Monday, May 20, 2013

No. 5

Well today is the day…five years of blogging as of May 20th. Absolutely CRAZY!!

This is the longest I’ve stayed at one job – which is hilarious to me. I mean, back in the day I was at one company for longer than five years, but I moved around to different locations.

For the first time in my adult life, I am perfectly, completely happy where I’m at and have no desire to do anything else.

Contentedness in a career is a wonderful feeling and so highly underrated.

It all started with this post back on May 20th, 2008:

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 9.26.10 AM

I started this DIY blog back in the day of (mostly) only family blogs, as far as I knew. Many of my friends were starting them up to keep friends and family up-to-date on their kids. One day I got a wild idea – why not make a blog showing my friends and family how I do what I do?

That’s what it was for initially, just friends and family. I had NO clue there were other DIY/decorating blogs out there. I’d even get an occasional comment from a blogger but still didn’t really put it together.

Smarty, I am. I still marvel that I’m able to write a blog, seriously.

Funny that five years seems SOOOO much longer than that. When you’re documenting so very much of what you do it seems more like ten years. Five years sounds like yesterday!

In honor of my anniversary I figured I’d to a top five post – a few of my favorites and my best advice of course, after doing it this long.

My house has changed SO MUCH in five years. More than the average house I’m sure, but as I say, this is my gig folks. The best gig ever, so change is kind of expected up in here.

Here are my five all time favorite projects we’ve done to our house, in no particular order:

1. The stairs:

taking carpet off stairs

I recapped that project recently here – and you can see how they’ve transformed bit by bit over the years here. BIG impact for very little money!

2. The Book Nook:

book nook closet

I still absolutely adore it!! We have plenty of storage space so making what had become an unused closet into something fun and quirky just makes me happy.

You can see more pics here and the how-to here.

3. My office:

board and batten on walls

You have to see the before and afters to get the full effect here. What’s funny is when I finished the room I wasn’t using it a ton – and then the Bub went off to kindergarten this year and now I use it every day. (Before I blogged at night and would sit on the couch.) I love being in this bright, happy room. LOVE. It is so calming, so me and I am surrounded by so many faces and things I love.

4. The basement:

built in cubby organization

It’s been about a year now since the basement was (mostly) finished. It took about six months to take it from all cement to a really livable space because we hired out most of it and did it with cash, so we just did what we could as we could afford it.

At least once a week my husband and I will look at each other while we’re down there, sigh and say, “I love our basement.” Still…a year after being done. We spend so much time down there and truly enjoy it.

You can see more about those cubbies here and the whole basement transformation here. (And how we used to use it before it was finished!)

5. The patio: 

outdoor patio with fireplace

It was our first real, BIG project and yes, we hired out. (Lordy!) This is another one of those things that we’ve done that we are truly humbled by. Every night we are out there we talk about how blessed we are to have been able to do something like this. Our backyard is an oasis for us and it’s because of this addition.

You can see more of this area and our deck here and other outdoor spaces here.

Every few months I’ll freak out a little because I wonder if I’ll have enough “content” in this house. Like, is there enough to do to keep blogging about it? What I if I run out of projects? What will I do??

And then I LAUGH.

Blogging has been a blessing, and I don’t say that lightly. TRULY. I have met some of my closest friends through blogging, been on some amazing trips, met so many cool people – it is overwhelming and makes me emotional when I think about it.

Here are the top five COOLEST things that have happened since I’ve started blogging, again in no order cause they’re all just that cool:

1. Being on the Nate Berkus Show:

nate berkus thrifty decor chick

OK, I never actually got on the show in person (I did get a chance to go see him live!), but he did highlight my blog. I know many of you found me that way. :) He did such a great service to so many bloggers, it was such a thrill.

I was supposed to be on the show numerous times – I think I was contacted about ten times. Once I got everything ready, they got my travel booked, and then Nate had appendicitis and it was cancelled.

It was fine with me though – it was an honor to just be highlighted. :) You can see the segment here.

2. Paying off our debt:

dave ramsey thrifty decor chick

Other than the kids, this is the best thing, hands down, that we’ve done in our lives. My husband and I paid off $125,000 worth of debt years ago and haven’t looked back once.

I’ve been completely and totally thrilled to have worked with the Dave Ramsey folks a few times since then, it’s been an honor.

You can read more about our debt story here.

3. Being published:

cottages and bungalows thrifty decor chick

I didn’t talk about it much (I mentioned it here), but it was SO cool! One of my outdoor projects was in the April issue of Cottages and Bungalows this year.

Thing is, I didn’t think my stuff would ever be in a magazine, and I’m not being aloof or just saying that. I know mags are including bloggers more and more and I am SO happy about that. I just think my house is too “normal” for a magazine. Does that make any sense? I mean, I think it’s beautiful and I’m so proud of it, but I don’t see it being different enough to be in one.

