Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Entry way makeover

Last week I updated my house tour to include our entry way. I only had an empty white bench on our entry way. It fit the space perfectly and was great to sit on while putting on our shoes. BUT... if you look closely, the shoes were exposed and I can't stand it. I considered buying baskets to put the shoes in but Binh's shoes don't fit inside the baskets. :( Here is our entry way to refresh your memory.

When I bought the white bench a while ago, I had great plans to make cushions for it and all sorts of fun things but too bad I hate exposed shoes. Those are all of Binh's shoes. We have a shoe storage in the garage but for some reason he just doesn't use it. Most of the time, I'll be lucky if he puts his shoes under the bench.

Long story short, I had to find a new solution. I searched various possible options and ended up with this storage solution from Amazon.

I got it from Amazon for $119 with free shipping. I actually used my discover card cash back so it was really free. I initially was eyeing the ikea hemnes shoe cabinet but after much thought decided to buy this one instead. I like shopping on Amazon because shipping is almost always free, exact measurements are there, it was cheaper than the ikea hemnes shoe cabinet, it looked better with crystal knobs, and I was able to use my discover card cash back. The white cabinet arrived on a timely manner and looked great once assembled. It took my dad and Binh two hours to assemble this shoe cabinet.

It was really hard to take pictures of the cabinet because our front door was so bright so it made the interior so dark.

Look at all the shoes I was able to hide inside the cabinet. Isn't she lovely? I still have lots of space for more of Binh's shoe hoarding in our entry way. 

Details of the crystal knobs. A much sweeter deal compared to the Ikea Hemnes shoe cabinet for almost the same price. 

Fake orchid found on clearance at Ross for $10. 

A cookbook my friend gave me a long time ago topped with a $2 crystal tray found at the local Goodwill.

I searched many stores for a plain white mirror but couldn't find one. Finally I checked the local Target and came across this one for $35.  Its pricier but I wanted to finish off our entry way so I thought it wasn't too terrible of a deal.

Finally, no more exposed shoes. I ended up giving my parents our white bench since they wanted a bench for their entry way. 

Heres a before and after of the entry way. 

I'll do another post later about the other side of the french doors. I hung up three plain white picture frames. I feel that the space looks so much more finished after hanging up the picture frames. Our entry way really has a wow factor now.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Simple coffee table makeover

I'm back today to post about my coffee table makeover. Last week I purchased a $10 coffee table that looked like this:

It was in pretty good shape, super heavy, located about three blocks from my house, and very affordable. When I purchased this coffee table I also bought a side table that I plan to makeover when I have more free time. Here's a really bad picture of the side table: 

I also got the side table for only $10. When I looked inside the drawer there were still some games and random things. I texted the seller back to see if she wanted to pick up her stuff but she never texted me back. Meanwhile, I guess I'll be keeping all the extra goodies that came with my side table. We got a nice chess set and three fairly new card games. 

I ran out of primer and paint so I had to run to Homedepot to restock on supplies. Total for all primer, paint, foam roller, and plastic drop cloth was under $30. I wanted to sand down the coffee table lightly because the top had some scuffs but I didn't have any sandpaper. Instead, I used a blade and scrapped all the uneven surface off. After scrapping I started priming. I used two coats of thick white primer and only one coat of white gloss paint. I am running out of DIY energy lately so I wanted this makeover to be simple and fast.

This is how it looked after the first coat of primer: 

After another coat of primer and one more coat of paint, this is how it looks: 

I really need to paint another coat of white because its not quite even but I got lazy. I figured our formal living room doesn't get much light because we have the wood shutters closed most of the time so one coat of paint is good enough for now. Plus, I always like to display decorations on top so its not really noticeable unless you really look closely. Here it is with the chess board and card games we got with the side table.  Doesn't the space feel inviting? Our formal living room is ready for entertaining.

Our formal living room still needs a lot of work but its slowly coming along. I need to go to Homegoods sometime this weekend to buy more decorations for our newly painted coffee table. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Moving on to the next project

I've been looking for affordable coffee tables and end tables on craigslist for the last few weeks. Seems like they all disappeared off the face of the earth after I posted about my first coffee table makeover. Well lucky little me found one for $10 in chino. Heres a before picture from craigslist.

