For years, I was hiding a dirty little secret!  In fact, it was a big secret, and the worst kept one at that!

My garage had slowly become a disorganized catchall for everything from baby gear that we no longer needed, to athletic equipment for sports we never played, and home to approximately 9 hammers because it got to a point where it was just easier to buy a new one rather than sift through the cluttered chaos in hopes of finding the ones we already owned.

BEFORE

1. Before 1

I think most people would confess to having a junk drawer, or a junk closet, or maybe even a junk room, but when that room is your garage, there’s no keeping it a secret from the entire neighbourhood.  Especially on garbage day when the door slowly raises to embarrassingly reveal the disaster zone in its entirety.  So, instead of continuing our covert 2am garage-to-curb garbage missions, my husband and I resolved to clean up our act, and not only make our garage more organized and efficient, but also a well-designed extension of our home.

AFTER

2. After 1

With a modest budget, a heap of DIY elbow grease, and a dash of creativity, we set out to put the “fun” in functional and tackle the garage transformation ourselves.  After a massive purge (which led to the discovery of the 9 hammers), we began to prioritize our projects, and here’s how we completed our dream garage makeover…

1. Consider the garage an extension of your interior 

Just because the garage isn’t necessarily a room inside of your home doesn’t mean that you should pass up the opportunity to introduce finishes and a colour scheme that act as an extension of your existing interior.

We spent a weekend installing finished drywall and insulation to the walls and ceiling which immediately made the garage feel more like a room, and then we painted everything a soft gray and added durable and practical rubber baseboards.  As much as I would have loved an HVAC heated space to work in during the freezing winter months, we decided to forgo the hefty installation cost and instead look for a high-performance space heater.

And, well, timing is everything!…

Dyson recently connected and asked if I would be interested in test driving their Pure Hot + Cool Link, and I was obviously super stoked to give it a whirl!  I spent a few chilly nights last week DIY-ing at my workbench, and let me tell you, it was SO nice to work in a toasty space without having to wear bulky layers to keep warm!

Dyson

Not only does the Dyson unit heat, but it also cools which will be amazing during hot and humid summer days…. annnnnnd my absolute fave part it is that it triples as an air purifier!!!  Since the garage is so exposed to the outdoors, the fact that this magical machine automatically removes 99.97% of gases, fumes, allergens, AND pollution from my workspace is a giant BONUS!  I’ve also connected the unit to the Dyson link app on my smartphone, so I can pre-heat and purify my workspace from inside my house before I go out to work!  Can you tell I’m legit impressed?!?!

This little sucker is some seriously COOL. STUFF.

And HOT. STUFF.  *Wink*

2. DIY your own showroom worthy floors

After the initial garage purge, we could finally see the floor for the first time in… ahem… almost a decade!  We noticed that our existing concrete floors had extensive automotive oil and paint stains, pitting from wear and tear, and they were long overdue for a cosmetic overhaul.  After extensive cleaning, an application of Moisture Stop to seal the substrate, and patching of all cracks and divots with concrete Fast Patch, we were ready to apply a top coat.  My husband had always dreamed of a glossy fresh finish …like something you would see in a luxury car dealership, but we didn’t want to invest thousands of dollars into a lengthy and expensive application by a pro.  After researching various options, we discovered Rust-Oleum’s RockSolid flooring kit with an anti-skid additive that created a marbleized glass effect, and we were beyond thrilled by how easy and affordable it was to DIY our own showroom worthy floors.

BEFORE

3. Before 2

AFTER

4. After 2 Floor

3. Maximize vertical and overhead storage

Another obvious project priority was the introduction of smart and savvy storage solutions.  We wanted to maximize vertical space as much as possible, and by adding a combination of slat wall, overhead mounted bike hooks, and moveable modular storage cabinets all from Gladiator Garage Works, we could finally get items up off the floor and onto the walls AND ceiling.

We also included a bevy of slat wall accessories such as a double golf bag caddy, mesh bins for sports balls, and wire baskets for bike helmets mounted low to the ground for the kids to grab easily.  I tarted up the loft space by drywalling the underside and adding small LED pot lights, I trimmed out the front facing edge with leftover rubber baseboard, and purchased a half dozen matching storage bins to hold all of our seasonal items… with labels on front, of course!

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4. Upcycle a stylist storage solution

For added storage, I had the idea of upcycling an old wood dresser to stylishly stash small bits and bobs such as screws, paint brushes, sandpaper, etc.  I quickly realized that a solid wood piece might not fair well with the extreme seasonal climate changes inside the garage, so I went on the hunt for an alternatively thrifty option.  Thanks to Kijiji, I scooped up a vintage metal library cabinet for only $20… score!  With a quick wire brush cleaning to remove loose rust, and a coat of rust inhibiting Tremclad in Sun Yellow, my frugal find became a show stopper of a storage solution.

BEFORE

Cabinet before

AFTER

6. Storage

5. Build a space saving workbench

High on my garage makeover wish list was the addition of a dedicated workbench, but I quickly realized that if we intended to park two cars in the garage (which we could now finally do), there wouldn’t be enough room for a permanent work surface.  After a mini brain wave, I decided to DIY my own space saving work station by affixing a stained pine board to a pair of folding wall brackets from Lee Valley.  The simple solution now allows me to raise the table when I need it, and then fold it away against the wall when we want to park a car in the garage.

5. Workspace

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To create a crafty and colourful tool storage solution above the table, I simply primed and painted a pre-cut piece of pegboard, and then framed it out with some inexpensive mouldings.  Now, there is place for everything, and everything in its place… including the hammer.

Since the completion of our DIY garage renovation, the only secret left to confess is the fact our garage is now officially (and ironically) the nicest room in our house!

