A Lars Girl’s Back to School Guide

Colorblocked lunch sacks and beeswax snack wraps surrounded by play fruit and blackberries.

Lars-Approved School Supplies

If you look at them the right way, school supplies are the educational version of craft supplies. At least I get excited about them as if they were. Here are some of my favorite ones:

Lars Back to School Shop

Since I love school supplies so much, we had to include a few in our shop, of course! For example, see these these back to school stickers, designed by my friend Michele Brummer Everett. They’d be the perfect addition to your water bottle, notebook, or laptop. For more back to school supplies on our shop, click here.

back to school stickers on notebooks

On the Blog

It turns out we also have quite a few back to school crafts for you to peruse on the blog! You can start with this versatile and oh so adorable pencil case, featuring our very own Spoonflower fabric. Don’t stop there! Another great addition to your back to school supply list is this DIY beeswax wrap and this reusable lunch sack. Oh, and I also put together a list of my current favorite laptop covers and stickers, which you can see here.

Favorites from Around the Web

Here are a whole host of school supplies we love from around the web. This includes notebooks, things to write with, water bottles, desk supplies, and more! We’ve split them up into categories for your convenience:

Planners, Calendars and Notebooks

Desk Organization and Supplies

Things to Write With

Stay Hydrated

Dorm Room Design

In the college town where I live, the end of August means lots of new students being dropped off at dorms for their first-ever foray into living outside their parents’ house. That means that there are LOTS of fresh-faced students moving into drab, depressing dorm rooms and shabby apartments. Check out this post full of rental-friendly interior design hacks to level up your space.

You also won’t want to miss the custom dorm room transformations we took on! See them here, here, and here. Basically, we applied the advice in the post above to make these formerly dull spaces full of color and life (see my thoughts on the importance of color here). It’s so important to fill your life with things that make you happy, and that starts with your living space! It’s amazing how such simple fixes can transform your mood and overall well-being.

Here are my favorite additions to any student housing situation:

Rugs

It’s amazing how the addition of an amazing rug can transform a room! Here are some options:

Pillows and Throws

Again, those pops of color really do the trick to make a room feel more homey and less bland.

Curtains

Another great way to add some color, curtains can also be a great statement piece for a room.

Lighting

As mentioned in this post, lighting can change everything.

Kitchen Essentials

We can’t post about dorm room decor without some kitchen essentials! You do have to live there, after all.

Bedding and Towels

Functional and practical are a must when it comes to bedding and towels, but who says they can’t be cute, too?

Other Misc. Dorm Room Essentials

Here are just a few more things to help add some personality to your dorm room:

Any time you buy something from our affiliate links, we get a small commission at no cost to you! Hooray!

Are you scared of color?

Do you love color? But also terrified of it?!

As far as I can remember, I’ve always loved color. I even remember sitting around a campfire circle my first week of college sharing the cockles of our hearts with some new friends. What did I share? “I love color, no like you don’t understand, I really love color”. Ha! I guess I had an inkling even then!

But growing up I didn’t know what color meant to me nor how it could be a part of my life. I mean, how could I? I was still experimenting. Really wish I could find some high school photos to illustrate this story, but here we are:

Brittany Jepsen on her bed sewing a dress in a colorful room

Fail: Painting my high school bedroom

Once, in high school, I really wanted to paint my all-white room. Sound familiar? I had my great grandmother’s antique wood bedroom set that’s very lovely, just dark and rather Victorian looking. There wasn’t too much in there that indicated my personality. My mom was really into periwinkle at the time and I thought it would be a good choice for the walls. I remember nothing about the process of selecting the color or putting it on but on it went and the more it went the more TERRIFIED I got. I couldn’t imagine being surrounded by it all the time.

We didn’t get too much farther when called it the whole thing off. I was Color Scared! Surely, I would suffocate in all that color! An unfinished painted periwinkle room was left for the rest of my high school experience–didn’t bother to change it back.

Brittany holding colorful paper in a rainbow dress.

Color Scared Diagnosis

In hind sight, the Color Scare Diagnosis was because of the unknown. I didn’t know what it was going to look like in the end and I certainly had no idea what it was going to look like with posters or artwork on the walls. It would have been THE BOMB (in true 90s high school fashion).

Fast forward about ten years to I’m living in Washington, DC in a small house with 3 roommates after graduating college. My roommate really wanted to paint our kitchen a dark green. I had never done anything so drastic and was SURE that dark green was NOT a good choice. It was going to be too dark and blegh! I had been living in college apartments where we couldn’t do anything to the apartment besides sticky tack and posters and colorful duvet covers. She did one coat of paint and I just about lost it. I was…

COLOR SCARED!

But then she put up a poster in lovely reds and yellows and blacks and all of a sudden it looked…well, lovely! She had the foresight (and maybe the experience) to know that it was going to work out.

Living in a rental with color–don’t be scared!

