Nervous About Buying Furniture Online? Follow These 4 Tips to Make a Better Purchase

buying furniture online

Thinking about buying furniture online? Read our tips first to get the best results. Image: Blue Ocean Design

Online shopping is a great tool for furnishing a home. But a lot of us write off the idea of buying furniture online because it seems too risky. How can you tell if what you see is actually what you get? How do you know the piece will work in your home if you haven’t had a chance to see it first?

If you’ve ever asked yourself similar questions, this post is for you. In an effort to guide you through this process, we’ve taken the liberty of pulling together our four top tips for purchasing furniture online. Read them over carefully for the next time you’re ready to change up your interiors. With our help, we bet you’ll feel confident enough to add online stores to your repertoire.


Measure once, then do it again. Image: Estes/Twombly Architects Inc.

Measure everything more than once

Measuring is the most important component of buying furniture, period. It’s even more crucial when buying online. Since you won’t be able to walk into a brick-and-mortar store and see with your own eyes how that piece will fit in your space, you’ll have to make sure your measuring skills are solid.

When you have an item you want to buy, read over the product listing to find the dimensions. (If you can’t find the dimensions, don’t buy that one.) Then, use measured-out painter’s tape or string to build a layout of how it will look in your home. If your furniture expands somehow — like a recliner or extendable dining table — make sure you account for the largest version. Then, double check your work.

Keep in mind this isn’t the only measurement you have to account for. If your furniture is coming to you already assembled, you need to measure any relevant doorways and stairways to make sure you can actually get it to where it’s supposed to go.


Read reviews to get a sense of customer satisfaction. Image: Gradient Architecture PLLC

Read reviews from other buyers

Product listings are supposed to sound complimentary. That’s why it’s not uncommon for a piece of furniture to sound exactly like what you’ve been hoping for at first glance. Often, though, reviews tell a slightly different story. That’s where other customers often get real about their experience with the product.

When buying online, these reviews are key to your success. Focus your shopping on items that have lots of available reviews and read over them carefully. You’ll usually start to detect a theme about certain details mentioned by multiple customers. Weigh these comments in your decision, as they’re likely to be reflective of your experience.

Keep in mind that every product is bound to have a few bad reviews, especially if it has a high number of comments. A bad review doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the product, but it should factor into your decision. Pay close attention to the percentage of bad reviews overall and how the complainants say the seller handled their issue. That said, if a review doesn’t sit right with you, it’s probably best to explore other products.


Try to find a customer photo of the item to see what it looks like in a natural setting. Image: Cottage Home Company

Try to view the real thing

Online product photos are hard to judge. Yes, that may technically be what the piece of furniture looks like, but it’s also being shown in the very best light and with the very best placement to encourage you to make a purchase. Often, once you get it home, certain details — especially color and texture — can be wildly different than in the photo.

That’s why we recommend viewing the real thing before buying, if at all possible. If taking a trip to a store to see it in person is doable, that’s your best bet. If not, try requesting a fabric swatch. Many companies will send one to you to ensure you’re happy with the way the fabric looks.

Lastly, if a swatch is not an option, you can always do an image search for consumer photos of the product. While some details will still be slightly altered by your computer screen, those will show you a different version of how the piece will look once you’ve furnished your home with it.

return policy

A workable return policy is key. Image: Cherith Craft Interiors

Check the return policy

No one wants to go into a purchase thinking they may end up sending it back. However, it’s often unavoidable with online purchases. Sometimes, even your best judgment is not enough and the furniture just won’t work in your home the way you thought it would. Checking the return policy ahead of time gives you the reassurance that you have a backup plan if things don’t go your way.

Here a few things to look out for:

  • Do they accept returns at all?
  • Is there a time limit to their return policy?
  • Do return items need to be in their original packaging?
  • Are there any fees for returning an item?
  • What’s the return process like? What will you need to do to return the item?
  • What is their turn-around time for a refund? When can you expect to get your money back?

Ultimately, whether or not a return policy is satisfactory to you is a personal decision. Only you can tell whether or not you’re willing to take the risk. However, since furniture tends to be a costly item, we recommend sticking to stores that allow returns so you can protect your investment.

buying furniture online

Use these tips when buying furniture online to make your investment a success. Image: Amy Carman Design

Buying furniture online doesn’t have to feel like you’re taking a big gamble. You just have to be smart about your selection process. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our best advice for shopping online. Keep these tips in mind for the next time you’re ready to make a big purchase, and we’re sure you’ll feel much more secure about what you’re bringing home.

What do you think of buying furniture online? Do you have any tips to add? Tell us all about it in the comments.

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Here Are 12 of the Coolest Pieces From Stockholm Design Week 2018

Stockholm was packed with the world’s biggest retailers and designers looking for the latest in Scandinavian design at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, the world’s leading event for Scandinavian design. The city also hosted Stockholm Design Week 2018 for the public so everyone could get their Scandi-fix. Here are our favorite 12 pieces from the show:

1. KLASSIK daybed

Poul Volther’s 1959 daybed has been put into production by KLASSIK Denmark in collaboration with Volther’s family.

