The DIY That Has Saved Us Over $2k in the past 18 Months

According to the Liberty Mutual Insurance New Beginnings Report, 71% of Americans have plans to tackle a DIY project this year, with cost savings being the main reason. More and more people are DIYing. It’s a heart-warming and exciting statistic that we can relate to–afterall, that’s how this whole blog really started. We just couldn’t afford to hire the job out (we’re looking at you, tile), so we googled searched until we felt confident to move forward.  Or we couldn’t afford the light fixture of our dreams–so we made it. Or when we made sweet garden beds ourselves on the cheap. It’s as gratifying to save money as it is to see what your own hands can do.

More recently, our goals have changed regarding our home a little bit. It could be due to us getting older or our financial situation being a little more stable, but producing an imitation of a product we love for as little money as possible is no longer the goal. Sometimes, we’d rather just save our money a little longer for that thing we really want. On the contrary, we are currently drawing up plans to DIY a dining room table, so there are definitely exceptions. haha! But! Where our DIY, money-saving spirit still comes alive is saving money on labor and doing tasks ourselves when we can.  The most concrete and staggering example I can offer today is the money we have saved by installing all of our new light fixtures ourselves.


Upgrading fixtures is actually one of the top things you can do to add resale value to your home. Room by room, we have been swapping out our outdated or builder grade lights for something more in line with the vision of our home. In the past year and a half or so that we’ve lived here, we have replaced or added 16 fixtures. (3 in the reading room, our dining room chandelier, 1 in the entry, 1 in the stairwell, 2 in the laundry room–plus 4 recessed lights, Faye got a new light and Greta, too, 1 in the guest room and, lastly, one in the hall bathroom.) 16!!!


Out of curiosity, (science!) I called a local contractor to get an estimate on how much it would be to come and install a chandelier in our bedroom. This will definitely vary from area to area, but we live in a small town in Idaho, so this is probably a conservative savings estimate for other areas.  He said it would be anywhere from $75-$165 depending on the size. If we needed the location moved, tack on another $50-$60, which takes the range from $75 for the smallest, most straight forward install, to $215 for an involved one. We have had a few involved installations, but to keep it simple, let’s just average the numbers together to get $145 per installation x 16 fixtures= $2320 we have saved on just installing our own lights in the last 18 months. Wow!!


Over the years we’ve learned that DIY doesn’t have to be about doing everything yourself, but doing the things you can is empowering. Chris happens to have experience with electrical work, so that’s something we can do to save money time after time. Someone else might know plumbing, and anyone can paint. Do you DIY for the pride of it? For the money saving aspects? What DIY are you currently tackling to save a buck?

This post is sponsored by Liberty Mutual Insurance who’ve we partnered with over the next few months to share tips and tricks relating to your home. Here’s an Instagram tip we shared last month, if you missed it. 

An Unbelievable, Complete DIY Kitchen Renovation

We’ve shared parts of our friends, the Pugmire’s, home before when we helped renovate their laundry room earlier this year and update their pantry last year. In fact, I’ve even mentioned Preston sang at our wedding! They’re our favorite. We’ve been good friends for years, but the friendship is reaching besties status now that we share a love for renovating our homes and DIY and only live a few minutes from each other. When we were over their house on Memorial day roasting hot dogs and making s’mores over the fire pit, I asked if I could photograph their kitchen and share the before and afters, because they are mind-blowing (!!!) and they happily agreed.

They bought their home 3 years ago and started the kitchen renovation in November of 2012. But here’s what it looked like when they moved in–you can see a hint of kitchen cabinets beyond the wall.


They decided to tear the wall down to connect the living, dining room and kitchen:



They cleared out all the old appliances and cabinetry, and Preston set up shop right in the soon-to-be kitchen building their new cabinets:


And here’s how the same angle looks today!:


What vision and execution, right?! Their DIY knows no bounds. They did everything themselves from demolition, to lighting, building cabinets and making their own countertops. Preston made their dining room table and they even laid and patched the flooring themselves!


