Downsizing: Design Inspiration for a Smaller Space

Design Inspiration

Our upcoming move into a new, smaller apartment will necessitate much purging and thoughtful design planning to achieve a cozy and chic looking space.  The new rental apartment is a two bedroom, one bath with a small sunroom.  The living/dining area is compact which will mean that every piece of furniture will need to be picked carefully to make sure that we don’t clutter the space.  Also, we are on a tight budget and can’t buy a whole slew of new furniture at one time so much of what we already own will need to be utilized in the space. 

What we own:

My grandfather is a master carpenter and has made me and my husband some wonderful pieces of furniture over the years.  Much of this furniture is almost as old as I am (let’s say decades) so it doesn’t necessarily reflect our current taste but it is an absolute treasure to own so many one of a kind things. For our wedding, my grandfather gifted us a handmade bar very similar to the Crate and Barrel bar pictured, which is always the star of our living/dining area.   

We are also working with plum colored Ikea curtains, that all-too-popular gray Ikea rug that everyone and their mother owns and a double drop-down dining table with four wood folding chairs for our living area. 

What we need to replace:

When we first were married, we were gifted almost all of our furniture.  The only thing we have purchased as a couple was our mattress.  Our couches, chairs, tables were all given to us. This was great at the time but most of our furniture does not reflect our taste. 

Our state to state move necessitated purging of many things including most of our old hand-me-down furniture.  We are left with a decent futon and an outdated media console, both of which we would like to replace ASAP.

We both really like the clean look of the Henry Queen Sleeper Sofa from West Elm in heathered grey and the look of the CB2 Smart Glass Side Tables.  However, just two side tables and one couch later, we would be out about $1600. I am always looking for a deal and thus will be scouring Craigslist for some gently used items.

Design Inspiration:

We both love clean lines and uncluttered but inviting spaces.  The design inspiration is a picture found on Pinterest but unfortunately does not link back to a specific page (I would love to see more of that room!).  We can’t paint our walls teal, but I do love the color palatte of this space.  Utilizing the curtains we already have, a pop of color from a Thresholds by Target swoop side chair and pillow covers made from fabric found at JoAnn’s, I may be able to acheive a similar look. 

However, this is my design inspiration.  Emphasis on “my”.  My husband loves black, red, and deep blue.  I love those colors too but I am ready for a change.  Sapphire blue was also another option but would have necessitated the buying of new curtains as well.  I need to convince my husband that this asthetic will not be too feminine. Now, how do I do that?

What do you think? Inviting and cozy? Too feminine?

Downsizing: A Move from the ‘Burbs to the City

After a move from Minnesota to Illinois, I have spent the past year living with my in-laws. Yes, you heard that right, living with my in-laws. Do not get me wrong, it has been a great experience in regards to spending quality time with my husband’s family. It has truly been a unique experience. And trust me, we will have so many stories from this year to tell our future children. But alas, I miss my stuff (which has been in storage) and we miss our privacy. Also, I hate my commute, which is more than an hour into and out of the city every day. Blah.

Due to a change in roles at my company and thus a change in schedule, it became necessary to move sooner rather than later. Thus, the time has actually come for us to move into our own place (again)! The challenge is finding a place that fits our criteria and stays within budget.

Finding a place:

For anyone who lives in or has recently lived in Chicago, you know that the rental market is incredibly competitive and expensive in the popular neighborhoods. It becomes even more challenging to find a place to live on a limited budget and with specific criteria. We narrowed down our neighborhoods to Bucktown/ Logan Square (close to family) or the Near North (close to my work). Our criteria included:
• Allows beasts (The four-legged dog variety)
• At least one bedroom (Preferably two)
• Close to the train
• Central air and heat
• Laundry in-unit or at least on-site
• Hardwood or hard surface floors (I am allergic to everything)
• Relatively updated kitchen with a dishwasher (We cook a lot)
• Storage space

It is hard to find accomodations that allow beasts such as this one.
It is hard to find accomodations that allow beasts such as this one.

With our criteria nailed down, the searching commenced. (Well, let’s be honest, I had been searching for a place to move into from the day that I moved in with my in-laws. My introverted self could not help but hope for a more private space.) 

The confirmation that I would be changing jobs a few weeks ago necessitated the move so I began looking for a place. I did not have high hopes as all of our fellow Chicago friends and renters said that we would have no luck finding a place to rent unless we used an agent.


But my diligent searching was fruitful on my very first try! I found a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment meeting all of our criteria and in our budget on a rental website. The landlord I contacted got right back to me, we scheduled a showing and she accepted our application all within a few days. Terrific!

The catch? We have to wait more than 60 days to move in. The agony continues. However, my type A personality has lots of time to plan the design of our new rental.

Next week, design inspiration and planning . . . narrowing down the options (and trying to convince a husband that teal is a great color).

Cherry and Apple Stuffed Pork Chops

Cherry and Apple Giant Stuffed Pork Chops

Total time: 55 mins

Serves: 4

  • 4 bone-in, thick cut pork chops
  • 1 sweet potato or yam, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • ½ cup red frozen cherries, cut in half
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons lard
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut sweet potato in half lengthwise, and place cut side down onto a baking sheet.
  3. Bake sweet potato for 20-25 minutes until completely soft. Let sweet potatoes cool, then remove the sweet potato from the skin and mash with a fork in the a bowl.
  4. Once you pull the sweet potatoes out, turn oven down to 375 degrees.
  5. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the lard, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add in the onion.
  6. When onion becomes translucent, add in halved cherries, apples, along with the mashed sweet potato, cinnamon, garlic powder, ground cloves, and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir occassionally. Place mixture in a separate bowl and set aside. Keep skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops, then take a knife to cut the meat side of the pork chop, trying to create a pocket. Use your knife to dig as deep as you can in the middle of the pork chop, making sure not to cut fully through it.
  8. Stuff each pork chop with the sweet potato mash.
  9. Add 2 more tablespoons of lardto the pan, then add the pork chops (making sure not to crowd the pan).
  10. Sear pork chops on both sides for 4-5 minutes, turning them carefully so all the goodness doesn’t fall out.
  11. After the pork chops are seared on both sides, place directly in the oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until completely cooked through.
  12. Remove from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes.



Meal Planning: Week 13


Well, what can I say? I was right (like usual). I have not been following my meal plans like I had been and what has happened? I go to the grocery store more often, spend more time thinking about what to make for dinner and spend a lot more money on groceries. Meal planning is the key to my diet and financial success (not to mention my sanity).

Anywho, here it is, meal plan for week 13. I plan to get back on the meal planning (and executing)wagon this week.

Meal Plan: Week 13

Meal Planning: Week 12

Monday: Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Tuesday: Chicken Sausage “Pasta”

Wednesday: Spicy Italian Sausage Bake

Thursday: Tri-Tip Roast

Friday: No cooking!

Saturday: Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos

Sunday: Brinner! Over Easy Eggs with Bacon and Hashbrowns