Category: Decor

finally! a campaign dresser

October 24th, 2013   |   Decor

FinallyACampaignDresserThe writing room (now known as the never-quite-finished-writing-room) got a new update.

For the first time ever, I have a legitimate campaign dresser (okay, chest)! I’ve been wanting one for years, but never found the right one. So instead, I have just collected campaign-like pieces.

SemiLikeCampaignFurnitureThe nightstand on the other side of the bed was originally a burgundy stain with bad hardware sitting on the street corner with a “free” sign taped to the front. After few coats of white glossy paint and some gold spray paint, he had a whole new look. But this piece lacks the traditional campaign metal hardware on the corners and the recessed drawer pulls.

Just to the right of the nightstand you can see a bit of the writing room desk. This desk was a Craigslist find and got a similar makeover with coats of white paint and again, gold painted drawer pulls. Though similar to the campaign chest, it was not quite there either.

Meanwhile the nightstand below, discovered in the dumpster, was found exactly as you see it here. It had a rubbed gold finish and a cream marble top.

OriginalNightstandThough it was nice, I was delighted to swap it for this new pretty chest.


Hello, lovely.

This is a piece from Meg Made (now my second piece from Meg’s shop).

Since buying my first dresser from Meg and Joe, Mr. Lively and I have become friends with them. Which is wonderful. But it also makes it hard to not want to buy every single piece that they sell. Which means their new store in Chicago is both thrilling and dangerous for me personally.

Though I’d like to say that the writing room is “complete,” there is another project I have up my sleeve which will really finish it off… at least until I think of something new to do.

the easiest way to hang a gallery wall… ever

October 14th, 2013   |   Decor

TheEasiestWayToMakeAGalleryWallEverI’m sure it’s not surprising that the gallery wall in the writing room (aka guest bedroom) is continuing to grow.

If you look all the way over to the right, you’ll see a new Just Keep Going print (the third JKG print in the gallery) above the lamp.

The design might look familiar since it is the same awesome design that Jen Serafini hand illustrated for the Workshop At Home tote bags.


Now, it’s time to talk about the frame and how insanely easy it was to hang. It took less than 30 seconds to hang thanks to Mary Ann, the awesome entrepreneur and inventor behind Change of Art.

I first met Mary Ann as a business consulting client, and since then she has come to Business in the City. At our last meet up she generously gave me one of her amazing frames to try out for myself.

To see her hard work in action was a real treat. These frames are eco-friendly, made in the US, contribute to a good cause, and are insanely good-looking.

But better than all of that are the mechanics.

When you open the box, you find everything you need to hang the frames (well, except the hammer).


She even includes the nail!

On the back of the frame you don’t even have to remove the backing to insert the pictures. You just slide the photo you want to use in the top slot and your extra photos rest in the lower pocket. How cool is that?


Next, you simply take the template and the blue painters tape and apply it to the wall where you’d like your frame to hang. ChangeofArtGalleryWallPaperTemplate

Then, you hammer the nail on the white space indicated on the paper.


Mary Ann includes a circle piece with the nail. This circle piece fits into a groove in the frame so it’s also self-leveling(!).


It. Is. So. Easy. Though I only have one of her frames, her system is also sold in sets so that you can hang an entire wall of frames quickly.

Though I might sound a bit intense about this product, that is because I genuinely love this system and I am honored to know such a kind and innovative entrepreneur.


new home tour on pretty fluffy

September 23rd, 2013   |   DecorLifeStyle

NewHomeTouronPrettyFluffyLast week Franklin (and the apartment) got a feature over on the go-to site for stylish pet owners, Pretty Fluffy.

The home tour was shot by Kim – which really just meant it was a fun day of photography, home-working, and trying to get Franklin to stay still.


I always love Kim’s work, and it was awesome to see her home tour photos compared to images from the Design*Sponge home tour a while back.

There are new views of the apartment that weren’t shown before, and there are design updates around the apartment, like the guest room, which look so much better now.


Click to see the home tour.

Enjoy the new shots of the home – and the tricks I use to stash all of Franklin’s stuff around the house while keeping things clean and cute at the same time.

Click to see the home tour.


PS – There is “Kim photo inception” going on in the first picture. The photo on the nightstand is from our wedding, which Kim also shot. I wonder if that happens a lot and I just never noticed it… 

photos by, via

bringing the patio into fall

September 19th, 2013   |   DecorStyle

BringingThePatioIntoTheFallNow that the weather is getting chillier, it’s time to do more than just break out the booties.

