Storage Space


Our home doesn’t have a coat closet. We had used some coat racks and shelves in the kitchen that were hung without any real though. We took it down and replaced it with premade crates that I had painted with the kids. The kids had fun helping, and I didn’t mind a rough finish on the paint job. We added some coat hooks.

Later everything was moved from the kitchen to the hall. Every person has their own crate, with one extra. I think it looks great and more importantly, it is doing a much better job at organizing all our junk.

Shopping List:

  • Crates (six): $55, various stores
  • Hooks: $10
  • Reclaimed wood: Free, on-site
  • Box: Free, on-site

Total: $65


The garage is a catch-all storage room. Our garage is not a traditional garage. It’s a squat cinder block building that floods. I wouldn’t want to attempt to put a car in there. So it’s our workshop and storage area. The back half holds all our garden supplies It fills up with dirt and junk but is also the starting place for many adventures.


For storage, we have a variety of areas throughout the house. I don’t overthink storage too much. My main focus is just not to have too much stuff.

Shopping List:

  • Wood shelves: Free, from family
  • Cupboards: $100 from neighbor
  • Tables: $20, reclaimed
  • Pegboard: Free from store closure

Total: $120

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Stairs and Hall

My stairways have changed from the worse part of my home to my favorite. We live in a three story house, which means, according to our five year old, we have one of the biggest houses in our city. (Not true, although I wish the amount of stories in a house counted more than the actual square footage.) I’ve already discussed the diabolical stairs we had going down. The ones going up aren’t much better.


After we lowered the stairs, we took a while to figure out exactly how to refinish them. First, we tore off the carpet, a task that involved pulling out far too many staples. We fixed a huge number of nails that weren’t in right and just made the stairs squeaky.


The stairs were functional but ugly. I was trying to find the right solution to refinish them. I saw kits, I thought about re-carpeting. Ultimately, a small mistake helped us find a solution. The  drop from the top landing to the stair was too deep by one inch. We simply bought new stair treads that were stained and glued on the existing treads. It raises the treads by an inch, so it normally isn’t the best solution, but worked perfectly for us. The back of the stairs is bead board.

I used a large rope for the railing as well as thinner rope on the balustrade. I also wrapped rope around a support pillar with a bunch of brad nails and hot glue.


One of the most interesting comments I received is that the stairs felt less steep than before. That is not true. They are just as steep as ever, but I guess the improved apperance means you don’t notice.

Shopping List:

  • Pine Stair Treads (11): $120, Home Depot
  • Stain: $5, Home Depot
  • Poly finish: $15, Home Depot
  • Beadboard: $20, Home Depot
  • Caulk/liquid nails: $20, Home Depot
  • Laminate: Leftover
  • Mirror/frame: Free, On hand
  • Rope, large : $40 (included whipping), Knot and Rope Supply
  • Bracket, large (2): $40, Knot and Rope Supply
  • Rope, small: $30, various stores
  • Brackets, small: $5, various stores

Total Cost: $295


These stairs did not undergo any major renovation. When we moved in they were covered in this economy blue grey runner. Serviceable, I guess. Then someone spilled bubbles all over it. I know people saw that bubbles are just soap and it’s not a big deal to clean it up….but when you spill a lot, it’s really horrible. I ended up removed the section it was spilled on so I could wash off all that thick bubble solution. It was put back up, but not very well.


Then later, a kid decided to have a peanut butter feast all over the stairs. Peanut butter also does not rank high on my list of think I don’t mind getting spilled. I had it with that economy runner and tore it off. That’s when I discovered that when it was installed, the decision was made to paint only on the sides of the runner. Instead of white painted stairs, that would have been just fine, we had these horrible stairs.

Of course, they stayed in that awful state for many months. We were more focused on the downstairs and doing things like installing doors. Eventually, we did get around to applying a couple of coats of white paint.

My sister came to visit and I decided this was the perfect opportunity to go for it. I wanted rainbow stairs. I decided I wasn’t going to buy paint. We had enough paint lying around, from the previous homeowners and our own projects. The laundry room turned into a paint mixing station. I started off with some good colors: red, dark blue, bright green, black and white. I created oranges and yellows with acrylic because the yellow paint I had dried out. The day was spent joyfully creating a rainbow I’m loving them. It’s quite a transformation from an eyesore to something I’ll sit and stare at.

