Today I’m sharing about one of my favorite finds, which became one of my favorite little projects, of all time—this cabinet door turned coatrack/key holder!
A couple of years ago, we were out to eat with my family at a sweet place called The Local. Everything on their menu consists of locally sourced and often organic produce and meat. You can always count on places like this to have some sweet décor, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s simple, but classic and trendy all at the same time. I noticed that their coat hangers by the door were simply hooks mounted on old cabinet doors. I was determined to copy this look at home for a much needed space by our front door to hang coats and keys.
I had some old cabinet doors in my basement (ones that actually came from our kitchen cabinets), but they didn’t have much character. I decided to keep my eye out for one, or even just a piece of wood with great character, and if I didn’t find one, I’d settle for one of the doors we already had. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—I’m a big believer in working with what you have.
Wouldn’t you know it…not long after, my husband and I went for a walk around town one summer Saturday. We came across an estate sale, and even though we didn’t have any money on us, we decided to stop in. We wandered around in the house and had fun looking, but didn’t see anything we had to have. On our way out, we meandered through the backyard. Amongst lawn furniture and tools, we found one old, random cabinet door. It was perfect—painted white over layers of green and black, which could be seen where the paint was chipping on the sides, with just the right balance of vintage imperfection and sturdiness. I wouldn’t have to do anything to it to get the look I wanted!
The door wasn’t marked with a price, so we tracked down the owner and asked how much he would like for it. He replied, “I’ll give YOU $4.00 to take it off my hands.” Right answer, sir.
With a free cabinet door in our possession, all we needed were some hooks to complete our shabby chic coat/key hanger. All of the hooks came from Hobby Lobby and were 50% off, for a total of around $10.00. I spray painted the cross white, and that was the most effort I had to put into the whole project, because my dad actually screwed the hooks onto the door. I’m still learning to be handy with stuff like that. I have the ideas, but the carrying out of the ideas often depends on my husband or my dad.
So there you have it! It’s one of my favorite things in our house, and it is also one of the things for which we get the most compliments and questions. I love telling people I got that door for free!
Before you start judging me for writing a Christmas post on January 6, let me just say that a) being the 12th Day of Christmas, yesterday was the last official day of Christmas, so I really only missed it by a hair! b) I wrote this post on December 10, in plenty of time for Christmas, but our computer charger died, we didn’t buy a new one until a few days before Christmas, and I was having too much fun to sit down and work on my blog! c) In my opinion, we all need a little leftover Christmas to get us through the month of January. Plus, you all Pin Christmas stuff throughout the year–I’ve seen you!–so, you’re welcome!
This is, in part, a story about our cheap, beloved Christmas decor.
I actually get nervous to post pictures of our house on my blog. I LOVE our house, but nothing steals your confidence or joy faster than comparison! Compared to some of the blogs I follow, my house and decor is nothing to write home about. BUT, I share because I hope it inspires and entertains you, nonetheless, and to remind you that your home is a reflection of your own personality and interests. Everything in my house has a story, and that helps tell our story!
We’re a frugal bunch–both out of necessity and a desire to live simply. SO, if you’re looking for decorating inspiration from a real person who decorates on a dime, you’ve come to the right place. I’m a big believer in working with what you have, adding to your collection a little at a time, and using elements with real character. Our Christmas collection has only had three and half years to build, but I love it. I’ve both gotten rid of some stuff and added some stuff along the way. I mean, how many Christmas decorations does one actually need, anyway?
Our first Christmas was spent in our apartment in South Bend. We actually had more money then than we do this Christmas for decorations, but we bought everything at the dollar store and the dollar spot at Target, except for our little three-foot tree, which we bought for $12 at the shop where I would end up having a booth space later on. We had two red, felt stockings that we hung with string from our bookcase; a box of miniature red, silver, and white ornaments and a strand of lights for our little tree; a few vintage Christmas cards that I also hung with string; a glittery, silver star for the top of our tree; and a small vase filled with red and green berry-looking things (ok, I lied…the berry-looking things were from The Christmas Tree Store).
Tony and I started a tradition on our first Christmas to give each other an ornament each year, but no other gifts. We didn’t have any ornaments, except for the box of nine miniature ornaments I bought from Target, and we figured it would be something unique, thoughtful, and inexpensive we could give each other. We felt like we would be able to put more money toward gifts for others and for giving to those in need if we kept it simple in our own little family. This is our fourth Christmas exchanging ornaments, and we’re sticking with it!
