Saturday, September 29, 2012

Guest Room Progress!

Slowly, but surely, we are making progress in the guest room. I think my favorite thing about this room is that is a complete mix-match of stores, generations and texture. There's still a ton of things that I want to do to it, but I'll let you see where we are at right now.

This is the bed side of the room...obviously.

Here is a break down of the items in this picture:

  • The bed is an antique my mother in law got at an estate sale for $2
  • The quilt, shams and curtain are from Home Goods
  • The throw pillows and blanket are from Target
  • The comforter underneath the quilt is from Delia's. It's plain white and is supposed to be a duvet insert, but we don't have a duvet and it was on clearance for $15 so we went for it and put it under the quilt.
  • The side table and lamp are from IKEA.
  • The artwork was made by me in 8th grade. I won the art award that year off it and it hung in my home town's library for 5 years before I got it back so it has a special place in my heart.
  • The wrought iron humming birds are from JoAnns.

The little dresser we got off craigslist. We aren't sure if we are going to keep it wood- we may paint it if we end up changing this bed out for another one Nate's mom has been working on.

And then of course there is the super festive chevron runner we got at Home Goods.

Overall, I'm pleased with it. We need to hang up some more art work (although this house hates letting us hang stuff up. Plaster and hollow walls...awesome) and we'll of course accessorize it a bit more to warm it up. I'm also working on a curtain for the closet (which I've omitted on purpose because it's super secret)

And, since I closed the door so Seamus wouldn't jump on the bed, here is your dose of Seamus for the day. Seamus is also getting a hair cut today because his face is ridiculous...

Any weekend projects coming up?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Afordable, Adorable, Apothecary-able

There once was a naked fireplace. The seasons were changing and it's owner wanted to nest. The owner decided she needed to start decorating the fireplace for fall.

That is the backstory to the adorable, affordable, apothecary.

And here is my poor, sad, naked fireplace.

I had known for awhile that Home Goods selled apothecaries for super affordable and I'd seen awesome ideas on Pinterest like, using one to store extra pacifiers, or filling one up with extra bath soaps for your guest bath. Super cute ideas, not so functional for someone with no kids and no counter space in my "guest" bath.

I also knew that most people filled them up with the pre-made potpourri bags for color and seasonal scents. And you know, I like smelly dead flowers as much as the next kid, but having extended family who are allergic to perfume and dogs made me really not want to add insult to injury, with the three dogs and all...

So it was on a random, "I need out of this house RIGHT NOW" moment, that Nate and I trotted over to the Home Goods and snagged a clear glass apothecary on clearance for $9. If you don't have a Home Goods by you, I know that World Market and most craft stores sell apothecaries now as well.

Then we padded over to JoAnn's and attacked an end cap. Yep- we attacked it. They had their boxes full of "Fall Floral" (I think they have the sticks attached so you can stick them in a fall wreath or something) on an end cap with a happy yellow sign screaming 50% Off!

We grabbed probably 8-10 of them in different colors and textures (Nate picked things liked glittery pears and apples, while I picked green acorns and pumpkins) then we grabbed a little bird just for good measure. These ranged anywhere from $0.99-$3.99 a piece before the sale and with my additional 20% off coupon, we bought all of our apothecary fillers for about $10.

When we came home (driving down the highway extra carefully as to not break my clearance apothecary...) I sat at the table with my wire cutters, snipping carefully at the bottom of each item, and we were left with a cute pile of little fall goodies!

 After I got everybody all cute and organized, I gently placed the birdie on top and placed him on the naked mantle with the candlesticks I got from Habitat last week for $3 (for 5).

Yay! The Camera works again- can you tell?

 On the other side of the fireplace we put this fun fall willow-esque thing we got from JoAnns for $6 with some more candlesticks, and for now we're gunna call that good! I am going to go buy cream colored tapers to put in the candlesticks, and I'm itching for a little banner like House of Smiths made for their entry table last week... I might have to do it this weekend, but other than that, the fireplace is no longer naked and it says, "welcome to fall" when we walk through the door.

The other thing we like about this project, is that come winter we can put everything that was in the apothecary in a ziplock for next year (we have designated season buckets...yes, I am one of those) and do the same project with winter items for the holiday season. I love projects I only pay for once.

