5 Minute Cat Haven

Remember that time I found cherry crates at a fruit stand on the side of 101? And it was pretty much the most exciting thing ever? I took them home and filled them with magazines and placed them under the glass top of the coffee and side tables in my living room. They looked pretty awesome and helped prevent incredibly clumsy people like myself from running into the glass table top so frequently. As they were sitting there I soon realized I wasn’t the only one who loved the crates. Malary could frequently be found sitting in them, on top of the magazines, or stretching out resting her paws on the crates. She seemed to prefer the coffee table crates and occasionally surprised visitors with her presence.

 

Cherry Crates Under Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Well, lately, I’ve been trying to purge all the excess crap I have in my life. I took two laundry baskets full of clothes to Goodwill; I organized my bathroom medicine cabinet and under-sink cabinet, tossing the excess products I no longer use; I organized my shoe/jackets closet, got rid of several coats and pairs of shoes; and I went through my magazines tossing everything I no longer wanted (don’t worry, I kept every issue of House Beautiful).

 

I used four of these cherry crates in my living room. Two under the coffee table and one under each side table. One side table is sitting below the ivy plant in the middle of the photo above. I ended up tossing every single magazine I had in that crate. I have no idea why I’ve held on to so many magazines, I never flip through the non-house/home related ones.

 

Anyways, I was left with an empty crate! Now… I just love my cat. I know, I know, I’m a cat-lady, but whatever. #catladyandproud I decided that in this little tucked away crate I could make Malary a little spot of her own.

 

I hopped over to IKEA in Emeryville (holla ten minute drive! #entirereasonImovedhere) intending to buy two small throw pillows or a stand bed pillow to stick into the crate. Well, IKEA doesn’t sell standard pillowcases by themselves from most of their bedding lines. You can get the plain solid color ones, but that seemed too plebeian for my little kitty queen. I looked through the throw pillows and almost sprang for two of the faux sheep skin ones, but then I stumbled upon the red version of this guy, the Annbritt pillow. Apparently this is from the winter collection and they’re no longer shown online. IKEA still had a whole bunch of these sweater pillows in grey, cream, and red. Of course, I had to go for the red. The funky dimensions (approximately 15×30″) made it a perfect fit for the wooden crates. I was a little nervous Malary would be off put by the buttons, but I decided to go for it anyways. And at $13 buckaroos, really, how could I not?

 

I brought the pillow home and immediately stuck it into the empty crate. I sprinkled it with cat nip to get Malary’s attention right before snapping this picture.

 

5 Minute Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

The cat nip worked pretty much instantly, because as soon as I snapped that last picture, Malary was all, “Hmmm, excuse me, what are this?”

 

Malary's Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

After she spent a few minutes exploring the new bed, I stuck it back on the shelf on the side table. She hopped on in and pretty much hasn’t left it since. Although she normally spends most of her mornings napping on the back of the couch by the big windows, the last couple of days I’ve found her curled up down here.

 

Sleeping Cat in Bed | Land of Laurel

 

It’s pretty freaking cute, y’all. And I’m not just talking about the cat. This is a pretty attractive cat bed in my opinion. The crate? Vintage and cool, textural with the wood. The pillow? Happy, bright, red, and the sweater texture is just so cozy! By tucking it under the side table, not only is it more isolated and cave-like for Malary, it also doesn’t scream “CAT BED!!” to anyone hanging out in this room. By placing it beneath a glass top, I can also stalk my cat while she’s sleeping. Yes I am a complete creeper, but she’s just so cute!

 

Hidden Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

Ignore the bits of pollen the ivy decided to dump all over the table. Thanks!

 

Eventually she clued up to my cat-stalking and gave me her pissed off face.

 

Malary | Land of Laurel

 

…so I had to stop watching her curled up on her new cat bed. She is the boss after all…

 

 

 

 

 

Just kidding! She then started cleaning herself and it was ADORABLE.

 

Cat Tongue | Land of Laurel

 

I mean, seriously, can you believe this little girl is sixteen years old?! She is still my cute baby girl. Gah!

 

Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

Okay, okay, enough fan-girling over my cat. I told you I was a #catladyandproud, right? Who else out there is a self admitting cat lady? Made any cat beds lately? Or found one that fit in with your home decor?

 

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Silver Succulents

I mentioned here that while Nicole and I visited in Portland, Oregon we stopped in at the Goodwill Superstore on the Southeast side. Wowza! If you live in Portland, go there! It was amazing! Huge! There were rows and rows of clothes and entire section devoted to books. Books organized by genre! I’ve never been to a thrift store with a) so many books or b) books this well organized! Only United Airlines strict carry-on baggage allowances kept me from buying a large stack. That and the fact that I recently spent $40 on used books (that’s like 30+ books!) at the Blackoak Books moving sale in Berkeley. Hello my name is Laurel and I am a book-aholic.

 

This Goodwill Superstore had an entire aisle full of sterling silver, priced extremely low. This is where Nicole and I got truly excited. I had the idea of buying one of the smaller silver pieces and filling it with succulents. Because how adorable would that be? The answer is extremely adorable! We both decided to get small, packable, objects. Nicole ended up with a creamer and I found this fantastic sugar bowl which was missing it’s top. Perfect, since I needed it to be topless for the succulents anyways. We were ready for our friendship succulent planters now.