Happy DIY-ing!

XO

L-A

 

Disclosure: This blog post is in partnership with Dyson Canada. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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I’ve always believed that great style has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget!

So, when my budget to re-design my guest bedroom was ZERO dollars… ZILCH… NADA… my creative engine quickly kicked into overdrive.

Would it be possible to design a space without spending a cent!?

I was convinced that it was!

If you’re not familiar with my #breakevenchallenge, here’s the Coles Notes version to get you up to speed…

For years, I had a forgotten, “black-hole” of a room hidden in my house!  Our spare bedroom had become un-affectionately known as the “Stuff Room”, and it was basically the corner of the house where things that we no longer had a need for, but were still in great condition, piled up.  What should have been a guest bedroom looked more like a disorganized storage unit, and the door always remained tightly closed for fear that someone might see it and immediately nominate me for an episode of Hoarders!

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I decided to tackle the space head on by selling some of the items on Kijiji, and then use the money earned to redesign the space without spending a cent more.  I recently shared my design plan, some of my favourite #KijijiFind purchases using the Kijiji app, and a sneak peek of an easy and affordable DIY furniture transformation that I completed to help customize the space using my $1,270 earnings from my sales.

THE REVEAL…

After an action-packed month of selling and shopping smart in the second-hand economy, flexing a little DIY muscle, and revving my creativity engine, I could not be more thrilled with how the space turned out!

after

I’m hard pressed to pick a favourite thing about the space!

I adore how this $30 dresser turned out with a splash of “Tidal Pond” teal Chalked paint and “new” vintage hardware…

Before:

dresser ad  hardware ad

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After:

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I love how a fresh coat of “Blush Pink” paint and an upcycled fur rug helped to transform this perfect little perch…

Before:

chair ad

After:

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And this screen… #hearteyes

Before:

wood screen ad

After:

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It never ceases to amaze me what a $12 can of “Satin Bronze” metallic spray paint can do!

Before:

chrome table ad chandelier ad

After:

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Now for the BIG reveal!

The million-dollar question…

Did I end up breaking even?

Here’s the final tally…

Kijiji Purchases: $468

Retail Purchases: $660 (Ahem… I have a thing for lots of pillows!)

DIY Materials: $114

GRAND TOTAL: $1,242

I’m no mathlete, but considering that I earned $1,270 by selling my items in the second-hand economy, that means that I came UNDER BUDGET by $28!!!

Let me put that a different way…

I not only re-designed my guest room for ZERO dollars, but I made a profit in the process!

*CARTWHEELS*

To take a virtual whirl around the space, check out the before and after makeover on Cityline, and watch some behind-the-scenes nuggets today on Kijiji’s Insta-stories.

I’ve tackled some extreme budget projects in the past, but nothing as seemingly crazy as this!  I was able to add style and function to our once cluttered space for less than a THIRD of the cost of buying everything brand new, and it proved that high-style can be achieved at a low-price.

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And yes, yes I did carve the initials of my husband and I into a log turned plants stand that I scored for FREE on Kijiji… because I believe that every room should have a sprinkle of quirk! 😉

I’d love to know what you think of the completed room and if itinspired you to tackle your own #breakevenchallenge!  Connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and check out the Second-Hand Economy Index for more inspiration and info!

XO

L-A

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Friday nights were always a big deal when I was a youngin’!  I’d rush home from school, my Mom would whip up a buffet of endless hors d’oeuvres, my Dad would set-up the TV dinner trays in the family room, and the three of us would huddle on the couch together to watch the naïve hilarity of sitcoms like Full House, Family Matters, and Perfect Strangers.

Gawd, how I miss the TGIF antics of Urkel and Balki!

Back then, the family room was exactly that… the room where our family gathered!  And what brought us together was that little glowing box filled with a familiar cast of characters that we hung out with at the same time, and on the same channel every week like clockwork.

Fast forward a few decades, and now that I have two little lads of my own, I’ve tried to implement similar Friday night traditions.  I make the hors d’oeuvres, we snuggle up on the couch together, BUT… while the hubs fires up the TV with an on-demand movie, the boys are each on their iPads watching overzealous teen YouTubers while simultaneously doing crafts at the coffee table, and I keep one scrolling thumb on Instagram while flipping through a recent décor magazine with the other.

Gone are the days when the family room used to revolve solely around the TV set!  We now expect the space to be versatile, practical, and multi-task the way we do.

The family room has become the everything room!

And if designed with the entire family’s needs in mind, you can squeeze loads of smart and style savvy function into the space, regardless of the size!

I’ve put together a mock design and layout as well as 5 tips to transform your family room into an EVERYTHING ROOM

IKEA AUG 2017 set pic Aug 28 2017 FLOOR PLAN

Stay in-CHARGE

One thing that I know for sure is that wherever a device charger is, my boys are always a cord length away!  So, if you want to keep your kidlets in plain sight while they’re surfing the web, create a communal charging station in the family room.  I love IKEA’s collection of wireless chargers that have been seamlessly integrated into the NORDLI table surface and the RIGGAD lamp bases, and I especially love that you can now buy the JYSSEN component separately to create a charging station anywhere.

RIGGAD LED work lamp w/wireless charging IKEARIGGAD LED work lamp w/wireless charging IKEA

NORDLI Nightstand with hole for charger IKEA On the hidden shelf is room for an outlet strip for your chargers.JYSSEN Wireless charger IKEA

Check out today’s episode of Cityline to see how I transformed a trio of figure maple logs into a chic DIY project using a hole saw and the JYSSEN wireless charger complete with hidden USB port.

