Friday, May 30, 2014

Kitchen Makeover Paint & Stencil Project

A few years ago I made over my kitchen and unfortunately the color was too dark.  I started out with Porter Paints Light Sand and then did a blue with a gold sponge, but the blue was never right.
Original wall color & first attempt

I had a specific blue in mind to match some chairs I had purchased from Overstock - see post here.  So I went at it again to try and match the blue the second time around.  I started with Buoyant Blue that looked a shade lighter than the chairs and it turned out perfect (note to self, always go lighter than you think because it looks darker on the wall).  
Sherwin Williams Paint Color

Next, rather than sponging the gold paint on all over, I decided to use a fleur de lis stencil available from Home Depot (in store) and sponge champagne metallic paint randomly across the wall with that.  It took a long time but I love the result and it drastically changed our kitchen!

Last, to add a little personal touch, I used another stencil from Joann's and wrote "Welcome To Our Home" in french above the archway from the kitchen to living room.  (Please excuse the lipstick stains on my iphone camera lens). Total project cost =  $96.19 for the whole kitchen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 Love

This is just a short post but I felt the need to share the wealth of Overstock with everyone.  If you are looking for home goods they are a fabulous resource.  I have gotten multiple chandeliers (coming in a future post), rugs, the chairs below, and more - all at great prices and only $2.95 shipping. What could be better?  One tip on the chairs: the back pillows are a little flimsy with the stuffing so I added more myself and it made an enormous difference!

Script Bouquet Arm Chair $269.98 each (with 10% off new customer coupon)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Making Kirkland's Look More Expensive

A few years ago I picked up these canvas pieces from Kirkland's on sale for $15 each.  Not a bad deal - problem was, they didn't look very expensive on the wall.  Custom framing was pretty pricey so when I found a solution in Hobby Lobby the other day, I was thrilled.  
One of my paintings - available here
I decided to add a frame to make these look a little pricier.  I found one at Hobby Lobby for only $35 and it was perfect!  It even matched my Eiffel Tower painting frame (coming soon in a future post).  I used an exacto knife to cut the canvas off the back (be careful doing this, I accidentally cut myself) and then removed the inside of the other frame and replaced it with the painting.  The result: $50 artwork that looks much more pricey.  

Friday, May 23, 2014

DIY Hemming Pants on the Cheap

One of the things I've read in my fashion blogs is how essential tailoring is to making cheaper clothing look more expensive.  But paying $10-12 per pant can add up, especially when you shop at Forever21 a lot like I do and sometimes pay that for a pair of jeans.  I decided there had to be an easier way - and there is!  Below is a tutorial on how to hem pants with a sewing machine (and how to no sew hem if you don't have access to one).

I usually have the opposite problem of hemming and have to lengthen my pants, but that still involves the same steps.  To start, try on your pants and have someone pin them up where you need to have the hem end.  Take them off and finish pinning around, then iron in the hem to ensure it's straight.

Next comes the sewing.  I have a Brother Sewing Machine so my settings will be different than another model.  However, all hemming will require a specific foot attachment and setting your machine on the blind stitch hem.  Below is a video of how to switch the foot attachment as this was a bit confusing for me at first.

Once you've changed feet, ensure your machine is set to the blind stitch hem (for me it was 11).  Then turn your pants inside out and fold the edges over with a small piece of the bottom sticking out (see photo below).  You will then place your pants with the folded edge to the left and the open edge to the right of the split on your foot. 

Your sewing machine will now do the rest for you!  The blind stitch hem ensures you cannot see a stitch line on the exterior of the pants.  And voila - hemmed pants at a fraction of the cost of a tailor.  Total savings on 20 pairs of pants per year: $12 x 20 = $240.  You could afford to buy a sewing machine with those savings!  

However, if you don't like to sew/don't know how, there's another easy solution for hemming.  Stitch Witchery is a no sew adhesive that you simply apply and iron on to hem your pants.  How easy is that?  And for $3.77 you can save $236 a year on tailoring.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Gracious Worthy Fashion

One area I am not so good at doing myself is fashion.  That's why I rely on affordable fashion bloggers to do my hunting for me.  Here are a few of my favorites, including one from a friend of mine from college who just started hers (pictured below).  


Some other noteworthy blogs are Penny Pincher Fashion and The Cheap Chica's Guide to Fashion.  I also love Blair Eadie's Atlantic Pacific blog but her outfits are a little on the steep side for me.  It's  great inspiration though - check out her photo below and my Gracious Inspired outfit for a more affordable budget.  The clothes alone would have cost nearly $1000.  My version (credits below) was a bit more reasonable $223.