So that’s why that spread was really special to me – so exciting!

4. The Haven Conference:

haven conference

I partner with some lovely, amazing ladies to put on this conference (coming up in August). It is a lot of work but being there last year was one of the highlights of my life – overwhelming and humbling and so. much. fun. It was hard to put into words and still is. :)

5. Working with dream brands:

The first time a “big” name contacted me I thought it was a joke, or spam, or anything other than them being serious. ME? Part of me still feels that way every time I get an email.

I often think about what my resume would look like now, after blogging for five years. If I put it down on paper it would be pretty awesome, you know? Like all, yeah, I’ve worked with Home Depot and Target and cutie Nate kind of liked my projects and blah blah…holy CATS.

WEIRD people. Totally weird!!

And finally, I’ve covered lots of blogging advice before, but as a little recap, here’s my top five nuggets of blogging tips – take them or leave them:

1. Don’t do things for free.

Unless you’re just starting out. Early on, do it for free and show how well you can represent. After that, if you are established, you blog regularly, you work every day at it – it becomes a job (a fun job, no doubt). You are representing a brand and should be paid for it.

2. Don’t take every paid offer that comes to you.

Write your blog as you like to read others – you don’t have to take every opportunity if it’s not a good fit. (If you need the money to make ends meet, this does not apply to you.) I turn down partnerships often because I don’t think it works for my blog or my readers.

3. Make friends.

I covered this more in depth here. I would not be where I am today without blog friends to go to for advice, partnering with bloggers and sharing the love. You can’t blog in a vacuum peeps.

Well you can, but it would get awfully lonely in there. And dirty.

4. Keep some of your life for you.

I’ve talked about this a few times too but I am SO passionate about this. It’s OK if you don’t share every aspect of your life on your blog. Keep some stuff just for you and your family. Otherwise it’s easy to live your life as you would blog about it. Does that make sense? Early on in blogging I’d be doing random things with my family and the “this would make a great post” thought would come into my head ALL the time. I was obsessed.

Share your family, of course!! Your trips, your big events, your proud moments. It’s just OK if you keep some of it just for you. Really! It is!

5. Turn it off.

Four and half years ago if someone said that to me I would have looked them with crazy bloggy eyes and cackled at them all freaky-like.

Take a break. The more you blog, the more you take on, the more it will feel like work. And it is. So now I turn off emails on the weekends, I shut down the computer Friday afternoon. (I still surf and do fun stuff on it on the weekends.)

The longer I do this the more I’ve realized I HAVE to disconnect. It’s good for the soul. At least mine. ;)

Well there you go. Now here I am getting all teary eyed. And I said I wouldn’t cry. ;)

It’s been an amazing journey and I have all of you to thank. Some of you have been here for years, some for just a few days. I’m so grateful you come back. :) I’m looking forward to the future to find out what else is in store and so hope you will come along for the ride!

From the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU!!


  1. Big Congrats for a job very well done! :)

    Jake's a Girl

  2. Congrats! I really enjoyed reading this post! Thanks for giving advice and help!

  3. Congratulations Sarah. I'm really lucky to have been a teeny tiny part of your journey (I mean, really tiny). :) And just so you know... every time we emailed back and forth, I felt like I was talking to Nate Berkus. Looking forward to Haven!

    1. Ha!! You are too sweet and are a rock star, it was my pleasure to help the little bit I did. Can't wait to meet you!

  4. Happy Anniversary, Sarah! I am so happy I stumbled across your blog a few years ago. When I visit your blog I feel like I'm chatting with a friend. I really appreciate all the tutorials you have shared over the years. I am so looking forward to meeting you at Haven in August. Wishing you many, many years of blogging success. You are such an inspiration!

  5. Congratulations on big 5!! It's pretty awesome! You've achieved a lot in these years and inspired so many of us!

  6. I love your blog! I just started following blogs and yours is one of my favorites for inspiration. I hope I can make my home as lovely and cozy as yours someday.

  7. Congratulations Sarah! You've done a really awesome job! Thanks so much for those blogging tips, you ROCK!

  8. Congratulations Sarah! I am glad I stumbled upon your blog about a year ago. So many inspiring projects!! (Coincidentally, it is my anniversary today too!! ;) My 18th wedding anniversary. :) )

  9. Congrats and very inspiring! I'm new to this so I read very carefully! Thanks for sharing

    House envy

  10. Congrats on your 5-year anniversary and all of your well-deserved success! You started blogging the same year I did, and I've been reading TDC almost that long. I'm not only a fan but am glad to call you a friend in "real life," too. I think you rock. Here's to (at least) 5 more years of blogging--woohoo! :)

  11. Congratulations! You were the first blog I ever visited, and since we're both from Indiana, I thought this blogging stuff was an 'Indiana thing'. It didn't take me long to become obsessed with home d├ęcor blogs, and you're still one of my very favorites.

