We know better than anyone that when you’ve been pulling your hair trying to design a space on your own, there comes a point where you just wish someone else would come in and present you with options that are within your budget. Especially when it comes to decor. What sofa will look good? What should I do with this big empty wall? Are there ACTUALLY NICE LOOKING recliners? It can be maddening and honestly, I’m having a few moments of those myself right now. But isn’t it somehow so much easier to help other people?? Far less of an emotional attachment…aka design freedom! So since I love scouring the internet, and looking at beautiful things, and avoiding my own issues, I thought I would do a little personal shopping for y’all. We did a call out asking strictly for decor agonies only (Sorry for those of you who sent in layout questions. Next time!). I, unfortunately, couldn’t do all of them but hopefully, these can be helpful to a lot of you:) So let’s jump right on in!
The Agony: A Multifunctional Office Credenza
From Beth: “Hi, Emily. I share a home office with my husband (and our dogs and cats), and while it’s functional enough, it’s kind of blah design-wise. I just got a beautiful side table from Anthropologie that is inspiring me. The pain point is finding a new credenza. I’d like something with drawers (ideally a file drawer), a shelf, and some closed cabinet space, with room on top for my cats to nap. It would go under the two windows and replace the piece that’s there now. If it’s big enough to hide the recycle bin and the paper shredder, all the better. The house has a modern eclectic vibe, and something with fluting or simple trim would be pretty. I’m open to wood or metal. Size-wise, roughly 60 inches wide, 25 inches high, and 18 inches deep would work. I’d like to spend less than $1,000.”
Above is the cute side table she bought and is inspired by! Beth has had a lot of things to consider so I get why this wasn’t a super easy search. I gave her 4 options that are all miraculously under budget! And since there’s some room in the budget, I also think an office chair-friendly rug would look great and elevate the space even more:) However, for now, let’s talk about these credenzas.
The Budget: $1000
1. Marc Espresso Wood And Natural Rattan Media Stand: Unfortunately, none of the credenzas I found had an actual filing cabinet, were pretty, and were within Beth’s budget. However, I LOVE the rattan on this one and there’s open and closed storage. Sadly no drawer but you can forgo one or two of the shelves (it has three sections) and just use file boxes. It’s also 3″ over the measurements she gave but if that’s not a dealbreaker I think it’s a great option.
2. Altavista 62.9” Wide 3 Drawer Sideboard: First off, you can beat that price, it also comes in white, has a ton of storage, and could maybe fit a paper shredder along with a file box. For the cons, zero open storage, would need to use file boxes, and it’s also 3″ over the asked for length.
3. Vladlena 58” Wide Sideboard: This one is drawerless, comes in a darker color, but does have open and closed storage. From my calculations, a standard-sized file box will fit in the cabinets. Also, this one is 2″ under the asked for length!
4. Wembley Medium TV Stand: This one is another winner for me! It is 8″ under the asked for length but is the deepest of the bunch at 16.77″. I also really love the base:)
The Agony: Overhead Lighting Pairing
From Ashley: “We live in a traditional 1959 ranch in the Midwest and are slowly but surely updating the house from its not-so-awesome 70s and 90s poor patch-ups. I’m finishing up our main living/dining space and am at a total impasse on light fixtures to suit the needs of a room that does both. The current only ceiling light is the old brass chandelier over the dining area and there is nary another light fixture in sight so we’ll be a pretty blank canvas. We have 8ft ceilings so I’m thinking we’ll have to go with a semi-flush mount in the living area and could get a little more dangly above the gorgeous 8 ft live edge dining table made by my father. OH EM GEE ASHLEY GET TO THE POINT. I’m looking for light fixtures that complement each other but aren’t part of a “set”, something in brass/black or both that isn’t super mod, more traditional/vintage even a little quirky. No California casual here in Missouri. We’re building a giant wall of built-ins too so there’s the possibility of some library lighting too.”
First off, Ashely, please send pics when the built-ins are done! As for lighting, definitely keep an eye out for cool and quirky lights at flea markets and vintage shops (which you might already be doing). That’s the easiest way to find something really unique and likely on the more affordable side! But I think I came up with three great combos that can at the very least give you some inspiration:)
The Budget: $1000-$1500
1. Mitzi Elsie Wide Aged Brass Pendant + Henry Flushmount: This combo is the most unique in my opinion! I love the shape of the long pendant but FYI it’s not super wide so I would test something similar out to see if playing with the scale works. Now, the semi-flush mount is so pretty and pretty big. With a floor and some table lamps (one could even be in the new shelving unit, I think this could provide enough light!