Apothecary: $9
Fillers: $10
Candlesticks: $3
Tree Thing: $6
Total Fireplace Mantle to Date: $28

How do you decorate your mantle? Do you change it seasonally?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

DIW: Adrienne's Door

Or as Adrienne put it: The Painting of a Pumpkin Portal (LOVE IT!)

Do it yourself and do it right, then you can WRITE!

Today's DIW comes from Adrienne in Illinois.

She writes,

"In the past, when it came to doing handiwork around my house, I would rather have gnawed off my own hand than try and do it myself. I feared hand tools. I feared that I would screw up something so badly that I would then need to hire a professional to do the job, and that person would inevitably ask, “What kind of super-powered idiot bungled up such a simple process?”' 

Girl. Have you met my dad? He is still fathomed that we're painting ourselves. My dad would rather shell the money out than have anything to do with home improvement- or IKEA. The man hates IKEA.

When Adrienne was put in the situation like so many people in the country right now (no jobs, no funds, no hiring jobs out...) and decided she needed to team up with her "super-duper handy aunt" (we've all got one of those) and became a student on things even DIY deficient people can tackle. 

She writes, "One easy project that I had wanted to do forever was paint my front door. It doesn’t require any special skills or equipment, and painting your exterior doors is a simple and inexpensive way to add a pop of color and improve the curb appeal of your house. Our door was fairly new and in great shape, but it still was plain-Jane white. Yawn. Snore. We needed a style upgrade!"

 She said the steps were as easy as follows:

  • DO NOT try to paint your door while it is still hanging! Inevitably, you will have runs and the paint will not dry evenly and flat. Take the pins out of each hinge and carefully set them aside. Remove all hardware from the door with a screwdriver (hinges, doorknob, deadbolt, and peephole) and set them aside. It really is better to remove everything than try to paint around it. Inevitably, you’ll get paint on the trim and hardware, and if you ever change a doorknob, you’ll have paint lines. 
  • Lay the door on a flat, supportive surface—in this case, She used two sawhorses.
  • If you’re a first time painter and are not great at cutting an edge with a paintbrush, you may want to tape off any windows or edges with masking tape and newspaper (Adrienne skipped this because apparently she can operate a paintbrush with the precision of a brain surgeon- her words, not mine) 
  • The project only required 1 quart of Valspar satin finish latex paint- remember to stir it thoroughly before you paint!

Adrienne's Door in progress

She says that she had to do four thin coats of paint over the course of 7 hours to get full coverage. Adrienne suggests that you do this on a fairly warm, low humidity day to allow the paint to dry- otherwise it will take forever! After allowing at least an hour between coats, she reminds to stir the paint again before applying the next.

Her biggest suggestion was to start the project early in the day so the door will be dry and can be rehung before you go to bed. She says, "unless you want to stay up half the night keeping watch in front of the gaping hole in your house, because your paint is still wet..."

Adrienne loves, it, I love it, all it took was a quart of paint and a nice afternoon. Look how sassy!


I'm dying to paint my front door orange too. Husband seems to think that painting a beautiful solid wood door is silly though. I think it'd be fantastic. I'll win the fight eventually.

Good job, Adrienne! Snaps!

Do you have a DIW you'd like to contribute? E-Mail us your project and photos to


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I love saving more than I spend. It is just so...liberating.

So when I saw this....

And I knew I had this....

I did this....

And we got this!

Well, two of them actually. I didn't even know these chairs were from World Market when I made my mood board for the dining room over a month ago, so it blew my mind when there they were and on SALE none the less. To see them online, go here.

We wanted two "leather" head chairs for our dining room to match Nate's little man cave chair (which is also inspired by World Market) from across the room. After we sat down and did the math, we decided that they had to come home with us before the sale was over. By buying these chairs on sale, we are basically going to get our side chairs for free (which we have yet to order...shhhh)

Granted, to get them home in our Aveo, we had to remove them from the boxes in the parking lot on a rainy night twenty minutes before WM closed...but I'd say it was worth it. Check it!

I mustache you not to take my card information

I could not believe how much we saved. Yet again a lesson to have extra cash in the bank so when you see something like this you can do it (we've gone over a year without putting something on a credit card).

We got the two chairs home and Nate and Bridget began the allen wrenching and bolt tightening.

