Saturday, December 28, 2013

10 Simple Ways to Cut Costs

Being frugal, cheap thrifty, and knowledgeable about a product before buying has been ingrained in me since childhood.  Both of my parents shopped this way, and both of their parents did to an even greater extent....such as washing and reusing ziploc bags.

My Dad will spend months researching a product such as a camera, generator....tool name it.  I tend to do the same, though I'd like to believe I come to a decision a bit faster...(I'm not turning into my parents...I'm not turning into my parents...)

As a result, I am a research and thrifty fiend.  Karl, having grown up in a family that have a Mennonite background, can fully relate.

Q: Wanna know how copper wire was first made? 
A: Two Mennonites pulling on a penny.

December can be an expensive month.  Now with the New Year just around the corner, consider adopting a few new easy habits to cut down on spending in the coming year.  Therefore, behold our list of strategies we've been using for years or just recently found for saving them dolla-dolla-bills y'all!

1.  Make weekly menu plans.

We reduced our grocery budget an average of 35% by doing this.  All it takes is a few minutes of sitting down and figuring out what meals you want to make for the upcoming week, and then the ingredients you'll need for the week.  It also helps to know what is on sale at your main grocery store that week, as you can plan some of your menu off of what is discounted for the week and save more money.

Additionally, try to make certain ingredients stretch over several meals.  An example would be potatoes: get a bag of potatoes and use them to make hashbrowns for breakfast, and as a side dish for several nights of dinner: mashed potatoes, french fries, twice-baked potatoes, and vegetable soup.  I'll oftentimes make homemade chicken soup and save some of the broth to put into polenta for a side dish another night, or go through a pack of bacon by having some in my chicken sliders for dinner one night, and stuffed portabella mushroom dinner the next night.

Bonus Tip: Use up all leftover veggies from the week in a soup or casserole at the end of the week.

2. Group together errands you need to run into one day.

Save gas by designating a day or two for all of your errands, such as doing all of your grocery shopping, the post office, bank, make returns, etc. all in one day in a block of a few hours.  If you know you have an appointment in a certain area on an upcoming day, make a list of what else you can do in that area that needs done.

3.  Make meals from scratch.

Going off of idea #1, make more meals at home - pack lunches and make dinners from wholesome food, not frozen dinners or box kits.  We're talking straight-up fresh meats, seafood, fruit, nuts, and not-frozen but fresh veggies, etc.  Think it's more expensive to eat this way?  Newsflash: it's not.

How much do you spend in a month on snack foods (and breakfast cereals)?  Items such as potato chips, fruit cups, pretzels, crackers, cookies, cakes, pies, doughnuts, candy....  Instead, limit or even eliminate snack food altogether, and allow the wholesome, 3 balanced meals you should be eating in a day give your body the nutrients it needs.  Eat fruits, cheese, homemade muffins or trail-mix as snacks.  Also, bake your own cookies, cakes, pies and such (not with the pre-packaged cake mixes, but from scratch ) to have some treats around the house.  Give it time, and your body will adjust and stop having cravings for the store-shelf snack foods.  You can even make home-made potato chips in the oven (super easy to do!).  Same goes for fries.

Let's have a scenario where you find that out of the $300 you spend on groceries each month, $150 is on snack foods/frozen dinners/cereals/sweets.  Now the $150/mo you're saving by not buying such products can be turned around to buy the whole ingredients like fresh (even organic) fruits and veggies that you didn't think you could afford before.  Most likely you'll spend maybe $75 of the $150 on fruits/veggies, giving you some nice savings.  Add those fruits/veggies to the protein such as chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and seafood you've already been buying, and grains such as bread, bagels, pasta and oatmeal, and you're set.

Another money saver: Drop sodas, fruit drinks, even grape and orange juice.  Drink more water, get a orange/lemon squeezer or a juicer and make a fresh batch each day or for the week.  Make your own iced tea and lemonade (bonus: homemade is fresh and tastes better).

Eating wholesome foods is not only better for you and completely possible, but it saves your budget.  Also, it makes going out to eat become a special treat.