Here’s another view looking at the kitchen from inside that wall they tore down:


And the same angle today:


When Preston isn’t on tour (can you stand the coolness factor they’re packing?!) he likes to work with concrete. He made their beautiful concrete counters and stained them dark. They’re smooth, moody and full of character.



They inherited this 100 year old bench and had it reupholstered and it fits so perfectly under a large window in their kitchen. I love the idea of having a place for guests or family members to comfortably hang out in the kitchen–it’s such a natural gathering place and something I wish we had room for in our own renovation!





Thanks so much for letting us share your inspiring kitchen, Preston and Corine! What’s your favorite part? I love the countertops, am blown away by the sheer vision and I want to take those dining chairs (Corine found thrifting!) home with me. :) The Pugmires have most recently been putting a lot of effort into something really cool (not a blog…I WISH it was the start of their blog!) that we’re gonna share next week. Like their kitchen, it’ll blow your socks off…and maybe even make you dance.

Our New Whirlpool Duets in Diamond Steel [and all the Heart Eyes Emojis]

If you follow @chrislovesjulia on Instagram–which you really should; I frequently post little project updates there when I am struggling to find time to post beefy updates here–you saw that our new washer and dryer arrived for the laundry room this weekend!


First, a little backstory. While we were adding a window to the living room earlier this year, which we special ordered through Lowe’s, they (Lowe’s) got wind of our project and loved how it turned out. I received an email from their Senior PR specialist saying they have been watching our work for some time and would love to work with us on an upcoming project. At this point, we were starting to make plans for the laundry room and they were very excited about it and wanted to be involved in any way they could. Lowe’s. Lowe’s! #pinchme. They guided us when it came to the recessed lighting for the room, helped me find a tiny sink that would fit in that base cabinet pictured above (still on its way), and let us pick out a washer and dryer for the space. It’s a total honor to work with the loveliest people at Lowe’s and we feel beyond grateful for their generosity and support in this laundry room project.


The washer and dryer–total stunners, right? We zeroed in on the Whirlpool Duet line (this washer and this dryer) because they had nearly 500 5 star reviews. What did we all do before online reviews anyway?! It comes in a few different colors, but the Diamond Steel finish felt like it would be fresh, but not lost, within our white cabinetry and walnut counters, and tie into the stainless steel appliances that we’ll be installing in the adjacent kitchen. We really wanted this laundry room to feel like another part of our home–to blend seamlessly and not feel like an afterthought or a utility room only. And it’s really getting there!


So this weekend, amid bonfires, yard work, and barbecues, I did load after load of laundry and for the first time–I was happy about it. Ha! I still have to break out the manual and give it a good read because I’m sure there is so much I have yet to learn with these dreamy machines, but right off the bat here are a few of my favorite features about the washer.


It can wash AND dry a small load! I can imagine this is really nice if, for instance, we remembered Greta has her soccer game first thing in the morning and it’s midnight before we remembered to wash her uniform. Instead of staying up to change loads, we can just set it to that. I also like the idea of the delay wash feature, so I can set it to start in a couple hours if we’re having a dinner party or won’t be home. I did use the steam clean, EcoBoost (repeatedly!) and FanFresh buttons this weekend. We were headed to a barbecue and I threw a load in but wasn’t sure when we’d be back. I hit FanFresh and when we came home the clothes were tumbling inside with a light fan going to keep them from getting that mildewy smell–you know the one.


And the Control Lock button is a favorite…for obvious adorable reasons. ;)


The dryer has a swanky drum light, wrinkle release buttons and they both have music-to-my ears sounds when you press a button–which absolutely makes a difference. Gone is the loud horn signaling it’s time to change the laundry. Huzzah! Now laundry feels fun and is easy on the eyes, too.

All of our thanks to Lowe’s for partnering with us on this project and sending the Whirlpool Duet 7.3 cu ft Stackable Electric Dryer with Steam Cycle in Diamond Steel and matching Whirlpool Duet 4.5 cu ft High Efficiency Washer with Steam Cycle in Diamond Steel our way.