She likes to help.
We were honestly surprised with the construction. The curve of the arms are smooth and sexy and the insides have spring construction. Much higher quality than if we'd bought $20 IKEA chairs (which we've done and almost died every time we sat down). They are super comfy, and the high back is going to make it nice to relax after big meals or game nights with our friends.

Oh yes, and this was super bothering me too...don't worry...

So on a random Wal-Mart adventure, we found a cute little black side table for $11 (not solid wood, but was cheap and it will get the job done) and was finally able to put one of the lamps I made up for good use.

That is much better isn't it?

And that is our most recent allen wrenching, furniture ninjaing, being awesome adventure.

Our old dining table is leaving this weekend so we should be finally able to get everything set up and be DONE with this project.

Can I get a woot woot?!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

And It's Gone!

To the basement that is.

That's right. The boob-cornucopia chandelier is the basement. Thanks to the ReStore visit I mentioned yesterday, we were finally able to take the evil eyesore down. Why do I call it the boob-cornucopia chandelier? Because I seriously think it looks like a boob sprouted 6 cornucopias.


No, I wasn't going to add a lightbulb just to take a picture.

Sidenote: BOO! My new camera battery isn't here yet...I'm sorry :(

Some people apparently looveeee the boob-cornucopia chandelier, to which I say, it is listed on Craigslist...when are you going to come pick it up? Please. Remove it from my home!

It came with Blue when we bought her and I just can not fathom how much money someone probably spent on this light fixture. I mean, it had 6 heads instead of 5, it did let off a decent amount of light, and I suppose the fact that it is silver instead of brass means that someone decided to put it up there fairly recently.

If this is your style I am not going to judge you. Boob-Cornucopia just wasn't the look we were going for when we designed our room.

After staring lovingly into our space as it has come together I came to the realization that I wanted something sexy, matte black, with eddison bulbs. I know, leaves lots of choices doesn't it? Pottery Barn had one a few seasons ago that was kind of what I was going for, but it was no longer sold and I felt that that version kind of looked like a spider crawling across your ceiling.

Now, I knew I wanted the matte black back when I made the two lamps, which is why they got it first. I wanted to test it out to see how cold it made the space and I suppose Nate needed some convincing.  Nate has really adopted this room as his little baby so he demanded to come with me when my mom and I made our adventure over the ReStore.

Per usual, Nate and I made our criteria list before going in the store.

  • 5 Arms
  • Pointing UP, not down
  • no scroll work
  • no frump

This is pretty much how the car ride went. "bitch about life, bitch about life, bitch about life *turns corner* WHY DOES HABITAT HAVE A GIANT SALE SIGN OUT FRONT! MOM! MOM! MOM!"

Come to find out, our wonderful Habitat had too much in their back room so they were having a 50% off sale to move some of their inventory. I just about crapped my pants. You're welcome for the visual.

I have gotten so much of my house from Habitat, so when I see a 50% off sale it is like angels are singing.

We dashed inside and ran over to the lighting section. I looked and looked for like 10 minutes trying to figure out if I could make something work, but everything was more lanterny than I wanted. Broken hearted, I looked to the heavens....annndddd THERE IT WAS. The little bastard was hiding at the top of a super tall bookshelf causing me to do my usual, "NATTTEEEE! I NEED YOUR HEIGHT!!!" Me being 5'4'' doesn't really work when I need to get a piece of glass off of a top shelf. Okay...I'm 5'3.5'' ....why you gotta be like that? We have lots of issues in our house that result in me needing Nate's height. I just don't look up and when I do I usually don't like what I see! (cobwebs...spiders...etc.)

What surprised me the most about the chandelier that it had...

  • 5 Arms
  • Pointing UP, not down
  • no scroll work
  • no frump 
  • BONUS: Chrome instead of Brass!

Giant score! We shopped around a little bit before running out of the store, but at the end of the day, my Chandelier was $13.00

Scream with excitement. It's okay, you know you want to.

Of course, since I was so excited,I forgot to take a picture of the "before." I apologize. I am blaming the fact that it was chrome for why I don't have a before picture. Nate almost wanted to hang it up as it was. But like he said with the lamps when I wanted to leave them brass, I said NO! and skittered out to the garage.

