The Cost of Decorating

One of my over-arching goals has always been to make improve my home for us. One of my greatest fears was living a certain way and then transforming my home into a gorgeous thing to sell it.

In fact, I went so far to make 2017: Year of the House. We hadn’t done a lot of work on it until June and then suddenly everything seemed to come together. Honestly, we needed a kick in the pants which came in the form of two friends coming to stay with us in August.

I decided that their arrival would coincide with our new and improved home. So of course we made a list! We went through each room of our home and noticed things that needed to be fixed or cleaned.

Once we had a list I put dollar signs beside anything that we needed to purchase. The purchase list wasn’t bad:

  • Paint*
  • Painters tape
  • paint brushes
  • Everything to re-stain coffee set: varnish remover, tools to remove varnish, wood stain
  • Tablecloth for dining room
  • Lighting for foyer
  • Mirror for bedroom
  • Bathroom fan (still to be purchased)

I ended up adding the duvet and curtain later, which meant that we spent a little over $350 giving our home huge face-lift. I also had a gift card to a hardware store that allowed me to spend closer to $300.

I anticipate spending another $100 or so as we need to purchase the fan for the bathroom, pay an electrician to hang the lights, and purchase some cleaning supplies. I’m always a bit terrified when we begin home improvement projects as I feel that they can just keep going as you discover new things you want to do.

I’m thrilled that I’m only taking ~ $400 out of the home improvement budget and that it’s made such a huge difference. With a little luck this means that I won’t wait to do things and instead tackle them head on instead of making it a mad dash of repairs.

Do you have frugal tips to spruce up your home?

* The paint ended up being 7 different colours that we used. I discovered sample sizes which kept the cost down.


Spring Cleaning

Spring is here and I know it because that urge to tidy and clean up is strong right now. It may be more pronounced since an acquaintance recently put her home up for sale. Of course, being a slightly nosy person I went to the real estate website to check out how her home looked.

It looks fantastic!

It of course got me on a kick of checking out other homes that are for sale in the area. One of the things I noticed is that a lot of the homes seemed staged. I could be wrong maybe they live with perfect light, fresh flowers, and perfectly accented furniture all the time. If they do that’s fantastic and frankly how I want to live. There are loads of tips on how to but the most consistent tip was: make it look like you have lots of space by packing up as many of your belongings as possible.

The aim is to pack up your excess things so it looks like you have more space. Like this:

Image result for before and after staging photos closet


Since embracing the life-changing magic of tidying up and minimalism I’ve found my outlook on my space has changed. While I do wish we had more built in storage, this desire to have my home feel like a fantastic oasis has resulted in me attempting to make the staging goal of having 30% of cupboard space clear my reality.

This resulted in two boxes of household goods and clothing being delivered to a charity shop, a large garbage bag of items dumped, and a few things being gifted to friends and family members who were interested in them.

It’s amazing how much a good a decent scrub and tidy can do for our home. My hosting schedule has taken a hit as I don’t have the energy to have people over. Since the house is feeling more welcoming I’m wanting to invite people over even if it’s just for some snacks and conversation.

Has the spring cleaning bug gotten you yet for the year?

$0 turns into $1200

So I cleaned up the rec room and it looks fantastic!

We’ve wanted a sectional for the last two years but had decided we would wait until the basement looked close to perfect and we had found a room layout we felt really good about before beginning to shop. Well all the hard work paid off and we think we’ve found the set up that works beautifully for the space.

So a quick check of the budget let us know we had a little over $1,100 in the home improvement savings line. With this figure in mind we went shopping. It turns out that a sectional that meets all our needs for  less than $1,100 is near impossible to find but we did end up finding the perfect set for us. It is higher than budgeted but has the bonus feature of being able to be bought in pieces.

For a little under $1200 we could get the 2 pieces we wanted to create the sectional and if we really want the additional piece that would make it we can save for the arm-less chair that will go in the middle giving us some additional seating.

