Tag Archives: home decor

Sometimes DIY Just Isn’t Worth It – IKEA Hack

18 Jun

In a world where originality is so highly desired but so difficult to come across, DIY projects are taking over. They’ve become the new norm. Thank you, Pinterest. Everyone seems to be racing to make the coolest, most innovative DIY item around and can’t wait to see how many likes and repins they get on Pinterest. These projects can be enjoyable and make things easier or cheaper. But DIY projects can also be rigorous, expensive and time-consuming. After choosing the DIY path for a recent project, I’ve learned to always consider whether DIY is worth it.

DIY

A few months ago when Vince and I moved into our new apartment, we took a shopping trip to IKEA for some affordable upgrades. A bookshelf, some bathroom storage and a cutting board. Boom! Nice and easy. Unlike many, we survived the inevitable arguments and disagreements that occur between couples while in IKEA. What is it about that place?

We found a pretty cool looking and perfect-sized bookshelf – Gorm by Ikea – for just $30 but the wood was fresh out of the chopper – it wasn’t sanded, stained or finished in any way. It didn’t come in a box – just slabs of wood tied together with zip ties. We figured, “No big deal, we’ll just finish it ourselves!”

“It’ll be fun!” we thought.

Wrong. Oh so wrong.

We thought we were saving money by purchasing a $30 shelf that we’d finish on our own. Some of the other bookshelves at IKEA were $100 so the one we chose seemed like a total steal. Right?

After the purchase of all the necessities to make the shelf user-friendly, we began second guessing our decision. Here’s what we needed:

  • 2 sanding blocks: $2.28 each
  • 1-quart Rustoleum Stain (the second-cheapest option): $8.48
  • 4 staining brushes (again, the cheapest ones they had): $0.99 x2 for small brushes, $1.48 x2 for large brushes
  • 1-quart Rustoleum Polyurethane: $12.06
  • 2 paint stirrers: $0.49 each

Materials

A total of $31.02 in supplies, before tax. Now, this seemingly inexpensive furniture project wasn’t looking like such a steal for this young couple.  The bookshelf was now $61.02 – before the start of what ended up being a time-consuming, inconvenient and labor-intensive project.

Our apartment does not offer a ton of room for activities. The lack of work space meant the entire project had to be done on our 4.5×12-ish balcony that isn’t exactly fit for 10 slabs of wood, a bunch of supplies and two tall people.

 

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First it was the sanding. Sanding, sanding, sanding for days. It took two evenings to sand all the pieces by hand. Next, it was time for the stain. We chose a darker stain, American Walnut, which meant that any mistakes or missed spots beamed like the North Star. Mistakes weren’t really an option. The staining and drying took three days. There was a lot of waiting and flipping the wood and waiting some more. Some rainy days over the course of the project eliminated the opportunity to work some more on the shelf. Inclement weather meant hauling all the supplies into our already cramped apartment and allowing the foul odors of the chemicals to fill our living space.

Wood Shelves

After letting the stain cure for more than 24 hours, it was time for the polyurethane. Since the polyurethane is clear, we didn’t have to be quite so gentle. However, it had to be equally coated, or else there would be shiny spots or dull spots. Like the stain, the polyurethane needed numerous coats and hours of drying time in between. After some more bad weather pushed the project back, we were able to finish the polyurethane and let that sit for 24 hours before use.

Often, we found ourselves dreaming of the day when it would be put together and out of mind. The day seemed like it would never come.

Building

Building

Finally, all the steps to the project were complete and it was time to put this damn thing together. Ten pieces of wood, 30 screws and some other pieces was all it took to turn misery into bliss…and the extra storage we badly needed in the kitchen. Although the total cost of the bookshelf – materials included – may have been only $60-$70, the amount of labor, stress and back-aches that came along with it wasn’t worth the work.

Admittedly, I absolutely LOVE the outcome. Though sometimes, DIY just isn’t worth it. That extra $30 would have meant a fast, odor-free assembly and having the storage we desperately needed.

Kitchen Storage

So, when debating whether DIY is the right route for you, its important to consider all things.

1. Most importantly, do you have the space?

2. Do you have the time?

3. Do you WANT to do the project?

4. Will you cherish the product?

5. Is it cheaper than simply buying the product?

6. Will you still be sane afterward?

7. Will it be FUN for you?

The last thing you want to do is begin to resent your project. This could result in a poorly finished product and an incredibly long blog post complaining about how difficult DIY can be 😉

In my case, it was a bonding and learning experience for the both of us. But I vow to never, ever sand, stain and finish a piece of furniture again until I have time and a work space!

