A 20-something's quest to design with fun, fancy, and flair!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

DIY Dressing Table Makeover, Part 1

Now that I have some bedding picked out for my new apartment, I thought the next step would be to start getting some furniture. I already have a few existing pieces and in order to go along with my budget I wanted to reuse as many of them as possible - and why not? Great pieces of furniture can be redone to match so many different decorating styles, and getting creative is so much less wasteful (and so much more fun!) than buying something new. 

I've been looking for ideas for a makeup desk, and the picture above is one that I absolutely fell in love with. It definitely has an antique vibe but one that could be modernized based on color and the actual piece of furniture. The metallic accents and drawer pulls also add a beautiful luxurious touch. With a few tweaks, a desk like this would go perfectly with my new comforter.

Reality check ... this is what I actually have to work with. Not quite the beautiful vintage desk I was inspired by, but my old makeup desk from Target is the closest thing I had! It was white when I bought it, but in a streak of 7th grade inspiration I painted it all sorts of crazy mismatched shades of purple and magenta (middle school was not the best time for me, clearly.)

There is some hope for it though, as it has these really pretty floral accents on the side panels and a row of embroidery etched into the top. I thought that at the very least, I could bring it back to its original (slightly lackluster) glory by re-painting it white. But student budget in mind, I refused to buy proper paint and stole some white Behr ceiling paint from my dad.

The paint worked just fine, but it had a super glossy finish that I wasn't expecting. Luckily I was dumb enough to paint the table outside in extreme humidity, so the paint actually dried a bit tacky which dulled the gloss. Phew!
(Do keep in mind high humidity = very long drying time, probably about 2 hours per coat.)

As you can see with the side panels, painting the table a little imperfectly (humidity, big paint brush, not focusing on going over every single inch) made the table look worn. I ended up liking this slightly distressed look because even when you can see the purple beneath it gives the table the antique feel I was going for.

Here is the table in its halfway finished stage. Next I am going to add a few more distressing touches and some gold or silver accents, depending on which goes better with the bedding. Now a few tips for those of you DIY-ers out there who are replicating this project (or any project involving painting furniture):

1. Minimize paint spillage. Because there will be a lot. That means a big dropcloth (old bed sheets work great) and lift your furniture up from the ground (I elevated the table on soup cans to get the very bottom.) I also wouldn't recommend having a hot date planned for after working on a project like this, because out at dinner later that night a friend pointed out that I had a bride-of-Frankenstein streak of white paint in my hair.

2. Do not, for the love of God, paint furniture outside during a rainstorm. The paint will take forever to dry, your hair will get frizzy, and it will be an overall mess. Spare yourself.

3. Don't wimp out and give up after half an hour. It took me three times, but after finally covering myself in bug spray, getting a decent iTunes playlist together, and enlisting backup support (ie. mom) I got the table painted in about two hours total, minus waiting time between coats. If you think you can slap paint on a piece of wood and make it look cute, you're probably wrong. I was wrong. Point taken.

Updates to follow as I finish up the table!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Let Your Bed Inspire Your Room

As I figure out how I want to decorate my room, the most obvious starting point is the bed. It's usually the focal point in any room, and the color scheme / design sets the tone for the surrounding pieces of furniture. 

I've been flipping through lots of design magazines looking for inspiration, and absolutely loved this ad by Manuel Canovas featured in Elle Decor last month. 

I love how they mixed lots of beautiful colors and feminine prints with slightly masculine gray walls. It's modern and sophisticated without being too matchy-matchy. 

I also wanted a quilt for my bed instead of a big comforter or duvet, something that would feel a little vintage-inspired while still only taking 30 seconds to make the bed. I liked this Laila quilt from Anthropologie, but at $228 for just the quilt, it was a bit out of my budget! 

With these looks setting the tone for my inspiration, I stumbled upon a great find at TJ Maxx (a thrifty girl's best friend!)

A beautiful Cynthia Rowley bedding set at 50% off! The colors were exactly what I wanted - soft grays mixed with light pinks and purples. The Indian-inspired print also added a fun touch. Continuing my hunt, I found two pillow shams and two pillows from the same set, also 50% off!

