Landscaping Cheater

I hate landscaping.  Seriously.  Hate.  …but I love the look of a well taken care of yard and flower beds.  Our landscaping had a TON of weeds and had been neglected, even by us this first year while we concentrated on the inside of the house.  I did some research on what we could do to minimize our time landscaping in the hot TN Summer.  We decided on pine needle mulch.  It comes in bales for $3.50 each at the Home Depot with about a dozen mini-bales inside.  We used 26 bales to mulch the entire property {less than $100 to landscape the entire property, including a new side yard area you will see below}.

What you may notice are some of the things still on the list…the post that needs replacing, a decision on whether to trim away the ivy or let it repair itself up the banisters and add some lighting.

I couldn’t decide if I was going to let the ivy stay or get rid of it.  I just tossed a bunch of pine needles on it to see how it reacted to the acidity of the needles.

Everything is lush and needs to be trimmed…one step at a time.

The side yard before…

I took out a stone walkway in the backyard that had sunk mostly into the ground.  There were quite a few stones so I used them to make this stone wall.

About the mulch…

It was so super easy to lay and has a ton of other benefits:

1. Expense

It was very inexpensive per bale and each bale covered a lot of area once you fluffed it out and filled in spaces.  It was also awesome to be able to pick up the bales right at the Home Depot and not have to use a truck to get mulch loads.

2. Termites

It actually keeps the termites away and here in TN that is a plus.

3.  Ease of Application

I used some landscape gloves and distributed all 26 bales myself in a matter of about an hour.  All I had to do was spread it around, no landscape cloth needed.  HUGE time and back saver.

4.  Acid Benefits

The acid in the pine needles help to kill those darn weeds so I didn’t need to weed first.  It will also keep the weeds away plus the acid will actually help certain plants thrive and improve your soil overall.  Did you know that regular mulch actually creates the perfect place for weeds to grow?

5. Stays in place

It doesn’t wash or blow away like regular mulch does.  It also stays loose and fluffy over time plus losses its color a lot slower than colored mulch.  You will also have to do less maintenance on the pine needle mulch overall since it decinigrates slower.

After having the mulch for one month: It is slowly compacting itself down a little better and making a block for those weeds.  So far, the weeds have been cut down by 95%.  I have only had to spray a few.  I think if I laid it a little thicker then I wouldn’t have to spray at all.  Serious weed control.  I also noticed after a few storms that it really does stay in place.  It has also started making a nice solid edge between flower bed with mulch and grass.  I am in love!

admin - Thank you for your encouragement!! It has been a blessing…both the pine straw and TN. I love hearing from neighbors and we hope to make a trip to Alabama soon too!!

Miss Kitty - I live in Alabama with similar weather conditions to Tennessee and I love me some pine straw as a landscape filler too! A new batch of pine straw about once a year makes a huge difference in how the yard looks. It does compact over time but you can easily fluff it up again with a rake. When it does start looking sun-bleached, I just add a few bales on top of the good base (like you have) to brighten it up. I love what you have done with your yard especially the low wall you built with stones from the back yard…that sounds like a real job!

Another Amazing Cottage Getaway

You may remember my dream cottage getaway that I had last summer with my high school best friends.  Well we got to do it again this summer but decided to try Jane’s {the very lovely cottage owner} other cottage rental on Clear Water Lake in Annandale, MN.  It was just as amazing!!!!  It was slightly smaller, a little more rustic, and slightly less $$, but like I said… still AMAZING!!!  It felt like we were on the east coast.  Very “nantuckety”!  I’m so excited to share it with you today!!!

Here is the front of the cottage…a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e

Here is the entry way, kitchen and darling dining nook…

Here is the cozy living room where we spent many hours catching up with one another.

This hall leads to the bedrooms that comfortably sleep 6 people.  The 4 of us girls once again decided to sleep in the bunk room so we could all be together and lay in bed and chat:)

These great interior windows look into the master bedroom.

And here are the bunks that made us feel like kids again!!!

