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One of the questions we hear often is how do you two merge your styles and live to tell about it? And to be honest, it wasn’t always so easy. (Scott’s first, over-stuffed leather couch comes to mind as a sticking point!) Over time, we’ve learned to only proceed with a project if we’ve both fully agreed to all the terms, but we understand that there needs to room for give and take. Say, for example, our recent photo ledge. Scott knows I love a good ornate frame (the gaudier, the better!), but we’ve balanced that with the clean lines of the ledge itself and by the addition of sleek, industrial curtain rods.

When Lauren from Kelly & Olive told us about their +SPACE contest (aka, Positive Space) – all in the hopes of turning a potential negative into an opportunity for creativity – we were intrigued. And since we have lived to tell our story, we turned to Lauren (the professional!) to help break it down, as well as share the details on their +SPACE contest!

Hi Yellow Brick Home readers!

I’m Lauren from Chicago based styling and decorating company Kelly + Olive. Kim asked me here today to talk a bit about decorating your home with your significant other. This is the most common stumbling block we see with clients…how to make decisions when one person says they don’t care (but is full of opinions after the fact) or, like Scott and Kim, both partners have strong tastes and unique styles they’d like represented in their place. I’ll admit, as a single lady all that compromise in my own space fills me with anxiety but, as we’ve learned after working with dozens of couples, it doesn’t have to be an painful process. We promise! Today, we’re going to give you a few tips to help you find common ground, learn to compromise and to create home where you both feel comfortable, and where the look and feel represent a bit of each of you and your life as a team.

#1 Get on the same page

Your partner says they want white and modern. That could mean this…

or this.

Decorating words and even colors are up to personal interpretation. Is my blue the same as your blue? When I say rustic do you picture shabby chic rustic or more gritty industrial rustic?  Like every other aspect of a good relationship, communication is key.

Yes, I am your decorating couples therapist.

Let’s do a little exercise to help establish a common vocabulary. One friday night, put on your favorite music, order thai food in and start the hunt for inspirational images. Pics of rooms that push your buttons. Maybe you love the color of the rug, a specific furniture piece or just the overall vibe. It doesn’t matter why. Follow your gut. (Pinterest is great for finding images, as is Houzz, Decorpad, Remodelista…or take it offline with some scissors and a stack of magazines.)

We recommend that each person create their own inspiration file to start. Don’t worry about choosing things you think the other person will like. Eat your spring rolls and think about your dreamhome. After a while, (if your partner is less than enthused about this project, set a timer) it’s time to share. Talk about your choices. Notice common threads in your own pics, as well as places where your tastes overlap. This little peek into each others brains will help you visualize and plan your space with a bit more knowledge, as well as concrete examples to point to and say ‘I want this!’

#2 Start with color

First things first, what color’s going on the walls? One person wants purple, one wants yellow…who wins?

Well, neither.

We’ve found that a neutral wall works with just about every style and, when decorating with your sweetie, it’s a great non-partisan place to start.  Color is layered in later with accessories and art in a palette of accent colors…and this is where the fun begins!

Create a color palette collage together! Look at your inspiration images and choose elements that you both are drawn too. Let’s say you both picked images with charcoal grays and some piece of leather. Use those for the big elements in the room. You can be a little wilder and more eclectic with accents. Throw out a few faves each. She wants a rich dusty purple and a splash of hot pink. He picks bright modern yellow and black.

Truly, just about any seemingly random selection of accent colors can look great together…just stick to your palette, spread them throughout the space and create a base of lovely neutrals underneath it all.

(Fun fact: Our name, Kelly+Olive, was inspired by a room done in unexpected hues of bright kelly, almost leprechaun green, and rich moody olive. Beautiful, unexpected, and totally brilliant!)

#3 Look for balance 

For arguments sake, let’s say she loves ornate Louis XV inspired furniture, all things fancy and feminine and frenchy. On the other hand, he wants simplicity and comfort.

The chair on the left would scare him. But the chair on the right with gray masculine upholstery retains its feminine charms but with a bit more subtlety.  Any feminine pieces, like curvy chairs, tufted sofas or items with a lot of delicate detail can be tempered by keeping the color neutral.

When it comes to pattern, the same trick can be used to balance more femme designs. Guys tend to shy away from pattern, even simple stripes and geometrics can feel fussy and florals can be downright terrifying, but in the right colors, ornate patterns feel strong and simple.

