Affordable DIY Ways to Decorate Your Space

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring three fabulous bloggers who have graciously agreed to contribute to our dear blog, Live. Love. Roost. While these upcoming topics stray from what’s near and dear to our heart, Madison real estate, they are all in line with our deep love for great design ideas and all things homey. Please enjoy this week’s featured blogger, Jane Blanchard, from the fabulous Austin, Texas blog ModernizeWe think this post will especially appeal to those venturing to decorate their new accessory dwelling unit or Airbnb space. Whether you just bought a home or are looking to furnish your newly constructed accessory dwelling unit, you could be flat broke when it comes time to decorate. Luckily, we have some ideas for you that make use of basic items to decorate your space DIY style.

Make that Firewood Useful

Some properties are chock-full of firewood just decorating the backyard. Bring some choice pieces inside to use as decorative accents. Cut small branches lengthwise to hang on the wall. Add fasteners for a makeshift coat rack or even connect four branches into a framed piece of art.

Create an Office...Out of the Closet

If you lack the space for a completely separate office or the supplies to fill it, try filling a closet with shelves and a desk, allowing a compact chair to slide right underneath. You can remove or keep the closet doors as needed. Hiding the space may be preferable in a studio apartment, for instance.

Tree trunk table top with black hairpin legs.

Sand and Finish an Old Wood Table

If you salivate every time you pass by a designer wood table, you are a traditionalist at heart. From the 1950s to 1970s, everyone wanted that smooth wood table. Step it up for the 21st century and make your own wood design. Search for large pieces of wood sold at thrift shops and other outlets. Sand it down, add legs and place it where you like!

Brighten up that Firebox

Fireplaces can look lonely for most of the year, so fill yours up with candles. Use different candles with various heights and sizes to fill the space. Turn them on throughout the year to lend a gorgeous glow to the room without the added heat.

Make old items brand new again with some creative ideas. Your decorative prowess may persuade people into thinking the items are chic designer products. Keep your decorative secret to yourself to impress everyone with a shoestring budget.

Need more home design inspiration? Check out!

Listing a home? Net more with Roost Realty! We’ll market your home with style, vision and boundless energy. Looking to buy? Let us be your property matchmakers! We’ll get you in the community, lifestyle and home of your dreams – because we know a home is so much more than a house.

Where and How to Buy Good Vintage Pieces

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring three fabulous bloggers who have graciously agreed to contribute to our dear blog, Live. Love. Roost. While these upcoming topics stray from what’s near and dear to our heart, Madison real estate, they are all in line with our deep love for great design ideas and all things homey. Please enjoy this week’s featured blogger, Madison’s own kick-butt furniture refinishing extraordinaire, Krizia Villanueva from Oak+Olive! Do you love thrifting? Do you love cruising Craigslist? Do you love going to antique stores and markets? I think most of us do, and how could you not? It's fun, it's energizing, and it spurs creativity to no end! But, how do you know where to go?  Will you find what you're actually looking for? Will it be the right piece for you? Don't go rushing to the nearest big box retailer because you might be frustrated! Of course there are items that you need at these larger establishments, but it's really wonderful to be able to mix and match your decor. It's interesting, it has a story, and it feels more welcome for both you and your guests. Blending new, vintage, and handmade is the perfect recipe for a cozy home, I promise.

I'm Krizia, the owner of Oak+Olive. I paint and refinish furniture. I find a piece of furniture that needs some love and turn it into a modern and sophisticated (sometimes whimsical) piece that you can add to your home. I like to use color, but I also want my pieces to have a warm and earthy feeling to them because I value a comfortable and stylish home. My other goal is to provide you with inspiration on style and decor as evidenced by the addition of House Tours on my blog. I show homes that are creative and stylish. Homes that blend those three important pieces: new, vintage, and handmade.

Today, I wanted to share with you some tips on where to find good vintage furniture and decor as well as some thought processes on how you can determine that the item(s) will be the right purchase for you.

The first thing to consider is where to shop:

People walking in outdoor market.