Since our first two Christmases were in apartments, we didn’t really have space for a big tree, let alone space to store one all year. Last year was our first Christmas in our very own house, so we celebrated by going out on Thanksgiving weekend and getting ourselves an artificial 6-foot tree, on sale, for less than $30! I wanted our tree to have a theme or a color scheme, so we kept our sweet, little tree, and the ornaments that we buy each other each year go exclusively on that tree. At some point, our ornaments will outgrow the little tree and we’ll have to figure something else out, but it works for now!
I went for neutral colors on our big tree last year and this year, with just a hint of red. It’s nothing close to a flocked Christmas tree, but I added a little bit of a “snow” to it by dabbing white acrylic paint and sprinkling very fine glitter on the branches. It’s just a simple, cheap way to “spruce” up your tree…see what I did there?
I made ornaments with a package of clear, glass ornaments from Hobby Lobby (Note: Buy them when they’re half off or with a 40% coupon from the website. This year I was able to find them even cheaper at Michael’s.) and shredded pages from an old Bible that I got (for free!) at a flea market. I made a lot of these for my booth this year, and I was nearly out before November was over. I also had a lot of these little skeleton key reproductions laying around, leftover from bookmarks and jewelry I made to sell in my booth, so I figured I would use those up, as well. I used whatever ribbon, string, and twine I had on hand (and I do always have that stuff on hand. So useful for hanging banners and gift wrapping and such!). I used a couple of spools of wide burlap ribbon for garland (again, these are a great deal at Hobby Lobby if you have a coupon or if you wait until they’re 50% off). I bought the star and crown ornaments for $1 each at an after-Christmas sale last year. All the other ornaments on this tree were gifts from my mom and mother-in-law. We still have that glittery, silver star tree-topper from our first dollar store Christmas!
The tree “skirt” is simply a square yard of fabric from Hobby Lobby. I can’t sew, and I also couldn’t find a tree skirt cheap enough that I loved. I really wanted something frilly and lacy and French-inspired, but my mom talked me into this red and white chevron pattern while we were out shopping. It’s just cute. Everyone needs a little bit of red in their Christmas decor, and who doesn’t love chevron?
My grandmother made these ceramic Santa Clauses in the ’80s, and guess what? I still love them. They adorned the fireplace mantel in my parents’ house ever year when I was growing up. They just remind me of home and great Christmas memories, and I’m still really impressed that my Maw-Maw made these.
I also have a small collection of old books that I use year-round in my decor. It works out well for Christmastime that most of these books are green, but I’m on the lookout for some red books to add to the mix. Most of these books are from garage sales, flea markets, etc., but a few of them are special. I have a Girl Scout book that belonged to my mom, and a Boy Scout book that belonged to my dad–it even has his name on the front. My mom found this 1951 copy of The House at Pooh Corner at a garage sale, and I just adore it. I loved Winnie the Pooh growing up. Even then, I was way too interested in decorating. My room was decorated in Classic Pooh. Not Pooh, but Classic Pooh, and that’s the way I wanted it.
I’ve been in love with lanterns for several years, but I just have one, which I got at a garage sale. Again, they’re expensive, and I’m on the hunt for ones that I like at the right price! They’re so versatile–they’re beautiful with candles, or really any kind of seasonal decor with which you want to fill them year-round. My husband was kind enough to gather a whole bunch of pine cones for me to use in our Christmas decor. I was content to just buy a couple of bags of faux pine cones from Michael’s, but Tony’s even cheaper than I am! 🙂 I have several of these vintage metal/wire baskets, crates, and lockers that I’ve collected from flea markets and antique stores over the years, so I filled one up that wasn’t being used with some garland and pine cones, and draped a green, plaid scarf that my husband doesn’t wear anymore over the side. Ironically enough, I bought the scarf for him as a Christmas gift before we were married. I’d love to fill a crate with greenery and birch logs for the porch next year! In case you’re wondering, I use the other crates for organizing books and food–not in the same crate ;). I have some of those collapsible cloth organizing bins, too, but these just have so much more character. When I can find them cheap, I snatch them up!
I don’t have a ton of outdoor decorations–partly because we don’t have electricity outside for lights–but I think simple, pretty decorations make a great statement. My sister was getting rid of these cute little trees in a garage sale, and when I asked her about them, she was kind enough to give them to me. The wreath matches the garland in the wire crate, and–get ready for this–I got both of them and two other berry garlands for $4.50 from a local garage sale page on Facebook. Next year, I’m hoping to make a rustic sign that reads “peace” or “joy” (you know the ones…you’ve seen them all over Pinterest!) and maybe add some vintage ice skates, skis, or a sled to the mix!