 

Goodwill Sugar Bowl | Land of Laurel

 

At home, I unpacked my sugar bowl. It was still adorable. Yay! This was such a great way to upcycle something sad and unwanted into something cute and happy. Here it is next to Fred for comparison sake. The little sugar bowl is  about 5 inches wide from tip of handle to tip of handle and only about 3 inches high.

 

Fred and the Silver Sugar Bowl

 

I didn’t want to go out and buy succulents, because, why spend the dough when I can get them for free? Plus I need teensy tiny succulents. What did I do? I raided the driveway, which is lined with three varieties of succulents. I sliced off a few of the smallest off shoots from each variety and was ready to go!

 

I quickly popped a few small pieces of gravel into the bottom of the sugar bowl, added some potting soil, and gently stuck in the succulents. The sterling silver sugar bowl ended up being everything I imagined!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Not only was it super cute, but it was somehow playful and sophisticated. It makes makes me want to sip a hot cup of tea and speak in a British accent. Or should I say, “Ahhcksent?” Yes, maybe the latter is best.

 

I thought about polishing the sterling silver, but ended up deciding against it. Partially, because I am truly lazy, partially because I don’t have any silver polish lying around, but mostly because I love the patina it already has. The tarnishing is kind of beautiful and I love it, just the way it is.

 

As for the little mini-succulents– they were a perfect fit! I tried to find sprouts that varied both in height and size so there would be some movement. It worked out pretty dang well! My favorite variety are the little guys at the top that are tinged with purple at the tips. Anyone know what they’re called? I have planted several of them (there is even one in Fred). I’m a bit worried that they’ll grow crazy tall (like the one in Fred did), but until it happens, I’m not going to stress about it! I’m not sure why they grow so tall inside (maybe lack of sun?!), outside they get much larger and wider rather than growing straight up all skinny. I ended up bending the one in Fred underneath one of the leaves of the aloe vera, because it got so tall it started falling over. Crazytown!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Mini-Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Overall, I’m pretty psyched about this guy. My only issue is that now I want like fifteen more! I initially thought they’d look awesome on the window ledge above my bed. Then I tried to stick this little guy up there and realized that the window ledge in that room is shallower than elsewhere in the house. The little legs on the sugar bowl basically make it instantly attempt to catapult off the ledge. Don’t worry, I drop things so frequently that I am now fantastic at catching them. Some of the time. The sugar bowl is safe! RIP glass mason jar completely full of apple cider (I missed the fridge shelf yesterday afternoon…).

 

But clearly, I need to hit up Goodwill a few more times and pick up a few more sterling silver pieces to use as succulent planters. I can see them scattered everywhere in a house, sitting on top of stacks of books. Very English countryside. Very me. Especially the part about the books. Have you read Living History by Hilary Clinton? I read it several months ago and ironically what struck me the most about the book was a few simple paragraphs describing the interiors of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ home. Filled with books! You got it people, if Jackie O did it, then it is beautiful, timeless, and oh so classic. Or at least that’s what I plan on telling anyone who asks if I need as many books as I own. Because, yes, yes I do. They make me happy.

 

Anyways, my new little sugar bowl is too cute and I am excited to make a whole bunch more! They would make fantastic little gifts, don’t you think? Party favors, wedding favors, birthday gifts, I can think of so much more!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

 

I’ve decided to stick this little guy on my nightstand for now. We’ll see if that’s enough light to keep him happy. Hopefully so, because who doesn’t want to wake up next to something that dang cute?!

 

Have you ever upcycled something into a planter? Have any advice on raising succulents? Know what varieties of succulent I’ve found from my driveway?

We Ate Our Way Through Portland – PART II

Post Saturday and Sunday we were full. Very satiated. Don’t worry, though. We kept eating. Monday morning in Portland. Day three of our trip. We we woke up early. REALLY early. We dropped Scott off at work at 6:40am. Then we went back to the house and saw Nikki off before hopping into Nikki’s car and heading to Pip’s Doughnuts. Why don’t more people talk about Pip’s Doughnuts?! This place is AMAZING! First of all, it’s on the cutest little street. NE Fremont Street looks like something straight out of the 1940’s. The buildings all told a story. We ended up wandering through the surrounding neighborhood as well, the houses were all adorable! They all looked different and were painted fun colors. The cottages and craftsman style homes all seemed so historical and stylish compared with California’s constant stream of ranch style homes painted beige or grey with black trim.

 

NE Fremont Street Potland | Land of Laurel

 

Let’s go inside Pip’s though and get to the good stuff. First of all, they had these cute cans filled with succulents. Too cute!

