DIY $19 Sunburst Mirror

I’ve been on the lookout for something large to fill the space above the bed in the guest bedroom, but had a hard time figuring out what.  Shelves?  A picture (or pictures)?  An accent wall?  

Guest BR Blank

I do love sunburst mirrors and have been seeing lots of photos of DIY versions made with paint sticks, twigs, and all sorts of other materials.  When I came across this one from Thrifty Decor Chick’s blog, it really caught my eye. Turns out it’s easy to make AND inexpensive.  Sold!  


Here’s what I used to make it:

3 Packs of big 14″ cedar shims (Home Depot contractor section has them!) – $4 each
1 8″ Mirror (JoAnn) – $3
1 Small can of classic gray stain - $4
1 Bottle of wood glue (had it)
1 Piece of white chalk (had it)
Square piece of really sturdy cardboard or wood for the base (had it)
Mirror glue (had it)
Piece of steel wire for hanging (had it)
Picture hanger or nail(s) for hanging (had it)

Total project cost: $19

The tutorial on Thrifty Decor Chick’s blog is super helpful.  I followed it step by step up until the staining part.  To get the color I wanted, I used a gray stain.  I didn’t go crazy with making it even and perfect because I wanted it to look distressed.  After letting it dry for a few hours, I drew over the whole thing with white chalk and smudged it to give it a rustic soapstone look.  Once that was done, I attached the mirror with mirror glue and let it sit for a few more hours.

photo 3 (2)

Bryan helped secure the wire onto the cardboard in the back of the mirror with his staple gun.  This is what the back looked like before we hung it.  I think it’s safe to say it will never fall down?

photo 1 (2)

Here’s what the guest bedroom looks like now, with something filling the big blank wall.  I’m loving it!

photo 1
photo (2)

Before & After. What do you think?

IMG_4020  image_1

Total Money Makeover


Well, we are officially out of hibernation mode (I think?).  Our projects have been at a standstill for the past few months, partially because life has been crazy, and partially because we read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and it had a really big impact on us.

If you aren’t familiar with Dave, he’s a finance guy who created a plan to help people become completely debt free and build wealth.  He doesn’t believe in having debt of any kind, including your house, and he doesn’t believe in credit cards, even if they’re paid off every month.  Hence, his famous quote: “If you live like no one else, later you will live like no one else.”  The gist of his plan is that you make a zero based budget every month ($ in = $ out), and stick to it.  All of your extra money goes toward debt, starting with the smallest balance all the way up to the largest balance.  He’s extreme (and conservative), but he does have a lot of valid points.

Anyway, that book made us rethink our spending habits.  We always sort of had a budget and sort of stuck to it, but that was about it.  We have so many goals, but never had a concrete plan to get to them.  We realized we have to tackle all of our financial obstacles before we can have the freedom to do what we really want in life.  Those obstacles for us are student loans.  We’ve been really buckling down for the first few months of 2014 and have been putting all of our extra cash toward Sallie. So far we have 4 loans knocked out!  We still have a long way to go but we know it’s doable.

One of my favorite bloggers, Kelly from View Along the Way, actually paid off her house in 5 years using Dave’s principles.  It’s inspiring to hear stories of people who have gone through it, and have reached the end of the road.

Have you tried Dave’s plan, or something similar?  Any tips would be much appreciated!

DIY Sweater Sleeve Stockings

DIY Sweater Stocking  

I adore the look of cozy white cable knit Christmas stockings, especially the ones I saw at Anthropologie (left) and Pottery Barn (right).  Why must they be so expensive?  I wanted to figure out a way to get the same look for less.

A few weeks ago, we made imitation Pottery Barn cable knit sweater pillows out of thrift store sweaters (if you haven’t seen my DIY Sweater Pillow post, check it out!)  Each sweater was about $7, and the pillows we made from them are so cozy.   We had the sleeves left over… maybe I could make Christmas stockings out of them!  That would mean that for two large sweater pillows and two Christmas stockings, our grand total would be a whopping $14.  If we were to buy everything at a store, we could easily add a 0 to that number!

So we went for it.  We finished them in a day, and that included time to hand sew (machine was broken – of course!).  You could also make these stockings from the body of the sweater if you wanted to skip the pillows.

Here’s what to do:

1.  Purchase a cheap stocking in a shape you like.  We got a red one at a dollar store for 50 cents.

2.  Cut sleeves open along the seam and lay flat.  Turn them upside down for the next step.

IMG_3349  IMG_3350

3.  Lay the stocking on the first piece of fabric facing to the right, and outline it with a marker.  Remember, trace on the “bad” side of the fabric, not the side that’s going to show!

