Celebrating 14 Blogging Years With My Top Ten Renovations

May 04, 2022

My ten top room makeovers over my 14 years as a DIY and decor blogger. 

This month marks 14 years of blogging here at Thrifty Decor Chick! 

I started this blog in 2008 to share my DIY and home projects with friends and family...I never DREAMED it would turn into what it has! 

Blogging has become one of the biggest blessings in my life. I'm so thankful for it! I'm also so grateful to so many of you who come back month after month to read what I'm up to!

To celebrate TDC's 14th birthday, I thought it would be fun to gather my top ten biggest DIY room transformations over the past 14 years. I specifically chose rooms from our two houses that I did all or the majority of the work on. 

The first one may be how many of you found me...

1. STAIRCASE MAKEOVER (Goodbye carpet!)

Ripping the carpet off our stairs and refinishing the wood was my first major DIY project and definitely one of the most physically demanding. The updates went on for years, but the first part was the hardest. 

Twelve years ago I got a wild hair and decided to tear the carpet off our stairs:
taking carpet off stairs

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I had the idea in mind for years, because I remembered when we were building that the treads (the actual steps) had a nice bullnose edge. I considered just having them stained and painted then!

When I went to peek under the carpet years later, I was thrilled that I remembered right! Because of the nice rounded edge, this project was easier than most step makeovers. 

I didn't have to replace the treads or risers, just refinish them!
After pulling the carpet and staples, I sanded then painted and stained the stairs. 

Later I added a simple board and batten look to the wall under the handrail, then painted a black accent wall:
stairway makeover wood stain paint

You can see all of the steps I took on this stair renovation, and all of the projects on this staircase here!


After living with our very dark kitchen in our last house for more than ten years, I decided to take on this HUGE project! 

We picked out all of the finishes when we built the house, but the overwhelmingly dark details were feeling heavy. I wanted to update this room and brighten it up!

This is the space we started with:
dark cabinets black backsplash

It was an eat in kitchen, but the table area was VERY tight. Because of other changes we made in the house (that I'll share in a bit), I was able to change that area into a dreamy window seat

This side of the room got a complete makeover as well...I took down cabinets, built the remaining cabinets up to the ceiling, extended the kitchen island to hold the microwave, painted all of the cabinets with a paint sprayer and SO much more: 
two toned kitchen cabinets peppercorn

The two-toned gray and white cabinets really made a beautiful statement! (You can see all of the paint colors in both houses here.)

This kitchen was transformed into a completely new space for WAY less than we would have paid a contractor to do it! I am still so proud of what I accomplished in that kitchen. 


One of the areas I was most excited about in our current home was our large pantry. It was DREAMY after having a small pantry in the kitchen pictured above. 

The melamine shelving was great at first, but we quickly discovered it didn't function well and we were wasting a ton of space: 
melamine open shelves in pantry

Almost immediately I knew I'd want to customize this to fit our needs better. I had an idea in mind for years, and finally started tackling this redo last fall. 

I took down all of the open shelving (that I kept to use later) and installed kitchen cabinets and open shelving instead: 
DIY butler's pantry makeover

Not only does it look so much cleaner, this space now holds just as much if not more because of the deeper and taller cabinets. 

We were able to move all of our small appliances out of the kitchen and into this space, and because of all of these DIY pull out shelves, we can store a TON of food and supplies in this pantry now: 
DIY sliding drawers in pantry cabinets

This small room took as long as much bigger projects because of the all of the DIY and decor details I added as well. You can read all about those and see the reveal of this huge pantry redo process here!


Our son's "baby" to tween bathroom renovation was one of the most labor intensive projects I've ever tackled. It was also one of the most dramatic! We LOVED how this renovation turned out.

I hated that wall between the shower and sink area from the moment we moved in:
yellow little kid bathroom

It made the back part of the bathroom feel so dark and cramped. I loathed that wall. 😂

I did a ton of research and finally one day decided it was time...I knocked the wall down and started this HUGE renovation. 

I tiled the floors and backsplash wall, built and stained the open wood vanity, installed new lighting and TONS more. The end result was a renovation I'm incredibly proud of:
DIY wood open vanity round mirrors

Gosh, I loved that room!! I plan to repeat a few of these projects in our son's current bathroom. 


I talk all the time about how important it is to live with a room as is before deciding on a renovation. You'll really figure out how you want to make the room function for you and your family. 

