Monday, April 14, 2014

Saving Money Monday: Week 1

So this may come as a surprise to many of you, but Chris and I aren't millionaires... or rich... or even upper middle class...  We're somewhere between "Yay we have money in savings!" and "who wants Top Raman for the 3rd time this week?"

That being said, we DO have some pretty darn nice stuff and costly renovations that we have paid for, but never, ever, EVER at full price!  So, I thought I would share some secrets that Chris and I live by to get our projects, renos, home decor, furniture, and even clothes/toys for Brooks at a fraction for what they cost in normal retail without sacrificing quality!

Since we have MANY different ways we save money (thousands/hundreds of dollars sometimes) I figured I would break it down in a series called Saving Money Monday's and have a new tip or trick for you every week!

This week is my latest money saving obessesion:
Buying Discounted Gift Cards 
Honestly, this one sounds a LOT sketchier than it really is.  I'm sure you have all heard of those websites where you can cash in your unused gift cards for a percentage of cash via Paypal (ie. Cardpool.com, GiftCardBin.com, PlasticJungle.com, etc).  I've even used their services a couple times to get rid off cards I've had in my wallet for more than 6 months, but I never thought about BUYING giftcards off those sites until just recently.

Take our most recently bathroom remodel:  Chris and I preprice EVERYTHING we are about to do so we know exactly how much to save (also adding 15% for overages) and how much we are going to be spending from each retailer (ie. how much at Home Depot vs. a supply warehouse vs. a plummer).  After totaling everything up, we determined we were going to spend a bit over $500 at Home Depot for the needed equipment for walls, plumming, faucets, shower kits, etc.  Once we had our number, I headed off to GiftCardGranny.com
The whole reason I prefer this site over others is because it automatically goes through all the other gift card sites and shows you what site can offer you the best discount for the amount you are looking for.
 On the day we looked up our needed amount (keep in mind, their availablity changes daily) we found a combination of cards on GiftCardBin.com for $502 for only $447
I know 11% or $55 may not SOUND like a lot, but if someone offered you $55 for nothing, would you take it? Yea, I think so.  That's a dinner out! Or drinks with friends! Or a cute new summer dress!

Let me give you on more example that saved us over $110 for a new car seat for Brooks.

Being a mother, you always want the best/most safe/"I want to secure my child in bubble wrap" when it comes to car seats.  The latest and greatest one I had been swooning over is the Chicco Nextfit.
I was thrilled with the ratings and reviews but the $280 price tag was still a bit daunting.  Low and behold, I check out my gift card site and see that Bed Bath and Beyond (a division of Buy Buy Baby) are 15% off!!  I brought over $350 worth in gift cards (to account for tax and for any extra additions I wanted to buy while picking up the carseat (ie. wipes, teethers, etc)) and scored some pretty awesome savings: OVER $55!!!
 
15% plus 20% off from a Bed Bath and Beyond/Buy Buy Baby coupon, we are paying $168.94 for a brand new $279 car seat. 

$111.05?! Hell yea!

This may not work for everything (ie. impulse purchases) but if you are doing a project in advance or KNOW that you are going to have a big purchase coming up, I HIGHLY recommend you check out how much you can save by using discounted gift cards.   School supplies, clothes, pet food (our pups eat a lot), any way you can can save I say DO IT!  You will be amazed at how quickly your savings can add up!

Hope this helps!  Try it out and let me know what you think!

-Samm

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pimping out the bathroom

So let's review... yes, the bathroom looks amazing (all "after" pictures can been seen here) but as wonderful as it all looked, it hasnt been very functional... mostly because I was refusing to "move-in" to it. (I had this awkward fear that it wasn't really MY bathroom and that I was going to ruin some nice stranger's drawer space by putting my makeup away and a towel rack up).  But alas, after using the tiny hall bath for a week longer than I needed too, Chris finally threatened me with divorce if I didn't start enjoying the fruits of his labor. However, to really make it more homey and "mine"/"ours", we still needed some little things that actually make a big difference.

Like floor mats.
 As quick as I can make decisions about knocking down walls and picking out travertine tile patterns, you think this step would have been easier for me.  It wasn't.  I seriously spent 2 days trying to pick out a floor mat color and even had to Facetime with relatives to get their opinion.  I wish I was joking.

First there was a bluish-turquoise color.
I like how it brought some color into the space but was worried it brought your eye down to look at the color instead of up to see how pretty the space was.

