Our favorite budget buys of the #stanley90sreno thus far


When we first started looking at fixer uppers I made spreadsheets for each of the houses we seriously considered looking at what they all needed. Paint, flooring, cabinets, etc. Some needed more work than others. All of them needed thousands and thousands put into just the construction part!

I didn't make budgets for furniture, decor pieces, etc. and we did not have a big chunk of money dedicated to that purpose. So I've been very creative with spending and decorating and I've found a few incredible deals online that I wanted to share with you!

1. These white Eames-style dining chairs
I debated and debated about our dining chairs (see the ones I seriously considered here) even after I ordered these white ones and they arrived. Even as we assembled them I had second thoughts. But Jason liked them, I agreed they looked better than our old rattan ones (against the bamboo blind) and we kept them. And then I fell in love.

Not only are they super comfortable and easy to clean, they are adorable! I love the bright white against the dark rug and table. They feel fresh and fun! And it was less than $100 for the set of 4. That's pretty much impossible to beat. 5 stars for these!!

2. "Vintage distressed" rugs from Target. 
We have TWO of these 7'x10' rugs and they are the best I've been able to find other than antique or high quality wool rugs as a budget option. The texture has some variation so it's not just a flat polypropylene tufted rug and it really adds a nicer quality look.

In the photos above and below is this rug in blue. We actually found these at Goodwill on two separate occasions, brand new, since the Target stores here donate returns and excess merchandise to the Goodwills. Score. But even new the 7'x10' is only $160 right now. I am betting they'll sell out of these sometime soon, so check them out now if you're interested!

Here it is in tan, so elegant!

3. Target round mirrors.
I have alllll the heart eyes for round mirrors right now but they can be so expensive! I found this one, 28" wide, for less than $50 at Target. I have yet to find the perfect spot (maybe in the powder room, maybe in the dining room if I switch things up... maybe in the living room? It could go anywhere) but I looooove it. Here's an inspiration image and the one I found!

I also bought this wood-framed one which is currently above the fireplace, but it might move, too. So versatile!

4. This beautiful pendant light in the kitchen!
I shared our $20 lighting updates in the hall but the fixture I'm most excited about is this pendant. It's so fun in our sort of modern, now sort of industrial-look kitchen! We don't have the tile, shelving, and range hood up yet so I may update this post once that wall is finished but for now here is is above the window. (See how I installed it in our recessed light opening in this tutorial.) This fixture was less than $50 and looks like one of the designer ones that can be much, much more!

5. $170 range hood.
So many of my inspiration kitchens had cool range hoods--stainless steel, tile covered, wood-framed to match or complement the cabinets, shiplap... We removed our upper cabinets that had a small range hood attached so we were able to install whatever new one we wanted! At first I was only seeing them in the $400-500 price range, even for plain stainless steel ones, but then I found this one for only $170 and was sold. We have it about 50% installed and I cannot wait to get it all the way in and use it--especially when I burn things on the stove!!

Inspiration, and the real thing.

6. A big checkered pillow cover.
I feel a little guilty about this one. I am a DIYer. I make my own pillow covers and have for many years (thankyouverymuch). I love being able to make my own out of my favorite fabrics and create a totally unique space!, but I am limited by the fabrics available to me. I wanted a big black and white checkered pillow in our living room and couldn't find a check big enough at the fabric store or online, but did find this $6 pillow cover ready-made. Here's another inspiration/product for you.

7. Modern (finial-less) curtain rods. 
A simple modern curtain rod is hard to find. These are marketed as "room-darkening" rather than super trendy, so they are way affordable!! I also shared about them here, along with our clips. Bonus is these rods are SO easy to install plus a fraction of the cost of some of the designer modern ones. We have them on almost every window!

Hope you enjoyed this round-up and hope you can learn from our budget shopping for this massive fixer upper project we're in!

DIY baseboard installation: 4 things I've learned


I was dreading installing our baseboards even more than installing 1,600+ SF of laminate flooring ourselves. I had this fear that we would somehow never get to it and would live in an unfinished house for years. They make SUCH a difference! But luckily we got into a groove and I figured out a few tips for making the baseboard project go smoother!

The first day we spent on baseboards was a little slow as we got the hang of things. But it definitely got easier, and one day we did a whole room and hall in only about 2 hours! (Not including caulking or paint touch-ups.)

DIY Baseboard Installation Tips

1. Measure a few pieces at once, not all of them.
It can get confusing remembering which pieces you're cutting, particularly if you're splitting up tasks with a helper. It's helpful if you can picture the wall section you're cutting for, and whether the corners point in or out, or just to take really good, easy-to-read notes. Still, we found we lost track and felt more comfortable re-measuring some walls anyway when we tried to be efficient and measure a whole room or area at once. I recommend noting 3-4 pieces, cutting them, placing them (you can wait to nail gun them up if you like), then measuring more.

