The Heroes of our Home: The Habitat for Humanity RESTORE

I am BEYOND excited for this post because I get to brag on the people who made furnishing our home a reality. If you were with us on Monday, I shared the Thomas’ Tiny House Rules… which are our self-created guidelines for all things house. If you are new, WELCOME! So glad you’re here! Let me take your coat, so you can stay awhile ūüôā

Onward. Remember Rule #1? Cheap, cheapity, cheap is the name of the game. There are some things that are easy to find for a bargain, especially if you know where to shop. Upon buying our house, it was not so much the small, decorative trinkety things we were in need of, but actual furniture. Cue, the Heroes of our Home:

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I cannot say enough good things about this organization (or at least, this part of it). The Restore is the equivalent of The Goodwill for furniture, appliance, fixtures, and home repair things. People donate what they no longer need and the Restore sells it, using the profit to assist in building more homes. A few great things about the Restore:

  • They are focused on making a difference through building homes for people and use profits made in the Restore to do so.
  • The turn around for items is generally pretty fast, resulting in new merchandise in the store all of the time and a large selection to choose from.
  • The prices here are extraordinary!¬†Read on for just a few examples…
  • Even with the low prices, they run sales often to clear out inventory to make room for new things.
  • Friendly employees will help you load things into your car!
  • They carry more than just furniture and decorative items… the Restore also has a supply of home renovation goods- tile, extra paint, stone, tools, etc.

As I was saying, the Restore has been our go-to while furnishing the house. When I tell you that most of our furniture has come from here, I sincerely mean all but six pieces of furniture that we own has been hauled off their back loading dock and into¬†our car my parents’ van. Let me give you a tour of some of the goods:

Kitchen Table and Chairs: $20.¬†We found the set looking like this- there was no sanding/staining job here, folks. Also, please note: The word “sturdy” does not quite do this set justice… I could do some serious damage to a burglar with one of the (removable) table legs.

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Dresser: $10. In great working order, but will be getting a face-lift, come springtime!

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Desk: $20.¬†A “splurge”, compared to the norm. We wanted this desk, specifically for the storage on both sides and it’s compact size.

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Sofa, Chairs, and Ottoman Set: $250.¬†Finding these was a true blessing. Not but two days after we bought the house, my mom and I were at the Restore with no agenda or plans of purchasing anything. When we saw this set and the price tag, my mom immediately sat down on it to stake out, while I went to pay. We wasted no time in ensuring that it didn’t slip through our fingers! A sofa, 2 lounge chairs, 2 ottomans, and a few pillows later and we had a complete family room set. Thank you, Restore. You truely are… the best.

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Bookshelves: 3 for $20.¬†These are industrial strength and had definitely been cleaned out of someone’s office and donated. I can’t fully share what they look like today just yet, but they ended up being the perfect thing for what we needed.¬†A post on the details will come eventually…

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Above: Mitch, posing with the drill as we worked on the shelves. PS. They are HEAVY!!

Coffee Tables: $10 each.¬†Again, loving the table space AND the storage below. We still haven’t figured out if this is what they will look like forever, but for now, they’re working for us.

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And this concludes our tour of the Restore wonders. Now, why do I bother sharing this? I am not interested so much in putting our own treasures on display, but rather to share a valuable resource that has been such a blessing to us. There is no way we would have been able to get some of the pieces we did at retail stores. We just did not (and still do not) have the budget for that. I know that there are other people in our shoes and I want to pass along something that has really worked for us. I truly believe that:

1. Just because you may be working with a budget does not mean that you are out of the running to find wonderful, quality items for your home/dorm/apartment, etc.

2. Habitat for Humanity serves a lot of people in a lot of different ways (including, as you can see, us!). They deserve the hype and the business.

So, with that, go and check them out! You can find a location near you on their website:

Best of luck and happy treasure hunting! PS. We’d love to see pictures of things that you have found at the Restore- post those photos!