Many many years later, when Paul and I were living in our rental apartment together, I said “to heck with it all!” I’m not waiting to own a house before I make this my home. I had no idea how long it would be before we owned a house, but life can’t wait just because of contracts. SO, I cleared it with our landlord and we put up floral wallpaper, pinks walls, and painted murals (remember?! You can see it all here).

learning to use color in your rental apartment

Jasper and I have been reading a lot of Aesop’s Fables lately so, the moral of this color-scared story is:

  1. Do not wait to live life for that “one day” when all your conditions are perfect. Warning: conditions will never be perfect!
  2. When in doubt, keep on going! You won’t know what a room will look like if you don’t finish it (but I do have some stories of when you need to stop–ha! Did that just negate that point?!)
  3. The more you experiment, the more comfortable and confident you will become. And paint is one of the cheapest ways to experiment! $40 is worth the risk to see if your life will change (and yes, I contest that color can change your life!).

Tell me. Do you love color? But also terrified of it? Don’t know how to use it? Tell me everything! 

Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed

Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed

For our Mother’s Day breakfast in bed, we decided to go with something classic and gave it a little twist to make it extra cute for mom. This Mother’s Day breakfast in bed is so simple, but so adorable. Think edible arrangement in bed. Here’s how to recreate it:

Tray

To make your Mother’s Day breakfast in bed extra comfy for mom, you’ll want one of these handy trays. We went with a simple white Amazon edition. It was perfect with the colorful fruit and other components, like our retro floral fabric we turned into a bedspread!

Dishes

A vase and plate or bowl make a lovely addition to your breakfast in bed arrangement. We chose a simple white vase and pink plate we had on hand, but you can also see this post for many more options that would be beautiful as well!

Napkins

We chose our DIY napkins using natural ingredients for this breakfast in bed. We loved the bold colors in contrast with the fruit and that retro floral bedspread.

Flower fruit

The real stars (or flowers) of the show were the cookie cutters, which we used to cut out various types of fruit into flowers and arranged them. This part is fun–get creative and make your own edible arrangement for mom. Here’s how you can recreate these edible arrangements:

  1. First, cut out wide, flat slices of fruit (wide enough for various sizes of the flower cookie cutters to fit on).
  2. Cut out various sizes of the cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and pineapple. We found that the watermelon and pineapple worked best for the larger cookie cutters, while the honeydew and cantaloupe were ideal for the smaller ones.
  3. Next, cut a length of 18 gauge wire that’s slightly longer than a straw. Slide it through the straw and stick a large fruit flower onto the tip. The flower should sit nicely on top of the straw now.
  4. Cut a small piece of wire and use to attach a smaller flower onto the center of the big flower.
  5. Make as many as you’d like for the arrangement!

Other food ideas

We went with a very fruit-centric breakfast with edible arrangements, grapes and strawberries (these didn’t work with the cookie cutters but are nonetheless delicious). But we also included some delicious cherry turnovers so mom could indulge. Get creative and add anything to your breakfast you think your mother would like!

What are you going to do for your Mother’s Day breakfast in bed? Let us know in the comments!

Our New Guest Bedroom Remodel

Where We Started

We knew our guest bedroom needed work. To give you an idea of what we started with, here are some before photos of the space:

As you can see, it’s fairly small (about 8.5×10’) so it can easily feel overcrowded. We needed simplicity, elegance, and something that would help the room feel more spacious, not to mention cozy for our future guests! The guest bedroom wasn’t at the top of my to-do list until we learned that we’d be having a guest stay with us very soon.

Our Guest Bedroom Remodel with Mr. Kate

Because our guest was coming so soon, we knew we needed to get going on a remodel of the guest bedroom if it was going to be done before he arrived. We didn’t have much time! That’s why when Mr. Kate approached us, we were thrilled. The timing was perfect! We were able to use Mr. Kate furniture for so many elements of the guest bedroom, including the desk, bed, and dresser. We went with a lovely deep blue velvet for the Mr. Kate Daphne Bed paired with a Signature Sleep mattress available on RealRooms. We also added in the fun Mr. Kate Winston terrazzo desk and the simple, classy Mr. Kate Stella white dresser. Since the wallpaper is so busy (which we’ll talk more about in a minute!), we wanted pops of solid color to pair with the illustrative details. Those simple, timeless furniture elements paired so nicely with the gorgeous details in the delicate wallpaper.

Trompe L’oeil Wallpaper

Now let me talk about that guest bedroom wallpaper. The biggest thing to puzzle through with any space is what to do with the walls. The guest bedroom is fairly small, so we knew we needed something that wasn’t too time consuming but that would still look amazing. And boy, did we find the perfect solution–Curious wallpaper from Bien Fait!

If you’ve never seen wallpaper like this before, you’re in for a treat. Born in the imagination of Cécile Figuette and beautifully hand-drawn by french illustrator Julie Serre, this classically elegant wallpaper is a surprising and versatile trompe l’oeil.  It’s not only gorgeous and classy, but it also happened to be the perfect solution to our quick wall fix conundrum. It’s so detailed it takes care of all the need for wall decor all in one go! And those little hidden gems are lovely–I mean those little picture frames in the corner, or the painted eyes on the walls?! It’s stunning. Plus the three dimensional nature and open doors peeking into other rooms makes the space feel endlessly spacious and open. And did I mention it’s fully customizable? Doors can be opened or closed, decor elements and even the little kitty can be moved to compose a unique scene, a curious story.

Curtains

For the curtains, we decided to go with a bright pop of golden velvet from West Elm. We paired them with a boho curtain rod from Urban Outfitters. The original one we used is sold out, but this one is similar! We absolutely loved the way they paired with that dreamy blue velvet Mr. Kate Daphne Bed and the detailed wallpaper.

