Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Ten of Eleven

Well hey there! Remember me? :) I’ve had such a lovely, totally lazy week…it has been absolutely wonderful. I’m still in low key mode but sure do miss you all.

The end of 2011 is here…can you even believe it? Only a few days left of the year, and that means it’s time to recap the biggest projects  of 2011 here on TDC.

I figure these out based on comments. I love ‘em. I do.  :)

So here. we. go. – the top ten projects based on you!

Up first, the most recent redo – our awkward corner fireplace that used to look like this:

Was changed (with a bit of handy men help) into this:

corner fireplace

I am SO so happy with it still. One of the best changes I’ve ever made to our house! (You can go here to see more about the process.)

I’m dreaming up ideas for a treatment above the mantel, but I love it as is for now. I don’t want to do anything till I’m totally sure about it.

Up next was a project from this summer – a little redo of our family room based around our first debt free purchase – the new sofa:

arhaus small sectional

I finished up that room during my No-Spend July, and I was able to get creative with some accessories and art that didn’t take any cash at all. My favorite kind!!

Next up was another big purchase, but this one wasn’t planned and it was one we didn’t have to pay for (well, most of it). Our fridge meltdown meant we had to replace our laminate floors in the family room and kitchen, and we decided to continue them throughout the bottom floor.

At first we were planning on going with prefinished floors:

prefinished dark hardwoods

But after reading all of your comments on this post, I changed my mind. We went with finished on site, and I’m SO glad we did. I can’t get over how much I love our hardwoods:

finished on site hardwoods

Because our laundry room was laminate previously, and we weren’t replacing it with hardwoods, we were able to apply that insurance credit toward the office, then we paid extra for the dining and living rooms.

Best. decision. ever.

Up next, I shared how I tackled the pile of papers I had ignored for YEARS. That was a very fun week around here.


organizing the paper

I used to go through the files at the start of every year, but I had avoided it for awhile and it came back to bite me. :)

That reminds me…I need to go through the files. (Shudder.)

The next big post was when I blogged about how we are NOT moving any time soon:

We got some bad news about the value of our house this year, along with the rest of the human race, and had some major thinking to do. It only took about a day to figure out we didn’t want to move and aren’t moving. You can read why here.

Next was yet another family room post. It certainly was the year of the family room around here. ;) This one was from the start of the year, before the new sofa or the redo. (Confused? Me too.)

I was so tired of the room feeling so cramped that I broke all the couch rules and removed one:

It made a HUGE difference in this space! It was less seating for awhile, but it was worth it. It also helped me to figure out a new set up for the room which is what we ultimately ended up with.

The lesson here…do whatever the heck you want. It’s YOUR home.

You all were so helpful when it came to the sofa search for that family room. I shared all the things I hated about our sofa set we had had for years:

I loved those comments because I was originally set against microfiber, but my mind was changed. I saw the microfiber light people!! We ended up with a smaller sectional from Arhaus and it’s made of micro denier – a bunny’s butt soft version of microfiber.

It is incredible. LOVE. Love love love.

The next biggest post was not about the family room. I know, shocking! It was about me being a total doofus and causing a big gaping hole in our house for a few days:

Ugh. I still can’t believe I did that. You can see how that happened and the end result (which I love) here.

Number 9 was one of my very favorite projects I’ve done in our home – the closet turned book nook:

closet book nook

With some purging and reorganizing, I realized we didn’t need the small closet in our loft space. Using almost all scrap wood that I had in the garage, I transformed it into a lovely little book nook for me the Bub.

It’s the smallest “room” in our house and one of my favorites. :)

And finally – the biggest response was to a project that didn’t include many pretty pictures, but instead pictures of my piles:

Yep. I’m a piler. A stacker. A bagger. I try to fight it and I can’t. Many of you are right there with me. (Thank you.)

And just like every year, my most popular posts were more personal ones that weren’t about DIY at all. :) The top five of those were…

When I introduced you to the dog I saw, picked up, and fell instantly in love with:

chia rat

These cat folks are now totally head over heels in love with that little bugger. :) We can’t imagine our lives without Peanut Butter.

I shared how I don’t do it all in this post.

The (mostly) pretty pictures can be highly misleading. I try to share our “real” life with you as much as I can.

Early this year I got news that a (very young) family member of mine had breast cancer. It kind of rocked my world. I shared how I was determined to take better care of myself here.

That’s when this woman came back into my life:

I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit…but I’m determined to get back on. I recently found out that a former student of my husband’s is facing cancer. He just graduated a few years ago. What a cruel reminder.

