Friday, October 21, 2011

The Challenge

Now that we are all unpacked I've had time sit back and assess each room in our house and I've come to a conclusion.

I really need to take the time to decorate. I'm not talking about hanging a picture here or a picture there. I mean seriously an adult. Jacob and I still have the mixed match, hodgepodge furniture that we brought into our relationship. For example: we still have my bedroom furniture that I've had since I was 16. Our dining room furniture is a hand me down that my aunt gave me some 5 years ago. Mind you that she had the furniture some 10+ years before giving it to us. We have one couch my mom bought us and another couch a friend gave us (thank you so much by the way:), and an entertainment center Jacob had long before we met. The entertainment center has definitely seen better days. Oh and don't let me forget the ottoman the cats have destroyed down to the stuffing. Yeah a blanket covers that but I'm honestly getting tired of digging stuffing out of Nicholas' mouth. I swear it's like crack to him. Odd I know.

Let me give you some pictures so you can see what we're working with over here. Please excuse the mess in the photos as they were taken one day after moving in. Alright, here we go

The Kitchen

Keep in mind that we are renting and therefore can't paint the walls. So the kitchen is pretty easy. The only thing irritating me is that awkward space between the cabinets and the ceiling. I'm not a plate displaying kinda gal so other than that I really don't know what to put up there. I guess I could leave it empty but it makes the room feel, well....empty. I have to figure out what to do with that space.

The Dining Room

That's my hand me down dining room furniture. Yes it looks like it fell out of the 80's but I L.O.V.E. it and am going to try to do everything I can to hang onto it. They seriously do not make furniture like that anymore. OK they do but you are going to pay a pretty hot penny for it. A pretty hot penny that we don't have. It is solid, sturdy, and will probably be standing strong long after I'm gone.

Go ahead and take a look at the dining room picture again. Oh my Lord the paint colors are awful. Seriously? Gold trim? The first time I laid eyes on it I thought Well as Tim Gunn would say. Make it work. OMG but I can only do so much.

Master Bedroom

This isn't the best picture but you get the idea. I have a pineapple 4 poster bed and if you look closely you can see 2 of the posts are broke. My husband used to constantly remove a post because it was blocking the TV and my 4 year old thinks it's a riot to hang onto them and jump up and down on the bed. I have a tall dresser and a long dresser in the same cherry finish. I got this furniture as a birthday present when I was 16 and I have to say that it has seen better days also. The walls are still just as blank as the day we moved in.

The Living Room

Take a look at the TV. It's so old but somehow it's hanging in there. You can see the entertainment center and our one couch. The other couch didn't make the cut for the move here. The walls in this room are still as blank as the day we moved in too.

The Formal Living Room

We aren't exactly a formal type family and I don't usually entertain very large crowds. When I do, card tables with table cloths will suffice. I wish I was one of those oh this space is perfect especially for when we entertain type of people. You know, like those couples on House Hunters on HGTV. But I've come to accept that I'm not and I probably never will be. So what to do with this space? I'm thinking playroom.

The Lanai

I don't have a picture but I can tell you that we have no outdoor furniture. Our last house didn't have a screened in porch or a large patio. So as of right now there is ZERO out there.

So there it is, my challenge. I have to decorate this house but it's not as easy as it sounds. First off, we are on a budget. My husband is in the military and I'm a stay at home mom. I could go back to work as a teacher but we would pay out the wazoo for child care and preschool. And..... I'm not ready to go back. I'm very much enjoying being at home right now. The kids are doing great, we are making friends, and learning our surroundings. Oh the little extra income left after paying childcare fees would be great but as for right now it's not worth it. I would miss out on too much.

As if being on a budget isn't bad enough did I mention we are a credit card free family? That's right we pay cash only. Yes we have a credit card for emergencies, for the if in life. Having only one couch for people to sit on when they come over is not an emergency. Having to pay for an entire new brake system in my car because the previous auto repair place messed it up? That's an emergency. A $1,400 emergency. So I have to ask all of you out there. Did you decorate your entire house without the use of a credit card? This definitely adds to my challenge.

And the last part of my challenge? My style! Please tell me I'm not the only one out there that has a hard time deciding what they like. I went through the whole dark, cherry wood phase. It's beautiful furniture but it's just not me. I then went through the whole Tuscan, french villa phase and again that's just not me. I like everything. I love to go to yard sales, antique stores, thrift stores, flea markets, and brand new, out of the box, department stores. So what style do I call that?

