Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Back

Today is the fall door link-up over at Southern Hospitality so I thought I would join in but instead of showing off the front of my door, which you can see in my sidebar, I decided to give you all the bait and switch and show you the back of my doors.

I told you that our old house we had a set of old-fashioned double doors so whenever I decorated them I always got 2 smaller sized items.  So this year when I unpacked the fall decoration box I realized I had all these doubles and I wanted to figure out a good place to put them to use.  It occurred to me that the back of our doors were just plain jane.  So I grabbed some 3M hooks and went to work.

Here's the back of the front door...

I like having something on the back of the door because I can see this from our office which is where I spend a lot of my time.  

So since I had 2 of these, which I picked up at the grocery store years ago for less than $15 each, I decided to hang the other one on the door that leads to our garage.

You see this one every time you go into the garage (duh - way to state the obvious) and also when you come in and out of the downstairs bathroom.  The little hallway where I am standing to take the picture is kinda small and blah so it's nice to have a little festivness at this end of the house.

The next picture is just a detail shot of the above decoration.  Just showing off the nice clear pictures I am getting with my new camera:)  Not blurry or fuzzy at all like the old camera.  Love it.

The last picture is of the front of the garage door.  Strangely this one makes me kinda happy whenever I pull into the garage.  It's like a little happy welcome home.  Maybe it's because everything surrounding the garage door is so white and dinged up and ugly that I appreciate the little bit of pretty.

Maybe I shouldn't leave you with this kinda icky picture.  Alright here's one of the front of the front door.

Does anyone else have any other non-traditional places they've hung their decorations?

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Simply Beautiful Fall Mantle

Since we still have moving boxes waiting to be unpacked I felt slightly guilty spending time decorating the mantle for fall.  For some reason I never feel guilty neglecting the laundry or the dishes to do a decorating project -hmmm.  Anyways, I made do with just a few items that were already unpacked and one new addition from the grocery store.  

Also, I felt I had to do something that was picture-worthy because I just bought a new camera.  It's a Canon EOS Rebel T3 12.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18-55mm IS II Lens and EOS HD Movie Mode (Black). I had been stalking cameras for a while and finally the other day after much prodding from my husband (yeah, sometimes he is an especially great guy) I just hit the order button.  I did a lot of research and price checking and like usual amazon had the best price in case you're interested.
So I am really excited and just wanted to take a few pictures before I really sit down and figure out all the new features.  Let me know what you think of the picture quality compared to my old pictures.  I can tell already just using the auto setting that things are clearer and easier to edit.  I can't wait to learn how to do all the complicated stuff with aperture and shutter speed.

Here's the mantle...

You'll recognize the seashell box from this post.  Although it's kinda summery I figured as long as my other elements were fall related it would be okay.  Besides they have fall at the seashore too.

Can you tell what the filler is?  They look like tiny little pumpkins but they are not.  I can't remember the name of what they are but anyways I have used them for the past few years and everyone always gets a kick out of them.  

I had the wreath, in fact I had 2, because at our old house we had those old fashioned double front doors.  Here I have the standard steel door so I used the wreath you see in the sidebar picture which is larger for the front door.  This smaller one looks nice just leaning against the seashells.  

The pumpkin was the only thing I bought but it is not even real.  It is a funkin.  It looks super real even close up.  It was $5 on sale so I justified that is a good deal that I can use year after year as long as no one takes it off the mantle and runs over it with a skateboard:)

I'll leave you with a few more views...

Oh, and of course I am linking up over at The Lettered Cottage.  There's a lot of nice mantles over there so be sure to check them out.

The Lettered Cottage

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How to Get the Best Deals on Craigslist

So we've all seen those great before and afters of pieces that people got on craigslist and transformed into beautiful furniture for their homes.  What we don't see very often are the pieces that people paid too much money for, that were broken beyond repair, or that never got transformed.  Since I consider myself a pretty experienced craigslist buyer/seller I thought I would give you my best tips on buying off of craigslist.

1.  Make a decision.  In other words, decide on one thing to shop for at a time.  Craigslist can be very daunting to search through day after day if you don't have a focus.  It is also very easy to get distracted by the other "great" deals if you aren't exactly sure what you are searching for.  If you really need a couch you don't want to get sidetracked and end up with a coffee table while your family is watching tv from the floor.  That being said, keep an open mind and try to envision things in new or unexpected ways.  If you need a TV stand would a sideboard or dresser make a great alternative?