Shopping List:

  • White exterior paint: $20
  • Rainbow paints: Leftovers

Total: $20



Shopping List:

  • Bookshelf: Free, trade
  • Rug:  $60, Flor
  • Frames: $10, Thrift store
  • Birds vinyl: $5, Amazon
  • Number Wall: Free, Hand drawn

Total: $75

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Master Bathroom


The bathroom started out with a leaky toilet and a closet door. It was too small a room to even have a regular door and was a major problem that we fixed during the remodel. When we moved in, there was a bi-fold closet door on the bathroom. Not ideal, even less so when my kids kept smashing their fingers in it. I took it off and put up a curtain. That’s probably even less ideal, but at least the kids weren’t getting their fingers smashed.

We moved the door, refinished the floor and added a vanity area where I get ready. With the added floor space, it feels like a functional bathroom. It’s still a funky space, but also a functional one.

Besides moving the doorway, we also re-did the flooring. I think the easiest way to make flooring look cheap is to put in stick-on tiles poorly, which is what we had. So we tore them up to the concrete and we refinished the concrete.


We finished the concrete by using a black concrete stain, putting on gray decorative flakes, and a couple coats of wet-look concrete sealer. (All Behr products from Home Depot.) It was an inexpensive flooring option, and we always have the option to go back and put different flooring on if it doesn’t wear well. So far, so good, though.

Shopping List:

  • Shower curtain: $5, Ikea
  • Picture: Free, homemade
  • Towel hooks: $15 for two, Ikea
  • Glass Shelf: $15, pieced together from different stores
  • Rolling Cart: $30, Ikea
  • Curtain: $10 rod, $5 fabric
  • Mirrors: $30, IKEA
  • Rug: $10, Ross

Total: $120

Main Bathroom

It’s a bathroom. I put stuff in it. This is the kids’ bathroom, so my main task is cleaning around the toilet. I have three boys. I did try to add some color.

Shopping List:

  • Tie-dye towels: $15, tie dye kit, Amazon, $20 towels
  • Shower Curtain: $10, Amazon
  • Towel rack: $10
  • Towel hooks: $10 for two, Ikea
  • Squatty Potty: $30, Amazon
  • Faucet: $20
  • Mirror: $15, online classifieds
  • Mirror: $25, Ross
  • Rug: $5, Amazon
  • Bowl: $10, Ross
  • Toilet paper holder: $5, Ross
  • Bead decoration: $5, Ross
  • Plant: Free, on hand

Total: $180

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Laundry Room


Usually, the decorative state of a laundry room doesn’t matter that much, but ours is also the hallway to get into the downstairs. I walked through there all the time. Out of all the room in our house, it was the one that bugged me the most. I didn’t like a single thing about it. Boring, ill-painted (and damaged) walls, and awful stick on tiles that reminded me of a cross between an old lady’s home and a trashy bathroom.before

We tore up the tiles to refinish the concrete underneath. It took weeks of tedious work. We had to scrape it up bit by bit and then use nasty chemicals to remove the adhesive.


Once the tiles were gone and the floor changed to black concrete, it got a little better. Then the stairs were torn apart, and the closets reworked, and it was much better.


One of the big changes we made was insulating a bare concrete wall. The room was instantly warmer and it also gained a wall of beadboard. We also upgraded an old stained utility sink to a wall mounted version. We bought the washer and dryer second hand. They aren’t by any means new or fresh, but they aren’t going anywhere until they don’t function anymore.

I found the cupboard in the laundry room in a storage closet. I’m not sure where it came from, but I wanted to upgrade it and used it for storage there. I had seen eggs (yes eggs) decorated with torn maps, and I had a bunch of vintage maps I had taken from my grandparents. With a bit of labor and modge-podge, I covered the old cupboard in maps. It’s not perfect: I could have spent more time getting out wrinkles.


Shopping List:

  • Maps: Free, from family
  • Clipboard: Free, from family
  • Curtain: Free, homemade
  • Cupboard: Free, on-site
  • Drying rack: $10, Ikea
  • Drying Hooks: $5, Ikea
  • Washer and Dryer: $375, used
  • Utility Sink: $55, home depot
  • Faucet for Sink:$20, Amazon
  • Sink Aerator: $10, Amazon
  • Carpet: $200, Flor
  • Laundry Baskets: $20, Walmart

Total: $695

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Bedrooms 1 and 3


This first bedroom started out as the boys’ bedroom, was briefly the master bedroom, and changed back into one of the boy’s bedrooms. We moved a door, changed the closet around, took out the carpet.