Do you have a DIY horror story? When have you opted for or against DIY? Let’s talk about how un-crafty we are in the comments! 😉

Spring Cleaning: A How-To Guide for Getting Rid of JUNK

24 Mar

Although this year it could hardly pass for spring, believe it or not, it is SPRING! After this miserable winter, I couldn’t be happier to welcome spring. But with spring comes the infamous spring cleaning tradition – the time of year when everyone collectively decides to clean random things. I never really understood that but I can’t complain. The germaphobe and neat freak in me secretly loves it. That’s why I chose to write about it!

I recently became a contributing writer over at Honesty For Breakfast, a site that offers all kinds of articles written by contributors all over the country on topics such as entertainment, dating and sex, career and more! My recent contributions have been a series spring cleaning guides on getting rid of all that excess junk you’ve accumulated over the years. After graduating college in May, I realized just how much useless things I had in my possession. Since then I’ve become a pro at some real, cut-throat cleaning. Check out the guides:

THE CLOSET

Cut-Throat Spring Cleaning: The Closet

THE MAKEUP BAG

Cut-Throat Spring Cleaning: The Makeup Bag

BATHROOM STORAGE

Cut-Throat Spring Cleaning: Bathroom Storage

As always, let me know your thoughts! How do you spring clean?

 

Romantic Gift Idea for Him – On a Budget

16 Feb

If you’re looking to get your guy something thoughtful and romantic without breaking the bank, try this budget-friendly and personal gift idea for him!

 Here’s how everything turned out:

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This picture, personally designed by me, lists the latitude and longitude coordinates of where we first met along with the title of our song. It is both easy and romantic without being too sappy.  Get your personalized printable!

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I used two mason jars we had laying around and Valentine’s Day themed ziploc bags from Dollar Tree for a quick and easy DIY Valentine’s Day gift. I bought the white frame from Target‘s Room Essentials collection for $13.99. The matted frame makes it look more elegant.

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Cupcake holders make for an easy and inexpensive decoration for the mason jar lids.

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I had a personalized engraved keychain made by JewelryEveryday on Etsy. She had excellent customer service and it was delivered very quickly if you’re on a time crunch.

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For a small fee, I was able to get both sides engraved.  With shipping, the keychain totaled $25.95.

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Here’s how the frame looks with our yellow and grey bedroom theme. With a little more wall decor and perhaps a headboard, it will look much better.

The Power of Perspective: How Shopping for a Mattress Changed Me

10 Jan

I learned something the other day.

I didn’t learn an interesting fact about another country or how to work some new software program. I learned something about myself, about my job, about my future; it wasn’t life changing but it was important…and that’s what matters. I learned about the power of perspective.

You see, I spent the larger portion of my afternoon at work, not answering phones or responding to inquiries or managing a guest list like usual, but doing research on a mattress. Where was it cheapest? Who had it in stock? What was a comparable mattress to the one we wanted? Do they offer free delivery? Pillowtop or firm?

It was exhausting, annoying and tedious. Not to mention, it wasn’t exactly a cheap mattress and since my employer is supplying this mattress to a white collar employee, it was frustrating, given my current pay grade…

I digress.

After hours of searching and contacting random salespeople at mattress factories and outlets in my state – a surprising amount, actually – we finally made the purchase (got it on the cheap, too!) and scheduled the delivery.

“This is not what I went to college for!” I thought, angrily. It was task work – monotonous and lacked autonomy – and I wanted nothing to do with it. But I did what was asked of me with a smile on my face while I died a little inside with every phone call or “View the Collection!” click. I was so ready to go home and complain about how irritated I was with this task.

Upon leaving, though, I felt no sense of anger, no frustration. Sure, I didn’t go to college to end up purchasing mattresses for my boss’s boss’s whoever. Sure it was a pain in the ass and sure it wasn’t exactly in my job description. But I got the job done and after I was able to look at it from a different perspective, I realized that from this task alone, I gained a lot of hands-on experience and helped someone in the process. I learned some skills that could be applied in many other ways at work and in my personal life. Who knew?

The power of perspective allowed me to understand that this task wasn’t about ordering a mattress, it was about learning life lessons:

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

I contacted tons of salespeople regarding this mattress. In some cases, I got representatives from the company who directed me to another representative, in some cases I got directed to another store, and in some cases, I heard no response. In one case, however, I received an immediate email response from an actual representative. Throughout the afternoon, as I asked question after question, she responded promptly and in full. Ultimately, we purchased the mattress from her. She provided answers, fast…and that was just what we needed.

Lesson Learned: If you have the time, take the time. If you don’t have the time, make the time.  You’ll see results.

