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I feel like I’ve mentioned this many, many times before, but I love decorating my house. However, I HATE spending money. So as you can imagine, that presents a little bit of a conundrum in my ability to get things done. Thankfully though, I never mind doing my research, putting in a little sweat, and getting creative to help achieve the look I’m going for.
So when it came to our fireplace, it really wasn’t bad, to begin with. It has beautiful gray marble around it but I wanted there to be a little more. I love having that pop! So when looking at Pinterest (the place that always inspires my best ideas), I found this amazing company that sells custom made vinyl tiles that are both heatproof and waterproof. Not only were the reviews amazing but the images from customers were too. I knew that this would be my way to add a “pop” of change and best of all, I could do so while on budget.
So now in true Mary fashion, the video I recorded of me applying this new face got deleted. But truth be told, this was not difficult at all! Seriously, all I needed was a bit of painters tape, scissors, an Exacto knife, and patience. Since I worked with the Etsy seller to customize my measurements, I didn’t really have to cut much, only in areas where the mantle jutted out a bit more. All-in-all, it was like applying a big BEAUTIFUL sticker.
Before I reveal, take a look below to see how it used to look. Fine but honestly, just a little boring. I knew I could do better.
But with a little help from Home Art Stickers, Habitat for Humanity Restore, and Hobby Lobby, I was able to welcome fall and bring this mantle to life!
So what do we think?!? I honestly can’t believe how amazing this all turned out. And the best part, all of it (decor included) cost me less than $200. Talk about incredible.
While I wish I had the video to show you just how easy this application was, I wanted to post this up regardless to give you a reminder that you don’t need an extraordinary amount of money to create a beautiful home. All it takes is just a little creativity and open-mindedness.
To find out a little more about where I got my decor, take a look below where I can supply the links for whatever I can. Some items were thrifted so I won’t be able to link everything
Mirrors & books- Unfortunately I got these at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore as a thrift item. Together, they cost me $29. Goes to show, never hesitate to check out your local thrift!
Orange Floral Wreath- Stole (well actually I was given it) from my mom who didn’t want it anymore. I’ll take anything free 🙂
Amber bottle- this used to be one of the lotion bottles I had. I wasn’t crazy about the scent so I cleaned it out.
Faux-Florals- Hobby Lobby again for the win but I can’t seem to find the exact matches online.
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When we first moved into our home (a little more than 2 years ago exactly), I used all of my saved up money to hire professionals to paint a majority of the rooms, including our laundry room. I had a previous color I had like for our bathroom back in our old home, so I figured I’d just stick with that. No testing it, no reconsidering, I went forward and as you can guess, I HATED IT!
So after paying a nice $200 for this catastrophe of a room, I sat for a whole year, hating my decision. It was way too blue and way too dark, still kind of gross and while I think laundry will always be one of my most hated chores, the room’s aesthetic certainly didn’t help motivate me. Finally though, thanks to wonderful COVID [note the sarcasm] and New Jersey lockdowns, I had the excuse and time I’d been needing to start a new project. Not willing to spend any more money on this room, I did this all myself and all for under $250. Yes, I know that technically means in the long run I spent $450 on this project, but we’re just going to pretend like my waste of money never happened…
Starting off, I think its best we begin with the biggest change of all–the walls. Lets start off with our accent wall. Knowing that I wanted to give our laundry room a little change but within budget, I knew hiring someone to install real tiles weren’t an option. However, after seeing ads and good reviews for peel & stick tiles on amazon, I figured I’d give it a go. For this specific space, I only needed 4 orders of the tiles since 10 sheets come in a one pack and measure a little under 12×12. On top of being super easy to install (its like a giant sticker), they were super affordable and don’t require really any other tools for install. Scissors and a ruler are all you need, incase you have to make cuts. Done in less than two hours, this part of the project was so simple and made such a big impact. Oh and incase you are wondering about upkeep, its been over 2.5 months since installing and they are still stuck good the wall.
As for the rest of the walls of the room, I went with DuJour White by Valspar. Recommended to me by a great Instagram account, @littlelattihouse, this white is as close to perfect as white paints come. It’s not too cool or beige, has no pink, blue, grey, or yellow undertones, and is just dreamy. In fact, I will probably end up using the same exact color when it comes to us redoing our bedroom because it’s just that perfect.
When we moved in, there was already a plastic slop sink in place but it was old, stained, and just plain gross. Additionally, the house’s previous owners built the stand it was resting in, which was a little rough looking. I’m pretty sure they built it with scrap wood. When I first planned this makeover, I really wanted to rip it all out and get a nicer sink. However, I soon realized that this would have been a much bigger headache because when they installed our new floor, they installed it around the existing plywood. Had I taken it out, there would have been a big gap of no floor to work around. So with that being our situation, I had to keep the wood stand and decided to just replace the sink. After installed (a job I’m proud to say we did solo), I then decided to take a thin piece of plywood and use it to cover the base of the sink. I then topped it off with a fresh coat of paint and while it’s not the nicest thing, it is 100x better looking. Plus it ultimately saved us money to go this route so I really can’t complain about that!
