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Before & After: Master Bedroom

26 Jan

When we first started designing the master bedroom, we knew we wanted it to be a peaceful retreat where we could relax, and I especially wanted to take advantage of the small bay window by turning it into a reading nook. While we’ve made a lot of headway with the room, it’s not quite finished. I was waiting to post pictures until I had it completed, but I’m realizing it’s going to take longer than I thought.

We painted the walls a wonderful color called wheat bread, added a silky-soft area rug, and two vintage tufted chairs that I picked up from a local resale shop for $25 a piece. I plan on recovering the chairs, but that’s one of those projects that may take awhile to get to.

So, here are the almost-after pictures:

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Flip This House

24 Jan

We have some exciting news! As you know, Husband and I purchased our home when it was in foreclosure and disrepair – just check out these before pictures (which don’t really do the damage justice). After 8 months of hard labor and nonstop projects, we decided to refinance the house at a lower interest rate.

Included in the refinance is another home inspection, which was completed by the same person who did our inspection the first time. In addition to saying he was impressed with our work, he valued the house at $40,000 more than what it was valued at when we bought it and $70,000 more than what we paid for it! While we did have to put some money into the house to get it to this point, our return is almost triple our investment.

We have no intention of selling anytime soon, but it was a satisfying feeling to know that our hard work (and the hard work of our loving family who painted countless walls and ceilings) has paid off. Here are some of the room makeovers we’ve completed:

Guest Bedroom


Media Room

Half Bath

Master Bath

Formal Dining



Building Our Home On a Solid Foundation

4 Jan

“As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Jeremiah 24:15

These words greet all of our guests as they walk through the front door. They are words that we strive to live by, and while we don’t always succeed, the words are a constant reminder of how we want to run our household.

We had this verse in mind back in March when we first purchased our home. The house was in need of some foundation repair, and as a result, we had holes drilled into the two front rooms of our house so that beams could be placed beneath the foundation. Although it created quite a mess, we used the opportunity to live out the words in our entryway.

We found verses that had to do with building a home and a foundation and wrote them on stationery. Then, we wrote prayers on the back of the paper asking the LORD to help us live out the words we had written. We threw the prayers into the holes before they were filled so that the scripture could literally be the “foundation” of our house. It think it was one of the best improvements we made to the house!

Husband and I have plans to plant more verses around the house in the future, but we want to hear your ideas. What creative ways do you use scripture in your home?

Before & After: Guest Bedroom

25 Oct

One of my favorite projects since moving into the house has been decorating the guest bedroom. While Husband had his man cave in the media room and the study, I had the guest bedroom to adorn as I pleased, and I didn’t hold back on giving the room a feminine feel. With a black-and-white damask pattern, red accents, and the incredible seamstress skills of my mother, I created a girly retreat on the second floor.

As usual, my goal was to pinch pennies when pulling the room together. The bed and dressers came from Ikea, while the mismatched nightstands came from Hobby Lobby and Wal-Mart (both on sale). All of the accents in the room came from either Hobby Lobby or Kirkland’s and I didn’t pay full price for anything – including my best steal – the picture over the headboard that I found buried in the clearance section of Kirkland’s for $20. I took a black Sharpie to a scratch in the frame, and it’s as good as new.

Lastly, the bedding and curtains are custom, but we found a cheap fabric at a local warehouse for only $7.99 a yard and the curtain panels came from Ikea (more on those later this week). Now, I can’t claim that this is a from-scratch room makeover because many of these accents were in the living room of our apartment, and I have had a few years to collect them. But, if we had done this all at once, the room (not including the furniture) would have been about a $300 makeover – not bad!

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The Blind Leading the Blind

13 Oct

As you know by now, there wasn’t much left to our house when we purchased it back in March. When the house was foreclosed the previous owners took all of the blinds and window treatments. Husband and I thought replacing the blinds would be one of our easiest projects, considering the renovations we were planning, but we were wrong.