Lampshade

As another pop of color and subtle pattern, we also decided to make a custom drum lampshade. This was such a fun and easy DIY project! Here’s a post where you can learn to make one yourself. We used the tutorial for the DIY fabric lampshade. The wallpaper is almost all the pattern you need in a room like our small guest bedroom, but we couldn’t help but add in a little touch of stripe for the lampshade.

I got the pendant from here and then the fabric from our local fabric shop, Harmony.

How to get the look

Bed  |  Desk  |  Dresser  |  Pendant light  |  Curtains  |  Rug is vintage  |  Curtain rod  |  Plaid blanket Sheets  |  Weights  |

 

What do you think of our guest bedroom remodel? Let us know in the comments!

More Inspiration

Loved this guest bedroom remodel and looking for more home renovation inspiration? Here’s everything we did to our house in one year. Also, here’s our interview with Meta Coleman, our go-to for interior design advice. And don’t forget the newly revealed tour of our studio! You can also check out our recent feature in the Living by Design Virtual Showhouse here.

This post is sponsored by Mr. Kate’s new furniture collection

Ukrainian Paper Sunflower

Ukrainian Sunflowers

The sunflower is Ukraine’s national flower. This beautiful flower has a long history with Ukraine, it turns out! Aside from sunflower seeds being a popular snack, Ukraine and Russia are some of the world’s largest suppliers of sunflower oil. Then there’s its historic message of peace, like in 1996 when it was used to celebrate Ukraine giving up nuclear weapons. Currently, as well, it’s become a bright beacon of hope and peace amidst all the turmoil and we want to do our best to show support. It seemed only fitting to make a Ukrainian paper sunflower in honor of the Ukrainian people. If you’re interested, click here to read the full article about Ukraine’s history with sunflowers.

Ukrainian Paper Sunflower

Here’s how to make your own Ukrainian paper sunflower:

Prepping the Paper

  1. First, download the paper sunflower template found here.
  2. Next, cut out the template pieces in crepe paper. We used about 30 yellow petals, 7 green back pieces, and between 2 and 4 green leaves of varying sizes per flower.
  3. Cut each side of the leaves separately. Make sure to cut out the leaves so the grain of the crepe paper angles up slightly on each side (like the veins on the leaves).

Making the Center

  1. To make the center of your paper sunflower, cut some long strips of crepe paper that are roughly 1″ wide. We used green, pale yellow, and orange.
  2. Cut slits in the strips to make a fringe.
  3. Securing with hot glue, wrap the fringe tightly around the top of a piece of floral wire. Make sure the wire is thick enough to hold the weight of the heavy sunflower blossom. Start with green, then move to yellow, then orange.
  4. Continue wrapping and gluing the fringe until it’s as thick as you’d like. Also, make sure the orange layer is set a bit higher than the rest.
  5. When the center is as thick as you’d like, fluff the orange fringe so it splays out a bit.
  6. Now, gently paint a gradient of green to yellow on the center you just made. See step photos for reference. Alternate option: You can use black or brown for the center, too, if you’d like! The center of most sunflowers varies in color.

Assembling the Sunflower

Now you’re ready to add the petals and back greenery to your paper sunflower!

  1. Gently shape the petals (see step photos for reference), then glue one around the center. We spaced them roughly 1/4-1/2″ apart.
  2. Next, add in a second row, this time staggering the petals behind the first row.
  3. Now you can add the back pieces. For this, shape the green pieces according to the step photos, then hot glue them around the stem. They should fan evenly around the back.

Leaves and Stem

The last steps of your paper sunflower are the leaves and stem!

  1. For the stem, cut a piece of crepe paper that’s roughly the length of your wire piece and 2-3″ wide, depending on how big your sunflower is.
  2. Securing with hot glue, wrap the crepe paper strip around the wire stem to thicken it.
  3. Next, start at the top just overlapping the back greenery of the sunflower. Wind floral tape all the way down to cover up the crepe paper.
  4. For the leaves, glue the two sides together, making sure the grain angles up slightly on each side to mimic the leaves’ veins.
  5. Now flip the leaves over and hot glue a thin piece of floral wire to the back. Make sure the floral wire extends a few inches past the stem of the leaves. Once the hot glue is dry, you can shape the leaves however you’d like.
  6. To attach the leaves to the stem, simply wrap floral tape around the wire.

Styling Your Paper Sunflowers

We varied the length of our sunflower stems, then arranged them in a pretty vase. We love how they turned out! They would make a bright addition to any room. Set them on a table, counter, mantlepiece, or side table. We also think they’d be a lovely accent for a bathroom or home office.

 

More Ways to Support Ukraine

We’re trying to do our part to support Ukraine. One way is through our shop! We currently have three art pieces in our shop made specifically to support Ukraine. We’re donating all the profits to the Ukrainian war effort. Special thanks to Amanda Jane Jones, who donated this print. Another special thanks to Nathalie Lètè, who donated this one and this one.