Even though it’s hard to tell in the before pictures if you look closely enough you will see what the shelves looked like originally. Both are pure wood and used to be in a dark stain. The middle two were actually purchased from amazon while the lower shelf was one I constructed with the help of my dad. It was also stained in a dark walnut to match. While I could have kept them the same, I have such a love for all things light/natural wood. Because of this, I decided to strip them down. Using just a palm sander, it was long and tedious work but it was totally worth it in the end.
As for brackets under the long shelf, these are the ones we went with.
Spray paint has come so far in the past couple of years! Seriously, they have paints that look like metal, sea glass, chalk paint, and more. Don’t believe me? Go to any hardware store and look at their selection.
For this project, I had the existing hooks that I really didn’t feel like replacing completely. Instead, I decided to buy this flat black spray paint and they look SO GOOD! I have actually used this paint for doorknobs and lamps in our home and they also turned out so great. Highly recommend this paint.
Last but not least, I grabbed what little decor I could find from my new favorite store, Habitat for Humanity Restore. I had no clue our town had one and after recently discovering it, I am a frequent buyer. Best of all, all of the decor I find from there is usually from the dollar shelf. In fact, I recently found a vintage laundry wash board and paid 58 cents for it!
In the future, I plan on making a new post here about how to navigate a thrift store because while it can be overwhelming, it can pay off tremendously.
Now, tell me, what do you think the chances are of me actually enjoying laundry? I’m thinking zero but hey, miracles happen!
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If you have been following me on instagram (IF NOT, COME CLICK HERE AND SAY HELLO!) you would have seen the quick, easy and cheap DIY project I just recently tackled. Using this quarantine as a time to redecorate/reorganize my entire household, I decided it was time to address my living room situation. What is currently just this mess of a room, I wanted to clean it up. However, as a stay at home mom on budget, I want to do what I can without spending a fortune.
As I have talked about before, Facebook Marketplace is my go to when it comes to furnishing my home. Yes, while there are some things I will buy brand new, I also try and refurbish what I can. I love little projects like this for multiple reasons but mostly because of how budget friendly and cathartic they can be. Seriously though, if you’re a mama in need of a break and stress relief, pick up a power sander. I promise, it will be just the thing you need to blow off some steam. Better yet, pair that with a glass of wine and you’ll thank me!
Anyway, with this is mind, I found a gorgeous but beat up antique dresser. For just $100, my husband was able to pick it up from a local seller and 2 hours later, we ended up with a beautiful staple for our living room. Seriously, if you can look past the exterior, carve out a little time, and put in a little work, you can end up with amazing results.
So before I walk you through what you’ll need, should you want to try this out yourself, lets do a little before/after.
Incredible, right?!? Keeping all the original hardware, this piece turned out better than I could have ever imagined. It is perfect to help give our living room a little life!
Have a piece you want to do this too? Awesome, you can do this with anything you want. Regardless of if it is painted or stained, as long as its made out of wood, you are good to go. Take a look below and I will walk you through it all!
Power Sander: This is the one I use and absolutely love
60 & 220 Grit Sand Paper- They sell ones specifically for your power sander
Water Based Polyurethane : Make sure it is a water-based poly. Especially if you are applying over a lighter piece. If not, you’re piece will yellow and look not so pretty
White Furniture Wax: You can always make you’re own with regular furniture wax and white paint but if you are wanting to skip that step, check out Behr. This stuff works great and is one of my favorites!
Paint brush– This is one I love using for pretty much everything
And that is it! Seriously, this is the simplest furniture transformation with the biggest reward!
So tell me what, are you waiting for?
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When we moved into our house, almost 2 years ago, I knew redoing our kitchen was on the list of future projects. In fact, it was on the very top of that list but after receiving multiple quotes around $70-75k, I just couldn’t find any sense in justifying such a venture. I mean yes, a brand new kitchen would be beautiful I am sure, but with two kids (and hopefully more in the future) I had to stay realistic. Not wanting to take years to save or approach the bank for a hefty loan, I started brainstorming ways to still get our dream kitchen but for a lesser price tag.
After doing a bit of research and crunching some numbers, I was able to become our own project coordinator and achieve this kitchen makeover for a little over $10k. Yes, that may sound like a lot, but when comparing that to $75k, it is a steal! Best of all, we were able to get this entire project done in 3 weeks.
So before I go ahead and break down each part of the project (scroll past pictures for further detail), lets take a walk down memory lane and remind ourselves at to where we began. Shall we?
Can you say yikes? This kitchen was the original, built with our house in 1989. Thankfully though, being that the layout was ideal, we didn’t need to rip down to the studs. Instead, as you will read below, we were able to stick with smaller updates that made a HUGE difference!
