Going AWOL

I always like the give my blog posts a purpose and value for the reader. This post isn’t going to be about interior trend recommendations, or nifty DIY tips. It’s not going to be a search engine optimized blog post, with a healthy dose of Pinterest Pins to accompany the traffic driving techniques. Instead it’s a status update and a state of mind address, and a moment for you to pause and think about what you really need right now.

We’ve been busy living a double life for the past couple of months. Spending half our time in the Twin Cities working from home and barely scratching the surface of everything that needs doing in a 3000+ sqft house. And the other half of our time has been spent in Northern Minnesota renovating a small condo ready to turn it into our first investment property. A dream come true for me.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to invest in property, whether renovating and converting warehouses into loft style apartments, or owning a farmstead barn wedding business slash livery yard slash tea room slash farm shop slash B&B… (Dreaming up ideas has never been one of my weaknesses!) I’ve known this has been my passion and my calling for a long time. This July, during the middle of a global pandemic, financial crisis and while being temporary laid off from my job, we did it. We bought our first investment property.

Life has understandably gotten a bit hectic as of late. And we’re doing all we can to keep on top of it, and even enjoy it. But it’s also important to realize what you must drop in times like these and give yourself some grace. For me that was blogging (and fitness unfortunately).

I’m an impatient and highly goal driven person, and when I set myself goals in my blogging business and real estate business I want to achieve them, yesterday. But sometimes you need to realize that you can’t do it all at once and sometimes you need to slow down and focus, and not feel guilty doing it. For me right now, it’s doing a good job at work and getting our real estate business off the ground successfully. The rest needs to take a back seat, for a little while anyway.

Whatever you’re facing at the moment, whether that be struggles trying to juggle childcare, home schooling and a full time job. Struggles staying social and engaged with others on a multitude of Zoom calls. We’re all facing struggles of some sort, and it’s important to give yourself some grace and go AWOL on a few things to lessen the load.

Image courtesy of four4soaring.com

Having a property up North to escape to for us has been a blessing in disguise. It’s been the change of scenery we needed in the monotony of emails, Zooms, Facetimes and conversations with out pets, that we now call “WFH – working from home”. While renovating our investment property, we may be living like students with paper plates, camping chairs and an air mattress, but sometimes simplifying your life can be liberating and make you realize that you don’t need all the things you thought you needed. Taking a moment to slow down once in a while, look around you, and appreciate the here and now can be just what you need.

The view right outside our investment property – not a bad workplace location!

How can you simplify your life? What can you go AWOL on for a while? What do you need right now? Comment below, I’d love to know.

Thanks for reading.

Jo

Budget Kitchen Makeover Tips

Kitchens can be expensive rooms to makeover, trust me, I’ve been there recently. So how do you makeover a kitchen on a budget? Is it even possible? The answer is, “it depends”. Let me walk you through some deciding factors as to how cheap or how expensive your kitchen makeover is going to be.

Kitchen makeover by Rustic Country Chic
Kitchen makeover – Rustic Country Chic

Does the Layout Work?

The first thing to ask yourself, and be careful how you answer as this could save you a LOT of money, is “Am I happy with the layout of the existing kitchen?” If you answered “yes” then congratulations! You just saved yourself a lot of money, mess and time!

If your existing kitchen layout does work for you, then you have a couple of options to save money:

  1. Paint the cabinets
  2. Reface the cabinets
  3. Redo the countertops

Paint Your Existing Cabinets

The cheapest way to makeover your kitchen on a budget is to paint your kitchen cabinets. Note, I didn’t say the “quickest” way or the “best” way, but definitely the cheapest way. Painting kitchen cabinets is not for the faint-hearted, or impatient (like me!) But it can look amazing with the right techniques, proper prep and care taken.

Painted kitchen cabinets - In My Own Style
Painted kitchen cabinets – In My Own Style

Check out some of these great tips from other bloggers:

Reface Your Existing Cabinets

If you don’t like the shape or design of the existing cabinet doors, or just don’t have the time or patience to paint them, then another budget friendly option for you would be to reface the cabinets with new doors. This is where you swap the old doors out for new, but keep the existing layout of the kitchen. Jenny from Refresh Living does a great job of talking you through the whole process from start to finish and the end result looks amazing!