Both pillows and shams are reversible, and you can see above the two sides to the pillow shams. I am in love with the gray side, which is a lot lighter in person than it shows up on camera. 

The trick to finding all this was that three components of the set were in totally different sections of the store. Continuing to browse the store for an extra 10 minutes saved me so much time later on looking for matching pillows. Now I have a starting point for my room, and as I start collecting accessories and getting my furniture together I will have a design theme and color palette to work with. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Make Your Own Art

I'm a big fan of photography - my dad even owned a photography store in the town where I go to school! But until I can afford to buy some of my own prints (Conde Nast has an amazing selection of their old prints for sale) I've had to take my own photographs and make them work.

I love bold, punchy colors and wanted something for my apartment that would give a little color to the white walls. At the time I was growing some hibiscus trees in my backyard (for the record, gardening and being a college undergrad do NOT mix well...) and thought the flowers were the perfect inspiration for my walls. Unfortunately, the only pictures I could find were either too abstract and sketchy...

or too literal.

Unhappy with what I was finding, I decided to give it a go myself. I took a few of the flowers from my own tree, taped them to a blank white wall (a piece of paper would probably work just as well), and snapped away. A few minutes on the free editing software that came on my laptop and I was able to enhance the color of the flower and wash out the whiteness of the wall. It gave the photo that great artistic edge that made it fun to look at with a bold splash of pink for the walls.

My hibiscus on the tree...
 taped to my walls, still a work in progress...
 and viola! A good zoom lens and the proper lighting is all it takes to turn an ordinary flower into a great pop of color! 

Combined with a beautiful black frame I got at Home Goods for about 12.99 (gallery frame 75% off!) it was exactly what I was looking for and a great way to show off my (amateur) skills behind the camera! All you need is a little inspiration and you can turn any little thing into your own work of art.

Million Dollar Decorators

As much as I try not to watch TV, I have recently become addicted to Million Dollar Decorators on Bravo. It focuses on the design careers of five incredibly talented interior decorators in Los Angeles, and it's so much fun to see their high profile clients and what you can do with a budget that includes $25,000 rugs!* 

*It also gives really great inspiration for those of our who are still too cheap to buy rugs...

Of the five designers, two really speak to my personal aesthetic: Mary McDonald and Martyn Lawrence-Bullard. Here is a great example of Mary McDonald's work, full of sophisticated prints in unusual yet elegant combinations. 

I love how she is able to pull in so many crazy patterns and somehow make it work! Martyn Lawrence-Bullard (boy that is a mouthful!) has a slightly home-ier feel with more warm colors and a laid-back yet expensive vibe. 

All five of the designers are so entertaining to watch, and there's even a quiz on Bravo's website to see which designer you are (click here.) I was Martyn long-british-last-name, which probably was because most of my answers involved chocolate! (He's such a chocoholic he had a hypnotist try and "cure" him during one episode!) Which designer(s) are you, and what does it say about your aesthetic? 


In my mind, the only thing better than buying something fabulous is making it yourself. Law students aren't exactly known for their bulging bank accounts (apparently you don't get those paid jobs until after you graduate), so knowing how to add a few DIY touches to ordinary pieces is an invaluable skill.

A great site to start your DIY journey on is Ikea Hackers. It's a forum where users submit their 'hacks' to ordinary (cue: cheap) pieces of Ikea furniture, which you could replicate on other pieces of furniture you might have.

One project I've had my eye on for the living room of my new apartment is this hack using the popular 'Lack' coffee table from Ikea. I have a similar table in black from Target, and I thought it could be a great way to bring in a little color to my living room.
Using a printed wallpaper and some silver nail heads, the hackers were able to really glam up this simple table using super cheap crafting tricks. A great way to start adding creative touches to basic furniture!

Welcome to The Gilded Lilypad!


This blog is a catalogue for my decorating and design projects and inspirations. As a soon-to-be law student with a stark white, empty apartment on my hands, what better time to start getting those creative juices flowing? My goal is to have a touch of elegance...

a bit of fun...

and a whole lot of whimsy!

Hey, a girl can dream!