Recently on Instagram: Peeping Clarkus

Tuesday post! Hooray!

Here are my favorites from the week:

Doofus #clarkuscat

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Came into the living room to see Clarkus watching Netflix like this. Definitely a LOL moment.

#clarkuscat says: "pay attention to me!"

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Clarkus is very interested in why my schoolwork gets more attention than he does.

So many snows on my balcony!

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We got some snow this weekend!

And a bonus because snuggly Clarkuscat is the cutest Clarkuscat:

Friday! #clarkuscat

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Have a great week, everybody! I’ll see you all on Friday for some photography adventures!

Pillow Talk: Bedroom Plans (Again)

I know what you’re thinking. More bedroom things? But, you guys, this room is just driving me nuts. I can’t seem to get it the way I want.

What I did finally realize over the weekend was that one of the major issues in my bedroom is the (almost) complete lack of any wood tones. I have white furniture and black furniture, but with the exception of one jewelry box, none of my bedroom pieces are natural wood. I’m thinking this is playing a huge role in the room feeling a bit bland and sterile.

So today, in lieu of pictures of an actual update (still waiting on a few things to come via mail for my next project – dang, small town living), I have a few ideas and some links.

I really want to spruce up my dresser. I bought mine at Target about two years ago. It seems that the exact model I have is no longer available, but it’s pretty similar to this one. Mine just isn’t curved at all.Target DresserI’m thinking I want to follow a tutorial similar to this one and attach a wooden top to it. I think this will really warm up all that stark white while still maintaining the airiness that white furniture affords. I’m also considering giving it a little pizzazz with some paint (maybe gold dipped, color blocking or colorful knobs), but I don’t want to overburden one piece with too many ideas.

The next big idea I had for adding some wood tones to my room is back on my headboard wall. I currently have 6 white canvases hanging in a grid above the bed waiting for something to jazz them up.Bedroom Canvases

Don’t mind the messy bed. I was switching out my sheets and standing on the bed to hang the canvases. Now, I know they are definitely too high as pictured here, and I’ve since lowered them a bit, but even after that I still just wasn’t feeling them 100%. I decided to let them sit for a while while I mulled it over.

After a few days, I thought how fun it would be to mount them to a large (thin) piece of wood to really allow them to pop from the pattern on the wall. This way my headboard (and bed) will have more presence on that wall and really act as a wonderful focal point. I’m also considering relocating that bookcase. It seems oddly short and squatty and bizarre next to my bed ever since I installed the headboard, so with that out of the way, the bed really would be a massive focal point for this wall.

The image I have in my head is something like this (from Vintage Revivals), but I wouldn’t create a whole panel, just a rectangle behind the canvases – kind of like a photo mat without a frame.

So those are my big bedroom plans (again). One of these days I will have the bedroom of my dreams. Until then, I’m happy to keep working at it one little bit at a time. Anybody else have a specific room in your home that just won’t cooperate?

Recently on Instgram: Grumpy Clarkus and Sneak Peaks

Another week, another Wednesday post. One day I’ll get the hang of this time management thing. I promise.

Here are my favs:

#clarkuscat matches the decor.

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Clarkus is so over late nights and early mornings.

Pretty colors.

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Threads on threads on threads.

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I’ve been hinting at a very exciting development over here at CLARKUScat for the past few weeks, and I promise one of these days I will actually reveal that exciting news! Sadly, today is not that day. But, sooooooon!

5 Things I’ve Learned About Styling Bookshelves

Those of you who have been hanging around here for a while know that I’m a graduate student. You might wonder what this has to do with home decor. Well, I’m here to tell you that it has a whole lot to do with design in my case. See, I study literature which involves books. Lots and lots and lots of books. Over the years I’ve generally hoarded collected my books by placing them willy-nilly on the bookshelves that are in every room of my apartment, but lately I started realizing that my random placing of books on shelves was really affecting the experience of my rooms. They were messy and chaotic and in need of being tamed.

Since I don’t really have the option to clean out my book hoard (no matter what my father believes, I really do use 90% of the books I own on a regular basis), I needed to devise a way to make them work aesthetically in my spaces.

