Category Archives: Home Decor

The Plan – Lowe’s Fall Makeover

lowes-fall-makeover-mood-board.14 PM

Our big room makeover is going down THIS SATURDAY! Where did the month go?! We cannot believe it’s already time to transform April & Mike’s master bedroom space.


Last we chatted about our Lowe’s home makeover, we introduced you to April & Mike and showed you the before pictures of their bedroom.

Lowes_Fall_Makeover_BEFORE_April_Mike_Bedroom-6Today we’re back with our plan of attack. When we met this amazing couple, we sat down and chatted about their wish list for the space. Since they’re the sweetest people ever their only wish list item was for us to mount their TV. That’s it! We quickly reassured them that we could do that & much, much more!

The 4 of us decided that we wanted to create a calming master bedroom retreat, where these newlyweds could de-stress and relax after a long day. A mix of feminine & masculine, wood tones, and a neutral palette were all agreed upon too.

Our Makeover Visionlowes-makeover-43-pm

We’re planning to paint the walls a light gray (shocker!), paint all of the trim in the room white, and swap out the ceiling fan with this sleek black one.

Then we’ll add warmth to the space with new furniture and lots of texture. Incorporating flowy window treatments, a large upholstered bed, and lots of greenery are also on the agenda.

Closet Door DIY


One of the walls in the master bedroom is predominantly made up of closet doors. So we definitely want to improve them to brighten up the space and give it some character. Since the doors are not the best quality, we’re planning to paint them white, add molding, and swap out the hardware. Here’s our inspiration…

Image + Tutorial via Room for Tuesday

We love the modern door pattern from our inspiration pic, but plan to paint the doors white and add these long black handles.

Fauxdenza DIY


I’m still in love with the fauxdenza in our guest room, and we think that same DIY project would work perfectly in this space. We’re planning to remove the dresser and instead create the built-in floating credenza along that entire wall. Above it we’ll mount the TV, and then we’ll have room to accessorize the top of it.

We’re using different cabinets & hardware this time around, but the wood top is definitely going to be a part of this DIY.

Bringing it All Together

Lowes_Fall_Makeover_BEFORE_April_Mike_Bedroom-5Accessories will also be a big part of this room makeover, so we can really let their personalities shine! April & Mike each have these adorable scooters, and we definitely want to incorporate this quirky hobby into the space (& we’re thinking this Minted art would be a great addition!) Lowes_Fall_Makeover_BEFORE_April_Mike_Bedroom-8

And since they’re newlyweds, we just might have to sneak some new wedding pictures into the space too!

All in all we’re geared up for our big makeover weekend, but we will admit that we’re a little anxious about pulling it off with such a tight deadline! Wish us luck and be sure to follow along this weekend on social media. We will be updating our Instagram and Facebook and trying to provide you guys with lots of behind-the-scenes details on Snapchat and Insta Stories (@diyplaybook).

Bridget and Casey Signature

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New Master Bathroom Lights – Help!


Since day one of moving into our home, I’ve always wanted to replace the pendants in our master bedroom. But the truth is I have absolutely NO IDEA what to replace them with, and I’ve been paralyzed with indecision.


I want to replace these bad boys for a number of reasons, but my biggest concern is that they’re rusting pretty darn badly…rusted-bathroom-light

Just goes to show, when you are choosing light fixtures for a bathroom with a shower…you must make sure you find moisture resistant ones! Clearly the previous homeowners disregarded that, and we’ve now got lots of rust developing on the base of these pendants. Not the cutest look.before-bathroom-lights-pendants

When we first moved in, I considered converting these pendants to recessed lighting. In fact, I even had an electrician look to see if he could do that. But after looking up there, he said we would need to change all of the electrical and I would be better off replacing it with new pendants or flush mount fixtures.

A year later, and I still haven’t touched them. bathroom-lights-pendants-before

These lights do give off a fair amount of light, so I want to make sure I replace them with lighting that illuminates the space. Even though we do have other lights in the room, the pendants do come in handy to light the area near the mirror.

I also don’t want to have to reconfigure any of the electrical or mount anything on the wall by the mirror. Instead they must come from the same spot that these are already in, so it’s a quick switch. lightbulb-pendants-before

Other than those must-haves, I have NO CLUE what to do. More pendants? Small flush-mount fixtures? HELP?!master-bathroom-pendants-beforeThe other metals in this space are chrome, and the sinks are stainless steel. So I suppose I will stay within that family of metallics to keep a cohesive look.

Do I keep the pendants and go for something a bit more dramatic, instead of these dinky silver pendants?

carla-aston-pendant-lightsPhoto via Carla Aston

I do like the look of something a bit larger like the inspiration picture above. Or maybe I should go for a minimalistic flush-mount that wouldn’t make a big statement, but instead would just add some light. master-bathroom-lights

Now I’m looking for your help…what do you guys think I should do? Does anyone else have pendants in their bathroom? Anyone have trouble with rust on their light fixtures in the bathrooms? I’m all ears!




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16 thoughts on “New Master Bathroom Lights – Help!

  1. Marty Oravetz (A Stroll Thru L

    I love the larger pendants with white shades. Maybe do something not quite so large and still use white shades. We found the light we get from the white shades in our bathroom make a world of difference. Love them.

  2. Marty Oravetz (A Stroll Thru L

    No, ours are wall mounted, but the new ones have those white shades and they make a world of difference.

  3. Trang

    The ones you currently have look too small for the space. However, your inspiration photo appears to be too large for your bathroom. Maybe something in between. I have recessed ceiling lights and wall sconce lighting in my bathroom, but I do love the pendant look.

    1. DIY Playbook

      Totally agree, Trang. It was hard for me to find pendants in a bathroom for inspiration…I guess it’s not very common. That’s why I’m struggling to find something good. What are your thoughts on 2 flush mounts?

  4. Ryan Malone

    Pendants over a vanity are done fairly often and there’s lots of inspiration out there. Definitely don’t replace them with flushmounts! I say you go with either simple socket on a cord fixtures (for the exposed bulb look) or some kind of globe pendant. Both cb2 and Cedar & Moss have great options. Either way, you want to maximize the amount of light you get from each fixture since it’s a bathroom. And for sure put those bad boys on a dimmer. Good luck!

  5. disqus_9pwO9tYLQ5

    Do you have a bathroom fan in the master bathroom? If not it would definitely be worth it to add one in the future. If the moisture is building up that much in the bathroom it will wreak havok on everything in the long run.
    It sounds like I’m in the minority here, but the pendant lights look a little odd to me against the mirror. I’d probably go for a semi-flushmount.

    Or you could go with a low profile one like this, which is close to having a recessed light without having to rewire for can lights:

    1. DIY Playbook

      We do have a fan in there, and when I noticed the rust I even changed it to a more powerful motor and swapped it out for a humidistat that automatically goes on when the humidity goes on. But I think the damage was already done for these rusty pendants!

      And I feel ya on the pendants. When we moved in I was so confused as to why the heck they had pendants in a bathroom against the tall mirror! Not sure what I’m gonna do.

