Category

DIY

The New Year. New Ideas. New Projects.

Happy New Years everyone! Our first project of the new year, is a new bench to go at the end of our bed.  It’s another furniture flip- a $30 coffee table from a second hand store.  It’ll be a nice spot to set pillows when we are going to bed.  I am guilty of occasionally throwing the decorative pillows on the floor.

The kid and the keg jig
Get the kids involved

While John teaches Emma how to use a small kreg jig, I made my go to muffin recipe.  Way back in 2015, I promised to email a handful of people this recipe.  Sorry I never got that email out guys! Scroll down for the recipe on the bottom of this post.

Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Walnut Muffins
Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Walnut Muffins

While eating muffins and watching Emma and John work on the bench,  I jotted down a list of things I’d like to focus on in 2016.  I’m calling this my focus list.  I don’t usually make resolutions because I think they are hard to keep.  Instead, I made this list and brainstormed ways I could make daily adjustments within my life.  A few things that made it on My Focus List:

  • Be more decisive. Practice saying NO personally and professionally
  • Simplify, slow down, purge
  • Delegate more to the kids and allow them to assist in more daily tasks
  • Plan regular family dates and couple dates
  • Carve out some “me” time

Part of these daily changes are really hard for me, like the “me” time.  I have this ridiculous guilt that creeps up on me if I don’t share that time with others.  The me time is always there- I think I just don’t allow myself to utilize it.  I give that time away.

 

My reflections were briefly interrupted when Emma tripped and crashed into the corner of the bench she was working on.  Olivia enjoyed eating the frozen peas off of her head.  There’s always time to stop and kiss booboos.

Sorry for the grainy iPhone pictures!

Eating the Frozen Peas

We are blessed and grateful.  Have a wonderful 2016!  I’ll post pictures of the new bench soon ( :

 

Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Walnut Muffins:

1 c flour

1 1/4 c quick oats

1 can pumpkin

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 c applesauce

1/2 c brown sugar

1 c milk

1 egg

cinnamon and pumpkin spice

Top with dark chocolate chips and walnuts.  I use the large muffin tins and bake for 18 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  You probably only have to do 12-15 if using the smaller muffins pans.

 

 

Harry Potter Bedroom Reveal

For the past two years, John and I have been focusing more and more on decluttering.  So for Christmas this year, we tried to think of ways we could cut down on random crap clutter with the kids.  Jocelyn was open to having a mini room makeover as her Christmas gift with a theme of her choice.  It took Jocelyn less than two seconds to pick a Harry Potter theme for her magical room transformation.  Hold onto your broomstick because your inner nerd is going to freak.

Here is her room before Christmas…

Before Harry Potter Bedroom Before Harry Potter Bedroom Transformation

 

We had so much fun brainstorming for her bedroom and it was so special planning it together.  Here is the magical transformation for our little Harry Potter Fan:

 

Red and Gold for Gryffindor

 

Jocelyn chose the Sherwin Williams color Alpaca for the walls. A DIY firebolt is suspended above her dresser with fishing line. It cost zero dollars- and might be my favorite thing in the room.  I made this out of a crape myrtle branch from the backyard and dead herbs from the garden. Hehe… Herbology in all its fine glory.  Wingardium Leviosa! … Um, don’t judge. Embrace your inner nerd, mmmkay?

 

Firebolt in the Harry Potter Bedroom

 

For her desk, we surrounded a quidditch poster with special pages from an old copy of the first book.  We had Lowes cut a piece of Plexiglass for us to set on top of everything.  They cut it for free!
Harry Potter Bedroom

 

A Hogwarts Admission Letter was a special touch. You can find the link for a free template here.
IMG_2742

 

Quills, parchment paper, and a $4 gold Owl from Homegoods are perched on top.