It looks something like this


I’m in a bit of shock as that hard earned money isn’t going to the kitchen that I’ve spent loads of time moaning about but to our rec room on a single piece of furniture. ML and I didn’t go into this blindly though. We had a good conversation about our rec room and where we spend time.

The rec room does a lot of work:

  • It’s the space where ML spends most of his time at home
  • It’s where we hang out as a couple
  • We host game and movie nights here

It’s really the heart of the home, I think I’m going to rename it to the family room as that’s really the function it plays. As summer comes to a close we’re going to spend even more time in here as all the outdoor entertainment and relaxing is going to happen in this room.

Looking at it this way I don’t feel badly about using all my home improvement money on a piece of furniture. Having shopped around and tested pieces I know that we’re getting something that is a great deal and extremely comfortable.

The new furniture will be here in 3 weeks so now we’ve got to figure out how to get rid of the current futons that are in there. They’re in pretty rough shape so I’m not looking to make money but I’m hoping that we don’t have to pay anyone to take them off our hands.

Do you have any tips on how to send the futons to a new home?


Sectional from here

Touring Homes

In spite of not wanting to move, ML and I often get curious about homes that go up for sale so we hop online and take a virtual tour. It’s always interesting as I love seeing how other people decorate their homes as well as checking out architectural features in light of the changes we’d like to make to our kitchen.

A few years ago I watched in awe as a friend sold her home. The staging that went into creating stunning photos was amazing.  One of the things she mentioned was how great it was to live in a home that was geared toward function and looking good. After one of my visits with her in that time period, I  returned home and started taking photos of the rooms.

It turned out that by taking photos of the rooms I was able to pick up on little details that allowed me to focus and fix items that were out of place. In the kitchen, this meant realizing that some of the items on the counter needed to find a new home.

After doing some virtual touring this weekend I got curious about how our home was looking. I took my phone and started snapping. It was fantastic to learn that our home didn’t require a lot of changes to photograph well.

As the shots focus my attention I’m able to see the things that are holding our space back. While some rooms would benefit from an overhaul (Kitchen!), for the most part it was tidying that was needed.

It’s amazing the low level mess that creeps in! Through taking those photos I was able to adjust our room, the spare room and our hall closet. Suddenly things I didn’t realize were bothering me have been fixed.

The other benefit was by treating our home a bit like a showpiece I was able to admire it for all the things it does.


I’m on a home update kick! I began writing a really long post that didn’t flow very well so I’m going to post a home update series as I’m really excited about some of the things we’re doing!


One of my consistent goals is making our home an oasis. Most days I love our space but every so often I crave a change. Usually a good cleaning and tidy makes all the difference and I’m happy again.

ML and I are pretty low key with our home, we’re happy to have serviceable items and will update if the item fits a need and our budget. This is how we got my hanging chair which I adore!

We’ve been in our home for 6 years and we very slowly furnished our living room. In fact it’s been so slow that we only finished it this past weekend. For the longest time we had a garden chair in the living room as I wasn’t able to find the chair I wanted to fit a very specific corner.

Then Saturday, I walked by a garage sale and there it was: the perfect chair in my favourite colour. I messaged ML as we consider any new furniture a ‘big purchase.’ So we both have to agree on it. I can’t imagine anything worse than having to see something I hate every day! Luckily he loved it and for the steep price of $10 we had the chair (which had recently been professionally cleaned) and our living room is complete!

It’s basically a red version of one of these and it’s insanely comfortable.

curved living room chairs

The only thing left to do is to stain the coffee table in the living room as it was previously owned by someone who thought coasters weren’t important.

photo from here.


Guarding Against Envy

Long Post Warning!!

I`m not sure if it`s because I’ve had a few stressful interactions or my lack of quality sleep but a relationship of mine is causing me a lot of angst.

This person is the social organizer for one of the friend groups I enjoy. She’s quite lovely and I often enjoy hanging out with her as we share a lot of the same interests. When we first met she distinctly reminded me of someone I had kicked out of my life a few years ago. The person was often controlling in a seemingly nice way and would sugarcoat her condescending comments so that it was really my fault for being offended since she was just trying to help me.