I celebrated three years of blogging by sharing how I try not to let the wonderful world of blogging get me down:

Blogging is 90 percent amazing, ten percent yucky jealousy and insecurity. That post was my reminder to remember that all the houses and blogs that appear perfect are not really perfect after all. And that’s OK. :)

And finally, the biggie. The one that changed our lives:

The one where we paid off $125,000 in debt. Everything but the house. And our lives have been (unbelievably) better for it since.

I hope that I have inspired you to take on something in your homes this year – whether it be personal or just using a hammer for the first time. ;) I love your comments and emails telling me just that – they fill me with JOY!

Next up I’ll share what I’ve got planned for 2012. It’s going to be a great year! :)

Did your favorite post at TDC this year make the cut?


  1. I'm extremely surprised to not see anything about your new outdoor space and deck redo...I loved it :) So I think there should be a top 11, lol.

  2. You had many great projects this year but when you posted that you got to yell, "We're debt free!" with Dave Ramsey, I was so impressed. I listen to him every day going home from school. I look forward to seeing what you share with us in 2012!

  3. As someone quite new to your site, I loved reading all these posts! Great round up.

  4. Dear Sarah,

    I enjoy reading your blog so much! Not just because I love thrift stores and decorating as well, but your fun style of writing and excitement about home stuff is contagious. :D

    I remember well your 'taking better care of myself' post, because that will be one of my goals for the coming year.

    I loved the deck/outside redo and I was sure it would have made it to the top 10 list. Was it #11?

    I love that you are wearing a Central Asian Atlas (Ipak) design scarf in the picture in 'About me' page. I live in Central Asia and here women dress from head to toe in that exact design!

    So, Happy Happy New Year to you and your family!


  5. Wow you did some amazing things this year! I can't wait to see what 2012 brings for you!

  6. So glad to have found your blog and love your posts. I'm loving all the recap posts around blogland. Looking forward to reading some I missed before I landed here... including learning the story of Peanut Butter! Too cute. Happy New Year!

  7. Yea! Great list :) It's fun following you and your journey through life and all that you teach me about decorating and making a space *mine* (or ours). Happy New Year!!!
    I, too, was a little surprised that your backyard space didn't make the cut. Are you surprised by how much you've accomplished this year when you go back through your stats?!?

  8. Hands down, amazing! You had a wonderfully busy and successful year. I have to agree with you about going (mostly) debt-free (we have the house too). It is the most freeing feeling! :)

    Here's to a wonderful 2012!

  9. It was quite a busy year for you! I love how you are so honest about your life and don't pretend to be perfect...I'm a piler and bagger too, so thanks for making me feel "normal"! I especially want to thank you for your inspiring post about getting out of debt. My husband and I are working on getting rid of ours. So far we have knocked 2 off the list and are excited to see the snowball in action. Your story helped us to see that it can be done and it's all worth it.
    Keep up the great posts! You're one of my faves :) Happy New Year!

  10. What a great year and what a great idea for a post...I may have to steal this idea for my blog too.
    Thanks for being such an inspiration to me and for coming up with really thoughtful, insightful, interesting, comical, creative and just plain fun posts continually. I know how hard it is to come up with content so I appreciate all you do! :)
    Happy New Year!!


  11. Hi Sarah

    I have been a fan of your site for awhile and this is my first time posting:) I just wanted to say , you have had an amazing year..kudos to you! My favorite post this year was the nook very creative,but what I love most about you is that you take chances. You have inspired me in so many ways, I even put up chair rail molding after reading all, I mean all of your post on!!

    Keep up the great work!

  12. Been a fan for a while, but rarely comment? But wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed re-visiting your post and enjoying many (sorry about then door) of your projects and inspiration.

  13. I am so inspired by y'all, I am currently going thru the engineered hardwood disaster from a leaking pipe. have to replace the entire house. I am a bit distraught over it. I am also terribly inspired by Dave Ramsey in your life. you have shown me that I too can conquer these things and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Thanks for blogging!

  14. I just ordered the book by Dave Ramsey.I hope we can do that too. Our debt keeps me awake every night. Hoping we have the will power and ability to do the same. happy 2012!

  15. You are always so honest and forthcoming in your blog posts, which is why we just keep coming back for more. Your home is lovely -- with or without the clutter ...

    And so sad to hear the breast cancer diagnosis news. My oldest sister fought and lost her battle a few years ago. It's a tough road and my thoughts and prayers are with you.


  16. It amazes me how much you've accomplished in a year! You do have a lot to be thankful for. If we could ever become debt free that would be the best accomplishment ever, well besides our kiddos. Thank you for inspiring always! Have a great new year, can't wait to see what you have going on.