WORK It

If you don’t have a dedicated office or homework station in your home, consider pulling your sofa away from the wall and adding a narrow console table behind to double as a work surface.  By sliding a couple of storage cubes underneath, you can store paperwork and office supplies inside, while also having a spot to sit.   I also love the idea of adding a simple pull-up side tables that can be used as a laptop stand or spot to have a snack during a TV binge-watching break.

ConsoleBOSNÄS Footstool with storage IKEA The cover is easy to keep clean as it is removable and can be machine washed. Works as an extra seat or footstool.

VITTSJÖ Laptop stand IKEA Made of tempered glass and steel, durable materials that give an open, airy feel.

PLAY Hide and Seek

If your family room also doubles as a play room… and subsequently looks like a toy store exploded all over the floor, then consider introducing some stylish dual-purpose storage solutions to help you hide the clutter.  A coffee table with a removable lid that doubles as a fast stash bin, and decorative baskets tucked under side tables will make for quick clean-up if the doorbell rings.

SANDHAUG Tray table IKEA Practical storage space underneath the table top. There's room under the tray for storage and a power strip.FLÅDIS Basket IKEA You can choose how you want to use this basket – turned up with handles or turned down to display the contents.

Get CRAFTY

We are a very crafty family, but I have yet to reach official Martha Stewart status by having a dedicated “craft room” in our house!  Instead, we have bins, and bins, and BINS of colouring books, crayons, glitter, and glue, and the coffee table often ends up being the craft centre of choice.  To keep all of the supplies close by, consider ditching a traditional media unit, and instead, place your TV on a dresser with drawers to categorize all of your craft and hobby materials.  You can even assign a separate drawer to each family member, so they can stash away their own personal past-time goodies.

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Be Our GUEST

Whether you have out-of-town guests staying the week, or an unexpected guest staying the night, you can easily transform your family room into a comfortable luxe bedroom.  IKEA’s new Vallentuna modular sofa collection not only let’s you design the configuration that you want, but it also offers a genius pull-out bed and storage option perfect for guest linens.  This isn’t the lumpy, squeaky spring pull-out sofa from back in the day!  The Vallentuna is a sleek, modern, and COMFORTABLE way to welcome your guests.  Your only concern will be getting them to leave!

vallentuna VALLENTUNA Sleeper sectional, 4-seat IKEA Add, remove or change functions to suit your needs, and choose covers to fit your style.

That’s my 5-in-1 EVERYTHING ROOM, and to see the product picks in action, visit www.cityline.ca to watch my latest segment.  Let me know how you use your family room by leaving a comment below or connecting with me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

I’m off to go binge watch the Full House reboot!

XO

L-A

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Confession…

I have a super-human sixth sense…

…the ability to sniff out a fabulously thrifty furniture find with great DIY potential!

I attribute my thrifty ways to my incredible parents who taught me that living luxe has nothing to do with how much money you have, but rather how creative you can be with your budget.

I remember spending many weekends as a child being dragged around to flea markets, garage sales and the “curbside boutique”… well before upcycling and shopping in the second-hand economy was cool.  They always had an eye for stylish pieces and an imaginative way of reinventing and repurposing them.  Their home tactfully struck a unique high/low balance, and ultimately, every piece told a story… even if that story was how they only paid five bucks for it!

My style and design philosophy has definitely been influenced by their stealthy luxe-for-less approach.

I LOVE the art of the find, and nothing makes me giddier than scooping up a fab vintage or pre-loved bargain that’s oozing with makeover potential!   So, as I’ve been working on my #breakevenchallenge space, my frugalista spidey senses have been extra tingly!

For those who aren’t up to speed on my challenge, check out my last post to see how I earned $1,270.00 in one month to put towards a room re-design by selling the contents of my “stuff room” on Kijiji.  That amount is just above the annual Canadian national earnings average of $1,037 made by those selling gently-used items in the second hand-economy.

So with cash in hand, it was time to start shopping for items to complete my space!

I’ve spent the past few weeks pursing the pages of Kijiji in search of amazingly unique items that will fit my budget and design plan, and my approach is much more time efficient and fruitful than the bargain hunting days of my parents!  Gone are the days of waking up at the crack-of-crazy to strap on a fanny pack and schlep to a local garage sale.  NOW, I shop for all of my DIY gems online anytime (and often in my pajamas) using the Kijiji app .  Let’s just say that when I showed the app to my Mom… well… Mind. Blown.

The app has made it quick and easy to connect with sellers, and I’ve met some amazing people in the process!  I purchased a set of vintage drawer pulls from a woman who is a leading product designer, I scored artwork from a former gallery curator, and I even inquired about buying a few items from someone who ended up being another Cityline design expert!  It truly is a stylishly small world!

Here are my tips to help you unearth your perfect #KijijiFind

Get Inspired

Before I began my online shopping expedition, I created a room layout and inspiration board to help me determine the overall look of the space.  It gave me a visual shopping list to start my online search and helped me to look for items based on their shape and size rather than their colour and finish… because those can easily be changed with a little DIY muscle!  I knew that I wanted to include a tallboy dresser in my #breakevenchallenge room for extra storage of guest linens and office supplies, and fell head over heels for this inspiration image of a sleek smokey teal beauty.

Green dresser

When I found this unique piece on Kijiji…

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…it definitely didn’t look like the inspo image, but it was full of character and I knew that a fresh coat of paint and new hardware, I could make it look like a million bucks.  Especially for the frugal $30 price tag… say what?!?! A total savings of over $300 if bought new.

If you read my Instagram post last week about my great colour debate, you know that I was second guessing my original plan to paint it a sophisticated teal green and instead flirted with the idea of coating it in coral… and here’s a sneak peek of my final choice… Tidal Pond for the WIN!