Well… Shop local, of course! See what kind of cool vintage shops and antique stores are around you. I promise there are many. Sometimes I think these stores are a little harder to find with basic searches - like “vintage shops (+your city),” “thrift shops,” “antique stores/malls,” etc. - but it is possible to find them this way with a little effort.

A REALLY great resource to find shops in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin is the Vintage Shop Hop. I don't know a lot about who's behind this magnificent idea, but it's an excellent way to plan a weekend, hit the road with your friends and stop at all of the participating stores in the area. This year's annual Shop Hop just happened; however, they leave the names of 200+ participating shops on their website for you to check out. You can easily plan your own road trip anytime to visit these unique places. They make it so easy to figure out your route with their handy map of shop locations too.

Vintage furniture outside of vendor tents.

Also, if you’re into sourcing even more vintage, the folks behind the Vintage Shop Hop have put together a photo album of places all throughout the midwest. Click on “Photos,” then “Albums,” then “Road Trips” on Nellie’s Barn Sale Facebook page for all sorts of flyers for  flea markets, pop up shops, and barn sales in the Midwest.

Etsy is another great way to shop local believe it or not! I think so many people think Etsy is this unmanageable sea of stuff (which it can be), but if you know what you are looking for or have an idea, then this is an excellent resource for vintage and handmade. On their homepage you can choose “Shop Local,” type in the city you're looking to shop and also what you are looking for. For instance, you could type in "vintage" or "furniture" or you can be more specific and type in "ceramics" or "jewelry.” I think the great thing about this is that you can find small businesses who are really passionate about what they do but don't have a brick and mortar shops. You can write the shop owners directly, ask questions, meet them and pick up your order without the hassle of paying for shipping.

Along with local shops, go to vintage and handmade markets to find great pieces. You can search the internet easily for flea markets, pop up shops, indie craft fairs, or urban outdoor vintage markets in your area. Many times, you'll find out about local shops because they are the vendors at these markets along with other regional shops who travel to be in the shows.

How to shop:

Now that you know where to shop, it's time to think about how you are going to choose the right item to add to your collection. Decor purchases are generally easier, but be careful about going overboard with those smalls! It's easy to buy small $5-$20 purchases just to get home and wonder where the heck you’re going to put it all and does it actually match your style/decor?! Try not to let it get out of control because if you're like me, it'll just make you feel uncomfortable and your space will be cluttered.

Buying Furniture:

When buying larger items like furniture, that's always a little harder. Prices tend to be a little higher than you were hoping, yet you know you really want something fun and unique to add to your house. Here are some things to consider when you're choosing a piece of furniture for your collection.

Consider the structure/assess damage:

Mid Century Modern dresser.

Is the piece of furniture well built? Is it solid wood? Are there broken pieces like missing veneer, cracks, and/or water damage? Sometimes these aren’t always reasons to say no to the piece and it’s important to ask yourself if it’s fixable. A lot of times broken or missing pieces of wood can be fixed with wood filler if you are going to paint it. If you aren’t going to paint it, occasionally that missing piece is not that big of a deal.

For example, to the left is a Mid Century Modern dresser that I refinished earlier this year. You can see where there’s a small chunk of wood that’s missing on the bottom right of the third drawer. To me, that was no big deal and I thought it added to the uniqueness of it. Plus it’s old! Letting some character show is OK in my book.


What’s the style you’re going for? Is your home mostly modern, cottage chic, industrial, bohemian? Many times these different styles can work together, but sometimes they don’t. I’ve always loved a more modern look with some industrial and bohemian thrown in. But, occasionally I’m drawn towards a vintage farmhouse look. I found that when I bought furniture and decor with a farmhouse look and tried to mix it in, it just didn’t quite fit. There have been a lot of  times where I’ve spent money on things that just don’t go, leaving me with more clutter than I know what to do with. (Good thing for Craigslist!) So, I think it’s always a good idea to keep in mind the overall look you are trying to achieve before buying a piece of furniture.


What are you going to use the furniture for? Dressers, for example, have become very versatile with people thinking of other ways to use them. Changing tables in nurseries, credenzas in the dining room or living room, or entryway storage are the most popular. It’s great that one piece of furniture can be so multifunctional.