4.  Grow your own vegetables, raise your own steak animals.

We currently rent and don't have any land, but we do grow veggies in containers, which takes out 90% of the usual prep work and the hassle of weeding altogether - can't go wrong there!

As for protein:

Chickens = eggs and/or meat
Rabbits = meat
Pigs = meat (and food-trash disposal - they'll eat anything)
Goats = milk and/or meat (and free lawn maintenance)

In the future we're interested in raising chickens.  I don't think I could eat rabbits I've raised though unless things were very dire...  :(

5.  Limit What You Watch. 

This one hurts my film-loving heart to say, but it's true.  Karl and I are both film lovers, but for years we've kept to a general preference we share of only seeing a movie in a theater when it is "cinematic".

Karl and I define "cinematic" as a movie that truly is made to "wow" you with its breathtaking cinematography and storytelling and adventure.  A true experience.  Movies like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, The Matrix, Indiana Jones, Pearl Harbor, Independence Day, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, get the picture.

Sadly (though not for our wallet), not many movies that come out each year fit this bill, so we rarely go to see a movie in the theater.

A good place to start would be to ask yourself how many movies you've seen in the past year at the theater that weren't worth the money you paid, or that you could have gotten the same experience watching it at home. Go from there on how to cut down on your theater-going.  :)

Also, Netflix and Redbox are your friends.  Cut your cable tv.  Watch shows online or wait to watch them on dvd.

When we first got married we didn't have cable because there was no room in our budget for it.  As a result, we've been without cable or even standard network tv for years.  Presently we can afford cable, but having been at friends places with cable and seeing that the content is mostly reality tv and shows about teenage vampires, we didn't see the use of paying $70+/mo for a few shows we'd actually watch.  For the last few years we've only paid $8/mo for Netflix and watch what shows/movies we want from there.  Most shows friends tell us about are on Netflix, so we check them out on our own time, and here's a bonus:  no commercials, ever.

6.  Use Coupons & Price Matching.

Just as great as coupons, shop at grocery stores that do double coupons (your $.55 off coupon becomes $1.10 off!).  The sources I use are How To Shop For Free and Coupon Kindness.

For price matching, I've repeatedly used Rite Aid's sales to get an extra $2 off of laundry detergent, or Aldi's to get $3 off coffee bags at my normal grocery store.  It's a simple matter of going through ads that comes in your mail or leafing through their weekly flyers online, then take the ad and show it to your cashier.  FYI: Be sure to look up if your regular grocery store accepts price matching

Note: Coupons aren't always the golden rule for saving money.  I have found that it is still sometimes more affordable to buy another brand than the one you have a coupon for.  For example, not too long ago we needed to buy a box of trash bags.  I had a coupon for $2 off of Hefty's drawstring bags.  However, when I compared how much the Hefty's bags cost even after the coupon was deducted to another brand's non-drawstring bags (I think it was another $2-3 difference), we went with the non-drawstring brand.

7.  Buy in Bulk Online.

You don't need to pay a membership fee at Big Lots or Sam's Club to save money buying groceries in bulk.  I save a lot of money buying foods, toilet paper, tissues, etc. in bulk on amazon.  Shipping is free for orders over $25, and you can also use Amazon's "subscribe & save" on some items to help you save even more.

Here's some of the items I buy in bulk on amazon (especially handy for GF foods):
Bob's Red Mill Flours - Sorghum, Brown Rice, Tapioca, Flaxseed
Tinkyada pasta
Toilet Paper

8.  Buy online using Ebates.

I love this site!  I can get a percentage of cashback from a purchase on Walmart (3.5%) Kohl's (6%), Dell (4%), Lowes (2.5%) name it, they almost always have the store.  If I can buy something online (with free shipping or free ship-to-store) rather than in the store, I do it so I can get more back.  You can even use any coupons or promo codes you may have on top of it.

The site also runs promos where they raise the percentage you can earn back at certain stores, which they can notify you about by email.  You can learn more about how it works here.  Signing up just consists of an email and password.  When your cashback total reaches $5.01 or more, you can ask for payment via check, paypal, or donate to charity. Super great.

