Category Archives: Backyard

Buy This Not That: Rugs and Landscape Lights


I have a little massive obsession with geometric rugs right now.  My biggest problem is that I’ve now run out of rug-needing rooms so, for the moment, I’ll admire from afar.  And when Chris isn’t looking our attention turns to filling a room with a new rug, one of these beauties will be mine.

In the meantime, I thought I’d prove that a high-end looking rug didn’t need to break the bank.  Note: all rugs priced below are for the 8′ x 10′ version.


This one’s probably my favorite of the batch and while $599 isn’t a terrible price for an 8′ x 10′ rug, I found even better options.

Source: Shades of Light, $599

And here’s a very similar looking option at about $100 less but let’s not stop there!

Source: Rugs USA, $484.65


We have a winner!  A shocking $300 less than the high-end version, this next rug looks nearly identical!

Source: Overstock, $283.04


If blue’s not your thing and you want something more neutral, Shades of Light has a trellis-patterned rug for $629.

Source: Shades of Light, $629


If trellis and neutral are your thing but you’re having sticker shock at $629, I have a little secret to share.  Decor companies normally geared towards kids rooms (i.e. PB Teen and Land of Nod) usually offer some age-generic items, such as rugs.  The secret?  The prices are usually much lower for similar quality and style options.  Why, you may ask?  I don’t ask questions, I just accept this awesome fact.

This next option is pretty close to the above Shades of Light option for over $300 less.

Source: Land of Nod, $299


By now I’m sure you are well aware of my obsession with chevron designs.  From the curtains we made for our master bedroom (more on that here) to the chevron pillows I purchased from halfway across the world (more on that later!), I am a self-proclaimed addict.

Genevieve Gorder knows just how to feed this obsession with her line of rugs for Capel.  This next rug is magnificent and comes with an equally magnificent price tag of over a grand.

Source: Capel Rugs, $1,347.75

Anyone want to bet how quickly Chris would kick my butt out of the house if I came home with that one?  Hint: he probably wouldn’t even let me in the house.

This next option is much easier on the pocketbook, and I like the eclectic vibe of the uneven chevrons, but you know I can still beat it.

Source: Rugs USA, $509


You better sit down because you are about to be amazed by this next option.  Urban Outfitters is featuring a gorgeous gray chevron rug for less than $200.  Why oh why don’t I need a rug right now??

Source: Urban Outfitters, $199


Everyone needs a little bold stripe in their lives like this option from Ballard Designs but I know I can do better than $699.

Source: Ballard Designs, $699


This option from Shades of Light may not be the cheapest of the post, but it’s such a good looking rug that I’m willing to overlook that.

Source: Shades of Light, $378


And the rug of the hour, ladies and gents, is this graphic blue option from Antropologie, ringing in at $1198.  Yikes.

Source: Anthropologie, $1198 

Then there’s this option for just under a grand from Zinc Door.  Yes, yes, we’ll keep looking.

Source: Zinc Door, $926

How low can we go?  How about this one from Capel Rugs?  Nope, let’s keep going.

Source: Capel Rugs, $673

This one’s a little more on the neutral side but also on the less expensive side.  Now, humor me.  Let’s see if I can top this.

Source: West Elm, $499


Ding ding ding.  We have a winner, with a low of $231 and a very pretty blue, geometric pattern.

Source: Rugs USA, $231

Have you guys found any good deals on rugs lately?  Anything that makes you laugh at the high-end version and fist-pump over your victorious find?


As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m pretty cheap. In fact, the whole reason behind our DIY adventures is that I hate spending money and would rather do things myself for a fraction of the price I’d pay someone else. It doesn’t stop there, though; even within my money-saving DIY projects, I’m constantly looking for ways to save even more money, even if it’s just a few pennies. One of the best ways to cut costs is by purchasing a cheaper version of a particular product. Even better is when it’s a product that no one ever pays attention to and will therefore never notice the difference.

Enter my landscape lights: I like the tranquil look provided by landscape lighting that is often seen in high-end neighborhoods, and I really like a dimly-lit backyard… but let’s be honest, only people with butlers can afford to light the back yard, right? Well, I’m inclined to believe there’s some truth to that, but after a trip to one of our favorite bargain stores and about an hour’s worth of work I had the kind of backyard that reminds me of the gardens in a high-end Caribbean resort. Well, at night, anyway.

Before I unveil my findings, here’s what people who own more than one house would buy:

It’s called an “Ellipse Verde Low Voltage Path Light” made by a company called Hinkley and is available at Lamps Plus for $80 each. I installed nine lights, so I would have been looking at almost $800 after tax, and that doesn’t include the necessary wiring and control box.

Our low-end equivalent is this:

Low Voltage Verde Pro Walk Light” by Malibu, available at Home Depot.

At $22 each, I was now looking at about $215 after tax- again, not including the other items I’d need. This was a little easier to swallow, but I wasn’t ready to stop there. No, I was determined to do this for even cheaper. There was only one more option: the Re-store.

The local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store is one of our favorite places for home renovations for a variety of reason. For starters, everything is cheap, and not all of it is used. Professional renovators often donate items they remove but are still good, and often times a contractor will over-bid a job and donate the leftovers- everything from paint, tile, tools, faucets, and of course, landscape lighting. Everything is donated and it’s run entirely by volunteers, so 100% of the money we spend there goes directly to Habitat for Humanity. It’s win-win, right?

