Window Shopping: Richmond’s Ruth & Ollie

You know those stores where everything is fab. u. lous. but it’s a bit (or a bit more than a bit) out of your price range? Well Ruth & Ollie (in Richmond’s super fab Carytown area) is one of those places:


We absolutely adore this amazing store. And thanks to the concept of window shopping we can breeze through and not spend a cent. Instead of walking around lamenting the fact that we can’t afford a thing, we like to window shop with a purpose: inspiration. There’s no sense feeling sad about your champagne taste if you only have a beer budget or feeling inferior in a shop full of such beautiful out-of-reach things, so we like to seize the day and take note of some stunning high-end ideas that anyone can implement on an inexpensive item from Target or even a thrift store. The truth is that we can all live in a house that looks a bit more upscale and customized than straight-from-Target-and-Ikea, we just need a few ideas. Here’s what really got us excited…

Steal This Idea #1: Paint the inside of your buffet/hutch/bookcase a contrasting color. We love the turquoise and white combo they have going on below- and especially love it paired with a bright yellow lamp. The best part is that any lamp can go sunshine yellow with a $4 can of spray paint and it only takes about an hour to paint the inside of your buffet or bookcase for a totally chic effect (for a long lasting result use one coat of oil-based primer followed by two coats of latex semi-gloss paint applied with a brush). Even the olive colored chair next to the buffet had us weak in the knees, and it’s another perfect example of the power of a can of spray paint and a few hours.


Steal This Idea #2: Upholstery is just as easy and affordable as paint, and we were so in love with these faux-cow print ottomans that we just had to stop and take note. Most padded cushions on a dining chair or stool can be easily screwed out from the bottom and recovered in a matter of minutes (here’s a handy chair upholstery tutorial) and even benches and ottomans can be completely reinvented with just a yard of fabulous fabric. So drop by your local Joanne Fabrics (or other majorly affordable fabric store) but don’t forget to check out a super high end fabric store as well (in Richmond we love Williams & Sherrill) because $20 a yard fabric is still a steal if you only need one yard of it to transform two ottomans or an oversized bench!


But maybe you think we’re making it sound too easy. You might argue that places like Target and thrift stores don’t have pieces with these lines and this fabulous detailing so it’s all a futile effort. Well, to that we say: check out these $55 side tables we found at Target that would totally look like dead ringers for the ottomans above once the top was unscrewed and they were covered in a layer of batting and reupholstered with some fabulous faux-cow fabric. Score one for Team Cheap!

Steal This Idea #3: We also totally loved the three mirrors hung next to each other on the back wall above, because it reminded us that a bit of molding or wood trim can really make all the difference (especially when it’s glued on in in an inspired pattern like the gorgeous geometric shapes seen above). And you don’t need a bunch of power tools and a woodworking background to do it! An inexpensive hand saw, a miter box and a tube of Liquid Nails is probably all you’d really need to get ‘er done in a few hours.

Steal This Idea #4: This set-up reminded us that a few punches of bright color can really make the room, especially when they’re brought in with pillows, a throw, and a look-at-me accessory. A bright turqoise, coral, raspberry, yellow, tangerine, lime or even silver pillow from HomeGoods or TJ Maxx would already get your living room halfway there (and a coordinating throw tossed on the sofa will get you even closer). Then all you need is to troll a thrift store or a garage sale for the perfect sculpture, vase, ceramic animal, or metal object that you can spray paint in the same bright color (it’ll only cost ya $4 for that custom look).


Steal This Idea #5: Sometimes one accessory can make the entire room and add so much posh style that it elevates every other item in the space. In this case, the starburst mirror below is the ultimate focal point, so keep an eye out for a large needs-a-little-work mirror (HomeGoods and TJ Maxx sell lots of terrible faux-bronze ones that would look oh so chic painted white or black). Heck, you can even keep your eyes peeled for a large work of art at a garage sale (you can always repaint the frame if it’s in bad shape). The key is that you’re going for one big & bold piece that will really make a statement. A lot of times people without much of a decorating budget are in the habit of adding tiny things as they go (a little frame here, a small vase there) but sometimes purchasing something huge (still on a budget mind you, just for a bit more than you’d spend on a small vase or a tiny picture frame) can really have a lot more impact on their space than a million little frames and vases ever could.


So there you have it. A virtual tour of one of Richmond’s loveliest high-end furniture and accessory shops. Thanks for the inspiration Ruth & Ollie! We hope everyone is now more excited for their next trip to Target, TJ Maxx or the thrift store since anything really can look like a million bucks (sometimes for under twenty dollars worth of alterations). Gotta love that a coat of paint, new upholstery, or even a bit of wood trim can turn boring-but-in-my-budget pieces into ooh-la-la-look-at-that-lovely-ottoman/chair/buffet/mirror/lamp/turquoise bird…

Have you guys used paint, upholstery, or wood trim to take something from average to amazing? Any plans to do it in the near future? Tell us all about it.