 

DIY Harry Potter Desk

 

The collage was an assortment of free printables from various sources.  I’ll do my best to link to all of these amazing people out there that shared their art and made our little girl SO happy!  Scroll down for links. The frames were only $2 each from AC Moore!  Here’s a closer look:

Harry Potter Wall CollageHarry Potter Collage

 

Thank you Amazon for this amazing Gryffindor Throw! You can find it here.
Gryffindor Throw Tapestry

 

Remote Control Candles.  What?? Were these made for a HP fan?!?! No, probably not. BUT THEY’RE PERFECTION. We hung them from a cross stitch hoop spray painted gold. You can purchase them here.  Lumos!
Floating Candles for the Harry Potter Bedroom Floating Candles
Floating Candles
Floating Candles

 

I painted a piece of wood that we had laying around and plopped it down next to Hedwig.

Hedwig and Platform 9 3/4

 

This Hedwig lamp came from Walmart:

 

Owl lamp for a Harry Potter Room

We had this shelf in Olivia’s room that we didn’t need after we re-did her space.  It is the perfect little wand shelf.  Her time turner and snitch live here as well.

Harry Potter Accessories

We covered her chair cushion with the fabric of her choice and made a pillow out of the extra fabric.

Harry Potter Bedroom

 

I used a T-shirt transfer on the pillow for the spell.
Harry Potter Pillow

 

Jocelyn stuck wall decals on her closet doors, which can be purchased here.
Harry Potter Wall decals on the closet

 

The trunk is from Homegoods and I used a T-shirt transfer to iron on the Hogwarts crest.  Santa brought her this for her room, filled with the Hogwarts library, the throw and an owl.

DIY Harry Potter trunk for the bedroom

 

The duvet cover was only $26! Unfortunately, we were sent a King size one instead of a full- so we are sending this one back and getting a replacement.  The colors are spot on though!

Harry Potter Bedroom Makeover

 

Magic really happened right here in this room- the look on Jocelyn’s face was magical.  She enjoys her space so much! I was blown away when I handed her a paper and pencil and told her to write down her brainstorming list of what she would have in her room with the Harry Potter theme.  She fired away with so many awesome ideas- such a fluid transfer of creativity from her mind to her paper.  Kids don’t need Pinterest for inspiration- they are full of their own.  Truly inspiring to design a space with your kid.  It’s funny how simple things that my kids do are so meaningful to me. Too deep? “Riddikulus” maybe…  see what I did there? Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

WALL ART links:

Hedwig

Platform 9 3/4 ticket

Dumbledore Quote

The Daily Prophet

Hogwarts Crest

Gryffindor Crest

DIY Concrete “Paver” Walkway

 

John and I recently had our X shaped gravel walkway taken out.  We installed a budget friendly DIY concrete walkway with the Quikrete Walk Maker and couldn’t be happier with the results:

Concrete Paver Walkway

I came to really hate that gravel.  If I wanted to run outside really quickly to get something out of the car, I’d avoid the gravel all together and walk in the grass.   Shoes are for excursions greater than 5 minutes in my opinion. When we bought the home, we thought it would be simple to dig out the gravel.  Once we got to it, we found out that there was a concrete sidewalk under the gravel that was in terrible shape.  You can see the blasted sidewalk and the gravel path here:

Before

I came across this funny little clip of the kids digging out the gravel. Click the link for a good chuckle.

Kids digging out walkway

The ornamental grasses are out and you can see the glory of the 70s here.

A paving company dug out the rock, sidewalks, and part of our driveway out.  There was a ton of debris!  John told me he could do this by himself in one day. He’s an optimist.  What a guy.

Walkway Demo

While this grading/excavating was underway, we were changing out our shutters and adding the window boxes. Don’t they make a huge difference?!

Walkway Demo

Already so much better! Between the gravel and the dirt, I’ll take the dirt any day! The workers sent some strange looks my way as I giddily walked up and down the dirt path.  I resisted the urge to lay down and make dirt angels in the center of the “X.”

