Scavenged: Most of My Living Room

I can't believe the luck I've had on Craig's List lately, although my luck is preempted by plenty of internet scouring, studying, and saving. Right now, we are squirreling away as much money as possible for a big kitchen demo and renovation, so any room I want to freshen up needs to be freshened on a budget, which has made Craig's List a real asset lately for buying, as well as selling so that I have more capital to turn around and spend.

Ikea Stockholm Rug

Eames Style Rocking Chair

Danish Lounge Chair and Cushions

Picture Frames

The keys to Craig's List success are:

  1. Know what you're looking for.
  2. Don't get distracted by junk you don't need, even if it's great.
  3. Check the site often.
  4. Always negotiate. I typically offer half of the asking price and you'd be surprised how little people haggle with me after my initial offer. I go in ready to negotiate, but hardly ever have to pull up my sleeves.

The recent refresh to the living room was done for just a few hundred dollars thanks to the One Woman's Trash approach. Because I spend a lot of time at CMU, I love to look at data, so here's a breakdown of what I saved:

List Price My Price
Ikea Stokholm Rug $199 $50
Eames Style Rocking Chair $100 $30
Danish Lounge Chair and Cushions $600+ $200
Total $899+ $280

Check out those savings!

I also scavenge picture frames from yard sales and my parent's throw away pile whenever I can, so there's a stock pile in my house for when I'm ready to hang something on the walls. Not sure of the value of these particular frames, but it's safe to say it's more than $0. Scavenge savings achieved once again.

It's peaks and valleys with the scavenge game, but like all good things, patience and a good eye help things along. Happy scavenging, gang!

White to Gray to White to White

I was pretty averse to white walls when we moved into this house, which is likely because everything had been painted white, except for the parts that were painted brown. 

That's hard to look at.

Round 1: Cement

Right after we moved in, I painted the living room gray and tried to cover up that brown banister with white paint. I had a vision based on a Pinterest photo and to no one's surprise, it didn't pan out. What fun is homeownership if you don't do everything twice, or in my case, three times?

The gray paint made my walls look like slabs of cement and the couch blended right into the cement-y walls. This was also before the fireplace got a white wash. Brown, gray, more gray. Not a good round.

Round 2: Meh

I read somewhere, probably on Pinterest, that if you want a white room, you have to go for a very pure white. After painting half of the room a very pure white, I am here to tell you that I believe this sentiment to be false. Like the gray, the stark white did nothing for the room. It added no dimension, didn't embrace the nice light this room gets in the afternoon, and bored me so much that I went a full year before deciding what to do next, stuck with half gray and half white walls all the while.

Round 3: Disco


Success. Once again using the internet as my guide, even though I should be saying "fool me once, shame on you..." etc., but I really spent sites I admire on the whole, not just one picture posted to one lifestyle blog. I'm a long admirer of Door Sixteen and Manhattan Nest, who have both successfully painted rooms white without washing them out.

After lots of research, I settled on Benjamin Moore's Moonlight White, which has just the slightest tint to it. I have to admit, even with endorsements on my side, I was nervous that it would turn out too yellow or too creamy, but it is just perfect. It really does look like the moonlight is always bouncing off of the walls, which is lovely.


A little furniture rearrangement helped things along, too. The room feels a lot bigger without the couch tucked into that corner. More on that later. For now, I can put my paint brush to rest.

There will be no Round 4.


Before attempting DIY projects, we try to crowdsource our friends to see what their experiences were like. Exposing a brick wall? DIY. Moving? Let the experts handle it. Painting? DIY. Refinishing hardwood floors? Like building an Ikea bookshelf, a surefire relationship ender.

The experts we called in said that we didn't have the worst hardwood floors in Pittsburgh, which was a terrible downgrade from when the sewer inspection guy said we had the best pipes in the city. Bruised egos and all, we forged on and took the crowd's advice - pay the pros.

There is no sub-floor under the hardwood, which wasn't a huge problem, but every person who gave us a quote noted it as something to consider reevaluating in the future - that the current floor turn into a sub-floor someday. It also meant that we had to put drop clothes over everything in the basement to protect the things down their from dust and laminate drippings during the project.

Hey, remember these days?


One vendor told us that our floors wouldn't be pristine, but rustic when they were done. That is a pretty fair word to use.


It's hard to believe that someone would want to cover up these beauties with glue and carpet and nails, but I guess that's what trends will do to a house. At least the wallpaper craze never hit this abode.

Grey vs. Gray

First of all, is there a correct way to spell it? Grey. Gray. And more importantly, is there a Fifty Shades of Grey joke opportunity in here?

I ventured to the paint store this past weekend with high hopes of coming out with a living room paint color that was the perfect shade of grey (gray?). My Paint Crew accompanied me, but even with Chipotle in our bellies, we were doomed from the start.

My inspiration, for paint and for decor (that couch!) is this:

Identifying the perfect shade of grey without professional help was not a success. Instead, I came home with a shade of grey that was only slightly darker than the already white walls. When the test spot dried, it looked like a shadow and not a color.

Frustrated, but not defeated, I ventured to Ace Paints & Unfinished Furniture in Dormont, where the gentleman working there knew right away the type of grey I needed. He pointed out a few popular tones, some more brown, some more black, but we settled on a color that had some blues in it. Just to be safe, I brought home two samples - one light and one dark - in case the lighter one turned out to be too light again. The results: 

These are the two colors shown above:

We settled on the Cement Gray (notice the spelling) and hope to get started this weekend.

A pretty bold color is slated for the dining room, so stay tuned for the SHOCKING DETAILS next time on