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How to Keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig Alive


If you follow us on Instagram then you already know that I recently brought home this adorable ($14!) fiddle leaf fig, and I am very DETERMINED to keep him alive. I bought one of these last year (around the same time actually) but sadly, I didn’t give it the TLC it deserved and it didn’t end well. RIP little guy. fiddle-leaf-survival-tips

But this time it’s going to be different. I asked our amazing followers on Instagram what tips or tricks they use to keep their fiddle leaf fig plants alive and I was blown away by the feedback and unbelievable success stories! Someone shared that her fiddle leaf is taller than she is (!!) and several others noted that they have kept their beloved fiddle leaf plants alive for several YEARS. Needless to say, I took note of every. single. tip you guys had to offer because it was very obvious that many of you know what you’re talking about.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Survival Tips

Then I realized, why not share these simple + specific tips to the rest of the DIY Playbook team so that the rookies (like us!) can learn from the pros, and together we can all keep our plants alive… and thriving! Here’s what our Instagram experts had to say: 1-fiddle-fig-leafs-plants

  1. PERFECT SUN: Fiddle leaf plants need a lot of light but not necessarily direct sunlight.  Display your fiddle leaf in a place that provides this bright light throughout the day.   
  2. POTS: Do NOT transplant your new fiddle leaf fig into a pot that is too big for it. This plant likes its roots to be root bound*.
  3. What the heck is *ROOT BOUND? Root bound means that the plant’s roots fill the entire container. Keeping the plant in its original pot for now is good because you won’t disturb the cozy roots. Eventually you can transplant the plant into a larger pot when it’s big enough, but keep in mind that the roots do not like a spacious container.
  4. NO DRAFTS: Fiddle leaf figs do not like being placed in a room that may have a draft but let’s be honest, who does?!
  5. WATER: Water your plant one cup 1x per week. Someone on Insta mentioned that they water theirs every Friday and call it #FiddleFriday. I don’t always have the best memory when it comes to water plants so I really LOVE this idea. I plan on celebrating #fiddleFriday now and hope to never forget to give this cutie a drink. #FFbridget_fall_fiddle_leaf_family_room_light_plan
  6. ROTATE: Remember that bright light we discussed? Well, it’s important that ALL sides of the fiddle leaf sees this bright light, so rotating the plant every few days is a great strategy in making sure this happens.
  7. DUSTING: Wiping off the top of the leaves with a damp cloth can work wonders to keep the leaves clean. But whatever you do, do NOT use this cloth to wipe off the bottoms of the leaves because you could damage the leaf’s “veins”. I don’t know much about plants but damaging the veins sounds pretty darn serious to me!

Ikea Plant Master BedroomDid I miss anything?!

Like I said, all of these AMAZING tips were from our sweet and supportive Instagram friends and I cannot thank you guys enough for your words of encouragement and expertise! If I missed any important tips, I would LOVE to hear what works for you so that I can add it to the list.

bridget_fall_bedroom_plant_fiddle_leafSo far though…things are going well. #FiddleFriday and the rest of these genius tips have helped keep this little guy looking very healthy! Fingers crossed that this is still the case next time I pop in with a fiddle leaf update. =)fiddle-leaf-survival-tips

Bridget Signature

P.S. For more rookie tips on indoor plants, check out this popular post!

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11 thoughts on “How to Keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig Alive

  1. Heather

    Great tips! My FFL lost most of its leaves out of protest and now it sits on our covered porch during the summer. It looks pretty barren, so I am not sure if I should ditch it and start over or keep going.

  2. Caitlin

    I got a fiddle leaf fig at HD for $9.99 last year. I have looked almost weekly since then but I haven’t seen them. Do you think it is a seasonal thing?? My little $9.99 fiddle leaf is THRIVING and has grown over a foot this past year!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Yeah good question! We got ours for only $14 about a month ago. Maybe it’s a surplus thing?? No matter what, we’re happy about it! haha. Congrats on yours doing so well!

  3. Loveland Lodge

    Great tips! I got a smaller one earlier this year (from Pike’s Nursery, which I think is local to Atlanta) and somehow, I’m keeping it alive. I can kill succulents like no body’s business (I don’t think I have the right lighting inside) but yet somehow manage to Mr. Fiddle alive! I do 1/2 c, of water 2x per week and he lives by our kitchen window and gets indirect sunlight all day long.


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How Do We Like it Now?


Over the past 3.5 years, we’ve both documented just about everything that has happened within our homes. From DIY projects to new furniture purchases…you guys have seen it all!planner_bedroom_coffee_flowers

But what happens long after we publish that blog post? How do we really like living with those projects & purchases 24/7/365? Today, we’re giving you updates on some of those popular posts and answering the question, “How do we like it now?”

Bridget’s Church Pew (SCORE: 8 out of 10)Fall Home Tour Pew Family Room

This church pew sits right behind our couch and since I usually take pictures looking at the front of our couch, the pew doesn’t get a lot of attention here on the blog but it really should! I absolutely LOVE this piece of furniture that was given to us by a friend. We got it refinished and this on-of-a-kind piece works perfectly in that odd space behind the couch. Honestly I can’t even think of what piece of furniture would work better there, so I’m even more grateful for the pew. Not only does it offer us somewhere to sit while we put our shoes on to head out the door, it also acts as a super great drop zone for bags and “stuff” as we come home.

Three years later though, if I’m being BRUTALLY honest, there a few minor negatives. The pew is very sensitive so we have to be very cautious when placing bags on it or cleaning it. It dents and chips pretty easily…not necessarily noticeable to guests but noticeable to me. The other minor negative is that my style has evolved over our time in this house, and I’m not sure the pew aligns with my style as closely anymore. It’s definitely not out-of-place (yet) but I often wonder how this piece will fit (style wise and size wise) in our next house. <— but let’s be honest, am I crazy for even thinking that far down the line!?

Casey’s Hardwood Floors (SCORE: 7 out of 10)


When we moved into our home, we spent quite a bit of money sprucing up the floors. We hired a pro to sand and re-stain them to the color “Jacobean” instead of the yellow color they were originally. I’m still absolutely obsessed with the color and love the dark hardwoods. I will say that (much to my dismay) our floors do scratch and dent easily. Obviously we can’t change that (the wood is a soft, less durable one), so we definitely “baby” them. No stilettos, no dragging things across the floor, and we use rugs when possible. If we move and have the chance to install our own hardwoods, I would definitely go for the most durable one they’ve got!

Bridget’s Blue Front Door (10 out of 10)

Fall Home Tour Family RoomPainting my front door Covington Blue was one of the best things we ever did in our house. Although I’ve gotten away from using this color as much as I used to, I still LOVE the pop of color this door brings both to the inside and outside of our house. The blue door is the first thing I see when I turn onto our block and the blue door just feels like home to me. And not just home, it feels like a happy home! I feel like it captures so much of our home’s story and that happiness is such a huge part of that story.

diy_modern_address_signMatt and I often walk past other houses and chat about what we would do to that house if we lived there. So many times we immediately talk about what color we would paint the front door. Since we love our colorful door so much, I don’t know if we could ever live with a non-painted door again! <— Fun Fact: we’ve decided that as much as we both LOVE our Covington blue door, we wouldn’t want to use that color again on our next home’s front door. We’ve agreed that trying a new color, one that represents our new home’s “personality”, would be our game plan for our next front door. #someday

Casey’s Blackout Bedroom Curtains (SCORE: 6 out of 10)


When we moved into our home, I eventually DIY’ed some blackout curtains to cover the large sliding glass doors in our bedroom. While the project was pretty tedious, it wasn’t all that difficult and was definitely budget-friendly. I will say that I still looooove the look of these blackout curtains. The long drapes and simple black rod are perfect for the space. Plus, the blackout panel really does work to keep this room dark. However, since I used hemming tape and didn’t actually sew these curtains, they are coming a part in a couple of areas. Nothing noticeable to a guest, but it’s noticeable to me. Perhaps I should just bite the bullet and take them to a cleaners to have professionally sewn together. It’s on the to-do list…

Bridget’s DIY Desk (6 out of 10)

In terms of functionality and price, my DIY desk should earn a 20 out of 10 because it provides one serious bang for our buck! Each of those cabinets that make up the base of the desk cost me $2 at Goodwill and the wood on the top cost me less than $20. So, I was able to create this DIY desk for like $25 (before paint). Three years later and we still use this desk…Matt literally works on it EVERY SINGLE DAY! The size of the desk is perfect for this small space, the price was RIGHT, and it offers a lot of secret storage making this one heck of a DIY project.

The only reason I would say that this DIY desk loses points is because my style has changed since we moved in and I’m finally ready to splurge on something a bit more classic… and modern. Don’t get me wrong, this set-up has been amazing throughout our time together but it’s time for something a little more long-term.

