6/24/12

29

As I sit here on the eve of my 29th birthday, I can't help but think how different my life is compared to where I thought I would be at this age. I am also reminded what a difference a few years can make.

29 is an age that I have always dreaded approaching. 29 is just a huge reminder that 30...the official decade of adulthood...is knocking at the door. I had all of these self-imposed goals I expected to reach by the time I was 30 (marriage, children, advancing my career, home ownership etc). Some I have accomplished, and some I have failed at miserably.

Surprisingly, now that I am actually the age I have dreaded turning, I am strangely accepting of it. In fact, I have never felt more comfortable or confident in my own skin before. The past few years have brought lots of changes in all aspects of my life, but I sit here today truly happy. I own a home that I absolutely love, a boyfriend whom I adore and a job that has allowed me to advance and grow. I am more blessed than I ever expected to be.

Am I exactly where I thought I would be at 29, say when I was 21? Absolutely not. Am I exactly where I should be? Absolutely.

I have big plans for this blog and for my life this year. I hope to grow Suburban Spunk and continue to meet other bloggers/design enthusiasts and continue to hone my craft of turning my house into a home. Can't wait to share what I have up my sleeve (it includes a complete blog design overhaul!).

I also want to thank all of my readers and sweet friends for the supportive comments and feedback. It truly melts my heart to hear from all of you.

xoxo, S



6/21/12

Chantilly Lace and a Pretty...Dresser

If you follow me on Facebook, then you probably saw my recent picture of this lovely dresser we picked up for less than $20 on Craigslist-
Yep, it was yellow and white with sponge painted flowers on the drawers.


Scary.

Anyway, it quickly got coated with Kilz Primer. I actually did 2 coats of primer because the flowers still bled through quite a bit with just one coat.
And then it sat in our garage for a week. It was like I had writer's block...for decorating. I considered painting it a bright glossy red, than thought about doing ombre drawers, even just all white. Because this piece is for our master closet, it can be seen from our master bedroom and bathroom. I just couldn't commit to a crazy color. So, I finally decided to try a new technique...lace!

I picked up half a yard of lace from Hobby Lobby for $3. I already had some gold-champagne spray paint on hand, so I grabbed that and got to work. There's no real specific method. I just placed the lace over each drawer and sprayed an even coat over the front.
Don't let my glamorous painting outfit intimidate you

Once I covered the entire front, I let it dry for a few seconds and then quickly pulled it off.
I used the same piece of lace for all 5 drawers without problem. I also spray painted the existing hardware with the same gold-ish color. The rest of the piece got 2 coats of glossy white paint I had on hand.

Viola!
 Close-up of the painted lace design-
Isn't it cute?! I love that the pattern gives it some texture.
The top of the dresser also gives me ample space to stow some of my jewelry.
Ceramic egg crate from Anthropologie
DIY painted/stained wood bowl, details coming in later post

Gold jewelry stand from Home Goods


DIY framed concert tickets
I love that the dresser looks funky but doesn't compete with the surrounding white built-in shelves. Plus, it adds much needed storage. I'm planning a full closet detail post soon, so stay tuned to find out how I squeezed every square inch of storage from my tiny closet.
xoxo, S

6/20/12

How To Buy Furniture on Craigslist Safely, Quickly and Effectively

Since I shared How To Sell Furniture on Craigslist last week (link HERE), I figured a post on buying furniture would be beneficial for those of you on the opposite side of the seller spectrum. Although I have sold more than I have bought, I have had several great experiences with buying furniture too. The basic principals still apply, i.e. safety first! But, there are a few things that you must also watch out for...


1. Know what you are looking for. Sounds obvious, right? Well, Craigslist is filled with hundreds of daily posts from sellers hocking goods. Don't waste your time scrolling through ads that you are not interested in. Try and be specific in your search, ex: round, glass top coffee table. If you don't find many results, try searching 'round coffee table'.

2. Be Patient. You may not find what you need immediately. New listings go up continuously, so check back every few days or everyday even.  I wanted an antique secretary cabinet for ages. I only found a very few when I first started browsing Craigslist for it, but they were all out of my price range or not exactly what I had in mind. I kept checking back and after a few weeks, I found a great deal on one. It pays to be persistent!