It’s time to “autumn-ize” the patio.

(It may not be not a real word, but it seems like something Mr. Autumn Man would say.)

To do this, we swapped the regular flowers which were slowly dying…

WideShotPatioFor very inexpensive yellow mums from Home Depot.

YellowMumsCute. Simple. And Mr. Lively’s favorite color.


We’re also using our plaid stadium blankets to stay warm. You can find great some deals on these vintage guys on Etsy.

Franklin also seems to prefer the fall, too.

FranklinFallPatioDoesn’t he look good with plaid?

franklin meets the pet shop

September 9th, 2013   |   DecorLife

FranklinMeetsThePetShopWhen we got married, we got a special IOU gift from our wedding photographer and officiant, Kim and Scott.

For those who don’t know, Kim is a pet portrait artist with a studio called The Pet Shop.

Which meant three months before we got Mr. Ben Franklin, we had a portrait of him waiting to happen.

We decided to hold off on our Franklin art until he was full-grown. So this summer, we sent Kim a few photos of the little guy in his signature “puppy sit” position.

For the background, I picked a bright blue that matched my my wedding shoes and bedroom drapes.

I think he turned out pretty darn cute.


If you stopped by last week, you might have spotted him on the wall with the new dresser in the writing room.


I only wish that Franklin appreciated his portrait a bit more. Most of the time, he’s just sleeping in front of his masterpiece.


Pups these days. Don’t even know what they got.

Last but not least, if you are thinking about ordering Kim’s work for the holidays, I will share a word of warning – she fills up early, so you better hurry to place your order if you want it by December 25th.

Thanks, Kim!

photo one by

TheWritingRoomGetsANewDresserFor the past few months, I’ve been scouring Craigslist for a new writing room dresser.

Up until now, I’ve been using an old Ikea bookshelf for storage and it was just looking rather blah and unorganized most of the time.

Though he looks pretty snazzy in the photo below, I can promise you it wasn’t always looking that neat day-to-day.


My quest for the perfect white and gold campaign dresser was unending.

I found a few options on Craigslist in the right style, but each one was either the wrong color (freshly painted lime green), or too short for the space.

But then one day a different lovely caught my eye…


Totally not a campaign dresser. But isn’t she pretty? (Feel free to ignore Franklin’s ear in the pic.)

She is from a local wife and husband duo called Meg Made who are pros at refinishing great pieces for a fraction of what it would cost to get a comparable dresser from the (awesome) White Attic.

We not only loved the dresser, we also loved Meg and her husband, Joe. We immediately hit it off and hung out three times within 48 hours of meeting each other.

The details on this dresser are amazing. Here’s a closer look at some of the pretty.

I’ve never seen corner detail like this before on one of these puppies.


And the hardware, delicate drawer moldings, and key hole detail are sweet.

(I have a feeling this may one day be one of the coolest changing tables ever.)


While I do realize this new dresser kinda tones down the whole “super prep” vibe I had going in the desk area…


… I’m kinda okay with that.

Yes, it’s a bit more eclectic in the writing room now. But really, I love every single piece in that room. So I’ve come to terms that it might look less “designed” than if there was more cohesion.

Whatevs. This room is a perfect reflection of my taste and I’m the one that has to sit in it most days, anyways.

Oh, and Franklin, too.

FranklinApprovedDresserLuckily, he approves.

Photo two and six by.

the soda stream

August 14th, 2013   |   Decor


A few weeks ago our friend, Sophie, came to dinner. While we fed her copious amounts of Blue Apron, we talked about our La Croix addiction.

We drink so much sparkling water that we have been buying three crates every time we go to Cost Co. After hearing this, Sophie told us about a little thing called the Soda Stream.

It makes soda water in 11 seconds flat.  

Sound too good to be true? I made this video to show how insanely fast it is.

And fortunately, it doesn’t take up a lot of counter space, either.

SodaStreamOnCounterBy doing just a little bit of math, we realized that we will be saving money, and dozens of aluminum cans, with this purchase by November.

So for anyone else out there who has trouble keeping La Croix stocked in their fridge, this might be a good alternative to consider!

the writing room takes shape

August 13th, 2013   |   DecorLife


Over the past few weeks I’ve been transitioning my guest room to a writing room.

I am devoting this new special place to important and longterm projects. I initially tried to maintain my focus while sitting at my desk in the living room, but I  found it hard to execute longterm projects there. An unproductive inbox habit has taken root in the living room and it steals my focus and attention on high-level work.

