Thrifty stair railing redo

Hello friends!

Today I wanted to share with you a little project going on around our place. We’re redoing our stair railing!

The newel post, banister, spindles and railing leading upstairs in our home felt a little dated. Since this stair railing is one of the first things you see when you come through the front door of our home, we decided it would be a good idea to update it.

But we knew it was going to be a tricky project … and that has turned out to be true.

This is what the stair rail looked like originally. Meh.

About a year or so ago, I got this brilliant idea to paint it white, which turned out hideous and started to wear off where the handrail gets the most contact. I don’t have any pics of that disaster, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

After that, we really didn’t have much of a choice but to start over, so I scoured Pinterest for ideas that would work for our particular architecture and knee wall situation. I really like this one …

Source

The next move was to figure out how to get it done inexpensively.

I purchased the wrought iron spindles online from Stair Supplies. They have a great selection.

I bought the newel post unfinished off the shelf at Lowe’s for about $100. I had an unfinished banister on hand from a pile of trim I bought at an auction for $2. So that was a huge score!

I stained all the unfinished pieces in a color called Moorish Teak. I also primed and painted the knee wall trim white to match our DIY wainscoting and other trim.

Of course, we had to demo the old railing.

Then big man and little man installed the new newel post.

Here’s where we are right now.

Our plan is to get this thing totally done by Thanksgiving, since the whole fam will be here. Wish us luck!

Have you started any projects in preparation for Thanksgiving?

Top 3 tips for saving money on kids’ Christmas gifts

Warning: This post is not suitable for Santa believers. ūüėȬ†

Hello friends! Christmas is right around the corner (as if you didn’t know). If you’re anything like me, I’ll bet you’re already thinking about the three Ws: Wallet, Waistline and Watching Hallmark movies …

Today I wanted to give you my top three tips on how to save BIG money on Christmas gifts for the kids.

I know our family tends to overspend in this area, even if we go into the season with the best intentions to stick to a budget. We blow it every.single.year.

But not this year! We are committed to being smart with our money and making good gift-buying decisions, so we can start the new year off right, in a healthy financial place.

Are you ready? Lets do this!

1. Don’t have the kids make a list of what they want.

Say whaaaaa? No list? What will we do? How will we survive without THE LIST?

Well, you will, I promise, because THE LIST creates a couple problems:

  • It guilts us into getting every.single.thing (or close to it) on THE LIST, and invokes a sense of loss in our kids when they don’t get a particular thing on it.
  • It prompts our kids to think materialistically and brainstorm more stuff that they don’t need, just to create THE LIST. Is that really a value we’re trying to promote? “Hmmmm. Let me think of some more stuff I would really like … well, I have a lot of stuff already, but this is my chance, so I’d better come up with something or I’ll be left with coal in my stocking … what does little Johnny down the street have that I should have, too?”¬†
  • It does not factor in a spending limit. Kids just rattle off what they want without particular thought to price, quantity, space in the house, etc. What’s a loving parent supposed to do with that? Cave in and go over budget, right? Or get something completely impractical because it is the only thing left on THE LIST that is reasonably priced. This may not be the best formula for Christmas-buying success.

2. Set a spending limit.

Yes. I know. This is probably an obvious one. The hard part is sticking to it! Consider setting a spending limit (or gift limit) for each child as well as an overall limit for family and friends in general.

This allows us to exercise our creative muscles. It can actually be fun to brainstorm ideas for gifts that don’t cost a lot, but are meaningful.¬†These thoughtful, lower-cost/handmade gifts can often become the most cherished ones by extended family members and friends.

3. Don’t start buying gifts too early.

If I didn’t tick you off by killing THE LIST, I’m probably going to do it with this one …

There have been years when I worked really hard to get out ahead of the Christmas firestorm by buying a lot of gifts ahead of time … like way ahead of time.

The problem with getting gifts early is that, by Black Friday, I’ve lost the memory of the spending I’ve already done. I’m cranked up and ready.to.shop! … even though I don’t have much left that I need to buy.

So what’s a girl to do in that situation? BUY MORE!

I have this sneaking suspicion that early-bird shopping causes us to spend more overall. Check out this article with the statistics.

Regardless of what Christmas gift-buying strategy we choose, I hope this holiday season, we all remember to cherish what’s important … to cling to our faith and our family, and to help elevate all that’s good in the world.

Let me leave you with a link to this hilarious video of kids getting some unexpected gifts at Christmastime and their unlikely reactions …

Thankful kids react to ridiculous gifts

Have a blessed holiday season!

Total room redo with furniture & decor for under $450

Hello friends!

I am currently neck-deep in purchasing our next flip house, so I’ve been preoccupied with that deal. I’ll be sure to share more details about that as soon as the deal closes. I’ve been this.close to buying several different properties this year, so I’ll believe it when the deed is in my hands. Until then, I’m cautiously optimistic. ūüėČ

Today, I wanted to share with you a recent room makeover I did for a wonderful local non-profit organization, Crossroads Pregnancy Center. A dear friend of mine from church who serves with me on our praise and worship team is the director there.

Crossroads¬†purchased a house in town, with the intent of moving to that location and having a bit more space for all the services they provide. This house needed some updating and, although I didn’t have the bandwidth to help out with the entire project, I really felt led to get one room completely updated, furnished and ready for them, at no expense to them.

I volunteered to tackle the renovation and furnishing of a counseling room, and they graciously agreed to let me have free reign in making over the space. This project was so much fun! Below is what the space looked like before:

A great space, but it felt a little dated. I didn’t want to mess with the knotty pine walls, the brick or the floor, so I focused my attention primarily on the ceiling and furnishings. I also gave the space a really good scrubbing. It’s amazing what a little elbow grease and squeaky clean windows can do for a room!

I painted the ceiling a bright white (I love Zinsser¬ģ Ceiling Paint) and added an inexpensive light fixture that, I felt, matched the period of the home.

From there, it was time to do some thrifty shopping to furnish and decorate the space with what was left of my budget (I spent about $60 on the light fixture. I had the paint on hand).

I picked up these two wicker wall hangings from the Salvation Army Thrift Store for $4 total.

I spray-painted them Tranquil Blue.

I deglossed this chair in my basement and spray-painted it a satin black. (I had all the paint on hand for this project, so no money was spent.)

The chair on the left below was rescued from the side of the road a few years ago. I paid $50 for the rocker on the right at a local consignment furniture store. The pillows in the room were scrounged from my basement.

The 5’x8′ rug was a steal at Gabe’s¬ģ for $29.

The clock on the wall is from my basement. I bought the couch at a local furniture store for $250 on clearance.¬†Oh yea … I did pay for one pillow. The pillow on the left is from T.J. Maxx¬ģ. I couldn’t resist that gorgeous pattern. It was $20, I think.

The mirror art on the left I bought on clearance at T.J. Maxx for $7, I think. The painting in the center of the room and the faux palm plant was scrounged from my basement.

The curtain rods were $1 at the thrift store and the four curtain panels cost me under $25 total at Gabe’s.

Overall, I think the space now looks like a wonderfully inviting and updated room, perfect for counseling clients. What do you think?

Total cost of all updates, furniture and decor for this project? Under $450!