DAY 5 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Decorate Your Sofa

Day five we decorate our sofa! No I don’t mean we are going to color it or anything. I mean pillows of course!

Sometimes we can become comfortable with stuff we’ve had around for awhile. Comfort is good, ugly and gross are not. You may not have even noticed that your throw pillows are getting a little sad looking. Are they wonky shapes now? Are they dirty? Are they the pillows that CAME WITH THE SOFA?!? Gasp! No. This can’t be happening. Time to rectify! Believe it or not I have lots of ideas about just pillows, but first let me tell you my favorite:

Binge

One of the most fun things ever is to just go crazy binge shopping pillows. It will feel all sorts of wrong but also SO, SO RIGHT.

I give you permission.

I learned this when I started staging. Ain’t nobody have time to sit and ponder, “Should I get this pillow? Or wait a minute this one? What about this one? Should I do blue? But, oohhh what about this green one…” GAH. Shoot me now. I had to get that shit done like yesterday, but then I’d get to the house and be like, “HATE IT.” and have to go back and start all over. So, I learned to just go ape shit and grab EVERYTHING. Now, I head to Home Goods or Target (or both) and load up on all the pillows I have even the faintest love towards (and even mild confusion on it’s fugliness) and bring them all home. No thinking, just grabbing. Sometimes I’ll have 2 carts full, I kid you not. Leave one at the front, grab another. Once you have all of the pillows at your house you can mix and match and spend all night putting the look together (with a glass of wine of course). EVERY time I do this the one or two pillows I thought were shoe-ins end up going back to the store. The ones I was like “Hmmm is this pillow awesome or fugly?” end up being the big winners. Keep the tags on and take back the ones that don’t make the cut.

I offered this suggestion to one of my clients, Renee, and she took it and ran. I celebrated a little inside when she sent me this photo, followed by many more of the different styled options on her sofa. Grab some wine and enjoy this part!

Full Target Cart

I promise you you won’t spend a million dollars on this binge. BUT, in case you want to keep the budget to a minimum, here are some other helpful hints.

Pillow Inserts

I recommend feather inserts as they fluff and remold the best where as polyester fill can get lumpy and lame. Once your pillows get the lumps, it’s game over. So, whenever possible, buy a pillow that has an insert that can be reused and save dollars down the line. The covers can simply be replaced or cleaned, thus extending its lifetime. You can then swap out covers for the season or when the mood strikes. For a fuller, firmer fill, use slightly bigger inserts to pillow cover size.

Here are some options on acquiring inserts.

  1. Reuse: You may have some already! Reuse these and simply buy new covers.

  2. Previously loved: Grab an ugly pillow at a thrift store that has a removable cover, but a good insert. You may not like the cover but you can just take it off and donate it back. You’ll have an insert for only a couple bucks instead of spending $10-20. I just throw these in the wash and then the dryer. Make sure the insert fabric is in good shape physically or you may end up with feathers everywhere.

  3. New: If buying thrifted pillows isn’t your jam, you need to get a life. JK JK. Ok so you want new ones. Obviously you can grab these wherever you can find pillow covers. I like to buy mine on Amazon. Here are some that will work.

Thrift

Another budget friendly option is to buy the whole pillow at a thrift store. You never know! I’ve found so many pillows this way it’s unbelievable. I typically come home with pillows costing me $1-$3. I’ve found pillows from Target, Pier 1, Pottery Barn and West Elm at Goodwill. Check the hanging racks for pillow covers, too. Buy and throw them in the wash. If they get ruined, well then you are only out a buck or two. I also find covers with the inserts still in them. Win-win. I love thrifted pillows because you never know what gem you’re going to find. I have a pile of covers now that I swap out often BECAUSE I CAN WAH AH AH AH.

Splurge

If you’re super excited to drop some money on pillows, go ahead and splurge on a great one. My pillow landscape usually includes one pricier splurge pillow I fell in love with alongside thrifted $2 pillows. One of my favorite places to splurge on pillows are DKRenewel, Etsy and Pottery Barn.

Sew Up

Grab some fabric and sew yourself some new covers or have someone who knows how to sew whip them up. Obviously you can find fabric at lot of places, but don’t forget searching through thrift stores or estate sales for some vintage-y fun specimens.

Switch Up

If you already have pillows you like and this is old hat to you, maybe just give them a little switcharoo. Move some into the living room from the bedroom. Change the covers out for the season with some from your stash. Swap with a friend. Maybe just wash the covers you have to feel fresher after the Holidays.

Bonus

Don’t forget a new throw blanket! Do you have that pile of old blankets that are some obnoxious sports team colors or just not going to work with the new look? Grab a nice throw blanket or 4 while you’re out shopping. Home Goods and Target have good ones, but I also sometimes find these thrifted for mere dollars.