3. Ask Questions. If the seller did not follow my rules of an effective listing, don't be afraid to ask for additional information. Ask for more pictures if needed too. Make sure you see a picture of the actual item, not just a retail photo from a website. An email or phone call asking general questions is better than wasting everyone's time by making plans to meet somewhere, only to discover the item won't fit in your car or won't work in your space. Make sure an item will work in it's intended place before you go look at it.

4. Be Wary. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of the 'brand new' king-size mattress or the authentic antique armoire for cheap. It may very well be a deal but it could also be a very cheap imitation. Do not agree to items being shipped or pre-paid. All of your transactions should be cash-and-carry.

5. Practice Safe Shopping. Agree to meet the seller in a public place. If this is not feasible, bring someone with you. Do not go into anyone's home that you do not know. Ask that they set the furniture in the garage for you to view. If you start feeling nervous or anxious about the seller, walk away. Your personal safety is not worth any piece of furniture. *Also, I only give and accept cash for Craigslist purchases. Do not give anyone your credit card info!

6. Act Fast. If you see what you want, contact the seller quickly. Do not wait a week or two and expect the item to still be available. We sold 4 out 5 pieces of furniture in less than 24 hours after posting them on Craigslist. If you really want an item, be available to get it. Sellers won't typically hold an item for you. Trade phone numbers, get directions and get the item.

7. Be Courteous. If you really aren't interested in something, than don't waste anyone's time. Do NOT stand anyone up either. It's just plain rude, plus bad karma for you. If you think the price is a little high on something, than by all means, negotiate. Haggling is pretty common, but don't insult the seller because you can't afford an item. If it's overpriced, it's their problem. If it's a fair price but you just can't afford it, it's your problem. Finding out what an item is worth new by searching Amazon or Overstock can help you determine an item's worth, if you are unsure.

8. Carefully examine the item before you buy it. So, you found a sofa that you think will work in your family room. You double check the measurements, make arrangements with the seller to see the item and are on your way...but the color is different in person or you don't care for the fabric...don't feel pressured to buy. Just because you took the time to look at it, does not mean you are stuck buying something you are unsure about. Be honest with the seller and say that upon closer inspection, the color/style.size just won't work. Thank them for their time and walk away. No harm, no foul.

Craigslist can be a fantastic source for finding great deals. With a little caution and knowledge, you are on your way to an affordable marketplace of possibility.

6/8/12

What To Buy and Not To Buy At A Discount Decor Store

It's no secret that I love a good bargain. It just makes good business sense to pay less for an item if you can. It is because of this belief, that I frequently turn to Home Goods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and other similar discount stores to browse for items for my home.

I have found some real gems at these places...

but it is easy to get distracted by the other stuff, the non-treasures, if you will. So during my latest TJ Maxx run this week, I decided to document items I think are a fantastic deal. I do NOT mean items that  are all less than $20 or are just plain cheap. I mean items that will work in multiple spaces and will look good for more than one season. Items that look far more expensive than they are.

Without further to do, here is Buy This Not That: TJ Maxx Edition

Buy This: Accent Pillows

Gorgeous raw silk-like material with jute trim. A pair of these would look great on a taupe sofa or in navy bedroom.


Not This
Cheap beading and uninteresting material do nothing for a room.


Buy This: Wall Art

*The red back ground is just the packaging
A chic, classic sunburst mirror can look great in any room.

Not This
Generic quotes printed on inexpensive canvas do everything BUT inspire

Buy This Picture Frame

Or This

Interesting, detailed, hand crafted picture frames look great layered in bookcases, desks or on top of cabinets.

Not This
If you are over the age of 12, this plastic bedazzled frame should not belong to you.

Buy This Lamp

Natural wood with a linen-like shade in an interesting shape offers great texture.

Not This
Yes, this cylinder thing wrapped in cheap leopard fabric is actually a lamp.

Buy This Accessory
This can be filled with numerous treasures: seashells from a recent trip to the beach, moss for a touch of natural color or even a DIY terrarium.

Not This
I love to keep the peace as much as the next gal, but a peace sign just looks juvenile hung on the wall.

Or This

This looks more jester than royal.

Buy This Side Table

Classic antique-gold table looks just at home in a casual eclectic family room, as it does in a more formal sitting area.

Not This

Dull red half moon table that is too small to hold much is just forgettable.

General Good Buys

Seasonal Furniture

Natural wicker wears well and the classic shape of the chairs work inside a sun room or an outdoor patio.

Rugs/Miscellaneous Furniture 

You may have to dig a bit, but discount stores can be a great source for rugs. Like this neutral thick rug-

Marked down to less than $70! Very Pottery Barn-esque.


