1/31/16

How to Shop For, Save On and Stay Sane While Looking For New Carpet

I can't believe it has been a year since I have blogged!?! Where does the time go... I have dozens of posts drafted but never got around to posting. We focused so much on paying off all debt and building up savings in 2015, that we took a break from home projects. I started many posts about cleaning, organizing, and other general household items but they all felt uninspired, so I took a break. It's a new year and thanks to my constant urge to 'nest' the past several weeks, we have tackled several house projects.

My favorite new 'project': getting new carpet! I have been in our house for nearly 8 years now. The carpet and pad were the cheap builder basic grade that's often times thrown down quickly to sell a house. After 7.5 years of muddy paws, various pet stains and general wear and tear of a busy household, it was time to start new again.



Here is Our Tips for Buying New Carpet

1. The Time of Year You Buy Does Make a Difference
The most popular time of year that people shop for carpet is in the Fall, typically as people start preparing for holiday house guests. You may think this means it's a great time to buy and that stores would offer great discounts with so many people shopping, but it doesn't. We found the typical free installation or free carpet pad upgrade but no sales that were that great. It's the simple law of supply and demand. Places seemed less likely to negotiate with demand being higher.

The second most popular time of year for carpet shopping is early Spring (March/April/May). People often wait until they receive their tax returns to make a big purchase, such as carpet, plus it's the height of spring cleaning and the weather is finally nice after a long winter. Again, sales seem to be more limited due to the demand at this time.

When is the best time to buy? Best meaning when to get the best deal... in the middle of winter, post-holidays. January/early February is the slowest month for carpet sales. This is great news for you, not great for carpet stores. Holidays are over, the weather is cold and snowy in most areas of the country and people are tightening up their purse strings after holiday spending and they haven't received their tax returns yet. We were able to get free installation and a discount off our entire total (including carpet, pad and labor) due to a great sale happening the last 2 weeks of January. More details on this below. Plus, we ordered our carpet and got it installed a week later. They had told us the standard turnaround time from order to install was 4 weeks but because it's such a slow time of year for carpet sales, we got it much faster!

Early summer is another slow time for the carpet industry. With kids getting out of school, summer vacations etc., carpet sales slow down. Another great time to shop for further discounts.



We tried to camouflage our terrible old carpet by putting a large area rug over it. 

2. Take Your Time
Trust me, I know how anxious one can be once you decide to replace your old carpet. We were busting at the seams to get this done. However, patience is truly a virtue. Because we waited until January to order, we saved a lot of money. Plus, we ended up with carpet we truly love. Yes, we drug home no less than two dozen samples for our great room alone and took over a week to narrow it down to two samples. Just like when selecting paint color, it's important to look at the carpet throughout the day, with various lighting. We also wanted to ensure that it didn't clash against our furniture or surrounding hard woods.
The carpet on the left is what we chose for our dining room and stairs. Carpet on the right is what we purchased for our great room.

3. Negotiate- Don't be Afraid to Ask For Discounts
We ended up purchasing our carpet at Home Depot for a variety of reasons but most importantly, we found our favorite carpet there. We looked at several places but Home Depot will price match any offer you receive, offered free installation and they run various specials at different times of the year. We received a 10% off our total purchase by putting it on our Home Depot card (which we paid off immediately).

Once we had picked out our carpet, we ended up going to Home Depot three times before we actually placed our order. I spoke to several flooring specialists and then two managers and with each person we spoke to, I asked what the absolute best deal we could get would be. I asked about discounts on the carpet, free carpet pad with purchase, etc. The first man told us they didn't offer any special discounts or deals. The second person said they could do 5% off the carpet, if we put it on our existing Home Depot card. It wasn't until the third person who told us that if we waited one more day to place the order, Home Depot would be starting their 10% off total orders sale. Simply waiting one more day to order for the sale, we saved $300.

4. Review Your Order. Then, Review It Again
As we placed our official order, we went through every single line item in detail. This ensured that the measurements were correct, we didn't pay for any additional carpet we didn't need and allowed us to tell the installers where we wanted any seams, etc. We were lucky that our dining room didn't need any seams, but our great room at 19x15 would need one. Home Depot had originally requested the seam be put right in the area of the main walking path in and out of the room. By reviewing the order carefully, Justin saw this and requested that the seam be placed on the opposite side, which would go under our sofa. It was added reassurance that the seam wouldn't be visible and would not go in the high traffic area of the room.