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Set your location perimeter

Whether you want to shop your neighbourhood or turn your treasure hunt into a day trip, I love that you can refine your online Kijiji search to be as narrow or broad as you want.  I have literally found some of the most amazing finds within walking distance of my house, and in the instance of this chair…

chair before

…my family and I were up for an end of summer road trip adventure which is why I decided to go beyond our ‘community borders’ to look for a great #KijijiFind.  I spotted this gorgeous gal for sale about an hour from our home in Niagara Falls, and aside from the pretty shape, it was the $30 price tag that caught my eye!  To buy something this full of character brand new would likely cost several hundred dollars, so not only did I snag a great deal, but my family and I had a great day of sightseeing to boot!

Refine your search

Since there is an endless sea of pre-loved goodies for sale online, it helps to narrow down the options by using keywords.  As with the chair above, just searching “chair” returned a ton of results, but when I started to focus my search with specific words (ie. “Unique Vintage Wood Armchair”) I was able to target options that were exactly what I was looking for.  On the flip side, I have an affection for all things brass, so a generic search of “Brass” garnered some unbelievably awesome items that I never knew I needed, but had to have!

View other items from the same seller

I discovered this little trick while recently searching for a lamp… I found a brass lamp (obvi) that I loved, but it was pictured in a stunning living room surrounded by other gorgeousness, so I viewed the other items that the seller had available for sale and some of those other items were posted too!  I’ve found that if you like the style of one item, chances are the seller has more items in that same style for sale.  Plus, if you’re meeting to pick-up one item, why not walk away with an armful of eye candy!

So…

That dresser…

I can’t keep this transformation under wraps any longer!

What do you think…???

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I decided to go with my gut and I’m so glad I did!

Here’s the total cost breakdown of this DIY makeover…

Dresser: $30

Prep and paint materials: $55

Vintage 1950’s hardware (also found on Kijiji 😉 ): $30

Total Cost: $115

Now, THAT is a fabulously thrifty #KijijiFind transformation…and a HUGE cost savings of several hundred dollars in lieu of buying new!  Cha-ching!

I’ll be sharing more sneak peeks of my DIY makeovers next week AND the countdown to the room reveal is on, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, what’s been your all-time fave frugal furniture find?  Share your pics on Instagram and Twitter, and include #KijijiFind and #breakevenchallenge so I can take a peek!

XO

L-A

Disclosure: This blog post is in partnership with Kijiji Canada. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Once upon a time…

…there was an ugly duckling of a spare bedroom that, over years, had mindlessly become crammed with unwanted and unused STUFF.  And although the stuff was still awesome, the visual clutter was not, so the room sat lonely and idle with the door closed tightly to hide it from the judgmental eyes of others.

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But, like most good fairy tales, there’s always a prince charming… or a white knight… or a fairy godmother with a magic wand that comes to the rescue!

And in the case of my spare room, I can now officially (and ecstatically) say that my once sad, dishevelled space has undergone the first step of a HUGE “fairy godmother-esque” transformation thanks to the online selling magic of Kijiji!

If you read my recent post explaining my #breakevenchallenge, you know that I set out to sell all our unwanted STUFF with the hopes of making enough moolah that I could then properly design and decorate the space using only my earnings. Hence, BREAKING. EVEN.

Can a room really be redecorated for ZERO DOLLARS?

It’s a pretty wild proposition, but I sure think it’s possible!  And I was definitely up for the challenge!

So, after about a month of snapping pics, posting everything online using the Kijiji app , and meeting with buyers, we have officially cleared all the “STUFF” out of the “STUFF ROOM”!

From a vintage Pyrex set and double bed frame, to a set of speakers and a portable camping  barbeque, we quickly turned our stuff into cash which made me a very happy camper (minus the portable camping barbeque 😉 )

Kijiji Equation

Just look at it… isn’t she a gorgeous blank canvas just waiting to be loved again?!

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We also ended up selling a stove and microwave that had been sitting in our garage since our kitchen reno, and an ottoman from the basement… and I have to tell you, I now walk around the house ruthlessly scrutinizing every unused item and contemplating “I wonder how much I could sell this for online”.  It’s become such a profitable and fun obsession!

When I posted an update recently on Instagram about my selling adventures, I had many people leave comments saying they were inspired by the #breakevenchallenge, but didn’t know where to start, so let me make it super duper easy peasy for you…

TIPS FOR SELLING

Step 1: Download the Kijiji App for free on your smart phone… available on iOS and Android

Step 2: Snap pics of the items you want to sell with your phone, and upload them instantly. More pics are better, and be sure to show various angles in good lighting

Step 3: Write a quick, but detailed description of the item (ie. Include measurements, note condition, age, etc).

Step 4: Decide if you want to boost your ad – Kijiji has a number of “Bump Up” options to ensure your post has increased visibility. There are several ways to promote your listings to get them noticed especially if you’re in a hurry to sell, and in the case of our stove, we opted to pay a small fee for the “Top Ad” feature, which put it at the top of potential buyer’s searches (getting 10x more views!)… and you know what?  It sold within 2 days!

Step 5: Message with prospective buyers in real-time on the app to answer questions about your items, negotiate the price, and determine a meeting time and location

Step 6: Happily, hand-off your STUFF to it’s new owner, and even more happily, collect the dough!

I have to say, I met some awesome folks through the selling process – the person we sold our stove to happens to work with an old friend of ours that we lost touch with!  We’ve since reconnected thanks to our new stove buying buddy and the second-hand economy!

So, now that we have a stuff-free ‘STUFF” room, and a rekindled friendship, it’s time to reveal the best part… the $$$

Just how much did we make by selling our STUFF?

