…But the Fire is So Delightful!

Good morning and Happy Saturday to you! I am in a state of bliss this morning. As I type this, I am still in my PJs with a cup of hot chocolate, curled up in front of the very thing that will be featured in the blog today!

Fire Place

Remember that time I told you our Tiny House Rules? Specifically Rule #1: It must be cheap… and how sometimes rules need to be broken? Yep, that’s what we’re talking about today, folks! The splurge that we’re thankful we made…

Fire Place

The family room (specifically this wall) went through many phases and it took us awhile before we had something in place that we felt really “fit”. After arranging the furniture (it really only works one way because of the layout of the room), we found the space where an entertainment center should go to be extraordinarily tricky to outfit. We tried several different models…

First, the storagey bench/seat:

Fire Place

Cute piece, yes. However, after putting the TV on top, we realized that it came up a bit short. Literally. The total height of the unit was the same as everything else in the room (chairs, sofa, etc.) and made it feel as if the top portion of the room was disassociated with the bottom half.

Second to the plate, we opted for something taller… remember those bookshelves from the Restore? We tried one standing up tall, with the thought that we’d take a shelf out to make a space for the TV.

Spare Bedroom Bookshelves
PS. I don’t have a photo of trying this piece in the family room, but you can get a good idea of the height we were hoping to get from it.

In general, the set up looked messy and we would have had to come up with some contraption that could allow the TV to pull out from the unit- otherwise it would be blocked by the sides. Although it added the height we wanted, we knew that this would not be our final solution.

Well, third time’s the charm, right? Wrong. We tried flipping the shelving unit on its side (too long), bringing back the storagey bench/seat (still a no), even shopping for a dresser to transform similar to the ones I kept seeing on Pinterest (like the one below).

dresser tv stand

Nothing seemed to be working in our favor for this space. Until. One night, I was making a quick stop in Lowe’s for something completely unrelated (isn’t that always how it happens?!), when I came across my heart’s desire:

Fire Place

This is the entertainment center/electrical fireplace that started it all. I knew three things right then and there: 1. Something like this would be PERFECT for our space!, 2. I have always wanted a fireplace in our house, and 3. There’s no way we could afford it. Although I knew it was not really a possibility for us, I sent the picture to my dad and Mitch anyway.

When I got home, Mitch and I went online to find the one I had seen at Lowes, did a little dreaming and drooling over what could never be, and left it at that. The next morning, though, we picked up the conversation again. For our wedding, some people had given us Visa gift cards as wedding gifts. We had stashed them away, planning on using them for not-so-glamorous things like buying groceries or getting gas. However, when we thought more about it, we realized that this type of gift was probably intended to help us buy something that we would never purchase or be able to buy on our own. A fireplace definitely fit the bill. After talking about it some more, we decided to go for it!

My dad did some research for us on the one I had found in Lowe’s and came up with some others that were a bit more expensive, but were able to do quite a bit more. We went back and forth about the decision and, in the end, decided to go for the model with more functions to it. More about that later…

Our final decision was the Hampton Bay Grand Haven in Dark Cherry, from Home Depot. Here is the picture from the website:Fire Place

Herein lies where the crazy part of the story starts…

Chapter 1: Bringing home baby. On Halloween day, Mitch and I set out to Home Depot, just to see if they had the fireplace in stock. They did! And it looked g.o.r.g.e.o.u.s. in person! The only problem was that it was huge and we weren’t sure if we could get it into our car. I am not the most patient person in the world and I wanted the fireplace in our house and set up as soon as I saw it. We paid for it and started the process of trying to cram it into the car, to find that our suspicions were confirmed- too big! We were all set to rent the Home Depot truck to cart our baby home, but then decided to call some people we knew to see if we could borrow a van or SUV for the afternoon. A phone call later and a wonderful couple from church was saying to us: “forget it- we’re coming to get you”. And with that, they met us at Home Depot and took us and our new fireplace home! We seriously have the best church ever, filled with even better people.

