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    The Span of a Year

    Today marks one year, short one week, from the last post made at The Crux — though technically a year has passed because that post was scheduled. Wow. Spruce Lawn has come trucking along with lots of projects completed in that time. We’ve been hard at work, helping this house become the best house it can be. It’s a new year, a new house. Anoohouse. No, really it’s the same house. A facelift doesn’t change you on the inside.

    Outer beauty pleases the eye. Inner beauty captivates the heart.

    This house already had inner beauty, it just need some scrubbing so you could see it.

    I’m looking forward to 2018 on the blog and I hope you are too!


    A post shared by Jenny Schleich (@jennyfromthebruce) on



    Get Your Frugal Into Gear With These Inexpensive DIY Projects

    In the ongoing spirit of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which is much harder than I anticipated but going well, I have put together a list of inexpensive DIY projects that can give you a lot of bang for your buck, or can possibly even be done for free if you have the right skills or resources. These are all projects that have achieved me great results in a very frugal fashion, because I reused and recycled, and in-sourced.

    1. DIY Photo Wall Art

    This post is an overview of how to acquire any kind of gallery wall, photographic art, or graphic art economically and very easily with the right online tools.

    DIY photo art cheap, wall art... inexpensive diy projects

    2. Paint Washing Brick

    I updated our entire basement with the cost of a $35 gallon of grey paint. The transformation to our fireplace was breathtaking, and an extremely easy project. This could easily be accomplished by using paint already piled in your garage, I just didn’t happen to have any grey paint on hand at the time.

    paint wash brick fireplace... inexpensive diy projects

    3. Drop Cloths As Fabric

    I wrote this post last year to explore the pros and cons of using drop cloth as a craft or upholstery fabric. The list is pretty exhaustive, and though through my own research I discovered that it’s a little too absorbent of spills it is still a really frugal way to get that modern farmhouse grain sack cotton look for the appropriate project.

    drop cloth fabric... inexpensive diy projects

    4. Rustic Industrial Shelving

    You can turn a basic 5-tier wire shelf, which are really economical especially if purchased during a Home Depot or Canadian Tire sale, into a rustic industrial style storage space with some elbow grease and leftover materials from other projects. New shelves with this type of look can run upwards of $500, I’ve seen shelves of questionable construction and faux materials marked at $1200 before. This is a project that cost me less than $20 because I already had everything I needed laying around, but even if you didn’t it would still be an economic alternative to buying a new rustic industrial shelving unit.

    Rustic farmhouse pantry shelving makeover from basic wire ... inexpensive diy projects

    5. Free Printables

    Using free printables to decorate your space, make greeting cards for friends, or seasonal decorations is really fun and simple, and beyond what I have available for download on the blog there are so many online resources for sourcing this kind of material.

    wire fence pinboard... inexpensive diy projects

    6. DIY Pallet Coffee Table

    Making a DIY pallet table out of an old coffee table you no longer love, and a free pallet sourced from a local store yard is a really great example of getting a “look” in a frugal and self-sufficient way.

    rustic table makeover and pallet DIY project... inexpensive diy projects

    Hope you enjoyed this review of some of the Crux’s inexpensive DIY projects that can help you bring a little more frugality into your home decor projects.

    Bedroom Revamp With Frugal Finesse

    Our new principal bedroom is structurally beautiful. It’s big and it has a bank of windows that lets in ample amounts of natural light. It’s a soft white. I have always wanted a white bedroom, and it’s the only room in the house I didn’t paint (aside from those rooms we plan to renovate). Being in a new house I was really hankering to change up our bedroom, and I thought a little bedroom revamp was in order. Of course, having just moved and fully maxed out our moving-in budget on painting, I was hard pressed to accomplish my goal without spending any money.

    Bedroom revamp makes old things new again.

    I did this bedroom revamp before the frugal month challenge that I am participating in right now, but I want to bring it up because I employed tactics that allowed me to refresh our bedroom for our new space without really spending. I won’t lie, I did fill up my online shopping cart at West Elm and seriously considered dumping half my new paycheque, but sense took hold. Continue reading…

    Frugal Design: Do Frugality and Interior Design Mesh or Mash?