THE RESULT$ ARE IN

Drum roll please…

$1,145.00

Annnnnnnd we still have two things waiting to be picked-up which will bring us to an even grander total of $1,270.00!

ZOOOO-EEEEEE-MAMA!  That’s WAAAAY more than I ever expected to make!  And the total puts me well ahead of the $1,037 that the average Canadian earns by selling their stuff in the second-hand economy… except I was able to earn that in a MONTH via Kijiji, not a YEAR!

So, with a hefty handful of cheddar, I’ve started to think about how to creatively spend the budget and make that now empty room into a truly functional and beautiful multi-purpose space for our family!

It’s only a 10’x10’ space, but I plan to squeeze as much awesomeness into it as possible!  The goal is make it a guest bedroom, homework station for my boys, reading nook for my hubby and mediation space for me.  Phew!

Just when you thought the #breakevenchallenge was challenging enough!  Yes, I want the room to be a 4-in-1 space for our whole family, including visiting family from out of town.

Where to begin?

Well, I’ve put together an inspo board to rev my design engine…

DESIGN CONCEPT

Design Concept Board

And here’s the sitch…

Since I have about $1,200 to redesign the ENTIRE ROOM top to bottom, I plan to get crafty and creative with my spending!  I’m diving back in to Kijiji as a stealth, deal-seeking shopper!  And if you think creating the look from my concept board will be difficult with my budget, just take a gander at some of the fab finds I’ve already scouted and added to my “Favourites” folder in the Kijiji app.

I’m pretty sure a fresh coat of coral paint could turn this $25 chair into some serious drool-worthy business!

Chair 2

And this tall boy has “paint me” written all over it!

Dresser 2

Either of these daybeds would be a thrifty dream come true…

daybed 2

I’m completely crushing on these vintage goodies (and their price tags)…

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Annnnnnnnd just when it can’t get any better, I found the materials for my DIY log table idea at the whopping price of… FREE!!!

free wood 2

I’m not great at math, but I’m pretty sure if I snagged all of these awesome Kijiji finds and worked a little DIY fairy tale magic, I would still be WAY under budget!  This #breakevenchallenge is definitely looking like it’s headed for a happily ever after!

I’ll have more updates on the room design, DIY fun, and budget in the coming weeks, and don’t forget to pop over to my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds to see my latest #KijijiFind.

Happy bargain hunting!

XO

L-A

Disclosure: This blog post is in partnership with Kijiji Canada. The opinions on this blog are my own

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I’ll admit it… I’m an “ignorance is bliss” kind of gal.  It’s not an esteemed trait of mine, but I’ve come to realize that I’m obnoxiously good at avoiding certain things, and subsequently, I don’t worry about those things that I avoid.  It’s a ridiculous mindset!  As if I’m a toddler covering my eyes and expecting no one can see me… or a snotty nosed kid in the school yard sticking my fingers in my ears while bellowing out “la-la-la-la… I can’t hear you”!  So ridiculous!

Acknowledging that I subscribe to this pesky personality trait is one thing, but asking myself “why” opened a whole new can of mental sardines.  For someone who considers themselves a planner, goal-setter, and go-getter, how can I possibly plan for the future if I don’t have a solid grasp on the “now”?

Well, let me tell you… for years, I have been blissfully ignorant about my monthly spending habits, and since the new year, I’ve successfully avoided stepping on a scale to face a number that I know has grown bigger based on my jeans that feel A LOT smaller.

So, when PC Financial offered to help me track my monthly spending habits for the month of July using their online calculator, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to start food journaling as well and stare ignorance right in the ugly ‘ole kisser!

30 days later, and all I can say is WOWZERS… ignorance is NOT bliss!  It’s RIDICULOUS!

I blogged earlier this month about tackling my half-year finance and fitness resolutions, and at the time, I suspected that our biggest cash-draining, belt-busting culprit was our penchants for dining out.  Boy was I right!  Of our total monthly expenses, almost $800 went to restaurants!  And ready for this Captain Obvious correlation?  Our expensive on-the-fly menu choices definitely didn’t support my health and fitness goals.  I was a deep fried, sauce drenched, dessert enticed disaster!

When I started my 30-day tracking challenge, I had a few simple goals in mind…

  • Identify how much I was spending and where I might be able to “trim the financial fat”
  • Figure out ways to maximize my rewards points to help me save more throughout the year
  • Stop making excuses, get off my keister, and find my fitness groove again
  • Plan and prep meals to ensure I was making healthy food choices

Oh, and I was also reallllly hoping to trim some actual fat so I could slip back into my skinny-“er” jeans.

The results…

When it came to finances, I knew that we had to curb our frequent resto spending, but when I fine-tooth combed our expenses, it was eye-opening to see “how” we were spending vs. “where”.  I never realized just how often we pay with debit… and as a result, how much money we were burning through with monthly transaction fees.  And as a side note, every time we paid cash or debit, we were missing out on oodles of PC® points which we have collected and cashed in faithfully for years.  We are very proficient at paying off our credit card balance at the end of every month, so if we had used our PC Financial® World Elite Mastercard® instead of debit, we could have earned an additional 10,000 PC® points this month alone.  That’s an additional $120 a year in free groceries on top of the approximately $800 we already save by redeeming PC® points annually.

As for my health and fitness goals, let me start by saying that I’ve sweat more in the past month than I have in the past year.  I’m the type of person that will make every excuse in the book to avoid working out, but once I finally force myself to get off my arse, the momentum quickly grows.  And grows.  And GROWS.  Our family recently joined an affordable neighbourhood gym that offers adult AND kid classes, so while our boys are doing programs like jiu jitsu and wrestling, my hubby and I have no excuse not to tackle our own workout since we’re already there.