Reviewing our order line by item, also helped identify areas for additional savings. We had originally decided upon the most plush carpet pad available. We were so tired of the super then carpet and pad that we had been accustomed to the past several years, that we had agreed a nicer pad was worth the investment.  Looking over the order for other ways to save, Justin suggested that we use the mid-range pad for our low traffic dining room, as well as our stairs.  When carpet and padding is too plush on the stairs, it can actually be a tripping hazard. By downgrading our pad in these two areas, we saved about $200. We can assure you that the mid-range pad is absolutely perfect and still feels like a huge upgrade over the existing pad. We did keep the most plush pad in the great room, where we spend most of our time. We also selected two different carpets. One patterned carpet for our dining room and stairs that is great for hiding stains and wear and tear, and one thicker, shaggier for our great room, where we lay around and play with the dogs, relax and where our baby will eventually be crawling around.

5. DIY, as much as possible
 Although the installation was free, there was a charge for carpet removal to the tune of $325 for the dining room, great room and stairs. I am so thankful to be married to someone who shares in my love of DIY and yearns to learn new skills around the house. Justin asked several questions about the carpet removal process, something neither of us have ever done, and was assured that it was a pretty easy process. We watched a few YouTube tutorials and Justin was confident he could handle it. He also contacted the city about carpet disposal and was told that as long as the old carpet was cut into manageable rolls and rolled up, they would pick it up along with our weekly trash/recycle. We asked Home Depot to omit the carpet removal and disposal from our order.
Terrible iPhone quality pic of Justin removing the dining room carpet and pad.

Justin managed to remove the carpet and pad from each room by himself in about 30 minutes per room. He used a box cutter to cut strips in the old carpet and padding, rolled each section up and used duct tape to secure the rolls. We placed all of our old carpet out on trash/recycle day and it was all removed.

His father, Pete, was a  huge help is moving the furniture out of the way. He brought over a big box of furniture sliders, which has proved to be worth their weight in gold. Although our house was in a bit of disarray for a few days, with the furniture from our great room and dining room shoved into our kitchen and breakfast room, it was well worth the savings. Plus, it allowed Justin to make some necessary repairs and properly prep our subfloor. see below

6. Take Advantage of a Cleared Out Room to Make Any Necessary Repairs
Another benefit of Justin removing the carpet himself was that he was able to fix some floor squeaks through the subfloor. We had a sizable LOUD squeak in our great room and some small areas that would squeak in our dining room. This happens when the subfloor becomes loose. Justin and his father worked to re-secure the subfloor to the beams. They used 2" and 3" coarse threaded screws where necessary to tighten up the flooring.  Now, our floors are nice and quiet!!! Such a huge improvement.

7. Ensure That Old Smells Do Not Permeate (in our case pet related)
Now on to the truly disgusting aspect of old carpet---regardless of how many times you vacuum or steam clean, pet stains can seep through all the way to the subfloor. This can also be said for a home that has been smoked in or has a lot of other random spills. Carpet absorbs these spills and the bare subfloor can as well. Although our subfloors looked to be in good shape and we didn't really see any stains, we decided to be overly cautious. Once Justin had removed the carpet and removed any loose staples, he vacuumed the subfloor, which had lots of loose dirt. Yuck.
The dining room subfloor after a coat of Kilz. 

He then rolled Kilz Primer over the subfloor. This is the only primer that is specifically made for odor and stain blocking. This ensures that any lingering smells/stains/etc are officially removed. Please note that if you are pregnant, you will want to leave the house while someone does this. The smell of this primer is strong! It does disappear within a half a day though. Because subfloors are basically bare wood, they really absorb paint.We went through 2 full gallons of Kilz between our dining room and great room, and this was doing a fairly thin coat and not going all the way to edges of the room.
We repeated the same removal and priming process in our great room.

Some Before and After Photos








I realize that the before and after in our great room does not photograph in a way that shows just how vastly different it looks in person. The new carpet is a good three shades darker, so much more plush and soft and is an obvious major upgrade than the old, beige thin carpet. 


This is an super old photo of the dining room but showed enough of the old carpet to compare.





