December 23, 2011

$100 Room Transformation Challenge

In the past few months, we've been working on making our condo market-ready. One corner of our home has been the most neglected. It was the last one that was furnished with non-bachelor pad gear (the table and chairs were passed down from my wife's late great aunt.)

After putting in the dining set about two years ago, the space sort of just sat. Used regularly, but was just an extension of the kitchen. While we added pillows, pictures, chairs, and books everywhere else, it perpetually lived on the "we'll do something to it someday" list.

However, that all changed this very week. I was tired of it simply being, and decided to embark upon the $100 Room Makeover Challenge (sounds like it's real, doesn't it?). For a relatively small cost, I hoped to transform the room so that it wasn't the "oh, yeah... that" section of the unit.

Here's a before picture of the nook:

Please note, however, the flash in the previous shot makes it deceptively bright looking. The ceiling light was (I'm quite sure) was the original fixture when it was built in the 1980's. The glass had yellowed through the years casting a dingy, gloomy light when the light was turned on. When other lights were turned on, it sort of offset it so we never kept it on by itself. (The cord on the left side of the wall connects to Christmas lights that currently circle the ceiling.)

Here's a shot of the light fixture in all it's glory. I replaced a smaller one just like it in the kitchen when we were re-doing that. That replacement dramatically changed the feel from gloomy to fresh and bright. I knew that at some point I'd replace it, and yesterday was the day. 

Here I am, with the lighting power off, removing the relic of a bygone era.

And what remained. The wiring in of the new light fixture was an adventure (at one point, the light worked but was controlled by a switch in the kitchen... true story), but was completed otherwise problem free.

For my $100 budget, I decided to start my journey at Pier 1. My goal was to buy a light fixture and a mirror and thought they might have a fun mirror on clearance. They didn't have anything that fit my budget or fit the space, but they did have an oil painting/print on sale. It's called "Two Hoots" (awww..) and set me back $19.99. It was regularly priced at $29.95. I liked it because it incorporated the yellow, green and brown we have happening in the kitchen, but brought in the red accents we have in the living room. If you look closely, the paint is over a canvas with printed text as a background. Printed text (from a dictionary) also serves as decoration elsewhere in the condo. 

After I blew 1/5 of the funds on an originally, non-priority item, I realized that I'd have to cut back elsewhere. Large framed mirrors tend to cost more than I think they should, so I wasn't sure what random piece I might find to stay within budget. There was a Big Lots near the Pier 1, so I thought I'd check to see if they had anything that would work. They had exactly one great, dark brown mirror that was $25.00. Adding it to the wall instantly helped make the tiny nook feel more spacious which which was exactly the goal.

And for the light fixture, I found a handmade bamboo lampshade created by a designer named Maria Vinka. She did her research in Vietnam in creating it. It ties in well with the bamboo floors we have throughout the condo. I got it in a marketplace, called Ikea, for $59.99. You should check them out. Help keep them in business.

For those of you keeping track, my $100 goal was exceeded. My total came to $104.98. Close enough, I say. Close enough. Here's the after picture. It has changed the feel of the room from "kitchen overflow" to its own, unique, intimate space. The light can stay on without any worries for any supplementation. The light is white and fresh, and has replaced the gloom with cheer.

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