA sideboard for 4 years – all my picture frames are IKEA, guest-sofa bed IKEA.
    I like to mix my IKEA with old things. My son’s bedroom is on AP today, you can see what I like to do…IKEA Malm bed, IKEA sheets and Reindeer pillow, painted old dresser, curbside desk, IKEA stool with cover I sewed, IKEA lamps, IKEA wall mounted shelves.
    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/desmonds-my-room-184542
    Good luck…but most of all, have fun!

    1. HAHAHA you know what, we move it a BUNCH I bet that’s the problem. We’ve rearranged our house like 10 times. seriously.

      Your sons room is SO CUTE!! that dresser is amazing! see other people are better at it than me I swear! xo

  2. i have a long love-hate relationship with ikea… my biggest problem being that their furniture never moves well – it gets more wobbley as it is relocated around your home. this is a big problem for a girl who likes to rearrange stuff.

    i did a post about my living room a while back (http://rhymeswithcrazy.blogspot.com/2013/01/dearlittlehouse.html), and it actually did inspire me to make some changes.

    your home looks adorable, and i like your seat cushions. looking forward to seeing more of this!

    1. Haha those cushions! the people love them, I want to burn them. and I do love your rug!

      I think you’re right about ikea! That’s why all my stuff dies! we move it all the time!

  3. I am in the process of redecorating my house. It has only taken five years of begging to get my husband on board. My style and his differ, as in from different spheres of the universe. New couches have helped improve our living room. 🙂 I have never even been to Ikea. I do however love target.

  4. andrea f williams

    I think you and Eric are so cute!

  5. I can so relate to this post. We moved into our first house last summer (after 4 years in an apartment, yay!) and I was so sure that by this time, the whole place would be completely decorated and awesome. We’re still working on our first big project: painting the entryway/mudroom. I “just” started it in October…The longer it takes the less inspired I am. And how embarrassing-EVERYONE sees it!

  6. Shalynna

    I loved those photos when you first posted them and I love them today. I think your house and style is absolutely adorable and I love your honesty in this post.

    We bought our first home last year and David has done so much work to it that his knees are going out because of it! In April it will have been a year since we bought it and there is still primer on the walls (covering bright bubble gum pink, lime green, and yellow rooms) and ceiling (he put wood up on the ceiling and it’s primed, but not painted white yet), I only have kitchen cabinets on the top cabinets, and I don’t own a single dresser or book shelf (imagine keeping a three-year-old and eighteen-month-old from messing up folded clothing on the floors of closets). It can get so depressing at times to live with so many unfinished projects, but also fun to make it our own. I’m sure you’d agree!

    Anyway, this is a novel of a comment but it’s just so nice to know that others can relate. I don’t read many blogs anymore, but I just adore yours!

  7. I swear since I started working a few years back, my rigidness about the house looking just so has loosened (not left completely. RELAXED.) I’ve also found it goes it cycles: once you fix one thing up it makes you wicked happy and a monster is created and tables end up in sheds. On the flip side, hubbies don’t really care because of aforementioned post baby knockers.

    Here’s a revamp I did to attempt to organize some of my cra(p)ft supplies. Although the shoved in junk will still assault you if you open those bottom cabinets too quickly.
    http://www.olderandwisor.com/2012/11/the-perfect-use-for-old-hutch-craft.html

  8. AMANDA

    ha! we had that same couch but in LEATHER (aka it was like twice as expensive) and it only lasted one freaking year. The arm of the couch essentially broke off and we had it propped up with books for months. Dangit, we just bought another ikea couch though. We must be really stupid BUT its the Kivik sofa, so we decided its unlikely the arms or legs could ever break- we’ll see! Also, my husband is more annoyed with my refinishing/painting antics than I am. I will get super attached to a $5 dresser I bought and stained… it’s kind of sad. Off to click on all those links up there and I can’t wait to see your future home updates!

  9. Corinne

    My husband and I hug and tell each other how much we really love each other before entering ikea. Meatballs before shopping help too.

  10. So funny you mention this, I just barely took pictures of our little house! It’s far from perfect, but we really tried to make it feel like home while we’ve lived here. The living room & kitchen look way nicer than any of the bedrooms. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 🙂 Here are the posts for your viewing pleasure:

    http://delightedtobe.com/2013/02/our-cozy-home/
    http://delightedtobe.com/2013/02/our-cozy-home-part-2/

    Also, I totally get you with Ikea furniture. We’ve got a lot around here. But don’t give up just yet…we’ve really been happy with the quality of our leather couch, and also our kitchen in our rental is from Ikea. It’s amazing that my toddler runs into the doors with his cars more than I care to admit and it’s still holding up super strong and durable. If we ever renovate a kitchen of our own, I’m heading straight to Ikea. Those white glossy cabinets have got me swooning!

  11. Jenny

    Agh! Why is decorating so hard! I go through spurts of thinking about it nonstop and then just giving up. Furniture and everything for a house is so expensive! So I’ve mostly given up. Can’t wait to see what you come up with though! Those photos are fabulous.

  12. It is hard not to become obsessed with your home and furniture when you stay/work from home. Oh, and everything on Pinterest is of beautifully decorated spaces. Let’s be real.

    I’m the just buy something already, and my husband is the patient methodical one. I will say, we spent a pretty penny on a leather sectional from Outback Leather in Salt Lake, and it has totally been worth the money. It’s been moved several times, peed on, jumped on daily, and all the other normal wear and tear, and still looks great. Ikea is nice for a few things, but your major furniture is worth an investment. We have one set of fabric couches, and I guard them with my life. Leather has been so great with kids.

    I personally hate to refinish old furniture. Tried several times, and it’s just not my gift to make trash into treasure.

  13. Bishcakes

    Oh my gosh my partner is the exact same and every time I think I have got him on board and got my own way he changes his mind.
    We can’t agree on colours let alone any of the detail so we end up with a space neither of us are are enamoured with.

  14. Ha! Love this post. You’re the first person I’ve seen that’s actually brought this up. I’ve figured out the same thing over time. All the perfectly lit, perfectly styled, perfectly clean. perfectly arrange, freshly painted, newly upholstered, etc, etc pics you see online are just a split second of fantasy captured on film. In reality, it’s always imperfect. I usually feel just a little bit let down after every project I make. But, I’ve been learning to appreciate the more realistic, “lived in” nature of how it all ends up in real life. Now, with all that said, if all our Ikea stuff was broke though… well that’d kinda suck. haha

  15. Johne112

    Your style is really unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from. gakaecebadde

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