Thursday, January 31, 2013

My New Favorite Toy/Art

This post may not be exciting for many of you- but for me this has completely changed my life.

Not even kidding.

Did you all know that when older houses were built, any room with a door was taxed as an additional living space? This is why so many older homes do not have coat closets. It was considered a luxury to be able to afford a closet in the entryway, and apparently whoever built my home did not have the extra cash for such a luxury.

Because of this, for the past seven months we have lived in our home, we have lived in shoe HELL.

Shoes in the foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen and mudroom. Every morning we'd be crawling under pieces of furniture looking for the lost shoe. It was a pain in the ass, let alone an eyesore when we'd have guests over because there was just no place to put them. 

When we were at IKEA last, we joined the "IKEA Family" This is basically a frequent shopper card. Anyone can get them, and much like at grocery store, every few weeks different items are placed at "family prices" for significantly cheaper than originally marked. You also get free ice cream. Yeah- inner fat kid approves.

We had seen the different kinds of shoe organizers many times, but it wasn't on the priority list until we got to this house. It also doesn't help that Nate has GIANT feet and we weren't sure they would fit his shoes (all three pairs of them anyway...)

Well, when we went, I had Nate wear his clunkiest shoes and we started putting them in bins, looking for solutions. It just so happened that the day we went the TRONES Shoe Cabinet was on Family Price for $29.99 for 3 cabinets. Each cabinet holds about 3 pairs of shoes, so we were looking at about $1.50 per shoe in the organizer. We thought this was a great price and immediately snagged them up (these are still on family price if anyone is interested) They come in black, white, red, and lime green.

Because we're rockstars, we went with the bright green option. Yeaaahhhh buddy.

We slapped that bad boy up right behind the front door, and BAM insta-shoe-storage. We hung it slightly higher than I'm assuming is the norm, just so we could put our boots on the vent underneath it for drying. This also means that I can't use the top rack, so that is Nate's. I, of course, get the bottom two.

I love the way it looks with the mermaid and it was actually the motivating force behind me painting the hallway. There was no reason to hang it up only to have to take it down and paint, right?

It fit very nicely behind the front door, only hanging about 1/4 an inch past the door frame.

I'm trying to embrace the "everything in its place" mentality. If it doesn't have a place, it doesn't get to live here. The first morning I came downstairs and didn't trip over ten pairs of shoes was wonderful. It was almost like making the bed- everything felt instantly more clean.

The front wall will be getting painted once we remove the wallpaper on the stairwell, but for now the cream isn't totally obnoxious since it's down to just one wall.

Oh, and did you see?

We framed our prints that we did the tutorials on last week!

We got these cool matted frames from Target's Threshold line. We liked the look of the rustic wood and it complements our natural woodwork very well.  They also happened to be 20% off, so I feel like we scored a pretty good deal at about $15 a pop.

The hallway is coming together really nicely and is starting to give off a nice "welcome to our home" vibe. I'm also pleased with how little we've spent making over this space so far- but we'll get into a price break down another time.

Oh, and as for the coat closet? We still have all of our coats hanging on a coat rack I made in 8th grade shop class on the exact opposite side of the wall where the shoe hanger is. There's also a bench there to take off shoes, plop a purse, etc.

How do you guys feel about entryways? Are they important for setting a the mood for your house or do you feel like they are unnecessary and that it's unneeded to decorate them?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tale of Two Rocking Chairs

Last week, we saw something that made us that much more devoted to our goal of using what is available secondhand. Not only is it good for the environment, but sometimes what's old, is new again!

So, there we were cruising around Home Goods like we usually do on the weekends, and there, tucked in the furniture was this rocking chair.

We could help but laugh at the price tag. This rocking chair was $150!

I know some people would see $150 price tag and say, "well that is a very reasonable price, especially for for a nursery or something" and normally I would agree.

That is, if we hadn't purchased this rocking chair about two months prior.

Is it just me, or are those the same damn chair?

And what we paid for our rocking chair?


We purchased our version of the rocking chair on Craiglist months ago for 1/10th of the cost of the Home Goods "new" version. And we didn't even have a reason to buy it- we simply bought it because of the price, how good of a condition it was in, and because we thought it would go well with what our dream board for our future nursery looks like. Buy it for $15 now and put it in the empty room for someday, or wait until it's time for it and pay ten times as much.