As newbie homeowners, we thought windows (and thus blinds) came in standard sizes, so we took some generic measurements and went merrily on our way to Home Depot. Little did we know that this would be one of many trips because blinds are cut down do the exact measurement of the windows – leaving a 1/4 inch gap on each side for the brackets.

But, we finally got it right, and the managers at Home Depot were even kind enough to recognize a cry for help when they saw one and allowed us to return the misfit blinds – even though it was our fault. We went with white 2″ faux wood blinds for all the windows, except for our kitchen window where we went with real wood to compliment our cabinets.

So, learn from our mistake and be sure to take exact measurements if it’s ever time to replace your blinds!

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Before & After: The Kitchen

17 Sep

Fridge/Range Area of the Kitchen - Before the Renovation

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. That has certainly been my experience in life – how the fragrance of my mother’s stew on the stove and cornbread baking in the oven can transform a house into home. Or, how at all family gatherings no matter what is happening in every other room of the house, we swarm in the kitchen.

I can’t explain this phenomenon, but I knew I wanted the kitchen in our home to have that same ephemeral quality. I also knew that, along with all of its appliances, our kitchen had certainly lost its heart. Husband and I were determined to right this tragedy, and we started from the ground up.

The cracked tile in the kitchen was going to be difficult to replace because it was an exact match of the tile back splash. So, we decided to go with hardwood floors with the hand-scraped look. Then, we picked out appliances. One stainless steel refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, gas range, garbage disposal, and microwave later, we now have VIP status at Best Buy (not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing, though). Next, we polished up the beautiful wood cabinets and granite countertops that had played a big part in what sold me on the house.

Husband put his homeowner skills to work by re-grouting the area where the counter meets the backsplash, and hanging a new light fixture in the breakfast area. We also painted and added decorative face plates for all of the outlets. Finally, it was time for me to add the decorations, and I stuck with my favorite little chef motif that had been the decor in our apartment. I considered making a change, but there’s something so endearing about a chubby little chef – he’s my muse while cooking.

So, 2 months later, we finally gave the kitchen back its heart. The appliances work like a charm, and the wood floors have even doubled as a dance floor when our favorite song comes on the radio. Welcome to the heart of our home (with a few before pictures mixed in):

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Before & After: Media Room (a.k.a. The Man Cave)

5 Sep

It wasn’t much to look at. Just a perfectly square room with white walls and nothing to speak of but a ceiling fan. At least, that’s what I saw. But from the moment he stepped foot in the media room, Husband was having visions of what would become his future Man Cave.

His obvious choice for decor was paying homage to our alma mater, Texas A&M University. We chose to go with a two-tone, maroon and charcoal color scheme, and Husband impressively cut, painted and hung chair railing around the perimeter of the room. Just to make sure our school spirit could not be mistaken, we finished of the room with a collection of memoribilia.

The result is a cozy room that provides a fun, casual atmosphere whether we’re having a movie night or entertaining friends for the big game. As always, I tried to recycle many of the accent pieces from our apartment, and I got creative by using some of our favorite collectibles from our college years. The last piece (which will be in place soon) is a flag we are going to have framed and placed over the couch on the back wall. Have you tried a sports- or school-themed room in your home? We’d love to see pics! Here are ours:

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Before & After: Fireplace

18 Aug

One of the things I was most looking forward to about owning a house was having a fireplace. There are few things I enjoy more during the winter than the smell of cinnamon, the taste of foamy hot chocolate, and the sound of logs crackling on the fire. I’d had the first two in our apartment, but now was my chance to have the third!

So, since I first saw the fireplace in our new home, I’ve been anxiously awaiting colder weather to arrive. Husband, however, was less concerned about lighting a fire and more concerned that the fireplace was quite an eyesore. While the design was nice, the builders had left the stone unfinished, giving it – as Husband called it – a “Styrofoam” look. Husband quickly placed it at the top of his honey-do list, and I didn’t argue.