2.  Do your research.  Before looking at craigslist I always find a similar new item at my favorite stores and I also check out ebay.  Right now I am on the hunt for an entertainment system for our living room so I have picked out some favorites at Pottery Barn, Ballards, the local furniture store, Ikea, etc.  This gives me an idea of the style I want and the price of the piece new.  It keeps me from spending too much on a used piece that may or may not need refurbishing.  It gives me a point of reference and can also help with negotiations.  For instance I recently bought a buffet from craigslist for $175.  Prior to making this deal I had found that similar buffets new ranged from $600-$1500.  Had the seller on craigslist wanted $500 for it I probably would have passed knowing that I could get a brand new one for only $100 more.  This leads me to my next tip...



3.  Set a limit; both for price and condition.  Decide what is the most you are willing to pay for an item.  Most craigslist sellers will negotiate so it is okay to look at any item that is out of your price range if you are willing to walk away if you can't get them to meet your price.  If you don't do this I am telling you you will be sorry down the road especially if you pay way too much for the item.  Every time you look at that dresser that you overpaid for that is all you will think about.  It will take a long time before the piece looks beautiful if you feel guilty for the extra $100 you spent on it.  

Do not buy anything that you are not sure that you can fix yourself or that you are not willing to have a professional repair.  Once I convinced myself that a bookshelf had really great bones and that repairing the veneer and the sides of it would not be too hard.  Yep, it ended up at the curb six months later when we sold our house.  I had never gotten beyond putting the pieces in a box.

Make sure you consider the condition of the piece in your final offer.  If you are going to have to paint or stain the piece before you can use it make sure that additional time and money is added into your figures. 

When searching skip the ads that are labeled for sale by dealer.  This is almost always the same new furniture that is easily found at your local furniture stores or on amazon.  Every once and a while you'll come across a used furniture place in these ads but remember even though it is used they are still a middle man adding their overhead to the price.

I found this on craigslist for $25!  See that post here.
4.  Be patient.  I have searched for weeks before I actually found something I liked or could afford.  I have also lost pieces to other buyers who got there first so don't get discouraged.  Another one will come along.

If you have friends or relatives that are willing and able to help you on your treasure hunt you may want to search the craigslist in their town.  I would only do this if you are comfortable negotiating on the phone from the pictures that the seller provides.  You don't want to put your relative in an uncomfortable position of negotiating with your money.

5.  Ask for more pictures.  This is a great time saver.  If the original pictures are unclear or don't give you enough angles ask for more.  Most sellers will readily agree to this.  You don't want to drive an hour to find that the molding on a piece is just too outrageous for your home. Also, if they don't give them, ask for the measurements.  Ask a lot of questions.  Not only are you getting more information about the item but it gives you a feel for the seller.

6.  Google your seller.  If you get the seller's first and last name it is always a good idea to google them and make sure they are not a serial killer.  You can't always find them but often I can check out a facebook page or something else that puts me more at ease if I am going to their home.

7.  DO NOT GO TO A SELLER'S HOME BY YOURSELF.  We've all seen the warnings about this but I feel the need to reiterate it as I, myself, have been tempted when the person seemed really nice over the phone and my husband was too busy to go with me, but it just is not smart.  If you do have to go it alone meet in a public place.  I have met people in the Target parking lot or at the library or just any place where there are other people that could help you in an emergency.

Less than a quart of paint and 2 new drawer pulls transformed this old brown wood dry bar into a great piece for entertaining.  I just couldn't pass up the copper liner.  All for $60 on craigslist.

8.  Negotiate.  It is always a good idea to try and negotiate.  A lot of seller's, myself included, set the price with some wiggle room for haggling.  Also consider negotiating for things other than cash.  Often I will pay the full price if the seller is willing to deliver the item especially if it is large and bulky.  One time I paid full price for a dry bar but also got a wire flower planter (you can see that post here) that was sitting next to it in the seller's garage.