There you have it, folks. A Christmas home tour with some stories and money-saving tips/inspiration thrown in. Merry Christmas! I hope you all have loving friends and family with which to spend the holiday, as well as a warm place to share and call home.
Oh, and happy bargain shopping! 😉
“But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door.”
My husband knew he wanted to plant a garden when we bought our house. A yard with space for a garden was probably the only reason he agreed to look at houses, in the first place. He kept asking, “Do you want me to plant a garden? Would you like that? Wouldn’t that be nice?” My answer was always along the lines of, “You can if you want to,” or “Yeah, I guess so.” I just can’t get into gardening. I wasn’t raised with gardening parents, I HATE bugs, I prefer to avoid dirt, heat, and allergens, I don’t really have the patience to wait for the results (especially after putting in that much work…I need immediate results!), and I’m cool with just buying my produce at the store or farmers’ market. Would you like me to tell you how I REALLY feel about it? 🙂 I’m happy that he likes gardening. I support his love for gardening. I appreciate his gardening. It’s just not really an activity that we do together.
We had a large tree cut down in our back yard (hence the large bare spot in the yard) that was a sap machine and was providing way too much shade where Tony wanted to plant the garden. The guy who cut down the tree was kind enough to run it through the wood chipper and give us all the chips, which Tony laid on top of the soil in the garden and in the raised beds. These keep weeds from growing and the soil nice and moist. As they break down, they also add organic matter back into the soil. Check out the Back to Eden link below for more info on why wood chips make all the difference.
I was more concerned with the landscaping around the house and yard. I pictured perfectly manicured green grass, all kinds of white and purple flowers, and an adorable brick walkway. My dream would be to hire someone to do the landscaping, but I would settle for my husband doing it; I would even be willing to help! 🙂 However, since my husband’s the one that does the outdoor work, he kind of has the upper hand on what actually happens, so the garden has taken precedence. Understandable.
He has worked diligently since last fall, preparing the soil, researching and reading gardening book after gardening book, planning a planting schedule, mapping out the plot, building fences and trellises, purchasing and planting seeds, etc. etc. It has become his favorite hobby (or obsession…let’s not mince words. That’s really what it is. It’s kind of become a way of life for him.) I can’t say I haven’t contributed at all. My contribution consisted of finding cute and interesting little gardening tips on Pinterest and sharing them with Tony. Yay! I did something! I’ve also contributed my banana peels to the compost bin.
When he started buying seeds to plant, he asked me what I wanted. Again, it’s not really my bag, so I didn’t totally mind what he planted, except for one thing: PUMPKINS. I’ve always wanted just a few wee pumpkins growing in my yard. Turns out the vines are insane and take over everything, but we’ll definitely have at least five pumpkins by the end of fall! Pumpkin patches are one of my favorite things in the whole world, so I wouldn’t mind if the entire garden consisted of pumpkins, like a mini pumpkin patch…but again, I don’t do the work ;). Maybe next year we’ll (and of course when I say we, you know what I really mean) do a variety of white pumpkins. This year we opted for Halloween pumpkins (that’s a real thing…who knew?).
I took the photos above in mid-September. It is now October 1st, and we have seven pumpkins, the ones in the photos are three times as large, and they are STILL growing and multiplying! The vines are also growing out the fence and into the neighbor’s yard. Oops.
I have enjoyed the fruits of his labor, and he certainly has, as well. He has done an amazing job. It has been extremely rewarding for him to have a successful garden, and he loves nothing more than showing people the garden and sharing the fruits and vegetables. He would much rather eat the lettuce he grew than eat a salad in a restaurant. He also loves sharing what he has learned. The man literally has a new gardening fact or tip for me every day. He has learned so much about God’s creation and how He provides and sustains us. And, we’ve both been able to learn about and enjoy the benefits of eating whole, organic foods.
All joking aside, I really am very proud of him and his garden. I’m writing a blog post about it, see? And, although I can’t offer much to inspire you in the gardening realm, Tony has a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to share. Below are some of his favorite resources and top recommendations:
We started house-hunting completely on accident. In late winter/early spring of 2013, I saw a “for sale” sign in front of an old brick house that I liked on a street that we often walk in town. It had a sweet little picket fence, big yard, and two-car detached garage. I had my husband text the realtor just to find out the listing price, JUST out of curiosity. We moved here from South Bend to be closer to family, and I was just curious as to how much houses were going for closer to Indy as opposed to Northern Indiana (where they are cheap, cheap, cheap). I think Tony was a little hesitant, knowing what it could lead to. We were really happy in our apartment and with our financial situation and goals, but a house was not part of that.