9. Buy gifts throughout the year.

Plan ahead.  When you see something you know a friend or family member would like for a really good price, buy it and save it for their birthday, Christmas, anniversary, etc.  Or wait for it to go on sale.  This way, you're not forced to find something last minute (aka, panic mode) and/or pay full price for it.

10. Buy off-season.

Buying certain items off-season may seem like an obvious tip, but oftentimes it can be easier to buy something now instead of waiting a few months for it to go on sale.  When Christmas decorations, bows, wrapping paper, and other paraphernalia go on sale the week after Christmas Day, stock up for the next year (scored something I've wanted for years at a heavy discount the other day this way, woohoo!).  Same goes for summer items such as patio tables and chairs, mowers, and gardening tools going on sale in the Fall, which we took advantage of this past year to get our porch into better shape.  Or snow shovels, snow blowers, tire chains, and fireplaces in the Spring.

Some of this list comes down to weighing what your wants and needs are.  I leave it to you to determine how far you need or want to take things.  However, buying bulk online and/or through ebates, coupons, meal planning, etc. are easy things anyone can do, whether or not you "have the money".  Use your money wisely, as you never know when the rug may be pulled out from under your feet.  That's my 2 cents.  ^_-

Note: This list's estimates for cost-savings is based on our own local prices and how much we personally use certain items to calculate the savings.  The numbers for your family may be different, especially for those of you with more than 2 people.  It is worth it to take the time to work out the calculations to help you decide what can help your family's budget.  :)

Shared on DIYshowoff, domesticsuperhero, saving4six, elizabethandco, lizmarieblog, and allthingswithpurpose.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Living Room: The Skyline Settee

I had this settee in my cart this entire past week.  The entire.  I had read reviews, measured twice, looked up how to care for velvet....I had no more excuses.  I knew I was going to get it, but I wanted to be sure, y'know?  Let it sit awhile...  Procrastinate the inevitable spending of a good chunk of money...
Skyline velvet tufted settee in navy blue

We did get it for a great price ($365 total + free s/h.  For $1/day, in a year you can earn a seat for your tush), so as long as it lives up to our expectations of quality (a.k.a. it doesn't feel like it'll break when we sit on it), we're good as gold.

Initially we both loved and were considering this tufted settee (below) that's also by Skyline, but in the end we just couldn't overlook the price tag of $554+tax (our budget was $500).  Add to that some theorizing that it was too posh and the tufted seats would have been uncomfortable...not to mention we already have a linen-like sofa, so the velvet will add an extra texture to the room....ok, sold.
Skyline tufted settee in navy blue linen

The settee should be here sometime in January.  Looking forward to it!

Update: It has arrived!  See my review of the settee here.

p.s. - We picked up our living room rug last week!  It's been perfect during this recent drop in temperatures.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

DIY $100 Restoration Hardware Bookshelf

Restoration Hardware.  It is seriously so hard to deny oneself of the awesomeness of RH.

What's the snag?

They are just too darn expensive.

So what happens when you really like a bookshelf from RH, but see it as utter madness to dish out $1,000+ for it?

You find an alternative way of making your own, that's what.  And it'll look even better than their's.  Or so you hope.

How about making similar shelving for under $100?

Well, a recent trip to Ikea gave me the tools to do just that!

The Vittsjo is a metal  frame bookcase with glass shelves at Ikea that comes in different sizes - some bigger, some smaller.  Ours is middle-sized and came for $70.

Getting the Wood Shelves: When I got home and we assembled the frame, I noticed that the Ikea shelves left a few millimeters of spare space on each side that looked kind of sloppy.  So I measured them and found how much more I wanted them to be extended (3 millimeters).  The next day, with one of the Vittsjo's shelves tucked under my arm, I went into Home Depot and found a helpful guy in the lumber section and explained that I needed shelving of the same size and thickness (1/2" thick), but 3 mm longer (yeah, we shared a laugh at the extra 3mm).  After looking at several options and weighing costs, he helped me pick out a very nice, smooth plywood (which surprised me, as I'd always pictured all plywood as rough and blotched construction wood).

