When I Feel Like Spending Money I Do This Instead

Frugal_Living

So I thought this would be a fitting follow up to the post last week on our financial goals because y’all, the biggest secret to staying on track with our money goals is hands down not spending money. I know – it’s not super exciting and it’s rather straight forward, but that’s the long and the short of it.

I mentioned in the last post that I’m a firm believer that there are seasons in your life and I think we all know – some are more expensive than others. Not going to lie, the day when my first born starts kindergarten will be a bittersweet day. I mean, my child will be five – he will be more than a quarter done with his days living under my roof – but he will also be out of daycare, and yo, that place is expensive. Seasons where we’ve spent more money than others include: renovating our houses, moving across the country, birthing and raising our children – but I’ve looked to all of these as investments – one way or another, they all paid off in spades.

I’ve learned that there are a few ways to set yourself up for success with money and there are ways to bite it. I’ve actually turned the challenge of not buying things into a bit of a game. Sure – I could go to Chuckie Cheese and make the kid go coocoo for coco puffs or I could go to the park and play basketball with Henry! Sure, I could go out and buy a special dessert for tonight since the weather is so beautiful and it feels like the best idea EVER, or I could look around our cabinets for ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. Or, I feel like my house needs something, I want to go out and buy throw pillows – but instead I’ll wash the floor (lol – does this just make you judge me? Legit, y’all I KNOW if you read this blog that you know that I sometimes go out and buy those throw pillows) 😉

In all seriousness though – it’s truly about finding ways to be happy with what you’ve already got, and challenge yourself and ask – Do I really need X. Or even, do I really WANT X – and the answer to each is totally fine if it’s yes, because truth be told, y’all – I enjoy shopping. I like get a little buzz like the rest of America when I go out and get things. It’s fun! But saving money is super fun too, and there are ways to stretch out your dollar as far as possible by being critical of every purchase you make. Give yourself 24 hours to wait it out for anything that falls into the category of non essentials. And if throw pillows fall into the category of essentials any given day – y’all – I do not judge. 😀

Here is a list of 40 things you can do, without spending ANY money. Get it girrrrlll (as my best frugal friend, would say xoxo)

  1. Go outside! Walk/run/stroll/skip – enjoy your surroundings
  2. Clean your house
  3. Call your mother. (just do it)
  4. Find something fun to eat/make with ingredients in your house
  5. Explore a new part of your city
  6. Go to the library
  7. Learn how to make something new
  8. Talk to your kids
  9. Write down goals
  10. Do yoga (youtube has free yoga!)
  11. Organize your closets
  12. Weed your yard
  13. Read a book
  14. Find a frugal blog and get inspired
  15. Change the oil on your car
  16. Go window shopping (but don’t buy)
  17. Ride your bike
  18. Purge items you don’t need
  19. Call your dad! (just do it)
  20. Scan pinterest for DIY ideas
  21. Play with your child (get down on their level and PLAY!)
  22. Go through/clean your coat closet (check pockets for goodies)
  23. Organize your garage
  24. Think of ways to make money – write down 5 ideas
  25. Walk the dog
  26. Build something
  27. Do a family plank challenge
  28. Dust the furniture
  29. Organize your junk drawer (you never know what you might find!)
  30. Look around your house for things to sell
  31. Volunteer
  32. Sip Wine on the Porch (does this count as spending money – probs – I cheat when it comes to wine)
  33. Do 20 squats (werk off that wine, y’all!)
  34. Meet your Neighbors
  35. Build Something
  36. Try a New Hairstyle
  37. Clean your fridge
  38. Plan a Frugal Vacation
  39. Write in a journal
  40. Meditate

Life By the Numbers

Best_Budgeting_Advice_Millennials

Y’all do you ever feel like you’re so clear on something that it’s just your marching orders and your life calling card. The last few months I’ve been feeling like that about our finances. On. A. Mission. Working our butts off to create the future we want. And 6-months or so in to our new regime (we started the beginning of the year), I’m feeling fairly obsessed with our modifications. Have y’all heard of Mr. Money Mustache? He’s a fairly famous lad with the frugal nuts of the world and his personal tale is one where he saved a significant portion of his income and essentially retired after 10 years of working.

So literally, my new {personal} life mission is to create a life where we can be on our own watch as soon as possible. IE not working for the man, unless we feel like it. 🙂 Frankly, I love my job, so I’m not in a huge hurry to trade in my cards in life. But then, I love my bambino, and I think he’s pretty awesome as well – so, it’s all about finding that balance right?