Moral of the story: Stalk second hand sites, and if you know you're going to buy something down the road anyway and you see it at the right price, buy it.

Especially if you see the SAME DAMN CHAIR that you wanted in a department store.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

And There's a Hallway!

I mentioned last week that we were going to paint the hallway. The mission was a total success and I love the mermaid song. I know- this sounds like it's mermaid song week, but I promise that it's not.

The hallway was just in desperate need of some color.

As you remember, this is what the hallway looked like.

After lots and lots of paint stirring (it'd been sitting in the basement for like two months) I started on it. It only took two coats for a really nice finish.

I used yellow Frog Tape this time, as I find it sticks to our wood baseboards better than the green. For some reason the green doesn't like our old wood as much- the yellow is perfect though.

It also looks great with the recliner, which is the goal with everything, after all.

What do you think? I love, love, love it :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

In The Nick of Time

If you follow us on facebook, twitter or instagram, I've been leaking really mean sneak peeks about a certain project. A project that I promised would be done by Monday.

Well. As of 6:15 last night, I completed a super awesome DIY project that Nate and I have been geeked about since we came up with the idea.

Per Use...Cue Graphic for intense announcement.

This project actually went surprisingly smooth. Unlike a lot of our projects.... But I'm pleased to say it works and it makes the statement that we wanted!

We decided we wanted a giant clock for the 4 foot span of wall because of the old gallery wall that we had up (and hated). It was quickly dismantled and a big hunk of wall stared at us every time we went to check the time. The clock was only up there for about 3 months, but it is where we always looked to see what time it was!

We begun pricing out options for clocks to put there, but even at discount stores like Home Goods they were still upwards of $100, in main stream stores they were sometimes $300-400....way out of the Broke Ass price range for something like a clock. I'm sorry, but if I could buy a whole chair for the same amount of money...why would I buy a clock?

So, we went to Home Depot and picked up a 4x4 piece of .75 inch plywood and began making ideas.

After drawing out several ideas, we decided to go with the organic flower shape found on my recliner (which is a big pop of color in the room)

We started by drawing bumps at the 3-6-9-12 marks and then branched the petals out from there. Then we held it up to the wall for size.

After we got it to the size and shape that we liked, we drew over the final design with permanent marker, and took it out to the garage to get our jigsaw on.

We had inherited a jigsaw from Nate's father, and we started having some serious fun. Then, womp womp, the blade broke.

God bless my husband, he ran all over town looking for a new blade, only to discover that they no longer make blades for that kind of saw!!!

Probably figures why we didn't see him use it very often.

So, for $30, we grabbed another Jigsaw and brought it home to finish the job. Can't leave a perfectly good clock half done in the garage, now could we?

After we were down sawing and smoothing it out, we brought it inside for one last size check, and were pleased to say that we loved it. (but not as much as this picture may suggest...)

We had a paint sample left of Mermaid Song from when we did some testing on the walls and the bar tray, and slapped about 3 coats onto the plywood.

We also added some pencil accents (left over from the bookshelf reno) on the sides and in the center.

It was at this point that I began searching for a clock kit, as our clock was so big, this wasn't the kind of clock kit we could run to Wal-Mart to get. After searching through lots of different websites (etsy, amazon, specialty, etc.) I stumbled upon a company called Coastal Tide Clocks (and no, I am not being sponsored for this post- just wanted to give everyone the location where I bought the kit) We ended up ordering at 14.5 inch clock kit. We came to this measurement from measuring the smallest point in the clock and dividing it in half. We didn't want the minute hand to go over the edge of the clock, obviously, and Coastal Tide seemed to have had the best prices (and I'm happy to say, really fast shipping).

The kit explains that you can mount the plate to whatever you'd like (and it came with a time template and stickers for each hour if someone wanted to use them), but since we didn't want to damage the wood, we just superglued the plate to clock face- we were worried that screwing into the plywood might split it, this was unfounded as when we screwed into the back, it was fine- so if you'd rather screw it, be my guest.

We glued it on, set the clock and mounted it to the wall using our trusted tape technique.