  12. First of all - CONGRATS!!!!!!!! That is an amazingly awesome milestone! I've been blogging for 2 years and I totally understand the time commitment aspect of things. Thanks for the inspiring projects! And thanks so much for the great tips at the end. Coming from another blogger who's been down the road a bit longer and a lot farther - those are so helpful to hear and be reminded of. Let's hear it for another 5!!! :D

  13. Congratulations on five years of fabulous! I'm SO happy I found your blog a couple of years ago. When I figured out you were an IN girl,too? BONUS! :) You and a FEW others make up my Feedly Favorites folder and are my first reads everyday!

  14. Sarah- a big Congrats to you on this milestone. I have been following your blog for some time and what draws me back to you is your "what you see if what you get" style. I love that about you. You are real and such a kind soul. Best wishes for continued success doing the job you love! Laura

  15. Happy Anniversary to you! I hope you enjoy blogging for another 5 years.

    I found your blog last year, when I was visiting another decorating blog. They had a post about projects not working out well, and this link to your blog:

    I was hooked as soon as I read this post. I went to the beginning of your archives and read each post. You make me feel brave enough to try some projects myself.

    Thank you for sharing so much with us!

  16. Happy Anniversary! I have really enjoyed reading your blog now for the last 2 years. Congratulations on creating a beautiful, inspiring blog!

  17. Congratulations Sarah! I'm new to this blogging thing and your blog is one of the first ones I started following even before I decided to plunge in! Thank you for "keeping it real" and just being you! That's what I love so much about your blog!~~Angela

  18. Happy five years! Your resume sounds perfect! :) Thanks for all of the inspiration for the past 5 years!

  19. Congratulations on 5 years!! What an incredible milestone. Looking forward to seeing what the next 5 years bring for you, your family, and the blog.

  20. Congrats! You are such a joy to visit and always find myself talking to the computer screen in my head when I read your post cause I can relate to many...taking a year to get a project down.;) Anyhow, your enthusiasm shines through and it's so fun! Keep doing what you do, girl! Happy 5!

  21. Congratulations!! What a fun journey! I can't wait to see the next five years! Thanks for all the good tips, too!

  22. Congratulations!!! A super milestone and I do love your blog. I refer to it often for inspiration. Hugs, Marty

  23. Congrats, Sarah! You have such an amazing talent and I love following your blog. I just read Dave's book this weekend, very intriguing! :)

  24. I love your patio!! My husband and I are looking to hire out to do something like this. Can you tell me who you used? We live in Fishers.

  25. Congratulations!

    I love you blog and all of your wonderful decor ideas.

  26. Congratulations on FIVE years! That is awesome!


  27. Oh, Sarah. Congratulations! And may I just say that I'm very proud to be one of those who has been around for years? I'm so glad to know you. You are a blessing in so many people's lives--including mine!!

  28. Happy anniversary(or is it birthday?). Anyway, I'll say it in French since we only have one way of saying it: joyeux anniversaire!!! Your blog is one of my favorite read.

  29. Happy Blog Anniversary! You were one of the first blogs I found and you have been am inspiration to me! Thank you for ALWAYS keeping it real, i.e, the mice, the debt, and for making everything look easy when it is not!

  30. Happy Anniversary! What a great post and thank you for sharing all your ideas with us. Hope to celebrate your 10th anniversary as well!

    Greetz from overseas

  31. Congratulations! 5 years! That's huge. It's been fun to ride along with you and watch your home transform. You've been an inspiration to me in a lot of ways. Thanks for teaching us that we CAN do things on our own. :)

  32. Hi,my name is Anna and today is the first time I read your blog. Wow, I love it! I wish I would have known about you sooner.
    Keep up the good work and God Bless.

  33. Congratulations on 5 years! That is an amazing accomplishment! To hear some of the wonderful opportunities you've had and projects you've done is so encouraging to new bloggers like myself. You have had an amazing journey and I'm so glad I found your blog. You are truly an inspiration Sarah!

  34. Happy Blogiversary! You have done and will continue to do a great job!

  35. Happy Bloggiversary and thanks for all of your tips. it's hard to take a step back because you want to share and also learn more about decorating, DIY projects, recipes, etc. I've learned to set my limits, but you've given me a lot of valuable advice! Thanks! Many more happy years to you!


  36. Congrats on five years! Great advice--especially the take a break part. :)

  37. So that means I've been reading since the very beginning? Five years of NEVER ENDING inspiration!! And I'm totally guilty of blogging in a vacuum (is that horrible? Only having time to post and comment here or there? All the other stuff is good - even NECESSARY - but I have to choose to do it 50% or not at all). Why you still keep me on your blogroll, I'll never know, but it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So thanks.