Next was just a classic white.
white towel place holder
 But with 2 dogs, a baby, and two adults who are less than stellar at remembering to wipe their feet, I worried that this option would get dirty within minutes and leave the bathroom looking gross.

Next was a light brown.
 Not bad... but the entire bathroom is pretty much light brown and was a little too monotonous for me.

I kid you not, I went to Bed Bath and Beyond 6 times in one weekend... SIX TIMES.  I even bought stuff, returned it, then bought it again.  All hail the Queen of Indecisiveness!

Finally after a trip to HomeGoods, I kinda fell in love with some frames.
And whatdya know?  They just happen to match the color of the bluish mat.
Plus, the frames would look awesome in the bathroom especially with a little splish-splash boy.
After finally making a decision and sticking with blue, you think the towel hunt would be somewhat easy.  Again, no. 

I don't know if you knew this, but there are roughly 18,000 different shades of blue and none of the right ones are carried at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, HomeGoods, TJMaxx, Pottery Barn, or Tuesday Morning.

You know where they ARE carried?  Costco.
I dont know why they look so light in this picture, but they're not
 I had nothing but a picture to compare, I took them home to check.  And  they were pretty darn close to right on.
Sorry all these pictures are vertical.  Blogger is refusing to rotate my pictures for some reason.
Now, we have a floor mat, we have towels... unfortunately we have no place to hang them.

We are thinking of doing a hand towel on the wall near Chris's sink.
And probably another one on the wall near my sink.
But for the larger, bath ones, we are kinda stumped.  We were thinking maybe across from the tub on the wall next to the built in, but  you would have to reach awfully far and then everything gets wet.
Or maybe back where we were going to put the small towels near my side of the vanity?  Maybe one high and one low?  Would that look to cramped?
The frames will either go on this wall...
 Or behind the toilet...
 Except I'm sure guys don't want to be starring at my baby in a bathtub while going #1.

I dont know... what do you guys think about the towel delema?  All comments are welcome!

Thanks!
P.S- Please tell me you like the blue... I dont think the people at Bed Bath and Beyond want to see me anymore.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bathroom remodel... before and after

I hope you're ready... because your mind is about to be blown.

Welcome to our new bathroom:

 Brighter, nicer, and more spacious than before, Chris and I love it!!

Before giving you the full walk through, let's remember where we started:
 Yep... Sad, sad, sad.  I remembered when we moved into this house, I wanted the bathroom to be the first project since there were just a couple things that I wanted to change: the seashell sink, brown/super old grout, peptobismol tile, a single vanity, the world's most boring white shower, bad drainage, and a shower head that hit me right at boob level.

After nearly 3 years in this house, I am flabergasted that this is now OUR bathroom.
After toying around with a couple different colors for the shower curtain, we decided to keep it crisp and white to avoid it all looking "too much".  I pinned an image on Pinterest YEARS ago that had a double curtain and I remember LOVING it since it makes it look more like drapery than a boring ol' shower curtain.  I also love how it frames all the tilework in the shower and really makes it the focal point of the room (the shower curtains are Hookless brand in "white" XL length in case anyone was curious.  Found at your local Bed Bath and Beyond)

When you walk in, you get a good look at our new double vanity with marble top.
 Before going into too much detail about how AWESOME it is to have two sinks in a bathroom (the smallest victories sometimes mean the most), I want to show you our new room in the bathroom. (aka my old office closet)
 If you turn the corner a little more, you will see the new built-in.
 With an S***-ton of storage!
Shelves! GLORIOUS SHELVES!
 For only taking up 20" of wall space, the amount of extra storage it give us is priceless.  I plan to put towels on the lower open shelves and medicine/bathroom knick-knacks higher up so little fingers can't reach.  A security lock will probably go on this when the time comes too (just call me "Safety Mom")

Directly across from the new built in is our pretty new toilet.
 I am obsessed with the molding around it and the fact that we got it "comfort height" since Chris and I are both giants and really need a taller "throne".

Oh and if you are wondering where the door to the closet went on the other side, dont worry, you can't even tell it was even there.
 Back to the vanity... (loving eyes)...sigh...
 Starting at the top and working our way down, your eyes are drawn up to our awesome Restoration Hardware pendants.
 The Edison bulbs give off a warm light which I think really helps the room from feeling too stark.