The third bedroom was created with a couple of new walls. We refinished the concrete and painted the walls a nice neutral green.

I wanted to try something a little different. On the textured ceiling, I did a light coat of dark blue. The ceilings are only seven feet and painted them a dark color. It isn’t any sort of a wise design choice, but I like it anyway.

I grew up with the pine bunk beds and one of the dressers. My mom hung on to them, and I was glad to put them in my home. They still have graffiti on from when I was growing up and I’m hesitant to clean it off.

The second dresser was a lucky find at a thrift store. It was in great shape and matched the other furniture perfectly.

Shopping List:

  • Bunkbed/dresser: Free, from family
  • Dresser: $100 , thrift store
  • Chair: $80, Ikea
  • Crib: $100, Ikea
  • Two posters + frames: $40, homemade
  • Corkboard: $5, thrift store
  • Curtains: $50, Walmart
  • Letters (2): $10
  • Bedding: Free, on hand
  • Rug: $260, Flor
  • Rug: $20, Dollar Store
  • Matresses: $160, Ikea

Total: $825

Bedroom 2

This room is a bit of a catch-all for old furniture. It’s our oldest son’s room, and also works as a guest room.

Shopping List:

  • Rugs (2): $40, Ikea
  • Headboard: $30, homemade
  • Mattress: Free, on hand
  • Curtains: $15, Ikea
  • Nightstand: Free, from family
  • Bedding: $45, Ikea
  • Poster Art: $10, homemade
  • Frame: $15, Walmar165t
  • Bulletin board: $5, thrift store
  • Letter: $5, craft store

Total: $165

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Master Bedroom


This space was at one point supposed to be a second kitchen in the home. It had a nice black tile that we were in no mood to tear out.


Enter Flor carpet tiles. Bought on a seasonal sale, the chartreuse and black flooring covered up those tiles to give us a nice carpeted space.

Our bed had increased from a queen to a king during the third child’s babyhood. I became a big fan of co-sleeping. It wasn’t out of any desire for attachment parenting, but rather laziness. Not getting up in the middle of the night was wonderful, and I became a pro at side by side nursing. Our master bedroom is not large. It had enough room for a king sized bed, but not much else.

I did want a place to sit down in my bedroom and happened upon an old rocking loveseat at a thrift store. I was undeterred by the floral upholstery that had survived several cats.

It was ripped off and replaced by a few cushions found at Ikea, and fit into the small space. Add a nightstand that was discarded from my husband’s work, a floor lamp and we were good to go on furniture.

For some reason, I became attached to the idea of wallpaper. We found a nice silver and purple leaf print. I added an old window that came with house.


For the opposite wall, I re-ordered a large vinyl decal. I had this decal at a rental and loved it. We had to take it down and re-paint and probably lost some of our deposit because of that decal, but I never regretted it. I re-ordered it to use in the bedroom.

Final touches were a couple of picture frames and photos I had on hand.  For window treatments, I spray painted some roman blinds with chartreuse spray paint and chicken wire as a stencil.

The bedroom isn’t large because I like small cozy bedrooms. (It does have a giant closet.) It is the retreat I wanted. Now I can go to bed looking at things I like.

Shopping List:

  • Carpet Tiles: $220, Flor
  • Bed frame: $100, Amazon
  • Mattress: $285, Amazon
  • Nightstand: Free, from garbage
  • Loveseat: $25, thrift store
  • Cushions: $30, Ikea
  • Bedspread: $20, Ikea
  • Sheets: $25, Amazon
  • Bedskirt: $15, Amazon
  • Fabric, $5, Walmart
  • Floor Lamp: Free, on hand
  • Shades (2): $60, Ikea + $5 spray paint
  • Window: Free, on-site
  • Wallpaper: $90, from, Wallpaper Direct
  • Vinyl Decal: $45, Amazon
  • Misc items: Free, on hand

Total: $925

Master Closet

This weird room counted as a bedroom. An older person that visited the house frequently remembered it as being the scary place in the house where monsters frequented. It makes a pretty good closet. It’s pretty rough but it works.