The price was really decent, so I then talked Tony into meeting with the realtor to take a look inside—again, just out of curiosity (really!). The house was actually terrible inside, to Tony’s great relief. I was a little disappointed, but I was glad that we took a look. I figured it would be good for us to look at houses when they interested us to get experience with house-hunting and to help us know what to look for further–much further–down the road when we were interested in buying a house.
However, I started doing some research on the realtor’s website and investigating available houses in town. At first it was fun and educational…then I found the PERFECT house, of course, and then it got real. I’m not sure how I thought I wouldn’t find something great with all that searching. I was obsessed with this adorable little house, and it was CHEAP. We had to jump at this. There was no way we were going to find another house like this for the price, and it would be cheaper to live there than in our apartment. It was an old home (all I’ve ever wanted!) with everything updated—new wiring, plumbing, brand new heating and air conditioning units, new Italian tile in the kitchen…sigh. Tony was willing to look at the house, but he wasn’t sold, A) because he still wasn’t sure we were ready for a house, and B) because it only had two bedrooms. One of his requirements for a house was that we have three bedrooms for a growing family. I agreed, but everything else about this house was perfect, so couldn’t we just overlook that teeny little thing? It had a front sunroom/entry way and a back room, currently serving as the laundry room; surely we could turn one of those into a bedroom if needed, right?
I had my parents join us to take a look at this one. I wanted my mom to back me up on how adorable and necessary it was, and I wanted my dad to double-check that there was nothing wrong with it. All four of us were in love—they agreed, we had to have it!
Well, I’ll spare you all the details, but it didn’t work out. Surprise! We made two extremely generous offers, but the owner wasn’t willing to negotiate and was, quite frankly, being unreasonable. It was really disappointing, but on principle and trusting God that there was something better out there, we walked away. Our realtor was determined to find us something better, and at that point, we were too! We were now completely sucked into house-hunting. We did a whole lot of praying and walk-throughs and decided that if we didn’t find something we absolutely loved by the end of April, we would give up and start again the following spring. Our lease was up in June, and we needed to know whether we would be renewing or not and have plenty of time to close on a house, should that be the case.
We walked through at least a dozen houses, and each one was a disappointment. On a Sunday afternoon towards the end of April, we had one final house to see. I only agreed to see it because my parents came with us again and my mom was the one who actually wanted to see this house. I had no interest. The pictures online just looked ok, I really didn’t like the outside, and it seemed a little pricey for only having two bedrooms. I was just over it and ready to start over next year. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were in town visiting, as well, so we had a whole parade with us (keep in mind, the only opinions that really mattered were Tony’s and mine, so I was also a little irritated with the overwhelming input of my family and our very talkative realtor). I told my mom, “If this house turns out to be awesome, which it won’t, I’ll be mad. Still, I don’t even want to look at it because I don’t want to run the risk of falling in love with a house that is out of our price range and only has two bedrooms.”
The realtor opened the door, and we all freaked out with excitement. It was everything and more that I’ve ever dreamed of in a house but never felt we would actually have. It was such a precious, little old house. I felt at home as soon as I stepped in. With every room, it just got better and better. The open layout, the dining room to entertain, the original 1920s crystal chandelier, the big white cabinets in the kitchen, the fireplace (recently converted to gas!), the hardwood floors, the fenced-in yard with space for a garden (the fence is made out of recycled wooden pallets by the way…hello!!!), the swing and arbor, the new beautiful deck, the French doors leading to the bedroom, and the best part—everything had been recently updated, including the plumbing, wiring, bathroom (brand new, beautiful tile shower!), roof, etc. etc.
Long story, short (too late for that, I guess), the owners were so great to work with, they accepted our first offer, and we got an amazing deal on the house. We even came in $10,000 under budget. We moved in just in time for our lease to be up on the apartment. Ever since, we’ve been doing DIY projects and making things our own. We just love working on our house, and thank God and the previous owners, the only things we have to work on are cosmetic. They bought the house from an elderly lady two years prior, who had lived here with her parents, and then her sister, and then eventually by herself. She moved out of the house in which she had spent nearly her whole life to live in a nursing home. The couple had spent those two years working hard on all the updates before deciding to sell and move to a house in the country.
Follow me on my journey as I continue to make this house our own! My goal is to make it feel like home to everyone who walks in the door. We pray over our house continually, that it will be filled with God’s spirit and love, and that we may be great hosts and servants to anyone who enters.
(This is the house, shortly after we moved in. I can’t wait until it gets warm enough to work outside again and to give you updates on all of our projects and improvements!)