    Here's to another fabulous 5 years!!

  38. Wonderful post! Happy Anniversary! I am relatively new readers so it goes to show you the lifespan of a blog and good content. Cheers!

  39. A great big "CONGRATULATIONS" on your fifth year blogging. I am a newby just to read blogs and now I am addicted to blogs, pinterest and houzz. You are one of 4/5 blogs I read daily. Some of the things about internet lingo I am totally lost. Thanks for all the great info and I look forward to future blogs.

  40. Congratulations!! You were the first blog I read several years ago and I still so enjoy every one of your posts. Thanks so much for all the great things you do!!

  41. Congratulations! You've accomplished so much in the past five years and it doesn't surprise me one bit. I love your projects because they are beautiful and attainable at the same time. I know I'm not the only blogger you've inspired. :)

  42. This is great! You've accomplished so much! I am just starting to blog and I love many of the things you've done! I can't wait to see all of the fun things you'll blog about in the future! - MBC

  43. Congrats!!!!!! My hubby and I are celebrating 5 years of wedded bliss on Friday :) so fun to almost share the anniversary with you!!!

  44. Congrats on FIVE years Sarah!! That's awesome!!

    I found your blog through the Nate Berkus show & you are the one who inspired me to start my blog!! I love everything you do & I'm so glad that I found you!! It really has changed my life! :)

  45. Congratulations you're an inspiration to have achieved so much in 5 years, all the best for the next 5 years!

  46. Congratulations and happy blogiversary! Your blog is such an inspiration to me as a new blogger. You are awesome!!

  47. Congrats on 5 years and thanks. Your blog is a fun, creative escape for me and I am sure if we lived in the same town we would be besties. OK so MY favorite post - was the kitchen door fiasco - I still laugh at that and that amidst all the stress and chaos - you still painted the door. HAHA
    ~ Annie

  48. Yes, congratulations, Sarah. I'm a new devotee to your blog. I've enjoyed reading yours so much that I started my own - simply to share my gardening fits and starts with friends and family. No idea where it may lead nor aspirations to obtain your success, but I enjoy it! And that's what counts, right? Keep posting, and keep your writing fresh and alive because when I read it, I feel you and I are in a private conversation! P.S. I grew up in southern Indiana (near Evansville) but now live on Long Island.

  49. Congrats! 5 years that is awesome! I hope I can look back and say WOW once I reach the 5 year mark! I love this blogging thing and I am amazed at the wonderful people out there!

  50. wow Congrats on this remarkable achievement.

  51. Congratulations, Sarah! Your blog is the first one I started following years ago and is still the one I most look forward to reading every week. Thanks for your time, talent and inspiration!

  52. Congrats, Sarah, on such amazing accomplishments. And THANK YOU for being such an inspiration to the rest of us. You have a special place in my heart because you were the first DIY blog I discovered and a big reason why I started blogging. I even mentioned that during a recent speaking engagement. Big fat shout out to the Thrifty Decor Chick! Keep doing what you do. And thanks for the bit on "disconnecting" over the weekend. I'm seriously considering this. My mind is frying quickly. ;)

  53. Congratulations and best wishes for everything you are dreaming of for you family, your blog, and yourself.

  54. You're awesome, girly! Love ya!

  55. You are the best, Sarah! You are the first blog I started following, just like the others said. Now I'm hooked! I've linked to many other blogs through yours, but I still have to check back to Thrifty Decor Chick everyday to see what you've posted. You are my single greatest inspiration. If you EVER get to Austin, TX, you have to let us know so we can get together for lunch!

  56. Happy, happy anniversary to you and your blog! I love your top 5's. What a great way to celebrate. I will have a glass of wine! :)

  57. Wow 5 years! Congratulations :) I like the note about keeping some stuff to yourself and taking a break. I've been blogging for a year and half now and it seems to be an all consuming thing. Just saw the home depot post and this is WICKED cool! :)

  58. You've been such an inspiration, thanks for all that you've shared! Congrats on five years!

  59. Congrats Sarah! Happy anniversary!

  60. Congrats! I really think it's how you "talk" on this blog that keeps people around :) It's like we're talking in person

  61. Well three years ago, I knew nothing about blogs. Im proud to say that you were one of the first I read and got me. Something about the tittle draw me to read, thrifty and chick, wao thats like me, lol. Congratulations on your first 5, and I hope to tag alone with you. Thank you for the inspirations.

  62. Just found your blog via Houzz. Great stuff and beginning blogger here. Congrats to you!

  63. Fun recap! I think it is so wonderful that you love what you do. ! And you do a great job! I love the tips here and your perspective..knowing when to say when and such.
    Congrats on 5, and I plan to keep right on reading and being inspired by your blog. I truly am.
    Thank you, Chrissy


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!