The hugest endeavor that I’ve ever agreed to in my life was buying a crapshack and fixing it up for our family. Hubby has done almost 100% of the work himself. It’s been time consuming, money consuming, draining, stressful, but also very fun. Because I never would’ve realized how exciting it is to have a home that is truly MINE. Something I designed, chose from the floor up, and made exactly what I envisioned. Some of the choices we’ve made have not been so great and we’ll have to go back through when it’s all done and fix them. You don’t know until you’re living with something whether it’s really great or not.

Like today, I hate that our bathroom has a pedestal sink. I have so little storage in there and it’s just frustrating. But once the other bathroom is done and this bathroom is no longer the main bath, the pedestral sink will be perfect. Other things will need to be changed. I’ve already changed my mind on some paint colors. I would someday like to have our kitchen layout adjusted because the way it is now, it’s just long and narrow with cabinets and appliances on either side. I’d like a breakfast bar to break up that flow and make it more kitchen-y instead of feeling like we just plopped appliances in the middle of the house.

We’ve done this remodel, as I said before, on hubby’s pay. No credit cards, no loans. We were fortunate enough to have family that knows what we’re going through and have been nice enough to give cash or Home Depot giftcards for pretty much every occassion since we bought this place 18 months ago and that has, of course, helped also. Before Monkey was born in February and things were really rocky, my family chipped in and my dad even came over and started slapping up drywall and buying some materials to help us get things a bit more organized before baby arrived. So we’ve appreciated every ounce of help we’ve gotten. And I guess we can say hubby has done about 95% of the house himself.

How have we managed to turn a crapshack into a cute little spanish style cottage on a dime? We did a few things.

1. Hubby always bought materials when they were a great deal, whether we needed them at that moment or not. Summer 2006, he walked into Home Depot one day and they were discontinuing a line of windows and they were all 40% off. We were no where near ready to install windows but he scooped up more windows than our house needed for $800 and we’ve had them since to use as he’s gone through replacing in each room. And it’s been wonderful to have that stash of windows because it is one of the best things about this house that we have so much light now. It used to be dark and drab. Dark “wood” paneling and a few tiny windows and dark shag carpet. Yes, really.

2. Ebay and craigslist. We scored some smoking deals on ebay from a local seller who specializes in salvage home materials. We got a 4 panel exterior french door for $250. Brand new. Cost should’ve been about $4K. We scored nearly our entire new kitchen on ebay. White beaded board cottage-y cabinets for $700. New out of a showroom. Black granite countertop $225. Stove, ebay. Fridge, craigslist. Dishwasher, free. A neighbor bought a new construction and took out the builder grade appliances and upgraded and we got their dishwasher.

3. Thinking outside the box. Using materials not necessarily as they were intended. I got a box of bamboo flooring at a yardsale brand new that would normally run about $80 for $20. Hubby will be using his handy dandy table saw and making it into trim and baseboards for the bathroom. So instead of buying a bunch of trim at HD and spending $200 we just saved a ton of money and it will look unique and gorgeous. I hope.

I have a project I intend to do today. One of our kitchen cabinets is supposed to be used for a breakfast bar and have another cabinet butt up to it. But we don’t have it arranged that way (although I hope someday we will – it’s just not a priority right now). Which leaves a cabinet with no door or drawer exposed in my kitchen. Not very attractive. So I’ve decided to head out today and get some fabric and I’m going to make a cute little curtain to hang there. An inexpensive, creative, and hopefully attractive way to solve my problem.

I’ll post some pics when the project is complete.