2. Apollo 79 pendant

stockholm design week 2018 highlights

Pholc presented the new Apollo 79 pendant lamp by Broberg & Ridderstråle. Cone-like shapes in brass or aluminum are accented in seven muted tones and several sizes.

3. Air sideboard

design week stockholm 2018

Design House Stockholm’s Air sideboard uses rattan in a modern way. Place a lamp inside the sideboard to really make it pop!

4. Pax chair

Fredrik Mattson designed the versatile Pax chair for Materia. It’s designed to be small in scale with a curved shell.

5. Mame chair

Luca Nichetto was the star of Scandinavian Design Week 2018 with several stunning designs. The Mame chair, produced by Fogia Sweden, is the perfect fusion of Scandinavian design and sleek, Italian styling.

6. Levier shelf system

Voice’s Levier bookshelf, designed by Cate Högdahl and Nelson Ruiz-Acal of Cate & Nelson, is perfect for small spaces.

7. Mimic mirror

The Danish brand Muuto presented Norma Studio’s Mimic mirror, which is functional on one side and decorative on the other.

8. Nestor modular sofa

Skandiform’s Nestor Collection was designed by Lars Hofsjö to be mixed and matched in configurations and colors.

 9. Alphabeta floor lamps

The spun-steel shades of Luca Nichetto’s Alphabeta lamp are grouped in pairs to direct light down and up. Customers can mix and match the shades to create a custom lamp of their choice.

10. Rose chair

Massproductions developed the Rose chair using 3D printing technology.

11. Barn & Fences cubicles

Swedish designer Johan Kauppi created this office system for Glimakra of Sweden. Inspired by the small farmhouses of the Swedish Lapland, the houses and dividers are semi-transparent and sound absorbent.

12. Palais Royale table

Anya Sebton and Eva Lilja Löwenhielm designed the Palais Royale table for Asplund, made of lacquered oak panels and an oak veneered top.

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Grapefruit Moscow Mule: A Tangy Twist on a Classic

This tangy twist on the classic Moscow mule with fresh grapefruit and rosemary is just what you need to sip on this weekend!

Hey y’all! It’s Sara and Pam from Biscuits & Burlap. We’re popping in to bring you another tasty cocktail created especially for you, the readers of Ugly Duckling House: The Grapefruit Moscow Mule!

What is a “Moscow mule”?

Moscow mules are the latest craze in the cocktail world and they are all over drink menus and Pinterest boards. Basically, a “Moscow mule” is a drink with ginger beer, lime, and vodka, usually garnished with lime and fresh mint. There are lots of different variations out there, mainly made by varying up the type of liquor or by adding a different fruits.

Did you know grapefruit is a winter fruit? There is just nothing like the smell and taste of a fresh ruby red grapefruit so we had to incorporate them into our Moscow mules. We left the limes in the traditional recipe out of this recipe because the grapefruit is already so tart. We also love fresh herbs in a cocktail so we decided rather than simply garnishing the drink with mint, we would muddle fresh mint and rosemary into the grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker.

Add in the citrus vodka and shake it well. Strain the herbs out as you pour that delicious mixture over ice into one of those (incredibly cute) copper Moscow mule mugs. Top it off with ginger beer for a spicy finish and garnish with leftover mint, rosemary, grapefruit, or even a little lime zest!

Have you tried a mule yet? What is your favorite variation? Be sure to let us know in the comments what you think of this one!


Grapefruit Moscow Mule

This tangy twist on the classic Moscow mule with fresh grapefruit and rosemary is just what you need to sip on this weekend!

  • Author:Sara and Pam @ Biscuits and Burlap
  • Prep Time:
  • Total Time:
  • Yield:2 cocktails
  • Category:cocktails


  • 8 oz grapefruit
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 4 oz citrus vodka
  • 8 oz ginger beer


  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle rosemary, mint, and grapefruit juice.
  2. Shake and strain over ice.
  3. Top with ginger beer and enjoy!


Garnish with fresh mint, rosemary, grapefruit wedge, or lime zest.

grapefruit moscow mule

Looking for more cocktails? Check these out!

Limoncello Cucumber Cocktail
Spiked Hot Chocolate with Bourbon and Grand Marnier
Spiced Pear Manhattan with Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

or go to the full Recipes library

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14 Design Lessons from These Beautiful, Creative Workstations


Use these creative workstation ideas to inspire your own space. Image: Planwirkstatt

Most of us would probably jump at the chance to decorate a home office of our very own. Limited square footage in most homes means dedicating an entire room to work isn’t always possible, but it doesn’t mean we should give up on the dream of creating an area where we can be productive. Sometimes a workstation, or a work area within another room, is all it takes to get the job done.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to get your workstation started, this post is for you. We’ve compiled design inspiration for the task, as well as some practical advice on how to set up your space. Read them over to get a sense for which type of area will work for you. Trust us when we say there’s an option to fit every aesthetic.

