Home Products I’m Loving, January Edition

I’m going to try to be better about consolidating some of my favorite products into monthly-ish posts, partly because it’ll make it easier for you guys to shop them, but also because it’ll be a fun way to look back and remember what I liked most throughout the year. Here are a few of my current faves!

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I was browsing pillow covers on Amazon the other day and was super excited to find these ginger jar designs at a super affordable price! Honestly, Krista was the first person who came to mind upon discovering these. If you follow her, you’ll know she’s also ginger jar obsessed and does plenty of Amazon order unboxings, so these seemed right up her alley! I’m debating ordering a set but can’t decide which pattern I like best–I think it’s between this and this.

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I’m also a fan of Zara Home and had to scroll through their sale section the other day. The stool above is on sale for less than $40 and would look great with a number of different pieces of decor–I could see it paired with midcentury items or with white bamboo!

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 9.08.34 PMI’ve been looking for a fun portrait-y print for my bedroom and was having a hard time finding one before I decided to scoop up this one the other day. Speaking of which, the website sounded familiar to me (I actually found it when reading an Everygirl article) but I had never really checked it out…talk about an amazing selection of prints! I’ll definitely be adding it to my browsing rotation along with Society6 (which is always having sales–if you’re about to place an order and there isn’t a promo, just wait a couple of days and there will be!) and Minted, which are two of my longtime favorites.

What’s been on your wish list this month?

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My Favorite Thrift Stores in DC

forbetterdays4@gmail.com
forbetterdays4@gmail.com

I talk a lot about my thrifting adventures on Instagram stories, but I figured I’d go into a bit more detail on here about some of my favorite local places to find amazing pieces at great prices! In addition to Craigslist, which still remains a favorite, there are plenty of “real life” stores to browse if you find yourself wanting to make over your space or do a quick DIY.

First, of course, would be Goodwill. I think my first time going into a Goodwill was in college because there was one near campus, and it was always a good place to go for last minute theme party attire. I distinctly remember my friends and I trying on tons of random formal dresses before a friend’s Great Gatsby themed party freshman year, haha. I never paid much attention to what else was there–although I did pick up some gold picture frames one time and still have them in my current apartment! However, Goodwill can be a gold mine when it comes to furniture, especially in an area like DC where 1) there are tons of stylish people, and 2) there is a lot of turnover with people frequently moving in and out of apartments and parting with their stuff. I like Goodwill because the prices are super cheap, which is perfect for me because I have a hard time committing to furniture (if you haven’t noticed, I move things around and change things up all the time, so I don’t want to spend $$$$ on a piece only to rearrange a few months later). I also like finding items that are priced well and easy to fix with a little DIY–spray painting on my roof has become my new weekend activity, because it’s such a fast, inexpensive way to make over a piece that has great bones. There are several Goodwills in Northern Virginia and one in Northeast DC (I prefer the Arlington ones because the NE location is a bit of a hike), and I’ve had lots of luck at each, recently scoring a cool rattan chair, some fun side tables, and lots of blue and white pottery/ginger jars!

forbetterdays4@gmail.com
forbetterdays4@gmail.com

My favorite neighborhood place is Miss Pixie’s, which I also talk about a lot on Instagram. I easily pop in there once a week and also frequently check the new arrivals section of their website. Most of the time I don’t end up buying anything when I stop by, but it helps to browse often because their items get snatched up quickly. I bought my gold bar cart there (pictured above) and it had only come into the store a few hours earlier! While many of their items are priced in the West Elm/CB2 range, there are also some surprisingly affordable pieces (my bar cart was only $70, which is less than Target prices!). The pricing isn’t super consistent, in my opinion, so it helps to browse around in the store. You may be surprised to find a bar cart priced at $325 but then stumble upon a cute trinket for only $6. There was actually a bamboo side table that I was interested in but passed up when I saw that it was priced at $110 (not worth it for that style), but then last weekend I found the exact same style at Goodwill for $10, spray painted it, and am currently using it as a nightstand!

