I’ve lived in a lot of apartments. Seven since college, if I’m counting correctly. And they all have had one thing in common. Bare, white-ass walls. Unless you do something to cover up some of that white, you always feel like you aren’t living in your own space. We have yet to check with our condo’s owner as to whether or not we can paint in our new place, but for now, we’re doing our damndest to make this place look like our own. So here are a few ways we’ve perked up the ol’ homestead.
I love pieces with an international flare. They often add color and tend to be a good conversation starter. The mask in the bottom left corner, the red dragon on the bottom right, and the middle right-hand one are all from a trip my family took to Indonesia 13 years ago (WHERE DOES THE TIME GO???). The top right hand mask was a gift that we just received from my parents after their recent trip to Guatemala. The other two masks were ones that I picked up at World Market to fill in the collection a little bit. The only downside to purchasing items from the country they were actually made in verses at a local store is seeing the mark-up here in the US. Although I guess after flight and hotel costs….. details, details. We have these lined up vertically along a wall next to our fireplace.
Numero Uno is a phenomenal guitar player. He’s built up a collection over the years and now displays them in our apartment. (Sidenote: Before we lived on the same coast together, I surprised him with that Les Paul (second from the right) for one of his birthdays. Finagling getting away to buy it and then finding a place to hide it took some work, but the look on his face was priceless. Best gift ever. Which is problematic, since his birthday is in two days… how to out-do myself…). Having the guitars out makes it easy to pick one up to play and also tends to lead to impromptu jam sessions after dinner parties. Not that that’s happened once or twice.
My little brother is a great photographer and often gives gifts that include his work. These photos of his photos really don’t do them justice at all – the quality of his are perfect. (The originals don’t come with hand reflections, either. That’s creative liberty on my part.) But a simple photograph with a personal touch can really warm up a space. The top photo is from one of his trips last summer to Long Island. The bottom three are one photograph split among three frames (super creative!) from his semester abroad in Australia. Both are great for our place because we love the beach and live right next to it.
Another great way to add a personal touch to your walls is with family art and photography. On the top left is a family crest – my grandmother’s maiden name and my middle name, Callaghan. Top right is a crepe recipe that Numero Uno grew up cooking. He wrote it as a little kid and it was later put into a frame. This one lives in our kitchen. Bottom left is a beautiful “Welcome” sign that my grandmother cross-stitched for us after we moved into our new apartment. She is an unbelievable sewer/knitter/cross-stitcher – the work is absolutely beautiful. And finally, probably my favorite picture of all time. This is my grandfather walking through the streets of France during World War II. What a badass.
This piece was courtesy of our fine neighbors who sold us the wine fridge. Another score for $75, this Mondrian-esque canvas was painted by a friend of theirs. I’m not sure that it 100% goes with the aesthetic of the place, but it is perfect for the guest bedroom, as it takes up a majority of the wall and almost acts as a headboard for the queen mattress in there. A large piece does a great job of filling a large blank wall and can pull a room together better than piece-mealing a lot of small photos together.
Our second large piece is this Parvez Taj painting of the Santa Monica sky on reclaimed wood. This is one of my favorite decorations. It brings so much color to this giant wall and gives the room a much warmer feel. Just be careful when hanging heavy pictures (this one checks in at about 35 lbs) – make sure you know where your studs are and be sure to buy the right hardware (just another reason why Numero Uno has remained at the top)! This could do some damage if it came crashing down.
What pieces bring style and comfort to your home? Let’s hear ’em!