1. Get creative with unused space in your home


A workstation can go just about anywhere, even at the top of the stairs. Image: Bryant Hill Media

2. Pay close attention to corners and angles


Use corners or odd room angles to your advantage. Image: Luci.D Interiors

3. Consider investing in alternative furniture


Most bookshelves can double as a ready-to-go workstation that fits just about anywhere. Image: Bespoke Kitchen

4. Create something that packs away easily

folding workstation

When in doubt, invest in a workstation that can be there when you need it and fold away when you don’t. Image: The Tiny Project

5. Go all-out with a custom option


If needed, don’t hesitate to create a truly custom workstation that meets your needs. Image: Schmitt + Company

6. Modify an existing piece


Make a style statement by building a workstation into another piece of furniture. Image: Dyer Grimes Architecture

7. Feel free to keep it super simple


In your workspace, make sure function comes first. Image: Cummings Architects

8. Give the space color

bold color

Don’t be afraid to give your whole workstation a pop of bold color. Image: Danielle Colding Design, Inc.

9. Separate the space visually


Consider using wallpaper or another colorful pattern to separate your workspace from the rest of the room. Image: Camille Hermand Architectures

10. Tie it in with the rest of the room


Be sure to include a few common threads like color and texture to tie your workstation into the rest of the room. Image: McDonald Jones Homes

11. Make sure you have organization in place


Don’t forget that your space needs to include some sort of organizational element to keep it functional. Image: Holly Marder

12. Add in some statement décor elements

décor elements

Remember to add a few décor elements like art or knickknacks into your design, too. Image: Charles Vincent George Architects, Inc.

13. Give each person their own area


If two of you are using the same space, be sure to leave room for each of your personalities to shine. Image: DIY Decorator

14. Consider workstations for the kids, too

kids workstatiob

A kid-friendly version of a workstation is the perfect spot for them to do homework or crafts. Image: 22 INTERIORS

How do you feel about these creative workstation ideas? Will you be trying any of these out in your own home? Do you have any ideas of your own to add? Let us know in the comments below.

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What to do when people comment on your pregnant or postpartum body

Recently, I asked my Active Pregnancy Facebook group about the comments they received about their bodies during their pregnancy. These are just a few of the responses:

“You look huge!”
“Should you be working out that hard?”
“You look so little.”
“You’re all belly.” (All 4 of these were to the same person)

“You are so TINY, is your baby okay? Are you sick? Do you even eat?”

“Oh man, constantly asked if it’s twins. I had a co-worker tell me that my doctors must’ve messed up my due date because there’s no way I’m this big and still have 8 weeks to go. It’s like I’m 5’1″, my belly can only go out lol!”

“I literally have about three males at work that greet me with ‘Hey Fatty’.”

“I can tell you’re carrying a boy b/c you look tired, instead of glowing.”

“I was also told after I disclosed to everybody at work that it was no secret, as some could tell I was pregnant because I had ‘Pregnancy lips’, whatever that means.”

“Girl, you need to get bigger clothes”

“‘You’re having a girl because your butt is wide.’ -Complete stranger at a Walmart”

“I keep being told I’m not nearly big enough to be full term. (Opposite of the comments in my last pregnancy) This baby has been measuring very small requiring a lot of extra monitoring. The small comments are not helpful.”


“When I feel fine and someone is like ‘oh you look so tired’! Maybe it was me being sensitive but I sort of hear ‘you look like crap’”

“Wow! You really do like donuts!”

“One of my most recent when I wore this purple tank was “You look like a Grape!!””

“I never had someone say anything negative while pregnant, but after my first daughter was born I went to the store to go buy some clothes about 4 weeks after because I had nothing to wear and this random lady came up to me and asked if I had just had a baby, and I excitedly replied that yes I did and she was only 4 weeks old. The lady smirked and said “You need to be wearing a girdle” and then walked away. I was 19, new mom, on my own, and had gained 60lbs during my pregnancy. It took a long time to get over that.”

“That it’s becoming obvious I’m super pregnant from how wide my nose is getting.”

Permission to Comment on My Body?

Whew! I get ragey reading these, and this was just a small sampling. I know that society seems to believe that women’s bodies are here to please everyone else. But I’m not sure why the condition of pregnancy and post-pregnancy seems to be like wearing a sign that says “Please! Comment on my body, I beg you!”

No other time in my life besides pregnancy has anyone ever felt the need to comment on my changing body. Even with my healthiest pregnancy, I was greeted with “You’re just so big!” It’s like people forget that we are LIVING in there and the incessant observations, even the well-intentioned ones, are just plain hurtful, invasive, or embarrassing. Feeling evaluated never feels good, but feeling evaluated based on the shape of our bodies can feel like crap.

We’re not going to be able to stop the comments from being said, but we can learn to handle them in a way that stops further commenting and keeps our self-respect in tact. Follow these four steps when someone makes an unwanted comment about your body:

1. Decide what the situation calls for

Is the person commenting a stranger, or someone you’ll see more often? If it’s someone you won’t be seeing more than once, you may choose just to blow it off and move on. However, if it’s someone whom you’re coming into contact with more often, or the comment was especially invasive or hurtful, you may decide you need to speak up.

