Lili Zarghami

"I buy chairs instead of expensive shoes."

Lili is Editorial Director of HGTV.com. Her personal obsessions include looking for just the right sofa, ogling real estate listings, and reading floor-plans. She has an admitted "chair problem," collecting them like most women collect shoes. Lili lives in an apartment that's perpetually too small (probably because of all the chairs) in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and young twins.

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POSTS BY Lili Zarghami

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Comfy sofas that look good are not exactly hard to find. There are so many furniture makers that really get that what we want when we plop down at the end of the day is a couch that not only feels good, but looks good, too. However, if you add a couple of key constraints about price and size, the field of options becomes considerably narrowed. When Kayla requested that I help her in her search for an apartment-sized sofa that worked well with a mid-century modern look, but was conventional enough to live with every day, AND cost under $700, I knew I had a tough assignment.

So for everyone who is in the camp of needing something small but really good looking, I present to you the following affordable and handsome options:
apartment sized sofas

The Chloe sofa on the left is from Macy’s and is currently on sale for $599. The sales at Macy’s come and go but the good news is they always come back around. Over the past several years, they’ve upped their furniture game and partnered with a bunch of great designers to put out some really refined looking pieces. On the right is a new classic from IKEA – the Kivik sofa. It’s actually one of the larger sofas on my list at 89″, but its proportion is right for not overwhelming a smaller space. Plus, it’s a perfect movie-watching couch.
apartment sized sofas

I’ve learned from designer Brian Patrick Flynn to always check Overstock.com when looking for pretty much anything. Chances are they’ll have something really close to what you want for a really good deal. That definitely holds true for this Signature Design sofa on the left at $679. Ditch the pillows that come with it and add some with a bright mid-century pattern and you’re all set. The loveseat on the right from West Elm is one of my all-time favorites. In fact if I had a need for another couch myself, I’d pick this Everett Upholstered Loveseat.
apartment sized sofas
An option I hadn’t considered for apartments before — but one that makes total sense now that I think of it — is a daybed. The one on the left is also from West Elm and has great mid-century modern lines. It would double as an excellent guest bed for company. Those of us who live in apartments often lament the lack of guest accommodations and this could be just the answer. It’s on sale right now, too, for $639. Last but not least is the Courtney Sofa from Target. Granted, it comes in at a fairly tiny 60″, but if you’re looking for something that’s an upgrade from a college-era futon, this is a pretty good bet. And at $499, the price is pretty hard to beat.

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When I moved into my first apartment too many years ago to admit, my stepfather gifted me with a toolbox full of all his “doubles.” Later when my brother moved to a tropical island, he handed down his steel toolbox to me and I was thrilled. I truly love my trusty tool kit and even love sorting through it to find just the right instrument for a given job. My toolbox and the tools in it are feeling their (20+ years) age, however. So I’m daydreaming about replacing everything with tools that help me make the fixes around my home and are beautiful to boot.

Not only are these tools functional, but they’re even gorgeous enough to display — maybe on a magnetic strip? I love how self-referential the wood handles are and the care that was clearly taken in designing and crafting them. But tell me: am I alone in my handylady desires? Or are you a fixer with an enviable tool set, too?

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Oh lowly trash can, where would we be without you? We would be surrounded by piles of trash, that’s where.

Silly odes to the waste bin aside, this kitchen necessity is often overlooked as an accessory that is deserving of good design. Understandably, many trash cans are made of hard plastic, straight-lined and completely unadorned (all the easier for cleaning). But for those of us who are looking for a more — dare I say? — classy trash can that you can proudly display out in the open, there are some real beauties out there:

I’ve coveted the classic Wesco Kickboy for some time, but it’s a bit of an investment piece. That hot pink (radiant orchid?) Premier Housewares bin, which I could only find available in the UK, would look dynamite in an all-white kitchen. So what do you guys think? Do these trash cans make your “want” list?