Here's The Breakdown of Our Savings
Starting/Original Order Total was $3,000.
This included old carpet removal, free install, upgraded pad and carpet for our dining room, great room and stairs.

By removing the old carpet ourselves, we saved $325.
By using the mid-range pad in our low traffic dining room and stairs (but keeping the plush pad in our great room), we saved $200.
Ordering during the 10% off total purchase Home Depot promotion, we saved $265.
We redeemed our credit card reward points for $325 of Home Depot gift cards
Our total out of pocket costs= $1901.27

*Please note that the Home Depot promotion was for new and existing card holders. We had an existing card that we used but then immediately paid off the total. The credit card reward points have been saved up for the past year. We charge our daily expenses (fuel, groceries, etc) on our credit card and then pay off the balance in full each month. We get the benefits of the reward points but never, ever pay interest. We realize that not everyone uses credit cards and we do not advocate charging items that you cannot afford. We used money we had set aside for new carpet but utilized the HD credit card for the additional savings only.

We were really happy with the entire process and absolutely love our new carpet. It has made such a huge difference! Hope this helps anyone looking to replace old carpet.

-S & J

1/26/15

Introducing Bella Blue

I previously wrote about one of the saddest days of our life, December 10th, the day we had to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Zorro. Our house has felt so empty without him and our other dog, Charlie, was noticeably missing him. We knew we wanted to get another dog but planned on waiting until Spring.

I'm on the email distro for the Greater Kansas City Humane Society and follow them and a few other animal shelters on Facebook. Last week, I clicked on a link I received about adoptable dogs. It was then that I saw a photo of a puppy named Dandy on Petfinder. Dandy was actually part of New Beginnings Dog Rescue.  He was so cute, I had Justin look at the posting too. He was an interesting mix: half Husky/half Standard Poodle and nearly 4 months old. When we saw that he would be at a nearby Petsmart for an adoption event that Saturday, we figured we could go and just look.

I bet you know where this is heading...

Well, we got to meet Dandy and his equally adorable sister, Anna. As excited as we were to meet Dandy, we really bonded with Anna. She was incredibly sweet and very friendly. I knew immediately that we would be bringing a puppy home with us that day. We just couldn't resist. Justin and I have both grown up with dogs, but Justin had never selected a dog himself before. So, I wanted him to ultimately decide.

After much deliberation, Justin decided we should bring Anna home with us. The lovely people at New Beginnings Dog Rescue were so patient with us, staying well past the end of the adoption event for us to make our final decision. They also explained that the dogs did not know their names yet, so we could change it without confusing her.

Since we had planned on looking at a boy puppy, we had casually talked about boy names. We didn't have any girl names picked out. We made a list on the drive home and both finally agreed upon Bella Blue. We both liked Bella and I threw out Blue because of Bella's one blue eye. Yes, she has one brown eye, one blue eye. I also thought it was a perfect contrast against our other dog, Charlie Brown.

Bella Blue is just the sweetest thing ever. She is, however, very much a curious puppy. We have to watch her every move, as she likes to put anything and everything in her mouth. She's beginning to become house trained but it's a work in progress. It's been so long since I have had a puppy that I had forgotten how much work they are. Luckily, her cuteness makes up for her orneriness.

Although we are a bit tired, there is something very special about having a puppy around. Her energy is contagious, except for when she wakes ready to play at 5am! She is about 20 pounds now, and they believe she will be between 50-60 pounds full grown.


This picture makes me smile . It was Bella's first car ride, and she was bit apprehensive. Thank heavens for older brothers that protect you from scary car rides:)
 Charlie and Bella have become buddies.


Although we will always miss our Zorro, we are very happy to have this sweet new girl join our family. It's amazing just how sweet puppies are and how much joy they bring.

xoxo-S

1/21/15

I Have a New Love... in the Form of an Appliance

A few years ago, I was in the market for a washer and dryer. Being a young single girl, I was a on a budget. The idea of spending well over a thousand dollars on appliances was not appealing. I had more important things to spend my money on, like clothes, shoes and make up. So, when I found a brand new dryer at the Habitat ReStore for $100, I snatched one up.