A new-to-me place that I need to visit more is Good Wood, which is located a few blocks up from Miss Pixie’s and also has a range of prices. I stopped in last weekend–it was only my second time–and bought a Turkish rug and a great piece of pottery for a steal. Etsy is great, but seeing an item like a rug in person is definitely helpful. They also had cane chairs for $38, some neat benches, and lots of candles and home goods. Note to self: keep stopping in here–but not too frequently. 😉

I’ve also talked about the Georgetown Flea before, although I’m not sure if it’s open year round–definitely go in the summer and fall if the weather is good, though! When I moved into my current apartment, I purchased some items there for great prices (one of which is my orange cane couch, pictured at the top of this post), but each vendor has a different range–for example, Turkish rugs there will easily go for $400-500 (yikes!). Whether you’re looking for a knick knack or a side table, it’s definitely worth browsing (and checking back often–it can be hit or miss, in my opinion). Also, don’t forget about garage sales/church rummage sales in the summer and fall–I’ve had a lot of luck with those since moving to DC, and prices are often very low!

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Another Georgetown fave is the Opportunity Shop on Wisconsin. Again, you won’t always leave with a find, but it’s worth browsing–I purchased the tortoiseshell candle holders pictured above for only $16 total! The hours are pretty limited, but it’s an easy place to pop into if you’re strolling around on the weekend.

I really enjoy thrifting because I love the thrill of the find–it’s way more fun to me to go shopping and not know what I’ll come across than to go to a store like West Elm and browse around. Plus, buying furniture secondhand is a great way to go green and is perfect for those of us who like trying out new trends but can’t always justify paying retail. Got any thrifting tips to share? I’d love to hear!

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How to Keep up with Blogging When You’re Busy

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This post is obviously geared more toward my fellow bloggers, but I think some of the steps below can be applied to any hobby or non-work task. This past week, I was super busy at my day job–there was one evening where I was handed a major, last-minute assignment around 5 pm and was in the office until 9:40 putting it together. Needless to say, I was exhausted and had zero energy to do anything blog-related–I ended up collapsing into bed the minute I got home around 10:00!

However, since I try to schedule my posts and other content ahead of time as much as possible (not including my Friday ones, which I do the day before to keep them current), it’s easy for me to “abandon” the blog during the week if I feel like it and not feel as though I’m super behind. Of course I realize that I could also take a break from blogging for a week or maybe even a month and probablyyyyy nobody would notice, but I genuinely enjoy keeping this little site going! I also find that when I’m busy with other facets of life, I like to still maintain some amount of order where I can! Lastly, I like to keep a consistent online presence rather than bombarding my followers with content on some days and going MIA other times.

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With that explanation out of the way, here are some tips I use to stay on top of the blog during busy weeks:

1) Take notes. If I’m on the go (waiting for a bus in the morning, between meetings, on my lunch break, and the like), I’ll oftentimes jot down ideas for future posts in the Notes section of my iPhone. This makes it easy to come back later and easily access the thoughts I had. I feel like there are times when I have absolutely zero idea what I should blog about, so it’s helpful to write down ideas as I think of them, even if I can’t delve into writing the posts for a few days. I definitely don’t use a formal system or keep an editorial calendar–too much work, in my opinion!

2) Write ahead. I’ve always been a big “work ahead” person–completing assignments under pressure–whether they’re work/school-related or even for fun–is not enjoyable for me! I also find that I get little jolts of energy where I’m inspired to tackle a certain task for an extended period. If I’m feeling especially inclined to blog during one of these bursts, I’ll try to crank out several posts at a time and schedule them for the coming week. While I’m spending the same amount of time writing as I would had I spread the process out over a few days, not having to sit down and work on a post every day is helpful. Some days there just isn’t time–or even if there is, maybe I’m burnt out from work, want to use my free time to hang out with people or watch a show, etc. I like having blog things ready to go for the week so that I can devote my time on whatever else comes my way.

3) Plan your social media. I’m super wishy-washy about the photos I want to post on Instagram, so this next technique doesn’t always work for me. However, if I know I want to post a certain photo to broadcast a specific post on the blog (I like to do this because I have more Instagram followers than blog readers, so it’s a great way to direct traffic to the site), I’ll draft a post within the Instagram app and save it so that I can easily post the photo the first thing in the morning. If you don’t know how to save an Instagram post as a draft, this quick tutorial explains how. This saves me the task of having to come up with a caption and edit the photo when I’m already busy getting myself out the door or am busy in the office. If only you could schedule Instagram posts to just go on their own…though this definitely makes things easier!