We decided painting it was outside of our skill set, so we hired a professional faux finish painter and we were thrilled with the results:

Before & After: Half Bath

9 Aug

Tucked away under the upstairs landing is our half bath. It’s a tiny space that beforehand was colorless with stainless steel fixtures and a frameless octagonal mirror glued – yes, glued – to the wall. Needless to say, we weren’t thrilled with the look. So, we decided to give the room a makeover – and do it on a dime.

Because I really like it, I reused the decor style from our bathroom at the apartment. Inspired by the olive, sage and chocolate striped soap dispenser, I picked a bright olive color for the walls. I then ran across  a Wal-Mart rug that matched the soap dispenser perfectly.

In our bathroom at the apartment, we also had an oil rubbed bronze trash can and matching toilet paper holder. I decided to continue with oil rubbed bronze accents. We added a mirror ($20 special at Home Depot), hand towel ring, toilet paper dispenser, switch plate covers, and a lever for the toilet.

Lastly, we reused a shelf we had from the apartment, along with some accents that were also already ours. So, for about $75, we turned a drab little bathroom into a fun place to flush. Here are the results:


Before & After: Master Bathroom

1 Aug


One of our favorite features of the house was the master bathroom. In addition to having a nice amount of space, it had the essentials – a large soaking tub for me, a comfy throne for him, and his and hers sinks. Like the rest of the house, the bathroom was pretty much a blank slate, and because I wanted it to be a sort of retreat for us, it was one of the first rooms that I focused on.

Also like the rest of the house, I was on a decorating budget, so with some creative “recycling” and taking advantage of a great Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon I made it happen. Here are the results, and I’ll detail how we made it happen below.


The focal point of the bathroom is the window/tub area, so that’s where I spent the majority of my budget. As you can see in the before picture, there was a towel rack in the center of the back wall, which we removed and replaced with a wrought iron fixture from Hobby Lobby (bought at half price, of course, for $25).

The curtain rod was “recycled” from our extra bedroom at the apartment. I simply cut it down in size and voila ($0, for those of you that are keeping track). The curtains are actually a shower curtain that I found at Bed, Bath & Beyond and cut to fit our window. I figured if I could get away with that in any room it would be the bathroom. With my coupon, it was around $25. The paint on the walls was a lucky find at Home Depot. While browsing the mis-tint clearance section of paint, I found a gallon that looked like it would go really well with our tile. We got it for an amazing $5!

The bird cage with battery powered candles was another recycled project from our apartment. I had used it as a makeshift chandelier on our porch, and it adds a nice glow when I want to relax in the tub. The tray on the ledge is also re-purposed decor. It was a gift from my sister that I had kept in the living room at our apartment. The towels rolled up in the tray were a clearance-bin snag for $3 a piece ($9 total).

Next, because we removed the towel rack in the middle of the back wall, we needed somewhere to hang towels. We figured it made much more sense to create the towel-hanging area right outside of the shower. After a quick trip to Ikea, we founded just what we needed: 4 silver double-hooks for $2 a piece ($8 total).

We wanted a clock in the bathroom, and the one we had at the apartment was just too tiny. Plus, Husband wanted it for the garage. So, I re-used the clock that was in our apartment living room and hung it over my jewelry armoire.  There’s no way we can be confused about the time now, but it is on the wall opposite the mirror so I’ve had to learn to tell time backwards.

Lastly, we didn’t do much to the toilet area, but we did need some sort of holder for the reading material. I had a decorative plate holder that had been in our apartment dining room that really didn’t have a place in the house. Well, wouldn’t you know it was a perfect fit below the light switch in the toilet area?

One thing I forgot to mention was my splurge on a big turquoise rug for the center of the bathroom ($35), and with the rug that brings our total to $97 – a bathroom makeover for under $100! That’s the kind of decorating I love. 🙂