Tiny House Rules

Monday, Monday… back to the grind. I hope that you had a fun weekend and that the start of your week has been grrrreeeaaattt! Or as great as a Monday can be, at least ūüôā

Today’s post is crucial to understanding a lot of what goes on in the Thomas household. All things house, home, renovating, and decor revolve around a couple things that we call…The Thomas’ Tiny House Rules.

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Let me preface this with a few things. We love where we live. God has been so faithful in providing us with a wonderful home in a wonderful neighborhood. Although we had a heck of a time getting through the house hunting process (s.e.v.e.r.a.l. rides on the “Emotional Express”), we somehow made it to settlement, signed the papers, and got our first set of keys! The best part about it? We now live 20 minutes from my work and 20 minutes from Mitch’s. We are surrounded by farms, but 15 minutes from the downtown strip and the mall.¬†Not sure we could have planned it better if we tried!

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Anyway, back to it. We live in a 2 bedroom, 11/2 bath condo (or maybe it’s a townhouse- I can never remember the difference). We have all of the necessities- a place to eat, a place to sleep… ¬†and we are grateful for this. Although our space is perfect for us and we love it, we fall into the “Tiny House” category. Any Tiny Home (or Apartment) Owner will agree- there is a certain way that things have to be done. There are certain¬†tricks of the trade¬†that are necessary to making things work. So, with that, I give you the Thomas installment of Tiny House Rules (complete with, wait for it… two rules).

The Thomas’ Tiny House Rules

Rule # 1:¬†Items that enter this house must be purchased as cheaply as possible. You’ll remember this about me- I’m a sucker for a bargain. Thrift stores are a weakness of mine and I am a frequent flier at The Goodwill. I’ve been known to barter my way out of paying full price for things, and in other languages, if necessary. Our house has been furnished (for the most part) by secondhand items, enabling us to fully furnish the space far quicker than if we had bought everything new.

We have a secret in regards to cheap furniture… Come back and visit on Wednesday for the unveiling of the ultimate Hero of our Home Furnishing, the store that made it all possible. They have locations everywhere and are WAY underrated for what they have to offer. For example, one day we walked out with a brand new kitchen table and chairs for $20. Can’t wait to give our mystery source the credit they deserve!

Here are a few fun trinkets that have been cheap finds:

Pair of Black Lamps. They came with not-so-pretty lampshades, but they were $5 each. We put a couple of stylish shades from Target on them and they are as good as new and make great additions to our Master Bedroom.

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Funky Teal Frames. Originally from Target, Goodwill was selling a pack of four of these for $2- yes, please!

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Glass Votives. At 25 cents a piece at a church thrift store, I loaded up on these babies. You can find things like this at virtually any second hand/thrift store and they are great for last minute decor or adding to a display!

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Rule # 2:¬†Nothing is allowed in our house unless it can do more than one thing.¬†This rule has single-handedly changed the way we shop for the house. If you are living in a smaller space, you know this: everything has to have a function or, chances are, there is “no room for it”. In our case, we are careful to make selections for that house that can always¬†do more than one thing. And we are picky about this! I’ll give you a few examples:

Family Room¬†Coffee Table: Serves as a decorative piece, but also has a space for storage. We were on the hunt for a specific type- one with a shelf on the bottom for extra space to store things. An unexpected bonus came about when we realized that the “flaps” could extend and lock into place for extra table space!

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The Bench¬†in the Kitchen: Seating and Storage. We were patient with this item… we knew we wanted a bench, but waited and waited before committing to any that we saw because they were either 1. too expensive and/or 2. did not have storage space. Needless to say, when we stumbled on this one at an estate sale for $30, we snatched it up.

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Keep an eye out for the “How She Looks Today” post…

Spare Bedroom/Office/Library¬†Futton: What more can we say? It’s a couch AND a bed, enabling us to have a whole room that can do more than one thing! Doesn’t get any better than that…

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So what in your house has the ability to multitask? Have you ever had to pass on a purchase you loved because it “just wouldn’t be functional”? That’s the hardest part and don’t worry, we’ve caved a few times and bought things for the sole reason that we HAD to have them… we all have those moments ūüôā

See you next time and even though it’s Monday, try to find “the fun of it”!


