alisonphoto: Alison



I wanted to show a little more of Alison’s lovely house from our $250 thrift store makeover with Lysa. My job for this project wasn’t really to take photos, but to do the work of putting it all together so forgive me for the lack of lots of great finished shots, but I still think it’s worth looking at. And you can see so much more of the room in this video at Lysa’s blog.

Alison had a great starting point: freshly painted walls, a cute sofa, love seat and coffee table.

katie aiellophoto Katie

I don’t really care for having my hiney show up on this blog, but I can’t stress enough how much time it can take to get even a small gallery wall to look right. It looks like I just popped up five of Alison’s paintings. But that wasn’t really the case. Thinking through this wall (not just the sofa part but all three sections) and putting things up was the longest part of the makeover, I probably spent over two hours on the long wall and planning/hanging the art.

I couldn’t believe the artwork that Alison had when I first came to her house. That’s when I knew this project was going to be super fantastic.

ali, lysa, myqphoto: Alison

She has some art from the talented Lulie Wallace and Alison painted some canvases of her own in the same style (which is fine to do and use in your own house, I just wouldn’t go opening an esty shop where you copy an artist’s style and neither would Alison, but that’s an entirely different post).

In some ways this wall was easy for me since I don’t live here I didn’t have to deal with my own personal thoughts about each individual piece, I just looked at color, size and composition and could place everything accordingly, which made is so much easier. But I still wanted Alison to be happy so we chatted about it a lot as I was putting things up.

I settled on a random gallery wall over the sofa where I hung the largest piece first and, off-center, then worked out from there.


Here’s what we found while thrifting at four different places.

I knew going in that Alison needed a higher table to the right of her sofa and I was hoping to find a lamp that doubled as color and art. We went in with an open mind, not looking for a specific color or style, but in both cases, SIZE was what we needed.

The table ended up on the right side of the sofa with the lamp on top and the needlework hanging over, we spray painted the chair blue and sadly it’s kind of hidden but it’s on the left side of the sofa in front of the desk–you can see it more in the video. Random chairs like this are a great investment, she can always move it one day to the porch, guest room or as an extra chair at the table.

what we bought

The side table was $50ish, the chair $20ish, the lamp $6ish and the artwork $3ish. We also purchased pillows or pillow covers. The big orange pillow on the sofa is a body pillow ($10) & pillow cover ($10)  from Target! The yellow pillow on the chair is a pillow sham ($15 from the bedding section) from Target with a regular bed pillow in it. If money is tight go for big colorful pillows that you can easily use in a bedroom later. The black and white pillow is from Ikea –Alison already had it but it was still in the package!

We also purchased two pair of Ikea drapes, one sheer, one dark and used them both together on one window. ($30 + $15ish)

alison room

Stumps from my house. The white-topped one was just painted with extra paint from the fireplace and allowed to drip down the sides by loading up paint on the edges– I LOVE the stumps! You can see the thrifted lamp on the table, we didn’t like the scale of the shade and Alison had an extra one so we just switched it out.

Her husband had beautiful deer mounts sitting on the floor (they recently moved in) and they weren’t sure how or where or if to use them. So we made sure to find a place for one in the family room and I think he helps balance out all the girlie floral paintings.

fireplace before

Typical fireplace before. The metal screen popped out in about 45 seconds. I just stuck my head inside and at the top back of the metal doors there was one simple clip on each side that I unscrewed by hand. We couldn’t believe how easy it was. If you are looking at metal doors like that right now, you could probably get up and remove them and come back to this post before your screen saver even pops up. Here’s a video that happens to show how it’s done (fast forward to 1:27).

Here’s more info about why these metal doors are even there in the first place. I’ve removed them in past homes we’ve had and it’s always been worth having a pretty fireplace to me. If these were so essential, then every house would have glass doors. Clearly, many, many fireplaces work fine without them.


And after.

We raised the curtain rod, added dark drapes that say “hello, there’s a window here” with white on the inside. Simplified the bookshelves, brought in a ton of free greenery from the back yard.

And of course, we painted the fireplace.

Because Alison’s firebox was so deep and the brick won’t get burning hot, we just painted it with two coats of leftover paint from the trim in her house and it looks fantastic. Here’s a post about painting my own brick fireplace if you need more motivation.


A fun stump table made in the same way we made this one with paint and tacks. I found the stumps free on the side of the road years ago, we paid 79 cents for paint and $1.29 for upholstery tacks. DONE. A table for less than $2! WHAT?!

fireplace before

fireplace after

I grabbed some wood from our fireplace stack at my house and brought it over so Alison’s firebox wouldn’t look so empty. Notice the gold dots on one of the dark pieces? I just used my finger to make dots with some gold craft paint that was less than a dollar. It’s fun to do a few quirky little surprises in the fireplace, especially in the summer months.

We needed some color for above the fireplace so Alison quickly brushed some pink, red and orange paint onto a scrap of paper and we popped it in an extra Ikea frame she had. Everything else on the mantle was found shopping the house.

Here’s a little 15 second video from Lysa’s instagram that shows a few more shots of the room….

I hope this little makeover was encouraging to you. It actually was really encouraging to me. After living in a fixer-upper for 9 months and with everything moving so slow, it was fun to see a big change in a matter of hours all with easy updates. It reminded me that I can do quick, easy fast changes and feel totally different about a space.