More Inspiration

Loved this paper sunflower tutorial and want more paper flower tutorials? Step right this way. We recently came out with this paper orchid tutorial we think you’ll love. Also, try our DIY Paper Hollyhocks, or these Poppies, Peonies, and Posies. Have a spring or summer wedding coming up? Here, here and here are some beautiful bouquets to choose from. You can also check out this holiday flower roundup if you’re interested!

 

 

Kid’s Toys: Lars Shop Highlight

What is Eeboo?

We couldn’t tell you about our Eeboo kid’s toys without introducing the company’s incredible background. First of all, women and mothers run this company. I mean, who knows kid’s toys better than mothers? I love how thoughtful these toys are. They make board games, watercolor sets, puzzles, and so much more. (You can find them here!) It just goes to show how the experience of being a mother influences their ability to understand children’s brains and what they need. And need I mention that they have the awards (Oppenheim best toy awards and honors) to prove it?

kid's toys

kid's toys

Encouraging development in children

One amazing aspect of Eeboo as a company is their focus on developmental learning in kid’s toys. They help kids develop skills like literacy, storytelling, drawing, imaginative play, and basic math. I mean, could I be more impressed? Kid’s toys that help their development while also helping them have fun? I can say from experience that it can definitely be a challenge to get kids to want to settle down when they’re feeling wild. And you can forget concentrating on learning things like math. So to have kid’s toys that are fun, interactive, and help make learning fun is a dream come true.

kid's toys

Screen-free

At Eeboo, the goal with their kid’s toys is to integrate learning and play in a screen-free way. This is so important (and need I say refreshing?) when we all have screens coming out our ears! It’s hard to get away, and these kid’s toys are a really beautiful way to succeed at it.

Commissioned illustrators

They also commission all their artwork from well-known and well-loved illustrators. It shows, too! The illustrations make their kid’s toys feel so fresh and original–artwork straight from the source. And friends, these illustrations are beautiful. They are delicate, detailed, and full of personality. Need I add that they are colorful and bright? They’re just what every child needs to stay interested and engaged.

Look at the illustrations on these watercolors and paper! Incredible, right? They’d make the perfect gift for a rainy afternoon to get those creative juices flowing.

kid's toyskid's toys

Care and dedication

I’d have to say one of my favorite things about these Eeboo kid’s toys is the care and dedication they give to their customers. They even have a booklet that talks about their values and priorities. I mean, come on! They go to great efforts to be sustainable, respect diversity, value design, and so much more.

I just keep dreaming about the things I would have done if I’d had these toys as a kid. I love how these building blocks promote creativity and imaginative play, for instance.

kid's toys

If you haven’t caught on by now, I am in love with these kid’s toys and can’t wait for Jasper (and eventually Felix) to start playing with them! Click here to get to our whole Eeboo shop collection. If you also fell in love while reading this, you’ll probably also love these other favorites: Kid’s art kit, Op art paper mobile, Thanksgiving coloring placemats, and quilted dog book plate.

How to Hang Prints

How to Hang Prints

Well, now I’m getting into a deeper conversation about what art is, and while I could easily write a 1,000 word blog post on that topic, today I just want to talk about what to do with your art once you’ve found the ultimate piece. Our post today is all about how to hang prints like the ones you can find in our shop!

To Frame or Not to Frame?

So, it finally happened—you locked eyes with that perfect print, whether in a gallery, online, or in a thrift store, and now you need a frame for it! Or do you? 

Well, first you need to consider the size of the print (or prints). If you thrifted your art, you may want a different frame, or maybe you hit the thrifting jackpot and it came with a beautiful frame, matting, and it fits your style. However, for most of us, half the fun is deciding on a frame that doesn’t just act as a “place” for your art to live, but it complements the piece, too.

Frames aren’t always necessary. In fact, you can “frame” your art using other more budget-friendly, DIY methods, and you know how much we love a good DIY!

Framing Large Art Pieces

Large-scale wall art is on trend, and it’s not hard to see why! A poster-size print above the bed or fireplace mantle anchors the room. In fact, if you’re trying to design the rest of your space, start with a large print! You can gather inspiration from a dynamic piece of art hanging on the wall.

A colorful lamp in a room with wildflower wallpaper and a LACMA exhibition poster

We tend to think that large art needs a frame. Luckily, you don’t have to splurge on a really expensive frame to match the size of your print. We like using the large RIBBA frame from IKEA, with or without the matting. You might even like removing the plastic to prevent a glare, but if the lighting of your room doesn’t affect the glare too much, leave the plastic on to protect the print.

If you looking to print some large art for a crazy price, we recommend engineer prints from Staples. They’re typically no more than $10 (yep, that cheap).

Other Framing Ideas

Need a beautiful frame, but don’t want to spend too much money? Try replacing the cheap art you find at Target or Home Goods with your own prints. They already come with a nice frame (most of the time) and a mat.

Are you trying to put together a gallery wall? Though it may seem like some of the best-looking gallery walls were simply “thrown together,” it actually takes a bit of extra time to create a balanced look. Use a mixture of sizes, and don’t feel limited to hanging prints. Try hanging other art pieces or sentimental items on the wall to add texture, such as fiber art or a small shelf for displaying treasures.

How to create a gallery wall to go with your TVGallery wall above a brown dresser with a cute white dog in front.a gallery wall with images of birds over a bed with a fiddle leaf fig and a lamp in the bottom left corner

How to Hang Prints Without a Nail

One of the best and most cost-effective methods to hang your prints is using Washi tape! We like this method for a more casual look, like on the moodboard above your desk or in your child’s room.

