Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to renovate on a budget

Or, how to buy stuff when you're poor. Just kidding, we're not poor. But we are thrifty. Some might call us cheap. :) We're just trying to live within our means and that means only buying what we can actually pay for with cash, not credit. And what that means for our reno is a LOT of clipping coupons and searching for discounts. Here are a few examples:

In my dream bathroom, I really wanted this sink from Pottery Barn. It's solid hardwood with a carerra marble countertop. Swoon. But it's price tag is over, are you ready for this, $1,500. CRAZY!!!!! I could feed the 5000 for that much. For half that much, actually! And as my mom would say, "You're just paying for the label!". So instead, we're going with this one, from Cabinets to go.

The Cabinets to go version is still solid hardwood and even has a marble sink. And the price tag, at $399, is much more do-able.

Also in the new bathroom, I lusted over this mirror from Pottery Barn.

Hey, it's on sale! FOR $179!!! That's awful. Do you know how many chai tea lattes that is? Shoot.

Fortunately, I stalk the clearance racks at Target like a hungry lioness on the prowl, and one day, a full YEAR ago, I found this little beauty:

And I bought it, even though I didn't have a bathroom to put it in, because it was a fantastic deal and I loved the classic style. Can you see the price tag? Here, let me show you with a super craptastic blurry picture:

Yes, that says $20.98. Holy cow! I love Target :)

This next example is going in our future hallway: the one that will run from the front of the house to the back. Right now there's a lovely "ivy" themed light fixture. It's actually not horrible, but it's not my style at all. So I've been searching for a more period appropriate fixture, like this one from

Classic schoolhouse fixture, great lines, simple,'s $135. Sad face. However, Lowe's has a fantastic copy:

for $39.98. I mean seriously, can you really tell a difference between those 2?? I can, and it's about $100 smackers in my pocket :)

Okay, last but not least, we bought a kitchen island from Ikea last year, but the stools we already owned were too tall to sit at it comfortably, so we've had our eyes open for an affordable option. Our dream stools are from Crate and Barrel:

At $139 each, they were going to set us back a bit, but we were prepared to save for them because, let's face it, Target doesn't sell these bad boys :( But then, fate (in the form of the Goodwill) struck. If you know me, you know that I live for thrift stores. I probably go to a thrift store at least every other day. Goodwill, Habitat Restore, American Council for the Blind, and my personal favorite: Karm- I love 'em all :) Yesterday, I was in a local Goodwill when I saw, not 1, not 2, but 4 of these EXACT stools. I couldn't believe my eyes. I think I peed my pants a little. But I didn't snatch them up quite yet, because I wasn't sure of our measurements and there's nothing worse than buying something you didn't need and can't take back and then finding out it doesn't fit. So, I went home and measured and guess what?! They fit perfectly!

So, this morning, I was literally at the door when they opened and picked up 2 of these perfect stools. Check 'em out:

Ahhh!! I love them!! Okay, ready for the best part? The total, for both stools, was....


I KNOW. They were $15 a piece, plus I had a 25% off coupon, bringing my total to $25 and some change. Unbelievable.

In conclusion, (which, btw, I've always found to be the best way to end an essay. Eat it, former english teachers!) the only thing the Pottery Barn catalog is good for is ideas. After that, Target + Goodwill * internet = money in your pocket :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What I did for my summer "vacation"

I put "vacation" in quotation marks because, let's be honest: this is work! I have to say, plaster removal is waaaaay grosser than I imagined it would be. And has taken waaaaay longer. But, it's saving us upwards of $2,000, so I can't complain much!

This week, we really needed to get a lot of the demo done by Thursday, including knocking down some walls that separate "our side" (the front of the house, where we've lived for the last year) from "Damien's side" (the back of the house). P.s.: we still totally refer to rooms as "Damien's bedroom" or "Damien's kitchen". It's just easier that way :)Anyhow, knocking through those walls made our project more time sensitive, because it meant that the area of the house that we live in is now open to the disaster that is the back half. Open to all the dust and debris. So, every wall that comes down has to, immediately, be taped up. It makes for long days :)

These first shots are of "Damien's bedroom", which will eventually become our Master. Right now, it's storage.

Note the two holes in the wall here---that area was the original door and when D moved out, I had these grand delusions of immediately reopening it and moving in. Ha. I came back to reality when I realized I don't know how to frame a door :) Of course, this was after removing the drywall from our side of the door frame and poking these two holes through.

This is Damien's bathroom. The theme is "darkness". And that's our shower curtain hanging in the gross little stall shower. Again, grand delusions of moving in....

Blech, let's get out of there. Follow me down my stairway COVERED in plaster dust. Grrr. Also, you'll have to step over our craptastic Rigid "shop vac". It sucks, but not literally. Literally, it just sits there are makes me angry. Don't buy a Rigid. You'll be wooed by the "lifetime warranty". This is a lie. In order to fix it, they'll make you send it, on your dime, to their repair shop in another state. Oh but don't worry, to make up for that shipping, they'll throw in a free filter when they send it back. Too bad I just bought a filter, to see if that was why my Rigid wouldn't suck. LAME.

So, at the bottom of the stairs, we arrive in our lovely family room. You can see where we've removed all the drywall, paneling, molding, and plaster (yes, all layered upon each other, yay!) between the stairwell and the family room. You can also see where we removed the former "door to Damien's side" and exchanged it for plastic sheeting.

Onto my glorious new kitchen! Can you sense sarcasm through a blog post? :)

Sarcasm aside, that last picture is actually really exciting. The one with the ladder in it? Because what you're looking at here is actually my front door (through everyone's favorite plastic sheeting). From my back door! (ladies? There's a joke there, I'm sure of it...) Which means that we knocked down the main wall that divided the house into a duplex :) It was a very exciting moment!!

Also, stove for sale! Slightly used....

And here I am with our trusty crowbar, who we've named "Krahl, the warrior King" (How to lose a guy in 10 days? anyone?)

Yup, that's what happens when your hubs is the photographer :) He's a really great cook. And gardener! Photographer, not so much.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

It has begun....

It's summer and you know what that means: time to knock down a wall or 12! We're trying to do as much demo as possible to save as much moolah as possible.

Here are the "before" shots of Damien's old kitchen. I'm not sure why they're so hazy--probably the dust.

And here's the "during":

You can look for the "after" pictures in about 3 months :) Our contractor is coming by today to check our work and give us an estimated start date. In the meantime, we'll be ripping out the ceiling and remaining walls, so more pics soon!