We hung the clock using two 50lb hooks (better safe than sorry) on the wall and two d hooks on the back of the clock.

Then we got to look at it in joy and happiness to infuse some color into our house. We always have had color in our house, and all this gray is starting to get to me.

Oh, and the total cost for this clock? Not including the new saw (because that is going to get lots of use other than this project- it may be my new favorite toy) this cost us $44.


Here are the pretty shots.

Yummy. Look at the way it pulls the color of the chair across.

Just need some nice Mermaid song Pillows.

And here's the sassy yellow sides.

Again, if you want to do this project, here is what you need:
  • Plywood
  • Jigsaw
  • Paint
  • Clock Kit
  • Hanging Kit
I hope you all feel like this is something you could do and I didn't totally over complicate it. It's really easy, super affordable and such a statement!

What did you all do this weekend?

Linked and Shown on: 

Friday, January 25, 2013

DIW: Denise's Laundry Storage

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

Today's DIW comes to us from Denise in Chicago.

Denise actually won our Indestructible Dog giveaway last year and she happens to be with one of my best friends in high school (yeah, I totally had a crush on him. He was weird and played the upright bass all rockabilly style...what do you want from me? BTW Dan, you still have one of my guitars. Dude.)

Anyway, Denise and Dan live in a tiny apartment in Logan Square (Chicago) that, in true Chicago style, doesn't offer a lot of room for anything (people included). Somehow, they did manage to score an apartment with a washer and dryer (I live in freaking Michigan- you think I ever had one with laundry in unit? No. SO UNFAIR)

Well, one day Denise was prowling Pinterest and cam along this image. (I do not have the source. If anyone can identify it, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due)

As they have their tiny little apartment, they don't have a large hallway to throw this in, nor do they want their guest walking around the apartment and seeing dirty underwear, but they do have what they have so aptly named the "shit closet" that was the home of all the bullshit that they didn't have anywhere else to put. They decided to implement a version of this "Vertical Laundry Basket Storage System" (VLBSS?)

First they removed all of the junk from the closet to see if there was even room for a system like this. Then, they had to buy the pieces of the shelving unit that would hold the baskets up. They got theirs at IKEA and spent about ten bucks or so on it.

Since the closet is not very deep and kind of narrow, they had to find smaller baskets. They also purchased those at IKEA. (PROTIP: Your baskets need to have a lip which can rest comfortably on the shelving thing)

This distance between the shelves should, obviously, be the same length as the basket is long/wide (depending on how you plan to fit them in your space). After installing your guide tracks, place the shelf holders on the vertical structure.

Denise did mention that they put in a few extra screws to keep the arms sturdier and less wigly.

Slide your laundry baskets in (you can label them too if you'd like- theirs are in German), et voila! no more laundry mess!

Bonus perk: this also creates an awesome place for animals to hide.

Snaps to Denise and Dan! Ever since Denise posted a picture of this on Facebook I keep giving the puppy eyes to Nate ("If you loved me, you'd build me one of these. PWWWEEASSSEEE")

If you have a DIW project that you would like featured on Broke Ass Home, please email us your pictures and a simple tutorial/room explanation to

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Difference Between Short Term & Long Term Decorating

Decorating goals for the long term is somethign that Nate and I talk about almost every day. Things like:

"Do we want to lay flooring if we're ripping that out?"
"Do we want to paint at all if we're going to re-drywall?"
"Do we want to keep the character of that or do we want to modernize it?"

Some of the answers are pretty obvious, others aren't. For a long time, our rule of thumb was, "Does it involve spending significant money twice?"

But even then, sometimes that trumping question is, "would it make us happier in the short term to take care of something now?"

This is the same kind of conversation Kenz and I had the other day, and she had a "yes" moment.

I've been having a yes moment too lately.

Our walls are AWFUL. AWFFULLLL. Like, you try and drill a hole in them and because the plaster and popcorn is now floating instead of resting against something a huge hunk will just fall off the wall. Nate and I have made the decision that if we want any hopes of our house acting normally, we are going to need to learn how to drywall and take care of it. I briefly drywalled when working with Habitat, but it's been 5 years since I worked on a house that early in the process so I could definitely use a refresher.

