Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Cheap, Chic Christmas Decor December 12, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 10:47 PM
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Well, it is for me! I love the holiday season, especially Christmas. All of my happiest childhood (and young adult) memories seem to focus on the time right after Thanksgiving through the New Year. The lights, the carols, festive drinks and dresses — and getting to spend a lot of quality time with my wonderful family and friends.

Ever since I’ve had a place of my own, I started collecting my own Christmas decorations. Even if I would only see them for the few weeks between the end of Thanksgiving break and finals, it was worth it! Starting with an easy to pack in a suitcase advent calendar from my mom to have in my dorm room years ago, each holiday season I find a few new things to add to my collection and hold on to a couple old mementos.

For those that know me well (and have seen enough of my condo via this blog), you know that I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to decorating. Christmas at my place is no different. It’s all about unique, meaningful pieces that add just the right amount of jolly.

This year, after a long day at work, I decided that I needed a little Christmas cheer from the one and only Target. There is something about this store that just sucks me in. But, thankfully I kept things simple and only picked up a few new decorations. Since this is my second Christmas at the condo (crazy to think where the time has gone) and I knew exactly what I wanted to add:

Garland with white lights for my stairs – The house where I grew up is one story, so I never had the quintessential garland along the stair rail. Now I do, for just $9.99 + about $2 for the bows.

A quick and cheap modification to year-round items – The leftover bows from the garland worked perfectly to transform my circle mirrors into ‘ornaments.’

My own wreath with my own holder- Last year I borrowed an extra wreath and holder from my mom, but for around $15 dollars I now have my own. I found a seasonal simple wreath and modified the cheaper faux-gold holder with the leftover silver paint from my fireplace redo so the holder can be used all year-round.

Next on the list is all the holiday baking and snacks to prepare and share!


Tax Rebate Home Redo: New Bathroom Flooring August 25, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 11:58 AM
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I would say the biggest drawback about my condo when I bought it was the flooring in my two full bathrooms, linoleum (or as I like to call it, crapoleum). Even though that was the first thing I thought I would update after moving in, that project became the final big redo for my condo in 2009.

Several months ago, I set out to find the perfect tile for both bathrooms. To keep things simple (an consistent), I knew I wanted to do the same type of tile in both bathrooms. Like with most projects, I began my search online. Originally I wanted to get recycled glass, since I liked the imperfect look. But, after seeing it in person (and some good advice from The Tile Guy) I realized it wouldn’t be the best option for flooring. So, in just one afternoon at the tile shop I found the perfect glass tile: Arctic Matte 2×2 in. squares.

Finally, this past weekend my dad, uncle and I could all get together to get the tiling project done. The linoleum came off easily on Friday evening, so we could start setting tile early Saturday morning.

First thing in the morning was removing the toilets, which spent the day in my showers.


By lunch time we almost finished the first bathroom and figured out the best way to set and cut the glass tiles.


In the evening we had one bathroom set and were working on the second, everything on schedule. Unfortunately, the process hit a road bump. We were one tile short. Just one sheet. To be exact, only 22 2×2 tiles needed to finish (one sheet of tile has 36). Instead of giving up or throwing up our arms in disgust, we finished cutting all the tiles that needed to be trimmed and called it a night. The next day, my uncle grouted everything and we replaced the toilets and cleaned up.

Thanks to the great people at The Tile Guy, I ordered just one sheet of tile to finish up the job. In total, the redo cost me a little under $1000 (tile, grout, adhesive, beer and breakfast tacos to ‘pay’ the workers). I’ll share the final, final photos of both bathrooms next week! Below are a few from the master bathroom.




Tax Rebate Home Redo: Updated Entryway August 4, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 10:17 AM
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After spending many hours watching HGTV’s Curb Appeal, I’ve learned two things. One: I’m not ready for a real yard. Two: Little aesthetic enhancements to the front of your place can really make a difference.

For my birthday, I received several gift cards from good friends, one for the Home Depot. This round at the depot I knew exactly what I was going to fix up, my front door. This past weekend my dad and I finally got around to making all the updates for the front. We did run into some minor hinge issues — but all was fixed with just one additional trip to the depot! Check out the updating and the new entryway.