 

Succulent Cans | Land of Laurel

 

I’ve always wanted to do something like this! Just need cans that look old, but are still waterproof. Anyways, Nicole and I waited for a short bit, ordered our food, and quickly got a table. We split the Chai Latte Flight and eight doughnuts. We loved every flavor of doughnut we tried, my favorite was the Dirty Wu, but the Meyer Lemon Pear Butter was fresh and delicious, you can’t go wrong with Raw Honey and Sea Salt, or the Nutella and Sea Salt. Basically anything with sea salt is amazing. Nicole loved the Candied Bacon and Maple too. And oh my god. The chai flight. This was my personal heaven, y’all. Five kinds of chai lattes. Each tastier than the next. My favorite was a bit surprising. The Emmylou is non-caffeinated and made from an herbal tea with lavender, camomile, and chrysanthemum.  It taste like relaxation and yoga breaths, lazy Sundays and rainy days by the fire. Amazing. My next favorite was the King & I, which was more of a traditional chai. Nicole preferred Ginger Rodgers and Heart of Gold. The former was gingery and spicy, the latter had hints of coconut and turmeric.  Neither of us really liked the Smokey Robinson, which, as you may have guessed from the name, had a distinct smokey flavor. We finished the doughnuts as well as four of the chais and left half a cup of the Smokey Robinson behind.

 

Pip's Originial Doughnuts and Chai Flight | Land of Laurel

 

After Pip’s we headed to Alberta which quickly became our favorite little street in Portland. There were so many cute shops and we shopped till we dropped. I bought a cute dog collar at Healthy Pets Northwest for my parent’s pooch who recently outgrew her old one. We both bought tank dresses at Frock which was a cute store with happy colors and lots of cool clothing. We both adored Digs which had a cool mix of home items, gardening supplies, and some clothing. They had so many cool containers and tons of air plants. I fell in love with a Turkish towel bathrobe, but the price tag had me balking.

 

And, then it was time to eat again. Yup. We ate more. And more. And more. This time we stopped at Pine State Biscuits.

 

Pine State Biscuits | Land of Laurel

 

We nommed on The Regina and The Double Down. Lot’s of eggs. Lot’s of gravy. Plenty of deliciousness. Nicole and I were splitting almost every meal at this point. We just wanted to be able to try all the options. It was amazing. Here’s The Regina in all her glory. We gobbled down The Double Down before I could snap a picture.

 

Pine State Biscuits' The Regina | Land of Laurel

 

After gorging ourselves once again, we stumbled outside and discovered two awesome mural walls. One had a fantastic message, which I very much appreciated it.

 

Mural Wall | Land of Laurel

 

Of course, we had to take some pictures. We propped my phone up on a bush, then a random car (scaring the owner who was getting a haircut enough for him to send the stylist out to make sure we weren’t doing anything bad to it! Oops! Sorry!) and set the timer.

 

Mural Wall 1 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 2 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 3 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 4 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 5 | Land of Laurel

 

We had some fun with that. I love how the colors of the mural pop against our black and grey outfits. Sometimes taking a good picture is all about finding the right setting.

 

After wandering back down Alberta we hopped into the car with the plan to hit up Powell’s Books and the Pearl District before picking up Nikki at her office. Fail. We drove down Mississippi Street and quickly realized we needed to stop and venture into the shops on this cute street as well!

 

We headed into PDXchange, a fair trade and local store, where I bough a necklace made from a bullet in which a trellis pattern had been melted. Miraculously, at the end of the trip TSA did let me wear this through security!

 

Bullet Necklace | Land of Laurel

 

We stopped for coffee and tea at the Fresh Pot before continuing to pop into every shop along the street. Before long, it was time to pick up Nikki so we headed south towards her office. We actually arrived a bit early so we stopped in at the nearby Goodwill Superstore and ended up buying coordinating silver containers at $3 buck a pop. We plan on planting succulents in them. After we nabbed Nikki, we decided to stop in at Grand Marketplace to oooh and ahhh at all the antiques.

 

Grand Marketplace | Land of Laurel

 

There was lots of silver similar to what we’d just purchased at the Goodwill Superstore, but for 10 times the price, but many other things caught my eye. The displays were so artful and fun! You felt like you were in a bohemian apartment in the 1920’s. It was delightful to walk around the large shop.

 

Grand Marketplace Display | Land of Laurel

 

One day, I’m building myself a big kitchen island that looks like the above. So beautifully worn, so functional. We managed to convince Nikki to hit up the Motherland while we were some what near by. This is when I got really excited!

 

Powell's Books

 

No trip to Portland would be complete without a stop at Powell’s Books! I wish I could say I spent my time exploring the entire store, but in truth, I quickly  picked up a copy of Wildwood as a hostess gift for Nikki and then dove into the urban agriculture section immersing myself in books on backyard chickens and goats. For an hour. I could have stayed for ten hours in that section alone!

 

After Powell’s we picked up Scott from their house and headed to the Chapel Pub for dinner. We got a cozy little table right next to a small fireplace. I used my girl scout skills to take the fire from coals to brightly burning flames. I ordered a hot buttered rum for the first time. Literally the best drink I’ve ever tried. My new favorite. So good and creamy! Definitely searching out a local place to try that again.

 

Hot Buttered Rum | Land of Laurel

 

Then we ate. So. Much. Food. Greek tater tots and Cajun french fries? Yes please. Nikki and I both got veggie burgers. Then we split dessert. We ate and ate and ate. I couldn’t even look at food afterwards. That night we fell into bed, happy, full, and exhausted. Nicole was leaving the next day and we still had things to do!