2. Maxim Lovell Wide Black 10-Light LED Pendant + Ray: I will always love this style of chandelier and this is a great price! I then thought if you wanted your flush mount to blend slightly in with the ceiling, this brass one is really beautiful. I know it’s pricier but I 100% stand by Schoolhouse’s quality. 10/10.
3. Thurston Wide Warm Brass 13-Light Pendant + Cadence Semi Flush Mount: Naturally, I love this one too. Both are going to provide a ton of light and the contrast in shapes will give you some serious visual interest.
P.S. Feel free to mix and match the combos! I think they are easily interchangeable:)
The Agony: Mix And Match Dining Chairs
From Crystal: “I need help picking two more dining chairs for our kitchen. We’ve been working on our house forever (and we have a little one) so please excuse the mess. I’ve always liked the idea of different dining chairs at the end of the table but I can’t figure out what would look good with the existing dining chairs and the counter stools I have. Our budget for this is around $1k for both chairs. Please help!”
Jess, here! I also love mixing dining chairs! It’s such an “easy” and quick way to add extra personality and texture. Also, I was kidding about the “easy” part…especially when you also have dining chairs and counter stool to consider. But I got the Emily and EHD team stamp of approval on these puppies so let’s get to it!
The Budget: $1000
1. Misses Chair: This chair brings in the leather of your stools and the wood and light tones of your dining chairs. Plus the shape is simple yet beautiful so it doesn’t compete with what you have:)
2. Amber Lewis for Anthropologie Caillen Dining Chair: The same idea as the first option but this shape is pretty darn special and very vintage-inspired. It’s over budget but I couldn’t help but to add it. It also has arms which is also nice:)
3. Addison Navy Dining Arm Chair with Flange: Personally, I love the idea of an upholstered chair in a bold but neutral color. It adds a ton of depth. Also, since it’s only two of them you don’t have to worry about kids because they can just sit in the rattan chairs. FYI, if you don’t have blue anywhere else in the room it might stick out a little too much.
4. Candace Vintage Acorn And Seagrass Dining Armchair: Textured, beautiful medium tone, and has arms. The trifecta!
5. Arno Black Wood Side Chair: So pretty and surprisingly affordable! I also love that the black calls to your stool’s legs.
6. Marla Dining Chair: I know that super light fabric is dicey with kids but it’s one of my favorite chairs and the leather calls to the stools…but also a little over budget.
7. Ida Dining Arm Chair (Set of 2): The same idea as number #5 but has a much more rounded shape that works with the chairs and stools.
8. Cylia Dining Chair (Set of 2): A classic for a reason and comfortable.
9. Landon Print Slipcover Dining Chair: Ok ,so if you like the idea of a slipcover chair but the blue was too dark, this is it. It’s light AND patterned (an added fun layer). More visual interest if you ask me:)
The Agony: Kids Shared Room Beds
From Emma: “I have two kids and I’m trying to figure out how to transition them into “big kid beds” and keep them sharing the same room. Their room is small (10 x 13 or so) and dark. I originally thought bunk beds, but they don’t seem to want them. Or one does and the other does not. So my question is: Can I fit two twin beds in here, and if so, how? The only thing I really want to keep in this room is the dresser (I think it is from West Elm). This daybed seems like a good idea but I’m not sure if it would be weird to have two in the same room. I got excited and bought them two of these twin duvet covers with pillowcases.
Question: Can I fit two twin beds in here? Budget: Flexible – maybe $3k on beds total?
Bonus question: Should I swap the light fixture (currently a boob) to something cooler?”
Ok, so there was an update after this initial email:
Also From Emma: “Update: I measured and I can’t fit two twins in here in a reasonable way. Bunk beds it is!
Now how to find something cool that gets the kids excited…”
Naturally, I switched gears and went on a fun bunk bed (all under budget!)…and a cute flush mount hunt:)
The Budget: $3000
1. Merax Twin Over Twin House Bunk Bed with Storage Stairway: What a dream! I had a bunk bed growing up that I loved but this would have been SO COOL. I also love that there are stairs and it’s not a ladder. Seems a little safer but I also had a ladder and am still here. Plus the stairs are also extra storage. Kids and parents alike can have their dreams come true!