2. Nail in an up-down, fairly regular pattern.
I found that this pattern gave me good coverage but also won't look too shabby if a few nail holes show after we paint. You may need extra nails in some places or if you're not hitting a stud, but start with this regular spacing and pattern and it will still look more uniform.

3. Caulk as you go.
When you have all of the furniture in the middle of the room anyway is the best time! Plus, you might forget where you haven't caulked if you wait too long. We definitely had a few places that needed touch-ups when we remembered we hadn't caulked there yet. Bit of a pain.

4. Check the air compressor and gun often.
A couple times I realized I was shooting blanks or not shooting because I was out of nails or once, after lunch when we'd turned the compressor off, it didn't have pressure (oops!). Check both regularly.

There you go! It's really not as bad as I thought. Hope these tips help you!

Very pretty things have started happening. #stanley90sreno week 23!


We still have more baseboards and flooring to do, but I convinced myself it was okay to switch to more exciting projects for a while and boy, was it fun!! And hard work.

I was really looking forward to doing our kitchen tile backsplash after choosing a pattern (thank you!), and, once we do that we can install our range hood and shelving which will seriously add functionality to our kitchen! On Saturday morning my parents came over to help out. My mom and I worked on tile while Jason and my dad drilled a hole in the house to install the range hood.

The tile pattern (straight herringbone) looks awesome!!! Cutting around the window definitely added some complexity and it took us a while to get into a groove so unfortunately it took my mom and me 10.5 hours of work and we only got one of the three walls up. The other two are much smaller, but still, it was a little discouraging. 

I was sort of in a daze after working all day Saturday (time files but also I was tired!) and when I woke up Sunday the bottoms of my feet felt a little bruised from standing and balancing on the ladder all day! But every time I walk into the kitchen I jump for joy a little cause the wall looks SO. COOL.!!!

More pretty things... we got our sofa cover from ComfortWorks (I will blog all about it later but here's a sneak peek for you!!) and put it on. WOW. WOWOWOWOW it's amazing.

I had a hard time choosing the color and fabric but I am really happy with the emerald velvet! Still need art, pillows, coffee table, maybe accent chair changes, but it's looking great with the new arc lamp and I think I'll be able to pull it off with the jute rug! Beyond that I am still scratching my head a little so ideas are welcome. Here's the before and after (just the new cover and legs) of our IKEA Karlstad.

We also got out for a hike on Sunday in the rare bit of blue skies and talked about our next more exciting projects--looks like we may have not one but TWO bathroom makeovers planned next month!

Our perfect easy-install bamboo blinds


I've been getting questions about the bamboo blinds we've installed in most of our windows downstairs. I can't wait to show you how they look when all of our rooms are finished, but in the meantime...

I had very little experience with blinds growing up, but since then have lived in many apartments with venetian and other blinds and I am generally not impressed. When I think "blinds" I think dusty, few pieces broken, cords a little messed up. But there are so many more options now! The other crazy thing to me about blinds is you generally need to custom order them or they're too long or not quite wide enough or the pull is on the wrong side or whatever. It can be overwhelming.

When we bought our townhouse we had the option to pay lots extra for blinds in every window but it was so expensive, and I didn't want blinds everywhere. I wasn't sure we would be able to afford them... but we did need a blind in the kitchen window which faced our neighbors, and in the bathroom window. I ordered them both from Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper and I was so overwhelmed by all the options that I ended up calling and having someone walk me through all of the choices and settings, and it was so easy. We got a wide white faux wood blind for the kitchen and a cellular shade for the bathroom. They were so perfect and I think our entire order was less than $80?? SO affordable.

So I remembered Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper when we needed blinds for our fixer upper. One big pro of the house is the huge windows on the ground floor, but they mean we need some extra privacy and light control. I was really anxious to get blinds up when we moved in! And I wanted them to be attractive. Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper sent me some of their bamboo mix blinds and they were perfect!

We got the bamboo mix blinds for all of our big windows downstairs plus the kitchen. (Oh, it's so perfect in the kitchen! I will update this post with a photo once we get our tile done!) We have white curtains (and the curtain rods I shared about here) over most of them, too, for extra privacy on the front window, and for looks--I'm a curtain person.

They were so, so easy to install--mount three brackets per blind:

Put the blind through the brackets (wood slots a couple inches long) and tighten wing nuts. I installed most of them by myself, was able to hold them up and tighten just fine!

I love them in the dining room...

