Living Room Organizing


It seems like just yesterday we were talking about Spring making its mark on our yard. And now, here we are; school supplies are flying off the shelves and fall decor ideas are flying around the Blogosphere. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Fall (and so does Greg). It’s just weird how time flies.

One thing I love about the changing seasons is the changing out of home accessories at stores like Target, Kohl’s, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel. Around this time is when the summer lines are going out and the fall-inspired accessories are coming in. Not only do I find new things to add to my wish list, but I also get the chance to pick up some great pieces on the cheap. While browsing the clearance aisles of Target the other day, I managed to get my hands on a lot of goodies. Here’s the photo I texted to my mom saying, “This is why I shouldn’t go to Target alone!”

Among my finds, I found a huge faux leather tray tucked in the back of a shelf. (You can see it sticking of my cart in the top right corner of my photo.) According to the price tag, it was originally priced at $25, but it had been marked down to just $17! However, I’m pretty sure I saw the same tray a couple of aisles over a few months ago for around $50. Maybe the $25 was the sale price? I’m not sure. Regardless, $17 is a very good price for a 16 x 26 tray – especially when I found a very similar one (though made from authentic leather) online to the tune of $499! A classic “Look for Less” moment. Elisabeth Hasselbeck would be proud.

When I got the tray home, it practically gravitated to the living room coffee table…

tray, coffee table

Ideally, I’d like there to be more contrast between the tray and the coffee table. However, that doesn’t bother me too much due to the fact that the coffee table isn’t going to be with us forever. I’ve been not-so-secretly obsessing over this one I found at Home Goods a while back.

I’ve been kicking myself ever since for not going ahead and snatching it up. The reclaimed wood look would tie in with the reclaimed wood mantle that’s on our wish list. For now, we’re working with what we’ve got. So, I digress.

Now time to “dress” the tray. I didn’t want to use a bunch of impractical “foo foo” items that would end up being dust collectors. Instead, I wanted to make sure what made the cut tray were things we would use on an everyday (or semi-everyday) basis. With this in mind, I decided to approach the task Emily Henderson-style: layers. For the first “layer”, though it seems like the obvious choice, I wanted a place for some magazines and a current favorite book or two.

The tray ended up being the perfect size for a good amount of magazines and a few of my current favorite books. I didn’t want to stack things too high because I knew I wanted to add something on top of each stack (for layers 2 and 3) and I didn’t want to block the view from the love seat to the TV.

I love, love, love having fresh flowers in the house. By the way, I recently realized it’s much cheaper to get fresh cut flowers from our local florist (Strange’s, for you Richmond-ers) rather than the grocery store. They look better and last longer, to boot. While I was trying to decide what to do with the tray, I asked Greg to pick up some flowers on his way home from work (doesn’t that sound awful… I asked him to pick up flowers. He totally does that on his own from time to time. Promise.). When he came home, I put them in a short vase I picked up at the Williamsburg Pottery for $6 a few months back. Et voila… “Layer 2” is born.

coffee table, tray, flowers, books

Now obviously, life isn’t a Disney movie (unfortunately) and we don’t live in a fantasy land where we have fresh cut flowers around all the time. No worries, though, because I can always find something else to put in the vase. For example, in the fall, I could fill the vase with acorns and add a chunky pillar candle. Once winter hits, I’m thinking faux snowballs… the possibilities are pretty much endless.

For “Layer 3”, I decided to use this cute little dish I bought on Etsy (from this shop) for $8.50. Since we’re not really candy dish people, and Greg and I enjoy playing card games from time to time, I opted to add a few decks of cards to the mix.

I feel like I’ve reached the goal of putting together something that’s aesthetically pleasing yet functional. You can get to everything on the table without too much effort, but it looks “together” at the same time. Over the last few days, we’ve especially enjoyed the fact that the playing cards are now within arm’s reach. Where ordinarily we’d play four games in a month, we’ve played four games in the last three days.

Overall, Greg and I are pretty pleased with what has become of my $17 Target find. He’s really digging the balance of form and function, and I love how everything is neatly organized and easy to maintain. Yay for the Target clearance aisle! So how about you… find any good clearance items lately? While you’re at it, do you have a favorite two-person card game?

By the way, don’t forget about our new daily feature in the sidebar to the right, “Side Notes”!

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  • Reply
    August 5, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Just thought you’d lilke to know that they have nearly the same coffee table at WorldMarket. No need to continue kicking yourself… 🙂

    • Reply
      August 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      Really?! I WILL be heading there ASAP. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Reply
    August 5, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Very cute. I love the look of trays like that but can’t always figure out the best way to use them for me. Plus, we have 2 cats that get EVERYWHERE. So I can’t have too small items within their reach or they WILL get to them! I really love the look of the magazines, books, flowers and card decks. Well done!! Also, that coffee table at Home Goods you pictured is GORGEOUS!!! Wow. I LOVE that old reclaimed wood look. Swoon! Haha. Have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    August 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

    what are your favorite 2 person card games? I would love to do more stuff like that with my hubby. We love games but most of them that we have are for more than just 2 people.

    • Reply
      August 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      First of all, thank you : ) And we hope your cats will leave your coffee table alone so you can try out a tray, haha!

      We love playing Escalero. It’s kind of an addiction! We also like to play Cheat and Gin Rummy. When we have a group of people over, Spoons is THE game to be played. For sure!

  • Reply
    Terrie W
    August 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Looks great. Love the Etsy dish too!

  • Reply
    Julie Sims
    August 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I think you “Like” hydrangeas as much as I do:) No matter where it place them in my house they always look awesome!

  • Reply
    Fawnia G
    August 5, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I love collecting books and magazines because they’re becoming obsolete! Sunds funny to say but it the truth. Decks of cards in the bowl is a cute idea. Most people would have put candy or marbles:)

  • Reply
    August 5, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Love, love, love that tray…i see a visit to Target in my near future 🙂

    Favourite card game – Gin Rummy!

  • Reply
    August 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    When my coffee table is tidy it helps me feel my whole family room is tidy, but trust me that usually isn’t the case! :(. We have friends over to play Cribbage. It’s a great game we learned while living in Europe.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I am in love with Hydrangeas! Not only are they beautiful, but they seem to last forever in vases. I love your pretty white ones. We have purple ones!
    favortie card game: I love playing rummy 500 with my husband.

  • Reply
    Jami Graham
    August 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    It looks great!! I wish we could do something like this but we’re not tidy enough and we will call our house more “lived in” ha, my nice way of saying hardly clean.

    You can SO make that table! It’d totally be cake!

  • Reply
    August 13, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Ballard’s has a very similar coffee table on super-sale right now! I bet it would look awesome with your new tray. 🙂

    • Reply
      August 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for the heads up : )

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Since this was posted almost a year ago, it probably doesn’t matter, but I found the coffee table the first comment meantioned:

  • Reply
    June 16, 2012 at 5:35 am

    You guys are so cute! I have visited almost every page on your blog and i love all of them! I love what you’re doing with the house and all of these tiny projects. I just realized with this post that you guys are like Chandler and Monica from Friends, you know except for the slight variation in professions (cuisine is artsy and data processing is at the heart of computer systems!) Keep’em posts coming!

    • Reply
      June 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      LOL We haven’t heard that before! Come to think of it, it is kind of accurate though 😉

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