What do you do to keep your blog running when things get busy? I’d love to hear additional tips!

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Pretty Bathroom Decor

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It may seem silly that I decided to spruce up my bathroom given that most days (or really, weeks) I’m the only one who uses it, since my roommate also has her own. However, before our Houzz photo shoot, I was feeling inspired to make it a little more glamorous given that I always see so many cute bathroom designs on Instagram and Pinterest and my space is actually kind of cool, with lots of exposed brick and fun architectural elements! I decided to decorate a bit using items I already had, and I’m loving how it turned out.

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One day before work (I kid you not…) I decided that I would take the medicine cabinet off the wall (it looked–and was–pretty easy, thankfully), and transferred all of my supplies into tote bags for the time being. I then grabbed the ornate gold mirror I’d purchased on eBay last fall and transferred it from a little vanity/dressing table that I never really use to the bathroom. I absolutely love how it looks against the exposed brick! The gold mirror really adds an awesome pop of elegance, not to mention the large size is super helpful when getting ready. I’ll admit that I do miss the storage that the medicine cabinet provided, but I’ve since purchased some more bins for my bathroom shelf, and all of my products fit in there just fine.

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Next, I decided to order a plain white soap dispenser from Amazon (it was under $5!) instead of displaying my CVS brand soap bottles. I ordered these bins for my bathroom shelf (not pictured) and love how they’re plain and not see-through, as while it’s helpful to know exactly where stuff is located, most beauty/health products (like my bottles of vitamins, extra deodorant, etc) aren’t that fun to look at and can be kind of junky-looking when displayed. I did keep extra toilet paper under my little tables (where I set my hair straightener and makeup bag when getting ready) for convenience and also left a jar of nail polish on display.

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On the day of the shoot, I grabbed some eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s and it added the perfect touch–and smelled SO good. I also put my Diptyque jars on display for a glamorous touch. I keep them filled with fun products including bobby pins (which are a daily staple for me) and pretty lip colors. While I ended up taking the candle jars off of the toilet seat after the shoot (I was worried my things would fall into the toilet and be gone forever), they sure looked cute and are definitely functional. Side note: When living with a small bathroom, having things falling out of the medicine cabinet and into the toilet is far too common….the struggle! This would happen to me a ton in NYC and I’d have to ask the beauty editor at the magazine I worked at if I could grab an extra mascara out of the beauty closet because mine had to be thrown away!

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Last but not least, I wanted a new bathroom rug (I still keep a traditional bathmat right by the shower) to keep in front of the sink. I mentioned ordering this one from Target and I love it–it’s exactly the color scheme I was going for and looks nice with the brick. Now I just need to hope it stays in tact despite being in a semi-dangerous place in terms of wear.

If you have any bathroom decorating tips (it feels weird to write that out, but I really enjoyed sprucing up my little space), let me know!

 

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Abstract Art from Minted

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I’ve posted these photos on Instagram and gotten some questions about the beautiful Minted piece that we have in our dining area. I was lucky enough to actually score the framed piece on Craigslist last spring for $60, which is an amazing deal considering that the art itself costs over $90 for such a large size. As soon as I saw the posting, I knew I had to have the piece–even though I wasn’t sure where it would go!

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The back of the frame indicates that the framing was done by Framebridge, a company that’s based right here in Georgetown and has been a favorite of mine for the past few years (I’ve purchased many of their framed Instagram prints and gave one as a gift to my dad this past Christmas, featuring a beautiful photo that he took in Paris).

I love the fun pop of color that this piece adds to our little nook. The funniest part? Shannon, one of my favorite interior design bloggers, has the same one (and in the same frame, as shown below!). Given that I bought the print from someone else in DC, my guess is that she was inspired by Shannon’s blog when choosing the frame!

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Are you a fan of abstract art? It definitely doesn’t go with the decor scheme I have going on upstairs, but I love the modern touch it brings to our living space.