Home Depot cuts wood for free, so he sawed the pieces for me and I left only $15 poorer and with all 10 fingers.  Just to come clean, I did cheat a bit by using a $25 giftcard I've had.  The original cost was approx. $40 for the plywood, but you can cut 5% off the price if you buy it online through ebates.  Or you can buy at Lowes online through ebates (4%), use their store credit card for another 5% off.  OR if you have a Discover card, redeem your cashback for a $50 gift card by spending only $45.  Just a few ideas.  ;)

Other alternatives would be to look-out for scrap wood on craigslist, or use pallet boards.

Oh, I also decided to not give the shelves an overhang out the sides like the RH for the simple reason of preference, but it also gave the added benefit of helping hide the sides of the plywood a bit better.

Then it was a simple matter of watching the wood shelves sink satisfyingly into their slots, fitting better than even the Ikea shelves had.

One got jinxed though as you can see below.  It needs a few millimeters off.  Bugger.  I'll get around to fixing it someday.

All in the Details: Other than the tip-top shelf needing a shaving, it's in need of some light sanding.  Winter has kicked in, so I'll wait for spring at this rate as it's not very noticeable.

I experimented for some time on different home-made stains (I want to keep it very light, enough to just bring the wood-grain out a bit), but didn't make a concoction that I was satisfied with.  The "wet" you see below is more the color I was shooting for.  Too bad it dried.  I'll worry about it in the spring as well (I'm not gonna kid myself into thinking I'll do it any sooner, hehe).

This is what it looks like to-date.  Still in the process of decorating it, but I like where it's going:

I'm still considering whether to add crown molding to the top of it like the one from RH.  It could add an extra-nice touch.  Perhaps I will keep an eye for scraps on craigslist, but for the time being I'm happy with leaving it the way it is.

So there ya have it.  The Vittsjo gives a nice base to build from for your own style bookcase.  You could Krylon-spraypaint the metal any color, add crown molding to the edges of all the shelves, build a wood base if you don't like the exposed get the gist.  Do share your own build if you decide to try this!

Thanks to all the link-up hosts: allthingswithpurpose, igottacreate, diyshowoff, frugaliciousfriday, notjustahousewife, elizabethandco, savvysouthernstyle, lizmarieblog, uncommondesignsonline, and modvintagelife, thecreativecorner

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Tale of Two Rugs

This past year since we moved, I've been looking for a living room rug.  I had a general idea of the color palate/style we wanted for the room (see mood board here), but dang it was hard to find many that weren't a trellis design, flowery, or striped that was also within budget.  Here's some samples of the rugs that made the semi-finals:

Then at the end of this past summer, I had found the awesome-est rug for the living room.  I mean, it was THE one.  It infused both a traditional and modern style and had a rich color.

West Elm's Hill Block-Printed Cotton Dhurrie - 8x10 (orig $599)

It went on sale for $509, still wasn't quite within our budget of $450 for a rug, especially after shipping and taxes were tacked on.  I was also not 100% sold on it because it was very thin versus plush, and was made of cotton.  I chose to keep an eye on it.

Cotton: is common and therefore usually more economical for your budget.  However, it stains and soils easily, shows wear, and fades.  It also goes through lots of chemical processing; unless it is made with organic cotton, it is treated with phosphorus and chlorine bleaching, artificial fertilizers, and defoliants.

Some more time passed and I decided that I would just have to bite the bullet and make this rug a splurge.  But when I went to the site, I discovered it was being discontinued and the 8x10s were already all sold out.  Arrggh.  Que me kicking myself.

However in retrospect, it was a good thing I missed out on it as something better was just around the corner.  (same thing happened with the first sofa we'd picked earlier this year.  Funny how things work like that, right?)

Until a week ago, I had never been to Crate & Barrel and was recently in the area of one, so I stopped in to take a gander, and struck gold.

Crate & Barrel's Malaga Almond Wool Rug - 8x10 for $499 (orig $900)

If I had solely seen this pic on the website versus the store, it would never have caught my eye.  The pic from the site does no justice whatsoever to the rug, so here's a pic I took of it on-display in the store:

When I went to check out the price, it showed it had been discounted from $900 to $599.  Still over-budget, but being plush wool, not bad either.  I was interested.