Casey’s Navy Guest Room (SCORE: 10 out of 10)

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I was very hesitant to paint the guest room navy, but I am so happy that I made the decision to go bold in this space. I’m still obsessed with the color, and instead of making it feel like a cave (which was one of my main concerns), it makes it feel high-end and comfortable. So this paint color choice gets a 10 out of 10!

Bridget’s Laundry Room (SCORE: 9 out of 10)

Laundry Room Gallery Wall ArtIf you remember the laundry room makeover, you’ve definitely been part of the DIY Playbook team for a while! This room was one of the first large DIY projects I did by myself and three years later I still LOVE it. Beyond painting, I also refinished our home’s original kitchen cabinets so that they were white, bright, and could add some budget-friendly storage to our laundry room. I added new hardware on the cabinets, a colorful gallery wall, and made this ugly space a lot more tolerable. Looking back, I still can’t believe I did this whole project by myself… especially without using a nail gun or a saw!

Because I was tackling the project alone and I didn’t know how to use those tools yet, I was forced to do the best that I could with limited skill/knowledge. It was SUCH a learning experience and one that I’m still very proud of.

The only reason that this project earned a 9 instead of a 10 is because I have changed the gallery wall since then. My style isn’t as bright and colorful anymore, so I swapped this adorable gallery wall (which still makes me smile!) for my Letterfolk sign. And since then, I even added some board and batten to the other wall to finish off this bright and clean look!

Casey’s Built-ins (SCORE: 10 out of 10)augusta-family-room-built-ins

Our built-ins were definitely a large splurge (the largest actually) in our condo, but one that was worth every single penny! I feel like our entire space has changed since hiring out this project, and I honestly love them more and more each day! Other than swapping out the hardware to black, I haven’t done much to these since they were installed (besides arrange & re-arrange the accessories all.the.time.)

Bridget’s Board and Batten (Score: 9 out of 10)

I know, I know… I’ve done board and batten A LOT in my house. Maybe even too much if you ask some people (cough, cough DAD). But I just love it so much so WHY the heck NOT?! It’s definitely become the “vibe” throughout our house and one that makes our space feel lighter, brighter and a little bit more interesting. Would I do it again in this house if I had to do it all over again? Absolutely. Would I rush to do this same look in our next house? Maybe not. But for now, I love the look. Plus, I learned A TON through these projects and was so fortunate to work (and learn!) alongside my dad. So for that, I love our board and batten even more.

One thing to note if you are adding board and batten though…it collects dust! Because it adds a bit more to our cleaning list, I subtracted one from its perfect 10 score but honestly other than that silly quirk, I love all of it!

Casey’s Subway Tile Backsplash (SCORE: 9 out of 10)


When deciding on a new backsplash, I knew I wanted to go light and I’m so happy that I made the decision to go with classic, white subway tile. It’s kinda hard to ever be mad at a decision that is simple, clean, and won’t ever go out of style. So I’m incredibly pleased that we went with this as our kitchen backsplash. In fact, if we do a guest bathroom remodel (potentially on the 2017 to-do list), I would love to incorporate even more white subway tile into that space. I think it would just unite the rooms and give the home a more cohesive feel. Moral of the story: You can’t go wrong with simple & classic!

Bridget’s Marble Backsplash (SCORE: 9 out of 10)sealed-kitchen-counters

I agree with Casey 100%, you can’t go wrong with simple and classic. Although my DIY marble backsplash was a little less “classic” than white subway tile, I do think it’s pretty darn close and for that I give it a glowing review! Like the board and batten projects, I learned SO much from this project… especially working with my dad (see a theme here?!). I would definitely DIY backsplash again and would probably choose the same exact tile if I did it all over again. And if not this tile, plain white subway tile. I did deduct a point on this tile though because there are a few minor imperfections that I notice because we DIY-ed. I’m sure no one else would ever notice but because they’re there, they count for something, right?!

Built In boxes organization family roomIt’s kinda fun to look back at all of the DIY’s and big purchases we made in our homes. It’s crazy how you put so much time and energy into something, and then once it’s done you really don’t think about it that often. We really enjoyed taking a look back at some of the decisions we’ve made over the last few years in each of our spaces. If anything, this review can help guide our future design decisions so we continue to create homes that we love!

Bridget and Casey Signature

P.S. If there’s a project, purchase, or decision that we made so far that you want us to dish about now, let us know! We loved writing this post and would love to answer your questions and provide an HONEST review of more of these projects, purchases or decisions. And let’s be honest, hopefully you can learn from our mistakes! 



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20 thoughts on “How Do We Like it Now?

  1. Claudia

    Love the summary and scoring. It really helps hearing your honest thoughts about these projects and DIY’s. Personally I am impressed with all you do!!! You inspire me.

  2. Jaclyn Lorimer

    This is so useful! One thing I wanted to make you aware of–it looks like a few of Casey’s links say DIY Blackout Curtains (for the navy paint color & built ins).
    Love that you guys are always willing to share the real deal!
    XO, Jaclyn

    1. DIY Playbook

      OMG, we are so embarrassed and have no clue how that happened?! Thank you SO much for letting us know. We made the updates and now everything seems to back to normal. We honestly can’t thank you enough. #yikes

  3. DIY Playbook

    OMG thank you, Peggy!! How embarrassing! We have NO clue how that happened but are so grateful you brought it to our attention. The built-ins should be all updated now, thank you. We hope you have a great week. =)

  4. Suzanne Larson

    Just wanted to say. . .hemming curtains is SOOO not hard. You guys have done a million things at a much higher difficulty level. If I lived closer, I’d do them for you, but then you’d miss the rush of learning a new skill. I only sew curtains and pillows, and if I can do it, you ladies definitely can! Love this post! Thank you!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Suzanne we need you here to give us a personal lesson! It’s been on our “to learn” list for soooo long. Someday we are going to take the time to learn this skill.

  5. Erika

    So interesting !!! I really love that kind of post !

    And so glad you gave a 10 to that dark bedroom color, it really comfort me in going in that direction for my own bedroom 🙂 !!

  6. Austin Schneider

    I would love to know how you choose your bedding (how you build a “bedding set,” preferred brands/thread counts)! I struggle with seeing so many beautiful beds out there and figuring out how to translate that to my own home (“Okay, I need a duvet, a thin quilt, 2 euro shams…” ha ha)

  7. Abbie DeLaney Zinkan

    Casey: I’m curious how you feel about the DIY Roman Shade in your kitchen? I’m thinking about adding something like this to brighten up my kitchen (currently I have a black ruffle thing on mine). Does it get dirty at all and if so how did you go about cleaning it? Thanks!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Good question, Abbie! I considered adding that to the list, but didn’t want the post to be too long!

      I still really like it. It adds a nice hint of color and pattern to the kitchen. My husband doesn’t love the fact that you don’t really move it up and down. He doesn’t really get why it’s just decorative. Ha! And I haven’t cleaned it yet. Doesn’t look dirty at all, but it may be a little dusty up there?? I guess I’ll just wipe it down with a rag when the time comes.

      I say give it a go! It’s so easy & inexpensive that if you don’t love it, it won’t be huge loss of time or money!

  8. Nicole B.

    I am a couple days behind on reading… but thanks for sharing this post! So many bloggers post stuff then we never hear about it again. To get the “later” details is awesome! I’ve definitely drawn inspiration from your blog at our home so I liked these updates 🙂


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New Homeowners: What to do NOW and LATER


We’re not quite sure if we still fit into the “new homeowner” category (Bridget has been in her home for over 3 years, and I’ve been in my condo for 1 year), but we certainly remember those early days of new homeownership. After the high of being a new homeowner wears off, you feel like you’re writing check after check on all of the things that come with being in a new home. Painting, buying new furniture, fixing this & that…it’s can be incredibly overwhelming and incredibly EXPENSIVE! We literally felt like we were bleeding money and couldn’t make the bleeding stop!!

Insta-new-home-champagne-cork-keyAfter shelling out big bucks for a down payment, the last thing you want to do is spend even more money on your house. Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid some of these early homeownership expenses BUT there IS a way to prioritize those valuable dollars.

