Over IKEA But Still Don’t Want to Spend a Fortune? Here’s What To Do

By | Haus Hacks | 12 Comments

All aboard the struggle bus! So many of us are in some sort of design budget purgatory—we want something more grownup than IKEA (did you read this article? apparently many of us can relate!), but we still have sticker shock at places like West Elm and Crate & Barrel. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of options for most of us. I feel like I’ve been living that balance for so long now, and I’ve learned some tricks along the way, so wanted to share them with you.

Source: Via Nuevo-Estilo

Before I get started on where to shop, I have a few ground rules!

1.) Shopping online reigns supreme, so buying things sight unseen is a risk you should be willing to take—rugs, chairs, sofas, all of it. Yes, even sofas!! The type of decor shopping I’m proposing is already hard and time intensive, so limiting yourself to stores around you—oh boy, that’s a challenge not even I will touch! Online inventory is vast, easily searchable and it’s just waiting for you to take advantage of it. And most online stores have all but removed the dreaded return barrier—these days it can be as easy as putting the piece back on your front porch for pick up.

2.) Be open to non-traditional sites like eBay, Craigslist, Chairish and EBTHThese sites have been written off by traditional shoppers—they can be unfamiliar and intimidating. I know, I get it. They still are for me too! But—spoiler alert—these types of sites are treasure troves for buyers like us. And it doesn’t necessarily mean used stuff. It doesn’t even have to mean showing up at a stranger’s house anymore. Many of these sites operate like your normal Overstock or Amazon these days and access to new, discounted (ding! ding!) stuff is common.

3.) It’s going to be frustrating, time intensive… and totally worth it! It’s going to take some searching and some time (pull something up on Hulu and let ‘er rip!), and probably some obnoxious returning but the payoff is just so, so worth it. There will be a stretch of time where you feel like you’re finding nothing and want to give up. But keep on—that awesome piece is right around the corner. And in no time, you’ll have a house full of quality pieces that you love, your wallet will still be thick and best of all—you’ll feel like you didn’t have to compromise.

OK, now that we have the ground rules, here are the tricks I use to thrive in design budget purgatory.


And I don’t mean the outlet stores, I mean the online, secret shopping sites designed to sell the overstock of some of our favorite brands at a deep, deep discount. Most stores try to hide these sites, while others are more forthcoming. Here are some of my favorites (and of course I had to thrown in some fun finds along the way!).

BLU DOT OUTLET – I love this scamp side table for $71 (retails for $179).

DWELL STUDIO OUTLET – This $319 Dahlia quilt is just $63!

LAMPS PLUS OPEN BOX – This marble and gold table lamp is $41, originally $70.


NORDSTROM RACK HOME – This round top stool is just $80 and retails for $230.

DESIGN PUBLIC OUTLET – This Lisa Congdon for Hygge & West wallpaper is just $45 a roll, originally $125 (My goodness I may have to get this!!).


I’ve been shopping a lot of independent stores lately—mostly due to selection and price. I’ve been finding that the small shops have even better prices than their big box, higher-end counterparts and the quality is just so, so good. It makes sense—small shops do not have the overhead that the big stores do, which means they can pass great, quality handmade pieces on to you for a little less. Heck, even if prices are a little higher, it feels good to be supporting a person you’ve “met,” their family and their passion. Here are some of my current favorites.

LUCENT LIGHT SHOP I’ve talked about them recently—we’re using one of their ceiling lights in the nursery design—and I’m already looking for another spot in the house! Pricing is incredibly reasonable, and they’re super cool modern designs. I love their take on the sputnik—mini sized for $179!

THE DHARMA DOOR – Dharma Door has been my go-to when I need my natural, woven material fix. It’s all beautiful and ethically made—I’ve been eyeballing this macrame wall hanging ($95) for awhile now!

ONE FORTY THREE – A master of molded plywood, my first interaction with Logan of One Forty Three was when he was making dollhouse furniture. He’s more into the adult stuff now, like these plywood wall hooks. 

WHISKY GINGER – Whisky Ginger is out of Paw Paw, Michigan and sells lots of different handmade and vintage wares, but I’ve recently fell in love with their magnetic poster holders ($23)! It’s been a great, more affordable framing alternative for me, especially for odd size prints and posters.


There is an entire underground community of people who buy pallets and truckloads of overstock furniture and decor. They buy it, bring it home to clean and tag, then sell it to people like us for a profit. Your job is to find these people. They often don’t have websites or social media, so finding them and their inventory is tricky business. With a good eye though, it’s fairly easy to start spotting these folks as you browse,  mainly via sites like Craigslist and eBay. For you Cincinnatians, this is how the infamous Bargains & Buyouts got its start.