 

Tuesday morning, Nicole woke up early and dropped Scott off at work. When she got back, I woke up, threw on clothes, and then we took Nikki to her office. We then had what we called “dirty breakfast” still half-asleep, partially in last nights clothes, unshowered. We planned to return to Nikki’s to clean up after our meal. We went to Zell’s which was close to Nikki’s office. We ordered Eggs Florentine and a German Pancake with Pear Butter and slices. Nicole and I both make these Germanic style pancakes (recipes courtesy of our Oma’s, mine German, hers Dutch), but this one was puffier than our own. It was fluffy and delicious. Yum. After breakfast (how could we ever eat again?!), we headed back to Nikki’s to clean up before driving over to the west side to visit Washington Park.

 

We drove through the beautiful park for a while, admiring the stunning forest before wandering out into the wealthy neighborhoods surrounding the park. We spent the next hour looking at houses in the hills before it was time to drive Nicole to the airport. I dropped her off with a hug and a see you at work soon! Then I hit the highway towards Multnomah Falls. Wow, it was a gorgeous drive and when I was arrived it was once again, like walking into a fairy tale. The little lodge looked like a tiny medieval inn, ready to bed down lonely travelers for the the night. The falls? Absolutely stunning.

 

Multnomah Falls | Land of Laurel

 

Everything was misty from the falls, a light dew descending on anything and everything within sight. The damp atmosphere gave plenty of moss the energy to grow, making everything gorgeously green. Moss covered stairs right out of my dreams.

 

Multnomah Falls 2 | Land of Laurel

 

Moss covered stone walls inspired me to pet them. Repeatedly. Seriously, Portland is so green! It’s the place that defines the word lush. Lush greenery abounds.

 

Multnomah Falls 3 | Land of Laurel

 

I climbed up to the bridge to take this shot of the water descending into the first pool. See how the mist is being throw off the falls? It was truly magical.

 

Multnomah Falls 4 | Land of Laurel

 

The water rushed by, roaring from the first fall into the pool, before falling once again, somehow even more violently into the second pool below.

 

Multnomah Falls 4 | Land of Laurel

 

After exploring my way up the path a bit, I turned around hopped back into Nikki’s little Honda Fit. I drove back into Portland, grabbed some delicious Palak Paneer Fries from a food truck, and wandered around the Pearl District for a while, venturing back into Powell’s Books, but still not able to leave the urban agriculture section!

 

Palak Paneer Fries | Land of Laurel

 

Then it was time to pick up Nikki from work again. We headed back out to her house where we met up with Scott and his friend Josh, then went out again to– you guessed it– eat! We went to Swift and Union. Everything was yummy. Nikki and I split the Tofu Sando and the Beet Veggie Burger with goat cheese. Blow your mind good. I was so full at this point, I was pretty sure I’d never need to eat again after I flew home from Portland. But don’t worry, that didn’t stop us. We hopped back into the car and drove out after dessert. We hit up Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts. At 8:30pm the east side location had absolutely no line whatsoever. We went in and made our selections.

 

Voodoo Doughnuts | Land of Laurel

 

I got a chocolate doughnut with Coco Pebbles. Nikki got one with Oreos and peanut butter. Scott got a Butterfingers doughnut and a Scooby Doo dog one that donated to the local Humane Society. We ate most of them and saved the rest. We were all so so so full!

 

Voodoo Doughnuts Scooby Doo | Land of Laurel

 

We got home in full food coma mode and soon hit the hay. The next morning, we were off! After everyone was dropped off at work, I headed back to Washington Park, exploring the rose-less Rose Garden (too early in the year), the Holocaust memorial, and walking along some of the less muddy paths. The camilla bushes everywhere were blooming, sprinkling bright color splashes in the lush greenery.

 

Camillas in Bloom | Land of Laurel

 

All too soon, my trip was coming to a close. I filled up the car with gas, headed back to Nikki’s, grabbed my bags, and called my uber. Off to the airport I made it through security and on to my plane with thoughts of adorable and colorful craftsman style homes and a very full belly.

 

Have you ever been to Portland? What did you do? All I want now is to go back!

 

Other Design Fails

Guess what guys? It’s Christmas. Yup, Christmas! You thought Christmas was in December? Nope. You’ve maybe heard of Christmas in July? Also wrong! It’s Christmas right now, today. Still confused? Here’s the 411.

 

When I moved into my house in Berkeley, I bought a lot of my existing furnishings and bedding with the idea of slowly updating a lot of it. It soon became clear that this might need to happen sooner rather than later for my bedding. Why? My comforter, barely warm enough during California winters in other rooms I’ve slept in, was excruciatingly hot in this 10 year old, properly insulated home. I woke up sweating almost every night and this was with the window left open in winter! Time for a change!

 

I went to IKEA and bought a new down comforter, one of their “coolest” models. This is it, I thought. This comforter weighs one third of my old one. It will be so much cooler. I will no longer get sweaty. I will sleep blissfully. Like an angel. This was right around when I bought my new West Elm duvet cover. I had high hopes for my new bedroom look!