How to make a mood board with Mae Mae Co on The House That Lars Built

Is your art collection bursting at the seams? Try a floating shelf on the wall to lean your art against! Maybe you have a bare mantle in your front room begging for something else to sit on it besides your WiFi router…instead of getting out your hammer, nails, stud finder, and level, just lean the thing! Nothing could be easier.

Day of the Dead OfrendaDay of the Dead OfrendaFlower art prints by Adriana Picker

Feeling inspired? Don’t forget to check our print shop for some beautiful and affordable art! 

How to Style Indoor Plants

How to style indoor plants

A lot of people want to transform their spaces into dreamy urban jungles, but don’t know how to style indoor plants. This can mean that their green spaces turn grey, end up looking cluttered, or gathering dust.

chinese money plant made from paper

Knowing how to style indoor plants can make a huge difference and give your plants all the impact they deserve. Here are my best plant styling tips!

Gauge your own commitment

Look. Your plant dreams won’t come true if you don’t choose plants that you can keep alive. Maybe you’re a big fan of ferns, but you live in a dry climate and don’t have it in you to water and spray a plant every day. 🙋🏼‍♀️ I know it hurts, but you might need to hold off on living with some higher-demand plants until you’re a more experienced plant parent. Know yourself and get plants that you can keep alive, because no matter how well-styled your plant kingdom is, it won’t look good if it’s dead.

Here are some of my favorite plants, and you can check out their care requirements to make sure that you’re signing up for something you can handle.

Light

Make sure that your plants have the correct amount of light for the species. Some thrive in the shade, some need bright light, and many plants do their best somewhere in between. You need to consider your space and the light before you even buy plants if you want a healthy indoor plantscape.

And of course, paper plants won’t die no matter what light you put them in, but remember that they might fade in bright light.

pre-potted plants Tranquility

Temperature

Unfortunately, lots of plant parents fail to consider a space’s temperature and are confounded when their plants keep dying. If you live somewhere with cold winters, avoid putting sensitive plants near drafty areas like doors or right by a window, especially when temperatures drop. And if your living space tends to be really hot and sunny, make sure that you don’t have sensitive, cool-loving plants in places where they’ll scorch and die. Again, if you’re working with paper plants, this isn’t an issue.

Paper heartleaf philodendron in bright green in a checkered pot on a wooden table

Water/Humidity

Some plants, like ferns and other tropicals, need more water and humidity than others (like succulents and cacti). If you have a plant that needs to be cared for and watered often, put it somewhere easily accessible so that watering doesn’t become a hassle.

If your bathroom has enough light, consider styling it with some humidity-loving plants. All the steam from your showers will make them thrive.

a variety of potted houseplants

Scale

When you’re designing your planty spaces, you don’t want to just have a lot of little plants scattered around. Choose one or two larger plants (indoor trees are great here!) and make these a focal point.

While big houseplants can be expensive, you can try making your own with paper (we have some great tutorials on the blog!) or check out our next tip for height help.

outdoor potted plants

Height

In an arrangement of plants, you want the tallest ones to be at the back. Think of them like a choir, with the tallest singers standing at the back. You can also give some plants a boost to add more height and give the illusion of larger plants. Try using shelves, bricks, blocks, an overturned flower pot, stacks of decorative books, and more to add some height to your plantscape.

planter garden with a sculptural head planter

Color

Indoor plants come in all kids of colors, not just green! Consider the colors and lighting in your space before you buy or make plants. If you plan it right, you can get beautiful, dramatic, intentional looks by curating your plant colors. Imagine a room with all deep purple foliage! So regal, right??

Paper Poinsettia Flower

Paper Plants

Like I’ve mentioned, I love paper plants for their ease and also because they’re a super fun craft! You can check out this paper plant video, these favorite tutorials, and these templates and ebooks from our shop. And don’t forget the flowers!

DIY Paper Japanese maple tree

Paper pansies on a windowsill. There's a white lacy curtain next to them, and red floral wallpaper on the other.

Once you’ve become a full-fledged plant parent, you might want to treat yourself with this Plant Lady print by Libby VanderPloeg from our shop.

What are your favorite plant tips? Let me know!

Where to Hang Art – 4 Tips to Find the Perfect Spot(s)

The Secret to Hanging Art

…is that there really isn’t much of a secret. If it’s in your home and it’s art that you like, you’ll be happier looking at the art on your wall than wondering where to hang art. Yes, really.

a chaunte vaughn photo hanging against a textured green wall above a lamp by a headboard.

Make a decision

Yes, it’s that simple. Just pick one piece (it doesn’t even have to be that good). Base the rest of your pieces from there! Loosely coordinate colors or subjects, or put everything in matching frames. Scratch that – if you don’t want anything to match, let your taste be the unifying factor. Once you’ve decide where to hang your art, it will come together. If that lack of directions drives you crazy, pick a theme like plants, photography, animals, abstraction, portraits, watercolors, you name it. 

Interior shot of a green nursery. In the foreground is a white rocking chair with a few toys on it. In the background is a wooden dresser.on it and in the background is a wooden dresser.