Wool: though wool rugs tend to be on the more expensive side of the spectrum, they hold their value and give you more bang for your buck.  The most preferable of products for its thickness, softness, longevity (they can last 50+ years), and durability even in high-traffic areas of the home.  They are processed through less chemicals, if any at all. Wool is also naturally stain-resistant, flame retardant, and get this: they actually help purify your home's air by absorbing contaminants and dust.

I asked a salesman about the length of the sale, and he told me the rug was being discontinued and would remain on sale until sold out.  Ho boy, another "discontinued", and this time I did not want to miss it.  I inquired about any future rug sales or discounts, to which he replied that their store credit card gave 15% off.

Great.  That was no help  (mini rant: why is it stores push their store cards for any discounts annoying).

I took some pix of the rug and went home and showed them to Karl.  He didn't like the rug as much as the WE one, but didn't dislike it.  I made some mood boards based off of it, and he started to warm up to it a bit.  That was approval enough.

Still hesitant to sink $600, I waited until just this past weekend and re-checked the rug online, where to my surprise it had been discounted by another $100, bringing it down to $499!  Looking into it a bit further, I found that I could save the $58 in shipping with their free "ship to store" option.  Rock on. Now we could talk business.

As usual, I went to Ebates and saw that I could get an extra 3% in cash-back through them.  Eh, it was something.  Then I remembered that my credit card was offering 5% cash-back for online purchases through the holidays.  "Up to 8% now, not bad..." I mused. On a whim, I checked out my card's merchant partners, which works much like Ebates, and did some chair dancing when I saw that the card would give me an extra 10% on top of the 5% for C&B.  So, there was my 15%! (take that, dumb C&B store card)

My total for the rug (w/ tax included) was whittled down to $448 (a total savings of $138 from the sale price, and $564 from the original price!).  It should arrive the first week of December!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dining Room: Earl Grey Mood Board

Anyone that follows me on pinterest, I apologize for the overabundance of pix that I've been inundating your feed with this past month!

My dining room board on pinterest has been stuffed over the last few weeks with pictures I've been pulling from across the interwebs to help me find concrete means of visually showing the vague ideas that have been twirling around in my mind as of late.  I, unsurprisingly, found a lot of what I was envisioning at one of our favorite stores, Restoration Hardware, where we find ourselves foaming at the mouths on every visit and mentally giving ourselves awards for victoriously coming out of the store empty-handed versus empty wallets.  The challenge here will be to replicate a lot of what we like at RH for a fraction of the cost.

But before we get to that, let's go back a bit:

The following mood board was what I came up with for this post nearly a year ago (!) while trying to neutralize the purple color of the walls:

Lots of greys in that mood board with some moss greens.

However, now that we have grey on the walls, we don't need to imbue the room through the decor with a neutralizing grey.  So, I've been playing with emerald green in my mind for awhile now, and then just this past week it hit me that a peacock feather was the perfect inspiration for bonding and balancing a bold color like green with other colors for the room.

Peacock feathers for inspiration:

Nature is gorgeous. ...And it can be used as a perfect example for creating a color palette.

I also knew when going into this makeover that I wanted raw and earthy woods - nothing polished.  With such rich colors, I wanted to downplay the rest of the furniture to keep the tone of the room from going into what I can only describe as "snobby".  Karl and I also both love the "industrial" look, so we're bringing in some natural metals.

It is time!

Mood board:

Key features:
- unrefined wood
- rich gemstone colors in sapphire and jade blues & emerald green (w/ perhaps bits of orange here & there), and keeping the dark colors balanced with additional whites thrown in
- metals of iron, gold and bronze

Key Feeling: natural, understated elegance

Except for a lack of accessories in the mood board to visually show more of the color play, we're pretty satisfied with how this looks.

We've also started assembling one piece of furniture to replicate the bookcase on the board.

He doesn't look like much now, but he'll be top-dog soon.  ;)

Dining Room To-Do List:

- replace dining room table (we have building plans here)
- remove piano
- "rustic-ify" bookcase
- find chairs (the ones we're currently using are borrowed)
- reupholster head-chairs (those are ours, so no hang-ups there)
- curtains
- get sideboard
- accessorize
- chandelier? (hmm, is it worth it in a rental?  probably only if we find a REAL bargain)
- framed art

First up will be the bookcase rehab, and then we'll play things by ear.  May the odds of staying in-budget be ever in our favor...