We also spent a ton of time out on the screen porch.  The weather was perfect so one of the nights we decided to stay in and have a dinner of snacks out here.  It was also the perfect place to cozy up with our coffee in the morning.

This annual get together has been a godsend to us.  We come from all over the globe to reconnect and spend precious time with each other.  It seems to get harder and harder each year to carve out time for each other but we continue to make it a priority.  We have been friends 25+ years and we look forward to so many more years of friendship ahead of us!

I’m super excited to visit this cottage again in August with my husband and 3 boys.  As I sat here writing this post, I showed my youngest the photos so he could see where we will be staying.  His exact words were, “It looks kinda too cute for us”.  Maybe for you little boy, but not for mom!

If you would like to get more information on renting this cottage, please contact Jane either by phone (320)250-0675) or e-mail


Kim’s Master Bedroom Revealed

The last piece of the flooring puzzle was my bedroom.  We ran out of flooring because we changed a few ideas from when we ordered our first batch of flooring and when we were installing.  We decided to go ahead with extending the new floor into the entry and all closets, which left us a Master Bedroom short.  Then we were on a wait list for more.  Then it came and it was different than the first batch.  Isn’t this all fun?!

Here is the BEFORE…

The floor is in and here is where we are today…

This room was a Benjamin Moore color I got from the reuse room…free and a full gallon.  I painted the cove using the same paint but added white to it to make it a shade lighter.  Otherwise, it’s the same furniture and the same decor, so no money spent there.  The only thing we did differently is we took our dresser and split it into two halves.  This dresser is actually two naval ship dressers stacked on top of each other.  My grandfather was in the Navy his whole life and got to take items from his ship they retired.  He was crafty like this.  I am wearing one of his spoon rings right now and have a ton of his photos hanging in my house.  Redo furniture, make jewelry, photography…sound familiar?  Anyways, Brant made another top for the other half and now we have end tables instead of one dresser.

As you know, a room is never really finished.  I have plans.  This house has taken so long and so much effort to get it up to a blank slate that I have not had a lot of time to design and create.  I am looking forward to posting about changing things up, adding new and tweaking it to my style.  So much more to come and so much is already done and ready to share. Stay tuned!

Bedding & Lamps: Target

Pillow Shams {white}: TJMAXX

Drapes: IKEA

Stupid Light

Yep, it’s still here.  I have run through a million ideas to change this light, to reuse it, to replace it, etc.  But here it hangs.  If I could spend whatever I wanted on a new light the decision would be easier but large sized lighting is expensive.  Since we are on a budget, we have been trying to figure out what to do without breaking the bank.

In the background is my new tennis racket sunburst.  They sat in a box in my room forever.  Once we did the floor in my room, I was forced to go through the extra boxes and was reminded of these cool rackets.  I thought I may be over the vintage stuff but I just plain love the vintage and chippy.  I especially love mixing old and new.

Here are some ideas we thought of:

-Antlers or driftwood

-Paint Stir Sticks painted

-Glass Ball Jars

-A mesh basket…like a lobster basket and Edison light bulb

-Painting the entire old fixture white

So this is not a before and after post…it’s a stuck-in-the-middle post.  I’ll update as soon as I have something new in its place!

admin - Great idea! I am in love with those Edison bulbs so I think they have to be incorporated somehow. Thank you for sharing!!

admin - That is too funny! I hope I didn’t offend anyone with the same light. It just isn’t my style and it seems like there is a way to bring it up to today’s style. I’ll be attacking it soon. I’ve been talking about it long enough!!

admin - You are amazing…thank you so much for all those great ideas. Stay tuned…I may just have to attack it now!!

liz - OMG — I have the same stupid light and am also stuck as to what to replace it with. Lowes did have an iron sphere light which I liked but not DH, so back to square one. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!!!!

Donna Rogstad - I suggest you remove the glass, probably break it out. Then spray paint the chandelier what ever color you want and put the old fashioned Edison bulbs in it. I did this on a smaller one for our cabin to hang in the stairway. You would not believe how different it looks!
Can’t wait to see what you decide to do.