Build Your Collection

Consider this section the inside scoop – if I could select art for your home, these are some pieces I would choose. Abby Low’s pieces offer a shot of color and geometric print and are a great place to start. Flowers are beautiful, and I can never get enough of them! I love Adriana Picker’s work. Also Picker is just the perfect name for someone who paints flowers. Consider the location of your art – these food prints by the amazing Amanda Jane Jones would be so cute over a dining table. Looking for something a little more high-brow? This cubist-style piece is a fave of mine! Photography is oh-so chic, and Chaunté Vaughn’s compositions are drool-worthy. A little bit of cheer is always welcome, and I found just that in Erin Jang’s print!

Put it somewhere fun!

Deciding where to hang art is the last step. And the fun part! I rarely see a piece of art and think it doesn’t belong where it’s at. That’s the fun part about art – it makes wherever it is placed more lovely! Growing up, my dad decided he wanted control over where the art would be placed and guess where he put it. The bathroom. All of his favorite pieces of art, including the pre-k finger paintings went in the hall ball. His rationale went like this: “Where in the house has the highest foot traffic? Where are guests most likely to see?” Though it might seem like a strange place to put your most treasured works, it kinda makes sense. 

Openness is Essential To Creativity print by Lisa Congdon among plants and booksIris Apfel print by Rosie Harbottle against a sage wall surrounded by stationary and paper plants.

Get Creative

One trend that I’ve noticed lately and loved is art just… leaned up against a wall. This is an awesome example because it shows the organization well enough to replicate it. This is another example of art leaned gracefully, nay, artfully, against a wall. I love the way this particular arranging method works with transparency. 

a photo by chaunte vaughn in a bookshelf surrounded by colorful books.

Bookcases are another clever place I love to put art in! Let’s be honest, books are art. Add to the look with a framed piece like this or like this. Perhaps you have a lot of art to show off, and it just won’t fit in a bathroom, bookshelf, or propped up somewhere. The gallery wall is the perfect way to showcase your pieces! My friend Meta Coleman wrote a piece for us a while back on how to style the perfect gallery wall, or salon wall as they used to be called. It is a gamechanger!!

Four illustrations from fairytales hung above a child's kitchen toy set.

So no more head scratching over where to hang art! There’s no need to hire a pro when you can learn do-it-yourself online. 

You can find all the art pictured in this post and much more in our shop! Check it out, and maybe you’ll find a new favorite artist.

I’d love to see how you hang art in your space. Tag us with #LarsAtHome to share. 

7 Rental-Friendly Interior Design Hacks

Rental friendly interior design is important to me because I’m a huge believer in the power of interior design to make you happy. Too often we think that unless we own a home we can’t personalize our space, and I think that’s tragic. Everyone deserves to feel at home, so making a house a home in a rental feels much bigger than a simple penchant for style.

7 Rental Friendly Interior Design Hacks

Living Room Reveal with wildflower wallpaperRemovable Wallpaper

This is definitely not the easiest rental friendly interior design hack, so let’s get it out of the way first. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my love for wallpaper. There’s this archaic idea that wallpaper is a nightmare to deinstall, involving lots of steaming, stickiness, and scraping. Yuck. That used to be true, but now there are so many rental friendly wallpapers, so you can peel and stick to your heart’s content!

I’ve loved using Spoonflower wallpaper in my homes and offices, and you can find my favorite Spoonflower artists and designs here!

In my last apartment I really let my imagination run wild with wallpaper, and I loved how fresh and unique it made the space. Here are my tips and tricks for installing Spoonflower wallpaper (which I love!)

Brittany works on installing blue and white striped wallpaper with text that reads "how to install wallpaper yourself"Interior shot of a bedroom with blue and white striped wallpaper. There's a yellow headboard, green floral bedding, paper staghorn ferns, and wicker lamps.Brittany sits on bed in a room with pine-themed wallpaper. She's wearing a pink dress and holding a dark blue and green pillow, the bed is warm wood with a mustard duvet, and there's a wicker lamp in the corner. There's also a blue art print on the wall.

If you’re still looking for just the right wallpaper, check out this post I wrote about my other favorite places to buy it.

Upgrade Your Lighting

I can’t say enough how important good lighting is! Of course, lots of natural light is best, but it’s not always available. Don’t worry, though! There’s hope for you and it’s in the form of lamps!

A colorful lamp in a room with wildflower wallpaper and a LACMA exhibition posterJust like when I was in college, I still love adding light with lamps. You can always go to thrift stores and upgrade them with paint or new shades (or even make your own shades). I also put together some of my favorite lampshades on the market right now, so browse these!

On top of lamps, you can say “Let there be light” by upgrading your light fixtures. It might seem daunting, but it’s not too tricky and makes a huge difference. So many rentals are chock full of boob lights, and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t want reminders to #FreeTheNip every time I look up. 🤷🏼‍♀️ If you’re with me on this, consider this your permission to change out your light fixtures and get a new lease on life.

Check out this DIY light fixture you can make to add whimsy and color to your space.