  17. Love all your posts and your blog. Mostly love how you are not afraid to be transparent!

  18. I LOVE visiting your site; you have such talent and a honest, real way of sharing your life! I'll be back in the New Year to see what you are up to!

  19. Liz @ Naptime DecoratorDecember 28, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    I started following you earlier this year - yours was the VERY first blog I ever followed, and I got hooked immediately!! I loved it so much, I was inspired to start my own blog back in June and I am having so much fun - all thanks to YOU! Can't wait to see what you have in store for us in 2012. I think my favorite was the not-perfect behind the scenes blog;). That, and your new fireplace wall - LOVE the way that turned out!

  20. My all time favorite is the fireplace and the backyard transformation! You've inspired many of us in many ways. From decorating, to showing us that it's ok to have a lived in home that isn't always and doesn't have to be perfect. I loaded up on spray paint and sprayed away thanks to you and it's been awesome! I'm looking forward to another year of you blogging. You're great it.

    Feliz Próspero Año Nuevo!

  21. Thanks for keeping it real :)
    Happy New Year!

  22. Hi Sarah!! I've missed you and your blog so much!! I wanted to stop by and say hi - and I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

    I love love LOVE that book nook! And I'm so on the Dave Ramsey band wagon - how cool to come here and see you are as well, I can't wait to go back and look through your posts to see your journey.

    I'm going to be stalking your blog a LOT more often as I try to get back into blogging and document the finishing of our basement, and a bedroom for my daughter on a very, very tight (read: non-existent) budget!

    I had planned to last year, but life got in the way - but this year it HAS to happen or you might hear about an 11 year old runaway in the news. She is simply DONE sharing a room with her little sisters!

    I'll be back soon for inspiration!

  23. Perfect Top 10, BUT, what about your fabulous outdoor living space? Thanks for keeping it real and inspiring ... Happy New Year!

  24. I love all of your projects! Your a busy girl ;-) I wish I could get more organized. Maybe one day. I also, just started listening and reading Dave Ramsey! I love him. Happy New Years! XoXo

  25. So glad that I have discovered you! I am inspired to create my own blog for deals in my hometown. Agree about Dave Ramsey and we paid off everything but the house a few years ago. Last month, we paid CASH - as in wrote an actual check - for a 2010 Camry that looks like brand new. Wow.

    Happy Frugal & Blessed New Year to all!

  26. You did a great job and accomplished so much! I'm loving the book nook, and thinking you are such a lucky lady to have had such wonderful peeps helping you with the amazing fireplace transformation! I just asked a contractor to do board and batten in my tiny, tiny master bath and he was like, huh??? I'm going to have to re-do it now and am going to need some help! I'll search your blog, but if you don't already have how to do it, I'd love to see a post on it. Thanks!

  27. you should move the TV on top of the fireplace now and the mirror horizontally on top of the CL dresser. would look gorgeous!!

  28. Loving the top 10 of Eleven. You have inspired me for as long as I have followed you. I plan to have several of these on my list next year. Especially the biggie!! Wishing you all the very best in 2012! It is going to be an amazing year. Looking forward to see what you do next. Hugs, Bobbi Jo-AZ

  29. I don't know if I have a fave post. I get a lot out of all of them I think. Including recipes! Variety is good. The redo/idea posts are totally inspiring. Really. But I also enjoy the posts that say "my car can get a wee bit cluttered, or my kitchen counter"..stuff like that. Love how you keep it real.

    Also appreciate the "thrifty" factor at TDC. :)

    Oh, and it was neat to read about a project that involved your Dad. Some projects that I have seen lately (& dream of doing..) totally require my Dad.

    I saw some posts here I have not yet read. Must click on them and get with the program. I cannot miss one entry. NO way. Love that Thrifty Decor Chick comes right to my inbox! Best move ever!
    Happy 2012 dearie.

  30. Love your blog! I found you thanks to Beehive Outlet on Facebook. They posted a link to one of your Christmas decoration posts. I've never been much for reading blogs, but you've got me hooked. My house needs LOTS of help and you've given me so many ideas. First I need to go through the decrapification process. :)

  31. Dave Ramsey sure is inspiring! The school I work at teaches his course to our teens! Priceless.

  32. I Love your style!!! I have been following you on and off for a while! I am curious as to where you got the curtains in your living room? My couches are sage green and those would go perfectly. Great job!!


  33. Can I ask where you got your family room rug? I LOVE it! We've been searching for one. Love your blog!


I LOVE your comments, thank you! (I read every single one.)

If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here! Be sure to check out the FAQs tab at the top of the site and my Projects page for paint colors and DIY projects as well.

THANKS so much for reading!