9.  Don't feel bad for walking away.  I know it sucks and you feel bad for wasting someone's time, but if the item isn't what you expected or it is too damaged or they won't come down to your price just thank them and say no thank you.  Remember you will probably never ever see this person again.  It doesn't do any good to waste your money and have to relist the item yourself or worse put it to the curb when you get home.

10.  Enjoy the hunt.  There is nothing better than finding that diamond in the rough, getting it at a great price, and making it into something you love so have fun searching.

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

Thursday, September 22, 2011

...and we're back... you may have noticed that it's been like a million years since my last post.  Well, I have to tell you that moving our family 600 miles was a little more draining than I had anticipated.  We got into our house about a month ago and it was the day before school started.  So on the first day of a new school I was trying to direct the movers, meet neighbors, and keep my youngest out of trouble.

In any event, I am now feeling more settled and was really missing my blogging.  Plus my friend Kim was complaining that without my posts she was really bored at work:)  Anyways, I am hoping that the blogging will help keep me on track for the many updates/renovations/projects that I have planned for the near future.  

I thought that today I would give you a peek at the new house and fill you in on some my plans.  

For those of you not familiar with our story we moved from a small town in the Buffalo, NY area to Naperville, IL, a large suburb outside Chicago, IL.  Our old house was built in 1866, was bought as a foreclosure and we spent the last 7 years renovating it.  Our new house is total suburb house.  It has the same floor plan as every other house in our subdivision, and it is only 15 years old.  These two houses couldn't be more different, but surprisingly I am finding that I have just as much remodeling work ahead of me here as I did at the old house. Granted, I am starting with a much better base but still I want to paint everything, change everything, and probably drive my husband to an early grave because of it:)

The one thing we won't be changing is the exterior of the house.  Not only is it fine and in great shape but now we have to get approval from the HOA to make any changes and it is my understanding that what you are allowed to do is fairly limited.  You can see picture of the our front door on the sidebar.

Here are some pictures of the downstairs...

This is the kitchen.   I already have one estimate and an appointment with the Home Depot on Friday about the counters.  They are hunter green laminate.  I'm sure in 1995 they were all the rage, but I am not loving them or the oak cabinets or the brass knobs and pulls.  Also, I noticed while we were house shopping out here that many houses have the cooktop above the single oven thing instead of a range.  Not sure what the advantage is, but I am missing my double oven so I am thinking of getting one of those new free-standing range with double ovens.  Plus I am not a fan of white appliances.  They just end up looking dingy over time.  So  stainless will be my new choice.

This is the kitchen nook which I am loving.  Our old kitchen did not really have room for this table set which I bought years ago but now it fits perfectly and looks great.  Ignore the big brass light.  It will be going.  Do admire the new rug which I saw in the PB catalogue but got for $50 cheaper on

And this is the typical suburban family room off the kitchen.  We are using it as our main floor living room as we have a finished basement which is serving as the family room/man cave.  

When we originally viewed the house it was set up with a formal living room off the front door, but I now have it set up as our office.  We don't really need 2 living rooms on one floor, and we do need a space for the computer and our books.  This new office space is getting a big facelift in the next week so I'll show you that in a different post.

This is the toy room.  The former homeowners used it as their office space hence the golf themed border.  For now it is fine.  Down the road I will update it.

Here is the main floor powder room.  I can't really get a great picture because the room is so small.  So it is super small and really, really red with an overly ornate mirror and a gold sink.  Yep.  Yep.  Yep.

The last picture is of the dining room.  It is high on my to-do list because we have some relatives coming for Thanksgiving this year.  I have an antique chandelier already being refurbished for above the table and I picked up the buffet off craigslist the 2nd week we were here.  I guess I just can't help but stalk the craigslist.  I want to paint the walls, the trim, add crown molding, a ceiling medallion, make new curtains, and recover the chairs after I paint them and the table.  I know what you're thinking - good luck.   That's why I am hoping that by putting it in black and white here I feel somewhat obligated to get my butt in gear.  We'll see how I do.

So that's all for this post.  

~Gold Shoe Girl~

p.s.  I didn't include any upstairs pictures because I thought this post was getting too long but as I get to redoing those rooms I will be sure to share.  Suffice it to say it is the typical suburban master bedroom with walk-in closet and bathroom and 3 bedrooms for the kids with a hallway bathroom.  Really nothing spectacular up there.  Yet:)
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