Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How Craigslist has helped me make a House into a Home

Thanks to Craigslist, we now have a home for all our books! 

In my last post, I mentioned how overwhelmed I was upon moving into our first home.  We weren't able to do any painting or renovating before Move-In Day, so the whole experience was rushed.  All we were able to do was some basic cleaning and pulling up some carpeting in what is currently being used as our bedroom.

Weeks after moving in, I was starting to get more comfortable, but there were still a couple of things preventing our house from feeling like a home to us.  One was that in a couple of rooms, there were still stacks of boxes that we couldn't unpack, because we didn't have anywhere to put their contents.  Specifically, boxes full of books and our China.

I quickly learned that buying a large bookcase brand new was going to cost a lot of money.  We weren't prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on a large piece of furniture just yet, so I started scouring Craigslist for something.  On a morning over Labor Day weekend, a listing popped up for a really nice, large, real wood bookcase.  They had it custom-built for their home, but when I measured the walls in our office, I saw that it would fit perfectly on one of the walls.  More importantly, they were only asking $50 for it!  They actually had two of them, but only one would fit in our office.  

After checking it out in person, we knew it'd be the perfect solution for our Boxes O'Books, so we scheduled a time to come back with a U-Haul to pick it up.  The U-Haul rental was actually more expensive than the bookcase itself, but we knew we needed to rent a truck at some point to go back to our old apartment to pick up some outdoor furniture we left in the garage and both locations were close to one another, so it was a good time to tackle that chore.

We came home and I immediately began unpacking all of those boxes and now you can see the floor in the office (I can see in this photo that the carpet needs to be shampoo'd)!

Other side of the room - with a cat in his tree

Another thing that was preventing our house from feeling like a home to me was not having anywhere to host guests.  We had a large dining table that we brought with us from my Husband's Grandparents, but we didn't have any chairs for it.  We wanted to be able to invite people over, so we started looking for dining chairs and almost fell over when we saw some of the prices.  I mean, $200 for a single chair that only gets sit on once a week (if that) seems exorbitant.  We needed 8-10 chairs (the table seats 10) and our max budget was $1,000 for all the chairs.  It became clear that this approach was not going to work.

I knew after a weekend of visiting different stores and coming up with nothing, that second-hand was going to be the way to go.  I checked both Craigslist and Ebay for a little over a week, when on my morning train ride to work, a posting popped up from someone in my area selling a beautiful cherry wood dining set.  It included a large dining table (with a leaf) with 8 matching chairs (two of which had arms), as well as a China cabinet, for $1200.  I had originally asked the seller if she'd consider selling us just the chairs, but then I realized that the chairs were too large/wide for the dining table we inherited from family and also, the chairs and table were meant to go together (we just didn't have room for the china cabinet).  We checked the table and chairs out in person and I offered her a little more than half ($650) for them and she accepted!  We borrowed a friend's truck and brought home our beautiful new dining table and chairs set for $650!  Way under our $1,000 budget, for chairs, alone.

Here they are in our Dining Room (sorry about the sun-squares):

A few scratches, but nothing terrible!
Just check out those legs!
Here is it without the leaf:

And there's one more thing Craigslist is responsible for in our house - our first piece of granite in our Kitchen!

Since we don't yet have a china cabinet, I had a ton of glasses that needed a place to stay.  I was so tired of pulling them out of their boxes every time I had company over.  I had this wall in the Kitchen on the Dinette side that had a small bookshelf there for a bit for extra storage, but I wound up moving it to the Living Room, since I needed storage there, too.  For a few weeks, this wall was blank and I had been searching for a Baker's Rack, because I knew it was the perfect place for one.  But holy moly are they expensive!  

Then, one morning on Craigslist, a beautiful granite and wrought iron Baker's Rack popped up with an even more beautiful price tag of $75.  Apparently, we were the first people to call about it and to come see it.  We borrowed my Father-In-Law's Van in case we liked it and sure enough, she came home with us and now lives in our Dinette, holding most of our beautiful wine glasses!  

The granite slab alone was probably 50 lbs.  It's such a nice addition to our Kitchen, especially since we looooove wine!

These are just a few reasons why I love me some Craigslist!

Happy Living!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Overwhelmed First Time Homeowner

It's been so long since I last wrote here.  I don't know what to say except that buying and moving into our first home was way more overwhelming than I ever imagined.

It's not that it's overwhelming in a bad way - it was just overwhelming in so many ways.

There are so many things we want to do... on top of all the things that absolutely had to be done.  I spent the first few weeks here walking around the house with a bottle of bleach in one hand and a roll of paper towels under my arm.  The guy who owned the home before us worked on cars (we hope) and his hands must have always been dirty.  We noticed that every switch plate and door and wall had black hand prints all over them.  I'm not a neat freak or anything, but it's just different when it's your dirt.

We finally got the house into a condition where we felt more comfortable.  After that, the unpacked boxes we still had were really beginning to bug me.  The boxes in the Office were filled with books and we didn't have a place to put all the books yet, so in boxes they stayed.

The problem was budgetary.  We had really depleted our savings to buy the house, plus we set aside an additional $10,000 to convert the house from oil heat to gas heat, since it's so much more cost and energy efficient.  We knew the gas conversion would pay for itself over the next decade or so, but spending an additional $10,000 after you've just bought a house is scary.

We set aside some additional money for furniture/decorating, but not much.  It was at this point that I started to feel overwhelmed.  I had always dreamed of buying a home and decorating it and making it look and feel exactly how we wanted it to.  But I'm not very skilled in it and I find myself second-guessing almost every purchase I'm about to make.  I didn't even want to look at furniture online anymore, because I knew we couldn't afford any of it right away.  We've only bought a few pieces of furniture since moving in and the majority of them were from Craigslist (I'll share those in a bit).  But all of this on top of not having any confidence in what I was doing (decorating-wise) really started to make me second-guess blogging.  I wanted it to be fun, but I was feeling so intimidated and clueless.  So, I just stopped for a while.

Recently, I stopped looking around the house and focusing on the things that have yet to be done and started really focusing on the things that we've already done.  These days, I'm feeling grateful and much less overwhelmed, as I'm enjoying being in our home so much more.

As soon as I started to feel better, I started to think about the blog again.  I still want to have fun and continue to interact with the other Home Decor bloggers and hopefully learn a lot.  So, I'll keep updating the blog as long as I have something to write about.  We're decorating at a snail's pace, but we'll be here for a really long time, so what's the rush anyway?

The room that I'd say is "most done" right now, is the living room.  Probably because this is where we spend most of our time.  We still have to paint this room (that lovely yellow/green came with the house) and I'm not exactly sure what color to go with yet.  I've got a brown and blue-gray thing going on, but I can't say it was entirely intentional.  We brought the brown sofas and coffee table with us from our apartment and really, that's all that came with us - everything else is new.  I fell in love with the gray carpet (and its price) and everything else just sort of came along for the ride.  I think I need a "pop" of color somewhere, but I'm not really sure yet which one I want to use.  Orange? Yellow? Purple? Pink?!

The sofas and coffee table are from Raymour and Flanigan (outlet), the rug is from, the pillows and lamps are from Homegoods, the mirror next to the entry is from TJ Maxx, the round end tables are from Joss & Main and the curtains are from Wayfair.

In total, I spent just under $500 on new items for this room (purchases outside of what we brought with us).  Good thing the budget was set for $500, HA! 

I have a bathroom update to share soon, as well as a few really great Craigslist finds that I can't wait to share.  

Happy Living! :)