Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Art and Accessories in a Dog-Friendly Apartment

When I was in London the other week, Jon and I passed a homegoods store on one of our walks.  He noticed me looking wistfully at some sculptural vases in the window, and asked if I liked them.  "Yes," I told him, "but we can never have them."  Jon looked relieved (they weren't his sort of thing) but also confused.  They weren't too expensive, so what was the problem?

Well, dear readers, I don't know if you've noticed, but I have a dog.  I have an exuberant 65 lbs Labrador with boundless energy, no concept of personal space, and a tail that could fell trees.  All of these make him the best puppy ever, but they do slightly limit my options for home decor - especially where art and accessories are concerned.

Charlie means that I can't have fragile objects on low surfaces because he might knock them off and break them.  He means that I can't have anything too conceptual within reach because he might think it's a new kind of toy to be chewed.  He means that I can't have accent pieces strewn artfully around because he might think that they're supposed to be playthings we can bond over.

Yes, Charlie dictates my home decor.  And you know what?  I'm totally okay with that.  A lot of the items I admire in those gorgeous stylized photos on Pinterest and home decor blogs are absolutely not appropriate to have in a house that includes a dog like Charlie.  And they're pretty, but they don't serve any purpose other than the aesthetic.  There's really nothing wrong with having a few pieces around your house that have no function, but I'm afraid it's so easy to descend down the slippery slope of needing to buy all the lovely things until you have no money and no surfaces left.  So thank you, Charlie, for stopping me from accumulating more vases, sculptures, candles, and other vignette-worthy objects than I need.


But I don't want my apartment to be entirely bare, you know!  If you go back to my home tour - here, here, and here - you'll notice that I do have a decent amount of art on my walls.  My favorite pieces are the London graphic that Sarah gave me for my birthday last year and a print I won from a giveaway on the boot that's taped up in my kitchen, plus the two fashion illustrations I got with my mother at a flea market in Paris in 2011.  (You can see them in this post from my last London flat, but they haven't yet been hung in my DC apartment because they're so girly and I don't want to make them the focal point of a room because Jon will be living here eventually too.  As you can spot from the first and third posts from my home tour, they're just propped up on a chest and a bookcase at the moment.  I'll figure out where to put them sooner or later!)  I'm also a huge fan of mirrors, especially in small spaces, because they make the rooms look bigger and brighter.

I do have a few empty walls; the ones above and beside my bed as well as the one behind my couch come especially to mind.  I'm thinking that hanging some interesting things in those places will keep my apartment from feeling too minimalist - so not my style! - while following Charlie's guidelines for apartment decor.

For now, I think I'll leave the wall above my bed blank; it's the only colored wall in the main room of my studio, so I think that's enough accent for the moment.  The wall perpendicular to that, though, opposite the wall of windows all the way of the far side of the room, has potential.  I'd love to get a big distressed wooden window frame with mirrors in the panes like this one, but I can't afford it right now.  Until I can, I think I'll buy a few sets of these smaller mirrors with interesting frames from Target and arrange them creatively on the wall!


What do you all think?  Have you seen other options elsewhere that I should know about?  (Before you suggest I do a gallery wall, let me say that I admire them in other people's houses but do not want one in mine.)  I'd love to hear if you have any ideas!  There's so much that can be done with walls...

23 comments:

  1. Haha, you missed the rest of my response to Bethany that a large part of what I feel is visually cluttering in my house is due to the dogs- Max's need for rugs and grippy mats everywhere, Sloan's toys (despite having one basket for tidying up, you know how long they stay there!), and that they have one dog bed in each room. I could get rid of the dog beds, but they actually do use them. Same with their enormous kennels. So I just remind myself that I love them more than I love having a picture-perfect home...
    SIGH.
    Oh, and I have to be careful what I display and where, because the only trinket-y things I like are glass, which shakes when eight legs and 130lbs of dogs run through the house in pure delight. And my antique medicine bottles, too. So my delicate glass souvenirs are tucked inside a leaded-glass-doored cabinet, barely visible, and the majority of my bottles are still wrapped up in a crate. If we had built-ins I could display them, but free-standing shelves and bookcases wobble a bit too much for me to be comfortable.
    As for throw pillows, the ones whose corners don't become lazy-chew toys (ahem, MAX) still get drooled on, so I refuse to spend more than $20 for something that is long-term disposable. And approximately .04% of throw pillows are cute AND under $20, so there's that.


    I'm not big on mirrors, though. Probably because if I turn a corner and see my reflection it makes me jump and duck and get all scared that someone's in the house, which is exactly what happened constantly at our 2nd house in England that had mirrors EVERYWHERE. So it's not a judgement of people who own them, just a sad commentary on my skittishness. I prefer stained glass or something non-reflective. I do like the top right and the bottom left ones in your collage, though. And I have no other ideas. As shown by my blank walls and stack of waiting-to-be-framed things. This comment has gotten ridiculous.
    Gesci, out.