10 Things that Made our Kitchen Cozy

Happy Saturday, All!

If you were with us earlier in the week, you watched our kitchen transform from a blank slate with colonial pineapple wallpaper to a warm, but vibrant space in just one day! Although that work took such a short amount of time, I cannot say that decorating and adding the finishing touches was the same experience.

Our experience with this house so far: the painting, re-carpeting, and renovating goes fairly quickly and the “making it our own” is a slow, evolving process.

This is okay with us because our taste in what we like also seems to be a slow, evolving process! For instance, at one point, we were loving the quirky layout of these large frames in the Master Bedroom… but as we continue to look at them, we’re thinking that we might want to try a different look. Although we knew it was not completely finished (please ignore the fake couple in the middle and the photo displayed in the wrong direction) even when we hung these, now we are looking into a completely different plan than our original intentions. See? Tastes change as the room evolves!

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We’ll save that project for a rainy day.

Back to the kitchen: Over time, we collected and added things to the room that have really upped its “cozy factor” and have taken it from a house to a home! My hope for today is that you can 1. gather some inspiration and 2. share what has worked for YOU and your space! So, without further ado, let me present…

10 Things that Made our Kitchen Cozy

1. These¬†New Curtains (from BBB). For the longest time, our sliding glass door “covering” was a shower curtain because it was the only thing we had for the job. Shabby chic, maybe, but not cozy. We replaced it with three curtain panels, installed side by side on a glider. It is tough to find a full length one anymore and this is what the employee at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (BBB from here on out because that is a ridiculous name to type over and over) recommended to us.¬†Bonus Points:¬†These curtains are double layered and have been a great source of insulation for this room in the winter months!

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2. This Teal Rug¬†($9.99 @ Target if you’re hunting). What you may or may not know about me already, is that teal and all things similar are my go-to. You will see that our kitchen is mostly yellows, with blue accents. Enter, the teal rug. Probably not a necessity, but we love it and it adds a bright pop of color to this side of the room!¬†Negative Points:¬†I still have yet to thoroughly rinse/wash this rug to get the excess dye out of it, so whenever something spills, we have to scrub at it in the sink for fear of ruining a whole load of laundry.¬†

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3. A¬†New Light Fixture¬†(about $10 @ Home Depot). The original light fixture had good and bad to it. It was unique looking and added some flair to the room, but put off virtually NO LIGHT! Very frustrating to work in a dark kitchen. We changed it out for a standard looking, but more effective fixture.¬†Bonus Points:¬†Don’t worry- we’re not throwing the original away! I have big plans for it, come the spring…

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4. These¬†Bar Stools¬†(sorry, folks- you’ll have to hunt for some of your own, as these came from a thrift store). This was a happy accident! The thought of having bar stools had briefly crossed our minds as we decorated the kitchen, but we dismissed it quickly upon figuring that we’d never be able to find anything small enough. On our way to somewhere else, we stopped (last minute) in one of the local Thrift Stores with no agenda or “to bring home” list. As it always tends to happen, that’s when we stumbled on these little beauties! They are compact, were in perfect working order, and fit in with the style of our kitchen nicely. We freshened them up with a quick coat of Behr Ultra White paint and called it a day! Definitely one of our favorite parts of the kitchen…

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5. These Canisters (from BBB). We LOVE these! They are an off-white, warm addition to the counters. We like how they contrast with the dark wood of the cabinets, but tie into the white (ish) accents that we have used throughout the room. Bonus Points: They are pretty AND functional. You will soon learn that NOTHING (well, not much, at least) comes into this house unless it can do more than one thing. 