One of our problem spaces in our old house was the mud room and laundry combo. This small room was trying to be way too many things:
small laundry mud room combo

Over the years I dressed it up by adding a beadboard wall treatment around the room, but it didn't help the function much. :) 

When we starting finishing the basement in that house we were able to create a new laundry room and move the washer and dryer down there. It was the HAPPIEST DAY!

Later I built some additional items in the mud room -- the upper cabinet for off season storage, a shoe storage bench with cabinets, and then completed the finishing touches like paint and decor. The difference after this mud room makeover was HUGE!:
DIY mud room bench with sconces

That light blue and white combo is so classic and timeless. This room truly shined after those changes, and I got a great dedicated basement laundry room out of it too!


I loved that our friends and family would ask how I was going to keep busy with a new and "finished" house when we moved into our current home. ;) 

All I ever saw was a beautiful blank canvas to tweak and personalize just for us -- my favorite thing to do! 

Our basement was just that, an empty space just waiting for some drama! We started with our cozy sectional on one side:
Lazboy large gray sectional

And the other side was a loooong empty wall that was just begging for some color and built ins:
agreeable gray neutral wall

I started by painting the walls a dark gray called Westchester Gray. It instantly cozied up this large room. 

Then early last year I built a HUGE entertainment center wall using my go-to (kitchen cabinets, duh) for the bases. 

The TV hangs over a bench for electronic storage and I built bookcases over the side cabinets. It made such difference in this room!:
dark gray DIY entertainment center

Yet again, doing this myself saved us a ton of money!

We keep all of our board games in the cabinets as well as our photo and art mementos that I organized earlier this year. 

A couple years ago we added a dining/game table in an adjoining area. At first the wall in that spot was pretty boring: 
blank wall agreeable gray 

Recently I added an electric fireplace and picture ledges and finished it off with this lovely green shiplap accent: 
jasper green DIY electric fireplace


The kitchen renovation I shared from our last house kicked off a bigger project in the adjoining family room. The corner fireplace in here made what was a good sized space feel cramped: 
working around corner fireplace

We tried a few furniture layouts to try to open up the space, but over time we craved a more open space to entertain and spread out in. 

Problem was, adding onto the back of our house was WAY more than we wanted to spend. Just finding a contractor to give us quotes was daunting. 

It was a reader who suggested taking down the wall between my office and this room to open up the space. We could place the fireplace flat against the wall and make the room almost twice as big. Her idea was brilliant and we started that process instead of adding to the house. 

We made the fireplace the centerpiece of the room:
Peppercorn gray fireplace

I finished off the fireplace TV wall, trim on the front and sides of the cabinets and fireplace, herringbone tile surround and paint (Peppercorn by Sherwin-Williams). 

We were able to move the furniture around and it functioned so much better:
open family room with gray fireplace

I continued the board and batten wall trim around the room as well. 

Opening up this family room by knocking down that wall was one of the best changes we made in that house -- it made a HUGE difference and completely opened up the space. 


We had a great open loft space in our last house that served many purposes over the years. When our son was young it was a playroom: 
using loft as playroom

As he got older and the toys lessened, we reevaluated how to use the space. Since we had taken down that wall between the family room and office downstairs, I needed a dedicated area to work and store my craft supplies. 

I put this space to better use and created a beautiful craft/office the whole family could use. I built in the storage cabinets, and we had another window seat added as well. 😍

I also used butcher block and a small DIY bookcase to create a large desk that we could use from either side: 
open loft craft room office

The walls here and throughout the rest of the open space upstairs were covered with inexpensive wood planking that add a bright, crisp look! The huge DIY chalkboard was one of my favorite parts of this room. :) 

We all utilized this space -- my husband worked up there often (instead of his dark basement office) to enjoy the sunshine. Our son also used it to work on Lego sets or homework. 


We have a laundry and mud room combo in this house as well, but I knew it would function so much better just because of the size: 
mud room bench laundry combo

I was able to decide on the layout in this room, including the added utility closet that holds our cleaning supplies and cat litter. (BEST. closet. ever.)

The other side of the room just had a countertop...I knew I could make this function so much better!
laundry mud combo folding table

We moved the upper cabinets that were over the washer and dryer (and hard to reach) over to that wall. 