Here’s a the start of our room… the Louis XV chair and an traditional side table mixed with a masculine leather couch (this one’s vintage) and boxy industrial coffee table, a patterned rug and pillow in a neutral gray, white and cream palette, and pops of accent color in a solid pillow, modern lamp, and colorful piece of art.

#4 Reframe and relax

Breath. Don’t stress. Let it go.

Your home may never look like the perfect magazine image. That idealized rustic farmhouse or atomic bungalow or boho lounge is being diluted by someone else’s grandma chic or modern minimalism or whatever.

And that’s ok! Think of this process as creating a whole new design style with a little of each of you, a one of a kind place the represents the two of you together. Besides, the most beautiful, interesting spaces are not the ones straight out of a showroom or ripped from a magazine page. They’re the ones where the idiosyncrasies, influences, and aspirations of the homeowners are on display.

Extra Credit: Give it a name

Whitewashed swedish farmhouse + guitars and screenprinted band posters =  Scandanavian rockstar retreat

Ethnic patterns and global influences + florals and antiques = World traveler Grandma

Upscale beachy + midcentury modern = Don Draper goes to the Hamptons

We do this with clients all the time. Partially because it makes us giggle and partially because it’s great shorthand and can, along with your color palette collage, help you focus and act as an impartial guidepost in the face of temptation. You’re out shopping and see something you love, say to yourself…

Is this vintage schoolhouse chic? (or Alaskan glamour igloo? Or whatever your very own personal design style is called.) Does it mesh with our colors?

Yes? Get it!

Designing your space as a team doesn’t have to be all stress and anxiety. Talk it out, look at pictures, find balance, common ground, and moments of compromise. Make a plan. Oh, and have fun! After all, it’s just decorating! For more info on Kelly + Olive, visit us right here. We’re currently running a +SPACE contest where the winner receives a free custom moodboard for any room of their choice (and all entrants receive 10% off!) For rules, details on how to enter and all that jazz, stop by!

Thanks so much to Kim and Scott for having us! Happy decorating!

Thank you, Lauren! And for those living with others, how do you compromise and merge styles, while still finding a space that’s inspiring?

First photo via House to Home and second photo via Plastolux.


Before we get to our holiday announcements (we’re squeezing lots in this Friday!), we wanted to take a moment to share a recent painting of Chloe, Molly’s puppy niece – and serious fashionista. After sifting through photos of this sweet girl in everything from jailbird gear to tiaras, we settled on a recurring theme: Chloe’s party hats!

Here’s what Molly has to say about this party girl:

Chloe is a rescued English Pointer with personality PLUS! She loves to play dress up – it is the best way to get attention from everyone. One of her nicknames is “Little White Princess,” so this party hat portrait is very typical of how she might show up to Happy Tails Doggy Daycare (which her Mom owns) on any given day. Chloe can usually be found – in costume – sitting at the desk in the front entry of the daycare waiting to be petted by everyone that comes to visit!

Thank you, Molly! Is there anything more ridiculous (and cute and funny) than a pup in a costume? And just in time for Halloween! But skipping from Halloween to the end-of-year holiday festivities, we have 3 Pet-Shop-y things to share.

ONE. There are only 2 short months before the final batch of pet portraits are dropped in the mail to make it under your shiny trees. Your support has us feeling all warm and fuzzy inside (well, that and all the cider we’ve been drinking, too), but we’ve reached that time of year when we announce that we are only accepting 4 more custom portrait orders this year.

With that said, any order aiming for a pre-Christmakuh delivery date should be done by this Sunday, October 21st or before we’ve received 4 additional orders – starting now, right here at The Pet Shop. Because once we’ve acquired 4, the custom portraiture listings will be rendered inactive and closed for the year (and re-opened in early January!). It’s been a busy, busy year-end for the Shop (we love you!), and the jingle bells snuck up on us.

But wait!

TWO. If you’re reading this and the custom listings have since been deactivated, we have cute, quirky gift certificates available, too:

Our gift certificates allow the recipient to take part in the fun creation process, earning you cool points – while taking away the fuss and muss. They’re redeemable towards any sized custom pet painting and are printed on 5″x5″ beautiful matte, recycled art paper and come with a petal envelope and sticker enclosure. Easy peasy, and what a way to show off your thoughtful side, you sweet friend, you.

THREE. Finally, we’re thrilled to say that we’ve been accepted as vendors for the annual Renegade Chicago Holiday Market this December 1st and 2nd. (Mark those calendars!) We’ve been working on new products behind the scenes, and we hope to see you there!

Chloe was painted on a 6×6 canvas and wood panel.