Remember, you are worthy of respect no matter what your body currently looks like.

2. Using “I” statements, set your boundaries

It may be tempting to comeback with an insult, but this won’t make you feel better. Once, someone I worked with said I was sooo big, and I was grumpy and overdue, so I said “I’m 9 months pregnant, what’s your excuse?”😬 In the moment it felt like a great burn, but as the adrenaline wore off I felt lower than before her comment, because now I was big AND I was mean. I regret it to this day.

Instead, you’ll want to preface with a disarming statement that keeps the other person from going straight to the defensive, something like “I know you don’t mean anything by that…”, and then clearly state how the comments are making you feel by using an “I” statement so that you are owning your feelings: “…but I feel hurt when you call me big because it feels invasive to hear comments on my body.” or “I would prefer not to hear any comments, whether they are positive or negative, about the shape of my body.”

You can follow up with this statement by giving them an example of what you are ok with: “I always love hearing ‘You look great!’ or when you ask me how I’m feeling!”

3. Practice these statements ahead of time

In the moment, you’re probably going to fumble your words just out of shock at what was said. But if you have thought ahead of time about what to say, it makes the situation a little easier to handle.

It’s not easy to speak up in that moment, but you will feel so much better after you hold your ground, especially if it stops future commenting from someone you see often.

4. Don’t take it personally

Easier said than done, but if you can rise above the hurt and try to understand that all judgements come through the lens of the person making them, you’ll know that this wasn’t really about you (even though it was directed at you).

More than likely, the person feels that they’re commenting on pregnancy in general, or they’re trying to relate to you (and failing!). If they are being intentionally hurtful, this says everything about them and nothing about you. Hurt people tend to hurt people.

Our love for ourselves can’t be dependent on what others think of us, so take this as an opportunity to practice radical self-love and acceptance. After all, we are the only ones whose opinions and thoughts we can control.

Has anyone ever commented on your pregnancy or postpartum body? How did you handle it?

The post What to do when people comment on your pregnant or postpartum body appeared first on Fit To Be Pregnant.

Dueling DIY: Dark Sage Green, Curtains, and Vlog #2

My friend Charlotte and I are in a DIY battle to renovate our guest bedrooms. Catch the entire series here.

Hey friends! It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time for another Dueling DIY update on the guest bedroom’s progress!

If you need a recap, start here and check out the update here. As promised, I also have vlog #2 for those of you who want video updates at the bottom of this post.

My guest co-host for this Dueling DIY series is Charlotte from At Charlotte’s House, who is working on a daybed and a few other (BORING) projects in her guest room as well. BUT, don’t let her post make you think that she’s finished… she may look like that bed is styled, but I know it’s missing all of the upholstery and she’s just trying to make it LOOK like she’s gotten a lot further than she really has (pssh, you think a pillow’s gonna scare me?… lame). Again, expect this to be Charlotte’s face when my Murphy bed is done:

I’ve been keeping up with her progress mostly through her Instagram stories, but we also got the opportunity to see each other recently at a conference in Atlanta called WorkbenchCon. We enjoyed each other’s company (mostly) and put away our smack talk for a little woodworking fun… and making faces.

Truth be told, I knew she was getting a lot done these last two weeks and felt very behind. That is, until this past weekend. Things have really started to fall into place!

Out with the old!

First, I had K help me move out all of the old furniture, I broke down the old bed, and put the mattress in the living room. While we still kept the big TV in the bedroom, we took it down from the walls so I could do some painting.

A moody sage paint… right on trend

Ready to see the new color?

Obviously, that’s just coat #1; there was a second, and that wall on the right had already been painted as of the last update (the same color will also be used on all of the trim work of the built-ins).

I always get questions regarding paint colors about six months after publishing a post, so let’s go ahead and put that in bold for that inevitable random website visitor who just wants that info (by the way, hi, how are ya? I hope you found this site while bored at work and decided to stick around; we talk about DIY and squirrels and other things, and try not to take ourselves too seriously):

The dark sage green paint color is Retreat by Sherwin-Williams.

Got it? Sweeeeet.

Murphy bed hardware is in! Building has begun.

If you recall from the mood board and the last update, I’m planning on doing a whole wall of built-in storage, complete with a Murphy bed. I hadn’t yet announced the reason for that design in the original post, but after sharing the news that K and Stella officially moved in, it probably makes more sense now! This room will serve double-duty as K’s home office and house a lot of his personal collections (he has a bunch of cool vintage cameras, for one). We had a lot of things to consider for how to best use every square foot, so the Murphy bed/built-in situation is perfect for providing plenty of room for an office and keeping the bed tucked away until it’s needed by guests.