    For the month of January I am participating in a little something called the Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which is hosted by a blogger who styles herself as Mrs. Frugalwoods (it’s a thing, go read about it). To really get into the spirit of things I’ve decided that every post I share in January will be built around the core concept of frugality by exploring frugal design methods and tropes. I have some posts lined up for you, but first I want to explain a bit more about why I am doing this.

    frugal design - image by kevin-fernandez

    Basically, the idea of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge is that you reset your super consumerist mindset, so that you can look at the world, your life, and your finances differently. I thought this was a very interesting topic to broach on an interior design blog. For the folks at Frugalwoods the important central pillar in their life was escaping the drudgery of their 9-5 work lives to discover the serenity of self-sufficient mid-30s retirement on a homestead in the woods. These are life goals that don’t apply to me: as a writer I don’t work to live so much as I live to work.

    My entire blog would seem to be antithetical to the Frugalwoods. I take great pleasure in design and aesthetic, and I consider decorating and designing my home akin to enjoying a gallery of carefully curated art. I love to talk about all the latest and greatest styles, colours, textiles, tiles, and stuff that you can get. I absorb design magazine articles like a sponge. I could spend all day in a good boutique. That said, I am an advocate of anti-consumerism, anti-materialism, and I have a vested interest in eliminating excessive behaviors from my life (mostly shopping and unnecessary spending). I want to know if I can be frugal and preserve a passion for design. I think it’s actually very easy, and I think that lots of people already do it.

    Mostly I am writing about this today because I believe we lose track of what does and doesn’t add value to our lives in the context of home design. Ready-to-wear, fast fashion, these are words we associate with inexpensive trendy, quickly rotating closets sourced from developing nations with poor working conditions, but they are also terms that apply to our contemporary experience of interior decorating.

    We are marketed an idea that our homes can be changed on a whim to suit our mood, and that we should to do just that. The proliferation of inexpensive home decor accents in big box stores is a testament to our buy it now, impulse shopping attitudes surrounding almost everything in our culture. Unfortunately, those “inexpensive” items add up awfully fast, especially in a culture that encourages the revamping of a room at every turn of the season. It also adds up to a lot of junk in a landfill, but that’s a story for another month.

    I personally detest impulse shopping, but it is something that I can’t seem to stop myself from doing. A lot of people don’t know this about me, but shopping in general makes me feel terrible. I am frequently racked with guilt and extreme stress when I make purchases. I hate it, yet I do it. My anxiety around making purchases in one of the reasons I wanted to participate in this challenge to begin with. I want to exercise control over an area of my life that often feels out of control.

    If we choose to make only quality home decor purchases we are usually looking at spending big $$$ to do so. What is the answer? I am assuming it lies somewhere in the intercession of carefully selected and well-planned purchases (that only happen once) and a focus on minimalism, utilitarianism, in-sourcing or DIY, and recycling or reusing.

    I kicked things off on January 1st with a post about our study’s fireplace surround makeover—a project that could potentially have bankrolled into the low thousands had I not rolled up my sleeves, got dirty and did some serious “in-sourcing” as Mrs. Frugalwoods terms it. Next up we’ll be looking at the principal bedroom I put together when we moved into our new house, a space vastly different from our previous bedroom, containing almost nothing new.

    Stay tuned.

    A ‘Study’ In DIY With A Smoky Black Fireplace Surround Makeover

    I’ve been itching to share this fireplace surround makeover project that I completed before we even moved in to Spruce Lawn. or the ‘White House’ as the neighbours call it). I am extremely pleased with how this makeover turned out, and sometimes I just go sit on my couch in the study and stare at it. The best project to share to kick off a new year (Happy 2017 by the way, may it be far better than the last.)

    fireplace surround makeover with whitewashing red brick

    This project was completely DIY and done over the span of three days. I removed the crappy moldings, repaired the wall, whitewashed the brick fireplace, replaced the moldings, painted the surround and the entire room, remodeled the doors and replaced the hinges and added hardware. The doors themselves took a whole day. I really want you to understand the level of UGLY I was working with, so here’s the before: Continue reading…