Walkway Demo

Two dump trucks worth of dirt later… a lot of our neighbors walked by at this point to figure out what the heck we were doing.  The best way to meet all of your neighbors is to tear out your entire front yard and turn it into the Sahara. You can see the giant homes being built in the field next to us.  Hopefully we don’t scare away the potential buyers.  We have been known to hug the chain link fence and scream, “They have kids!!!” if a family comes through to look at the first house that went in.

Walkway Fill Dirt

Walkway Fill Dirt

After our excitement over dirt began to subside, we realized we needed something to walk on.  We decided on paver stones and began making a list of materials to pick up at Home Depot and Lowes.  We were getting all excited again until we realized that this project was far more expensive than we anticipated, a little over $1,000.  We said “Good bye plan A,” and moved onto Plan B, which was to google a cheaper option.  Plan B evolved into installing a DIY concrete paver walkway with the Quikrete Walk Maker.  We ordered it from Amazon here.Concrete Mold

We decided on Plan B with the Quikrete Walk Maker for a number of reasons:

  1. Concrete is super cheap.
  2. We wouldn’t have to worry about labor costs.
  3. We didn’t need to purchase gravel/sand mix to level since concrete adheres and bonds to its surface.
  4. Less grading was required, since the mold could be shimmed.
  5. We could do sections at different times, since the mold is a 2×2 ft square.

Concrete:

 Concrete

To use the concrete mold, you rake the ground a little bit to level and create a good bonding surface.  We eventually added some landscaping fabric underneath to prevent weeds from creeping up.  Then, you lay the mold on the ground, mix your concrete and pour it in.  We mixed ours with a shovel in a wheelbarrow.  I found adding a bit of extra water allowed for a smoother finish with the masonry trowel.  We used 60 lb bags of concrete because they were on sale but this particular mold does require 80 lb of concrete per mold.   Emma was helping out when we experimented with the first one.  There’s our trusty living room lamp!

 

Concrete Mold Walkway

John added a bit of concrete dye in each mold so they would be a little bit more grey instead of white.  The newer sections stay dark for about a day and then start to lighten like the other sections.

Concrete Paver Walkway

We worked a lot at night after the kids went to bed.  John and I got into a good routine.  He would mix the concrete in the wheelbarrow while I used the trowel to smooth the surface.  While it dried, we drank wine.  That part was an essential step in the process.  I’d let the mold sit for 5-6 minutes before pulling the mold.  Having two people really made the job much easier.

Concrete Paver Walkway

Every day, we would add another 6-8 sections.

Concrete Paver Walkway

Concrete Paver Walkway

The kids put the leftover concrete to good use.  With some tiles, buttons, and shells they made me beautiful stepping stones.

Concrete Mold

Then one night, I randomly painted our front door an aqua color.  I had the paint color matched to Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue.
Concrete Paver Walkway - Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue Door

 

As we got closer to finishing, we stamped a little bit of love into the walkway.  This is my favorite.  Whenever Olivia walks past the handprints, she stops to put her hand in her handprint.

 

Concrete Mold Walkway

After all the concrete was dry, we added polymeric sand to fill in the cracks. Polymeric sand bonds and hardens after you wet it and is the same material that you use to fill in between actual paver stones.We used Scotts EZ Seed to fill in around our new walkway and stood back to take it in.  No more gravel!

Exterior (After)
Here is a closer look at the walkway.  We get tons of compliments on it and a lot of people can’t tell it’s concrete unless we tell them! The handprints give them a clue.  The materials cost about $250. Had we not added the dye, it would have been even cheaper! So worth our concrete-mixing blistered hands!

Concrete Paver Walkway
The quikrete walk maker is the way to go for a budget friendly DIY walkway. www.housaholics.com

 

 

 

 

Pallet Tiki Bar

We inherited a pallet tiki bar from the previous homeowners.  It was kind of a beast.  The wood was splintery and the tile top was chipped and cracked.  It was kind of fun so we decided to keep it.  We just needed to give it some life.  Tiki bar - before

We spray painted some planters that were also left at the house and spray painted the pallets a caribbean blue.  We used deck paint to secure the wood floor a bit.  I added some shells and tiki signs.  We added a new wood top and some posts for a bamboo reed “roof” structure.  The material is actually bamboo fencing.

