Hellos and Goodbyes

1980s Contemporary – 2018 MLS Listing Photo

1980s Contemporary – 2018 MLS Listing Photo

Ok, ok. I know you are all wondering…so what does this upstate NY 1980s Contemporary house look like? (Look up! It looks like that!) What did the central NJ 1950s Colonial look like? (Scroll on down!)  I got as far as showing the before and afters of the NJ dining room, and a few holiday pics of the family room, living room, and office from the NJ house waaaay back in 2014 and then I disappeared from the internet. We loved and worked really hard on that colonial in NJ. But life changes and when we had it about 85% complete to where we wanted it, we realized it was time to move for personal reasons.

 The 1950s Colonial in Spring 2014 – MLS Listing Photo 

1950s Colonial in Spring 2018 – MLS Listing Photo

So, I thought it would be fun to finally document the old house and introduce the new house in tandem, room by room. While these houses are wildly different it’s fun to see how our furniture and decor has fit into each home. Some stuff fit in seamlessly. Other stuff still needs some tweaking. And I’ll talk about the things that I wish we would’ve gotten around to in the old house before we sold it. Plus I think we’ve had enough time where I can look back on the NJ pictures fondly. It was a bittersweet move, but the right move by all accounts. Look at those before and afters!

And yes, I’ll finally get into the whole house crisis of 2016, and you can finally understand or at least appreciate my PTSD with water in houses. Not to spoil the surprise, but guess what, something similar already happened in the our new home too, literally 4 days into owning it. They don’t call us the Waters family for nothing, apparently! The irony that we named our kids gods of thunder in different cultures is not lost on me either. I think there is a joke about immersion (submersion?) therapy somewhere in there too…

How’s that for a teaser post?  😀

, ,

Budget Home Theater – The Budget-Baller Reveal {ORC Fall 2018: Week 6}

Yay!! The Six Week One Room Challenge is complete! I finished a few days late waiting on some packages…and we are still waiting on the rest of our sectional (that we ordered in August!!)…but this room is happily functioning exactly the way we envisioned!

If you’ve landed here from the One Room Challenge, Welcome! We’ve just purchased an 80’s contemporary home in Upstate NY that just needs a little TLC to bring her back to her former glory.  

Let’s take it way back to a mere 6 weeks ago, where this space started. We had a speaker system and a cozy nook of our new-to-us, semi-finished basement. Let’s just buy a projector, screen and couch and be done, right? Right.


Fixing a kitchen sink issue led to fixing some potentially major drainage issues outside the house. I cannot extol my praise of gutter extenders enough. When we first plugged in 2 dehumidifiers a few weeks back, this room was at 80%+ humidity and it felt like it.  Now it is set to 60% and usually hovers at 50%, ALMOST rendering the dehumidifiers useless (we would never risk getting rid of them).


We gave new life to some tables, a chandelier, and old curtains we were no longer using. We finally made a decision on artwork (we finally went nostalgic 80s – it was a major nailbiter). We thrifted. We bought some new stuff. We made some changes as things came together and we even impressed ourselves a bit with how cozy this little area has become.

We talked about the ‘budget’ a bit. Throughout this I thought to myself, will this space be a place we really use? Are we spending too much? Are we not spending enough? Will we regret not going all out with stadium seating and adding drywall to make this a separate room and maybe buying more new than used items? GUYS. I am so happy to report that I truly feel like we found a nice happy medium for ourselves. BUDGET-BALLER, as Tom likes to call it. There are not a lot of inspiration out there of a room that functions quite like this but didn’t cost an arm and leg and another arm and another leg. Go ahead, search pinterest. It’s a step up from just an extra TV area. It feels like an EVENT to sit down here, for us and for the kids. I really feel like we created something special here that we can be proud of and thoroughly enjoy. I’m going to enjoy this moment, because I don’t do it often enough (a little more on that here, if you’d like).

Blah blah blah. Enough chatting! On to the final-ish pics!


Some last minute changes occurred as the room was pulling together, as per usual. Last week my brother was over and mentioned the space between the two curtains looked empty above the screen. I had just {poorly} hemmed and trimmed a pair of the curtains, and realized the trimmed part made a pretty perfect valance, but the top hem lines were off due to the tabs that the curtains were currently hanging from. So I grabbed the extra pair, turned them upside down, and hung everything from the original bottom hem with a new single rod that spanned the 112 inches we needed. It works for me!

Tom really wanted this shot of Lo-Pan to be in the background of a photo

The original pair of curtains got attached to the back wall with the extra 18 inch rods we now had leftover.  It was very much a “will they/won’t they work” moment. My brother and Tom were skeptical, but I put them up anyway and it really gave it that extra coziness it needed, and cleaned up the paint line that differentiates this space from the rest of the room.

Next we knew, that back wall was screaming for some artwork. Tom wanted a light up marquee, but
with time running out and our pockets a little exhausted, I realized we had a chalkboard with an ornate gold frame in my craft room just collecting dust. It’s kind of perfect, right? Here’s to shopping your house, amIright?


