The Dining Room: Today

by Lisa Lombardi in ,

In the spirit of full disclosure, I suppose I'm required to show the dining room in all of its bare, abandoned-looking glory. This hurts me more than it hurts you, I promise.

The flowers really help, though, huh?

Okay, so it's not THAT bad. It's not like there's a dirty mattress in the corner and a bucket of homemade moonshine brewing by the window (yet). But when you compare it to the other spaces in the apartment, it feels so...sad. Neglected. Boring.

We're three people with vastly different work schedules, cooking levels, and aversions to social gatherings. In short, we don't really host too many dinner parties here. (Read: none.) But we've been known to have some roommate dinners, and I know that while I am more in the habit of eating at my desk, on the couch, or, shamefully, in bed, Nathan and Andy like to settle in at the table every once in a while for a meal or just to do work. That alone warrants the need to finally wage full-on decorating war up in here.

This built-in here is awesome, and we clearly make good use of it. Between two former bookstore employees and a girl voted Most Likely to Become a Librarian by her brothers, we have a lot of shelf fodder. While it's nice to be able to keep all the booze and accompanying paraphernalia behind closed doors and out of harm's (and dust's) way, I'm thinking it might make more sense to bring that stuff out of the cabinets and onto its own makeshift bar cart. We already have a table in the corner that's essentially going unused, or maybe we could even get a legit cart. The point is, we have the space, and as you can see...

...things are getting a little crowded in there. Plus, it would give me an excuse to create a pretty bar setup and have a place to store my bartending gear other than in an OR dry bag in the back of my closet.

We all know the deal with the chairs and, while I really have nothing against the table itself, I do think we should eventually replace it. It's just not very big, and it'd be nice to squeeze two chairs to a side and have the option of seating six. Technically, it's a loaner table from one of Andy's friends, so I don't think I'll meet much resistance if I find something better.

The rug is a placeholder, borrowed from Nathan's room where it used to reside. I'm still on the lookout for something bigger and better. Possible news on that to come.

Here's our makeshift stereo center. Hoo boy, is it rough. Nathan threw a blanket over the top of it, and when I lifted it up this morning to take a better look, I can't really blame him. Technically, it is a functioning piece of furniture that serves its purpose well. If you want to be more picky and superficial — which I always do, when it comes to décor — it's boring and ill-suited for the task at hand. Ideally, we would find a corner piece that fit more snugly into the space and offered additional room for storage. Having searched for that particular shape for a couple months now, I'm ready to give up on that pipe dream and settle for something that's simply better than this. 

I told you there was a llama here somewhere.

Annnnnd just for funsies, a shot of Nathan's terrariums that he made for the lichen he smuggled home from Alaska. Aside from the fact that they're adorable (and on-trend!), I'm mostly just impressed that they're still alive. 

Now for the fun part: lists!


  1. New rug
  2. Reupholster the chairs (fiiiiiiiiiiiinally)
  3. Reorganize the bookshelves and drawers
  4. Attempt bar setup elsewhere in the room
  5. Find a replacement piece for the stereo equipment or, barring that, fix up what we have
  6. Keep on the lookout for a larger table
  7. Decorate those bare walls!!
  8. Clean the light fixture
  9. Make the dining room feel as welcoming and lived-in as the rest of the apartment

Piece of cake, right?

My Room: Today

by Lisa Lombardi in ,

From ominous, possibly haunted beginnings, it's progressed to this.


My room came together a lot more quickly than the kitchen because (A) I needed somewhere to sleep and (B) I actually had pretty much all of this stuff when I moved in. This time. When I first moved to Boston, I only brought with me whatever I could cram into my 2000 Honda CRV. It was a surprisingly substantial amount, but left me with a lot of major pieces to acquire. AND ACQUIRE, I DID.