New top

Still working the frame for the bamboo reed roof.  We ran into some issues attaching it to the back of the shed.

Roof

We cut some bamboo down that was growing in the field next to us and tied it to the frame.

Roof2

 

Stools

We decided to take a break to play with the kids and eat dinner.  After the kids went to bed, we came back out for some more tiki time with our trusty living room lamp.  One of these days we will buy a spotlight.

Nightwork

 

Stain

I added a patio mat made of recycled plastic to allow water to run through.  Some Christmas lights added nice ambiance to the space.

Lite Up

John and Jocelyn drinking at the bar… frappuccinos of course. tiki bar finished

We have since added some fishnets and solar lights.  I forgot to take an updated picture before we packed everything away for the season. John’s parents gave us some tiki masks from their honeymoon as they are downsizing and moving to the beach.  We are so excited to add them to our little oasis behind the garage next Spring!  The kids actually use this space more than we do.  In between pool time, they love to eat lunch and dinner at the bar on warm, sunny days.  I’m missing the summer already ( :

IMG_1516

 

 

 

Fireplace Facelift

When we first came through this home, the fireplace stuck out like a sore thumb.  I’m also not a stone fireplace kind of girl so the brass hit me extra hard.  At our old house, we just had a candle burning mantle so this was a big step up though!

We decided to paint to get rid of the brass.  Some fireplace frames can be unscrewed but ours could not.  We used Rustoleum High Heat Paint.  It is oil based.  Note that the directions specify not to do two coats.  It is so tempting but don’t do it! I tested a little spot and it got all splotchy.  Just lay it on nice and thick.

The mantle was a yellowish oak and didn’t fit into our color scheme so we painted it white.  We have plans to eventually add a heavier duty piece of wood there.

Before:

DSC_0010

 

 

 

DSC_0062

The fireplace facelift made a huge difference! I change my mind, I AM a stone fireplace kind of girl.  It’s cozy and inviting and the perfect place to roast marshmallows.

Cozy

After:

Fireplace - After

DIY Rustic Coffee Table

My coffee table dilemma was a little bit ridiculous.  I went back and forth about what I wanted for a lonnnng time. It had to be beautiful and cheap and able to take a beating.

Just realized how ‘Fifty Shades’ that sounded.

I thought about making some plans to have John build me one but it would have been pretty straight legged and safe, a hodgepodge of leftover project wood from the shed. Sounds beautiful, am I right?

BUT THEN…

on one of my thrift store run throughs, I stumbled upon this glorious piece here for $25:

 

It was too high and too country against our new IKEA sectional but I liked how the turned legs toned down the squareness of the table.  So we took off the legs and measured how much we wanted off from the bottom.  We decided we wanted a plank top so we took that height difference into consideration when deciding upon the new height of the table. John hacked them off accordingly.

 

IMG_2289

Coffee Table

YAY- a slightly lower than usual coffee table height as we are in the pre-plank top state.

Table legs cut

John sanded it up a bit to get the primer to adhere.

Sanded

Primed and painted with some leftover paint that we had in the basement.  The paint is Valspar from Lowes.  The color is Benjamin Moore White Dove in a semigloss finish.

Primed & Painted

We got our boards ready at approximate lengths of 30″x30.” It’s ok if the boards are a little bit off at this point. We glued the board on and then drew a straight edge on all sides. John straightened out the edges with a jigsaw and then we screwed/nailed into the boards from the bottom so that the nails would not show through.  You could drill right into the top of the planks for a more rustic finish if you wanted.

New boards cut

Then we stained the top with a beautiful grey stain.  I am kind of tempted to re-stain everything we own in this finish. As much as I love this color, don’t be surprised to see my kids sporting new “Weathered Grey” T-dye T-shirts in a few weeks.

