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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.
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Budget Home Theater – Embarrassingly Debilitating Decisions {ORC Fall 2018: Week 4}

So…almost nothing has happened since last week. I started a new job this week (yay! health insurance!) so not much has moved forward. But ideas are brewing…if I could only make a decision.


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. 

If you followed along in my IG stories last week I presented probably the biggest nail biter as far as decisions go in this space – art work for the walls. We are waffling between two different aesthetics: Classic 80’s Graphics vs. Modern Metal Minimalism.  Classic black frames vs. metalwork.  3 large scale vs. 4 medium sized. To add to that list of innocuous decisions that are becoming debilitating: To use what we’ve got or to buy an unnecessary popcorn maker. To hang a small chandelier or hack our new recessed lighting. I’m sure there will be more. It’s hard trying to make something pinterest-worthy and also practical.

Let’s start with the art. I’ll state that all of these movies have some sort of meaning to us, some more sentimental than others, and clearly the artwork itself and overall cohesiveness to either aesthetic played a major factor in narrowing it down.  I now present to you for careful consideration:

Classic 80’s Graphics:

Bill and Ted’s  Goonies   Big Trouble

Pros: The graphics are great.  We will put them in simple black frames which are safe (literally and figuratively) and familiar to a theater setting. Our house was built in the 80’s so you can even argue that it is staying true to the time period of the home. We will probably never tire of seeing these on the wall. Huge nostalgia factor here.
Cons: Is it a boring choice?

Modern Metal Minimalism:

Bill and Ted’s    My Neighbor, Totoro   Ace Ventura    Whiplash

Pros: I dig the minimalism in general, and the one liners on the bottom. I like that we can comfortably fit more on the wall because it was HARD narrowing these down (hi, we love movies). I like that it’s a little unexpected and the Ace Ventura one is a particularly clever design. Ironically it feels more exciting to me even though these are minimalist in design.
Cons: Is it too try-hard-y and pretentious? If those metal things come off the wall (they go up with a magnet) is a kid going to lose a finger? These are a bit more expensive too…

And clearly this was a tough decision for anyone voting on IG: There were even a few friends who sent me DMs to switch their vote after thinking about it longer! And guess what, here I am, a week later and no closer to a decision. HELP ME PLEASE.

Aside from the futile used leather couch search, we’ve been CRUSHING the secondhand scene since we moved here in August. I am especially proud of Tom – he has been finding some real gems for us. Like this ridiculous candy display for $40. Apparently it was used at school fundraiser functions – and now. it’s. all. ours. I picked up a few clear bins to hold the snacks et voila.

I went down a rabbit hole of popcorn bowls on the internet. It’s hard to find well reviewed reusable bowls (I am really trying to avoid disposable things in general in life), and I wanted something a little more fun. We purchased these and one set of three arrived damaged (as mentioned in several reviews). They are also waaaay bigger than I anticipated. Great for the kids, annoying for me.  They are fine for now, but I don’t anticipate these lasting too long and will definitely keep my eyes out for something more substantial.

I’ve had this random extra microwave since…2003? We were happy to use it but now that everything else is coming together we are like – should we get a fun looking popcorn machine? This is a “budget” makeover anyway, and I feel real guilt at the idea of not using what we already have. Can someone appeal to my environmental side and show me where I can buy kernels and butter in bulk so I can rationalize no longer buying individual bags of popcorn to save on paper and plastic waste? Or can someone convince me this thing will be too much of a pain to clean and take care of?

This chandelier. It was in the original dining room of our NJ house before we gut renovated. We turned it into plug-in swag and hung it up in our NJ office. We brought it with us here, and I really like the idea of it hanging over the tables.  But placement is hard because it can potentially get in the way of the symmetry of the artwork and Tom has told me we are at our max for electrical outlets. Tom is also a huge fan of smart devices and wants to put a smart bulb into one of the recessed lights and set it to a dim light that we can just access on the remote, but it seems like a missed opportunity to me. See what this one room challenge is doing to me???

I’m still completely lost on what to do with refinishing/covering the halved tables, and we’ve got a few more ideas to make this area cozy. See you next week!

Go check out the Featured Participants and Guest Participants! And please chime in below if you’ve got any opinions on anything above – we need help.