DIY lampshade in bright colors and funky shapes

Find a Statement Piece

Furnishing your rental with statement furniture can really elevate the space. Once you’ve found a piece that you love, plan the colors and design around it for a cohesive, beautiful look. (For bonus points, spot the light fixture I upgraded this room with)

Brittany adjusts pillows on a beautiful green sofa in a light-filled room

Couches, and rugsare my favorite kinds of statement furniture to base a room off. A few years ago I got a life-changing green sofa and I’ll never stop recommending that people add emphasis with colorful furniture.

Couches

Rugs

Plan a Color Story For Each Space

One of my favorite rental friendly interior design hacks is to make and stick to a color palette. Especially when it’s a space that you don’t own and you can’t control everything about, it’s easy for a space to look makeshift and haphazardly thrown together. With a color palette, though, you can go from scattered and “meh” to really fabulous. It takes some creativity and restraint, but it makes a huge difference.

a room with pine-themed wallpaper. There are pillows in dark blue, pink, green, and black, the bed is warm wood with a mustard duvet, and there's a wicker lamp in the corner. There's also a blue art print on the wall.

You can see I designed this room with a yellow, forest green, and deep blue color palette, and that there are little accents of pink throughout. Especially because the wallpaper is busy, having a solid (no pun intended) color palette really makes the room work.

Plants, Plants, Plants!

Houseplants and fresh flowers are a renter’s best friends. They bring (literal) life into your space and also freshen your air. Just remember to water and fertilize them and give them the right amount of light!

Here are some houseplants that you can buy online!

Mirror, Mirror

I’m such a huge believer in mirrors that I even wrote a whole post about why they’re essential in decor. And I’m sticking to my guns here! They make a space feel bigger and lighter, act as a focal point, and they’re a convenient way to make sure we’re walking out the front door looking great. You can find lots of my very favorite mirrors on the market in this post, and also check out this lovely Rattan mirror DIY here!

DIY Rattan Sunburst Mirror

Add Art

Our print shop is chock full of incredible art that would seriously upgrade your home. I know I’ve loved having it in mine! Adding art to your rental friendly interior design plans is so easy, and my main tip is to use command strips. You and your security deposit will thank me later. 😉

Here’s a collection of some floral art prints to bring some everlasting blooms into your home, and you can also read about lots of the artists behind the Lars Print Shop here.

art prints by Julie Marabelle installed in a wallpapered roomAmanda Jane Jones holding up her prints from the Lars Print ShopDaffodil II print by Rachel SmithRental Living

I lived in a rental for years and years before we bought our house, and by the end of our time there we had made some significant upgrades. You can check out everything we did to that apartment here! Not everyone has the opportunity to do as much with a rental as we did, but I hope it inspires you to make your space your own.

I’d love to see what rental friendly interior design tips you have used! Show me your renting secrets at #LarsAtHome!

5 Secrets for Pattern Mixing

Over the last few months I’ve done a lot of designing! From the upstairs bathroom (full remodel reveal coming soon!) to the downstairs office, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in front of a mood board. A big part of design is mixing patterns, and I know it can be daunting. There’s so much to consider and it’s not hard to cross the line from fabulous to overwhelming, especially with all the options available at places like Spoonflower! And there really are SO MANY great options at Spoonflower.

Whether you’re putting together a room or an outfit, you should know how to mix patterns. Here are some of my favorite pattern-mixing tips!

Color

Color is one of the very first things that you notice about any design. It’s immediate and impactful, and it stays in your brain. Think about it–if you go into a room you’re more likely to remember that the walls were green than the pattern on the curtains. It’s important to stick to a cohesive color scheme when you’re mixing patterns. Otherwise, things get really chaotic really fast!

How to Mix Patterns with Lenox Global Tapestry

Scale

Having a good blend of large and small patterns keeps your design visually interesting. Larger, more graphic patterns really stand out against smaller, delicate patterns. Meanwhile, some small patterns give a nice place for the eye to rest, which makes large and small pattern mixing a symbiotic situation.

An interior photo. The wall is blue floral wallpaper, there's a big houseplant, a patterned rug, and pillows propped on a wooden bench.
Design by Justina Blakeney

Contrast

The whole point of pattern mixing is to get variety in a design, and contrast is a great principle to help you do it right. Contrast comes into design in lots of ways: you can contrast color, scale, shape, pattern type, value, and more.

When you’re mixing patterns, it helps to think of one element to contrast and then maintain cohesiveness with the others. For example, if you use patterns with contrasting colors, you might want to tone down the contrast in scale, intensity, shape, etc. And if you’re pairing a bold floral with a checkerboard pattern, keeping to a color palette will prevent your design from getting too hectic.

A brightly-colored room with blue floral wallpaper, a colorful rug, bright pillows, and lots of knickknacks around.
Design by Justina Blakeney

How to Mix Patterns with Lenox Global Tapestry

Mood

Another consideration in pattern mixing is mood. If you mix a zany zig zag with a delicate calico, you might experience some design whiplash. The moods are just very different. Instead, think of an overall mood that you want your design to have, then choose patterns that contribute to that mood.

a blue poster with flowers drawn on it hangs on a green botanical wallpapered wall. There's a bright yellow chair, white office furniture, and a pink room in the space.