The down side, it was euro size, i.e. tiny. It worked, was cheap and got the job done, so I didn't care. Fast forward a few years later and using a dryer the size of a small box started to take its toll. Our clothes always came out wrinkled, no matter what we did. Our king-size bedding had to be dried separately, as in one sheet at a time. So, three cycles for the flat sheet, fitted sheet and duvet cover to be dry. Ain't no body got time for that.
 

Over Memorial Day, we bit the bullet and ordered a new dryer thanks to the holiday sale and some gift cards we had saved up. We looked at the typical haunts: Sears, Home Depot, Lowes and Nebraska Furniture Mart and ultimately found the best deal at Home Depot. Our local store was out of stock, so we ordered it online, which allowed us to order through Ebates, giving us 6% cash back, plus I used a promo code for an additional $10 off (every little bit helps,right?).

We purchased the LG  Steam Dryer Model DLEX3250
Click HERE to find it at Home Depot.

Click HERE to read other reviews from the LG website.

It was delivered a few days later. For those of you that don't believe in love at first sight, do you believe in love at first sound? Because I now do. Yes, this dryer plays a little song when it turns on and when its cycle is done. No more loud beeps. The steam function has been getting lots of use. I have put tennis shoes, pillows, our down comforter and dog beds to name a few through the steam/sanitize cycle. Everything comes out fluffy and clean and most of all, free of odors.

If anything were to go wrong with this little love machine, you can hold up your smart phone to it and the dryer will alert your phone what the problem is. How cool is that?!

What I love most, however, is the capacity. Let's be honest, size does matter...when it comes to dryers. I can dry our entire bedding set in one cycle, and the best part is that our duvet cover comes out nice and smooth now, not like it's been playing a mean game of tug of war and lost.

I hate when I read reviews on products and then the person says they have only owned the item for a few days. When making a large purchase, I want to know how it holds up for the long haul. I'm happy to say that after 7 months of regular use, I am still in love. The sanitary steam cycle especially came in handy, when I sanitized everything in sight when Justin had the flu (which I was lucky enough not to catch). Plus, it has significantly cut down the drying time for everything. I do all of our laundry, including all of our bedding, every Sunday and it gets it done much faster than our old machine.

Anyone else in love with  a piece of metal?
-Suzanne

1/13/15

2014: A Year of Exploring and Bedroom Makeovers

2014 went by in a blink of an eye. It was a good year overall filled with challenges, changes, blessings, travel and lessons. As every year should be.

I always seem to end the year feeling as though I didn't accomplish everything I wanted, especially when it comes to house projects. Thanks to blogging about our projects, I am able to look over what we did accomplish and it always surprises me.

Here's a recap of our 2014 house projects:

January 2014 our fireplace went from this builder basic, orange-stained wood fireplace mantel:

to this refinished, newly tiled fireplace:

February 2014 brought changes to our great room, in the form of a new rug, new patterned chair, new mantel decor and fresh throw pillows. It's amazing how much a new rug can really pull a room together. It was this year that I grew to really love this room.

The very next month, our never-ending bedroom makeover began with a new dresser and nightstands-

I made DIY knock-off Kate Spade Nesting Boxes for my office-

Summer brought some much needed exterior updates. Our side yard got some love-

Shutters were added, which really helped dress up the front of our home.

Our front door got a dose of pretty robin's egg blue.

This Fall, the faucet in our guest bath got replaced with this beauty-

 Our bedroom makeover continued with fresh paint-


As did our great room with a shiny new coffee table-


Of course, 2014 wasn't just full of projects and new home decor. We had a lot of fun this year and I traveled quite a bit.

In April, we visited the amazing Napa Valley.

May brought a roadtrip to Arkansas.


I enjoyed a quick trip to New York City in August.

August was also when we vacationed in Telluride.

I accepted a new job in September and immediately enjoyed a week long work trip in Scottsdale.

The next month, I went to Vegas. Although this was also for a conference for work, I was able to have some fun too. This was my view from my room at the Cosmopolitan.

December brought a much needed escape to Miami.

2014, of course, had some low points as well. The great times wouldn't seem so sweet without some bitter.

We said goodbye to our Zorro.

I suffered a third dislocation of my knee and am facing surgery.
 
We also got hyper-focused on finances and becoming 100% debt-free by taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course. We hope to make major strides this year.

Overall, it was a great year. Can't wait to see what 2015 brings!

We've got a lot on our to-do list this year! Can't wait to get started.
Cheers!
S+J