Chapter 2: Assembly Required. Looking back, this was one of the most hysterical “newlyweds’ first problem- solving” experience we have had so far. Although funny now, in the moment, I was beyond frustrated. Let me set the stage for you: we had already invited the youth group kids over that night and we had a HUGE box of fireplace that I insisted on being set up by the time they arrived. It was 2:30pm and they were coming at 4:30pm. “Oh, we’ll have this up and running in no time!” Fools. We opened the box, only to find several other boxes inside, each filled with various parts.

Fire Place

We started opening the boxes in search of the Assembly Manual and soon realized that it was not there. So now it’s 3:00pm and we have boxes strewn across the floor, parts everywhere, kids coming in an hour and a half, and no instructions to help us with the impossible puzzle.

Fire Place

Panic was starting to set… but we had no choice but to pull ourselves together and make a plan. I quickly called Home Depot and hurriedly explained our dilemma. Thankfully, there were instructions online. I pulled out my laptop, downloaded the Assembly Manual, and we went into hyper drive. To say we flew through the assembly would be a gross understatement. I have never torn through boxes, ripped open bags of screws, and read instructions faster in my life. Somehow, we managed to get the unit put together with few casualties (that probably could have been avoided, had we had the luxury of more time). I am not going to say that there were no parts left over, but somehow, some way, it was up. While Mitch was sprinting the empty boxes and Styrofoam out to the dumpster, I was vacuuming like a mad woman, trying to reclaim our family room before the kids got there. Needless to say, we were sweating up a storm!

Fire PlaceFire Place

Chapter 3: Breathe, step back, and enjoy. We pushed the unit up against the wall and were immediately pleased with how it looked. Despite the crazy set-up and high stress levels, we knew that this was the right piece for our space. Don’t worry- we got everything cleaned up before the kids arrived… a true Christmas Halloween miracle. Back to the featured item… finally, a smashing success for the “Problem Wall”! The dark cherry wood ties in with the furniture legs, coffee table, and end tables. The unit has an accessible opening for electronics, great storage space for DVDs, cds, etc., and we LOVE the “fireplace” feature. In the end, we are completely happy with our “splurge” and feel that it really ties the room together nicely. Take a look!

Fire Place

Fire Place Fire Place Fire Place

Helpful Facts (for those interested in the unit):

  • This model has a curved front that makes it extend a bit further out from the wall than if it was flat across. At first, we thought that it would stick out too far into the room, but it turned out being fine and the curve adds some class to the look.
  • Fireplace Features that we like (these are some of the things that came with going for the more expensive model and we are glad we did it):
    • Comes with a fan to blow out heat- helps to warm room more efficiently
    • Unit can run with or without  heat. This has been great for us because just having the flame on is like turning on another light, whereas the heat costs more money to run. We like having the option of having the flame, but not needing to run the heat too (the first model we looked at automatically gave out heat whenever the unit was turned on).
    • Heat settings can be changed to adjust temperature.
    • Flame settings can be changed to adjust look of flames.
    • This model was more powerful than some of the cheaper ones we looked at (4600 BTU (British Thermal Unit)/hour vs. some of the others that were at 3400 BTU/hr). In the end, we decided that if we were going to spend the money, we may as well get the most for it.
  • There is an opening in the back for cords to feed through to the outlet.
  • Comes with 2 different types of hardware to choose from for door handles.
  • Remote control included!

The rest, you can read online if you’re interested. :)

And there you have it- the time we broke the rules. And have never looked back… Oh, the fun of it!

Have you ever broken down and splurged on something you loved? Tell me more!


