I really can't believe its been a year since we closed on our house and started renovating. On the one hand the time has really flown by, and on the other it feels like we've lived here a decade. The first few months were such a struggle. We remodeled every square foot of this house so we really couldn't unpack anything for months. We worked from room to room with chaos everywhere. I definitely wouldn't recommend this strategy for everyone, but we were able to save a lot of money and invest into our home without going into debt.
The room that absolutely took the longest and most work was the kitchen/dining room area. Aside from being the most time consuming and literally taking everything out (including walls!) and starting from scratch, some of our cabinets were on backorder and took an additional 6 months to arrive due to covid. We finally got the remaining cabinets in September (that we ordered in February) and everything is installed. We still have a few finishing touches left to do, like a backsplash (which I need help from you guys picking out!) But first, keep scrolling to see the before and afters!
Tada! We took out the big wall separating the front room from the kitchen to open up the space, and I love how bright and open it is. Plus the peninsula adds sooo much countertop and storage space. It feels so much bigger now! We also removed the wall to the right entrance to make the hallway to the bedrooms wider. We gutted the old 70's cabinets and countertops and completely replaced everything. As far as what we had our contractor do, it was a lot more than what we had him do for other rooms in the house:
- remove the walls
- install cabinets
- install countertops
- install sink and create plumbing for garbage disposal
- update electric
- cut/add recessed lighting to kitchen and living room
- install appliances
As far as the work B and I did, we removed old flooring (two levels of it :/), laid new flooring and baseboards, painted, and updated hardware.
We really wanted a simple, European style kitchen. We both loved the glossy white cabinets, and these were actually difficult to find. Americans are far more interested in the shaker wood cabinets. For the cabinets and countertops, our contractor hooked us up with a killer deal at a wholesale warehouse. It was the complete opposite of fancy and organized (and quite a nightmare), but these wholesalers are the ones supplying material to the fancy kitchen design businesses, so we cut out the middleman and markup. It was way cheaper than even Ikea! It was well worth the headache. For our quartz countertops, we paid roughly $40/sq ft for material and installation, when the average is anywhere between $75-200/sq ft! The old kitchen only had countertops on either side of the sink. I don't even quite know what to do with all of this peninsula countertop space now!
All of our appliances were bought secondhand through Offerup. We bought the Kitchenaid dishwasher and oven/microwave wall combo together from someone who was replacing a kitchen in an investment property. They were about 6 years old but barely used. We got the dishwasher AND oven/microwave combo for $900 all together. For reference, a Kitchenaid oven/microwave wall unit alone starts at $3500 new!
I really had my heart set on having a separate cook top from the oven, and naturally this is way more expensive than a stove/oven combo. The electric cook top is Ikea but we actually found it for $150 cheaper new on eBay!
The dining table and chairs are Ikea, and the countertop stools are Wayfair (all new). I was searching so long for a big black wall mirror but they are so expensive, I don't even understand why?? This one got listed on Offerup $40 and I had B drive me that night to go pick it up.
Something else that is surprisingly expensive? Doors! I wanted a modern, European door with the three rectangular windows down the middle, but those are thousands of dollars. What? This one was $300 from Home Depot and originally white, so I just used some leftover matte black paint to make it a little more edgy.
Fun fact - the gas company guy told us there was actually a market for those super old (&dangerous&expensive) wall heaters (the one in the above before picture that is in the wall we removed). We listed it on Facebook Marketplace as vintage and sold it pretty quick! We invested in central air for the house and if you had asked me last month when the California temps were 116F, I would tell you that was by far our best investment in this house. I have no idea how anyone lived in this house for the past 70 years without central air conditioning.
We even had some left over quartz to add to the little window opening between the kitchen and the living room.
Something to think about when designing a kitchen - white is nice and open and all until you have to clean it! Our old house had brown countertops and honestly I just liked being ignorant about how dirty my kitchen was. White does NOT lie and shows every single drop of whatever you spilled. I am constantly wiping and cleaning. Going back I would've looked for countertops that had more gray in them haha.
Products We Bought
Here is where I need your help! What type of backsplash should we go with? I've added pics of my top three ideas below. Black herringbone, white subway tiles w/black grout, or a silver to break up the black and white?? Comment below and let me know what you think would look best! I'll share the results on IG @fancyfreeblog next week!
It is really amazing the stuff people will donate. I have found designer clothing brand new with tags, and sometimes people will tell me "ugh my thrift stores never have stuff like that". The area where a thrift store is located can have an impact on the inventory they have, but I travel a lot and been to MANY thrift stores. With persistence you can find amazing pieces even at the smallest thrift stores in less prosperous areas.
I would say on average I am in a thrift store 5 out of 7 days a week. I list new pieces every day, so it is important for me to always have new inventory. In years of reselling I have definitely found a groove with sourcing and shopping thrift stores. If you're reselling or shopping for yourself, I've come up with some shopping tips I follow to get my hands on the best, cheapest inventory!