I’ve been feeling inspired by some of the changes we’ve been making here around our house that are (hopefully) setting us up for a really solid financial future, and I wanted to share a few things with y’all that we’ve found really have been game changers for us. So starting January 1, we started making sure we had atleast half of our income, 50% of it, going straight into retirement account. We’ve always tried to be really good about saving our money, but when I sat down late last year and did the math, I realized we were only saving about 15% of our income, and the more I read blogs like Mr. Money Mustache, I started to realize that was whoafully insignificant for what our financial goals are.

I think different seasons of your life, have different needs. Our first 6 or 7 years as a married couple we were all star savers in many respects, but the money was always going toward saving up for a house, or buying a car, etc. Now that we’ve got those things – ie house, car – we feel like those boxes have been checked for us and we’re able to move on to different things.

So there are some upsides to aggressively saving for retirement, namely the ability to use all the contributions made to a 401k, 457 plan and IRA as tax deductions. So for every $1 you put into these accounts, you’re off the hook on that amount of taxes each year. So that’s sweet (basically brings your tax bracket down). The downside (IMO) is that almost all this money is not truly utilizable until you’re 65, or 62 or like – when you’re OLD basically. It will be a long while before we can touch that moola. I’m lucky at my work that I have something called a 457 plan, which enables you to use those funds as soon as you leave your place of employment – ie, if I “retire” from my current job at 40, we could start drawing down from that fund as an income supplement. But even with traditional retirement assets (if your employer doesn’t offer a 457) there are ways to diversify your retirement savings so that you have liquid assets to grab when you want or need. For us, that’s our Roth IRA, which is the retirement account we’ve been contributing to since we were married. At any point you can use your principal from that account for anything – since it’s put in post tax, the principal is your money to use whenever you want it.

So anyway, blah, blah, blah – woo hoo, saving money is great. But how in bloody hell do you get to a point where you can save 50% of your income, you ask. Extremely valid question, and grasshopper, I’ll tell you, I think it took me a solid 7 years to get to this point, but the basic premise is don’t buy stuff you don’t need. Patent pending on that nugget of life advice, but you guys, sometimes the simplest answer is all there is to it. Some tools I’ve found pretty helpful for our household.

  • Create some type of budget or expectation of where you want your money to go, and stick to it by allocating the remainder into your savings account. 

Not particularly revolutionary or sexy, but y’all, if you don’t have an idea of where your money is going, I can guarantee you, it’s not going to the right places.

Anything that doesn’t go toward our monthly expenses and retirement goes into short term emergency fund – which right now is only like a hundred bucks each month, so all and all we keep things pretty tight (purposefully) which keeps us as accountable as possible. So I actually don’t track against what we spend each month in each category – persay – I just know each dollar we spend since in all honesty, we don’t spend all that many. Like our grocery shopping is done once a week – I know if I stay under $100, we’ll be on track for my (general) goal of $400 a month. So I don’t obsess over it, but I am very aware of it.

  • Autodraft money to go straight into your savings accounts (ie retirement, stocks, bonds, wherever).

Treat that money like it was never yours to spend – and you’ll never miss it. In fact, you’ll gleefully watch as it turns into more and more money – much better than spending it! 🙂

  • Identify triggers that you know are going to mess with your budget.

Going back to the grocery shopping example, I try to meal plan and only run to the grocery store once per week. I find it easier to track the expense that way and we don’t get nickle and dimed with this and that and the other thing. $20 here and $30 there adds up quick and will blow your “$400” grocery line pretty quick.

  • Buy EVERYTHING used

In all honesty, I could get better in this category but I’ve found that there is virtually no reason to buy 99% of what we use new. Other than food (obviously) our clothes, furniture, bikes, cars, house – all used with very few exceptions. It encourages you to be more methodical about your spending and also makes me wait for stuff I really don’t need. Things I know we will need (like 4T clothes for my 2T tyke) are always things I buy as far in advance as possible. So plan ahead for necessities and everything else you just got to wait for 🙂

  • Be easy on yourself

Set manageable goals and don’t beat yourself up when you screw something up. Y’all, I remember the first year of our marriage – ya know zero money saved up, student loans coming from every angle and just the stress of a brand new marriage – I lost it over forgetting to use a coupon at the check out lane. I like thought the world was going to end. But you know, it didn’t, and I was out like a dollar. Maybe even fifty cents 😉 I wanted so much to be able to stick with my plan that I lost it over that slight deviation. But you guys – the thing is about this frugal path Jay and I chose is that it’s about the long view man. I didn’t know that when I was 22, but that’s the truth. You can’t fret about small blimps along the way, you just get true to that path and you’re fine. Things happen with finances – you have good days and bad days, more abundant years and really tight ones. It’s all about laying the groundwork with the right mentality and a solid foundation.