2. Sarah Sherman Samuel Arches Bunk Bed: This bed is just super cool. And why?? Well, Sarah Sherman Samuel designed it. I also think that most kids fight over the top bunk so having the bottom bunk feel like a cool cave due to the arch can hopefully make everyone happy.
3. Mid-Century Twin Bunk Bed: I added this one because it looked like the bunk version of the daybeds Emma picked out that I also loved. It’s a total classic look that design-wise will last them a long time.
4. Milo Two-Tone Bunk Bed: More modern but still super cute and would look great with the duvets.
5. Nestfair Twin over Full House Bunk Bed with Built-in Ladder: So fun, way under budget, and whoever gets the bottom bunk gets a bigger bed! This is also great for sleepovers:)
6. Keystone Twin Gray Stairway Bunk Bed with Storage/Trundle Unit: You’ve got stairs, you’ve got storage, AND you’ve got a trundle bed. The gang’s all here!
Now onto flush mounts that will look great with the style and color palette Emma’s going for.
1. Avery 1 Light Small Flush Mount: It’s a pretty shade of pink but has a great classic shape. SO sweet.
2. Lily White Scalloped Fabric Pendant Lamp: The scalloped shape would look so cute with the duvets but is neutral so it doesn’t distract too much. Also, that price!
3. Paige 3 Light Flush Mount: I used the 9-light chandelier version in my friend’s bedroom makeover and it’s so beautiful in person. Unlike my friend, I tend to not go for floral detailing so I was surprised how much I truly loved it!
4. Natural Jute Woven Semi Flush Mount Ceiling Light: You know we love adding texture to a room and this affordable flush mount is organic and geometric. This one will easily transition with them as they get older.
5. Moxie 3 Light Flush Mount: A vintage-inspired BEAUT! I deeply love this one but I’m a sucker for this shade shape. It’s timeless.
6. Rattan Pendant: It’s so fun, brings in texture, and is under $100. A great option!
The Agony: Living Room Rug
From Jane: “The main thing that I would love help with the most is finding a rug! I’m in search of a 6 x 9 rug. I want something warm and neutral, and with just some minimal design element(s) to it. For reference/example, I love Emily’s new rug in their LR! Also, like the rug in Emily’s BR…(was that maybe in their old living room at some point?)…neutral, and very subtle, but still a little something/definition to it. Ideally, the rug would be a little darker…like Emily‘s LR example… But if it was the right option in other ways, I could go for something lighter. I don’t have to think of the rug for sure looking good with this current couch… If it did though, that would be great/a bonus for the time being, and then I could really just replace the couch at my convenience in the future. I’ve literally been looking (off & on) for a rug for years (like 5). I have found some from time to time that I’ve liked, but then they’re either way out of my budget (ex: the 6 x 9 size of Emily‘s new LR rug is $2600), or an affordable option doesn’t come in the size that I need (instead only in 5×7 &/or 8×10). (This is a first-world problem, I know, and again I realize that I’m blessed to even have a home!) Once I choose a rug and figure out what way to go with the couch situation, then I plan on getting the chair reupholstered to go with the rest of the room. I would love it if I could find something that I really really like for $500! But if it’s awesome and I need to spend $700 or $800, I can. $1000 would be the ultimate maximum amount… And I would need to be so in love with it and feel certain that I am keeping it forever (bc really, yikes, that’s really more than I should spend).”
It was super helpful to have Em’s rug as a reference point! I really hope one of these rugs works out so you can start your journey in finishing your room. Rugs sadly tend to just be pricey for a decent pile height that also isn’t jute (one of Jane’s requests). With all that said let’s get to it!
The Budget: $1000
1. Crosshatch Ivory Micro Hooked Wool Rug: Neutral and has a soft pattern.
2. Plush Pile Striations Ivory: A little lighter, a bit more plush, and closer to the budget.
3. Viscose And Wool Modern Brown/Cream: This one is a warmer tone, has a subtle pattern, but is on the pricier side.
4. Lumini Easy Care Rug: This one is allll about texture! It’s also a great price point and comes in other colors if this light one is too intimidating! This one isn’t super thick so a rug pad would be a great way to plush things up:)
5. Niels Latte Woven Wool/Viscose Rug: Love that big texture!! And the color looks a little more forgiving which is never a bad thing.