Anyway, this is where I stumbled upon our lights. As we were purchasing… I don’t know, something I can’t remember… we noticed that the front register was bordered by huge stacks of landscape lights, which was something that we had previously assumed we couldn’t afford. The best part? They were half of what Home Depot wanted for, literally, the exact same light. But wait, there’s more! We caught them during a “lighting sale”, where all lighting was 40% off. Oh, but our luck wasn’t up yet! We were also there on a day where everything was 20% off… so we ended up paying about $6 each. That’s less than $60 out-the-door!

So, we paid less than 10% of the high-end equivalent and got lights of the same height, shape, finish, wattage, and voltage, and honestly I like the simpler design a little better than the Lamps Plus option. After picking up a control box and some wiring, I was in it for less than $100.

Technically, these are path lights, but I like how they look in the flower beds- they have a unique finish that looks good on it’s own, but also blends in with larger plants:

I also like the low wattage (11w) which gives the opposite of a dimming effect.

Finally, they produce just the right amount of light to accent the plants and flowers, but are never glaring or overpowering. In fact, there’s no ambient lighting from them inside the house.

I think I may have found “the ultimate deal”: I bought a product I liked more than the high-end option and not only did I pay less than retail, I effectively traded a donation for a set of landscape lights. I added a high-end, relaxing look to my yard while supporting a great cause at a local level.

Let’s see you match that with a rug.



Filed under Backyard, Buy This Not That

You Know You’re a Texan When…


… you buy a cowboy boot planter.  I actually debated whether I should buy it or not wondering if it was too kitschy.  As I stood in the middle of the nursery at Lowe’s pondering if my backyard needed a 3 foot boot, Chris waited impatiently behind me (though you’d think he’d be used to my indecisiveness by now).  I finally came to the conclusion that one should not buy a giant boot on impulse so I decided to sleep on it (if you know me really well, you know I’m not kidding).

Morning came and my mind was made up- that boot would be mine.  As Chris and I headed into Lowe’s, we split up to save time: he to gather our bazillionth gallon of paint (and to take a detour through “Tool World”), and I to head out to the nursery.

To my surprise, what was once a palette full of boots for the taking, was now the home of one, lonely boot.  In a mere 24 hours, a total of 11 boot planters had been swiped off this palette.

I immediately felt two emotions:

1) relief that I wasn’t the only crazy Texan out there who thought his/her life was incomplete without a cement boot in the garden

2) determined that I was going to get the last boot.  I mean it was practically looking at me with sad, puppy dog eyes saying “adopt me!”

The biggest problem I faced was that the boot weighed 100 lbs.  Literally.  One.  Hundred.  Pounds.  So it wasn’t like I could just heave it in my basket and call it good.  But I was determined- I was not letting this thing out of my sight.  Who knows what other Texas divas could be lurking around, waiting to snag my treasure.  I guarded my boot and sent frantic telepathic messages to Chris for help.  He finally wandered out, not knowing he was about to be recruited for my covert ops mission.

With Chris on the lookout, I grabbed a few flowers for my new planter and rushed to the cash register to stake my claim.  As new customers filtered through the front door, I gave them my best “don’t you dare touch my boot” stare as I waited to be rung up.

Receipt in hand, I could almost taste sweet victory.  Chris pulled the car around as I continued to guard the perimeter.  A few heave-ho’s later, the boot was sitting comfortably in my car trunk.

Mission accomplished.


I’ve had a lot of weird experiences at the hardware store, most of which start out with “well I was trying to explain Julie’s idea to the guy, when…”  I must say, though, that this weekend may have topped the list. As we were checking out at the nursery register after picking up a few new plants, the guy behind the counter casually asks, “hey, you guys want a boot?”

“A what?”

“A boot. See?”

Initially, I thought he was Canadian, but then I saw that he was pointing at a pallet of, well, boot planters. I thought he was kidding (and I think he was), so I laughed and said no, we didn’t have a need for a three-foot boot planter. Because we didn’t. Upon leaving the store, though, I realized I was wrong, because Julie began begging me for a giant boot. I thought she was kidding, too, but I began to realize that she was dead serious, and she really wanted that boot. I mean, we’re pretty Texan, but… we’re not that kind of Texan. So I told her to sleep on it.

The next day we ended up having to go back to the store for something completely unrelated (the story of our lives), and much to my surprise there was only one boot remaining, meaning at least eleven other people are as insane as my wife. Anyway, Julie shot me in the face with her sad puppy eyes and a few minutes later, I was standing at a cash register saying “excuse me, sir… I’d like to buy that boot”. Julie jumped for joy and stood guard while I fetched the car. I backed up to the pallet and grabbed the boot and… uuuuuunnnnnnnnhhhhhh! This stupid boot weighed at least 100 pounds! I wrestled it into the trunk and away we went.

Julie has a pretty nasty habit of wanting to see things placed 10,000 different ways before making a decision, but this time I told her that the first place I set the boot was also the last place I’d set the boot, so we determined the most level spot in the area we wanted, and that’s where this thing will stay until we move. I have to admit that once we put some plants in it, it didn’t look nearly as tacky as I thought it would… but then again, it’s still a giant concrete boot.



Filed under Backyard