Photos of my home by forbettersdays4@gmail.com 

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Me

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

I’ve seen these posts going around on Instagram and have loved reading everyone’s responses, so I thought I’d write my (lengthier answers) down here! I know that personal posts tend to be a favorite and it’s always fun to share tidbits with you all since many of you don’t know me in real life (funny how that works…I can barely get my family to read here!). Here we go:

1) I’m named after my mom’s college roommate, who’s also a Sarah with an “h.” (I think my parents were conflicted about whether or not to include the “h”–my mom liked it and my dad didn’t as much, but I’m glad they went for it!). My mom and Sarah were paired as freshman roommates and went on to room together again after that, living in a house with a few other girls their senior year. They were always super close, but here’s the weird part…my parents didn’t tell anyone the name they had picked for me until I was born (not even their own parents), but in the meantime, my mom’s mom apparently started referring to me as “baby Sarah,” much to my mom’s surprise! As an aside: My grandmother had also gone to a liberal arts college and was really excited that I was the first grandchild to be interested in a similar place. She passed away right before I applied to college early decision, but because of her intuition about my name, I like to think she “knows” where I ended up.

2) Speaking of my mom’s side of the family–and my grandmother, who loved genealogy–we can actually trace our ancestry back to pre-Mayflower times and have also done some research on our Mayflower ancestor, Richard Warren. Our ancestors settled in Massachusetts in the 1600s and I’m so curious to learn more about them and that time–I always wanted my mom to stop in Salem, where several of them lived, when driving up to Colby, but we never made it happen. We also have an ancestor who signed the Declaration of Independence, and my middle name, Ingersoll, comes from him. Alternatively, my dad’s dad immigrated here during WWII when he was a young adult, which is equally fascinating. I think genealogy is so interesting and am thankful that my grandmother took the time to research her heritage and make books of information for each grandchild!

3) I wore either braces or Invisalign three out of my four years of college following my jaw surgery, and yes, life went on (though don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of tears involved). Thankfully by senior spring I was only wearing the Invisalign at night and didn’t have to worry about confining my eating/drinking into a two-hour period each day. I feel like there’s never really a good time to have to deal with wearing stuff on your teeth, but I’ve had several coworkers with Invisalign and really don’t think it’s that big of a deal (aside from only being allowed to take it off for short periods of time). Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with any of this freshman year, which I think made the whole process a little easier! I’m really happy with how my teeth look now, but more importantly my jaw FEELS a million times better!

4) I grew up in the same neighborhood as my cousins on my dad’s side (who are slightly older), so we all went to the same high school and graduated between 2002 and 2015 (ending with my sister). Basically from the time I was 8 until the time I was 23, there was always someone from our family at the school!

5) I had tea with Julie Andrews! I’ll back up…it was part of a press event that I got to attend while working at American Baby magazine (Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma, who was also there, write children’s books!). Julie Andrews’s voice sounded exactly like her voice in movies and as soon as I stepped into the room I was in starstruck. The press event involved like 20 of us having tea and treats and fangirling over Julie and her daughter.

 

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Is Your Hobby A Side Hustle?

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I came across an article the other day—in the Girls Night In newsletter, which I love—that touched on something I’d been thinking about for awhile—the fact that “every domestic hobby is at risk of becoming a side hustle.”

In my view, a side hustle isn’t just any part-time job—I wouldn’t consider my job at an accessories store this past fall to be a side hustle by any means—but is something that allows you to pursue a hobby you already love and get paid for your work as an added bonus (and it seems like the author of the article I linked above would agree with this definition). However, I’ve also heard the term in reference to anything that someone pursues outside of “normal” work hours. Additionally, for someone with different interests–like pursuing a career in the fashion/accessories world–selling jewelry at a store like the one where I worked would probably fall more into the side hustle category, even if it lacks the same creative element that’s involved in making the actual pieces.

I obviously talk a lot about interior design on this blog and derive so much pleasure from decorating my home. People in my life constantly ask me if I plan to pursue interior design as a side hustle, and my answer is usually this: I’d love to, but I’m scared of what could happen if I try to turn a hobby into a paying gig (even if it’s just something part-time). As Ann Friedman says in the article, “Personal pleasure is what makes a hobby a hobby,” after all.