PS. Did you catch the “winter scape” on the mantel in a few of the pictures? All new DIY project coming your way on Monday… and just in time for another snow storm on the east coast??? Come back and visit for more details…

The Heroes of our Home: The Habitat for Humanity RESTORE

I am BEYOND excited for this post because I get to brag on the people who made furnishing our home a reality. If you were with us on Monday, I shared the Thomas’ Tiny House Rules… which are our self-created guidelines for all things house. If you are new, WELCOME! So glad you’re here! Let me take your coat, so you can stay awhile :)

Onward. Remember Rule #1? Cheap, cheapity, cheap is the name of the game. There are some things that are easy to find for a bargain, especially if you know where to shop. Upon buying our house, it was not so much the small, decorative trinkety things we were in need of, but actual furniture. Cue, the Heroes of our Home:

Habitat for Humanity: Restore

I cannot say enough good things about this organization (or at least, this part of it). The Restore is the equivalent of The Goodwill for furniture, appliance, fixtures, and home repair things. People donate what they no longer need and the Restore sells it, using the profit to assist in building more homes. A few great things about the Restore:

  • They are focused on making a difference through building homes for people and use profits made in the Restore to do so.
  • The turn around for items is generally pretty fast, resulting in new merchandise in the store all of the time and a large selection to choose from.
  • The prices here are extraordinary! Read on for just a few examples…
  • Even with the low prices, they run sales often to clear out inventory to make room for new things.
  • Friendly employees will help you load things into your car!
  • They carry more than just furniture and decorative items… the Restore also has a supply of home renovation goods- tile, extra paint, stone, tools, etc.

As I was saying, the Restore has been our go-to while furnishing the house. When I tell you that most of our furniture has come from here, I sincerely mean all but six pieces of furniture that we own has been hauled off their back loading dock and into our car my parents’ van. Let me give you a tour of some of the goods:

Kitchen Table and Chairs: $20. We found the set looking like this- there was no sanding/staining job here, folks. Also, please note: The word “sturdy” does not quite do this set justice… I could do some serious damage to a burglar with one of the (removable) table legs.

Kitchen Table Kitchen Table

Dresser: $10. In great working order, but will be getting a face-lift, come springtime!


Desk: $20. A “splurge”, compared to the norm. We wanted this desk, specifically for the storage on both sides and it’s compact size.


Sofa, Chairs, and Ottoman Set: $250. Finding these was a true blessing. Not but two days after we bought the house, my mom and I were at the Restore with no agenda or plans of purchasing anything. When we saw this set and the price tag, my mom immediately sat down on it to stake out, while I went to pay. We wasted no time in ensuring that it didn’t slip through our fingers! A sofa, 2 lounge chairs, 2 ottomans, and a few pillows later and we had a complete family room set. Thank you, Restore. You truly are… the best.

Family Room Furniture Family Room FurnitureFamily Room Furniture

Bookshelves: 3 for $20. These are industrial strength and had definitely been cleaned out of someone’s office and donated. I can’t fully share what they look like today just yet, but they ended up being the perfect thing for what we needed. A post on the details will come eventually…

Spare Bedroom Bookshelves

Above: Mitch, posing with the drill as we worked on the shelves. PS. They are HEAVY!!

Coffee Tables: $10 each. Again, loving the table space AND the storage below. We still haven’t figured out if this is what they will look like forever, but for now, they’re working for us.

End Table

And this concludes our tour of the Restore wonders. Now, why do I bother sharing this? I am not interested so much in putting our own treasures on display, but rather to share a valuable resource that has been such a blessing to us. There is no way we would have been able to get some of the pieces we did at retail stores. We just did not (and still do not) have the budget for that. I know that there are other people in our shoes and I want to pass along something that has really worked for us. I truly believe that:

1. Just because you may be working with a budget does not mean that you are out of the running to find wonderful, quality items for your home/dorm/apartment, etc.

2. Habitat for Humanity serves a lot of people in a lot of different ways (including, as you can see, us!). They deserve the hype and the business.

So, with that, go and check them out! You can find a location near you on their website: http://www.habitat.org/env/restores.aspx

Best of luck and happy treasure hunting! PS. We’d love to see pictures of things that you have found at the Restore- post those photos!


Tiny House Rules

Monday, Monday… back to the grind. I hope that you had a fun weekend and that the start of your week has been grrrreeeaaattt! Or as great as a Monday can be, at least :)

Today’s post is crucial to understanding a lot of what goes on in the Thomas household. All things house, home, renovating, and decor revolve around a couple things that we call…The Thomas’ Tiny House Rules.