Stained

Here’s the stain we used:

Stain

Here is a photo of the neglected mess that accumulated while we worked on our new coffee table! That’s ok though-it was totally worth it.  What do you think?

Final Product

We added a cup pull on the drawer in an antique iron finish that we purchased on Amazon.  Here is the final product without the mess this time:

coffee table

The “Ugly” House, Our Current Home

We moved into our current home just over a year ago now.  When the house came on the market, it had everything on our wish list- the schools, yard, four bedrooms, storage, potential to create an open floor plan… the list was a little long.  The only problem with the house was that it was UGLY. Really ugly.  I distinctly remember the first time Jocelyn came with us to see the property and her face of disgust.  For the first 5 months we lived in the house, Jocelyn referred to our home as “the ugly house.”  We worked really hard and eventually the term phased out. “The ugly house” eventually transitioned into a home.

Exterior:

Our current house is a four bedroom 1970s rancher.  We had large 8 ft ornamental grasses in the garden bed and a giant X shaped gravel walkway.  X marks the spot. Some how the “ugly house” caught our attention.  It sits on a little over half an acre, which is just enough space for chickens- which was on the wish list too.  Free range chickens should always be on the home buying wish list ( :

I’ll begin at the fancy chain link fence in the front yard that has yet to come down (that’s a Spring 2016 project).  Past the chain link fence, we hired someone to replace our pothole ridden concrete driveway.  The driveway was something I never even noticed.  I walked around the house talking about  all the different spots where I could put a chicken coop and never even glanced at the driveway.  So many scraped knees later, we finally replaced it with an asphalt driveway.

Before:

Concrete Driveway

After:

New Driveway

Then, we attempted to dig out the gravel walkway ourselves. John offered to give the kids $5 for each row of gravel.  Each row was probably 25ft+.  The kids excitedly used snow shovels to get up as much of the gravel as possible.  They seemed to enjoy themselves and had no idea that they were being subjected to child labor.  We wised up and had the driveway paving crew take it out for us.

While we waited on the walkway to be removed, John hacked out the pampass grasses and we planted flowering perennials that were hard to kill, supposedly.  I only lost a few here and there.  I’m working on it though! We took out all of the plastic pavers lining the garden bed and replaced it with salvaged bricks that our new neighbor gave us.

After the rock walkway was excavated, we poured a concrete walkway using a concrete mold that looked like pavers.  It took a lot of time but was SO worth it.  We saved so much money going this route.  The entire walkway cost about $250, including concrete mix, concrete dye, polymeric sand and masonry tools.  It was like icing a cake folks and I’m confident that anyone can do it if you’re in need of a walkway. Around the same time we were pouring concrete, we replaced our burgundy shutters with black ones, painted the exterior bricks, spray painted our outdated fixtures, and John built me some custom window boxes.

Before:  

 

After:

Exterior (After)

Entryway:

John and I added board and batten to our entryway, which is open to the living room and kitchen.  I placed the kids “coming home” baby outfits over the board and batten so that I can see their coming home outfits every time I come home. It makes me smile whenever I walk through the door.

Before:

Entryway (Before)

After:

Entryway (After)

Living Room:

Our first project inside involved replacing our carpets to get rid of a foul animal smell that went unnoticed during our visits and walkthrough.  I’d love to know what product they used to mask that stink! A mama could really use that in the house after I give the kids bran muffins or sweet potatoes if you know what I mean?

Before:

After: (Phase 1 – Before taking down the wall)

After (Living)

After: (Phase 2 – After taking down the wall – still in progress)

 

Kitchen:

We knocked down the wall between the living room and kitchen and did a budget DIY kitchen renovation.  Floating shelves were placed between our beloved huge bookshelves.  One houses backpacks and the other houses Pyrex and cookware.