Money-Cash-CoinsToday, we wanted to offer our two cents (#punintended) on what you should SPLURGE on right from the start, and what you should wait on to help you SAVE. Although this list may not work for every situation, these priorities are what worked for us and if we ever move, this is definitely what we’ll be sticking to in order to prioritize our expenses.


hardwood-stain-color-choicesFlooring: If the hardwood floors in your new home are in bad condition (or a color you HATE), you may want to think about repairing them before you move in. Sanding & re-staining hardwoods makes a huge mess (legit dust everywhere!) and you’ll need to remove everything in your home before taking on a project like that (seriously nothing on the floors…even in the closets!). We suggest splurging on updating your floors prior to even moving in 1 piece of furniture so that you can get the mess and inconvenience out-of-the-way immediately AND love your gorgeous new floors… immediately too! family-room-before-stained-floorThat’s exactly what Casey & Finn did in their condo. Because the hardwoods were scratched and scuffed, they had them sanded and stained to a color of their choice. Yes it was a couple thousand dollars at a time when money was flying out the window like crazy, but it was worth it to get that wishlist item done right away.

i_heart_paint_organizationPainting: Painting is definitely something you can wait on if you really want, but getting some fresh paint on the walls, trim, and doors is a great way to start your life in your new home! And again, painting is a heck of a lot easier when you don’t have anything on the walls or furniture in the space. Plus, having the wall colors nailed down will help you when you start decorating so you can keep a cohesive color palette.

paint-brush-purdy-paintingAlthough paint is expensive these days, we think painting the house yourself is a great way to make this expense a little less of a huge splurge and more of an affordable and attainable project.  You can always choose individual room colors down the road as you tackle each space, but getting the main areas, trim, and ceilings all freshly painted is a wonderful way to start your life in your new home.

electrical-wires-lightingLighting: If you’re looking to add recessed lighting into any of the rooms in your home, we suggest trying to get this done pretty early in the process! Yes, we understand it’s hard to find extra money for another extra project, but getting this mess out-of-the-way will save you some serious inconvenience later on. An electrician will need to change the electrical in your ceiling…so it’s a big project! Bridget waited about 1.5 years to add recessed lighting into her family room area, and she could hardly believe the difference it made once it was in. So much brighter, it makes you wonder how you even lived without it!

We don’t think it’s necessary to change out all (or any) of the light fixtures right away. Living in the space and seeing how your home’s style evolves will help determine which fixtures you should eventually add.

Our advice? Splurge on recessed lighting now. Save up for light fixtures you love for later on!

Feet-on-rugSteam Clean Carpets: Yes this is another expensive splurge, but let’s be real… who wants to live surrounded by a stranger’s germs trapped in your home’s carpet (TMI?!). Getting the carpets cleaned will not only make the house look better but most importantly, it will give you peace of mind in helping you feel comfortable in your new space.


table-dining-roomNew Furniture: Yes, we LOVE new furniture but we definitely don’t think it’s the most important expense when you buy a new home. Thanks to our own mistakes, we think buying new furniture right away isn’t always the best choice. To us, it’s very important to live in your space before you start buying all of the new furniture for your home. You want to make sure you figure out your routine in your space before you fill it with items that might not be the right fit for your lifestyle. Instead of buying just to buy, hold off on purchasing any huge furniture pieces.

06-augusta-master-bedroom-dresser-bedIn the meantime, you can use thrifted or secondhand pieces. Or just make do without a few items until you save up for the exact piece that you l-o-v-e.

landscaping flower backyard hydrangea Landscaping: Of course we all want to impress the neighbors right away, but waiting to indulge in new/improved landscaping is definitely a way we feel you can save money. Living with your home for a full year (crazy, we know!) if money is tight is a great way to see how your home functions during every season. Will you really take advantage of your front porch as often as you think? Will you do a lot of backyard BBQ-ing or entertaining on the patio? Will that corner of the property be the perfect home for the shed you hope to build? Getting the answers to these questions before jumping into new landscaping or outdoor expenses is important so you can make the right decision.

shelves-decor-built-ins-hardwareBuilt-Ins: We actually have a few friends that have built houses over the past few years and were super bummed when they came to find out that the built-ins on their wish list was out of their budget (at least for the time being). The price on the built-ins was more than they anticipated and they just couldn’t afford this extra expense after all was said and done.

Our answer — that’s okay… and in some ways even better! Like the furniture, it’s important to note how you live and how your home’s style evolves before making such a permanent decision. Yes, it would be super convenient to get all “building” projects done right away but when money is tight, the built-in can easily wait because it’s something that can be added later without an unbearable mess. Heck, Casey got her whole entertainment center installed in one day… with a very minimal mess! We would encourage people to save up and when the time comes, splurge on the design and size you’ll love forever.

Bridget's House_tour_diningROomAccent Walls: You know we are all about accent walls here on the DIY Playbook and if you have the money right away, we say go for it! But if not, this is definitely an expense we think can wait. Although it may be annoying to work around furniture later on, this furniture will provide a good indication of your style, which will help you make better decisions about these accent walls. Plus these projects that can easily be DIY’ed, so wait until you have more time to devote to these fun projects.

shiplap_bathroom_reveal-15Bath & Kitchen Remodels: If you have the money right away, of course we’re huge fans of remodeling right from the start… especially rooms like the kitchen or bathrooms. However we realize that is often times far from reality and not always feasible for the a new homeowner budget. So instead of tackling the whole makeover right away, try making mini updates that are more affordable. Maybe try painting, changing the hardware on the cabinets or vanity, changing the faucet, hanging art, or any other mini project that will upgrade the quality of this space without breaking the bank. Once you have saved up, you’ll know how your family uses these spaces and will have a much better idea of what you want in that makeover.

Did we miss anything?! We’d love to hear your advice!Bridget and Casey Signature

PS. We are heading to Carmel, California for the weekend and are SO excited to see this amazing part of the country for the first time!! If anyone has been there, we’d love to hear your suggestions. And if you want to follow along on our Carmel/Michaels Makers Summit adventures, be sure to follow along on Instagram, Facebook & Snapchat —-> @diyplaybook

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17 thoughts on “New Homeowners: What to do NOW and LATER

  1. Gretchen Braun

    Definitely agree about painting! I did most of my house before we moved in, but waited to do the bedroom. I just did it this past weekend and it was SUCH a pain with all the furniture in it!

  2. Trang

    I agree with your lists of things to do now and later. I read an article recently that said to wait to paint until after you move in so you can get the feel for the room with your furniture and the lighting, etc. I didn’t agree because it’s a pain to paint once furniture is in place and you have to move it around and cover it so it doesn’t get paint spatters. I recently moved into a new home (and still unpacking and unboxing – so endless it seems) and did all the now stuff: re-stained walls, painted, renovated the kitchen (we had to…it was much easier to do now than later for us). Next on the list is to get window treatments – and gosh, they are expensive. I have to do this for all the windows in the house. For a tiny house, it’s a lot of windows!

  3. Brittany

    Agreed about painting before you move in! I just bought my first house and besides cleaning, the main thing I wanted to have complete was painting the walls. Feels so fresh and new, even in an old house. I’m holding off on furniture to avoid buying ‘filler’ pieces and waiting to find pieces I love, but its so hard to not fill all the empty space right away! Great list!

  4. Morgan Smith

    here’s one for us – NOW – scrape the popcorn ceilings! We did this in empty rooms first and its been so much more difficult in rooms with furniture! What a mess!

  5. Kristen Ayotte

    This is good list! When we moved into our new place in April we definitely made sure to get the carpets cleaned before hauling in the furniture! So much nicer, and the carpet cleaners gave us a discount!

