Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Online Prowess

The main problem for college students who value their personal space & have a passion for design is budget. How can you fill your space with things you love that represent you when you're only there for a short amount of time? And you have to move constantly (especially if you live in a dorm), so it can't be too heavy & permanent?

Well, you're at least thinking wisely. Yes, you aren't going to be in this space long and you will have to move the items. So, you shouldn't sink oodles of money into decoration. Basically, you need to buy things that look expensive, but are in fact not expensive. Your best bet is online clearance.

Firstly, shopping for deals takes a good amount of time, planning & patience. Don't buy the first things you fall in love with, even if you think they might be a good price.

1. Make a list of the things that you NEED to buy.

This is a sort of multi-faceted step, because this means you must make a list of things you already have. I suggest taking everyday things that are out of sight & necessary from your parents' home. These are things like plastic cutlery & dishes & older pots & pans. All the kitchen stuff your parents can spare---take them. They don't need to be pretty, just functional. You will end up throwing them out after college, because you never know where you'll be going then. This will drastically increase your budget for big-ticket items that define your space more, like furniture! Furniture is particularly fun to shop for, too.

Also, try to inherit things from your upperclassmen friends or siblings. Of course, make sure they are smaller items that you still like (that will fit with your color scheme or design plan). These items can be end tables, picture frames, ottomans, cushions, shower caddies & storage boxes.

Then, and only then can you make that list. Here's my list--granted I have an apartment now so it's not like I'm moving from a dorm to an apartment, but these are items I actually need. Like cannot live without. I used the Notes app on my phone to keep track. (Note: my phone is on airplane mode because I am in England visiting my parents. Don't want to get charged astronomical bills, ya know. Living that budget life.)

2. Beware of hidden costs/requests.

Shipping is the big one. Also, don't forget tax. Online shopping seems so easy because you don't have to worry about it fitting in your car or even having a car/paying for gas. However, sometimes it might make more sense to do that. 

Also, if you are online shopping to look at reviews for items you intend on buying in the store, make 100% sure that item is sold & stocked in the store nearest you. Call the store up to be absolutely certain. Heck, have them set it aside for you and scurry on down there! Do all you need to do get that item. You want it, you need it, secure it.

3. Start cheap.

The first thing you need to do when you get to the website of a store you fancy is GO TO THE SALE SECTION. I cannot stress this enough. 

Mentally, it is a lot easier to realize that you need to increase your budget becuase you are not satisfied with the cheaper things. You don't want to see your dream $1000 chair before you start looking through the mis-matched & sort of sad clearance section of the store (I'm talking about you, IKEA clearance. You can have such GREAT finds like my $4 lampshade, but bury them in the pile of missing pieces & broken dishes.) Go to the clearance first and really use your imagination.

If you honestly can't find anything you love online or offline in the bargains, then you can check the full-priced items. But make sure this is something you not only really need & love right now, but that you could take with you after college or sell for a good price. 

4. Don't be afraid of ebay.

I'm aware of the stigma against ebay, but it is very easy to overcome and well worth it. Make sure you have these settings on:
  • NEW 
  • US ONLY (or your respective country of residence)

Ebay is a glorious land of dupes & even nice items that are just priced very well because of
online retailers who works solely through ebay. It is a great place to buy snazzy cases & covers for your phones, tablets, laptops and e-readers. I also use it for nail polishes and books and things you don't need to physically inspect before buying. I would actually recommend smaller furniture items, but probably not something fragile.

I bought this camera strap from ebay for $11 over 4 years ago.

It was in The Amazing Spider Man and I'm pretty sure I saw Urban Outfitters selling the same one for about $30 or $40. Like what??

5. Exhaust yourself through all the options.

You don't want to buy, online or in-store, without knowing that you've found the best deal. I like to search for the item (like a desk) on all my favorite websites & calculate the total cost (with shipping) and then PIN that item with the link to the website on my "to buy" pinterest board.  This way, I can look at my board after researching for hours and see which desk is the best looking & cheapest. You can also just bookmark the items, but I am a visual person. Here are a few of the best websites!
  • Ikea
  • Target
  • ebay (duh)
  • Walmart

xx Madhu

P.S. Sorry this post wasn't as wordy---I had to rewrite it because it didn't save for some ghastly reason. I felt kind of rushed. In any case, I'll probably add to it as things come to me because I know that this can help a lot of people!

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Swing of Things

Long time, no blog? I realized I need to put a greater effort into blogging---and I'm starting by joining bloglovin! It's time to see if people are interested in what I have to say (also make some interior design friends maybe? Hmm?)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I also hope to revamp my layout soon. I'm currently at my mum's in England, but when I get back to the apartment, there will be a style overhaul! My sister has moved out and my best friend has moved in! So, we need to find our collective personality. Since we don't live in a dorm room, we can't exactly split the place down the center and design our respective spaces separately, can we? Currently, the apartment is covered in pictures of my family and friends from high school. Sooo something must be done.

Lately I've been getting into more minimalist look. Well, I just don't want my walls to be covered with frames. I think I'll do a frame collage wall on the staircase (I just have two Lord of the Rings posters there from Etsy right now) with my roommate. Then, the living room can be neutral art things/maybe a mirror. The bedroom, I will try to keep calm.

This is an old photo. I have added a garden bench on the right at the bottom of the stairs and the cat is no longer living with us. 

The main problem I'm encountering is that building/storing upwards is the only solution to limited square footage, yet I do not have the funds to buy more furniture. I will only live in this place for a school year more and then I'll be moving into a furnished apartment my parents have, so my only option is stealing furniture from there. If I can transport it in my little, lime green Ford Fiesta.