5 Things I've Learned About Styling Bookcases | clarkuscat.wordpress.com1. Color – I can’t emphasize this one enough, and I’m shocked that it took me so long to realize it myself, but one of the main reasons that my shelves seemed so busy and chaotic had to do with the fact that there were colors everywhere (and not a discernible pattern in sight!). So, the first thing I did was stack all of my books in piles according the most prominent color on the book’s spine. Then, I started filling shelves by grouping books by color. Almost instantly, my shelves felt more purposeful, less terrifyingly overwhelming, and simply more pleasing to the eye. There wasn’t so much going on anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever organize my books in any other way from now on!5 Things I've Learned About Styling Bookcases | clarkuscat.wordpress.com2. Plants – This year I’ve made it my goal to include more plants in my apartment decor. Having some life in a room really wakes it up, I’ve found. It feels fresher. Now, I did cheat a bit on this goal with my bookshelves because the plants I’ve used are actually fake (from Ikea), but from a distance, they really do appear to be real, living, growing (ok, maybe not growing) plants. The effect is largely the same, and the hassle is removed. (For those of you wondering what “the hassle” is: Clarkuscat is a notorious houseplant destroyer. He has eaten, spilled, and generally defiled too many poor plants for me to feel good about having anything alive in a place that might tempt him. And, yes, he will scale a bookshelf if he thinks he’ll get a nibble of something green at the top. Crazy. Cat.) Additionally, if you’re worried about water and dirt being near your precious books, fake plants are a great way to add a bit of greenery without the fear!

5 Things I've Learned About Styling Bookcases | clarkuscat.wordpress.com3. Pictures – When my grandfather passed away recently, I realized that I had zero photos of him (or my grandmother) in my apartment. I was overwhelmingly sad to discover this, and one of the ways that I tried to make helping my mom sort through all of his belongings over the holidays was to scout out some of his favorite photographs to display around my home. I came back after the holidays with several new treasures, and I felt like there was no better place than the bookshelves in my living room to include a few of my favorites. The pictures help to break up the monotony of book after book after book, and they make me smile when I think of my grandmother hanging out surrounded by the famous Russian novelists. :)

4. Space – This lesson should have perhaps come earlier in this list because it’s almost self-explanatory by now. I used to cram every single one of my shelves with books from right to left, but doing so left me with sagging shelves and no way to make the arrangement aesthetically pleasing. Now, don’t get me wrong, Pinterest is full of home libraries with wall-to-wall books, and they are often gorgeous, but in my small apartment, it was just too much. This idea is closely related to my first point about color: the books need a little room to breathe – room that can then be filled with things like plants and pictures to breathe some life and variety into a shelving unit. I’d always wanted to max-out the capacity of every bookshelf I owned – mostly because I have so freaking many books – but jamming them all together in one crammed space didn’t let me enjoy them or allow them to become a part of a cohesive design. I’ve found that I enjoy browsing my collection even more now that all the books have a little space to breathe, and the shelves feel more like a curated design element rather than an inadequate storage system.

5 Things I've Learned About Styling Bookcases | clarkuscat.wordpress.com5. Balance – Lastly, and I learned this one the hard way, balance is key when you’re working with multiple shelves (and especially when you have a set up like mine with the same arrangement on both sides). You want to avoid putting all the dark-colored books on the same side, for instance, but you also want to think about the effects of negative space and the arrangement of the other things (like plants and pictures!) that might find homes on these shelves. Layering in some embellishments can help to build height or vary texture on your shelves. In the photo above, you can see where I’ve placed a photo holder on top of a short pile of books (on the middle shelf) and have layered a photo of my grandmother as well as a NYPL lion statue next to one of my Ikea plants (on shelf 2). I’ve also been sure to include a plant on each side of the shelving unit to keep the balance not only vertically, but also horizontally. Unless you are a styling genius (if so, teach me your ways!), this step is probably going to take some trial and error. It certainly did for me, so don’t worry about moving things around and trying new combinations until you’re happy with the overall look and feel of the unit as a whole.

I hope my lessons learned the hard way can help save you a bit of aggravation in the future when it comes to styling your own collection of books! Do you have any other tips you’d add to this list?

Recently on Instagram: Cats and Snow and Cats and Snow

A day late and a dollar short again! Well, I’m always a dollar (or several) short, but late! Ah! I’m usually never late to anything, even places you are supposed to be late to… but I digress… Here’s my top three from the week on Instagram.

#clarkuscat got some fuzz on his nose and froze! 😂

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This is most assuredly not the best photo by any photography standards, but it makes me laugh so much every time. He got that little piece of fuzz on his nose and immediately froze, cross-eyed until I flicked it off of him. I have a ridiculous animal.

Snowy pebbles.

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These pretty stone pebbles by the bus stop just needed to be documented.

Dat #clarkuscat face.

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Obligatory photo of the one, the only: the adorable, snuggling Clarkuscat.

Project Life Freebie: February 2015 Valentine’s Day

Phew, what a week. Thank goodness it’s over. I’ve never been more ready for a weekend (even though this weekend is likely going to be as crazy busy as the week!).