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6. This¬†Mirror (from Home Goods). For the longest time, we could not figure out what to do about the backside of our microwave/shelving/oven hood unit (which we love!). Although the one side is super functional, the back of it left something to be desired. It seemed to make the room feel small and create a barrier between the galley and dining area. We thought of painting it with chalkboard paint, but figured that that wouldn’t solve those problems. Adding shelving would make it stick out so no one could sit on the bar stools. We ended up choosing to go with a mirror. We started with one that had an off-white frame, but it stuck out like a sore thumb against the wood. This mirror fit the bill! It opens up the room, brings in light, and acts almost as a window from the dining area into the galley!

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7. A¬†Crock full of Accent Colors¬†(crock from BBB). Again, we went with the white to tie into our theme here. We also have much of the same colored kitchen utensils and tools (thank you, wedding registry!) and have realized that they are just as much a part of our kitchen decor as anything else! We even ventured out of our yellow and blue comfort zone into the orange and purple family… although they’re different, they add some depth to the collection. Most of the blue tools are from BBB and Macy’s, orange and purple come from Home Goods, and the cute orangey patterned rolling pin can be found at Target.¬†Bonus Points:¬†Again, decorative (which I never thought kitchen tools could be so!) and functional.

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8. The Clock (from BBB). A necessity! We like how the colors of the border play along subtly with the rest of the kitchen. Not drastically the same, but close enough to tie the space together. It is in a prime location because you can see it from everywhere in the room and the hallway. Plus, shells remind us of the beach and we love the beach. Win!

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9. This Valence Curtain (from BBB). The original curtain here was not too bad, but we got a fresh, crisp new white one because the original had been covered in soot. Mitch was at a meeting one night and I made it my own personal goal to get it installed before he came home. With the help of an electric drill and the Walt Disney Pandora station, I had that baby up in no time! Bonus Points: Although it is not exactly the same shade of white or style as the other curtain, the two still help to tie the room together into a cohesive space. I actually like that they are a bit different- it adds a twist!

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10. A¬†Variety¬†of Decorative Nick-Nacks. We’ve collected these from various places and at various times. You know what I’m talking about- everyone has a few special nick-nacks in their home. These are the things that really make our space our own (just like they do for you in your home/room/office!). I’ll give you just a few:

Ceramic Bird Salt ‘n Pepper Shakers (I believe they came from Pier 1). My mom has the same ones at her house and I love love love them, so she got me a set for my Bridal Shower. Thanks, Mom!¬†Note:¬†They are not the most consistent items in the way of dispensing said spices. Depending on the angle in which you use them, you could either end up with a grain of salt or a mound, but once you get the hang of it… not so bad. And anyway, their charm makes up for their lack of spice control!

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Olive Oil Dish Soap Dispenser¬†(BBB). A super fun, easy way to keep dish soap on hand and not have the Dawn bottle out all of the time.¬†Bonus Points:¬†It matches our color scheme and almost acts as a form of “art” in this way!¬†Double Bonus Points:¬†I am a culprit of using too much dish soap (and that stuff is not cheap!). This method is AWESOME for regulating how much soap we use- turns out, a little bit goes a looooong way!

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Window Sill Art (Puerto Rico). We love collecting things from places we’ve been! This was an easy way to add some color to the window sill and help us remember the fun we had while we were there. The purple plaque has a funny/embarrassing story, but I’ll save that for when we’re in need of a good laugh around here…¬†Bonus Points:¬†This one is super easy to replicate (and I don’t mean going to PR to track them down!). Do you have any trinkets from adventures you’ve taken? Find a way to put them on display and you’ve instantly added personality to your space!

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Hand-painted Bowl (Mexico). Same story here, folks. When traveling, we try to look for souvenirs to bring home that are functional so that we can use them in our house and enjoy them at the same time.

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So there you have it- 10 (or so) easy ways to warm up a kitchen! The thing about this is that it works for ANY space! Living in a dorm? Apartment? Bedroom at home? No matter where you are, there are always things you can do to cozy up your space.

Leave a comment! What is the Number One thing that has aided in the coziness of your kitchen, house, or room? I’d love to hear from you!

See any images that inspired you? Pin ’em! And as always, enjoy “the fun of it”…