Our House

Let me preface this with a few things. We love where we live. God has been so faithful in providing us with a wonderful home in a wonderful neighborhood. Although we had a heck of a time getting through the house hunting process (s.e.v.e.r.a.l. rides on the “Emotional Express”), we somehow made it to settlement, signed the papers, and got our first set of keys! The best part about it? We now live 20 minutes from my work and 20 minutes from Mitch’s. We are surrounded by farms, but 15 minutes from the downtown strip and the mall. Not sure we could have planned it better if we tried!

Fall Weather

Anyway, back to it. We live in a 2 bedroom, 11/2 bath condo (or maybe it’s a townhouse- I can never remember the difference). We have all of the necessities- a place to eat, a place to sleep…  and we are grateful for this. Although our space is perfect for us and we love it, we fall into the “Tiny House” category. Any Tiny Home (or Apartment) Owner will agree- there is a certain way that things have to be done. There are certain tricks of the trade that are necessary to making things work. So, with that, I give you the Thomas installment of Tiny House Rules (complete with, wait for it… two rules).

The Thomas’ Tiny House Rules

Rule # 1: Items that enter this house must be purchased as cheaply as possible. You’ll remember this about me- I’m a sucker for a bargain. Thrift stores are a weakness of mine and I am a frequent flier at The Goodwill. I’ve been known to barter my way out of paying full price for things, and in other languages, if necessary. Our house has been furnished (for the most part) by secondhand items, enabling us to fully furnish the space far quicker than if we had bought everything new.

We have a secret in regards to cheap furniture… Come back and visit on Wednesday for the unveiling of the ultimate Hero of our Home Furnishing, the store that made it all possible. They have locations everywhere and are WAY underrated for what they have to offer. For example, one day we walked out with a brand new kitchen table and chairs for $20. Can’t wait to give our mystery source the credit they deserve!

Here are a few fun trinkets that have been cheap finds:

Pair of Black Lamps. They came with not-so-pretty lampshades, but they were $5 each. We put a couple of stylish shades from Target on them and they are as good as new and make great additions to our Master Bedroom.

Black Lamps Black Lamps Black Lamps

Funky Teal Frames. Originally from Target, Goodwill was selling a pack of four of these for $2- yes, please!

Teal Frames

Glass Votives. At 25 cents a piece at a church thrift store, I loaded up on these babies. You can find things like this at virtually any second hand/thrift store and they are great for last minute decor or adding to a display!

Votive Candles Votive Candles

Rule # 2: Nothing is allowed in our house unless it can do more than one thing. This rule has single-handedly changed the way we shop for the house. If you are living in a smaller space, you know this: everything has to have a function or, chances are, there is “no room for it”. In our case, we are careful to make selections for that house that can always do more than one thing. And we are picky about this! I’ll give you a few examples:

Family Room Coffee Table: Serves as a decorative piece, but also has a space for storage. We were on the hunt for a specific type- one with a shelf on the bottom for extra space to store things. An unexpected bonus came about when we realized that the “flaps” could extend and lock into place for extra table space!

Coffee Table Coffee Table

The Bench in the Kitchen: Seating and Storage. We were patient with this item… we knew we wanted a bench, but waited and waited before committing to any that we saw because they were either 1. too expensive and/or 2. did not have storage space. Needless to say, when we stumbled on this one at an estate sale for $30, we snatched it up.

Bench With Storage Bench With Storage

Keep an eye out for the “How She Looks Today” post…

Spare Bedroom/Office/Library Futton: What more can we say? It’s a couch AND a bed, enabling us to have a whole room that can do more than one thing! Doesn’t get any better than that…

Futon Futon

So what in your house has the ability to multitask? Have you ever had to pass on a purchase you loved because it “just wouldn’t be functional”? That’s the hardest part and don’t worry, we’ve caved a few times and bought things for the sole reason that we HAD to have them… we all have those moments :)

See you next time and even though it’s Monday, try to find “the fun of it”!


  • Subscribe via Email...

    Get posts delivered directly to your email!