Hello, Bed: the mattress was a much-appreciated gift from Adrienne's husband, Dominik. He's a pretty tall guy, and that in combination with the fact that he now has to share his bed with another person on a daily basis makes me feel confident he won't be asking me for his Full-sized mattress and boxspring back any time soon. At least, I really hope not. The frame is a Craigslisted Ikea Fjellse that I stained to match my nightstand. My bed was previously owned by a college student moving back to her home in Africa, was yours?

Nightstand: Aside from my dad's trunk, this is one of the few pieces I brought with me to Boston. I Craigslisted this back when I was working for Men's Health and living in Emmaus, Pennsylvania (an experience that has made me swear off the entire state for, God willing, the rest of my life). It was originally this weird orange-maroon color, and the top was a ridiculously heavy slab of marble. I initially spray painted the whole thing an obnoxious shade of lime green because, I figured, if you can't have questionably ugly furniture when you're in your early 20s and live alone, when can you? I later stripped off alllllll the paint, replaced the marble with wood, and stained it. It's really not the best quality piece of furniture, but I LOVE IT. Mmmm...woven panels and tapered legs.

Bookshelf: Craigslisted for the entry of my last apartment, it used to hold Adrienne's and my shoes, boots, etc. that were used on a regular basis, because — and I can't emphasize this enough — it's just a crappy bookcase from Target or something. You know those people who fill their apartments only with furniture and knick knacks that have a rich back story or are genuine, vintage designer pieces? I'm not one of them. I make do with I have until I can find/afford something better. It doesn't actually hold too many books because I'm the last person on the planet under the age of fifty who still loves going to the library.

Desk: Purchased from West Elm. Hahahaa just kidding, yeah right. CRAIGSLIST. Are we seeing a pattern here? The top is some crappy manufactured fake wood thing, but I love the legs. I might make a new top one day. When I've completely run out of other things to do with my life.


Dresser: Craigslisted from a cute couple in the Back Bay. They responded to my email request, they told me, because I said that I "LOVED" the color. And I do! It's one of those things that I would never buy if I saw it in a store, and would never think to recreate the look of, but it feels really perfect with the rest of my stuff in here. We ended up trading road trip tips when I went to pick it up, and I told them which parks in Utah to set aside time for. It was the kind of exchange that warms my cold, dead heart. The third drawer is kind of broken, but still functions, so I ignore it. For now.

Things that nobody other than me cares about: My pineapple lamp from HomeGoods! (Holy crap, something purchased at a real store.) Gallery of vintage-style National Parks post cards were collected on my cross-country road trip. Prints are care of Marc Johns and Berkeley Illustrations and posters are reprints of lovely WPA National Parks designs. Everything else was collected over the past five years from various sources, because I would totally be a hoarder if not for the fact that sustained clutter gives me a panic attack.

And one last thing:

Flock of paper cranes: Frustrated with the soul-crushing boredom of a summer magazine internship I did just before my senior year of college, I took to folding these at my desk whenever I was left without a task to work on. Which was 90% of the time. These have been with me for five years and have survived SIX MOVES, bless their little paper wings.

So that's the bedroom. A couple helpful hints you might never have thought of:

  1. Wool blankets make EXCELLENT blackout curtains, and can cost less, too (check your nearest Army Navy store, which will either be sketchy or awesome. Possibly both). This time around, I used pins instead of sewing to create the pocket for the curtain rod so I can still use the blanket if the time comes that I need to purchase actual curtains.
  2. That trick with using binder clips on the desk to keep cords corralled? Works like a charm.
  3. Rugs are annoyingly expensive, so if you just need something basic and not too huge, sewing together a couple smaller ones is an easy, inexpensive option. In my room, I have two smallish jute rugs that I sewed together with clear fishing line, and since it's a flat weave but still has texture, no one has ever noticed. (Bonus: they were purchased at Kohl's with some of their ubiquitous coupons.)
  4. Try propping open your coffee table books (or children's books with beautiful illustrations — I'm looking at you, Leo Lionni) to show off the pages as art.