Jonesing for more awesome alterations? Check out this gorgeous mirror makeover by the über fabulous Katie over at Bower Power.


  1. Ashley says

    I found these frames at a yardsale (all 3 for $5), spray painted them in green, and filled with the boyfriend’s photography:

    and then I took these cardboard file boxes (6pk from Target) and covered them with contact paper (also from Target) for additional storage:

    Also, does it sound stalker-ish if I think I saw you guys walking out of Crate and Barrel this weekend? I got excited, but then nervous that it wasn’t you two..

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Ashley,

      That’s so funny because it wasn’t us! We were in Carytown on Saturday and we did the garden tour in The Fan on Sunday, but there was no C&B this weekend. Good to know that we have dopplegangers, though. Too funny.

      Great projects by the way! Love the frames and the boxes!


  2. T.J. says

    Amen! I love the idea of not worrying about your champagne tastes on a beer budget. Way to go! Ingenuity trumps funds any day.

  3. Carla says

    Hello! I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks and absolutely love your creativity and simple elegance. I can honestly say that going through the stores here in NY is really helpful (as you know) with getting great ideas and then buying them for waaaay less outside the city! My husband and I are in the process of redecorating our new (and very plain!!) townhome in New Jersey. It’s wonderful to read your helpful hints and ideas – we just made our headboard this weekend and it looks awesome with our freshly painted guest bedroom walls! I just wanted to say “thanks” for the design help – next up is the kitchen and I think we will need to call on you for some ideas since we can barely agree on paint color!


  4. says

    I’m a huge believer in the power of a can of spray paint.

    When my hubby (then my BF) and I moved in together, my mom gave me an old mirror she had in her basement. It’s a huge old mirror with an oak frame. One can of black spray paint later it was hanging on the wall in our bedroom and my mom didn’t even recognize it. We recently just bought our first home, and one can of espresso colored spray paint later that same mirror is now in our bathroom replacing the super dated 1980s tri-fold medicine cabinet!

    Great post! Keep them coming!

  5. Camille says

    Hey guys,
    Quick question… (I’m not even done reading the whole post yet, lol).. does the buffet shown have lighting in it? I LOVE the aqua color inside, but it seems to have *some* kind of lighting/shadow action going on. ??


    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Camille,

      Good question! There didn’t seem to be any lighting in the buffet but it had some clear glass shelving that reflected a lot of great light and the store was lit really well. But lighting inside of a buffet is a great idea! You can grab some inexpensive puck lights everywhere from Home Depot to Ikea that are completely battery operated (no cords or hardwiring required!) and self-stick them to the top (interior) of your buffet so they shine down on your dishes. Lovely!


  6. says

    There is a store by me called Leon and Lulu’s and it is just like this store! I am always going into it for new and different ideas! I love that you posted this. Those small details in stores like this are what make those stores stand out and can help you create a more personal touch to your home.

  7. says

    I LOVE spray paint!!! I LOVE to do everything you two are about. Its what I’ve been doing for the last 8 years. I WISH I had been better at taking before pictures and keeping track of all the things I’ve transformed. I get so giddy when I find something to transform and I totally know what you mean about window shopping!!! This post is exactly how you do it. By the way. I love the idea with the light fixture cover and your porch make-over. I’m going to do the same thing but hang them from my connected four poster bed!!! I’d love to try them on our back covered porch too.

    BTW. I have four children under 9 and stay home with them while my husband works full-time. I have a healthy appetite for expensive things but LOVE saving money and living a debt-free lifestyle.

    I have a lengthy list of blogs that I read but yours is my favorite!!! I cheer you on whenever I see the finds and the beautiful things you do with your home. You inspire me to keep doing what I’m doing. We just moved from our old fixer upper into a new home. There’s lots I want to do and I’m going to do better at chronicling it all. Keep it up you guys are awesome!!!!!!!!

  8. Carmil says

    Loved this post (but then I love most of them!). Another way to “faux” paint the inside of a cabinet– especially if you might want to return to the original all wood look– is to paint foam core or poster boards cut to size and insert. Or, you can cover the boards with wallpaper and insert inside. I did this in my china closet and I now have a “spring look” and a “winter look”. Of course my husband prefers the “wood look” which I return to for holiday entertaining. This works well because I have other decorations that I want to focus on during the November/December season. I know this is not my original idea– I’m sure I copied it from a mag or design show but I love sprucing up the interior look of my glass fronted china closet

  9. says

    Thanks for all the ideas – love them! I can’t wait to hit up Marshalls, Ross, and TJ Maxx on my lunch break this week!