6. CRUSH: $399?? Yes, please! This one also feels really similar to Em’s. We can also attest to Article’s quality:)
The Agony: A Goodlooking Recliner
From Marcie: “We are in the very early stage of designing a house. We had to make some sacrifices in size so my husband is giving up his only wish item, a pool table, but now he wants a recliner instead. Ugh! That means this recliner would need to be in our only living room space. He doesn’t like modern. I tried to convince him on a leather chair & ottoman, but he really wants a recliner. Are there any pretty ones out there?
I hope you can help.”
The Budget: $1000
Since Marcie and her husband are designing their house, I didn’t get a photo. But I think I came up with a few options that are a mix of traditional and modern. Fingers crossed because finding stylish affordable recliners sadly isn’t as easy as it should be.
1. Maxille Wide Faux Leather Manual Standard Recliner: Love the color and the wooden base frame base. Plus it still looks comfortable!
2. Freese Wide Genuine Leather Manual Recliner: This one is on the more traditional side but the lines are a little cleaner than say a roll arm. Also, the price is very right:)
3. Paxton Upholstered Recliner: Not sure how visible the metal base is but if a softer look is what you want this one could be a great option.
In my search, I came across this one and fell in love. Sadly it’s about $2k over budget but it looks super soft and comfortable and doesn’t even look like a recliner. Just wanted to make sure the world knew this existed.
The Agony: A Dining Room Table
From Lauren: “We moved into our house in Atlanta back in January and we have been looking for a dining table ever since. We want something round but everything feels either too modern or too much like it belongs in a castle or a beach cottage. We considered a glass top table with a tree trunk base, but the one we found was SO heavy and also didn’t leave room for our legs. Here’s a picture of the space featuring a table used by the previous owners. I actually really love it but I haven’t been able to find anything similar. Help!”
The Budget: Up to $5000
1. Carmen Dining Table: This one is a similar shape but is all wooden which may or not be what you’re looking for.
2. Magnolia Home Belford Dining Table: Not sure about the overall style of your home but from the photo, this could be really pretty with room for your legs:) The base shape is super unique.
3. Cobain Dining Table: The love the angles of this guy! Organic but definitely modern.
4. Parq Oval Dining Table: This one feels the closest to the one in the photo in terms of the thickness of the top and the metal on the base.
5. Kanji Dining Table: Super pretty and light!
6. Rattan & Mahogany Dining Table: This may not work with your style at all but I wanted to through a wild card in here:) Could be great though if it works with what you have.
The Agony: Seating For A Narrow Walk-Through Living Room
From Kirsten: “A few photos are attached of my 10-year-old design dilemma. Our house is a 1957 ranch with a basement. Kitchen/dining/seating area all in one long room. (Our living room is separate.)
Our wish…a cool and comfortable seating area where we can drink wine in front of the fire, and have guests sit and chat while I am cooking. The fireplace is huge & awesome. We’ve tried two chairs here, and it’s “meh.” Thinking about tossing the chairs, old ottoman & super-old buffet & starting over.Rug is 100% temporary because our new puppy keeps having accidents. We have a blank slate & I can’t get a good design. I’m stuck!”
Jess here! This is a tough one. I even asked Em and the gang their opinion and they sympathized with Kirsten! We all agreed that a small, low-profile sofa with legs is the way to go. Here’s what we think could work.
P.S. She didn’t get back to me about a budget so I did my best to be reasonable!
The Budget: ??
1. Burrard Loveseat: Emily owns the sectional version and loves it. It’s comfortable and neutral so it doesn’t feel too overpowering visually. A great option.
2. Hargrove Sofa: We’re getting a lighter but this one is a but more traditional which would also look great.
3. Allisen Sofa: The lightest in color but has more of a modern feel. Plus the black metal legs would look great with your dining chairs.
1. Stripes: The broken stripe is a new classic that we LOVE and looks fresh without being too modern. This one is a light color so that’s something to consider with the pup and guests.
2. Buffalo Plaid Blue & Ivory Rug: It’s washable! And is a classic, classic pattern that I think will look will great with your other pieces.
3. Marrakesh Beige Ivory Rug: Another washable option! It is lighter but again, is washable and the pattern feels more modern.
4. Harlequin Trellis Natural Navy Re-Jute Rug: A mix of classic with a hint of modern, is great for high traffic and pups (as long as they don’t have light fur), and look at that price!