The entryway when I first moved in 9 months ago.


Mr. Bill prying the old light fixture off the wall. The previous exterior paint job secured that light a bit too well.


The old doorbell, not in brushed nickel.


With the leftover metal paint from the fireplace, the doorbell is now brushed nickel.


The new entryway!!! *I also brushed a little of the paint on the peephole to complete the look.


Tax Rebate Home Redo: Quickly Revamp the Fireplace July 22, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 10:42 AM
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The other week my neighbor had a going away happy hour for a couple that has lived in my condo complex since it was built back in 2000. I’m so thankful to be a part of a little community, filled with fantastic, fun people. We all sipped on wine and snacked on some homemade sushi (from another fabulous neighbor) and got caught up on the latest condo gossip. But, one of my favorite parts of the evening was the exchange of home improvement successes and failures.

Like me, many of the neighbors have replaced the original brassy hardware in our condos, but I wasn’t sure what to do about my fireplace with brass accents. Before putting their condo on the market, the neighbors moving out simply spray painted the brass with a silver finish. They said it was easy to take the doors off, tape around, etc. — but, I thought I could get it done in a easier and cheaper way.

After a $2 trip to Michael’s for some outdoor metal paint in silver, I had all I needed! I used one of my nice paint brushes and a couple coats to modernize my fireplace. Before and after photos below.





Tax Rebate Home Redo: The $20 Fan July 16, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 8:49 AM
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Summer always seems to be the season of moving — which can also mean the season for great garage sales and giveaways from friends. My best friend from growing up, Sarah moved last week into a very nice, new apartment. Her previous place had minimal amenities, which required her to purchase a fan and microwave among other things. Being the classy, fashion-forward gal that she is, she got a brushed nickel Hunter fan. Lucky for me, her new place came fully stocked with fans and appliances.

Since I replaced all the lighting in my condo, I’ve been searching for a new fan to match. Nothing I saw was very cute or worth the hefty price point…until Sarah showed me her old one. She said it had dark wood blades, but on the reverse side, they were the perfect light, yellow wood for my downstairs. It was perfect! And how much did she want for it? 20 bucks — Awesome!

With the help of my Dad, we installed my new fan that completes the whole space!



Tax Rebate Home Redo: Updated Showers June 3, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 1:18 PM
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Fixing up my bathrooms has been quite a process. The updated cabinets, accessories, sink fixtures, and lights have done a lot to bring my bathrooms into the modern design age. The second to last element I needed to fix was the shower/tub fixtures. Similar to the sinks, the shower fixtures were very bland and acrylic – not the look I’m going for. So, I decided to first purchase new shower fixtures for both full bathrooms from the Home Depot. I found exactly what I needed for a great price…unfortunately, my plumber had a different opinion.

A plumber you may ask? Not my Dad or Uncle? Sadly, yes. My Dad (who I believe can fix anything) doesn’t feel too confident in his plumbing ability and my uncle wasn’t available. Thankfully, I got a great recommendation on a plumber that definitely cost me a bit more, but gave me the perfect advice!

So, the fixtures I found weren’t going to work. Now, if I wanted to remove the wall behind both showers and completely redo the space, they could.  I opted for my plumber to get me different (much pricier) fixtures to install. In the short term it was more money, but it was definitely the simplest and long term more cost efficient option. And, I must say, they look fabulous and the new shower heads are quite nice in the morning!




Recession Chic Birthday: Outdoor Living Space May 18, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 4:23 PM
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This year for my birthday, I told my parents I would love to finally have some outdoor seating for my patio. Since I moved into the condo, I’ve only used my patio as a place to wash paint brushes and as a work space for staining and spray painting. The other week my mother and I decided to paint the concrete pad to cover up the stain and paint residue and create a clean canvas for the outdoor living space. Below is what the patio looked like before.


My mom did give me a heads up that she planned to recover some chairs she no longer used, but I was very, pleasantly surprised when I arrived at my condo after work on my birthday. The following sign was posted on my door.


Over lunch that day, my parents and brother put together my beautiful new patio, complete with citronella candle and lights. Check out the photos below 🙂