Next, our awesome faucets.... because honestly, who doesnt like playing with these.
Pfister Ashfield 4 in. Single-Handle Low-Arc Bathroom Faucet in Nickel  as found here
 Here's an action shot:
Boom.  Water.
Regrading vanities, for as long as this project has been in mind, I have been lusting over this Pottery Barn one:
link here
However, since we don't have money to burn, or $2,700 in our budget, we decided on this nearly identical one for less than half the Pottery Barn cost.
link here
It also scored bonus points for being 7" longer than the PB one, especially since I need every square inch of bathroom space I can claim.

Did I mention it also had a TON of storage?
 Each area under the sink opens up AND has an extra storage drawer underneath it.
 The middle has 3 big drawers as well (mine... all mine!!!)
 The bottom drawer has my favorite secret though... see that wire coming from the back?
 Yea that's our hidden bathroom outlet with surge protector!  This way I can have all my hair dyers, straighters, curling irons, etc in one drawer without having to drag everything out, plug it in, and leave it a mess... everything just goes in the drawer which I get all but nearly shut while Im getting ready!
I do have more than 2 haircare products but these guys had already moved in
 Finally, we turn our attention to the shower. The uber tall, wonderful shower.
 Chris worked EXTREMELY hard on these shelves and to say that we love them is a bit of an understatement
 No more rack hanging from the shower head, no more gross bathtub corners with soap scum.  Everyone has a home.

And here's a view of our new shower head. 
 Yep, thats the height it is with me standing in the shower, looking up and taking this picture... its about 7.5ft up there. A-MAZ-ING...
 
So there you have it... our new bathroom.
It seems appropriate that Brooks was actually the first one to tub in the new shower.  And yes, he loves it too.

If you want to go back and look at the whole remodeling process, here's a link to yesterday's post: HERE

Next step is decorating this baby.  What do you guys think for bath mats and such?  Chris and I were debating between a nice light turquoise-y blue/green or a dark brown.  Maybe even a white?  We would love your feedback!!

-Samm

P.S- Again, another shout out to my AMAZING husband who took this bathroom down to the studs and rebuilt everything within two weeks!  Hunny, you are truly a DIY Rockstar and remodel extraordinaire.  Thank you so much for making me (and B) (and maybe you) this awesome new bathroom.  Between the kitchen and our new bathroom spa, you have really put our stamp on our casa.  So glad I can be by your side while we make this house our home.  LOVE YOU!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bathroom Remodel - it's happening

Actually, it's happenED.  We are pretty much DONE with this bathroom remodel but I wanted to show off all the "during" pictures that it took to get to the final product.

FINAL pictures will be posted tomorrow!!!
(UPDATE: you can now see the "afters" by clicking HERE)

First, let me start off by apologizing for not keeping everyone up to date with pictures as this whole process went down.  Or even letting you know we were going to be starting this remodel. Full-time work + baby + little to no help = zero time in the day for anything minus a glass of water, handful of almonds, and a few hours of sleep (side note: best diet ever).

If you remember from our kitchen remodel, we had planned on remodeling our bathroom A YEAR AGO shortly after we finished our kitchen.  Hahaha, silly us. With being preggo and the happy arrival of Brooks Bailey, remodeling got pushed back a bit until we had the means, money, and time.  Insert March 17th (aka. bathroom D-day).

To refresh your memory, here is what our bathroom looked like before the remodel.
Actually this is a picture of how it looked when we were buying our house (read: clean).  You will notice the size (tiny), age (beyond dated), peptobismol pink flooring, and (my personal favorite) the seashell shaped sink (God-Almighty why did that ever become a "thing"?).  For a family of 3, this just wasnt going to cut it for us.  With the floor tile and backsplash we used in the kitchen, plus some other travertine tile we got at the auction (as remembered here), we decided to update, knock down some walls, and make something a bit more our style.

This is what we had in mind:
As Im sure you notice, its this is not a rectangle like our bathroom was originally laid out.  See that area to the left?  Yea, that actually the CLOSET from my office.  It was really just hoarding jackets and work samples and since our bathroom was SO SMALL, we decided to knock down the wall and make it part of the bathroom.

Cleaning it out was crazy but definitely made you feel how large that closet area was (or at least large for us).
we removed the closet bar to really get an idea of the full size
When it actually came down to it, Chris and I decided it would be best to get me and Brooks out of town since a 6 month baby isnt much help on a construction site (...lazy...).  So the majority of these pictures came from Chris's phone and what I was seeing 1,000 miles away in Arizona while visiting my parents.

First, that AWFUL vanity was taken away!
 Then the real demo began...
Goodbye forever pink tile!



taking down the wall to the closet!