Four light (very light!) coats of black matte spray paint later (left over from the lamps) we had our perfect chandelier.

Special thanks to my friend Robby for teaching NateNate how to hang lights up, because this time it was fairly painless (though we did knock a light bulb off the table and it shattered. Don't get me started on the bad luck we've had with ridiculous lights). After all, let's not forget how it took us four weeks of walking to the house in the dark to admit that we needed to hang up the light fixture on the porch.

And here she is!

I promise I'll get a better picture of it when the camera stuff gets here. But I could not be more thrilled with how it turned out. I keep walking in and yelling to Nate, "have I told you that I love my chandelier?"

And he, of course, replies, "only about a thousand times, honey"

Now for a side by side so you can see just how much cleaner this looks than the boob-cornucopia.

This may be the best $13 I've spent on the house so far.

Have you ever had a light fixture you just hated?

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Price I Can Live With...

This weekend was crazy. We had our beloved niece's 4th birthday party (so many tutus) up in Midland so early Saturday morning we packed our half asleep butts into the car, gave the pupplings to Grandma and headed merrily on our way.

I can't lie to you though, as excited as I was to see Rae open up all of her presents I was more excited because Midland has the best ReStore I have EVER seen.

Word. The best.

But, I guess we're getting ahead of ourselves.

We are still working on the damn dining room. We made some dramatic progress this weekend on some of the more finishing type touches, but we still have things like...oohhhhh the thousand pound dining room table that was kindly dropped off by a Frat Boy and his pickup truck a few weeks ago which has been hiding in my garage waiting to be refinished.

We decided that once we were back on Sunday, the was going to be devoted to low-key, low-cost, high impact projects. You know, things that you walk in to a room and scream "THAT IS SO MUCH BETTER!" and it also helps when you look in your wallet.

Today, kids, we are going to be talking about ART!

(and the peasants rejoiced)

Art is really hard for me. As an "artist" (I say that because I think I'm pretty good until I hang out with some of my REAL artist friends and I kind of want to die with how much I suck) I find it super hard to find art that I actually like without looking at it and saying "I could do that for 1/3 the price!"

Yeah. I'm one of those. Even walking through awesome stores I'm like, "can I make it, fake it, or thrift it?" before I commit to buying anything.

So when it came to our GINORMOUS wall in our dining room, we knew there was no way we were going to be able to afford anything that would fit it. Our area to speak of that NEEDED art was over 5 feet across and 6 feet tall. Damn you, Blue, with your like 13 feet ceilings...  when we started pricing things it was minimum (for something everyone else probably had) over $200.

Nope. Not doing it.

So, in true Wagner fashion, we headed out to the garage.

After adding the pallets to the back of the shelving unit, we still had about 10 planks left that were just taking up room in the garage that I knew there had to be something awesome we could do with them. To my luck, we also had two 48'' pieces of 2x4 in the basement left over from when my mom and I made valances for the master (I know...I know...I haven't told you about that yet, just work with me here).

We snatched up the 2x4s and held them against the wall and what do ya know, 4 feet across was EXACTLY the size that we wanted for the artwork (Team Wagner wins again!!! The dogs crowd goes wild!) Then we ran out to chop up left over pallet boards.

There was no rhyme or reason to how we cut the boards. The longer pallet boards were about 40 inches, so we decided that the boards could be anywhere between 24 (how far apart I put the 2x4s) and 40 inches. Other than that, no rules. It was kind of liberating to just start sawing pieces randomly without marking them or having to be careful. And yes, Nate was making fun of me as I was skipping through the garage randomly cutting things.

Then we arranged them in a pretty-like fashion on top of the two 2x4s.

Oh, the dogs were also helping from the safety of the back yard.

Teagan is kind of hiding behind Seamus, but that is her ear flipped over....

After we had it laid out in a way we wanted, Nate took the extra long level (which I picked and it makes me happy) and marked where the center of the 2x4 was underneath the boards.

Also, back by popular demand is another picture of my Husband's ridiculously cute butt.

The work pants don't do it justice...I know...
At this point we had a long debate about our options.

  • We could staple the boards to the 2x4s....but we might run out of staples, and I so did not feel like going to the hardware store for more.
  • We could screw the boards down....but we didn't know if that would cause the boards to split.
  • We could Nail Gun them...we knew it didn't split the boards from when we did the entertainment center, but the nails were going to be way too long and come out the other side.