So far, I’ve been careful during this transition to avoid checking my inbox in the writing room. Being vigilant about the “no email in the writing room policy,” is helping me to avoid forming a habit trigger that would otherwise steal my productivity in this space as well.

However, I’d like to put all of that intentional productivity aside. Right now I’d like to get to the fun stuff: the freshly dressed side tables.

Because I’m still keeping the guest room bed and furniture, the changes that I have made in this room are largely in the details. I’ve been incorporating items that inspire me and make me ridiculously happy to work in the space.

Enter my new love: Ophelia, Goddess of Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously.


She is a lovely and quirky print by Kari Herer. By the way, I am in love with all of Kari’s work (and hope to one day own this and this). I totally suggest checking out her shop.

I also have a little white vintage vase for pens, and a notebook for new ideas.

On the other side of the “writing bed,” I have an original watercolor of Franklin, created by Joy Laforme for her Pet Project series.


Mr. (Ben) Franklin is looking so dapper in his new frame.

Here’s a peek at the new vignettes in context to the bed and the Caitlin Wilson pillow that inspired this room makeover in the first place.


And here’s Ophelia again.


This space has come a long way from where it was just a few months ago.


Before I started to make these changes, I had a nagging thought that the room – filled with mismatched items from apartments past – was “good enough.” Meanwhile, the disconnected decor quietly irked me. I resented spending time in the room.


Now that I see these simple changes in place, I’m so happy I went ahead and didn’t let “good enough” get in the way of “amazing and perfectly me!”

Being in this room is now the happiest time during my workday.


PS – It’s pretty cool to see how this new look matches the blog so well! A true sign of personal branding, huh? I kinda feel like I’m working in my blog.

lovely little accents

July 24th, 2013   |   DecorLife



Though we had really done a great job completing the house for our mega Thanksgiving party in the winter, there was still some finishing touches to add.

So we’ve been slowly making updates this month that I thought you might want to see!

Let’s do a little tour, shall we?


The Guest Room


First of all, you’ll notice that I got those Caitlin Wilson pillows I shared about a few weeks ago. I have to say, I’m in love with this British Bouquet one in the guest room. If I could turn that fabric into a dress, I totally would. Mr. Lively really loves it, too.




You’ll also notice that the changes I planned on July 2nd have happened! Here’s the before. You’ll notice a whole lotta color and a painting that Mr. Lively dubbed, Birds walking on clown vomit.




And here’s the now.




I painted new art (Mr. Lively named this one The Jess Lively Creative Inc. Flag), replaced the pillow cover, changed the sheets (old), and got a new fluffy duvet cover (seen here).

I’m now using the guest room as my ‘writing room.’ So having the large expanse of white with pops of gold, white, coral, and color is like living inside my brand everyday.



The Living Room


The coral Deco pillow has also added a nice pop in the otherwise neutral living room. The gold pillow is from West Elm.





The Entryway


While in Ann Arbor the other week, we also scored the deal of the century. This white and gold(!) mirror cost just $37. Steals like this can always be found at Treasure Mart. Last year we scored our white marble coffee table there for $60, as well.




I think the entry looks way more finished now that the mirror is hung. It’s obviously very practical and pretty at the same time.

Oh, and that lamp? Here’s a secret: it’s not plugged in! There is no plug nearby, but the table needed a bit more height, so I put it there anyway.

Tip: You’ll also notice the ‘his and hers’ trays for our keys – a great way to beautify any Mister clutter.

And that completes our tour! We are still saving our pennies for the living room armchair makeover. But until then, the home is looking a bit more polished with these little additions.


DIY plant stand

July 8th, 2013   |   DecorStyle



While donating a batch of exfoliations from my recent Throw Out 100 Things challenge, Mr. Lively and I did a quick run through the Brown Elephant looking for a potential plant stand.

Because, as you might recall, our patio looks quite cute, except for the current plant stand situation.




Franklin has a thing for eating fauna and this pot of plants was no exception. So for several months we kept the pot perched on the patio chair. (Try saying that five times fast.)

Not the prettiest solution, but it worked.

However, luck was on our side that day at the Brown Elephant. For just $20 we came home with a little woven patio table that originally came with a glass top.




Knowing the glass top wasn’t ideal for the table’s new life as a plant stand, Mr. Lively picked up a piece of scrap plywood for free at Home Depot and borrowed Scott’s saw and drill to make a wooden top sturdy enough to support the heavy planter.