Then I removed that basic countertop and installed these base cabinets with drawers only -- my favorite! I added some details that made it look more like a piece of furniture instead of cabinets
drawer base cabinets in mud room

That gorgeous blue floral wallpaper was a HUGE statement in this room and I absolutely love that it's the first thing we see when we walk in from our garage. 

The mud room bench wall got a planked wall treatment, DIY sliding shoe bins and a no sew bench cushion
Whitestone shiplap wall mud room

This makeover was a big project -- you can see all of the steps of this mud and laundry combo makeover here!


Finally, my first built in bookcase project that took me FOREVER. 😆 We had lived in our last house for a few years when we decided to make our rarely-used dining room into a cozy library space. 

Did anyone else use the gold and red combo in their decor all those years ago?: 
red and gold dining room decor

This is where it all started folks...my Dad helped me with this first set of built ins. We created the kitchen cabinet bases and worked on this project here and there for months. 

I recently told a friend of ours working on a similar project how long this took for me as a newbie. When I got to the basement entertainment wall (above) nearly ten years later, I was an expert and completed it in a few weeks compared to EIGHT months. :) 

There was a lot of painting, caulking and filling...but it got there. I turned this unused dining room into a library space with cozy chairs: 
library with chairs and bookcase

We used this room all the time! I was so happy with this transformation. The great part is it could easily be transformed back to a dining room by adding a table back to the room. 

Don't be afraid to tweak your home to fit how YOU use it! 

I promise you'll enjoy your spaces so much more. 

In my opinion, there aren't many rules on how to use rooms in our homes. Do what you want! Yes, you may have to adjust some things when you move, but you might be surprised! 

It didn't hurt us one bit moving our laundry room to the basement, removing an office to open up the family room, or getting rid of the dining space to create a comfy sitting area.

Well that's my top ten room makeover over the past 14 years -- do you have a favorite or have you used any of these as inspiration in your home?

I can't even believe how quickly the time has passed! Our son was just a year old when I wrote my first blog post, and now he's 15 (and a HALF!). It's been such a joy to share my DIY and decor escapades with you over the years. 

Thank you so much to those who have joined me along the way!

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  1. Thank you for sharing all the wonderful ideas! Please keep them coming! Your blog is my favorite place to get inspiration and see what's possible. I love your style and your creativity.

  2. Congrats Sarah! I absolutely love your sty.e and look forward to each and every post! I wish you were my neighbor!

  3. All your makeovers are so creative, but I love the basement family room the most!

  4. You continue to amaze me what you can accomplish. WOW! Hard to believe your son is 15.5 years old. :o Happy 14th Anniversary. :)

  5. Thank you all SO much!! I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  6. Sarah, you are so very talented! It has been so much fun to journey with you over the years and watch your visions come to life. You have a wonderful eye and the knowledge to make things happen. Thank you for your inspiration and happy blog birthday!!

  7. Congratulations, Sarah! I've been following you for years, and always enjoy what I see. Your skill and determination are totally admirable.

  8. I can't believe I've been following you for almost 14 years! I've enjoyed seeing all of your projects through the years. You gave me the idea to paint all of our doors in the house black (Wrought Iron Gray by BM) and I get compliments all the time on those. Love your style Sarah. Congrats on 14 years!

  9. I LOVED the library makeover but I also liked the kitchen and then what you did with your dining room table (I think you pickled it - it's been awhile since I read it). At your new house, you inspired me that during the pandemic, I had two bookcases (not floor to ceiling) built on either side of our fireplace. It's my FAVORITE thing we've done to our house and it has made a huge difference in our family room.

  10. This is such a fun compilation post! I've followed you along on all these projects and even copied a number of them in my own home. I love what you do and the happy confidence with which you do it. You're one of the few blogs that I follow regularly. Thanks again for all your hard work and for sharing it with us!

  11. I have followed you through all the older and some of the newer transformations :) This was a fun post to read :). The first thing you ever inspired me to do was to paint my garage door black!! I’ve considered the dining room-to-library many, many time….just haven’t pulled the trigger. I’ve gone back to your old kitchen again and again for help and inspiration - you had the same kitchen as us. I’ve taken baby steps there, redoing my bathroom vanity cabinets first, to see how it will all work out (if I like my own work). The jury is still out :/
    This was so.much.fun to read - you’ve had some incredible outdoor transformations too!

  12. WOW! I have been here a long time - I remember all of these!!! Happy anniversary!


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You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!