Back to the present: this person, let`s call her Nancy, is very open about the fact that she can be very domineering towards other women. As I’m a go with the flow type until you hit a hard line I often wonder if she enjoys playing with me to see where my lines are. This occasionally leads me to be a bit on guard and prickly when we meet, which result in me feeling guilty for being prickly.

As I`m writing this I notice that she also tends to sugarcoat condescending comments, using the words,”I’m glad we’re the type of friends who can be honest with each other,”to soften the blow.

Reading this I feel like a moron, why would I continue a friendship with someone who makes me feel this way? Really it’s the niceness of having someone to do fun things with other than ML.I miss the days of high school and university where you saw your friends all the time and could just pop over if you wanted a movie date.

Now the title of the post is Guarding Against Envy which I haven’t even touched on yet.

Nancy’s family recently moved into a new home. When they had purchased it I was in a good place and was thrilled with me. So why the creeping envy now? It’s been the throw away comments, the ease at which they speak of re-decorating the entire house and the way she shops when we go out together. As Nancy grew up with very little( We weren’t poor we were po’ , we couldn’t afford the extra letters, she says), she sees herself as very cost conscious. This is true to a point. While she’s searching for a good deal she’s looking for a good deal on an expensive product. Recently she wanted us to go to dinner to a nice restaurant where the drinks were relatively cheap at a minimum of $10 per drink. She’s not wrong based on the restaurants that she frequents those are very well priced. However, for me they’re on the high end of the scale.

This financial piece adds an additional strain as we’re in reversed circumstances. While her family was struggling to make ends meet I was attending private schools and taking part in a host of extra-curricular activities. I was fortunate as my mum was able to work from home, managing the family business, so I had all the benefits of a stay-at-home mum while my dad worked outside the home.  I suspect my parents felt very much like Grace at the CFO Mom Blog. Now  she and her husband are on track to become millionaires even if they don’t curtail their lifestyle. She doesn’t work while ML and my  combined incomes are still less than her husband’s.

As she makes it clear that she wants to host at her home it has left me feeling as though my home is wanting. Which is not true and really just a way in which I’m allowing another person’s  desire to be needed impact my own life.

Right now, I’m going to maintain the friendship as I enjoy hanging out with the group but limit our one on one time.

Have you had similar relationships? Any advice on how to handle this like an adult?


Hotel Minimalism

I love going to hotels. At first I thought it was because of the fact that there are no chores when I visit a hotel and I get a pool. Over the past few years I’ve come to realize it’s the hotel aesthetic that really makes me want to live in one.

Hotels are all about minimalism and the ones I love always have interesting features. The washroom in my most recent hotel had some great light fixtures, a gorgeous mirror and an interesting addition in the shower to put toiletries on.


On this trip, I also found a store I loved and it was apparent to me that part of its charm was the decor. Like my favourite hotels it was bright, felt spacious in spite of being tiny, had some great splashes of colour.

Well I shouldn’t be going out of my home to feel at home so now that I’ve returned I’m trying to bring some of that hotel feeling with me. Before we left we cleaned the house as there’s nothing worse than coming home from a trip to a messy home.

The benefit of this was everything already felt spacious and the counters were fairly clear. I’m currently going through our main living spaces and trying to make them a bit more relaxing. It’s meant moving knick-knacks that aren’t bringing me joy and re-arranging the placement of a few things.

I changed the curtains in each room by swapping them for each other. The master bedroom currently has the curtains from Bunny’s room, Bunny got the curtains from the guest room and the guest room is keeping the master bedroom curtains. It cost nothing but each room has gotten a change.

I’m also going around each morning and opening our curtains. Now that we’re coming home while it’s still light outside it’s great!

Do you get the urge to re-arrange your home sometimes?

I Like New Me!

When we purchased our home I had a very clear idea of what I wanted.  Since I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to get it I kept looking in my price range and being selective. Lucky for me we purchased my (almost) perfect home.

