Sunday Op Ed

May 17th, 2009

I recently received an email from a reader. She posed this question about decorating on a budget:

“Hi Kate,
I love reading your blog… I’m always in awe of folks such as yourself, who have the vision to see what a battered old object can become with some paint, new fabric, ingenuity, what have you…
My question is, do you start with a completed plan for whatever room you are making over? Or do you see used objects and build the room from your vision of what they could become?
I fear I will just come home with a bunch of used objects that have no place or cohesive feel in my home, no matter what I do with a can of spray paint.
Thanks, D”

Thanks for the email, D. (No, it’s not this D.) The answers to your questions are yes and yes.

I definitely have a vision for each space that I approach, but I always remain eternally flexible. And when I do find special pieces, I imagine how I can personalize them, and then accessorize around those transformed pieces. And I fight like heck to stay within my budget.

When approaching a room redo, I follow these rules: Read the rest of this entry »

The 4 Point 8 Hour Challenge

May 14th, 2009

You’ve all heard of the Better Homes & Gardens 48 Hour Challenge, right?  It’s where five top bloggers were chosen to makeover their porch in 48 hours with a $500 gift card from Home Depot, at the chance of winning a $5,000 bonus. Today was Mr. CG’s birthday, so while the tots stayed a bit late at school, for his birthday I spent 4.8 hours redoing the outdoor balcony he shares with his male business partners.  Yes, you heard me, four point eight hours!  I was entrusted with the job and given the same budget of $500 from the office, and all of my purchases came from Home Depot as well.

Here’s the CHALLENGE:  $500 budget from the office.  300 square feet of barren balcony, except for a few pieces of neutral furniture.  Four point eight hours (before the kids need picked up from school).

First things first, two rugs to define the seating areas.  At Home Depot, I purchased two 5×7 outdoor rugs for $59 each.  Then I also purchased one can of spray paint for $4.  With a bit of painter’s tape, I gave the neutral outdoor rugs a dark red band around the edge.  I also purchased some red and tan patterned pillows for $13 each to accent the loveseat and the chairs.

Next, I purchased some  deep red fiberglass planters for $39 each, and some plants to fill them.  I chose bamboo plants ($20 each) and a dwarf palm ($15).  I topped them off with ‘borrowed’ river rocks from the gigantic supply in the rock garden on the first floor.   River rocks on top of soil help make great mulch.

Then I created a mini garden in a $12 pot with $1 succulents, some aloe vera, and a red blooming cactus.  I also added the rock fountain from the office’s interior, and my own rock sculpture (that’s just river stones stacked on top of one another).

The business partners were very pleased with the transformation.




The deep red adds the necessary burst of color.  The river rocks and bamboo add “zen” as well as the succulents garden.  The rugs, planters and pillows unite the whole space, and it was all done for less than $500 and in less than five hours.  Rugs and paint = $123; Plants = $90; Planters and Soil = $130; Adirondack chairs and 6 pillows = $104; Bird Feeders and Nectar = $13.  Total without tax = $460