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dining Room: Finished Painting! (Pt 5)

Two weeks ago we hosted a birthday party right after the dining room was painted...with the green tape still up.  Though it perhaps added a "festive" color to the room for the party, we left the tape up because we still had some touch-ups to do.  We figured it was a step up from our radtastic furniture-less party last winter, so we went with it and, go figure, no one cared or threw a tantrum at us.  We had to wait until the following weekend to do the touchups, so we lived with it for another week like the pic shows below.

We're awesome at getting things done.

showing that in real life, living for a week with green frog tape until we can finish a room is how we roll
But now, I'm happy to report the tape is gone! 

Quick look at the "before":

We have ourselves a whole new dining room!

Really opens up the room, right?  I love the way it looks against the white baseboards and trim.

Oh, but what's this?  A new piece?

Why yes, it is from Ikea.  But it won't look like it is when I'm done with it (mwhahaha).  I have plans for this guy.  You'll get a hint at what they are when I show you guys my mood board, which is in the wings waiting and to be out tomorrow!  I'm excited to get started!

Monday, October 7, 2013

How to Measure & Choose A Rug Size

A month ago we found a rug online for our living room that we liked and was within our budget (we're keeping what the rug looks like a secret until it gets here, mwhaha).  In the same month however, painting the dining room became a priority and our living room became a bit too cluttered, so we've held off getting it until we could get the room cleared and figure out which size rug to order.
the dining room furniture encroaching on our living room's territory - it was war

From some past measuring I did a year ago of how large our seating area was, I had given myself a size range to work within when shopping for rugs, which was 6.5-8 x 8-10.  For the rug we're now interested in, it is offered in a 5x8 and 8x10.  I was initially leaning towards the 5x8...but then last week after we'd moved the dining furniture back to where it belonged, we got into a "feeling impulsive" mood.  So, having been curious to try some different arrangements in the living room, we moved things around in there...and it ended up working awesome-ly.   More on that in a future post.

The new setup opens the room up a lot, and now we're 99.9999999% sure that an 8x10 is the way to go.

How did moving furniture change the rug size, and how do we know the size is right for the room?  Let me show ya.

To start, there is no concrete "right or wrong" way to use a rug in a room...these are more like guidelines.  Ultimately, the style of the room is up to you, but here are some of the basics to get you started:

1- Furniture Placement
In most cases, you want to have all of your sofas and chairs touching the rug; this pulls together the furniture and proportionally unifies the room.

Sofas should have the front legs on the rug, and the back legs off.  A setup which all legs could be on the rug would be if you had a console table behind it, and then that table would only have it's back legs on the rug.

Smaller one-person chairs can either have just the front legs on, or both front and back, or not touch the rug at all.  Play around with the amount of room you have available and eye the chairs from a distance until you feel it looks good.  Don't be afraid to situate the chairs a certain way and then take a few weeks to let the effect simmer in your mind for a bit before you decide if it's working or not.  

Exception: If you have all the legs of all of your furniture off of the rug, it can still look appropriate.  Remaining consistent with your furniture placement works in this scenario.

2- Width
Your rug needs to extend further than the width of your sofa on either side by a good 6" or more.  If the rug is the same width as your sofa, it will make the rug seem too small.

3- Maintain Borders
Allow for a border of at least 18 inches between the rug's edges and the room's walls to let the bare flooring show and maintain the room's balanced proportions.  An exception to this would be if it is in a small room, such as a laundry room or walk-in closet, in which the border's gap can be smaller.

4- Your Goal  
A rug will define a space.  A sitting area, the dining table area, a bed, an office desk & chair, etc.  Too small a rug in a big room, and the furniture will look like it is floating and not appear as cohesive (see a pic of our living room here for an example of what not to do).

5- Details to Consider
The size of your rug will also depend on:

  • the size of the room
  • how much contrast you want between the rug and the flooring (how much of the original flooring do you want to still have showing in the room)
  • budget (the larger the rug, the more pricey).   