Below are three pieces I worked on that speak to the power of versatile furniture. The first one is a MCM dresser that I painted for Sarah and Jeff of A LA CRATE Vintage Rentals to use as changing table in their little one’s nursery (image courtesy of Twig & Olive Photography; dresser painted by Oak+Olive). The second one is an antique buffet retrofitted as a bathroom vanity (image courtesy of Oak+Olive). The last one features a MCM dresser used for storage in a kitchen (image courtesy Beth Skogen Photography; dresser painted and refinished by Oak+Olive featured on this house tour).

[slider] [slide image_width="500" image_height="333" alt_text="Dresser changing table" auto_resize="true"][/slide]

[slide image_width="500" image_height="333" alt_text="Dresser vanity" auto_resize="true"][/slide]

[slide image_width="500" image_height="333" alt_text="Dresser kitchen storage" auto_resize="true"][/slide]

[/slider] So when you start planning your trips and getting out there, try to keep in mind function, style, and the structure of your vintage furniture (and decor)! There’s an incredible amount out there along with reclaimed and handmade, so why not fill your home with all of these gems? Spring and summer are the perfect times to plan your trips. Good luck and happy hunting!

Listing a home? Net more with Roost Realty! We'll market your home with style, vision and boundless energy. Looking to buy? Let us be your property matchmakers! We'll get you in the community, lifestyle and home of your dreams - because we know a home is so much more than a house.

Spruce Up! Designer Home Decorating Tips

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that a staged house will sell, on average, 17% higher than an empty or unstaged house? Did you know that an investment of 1-3% of the asking price results in an 8-10% return, according to the National Association of Realtors? Well you do now! So what can you do with this vital yet somewhat overwhelming piece of information? Check out our blog series where we discussed home staging tips and tricks with one of Madison’s most creative interior designers, Katie Rusch!

Part 1: Home Staging: Expert Q&A Part 2: Home Staging: Common Mistakes & Success Stories Part 3: Home Staging: 10 Commandments Part 4: Home Staging on a Budget

Declutter! You'll Be Glad You Did

A very cluttered room with boxes and furniture everywhereDecluttering is a topic we here at Roost think about often (see here, here and here). And it’s no wonder! Whether preparing to be a home seller or gearing up to simplify your space, eliminating extra stuff can be hard. When items feel too valuable to donate, not only is it time consuming to sell them (determining value, taking photos, marketing, etc.), but it can also be emotional. Recently, I decided to take the plunge and liquidate my collection of mid century modern goodies. The first to go was my most prized treasure, a beautiful pair of mid century sofas. It was kind of like losing a family member. That said, they’d been in my garage for months, so it was time to find them a new, loving home.

As listing agents, we take great pride in our work. This work includes (on top of many things) staging, which is just one of the ways we maximize client profit. This process of decluttering opened my eyes to what our clients may feel as we walk through their homes identifying possessions that must go (or get packed up) in order to make buyers swoon. You may ask: Is it really worth it? You bet. It’s just another reason why our listings sell 2% higher than the average listing.

Starting with the sofas was like ripping off a bandage; painful at first, but soon enough it was like it never happened. The end result felt great; less can be more! If you’re preparing to sell your home, here are a few simple ways to declutter, inspired by the folks at

  1. Make it manageable. Give away just one item each day, every day. This will create momentum without overwhelming you away from getting started.
  2. Turn it into a game. See how quickly you can find 10 items to toss, 10 items to donate and 10 items to put back where they should go. Enlist your family members to play!
  3. See your home in a new light. We develop a blindness to our everyday surroundings. Take photos and evaluate your space objectively or invite someone new over to get their two cents. Simply preparing for their visit may spark changes!

9 Mini Home Makeover Tips

Whether preparing your home for sale or the parade of holiday visitors, here is our list of 9 tips to make your home shine.