For example, I’m in southern Indiana a lot so I tend to include that area in my Craigslist searches. I started to notice that several of my rug searches resulted in listings with the same location and listing style. Ding, ding, ding! I found a woman with a warehouse full of rugs for great prices! That I get to see in person!

My most recent find in this category is an eBay store called Pacific Home for rugs. We’re talking good quality rug brands (mostly Safavieh) at really fair, negotiable prices. And free shipping! Each rug has some sort of flaw, but many are just a stained corner or a dirty backing. All easily fixable in my opinion!



We’ve all shopped places like Overstock, Urban Outfitters, World Market, Target, Home Decorators, etc. Those places are awesome, but I’m ready for some fresh meat, too. Lucky for us there is a whole new breed of discount decor retailers all ready and waiting for us. Here are the two that have popped up on my radar recently, but don’t have a ton of experience with either. Anyone?

ATG STORES (owned by Lowe’s!)


So those are my tricks! Lots of internet sleuthing and shopping, really! I’m also always learning, so I’ll update this post as I go, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear any tips and tricks that you have!



Sunday Cleaning with Bona PowerPlus Floor Cleaner

By | Haus Hacks | 4 Comments

This post is sponsored by Bona PowerPlus Floor Cleaner. (Pssst… there’s a $3 off coupon at the end of this post!)

We’ve been longtime fans of Bona Floor Cleaner over here. With near-black wood floors, toddlers and lots of foot traffic, we can’t imagine life without it. Especially in the winter! They sent me an email last week about their new PowerPlus deep clean microfiber mat and cleaner, so I picked some up on the way home on Friday.

Sundays are our cleaning days around here, during nap time. But I had a special guest this time around (nap strike!), so he got to join in on the Bona floor cleanin’ fun. Both boys are really into “cleaning” at the moment, mimicking everything I do. They love to help me mop, sweep, dust and use the dust buster. We’ve got to work on the cleaning windows though—they take the term “spit shine” a little too literally. 🙂

Sunday Cleaning with Bona PowerPlus Deep Cleaner_Color Correct

I try to thoroughly clean the floors once a week, but I’ve been known to do a mid-week session if things have gotten particularly out-of-hand. Spaghetti nights usually get us there real quick :). These dark floors show everything and while weekly sounds like no big deal, it’s tough to find time to get it done. That’s why we’ve stuck to the Bona all these years—it’s incredibly quick and easy to use. (We’re also really big fans of their Free & Simple product, especially when the kids were crawling and putting lots of floor finds in their mouth.)

Sunday Cleaning with Bona PowerPlus Deep Cleaner_Color Correct

So here’s the deal with this new PowerPlus line—it’s all about a deeper, more powerful clean. An improved microfiber deep clean pad and a new hardwood floor deep cleaner make up the line, and everything fits in the existing mop (which I was worried about—my actual Bona mop is a few years old). I was particularly excited about the microfiber pad, as it’s machine washable and promises to perform 70% better than other cleaners. It also has a slightly rougher texture, which was excellent when I needed a bit more scrubbing power. So far, so good.

Sunday Cleaning with Bona PowerPlus Deep Cleaner

Sunday Cleaning with Bona PowerPlus Deep Cleaner

Nixon got a kick out of this whole thing, by the way. Not only did he get to use the super-fun mop, but mom was taking pictures and this boy was loving the attention. He ran over to see the preview screen every time he heard the shutter go off—so, so cute.

Sunday Cleaning with Bona PowerPlus Deep Cleaner

Sunday Cleaning with Bona PowerPlus Deep Cleaner

Now, here comes the good stuff. I’ve got a $3.00 off coupon to share–to be used on any type of Bona floor cleaner you’d like. You have to sign up to their Bona Fanatics mailing list, but as a subscriber myself, I can attest to the availability of coupons, tips and tricks.

Sunday Cleaning with Bona PowerPlus Deep Cleaner

Sunday Cleaning with Bona PowerPlus Deep Cleaner

Do you have super-dark floors? What’s your trick for keeping your floors clean and shiny? I’d love to hear your floor secrets!

Happy Monday everyone!




Buffalo Plaid Floor Using Carpet Tiles

By | Room Makeovers, The Brothers May | 6 Comments

More nursery design talk today! I shared the entire design plan earlier this week, so let’s move on to these floors. They’re installed! Wahooo! I was able to do it by myself (hint: super easy) and it only took me four episodes of some of my current go-to’s (Nashville, This is Us, The Middle, Gilmore Girls).

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

So, the original wood floors in here are not great. They’re scratched (my fault), have lots of holes and gouges and are just generally a pain in the butt to keep clean. Sometimes, running a vacuum is just so much easier. I was eager to cover the floors, and while I was open to doing a traditional rug, this room has an added closet in the corner which bumps out quite a bit into the room. This limited how big my rug could be: realistically I could fit a 5′ x 8′ without interrupting the bumpout, but that left a considerable amount of floor uncovered. Not the best option.