I like that the corners are rounded and it has storage underneath. I'm thinking of putting it in my formal living room since I only have a sofa there and its looking quite dark and gloomy there now a days. I'll be picking this coffee table up tonight. I can't wait to start working on it. It should be done by friday since I work Thursday. Stay tuned for my upcoming post.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Adding curb appeal on a budget

Today my father and father in law finally tackled our front yard. I'm excited because we've been lacking in curb appeal for the last two years. This is how our house looked when we first purchased it. It was funny because my niece came to my house and when she approached it she looked at me and said that I had the ugliest house in the neighborhood. I had to agree with her. I use to call our house the Mango house. It was an ugly bright yellow/brown/orange. When we were house searching I almost refused to look at our home because the outside was so ugly but thanks to our real estate agent Brian, he urged me to look inside the house. I was wowed by its soaring 12 feet ceilings, great open floor plan, rare large single story, low maintenance concrete backyard, and move in ready condition.

After we bought our house, first thing we did was repaint the outside and patio, knock down the door and added sidelights, and installed a new garage door with windows on top. Two years later, we are finally adding to the list of curb appeal. 

Heres a close up of the non existing flower bed. Bags of mulch and plants are ready to be replanted. 

Total cost of flower bed project: Under $30
I bought two small plants for our flower bed at $6 each. 
My father in law had two potted plants that he gave me so they just replanted it right on our flowerbed. 
Mulch was from Home depot. We purchased three bags at $5 each. 

I was shocked at how much plants cost. WOW is all I can say... I plan to open a nursery now. I looked around for affordable plants and ended up with two baby plants in the middle. They look pathetic but I refuse to pay so much for plants that overtime will grow. They look good enough to me for now. Lucky my father had two potted plants for me to replant. I love free stuff. I can't review the work load because I didn't do any real work. I just told them where I wanted the plants to be replanted and they did the rest. Project took two men about an hour total. 

Here are the before and after photos: I can't do the exact same angle to compare yet because the sun is in my way. I'll try to update with the same angle later. But overall I love the new update because it defines our front porch so much better. Its amazing how a little bit of dark mulch and some plants can do to our boring house. I also love that all of our trim and doors are the same white. 

Formal living room sofa update

Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but when we first bought our house I recklessly brought a formal living room sofa without thinking. At that moment, I didn't know much about interior decorating and I didn't really have an idea of how I wanted to decorate our home. The only real house that I've been exposed to were my mother in laws house. They have a big house and decorated with french/antique furniture so thats all I really knew. I tried to mimic their formal living room since I thought formal meant grand. Long story short, I ended up purchasing this sofa: link

Heres the actual picture from Acme furniture. I really got sold on the sofa because it was featured on the main page of the furniture book. See how bright the cushions are? 

Over time as I started to really decorate our home, I began to dislike the french/antique look. It was too traditional and old fashioned for me. I also hated the bright colored cushions. They almost look orange in real life. The sofa is made of good quality construction but it really didn't fit my home. After debating for a very long time to sell it or try to fix it myself, I couldn't bear selling it at such a great loss. 

A few days ago I posted about getting a really great deal on fabric at Joanns. I came across some dark brown, thick chenille upholstery fabric for $4.50 a yard. I grabbed four yards to refinish my orange sofa cushions. I strictly followed these instructions from here. I got great results and instructions were very easy to follow. 

Here are the after pictures of my sofa after my simple $20 makeover: 

The sofa still doesn't look as modern as I want it but it is located in our formal living room so I plan to keep it for now. Its looking much better with darker cushions and blends in well with the rest of my formal dining room. I think once I give my pillows a makeover and add a white/light colored coffee table in front then the formal living space will perk up.  Finding the right color/combination for the pillows will make a big difference.

Heres a before and after for comparison: 

When decorating our home, I noticed the little details make the biggest difference. When we have guests over, they might not notice all the details of our home but they can tell we have made updates to our home. I always try to make affordable updates one little step at at time. I always tell myself, a little change is better then no change at all. Over time these little changes will add up to make our home feel much more polished and complete. So readers, make it a goal this weekend to update one little thing at your house. It could be creating more storage using baskets, updating your door knobs, or refinishing a big piece of furniture. DIY doesn't always have to cost a lot of money. Ten or twenty dollars can go a long way.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Budget porch makeover

A while back I purchased a patio conversation set at Walmart on clearance for $200 and a 5x7' outdoor rug for $30. I can't find the rug anymore but the conversation set can be found here. The conversation set was a good deal and it fit the space. I haven't touched our front porch ever since. This is how it looked the other day while repainting our front door. Its not in terrible shape but it has seen better days. I made those pillows with some clearance fabric I found at Walmart and some old flat pillows last year.