  1. Commit to the deep clean. It may not be spring, but a deep and thorough cleaning will make you see and feel a difference in your home! Tackle these often neglected areas or consider hiring a pro to do the dirty work. --Steam clean carpet --Wash windows, sills and trim --Wash walls --Wash baseboards and floors by hand --Take down overhead light shades and globes and wash them up in hot soapy water --Clean cabinetry, especially around the hardware --Do a cobweb sweep of ceilings throughout the house
  2. Eliminate the clutter. Donate or sell what you don’t absolutely need. You will appreciate what remains more and it may even free up some mental space too!
  3. Hide the necessities. Stash your to-do piles and everyday gadgets like phone chargers and keys in decorative containers. Making theA variety of wood boxes and containers displayed on a kitchen counter. functional more beautiful may not only brighten your mood but also help keep your life organized everyday of the year. (Pictured right: Wood boxes hide countertop clutter and cloth napkins.)
  4. Pare down the furniture while making the most of what you keep. Can a cedar chest also serve as seating in an entryway or under a window? Can you use a bookcase for storage and as a room divider?
  5. Touch up your walls, trim and baseboard if you still love the colors. Consider painting your ceilings if it’s been a while, it can make a giant impact! You could freshen up your white or get adventurous with the color.
  6. Repaint if you're ready for a whole new palette. Choose complementary paint colors for rooms that connect to improve the flow of your home and make spaces feel larger and more cohesive.
  7. Update your window covers, rods and/or brackets. Hang rods slightly higher than and farther out from the window trim to give the illusion of bigger windows. Floor length curtains also make ceilings feel taller.Two collages hanging on a wall above a bookcase.
  8. Update your lighting. I love Cree LED bulbs. They give the appearance of higher wattage. I recently put these bulbs in all of my ceiling fixtures and lamps. What a difference!
  9. Replace bland artwork with pieces that make you happy and help tell your story. Consider framing snapshots from your last vacay, favorite cards from friends or even your child's artwork. (Pictured left: Collages made from items collected on an extended cross-country road trip.)

Garage apartments, granny flats, and "tiny houses"

All about the cool phenomenon known as "Accessory Dwelling Units"

accessory dwelling unit in madison wi real estate

From converting a garage into a rental unit, to adding a second home on your lot for an aging parent -- "accessory dwelling units" are popping up across Madison!

In January 2013, changes to the City of Madison's zoning ordinance allowed residents to legally construct accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. Not only are ADUs helping some homeowners make better use of their existing space, they're also tapping into the increasingly popular "tiny house" movement.

According to the national experts at, ADUs are "a really simple and old idea: having a second, small dwelling right on the same grounds (or attached to) your regular single-family house, such as an apartment over the garage, a tiny house on a foundation in the backyard, or a basement apartment."

So -- you have a garage you'd like to convert, or addition you'd like to make. Where do you start? Well, any legally added ADU will need a permit. Here's a quick list of first steps from our friends at the City.

Ten steps for planning and permitting an ADU:

1. Brainstorm your project goals and scope 2. Talk to the Madison Zoning Department about the project to determine its feasibility 3. Rough-sketch your ideas -- get creative input from family and friends 4. Identify your architect and consider potential builders (unless you're going the DIY route) 5. Work with your architect to create and refine a schematic design 6. Talk with your neighbors -- community buy-in is important, especially when adding density to already-dense areas 7. Choose a builder 8. Develop permit-ready (or construction-ready) drawings 9. Apply for your permit -- permit issued! 10. Break ground

Want to learn more? Here you go!

Green Accessory Dwelling Unit Initiative - resources for Madison homeowners who want to build environmentally friendly ADUs

10 Steps to Permitting an ADU - a quick reference guide for Madisonians interested in building (and permitting!) their own ADU

Design Coalition - design support for Madison-area residents who want to design and build ADUs - a volunteer-run resource guide on how to design, build, and get approval for your ADU, complete with zoning ordinances by state

ADUs in Madison - a Facebook page where Madisonians can share advice and resources related to ADUs

Time to Build - sample ADU floorplans, plus words of wisdom when thinking about your own ADU

Madison Zoning Department - who to contact when you're ready to get started!

Related links:

The Hottest Home Amenity: In-Law Apartments, Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2014.