And, speaking of this big project, the Murphy bed hardware arrived in the mail, along with jigs and cabinet hardware (Rockler, very generously, is now sponsoring the project and sent me all the hardware I’ll need to install). To start the build, I had to make the bottom frame and side rails, which takes us all the way to page 18 of the instructions. It’s pretty much one of those things you want to make sure you get right (very dangerous if you don’t!). So, I’m following the install very closely and will have a full post all about that for you when I’m done.


Do you like that TV placement, right in front of the only window and source of light in the room? Yeah… kind of awkward, but it’s the best option while everything else goes in (most of the old stuff will be sold/given away, but the TV is staying!).

And do you want to know some UDH trivia? Those curtains above are the first official curtains I’ve hung in the house. It took eight. years. Other than the faux Roman shade over the kitchen, everything else has been blinds! I have them hung, temporarily, to see how much I’ll need to hem (still working on finishing the curtain rod). I’m not really crazy about the tabs at the top either, so I may end up snipping them off and using the top hem instead.

Picture Ledges

Just last night, I began yet another DIY in this room: the picture ledges that will go on the wall next to the door. The plan is to vary the spacing between the shelves so I can have lots of different frame combos. These will be a different version than the ones I installed in my office for my craft stamps — mainly that the front lip is created with a piece of trim molding instead of a 1×2. I’ll still cover this in more detail when I have it fully installed and styled. Like, with pillows or some crap.

A word about the paint

Normally, I find a color of paint I like and then color-match it to a paint brand I know well (BEHR and Olympic have performed relatively well for the price for me). But this time around, I decided (just for the heck of it) to try out a new-to-me paint line called Ovation (HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams). Since part of what I do on this site is try out new DIY products, I like to know about paint lines and how they perform (coverage, flashing, streaking, cost comparison, etc.).

To be honest, while I love the color, the paint itself performed just ok… nothing special, but got the job done. The paint was somewhat thick, but left a lot of bare spots and streaks on the first coat, and the second coat appears to have given full coverage. Since it was a little higher of a price point than my go-tos, I expected a little better performance, but it’s not like it peeled off my walls or anything (that has happened when I was asked to review a paint line once, many years ago; as you might expect, I declined to publish about the brand after that!). For two walls, I used a little over half a gallon, so I’m not 100% confident it would have allowed me to paint the entire room with just one gallon (for comparison, the size of this room would normally need one gallon with the other brands).

Vlog #2!

When I originally posted about the new Dueling DIY setup, I also mentioned that I’d be doing regular vlog updates to share more thoughts about my progress in the room. So, here’s that video! There may be a clip as well of me dancing as I paint the room. As K would describe it, I’m practicing a lot of my “white girl” moves.

Don’t forget to go over to Charlotte’s blog to see more of her progress, tease her a little on my behalf, or just tell her the bed she’s worked really hard on all week looks like a pile of dog vomit (kidding, don’t say that… just secretly think it). Hope you’re having a great week so far!

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DIY Night Sky Mountain Painting (Easy Custom Art)

This night sky painting was so easy and fun to make! Catch the full step-by-step tutorial or take a look at the speed video to see it come to life.

Hey, friends! Hope your weekend went well. Mine was SO ridiculously busy: K and I built a new bed for the master bedroom (plans coming soon). Then, we made significant progress on the Murphy bed in the guest room (Charlotte, I’m comin’ for ya). Finally, Stella got into the garden bed so bad she needed an immediate bath (painted. the tub. with mud.). Oh, and I finished another DIY video, which means I can finally publish this night sky mountain painting today!

Before and After

As you can probably tell, this painting wasn’t originally any of those words. My original was a terribly painted flower vase at one of those “paint and sip”-style events. It was actually a promotional thing a brand put on with a bunch of Atlanta bloggers. It was honestly no different than what you would expect in one of those classes: show up, drink, paint (other than they put it all on their Facebook page; this isn’t a plug and they’re not my sponsor or anything; I just went because free booze and free canvas to take home and I got to see some of my blog friends like Erin Spain).

I know why I paint so poorly in those someone-teaches-you-how-to-paint-a-specific-thing classes. Since this is now the second time I’ve decided to paint my own thing instead, I think I’m just not into it. (It could be the wine. It’s a mystery.) If you’ve ever been fiercely put off by your horrible technique in one of those things, it’s because you’re being forced to paint something you don’t love. So, go rogue! It’s your canvas and to hell with the ugly flowers.

Finding Inspiration

I was inspired — random-est of things — by one of the screensavers displayed by the Amazon Fire TV device connected to the TV. If you aren’t familiar, it’s series of 182 different photos that would give just about anyone some serious wanderlust. And with my vacation to St. Lucia in my rear view and K and I talking about this whole vintage camper renovation project, this photo of The Milky Way over Mt. Hood (Oregon) just struck me. The other screen savers would come and go, and every time this one appeared, I would pause and stare.

So, I typed up a quick tutorial about an organic process that would be unique to every painting (I couldn’t replicate this to the same result every time either). Nothing about a bunch of swirling colors would really be repeatable, but if you want to give it a try, I highly encourage it and would love to see the variations you get! I stopped to take a few of these photos and grabbed a few stills from the video I took overhead.