That being said though, sitting in our foyer, I got so so so bummed out by the looks of it. The foyer is #1 on the list to be drywalled (you could probably get some sweet air finger-boarding off some of the bumps and ripples in the wall), but since we both work I don't think drywalling will happen until Nate's next shut down.

In 6 months.

Do you stare at a boring room for 6 months or do you suck it up and admit that you're going to pay for paint twice?

We're paying for paint twice Motha's.

And guess what? We be getting mermaid song up in hurrrrr' (partially because I already had a gallon of it with no where to put it) and partially because I freaking want a happy colored foyer. And maybe a bit of seal for good measure.

Are excited about this? I am.

And the exciting thing about it, is that I can get as crazy as I want, since the walls are coming down in six months anyway! Do I want to try a painted ceiling? I don't know, but I could try and not have to worry about repainting since it's a no commitment paint job (though paint is hardly a commitment)

 Oh. And my 15 minute project last night? Gathering my tax documents and calling for a roof estimate.

Because sometimes, being a grown up sucks and you have to spend your money on stuff like roofs. Though I definitely think the whole "roof" thing I a long term decor goal.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Free Valentine's Day Mantle & A Cardi-garland

I decided last night that it was time to switch the mantle from Christmas to Valentines Day. I needed a change in color. But, since V-Day is not a major holiday, we did not want to spend a bunch of money on decor,  rather using things that we already had in the house. Including the ever intriguing "Cardi-Garland"

First things first, was to switch out the apothecary. I didn't want to empty our Winter themed apothecary as it is still winter and it could be used somewhere else in the house, so we grabbed our shorter one.

After scouring the house for pinks, reds, and whites, I kindly asked Nate in the least nerdy way possible if he had any Siths I could borrow.

He looked at me and said, "You want my Siths?"

And I sighed and said, "Yes. Yes, I do. I love you, and V-day is about love, and you love Star Wars, and Siths are red, so yes, I want your siths."

He giddily ran off to grab his Sith action figures and some extra red light sabers. I, meanwhile, went digging for some red and pink necklaces/beads I had floating around.

With our powers combined, we made a Sith Apothecary.

Cause we're nerds like that.

I also grabbed one of our engagement photos, a vintage camera and a Valentines Day wreath I had bought in the dollar section of Target last year.

It was still looking a little short, so I took one of our black frames, a piece of construction paper and wrote, "Like a Belrog- Smoking Hot"

Because again, we are nerds, and who says Lord of the Rings and Siths can't co-mingle. You sayin' that Sauron and Vader don't hang out on weekends? Bitch, please.

It was coming along nicely. But the top of the mantle was looking a little plain. It needed some texture. This is where the Cardi-Garland comes in.

I had seen a million t-shirt crafts on pinterest, but unfortunately, Nate and I make our Goodwill donations every year around Christmas and had already gotten rid of all of our t-shirts we don't wear on a regular basis.

I have however, lost some weight, and I had a red cardigan that was old, stretched out, and didn't look very good on me anymore. I decided to turn it into a garland. If people can make scarves out of t-shirts, who the hell says that I can't make a garland out of a cardigan?

To make the garland, I cut one sleeve off of the cardigan. I then cut off the cuff and began to make about 1/2 inch strips out of the sleeve.

I also totally did this in my chair while wearing my doggy pajamas and watching the Colbert Report.

I then stretched out all of my strips between my hands to make them more like elastic bands. When I stretched them out, I wrapped them three times around my four fingers to make little tight circles. 

Once I had my circles, I used the pieces of cuff to tie them together.

After repeating this with all of my strips, I was left with a garland! I have decided though that you could keep going to make a scarf, or you could even make rows of them for a modern take on a yo-yo quilt. Which I'll probably do at some point, because it sounds textural and awesome.

I hung it up on the 3m decorator hooks I have attached to my mantle, and we were left with this!

Much more balanced in my opinion.

I even lit the candles to check out our ambiance.

So that is our free, nerdy and upcycled Valentine's Day mantle.

This may be my favorite mantle yet, and I don't know if it's because it didn't cost me anything, or if after 7 months I'm finally getting used to decorating a glorified shelf.