 

A few nights in, I realized, although this new comforter was significantly cooler than my original one, it wasn’t cool enough. At all. I like to sleep snuggled up in warm bedding in a cool room and this was just too hot, even with the window open! Maybe I’m wearing the wrong pajamas, I thought. I tried long pants, I wore no pants, I tried tank tops. I wore just underwear, I tried nightgowns, I wore leggings, I wore REI moisture-wicking base layers. Nothing worked. Okay, fine, I thought, I can come up with another solution, this is so much better than having the opposite problem. And I’ve lived through that too. 

 

I started looking for quilts. A thin quilt would surely be cool enough! Now, I just need to find one in a great green color to match everything else in my room. Months past… I looked on every site and in every store I could think of. I found… nothing in green. Eventually, I stumbled on this quilt from West Elm. It didn’t come in green. At this point, I was sleep deprived from being too warm. I started to care less about green. I started to rely on my primitive lizard brain. My primitive lizard brain likes the color red. So does my frontal lobe, actually, but my frontal lobe is much better about regulating the amount of red. It’s good at mixing red with neutrals. My lizard brain doesn’t give a flying @!$&. My lizard brain wanted to sleep in a cool environment and not wake up sweating.

 

Then the quilt went on sale. My lizard brain just loves a good sale. It was definitely in control when I hopped on those nightstands I posted about Monday like they were big, juicy, lizard-food bugs. What happened next? I’m sure you can guess. I bought the quilt in the paprika color and the matching standard shams. When these came in the mail, I love them. They’re a beautiful red, my absolute favorite shade of red! I was excited. These will look fantastic, I thought.

 

Then I washed them and made up my bed…

 

West Elm Duvet and Quilt | Land of Laurel

 

Merry Christmas! Don’t you just love decorating with red and green? OOPS.

 

I’d convinced myself before pushing the “Place Order” button, that the red quilt would look fine in my bedroom. After all, the duvet had plenty of red in it!  In reality? Happy Christmas. My pale green walls, green throw, and even the floral duvet met up with the red quilt and started celebrating the birth of Jesus. Throw in some gold sequined throw pillows and you’ve really got a Christmas party! Doggoneit. Switching up the nightstands with the blue and green books was also an attempt to help with my new holiday inspired space.

 

Nightstands and Red Quilt | Land of Laurel

 

 

… it didn’t really help much.

 

The red completely dominated the other colors in my duvet. The shades of white, blue, green– they all disappeared. All I see now is red. And it’s not because I’m angry. Let’s call this learning. Let’s call this evolving.

 

Even Malary wasn’t happy with the new look.

 

New Bedding | Land of Laurel

 

Here’s the thing though, the quilt did solve some of my problems. It is the perfect weight. I am no longer super hot at night. I can even sleep with the window closed now! I don’t wake up all hot and sweaty. I no longer sing Nelly’s Hot in Herre at 2:00am. My roommates are much appreciative! So in some ways, this quilt is the best thing ever! Now, if only I had bought it in that pretty Natural/Flax color rather than Paprika… But, I am no good at keeping light neutrals, oh, how should I say it? Light and neutral. They usually become spotted and dark. Quickly. Nope, white and lights don’t mix well with clumsy ole me! Slate might have worked… but it was so dark!

 

So what am I going to do? Live with it for now. Maybe switch up the shams and get some different throw pillows. Or! Move to a place with a guest bedroom and split up the bedding, since I love them both so dearly. That’s not happening anytime soon though… And I do love throw pillows. Until I move forward with a new plan, I’ll just be over here celebrating Christmas. All day. Everyday. Good thing I love holidays!! I would like a design win though… I’m over failing!

The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For…

I found new nightstands! Finally. Yup, that took a while. Before I jump into the new, let’s go over this again. You might remember my old nightstands? They were about 16 inches too tall for my bed and belonged to my parents. I’d promised them I would eventually return the side tables and when they bought a new bed for their guest room, I knew it was time. Their new bed is the perfect height for these tall, dark, and handsome guys.

 

Left Nightstand | Land of Laurel

 

I’d been checking craigslist, yard sales, and estate sales for about 8 months now, searching for anything that I could substitute these guys for. I needed something about 20″ – 26″ high and no more than 24″ wide. The width was a major issue, as I truly only have 25″ on either side of my bed. Any nightstand wider than that simply wouldn’t fit in the room. The deeper, the nightstand, the better, as I am lacking in storage. I hoped for something with lots of drawers I could fill up. My love of symmetry demanded there be two identical ones. After months of looking, I finally landed on this somewhat promising looking ad:

 

Craigslist Nightstand Ad | Land of Laurel

 

The nightstands looked functional and the drawer was much needed, plus there were two of them and the price was decent. I didn’t love the color, but I figured I could always paint them green or white or blue. The fact that they only had one drawer, deterred me slightly, but I had yet to find anything else that would come close to fitting in my space. Plus, I could always stick a basket there and fill that up. I figured I might as well give it a try. I emailed the seller to see if he’d take $50 for both of them. He agreed to the price and I met him the next day with cash. When I took a look at the nightstands in person, I was disappointed. His measurements from the ad were completely wrong. The nightstands are 20 inches wide, 14″ deep, and 24.5″ high. It may seem like only a slight difference, but when you’re lacking storage and need incredibly functional nightstands, every inch counts! My plan to paint them would still work, however, the wood finish was in such good shape, I was hesitant to even do that!