Redo the Countertops

There are lots of ways to redo countertops. From painting them, to tiling them, replacing them with poured concrete, or the traditional way of replacing them for an upgraded material like granite or quartz. Hometalk does a great job of offering you 13 Ways to Transform Your Countertops Without Replacing Them. These are all great budget friendly options that cost just a few $100, however they will take more time and skill.

DIY marble countertop - Refresh Living
DIY marble countertop – Refresh Living

If you don’t mind splashing out, my recommendation would be to replace them for quartz if you can afford it. It’s hard wearing, stain resistant, scratch resistant and will last for years. To make it more affordable try looking for remnants that will fit your space, remnants can start as low as $40 per linear foot, so if you have a smaller kitchen it can really give the wow factor for around $1500-2500.

If the answer was “no” to “Am I happy with the layout of the existing kitchen?” then I’m sorry, read on…

Re-Purpose Old Cabinets

If you are lucky enough to know the source of your existing cabinets, then you could save money by re-purposing your existing cabinets and changing the layout of them, or adding more. You’ll have to do some investigation into what new stock cabinets you could buy to match your existing cabinets. However if you really can’t find any new ones that match, you could combine this option with the refacing option above, that way you could re-use the cabinet boxes (the frames without doors) and save some money by just buying new doors. Or even cheaper, re-purpose the existing doors, and new doors by adding trim over them so they match. Brooke from Cribbs Style did exactly that with her MDF kitchen doors, and the end result looks amazing. This is something I’ve also tried in our downstairs bathroom and can confidently say it’s cheap, quick and easy and the results are amazing!

Custom end panels on kitchen cabinets Thrifty Decor Chick
Custom end panels to existing kitchen cabinets – Thrifty Decor Chick

You can add smaller details to existing kitchen cabinets to make them look more custom too. Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick did an amazing job finishing the ends of her cabinets here and island here. With just a few pieces of wood and some paint, the end result looks so much better and more high-end.

Another way to get a high-end look with existing cabinets, is to extend the wall cabinets right the way to the ceiling. Lori from The Stonybrook House does a great job here showing you every step of her kitchen transformation. Laura from Inspiration for Moms also has a great tutorial for how to add height with trim here. This is a great way to achieve a high-end look from a budget kitchen makeover.

The Last Resort – New Kitchen Cabinets

If you’ve exhausted all options above, and you’re tired, busy, don’t know how to swing a hammer etc, then perhaps your only option is to get new kitchen cabinets, but it doesn’t have to cost $10,000’s. There are some tips for finding budget friendly kitchen cabinets, the first is to stay away from custom anything. The cheapest way to get new kitchen cabinets is to by stock cabinets. These are the ready-to-go cabinets from your local DIY store. The options are limited, and you may need to paint them yourself, but they will be cheaper than semi-custom or custom options.

IKEA Veddinge
IKEA Veddinge kitchen

A great place to find well-made cheaper kitchen cabinets is IKEA. They start out very affordably, and can run quite expensive, so to save money stick to the cheaper ranges like the Haggeby or the Veddinge but you can make them feel more expensive with quartz countertops, remnants of course, and upgraded handles. We’re actually going down this route ourselves currently in our new vacation rental property. We chose Oland White cabinets by Klearvue Cabinetry from Menards, which is very similar to the IKEA Veddinge, and upgraded it with white quartz countertops and modern pull handles. Follow our journey on Instagram to see the progress.

I hope this helped guide you through the daunting task of deciding which route to go down on your kitchen remodel. We’ve lived this decision process for the past couple of years with our own home kitchen remodel and now our vacation rental. And both times we opted for new cabinets, and new everything. For reference our vacation rental will cost around less than $5k all in. Even though it is a small space, there are ways to do a kitchen makeover on a budget with new cabinets by shopping around and saving in some places and splashing out in others.

Thanks for reading!

Jo

Please Pin It!

De-clutter and Restyle Your Home

Firstly I owe you an apology for my lateness. If there’s one thing you can be guaranteed of with me it’s that I take too much on, and I’m always late. I owed you Week 9 – De-clutter and Restyle of my Quarantine DIY Home Projects two weeks ago. I hope it’s worth the wait.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have seen that my husband and I bought our first investment property at the end of July – The Hygge Suite. We couldn’t be happier! It’s a one bedroom condo on a beautiful lake in northern Minnesota, and more importantly, it’s the first step on a path to becoming real estate investors and not just homeowners. However it also came at the same time as my return to full time work, and the tail-end of finishing our bathroom renovation. So things have been a little hectic these past few weeks, as we realize every day how much STUFF you need to set up a vacation rental!