I’m a day late in posting these, but it actually works out okay because I have some Valentine’s Day Freebies for you! Enjoy!

Click the link below the picture to download.

February 2015 Valentine's Day Freebies | clarkuscat.wordpress.comDownload Here!

These aren’t traditional Valentine’s Day colors, but I always need a break from all the red and pink that is everywhere this time of year.

You can see all of my other freebie content by clicking the “Freebies” link in the header!

Recently on Instagram: Snows and Hoops

Phew, what a day. I was so busy I almost forgot it’s Tuesday! It was another crazy week – oh, grad school – but here are a few of my favorite moments.

Pretty pretty snows at the morning bus stop.

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The view from the bus stop this week was absolutely magical. I felt like I was living in a snow globe.

Before the melt.

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This little pouf of snow looked so cheerful. Sadly, it melted completely the day after I captured this picture.

Exciting things happening at the home of the ClarkusCat.

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I’ve been working on some special new projects, and I can’t wait to share!

Have a wonderful week, friends!

[UPDATE: WordPress just informed me that this is my 50th post! Party time! Thanks for sticking with me. You guys rock!]

First Friday Faves: Geometric Himmeli

I realize I might be several months to two years late to board this party train, but I am in love with geometric himmeli designs lately! I cannot get enough. By the way, have you ever typed that phrase “geometric himmeli” into the Pinterest search bar and just watched the gorgeousness unfold? Heaven, I tell you. Heaven. Go try it now! Go! (but then come back!)

Ok, welcome back.

Now, I want to start this post by explaining that this feature will be a little different from now on. As more and more conversations about copyright and image use pop up, I’m planning to be more careful and purposeful with the images I use around these here parts. That means, I’ll be providing links to some of my favorite products, blog posts, and Internet shenanigans, but I won’t be posting pictures unless they are my own or I can obtain written permission to use them. A little less eye candy, but a lot more intertextual linky love!

Ok, back to the fun.FFF Geometric Himmeli |

This little himmeli lampshade from Doodlecraft is the sweetest. I’ve been wanting to update a few of my lamps lately, and this might just have to happen in my apartment. I love the combination of materials with the wooden block and the copper-look straws!

Lamps not your thing? How about this geometric bison (scroll all the way to the bottom) from Vintage Revivals? I can just imagine this blown up huge with a projector and painted on a wall. Think white lines on a dark charcoal wall. How amazing would that be? (hint: the answer is “very”!)

Looking for something a little less bold? The Etsy shop Me + She by Megin Sherry has some awesome himmelis to buy! I love the combination of the sculptures with air plants and succulents. So sweet.

Lastly, I’ve loved Urban Outfitters selection of lighting for a while now, but this himmeli-inspired pendant has really sealed the deal. Amazing. And this one. So good, right?

Hopefully, this will inspire you to bring a little geometry into your life. Guess my old math teachers were right, ha! I have plans to experiment with some straws and string this weekend! Have a great one!

Instamoments: Snow

This week it seems like my Instagram feed is all about the snow – perhaps because we are currently covered in so much of it – but I love the way so many of my recent photos are full of white, white, white. It’s helped me think about contrast and composition in more creative ways!

Here are my faves:

New sheets for my bed came today!

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Just a river in the winter.

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Dirty snows.

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Have a great rest of the week, my friends! Be sure to check back in on Friday for your regularly scheduled programming!

Hallway Paint: DIY Graphic Pattern with Sharpie Pen

I’m in love with my new hallway wall! Unfortunately, it’s only one wall right now instead of two. Sad day. Read on to hear the whole, terrible story.

DIY Graphic Patterned Walls | clarkuscat.wordpress.comTo accomplish this pizzazz in my hallway, I followed the same basic plan that I used in my bedroom (adapted from Vintage Revivals). The only change I made this time was to create a stencil. Since the pattern was just repeating triangles and because I wanted all of the triangles to be exact matches of each other, I made a stencil from some extra black poster board I had lying around. To make the stencil, just measure an equilateral triangle in the size you want (mine is 12″) onto your poster board using a ruler, trace with a pencil, and cut out. Easy peasy. (I forgot to snap photos of this step while I was working, but you can see my stencil in action in the gif below.)

Once my stencil was ready to go, I opened my Photoshop plan on my computer, sat it on the kitchen counter behind me, and went to town counting and tracing the number of triangles I needed in each row based on my plan. I did use a pencil to lightly trace my design first like I did last time. I find that double checking everything with the level is much easier when you’re tracing with a pencil rather than with the actual paint, so I swear by this step, but it isn’t actually necessary.