If you are looking for one accent piece, browse the furniture section. While you typically won't find a matching dining room table and chair set, you can find really great individual chairs, like this one-
Look at that nail head trim and those pretty feet! I am seriously considering getting this...

I hope this helps those that are either intimidated by discount stores or motivates you bargain hunters to go check these places out.

Happy Friday y'all! Suzanne


6/7/12

How to sell furniture on Craigslist safely, quickly and effectively

In the past few years, I have sold and purchased a number of items from Craigslist, and I've certainly learned a thing or two. When used appropriately, Craigslist (or any other online marketplace for that matter) can be a wonderful source for unloading unused items OR finding items at a great discount. At it's worst, it's a breeding ground for scam artists.

Over the past 2 weekends, we have sold 5 large, unused furniture items. 4 out 5 of the items were sold less than 24 hours from being posted.

Here are some helpful hints on using Craigslist safely, effectively and unloading goods quickly.

1. Figure out what you are going to sell. If multiple items, that are not being sold together (like a bed and a sofa), create two separate listings. Clean items of dust and debris if needed. Do not make one posting for multiple items. People do not want to skim a lengthy post and photos of items they are not looking for.

2. Create a detailed description and include clear photos of the items in your listing.
If you don't have access to a decent digital camera, borrow one. Make sure that there are no items obstructing the view of the item in your photos. If you're selling a dining table for example, remove any boxes or items that may be sitting on top of it. If the item is currently sitting in your garage, clear the area in front of the item before you take pictures. Take plenty of pictures. Craigslist typically only allows 1-4 photos for each listing (depending on their size). You may be asked for additional photos, so have those ready to send.

If you are serious about selling, save yourself from replying to numerous emails about the condition, size etc. Include ALL important details in your listing. I ALWAYS include that the item comes from a non-smoking home, so if this applies to your item I would say so. Before I started doing this, I got this question a lot.

This was the listing I used for the sofa and loveseat we sold  after it was listed for 1 day.

Dark Gray Sofa & Loveseat in Great Condition $400

Charcoal gray, contemporary sofa and loveseat for sale in great condition. There are no noticeable stains, tears or areas of heavy wear and comes from a clean, non-smoking home. The 2 back cushions and 2 seat cushions on each piece are removable and have zippered covers for easy cleaning. Cash only.

Sofa measures  84'' long, 30'' deep and the top of the seat cushion measures 17'' from the floor.
Loveseat measures 72'' long, 30'' deep and 17'' high.

Please let me know if you have further questions or would like to see additional pictures.

*I included a few other sofa pics on the listing

3. Set a reasonable price. No one is going to buy a 30 year old, dated, nameless china cabinet for $1000.
I have always had the mentality that Craigslist is used to get rid of my unwanted junk. I've never thought of it as a way to make lots of money. Although the extra cash is nice, the primary goal for me when I sell an item to get it out of my home. If you think that you are going to make hundreds or even thousands from selling old crap in your basement, you will be disappointed. If you are looking to sell high-end furniture, I would suggest contacting a local furniture re-sale store or antique dealer. You will get more for your money that way.
This is an example of what NOT to do-
Skirted Table for $125 firm. *original post HERE
I would list this for $25, not $125. I would recommend they remove the faded floral fabric as well.

'Book Case that holds a lot' via
If you are selling a bookcase, hutch or cabinet, either empty the piece entirely or artfully stage it. This cluttered bookcase picture does absolutely nothing except make you think the owner is a lazy slob.

Okay, so your listing is up and running. Now what?

1. Screen responses. As a general rule, if I receive an email 30 seconds after I have posted an item asking if it's still available, I usually don't respond. Unfortunately, scammers are constantly patrolling Craigslist. If anyone responds asking to wire you money for the item, pay you more that the listed price or if their email address is gibberish like xkhilkems @gmail... do NOT respond. Do not even respond with, "I know this is a scam", because then they will have already won. They then have your personal email address and most likely your full name. I also don't bother responding if the email is filled with misspelled basic words, usually a red flag that you are dealing with someone not local and not a serious potential buyer.

2. Safety First! I always recommend meeting people at a public place, such as a grocery store parking lot or even near a police station. Have someone with you if possible. Do not get into anyone's car. If the item is too big or you are not able to meet at a public spot and they have to come to your house, move the item out to your garage. Do not allow strangers into your home. Always have someone else there with you. A big dog barking inside is also helpful:) Also, I do not include my name or phone number the listing. Craigslist offers an option to hide your personal email address, which I highly recommend doing. Because Craigslist is a public forum, anyone can see your listing.