Mix

Ok so if you didn’t gather, I do all of the above on the regular. Grab your loot and line them all up in your living or family room, taking care not to get them dirty so you can return them if necessary. Start putting them all together to see which ones work well with each other. Return all the duds. Study photos from your favorite designers, Instagram accounts or on Pinterest to see the different ways people style them.

This sofa has a Target pillow, a splurge pillow, a thrifted pillow and a Home Goods blanket.

After seeing so many client’s houses over the years, one thing is for sure. Furnishings and decor can absolutely elevate or trash a home. Sometimes a nicely renovated home can look awful by the decor choices used (or lack thereof). Sometimes a home that hasn’t been renovated in decades can look awesome just because the homeowner has decorated it so nicely and keeps it well maintained. We’re going to try our best to elevate one day at a time this month so keep plugging through each challenge. I promise they will all make sense.

Show us your pillow progress! Tag your posts or stories with #updatedontrenovatechallenge so we can see all the pillow madness.

Don’t miss a day!

Shop The Room: The Comfy Cactus on Airbnb

Since I just re-outfitted The Comfy Cactus (formally the Cozy Cactus ahaha big change), I wanted to do a Shop The Room post for it. Tons of comfy cozy things make this condo nice to snuggle up in. Happy shopping!

Click here to check availability for your visit to Phoenix.

Kitchen

Cozy Cactus Kitchen Shelves.jpg
Cozy Cactus Cutting Board and Towel.jpg

Faucet: Signature Hardware, Cactus pot + leaf tea towel: LCo Design Studio

Living Room

Sofa: Ikea, Coffee table: Ikea, Trunks: vintage, Lamp + Side Table: Target, Gray checked pillow and cactus planter: LCo Design Studio, Agave print: Jenny Komenda's Print Shop 

Master Bedroom

Cozy Cactus Master Bedroom Shop

Bed: Living Spaces, Pink Rug: vintage, Side tables: Twigs & Twine, Lamps + pillows + throw blanket: Home Goods, Palm tree print: Jenny Komenda's Print Shop

Rug: Ikea, Bed: Living Spaces, Bedside tables: Twigs & Twine, Gray + turquoise pillows: Home Goods, Potted Cactus: La Grande Orange, Lamps: Target

Patio

Shop The Cozy Cactus Patio Hanging Chair

Pillow: Target, Cactus pot + palm leaf tea towel: LCo Design Studio

If you're interested in staying at The Cozy Cactus during your visit to Phoenix, check availability and get more info by clicking below!

Before & After: The Cozy Cactus Gets a Facelift

If you didn't know, I have a little condo here in Phoenix that serves as a vacation rental on Airbnb. This condo got a renovation late last year when I bought it and has had two tweaks since. For some reason it just wasn't showing well in the photos. Nothing to do with the photos either. Those were as good as they could get. The problem was I tend to have a mental block when designing my "own" spaces so in the end it just felt like a hodge podge of things. Just like my own home. Blah. 

So, I decided to do what I always do when I get in the way. I pretend I'm not me. I treat my own project as if it is not. I pretend I'm working for a client home or one of my flip homes (Those don't seem like mine for some reason. Maybe because I know they are mine only temporarily). Instead of thinking about what I want, which is everything, I think about how I could make it look great for a magazine or for a client. I narrowed the plan and stayed on track rather than just saying hey I love this turquoise sofa let's put it in here.

First task was to tackle the biggest issue, the coloring. The condo has Saltillo tiles and a brick wall, so the room is saturated in an orange-y pink. The brick wall I like, the floors, eh. Phoenicians are so over Saltillo, but those from outside the area like it. It feels authentic I guess. I don't have the money or time to take out the tile so I did what I could to soften it up with ALL the rugs. Rugs everywhere! So much cozier.

Next I decided to up how many this condo can sleep by adding a sleeper sofa. Before it slept 4 but now it sleeps 6. I decided to go with a gray IKEA sofa to cool down the warm tones and lighten things up a bit. I think it worked. I also removed the brown coffee table and side tables to eliminate that brown/orange-y tone. I added a Jenny Komenda print to bring in some cooler colors while sticking to the cactus - desert vibe. I'd like to add some white curtains to this room as soon as I figure out how to hang them. The ceiling and the windows meet at an awkward angle right next to a ceiling beam so some creativity is needed. I'd also like to add more desert feeling pillows and more greenery, but I need to pace myself with the spending. There's time. Below are the before photo when I bought the condo, two versions of the living room and then followed by the current version. I think I'm finally getting it right.

Another change to the space was in the kitchen. Not a major overhaul, but adding that shelf really helped balance the room. I already completely renovated this room and added plenty of cabinetry back in the fall, so the shelf really wasn't needed. However, without it the room just felt really unbalanced with all the storage on one side. The crazy cactus wallpaper still shines through behind the shelves. I'd love to do some window treatments to spruce up that area but for now this will do. BABY STEPS! Below is the kitchen before i renovated it, then the first version of it after renovation and then now. And yes now there is a rug in there, too!