Whew – so that was sorta long, but I hope a smidge helpful to at least one person out there! I’m curious to hear what others do to keep their financial goals on track. Do you guys have any nuggets of information that y’all have found really helpful for your household in making the numbers work each month, or different strategies you’ve used to save more? Would love to hear!

There are some really great blogs if you want to start to fine tune your finances – my two current faves are Frugal Woods and Mr. Money Mustache.

 

Library Lights

So for all of you with an eagle eye, you probably noticed that although our dining room is much improved from before, that there are still something missing from the picture below:

Built_In_Bookcase_Dining_Room

If you noticed that a million dollars sitting out on display on our fine new buffet line was missing, I noticed that too, but alas this is not the item from the picture that we’re talking about replacing on today’s post. Bummer.

It’s the light sconces missing from above the bookcase. Notice it? Yeah, those fancy electrical boxes chilling up above our new crown.

I’ve hunted high and low and up and down for some good old library lights so our joint could look snazzy, like this picture. Swoon.

Builtin_Bookcase_with_Grasscloth

Or this one… wish I had the guts to paint our trim dark blue – amazing (but perhaps a tad darker would be even better – more charcoal?)

Blue_Painted_Builtin_Bookcsae

So since I’ve looked all over this green earth for lights, I thought I’d share with y’all some of the best (and most affordable) options I stumbled across during my hunt. I noticed that two of them popped up over $50 (must have been on sale when I started the search), but these are all super affordable options compared to some of the fancier brands out there where a library light can run well over $300 (!)

Affordable Library Lights

Electric LeClair LightVintage Retro Cage LightIndustrial Edison SconceClear Glass Shade Swing Arm Sconce | Brass Finish 1-light Wall Sconce | Modern Vintage Industrial Loft Sconce 

Right now I’m leaning toward the 5th one. Any thoughts/votes? I want it to compliment our existing light fixture in there, and I like how it would bring out the brass details! Decisions, decisions! Help me decide!

Drum_Chandelier_Dining_Room

 

Ipsy Glam Bags

Y’all I have just never been a) good at or b) all that inclined towards makeup. I think it’s the pragmatist / minimalist in me that just thought, meh, I’ve got a tube of mascara – I’m good! And truth be told, even to this day that’s pretty much still my mentality, haha. But my older sister, who is better with these beauty things than myself, got me absolutely hooked on ipsy. I’m selling it to myself as still being pragmatic / quasi minimalist because it’s only $10 a month and you get 5 samples every time, so I’m like in the category of never having to ever buy make-up again, other than ya know, my $10 per month hit.

Has anyone else heard of this thing? I feel like subscription / send stuff in the mail is the millennials answer to the previous generations shopping mall (that and amazon, duh…) but I get irrationally excited about this bag each month and obsessively check to see when I’m going to get my sneak peak email to get a glimpse at my monthly goodies.

So I’ve only been doing this for 4 months now, but this is my loot to date.

February_Ipsy_Bag_Review

I use the powder every day (and have been since February) and still have most of it left. The mascara has become a pretty much daily use for me too, and I’ve found I enjoy putting lipstick on for nights out!

March_Ipsy_Bag_Review

I love the deep conditioner for my hair, and use the blush every day. Wasn’t crazy about the tarte lipstick (it was too matte for my taste).

 

April_Ipsy_Bag_Review

In April, I loved the dry shampoo (I’ve never used that before), and the liquid eyeliner has been great, too.

So far, my favorite thing about ipsy is that I’m getting nicer stuff than I’d normally buy for myself, so it feels like a mega treat to get my bag each month. Since I’m not a pile it on makeup girl, I’ve found even the sample sizes (which some are smaller, not full sized) last me a few months. I try to space out my consumption of the goods, so if I get a travel sized deep conditioner, I use that once per month, and so far it’s lasted me for over 2 months, sweet! By the time I use up one sample size of a product or brand of a particular item, I usually have a replacement come from a different brand – so it works out perfectly!