Whenever I plan out a room in my house, I usually struggle to organize all of my thoughts. Yes, Pinterest helps but it can also be a little overwhelming and doesn’t help me zone in on all the ideas floating in my head. For this reason I like to create a “vision board” and to keep it simple, I stick with Microsoft Word to help that happen. I did this for both my kid’s nurseries and seeing how they turned out (you can find those posts HERE & HERE), I knew it would be the way to go for the kitchen.
Once I found something I liked through Wayfair, Pinterest or other, I took a screen shot and added it into the document. This way I could get a rough idea of how everything wold piece together. While everything in the end may not be exactly as pictured (because a majority of the images are just serving as ideas) they still helped guide my decision process.
As I mentioned above, while the kitchen was dated looking, it for the most part was still in pretty decent shape. Additionally, I knew that in order for us to afford this project that new cabinets were going to be out of the question. With all this in mind, I decided that we’d keep what we currently had and allocate our money towards having them professionally painted. While this easily could have been an area worth DIYing, I wanted to ensure it was done right. Plus, with two littles, I didn’t know when the heck I’d ever find the time to paint it myself.
As for the existing kitchen island, it absolutely had to go. Not only was it slowly breaking down but that God forsaken electric grill was both an eye sore and waste of space. After spending a little time on Pinterest, I decided to rip it out and try and have a new one built that would match a more rustic/farmhouse style. This is where I thankfully found a local carpenter through Facebook who was able to do this and charged an incredibly affordable price. Oh and best of all, this carpenter also had lots of experience painting cabinets, which he offered to do for a discounted price since we purchased the island. Total win, win!
In a perfect world, I would have pristine hardwood floors run through the entirety of my home. However, with kids, dogs and budget to consider, that wasn’t going to be possible for this project. Instead, we decided to go with a beautiful vinyl plank carried by Empire Flooring. Scratch resistant and water proof, this vinyl plank was the perfect fit for our home. In a 1.5 days worth of work, they were able to lay the plank over our existing floors throughout the foyer, kitchen, dining room, powder room and laundry room.
In the sake of being transparent though, I will tell you that this portion of our project was the ONLY one we decided to finance. Empire floors offered fantastic financing options that we decided would be best to take advantage of. This way we could spend our budget in other areas of the kitchen and only be left with a small payment plan, which we are going to pay off next year.
Since we only needed to replace the counters for the “L” shape of our kitchen (the new island would have a wood top), I knew we could afford to go with a little nicer of a selection of stone. We looked at various grade of granite and quartz but after stumbling on the one we went with, I fell in love. We decided to go with a beautiful this engineered Quartz. More affordable than a standard quartz slab, an engineered quartz is manmade and offers the same durability. The only cons we were warned about was that it would be less heat resistant so it would be best to avoid placing anything hot on the counter itself. Other than this, you would never know the difference. This was our splurge piece you can say and I have zero regret about it. Everything about it is perfect and was the addition to help achieve that clean/rustic feel I was aiming for.
As you will see in our older before photos, the existing light fixtures were very 90’s. Luckily, the old pendant above the dinner table was easy for Keven and I to replace, but when it came to the box light above the island, we needed a professional.
This is when things got a little interesting and we hit our only snag. Once they removed the box light, we saw how there were both scorch marks and water damage. The electricians told us we were lucky the light never caused a fire because it was looking like it could have at any moment. Thank you God for watching over us with that one. As for the water damage, this was likely the result of our crazy ass toddler (thank you Cassidy) deciding to dump water out of her bath the week prior. Regardless, this was the only snag we hit during the entire process and thankfully didn’t cause too much headache.
For the sake of keeping things clean, simple, and affordable I wanted to stick with a basic white 3×6 subway tile backsplash. Honestly though, while there are so many different options when it comes to kitchen backsplashes, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with subway tiles. Again, this is another area that Facebook helped tremendously, as I was able to find a local handyman who offered to do the job for an incredibly reasonable price. All we needed to do was purchase the materials, which from Lowes, cost us a little under $150 total. Again, this too could totally be done yourself if you are willing to learn BUT since I didn’t have the time or patience, I allocated our budget to cover the install.
Last but not least, the final part of our transformation was taking our existing kitchen table and stripping that baby down. We bought this amazing solid wood piece a couple of years back on Craigslist and have lived with it looking a bit rough for a while. My guess is the previous owner at one point tried refinishing it because of the stain job (it wasn’t done very well and was more caked on), so I decided to take it down to the natural wood base.
In just a rainy afternoon, I was able to get this entire table stripped, coated in poly, waxed and set back up. Took a little elbow grease but it was way cheaper than going out and buying something new.
And there you have it, our dream kitchen. I am so glad we decided to take this route as opposed to hiring a contractor and doing a complete overhaul. With just a little patience and planning, we were able to get the kitchen of our dreams and best of all, SAVE BIG!
So what do we think? If you need any links/ referrals, comment below 🙂
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