  6. Suzanne Larson

    Love this post! Thanks guys! Do you have a Rookie Painting post? I’d love to hear your tips for building the confidence to tackle painting projects and your favorite painting projects!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Thanks Suzanne! We are currently working alongside Bridget’s dad (a professional painter + painting contractor) to compile a whole post about Rookie Painting Tips. It’s scheduled on our calendar for a couple weeks from now so definitely check back! In the meantime, here’s a post we did on Rookie Tips for choosing the perfect paint color:

      Thanks so much for your comment, you are too darn sweet! =) xp, B&C

  7. Erika

    Best post ever ! More so since I’m moving in my very first home (and moving from my parent’s!) in exactly two weeks ! The list of things to do is so huge when you think of everything you want to/need to do, but this post really help prioritize ! Thanks 🙂


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Updates on Our Family Room Built-Ins


I can without a doubt say that the best money we spent in our condo was installing our built-ins. I mean just look at this before & after…family-room-before-built-insaugusta-family-room-built-ins

These babies were not cheap, but they are the main focal point of our entire condo. They definitely upped the value of our home, they have lots of storage in the bottom cabinets, and they have plenty of little cubbies to show off our favorite decor items and precious memories.

built-ins-shelves-family-roomAll in all…MONEY WELL SPENT.

Tweaking the built-ins

This area of our home really hasn’t changed much since I last wrote about them back in March. But I did recently swap out the silver hardware, for some matte black knobs and I’m loving this small tweak. black-hardware-built-ins

When the carpenter first installed the built-ins, he told me to have hardware ready to go and he could install all of the knobs on the cabinets that day too. But (as you guys now know) I like to reaalllly think things through before I do anything…and there was just no way I was going to have my ideal hardware picked out and ready for him. Luckily, my mom had just re-done her kitchen and had plenty of silver knobs leftover so I used those as temporary placeholders.

Here they are…cabinet-knobs

They’re not bad, but they just weren’t my style.

It only took me about 9 months of living with them to make the switch to ones I liked much better. new-hardware-back-knobs-cabinets

These matte black ones remind me of the black hooks next to our bright white board and batten in the hallway. And they also go with the black legs on our new marble kitchen table. I’m trying to incorporate more hints of black through our home, and this is an easy way to do that. new-black-knobs-home-depot

They’ve also got a contemporary style, and (my favorite part) they were relatively inexpensive. Which is great when you have to buy 8 of them.

I’ve also made the shelves a bit more minimalistic, and a tad less colorful. Sometimes open shelves like this can look pretty darn busy, and it’s important for me to only display items that I absolutely l-o-v-e. built-in-entertainment-center-living-roomwide-shot-augusta-built-ins-family-room

I’m still searching for a new couch and the struggle is real. A light gray, contemporary (yet comfortable) sectional that won’t cost me an arm & a leg. Hmmm…still haven’t found the perfect one! I’m very open to suggestions!couch-pillows-family-room-built-ins

But until I find the perfect sofa, I’ve upgraded a few of our pillows & throws. The gray blanket is from West Elm (it’s out of stock, but this one is similar) and I adore the little tassels on the end. family-room-window-treatment-29And our blogging friend Danielle (from Danielle Oakey interiors) has a new pillow shoppillow-danielle-oakey-couch

Don’t you just love this black and white mudcloth one? The quality is unreal.


To be perfectly honest, I know these built-ins will never truly be “finished.” Instead I will be constantly arranging and re-arranging them until we move out someday. But it’s just so fun to have such a large “canvas” to play!dining-family-room-built-ins

It’s crazy to think how much this entire large room has changed over the span of 1 year. Let’s hope the next time we chat about this space, I have a little more clarity when it comes to the couch situation. We’ll see…casey_sig

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22 thoughts on “Updates on Our Family Room Built-Ins

  1. Amy

    I don’t know if Ashley Furniture is nationwide, but we are lucky to have a liquidation center really close to home. Everything is purchase as is, but the sales people have a lite wiggle room if you see any imperfections and still want the item. They definitely have contemporary grey sectionals and the quality and price is great!

    1. DIY Playbook

      I hadn’t thought of Ashley Furniture! We do have them here in Chicago…not sure about any outlets/liquidation centers. I like that idea because you can definitely see/feel it in person before buying!

  2. Kandice

    We have the light gray Karlstadd sectional from Ikea. It’s comfortable and slip-covered (but not in a noticeable way). I’ve loved it since we got it!

  3. Kristen Ayotte

    Your built-ins are amazing! We’re planning to add built-ins around our fireplace and I’m looking forward to having all the space for storage and decor. Good luck with your couch hunt…have you tried Costco? They had a few sectionals when I was there a few weeks ago.

  4. Erin

    i totally thought of emily henderson’s blog in terms of couches. I’m sure you follow her, but here’s a couple posts that may help in terms of couches.

    and her round ups! i love her round ups! one of them is bound to be a gray you’ll love!

    and that built in <3

  5. Austin Schneider

    Love this! I’m constantly rearranging my bookshelves, but unfortunately (at least for styling purposes), I have so many books that it’s hard to keep things from looking cluttered and stuffed. I’m constantly purging my collection, but I can never seem to get it down low enough to look minimal, but that’s a worthwhile sacrifice in my book (no pun intended) to be surrounded by books I love. The shelves look great! Can’t wait to see how you continue to play with them.

  6. Jill Steinwender

    Still looks amazing! I’m wondering why you put most of your books ‘backwards’ on the shelves-trying to reduce the colors or to keep things matching more? I’ve never thought about that but then it would also make it difficult to find a book you were looking for!

    1. DIY Playbook

      You’re right..pretty much to make it a tad less colorful. I have to admit I mostly read books off of my kindle these days. So most of the books throughout my home are ones that I love and don’t want to get rid of, but I rarely flip through them. There have been times when my husband has been frantically searching for a book and I always ask him the size & color so I can find it more easily haha!

  7. Shelby / SweetnessinStarlight

    Have you looked at Macy’s yet (for a couch/sectional)? We got ours there a few years ago and could not be happier. We bought the Radley (comes in different colors/configurations) but there are other styles too that you might like. I think the Ainsley was similar but a little more modern. Jonathan Louis is the actual brand of the couch though. It is sooo comfy, easy to clean and has held its shape extremely well. Highly recommend. 🙂

    1. DIY Playbook

      Bridget’s sectional is actually from Macy’s and she LOVES hers! So maybe I should check them out! Love that yours is comfy, easy to clean, and holds it’s shape…that’s exactly what I need!

  8. Nicole

    The white built-in unit looks absolutely amazing! And you seriously did such a lovely job with the accessories! But I hear ya about it never being “finished”… I just have a bookcase and I always find myself rearranging things on it.


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MCM Knock-off Bench


Some of you noticed on our Instagram recently that I scored a new bench for the foot of my bed! It only took me 4 months of looking, but I finally pulled the trigger on this MCM knock-off bench and I could not be more excited. More like I’m obsessed, and I can’t wait to give you all the details.
bedroom_rug_pillows_benchLast time I checked in, I had just painted the space, added the headboard + rug + art and mentioned that I wasn’t in any rush to make an impulsive decision buying a bench for the foot of the bed. I didn’t want to just buy to buy because that usually leads to design regret.

So Much Searching

So I spent literally ALL summer with my eyes peeled. I looked at estate sales, garage sales, stalked Craigslist, pinned ideas on Pinterest for DIY options and always looked while I was out shopping for home decor.

I saw some potential options (and even took a few home to test out) but none were perfect for this space. The other options were either too bold, some were too big, some were the wrong color and some were out of my preferred price range.
mid-century-modern-bench-black-woodBut when I spotted this mid-century modern knock-off bench on CRAIGSLIST, I was immediately heart-eyed and knew it would be perfect for our bedroom.

Mid Century Modern Knock-Off Bench

I’ve seen these benches used as coffee tables around the blogosphere and always LOVED them but an authentic bench, originally made famous by designer George Nelson, will cost you about $1,000!! As much as I love the look of the real thing, $1,000 for a bench will never be in my price range. bedroom-mcm-bench-headboard-So you can imagine how over-the-top excited I was when I saw a replica of the bench on sale for $125 on Craigslist. But funny story actually. The Craigslist ad wasn’t posted by a random person trying to get rid of this bench, it was actually posted by a store in the suburbs of Chicago (random?!).