We decided we like the Nail Gun idea, so we were left with two sub-options.

  • We could nail them down, then use the angle grinder to split the excess nails off. (Nate's Idea)


  • We could just be lazy and hammer the nails over since it was going to face the wall anyway and didn't have to be pretty. (My Idea)

My idea won because Nate said, "well...I guess if you want to be logical and NOT have awesome spark pictures again" (blog whore...)

After the whole piece was "finished" (we might go back and poly it, but that made it significantly darker behind the TV and we may just want to keep it light), we attached 2 claws (it was surprisingly not that heavy) and hung it up on the wall using our trusty painters tape law.

What we were left with was a piece of artwork that matched our custom entertainment center and filled up the space on our ginormous wall perfectly. The piece of art ended up being 4 feet across and 3.5 feet tall. THAT IS BIG.

As for the price...

This project was $0.



We already owned all of the tools needed to make it happen, and the wood we used was free. That is a price we can live with.

What did you get done this weekend?

psst...our new camera battery should be here today or you'll get lots of pretty artistic shots once the DSLR is working again...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Yesterday was the first time I....


...Yes, I know, this is not home improvement related- but I felt like this was still a noteworthy occasion that deserved celebration.

Needless to say, the husband was very excited when he got home and there were fresh cookies waiting for him.

I was just super excited to be able to effectively use a kitchen. This is our first home where we actually have counter space- even with our microwave on it!

For example...I will give you the tour of those places we once lived.... (we have often walked down this street Too early for My Fair Lady?)

My first apartment was actually identical to Mine and Nate's first apartment. He didn't really like being in "my" apartment, so we moved upstairs to an identical unit that we were able to work on together.

Mine and Nate's First Apartment (YAY GREEN!)
My First Apartment

Since one part of the counter was always taken up by a microwave and the others by like...utensils and a breadbox and whatever, this kitchen did not even have room on the counter for a cutting board. We had to prepare all of our meals on the wobbly table we bought from Goodwill for $15 that eventually collapsed one night while I was slicing veggies. Not the sturdiest investment, that table.

After this apartment, we moved on top of a store in a small town about 15 minutes out of Lansing. Here was our kitchen there:
Our Second Apartment
This kitchen was adorable and actually had a gas range, which I loved, but what you see was ALL of the counter space. ALL OF IT. I actually had a desk over in the corner to put my stand mixer on since there was no room. This apartment ended up being awful and filled with mold and bugs so we broke our lease and moved about 3 months into living there...bye pretty cabinets :(

Then we moved into our townhouse in the shopping district. We loved the townhouse. We were actually able to have dogs (enter SeaButt and BridgiButt) and we had two floors so entertaining was awesome. (Awesome thing about two floors. Upstairs doesn't have to be clean to entertain. BAM)

The only thing I hated and I mean HATED about our townhouse was our awful kitchen. It was terrible. ZERO counter space, cracked linoleum floors that always looked dirty, awful lighting, and beige everywhere. If 4 dishes were dirty it looked like a bomb exploded, so our kitchen always looked like shit. It wasn't until I made this post that I realized I didn't take a single picture of the kitchen with our stuff in it. I just took it on the way to turn in our keys with a snobby "I will not miss you Mr. Kitchen!" So imagine this kitchen with a microwave, a breadbox, a stand mixer and a drying rack for dishes. No counters left to even COOL cookies. I'd have to move things to the dining room to be able to roll out pizza dough. HATED IT. Then there was the whole, sink on the island thing which resulted in water spots on the carpet every. single. time. we did dishes.

You know...I don't think you can understand how tiny this kitchen was. Here's my artist rendering of this kitchen...

I get frustrated just looking at it.

We even bought like collapsible counters and stuff to put in there and there wasn't even a wall to mount them to!


Anywho...then we bought our amazing house and finally have amazing strips of counters...

These photos capture about half of our counters...

Call me a nerdy housewife...but the fact I was able to have dishes drying, a cookie construction station AND a cooling station basically made my entire life.

Thank you, cookies, for making me love my kitchen even more.

It is important to celebrate the little things, right? What have been your solutions for lack of counters?