5. Tufted Rug: Also a great price and would add a bit of an organic feel to the room.
6. Ledges Digital Floral Print Distressed Persian Rug: You can’t beat this price and feels similar to what you have (and probably like).
The Agony: Empty Wall
From Natalie: “This wall has never had anything on it! What should I do here? I could use lighting at night but really need to just. Do. Something.”
It’s Jess again! This is the age-old design question and there are so many options that it can feel overwhelming. But for her $500 budget, I think I came up with some good options.
The Budget: $500
1. Picture Light + Layered Paper Diptych: I really love how simple this is and that art is soooo pretty! I think for this space and with what you already own, choosing art that isn’t heavily detailed is key. There is already a lot of great pattern in the rug and chairs so choosing art to contrast them is important for the eye to be happy. Then if you want lights these affordable picture lights are a great option! My only concern with a diptyque is that it might feel too same-same with the two chairs under them…
2. Picture Light + Blue Abstract Triptych Framed Canvas Wall Art: …so here’s a triptyque! The price is right for the art and here is another picture light option, but they would push you a little beyond your budget.
3. Arched Wall Mirror + Woven Poster + Abstract Seascape Framed Canvas + Sconce Reflector Lamp + Wall Shelf: I love a picture ledge so that you can easily change your art without worrying about making too many holes. A mirror is great for making a space bigger and brighter, the large canvas color palette would look great in your room, and the smaller piece has a smaller scale pattern while staying with the color palette. Balance! Then for some added light, this is a great plug-in sconce that Sara also has in her home🙂
The Agony: Entry Storage
From Grace: “Can you and the EHD team help select some stylish coat and shoe storage for the tiny little corner of our kitchen where we enter our home every day? The small room up the step is our laundry room and every inch of that is needed for laundry, cleaning supplies, recycling bins, etc. You can see we have a few coats that we hang on hooks on the back of the door in the laundry room, but we need more space for hanging coats! We have a three-year-old and a nine-month-old, so that’s four of us who need a place to stash coats and shoes near the door. We use the blue cupboard on the left somewhat regularly so we can’t have anything that would interfere with opening those doors.
I love this rail with hooks, and am wondering whether it would be too much to have one at adult level and another at a kid level (and also shoes below that!?) This one is also cool, but maybe bigger and busier so would need to take down the clock. Last, this one is not quite as pretty as the first but it’s way more practical with so many more hooks! Maybe you’ve got something even better? Also, got any prettier ideas for shoe storage?”
Jess again:) First off, I can’t get over how sweet this room is! Look at that built-in, that door. All so wonderful.
Look that the outside door color is green! However, no matter the cuteness of a home, it doesn’t guarantee a usable entry. That’s where hopefully I can help.
The Budget: $300
Ok, to start us off I wanted to show you all what she linked up in her email.
1. Lusso Hook Rack: She loves this one but is worried that it might be too much visually to have two – one for adults and a lower one for kids. I think it would look great. I did look at the reviews and they did make me hesitate. But she can always try them out if she really loves them, right?
2. Iron Double Hook Rack: I think this one would be great and looks the most durable which is not to be discounted:)
3. Rattan Coat Hanger Rack: She loves the look of this one but worries it’s too busy and I think if you want two of them I agree that they might be. But they are so cute!
These next three are my picks:
1. Amber Lewis for Anthropologie Hook Rack: I love love this one and my heart made me add it. It is big and busy so I only recommend it if you decide to only use one. Plus it takes up the whole budget…
2. Weston Indoor/Outdoor Hook Rack: This one is for indoor/outdoor so it’s made to be durable and I love the modern traditional style.
3. French Large Coat Rack: For a vintage-looking home like this one I had to recommend a vintage coat rack and I love these. If you’re ok with them not matching there are some deals to be had!
Now a basket may not work for your family but I love my shoe bin and I know that Emily is SUPER pro shoe basket. Here are some big ones:
1. Rattan Trunk: This one is big and has a lid! But if a lid is annoying then it can easily be removed.
2. Safi Low Rectangular Basket: A lighter-toned but pretty and tall basket. Love the braided detail.
3. Rattan Rectangle Basket: Still a great size and at a great price.
Y’all! We made it to the end!! Let me say again that I am so sorry I couldn’t give suggestions to everyone that submitted. We are always so grateful for you and maybe we can do another one of these soon. Hopefully, this was helpful for more than just the people I answered today. It was a really fun challenge! Have great rest of your day.
Love you, mean it.