How to Paint a Starry Sky and Mountains

The trick to a painting like this is pretty straightforward, believe it or not: it just takes continuous layering of colors. I used acrylic paints in the following colors (note: affiliate links to products may be used here):


  • Apple Barrel: White, Black, Wild Iris, Purple Iris (all matte)
  • paper towels
  • container for clean water
  • paper plate for mixing


Start by painting over the entire surface of the existing 10×10 panel with gesso, which is a “medium”. In this context, there are several mediums designed to do cool things with acrylic paint. Some add a crackling effect, some help paint adhere to fabric… this one is basically a thin version of white acrylic paint and simply helps prep the surface for adding more paint on top, like a primer.

I then did a quick pencil sketch to mark the sky, mountain, trees, and water on the bottom. A few general shapes are all that’s needed to get started.

Color Blocking

As you’ll see in the speed video, I started with the sky first — blocking off color areas such as black in the top corners and white in certain areas on either side of the mountain. This was somewhat monochromatic at first, but I also kept adding in blue and red. To layer in the paint, I also used a damp paper towel to help “sponge” in some of the texture and help layer in paint colors.

With most of the general color blocking done, I moved on to the tree line in black, and then the single mountain in the center — which pretty much exclusively has layers of black, white, and a small hint of blue. Since the sky would be the focus of my painting, I wanted to make the mountain highlighted but muted (so as not to compete).

The whole non-compete idea carried through in the rest of the painting. I marked off the mountains and created quick swipes with a small paint brush to give the trees texture (black only). For the water below, I painted large swipes of blue with white and black. Watering down the paint makes it look really streaky.

As the mountain dried, I added in more black and white areas for highlight and shadow.

After the first night (I did all of this while sitting in front of the TV), it looked like this:

This is a great stopping point, since acrylic sometimes needs some dry time when you begin to add water. Wiping off paint after it starts to dry might remove large blobs of paint (it happened to me a couple of times). General rule of thumb: do not mix more than 30% of water or use an acrylic medium to thin the paint instead; I’ll admit to using just water on this one, but you now know better!

The next night after some sufficient drying, I added in more color to the sky area with the same swiping, sponging pattern: more blue, more purple, more white.

The photo below is after it had more time to dry and I added a second black layer of the trees.

Tape and Stars!

Once you’re done with this part and are happy with the sky’s color variation, let it dry COMPLETELY.

The canvas is now freshly painted, so protect the bottom area with painter’s tape meant for delicate surfaces. Tape anything that isn’t the sky.

Then, I used a VERY dry brush to dab just a little pure white paint onto the tip. With each flick little tiny spots flung all over the sky surface. I varied both with the quantity of paint on my brush and with how close to the canvas I got, so there were little clusters of white paint flecks and bigger flecks all randomly dispersed. This is the magic that makes it look like a starry sky, and my favorite part! If you make a mistake, use a tiny dab from a wet paper towel to take the paint back up. Do it quickly and don’t rub… it could still disturb the newly dried paint below.

In areas I wanted to emphasize a little more, I went in by hand and added a couple more stars.

With that done, I pulled all the painter’s tape off and my painting was complete. I plan to seal it with some art resin and frame (new posts!), but I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It will probably eventually hang in the vintage camper.

K immediately loved this painting. He’s offered to scan it at work for me, so I will have that available as a print soon as well!

Catch the full video:

Want another example of going rogue at a paint n’ sip class? Here’s my laundry room art inspired by talented artist Emily Jeffords.

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How to Fix the Biggest Design Mistake People With Small Apartments Make

design mistake

Are you making this common design mistake in your interiors? Image: Lisa Petrole Photography

There’s no denying that designing small apartments can be tricky. When you’re dealing with limited square footage, you do have to scale back your design elements to ensure they work with the available space. But many people take this concept too far — and that’s a huge design mistake.

If you’re guilty of making this mistake, don’t worry. It’s much more common than you think, and we’re going to help you fix it once and for all. Learn more about how to pick perfectly sized furniture and accessories for your home every single time.

scale and proportion

Always pay attention to scale and proportion. Image: Brad Ramsey Interiors

The design mistake: Buying furniture too small

Whenever you’re dealing with a small apartment, it makes sense to buy furniture that’s equally small, right? Actually, not quite. While this idea does make sense to a point, many homeowners make the mistake of taking it too far and buying pieces that are too small.

When you buy items that are too small for the room, rather than making the space look bigger, it can make it look even smaller than it already is. Combining these two things only succeeds in giving the apartment a “dollhouse effect,” where tiny furniture ends up swimming in the room without ever really feeling appropriately grounded.

In these situations, it’s important to take a middle ground. For that, scale and proportion are your best tools. When utilized correctly, they help you fill your apartment with furniture that is just the right size.