And then, like clouds parting overhead, I ran across Emily Henderson’s post on her design library. Those floors!

It had the graphic appeal of a rug, but the tile design would allow me to install it wall-to-wall, which means I could have the best of both worlds—full coverage and pattern. I was sold. I found some other examples I really loved too. Like the gray plaid from Wit & Delight and the checkered floor from this nursery, designed by Victoria Elizabeth Design.

There’s really only one ready-made carpet tile manufacturer that I know of and that’s FLOR, who was also responsible for the inspiration images I shared above. And no, not sponsored—they don’t know me and this was 100% paid for by me! I just really liked the product and thought I would share my experience.

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

So first, I used FLOR’s design studio to figure out tile placement, colors and pattern. It did the math for me on how much I’d need of which color tile, which was very helpful, as I should never be trusted with math of any kind. Their design studio didn’t allow me to show it wall-to-wall (it shows a dark floor underneath) but the rug measurements were the same measurements of the entire floor space (9’10” x 11’6″). I ignored the closet bumpout in those measurements—knowing omitting that negative space would help give me a bit of wiggle room on overage.

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

As far as colors go, I ordered several samples. I knew I wanted grey, blue and cream… but guys, they have so many options. I also had questions on texture, comfort, pile… you know, carpet stuff. I ordered 12 samples, mostly to test for color, and ended up with these three—Ocean, Pigeon, Pearl—all in their “Made You Look” tile style. The carpet itself has a very thin profile, with a tightly woven texture. This is not a “sink your toes in” type carpet. It’s also installed without an underlayment of any kind. So, you won’t be sleeping on it any time soon, but that’s what beds are for. 🙂 Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

Let’s talk cost. For my almost 10′ x 12′ room, the entire thing shipped to my door cost me $623.00, which included a 25% discount they were having to kick off the new year. The shipping was murderous—$84—otherwise, the cost would be very similar to what I’d pay for a 9′ x 12′ rug. So not cheap, but also not prohibitively expensive. I also opted to skip their cutting service to save some dough (the cutting fee is $3.50/tile), knowing that was something I wanted to experiment with myself. I also wasn’t exactly sure what cuts I would need and where.

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

Installation was simple. They included wall-to-wall instructions in the shipment (along with the sticky yellow dots used to “install” them), but I sort of winged it. I first found the dead center of the room and placed my first tile there. That first tile also represented the center of my pattern. My main concern was having the row of blue tiles be centered in the room as much as possible, which I was able to accomplish with a little finagling.

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

I also wanted my tile joints to be as centered as possible at the door entry (Alison just talked about getting tile joints centered in her bathroom floor post—crazy people unite!), which makes everything look a little more polished. My entry joint isn’t exactly centered (about 1.5″ off), but close enough! You can see that below.

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

After I had my placement all set, it was time to get the sticky dots out. That’s right… the only thing needed to make these carpet tiles stay in place are these clear adhesive dots.

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

The sticky side faces up and is only installed at the corners and sides—any spot where two or more carpet tiles touch. I would just turn up any corners and sides and slide the sticky dot underneath.

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

I was so skeptical of this at first. Really? These plastic stickers are going to hold this thing together? But you guys—the adhesive must be made from the nectar of Hercules because these tiles aren’t going anywhere. It’s STRONG. The adhesive is flexible when you install, and then becomes more permanent as the hours pass. I did need to move a few tiles about 72 hours past installation and while it was hard to get them up, it’s not impossible. Plus, I’m going to want to do that anytime I need to replace a tile due to a stain or whatever. Because toddlers…

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

Let’s talk cutting the tile. All I needed was a pencil, metal ruler and box cutter. The tiles were incredibly easy to cut and I was glad I opted to cut them myself. The walls in this old house are not at all straight, so the flexibility to cut tiles at an angle or slightly crooked to match the walls was easy (and helpful).

I did go through at the end and add little filler pieces where there were gaps (if you look at the photo above, see behind the entry door, next to the door stop?) to make everything look seamless.

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

Buffalo Plaid Carpet Tile Floor

I couldn’t be more happy with how this turned out. Also… I had very little waste. I had a few scraps leftover, which I kept just in case. But I used every single tile, so if you go this route, I’d absolutely recommend the Design Studio for help telling you exactly the correct quantity. If you’d like a bit more breathing room for errors, I’d order a 1-2 more tiles than they recommend, just in case. You can return unused/uncut tiles, but the shipping is on you, so something to be aware of.

Wallpaper is the next big project in this space, but shipping is going to put us somewhere in mid-February for that to happen. But never fear—I’ve got lots of little things to do before then: hanging lights, installing new door hardware and tracking down furniture. More soon!