Jacket: Banana Republic Factory Store clearance for $35 (old - similar here and here).  Blouse: Banana Republic Factory Store $19 (old - similar here and here, both under $30!  Shorts: Loft $29.70 on 40% off day (old - similar here and here.  Bag: Coach Outlet $125 (old) - similar save and splurge.  Shoes: Calvin Klein from Muse Boutique (local) $25;  I also just purchased these.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Crate and Barrel Gracified

I am always looking for ways to save and still have nice looking items in our home.  But spending $596 on plain wood chairs at Crate and Barrel when I have a whole house to decorate was out of the question.  I liked the look so I decided to create a similar project on a budget.  
Willa Yellow Side Chair $149 each
I started with some dining chairs from Target.  My originals are no longer on the site, but I found some similar ones - posted below.  In total, I spent $198 for 4 chairs.  

Clockwise from top left: Dolce Chair $159.99 for 2, Shaker Chair $99.99 for 2, 
Teat Slat Back Chair $158.99 for 2, Solid Wood Dining Chairs $249.99 for 4

The next step was to make them look more expensive (and also more comfortable).  I saw some cute cushion covers also from Crate and Barrel but I am not a fan of the tie ons.  Instead, I decided to add custom permanent cushions to my chairs.  I went to Joanns for some inspiration and found some beautiful fabric I decided to use on the cushions.  I also purchased some foam and fabric glue.  In total, I spent $59.98 on 2.5 yards of fabric, $20.16 (with 40% off coupon) on 2 yards 1 inch heavy duty foam, and $3.99 on fabric glue. 

Waverly Home Decor Fabric $23.99 per yard

First I traced the chair bases on the foam and then cut out the shapes (do this before assembling the chairs).  Then I glued the foam to the top of the chair base.  I cut the fabric in squares matching the dimensions of the chair bases and staplegunned it tightly underneath over the foam.  Since I was unable to now screw in the chairs because the fabric was in the way, I used Gorilla wood glue to attach them to the legs.  They ended up staying in place very well. The end result:

All in all I spent $282.13 - a savings of $413 over the $695 I would have spent at Crate & Barrel.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Reviewing the "Vendors"

The reason "Mrs. Gracious" began was for me to have a way to hold companies accountable for their customer service.  I also love affordable design and weddings so the company has taken a turn more towards those, however, I still feel superior service is very important!  I decided to share my experiences with the "vendors" I worked with on my nursery, and will continue to do so for any further posts.

Ikea, Atlanta, GA:  The items I purchased here were in store and both times on a Saturday which I would not recommend - the store is packed!  However, the service people I talked to were very helpful and we were able to check out quickly despite this hiccup.  One thing to remember if you have never been in: record the items you plan on purchasing as you walk through the design room! I didn't realize this was necessary on my first visit and ended up having to go back through the whole store to find the item numbers.  Otherwise, definitely would recommend them and especially their prices!
Hobby Lobby, Franklin, TN: I am probably this store's biggest customer.  Seriously.  While returns are kind of a pain, they are improving and will even give you store credit without a receipt.  I also recommend bringing a coupon and checking out their sales - most stuff is 50% off at least once a month.  Otherwise, the store is clean and has the best selection of crafts of anywhere I have found.

Babies R Us, Nolensville, TN:  Not the most helpful experience here but we did get what we needed.  I ordered a lot of items online but for my custom chair we had to go in store.  The man who helped us was very nice but he clearly had some training issues as we were in there for nearly an hour trying to help him figure out how to custom order the fabric for the chair.  Definitely worth it in the end though as I think the chair ended up making the room!  For everything else I would recommend ordering online.  They have free shipping with certain minimum orders, send coupons in the mail if you're on their loyalty program, and the shipping is very fast.
Amazon:  Oh how I love my Amazon Prime.  My husband and I split an account which is fabulous because we still get free 2 day shipping but can have different logins since he invited me to join his.  I did have an issue with dealing with their customer service - it seems the online people do not have a lot of authority to do anything.  I was supposed to receive a $50 account credit for spending over $250 for their baby promotion, but it took 3 online chats, and an email to finally get this taken care of.  Their returns process is relatively painless though and you can't beat the shipping and selection.
ATG Stores:  One word: terrible.  I have never had such a bad online experience.  I know they are owned by Lowes and personally I prefer Home Depot - their personnel are so much more helpful.  I ordered only a couple items from them but never received confirmation emails - they said my email address was too long, however, I got promotion emails from them.  The worst part was when I tried to return an item.  I had to chat with someone online to get the RMA number to send back some wooden boxes that were too small.  I got the information, sent back the item (thankfully with tracking) and then a week later got an email that the manufacturer had not received the return yet.  I went to USPS and checked the item had been marked undeliverable.  Come to find out through another excruciatingly long online chat that they had given me the wrong address information because the manufacturer had moved.  I didn't have my own return address on the package so it had been routed to Atlanta.  I explained that this was their issue but the customer service representative told me I would have to write a letter to USPS to have the package re-routed to the new manufacturer location before I would get a refund.  I told them that was ridiculous because I had followed all instructions and it was now their problem but they wouldn't budge.  Thank goodness for American Express.  Their customer service is SUPERB and they removed the charge from my credit card when I called and told them what happened.  Would definitely not order from this place again!