Customer Service is Key

When I called one company, the phone directory prompted me to press 7 for the bed and bath department. The representative who answered, however, was not in this department and forwarded my call to what he thought would be the mattress department. I was greeted by a woman who barely spoke English when she told me, “there is no one in the mattress department today but perhaps I can help.” After some time, though, she ultimately asked me to “check online.” This was a complete turn off as a customer. The woman from whom we purchased the mattress never once sent me a copied/pasted email. She was prompt, friendly, and informative. It was refreshing.

Lesson Learned: A customer or caller should never be bounced from line to line to line. This is a waste of time. Companies should take the time to review their directories and messages to ensure satisfactory service. Also, people want a personalized experience, not a computer-generated message.

Research Leads to Success

If our office purchased the first mattress I found in the collection and style we wanted, it would have cost us nearly $1,500 more than what we spent for the same thing. After researching, though, I was able to find similar mattresses, similar brands, and lower prices.

Lesson Learned: The internet is a beautiful, beautiful thing! Research changes the game. You’ll never know what’s really out there unless you do the research. If you think you’re an expert, look harder.

Assistants are Assets

Ordering a mattress is something my bosses cannot be bothered with. They have so much on their plates…and then some! As their assistant, it is my duty to make their lives easier, even when it means typing “mattress companies in my town” into Google. At the end of the day, I am paid to assist in whatever they need and I know that by completing this task, they are able to check one thing off of their to-do lists and I know they appreciate that help.

Lesson Learned: Assistants make the world go round! Leaders: appreciate your assistants and show it. Assistants: reassure your leaders you are there for them, no matter what, by doing an excellent job.

By taking a different perspective, I was able to shift my attitude from “screw this” to something that was a benefit for me. That’s the power of perspective, ladies and gentlemen.

What life lessons have you learned by taking a different perspective? Share your stories with me!

Lessons in Living with the Opposite Sex

21 Oct

Although I’ve shared rooms with countless girls (ahh, college) living with my boyfriend has proved to be a completely different world. Let’s face it, men and women are just DIFFERENT!

Now that I’m in my new home, I feel inclined to put up decorations! After all, small decorations and good home cooking turn a house into a home. Since fall festivities are in full swing I’ve put up what I consider cute fall decorations. But some didn’t make the cut for the guys. “Too glittery” or “too girly” or “pointless” were their responses.

Lesson Learned: Don’t ask what he thinks about decorations. Just hang them.

Also, us girls…we shed…a lot! With long dark hair, the new shedding around our bedroom is something Vince isn’t used to. According to him, my hair is everywhere, even in between his toes (whoops!) So paying more attention to hair, especially in the shower drain, is extremely important now.

Lesson Learned: Pay attention to the hair I leave behind.

How do young men even survive on the food they eat? The freezer contains frozen pizzas, loaded hot pockets, and all kinds of processed junk while the cabinets hold snacks any 10-year-old would die for: Lays chips and Cocoa Puffs cereal. Making room for my fruits and vegetables wasn’t too difficult…what has been difficult is avoiding all that junk food that taunts me every time I open those doors!

Lesson Learned: Refrain from stuffing my face with snack foods.

There are TONS more lessons to be learned, I’m sure. These are the ones that have stood out in just four days.

 

 

 

Design, Design, Design and Compromise

8 Aug

With the upcoming move, or so I hope, I spend a lot of free time thinking about how I would like to decorate our apartment together! Typical 22-year-old girl, right? I thought I’d share some of my inspiration with you and get your feedback! Themes aren’t really my forte so I stick with color schemes. You see, I’ve only ever decorated a bedroom and that was as a teenager so you can imagine the neon-infested, pattern-clashing designs my mother had to endure. Obviously this is all a little premature but I just can’t help myself!

 Bedroom

Yellow/Gray/Black/Blue – Love the cozy and simple look with a pop of color. Also, it isn’t too girly for a couple’s bedroom. (You’re welcome, Vince) The rugby stripes are bold and easy to match while. The blue adds a hint of youth and freshness.  

Flip Flops & Pearls Design

Glakes.net

Bathroom

The story with the bathroom design is ridiculous. Vince decided to buy this weird blue bathroom rug. It isn’t navy, it isn’t royal, it isn’t turquoise or aqua. So yes, it is a weird blue. He is desperate to keep this rug, even though his only connection to it is the $14 he spent on it. But in an effort to compromise, I’ll see what I can do. What are your thoughts on these? The chevron print is another bold print I like while the gray and white creates endless possibilities for color schemes…and that wretched rug.

Amazon

Popscreen

Kitchen/Living Room/Laundry Room/Balcony to come!

Please be honest in your feedback! What are your thoughts on colors? Prices? Compromise? I’d love to hear from you all ♥

Cheers!

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