decorating intentions

As I tell Mr. Lively (frequently) we are just four sleeps away from moving things to our new apartment.

At this point I am pretty much consumed by preparations for the new apartment and the only way I can contain myself is by staying busy. Or sleeping. The level of excitement I feel rivals my nine-year-old self awaiting Christmas.

Or maybe this is how Gabrielle Douglass felt leading up to the London Games this summer.

This is my Olympics.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share how I used the makeunder process to help me decorate our apartment home. But before I get into details, I thought I’d share some personal intentions that have helped me with moving and decorating the new space.

Though some people prefer wait until they have moved to the new space to begin decorating. I am not in this camp. The minute I know where I am moving next I begin to envision what I’d like the space to look like and how I want to decorate to mesh with the style of the space itself.

I think this is in part because I am a designer, because this is my favorite passion of all time, and because I’m so excited to decorate that I cannot wait until I’m actually moved to start doing as much as possible.

The result of this enthusiasm is hope chests. Like those women of yesteryear who used to save home goods for her marriage and new home in a big trunk, I start creating piles of things that belong in the new space. Again, to reference my Christmas-like enthusiasm for moving, I am gathering the new home presents under… anything but a tree.

This year I’ve reached a new high (or low, depending on how you look at it) when it comes to hope chests. The entire apartment at this point is one giant hope apartment.

There is stuff on the floor.

Behind the furniture.

And even on the top of the refrigerator.

Some of these new online orders haven’t even been opened yet. I will view for the first time in person when we are in the new space.

So exciting. 

As you might be able to tell already, I did a lot pre-shopping for the new space. Armed with a vision of what I wanted the new space to look like thanks to tons of daydreaming, a floor plan, and measurements, I picked what new pieces we wanted and started ordering.

For this new space and most of my apartments in the past, I generally choose a few items to splurge on and many less expensive objects to balance it all out.

Because we eloped rather than had a wedding, we have had a bit more money to invest in the space than we otherwise would have. Which was an overall intention all along.

We have chosen to really splurge on three main pieces for the new space. A new couch, headboard, and entry table.

Though the entry table’s luxe-ness wasn’t quite a necessity, the couch and headboard got a good chunk of our budget because they are things that we will use every single day. I believe that well-crafted furniture is worthwhile. Plus, investing in these areas means the resale value of the items is generally higher than less expensive options. So though we splurged on a new couch, we had $500 from selling the old couch to go towards the bill.

Due to the added luxury of shopping ahead of time, I was also able to snag many of our items as they went on sale. So far I think we’ve saved about $400 due to sale purchases.

I also spent a lot of time searching for deals on rugs, accessories, patio furniture, and shelving.

We found counter stools and rugs on Our patio furniture is entirely from Ikea, and our shelving is almost all from the Ikea Lack collection.

As for accessories, this is where I hit the thrift stores and Craigslist (did you know they have an iPhone/iPad app!?!).

We scored this awesome cedar-lined brass trunk shown above at The White Elephant (now closed, RIP) for just $35 this summer. We also found another similar side table/brass trunk for $35 at the Randolph Market as well. These guys are great because they are table surfaces and storage at the same time.

On Craigslist so far I’ve found two vintage chrome chairs ($150 for the pair), an awesome little bamboo detailed desk and chair ($125), and a vintage soda pop cooler to use as a coffee table on the patio ($60) which again has table surface/storage capacity.

And there are a few other items I’m still on the hunt for:

    • Entry mirror
    • Vanity mirror
    • Dining table wood top
    • Bedroom curtains/rods

Over the next few months I’ll be looking to round out the space with these items. Once these are in place the space will be about 85% complete. Sure there will be fun things to add here and there, but I love that we will get to start enjoying our home in a largely finished state pretty quickly.

This also means we can welcome our families into our mostly-complete new home for Thanksgiving and it will be great to get our puppy after the bulk of the decorating is done.

When it comes to a new space, I personally like to only keep the items that really make sense in the new space unless they have major sentimental value.

This is why we sold my old sectional on Craigslist and why we are selling the yellow chair, too.

Some small items that we won’t need I either gave away or donated. And my bedroom furniture which is very dear to me is going to be passed on to Caitlin, a summer Jess LC intern. These pieces were given to me by my childhood best friend, Carol Beth. I had refinished them before moving to Chicago five years ago when I could not afford to buy new furniture. I cherished them and I am so thankful to see them live on in Caitlin’s home as she embarks on her own self-employed journey in Chicago.

Knowing that these pieces will be so loved and serve someone who deserves them makes me happy to pass them on to a new generation. And at the same time it also helps me live with the most useful and well-suited pieces for my new space and life.


So there you have it! These are just a few of the general intentions that I have followed while preparing for the move and designing my new space. Though they may not work for everyone, hopefully they shed a little light on how I have designed my own home with intention.


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jess – I can’t wait to see your new home all finished! You have such great decorating sense 🙂 If it makes you feel any better, when my husband and I moved into our first home, we went to our closing with a truck full of ALL our stuff. I did the same as you in that I purchased almost all of our key pieces before-hand, and by the time closing came, all we needed were the keys. Good luck on your move!

  2. Sage

    I think about how I want to decorate a new place before I move too! I also have a real hope chest (my grandmother’s), but it’s full of board games.

  3. Liondragoncustom

    I am looking for some decarating intentions,thank you.

  4. CB

    It is so exciting that you’re figuring things out and get to move in just a few days! Also, I am happy that my old bedroom furniture will continue its journey in Caitlin’s home. You certainly made those dressers look nice with your refinishing skills! 🙂

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