As you can see, Franklin tried to be a part of the process as much as possible.




Once the top was cut and a drainage hole was created in the center of the wood, Mr. Lively sanded, stained, and poly coated the plywood to make it look a bit more upscale.




And there you have it. A much prettier plant stand made from a $20 table base outfitted with an almost free DIY table top.

The patio is now complete.




I’m getting the itch to update the apartment and finish a few projects.

As I mention in the makeunder steps, one of the keys to designing a life with intention involves reflecting and evolving. Which pretty much can be summed up in “contrast your present life with your vision for your space and see what needs to be exfoliated or included.”

When I do that now, I find that though my guest room and living room are “good enough” to keep as they are, they don’t quite have the oomph and polish that I have envisioned.

So I’ve been playing around in my head with different items and changes I’d like to include and exfoliate in each room to complete my vision in real life.


The Guest Room

When it comes to updating the guest room, the major focus of change is bedding and art.




Though I dearly love the look of the rest of the room (as seen in the image at the top of this post and the updated gallery wall), this bedding and art is not communicating the same finesse because it is quite frankly a hodge podge of old bedding from past apartments.

The inspiration for the new look centers around this adorable pillow by Caitlin Wilson.

31.1I love this print and think it would make a great statement for the room.

With this busy pattern in mind, the painting I did most recently on the big canvas above the bed will need to be updated again. This time I’m thinking of trying my hand at doing a soft, white on white concept that could look like a lace pattern… but that I’ll figure out later.

I’ve also contemplated re-covering the headboard with a different fabric temporarily (something from Domesticate, perhaps?), but I may get too lazy to attempt the project since I’m not confident it’s worth changing.

And that duvet, though adorable and prefect for a future daughter’s bedroom, is too different from the new pillow pattern stick around. I’ll most likely stash that for guests and that future daughter.

In the meantime, I’m thinking a simple throw or discounted white duvet cover would work well with my Grandparent’s knobby white coverlet that I adore.


The Living Room

Yes, I admit, I was so afraid of the brick walls in the apartment that I stuck to an intensely neutral color scheme.




Pretty, but even Mr. Lively was asking for a little more color like my previous living room.

Plus, the reality is that the brick ain’t that big a deal, and I can totally inject some colorful pillows and a coral chair (thanks to your help!) for good measure.

I’ve wavered back and forth on the right pillows to add to the couch. Right now I’m leaning towards another Caitlin Wilson pillow combo in coral.




So nice. And perfect for a summer look. I’d love to have this cheerful pillow combo for the spring/summer and the current, more neutral look for the winter.




And then there’s the chair. I love him dearly, but he is not going to be cheap to reupholster. So until we have the funds, I’m waiting patiently for his new outfit.

Now, I gotta go have a chat with Mr. Lively about my ideas…


one/four, three/five

the growing gallery wall

June 27th, 2013   |   DecorLife



Things have been pretty low-key on the interior design front at home lately. I’m still searching for the perfect solid coral upholstery fabric and the cash to reupholster our living room chair.

But I did get a little project done for the cost of a few frames.

A week ago the guest room gallery wall looked something like this.



photo by

A cute little set of four.

However, I collected a few new pieces to frame. So the wall looks like this in the new expanded state.




I’m really loving the full effect of the added prints.

Though gallery walls can become quite expensive when a lot of art and framing is involved, this one has been pretty inexpensive overall. Each frame is from Michael’s except the gold framed painting (painted by Mr. Lively’s father).

Looking closer, you’ll see that there are some free items like sentimental cards and coasters.




The lowest left print is actually a cute engagement card I received from Claudia of Fig. 2 Design Studio. The Pink Pony item is actually a framed coaster from a trip to Mackinac Island.

The silver one is actually a piece of the marathon blanket I got after finishing the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco with the finishing medal. And last but not least, the coral Just Keep Going print is from the Wish I Knew launch.




Up top, there is a new gold and white wedding print sent as a surprise gift to me by Jackie of Sincerely Jackie. The blue frame has more coasters, this time from some date nights in Austin. And the gold Just Keep Going is a handmade print by Charmaine of Everly Calligraphy for the Austin With Intention workshops.

Overall, I’m thinking that this might be the completion of the wall. But like I say to Mr. Lively, you never know…


PS- On the topic of gallery walls, I just worked with a web clinic client who has mastered the art of the gallery wall. So brilliant.


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