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My boys have been keeping me accountable, and as I said, the momentum has been GROWING.  So much so, that I built up the courage to take both an adult boxing and muay thai class this past week and although every muscle in my body aches, I LOVED it and I’m feeling stronger by the day!

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It took a few weeks of mental whining, but my fitness groove is back.  And as for food journaling, it’s ironic how easy it is to make wise meal choices when you force yourself to put pen to paper and plan ahead.  The fact that we’re consciously cooking at home more often rather than eating out has made the quality of our meals that much better… and little fringe benefits like earning 30 PC® points for every dollar spent at our local grocery store instead of 10 for every resto meal using our PC Financial® World Elite Mastercard help to pile on the savings!

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And did I mention that I’m down 7lbs?!?!?!?!?!  I was optimistically hoping to drop 5lbs, but between chugging more water daily, hitting the gym regularly, and consciously eating clean, my body is responding positively.

So, the moral of my 30-day finance and fitness challenge is… ignorance is just plain ignorance!

Being financially tuned in and feeling physically tuned up… now THAT’S bliss!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog post on behalf of President’s Choice Financial®. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.

“Hi, I’m Leigh-Ann, and I’m a stuff-o-holic”!

Annnnnd right about now, I’m also feeling like a hypocrite!!

For all the speaking engagements, articles, and TV segments I’ve done over the years about conquering clutter, I’ve somehow managed to hypocritically amass an enormous amount of “stuff” in a forgotten corner of our home that is now known as the “STUFF ROOM”!

WARNING… THE FOLLOWING IMAGES MAY CAUSE FEELINGS OF JUDGEMENT AND DISGUST!

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Oy!

We’ve been renovating our entire home for what seems like an eternity, and because of the major overhaul, our “stuff” has been buried in bins and displaced throughout the house.  Life looks (and feels) chaotic on the best of days, and subsequently, I’ve managed to comfortably wear blinders to the ever-growing piles around us.

But with our renovation finish line now in sight, I’ve started to relentlessly scrutinize every item in our home by asking myself three simple questions:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I need it?
  • Can I live without it?

Which brings me back to the “STUFF ROOM”!

For items that I’ve answered “NO” to all of the above, they’ve been mindlessly filed in the “STUFF ROOM” a.k.a. “the room where things go that I don’t want, don’t know what to do with, and don’t feel like dealing with right now”.

Er mah gerd.  How did this even happen?  THIS? HOW?

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Over the years, the room has been a quaint guest bedroom and a functional home office, but recently, it’s become a hoarder’s paradise!  And with all of the other reno business happening, it hasn’t been high on the priority list …or in the budget.

Cue the lightbulb moment!           

I always say that great style has little to do with how much money you have, but rather how creative you can be with your budget, and since my budget it essentially ZERO, I’ve had to get realllllly creative!

I’ve decided to tackle a seemingly IMPOSSIBLE challenge.

LEIGH-ANN vs. THE. STUFF. ROOM.

I’m planning to renovate the entire space without spending a dime.

“And how on earth do you plan to do that, Ms. Hypocrite?”

Well, I’m so glad you asked! Three words…

BREAK. EVEN. CHALLENGE.

Let me explain…

I’ve been a huge supporter of the second-hand economy for as long as I can remember, and love finding great pre-loved treasures with upcycle potential!  So as I stare at my mounds of STUFF, I know that there are others out there that will give my unwanted items a great new home and save them from ending up in a landfill.

Although I have no use for the menagerie anymore, everything is in great condition, and some items are even brand new, so my goal is to turn my piles of STUFF into piles of CASH to fund my room makeover!

Here’s how my “Break Even Challenge” is going to work…

POST

  • I’m going to spend the next few days categorizing, cleaning, and snapping quality pics of all my sale items, and then I plan to post everything with detailed descriptions on Kijiji.

SELL

  • As I connect with online buyers and sell each item, I’ll tabulate the total profit, and that money will be my only working budget to renovate the space. I’m pretty darn encouraged considering that Kijiji’s recent 2017 Second-Hand Economy Index found that Canadians earned an average of $1,037 last year by selling their stuff instead of kicking it to the curb. That’s one sweet little side hustle! What’s also impressive is the number of Canadians who participated in the second-hand economy last year – 82% of us!

PLAN

  • Although it’s a modest space, I have aspirations to turn it into a multi-purpose guest bedroom / homework station for my boys / meditation space for me.  I know I can work some serious magic with at least a few hundred, and once I calculate my total earnings from the selling stage, I’ll devise a design plan for how and where to allocate the budget.

BUY

  • To stretch my dollars as much as possible, I’ll be tapping back into the second-hand economy by shopping Kijiji for unique and affordable items that will help turn my design plan into a reality. Last year, Canadians saved an average of nearly $850 by buying second-hand, and for this project, the more I can save per item means the more I can do within the space.

DIY

  • When I’m shopping online, I’ll be searching for items with great DIY potential to transform with good ‘ole fashion upcycling elbow grease. It’s amazing how something as simple and affordable as a fresh coat of paint can revitalize a thrifty find and create a bespoke look, and I plan to customize the room by doing exactly that.

My ultimate goal is to come as close to breaking even as possible… and I’m TOTALLY up to the challenge!

I’ll be posting about my selling, planning, buying, and DIY-ing adventures in the coming weeks, so make sure to swing back here, and following the fun on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts to see what #KijijiFind I scoop up along the way.  And of course, the big reveal of the budget AND the space!!!  Eeeek…I’m so excited to get started!