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Budget Home Theater – Cameras are rolling…but not a lot of action {ORC Fall 2018: Week 3}

The title is a little misleading.  Things are definitely moving along, but not without a few more CUT! Reshoot!s than expected. (I promise to work on my film puns for next week.) On the plus side, if you’ve been following along in my IG stories, I think we’ve finally got it to stop raining in the house.  Follow me on IG if you want to join in on some movie posters polling questions this Friday too!

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 start with the water issues. Last week we scrapped off the loose stuff covering the cinder block walls. We applied waterproofing masonry paint. We filled in the horizontal gaps we could see with cement we had lying around the house.

Then it rained again. Inside and out.

On the plus side, because of the dark color of the paint, it was really easy to see where the walls were weeping. We scrapped again, consulted the internet, and ran out to get waterproof cement (the darker gray patches in the photo below). I asked Tom if he thought we messed up by using the regular cement (lighter gray patches) in the first place, but we did have decent sized gaps and he felt it was correct to fill those holes with that first.

While we were waiting for all of this to dry, it was time to inspect where all of this water was coming from. It was clearly concentrated on this one area of the wall.

A little backstory on the house: we purchased this house this past summer from an elderly couple who had bought it in the mid-80s and did some tremendous additions to a much smaller house before moving in. This house has some amazing quirkiness to it (I can’t wait to share it all with you!) but as they got older they spent more and more time at their vacation homes and less time here, and had been trying to sell the house for several years. They definitely let it go into a bit a disrepair, which is understandable on many levels. Our inspection brought up rotting siding issues, and among other things, most of the problems were probably due to ice damns forming on the roof line. So we hired a handyman and a gutter company to remove the dry rotted wood, add in additional layers of protection beneath the new siding, and to add in gutters where there weren’t any and to CLEAN OUT THE GUTTERS THAT WERE THERE. Folks, so many problems can be avoided by cleaning out your gutters (or getting the covers that eliminate the need to clean).

So we noticed this when we looked outside. See the gutters running down on either side of the windows? This is essentially our eat-in kitchen area and directly above the area of the basement that was getting wet. Well, a quick peek under the deck showed us that the gutters stopped about a foot away from the house.

Another quick trip to Lowes for some downspout extenders (not sponsored(yet! Hi Lowes 😉)), some muddy bellies from crawling under the deck and I *think* we have really fixed the water issue. We haven’t had a really heavy rainfall since, so time will tell. I’ve even painted a second coat over all of our cement and fingers crossed, we are basically done painting.

Not pictured, Theodore taking a turn with downspout arms running up to strangers and yelling “DESTROY, DESTROY”.

In other news – half of our sectional arrived! After too many attempts to purchase used leather couches on craigslist/letgo/FB marketplace, we found this couch online. Tom researches the hell out of purchases and felt it was a great deal, and the same price we were seeing used sectionals listed at. Unfortunately, part of the couch arrived damaged to the shipping company so we have to wait for the loveseat to arrive, hopefully before this challenge ends. It’s not exactly what I would put in my living room, but I’m happy to report it is super comfortable and it’s exactly what we were hoping for this space.

This post is getting long, but we need a little help on two decisions if we are going to finish this on time:

1) We’ve narrowed down a few movie poster pics we want to purchase to hang on the walls. All of the movies have some sort of connection to us, some stronger than others, but they go in two different directions aesthetically speaking. I’ll be posting the options on IG on Friday – please help us vote!!

2) We are trying to salvage and make use of an old dining room table as a counter down here. Problem is, it has seen better days, and we are taking an unconventional route and taking it apart and pushing the halved sides against the wall. My mother bought this set in the 90’s at an auction for $300. It was her set until 2007 when I moved to Brooklyn and I took over the table itself, the chairs, and the large buffet (the small buffet still lives at her house). Refinishing it is the obvious answer (there is years of water damage to the veneer on top), but I’m scared to tackle that. Painting it could be an option too, but I think the prep work will be as much as refinishing it, and more permanent, so again, scared. I kind of want to go the easy route and get a black table cloth and gathered skirt, that kinda screams movie theater to me, but is that lame? Also, those legs are kinda cool, do I want to cover them up? All suggestions are welcome, especially links to any tutorials.

PHEW. Points to anyone still here. Now go check out Week 3 for the Featured Participants and Guest Participants! See you next week.

Week 1  Week 2