2/3 rule

When in doubt, remember the 2/3 rule. Image: m.arkitektur

Fix #1: Follow the 2/3 rule

Like it or not, buying properly sized furniture is all about getting correct measurements. Even those of us with design experience can’t get away with simply eyeballing a piece before purchasing it. That rings doubly true for situations where space is limited.

When thinking about your ideal measurements for furniture, it’s important to keep a 2/3 proportion in mind. Start by measuring the room as a whole and work backward from there. For example, ideally, the length of your sofa should take up approximately 2/3 of the closest wall. Then, your coffee table should be around 2/3 as long as the sofa.

This proportion works regardless of which room you’re working on at the moment. You should aim to have your bedframe cover around 2/3 of the room, as well as your dining table or any other anchoring piece.

vary sizing

Don’t forget to switch up the sizing of the design elements. Image: The New Design Project

Fix #2: Vary visual weight

Once you’ve used the 2/3 proportion rule to choose the main furniture for the room, it’s time to fill out the space with secondary pieces. Secondary pieces are items like end tables or buffets, anything that coordinates with the main furniture but isn’t necessary to make the function of the space perfectly clear.

Where these items are concerned, it’s important to make visual weight — or how heavy the item looks like it feels — a priority. Here, variety is key because including too many weighty items makes the room feel top-heavy while using too many airy items leaves it feeling ungrounded.

Take the photo above as an example. It features a good mix of visual weights. Some pieces appear dense and heavy while others don’t seem like they would be a struggle to pick up at all. Your end goal should be the same.


Trust your perception as you pull the room together. Image: Finch London

Fix #3: Trust your instincts

After you’ve purchased all of the design elements you plan to use in the room, your next step is figuring out how to arrange them appropriately. While we’re always happy to provide some layout tips, at the end of the day, your own perception is one of the best tools you have at your disposal.

In interior design, perception is your sixth sense. If you’ve ever rearranged furniture only to take a step back and realize that something feels “off,” you know how powerful perception can be. As you’re arranging your small apartment, pay close attention to how the arrangements make you feel. If you sense something is amiss, don’t be afraid to tweak your design until it feels right to you.

design mistake

Use our tips to fix this common design mistake once and for all. Image: PLUS ULTRA studio

All of us can agree that designing a small apartment comes with its unique set of challenges. On the one hand, the furniture and accessories you choose will probably need to be smaller than average. But, on the other hand, going too small can actually be a design mistake. Keep the tips in the post above close at hand, so you can always be sure to find a happy medium.

Have you ever made this design mistake? Are you ready to fix it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Why Concrete Is 2018’s Next Big Thing in Interior Design (and How to Try the Trend)


Concrete is shaping up to be 2018’s next big design trend. Image: Walter Barda Design

So far 2018 has brought us quite a few polarizing design trends. We’ve already talked about how to harness the power of bold colors, but now, it’s time to talk about a trend on the other end of the aesthetic spectrum. The concrete look is here and it’s ready to bring a subtle yet sophisticated edge to your interiors.

If you need some convincing, this post is for you. We’ve broken down why concrete works so well and why it’s set to become a fixture in the design landscape. Read on and, before you know it, you’ll be ready to give concrete a shot.

Concrete is the perfect fit for those who want an industrial aesthetic. Image: SHED Architecture & Design

Concrete creates an industrial edge

It almost goes without saying that concrete and industrial design go hand in hand. You don’t have to work hard to conjure images of former industrial warehouses turned sun-drenched lofts or reclaimed bits of machinery that have been transformed into chic accent pieces.

If you’re going to go this route, we suggest going big to really drive home your design inspiration. Concrete floors are a natural choice. They work particularly well in open concept applications and, when compared to many of the rustic-finished woods that also fit this aesthetic, they’re an affordable alternative.

If concrete floors aren’t your thing, concrete walls are also a great way to make a style statement. However, you’ll probably want to stick to a singular accent wall. In this case, while one wall will probably add a bold punch of texture and visual interest, multiple walls run the risk of feeling too stark and overwhelming.


Once properly installed, concrete easy to maintain. Image: Audrey Matlock Architects

It’s easy to maintain

More and more people are choosing to incorporate concrete in their interiors because it’s a particularly easy material to maintain. In fact, the bulk of your work takes place when you first purchase the item. Whatever application you choose for your concrete — whether it’s a fireplace, countertop, or coffee table — it should be properly stained, sealed and polished.

Be sure to ask the manufacturer how to maintain your specific items. As a general rule, simply sweeping away general debris and washing it with a non-abrasive cleaner is the way to go.


Concrete gives the room instant texture. Image: Wood Melbourne

It adds texture

We’ve talked before about how texture can help bring untold amounts of visual interest to your space. Remember, in an interior design context, texture refers to the way an element looks like it feels. Everyone knows the feeling of running their hands over concrete, so including one of these items in your design fosters an instant connection with the viewer.

When you’re looking to highlight texture, the key is to create contrast. In particular, concrete does best when it’s juxtaposed against something natural, such as wood. You should also pay attention to the colors in your concrete and be sure to choose contrasting shades for the rest of the room.