I swapped a few emails with the sales representative and then convinced Matt to come with me to check out the bench in their showroom. I had NO idea what I was getting into, but boy was I pleasantly surprised when I arrived.

Baxton Studio Furniture — who knew?!

The store front was in Lombard, IL (but there’s another one in Bensenville, IL) and it was Baxton Studio’s Furniture Outlet Store. If you’re not familiar, Baxton Studio is one of the top suppliers of furniture to sites like Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock, etc.

Like me, you may not recognize the name right away, but you would definitely recognize a lot of their pieces if you do any online browsing/buying.


I got to see the bench in person and the quality was even better than I had hoped. I was sold!

Real Talk

But to be perfectly honest, a lot of the furniture in the place was super cool but wasn’t of the highest quality. They weren’t bad quality by any means, I just wouldn’t recommend going there if you are looking for SUPER sturdy, high quality, or long-lasting pieces.

BUT, this bench was one of the few pieces that was pretty darn sturdy. (Currently for sale on Overstock here)

Because the Lombard storefront was only a “showroom”, Matt and I had to drive up to Bensenville to pick up the bench, which we didn’t mind because it was summer and we had nothing better to do that day.  When we got to Bensenville, we showed the staff our receipt from Lombard and they brought the bench out to our car.

Assembly Required

I had to attach the two legs with an allen wrench and some screws, but the assembly literally took me less than 10 minutes. Now I’m officially in LOVE with my bench. I can’t believe what an adventure that unexpected Craigslist ad brought me on… who knew Baxton Studio Furniture had an outlet so close to us and we had no idea?!

nautral-wood-mcm-bench-in-bedroomIf you’re in the Chicagoland area, it’s worth a look… especially if you want to check out the quality of something before buying it on Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock, etc. But, I wasn’t in love with the no return policy, so please keep that in mind!! Maybe sticking with the online stores where returning is an option would be a better choice.

For my fellow Chicagoans — have you been to this storefront?! Am I crazy for never hearing about this?! Have you had any luck purchasing something here? I’d love to hear your experience and/or tips.
Bridget Signature

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8 thoughts on “MCM Knock-off Bench

  1. alliferg

    I’ve been and regularly recommend people to check it out. It’s not my favorite (if I’m outlet furniture shopping in the suburbs I’m at the Crate and Barrel outlet!), but I’ve had a lot of friends find pieces there! The Lombard show room is relatively new. You used to have to shop in the Bensenville warehouse. I wonder why they don’t advertise it more? It really is a great way to buy a statement piece at a low price point.

  2. Kristen Ayotte

    I never knew this place existed! Would have been so helpful while I’ve been trying to furnish our new house. I love hitting up the Crate & Barrel outlet (it’s only a few minutes from me) and I go to the Pottery Barn outlet when I visit my parents in Michigan. 🙂 Your new bench looks great btw!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Right?! Where has it been hiding? We LOVE Crate & Barrel outlet but have never been to the PB outlet… we’ll definitely have to hit that up next time we are in Michigan. Thank you!!

  3. Austin Schneider

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the new bench, especially how low it sits at the foot of the bed. Well worth the wait. Funny side note: I totally read the MCM in the title as “Man Crush Monday” for a second before I realized my mistake. Clearly I’ve been spending too much time on Instagram.


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Rookie Mistake: Shop First, Plan Second


Rookie Mistakes: a series of common decor mistakes made by rookies… aka US. And no we are not judging because heck, we have made (and continue to make) these mistakes too!

We’re back at it with another round of rookie mistakes. These are so fun for us to write, because it forces us to look back at all of the big “no-no’s” we’ve made while decorating our first apartments and homes. And today’s rookie mistake is definitely one we’ve both committed… and honestly, still fall victim to! #guilty

The Mistake

06-instagram-coffee-desk-officeReal Talk: We are 2 gals who like to get sh*t done and crossed off of our to-do list. So in the early days of decorating our homes, we wanted our spaces furnished and decorated as quickly as possible. We didn’t measure our spaces, we didn’t research to find the best prices, and we didn’t live in our spaces to get a feel for the things we actually NEEDED to buy.

Instead of doing any of those things, we shopped and bought items that caught our eye without a plan!

And guess what?! We ended up with a big case of design regret.

Casey: I bought a green, white, and black comforter when Finn & I first moved in together, thinking it wasn’t too masculine or too feminine. In reality, it was pretty darn ugly and didn’t go with any of the furniture or decor we already owned.

Here’s a veeerrrry old pic…st-louis-bedroom-master-green-bedding-1

Not exactly my current style, right?! But wanting to get “buy comforter” off my to-do list, I didn’t shop around at all or make a plan about what I eventually wanted our bedroom to look like.  Instead I just went with the first thing I found that I thought would work.

Bridget: I have made this mistake WAY more than I care to admit. Probably the biggest (and most expensive) example of this rookie mistake was when I bought all of my furniture immediately after we closed on our house. Instead of slowly going through the process and conscientiously planning what I eventually wanted our home to feel like, I just started buying to check it off the to-do list.

dining room table

Bridget’s old dining room setup

World Market had their huge, annual furniture sale about a month after we bought the house and I bought matching everything. A dining room table, a coffee table, a set of chairs — all dark brown, rustic pieces that matched. I later found out (the hard way) that dark + rustic is not my style. Because these were such investments, I’m stuck with a few of these pieces. Don’t get me wrong, alone I like all of them, but having dark, matching everything in my small space was too much collectively.

The Fix

Before you hit up any stores, make a gameplan ahead of time. That way you’re not buying just to buy, but you’re instead going in with a concrete plan of attack.

casey-bedroom-1Here are our tips when it comes to planning first, and shopping second.

  • Read reviews: Bridget bought a rug online for her dining room (seen in the Rookie Mistake picture above) and did not read the reviews. HUGE MISTAKE! Although the rug looked very similar from how it was pictured online, it shed like crazy. It was like she had a pet in the house… that’s how much it shed every. single. day! If she had read the reviews, this whole situation could have been avoided. Lesson learned. Now we always do our research, read reviews, and price match whenever we are buying something online. This obviously helps avoid mistakes like B’s, but also forces us to sit down and be more intentional about everything we buy online.


  • Watch for sales: Just because you walk by something at Target and you think it is so perfect for your home today doesn’t mean you have to walk out with it right then and there. We’re super guilty of spotting a cute accessory and buying it right away. Sometimes these items seem perfect at the time, but turn out to be a bit of an impulse buy. Waiting for the item to go on sale after seeing it in the store, will not only save you money, but it will also give you time to process whether this item is that perfect or was just super cute, but not for you.
  • Always keep your eyes peeled: Bridget did this for the bench she eventually wanted at the end of her bed. She ended up looking at stores, at garage sales, on Pinterest,and Craigslist for over 4 months before finally finding “the one”. Because she LOVES the one she ended up with so much (more on that bench next week!), she’s so happy she waited and didn’t settle for something less just to check it off the to-do list. Lesson Learned: Don’t rush the process just to end up settling.


  • Save a list: We like to keep a running list of decor items that we are currently looking for in the notes of our phone. That way we always know what we are looking for in advance and don’t come home with an impulse piece that wasn’t on the list. It’s almost like making a grocery list before going to the grocery store so you don’t come home with everything you don’t need, and nothing you actually need. #hatewhenthathappens


  • Measure & keep those measurements handy: We are also huge fans of keeping the measurements of these “wish list” items on a note in our phones. We usually take the MAXIMUM measurement of the height, width, and length of the specified space so we know what “wiggle room” we have to play in that space. Then we always have a tape measure (or at least a mini tape measure) in our purses so we’re prepared just in case we find the perfect piece and need to check those measurements.