Shopping List:

Total: $185

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Bonus Rooms


The bonus room started in the downstairs family room as a school room where I did preschool with my two boys, along with a co-op group once a week. After the remodel, it was moved up to the attic. In the attic are toys, extra storage, and the X-box. It functions as a craft room, game room, but mostly as a place to go when you need to get away).

It’s always been a fun quirky room with the gabled windows and sloped roof.

Shopping List:

  • Futon: Free, from family
  • Futon slipcover:  $35, Amazon
  • Desk: $15, Ikea
  • Desk: Free, local school
  • Tables: $35, Walmart
  • Clipboards: $10, Walmart
  • Wall Decor: $5, Dollar Store
  • Floor Letters: $15, Ross
  • Basket: $15, Ross
  • Storage Shelving: $80, Ikea
  • More Shelves: Free, from family

Total: $210

Toy Room

The toy room has always been the toy room. It was right off the main living area, perfect for hiding toys away but still having the kids close.

At Christmas one year, we did get a bit excited and install a yoga swing off a rafter. I do yoga and other exercises with it, but more than anything it’s a fun place for the kids to play. Who wouldn’t want a swing inside?

Shopping List:

  • Bookshelves: $5, Ikea
  • Art: Free, art project
  • Mat: $15, Ross
  • Train table: Free, from family
  • Toy storage: $20, thrift store
  • Colored wire shelves: $20,  Amazon
  • White wire shelves: Free, from store closeout
  • Yoga Swing: $50, Amazon
  • Hanging Hardware: $30, local hardware store

Total: $140

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Dining Room


The dining room was an awful beige when we moved in. It might have been okay on its own, but it clashed with everything else in the home. We didn’t paint anything until about a year after we moved in, and I recommend this. After we were adjusted in our home, it was easier to pick a color that worked well. I picked a slightly teal navy. The dark color helps make a long open room feel more intimate.



The table in the dining room was a table I sat on when I was a toddler and used most of my childhood. When we were married and needed furniture, it was taking up space in my parent’s basement, and we gladly took it. It was a yellowed, natural pine. I decided to paint it red. It sat like that for a few year, moved into my sister’s house for a while, and then we reclaimed it again.



When we moved,  we decided once again to refinish it. We painted it green with a yellow top. After a couple of years, the top began to chip, and we also felt that the table was too narrow. I had seen leftover acrylic at the Habit for Humanity Re-store and thought we might use that as a new table top. A trip to the store was disappointing, until the very end where I found a few sheets tucked away that were very close to the color I wanted. We scored them for $5 each and used epoxy to glue them onto the existing top after I sanded it down.




Shopping List:

  • Decals: $15, Amazon
  • Curtain rods: $20, Ikea
  • Leaf Curtains: $10, sewn from sheets
  • White Curtains, $15, Walmart
  • Tree: $15, online classified
  • Pot, $20, Home Depot
  • Picture hangers (2): $30, Ikea
  • Folding chairs: $5, thrift store
  • Table: Free, from family: refinished for $70

Total: $200

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It’s called the heart of the home. Our kitchen is tucked neatly in the corner, and I like it that way. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, our heart is a nice retreat, separate from the rest of the space. I love the ability not to see dirty dishes as I eat my dinner or have friends over.

The kitchen has plans for remodeling at some point. I mostly like my kitchen; it just has a bunch of little things I want to fix that add up to a major remodel. We’ve made it work for us in the meanwhile, worn out countertops and all.

When we moved in, there were two fridges in the kitchen. It was rather excessive. In reality, we needed extra freezer space, not fridge space. When a chest freezer was given to us, we went ahead a sold the extra fridge. Later, we went to the appliance store for some extra cardboard and ended up buying a new fridge and microwave. The fridge was my favorite fridge I’ve seen, and it was marked down 50%.


We have also been fans of painting appliances with chalkboard paint. I’ve painted a fridge and chest freezer and found it quite easy and enjoyable. It’s a fun way to update cheap white appliances without spending much money. Just sand it down a bit, clean it up and paint a couple of coats.

The spice racks were a fun find in a shed full of garbage out back. I painted them and found spice containers to fit. I also painted the rear wall behind the built-in shelf the same color, to add more interest to the kitchen.


We had a bunch of leftover paint from painting stairs, a very boring stool, so we had fun painting it. A few tips: plastic utensils worked well for the splatter paint. We also laid the stool on its side after we applied paint to get some nice movement.