 

I turned to the seller and told him that the nightstands were a lot smaller than what I was anticipating and I didn’t want them. He was surprised, but he really wanted to get rid of them. He offered me $40 for both. Now, a normal person would simply have walked away. They didn’t really fit my needs, right? I am not a normal person. This was such a deal! Two solid wood, matching nightstands in great shape with dovetail joints? This isn’t an everyday find. Maybe I’d learn to love them. At $20 each, they were significantly less expensive than anything else I’d see. Most people on craigslist were asking for $200 per nightstand. Way out of my budget. So what did I do?

 

I handed over two twenties and left with the nightstands of course.

 

I have no will power. None. At all. Whatsoever. Just ask that bar of chocolate in my kitchen… Oh wait. You can’t. I already ate it!

 

I brought the nightstands home and wiped them down with Honest Multi-Purpose spray. Once they were clean, I moved them into my room. I didn’t want to buy baskets for them just yet, so I filled the bottoms with what I had lots of: books. They looked… okay. Sigh. Not exactly the magical moment I was hoping for…

 

New Nightstands with Books | Land of Laurel

 

Even if that photo had been taken when the weather was sunny and the lighting cooperative, they general idea wouldn’t change much. The new nightstands just didn’t look right in the space. Dang! The books certainly were not helping. The color of the nightstands contrasted both from the red tone of the fir woodwork in the house and the espresso finish on my headboard. This was not good.

 

I tried one more time to make things look a bit better and filled the nightstands with blue and green books in tones similar to that in my bedding. This helped things, but honestly, the nightstands were still not doing it for me. Sure, the book storage was great and I could even slip my laptop in there among them, but I lost tons of storage overall and this just didn’t look great.

 

Nightstands with Blue Books | Land of Laurel

 

I was somewhat surprised that I had enough books in these color tones to fill the other nightstand. I have a lot of books. Possibly too many, but whatever, I love them. And I re-read them! Also does anyone else see a monster peeking up out of the floor in the shadow outline of the bottom of the nightstands in between the feet? Just the top of his head, two little ears sticking out?Just what I need, right? A monster hiding in my bedroom. As if I don’t already have enough stress dreams!

 

Nightstand with Green Books | Land of Laurel

 

Still this look… wasn’t working for me. I thought, maybe if I lived with them I’d learn to love them. So one month later here I am. What have I decided? Nothing. What have I created? A Pro/Con List.

 

New Nightstand Pros

  • They’re the right height for the bed, making turning on or off the light at night easy
  • They are wide enough to fit the space by the bed, but skinny enough to not overwhelm the space or make it look stuffed in
  • I can store books here!
  • I can paint them green or white
  • I have a great excuse to buy cute new pulls at Athropologie or the Alameda Flea Market

 

New Nightstand Cons

  • The wood tone is awful, but the finish is in such good shape, I’d feel guilty painting them
  • There is not enough storage
  • The drawer is too shallow to fit some of the taller things I’d like to store in it (like vitamins!)
  • I could fit wider nightstands for more storage
  • I don’t particularly like the curvy look

 

Conclusions? These nightstands work in some ways, but not others. If I didn’t need more storage they would be okay. I don’t love the look, so why keep them? I’ve already started looking for new ones on craigslist. I also have high hopes for a nice sunny spring day hitting up some Santa Cruz yard sales too. My Aunt Pat is the queen of Santa Cruz yard sales and we could make a fun day of it. If only it would stop raining!

 

Yay for mistakes! Someone told me once to be proud of your failures, because how else do you learn? In fact, she told me to yell it out. So, here it goes. I FAILED!! These nightstands were the wrong choice.

 

Moving on. What have I learned? Sometimes, you should just wait it out until you find something truly perfect for your space. Once I find new nightstands, I’ll sell these guys on craigslist and hopefully make a small profit. Someone else out there must be looking for matching nightstands right? Fingers crossed! It certainly has been a rough design rollercoaster in 2016. I’ll share some other not so great things I’ve bought recently later this week. Oops!

Little Bathroom Jungle

When I first moved in, my bathroom (okay, okay, the downstairs bathroom) had great bones, but not much going on. I added a new shower curtain, some storage containers, and a painted gold plant stand.  I wanted the room to be full of life though, and as those of you who know about my addiction have already guessed, I wanted some plants! I wanted a bathroom jungle! I’ve been so inspired by pictures like this and this. I admire their bohemian flair, but mostly the liveliness the plants add to the space. Black and white rooms can so often be stark, but the addition of plants makes them feel much more natural. Since I always hit up the garden section of IKEA,  I had lots of things on hand. I picked up several of my favorite containers and a few plants on one of my last IKEA trips. I brought them home and decided to see what I could do to start my own little bathroom jungle. After all, one of my Oma’s plants was already living on the plant stand in there!

 

Because I bought so many, I stuck four of the small IKEA containers in the kitchen window. Now I need plants for here too!

 

Kitchen Window Plants | Land of Laurel

 

Then I went into the bathroom (the original purpose for the pots!) and stuck four more on the back of the toilet. I had plants for these ones! I instantly loved it. Look at all that life! All that greenery! Think of their ability to regulate indoor air-quality! Sold. Now I wanted even more plants.