Next was the master bedroom. This is such a cozy bed and room but again the Saltillo tile and brick wall made it very orange-y pink and cold feeling. Black curtains weren't helping. What was I thinking? They're great curtains, just not for this room. So, I softened up the room by swapping them out for gray versions, throwing not one but two rugs under the bed, adding vibrant throw pillows and another lovely Jenny Komenda print. Below is the space when I bought it, then version one and then the current deal-io. Funny how pillows, curtains, rugs and art can completely change a space.

Speaking of, I did the same thing in the second bedroom. Despite this room being all white walls with just the tile to deal with, it still felt dark and heavy. What is wrong with me? I quickly got to work changing out the rug, curtains and throw pillows. I also removed the basket (hello another dark thing) and hung a FringeFortyFour tapestry

Cozy Cactus Second bedroom before facelift with basket on wall and dark accents

Finally, out on the back patio I added a little more of what I wanted this Cozy Cactus Retreat to feel like...a relaxing place to unwind after hiking, working or spending the day at a Spring Training game. I found THE CUTEST hammock chair on the entire planet. And guys no joke it was only $62. I swear. Will people drink their coffee in it while reading in the morning or pass out in it after hitting the Scottsdale clubs? Don't know. Don't care. Just don't fall out. The thing was finding this Husky velcro strap that easily hangs the chair from the tree. The strap goes on so easily, being that it's velcro, and doesn't damage the tree.  It even holds up to 300 lbs. If you want to get a hanging chair of your own, you can throw it up on a tree while you're camping and easily remove it to take it home. Cool, right?

So there, now I have a much cozier Cozy Cactus Condo for guests to relax in. If you'd like to book a stay while you're in Phoenix, click the button below to check availability! We hope you'll enjoy your stay!

Living Room: Cozy Modern Loft

This one is for me! I'm like the cleaning lady who doesn't clean her own house. I'm the design and renovation chick that doesn't do a dang thing to her own house until now. I have just one house right now, with not much renovation needed. So, I finally have time to work on my own house. Condo, that is. Can you believe I've only painted one room in the place since it was built 7 years ago.

For shame. 

The white walls were comforting for a while, I've got to be honest. With all of the neutral colors I was putting in the other houses, I kinda learned to appreciate the blank canvas. I also just couldn't commit to anything. One month I wanted this, the next that. What to do? Finally, this year I decided to put a design board together so I could get it together once and for all. 

Before

Ok this is embarrassing. Don't judge. 

Modern Loft Before

Yes, that's a baby gate in the fireplace. We can finally take it out with only a slim possibility that my 2 year old will dive in headfirst to play with the rocks. Yes, that's a monitor on top which we plug our laptops in to play shows and movies. Look, we've been traveling ok? We sold everything we owned a few years ago and just never committed to putting a home back together. Get off my back. I'm working on making this place more legit!

Anyhow, we're keeping the rug bc it hides lots of little kid droppings like broken crayons, trail mix, you name it. It's like the cave of lost things. A keeper. The couch can go. It's lame. Maybe we'll even get a real TV.

GASP!

Moving on. 

The Plan

 

Some of these things we already have. This is the good thing about making a design board. It can include things you already have and want to keep, just add the rest of the stuff to coordinate. This way you can see it all together rather than trying to imagine it all working out. For instance, the rug, the coffee table, the maps and the artwork are already things we own and like. The concrete ceiling and the fireplace are parts of the room and cannot be changed but will play a part in the design. As for the rest...

  1. Sofa: We need something that is more modern can fit in the small room and is comfortable. A couch should be, no? Otherwise, what's the point?
  2. Chair: The Eames lounge chair is a dream. I want it and have wanted it for a while. I'm a sucker for vintage, mid-century modern. Preferably the chair I find is the real deal, in good condition and the leather is nice and warn in for me. 
  3. Plants: This place is filled with hard spaces. The ceiling, pillars and floors are all concrete and the entire east wall is steel and glass. We need a little nature up in here. 
  4. Charcoal Gray Accent Walls: I love that most of the condo has white walls. It's bright, airy and different than any of the homes I renovate. I do think it needs a little bit of color, though. I know gray is probably not a color. Oh well. It's happening. I'm going to paint the walls behind the sofa and fireplace Behr Evening Hush. I may also take it to the fireplace wall, too. 
  5. Barn Wood Accent Wall: This may or may not happen. I'm up in the air about wood accent walls at this point. I love them, but they are EVERYWHERE. I think it might warm up the space a little but am hesitant about spending the money. If I do go forward with it, it will be installed on the fireplace wall which extends to the second floor and into the loft bedroom. 
  6. Accents: The rest of the items are a throw blanket and some plants. The room needs some life and warmth so these will just round out the edges. And who wouldn't want to pick some fruit straight off their own potted tree? Duh.

That's it for now. It's a small room with a lot going on structurally and height wise so I don't want to clutter it with too much else. I'll update you as I update the room. First, paint. Woo! 

Want your own design? Click that box, yo.