So I will apologize for the lateness of the final two installments of the Quarantine DIY Home Projects, but I’ll hopefully make up for it by bringing you more content on how we set up our vacation rental business and how we completed a full renovation of a tired northern cabin into a modern Scandinavian retreat. Deal!?

Great! Now we’ve got the grovelling out of the way, let’s take a look at this week’s Quarantine DIY Home Projects – De-clutter and Restyle. A pretty broad topic, but another low / zero cost way to instantly make your room feel and look better.

House Doctoring

If you’re reading this and you’re British, like me, you may remember a TV show back in the late 90’s early 00’s called House Doctor with Anne Maurice a Californian Real Estate Stylist. If you don’t, then you’ve definitely missed out on a huge piece of TV gold! The popularity of the show led to the terms “house doctoring”, “curb appeal” and “de-clutter” to be common household terms in British homes. Her mantra was to de-clutter, de-personalize, then add back in some tasteful personality that we know today as home staging. This show had a profound impact on me personally and ever since I’ve styled my homes in this way to make them more sale-able.

scandinavian room interior with mockup photo frame and vase
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Now I’m not going to make this article all about painting your walls off-white and removing all personal belongings. That might be great for selling your home, but what if you actually want to live there? Having personal belongings and trinkets out is a must to make a home feel like a home, but you can and should be careful about how many and what you place on display. But where to start? Here are some tips to get you going.

1. Tidy Up

A great many of us have now been working from home, or at least in our homes more than we’ve ever been before, and that means one thing – messiness! Even if you’re the tidiest person ever, I’m probably betting that you’ve created at least some more mess than usual. So a great place to start would be tidying up.

If you’re like me and find yourself walking around from room to room in a daze getting distracted and overwhelmed when trying to tidy, read this from Apartment Therapy on 3 Tidying-Up Tricks Everyone Needs to Know Right Now for some solid tidying up tips. (She says while grabbing her laundry basket for all the crap…)

2. Sort

While tidying, you may find things that you no longer need or want, so instead of putting them back on the shelf, toss them to one side to sell or donate. For this task, you’ll probably need to dig a little deeper than surface level mess. What about the dreaded junk drawer? Or (shudder) the closet? You could go all Marie Kondo and throw all your clothes onto the bed to sort through them, throwing any that don’t ‘spark joy’.

anonymous black girl lying on stack of clothes in bedroom
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

However if that prospect scares you (yes!!) then at least skim the closet and donate anything you haven’t worn for at least a year. The same rings true with home furnishings. Trends change, and don’t tend to come back into fashion for a number of years. So instead of hoarding old decor in the cupboard ‘just in case’, donate it or sell it. With all the money you make from selling them, you could invest in some new updated decor!

3. Re-purpose

Not everything that you don’t want anymore needs to be sold or donated. What about re-using? Or re-purposing? Maybe that antique mahogany table would look great painted white? Or the floral armchair re-covered in a clean crisp white linen? Get creative! There are literally thousands of DIY hacks out there to inspire you, just try searching Pinterest!

Image Courtesy of Kendra Dare Home

A great DIY hack, and also a great de-cluttering hack is this one from Kendra Dare Home about Nooks and Crannies. Here she re-purposed an old media cabinet to become a tasteful and practical storage cupboard for all her mud room needs, and added tonnes of personality in a seemingly unsuspecting corner of her home.

4. If in doubt… baskets

If you’re not a naturally tidy person (like me), then the answer every time is baskets! Baskets come in all shapes and sizes and are super stylish for an array of different interior styles from bohemian to farmhouse. Toss children’s toys and games in there, dog toys, newspapers, magazines, whatever you have lying around that constitutes clutter. With a basket you can least hide the clutter and make it look somewhat disguised.

For my pick of the best baskets on Amazon here are a few to choose from. Please Pin It!

  1. BlueMake Woven Seagrass Belly Basket
  2. Goodpick 2pack Jute Hanging Basket
  3. Storage Basket Felt Storage Bin Collapsible & Convenient Box Organizer
  4. Sweetzer & Orange Large Woven Cotton Rope Storage Basket
  5. Extra Large Woven Storage Basket
  6. Spectrum Diversified Vintage Extra Large Cabinet & Wall-Mounted Basket
  7. Large Woven Rope Basket
  8. LUFOFOX Cotton Woven Storage Baskets

Thanks for reading!

Jo

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