People constantly ask me what my favorite part of living in DC is. They expect me to say something about living so close to the National Mall – the fact that I can wander into any Smithsonian museum or that I can run effortlessly down the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. Maybe it’s the fact that I can sit and stare at the majestic nature of the US Capitol, hoping to catch my favorite senator (looking at you Cory Booker) walking down the sidewalk or spend a rainy afternoon reading in the Library of Congress. It could be the fact that I can wander aimlessly up and down Eastern Market, chat with the vendors and grab a delicious pastry and tea from one of the many coffee shops. Now don’t get me wrong – these are all things I love about this city, but the thing I love the most is finding other people’s junk treasures on the sidewalk.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a deep obsession for decorating my home. I firmly believe this is genetic – because if you also know my mother – she’s a bit of a fanatic when it comes to decorating our beautiful limestone home in rural Kansas. There’s no doubt that the countless hours watching Christopher Lowell on the television or Trading Spaces when I was no older than 10, influenced my intrinsic need to be able to design and decorate every apartment and house I’ve ever lived in. In a world that seems to be more in love with Chip and Joanna Gaines than any other celebrity couple, I can’t help but be excited for my friends who have finally started to become obsessed with the art of interior design.
There are many things I could classify myself as – plant based eater, history nerd, current events junkie, a wanderluster – but I’m also incredibly thrifty and willing to put work into making things better than when I find them randomly on the street. Almost my entire room is filled with objects I found for free or paid less than $20 throughout several of the neighborhoods I walk through on a daily basis. Perhaps my favorite piece is my amazing bookcase I found down my street up in Mt Pleasant. Now – I have to admit I also have a talent of making myself look slightly ridiculous while hauling pieces of furniture down the street by myself. With no car and my own two hands, I attempted the feat of carrying the 8ft bookcase down six blocks. With only a few stares from bystanders and the help of one man who laughed at me while he walked by and then generously came back to help me carry it home, I finally managed to get it up the stairs in my room. And I mean come on – how great does it look?!
Another piece I randomly found walking near my house near Lincoln Park, was a Tiffany style lamp. It was as if it was beckoning to me to pick it up – to carry it back home to be placed on my window’s ledge – and I did! I mean let’s ignore the fact that the lamp doesn’t actually work, but I just wanted it for the pop of color in my room anyways!
And then you have my blue glass lamp (which I actually have two of) that I got from one of the abandoned warehouses in Westbottoms in Kansas City, back when it was an actual affordable place to buy furniture and not the atrocity it is now. I’m fairly certain I got the pair of lamps for $30 and they just add so much to the rooms because of their cool shape!
Above the blue lamp is a weaving made by my sister. And while she has it up on her Etsy store (www.etsy.com/mellowtreedesigns) – I’ve promised to foster it in the meantime. (Little does she know I’m never giving it back!)
The triangle shelf is a piece I literally threw together in the weeks after returning from Morocco in my parent’s garage. There’s nothing quite like finding random pieces of wood on our property, sanding, and staining it to make your own piece for free! Plus I got to spend valuable time with my super talented Dad! Our next project, (whenever I get home next) is transforming tons of live edged pieces of wood we have into tables with hairpin legs! I’ve been begging my parents to ship me one so I can have a coffee table – but apparently it’s expensive and unrealistic to ship huge slabs of wood 1000 miles.
My dresser is another great find by my Mom. I may have begged her to bring it for me when her and my Dad graciously drove 18 hours to bring me my things. It was originally a storage system for her craft items, but doesn’t it look better in my room as an actual dresser?! Nothing like putting some paint and stain on an old piece of furniture to liven up a room!
My latest find is the little plant stand in the corner that I just found today in Eastern Market. Now while it’s completely different than what I had envisioned for a plant stand, I can’t wait to transform it into something that goes a little bit better with the rest of my room.
I love the random finds that make my room special, but the two things that make it shine are the amount of natural light and the ridiculous amount of plants residing in my room with me. I never go without eucalyptus in my large copper vases (which I got for $10 at Joann’s) or a few succulents I found for $5.99 at Trader Joe’s. This past week I even found a great deal at Home Depot on the Snake plant and the hanging plant you see in the photos. Scattered throughout my house are also amazing pieces of pottery that I found in Rabat, Morocco that give it its unique vibe.
So the moral of the story is – you don’t need a ton of money to make your home look amazing. You might need a little patience and a little bit of luck involved in running across the perfect item on the street, but with an open mind – you can turn your place into something that truly feels like home without ruining your budget.