  • Live in your home for some time before you buy: This one is SUPER hard for us Type A people, but we do think it’s important to FORCE ourselves to do this. We feel that it’s important to live with what you have and establish a routine in your new home before buying new. This way, you don’t rush to purchase a new piece of furniture only to find out it totally doesn’t fit your “routine” in this new home. Once you know where you drop your stuff when you come in the door, where you entertain most, how often you host guests overnight, etc. THEN you’ll have a more clear picture of what you need to add to your wish list.

Dining Room Mood Board

  • Create a mood board: Like we mentioned in this mood board tutorial, you don’t have to be a computer expert to create your own mood board. If we can make one of these with zero photoshop skills, we KNOW that you can too! We love creating these boards because it gives you a visual of how pieces will fit together without having to physically buy them. Sometimes you can already tell that what you envisioned in your head really will not look that great once it is laid out on a mood board.
  • Don’t just buy because it’s so cute… buy with more intention: It’s seriously that simple, buying with intention rather than impulse is extremely important to avoid design regret. Even if buying with intention takes you three times as long to get the job done, waiting for that perfect piece is far more valuable than just buying something CUTE that you may get sick of by next month. Home decor is too expensive not to give it a little lot of thought in advance.  

Being aware of our closets

These same tips can be used when it comes to fashion. We used to just buy items in store when we thought they were cute, but have since completely changed our ways. We each cleaned out our closets and made a note of all of the “wish list” items we want to slowly add to our fashion arsenal. That list lives on our phones, and we can consult it whenever we’re out shopping to give us some direction.

We also took a serious look at what we want our fashion style to be and have been intentionally buying items that align with this style ever since. No more buying just because it’s cute! There are a lot of things that are “cute” out there, but will we love them in a week, a month, a year or even a decade from now?! Surprisingly, this new philosophy has made shopping for new clothes so much more efficient & enjoyable!

Moving forward

We’ll probably never be completely free from design regret but we’re far more confident now that we follow these steps to plan before we purchase for our closets or our homes! We want to be in LOVE with everything we bring into our homes. Intentional decorating is our ultimate goal. As far as we’re concerned, more intention = less design regret.

Bridget and Casey Signature

P.S. We hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend. We’ve got a fun DIY project on tap at Bridget’s house tomorrow. Because of the holiday we will not be posting on Monday, but we’ll see you back here on Tuesday with a new post. 


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14 thoughts on “Rookie Mistake: Shop First, Plan Second

  1. Lidia

    Yes!!! I did a similar post earlier this week on impulse buying – my basement is FULL!!!
    Sidenote – you two looked lovely at Haven! I’m a VERY new blogger and was too shy to come say hello – next year I’ll be more bold! 🙂

  2. Erin

    absolutely true for everything! i really kind of wish we waited to buy our couch and side chair. because truthfully we don’t really ever sit in the side chair. If i could do it all over again i would buy a sectional. but at the same time, we needed at least a couch! for the living room. but everything else we’ve been really good about waiting, researching and finding the right pieces that work.

    as for the rug. ORDEAL. i still love the rug we have but man, it sheds more than our dog. no matter what. I’ve gotten to the point where I IGNORE those little dust balls. JUST IGNORE THEM. it’s even worse in the winter when we wear black sweatpants and you can see all of the fibers from the rug on them! hahahah. continue to ignore them. yup.

    1. DIY Playbook

      You are cracking us up, Erin. This rug sounds like it’s turning into a big pain in the butt. haha. Love the technique of ignoring the dust balls. You just gotta do what you gotta do to stay sane!

  3. Diana @ Bumps Along the Way

    I actually really like the green and blue combo in Casey’s old bedroom! I mean, maybe not together exactly like that but I like the colors! And yes! Definitely victim to some of the “just want to fill/complete the space” in the beginning of home ownership! Now, 10 years later, we’re changing some of those early decisions but I guess 10ish years is still a long time to live with something!

    1. DIY Playbook

      haha you are too kind Diana. At the time I thought it was really cool, but looking back I can definitely tell it’s not exactly our style!

      So exciting that you’re changing up those early decisions! Have fun doing it 🙂

  4. Colleen Howard Mulcahy

    I’ve absolutely done this and had regrets. Now I try to live in the space, but then get design paralysis and don’t make changes and live with the temporary fix 😬

  5. Nicole B.

    Such a thoughtful post! Definitely don’t beat yourselves up over the “rookie mistakes”… I think we ALL have been there done that. I think it’s more excitement of getting your own place… that we don’t even think about waiting or planning it out.

  6. Austin Schneider

    I love/hate the “Live in your home for some time before you buy” advice! Ha. My boyfriend and I are getting closer to engagement/marriage and I look around his place (where I’ll eventually move in) and think about all the things we’ll need to purchase to make it feel like home. A good reminder to pump my brakes and that it never (really) hurt anyone to wait a while and live with what you’ve got.

    1. DIY Playbook

      Congrats on the (upcoming!) exciting new time in your life, Austin! And yeah…we totally have a love/hate with that advice too. We always just want to get ‘er done!

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#DIYPlaybookSOS – Lisa’s Living Room Space


Earlier this month, we revealed the big news…we’re taking on another makeover with Lowe’s Home Improvement and one lucky Chicago homeowner will receive a FREE makeover this fall! So exciting, right?! But our readers are located all over the place (literally all over the world!), and we wish we could help each and every one of you with your design dilemmas.

DIY Playbook, Save our Space!

playbook-sos-instagram-1And that’s when #DIYPlaybookSOS was born. Essentially, it’s a way for you to say, “DIY Playbook, Save our Space!” You guys have been emailing us and tagging your rooms that need a little TLC with this hashtag on social media, and we’ve been able to get a little glimpse into some of the dilemmas you’re having when it comes to decorating.

paint-color-swatches-diy-paintingOur plan for #DIYPlaybookSOS is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer tips & tricks on how to improve it. We figure this is a good idea for a few reasons…

  1. You may have the exact same design dilemma as one of the featured spaces, so hearing some decorating advice could help you tackle your own home!
  2. We can showcase various styles that may be different from ours.
  3. It’s fun to shake things up! So why the heck not give it a try?!

This month, we decided to take one of those spaces and offer some decorating tips on how this reader could take her space to the next level.

Here’s a snippet of an email we received from our very sweet reader, Lisa…

“Your post on finding your personal style really hit home with me (you can find that post here btw) because I struggle with that so much. I am a stay at home mom with 2 daughters, and with how much I’m here in my space, I’m always finding something to work on.  I want you to be brutally honest! I have attached some photos of my family room. Just looking to see what your ideas would be on accessorizing, furniture placement (should I move the couch off the wall?) and any other ideas/suggestions. Paint color, slip cover for couch?”

Here are the pics she sent along of her living room space.

Reader Living Room Space – THE BEFOREreader-living-room-space-lisa-diyplaybooksosreader-living-room-diyplaybooksosbar-area-diyplaybooksos-lisareader-living-room-space-diyplaybooksos

We’ve gotta admit…we were blown away by her natural talent for decorating!! She already had a great start to this space (don’t you just love that grid of frames above the couch?). But there’s always room for improvement in any space, and sometimes it just takes a set of fresh eyes to see those small tweaks! And after we took a good look, here are some of the tips we told Lisa…

Our Design Tips

  •  A large rug would look amazing in this space and would break up the brown floor and the brown coffee table. Maybe something lighter? And definitely go big so it is under (at least) the front legs of all of the furniture. 8×10 or 9×12 are always a good bet!

Here are some of our top rug picks (affiliate links used for convenience).

  • Remove the runner in front of the mantel. Gorgeous piece, but you can use it elsewhere in your home.
  • Add some alternating heights to the fireplace mantel decor. You can even layer in a mirror or another vertical frame!fireplace-mantel

Inspiration Photo via Park and Oak Interior Design

  • Although we really like the wine cellar piece above the wet bar, what about adding some type of long rustic shelving to make that whole bar area functional, yet super fashionable? We like the idea of having more storage space AND the opportunity to layer in art, photos, cute glasses, your wine bottles, possible decanters, and all those other cute “bar cart” items. It would even add some more visual interest over to that side of the room and make that whole area more of a statement.