                 IMG_3352   IMG_3353

4. Repeat step 3 on the other piece of fabric, but turn the stocking to the left.  We messed up this step on the first stocking by tracing both patterns in the same direction.  When we turned them over and put them together, they didn’t match up.  Luckily we had some extra fabric so we were able to retrace and do it right.


4.  Put the two sides together (still inside out) and match up the lines on both sides.  Use a few pins to keep them from sliding out of place.

5. Cut off excess fabric around the traced lines, leaving about 1-2″ of room on all sides. See photo on the right in step 3 as an example.

6. Sew along the lines using thick thread or yarn for extra support.

7.  Turn right side out.  How great does this look?!


8.  Attach something to hang the stocking with.  This could be ribbon, braided yarn, etc. – something sturdy!

9. Hang, and enjoy!

IMG_3691  IMG_3690 IMG_3692

PS- I couldn’t resist making this little scarf for Baci out of the scraps from the sweater.  He loved it (even though his face might suggest otherwise) ;)


DIY $7 Sweater Pillows

pottery barnNow that the weather is changing from fall to winter, we’ve been looking for subtle ways to cozify our home.  These Pottery Barn pillows have been on our radar… but come on, $70 for a pillow cover?  We nixed that idea and decided to make our own out of old sweaters.  With a little help from my mom, we pulled it off for less than $7 each!

Here’s how to do it.

1.  Figure out what size pillows to use.  We have a few extra euro size pillows (26×26) that I wanted to use for this project, so we kept this in mind during our sweater search.

2.  Find old/discounted sweaters that look cozy.  My mom found white/ivory sweaters at thrift stores for $7 each, and happened to buy them on a day when they were an extra 25% off – woo!  We tried to find sweaters that were mens’ L/XL to fit over my 26″ pillows, but would have tried to get smaller ones for smaller pillows.

Processed with VSCOcam

3.  Fit, Measure, and Sew.  Before doing any cutting, we slipped the sweater over the pillow to see if it fit, and determine where to sew.  Since it fit like a glove, we just had to sew up the sleeves and neck holes, and didn’t have to take in the sides.  My mom used her sewing machine to sew a straight line across the top of the sweater, just below the neck hole (turn it inside out before sewing!).  For the arms, she sewed on the outside of the original seams so that the yarn wouldn’t start unraveling.  We decided to leave the bottom open so it could be easily slipped on and off the pillow (this worked especially well because the sweater we were working with was a little gathered at the bottom).

Processed with VSCOcam Processed with VSCOcam

3.  Cut.   Once the neck and arm holes were sewn (inside out), we cut off the extra fabric and turned it right side out.

Processed with VSCOcam Processed with VSCOcam

4.  Slip the cover onto your pillow and be happy you didn’t spend $70 at Pottery Barn!

Processed with VSCOcam

Powder Room Pampering

After a month hiatus (has it really been a month?), we’re back in action and have started to renovate our tiny powder room on the main level.  I’m sad we didn’t get any complete “before” photos, but believe me when I say it was in need of some (lots of) TLC.  Here’s a taste of what it looked like right after we started ripping things up.

IMG_3123 IMG_3116 IMG_3118   

So, what’s on the to-do list this time?

1. Replace linoleum floor with natural stone tiles. We bought white/ivory travertine tiles at a discount flooring store for $5 per sq/ft.


2. Add a natural stone “brick” accent wall to the mirror wall.  We also bought this at a discount floor/decor store for $6 per sq/ft. and are in love with it.
IMG_3216 IMG_3210 IMG_3215

3. Jazz up our existing mirror so we don’t have to buy a new one.  Bryan used extra wood from our vessel sink base (see #5) to make a two-sided wood frame for the mirror.  We turned the mirror on its side to save $ on tiles.  Perfect fit!


4. Replace the gold vanity lights with DIY pendant lights.  This part is in the works, but here’s a sneak peak.

IMG_3224 IMG_3142 IMG_3141
5. Remove the oh-so-lovely corner sink, and replace it with a DIY vessel sink.  We couldn’t find a vessel sink that we loved, and on top of that, they’re expensive!  So, we’re going to make one out of a bowl.  We haven’t actually started this part yet, but will write a how-to post when it happens.

IMG_3123 IMG_3140

6. Install a big rustic-looking piece of wood as a base for our new sink (see pic in #5).  We purchased dark walnut stain and polyurethane to finish it off, and trimmed it down to fit the space.  Not bad for a free piece of wood!  It was perfect for the rustic/chic look we’re going for.