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If there ever was a product that screamed: “Please, just leave me to my function and forget my form. I’ve got a job to do!” it’s the lowly doormat. And who could blame it? Its sole purpose is to be stepped on with dirty shoes. When Briana suggested we look for some mats that were not-too-kitschy yet not too plain I knew I’d have some hunting to do. I think I’ve found some good options in a range of styles that meet the aesthetic requests and don’t shirk their function altogether:

door mats

1. Anchor West Elm; 2. Tvis round mat IKEA; 3. Wink Orange Rug; 4. Oceanstar Bamboo; 5. Branch Door mat; 6. Magical Thinking Southwest Geo Rug; 7. Turkish Doormat

I have to admit, at my own apartment, I go for pure function in my entryway. I’ve got a recycled-tire doormat that you can stand on with dripping, snowy boots and just wipe down later. However, these are all so pretty that I might reconsider my choice of pure utility leaving me, as usual, with a case of the wants.

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I’ve been on a hunt for “ugly things that aren’t ugly,” since last week’s post about modern filing cabinets. I received some really great requests to be on the look out for and I’ve added them all to my list. (If you’ve got a request, let me know in the comments!) This week, Liz wants a good looking ceiling fan. Challenge accepted. Since I wasn’t quite sure what style she might have in mind, I found a variety that could fit well into almost any setting. Here’s what I came up with:

attractive ceiling fans

Top Row, L to R: 1. Stella Ceiling Fan by Dave Ellis; 2. Flyte by G Squared; 3. Haiku Fan; Bottom Row, L to R: 4. Lit Modern Ceiling Fan #4; 5. Avian Ceiling Fan; 6. Plum by Modern Fan Co

RELATED: How to Install a Ceiling Fan

The key to finding a really beautiful ceiling fan, unfortunately, is looking beyond some of the big box home improvement stores. They’re so convenient, but their selection can leave the design enthusiast unsatisfied. And sadly, a lot of the better looking fans come with an equally “impressive” price tag. If you think of them as an investment — one you’ll be staring at every day — perhaps it’ll help get you over the sticker shock.

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When I get my home to myself for an extended period of time — no kids, no husband — I tend to go on the sort of cleaning and organizing binge that a normal working mom would think was…well, excessive. Instead of lazily reading books, or going out to brunch with girlfriends, I revel in the chance to fix my apartment knowing that no one but me will mess it up.

I was telling Briana that I could see the surface of my desk for the first time in ages and that led us to searching for a filing cabinet for her that would inspire her to file her piles of papers. She’s been looking for just the right at-home desk storage for a while and she indulged my current organizing mania by letting me window shop for her.

Here’s what I found in the way of cute, modern filing cabinets to fit her bill. The only downside? Now I want new office organizers, too:

Browsing for these filing cabinets got me thinking there are loads of high-function everyday objects with less-than-high style. What everyday item or household necessities do you wish you could find prettier versions of?

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You guys. When I saw these patterned paint rollers on Buzzfeed, I felt like someone had been keeping a secret from me! How could I not know about these ingenious tools? I know we’ve talked wallpaper and wallpaper-look-alikes to death, but these rollers from the very appropriately named NotWallpaper seem like a whole different ballgame. Granted it probably takes a pretty deft hand and a bit of practice to use, but these rollers seem like the best of all worlds: lovely patterns in colors of your choice with very little permanent commitment. That’s my kind of wall treatment.

patterned paint rollers

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If you have trouble perking up in the morning, maybe what you need is a neon yellow bathtub? Granted this tub from Blu Bathworks would be a tough shade to work into most decor (it comes in other colors too), but I kind of love it. It works especially well against concrete and could turn an otherwise stark space into one that’s fun and playful. Am I crazy? Will this scream “2013″ five years from now?

neon yellow bathtub

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In middle school my best friend-at-the-time and I pooled our money, went to the mall and spent our communal allowance on a “Best Friends Forever” necklace. It was in the shape of a heart and jaggedly split down the middle. We each wore half. But the times, how they’ve changed. Best friends now can have matching iPhone cases that convey the same only-complete-together sentiment.

heart iphone cases

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