Inspiration Photo via Ivory Lane

We sent our suggestions back to Lisa about a month ago, and GUESS WHAT?! She implemented all of our ideas. That girl works fast and we are so impressed with her quick progress. Take a look at the updated photos she sent our way…

Reader Living Room Space – THE PROGRESSliving-room-lisa-diyplaybooksos

Large rug to lighten up the space — check!

Alternating Heights on the Fireplace + a new focal point — check! living-room-diyplaybooksos-lisaGorgeous and FUNCTIONAL new shelves above the bar to bring a rustic flair over to that space of the room, while decluttering the counter space– check!
bar-lisa-diyplaybooksosAnd major BONUS points for Lisa because she used our DIY Industrial Pipe Shelves Tutorial!

Just a few small changes, and this space is already looking so much better! The rug did wonders to brighten up the space, and we are loving the rustic shelving over the wet bar. But most importantly, Lisa is excited about these changes and her refreshed space! <— Our favorite part!

We wish we could come to ALL of your homes to hang out, drink coffee, and help solve your design dilemmas (#dreamjob!). Sadly, we can’t BUT that doesn’t mean we still can’t drink coffee and help solve some of these design dilemmas from afar! If you want your space to be the next #diyplaybookSOS feature, all you have to do is share a photo on Instagram or Facebook, tag @diyplaybook and use the #diyplaybooksos. Tell us about your design dilemma and your space could be our next #diyplaybooksos feature! 

Bridget and Casey Signature



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12 thoughts on “#DIYPlaybookSOS – Lisa’s Living Room Space

  1. Erin

    WHOA! those simple changes makes alllll the difference. so amazing! great suggestions and it already feels lighter, brighter and just a little cozier. it’s amazing how much difference a rug makes!

  2. Kara D

    Amazing! The changes are spectacular! Those were great tips that you shared, and major kudos to Lisa for getting it all done in a month!!! I think the rug was the game-changer for her, but the shelving is the icing on that cake!

  3. Diana @ Bumps Along the Way

    Wow! My eyes practically did that cartoon thing of popping out of my head at the afters! And the befores were pretty great too! What a difference just a few small (ish) things can make. And kudos to Lisa for getting these things done quickly!

  4. Lisa Prosapio Brennan

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Bridget and Casey, you two are so amazing!! I absolutely love the changes made via your suggestions, and the space definitely feels more cozy and inviting. Everyone is shocked by how much brighter it is, and I love telling them about how it came to be that way 😉 Still playing with the styling of the shelving a bit and having so much doing it! Thanks again for providing me with the gentle nudge and amazing suggestions needed to get me going…it’s addictive and I’ve got a running list of “to do’s” to make other spaces in my house just a bit better 🙂 xoxo

    1. DIY Playbook

      Lisa you are the sweetest! And you’ve seriously got an eye for style! You didn’t need our help at all. So happy you’re loving your space more & more. 🙂

  5. Kristen Ayotte

    Wow! Lisa did an amazing job implementing your ideas! The space looks even better than it did before.


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Lighter, Brighter Counter Stools on a Budget


I can’t even believe I’m FINALLLYYYYY writing this post. I’ve wanted new counter stools for over 2 years now, and I’m so excited to report that I finally took the plunge and bought some! #commitmentissues

What a difference

I’m not sure if I was able to capture what a HUGE difference these new stools have made in our space. You may just have to take my word for it when I say that these counter stools have totally changed everything! (dramatic much?!)

white_counterstools_kitchen-17In all seriousness, I’m shocked at what a difference these chairs have made. The kitchen island looks so different from every angle. The space finally feels a little less dark, bulky, & brown and more light, bright, & airy. white_counterstools_kitchen-7white_counterstools_kitchen-16Even walking to the front of the house from our bedrooms makes a difference. The whole space feels like it flows more and the style feels a lot more “me”. white_counterstools_kitchen

The OLD Counter Stools

Like I mentioned, I’ve been wanting to ditch the brown, (faux) leather chairs that I scored on black Friday from Home Depot before we moved into our house for a long time. Four-ish years ago these stools seemed like a good idea because they were…

  • Cheap (a doorbuster that cost us about $50 each)
  • Comfortable
  • Matched the kitchen
  • Got the job done (read: check “buy counter stools” off the to-do list ASAP so we can finally eat at the counter)

A Deserving Tribute

But before I dive into the details of our new chairs, I HAVE to give credit where credit is due. These chairs are SUPER comfortable and look/feel brand new even after 4 years (!!) of daily use. It was hard to find another chair that was as affordable, “wipe-able” and comfortable as these counter stools are. To be perfectly honest, I think that’s why it’s taken me so long to commit to purchasing new stools. As much as I wasn’t in love with the look of these dark, masculine stools in my already very dark kitchen, I’m NOT counting this purchase as a design mistake because I learned a lot from these darn stools.

  • I learned that counter stools don’t have to cost an arm and a leg
  • I learned that I valued the opportunity to wipe the stools down so we never had to worry about spilling on them
  • I learned that comfortable stools were important to us
  • I learned that dark on dark is NOT my style
  • I learned that living with something that you don’t love really helps you identify exactly what you do love

And for all of these lessons learned, I have to take my hat off to our old counter stools. They served their purpose in our house over the past 4 years and as much as I’m happy they’re gone for good, I’m grateful for what they taught us along the way.

white_counterstools_kitchen-4The NEW counter stools

After Casey decided to ditch her very similar counter stools, she shared a round up of her options that instantly inspired me to finally make the change in my kitchen as well. (Thanks Case!) I used her “vision” to find stools for our home that were wipe-able, comfortable, and would coordinate with my dining room chairs. Oh… and I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on them.
white_counterstools_kitchen-5I found a few options that I loved, but most of them were far too expensive (as in $250+ EACH!). Yikes. Spending over $700 on three stools was not an option. Eventually I stumbled upon these charming counter stools online at TARGET for $79 each! Yes, TARGET!! <—- Just when I thought I couldn’t love Target any more.

I bought three stools in white, but they actually come in 6 colors (the grey is amazing!). They also come in barstools (which are taller) AND dining room chairs — both options are gorgeous! After delivery, each counter stool had to be assembled. The assembly took about 10 minutes each, which is my kind of assembly! All I had to do was use an allen wrench to secure six screws that attached the base of the chair to the seat.  I also added mini felt pads to the bottom of each leg to protect the floor from scratches.

Rookie Tip:

One of the chairs was a bit wobbly after I assembled it, so I put two sticky felt cushions under the one leg that was a bit “off” and that fixed the problem — no more wobbles.

white_counterstools_kitchen-12I noticed that our old stools needed to be tightened every now and then so I made sure to save the allen wrench and extra screws that came with the chairs. I put them in a labeled ziplock bag and put that bag in our “odds & ends” box. If our chairs ever become a bit lose over time, I’ll be ready!

^^^ Random: I had to add this picture because it totally makes me laugh out loud. Just two counter stools hanging at the bar… probably chatting about how crazy this lady is who owns this place. 

Yay for new stools!

But seriously, why did it take me 4 years to finally buy stools that I actually like?! This seems to be the story our house these days. I guess better late than never, right?!white_counterstools_kitchen-8AND I guess waiting it out meant that I learned a bit about my style along the way, didn’t spend an arm and a leg on new stools, and eventually ended up with what I love. Sounds like a winning combo in my playbook. =)

Bridget Signature

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7 thoughts on “Lighter, Brighter Counter Stools on a Budget

    1. DIY Playbook

      Thanks Gretchen! I’m embarrassed it took me so long for me to finally swap out those dark ones. I guess it makes me appreciate this light, bright look a WHOLE lot more.

  1. Alysha

    They look great and make a huge difference! I have the dining room height faux leather that I’ve been wanting to replace so I totally relate to this post!!

  2. Kristen Ayotte

    The new stools look great! We bought dining table chairs from Target within the last couple months and I was pleasantly surprised at all the great furniture options they have online! The love affair with Target continues 🙂


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