Craft Cuts:  Not much to say about them because this was an online order but they shipped exactly what I needed quickly and affordably.  If I need some more letters I would use them again.

The Honest Company:  Their phone personnel are very nice.  I ordered a free sample online of their products and got signed up for a monthly subscription, however when I called they were very helpful and cancelled it without a problem.  I like their products but they are on the more expensive side so I probably won't continue using them, but it's worth it if you have the extra cash!
TargetAlways love them and their return policy.  The staff are always efficient and the store is very clean.  The curtains I ordered were online but their site is great and you always have hassle free online returns in store as long as you have a receipt or credit card.  

Big Lots:  My husband makes fun of me for going to this place but I think it's amazing.  I have gotten a number of cute items for the house (posts to come later), and they have great deals on beauty/health products, food, even baby accessories.  I swear I'm in here once a day and the staff is always so nice.  Only downside is I've noticed the trend is catching on (I've been coming in here for 12 years) so they're starting to get busier.  Bad for me but good for them!
Kirklands: I love this place.  Every time I visit they have a new selection of fabulous decor pieces.  And Christmas?  Don't even get me started.  The best part is the prices!  So much more affordable than Pottery Barn and with similar items.  The staff are always very knowledgeable and seem happy to be working in there (who wouldn't be - they probably get an employee discount).  Don't forget to sign up for their rewards program to get coupons for even better savings.  I'll be posting some of my most recent fabulous finds there soon.  Stay tuned =)

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Big Reveal

Hudson's nursery is finally finished.  In the end I spent $1,174, $326 under my $1,500 budget.  Please feel free to comment with your thoughts!  Thankfully I had some help from my fabulous family and friends.  Had I purchased every item in the room myself, my total spend to make over the entire room would have been $2,071.  Pretty good considering the inspiration room I gathered from would have cost over $5,300!

3 Drawer Chest $79.99 - Ikea
5 Drawer Chest $99 - Ikea
Aluminum Hanging Bell $14.99 - Hobby Lobby
Anchor Basket - Unknown (gift) but similar here for $18
Anchor Blanket  $19.99 - Babies R Us (in stores)
Anchor Hooks $9.11 each - eBay
Anchor Sheets $14.99 (gift) - Babies R Us
Boat Rocker - custom (gift)
Boat Shoes $13 - eBay
Boats $19.99-$29.99 - Hobby Lobby (in stores) and vintage from my grandfather
Bookshelf $89 - Ikea
Bumper $29.99 - Amazon ("gracified" by me)
Buoys $7.49 (gift) - Hobby Lobby
Ceiling Light $112.50- ATG Stores
Crib $119- Ikea
Crib Mattress $52.99 - Amazon
Crib Skirt - Mrs. Gracious Designs
Curtains $53.98 - Target ("gracified" by me)
Diaper Changing Pad  $19.99 (gift) - Amazon
Diaper Changing Pad Cover $17.99 - Babies R Us
Diapers $4.95 (promo) - The Honest Company
Glider and Ottoman $449.99 and $179.99 (gift) - Babies R Us
Hudson Frame - custom (gift)
HUDSON Letters $22 - Craft Cuts
Hudson Jar - Unknown (gift) but similar here for $4.99
Lantern $9.99 - Hobby Lobby
Life Preserver $6.48 (gift) - Amazon
Lighthouse Frame -$7.49 Hobby Lobby
Lighthouse Nightlight $14.75 (gift) - Amazon
Miniature Armchairs $19.99 - Ikea
Nautical Wood Box $6.49 - Hobby Lobby
Net $7.99 - Hobby Lobby
Oar - Unknown (gift) but similar here for $17.99
Oar Lamp $44 (gift) - Hobby Lobby (in stores)
Oars $34.99- eBay
Rope Balls $9.49 each (gift) - Hobby Lobby
Ship in Glass Bottle $6.49 - Hobby Lobby
Sailboat Nightlight $29 (gift)- Pottery Barn Kids
Side Table $89 - Big Lots
Starfish Pulls $1.99 each - Amazon
Stuffed Bear $9.99 - Bargain Hunt (in stores)
Vase - Unknown (gift) but similar here for $24.99
Wall Sticker Decal $24 - eBay
Whale $24.99 with coupon - Kirkland's
Whale Baskets $39.98 - Michaels (in stores)
Whale Blanket $14.99 (gift) - Babies R Us (in stores)
Wooden Ship Wheel $29 - ATG Stores
Wooden Wall Anchor $17.49 (gift) - Hobby Lobby