Who wants to hop on the “Break Even Challenge” train with me?  Follow my #breakevenchallege and tag me to your projects and posts!

Ready, set, LET’S SELL!

 

Disclosure: This blog post is in partnership with Kijiji Canada. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Dear 2017,

SLOW DOWN!  You’re going by waaaaaay too fast!  In fact, it seems like just yesterday you were sprinkling snowflakes on my doorstep!  Oh wait, that might have been yesterday… after all, I do live in Canada!

I digress.

HAPPY HALF YEAR

*confetti toss*

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Since the year is officially half oh-ver (gulp), it dawned on me that exactly 6 months ago I was mentally mincing my ambitious, albeit naively average New Year’s resolutions.  Lose weight, drink more water, save money, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Aside from the list of lofty goals, I often pick a word or phrase to motivate my year ahead, and in January, I declared 2017 to be the year of “Tightening My Belt”.

I always tout myself as being unapologetically frugal (which is true), but at the same time, I’ve never done a great job of tracking my monthly expenses.  Sure, I’m a great bargain hunter but I can honestly say that I have no clue how much I actually spend in a month, and exactly where the money goes!

Aside from buying everyday essentials, I have two growing boys which means a constant stream of dollars flowing towards field trips, camps, sports leagues, endless groceries, eating out on the run to get to the sports leagues (and throwing out the groceries that we spent money on but didn’t use because we ate out while dashing to the sports leagues) Ugh, it’s a viciously busy and EXPENSIVE cycle.

So, I planned to start 2017 by “Tightening My Belt”!  But other than having my catchy little catch phrase, I didn’t actually have a plan.  I did make some progress, though.

In January, my hubby and I decided to streamline our credit cards, bringing us from three credit cards down to one.  We ditched our travel rewards credit card, because after YEARS of collecting points, I think the farthest we could have traveled was to Paris… Ontario… one way.  We had another credit card for “emergencies”, but we hadn’t used it in years (although we were still stupidly paying an annual fee for it). With the credit card load lightened and only one left in hand, we upgraded our existing PC Financial® Mastercard® that we’ve had for YEARS to the PC Financial® World Elite Mastercard®… oh, and there’s no annual fee (SCORE)!

For years, I’ve collected PC® points, but with the PC Financial® World Elite Mastercard®, I now maximize my spending by getting WAY MORE i.e. up to 30 PC® points at select stores for every dollar I spend!  And let me tell you, nothing floats my boat more than getting free groceries, clothing, cosmetics, and home goods every year thanks to reward points.  I know that I’m earning points throughout the year, but I have no idea just how many!

And as for my fitness goals, well, I definitely need to be more health conscious and make my wellness a bigger priority.

I’ve decided to hit the reset button on my New Year’s resolution and declare today the beginning of my half year resolution.  The difference this time is that I have a plan!

Tightening my FITNESS belt…

As some of you may know, I had amazing success following the Cityline Weight Loss Challenge two years ago.  In 12 short weeks, I was able to easily drop more than 35 lbs and I never felt better!

2015 BEFORE & AFTER

before and after wlc

Fast forward a year, and I hit pause on my fitness routine to have elective surgery, but found it near impossible to muster the motivation and momentum afterwards that once propelled me to my health goals.

Sadly, my current “after” is looking more like my original “before”…ugh!

I feel gross, uncomfortable, embarrassed, and disappointed in myself.  But I’m far past the self-pity phase!  I’m now officially back in the saddle and ready to ride back into my skinny jeans (without needing an elastic band to do them up).

THE PLAN…

  • drink more water everyday
  • meal plan and food prep every weekend for the week ahead
  • go to the gym more regularly and accomplish 3-5 workouts per week
  • lose 5 lbs by August 1st

Tightening my FINANCIAL belt…

This plan is a little more simplistic, but I’m expecting equally positive results…

THE PLAN…

I’m working with PC Financial® to track ALL of my expenses for the next 30 days to see where I’m spending, where I can “tighten my belt”, how I can further maximize my PC® points, and how much those points are actually saving me in a year.

Math has never been my strong suit, but PC Financial® has an amazing PC® points Calculator, and the points definitely add up.  For example, I can redeem $20 towards groceries and everyday essentials at participating grocery stores for every 20,000 PC® points I collect – that definitely adds up to BIG savings throughout the year!  I know it’s big, but I can’t wait to see just how BIG!

And if you aren’t already collecting points towards free groceries and goodies, make it your first “half year resolution” to sign up HERE!  Let’s save together!!

I’ll be posting some progress updates on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts over the next month, and I PROMISE to also share a final recap of my 30-day fitness and finance challenge right here on the blog… so be sure to check back at the beginning of August.

If you have any tips or want to share your favourite ways to use your PC® points, share in the comments section below.

Wishing everyone a very happy Canada Day, and wish me luck… I’m off to begin tightening my belt that first notch!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog post on behalf of President’s Choice Financial®. The opinions on this blog are my own.

XO

L-A

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Give me a “P”… Give me an “Eh”… Give me an “R”… “T”…”Y”…

What does that spell?  HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA!

Okay, it doesn’t!  But it might as well this long weekend, because millions of Canadian’s from coast-to-coast will be waving a flag, raising a glass, and singing a birthday cheer to our great nation in honor of her big 150!  And my gawd, she is beautiful!

I’ll be hosting a little patriotic patio s’more-gasbord of a party in celebration, and I wanted to up the ante on my outdoor entertaining game, so I whipped up these easy peasy DIY puzzle piece boards to help me serve up style to my party-goers all weekend… and all summer long!

