Asian Equation

What do you get when you take an stark apartment in Brooklyn, divide it with a good mix of mid-century furniture, plus a homeowner who wanted to increase functionality while factoring in a slight Asian influence on a fraction of a budget, with a common denominator of designer Lindsay Pennington?

Probably something exactly like this:

brooklyn apartment makeover

brooklyn apartment makeover after

Lindsay’s client already had a great collection of mid-century furniture pieces which helped the budget stretch. Mid-century styles are often so streamlined and simple that they can end up looking stark on their own. Lindsay really warmed up the room with art, accessories, and accent lighting. It’s so much more vibrant! You practically see the change in the energy of the room.

Imagine walking into the before room as if it were your own home.

Now imagine walking into the after. Are you spinning in gleeful circles, head thrown back and arms outstretched? ME TOO!

I also love the art arrangement above the sofa. That can be such a tricky space to decorate. I never would have considered using three large pieces of art, but it really adds interest (and the requisite Asian flair) without being too much or too little. Perfect.


Lindsey also rearranged the artwork in the bedroom. Before, the paintings above the nightstand were so low, they didn’t do much besides weigh the room down. Most mid-century furniture has such a low profile anyway; you can see that everything in here was just a few feet off the floor.

brooklyn apartment bedroom copy


brooklyn bedroom makeover after

The new artwork above the bed immediately raises the whole room, especially with that charcoal-colored wall grounding it. Floor to ceiling curtains are magically magic at softening everything, and I love that Lindsay also used the client’s original bedspread in the final look.

Adding drama, subtracting starkness, maximizing a budget …

It’s a formula for success!

See much more from Lindsay and this project on her site Lindsay Pennington Inc.

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If you’re headed to Ikea or Target in the near future, please, I urge you … be extra cautious. It’s dorm room season.

I don’t want you to get trampled to death by some emotional parent, cart careening down the aisles, anxiously searching for the last bed-in-a-bag.

Just keep a safe distance. Watch from afar as they wildly latch on to those large rubber storage containers that everybody hates. The kind with the ‘drawers.’

Consider mentioning that they could probably find a used dresser for next to nothing and make it over themselves, which would result in saved money, more storage, and a sturdier item for their student.

Here’s one now, from Meg at Green with Decor.



Black Dresser

Fantastic, right? I would have much preferred this to the dresser I used in college, which if I remember correctly, was legit made from cardboard.


But perhaps now is not the best time for nearly-empty-nesters to consider such projects. Maybe in a little while, when the shock has worn off, and the sadness and now-what-ness has set in, they might enjoy a little makeover projects for themselves.


Family Dresser Before


Family Dresser

Awww, how perfect is this one from Better After reader Pam? It looks like a difficult stencil job, but it’s actually a sheet of peel-and-stick lettering! Fresh paint and chunky pewter knobs, and it’s all set for its next phase in life too.

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Of Tables and True Friends

Hey party people, how’s your Tuesday?

“It’s fine,” you are thinking. “But you’ve got me all wrong, Lindsey. I’m no party person. I haven’t had a party in years. I’m too ashamed of my worn out dining table to ever dream of inviting guests over.”

Oh no. Stop talking nonsense. I will let you have none of that. First of all, true friends won’t care if your table is a bit run down.

(I know that doesn’t help much. That’s like when I say I hate my freckles and my friends are like, ‘but I LOVE your freckles,’ and I’m like, well cool beans for you. So glad you get to be the happy one in this situation).

So here’s another idea. You can totally restore your whole dining set. Better After reader Jessica did, and it only took her six months and lots of shed tears and a paintbrush burning party when she was done!

See, either way you get to have a party.


Dining Room Table Before


Dining Room Table

It’s true that fabulous results take time and patience. Jessica worked on this makeover whenever she could and eventually transformed that weathered and worn dining set into the stunning version it is today.

But listen. It also doesn’t have to take six months. True friends will come over and help you paint. Unless your true friends are not so great at painting, in that case you might be better off on your own. Maybe they can just bring the dessert to your dining set showing-off party instead.

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Pretty Patio Party

Summer is winding down, but there is still plenty of time to get out there and enjoy the outdoors before colder temperatures take over. Unless you live where I live, which is on the surface of the sun. Commonly known as ‘Phoenix.’ Colder temperatures will never take over, I’m in literal hell, someone help.

But if you live somewhere where your flesh doesn’t melt off your bones when you walk outside, here are a few outdoor projects you can try. One for each level of DIY-er!


DIY Level 1: Paint a faded patio umbrella.

Patio Umbrella Before

Patio Umbrella

Ashley was inspired by a similar umbrella design from Urban Outfitters that cost nearly $300.  Ashley’s version … $20! After several coats of paint (using several different techniques – turns out painting an umbrella is more time consuming than you might think) Ashley stenciled on the design and added pom-pom trim.  Pom-pom trim improves everything, this is a well known fact.  I’m thinking of decorating the terrorist toddler with some.

See more from Ashley at Bigger Than the Three of Us.


DIY Level 2: transform a patio set.

Blue and White Patio Set Before


Blue and White Patio Set 1

Emily from Our House Now A Home had an old patio table that was not her favorite. She has a much more colorful style, plus the tiles on the top kept breaking. She had dreams for a rustic hand-built table, but didn’t have the time to build one from scratch. Instead, she used the old table as a base and built a rustic tabletop to lay right on top. A coat of cobalt paint and a bright new umbrella completes the look.

Emily says it’s one of those things she’s kicking herself for not doing sooner. We all have something like that in our lives. I bet you could name one right now. Let me go all Tony Robbins on you and serve up some motivation: Whatever that thing is, DO IT TODAY! Paint that trim you’ve been putting off. Repair that hole in the wall. You’ll thank yourself. Then you’ll come back and thank me. And then we’ll thank Tony Robbins together.


DIY Level 3: built an outdoor sectional with pallets.

Outdoor Pallet Sectional Before


Outdoor Pallet Sectional

When Jill decided she wanted more outdoor seating, she was serious. She created this pallet sectional for her back patio that seats 15! I don’t even like that many people. Kidding, kidding, I do.

Almost everything here, including the pillows, cushion covers, and rug is homemade, hand painted, hand sewed, and/or dyed at home, all for less than $250. I mean … you could almost buy an umbrella at Urban Outfitters for that … or you could build an entire suite of furniture for your patio. It’s up to you.

See her budget breakdown and lots more pictures right here.


Happy weekend friend!

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