Affordable Art for Your Apartment

Affordable Art

Affordable Art by hilaryabrahamson on Polyvore

Etsy is one of my favorite places to look for affordable wall art. Living on a budget doesn’t mean you’re doomed to plain white walls. Above are three of my favorite picks from Etsy’s art section, all under $20.

1. Breaking Bad Poster from ArchiveFilmPosters: Movie and TV posters are so cliche, I know. The beautiful thing about Etsy is that you can rep your favorite stuff without looking tacky. As Jesse Pinkman would say: This poster is the bomb, bitch!

2. Vintage Forbidden Fruit Poster from PJsVintageVariety: I love this because it’s kitschy and… Yeah. I just love kitschy things. The colorful print and cheeky jam message makes it perfect for the kitschen (ba-dum-chh)! This is the only one I’ve listed that comes sans frame, so be sure to pick up a poster frame on the cheap to keep things classy. Scotch tape is a no-go for these beauties.

3. More Issues Than Vogue Poster from WilliamsPrints: This might be the chicest way to let somebody you know you’re considering therapy. Seriously though. Fashionable, funny, and affordable? Sign me up!

5 Creative Uses for Wallpaper in Your Apartment

For a long time I lamented the fact that wallpaper, one of the most vibrant, unique, and efficient ways to change a space couldn’t be utilized by me, a lowly renter. It wasn’t until I was perusing Home Depot with a friend one day that I came across a roll of fabulous wallpaper I couldn’t live without. I don’t know what got into me, but I bought it, determined to find a use for it.

And I did. We had an old garage sale coffee table we kept repainting, that kept chipping, and kept getting repainted and we absolutely needed to do something with it. I googled “wallpapering a cofee table,” and lo-and-behold, I found the perfect tutorial. And so, my love affair with wallpaper began.

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Our freshly-wallpapered coffee table.

1. This is the tutorial I found, and it’s gotten even more popular since then. With some wallpaper, Modpodge, a clear finish, and a little patience it’s an incredibly simple upgrade. We bought some upholstery tacks online to complete the look:

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Unfortunately, our flimsy, second-hand coffee table only lasted us about six months with a toddler who loves to climb. RIP, beautiful. We don’t even have room for a coffee table anymore, so I’ll be using the rest of this list to help get rid of the roll we have left!

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Photo from Kelly Sue DeConnick / Flicker

2. Use it to line the back of a bookshelf.

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Photo from Blue Eyed Yonder

3. Use it to line drawers.

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Photo from Pure Home

4. Frame it for easy, chic artwork.

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Photo from BHG

5. Follow the directions at BHG.com to cover an old headboard with wallpaper.

6 Cheap Ways to Upgrade Your Rental

Renting does have its benefits (right? I think… maybe), but one of them is not customization. Even if you live in an apartment that allows you to paint or remodel, which is pretty rare, who wants to put that much work into something you don’t even own? Not me.

So here are some quick, fairly affordable ways to make your apartment feel more like a home, without losing your deposit:

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Photo: Dan DeLuca / Flickr

 

1. Curtains are one of the cheapest, easiest ways to add color and personality to your rental space. The variety of patterns is practically endless, they’re functional (sometimes you just wanna hang out in your underwear), and you can take them with you when you go. The best part is that you can usually find the other hardware you need, like curtain rods, in the home section of thrift stores for dirt cheap.

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Photo: style labo montreal / Flickr

2. Rugs can be a little on the pricey side, so look for them at discount stores like T.J. Maxx or Marshall’s, or on sale at affordable places like Target or on Amazon. I wouldn’t recommend getting a rug second hand unless you know and trust who it’s coming from, especially if it’s fluffy–it could hold pet scents, dirt, or something even grosser (fleas, maybe). I know you most typically see them over hardwood flooring, but I’ve been known to toss a rug down on carpet when I’m getting bored with a room. This is one area where people tend to play it safe. Please don’t do that. Your space is meant to be a reflection of your inner self, especially if your inner self is a fabulous faux cowhide rug!

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Photo: Tricia Royal / Flickr

3. Extra shelving. If you’re one of those people who insists on keeping every book you read or every knick-knack you find, you’re going to need some extra shelving. Luckily, shelving is super easy to come by: Ikea, Home Depot, and Target all have cheap options. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can search local second-hand stores for shelving units that are still in good shape.

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Photo: Geoffrey Fairchild / Flickr

4. A new shower head costs around $20, is easy to install, and will turn that leaky, rusty, rental shower faucet into a luxurious tropical waterfall. Okay, I know that sounds extreme, but that’s really what it will feel like the first few times you take a shower after making the switch. Your whole shower will seem newer and nicer–but beware of your rising water bill once you start spending an extra fifteen minutes pondering life’s meaning during a hot shower.