Plus I get to try new things that I would not usually buy myself, so it’s encouraged me to try different products. Like lipstick!! OMG, I’ve never, in my 30 years of life ever worn lipstick. It’s actually hilarious when I put it on now for a date night because Henry just STARES at my lips and says “Red”. Like he’s speechless and that’s all he can get out, lol. Like something’s different about this lady… Are you my mother?

Anyone else out there use ipsy?? For $10 a month, I think it’s my new favorite bang for the buck thing!

One more fun thing about this subscription (does Birch Box do this, I’m not sure?) is that each month they have you rate your items so that they better match up with what you’d like (aka – I hated that color of blush or that bronzer was a-mazing) and after you get a certain number of points, you get to choose additional items to add to your bag! Huzza!! Or if you have friends sign up, etc, you get points on your account! *Disclaimer* If y’all subscribe to ipsy using the link, I’ll get referral points placed on my account! 😉

Good Lookin Breakfast Nookin

Rounding out our downstairs updates after our first year, we’ve also got a breakfast nook with a few changes. Really the main changes to this part of our house was adding furniture, since it was empty for nearly half of the first year (if not more). I tried to stay true to buying everything for this house used, and waiting for it to come along on craigslist or thrifting – really, it’s never a rush to add a second table to your house – kinda embarrassing to me that we have a house that fits two tables. It’s a bit excessive IMO…

Eatin_Kitchen_Dining_Room

We found the table for $40 on craigslist and I really love how much it matches the chairs! These 3 cross back chairs are probably the only piece of furniture (that I can think of) downstairs that were purchased new – turns out it’s really hard to find (3) matching chairs used. I’m obsessed with these beauties though. They’re extremely sturdy, good looking and not wobbly at all (does anyone else have a problem with chairs having a wobble?) Between buying used or cheapo furniture most of my life … I feel like our chairs are usually defective, lol.

The banquette was $100 on craigslist – Jay always grumbles that the people before us stripped the screws assembling it, haha, so he thinks it’s going to come crashing down on us sometime we’re sitting there eating our ice cream bars. I’ll keep you updated on that one 😉 I love that it sits a few people at once though and it’s been a perfect locale for sharing popsicles and ice cream when it’s time for a post dinner snack 🙂

Child_Artwork_Display

So, rookie parenting mistake, but when H started bringing his artwork home from school I didn’t really know what to DO with it. Our fridge doesn’t take magnets well (stainless) so I would just recycle them after they sat on the counter for a few days and I felt the need to declutter. You guys – this kid was literally dying when I first put up his art. He is so darn proud of it that it makes me feel pretty bad for recycling the rest of his artwork master pieces. He loves telling you all about his art when you point up at them and ask about it – he’ll tell you an entire story (more and more) about what he did that day, and who he made the artwork with. You guuysss – it’s so, so cute. So anyway – don’t scar your child like I did mine. Just hang up their artwork y’all, apparently they like it.

The table actually perfectly matches the chairs, which was a happy mistake, but they look really nice together. As you can see, the table has a few nicks and scratches, but it just gives it a little bit of a vintage touch. 🙂

Antique_Kitchen_Table

This room is right next to the kitchen, and you can see through into the Dining Room as well, so it feels nice to have the space a bit more finished.

Eat_In_Kitchen_Table_Options

This light fixture was actually one of the very first things I bought for the house, before we had even closed on it I grabbed this on craigslist! I remember it sitting in our 1-bedroom apartment, waiting for moving day. 😉 I just couldn’t wait to get back to designing a space for us – after being out of a house for a year, you’re usually ready to go!

Capital_Lighting_Chandelier

Overall, I really like how this room (can you call it a room?) came together! I’d love to add some lumbar pillows (similar to the ones in our master) at some point, but there is no rush, and I should probably avoid spending the money anyway 😉

Eatin_Kitchen_Table

Living It Up

So now we’re a few weeks into this house update over in Sell Casa 4.0 and I thought I’d share how our Living Room is looking after a full year under our belt in the new house. We have not made a ton of updates in here, but my favorite change is probably the feature trim work we added to the fireplace wall.

Living_Room_With_Layered_Rugs

This is an up close view of the detail. This project was very similar to this DIY, if you’re looking for a step by step BTW, we just decided to double up each strip to make it thicker and a bit more substantial looking.

Fireplace_Builtin_Trimwork

And now a Rafiki, look haaarrrrdddeerr.

This project was really quite cheap all things considered, just some plywood (that we doubled up to give some more depth to the wall). The total cost was under $40 since we already had the trim paint purchased. Score!

DIY_Fireplace_Surrond

This is what the fireplace wall looked like before.