7. Replace the toilet with a shiny new one.  We needed a super small toilet to fit into this space.  This one was our winner.

8. I think that’s it?

I’m SO excited about this project. It’s going to look fantastic when we’re done!  Here’s what we have so far.

IMG_3123  IMG_3221

We’ll be back soon with updates!

$210 Guest Bathroom Refresh

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been browsing design ideas for our powder room downstairs, which made me realize I never shared the details behind our guest bathroom refresh!  This was one of the first DIY projects we did after moving in, and we learned so much along the way.  It feels fresh and clean, and we’re LOVING the real tile vs the laminate floor that was previously in there.  The whole thing cost us under $225!

Here’s what we did:

iPhone Photos - 3.23.13 062   IMG_2309

What we did:  We painted!  We got away with using a grey paint sample that cost $3.  We also took the mirror off the wall to install the beadboard wallpaper and chair rail, and never put it back up.  We’re kind of digging the leaning mirror look until we find the perfect one for the space.

Above the Toilet Storage:
iPhone Photos - 3.23.13 063   IMG_2918

What we did: We got lucky with this one.  Someone was giving this cabinet away, and we snatched it up for free!  We bought a paint sample for $3 and painted grey/white stripes in the background to add some interest.  We splurged on knobs from Anthropologie, which cost $7 each.  The storage jars were from Dollar Tree and cost $1 each.

iPhone Photos - 3.23.13 064   IMG_2917

What we did: We tore up the old linoleum tile, which was actually much easier than we expected because it was one big sheet.  We replaced it with crisp, white tile that cost $2.55/sq foot ($85 total for us).  As part of the project, we had to purchase grout ($30 for premixed), thinset ($10), and a tile cutter to trim the edges ($10).

The Whole Thing: Before & After
iPhone Photos - 3.23.13 061   IMG_2307

Total Cost Breakdown:

Beadboard wallpaper (Frontgate Outlet clearance) – 2 rolls for $25
Wallpaper adhesive – $15
Chair rail – 2 for $12
Floor tile and installation materials: $135
Vanity paint: $3
Wall cabinet, paint and accessories:  $20
Basket:  Free (had it)

Total cost: $210

What do you think?  Have you done a budget bathroom refresh?

DIY Pallet Accent Wall

When we moved into our house, the master bedroom had one big, plain, window-free wall that was just screaming for some attention.Master - Before We talked about doing a stencil wall, similar to the one in our dining room, and also talked about doing something with wood or brick veneer.  When we found this tutorial that explained how to create an accent wall out of reclaimed wood, we realized how easy it would be.  The only question was what kind of wood to use.  Would we buy it or try to find something that we could reclaim?

Then, we had a light bulb moment.

light bulbBryan had lots of extra pallets at his job = FREE WOOD!  For those of you who don’t know what pallets are (I must admit, I had no idea before doing this project), they look like this:

IMG_2584You can find them sitting around at pretty much any home improvement store, grocery store, garden center, construction site, or warehouse.

To get started, we gathered the following supplies:

1.  Enough wood to cover the wall
2.  A sanding machine & sandpaper
3.  A hammer
4.  Finished nails
5.  Soap & water
6. Table saw

First, we rinsed all of the pallets with soap and water.  Easy peasy.

Once dry, we broke apart each pallet using a hammer.  After breaking them apart, we removed all of the nails that were still in each piece.  Not so easy peasy.  But, it was free… so no complaining, right?

Next, we sanded.  I’d be lying if I said we sanded each and every piece, because we didn’t.  We knew we were going to have a large, thick headboard between us and the wall, so we were okay with leaving some of the pieces as is.  For added peace of mind, we tried to put most of the unsanded pieces toward the top of the wall, out of our reach.

Last, we brought all of the pieces of wood upstairs and nailed them onto the wall.  Bryan worked on one row at a time and went from left to right.  He made each row look different by mixing various sizes and colors.  The table saw came into play to make the wood on the right side of the row fit evenly with the end of the wall.

Tip #1: If you only have 1 shade of wood and want more, a few cans of stain can fix that!

Tip #2: If you want a bit more certainty in the placement of the wood, try laying them all out on the floor before nailing them to the wall.

IMG_1031This is what it looks like now, after Bryan made us an awesome upholstered bed!  Our original plan was to replace the ceiling fan with a chandelier for a rustic/chic look, but after living here one summer, we’re in love with our fan and don’t think we’ll be able to part with it.

Master - AfterBaci likes it so far.  What do you think?