3. Accept cash only.
 
Again, you want to protect yourself from being scammed. Also, you should have your bottom-dollar price in mind before you list an item. I have only had a few people negotiate the price surprisingly, but avoid dozens of emails back and forth by sticking to a firm price you are comfortable with.

4. List your items on Saturday morning and again Sunday morning. Weekends are usually the most flexible for people to look at furniture and to borrow/rent a truck if necessary and more people seem to browse Craigslist early on Saturday morning to plan out their weekend. If your item did not sell on the first day you posted,  select the option to refresh the listing to put it back on top of the list the next day. Because the newest listing is posted on top, a listing that is a few days old can already be far down the list and won't be as easily noticed.

5. Be flexible. If your item has been posted for a week+ and no one has contacted you about it, I would consider lowering the price and re-listing. Also, post items during the appropriate season. You will have much better luck selling unused Christmas decor in November than you will in March. This goes for patio furniture, garden tools, sporting equipment etc. Also, if you are going to be very busy one weekend and unable to meet with potential buyers, than wait to list the item until you are more available.

Coming Soon: How to Buy Furniture on Craigslist

best, S

6/6/12

Copy Cat Coral

I see faux coral in lots of summer decor in magazines, websites and homes.

I hadn't hopped on the coral train yet though, mostly because I thought it seemed pricey for what it was.

Case in point-

 Pottery Barn Coral $99

Z Gallerie Large Faux Coral $59.50

A few days ago when I was perusing Bed Bath & Beyond, I happened to notice a large piece of faux coral in a pile of terrible Summer decor. A diamond in the rough so to speak.
 
I checked the price and was surprised to see just $19.99. Paired with my 20% off coupon, I knew that $16 for a large piece was a great deal. So, it found it's way into my cart and into our house.

Perfect little touch of the season.

If you are looking for faux coral, check out BB&B. It was actually hidden on a bottom shelf near the art. Love deals like this!

xoxo-S

6/4/12

We finally found The One!

I don't think I've ever been as excited to see a truck back into our driveway, as I was Saturday-
 
It is with great delight that I introduce to you our new sofa-
  
Where in the world did we find this awesome sofa??

Well, the sweet young couple that bought our old sofa & love seat came by Saturday morning to pick them up, and it was at that point that panic struck in. We stood in our near empty great room and realized we needed to find a sofa...soon! So, we jumped in the car and headed to the annual Madden McFarland Furniture Sale. We had searched online and in numerous local furniture shops for a sofa, but we hadn't found anything that we absolutely loved (or if we did, it was WAY over budget). So, we were crossing our fingers that we would find something. Lucky for us, Madden McFarland did not disappoint.


This was actually my first time checking out Madden McFarland Interiors. For those of you that may not be familiar with them, they are a design firm and boutique that started in 1920! As soon as we saw the sofa, we knew it was the one. The most important component for us was it's size. Our great room measures 19ft long and is 15ft wide, so we wanted a nice long sofa to fill the space. This sofa measures 99inches!

Second, we wanted a natural linen color, which this is.
 
Last but not least, we wanted a down wrapped cushion. As soon as sat down, we knew that it was the exact level of softness we were after, soft but not too soft.


We especially love the interesting lines and the extra high back. Since the side of the sofa is visible as you enter the room, we are crazy for the curved arm rests.
 
The best thing of all is that it was delivered about an hour after we purchased it, so we were only officially without a sofa for about 3 hours:)


One of my favorite features is that the back cushions are removable-
So, if I want to completely change the look and use large, colorful accent pillows along the back I could.

Because we bought this at their warehouse sale, we ended up paying about half of the retail price, which was still toward the high end of our budget. However, thanks to unloading 4 pieces of furniture on Craigslist last weekend, we used that $ towards this, so we hardly spent any money out of pocket. Even better!

Now the search is on for 2 new chairs.

*please note that this room is still a work in progress. We need to add a rug, more artwork and the garden seat will probably get painted a new color. The yellow popped nicely against the gray, but I'm not feeling it against the tan/taupe/natural color of this. The throw pillows shown above are ones I already had on hand and just threw them on for the time being.

Hope you have a great week! xoxo, S