Right now, I’m still working as a freelancer for Houzz, and it’s just about as much as I’d like to do at this point. My day job has been picking up work-wise, and I appreciate the connections and extra experience—and cash!—working for Houzz provides, but I can’t really commit to more at the moment. I also really value the fact that I can spend all day at work looking at numbers, research, and spreadsheets–which has been a big part of my new role, in addition to more creative communications tasks–but then come home on the weekends and spray paint a table or prep my apartment for a photo shoot. I love being able to tackle different types of work throughout the week to keep things interesting. I think I’m noticing this more now because my last job was much more writing-focused and while I still blogged a lot during that time, I’m remembering that I didn’t always want to come home and write more than I already had at work.

I also know that personally, once something becomes “work,” I approach it very differently than if it’s just a hobby. Even the other night, when I was lugging home a coffee table and telling my Uber driver how I planned to paint it (this lead to a long conversation about the driver’s own home improvement projects, haha), he was asking me if that was something I did—or would consider doing—as a business. I told him no, because then my standards would be so much higher! I feel like charging someone for a service adds a whole new dimension (and pressure) that can be eliminated when you’re doing something for yourself. It’s not that I don’t try my best to make something look beautiful even if I’m going to be the one accepting the end product (I am guilty of being somewhat of a perfectionist, after all!). But when money and contracts are involved, there is a different layer of expectation, in my view.

I’d love to hear what you all with side hustles think. At this point, I would consider blogging a hobby rather than a side hustle—and I’m just fine with that for the reasons I mentioned above. Does that mean I don’t get envious of full-time bloggers, like, all the time? No! But I do recognize that with contracts and payments comes additional pressure and concerns that may not have existed before. So let me know–is your hobby (whatever it may be) a side hustle or is it just a creative outlet, and what setup makes you happier?

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January Goals Recap

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Since it’s suddenly mid-January (did anyone else have their fingers crossed that we’d get a snow day today? Come on, DC, it’s about time!), I figured it’s about time I share an update on the goals I posted about at the beginning of the month. I always love hearing about how other people’s plans/resolutions are going, because when they’re going well, it’s super inspiring (and when they’re not, it just proves that we’re all human!). Here’s how things are looking for me since we last checked in…

1) Find a meaningful volunteer opportunity. I would love to find a way to give back within the greater DC community while also expanding my social circle in the process. I have a few places in mind, but I’m still kind of getting into a groove with my new job and want to get a better sense of how much extra time I’ll have before I commit. I would love to work with an organization that supports women/families (animals are cute but not so much my expertise! Haha) and am excited to hopefully be a part of something meaningful in the new year. 

Update: I’m pleased to report that I was able to sign up for a volunteer opportunity that I enjoyed from this past fall (handing out meals on a mobile food truck that goes around DC) but I couldn’t get a slot until March! (Which I guess is technically a good thing, since it means a lot of people want to help out, but it’s a long way to wait!). However, I’m excited for my shift since I had such a positive experience working with this organization (Martha’s Table) before. It was so gratifying to see how appreciative recipients were when they picked up a warm meal (the food they receive is made from scratch and smells delicious!). The stops that the truck makes are in two highly-trafficked downtown areas in DC, which I think makes the experience all the more powerful, as volunteers are truly interacting with individuals right in their own backyard, as opposed to in an area of the city that seems completely foreign (though that can be an equally wonderful, eye-opening experience!).

2) Get back into reading. Ugh, kicking myself for being such a bad reader this fall. But cold evenings + lots of new books on my shelf = the perfect motivation to get back into a rhythm. Plus, I really like plowing through books so that I can review them on the blog for you guys! My book posts are always favorites and it’s so fun to hear what other people are enjoying.

Update: I’ve been able to do a bit of reading and have been so happy about it! I started (and finished) an amazing book last weekend–highly recommend if you like psychological thrillers–and honestly looked forward to picking it up again every time I had to set it down (I ended up finishing it in about a day, it was that addictive). I’m hoping to cross some more books off my list soon, but I think it’ll take me awhile to get back into my “reading obsessed” phase that lasted most of last year.