Before:

Before (kitchen)

After:

After (Kitchen)

 

Bedrooms:

We focused on the interior first to help get the kids more comfortable in their new bedrooms. We painted a little here and there and got some area rugs.  The last year has really been a blur as we jumped around from project to project with no rhyme or reason.  The first two weeks we agreed to take it slow and go room by room.  Not our style.  Who were we kidding?

 

Basement:

In the basement, we tore out a huge Ravens purple ice block bar.  Not sure what that it? It’s this monster below.  We carpeted over 3/4 of the basement and left ceramic tile in the 1/4 area near the basement door.  I was happy to see the green carpet go!

We needed lots of room for toys and crafts so the big purple monster had to go.  Our craft space is over the ceramic tile for easy cleanups and we have the kids come in from the pool over the tile to let the water run off a bit.  John and I created an art wall to showcase some of the masterpieces made here.

Before:

Raven's bar

After:  Where the big purple monster use to live

After (basement)

Before: (Green carpet)

Green Carpet

After: (In progress)

After (Basement)

 

We did a lot of our outdoor projects during the Spring and Summer while the weather was warm.  Now that it’s getting colder, we are moving back inside to do some projects, like refurbishing outdated furniture and decorating for fall.

Our project list takes us into the next 3 years at a minimum and we’d love to share our journey with you. Many friends have asked us, where do you get the energy to do these projects and how do you find the time?  We spend very little time thinking about reasons why we don’t have time and a lot of time just getting it done!  It brings us joy to DIY and the ultimate goal in life is to fill our lives with joy.  We are blessed and grateful.  Thank you for visiting our blog!

 

 

 

The Evolution of the Stairs

Our entryway was a little tight on space.  I swooned over images of open foyers with strategically decorated entryway tables.  Our entryway had enough space to come in and take a sharp turn left or right… or if you missed your sharp turn you’re headed for the dining table.  We looked for ways to make this little space more welcoming.  We had an old brass boob light that was original to the house, linoleum flooring in the hallway, wrought iron railing, and saggy, dirty carpet on the stairs.  DSC_0400

Naturally, we thought to paint the stairs black and white and put peel and stick tiles in the hallway.  These were our baby steps… like the “oh snap the baby is tripping and falling down face first” kind of baby steps. Crash and burn. We stepped back and looked at our hard work and wondered… what happened??Painted stairs

Then I accidentally stepped in it and we had a good laugh.  My good mood was back and we got to thinking about all that leftover paint we had in the garage.  John mixed together white, gray, black, and turquoise. Which led us to a pretty shade of a pale minty aqua-ish color.DSC_0527

BAM. Suddenly I liked the contrast with the iron railing.  I made carpet tiles out of sisal runners intended to construct cat climbing structures.  I got a 25 ft roll for about $13.00.  I had some outdoor fabric leftover from another project and hot glued it to the edges to make carpet treads to prevent the kids from slipping around.  We updated the light fixture, installed laminate and painted the hallway.  DSC_0532

Ahhh The light, airy, welcoming feeling.  I think it is so important to create an entry space that reflects how you want your home to feel.  

Laminate Flooring

Installing laminate flooring was our first major DIY project.  Up to this point in time, we had learned our way around a hammer and drill but had never attempted to tackle anything major.  And so began our DIY journey!  With so many choices available, Amanda and I were back and forth on the quality of flooring to choose.  Based on the fact that our kids and dog are messy and destructive, we decided to look for something inexpensive yet nice looking.  We purchased the laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators for .67 cents a square foot!

Step one:  Let the wood acclimate.  The process of acclimating the wood allows the flooring to adjust to the temperature of your house.  A general rule of thumb is to allow 2 to 3 days of allowing the wood to sit in the room that it will be installed in.  Emma enjoyed this process as she was able to turn the multiple piles of flooring into a fun mountain climbing experience.