DIY Graphic Patterned Walls | clarkuscat.wordpress.comThere I am going to town in my snowflake pants. This part of the project took me about one and a half episodes of Gossip Girl on Netflix. It’s really quite easy, but I will tell you: if you are as out of shape as I am, your arms will be killing you by the end. Also, don’t mind that giant, embarrassing pile of junk on my kitchen counter. I was in the process of sorting recyclables before I realized it was way too cold for me to walk all the way to the recycling bin and switched to painting. Oh, winter.

After I finished with my stencil, I had a wall that looked something like this:DIY Graphic Patterned Walls | clarkuscat.wordpress.comYou can just barely see the faint pencil lines. Again, I really like including this tracing step because it’s easier for me to make sure everything is level, but it also gives me a chance to step back and ensure I love the placement of the design before committing it to paint.

Then, grab a clear ruler. I use a clear plastic fabric ruler like this when I’m working on these projects. I think I actually got mine at Walmart a while ago for a little bit less than that price on Amazon, but you can find them at most craft stores as well. It’s a great, long straight edge, and the clear plastic allows me to keep an eye on all of my guide lines while I work.

Once you’re completely happy with your guide lines, it’s time for the paint. I used a Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Pen in Metallic Gold this time around. I bought this pack from Amazon back when I did my bedroom walls since it included gold, silver, white, and black markers, and I was still deciding which color to use in my bedroom. You can also find single markers if you don’t want to commit to a whole variety pack like I did.

The one thing I did not plan for when working on this project and the reason I only have one wall complete rather than two was the quality of the paint on my hallway walls. This one crucial element made all the difference!DIY Graphic Patterned Walls | clarkuscat.wordpress.comWhen I moved in to my apartment, I repainted one wall in the living room, 2 in the dining room, and all the bedroom walls. Luckily, the first time I ventured into drawing on my walls with a Sharpie, I choose the bedroom which was covered in nice, new, high-quality paint. My hallway walls: not so much. They were covered in flat finish, chalky white rental paint, and my Sharpie pen was not a fan. In fact, after the first 3 lines, it flat out refused to draw on the wall anymore, and I was about ready to give up on the whole project. I tried everything I could think of to coax it into working: shaking it like crazy (and spraying paint all over myself before realizing I should probably cap the marker before shaking the life out of it – don’t make paint decisions while angry, my friends. It will end poorly.), twisting and rotating the pen while drawing, pressing the tip on a paper towel before moving to the wall. Nothing.

So I gave up at about the point you see in the photo above and started Googling other methods to achieve my desired golden pizzazz. In fact, I almost bought a pot of liquid leaf but decided to sleep on it before jumping into a whole new method.

In the morning, a miracle happened. My Sharpie pen worked. I have no idea why, but I woke up and decided to give it one more shot before running out to Ace to buy some gold leaf paint. I’m so happy I did because whatever was ticking off my paint pen the night before was entirely resolved, and gold paint started flowing freely! I finished my wall up in about 35 minutes and called it a successful day. In the end, I’m not entirely sure if I just had a dud of a paint pen, if the poor quality of the paint on my walls was the main culprit, if the metallic pens are just more temperamental than the regular pens, or if some bizarre combination of elements caused my issues the night before. But, boy am I glad it finally worked itself out because I love the new wall!DIY Graphic Patterned Walls | clarkuscat.wordpress.comDIY Graphic Patterned Walls | clarkuscat.wordpress.comDIY Graphic Patterned Walls | clarkuscat.wordpress.comDIY Graphic Patterned Walls | clarkuscat.wordpress.comThe shine is just right, not too overpowering, but just enough to catch a bit of sparkle from the overhead light. Plus, the gold helps tie my ugly beige closet doors and my mail catcher together creating a more cohesive color palette in the space.

So, lessons learned from Sharpie Paint Pen Adventure 2:

1. consider the paint on your wall before staring – If you have a flat finish, this might not be the best project, or you may want to consider running a new coat of semi-gloss or gloss paint over the area before you start.

2. remember all that glitters isn’t gold – In other words, if you’re planning to work with a metallic paint pen, you will probably need to stop to shake your marker at least every two lines to keep the paint flowing.

3. don’t lose hope – Even if it seems like your paint pen came to your hands straight from the pit of Tartarus to ruin all of your accent wall dreams, it might just need a moment to adjust. Try taking a break – I suggest Netflix – and then come back to the project later. Who knows, it might work for you like it did for me!

4. prepare to be amazed – Even if you end up like me cursing the day you ever decided to add a little glitz and glam to your walls, try to remember that the end result is so totally worth it!

Good luck! Let me know if you try it or if you have any paint pen horror stories of your own to share!