Christy’s Dining Room MakeOver

A little while back I share my client’s stairwell and office makeover with you.  Today I’m excited to share with you their dining room transformation!  A little recap on my client Christy’s style… traditional with a contemporary flair.

Here is a before shot.

And here is the after!!!

In the dining room we replaced the chandelier and sconces above the fireplace.  Christy loves accenting with red, but wanted to give the walls a fresher brighter feel so we went with Benjamin Moore, Kentucky Haze.

We also had all of the millwork, windows, and wood blinds painted.  My painter, Caleb from Premium Painters, did an amazing job!!!

Here are 2 before pictures of the fireplace (this is just a decorative feature in the room).

And here is the after!

I chose a small 1×2 brick jointed Carrera Marble for the new tile.

This really gave it a fresh yet traditional feel.

We also switched out the brass candelabra sconces with new slightly more contemporary bronze pair.

I added some fun new decor to the mantle using red  for some great pops of color.  The mercury glass accents really add some an so

Christy found a beautiful painted buffet on Craigslist that fit the space between the windows perfectly.

We decided that this mirror from Ballard would help soften the overall feel of the room.

//Dinning Source Guide//

Wall color-  Benjamin Moore, Kentucky Haze

Trim Color- Benjamin Moore, White Dove

Area Rug-  Pottery Barn, Eva Persian Style Rug

Chandelier- Lighting Direct

Sconces-  Lighting Direct

Fireplace tile-  Kate Lo Tile  1×2 brick mos polished marble Olympia – milky way white

Mirror- Ballard Design

Dining centerpiece, buffet decor, mantle decor- TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Marshalls

Hope you enjoyed this makeover today!


Kim’s Pallet Couch

We have a small patio in the backyard.  I love it and want to hang out on it.  We have never had patio furniture, or a need for any so we have none.  I love the look and cost of a pallet couch so we picked up a bunch of pallets and made one.  What’s great is that it is cheap or free for the pallets and you can configure it any way you wish.  What isn’t great about it is what no one tells you…there is no cushion that size and making or ordering them costs a fortune!  We have researched a million sites.  We need outdoor foam and outdoor fabric.  Even making them ourselves will be close to $500 when all is said and done…and what a pain!  To order them custom made is even more.  So this is how our couch looks right now…

Any suggestions?  We thought about all the different ways to get cushions…like using dog beds or something creative like this.  Nothing is even close to the size we need and nothing for outdoor use.  We thought about putting a wood plank over the top and just having back cushions {which we found at Home Goods} but even the wood is expensive and we don’t want to spend on that if it is only a temporary solution.  Let’s brainstorm…

admin - Such a great idea! I have to get going on finding the answer and posting it…BEFORE the Summer is gone!!

Thank you!

admin - Great idea!! I’m heading out to measure right now! I can’t wait to actually SIT on my couch!!

Meggan - I’ve seen people use twin mattresses and putting waterproof covers on them. You could find free ones on Craigslist and since they would be covered, it wouldn’t be so skeevy ;) Just the cost of waterproof covers and sunbrella pillows!

liz - I am sure you have thought of this already, but have you tried crib mattresses? They are covered in vinyl, so already waterproof. Even the vinyl pads from playpens might work – I see them all of the time in children’s consignment shops. Also, table pads come in all sizes and are vinyl covered, you might find them on Craigslist or Goodwill. I also thought pallet seating was a great idea – but never figured on the expense of cushions!

Kim’s Main Bath Makeover

The first thing we noticed about the house in general were all the spots where mold had grown.  One of the spots we ripped out ASAP was the cabinet in this Main Floor Bathroom.  The sink drain leaked at some point and mold had made its place inside the cabinet.  If we were going to rip out the cabinet, then we might as well rip out the peel-and-stick floor too.  This was a speed renovation!

BEFORE . . .

Step 1:

Rip out everything in the room.

{free labor}

Step 2:

Spraypaint light fixture a bright and crisp semi-gloss white.  I ONLY use Rustoleum {Painter’s Touch} spraypaint.  I have tried them all and this is the best kind for coverage and spray. In these photos, I had already done this so you can’t see that the original fixture was a gold finish.

