Being a home design blogger has its perks; it's fun sharing DIY projects and room reveals with readers.. But to keep it real, the ongoing desire to add & update has taken its toll on my reserve fund. Thank goodness for companies like The Home Depot and Para Paints who contributed tools and paint for my recent dining room and living room updates. I recently sat down and looked at my financials, and as it turns out, mortgage payments, condo fees, property taxes and insurance are eating into the decorating budget.
Am I the only one feeling the pinch? I read a ton of design blogs, and I've come to the conclusion that at least half of those bloggers have a money tree growing in the backyard. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about how much it costs to put a room together? Am I missing something? Is everyone else rich?
These are the straight up facts: I'm a single gal with an average income. I own a 2 bedroom condo in a good location in Toronto's west end. I drive a tiny Honda. I get my hair cut twice a year. I buy whichever shampoo is on sale. I don't wear makeup. I rarely purchase new clothes or shoes. I haven't bought a new purse (my addiction!) in almost a year. I don't drink alcohol. I don't smoke. I don't eat at fancy restaurants. My last vacation was in the fall of 2012. All that being said, when I finally decide to splurge on something, it's with much consideration and thought.
Here's how I've been maintaining appearances up to this point: Kijiji, thrift stores, estate sales, and friends in the business. It's the bargains that allow me to indulge on rare occasions. I can count on one hand the number of splurge "investments" I've made since moving into the new condo in late 2012. Here's my high ticket roundup:
- Splurge Item #1 Vintage Persian Rug, Living Room: At just under $1000 it was a splurge in my book, but the dealer's price was more than fair for this one of a kind, hand knotted 7' x 10' wool rug. I spent a full year searching before I invested in 'The One':
- Splurge Item #3 Custom Drapes, Master & Guest Bedrooms: I tried my best to save some money here, but finding hardware and curtains to fit the 9 foot ceilings wasn't something I could do on the cheap. I wanted drapes in a creamy neutral fabric, with a heavy lining to block early morning light and add weight, plus an inverted pleat was a must. The drapes for both rooms were custom made through a friend at Parallele Interiors, and they set me back about $2500.
- Splurge Item #4 Crystal Doorknobs, Throughout: I hated the generic lever door handles that came with the condo, so eventually I replaced all of the interior handles with Diamond Crystal knobs from Emtek. It started with two knobs found at the Elte warehouse sale. The third I purchased at Ginger's using a gift card won on Vanessa's blog. The final four knobs were purchased wholesale through a friend in the business. All in all I spent about 450 bucks making the swap, which technically makes these crystal beauties both a save and a splurge.
With the exception of the few items listed above, almost all other significant home decor purchases were made with a strict budget in mind. Remember, it's the bargains that make those splurges possible. Please indulge me while I revisit some of my favourite finds.
- Bargain Item #1: Campaign Storage & TV Unit, Living Room: With a few coats of paint and a poly topcoat, this $100 Value Village score became the focal point of my living room. Best bargain score ever!
- Bargain Item #2 Faux Bamboo Bedside Tables, Guest Room: Discovering a pair of Thomasville side tables on Kijiji was an awesome New Year's Eve find. Just $100? Yes please, and thank you!! They are the pride & joy of my guest bedroom. Side note: the pair of vintage lily lamps in the guest bedroom were also a bargain, found at an antique shop for about 60 dollars.
- Bargain Item #3: Vintage Table & Chairs, Dining Room: After searching for the perfect round glass & chrome table for more than a year, this dining set popped up on Kijiji this past January. I paid $150, and at the end of the day I came out ahead after selling my previous dining table and chairs.
- Bargain Item #4: Glass Chandelier, Dining Room. There aren't too many things that get me out of bed at 6 am on a weekend, with the exception of a juicy Saturday morning estate sale. If you really want a specific item, it's best to line up at least an hour before the sale opens. This gorgeous chandy was worth the early rise - a steal at $325.
- Bargain #5: Faux Bamboo Desk Chair, Study. It's been more than two years since I found a set of 3 bamboo chairs on Kijiji. Since I only needed one of the chairs, my friend Tim scored the other two. (You must check out Tim's set, he had them sprayed black and upholstered in navy blue ostrich). My bargain price? 60 bucks.
Having a strict budget means finding cheap labour, and I can't beat my own rate of zero dollars per hour. Over the last few years I've taken on quite a few DIY projects - I've painted walls and furniture, installed mouldings, sewn my own pillow shams & accent cushions and recovered chair seats. It feels good to be able to say "I did that", with the added bonus of knowing that I saved a few bucks at the same time.
So tell me, how do you keep it all in balance? How do you manage the budget while creating a home that you love? Where do you splurge & save? Do you have a money tree?