Know When to Pull Back

I have a distinct childhood memory of a crafting session with my grandma when she said “Every artist needs someone to bonk them on the head with a hammer when the work is done so that they’ll finally put down the paintbrush.” Now that I think of it, I wonder what kind of chaos I was crafting with her to make her say that! Of course, my grandmother is a lovely person and would never actually condone violence. Still, the idea that you need to know when to pull back holds up.

The House That Lars Built wrapping papers for Alexis Mattox Design

A big part of pattern mixing all design is stepping back, evaluating, and modifying your work. It might feel discouraging to undo some of your work if you realize that it’s too overwhelming or not quite right. I know, because I’ve been there. But you’ll be so much happier with your work if you let yourself evaluate honestly and remember some restraint.

With that being said, design is subjective and you’re the master of your own destiny! What is absolutely too much for designer might become another designer’s signature style. Design rules are meant to be broken, so once you’re confident with some pattern mixing basics go wild!

a horizontally striped art print hanging on a wallpapered wall. The wallpaper is a modern green botanical pattern.

Finding Great Patterns

Like I mentioned before, Spoonflower is a great place to find wallpaper, fabric, and even housewares with beautiful patterns made by independent designers. Spoonflower is my go-to for interior design patterns and fun fabric. We’ve really worked with them so many times and we’re always thrilled with the variety and quality of their products.

You can check out some of our favorite Spoonflower designers here, and keep your eyes peeled for some Lars Spoonflower projects coming up soon. 😉

For more pattern inspiration don’t forget to follow my Patterns board on Pinterest! And another designer I love (who’s a pattern-mixing genius) is my dear friend Meta Coleman, who is designing our house. Lucky me!

A few years ago I wrote another pattern mixing guide! You can find it here, and combine your knowledge from both sources to become a pattern mixing pro. 

Palm Springs Style You Can’t Miss

The city really took off after the 1940s when the Golden Age actors of Hollywood wanted a retreat from the growing sprawl of Los Angeles. With all of that wealth coming to town, architects came along with it. William Krisel and John Porter Clark and Arthur Frey and Jack Meiselman and so many more created masterpieces and tract houses alike in this town. While you and I probably can’t commission the architecture gods to build us new homes, we can take cues from their style! It’s also a very real possibility to snag one of the homes for yourself if you’re in the market.

John Porter Clark home. The sky is bright blue, the house is modern and flat-roofed and brilliant white, and the foreground is beige gravelAlbert Frey home made of glass and steel tucked into the plants and rocks of Palm SpringsA white and black Jack Meiselman Home at sunset. Palm trees sway in the background, and the front yard is xeriscaped.

Color Reigns

The look of Palm Springs is one of openness and ease, minimalism with playful twists. With the pervasive sun and expansive sky, most of the homes in the area are painted white but you’ll be hard pressed to find a neutral-colored door. Pastels and neons reign! Hooray! There is this random house that isn’t one of the rat pack mansions or anything, but it has become famous because of #thatpinkdoor. A few cans of paint is all it takes for you to bring this Palm Springs styling tip home with ya! 

Vertical image of a modern white home with a pink door, agave plants, and structural landscaping

Don’t Forget to Look Up

If you go visit Palm Springs, odds are you’ll be so busy looking at all of the fabulous architecture that you might not notice the sky. Who am I kidding – it’s huge and bluer than you’ve ever seen it before. You can’t miss it. The architects who polished this corner of desert into a gem certainly didn’t! It’s almost as if they designed with the sky as the centerpiece. Check out this picture from my good friend Frank’s house. Architect E. Stewart Williams wasn’t messing around – he was showcasing the skies. My favorite Palm Springs houses have windows that are higher than I’m used to seeing. They also have cantilevered sections and skylights. This stunning photograph of the Sunnylands Estate, AKA “Camp David of the West” shows how important the sky is to the design of the property. By the way, Obama and Xi Jinping hung out here a few years back. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me! 

Image of a house with a huge blue sky, topiary-style trees, modern flat roof, and a pink ramp leading into a flat blue pond.

Geometric Ease

Okay, thanks for humoring me while I ranted about the sky for a bit. A huge part of the appeal of Palm Springs is its ease. I just look at pictures and feel relaxed. The design is simple to understand; it’s all about straight lines and symmetry. I love this photo of a room at Twin Palms – the sunburnt orange color is definitely an homage to the earth tones outside. I love that color as a headboard! The symmetry of the room is so precise and uncomplicated that it looks good from every angle. Imagine having a wall of matching prints of identical size behind you for zoom calls! The exteriors of Desert Modernist homes tend to have breeze block and hardy plants that are almost impossible to kill. What’s not to love about that? 

If you’re looking to add some freshness to your space, try channeling the vibe of Palm Springs! Its simple color scheme, sky-inspired design, and linear geometry create such a feeling of comfort and relaxation. That’s exactly what I want right now!!

Shop Palm Springs-Inspired Decor

Shop Palm Springs-Inspired Fashion

Palm Springs-Inspired Accessories

Looking for more style guides? Don’t forget to check out our In the Mood For series! We’ve found fashion, home decor, and accessories inspired by Frida Kahlo, Josef Albers, The Queen’s Gambit, Andy Warhol, Alma Thomas, Monet, Wes Anderson, The Royal Wedding Anniversary, Jane Austen’s Emma, Iris Apfel, Little Women, Alexander GirardAnne of Green Gables, and Hamilton.

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