I’m thinking of this now as friends of ours are purchasing a new home and a few acquaintances are moving up to ‘better’ homes. I remember when we were house shopping feeling poorly because all the good homes were out of our price range and I suspect the person I was then would have been rather jealous of the homes some folks are moving into.


There’s been a few surprising upsides of budgeting and blogging and this has been one of them. I was preparing myself for the envy I was going to feel when these folks shared where they would be living, as I know they easily make doubly our household income. Instead I felt joy.

Joy! That was it, I was thrilled that they found a home in a neighbourhood that they love. I’m excited to see how they decorate and I’m looking forward to making desserts for their housewarming party.

It sounds petty that I was prepared for envy but I understood that the envy would probably come from a place like this:

  • Oh the things we could make in that kitchen!
  • It would be lovely to have a bedroom that could fit everything and all my clothes could live in the same spot
  • Formal dining room! Yes please, Honey we’re starting Sunday dinners now.
  • Then finally: wouldn’t it be nice if we could live like this, if only we had more money.

The feeling of excitement caught me off guard so I started to poke at it. Goodness know I can’t just be happy. Here’s what I found:

  • My focus on my budget and all the things I can do while living with my means has made me grateful for my life
  • The KonMarie exercise has left my home feeling spacious so I’ve stopped lusting for larger cabinets
  • I’ve slowly been adjusting my dream home requirements to suit my current home. For example I’ve always wanted a bar. One that I could stand behind and display funky glassware on. As this wasn’t feasible in my space I created a really simple one that allows us to display our liquors and some of our glassware.It’s not the dream one but it’s been so functional that it no longer feels like a poor alternative and I’m happy with it.
  • Though there are things I’d love to  have if we move to another home I’d also be perfectly happy if this were our forever home

Have you found any surprising upsides from budgeting?

Photo courtesy of Simon Howden via

Is this Considered Home Improvement?

I was looking over my list of what matters to me to see how all of it was stacking up this month. I was a bit surprised to realize that the point I’ve been working most diligently on is:

I want to improve my home. Not for re-sale but for me.

When I wrote that I had images of a new kitchen, new floors and a deck addition. In short, things that cost oodles of money. In the meantime I’ve been clearing out my home like crazy.

I’ve said goodbye to:

  • 7 bags of clothing & accessories
  • 5 boxes of books
  • 3 bags of kitchen accessories
  • 2 bags of board games
  • 1 box of CDs
  • 1 bag of shoes
  • 1 bin of towels
  • 1 bag of office supplies
  • 1 bag of toiletries & makeup
  • reams of paper (still need to drop to a shredder)

The above list makes me sound like a hoarder which I’m not, I swear! What I am is someone who can’t bear to get rid of things that are still useful. Maybe not useful to me but still have life left in them. Notice I said goodbye – well this is because some of those items have been sold, others donated or swapped and yet others are being set aside to be sold at a garage sale. Very few things have actually been thrown away as I can’t abide being wasteful.

Getting those items off my shelves and floors as well as out of the cupboards and drawers has meant that my home feels different. Suddenly rooms that have always felt a bit too small seem spacious.

Once You learn to choos your belongings properly, you will be left only with the amount that fits perfeclty in teh space you currently own. This is the true magic of tidying. - Marie Kondo

When I envision my perfect home it is filled with space, it’s homey and lived in, with lots of airflow. By the end of this month I think I’ll be living in my perfect home.

KonMari Disclaimer: I’m absolutely certain if Marie Kondo saw what I’ve done she wouldn’t be impressed. When I speak about my journey I’ve had multiple people tell me, “You’re breaking the rules!”

I am using the KonMari method as a guideline. I’ve arranged it to suit my needs and my lifestyle. The rules I’m following are really just 4 questions. I also do the following:

  • Dump all items on the floor and then pick them up individually
    • Seeing the amount of things I have spread across a large space helps me not feel like I will be deprived by sending items to a new home.
  • Sort by category

Remember your life is your own. People can guide you but you make the rules.