Looking for a focal point. Problem solved? Image: Glancey Rockwell & Associates

It’s an instant focal point

Every room in your home needs a focal point. Since concrete is such a heavy material to work with, when it’s used in design, it lends a ton of visual weight to the room. This means it will instantly draw the eye and ground the space. All told, these factors make concrete an excellent choice to become a focal point in your home.

Take the picture above as an example. The fireplace has such a commanding presence that your eye is pulled to it. If you’re willing to go this bold, an architectural element definitely fits the bill. It’s also possible to go more subtle. A concrete island instantly becomes a conversation piece in your kitchen and a coffee table easily grounds a seating area.


Consider making concrete a trendy fixture in your interiors. Image: Sea Island Builders LLC

Concrete is a bit different than some of this year’s other design trends. While others are focused on bold patterns and bright, in-your-face colors, concrete is subtler. That said, we understand some people may need convincing. To that end, this post is dedicated to how concrete can ultimately benefit a room. Read it over and we’re sure you’ll be ready to give this once-commercial material a place of honor in your home.

What do you think of the concrete interior design trend? Will you be trying it out in your own home anytime soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Check Out These 4 Easy Kitchen Upgrades You Can Do in a Weekend

kitchen upgrades

Does your kitchen need a new look? Our kitchen upgrades are just what you need. Image: Caesarstone

Head’s up, homeowners: A recent survey by Remodeling Magazine shared some unexpected news about popular home improvements. It found that kitchen remodels are not garnering the same return on investment they used to. With that in mind, we suggest that rather than spending your money on totally redo-ing the space, selecting a few, smart kitchen upgrades might be a better bet.

As far as which projects make sense, we’ve got you covered. Below is a list of four upgrades that can be completed in a weekend or less. Read them over and tackle them one by one. By the time you’re done, your kitchen will have a totally new look for a fraction of the cost.

painted cabinets

Get trendy with some brightly painted cabinets. Image: J NORD WOLFE General Contracting Inc.

Paint your kitchen cabinets

Has it been a little while since your kitchen has been updated? Is the finish on your cabinets a “blast from the past”? Are you starting to notice a few nicks and chips? If so, it may be time to freshen up the cabinets with a new coat of paint. While neutral shades are always in, consider taking things a step further and embracing 2018’s bold, two-toned cabinet trend.

The key to pulling this project off fast is organization. At the start, label your doors and drawers with corresponding numbers, so you know exactly where they belong. Then, remove them, clean them to remove any grime, sand off the current finish, and wrap up with a few coats each of fast-drying primer and paint.


Brighten things up with different hardware. Image: Liz Schupanitz Designs

Change out the hardware

If painting the cabinets is too big of a job to tackle at the moment, give your existing ones a refresh by swapping out the hardware. Focus on choosing a modern finish and shape for the new set. While an argument can be made that gold is making a comeback, you really can’t go wrong with a minimalistic option in either chrome or brushed nickel.

Effort-wise, this job is fairly simple. After you purchased your new hardware, remove the old ones with a screwdriver. Judge if the existing holes in your cabinets will work with the placement of your new pick and fill any unnecessary ones with matching putty. Then, drill new holes, as needed, before screwing the new hardware in place.

pendant lights

Layer in a few pendant lights. Image: Dillon Kyle Architects (DKA)

Add pendant lighting

We’ve talked before about the importance of layering lighting, but it’s especially important in a kitchen. When working with knives, you need to see exactly what you’re doing, and adding a few pendant lights in the mix is a functional and stylish way to make that happen.

Most pendant lights come with mounting kits that allow them to easily take the place of existing fixtures. Start the process by turning off the appropriate breaker. Then, unscrew the covering on your existing fixture and disconnect the wires before removing the fixture itself. Next, follow the instructions that come with the mounting kit for your new pendant light to secure it properly.


Refresh your look with a new backsplash. Image: Laurie Battersby

Create a new backsplash

Your backsplash is arguably the biggest style statement in your kitchen. This element of your design is a bit more aesthetically focused than functional, so you have the opportunity to get more creative here. With that in mind, if it’s been a while since you’ve redone your kitchen, it may be time to refresh your backsplash and, fortunately, you don’t need to hire a contractor to pull it off.

These days, peel-and-stick kits can be purchased at any home improvement store. The key to this project is planning. Measure the area you’ll be transforming before you go shopping, so you purchase the correct amount of product. When you get home, lay out the pieces before you start working with your adhesive, so you have an idea of any adjustments that need to be made for them to fit correctly.

kitchen upgrades

Use these kitchen upgrades to give your interiors a makeover. Image: Orchid Newton ltd

Trends are showing that, in 2018, full kitchen remodels may not be the way to go. Rather, it may make more financial sense to invest in a few kitchen upgrades that will give your existing space a new look. With that in mind, we’ve hooked you up with four easy upgrades that only take a weekend to pull off. Keep them in mind for when you’re ready to give your space a new look.

What do you think about these easy kitchen upgrades? Will you be adding them to your to-do list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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