 

Mini-Bathroom Jungle | Land of Laurel

 

I had just plopped the plants in their little plastic containers into the pots at this point. They looked pretty great there on the back of the toilet, definitely more exciting than a lot of the things I’ve store on here in the past!

 

Plants in the Bathroom | Land of Laurel

 

While I loved the plants themselves, the white pots on the white toilet was a little blah for me. The look was clean, totally fine for some people, but I wanted more contrast, more excitement. You know me, never one for simple! And since I’ve recently embraced gold on an extreme level, I went for it once again.

 

I painted these guys way back when I worked on the Paint it Pink Challenge. It’s easy to spray paint things all at once. Here they are, upside down, in their original state (I decided to paint two of the kitchen pots too!).

 

Spray Painting All the Pots

 

And, after absolutely no prep and my favorite gold spray paint, they started looking much more fun!

 

Painting IKEA Pots Gold | Land of Laurel

 

The plants were still dashing even in their plastic containers! I’m no gardner, so I can’t tell you their exact types, but I chose them because they were all different. The long spider plant on the far right with it’s droopy leaves was perfectly different from the tall round leaved plant on the far left. I made sure it mix it up when I picked these guys out.

 

Picking Plants | Land of Laurel

 

I added gravel to the bottom of the newly golden containers for drainage. Because bathrooms are so moist, I wanted be sure the plant roots would never be soaking.

 

Gravel as Drainage | Land of Laurel

 

Then I just pulled the plants from their plastic containers and plopped them into the pots. Simple, easy, quick.

 

Plants Potted Gold | Land of Laurel

 

I brought them back into the bathroom and put them on the toilet. But four gold pots suddenly looked too stuffed on top of the toilet. So I ended up just using three there and stuck the Spider on the window ledge. Then I faced another problem. While I liked the gold on the toilet top, the gold blended into the window ledge too much for me. Plus, I didn’t like the look of the single plant up there. It looked lonely!

 

Three Pots | Land of Laurel

 

That’s how I ended up repotting the white stripey spider plant, stealing  the white pots I planned on using in the kitchen, and propagating one of the spider plant offshoots from my grandmother’s spider plant.  There. That’s much more balanced looking, don’t you think? I got that little candle from my cousin over the holidays and it made friends with the spider plants, so I think he’s going to live there now too.

 

Repotted Spider Plant | Land of Laurel

 

It’s difficult to photograph the plants on the toilet and the plants on the window sill together because of the crazy light that pours in the window, but below is my best attempt. At least you can see that it’s an improvement from no plants, right?

 

Plants in the Bathroom | Land of Laurel

 

Here is where the bathroom started, no plants, no love. Now, at least it’s starting to get somewhere, cat box and all.

 

Move in Bathroom

 

A bit grainy from the crazy lighting, but moving slowly in the direction of bathroom jungle… One step at a time, people, one step at a time. Now I just need more plants. Or help with my addiction. Is there a twelve step program for plant addictions? I should enroll…

 

Happy Bathroom Plants | Land of Laurel

 

So here I am, making strides in my bathroom jungle. Up next? Plants for the vanity counter! Plants hanging from the ceiling! Plants growing in the bathtub! Just kidding, I need the bathtub to shower… 🙂 These guys here are still alive, but I managed to kill the happy Paint it Pink plant… overwatering? Sad Laurel.What do you think of plants in the bathroom? Do you have any in your bathrooms? Or do you have a black thumb?

Wooden Crates are So Great!

Happy Tuesday! Happy March 1st!  Did you have a good weekend? Enjoy the Oscars? Outraged by the winners or happily agreed with the votes? I didn’t watch! Just read about it and enjoyed the dresses online. I went with my family to eat at Gather here in Berkeley instead. So yummy! I had a very chill weekend overall and got many things done, so I got to prep some blog posts for y’all! Yay!

 

Remember my living room? Those glass coffee and side tables always make me cringe. As I am among the World’s Clumsiest People, glass in places I can easily fall/trip over makes me… nervous, to say least. Because the tables are pretty perfectly sized for the space and I don’t have the budget to invest in new ones (plus, where would I put my roommates if I did?), I wanted to make them a bit more visually prominent in hopes I wouldn’t break them and time soon. Or, ever, really. Yes, let’s concentrate on not breaking them ever; that sounds much better, really. My attempts to make the table more prominent involved holiday displays, trays, and plants. It helped, but it didn’t quite add the visual weight I hoped for…

 

Living Spaces | Land of Laurel

 

A while ago, while driving down Highway 101 on the way home from a job site, my co-worker and I stopped for sustenance at a fruit stand. We were so hungry! Among the piles of various fruits and nuts they had piled old wooden cherry crates and were selling them for only $5! I see crates like these all the time at the Alameda Flea Market but always priced more than $30! I could have played it safe and bought one or two, but do I ever play it safe? Hell no! I hopped on that deal like a monkey on a banana! I bought eight cherry boxes for a total of $40. Worth it! Then I stuffed them into our already full (of chair samples!) van and called it a #colddeadfingers find worthy of Mandi! Here’s the pic from the overly excited text I sent to my two best friends, my mom, my sister, my aunt, my next-door-neighbor, and my next-door-neighbor’s dog. Let’s just say, I was pretty freakin’ excited about this!