Family Room off of the Kitchen

Here is another angle of one of my favorite walls, with some new etsy artwork up and looking oh so fine.

Persian_Rug_In_Living_Room

This summer we went to the HGTV Smart Home (which was in Raleigh this year) and I spotted a really cool, considerably larger, artwork piece that was broken into (9) frames if I remember right, at the base of a stairwell landing. Having slightly less space to work with, I decided to go with a 4-frame art option and I really like how it turned out!

I found an etsy print online that I loved and approached the artist about dividing it up into quarter segments – voila! Pretty cool statement wall now and the artwork really helps to ground this wall a bit (which had been completely bare for over a year).

Tree_Trunk_Artwork

We spend a ton of time in our Living Room these days with Mr. H running around, and we’ve found this layout works really well with us. The sectional tucked against the wall prevents furniture from blocking the flow – great for running around (and through) the room.

Layered_Living_Room_Rugs

This room opens right up into the newly renovated kitchen – we love it. We’ve loved all our houses in different ways and for different reasons, but y’all, this one feels the most like home.

Faux_Marble_Counter_Tops

Welcoming Entry Way and Hall

Keeping up with my last few posts of providing an update on the abode, now that we’ve been in it 1-year, I thought I’d share small changes we’ve made to the entry of the house over time as well.

When you enter in the house, the first room you see is our hallway, and dining room to the right. I’ve been pegging for a persian runner in this space and finally found one for a song on ebay – this runner was just over $100.

Sources_Antique_Persian_Runner

Here is a better shot of it, where you can see more details.

Persian_Runner_Sources

Locally I was having trouble finding an option that had the right dimensions on it, so I’m glad I held out and ordered it online (from ebay). Plus the price was an extra incentive!

Speaking of good deals, I knew I wanted to put an art wall up on this long hall way, but I was grimacing a bit at how expensive frames can be. Day after Thanksgiving Target had these frames BYGO, so I stocked up on a bunch of 16×20, with matted 11×14 artwork. It cost around $2 per print at our local print shop to put in a few family photos and I love how it all turned out! It’s so fun to see photos of our little gracing the house a bit more now and Henry will often point up and say “Baby Henry” which is cute 😉

Family_Artwork_Collage

Back to the front when you first walk in, we popped in an antique side table and crystal lamp (craigslist, obvi) 😉 along with some artwork! The bike print is a birthday card from a few years back and the other artwork was something our local newspaper had a high res image of they were encouraging folks to print – I loved the message and though it was a good note to have first thing when you walk in our casa 🙂  Yall_Means_All_Artwork

Another fun craigslist rehab was this bench, which was already black, but had plaid seats prior. The fabric was $6 at Joann’s… Staple gun and 5 mins, done and done!

Entry_Bench_Options

I like how our house is relatively open, but still has some nooks and crannies and hallways to design and make things feel more homey. Plus, H loves that this hall essentially creates a loop/race track/place to hide from daddy-o. Lots of giggles come down this hallway on the daily.

Antique_Persian_Runner_Affordable

Although frames are not cheap – overall I have to say I really do love this hallway and I’m glad I chomped down and ate the cost to make this space feel more like home. I’ll never get tired of looking at the munchkin all swaddled up and staring back at that camera – ready to take on this world.  Black_And_White_Art_Collage

 

 

Industrial Style Barstools

I got a lot of questions last week about where I got my kitchen barstools from, and y’all, like most of my house I got those little lads off craigslist. But, fear not! I put together a quick list of some of my favorite (very affordable!) finds off amazon – including a dead ringer for the one we have in our house (first one linked).

Affordable Industrial Style Barstools

Gavin Barstool | Ashley Pinnadel Swivel Stool | Elegan Antique StoolFlash Furniture Mint Green (comes in many colors!) | Joveco Bar Stool (also comes in a ton of colors!) Industrial Chick Metal Barstool 

People also wanted more details on the counter tops, along with some close up photos. We went with a local stone yard, called Stone City here in Raleigh and got the color Venato Extra Quartz. Love it you guys. Like any quartz it wears really well and we only paid $50 per sq foot for it.

Here are some close up photos:

Venato Extra Quartz

A long shot of the room.

Persian Rug Runner Kitchen

Here is a section with a bit more veining. Definitely more than Lagoon, which we’ve gone with in the past, but we really like it!

Do others have quartz (marble look alike counters) that they love? I’m curious to hear some other options. Sooner or later I imagine I’ll be doing another kitchen reno, hehe.

