Home Decor: Surface Tops

Surfaces are one of the easiest parts of my apartment to decorate, which is why I struggle with them the most. Countertops, tabletops, windowsills, bookshelves — there are so many surface tops in my apartment that are screaming to be decorated and it’s so easy to just keep putting stuff on them! My problem is not finding things to decorate with, my problem is ending up clutter everywhere! 

It was brought to my attention at work the other day that I may in fact be a hoarder. I also seem to think that the crap that I keep collecting doubles as decorations. In my previous life (and my high school bedroom as it currently exists in Rochester, IL), you would find shelves covered with Beanie Babies, decorated Frappuccino bottles and every candle that I ever got from a junior high birthday party. In my new apartment, not so much. I’m making a conscious effort to decorate with less clutter. Not only that, but I’ve tried really hard to focus on practicality over just about anything else. Let’s see how I did. 

Take a walk through my home and see how I decorated some of my primary surface tops. I have bolded all the important tips in case you don’t want want to read all the words.

This pair of shelves is my ideal combination of practical and cute. First is the books. It’s always better to display your books, then box them up! Mine peek over the top of my desk, but I like it that way. You’ll see at the edge of the books is a festive mask from New Orleans, which is the only souvenir you’ll see on these shelves — I’m trying to limit the use of souvenirs as decorations to the really good ones.

On the second shelf on the far left, you’ll see a stack of magazines. Putting those on that shelf was very much intentional. It’s so easy to collect old magazines and let them pile up. Those magazines are there so that my magazine collection is limited to that height. If I haven’t read the magazines on the bottom of that pile by the time I need to make more room for new ones, then I’m probably never going to read it and thus it’s not worth taking up space! 

You can also see my tape, stapler and sticky notes hanging out on the right. I like to have my office supplies easily accessible. Plus, my passport is in plain sight so that I can always find it. Since I rarely use it, keeping it visible ensures that I won’t lose it. (Is that a terrible idea? That’s a serious question.) There’s a single picture frame and minimal trinkets.

This is one of my shelves near my desk. A good way to break up stacks of coffee table books and notebooks is to place some in/on different objects. In this case, I put some of them in a basket that I had left over from a Starbucks gift set. Another cute way to do this would have been to lay a few down horizontally with their spines facing out. 

Picture frames are great, don’t get me wrong, but I have a lot more pictures than I have room for frames. Sometimes, I like to use chunky paper clips to pin up a few photos in odd places, like the one on the left.

This vanity was my grandmother’s, and now it is one of my favorite things in my whole apartment. I think it’s classic, pretty and incredibly functional. I put a lot of thought into decorating my vanity, because I wanted to keep the classical look to it, but I also wanted to make it my own. It’s the most “me” part of my whole apartment. Lighting here was a must, so I opted to use the lamp from my grandma as well, to keep the look consistent. The perfume bottle, however, is not practical at all. There’s hardly any perfume left in there, but the bottle looks pretty and was a modern version of something vintage. I liked that contrast.

The pretty little piece on the glass shelf is a Waterford Crystal ring holder that I got from two very special people. The two lovely ladies that took me in as a volunteer at DSC while I was in college got me that when I graduated. I absolutely love it. Since this was my place that I’d spend time at every morning, I wanted to be surrounded by things that made me happy, which is why I keep that there. I topped that off with a darling floral hair clip that a Starbucks regular made for me back in Champaign. I like adding pretty little touches like that.

Since my vanity is the place where I go to look to pretty, I added a few extra pretty things to help secure that mood. I put a Coach and Tiffany bag on the bottom shelf, a few candles and a bodice jewelry stand to help set the tone.

Looking pretty isn’t enough, though. Looking pretty is only the icing on a person who’s pretty on the inside. I have one picture frame here that means a lot to me. I took this picture in junior high of all the things that made me happy, along with a sign that reads, “Yep. She’s Happy.” A lot of things that made me happy then were superficial, like money and eyeliner, but a lot of them still make me happy today, like my friends and good writing. It’s important to have a constant reminder of what makes you happy.

This is getting long, so I’ll make this one quick. Let’s try bullet points.

  • A few pictures frames (one of the boyfriend and two of old friends from college). I like to keep picture frames to a minimum, and this is about my max.
  • College participation trophy, which will obviously remain on display for the rest of my life as a constant reminder of my BFF.
  • My mom bought me that jewelry box on Mom’s weekend in college and I’m absolutely obsessed with it. It’s practical and pretty — my fave combo!
  • Displaying things people bring you from foreign countries is always acceptable. There’s a little bit of that up there. Love it!
  • And then there’s some sea shells from Galveston … I guess you can’t win them all.

Last but not least … a plant. Everyone needs at least one pretty plant! One year, my brother wanted a puppy for his birthday and my mom bought him Bamboo. I’m a firm believer in this chain of decision making:

If you want a child, get a plant. If you still want a child, get a puppy. If you still want a child, wait a year and re-evaluate. If you still want a child, then go for it.

I’m clearly still at the plant stage.

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That’s all I got! I hope you liked some of my suggestions! Check back next Wednesday for how I decorate my walls!