Shop Earlier In The Week
In my experience, I find the racks are fuller and more "just in" clothing is being brought from the back Monday-Wednesday than other days of the week. People are organizing and donating their items when they have time, which is usually on the weekends.
Check Clothing With Missing Brand tags
A lot of clothing at thrift stores have the brand tags removed, probably because the previous owner found them uncomfortable. If the item looks/feel high quality but is missing the brand tag, check the interior side tag that includes the materials. There will be an RN number you can search to find the brand name.
Ask about weekly specials
Many thrift stores have weekly specials (ie color tags of the week, military discounts, student discounts, etc) so make sure to ask or get a calendar so you can see when some items are cheaper or when you may qualify for a discount. Many of my Goodwills will have the occasional weekend special where all clothing is $2, so I will ask the cashier if they know of one coming up.
CHeck the just in rack right away
Whenever a store brings out a rack of clothing straight from the back, I always beeline straight there. These items are new to the floor and have never been picked through, and this is honestly where I find so much of my inventory.
identify the tagging system
Many thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army have a color tagging system where throughout one day all the inventory will be tagged one certain color (to be used in the previously mentioned color tag specials) When I am looking at a just in rack I will take note of the color, and then look for big bunches of this color tag on the other racks. These are probably new items from the day the employees have just put away.
Sign Up for the email list or follow the store on social media
Especially lately with the influx of donations, a lot of my thrift stores have been having random sales to get inventory moving. They usually share these sales through an email or on social media.
Check all sizes and departments
It's not so important for me and reselling, but for people who are buying for themselves a lot of thrift stores will *try* to keep the store in order by size. However things get moved around and misplaced so much I wouldn't rely on it. As well, I find a lot of higher end women's jeans in the mens section, and surprisingly I find Lululemon in the kids sections. If you have the time, look through all the departments!
Check End Caps and fitting room return racks
Pre-covid I would always check the go back racks out side of the fitting rooms. People have already done the work of searching the rack for goodies, it just didn't fit for them. Now that fitting rooms are closed, I always check the end caps of racks, especially those by mirrors. People are holding them up and inspecting them here, and leaving behind the ones they change their minds on.
If you have some insider thrift knowledge of your own you would like to share, leave a comment down below!
A LOT of time has passed since I last shared some updates on our home remodel. Since we were completely gutting and renovating the whole house, we were in the middle of a lot of projects across a couple rooms when covid hit. For some of our projects we had hired outside help, so that had to be put on pause. And with everything being so up in the air, we wanted to save as much money as possible just in case. Now that things are starting to get back to normal a bit in California we have been getting back to work. The room that is for the most part done (aside from being more decorated) is our living room, which really needed not much work compared to other rooms in the house. Keep scrolling to see the before and after!
This room was all us. We scraped wall paper, painted, put in new floors/baseboards, and upgraded the fixtures. I think the most noticeable change is the window behind the couch being closed up. The windows in this room were very old and inefficient. As well, the area behind the couch is where we moved out the wall to expand the bathroom (if you haven't seen our bathroom transformation you can check that out HERE) so instead of replacing it with a smaller window we decided to just close it up. The existing window we had replaced with a much more efficient upgrade.
The only new furniture we bought was the two piece coffee table, which we got from Ikea (HERE). The white couch is also Ikea, but not new. We got it barely used off Facebook Marketplace for $300! The tv console used to belong to my parents, and the green rolling cart is actually a family antique. My grandparents bought it in Korea in the 70s!
Most of the decor are knick knacks I picked up at thrift stores. I'm super proud of the rug, I also found it on Facebook Marketplace! I only paid $50 for it, and managed to squeeze this 9x12 ft rug into the back of a crossover suv all on my own! These rugs are regularly $300 so I couldn't pass it up. The one piece I did buy new for the room is the fake fiddle leaf fig tree. Many I found were pricey, but this one was only about $70!
These have been our coffee table books for years. The Mercedes Benz book was my husbands from Germany, and the Vogue is special to me because I bought it when I was in Paris back in 2011 (the trip where I met my now husband). I love the coasters I bought off Amazon, they have a marble design and are leather so they hold up really well. Plus they have over 1200 reviews and almost 5 stars!
As far as what we are working on now, our goal is to get this old toolshed off the living room transitioned into a bathroom (with shower!) by Thanksgiving. The door to this bathroom is next to the TV. If you look at the old pictures of the living room, the door into this bathroom had a bookshelf attached to it, so it didn't look like a door at all. There was actually a door to the backyard/outside that we closed up behind the toilet.
As far as the room I am most excited to share, the kitchen, we should be getting that room wrapped up very soon! We ordered our cabinets back in February, but one *single* cabinet was on backorder and was supposed to arrive by April. Due to covid, it got pushed back until August and there was actually a lot our contractor couldn't build because of this one cabinet. But now that we have the cabinet our guy is coming back in to finish the kitchen very soon! I'll be sharing that hopefully at the end of this month :D
Live for luxury? No trust fund, no problem!
Join the fancy free journey as we seek the
finer things in life, sans millions.
- Marie Claire, September 2016