 

Step two: Clear the room of all furniture and remove the old flooring.  In our case we had carpet.  After the flooring has been removed you have the option of removing or keeping your existing baseboards.  We kept ours because A, it was a lot cheaper and B, we didn’t know any better.  If you keep your existing baseboards you can cover the gap between the floating floor and baseboards with quarter rounds.  Removing the baseboards is more expensive and time consuming but worth the look.  Once the new floor is installed, new baseboards go directly over the floor to create a flush, custom look.

Oldest daughter, Jocelyn pitching a hand
Oldest daughter, Jocelyn pitching a hand

Step three:  If you have carpet then the next step is to remove the carpet track and staples.  This is a long tedious process, but remember the end result is worth the effort!  We found the carpet track was easily removed with a wedge and a hammer.  The staples can be removed with a flat head screwdriver and/or pliers.  Good bye nasty carpet stains- reminiscent of our dog’s puppy days.

Step four:  Patch and level any uneven spots in the subfloor.  We used Dap Ready-Mixed Conrete Patch.

Step five: Lay underlayment.

Step six:  Remember that flooring you set aside?  It is finally ready to be installed!  Lay the first row using spacers between edge of wall and laminate.  Our first row went in great!  Whoo hoo, we thought we were going to be rolling after that…but we could not for the life of us get the second row to click in with the first row.  After several painful hours and many choice words we figured it out.  Click and lock flooring is connected at two different points (the length of the board and the width of the board).  In order to connect the click and lock to the previous rows you need to FIRST hold the board at a 45 degree angle and install the length of the board.  If installed properly the board will lay flat.  After this joint is installed use a rubber mallet and block to knock the board backwards so it slides overtop of the previously installed laminate.  This will successfully lock the flooring in both joints.  Whew!  Okay, now we rolled.

Laminate Flooring

Step seven:  Install quarter rounds/baseboards.

Step eight:  Enjoy your hard work and effort!

Before

Before

After

We used a circular saw to make the cuts for this room.  It was not easy…especially when ripping the wood.  After finishing this install we broke down and purchased an entry level flooring saw by Skil that works wonderfully.  We found this tool to make the rest of the job much easier (and probably safer too).  It can rip, make cross cuts, and miter cuts all for a responsible price of under $150.  At this point we have completed 4 separate laminate installations and the saw has more than paid for itself.

Budget friendly Board and Batten

My favorite DIY projects are the ones that have a huge wow factor without breaking my back or my wallet.   John and I wanted to add to the bright and airy feeling we were going for in our living room with board and batten.  We went to Lowes and Home Depot to scope out our supplies and were surprised by the costs of MDF boards for the batten.  We also wanted to keep our original baseboards on because they didn’t show very much behind our furniture.  We brainstormed how to get costs down and came across ideas from DecorchickThrify Decor Chick, and Young House Love.

Rather than using MDF boards, we used window trim for the chair rail and lath strips.  I think most people use them to hold up their tomatoes… yay for thinking outside of the box or outside of the garden I guess you could say.  We decided to give it a go since they were narrower and would rest on the baseboards.

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The best thing about going this route was that it was super cheap… each board cost around 50 cents.  We tried to pick the smoothest, straightest boards and sanded those bad boys down.  A little primer and paint went a long way.  I love how the wall highlighted our family pictures.


Our wicker chest/coffee table was moved to the corner while we listed our home for sale.  We don’t usually use a coffee table anyway since I ran into one as a kid and broke my nose.   I don’t usually need a place to set my coffee since I have to chug it to keep up with the kids anyway ( :  The cost of paint, chair rail, and lath strips cost less than $50 and it made a huge difference in our space.  No one noticed it wasn’t MDF!  We got a new couch and bookshelves off of Craiglist.  The bookshelves were only $50 each!!!  We put an IKEA console in between them as a window seat from their AS IS section. It had a scratch on the top, which didn’t matter since we were using it as a bench.  We added laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators which was on sale for $0.67/sq ft.  Living room makeover accomplished.

Before

Living Room

After