    More on the power of spray paint – we repainted my husband’s really old bedroom furniture (very outdated-looking but that really nice all wood furniture) last weekend. It’s still out in the garage and not put back together (procrastination!), but once we get it in the house, I’ll send pics! We were apprehensive about using spray paint on the wood furniture, but we were lazy and short on time, and the spray paint seems to have worked miracles!

    Thanks for all the inspiration in your blog!

  10. says

    Oh, I love that starburst mirror! What a fun little adventure you guys had. I love to visit ‘the other side’ every once in a while, too, to get ideas (and to drool!).

  11. says

    I just lined the back of a super cheap bookcase in my sons room with fancy wraping paper by the sheet- i love how it turned out. Super easy- took about 10 minutes to cut down and I used Elmers craft spray adhesive. Well worth the effort and $12 in paper, $4 in glue.

    I’m currently on the hunt for some fab fabric for my the seats of my dining set. We purchased it for our last place and its very bland in our new home. Looking for a punch of fun and color.

    I LOVE inspiration shopping- sometimes I wish my husband were into it,too. But I really love a day alone with my camera, measuring tape, notebook and a cup of Chai. Bliss!

  12. says


    I loved this post. It brightened my Monday morning. I am going to try to make the cow ottomans. I have a sofa that color and I think it would look awesome. I hope I can do it! Can you give me some suggestions on how to find pillows like those on the tan leather couch?

    Thanks so much

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jamie,

      I would definitely try TJ Maxx, Marshall’s or HomeGoods for some similar pillows, and of course dropping in on Target or Macy’s might yield some good results too. You can also go to a site like (which searches many sites all at once) and enter something like “orange floral pillow” and see what comes up. Happy hunting! Oh and feel free to send us before and after pics of your cow ottomans! We’re so excited for you. Good luck…


  13. CvilleUpstart says

    Regarding that mirror project, a cheaper and faster alternative might be to tape off a pattern and paint over the mirror.

    I was actually thinking of painting a trellis print on a canvas for my bathroom. I love the trellis pattern, but I didn’t want to invest in a print that my affinity for might fade in the next year or two. Maybe the same can be done to a mirror?

  14. Meredith says

    The other night my husband and I went to dinner and the maitre d asked us if we had a reservation. My husband replied, “Yeah, but looks like we didn’t need one tonight!” after scanning the many empty tables in the restaurant. I just about died. Honest? Yes. Kind of a slap in the face to the restaurant? Definitely.

    I really like your posts normally, but this one reminded me of that unfortunate faux pas. “Look at this fancy local store! Rather than supporting them in this horrid economy, we’ll just post pictures of their merchandise so you can steal/copy/recreate their stuff on the cheap!”

    I know you all just want to help people create beautiful homes for less, but I don’t see how this post is helping to do much more than hurt a (likely) locally-owned business (and then where will your inspiration come from? Who wants to buy ALL their furniture and decor from Target?). Unless you’ve come to some sort of agreement with Ruth & Ollie (and I’m in no way associated with them), I hope you take this post down or rethink doing this kind of post again.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Meredith,

      The girls over at Ruth and Ollie were totally down with us taking photos, and we were certain not only to link to their site and thank them for the inspiration, but we even broadcasted their location so that locals and visitors alike can stop in! If that’s not good press then I don’t know what is. And we know that just because some of their gorgeous pieces are out of our budget doesn’t mean that a few readers won’t stop in and leave with their hands full of lovely goodies. In fact, that’s a definite possibility.

      We also LOVE supporting local businesses (for example, we’ve always purchased Burger’s food from a local pet store even though it’s a bit pricier because we’ve gotten to know the staff there and they treat us like family). The reason that we mention many chain stores on the blog is because they’re nationally accessible (and that’s what we’re all about, spreading ideas that everyone can use) but they’re also stores that we have relied on for our very own home makeover, which makes it feel natural to mention them when we’re talking about affordable decor. We have also made a definite effort to praise local businesses (we’ve given shout outs to our favorite local printers, galleries, used book stores, and other shops whenever we can).

      Oh and beyond mentioning Ikea and Target, we encouraged people to hit up garage sales and thrift stores (which is always a smart thing to do in this economy). Helping others who need some hard earned cash and supporting thrift stores- which generally go towards a good local cause- is always a great way to spend an afternoon. Hope it helps to explain why we did what we did!


  15. says

    Wow, gorgeous shop. I love the colors in their accessories – they really pop against the more neutral furniture.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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