{$4 for 1 can Painter’s Touch White}

Step 3:

Patch wall holes then Painted the walls/ceiling grey and painted the window/door/trim enamel white.

{free paint from the reuse room that I picked up before we left MN}

I LOVE this tool.  It saved me hours of taping.  I used it for edging, tight spaces, etc.  When using it, remember to go back and smooth out the outer edge, even if you plan to roller it right after.  It collects a pool line of paint from pressing the tool down and if it dries that way, you will see it forever.

Step 4:

Soaked and washed the blinds in laundry detergent in the tub.  I’d like to get plantation blinds throughout the house, like our new neighbors.  They are beautiful but pricy so it will have to wait a bit.

{free labor}

Step 5:

Brant laid a new tile floor

{$75 tiles, $25 black grout, $9 Durock}

{the lovely tape door keeps the kids and dog from walking on the floor while drying overnight}

Step 6:

Brant added new trim plus caulked around the top {$20}

Step 6:

Added new pedestal sink {$100} and faucet {$35}

Step 7:

Added mirror {I already owned this but I got it at Home Goods for $30}, added the LAKE sign that was made by my dear friend Amy in MN, added all other items from what I had.  The garbage can was bought at IKEA before we left MN for $4.

Total Renovation: $272

admin - Thank you! It has been so fun to see what we can do for so little. It’s extra satisfying!

admin - Thank you! The tile is from Home Depot and I thought the taps as well but I don’t see them online. If we didn’t get them at Home Depot then we got them at Lowe’s.
If you are doing a bathroom improvement project of your open, please share photos! We would love to see them.

Sam O - Love the choice of tile and the towel basket is such a great idea. Can you tell me who makes and where you bought the taps?

Miss Kitty - Wow! What a great renovation for SUCH a small amount of money! Your ‘free labor’ was a real money-saver and you chose really classy looks for a budget price like that faucet and pedestal sink. Thanks for sharing your tips like the type of spray paint you use, etc.

Kim’s Living Room Progress

Living Room BEFORE {this is the MLS photo}:

{below is Linx in the Living Room after patching holes}

This is a snap of the Living Room right after the flooring got put down.  There is a lot of design work to be done in this room but this is where we landed so far with the hodgepodge of stuff I had on hand.  I had visions of 2 loveseats facing each other with the coffee table inbetween but there is really nowhere else for the piano to go but this room so we will keep the couch and chair for now.

~As you can see, the lamps on the mantle need extension cords as the cords are going over the blinds.  I love the warm light they give off there at night so either they will stay in the final design or something else will go in there as far as lighting but I like having light available in that spot.

~I need some cool mantle project for in here…maybe white wood planking, pallet wood plank wall, wallpaper…I don’t know yet.

~I’ll have a whole post about the coffee table we made…coming soon.

~I am not lovin’ the rug but it is all I had on hand and Jones loves it so I’ll leave it until I get to spend some real decorating time in here.

~I am thinking of adding some drapery to the outsides of the windows {on the outside of the windows, closest to the walls}.

~I am dreaming of wood stump side tables.  We can make that, right?

~Wall with the sunburst mirror…borrrring!

~How to make the piano attractive…I’m not quite sure.

~Maybe add framing around the tv so it isn’t such an eye sore in a soon-to-be pretty room.

So far, the room cost paint only.  We needed 2 cans of Valspar paint + primer, POLAR STAR in an Eggshell finish for the walls and ceiling + one can of Painter’s Touch white gloss spray paint for the ceiling fan.  We used more of our white gloss to freshen up the trim and crown molding.

Living Room Makeover:

2 Gallons Paint from Lowes {$30 each plus discount coupon}: $45

1 can spray paint: $3

Total Living Room Makeover: $48

Running total for the house. . .

Main Bath: $272

New Window in the Kitchen: $137.50

Kitchen Lighting: $180

Kitchen Cabinet Makeover: $97

Master Bath: $86

Curb Appeal: $45

Office Chair Makeover $11

Painted Staircase: $7

Living Room: $48

Total Spent so far: $883.50