And of course in the family room:

And in the living room, where we have a huge, strange window separated by a big band of trim. We have a blind on the lower 3/4 of the window. I'll share a photo once the living room is a little more organized. :P

I think I mentioned... Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper also has amazing prices and discounts and is super affordable!! If you need to outfit a whole house or just a window, you can get completely custom blinds for probably way less than you would expect. And they have great customer service so you can call if you get confused like I did those years ago. Just measure length and width, and pick out one of the tons of options! I highly recommend!

Thanks to Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper for sending me these bamboo blinds!

Becoming baseboard pros, and obsessive Craigslist searching pays off: #stanley90sreno week 22 progress!


Moooooore baseboards. We did a lot of the downstairs last week but there's still so much to do! Good news is it went much faster this weekend and we made big progress. And on some other little projects... and I finally got a piece I've been looking for on Craigslist!!!

On Saturday we got the living room and hall done (those involved some tricky pieces, angles, teeeeny floor pieces we had to recut, etc.....) and on Sunday we powered through the spare room and upstairs hall in less than 2 hours. SO glad it's getting faster!!

Oops, we didn't actually finish all of those rooms--still need to caulk them. Turns out Jason sort of enjoys caulking?? which is great since neither me nor my parents do and this has been a team effort so far. Now Jason needs to finish caulking some baseboards while I do something else!

So, my dresser search. Since around the time we moved in I've kept tabs open on my phone for Craigslist searches, so at least twice a day I refresh each of them and look for rugs, dressers, bathroom vanities, and a few others. I've been desperate for another dresser for our bedroom so I can move the fabulous midcentury low one down to the living room for the TV. I don't know what style our bedroom is going to be yet, so I wasn't too picky on dresser type, but wanted something affordable, real wood, clean, and large enough for all my folded clothes.

Friday I found one for $60 from someone who lives 10 blocks from us. SOLD!

It's missing some handles (I found replacements online) and has a few scratches, so maybe I'll clean it up, use it for a while, not sure if it'll stay in this room or not.

The BEST part is our beautiful vintage midcentury dresser looks great in the living room!

Should we put some art above it or on the side wall?? I was thinking a large plant would look good to the right but there's not quite enough room.

We also checked some lingering to-dos off the list including installing the new laundry room/garage door (with functioning handle! This is a big improvement.) and putting the last piece of the butcher block countertops in. Phew. So grateful for the weekend at home!

Homemade Coconut-ey Lara Bars with EXTRA Protein!


Who doesn't like a sweet, chewy, satisfying Lara Bar?? They are pretty darn tasty but such a treat! We don't buy them often but I do appreciate their real food, whole ingredient nature and have made many, many similar bars before back in my raw vegan days--so I knew I could make an even more nourishing and satisfying homemade version!

I've shared my homemade protein bar recipes before (plain/PB flavored and cranberry vanilla almond) and those are awesome tasty, easy-to-make, balanced snack bars that I love. But, sometimes I want to go completely grain-free and sometimes I don't mind a little extra treat feeling of dried fruit and a little higher fat content. (Years ago I used to have a bit of a dried fruit and nut addiction so I try to limit them to special treats most of the time!)

DIY/homemade "Lara Bar" type bars are SO, so easy to make at home with a food processor and pretty much any nut and dried fruit ingredients, and there are millions of variations and recipes out there, but I really wanted to try one with added high quality protein powder. I experimented and came up with this recipe which adds unflavored collagen protein (the good stuff! Helps nails/hair/skin, muscles, bones/joints, and metabolism) and results in a really tasty, great texture, nutritious treat bar. (I've tried RX Bars before as well which are a similar concept, but they use egg white protein and I find they're really chewy and not quite as pleasant. I was happy that this one turned out great and easy to eat!)

Homemade Coconut-ey Lara Bars with EXTRA Protein!


  • 1 c. raw cashews
  • 1 c. pitted dates
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened dried coconut
  • 4 scoops collagen protein powder (I haven't tried it with unflavored whey protein powder but it might work--this one is a budget-friendly high quality option)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

Makes 6 bars. Lara Bars say there's 1/4 c. of dates in each bar so this has slightly less than that and is still plenty sweet!


    1. Combine all ingredients in food processor for several minutes. It will be dry and crumbly at first and you may think of adding water, but don't; just keep processing till it looks like this.

    2. Roll out onto plastic wrap and flatten with a rolling pin or between counter and a cutting board/flat surface. Refrigerate about 30 minutes. 

    3. Cut into 6 even pieces.  

    Wrap between plastic wrap or freezer paper and store in an airtight container in the freezer.

    So many options:

    You could try ANY flavor with these, as the Lara Bar brand has done, and more!
    • Substitute peanuts for the cashews for a peanut butter cookie flavor
    • Add cocoa powder
    • Substitute any dried fruit for some of the dates (dried cherries would be great, apricots, blueberries, figs...)

    What's your favorite??


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