  • Emily @ Our Waldo Bungie - October 19, 2012 - 8:46 AM

    I have alerted Daniel to the deadline! Fingers crossed this year I see those tiny boxes under my tree!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 19, 2012 - 9:00 AM

    Emily, fingers crossed!ReplyCancel

  • Sam - October 19, 2012 - 10:42 AM

    We will have to wait till next year for our portraits! ;D


    • Kim - October 21, 2012 - 6:13 PM

      We hope to work with you, Sam!ReplyCancel


Before we swapped the rug, shades and curtains and after we took down our photo ledges (luckily, they went on to a happier life after our building-wide yard sale), our living room was looking… sad. We think it was mostly due to that big, bare wall:

Now when you look at that wall, you’ll see this:

But, wait – let’s back up. Before all the recent action took place, we had a plan. I’d been pinning photo ledges, lusting after the layered look of  mismatched frames and bold art. After showing Scott a few of my ideas (thank you, Pinterest! – always to the rescue for my man who has to see it to commit), he was on board with a crisp, clean ledge, too. So we began collecting frames, and we agreed on a mix of current art + new-to-us pieces. Soon enough, we had amassed enough for one very long, jumbo rail (and FYI, our wedding photo on the end was just a placeholder until we purchased another Ribba):

To keep ourselves organized, we marked each frame with blue tape to label which art would go with what frame. This allowed us to play with the placement of frames and see what looked the best. From there, I was able to purchase any mats needed and finally, spray paint the frames a cohesive color (we went with white – surprise, surprise!).

Above, you can see our measuring tape lining the base of all those frames; our goal was to keep the future ledge under 8′, which we were barely able to do (but we did!). We toyed with the idea of using 2 of these from Ikea (for a total of $30), but we really wanted one continuous rail. By keeping our gaggle of art within the 8′ limitations, we knew we could pick up 8′ boards from Home Depot without needing to cut anything down – saving us time and money.

What we purchased:
• 1 – 1″ x 6″ x 8′ common board ($7.58)
• 1 – 1″ x 3″ x 8′ select pine board ($7.56)
• 1 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ select pine board ($4.65)

Tools and supplies we used:
• drill, kreg jig kit & screws
• clamps
• chamfer bit
• sandpaper
• paintbrush & mini foam rollers
Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 water-base primer
• Behr’s exterior semi-gloss paint in white (off the shelf)
• awl (or a skinny pencil)
• anchors for installation

In total, we spent just under $22 (with tax) for the boards. We had all our tools and additional supplies on hand, so there was no extra cost for us there. Note: Scott convinced to loosen my purse strings for the select pine. We purchased the common board for the base of the photo ledge since it would be completely hidden with frames and any warping could be “fixed” while we adjoined the pieces together.

Our plan was modeled off the Ikea Ribba picture ledge (no need to make things complicated), so we have a base, a front lip and a back support that gets anchored to the wall. The 6″ board acts as our base, the 2″ board is our front lip and the 3″ board is the back support.

Using a clamp on the Kreg jig, we started on the back support and drilled pilot holes for our screws every 16-18.” (You know we totally eyeballed it!) We had the option to drill in screws from the bottom, however, the Kreg jig allows the boards to meet with pocket holes for a strong, hidden joint. This allows us to skip spackling visible screw heads, as the Kreg holes can be capped with these guys.

To keep everything aligned, it helped us to use additional clamps to hold the structure together.

Once all of our pilot holes were drilled for the back support and the front lip, we created 6 additional holes – using a regular ol’ drill bit – on the back support. These will be used to anchor our finished ledge into the wall.

Scott used his chamfer bit on these additional holes to make a beveled edge, which will allow the screw’s head to sit beneath the surface of the wood. (AKA: It’s prettier!)

Once all the pilot holes were drilled into the back support and front lip (about 6 on each side) and our anchor holes were chamfered (again, we included about 6 of these on our 8′ photo ledge), we screwed everything into place.

Tip: Join your front lip to the base before moving onto the back support; you won’t physically be able to angle your drill to attach the front if you’ve started with the back (which would typically be taller)! And yes, we’re telling you because we did that. Heh.

Scott gave everything a finishing sand, then I followed closely behind with 1 coat of primer (we love Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 water-base primer) and 2 coats of Behr’s exterior paint. (After seeing how durable our outdoor planters have been, we chose to use the exterior paint and skip the poly step!) To help move along the process, I used an angled paintbrush for all the inner corners and a mini foam roller for the wider, flat boards.

Once everything had dried – we waited a solid 2 days, and then we waited an additional day before placing our frames on it – we held it in place and used an awl to mark where our anchors should go.