Lucky for me I stumbled across a magazine with an 8 page spread on a woman who described it perfectly. She called it Fresh Vintage. She loved to mix new, refinished, homemade, antique, and secondhand items. Almost every piece she owned had a story behind it. Now that is me. I don't know why I always thought a room had to be all vintage or all cherry or all whatever.

My first goal: to decorate the entire lanai with only $200. Please remember we have nothing out there!

I knew I wanted white wicker but I didn't want brand new. I love the look of worn wicker, like it's been used and enjoyed for a long time. I hunted the antique shops but they were wayyyyy over priced. Some stores were asking $70 for 1 wicker chair. One store was asking $130 for a wicker loveseat and that's without any pillows or cushions. Obviously antique stores were not going to be the way to go. Why not Craigslist? And wouldn't you know.....

I found exactly what I was looking for. Comfortable, sturdy, yet vintage looking wicker. In my eyes the slightly worn down chair legs, beautiful. The white paint that has worn thin, perfection. I couldn't believe I got the 2 chairs and loveseat for....are you ready.....$45.

Jacob and I got down and dirty with some antibacterial pine-sol and gave it a much needed cleaning. Now I needed some cushions. I knew I wanted bright, mix matched yet somehow still matching pillows. I knew I wanted each chair to have 1 large and 1small pillow, and the loveseat to have 2 large, 2 medium, and 1 lumbar or rectangle shaped pillow. Yes I'm so anal that I already had it planned out.

I started looking around at Pier 1, Target, Kohl's, and so many other stores. They were so expensive! I didn't exactly find what I was looking for but just by pricing them I was going to end up spending around $300 for outdoor pillows. Not going to happen. Then it came to me. In order to be thrifty, I was going to have to make an initial investment.

That's right peeps. I hand stitched nine pillows.

Sike! Do I look crazy! I did however get a sewing machine for my birthday. So I trucked my tail down to JoAnne's Fabric and Craft store to pick out my fabric. I have never walked around a fabric store before. There is only one way to describe it.


All of the different colors, textures, and patterns were just pure eye candy. I spent 2 hours in there and wouldn't you know it. They were having a sale on their outdoor canvas. $9.99 a yard. They were also having a sale on their pillows. Not pillow stuffing but actual pillows that can be washed. They were buy one get one free. I wish I had a picture of what my shopping cart looked like because it was overflowing.

Sewing machines are addicting! I'm not into sewing clothes or anything but if I weren't on a budget......let's just say this house would be overflowing with pillows.

The total cost of outdoor pillows in the fabric I wanted and in the sizes I wanted, $100.

I'm the type of person that isn't happy to come in under budget. Oh no! I like to spend all that is in my budget. I still have $55 dollars left to spend and I'm currently on the hunt for just the right pieces.

As of right now the total cost for my little piece of fresh vintage heaven

$145. Not too shabby.

Or is it shabby chic =)


  1. Cheryl! Ok - love the wicker - and the bargain. Love the love love love.

    Love the model in the kitchen. To be honest, I wouldn't put too much there. It's just a dust magnet up there, and it can become gross. The AC runs here most of the time so it's really going to pile on thick over there. Shame you can't paint. A lick of paint would make those cabinets pop and I think you would have a quick and easy solution.

    If you do put stuff there, make sure it's easy to clean/dust. And please - no fake plants ;)

    When we were looking at houses, some people had stuff sitting there likely for years - you could see the dust on them, disgusting. Some folk even told us they they will include their fake plant collection in the sale...thank you, but not thank you.

    Maybe a lovely 'eat' wooden or letter sign? Things like that. Easy to dust and help balance the room. I know these open spaces are confusing, I prefer traditional square/rectangular houses.

    Maybe for the bedroom - since you're so crafty. You could do a lovely headboard - a nice tufted one. Make some cushions for it, buy some new bedding...???

    So far so good lovee, it's starting to take shape.

  2. I'm one step ahead with the wooden letters. I did "family" in crackle paint=) I think I might do Friends & Family Gather Here. It will be on the next blog post. LOL I here ya on the fake plants part :) Thanks for the compliment and stay tuned!


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