3) Try a dry-ish January/month. I was talking to another blogger about this and we both agreed it’s so hard to try to set this type of goal when we’re also both dating, because it seems like every first date occurs at a bar (and I’m not opposed to that). However, I’d like to make more of an effort to forgo that glass of wine at home or out with friends, because more often than not I just feel tired and headache-y. I actually went out with some friends the other night and ordered one (very watered-down and juice-like) margarita and couldn’t have been happier with my decision, because when it was time to go home I felt energized instead of dehydrated and exhausted!

Update: This one has been going pretty well considering that yes, I have broken it for social events, but no, I haven’t had a SINGLE glass of wine at home alone/after work! I’m really proud of that, to be honest…I had gotten into the habit of reaching for a glass (which I usually couldn’t even finish anyway) while reading or watching tv at night, and as I mentioned awhile back on Insta stories, I haven’t missed this routine at all. Even when I have “gone out,” I haven’t had more than two drinks…I’m just not feeling it! It’ll be interesting to see whether/how I keep this routine up in the coming weeks and months, and I’ll be sure to share.

How are your January goals going? It sounds like a lot of people have been trying dry January (and haven’t broken it at all, haha). If you have any advice regarding anything I’ve shared above, I’d love to hear!

 

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Little Luxuries You Can’t Miss

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I’ve been in a redecorating mood lately (let’s be real, though, am I ever not?!). The good news for you is that I’ve scoured the internet for some great deals that you won’t want to miss. Below are a few of my faves.

In the market for a Diptyque candle? Save yourself $10 by signing up for C.O. Bigelow’s emails. Then, order one of the designer candles off their site (their shipping is super fast, too) and pat yourself on the back for the $ you saved (because let’s be real, these babies don’t go on sale, so $10 off is still a huge victory).

If you need to switch out your accessories, H&M Home is the perfect place to grab some new items…how adorable is this jute basket, and who can say no to a cute sleep mask or a classy little handheld mirror?

I was browsing the home section at Target the other day and didn’t leave with anything (#willpower), but a quick trip online has me wanting, like, everything…but especially this little rug. Ordering it for my bathroom, ASAP!

As if we need proof that Amazon Prime has everything we could ever want/need…this little ginger jar comes in at under $20 and has two-day shipping! I’m also lusting over these Homesick candles…I’ve heard great things!

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Turkish Rugs on Etsy

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Happy Monday! It’s been a slow blog week for me, so I’m trying to get back in action since I have today off. I wanted to share the details on the Turkish rug I ordered from Etsy last week, since I’ve gotten a few messages on Instagram and promised to reveal all of the details on here.

I’ve talked on here before about how much I love Turkish rugs, and a few months ago, I snagged one from a neighbor who runs a little flea market in his yard each weekend morning (seriously the best idea). I have it in the hallway outside my bedroom and considered putting it where the one I ordered is sitting now, but the colors were a little dark for me. I really wanted to get something with a feminine, muted look, for my bedroom (I’ve been mixing my decor up a bit!) and I came across my ideal piece after hours (I mean hours…) of browsing Etsy.

I knew I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a small piece (mine is about 3 by 6) but I definitely got an amazing deal for the size. Turkish rugs can be super pricy, so that’s why I wanted to look on Etsy as opposed to a site like Lulu and Georgia or even a seller on Instagram, as I wasn’t willing to drop hundreds!

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I’m usually super impatient and order the first thing I see/like (great quality, I know…), but decided to be super thorough when shopping for a rug because of the one-of-a-kind nature of each item and the fact that I couldn’t exactly return my purchase (it shipped directly from Turkey!). I seriously scrolled through pages and pages of Etsy listings and couldn’t make up my mind, so I decided to narrow it down a bit. I found a seller who offered free shipping and had gotten great reviews and focused on all of his listings before deciding to grab this piece (also pictured above). It arrived in three days from Turkey (I placed the order on a Sunday and the rug came on Wednesday), which was super fast! Everything was in wonderful condition and looked just like the picture, and the seller even threw in a small pillow cover.

I’ll hopefully post some real pictures of the rug soon, but in the meantime, I’d highly recommend ordering from this shop if you’re in the market for something similar!

 

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