Category Archives: Buy This Not That

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

Buy This Not That: Chairs and Tiles


If you’ve been following the blog… or maybe I should say if you’ve read more than one post, you may have figured out that I’m a bit of an upholstered chair addict.  Don’t worry, there are support groups out there for people like me (it’s called Pinterest… it seems that only furthers the addiction though).  Anyway, I’m beginning to find out just how expensive of an addiction this is.  There are a few ways to obtain a good ole upholstered chair:

  1. Find a great deal on an old upholstered chair on Craigslist (usually sporting awesome 80s fabric).  Say you find a deal as good as we did (more on that here), with a small fee for the initial purchase of the chair plus upholstery, you’re looking at about $350-400.
  2. Reupholster an old, hand-me-down chair (look at our awesome hand-me-down chair transformation here) and upholstery will still run you in the neighborhood of $300.
  3. Give up the custom look for a retail option.  This doesn’t sound as glamorous but you can usually find a better deal…
… or so I thought until I really started perusing through my usual home decor sites for a nice, tufted, upholstered linen chair.  Much to my horror, a custom look was beginning to seem the cheap route… which seemed wrong to equate custom and cheap in the same sentence.  Something had to be done.
I love a good deal and was determined to find less expensive but still great-looking, quality alternatives that wouldn’t induce me to eating Ramen noodles for the remainder of the year and thus this blog topic idea was created.  We wanted to bring to light the fact that for every croon-worthy, wallet-stealing home decor/household item out there, there were other, more affordable options just waiting to be snatched up.  Without further ado, I bring you our newest segment, “Buy This Not That.”

Break-the-Bank Options:

Topping the list at just over a grand is…

Crate and Barrel, $1099

Pottery Barn, starting at $999

Pottery Barn, starting at $899

Ballard Designs, $867

Kathy Kuo Home, $698

We-Will-Still-Be-Able-to-Send-Our-Kids-to-College Options:

Overstock, $336.59

Wayfair, $269

Overstock, $250.19

Target, $125.91

And finally Modern Furniture, $180 for a set of 2 so $90 each!  That’s an insane price!  You could buy TWELVE of these chairs for the same price of the one Crate and Barrel chair at the top of the list.  Insanity.

Ah, don’t you feel better?  But wait!  There’s more!  Get ready to have your mind BLOWN.

So, I have been lusting after this Restoration Hardware chair for some time now.  After browsing through my list of expensive chairs, the price on this one, $495, probably doesn’t seem that bad, right?  Well, just you wait.

Restoration Hardware, $495

Ready for a shocker of all shockers?  See below for the less expensive alternative I found to the above chair.

Grandin Road, $239

Well, hello there Restoration Hardware chair’s long-lost twin.  Why, yes, I did notice you were over $250 less expensive and looked EXACTLY THE SAME.  Eep- I better not yell or someone will notice and change the price.  I dare you to beat me in throwing this chair in my virtual shopping cart!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, it seems that the awesome chair I found from Grandin Road, seen above, has now sold out and is no longer available.  *Cue disappointing sound effect.  If I find another one, I’ll be sure to post it!  If you’ve found any awesome deals on tufted rounded club chairs, please share as well!


I like to think I had a reasonable upbringing- my parents worked hard to make sure we had a comfortable lifestyle, but they also liked to pretend we were flat broke. I hated living in a house in Texas that had no A/C on the second floor (which, of course, they fixed after I moved out), but I have to say that a working knowledge of penny-pinching and “alternative engineering” has come in handy more than once, though I admit I’m probably lucky to have two five-fingered hands.

One money-saving skill I picked up from my parents is the ability to always find a cheaper version of whatever Julie wants, which really saved the bank when we remodeled our master bathroom (more on that later). Julie wanted travertine, which is of course one of the most expensive materials available. Prices for real travertine can easily exceed $5/sq. ft., and the thought of over $1000 covering the walls of the place I scrub dirt off myself really didn’t appeal to me. On top of that, it’s also very difficult to care for- it’s extremely fragile, extremely porous, and extremely difficult to keep clean. Needless to say, it’s not the ideal choice in materials for a shower.

As luck would have it, though, I stumbled upon the solution while perusing the aisles at Floor & Decor- travertine-look ceramic tiles. For less than $3/sq. ft., they were perfect. They had the look of the high-end natural stone Julie wanted as well as the convenience (and price tag) I wanted. Ceramics are some of the most durable materials on Earth, and since we’re prone to a lot of carelessness, it’s really a must-have for all relevant applications in our house. They even had mimicked pores and imperfections cast in to complete the look.

What Julie Wants:

Daltile Travertine Baja Cream, Home Depot, $6.71/sq ft

 What Julie Gets:
Antique White Porcelain Tile, Floor & Decor, $2.19/sq ft


Filed under Buy This Not That