Remember this photo?
Those are the two $2.50 framed floral prints I picked up at White Barn Thrift Store. I accidentally deleted the close-up photo I’d taken of the frames, but you can see here that they are a dark wood with a painted stripe of olive green. The wood is not offensive by any means but the olive green stripe is another story. Plus, they were pretty beat up.
I was contemplating painting them with one of three acrylic paints: black, cobalt blue, or neon pink. I love all of those colors, but honestly I was dying to use the neon pink.
So I did! Now I do not in any way claim to know what the crap I am doing when it comes to this stuff. This was only the second time I ever attempted to paint wood and I tend to get so excited about these projects that I jump in without properly thinking things through. I did fortunately have the presence of mind to thoroughly tape off the art to protect it (which I deemed to be simpler in this instance than removing them from the frames.) Then I just globbed some pink paint onto a frame… and quickly realized that was not going to work at all. So I pressed pause and busted out some sandpaper and primer, because duh those are good things to use when painting wood. A light sanding and dried priming later and I was still getting this:
What… the heck. Supposedly acrylic paint is fine for use on wood. And with a sanding and priming?! I was flustered, to say the least. I still am not sure if the problem was the type of paint or simply the fact that I had purchased really cheap paint. This neon pink variety in particular was the cheapest off-brand they had at the craft store. The above photo was taken after like three coats. So yeah, not happening. I was sad. From far away the color looked great, but I was not okay with how crappy things were up close. Plan B.
I decided to go to the other side of the spectrum and bust out the highest quality paint I had on hand. I didn’t even want to mess with one of the other acrylic paints. What I ended up using is the same paint that is on the bottom half of my dining room walls, which is the color “Napoleon” by Olympic color-matched for Valspar Signature. It often reads as black on my walls, but as you can see it is really an inky blue gray. It went on smoothly and easily.
Obviously this is entirely different from neon pink, but I’m okay with that. You know I’m all about embracing trends, but clearly I’m much less likely to get tired of dark gray than I am of neon pink.
I had been planning on actually hanging them some where, but propping them up here was simpler for the time being. Then I was all… “Ew.” I have never loved the way this IKEA Expedit shelf is styled. It is just… not good. A few days after finishing up the frames I decided to tackle the problem. I removed everything, wiped it all down, and when I put it all back together this is what I had:
Soooo much better.
The first decision I made was that those door inserts needed to move. I think they look much nicer in their new placement. All I have in there is a bunch of DVDs that I never ever watch, so being able to access them without bending down was a non-issue.
The key to this styling shuffle was editing, something I’ve only just begun to play with. Some things clearly needed to go: the cat toys, the Ugly Dolls, and the unattractively stacked mismatch of books. I made room for the cat toys behind one of the doors so they would still be accessible for play time with Milo. The Ugly Doll collection found a new home on top of the dresser in my spare bedroom.
I’m in an over-sharing mood, so allow me to give each cubby some individual attention.
One of my newly-painted thrift store art pieces and a copper cup. This cubby’s a little bare, but I wasn’t going for a stuffed-full look so it works.
The bowl was purchased in Guatemala. I’ve noticed that many styling vignettes that I like include books, so even though I’m not a ravenous reader I decided to add some to this shelf. Previously most of these were living on a bookshelf in my spare bedroom, which worked fine but now they get to act as decorative elements which I’d say is a much more fulfilling purpose for them. They really helped make things look more “finished”.
And I’m super proud of the bottom two books which I wrapped to hide their rather ugly binding. The bottom one is wrapped in a scrap piece of fabric and the one above it in wrapping paper. There’s still a whole lot of colors represented in the whole shelf, but I tried to keep things looking at least remotely harmonious.
Some Elle Decor magazines were moved and neatly stacked to provide some height for these objects. I’m totally in love with my little cat and mouse sculpture which is a recent gift from my boyfriend. The store that he bought them from is an incredibly cool place that I will be featuring in a Shopping Adventures post! I’m also quite proud of the reed diffuser. It is by Compagnie de Provence which are the folks that make the super fancy Savon de Marseilles hand soap. It’s basically just fancy, wonderful smelling soap that comes in a designer-y glass bottle. I’ve never used the soap but I can tell you their “Mediterranean” scent is magnificent.
The second of my thrift store paintings plus a pair of taper candles. Very little thought went into this cubby other than I decided to place things symmetrically, something I don’t normally do. I like it.
Some more books came out of hiding for this spot, and oh my doesn’t my metal bear figurine work perfectly as a book end! Yes. Yes he does.
My boyfriend’s Indiana Jones Monopoly just looks like a simple wooden box at first glance, and that’s how I prefer it, haha. This cubby also gets a thrift store brass “X” and little clay figurine.
Finally, the top. Faux poppies, “The Birds of America” as illustrated by John James Audubon (another gift from the boyfriend), copper sugar pot, and my most favoritest little celluloid deer figurine.
He does admittedly get a little lost up top with all the other big objects, so he’ll probably get moved around from time to time.
So! If you ignore the fact that too much of my furniture is IKEA and I have ugly wires exposed… I’m pretty dang pleased with this little corner of my living room. The keys to this styling refresher were: simplifying the color palette, repeating a few key colors (red, gold, gray), adding some books to fill things out, and being more intentional about my placement of everything.
I am still very much a novice at styling, but it was pretty thrilling to just jump in and give it a try. I’m sure I still have much to improve upon, but trust me, it is worth it to try mixing things up even if you’re not sure of what you’re doing. Are there any spots in your home that need a styling shuffle? Tell me about it!