I did it. I bought the popcorn maker and bulk kernels, coconut oil, and flavacol. Per the internet this is all you need. Yes, that is microwaved popcorn in my styled shot because right now the photos are more important the trying out my new toy. Once we really had the cozy factor going last weekend I was convinced we will be using this space often enough to warrant this purchase. How much fun is this going to be for the kids as they get older and have friends over? I’ll let you know how the popcorn maker actually works after our next movie night on IG.


The pillow, blankets, baskets, and random table tchotckes were all shopped from other rooms in our house. I didn’t want to go full movie memorabilia in here, but a few can’t hurt, right? It you have any questions, let me know and I can try to find links.


There is a sentimental secret inside this copy of Harry Potter – if you’d like to see. Golden snitch, as you do.



What did I miss? Anything you want more information on? As always, a HUGE thank you to Linda for creating such a fun, inclusive, and positive group experiment. Thank you to featured and guest participants for joining in, and the sponsors for keeping this going and making becoming a featured sponsor something worth working towards!  Check back next week for some of my favorites. Maybe I’ll see everyone again for the Spring 2019 challenge 🙂

, ,

Budget Home Theater – The Budget Breakdown {ORC Fall 2018: Week 5}

Psst: This post may contain affiliate links…

I think the word budget is very subjective/relative, especially in the interior design world. I grew up in a small  rural town where the average household income ran somewhere from dirt poor to lower middle class. I never really was aware of this until I entered college, because the one nice thing about living in an area where most people have a similar standard of living is you don’t have a lot to compare to or to even be jealous of.  You don’t know what you don’t have because no one around you has it either. I was blissfully unaware of how the “other half” lived. I should also note: I had a GREAT childhood. Zero complaints. From graduating high school to now, I’ve bounced back and forth between NYC and surrounding areas and upstate New York. I’ve lived in a trailer in the woods, in walk up slums in shady Brooklyn and Bronx neighborhoods; I’ve lived in doorman buildings in Manhattan and very upper middle class suburbs in NJ, and everything in between.

All this is to say, I know I’m calling this a budget Home Theater, but let’s be honest, we are still spending (or have spent) a pretty penny on some of these items. This is not a $100 or $500 or even $1,000 makeover. It’s also NOT a $15,000 makeover. I was super inspired last week to pull back the curtain on what this is costing us after reading Michele’s Week 4 post. So for anyone interested (and since all I’ve really done is poorly hem some curtains this week) I thought we could talk about the budget for this space. We didn’t have a maximum amount we planned to spend, it was more of a fun challenge to see what we cobble together with a semi-frugal mindset. We didn’t need a gut renovation job, frankly we didn’t need any of this, but it was more of a personal challenge to create a “finished” space that is functional for us and pretty to me. Also guys, I’m too lazy to try to get sponsors, because that is a job in itself, so this is clearly all out of our own pocket. It’s not my livelihood to provide pretty content.  I think there is a place for that, it just isn’t here.

If you’ve landed here from the One Room Challenge, Welcome! We’ve just purchased an 80’s contemporary home in Upstate NY that just needs a little TLC to bring her back to her former glory.  

Here’s a breakdown to the stuff we expected to spend money on:
Sectional $1239
Paint $60
Artwork (no, we still didn’t buy anything yet! FML) ~$150
The stuff we didn’t expect to spend money on:
More paint $30
Cement and waterproof cement $20
Gutter extenders $20
Plumbing updates and electric labor ~$300 (this was baked into other odd jobs around the house)
The fun stuff we picked up/plan to pick up along the way:
Popcorn bowls $8
Snack tower $40
Curtain rods & gold tassels $10
To buy/make: Pillows and blankets ~$60
To buy: Popcorn Maker ~$150 ???
The stuff we already had that convinced us we could do this on a budget (I made some best estimates for these because some of this has been around for a long time):
Tables/counter $300 – $500
Microwave (that I don’t even plan to use anymore) $50
Chandelier $150
Paint supplies $20
Candy dishes and trays $40 – $60

So there you have it! Somewhere between $3,050 and $5,000 when this is all said and done. We went into this thinking we could do it for about $2,000, given the fact that we already had the speaker system and extra table on hand. We were somewhat close (this is also making me rethink the popcorn machine that I haven’t pulled the trigger on yet) and the ~$500 and effort spent on making sure our foundation stays dry are clearly going to add YEARS of life to this house, but I wanted to include it be thorough.

As I’m doing this calculation I’m like “whoa” we really did spend that much! We don’t often cram to design and decorate a room down to minute details that appear “pinterest-worthy” (<–sarcasm font) often.  If it wasn’t for the ORC, we still would have eventually gotten to this room, but we probably wouldn’t have spent all that money in a roughly 6 week period.  Everyone knows I’m a slow decorator, this normally would have taken us a year or two or three, but the benefit of this challenge is that you completely transform a room from top to bottom in a set time frame.  I’m definitely glad we decided to join in again for this space! It means we get to enjoy this area thoroughly for many more years to come and my mind won’t drift to what else I could do to it while watching a movie with my kids. I will BE in the moment, dammit! Thank you ORC!

One week left – let’s see how everyone else is doing!  My top picks for this week is to go check out the wallpaper Albertina is putting up and I am now in love with Bre and her blog in general. As a lover of blogs, it’s fun to come across new-to-you bloggers whose voice you really enjoy.
Check ’em all out here! Featured and Guests.