Enough chit chat! You want some quality tips and tricks. Seeing as I'm currently in a sizable house in England, I don't know how I could be of much help. However, I will see what blog posts I can wrangle up before I fly back to the states.

xx Madhu


I created that collage wall, by the way. Here it is!

Sorry it's like low-quality instagram. But yeah just really simple posters. The Arctic Monkeys one is so wrinkled and I don't know what to do. Probably will have to look up a trick on how to fix posters. These have all been packed away now because I'm moving out in July!

Saturday, 1 December 2012


Don't be scared of making things yourself. Obviously, they're a huge money saver. Also, not all DIY project involve a lot of work---I can't even sew and I've done a lot of DIY! If you've got string, a glue gun, tape and a thrift store, there's a lot you can do.


Just click the link because Karen Kavett makes amazing pennants. Everything I know, I learned from her. She has even uploaded a template for us! Isn't she amazing?

There is this "typography" art ALL OVER etsy. But really, it is so simple to do yourself.

-old encyclopedia/dictionary
-black paint/dark paint
-stencils (for words or figures)
-OR stickers for letters

1. Carefully rip out pages from the book of choice. To be really "meta" and "cool" you can rip out pages that have to do with what you decide to paint on top of them. (If you want to paint/sketch a coffee mug, rip out the coffee page! If you want to write a quote from Harry Potter, rip out the page with "magic" on it!)
2. You can attach a piece of printer paper/cardboard to the back so your "canvas" is just thicker and sturdier, but it's really not necessary since you will frame it.
3. Now, choose what you want to do. If you just want to put a quote, I would suggest buying stickers for letters. Preferably in black to keep things bold. Or, you could paint the quote on in your own handwriting for a personal touch.
4. If you want to do a picture, make sure it is bold enough to be seen from far away. Don't just paint a small heart unless you want people to put their noses on your art.
5. Stick in the frame (preferably black, again) after it's done drying.

Voila! Personal, cool art. See how easy it can be?

The collage itself is a bit shit, but look at that board! It's a corkboard we have had for A LONG time. It had holes all over it and just never looked good. So, I got a loose bedsheet and put on I think 3 layers. I stapled the bedsheet to the board and there we have it. An UPHOLSTERED board! It was so easy and looks pretty seamless. This is the easiest way to spruce up something you already have & use. I love corkboard, but I don't like the look of cork in anything but my wedges. 

This one is a no-brainer. BUT it's a conversation starter! Who are these people? I don't know! I went to an antique store and bought these old postcards/pictures for 3/$1. I'm pretty sure the closest antique store to you will have them too. Sometimes they are more expensive, but I don't think they are worth any more money. Basically, dig for old postcards that just seem interesting to you. I chose these mainly because they made me want to know what was going on or because they were just aesthetically appealing. I just put them in a cheap frame from wal-mart, but you could put them on a photo mobile! I have one and I love looking at it move at night. 

I have a bit of a button collection. It has actually grown since I took this picture, but not very much. I didn't know how to showcase my interesting collection, though. (The whole thing started with Hitler mustache Ronald McDonald. I found him on the floor of the hallways in my high school. Nobody was around, I laughed out loud and stuck it on my backpack. The rest is history.) At first I had all my buttons on a string, but that was getting heavy and awkward. I bought this hat at a $1 and realized I probably won't wear it. BUT covering it in pins worked! I just stuck a thumbtack in the wall, hung it up, and I'm able to add pins as I get them. I like it. When I have space for my dress form in my room (IF I have space...) I will probably put the hat on my dress form. You could show your stamp collection/pin collection/button collection/sticker collection in a similar way. Get something that is a cool decorative object and stick your stamps/stickers on it! (Like a random animal figurine) It will be a piece of art in your room.

Well, that's my DIY post. It was very low key because I really can't do much. I have a million sewing machines but never learned how to sew. I can knit a bit but nothing too fancy. My main tools are tape, thumbtacks and staples. You can't go wrong with those basics.

Until next time,
Happy Living!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Wall Collages

Every college student has one---you know what I'm talking about. The one place where most people decide to get crafty, the empty wall. My university actually supplied corkboards in each dorm, which was great because it confined the crazy.

Don't get me wrong, I love wall collages. They say a lot about the resident's personality, friends, hometown, priorities and hobbies. They're really interesting to look at and a great conversation piece. Most of them are, sadly, just waaay too crowded or overwhelming. Examples? I think yes!

So, most people put these things up for inspiration/motivation. I'm all for that. In fact, that's why I had collages. I have mixed feelings about this one. I really like that everything has been carefully arranged and spaced so that it looks neat. I don't like the size. Yeah, teenagers should be allowed to personalize their rooms and all, but I'm here to tell you guys what is visually appealing. When you look at this, do you think, "wow that's beautiful" or do you think, "wow he covered the whole wall...". If this person had just divided the collage and put some of the stuff up elsewhere in the room, it would be less visually distracting and more visually enticing.

This is from Karen Kavett's blog. She is a flawless human being. I think the main reason her collage works is because it has dimensions. Yes, it has a lot going on, but does it look TOO busy? No! Because she scaled the collage down and because she stuck to a black&white&green/blue color palette, things aren't too hectic. The fairy lights make sense in the space because they act like a frame and draw attention to the beautiful pennants! Of course, she is a professional visual designer so she knows her stuff. However, if you're bold and have an "eye", you can layer posters and random knick-knacks too. Overall, this is what you want to strive for. Something diverse, but controlled. Not something that draws attention away from the rest of the room, either. Looking at this makes me WANT to see the rest of her room.

See you all soon-ish?