Venato Extra Quartz Counters

*this post contains affiliate links*

Kitchen Source List

In case you missed it, our kitchen is officially transformed from this:

Small kitchen design

To this!

White_Kitchen_Marble_Backsplash

I’ve had a few emails asking for all the details and sources, so here you go!

Kitchen Source List

Hood | Pendant Light | Paint | Backsplash | Hardware | Counter Top | Cabinets | Oven | Faucet 

And a few thoughts on the whole sha bang…. First, if you’re local – our counter tops were a great deal, from Stone City – great guys in downtown Raleigh. Super fast and their pricing was just over $50 per square ft installed including a sink. At the big box you’re looking at over $70…

Cabinets warrant an entire additional post 🙂 Overall though, we really like our cabinets! We DIYed the install this time which was much more affordable. We used Cliq Studios (an online retailer).

My all time favorite GE appliances are still cafe, but we saved a bunch doing profile this time. All the functionalities and features are the same – just don’t get the industrial style handles.

Our paint color is Benjamin Moore Pale Oak – we have that throughout most of the downstairs.

I love our little octagon hardware too – such a cute detail!

Faux_Marble_Counter_Tops

Price breakdown:

  • Appliances: $3,890
  • Counter: $1,590
  • Backsplash: $220
  • Faucet: $70
  • Hardware: $125
  • Vent Hood: $189
  • Cabinets: $6,143

If you’d like to work with me to design a kitchen for your home, contact me! 🙂 For $75 I’ll source the whole sha-bang and pick out every last detail so y’all can just get to cooking 🙂 Or get to eating, I prefer the eating part myself 😉

LGI Logo

Dining Room Built-Ins

I love my husband for 1001 reasons – he is literally the best human and I’m forever indebted to him for all he’s done (and continues to do, you better bet that honey do list aint complete) for our family.

So these built-ins y’all. These built-ins are pushing him to the 101/100 level cause they are sweet as sugar and I’m totally obsessed.

Built_In_Bookcase_Dining_Room

We’ve had some practice in this arena with the other houses (like this, and this, and this), but we’ve definitely had learning experiences as we’ve gone along and I do feel like these turned out much better than some of our other attempts. Practices makes perfect, I guess! 😉

If I could hand a few silver nuggets on how to make builts ins look sublime this would be it:

  • Sand the hello dolly out of them (in between every paint coat – sand, too)
  • Add extra pieces of trim to the shelves to beef up the front and make it look chunkier (big difference between our first built-ins here, 4 years ago, and these ones!)
  • Always add crown – gives it the zinggggg 🙂

Builtin_Bookcase_Styling

We had a counter and cabinets in here before, so we knew we needed to order some to match when we renovated our kitchen a few months back. Although it definitely added to the cost to have a professional style base cabinet (vs the pre-fab options we’ve used in the past from Home Depot stock cabinets) but I think it provides continuity and a uniform look. Since these two rooms (our dining and kitchen) are connected to each other and in the same visual plain, it seemed important to have a streamlined look between the two spaces.

I had lots of fun styling the bookcases – and finally using some of the decorations and picture frames that we’ve had stored in closets for a year +

Bookcase_Styling_Inexpensive

Jay insisted on adding a beer opener, and fridge, hehe. We had a wine fridge here in the old design, which apparently, does not get cold enough for beer 😉

Bottle_Opener_Wall_Mounted

Another favorite new addition is this dining light. which I got on sale for $270 (which is still steeeeepp, but I do love it!). I wanted something classic and understated in this room, and this light fits the bill. We started out with a chandelier I found on craigslist (which you can see here) and it was too low (and people kept hitting their heads on it), so after a year I updated to this light and I love it.

Drum_Chandelier_Dining_Room

Another view. Smitten!

I love the brass detail on it and I think it adds some warmth to the space as well.

Oblong_Drum_Chandelier_Dining_Room

We also added in a kitchen for Mr. H in our dining room. Keeps him busy “cooking” for us while we make dinner each night! This was a $25 craigslist find that we painted navy for him and gift to him this Christmas. So far the paint is holding up fine (we just spray painted it…)

Pottery_Barn_Kitchen_DIY

Right now the bookcase looks a smidge bare, but I figure in a few months we will add to it with thrift store knick knacks and family photos.

DIY_Built_In_Bookcase

This is the before of the dining room – I love the white – it makes the space feel so much more open and bright!

Dining Room with Built in

And the full shot view once more, for comparison:

Built_In_Bookcase_Dining_Room