Karen’s Design Dilemma

Karen’s living room is bursting with serious potential. Here’s her letter:

Hey! I got one! Let’s get to it. I need serious help with my LR (and I’d love a few pointers for my adjoined eat-in kitchen). My decor is traditional but I’m trying to go more casual, hip, & younger. I call it my midlife decorating crisis. I fell in love with photos of your living room in a magazine and I believe that I’d be totally happy with anything you love. The sofa, chair, console & nesting end tables are all new and must stay. I still have the receipts for my two new lamps so they can stay or be returned. Everything else can go (the TV, armoire, round end table, etc). I’d also love a new small dining room table. I’m hoping to replace the carpet and vinyl with new hardwood flooring, so consider that when suggesting new area rugs for the living room/eating area. The lighting in our house is totally inadequate so I’d love all the light you think this room can handle. I would gladly replace the ceiling fan and the stained glass light in the kitchen with fixtures that are up to date. PLEASE suggest a new wall color, a color for the ceiling & trim, and a kitchen cabinet color. I like green, blue, and the neutral colors in your house. I fell in love with your nursery curtains and bought the fabric to make curtains for my living room. Basically I need you to somehow tie this all together and give it some good old Young House Love swankification. I honestly believe that mine might be the design dilemma that sends you running for the hills! – Karen

Here’s the plan:

And here’s the new layout suggestion:

Now for the mood board breakdown.
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Hauling It

If we had a dollar for every time someone incredulously asked “wait, you guys do all this DIY but you don’t own a truck?” – let’s just say we’d be able to afford a big ol’ truck. But we love being a single car household and owning a modestly sized Nissan Altima (can’t beat the gas mileage). And it has definitely taught us to get creative when it comes to getting large furniture items home (along with giant pieces of lumber and hardibacker) over the years. Heck even when it comes to getting rid of stuff we’ve had to be strategic. So here are a few ways that we approach occasionally hauling away the stuff that we no longer need or picking up that rare Craigslist find (or the Ikea bookcase) that just won’t fit in our car:

Haul It Tip #1: Many people are surprised to hear that you can rent a truck from Home Depot for just $19. This was a great solution for us when it came to getting oversized bathroom reno materials home (and transporting some breakfast bagels while we were at it). We even suggested this solution to someone who was trying to buy a mattress from us via Craigslist without access to a truck… and it worked like a charm for them. They were able to swing by, grab the mattress, and swiftly get the truck back to Home Depot with plenty of time to spare (the $19 fee covers 70 minutes of rental time).

Haul It Tip #2: Look no further than a man with a van on Craigslist. This can be just the thing when it comes to hauling a ton of demo junk to the dump (storing it in your garage until your pickup will save you thousands that you could have spent to rent a dumpster). And of course a man with a van can also come to your rescue when you’re attempting to pick up a large Craigslist item that you scored for a major steal (bonus: the man in the van can help you load and unload your supersized item).

Haul It Tip #3: Get a charitable donation center like the Habitat For Humanity ReStore to do a free pick-up (this is great because it doesn’t cost a cent, they come to you, and it’s even a tax break). We recently donated our old sink and faucet along with a few extra pieces of plywood and hardibacker from our big bathroom makeover this way. We just called to arrange a pick-up and they arrived right on time to grab everything (and even left a receipt for our “tax write-offs” folder). And of course you can always list things as “free with pick up” on Craigslist and Freecycle to clear out your clutter in a snap (no driving necessary).

Haul It Tip #4: Ask a friend to borrow their bigger car/SUV/truck/etc. We are no strangers to this method either. John’s sister Emily happens to have a large Explorer and we definitely bribe her with food or gas to switch cars for a few hours (or even a full day) so we can make an Ikea run or take a bunch of items to the local recycling center when it’s garage clean out time. And every once in a while we take on a personal challenge without the help of Em’s larger car (like when we were determined to get two bifold doors into our tiny ten year old Maxima last year (mission accomplished!).

Haul It Tip #5: Rent a trailer or even a flat bed truck from a place like UHaul (which can run you just $19 an hour like Home Depot- but you have more size options to choose from). It’s just one more way to get things from point A to point B that we’ve definitely relied on in our four years as DIY obsessed homeowners.

So that’s how we take home the occasional supersized item, haul a slew of things off to the recycling center from time to time, or even get a local thrift store to do the hard work for us after we tackle some pretty major renos – all without owning a big SUV or a truck. Do you guys have other haul it tips to share? Any especially creative ways that you’ve gotten something huge back to your house (in a not so huge vehicle)? Tell us all about it.