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  2. You could make your own vintage windowpane with mirrors! Lots of antique shops/thrift stores/flea markets have old gorgeous windowpanes (I got one for 15 dollars and painted the frame gold) and you can use this "looking glass" spray paint on the glass so that it resembles a mirror.

    http://www.amazon.com/Krylon-K09033000-Looking-Mirror-Like-Aerosol/dp/B003971BAY

    Maybe too involved a project for the month before your wedding, but it's an idea that would be inexpensive and fun :)

    Here's the one I did: http://something-ivory.blogspot.com/2013/03/diy-vintage-window-frame-makeover.html

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  3. yes, my dog definitely dictates my decor (or lack thereof) I am so bad at decorating so I'm not much of a help here!

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  4. We have a few photos that A took (he's an artist) printed on stretched canvas. They are lightweight and if they fall off the wall (though they never have even given all my jumping around), there isn't any glass to shatter. We had them printed through Shutterfly and were super happy with the results! Could be an idea!

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  5. Substitute children for dog and the same scenario is at our house!

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  6. I LOVE the big, expensive one you linked to (of course). I also really like the frame in the top right corner.


    I'm horrible at decorating. I also somehow end up with all these cluttery things we get as gifts or souvenirs from people that I don't feel like I can throw away. For example, a little crystal/glass thing that says the Beijing Olympics from our Chinese friend who went home to attend them. So nice and thoughtful and appreciated, but what do you do with all that trinkety stuff? However, I do like a lot of my prints for my walls. I collect prints from places I travel, and for years my mom would frame them for my birthdays or Christmas. Now I have a back log of ones I need to frame, but I'm nervous to pick it out myself. :) So a lot of my wall decorations have meaning to me (and Ben now too). I also have a thing for pottery, especially if it's teal.

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  7. good things pillows and throws are dog-friendly - mine loves those!

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  8. I REMEMBER WHEN YOU POSTED THAT! I wanted to do it then and I want to do it now :) thanks for the reminder!

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  9. haha when I saw that you had commented I knew that it would be this :P

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  10. ooh I like that! is it too cliché to make them family photos of me+Jon+Charlie?

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  11. I KNOW. WHY DO WE ALWAYS LIKE THE EXPENSIVE THINGS THE BEST?


    Actually, I really like tchotchkes. It was one of the things that made me the most sad when I felt nomadic - I couldn't collect useless sentimental things because I didn't have a shelf they could stay on for more than a year! But I love the idea of collecting prints rather than, say, snow globes (who, me?) because they're so much more versatile.

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  12. Girl, it's your house - do as you please! That's me philosophy on decor!

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  13. I'm going to tell Jon you said that and then you're going to be in trouuuuuuble!

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  14. You're welcome. This is my kind of project, wish I could come over and we could DIY together :)

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  15. I love all of the little frames from Target... BUT, that big one is so unique and awesome. Decisions, decisions.


    I can't wait until I can finally decorate something. Argggh.

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  16. I should let my parents know that to save them some money on room decor, I'm just going to adopt myself a dog :) At least I'll know for when I move into my first apartment in a couple of years... for now, I think my university would flip if we snuck in a pet...

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  17. Georgia ChristakisJuly 16, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    I love the idea of having a wall covered in photos. pictures are the only household object I can never seem to get enough of :) plus, your pup can't break them easily

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  18. I confess: I can't stand the idea of having a gallery wall in my home because it would never be FINISHED. There would always be updating to do! It's hard enough when you have frames on top of a piano or something. (Am I overthinking this?)

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  19. i have never understood the purpose of having things in your house that don't do anything. Some thing I get, but others are just ridiculous. I have too much crap that I need/want to add anything else to it. It's probably because i own too many books.

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  20. We're looking for options, too. With two cats in the house, we can't leave anything out. Our younger cat is especially terrible about tossing things off shelves and counters onto the floor. We're going to build in some display cabinets in our new place for some of the knickknacks and travel souvenirs we can't bear to part with, but everything else is just going to get put away or given away.

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  21. Georgia ChristakisJuly 16, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    you might, just MIGHT be overthinking it :) But I totally see your point.

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  22. I have a mirror like the one in the bottom left corner and I love it! It's so pretty and simple. I'm with you on gallery walls, they look cute but aren't for me!

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  23. Serviced Apartments GuyNovember 13, 2014 at 6:09 AM

    Great ideas, maybe just hang all your artwork and ornaments relatively high up? Unless you've got a great dane of course...

    http://www.thearmitage.com/

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