 

Great Crate! | Land of Laurel

 

They were a little dirty, but I knew they’d clean up quick! At first, I had no idea what I’d do with them, but I knew I’d figure it out quickly. Produce crates aren’t hard to come by, but at that price, I felt so overly joyed. I was ready to celebrate! When I got them home, I wiped them down with a sponge and some Honest Multi-Purpose Spray. They were pretty clean by the time I was done, but I think in the future I’d like to try some furniture wax or polish to bring out the wood tones even more. For now, they’re just fine!

 

Because we had two side tables and the coffee table, I went and stuck four of the crates in the living room. The X-support under the glass of the coffee table ended up being absolutely perfect for the crates! They fit perfectly and we nice and stably balanced. More importantly? The coffee table went from barely there to having actual visual weight! Here it is before; see how your eye just glances over it? Not great for someone who needs many visual queues in order to not trip into things!

 

Glass Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Then, look with the cherry crates stacked neatly on the bars! Boom! You can actually see the thing!

 

Cherry Crates Under Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Not only were the crates very stable on the X-support, they actually extended the perfect amount, just a couple inches less than the width of the table. That meant, your eye could distinguish the edges of the glass and my brain could tell my body to avoid falling into it. Yay!

 

At first I just stacked the boxes under the glass of the tables, but then, as you can see above, I got a better idea! I filled the boxes with the design magazine I have lying around all over my house. Not only does this clear out the stacks I had lined up against the wall in my bedroom, but it provides reading material for any guests. Many of our visitors glance through them while we’re in the kitchen or chatting around. It’s nice to see the magazines in use and not gathering dust!

 

Magazine Storage | Land of Laurel

 

And there, my friends, is a ten minute fix to a small problem that will hopefully prevent me from dying a glassy death. I’ve definitely noticed that I bump into the table far less frequently now! Plus, I have four more cherry crates sitting in the attic waiting for another project to come by. Hmmm… any ideas for how I should repurpose them? Do you like glass tables inside? Do you notice the visual weight of items in your home?

Counting Sheep

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was eight years old. Both my parents eat meat, so my eating habits were my own decision. I’ve never slipped up and eaten that need-it-now hamburger or anything. Most people learn about this quickly once we become acquainted. People are always stunned to learn, however, that I have a leather jacket and leather shoes or admire a pair of deer antlers. Those people will probably be surprised about today’s post.

 

One of my favorite design elements growing up were the sheep skin rugs my parents kept in their family room. They usually were laid out on the sandstone hearth near the fireplace. I loved their texture and warmth. I would often sit on them or just stroke them. They were so soft, yet slightly scratchy. I adored them. When my grandmother passed away, a single sheep skin rug was left in the same pile of items I pulled my good friend Fred and many of my plants out of.  For a long time that sheepskin rug has laid by my side of the bed, creating a cozy place for me to put my feet when I finally drag myself out of bed in the mornings. You can see it peeking out in front of the rightstand here.

 

Garden Trellis Bedding | Land of Laurel

 

You may have noticed in this picture from my lamps post last week I added a couple more!

 

Gold Bedroom Lamps | Land of Laurel

 

At work, we spec a lot of Design Within Reach consoles and chairs. If you follow me on instagram you may have even seen some shots from an event DWR through for local designers celebrating the opening of their new Berkeley showroom. As a thank you for spec’ing many of their products, DWR sent our office a gift card for $250. As the most junior staff member of the interiors team, I was the last person who deserved the gift card, but I am lucky to have very kind co-workers! Plus, I live closest to DWR. I went in to the showroom in January to see what I could find. Now, DWR is not cheap. In fact, they are kind of crazy expensive. $250 wouldn’t get me any furniture item. But one thing they did have? Sheep skins. Really nice, luxurious sheep skins. I ended up throwing some cash of my own into the mix and getting three new sheepskins for my room. Now wherever I walk, it’s soft and cozy!

 

Sheepskin Rug | Land of Laurel

 

It really is like walking on a cloud! I placed the softest shaggiest one on my side of the bed, another on the opposite side, and one at the foot of the bed in front of my trunk. I’m a bit of a sucker of symmetry!

 

Sheepskin and Trunk in Bedroom | Land of Laurel

 

You guys, it is SO FLUFFY!! I love it. LOVE it! They make me want to lay on the ground and read a book. Or just pet them. Actually, I just want to rub my face on them. Is that weird? They are much more fluffy and larger than my hand-me-down rug. I was surprised by how soft they were. It’s really fantastic. I feel like my room is a little viking-esque now, but I’m okay with that. Warriors are always cool in my book. Plus I like helmets. The viking-decor is a quick little update, but it makes my room feel so cozy this winter. I mean, sure, yesterday it was 73 degrees in the Bay Area, but who doesn’t want to snuggle up to some animal fur in that kind of weather? That’s right, you want it! Does anyone else have a sheepskin rug they love? Or any non-Madonna-inspired viking gear?