From there, we installed our anchors and drilled the big, bad photo ledge in place! We didn’t even bother to hide the screws, since we knew all of our art would do that job. After the additional (excruciating!) day of waiting, we settled in our framed art, which we had since finalized. Scott helped me with the placement, but we mostly referenced a phone snap we had taken before disassembling our jumble of frames.

Although the ledge is a very long 8′ wide, it doesn’t feel massive in person. And while we have more art on display than ever, everything feels more tidy; nice and neat. (Sorry, old shelves!)

For $22 in wood supplies, we were able to create a custom fit photo ledge, play up the big, bare wall and display more art (we just can’t seem to get enough) – and nearly wipe out our tweak-y list:

Makeover our $2 chair. (Done!)
• Reassess the end table situation – or lack thereof.
Swap our venetian blinds for easy, breezy cellular shades. (Done!)
Layer in curtains to hide speakers and add warmth, texture and height. (Done!)
Replace our shaggy rug with something that fits our oddly shaped room. (Done!)
• Re-upholster the lovely chair. (Working on it!)
Re-work our current art display. (Done!)

There’s more to come on what’s filling those frames, where the frames came from (mostly end-of-summer yard sales and fleas) and the artists behind the prints (some of ‘em you might know if you’ve been following along for a while!).

For now, we wonder, how do you display your art? Are you into the mis-matched ledges of frames upon frames? Or do you prefer gallery walls with cohesion (or, perhaps, lack thereof)?

  • Shannon @ Fabulously Vintage - October 17, 2012 - 7:29 AM

    I absolutely love this! Looks great! :)

    Fabulously VinatgeReplyCancel

  • Heather S. - October 17, 2012 - 7:32 AM

    Looks great! I made a very similar one over a year ago and still love it.

  • Kim - October 17, 2012 - 8:40 AM

    Heather, looks nice and clean!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY - October 17, 2012 - 9:23 AM

    Love it!! The updates are really coming together =) Can’t wait to see the rest!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - October 17, 2012 - 10:02 AM

    I can’t believe you got rid of the creepy Jesus. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Tara - October 17, 2012 - 10:06 AM

    Love how Jesus was replaced with a donut!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - October 17, 2012 - 10:16 AM

    I have a unhealthy habit of collecting prints and not framing them or displaying them. I currently have a huge wall that is just begging to be filled with prints. I had been thinking of doing a gallery wall, but I love the idea of 2 or 3 long photo ledges and periodically swapping out the art.
    Your living room is looking lovely!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - October 17, 2012 - 12:28 PM

      Thanks, everyone!

      As for Jesus, we couldn’t bring ourselves to get rid of the print (Catholic guilt), so it’s actually just behind the donut!ReplyCancel

  • Emma - October 18, 2012 - 2:49 PM

    Golly that’s pretty. And you can switch it up as needed. I want a doughnut now.ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - October 18, 2012 - 5:02 PM

    Now THIS is a blog post. :) The idea, the execution, the tutorial, the gif (!). You guys have outdone yourselves. This looks amazing. The whole thing.ReplyCancel

  • Lawton - October 22, 2012 - 10:03 AM

    Love the gif!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - January 14, 2013 - 1:08 PM

    I was wondering, how high did you hang the shelf?ReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 14, 2013 - 2:12 PM

    Hi Laura, it’s a little more than 4′ from the ground.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - January 14, 2013 - 2:41 PM

    Thanks, Kim! It looks great, and at the perfect height. :) The donut print really stands out, love it!ReplyCancel

  • Picture Ledges | Our Tiny Home - February 25, 2013 - 8:56 AM

    [...] many an afternoon on Pinterest and some of my favorite blogs, I came across this picture ledge from Yellow Brick Home. I am impressed that they not only made their picture ledge gorgeous, but [...]ReplyCancel

  • Picture Ledges | Our Tiny Home - February 25, 2013 - 10:21 AM

    [...] many an afternoon on Pinterest and some of my favorite blogs, I came across this picture ledge from Yellow Brick Home. I am impressed that they not only made their picture ledge gorgeous, but [...]ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Miller - March 1, 2014 - 5:23 PM

    I just found your blog and wondered where the donut print came from. I love it!
    Melissa MReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 3, 2014 - 8:32 AM

    Melissa, glad you found us! The donut print came from here:

    I emailed the shop owner and asked if she would do the strawberry donut, which she happily did! (We found her work at a local street fair and loved the quirk!)ReplyCancel