The best technique for finding out the rug size needed is to play a little.  If you're a visual person like me, you'll want to especially do the following.

What You'll Need:

- Painter's tape (if you don't have tape, you can use books or toys or whatever else you have to mark the 4 corners of the rug)
- measuring tape

1- Measure your seating area's width and length
Take the measuring tape and extend it length-wise in front of your biggest sofa until there are at least 6 inches on either side of the sofa.  If you have other chairs on the ends of the room that you want touching the rug, keep extending the tape so that they do.  Repeat this process for the width of the rug as well.

I took two measurements when I did this.  First I found out the maximum length our room could handle without losing borders (floor gaps between the rug edges and the room's walls), and then I found the minimum measurements for what would allow at least the front legs of our seating to touch the rug.  This way you have a range to work within when shopping for a rug, versus a very custom or constraining measurement.

Tip: If you've been wanting to move furniture around in the room, do so now, as the dimensions may change.  When we moved our furniture around last week, it took advantage of our space and thus enlarged our seating area's size, creating the need for the 8x10 rug when in the recent past, the 5x8 worked.  That would have been sad if we got the 5x8 and then found we couldn't re-arrange our furniture around it.

2- When you find a rug you like
Once we found a winning rug, I measured out both the 5x8 and 8x10 and marked the four rug corners with painter's tape (frog tape), then stood back and eyed it for awhile, readjusting and re-measuring a bit as I experimented until I got both rugs sitting where I felt they'd work best in the room.

Give it time to marinate if you need to.  I had placed the tape down late one night and then kept that tape on the floor through the next day, finding myself eyeing the floor each time I passed through, giving me time to mull it over. In the evening I found myself standing in the room for awhile and visualizing the room with the rug with Karl, and we both came to the same conclusion: the 8x10 worked best.

3- Wait to pounce
Rugs are an expensive investment.  So naturally, if you can also wait to time your purchase for a holiday sale or subscribe to the store's website to receive a coupon, all the better.  We signed up for the rug store's newsletter and scored a 10% off coupon, which allows us to keep the rug that was at the top of our maximum budget, to now be comfortably under-budget.

Got a question?  Ask in the comments section below  :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dining Room: Upgrading to Nobility (Pt 4)

Yesterday was a full painting day (work 'dem muscles!).  The primer went up in the morning, and the paint color the afternoon.  High fives all-around!

Here's a preview of the color, now dried on the walls:

The color is Sherwin Williams Earl Grey, a "noble" color that shows a great true-grey no matter the lighting.  It was hard to find a grey without brown undertones; if I had to say what it leans towards, it'd be more on the side of blue family, but without being a steel or sea grey.

So far I'm very happy with the color and itching to redo the rest of the room.  I've been playing with several color schemes for the decor and furniture in my mind, and have settled on the furniture's look.  I think I'm leaning towards an emerald green as the focal color.  Hmmm...a mood board is in order.  For now, you can see what I've been pinning up on pinterest!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dining Room: How To Prep A Room Before Painting (Pt 3)

We've certainly been delayed, but at last we are rolling up our sleeves and getting down to business with a makeover to the purple dining room!

We were debating colors this past spring, and then learned from the landlord we had to stick to lighter colors....and then summer hit and we got too busy to bother.

However, over the summer we did get the 'ok' on a color we found, and now with temperatures being as lovely as they are (70's), it's the perfect time to go for it! 

Here's what we've done to prep so far:

Monday night: 

- moved all decorations from the dining room into the living room
- removed the nails and screws left-over from the former occupants
- filled the holes from the screws with paint-able culk

Stuck Frog tape all over the edges for the baseboards, door frames, and window

checking out our work in the morning light

Tuesday Night:

Unscrewed all the electrical socket and lightswitch faceplates from the walls and taped over them.

Sanded the now-dry culk until it was smooth with the wall & moved the dining table and chairs into the living room.

Decided to also tape the archways, just to be safe

Spread tarps onto the floor

Wednesday - we're priming!  When it comes time, I'll reveal the paint color once we pop the lid!

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