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What I love most is that they can be used individually to offer up passed hor d’oeuvres, or interconnected along the centre of your outdoor dining table to host a chic charcuterie evening al fresco.  Here’s what you’ll need to make your own set, and the super simple step-by-step…

puzzle pieces

Materials Needed

  • Untreated hardwood board (approximate size 8” wide, 24” long, 1” thick)… I like using oak!
  • Electric jig saw
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Lint-Free Rags
  • Sanding block or electric palm sander
  • Chalk
  • Watco Food-Safe Butcher Block Oil & Finish

  materials2

How To

Step 1:  Using a piece of chalk, sketch a puzzle pattern near both ends of the plank and in the centre to create two connecting serving boards

template

Step 2:  With a jig saw, cut along the chalk lines

Step 3:  Sand all wood surfaces thoroughly, round edges with palm sander, and then wipe down both boards with a damp lint free rag to remove all sanding particles

Step 4:  Wearing gloves and using a lint-free rag, apply an even coat of Watco food safe Oil & Finish to seal and protect boards

Voila!  You’re ready to get the party started!  And I’m DEFINITELY ready in my festive party attire!  Too much?

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Who’s celebrating this Canada Day long weekend?  And more importantly, who’s inviting me to their party?  I’ll bring the snacks…served on my new puzzle boards! Oh, and I may also have a dozen or so of my party guests along for the ride!  The more the merrier, right?!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Canada Day, and to my friends south of the border, happy early 4th of July!

XO

L-A

Photo Credit: @235media / Michael Carson, photographer extraordinaire!
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There aren’t many things more boringly Canadian than talking about the weather, but for reals though… I think Mother Nature needs to seriously take off her damn wool toque and kick off her Uggs post winter because this spring has been 100% “meh” so far.

Maybe I’m just a lot a bit anxious because after a decade of living with a lack lustre backyard, we FINALLY invested in an overhaul last year…  Buh-bye fugly deck (see the demo here), and hellooooo gorgeous concrete patio!

  Before

  After

By the time our new patio was installed last summer and we found the perfect outdoor furniture, it was late in the season (a.k.a. slim-pickin’s) to find a good selection of décor and accessories to finish off our stay-cation space.  So, I vowed to hit the stores early this year and scoop up all the glorious pillows and planters I could get my hands on!

Fast forward to this spring, and I could not be more eager to shop and flex my green-thumb… literally!

green thumb

So when Canadian Tire recently asked me to co-host a DIY greenscaping workshop at their pop-up #myCANVASstyle House downtown Toronto, I was excited to get a jump start on my planting AND scout out their latest outdoor décor!

During the workshop, I taught attendees how to make a super simple and chic macramé plant hanger (how-to instructions coming to the blog soon).  Cute, right?!

Workshop

But while I was there, I also did some serious retail scouting for my own backyard!  I knew that I needed to source items for several distinctive “zones” in our new outdoor living space… dining, lounging, cooking, and FUN!

It’s funny how something as simple as a toss cushion can inspire an entire colour scheme, and when I spotted these two CANVAS goodies, it was décor love at first site!  Coral has always been my happy hue, so I suppose it was the coral parrot that made me all heart eyed!

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So, I hopped in my car last weekend and headed straight for Canadian Tire on a pillow mission… which quickly turned into a rug, lamp, planter, and dinnerware mission as well!  Here’s a sneak peek of the items I snagged…

Lounging decor

Can we please talk about the floor and table lamp that are both SOLAR!  They look chic enough to put inside, but the fact that they’re for outside truly does make the patio feel like an extension of our home.  And the 8×10 rug was one of my top picks because it not only adds softness under foot, but it’s large enough to sit under our furniture and anchor the lounging zone.  Winning!

Another major consideration for our lounging zone was staying cool in the day and warm at night.  Our backyard gets direct afternoon sun, and I often feel like a sizzling strip of bacon if I sit out for more than five minutes, so I picked out one of these GIGANTOR 10’x10’ free-standing umbrella that can be tilted to shield us from the rays.  And as for chilly evenings, I have my sights set on a fire bowl, but we just need to check with our municipality first to see just how BIG we can go!

Umbrella Firepit

For the dining zone, I was in desperate need of a dishware update.  The clear plastic acrylic set that we’ve been using for years looked a little worse for wear, and I wanted something a tab more sophisticated.  Colour me shocked when I spotted the Sol melamine collection that looks like hand painted pottery…

Dining decor

I also want to point out that the stemless wine glasses are ACRYLIC… and the marble cutting board… well, it’s MELAMINE!  Say WHAT?  Love that I don’t need to worry about broken glasses and serving ware outside anymore!

For the cooking zone, we have always wanted to create a permanent BBQ structure.  We just ordered a new built-in grill last week, and our contractor is installing a stacked stone peninsula with granite top next month… SQUEEEE! 

  Cooking decor

And finally… the kid’s fun zone (because we both know that Mom and Dad’s fun zone is wherever the acrylic wine glasses are).

Fun decor

Now, a patch of grass may look less than fun, but this is where my boys truly enjoy our backyard!  Between the sprinkler, water toys, and a few new outdoor games, this summer is going to be full of fun and hilarity… ie. the Bubble Balls.  I don’t know if you’ve seen these before, but we recently went to a bubble soccer party (click here to see), and I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time.  When I saw them for sale at Canadian Tire, I had to pick up a pair for our own backyard!

So as soon as Mother Nature snaps out of her spring stooper, you can be sure that I’ll be in the backyard fluffing pillows, pouring drinks, and snapping “after” pictures to share.  Annnnnd, the full backyard makeover will also be featured on an upcoming episode of Cityline, so stay tuned for more info!  Who’s excited for some SUN?  MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Cheers!

L-A

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