Shopping List:

Total: $1190

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Living Room


Welcome to the living room. This is the room in our house where we spend the most amount of time. I prefer to keep it pretty simple to allow for the influx of toys, people, and stuff. I love bright green and used it as the basis of most of the design. I’m constantly re-arranging the living room. I’m not even going to try to attempt to explain all the different arrangements I had: I like to change things up. It  helps keeps things fresh and interesting.

The bones of the living room have stayed the same. Laminate flooring, peach beige walls, and even popcorn ceiling. I’ve often thought of changing any of these core elements. It’s a lot of work and money, and I’m just not sure If I would improve the situation enough to make it worth. The flooring, the paint color, and even the ceiling isn’t that bad. So I lived with it.



The living room is one long, narrow space. It’s easily separated into two separate spaces, as I have done many times. But I like it best as one big room, where many guests are accommodated and there’s room to get out a couple of yoga mats, build a massive train track, or run circles.

I’m always adding and changing the furniture up a bit. I’m not actively searching for anything: but have found many items just by chance and happily integrated them into the living room, like the piano from online classifieds and the tree stump from my neighbor’s dead willow.


The chest was a thrift store find. The boys call it a treasure chest. Joe called it a mini-tardis (we’ve been watching a lot of Doctor Who). I love all the storage inside. It’s been a great place to store the blanket, pillows and stuffed animals that tend to get scattered in the living room.


The middle school replaced their desks and were giving away the old ones for free. I stopped by and found a couple of the oldest desks there. It’s been a great place for me to sit and work in the living room.

I took a while to upgrade the curtains. We had boring blinds and they worked, so that was that. I added a valance to the front window, with black burlap and scrap fabric. Later I added a white and sheer curtain to replace the blind.


Our main area lacks overhead lighting. I have never wanted to put floor lamps in there because, in my experience, floor lamps and young children don’t combine well. When we moved in, I bought a couple of wall lamps from IKEA. Because they were wall mounted, they didn’t take up any extra space, and the kids couldn’t knock them over. My mom also lent me a lamp that had been sitting in her storage for 25 years: an old hanging globe lamp. The globe lamp ended up being in the way of the Christmas tree…until I realized that it works wonderfully as a tree topper.

I’ve added more lamps through the years. One time I spent quite a while trying to figure out how to increase the lighting and shopping for new ones,until my husband reminded me we had an unused lamp downstairs that would work perfectly. It took five minutes and no money to solve a problem I puzzled over for quite a while. The best solutions are inexpensive, easy and quick, and they are often found by just evaluating what we have.


One of my favorite things in the room was a painting from my Grandma’s as she was cleaning out her storage room. It actually closely matches a lovely, vivid dream I had a while ago.

I had a bunch of mismatched cushions. Some were thrifted, others came with the couch. A super easy way to upgrade cushions is to buy new covers. It ended up quite cheap, and now I have a pillow that match!



Our front door needed to be upgraded…I decided to go with a bright green paint, not really sure if I would like it. I ended up loving it, and the door has changed to a feature in the room.

Shopping List:

  • Rug: $250, Flor
  • Piano: $250, online classified
  • Green Couch: $460, Home Reserve
  • Blue Couch: $400, local furniture store
  • Chair: $60, IKEA as is
  • Recliners: Free, from grandparents
  • Recliner slipcovers: Overstock, $100 for two
  • Chest: $30, thrift store
  • Side table: Free, from family
  • Stump: Free, from neighbor
  • Plants: Gifts or adopted
  • Plant stickers: $15
  • Lamp: Free from aunt
  • Desk closet:$20, thrift store
  • Desk: $20, Ikea, with $5 top, thrift store
  • Office chair: $10, yard sale
  • Floating shelf: $15 Ikea
  • Wall lamps: $40, Ikea
  • Desk: Free, local school
  • Toy shelf: $60, Ikea
  • Painting: Free, from Grandmother
  • Coat racks: Free, repurposed
  • Curtains:  $90, Ikea
  • Valance: $5 fabric, plus scraps
  • Hanging lamp: Free
  • Clock: $5, Amazon
  • Various:$20
  • Leaf pillows: $10, Ikea
  • Plant pillows: $15, Amazon
  • Green pillows $20, Amazon
  • Charging station: $5, Ikea

Total: $1,905

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