The garland took me about half an hour to make- so start ripping your sweaters apart. Plus, immediately after I cut off the sleeves, I looked at Nate and said, "NateNate, I need a new cardigan."

He raised his eyebrow at me and said, "Really? Why do you say that?"

Oh, Nate, you own my heart completely.

Because you're like a belrog. You're smoking hot.

Linked up at:
Our Fifth House

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

15 Minute Project: Make Your Own Print

I am very particular about word art. I don't care for ones like, "Wash Your Hands" or "Love is Patient..." but super cute ones can be expensive and hard to find.

I also don't know how to use photoshop. Nope. Not a bit. I just downloaded it, but I haven't had a chance to play yet. My preferred way of editing photos (other than on my camera and with iPhoto) is with PicMonkey.

It is the newer version of "picnik"- you know, that photo editing thing on facebook where everyone came out with drastically edited photos with silly words on them?

Yes, I was one of them. I got sucked in.

Not only can you make images like this:

But you can also make simple collages and blog headers.

I decided I'd give making prints a shot with it and I'm really pleased with the graphics. Our printer is out of ink, so I'll be having these printed on cardstock at Staples before I can frame them.

I used quotes that matter to Nate and I (the PG version, we thought about whipping out some Boondock Saints and being all "Why don't you make like a tree and get the F* out of here" but we thought people wouldn't appreciate that as much...we may still do that, sometimes I get feisty) Here are my three finished prints that we'll be talking about today.

The quotes are from the Lorax, the Muppets, and Ghandi.

We're well rounded people.

Now to make these, go to

Click on Collage.

Down on the bottom, you will see the size of the standard image.

You can add or take away size as you see fit. I made mine extra large because I assumed that the text can shrink down easily, but I didn't want it looking stretched out should it be too small.

I think I did something along the lines of 2000x2800

Yeah, it may have been excessive.

Then, hit save collage. Yep- completely empty. Name it "Blank" on your desktop. That way you can make as many prints as you want without having to redo this step.

Next, hit the X in the upper right corner. That should take you back to the home page.

Then, select Edit Photo. A pop up image should appear, select your blank image.

This screen will open.

Select the "P" button on the far left tool bar. The tool bar will switch to fonts.

Hit the Add Text Button, and a text box will appear on your image.

With these graphics, I suggest you use no more than 3 fonts, or your image will look too busy.

I also suggest you type bits and pieces of your phrase at a time to give it more visual diversity. You can not size text differently inside of the same text box. If you want the first letter bigger and a different font than the rest (like in the LORAX) you can only type that one letter. Then you can type the rest of the word/line in another text box.

This handy tool bar will also open if you wish to change your text color, etc.

Now that you're started, it's pretty easy to keep going. Just keep playing with interesting positioning, sizing, etc. Be aware of the spacing between words.

Keep going until your words are in place and you like their sizing and positioning. For this graphic, I picked a quote from the Lord of The Rings movie- spoken by Gandalf, a wizard, and I liked how the "A" kind of resembled a Wizard's hat, so I made it the focal point. I probably resized this 10-15 times to get it just right.

If you'd like to add an emblem in the back, keep reading, if not, save as to your computer and you're done!

For those of you wanting an emblem, select the expression bubbles in the left toolbar.

Go through the free options (ones that don't have a crown on them) and select a sticker. Since Gandalf has this stupid habit of sending butterflies and moths out to fetch his eagles (the same eagles that cause many marital disputes in our house- I'm sorry, they do the job half assed and they could save the whole world hours of time if they just freaking flew the ring to Mordor, etc. Nate claims I don't get it, I think they need to shut up and do the job right) I chose a butterfly sticker.

It will appear on your image in black. Using the pop up tool bar, play with the color and size of the image. It will be over the text- don't worry, we'll fix that.

Once you like your image, slide the "fade" bar over to about 45%. You can play with the opacity more if you'd like.

Once it in the place on your image that you'd like, right click on the image and select "send to back"

Click off of the image, and you will have your finished image! Select the save button and put it on your desktop.

Send your image off to wherever you'd like to get your image printed, and put in a matted frame (like RIBBA from IKEA or the Room Essentials line at Target) in the size of your choice.

Et, voila! Home made art that will only cost you to print and frame.

What saying are you going to do first?