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Photo: zoetnet / Flickr

5. Plants! I think this one pretty much speaks for itself. It adds color, has a cheerful presence, and improves air quality. Triple threat for sure. Just be sure not to let it die.

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Photo: Tara Faul / Flickr

6. Paint your furniture. If you’re working with a bunch of hand-me-downs or Craigslist finds in mismatched shades of wood, wicker, or metal–paint them all to match. It will take a little bit of time, but it won’t cost much and it will instantly make your rental space look more grown up and put together. If painting is a daunting task for you, stick with neutral colors like black or white that will stay looking nice with a few touch-ups here and there. If you’re don’t mind dedicating days to your decor, go ahead and pick bold colors that you can paint over as your mood, taste, or style changes.

Lighting Upcycle: Painting an Old Lamp

I’ve been looking for a lamp to put in the girls’ room, but not too hard–I just figured I would eventually come across something. Unfortunately their dad came across something first.

ImageJesse brought this beauty home from a client of his who insisted he have it. He was super proud of his free find, and I let him be, even if my eyes were bleeding a little bit. My motto is that there usually isn’t anything a layer of paint can’t fix, so I got to work fixing it up.

Step 1: Wash It Continue reading

Q&A with Chrissy Jensen of Domestica

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Chrissy Jensen

I sat down with Chrissy Jensen of Des Moines’ “indie-handmade” store, Domestica. The 46-year-old business owner and mastermind shares what drives her, inspires her, and a few tips for spicing up small spaces.

DR: How would you describe your business?
CJ: We call it an indie-handmade store. Just more modern and cool than a craft fair, not that there’s anything wrong with craft fairs. Everything in here is handmade by somebody, that’s kind of our shtick. Besides butter nailpolish, which we carry.

DR: What inspired you to start your business?
CJ: I used to be a photo stylist, and I’ve always been into decor and finding new things to use. I was already really involved in the handmade community and I just liked the idea of having that all in Des Moines.

DR: What was your biggest challenge in decorating your the store?
CJ: Originally, we only had 400 sq feet, but now we’ve added a second room and have 800 sq feet, which is still a really small space. There aren’t a lot of walls and we have a lot of prints and posters, so it’s a challenge for sure.

DR: Would you call prints your specialty?
Continue reading

Donating in Des Moines: Where to Take Your Stuff

As a follow-up to my post about closet cleaning, I decided to do a round-up of where you can donate anything that you no longer need. There are three main places in Des Moines (that I know and frequent) that accept a pretty wide range of donated items, so I’ll put together a round up of the pros and cons of each place I like taking my old stuff.

Salvation Army

There are 10 locations in and around Des Moines.

Pros: They accept almost anything (full list here) and they price their items cheaper than most donation centers. They’re also one of the easiest places to take your donations. I live on the south side of Des Moines, and the new SE 14th location accepts donations Monday-Saturday from 9am-9pm. Incredibly convenient.

Cons: Salvation Army’s religious affiliation may suit some costumers, but I’ve been particularly bothered by some of their anti-gay sentiments. After careful consideration, I’ve decided to continue donating to the Salvation Army. The bottom line, for me, is that they accept some items other donation shops don’t, they hire and serve people of all sexual orientations, and knowing that my stuff will be used again by somebody who really needs it helps me sleep better than throwing it away because I have nowhere to take it.

Goodwill

There are six locations in and around Des Moines.

Pros: The proceeds from Goodwill go to helping disabled people with job training and placement. Donations are also relatively easy to make, although they are a little pickier than Salvation Army.

Cons: Like I said, they’re a little pickier, and concerned about items that will do will in resale. Don’t try taking your Christmas tree here in the off-season, or something relatively outdated, like an encyclopedia. They also close at 5pm and some outlet locations don’t accept donations.

DAV

There is one location in Des Moines.

Pros: The DAV benefits veterans in Iowa, takes almost everything, and has a free donation pick-up service.

Cons: They’re only open 8am-3pm Tuesday through Saturday, and the donation pick-up hours are the same. If you work regular hours, it will probably be more difficult to coordinate your donation.

There are also a number of churches and temples in Des Moines that accept donations. Whether you are religious or not, these donation centers are worth checking out- Many of them are not for resale, they’re simply given away, which means your donations can do even more for somebody in need!

I hope next time you’re cleaning out your dresser, your kitchen drawers, or your linen closet you’ll consider donating your items to one of these places.