 
After everything was striped away, we brought in our friend/plumber, Dan who helped us move the toilet to the closet, update our pipes, move up our shower head, and generally make sure everything looked ok.

 Regarding moving everything, we are INCREDIBLY lucky to have a house with a pier and beam foundation.  That means there is about a 24" crawl space underneath the house which makes moving drains and pipes SO much easier than a slab foundation which we would have had to break into.
 See that white pipe in the bottom left?
 Yep... our new poop-pipe out to the sewer.
 
 We also had to split the water and drainage for our vanity since we were changing from a single to a double.

 
 Here's a fun example of Chris in that crawl space I was talking about:
doesnt he look comfy!
 As usual, the dogs were a big help.
 Next step was reinforcing the floor with new joists and subfloor.
You can also see the whole in the wall that used to be the door to the closet!
 
 
 The next day was electrical... we moved the switch over to the other side of the door!! And Chris loved crawling around in the attic to get everything figured out... just ask him.
 Meanwhile, we FaceTimed often and I loved seeing all the progress.
Did I mention there was a lot of electrical?  Because for some reason this house had been wired 18 different times and about 20 different ways so it took a little longer than usual to get everything sorted out. 
 Happy to say everything is safe and to code!
 Chris's dad was also over everyday helping out.
 We couldnt have done this project without him!  Thanks Mike!


 
 In the shower, since we were tearing it all down anyway, we decided to include a shelving area for shampoos, soaps and what not.  Here's the initial outline.
 Up next was new dry wall and cement board to keep it mildew and mold free for years to come.
 
Meanwhile, while all that was going on, we got to take Brooks to a evening Spring Training game
My mom is a sucker for B, especially now that he's not so breaakable
 Back at the house, with the drywall in, tiling could finally commence.  We had 18" large travertine tiles, mixed with the hexagon tile backsplash from our kitchen, and the 3x6 travertine pavers from our kitchen floor.
 
 Notice anything missing in the above picture?  YEP! The 1980's glass block window is gone! We decided that since we were adding can lights and werent just relying on the vanity light and this little window anymore, that we could probably get rid of it.  Best. Decision. Ever.

Taking a cue from some other bathroom projects we've seen, we also decided to have different layers with different tiles in the shower.  This way, it draws your eyes up, up, up! (which is uber important in such a tiny space)
 When Chris originally sent me this picture, I was nervous.  The travertine pavers on the top looked more grey than the brownish tones we had going with the other travertine pieces.    However, Chris told me to remember once everything was grouted and sanded, it would look a lot more cohesive and a bit browner like our kitchen floors...seen here:
 Worry aside, Mike began tiling the floor.

No more doorway to my office either!
 The tub?  Looking awesome
 We also had the same guy who made our kitchen cabinets make our built ins for the bathroom.  He made them out of a paint-grade wood but Chris and I saved a couple hundred bucks by painting them ourselves.
 Here's our cabinet guy, Shannon, installing everything.
 Did I mention he also installs crown molding?  I think this just may have saved Chris's sanity.
 In addition to the can lighting we put in the bathroom (3 to be exact: one in the middle of the ceiling, one in the shower, and one above the toilet) we thought some cute hanging pendent lights would look cute above our future mirrors.

Behold, my favorite splurge of this remodel, Restoration Hardware pendant lights with an Edison Bulb.
can be found online here
 They are their "Clear Glass Boulangerie Filament Pendants" and at $99, they were only a few dollars more than some other Home Depot ones we also liked, so it kinda seemed like a no-brainer for us.
With the floors all finished, we even enlisted the help of our friends to assist with some finishing touches.
Thanks Blake!
 After painting, (our color is Restoration Hardware's "Ash" which we had color matched at Home Depot) we put in some pretty base boards to make the whole thing fancy.
 Some last steps were adding our new shower head set and trying not too drool every time we took a step back to see our work.
 Last little touches were finding a shower curtain.  To keep things from getting too busy, we thought a plain colored one would be our best bet.
 And of course, I brought the world's cutest shopper.
If this picture doesnt make you go "awww", you have no soul.
 After putting up the shower curtain, Chris and I nearly shared a cry when we saw our finished product.  Its seriously beautiful.

I canNOT wait to show you the final pictures tomorrow. It will blow your mind.  All in all, from start to finish, it took us 13 days to complete.  Not too bad for doing everything ourselves!!

Have you guys done any spring project yet?  Have any questions about our process? (all of those will be directed to Chris since I have no clue).

See ya tomorrow!
-Samm