The other night, I went to Joanns and actually got a really good deal on fabric. Long story short, I spent $40 and will be making new pillow covers for the porch, giving our formal living room sofa a facelift, a DIY gift for our friends newborn baby son, and a pillow for our Emily. 

I bought a yard for each of the fabric below. The stripe and damask blue and white fabrics will be used to make outdoor pillows for our porch. The last fabric will be used to make two pillows, one for Emily and another as a gift for our friend. I also was able to snag 4 yards of super clearance dark brown chenille upholstery fabric to give my formal living room sofa a facelift. I spent $18 on four yards of that fabric. I'll have to do another post on the sofa another day. 

The real key to saving money with DIY projects is to use what you already have. I always recycle my old pillows and buy clearance fabric to make new pillow covers. Below are my old pillow covers that have been removed. I basically used my old pillows as a guide to cut the shape of the new pillow cover.  I sewed three sides shut, flipped the cover over, stuffed it, and sewed the opening shut. 

Heres the end result of my new pillow covers. I've been crushing on stripe pillows for a long time but haven't had the chance to make new covers for our pillow.


I also refinished the old stand I had hiding in the corner. I sprayed it with a fresh coat of oil rubbed bronze paint (same bottle from my door knob project). It went from an old rusty dusty, uneven colored stand to a nice new and shiny one.  

I also took my DIY tray from my odd niche and placed it on the table. I think it brightens the table up. I also bought another tray from Goodwill that I purchased and am on the process of making it over.  I never knew I had a thing for trays until I discovered how much fun they can add to a boring space.  I also purchased a clearance lantern from Target for $12 but plan to return it for something cheaper or brighter. I'm not sure.. I might be too lazy to return it so I might just keep it instead.  

Overall this makeover really cost me about $20. Lantern $12, fabric about $8 because I have more fabric for other pending projects. 

Review of porch makeover: Overall making new pillows really saved me a lot of money. Pillows can cost a pretty penny. I made a total of five new pillow covers. I really like the new color combination because it brightens up the whole space and it looks much more modern. Whenever I decide to make new pillow covers I always make a lot because I get lazy to bring out my sewing machine. I have a portable $40 brothers sewing machine. 

Heres a before and after

Friday, July 12, 2013

The unfinished front door

Last week, I posted about repainting our front door and refinishing the brass door knobs. This post took me a long time to write because I'm not quite happy with my front door. Prior to repainting our door, I contemplated for a very long time about what colors to paint it. I really wanted to paint it a bright and bold color like blue or yellow but in the end chickened out. I decided to stick to plain old white because I can't afford to mess with our front door. Front doors are not cheap and can cost a pretty penny (about $500-1000 is common). This project turned out to be quite stressful because I was really nervous about messing up our door.

Here is a before picture of the front door. It was slightly yellow/cream in color. Our house trim is plain white. I can't remember if our front door has always been cream/yellow or has yellowed due to sun exposure. Its really hard to tell in pictures the true color but its a tone or two lighter then masking tape.

First off, I finished off the brass door knobs. I ended up taking it off the door because my dad was there to help me. Refinishing the door knobs alone made a big difference. Our door looks so much more polished even though its so dirty and yellow. Below are pictures of the door already painted.

Then came taping the door and cleaning up all the dirt. Sorry I don't have any pictures of it. I used a plain foam roller and brush to paint our door. I also used only 1 quart of Behr outdoor semi gloss white paint.  Heres a close up of the color difference that I tried to capture. You can see where I painted and haven't painted right next to the door knob. 

Finally, here's our new freshly painted white front door. I still haven't removed the masking tape on the sides and extra paint that got stuck on the glass. I repainted both sides of our door and the project took me half the day because I had to wait for everything to dry. I painted one coat on the inside and two full coats on the outside of our door because it was more yellow. 

Heres a side by side comparison for the front door.

Review of the painting the front door: For a project that took me half the day, it didn't make a dramatic difference. Refinishing the door knob alone made a bigger difference. Our front door does look fresher and more coherent with the rest of the house/trim. The whole project cost about $20 for paint and supplies. I still need to scrap off all the excess paint on the glass, remove duct tape along the door, and paint the door bell. I can't wait to officially get rid of all brass colors from our house. 

Future plans for the front door/porch: I plan to do a post about how to decorate the front door without making it look cluttered and sprucing up our front porch on a budget. Heres a sneak peek of my front porch: 

Stay tuned for my upcoming posts.