Day Trip to Wilmington, NC

We celebrated our five year wedding anniversary back in June. Brian and I are not big gift people; we would both much rather have an experience than a possession. This being said, instead of giving presents or going out for an extravagant dinner, we opted for a mini adventure! Crazy as it may seem, in the 29 years of my Raleigh residency, I have never been to Wilmington, NC. For those not familiar with North Carolina, Wilmington is the closest coastal area from where I live - a quick two hour drive down the highway. Brian had never been either, so we started planning our day trip around this destination.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC

Brian, Lola, and I were in the car by 8:30 AM loaded up with granola bars, water, and dog treats (she is spoiled, what can I say). After the two hour trek, we arrived at our first destination. Since we decided to bring Lola along for the fun, we had to make sure all of our stops in Wilmington were dog friendly. Enter Java Dog Coffee House. This coffee shop allows dogs inside so we were able to sit for a spell in their air-conditioned shop fueling up for the day on iced coffees.

Total spent: $8

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC
Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC

We occupied the next few hours by meandering through downtown, basically pressing our faces up against storefront windows and drooling at the menus posted outside of restaurants. Sadly, we didn't get a chance to go into many places since we had our pup with us, but we did venture into the more residential area downtown. Ya'll, the houses in downtown Wilmington are stunners! The architecture alone is gorgeous, but couple that with Spanish moss, antique brick pavers, and fluorescent crepe myrtles, this stroll was a feast for my old-house loving eyes. I would gladly go back to Wilmington just to house stalk, it was that good.

Total spent: $0

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC
Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC

After a few hours of walking, we decided it was time for lunch. I really wanted to eat at an establishment on the waterfront, so we checked out The George. I have found that sometimes restaurants with a view slack on food quality since visitors will probably flock there regardless, but The George on the Riverwalk is not in that boat. The food was incredible, especially for the price. The best part about The George is that they have a beautiful outdoor dining area where dogs are welcome with sweeping views of the water. I HIGHLY recommend the veggie burger.

Total spent: $32 with tip

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC

I am a water girl at heart, so I couldn't be that close to the beach without putting my toes in the sand. Fort Fisher, a nearby state park, is about 35 minutes from downtown so we hopped back in the car and headed for the dunes. Fort Fisher is a hidden gem. Tucked away underneath a canopy of weather-beaten trees, the fort offers a maze of boardwalks leading to lovely views of the sound. Just a hop, skip, and a jump across the street, you have - an albeit small - but pristine sandy beach perfect for sunbathing. We took a raggedy old blanket and enjoyed both the ocean and sound sides of the area.

Total spent: $0

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC
Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC

For happy hour, we found ourselves back in downtown Wilmington strolling along the riverfront. After lunch, we had passed this adorable little cafe that might of well have been straight out of Paris. We circled back to Le Catalan, a French wine bar nestled into a sunny corner of the boardwalk. We lingered over a bottle of white wine while enjoying a playlist of peppy French music before preparing to head back home.

Total spent: $36 with tip.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC
Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC

Earlier in our trip, we had passed a sign for an establishment called "Elizabeth's Pizza" displaying a giant banner boasting it was voted best pizza in Wilmington. I LOVE pizza, so of course, we had to give it a go. Our half cheese, half jalepeno pizza came out piping hot and was the perfect ending to our Wilmington outing. Give this girl pizza over an extravagant dinner any day.

Total spent: $14

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget-friendly trip to Wilmington, NC

As you may have already surmised, I am a prettttyyyy frugal person. My sister may argue that I am cheap, but I prefer the former term. :) Frugal was the name of the game for our anniversary adventure, and I am happy to report that the whole day (including parking fees of $7 and a tank of gas for $23) cost under $120. One HUGE way to save when traveling is to avoid hotels. I am sure wherever you live there are dozens of adorable little towns within driving distance that are ripe for exploring. A fancy anniversary dinner out would have set us back about the same amount, and I am so glad we opted to spend the day exploring and making little memories.

DIY Cabinet Trim Update | Brooklyn House

Soon after we finished fixing up the Brooklyn House in 2013, we decided to rent it out and pursue the Myrtle House renovation. By renting out our home (and moving in with my parents!), it allowed us to save a ton of much needed moolah for the Myrtle House construction costs. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Elizabeth Burns Design | DIY Shaker trim, update flat panel cabinets, 50s cabinet makeover, before and after kitchen

My most visited blog post is our DIY Kitchen Cabinet project where we added inexpensive wood trim to our 1950s flat panel cabinets for a shaker-inspired look. After 2.5 years of having someone else live in the house (with a gigantic dog, I might add), I was very curious to see how our little project held up to the wear and tear of everyday use. Once we took back possession, I was quite surprised to see that it held up pretty well, all things considered!

Since we were putting the Brooklyn House on the market, we wanted to make sure the cabinets were in tip top shape. Some of the things we tackled were honestly things we were either too lazy or didn't think to do the first go around. Mainly, this was caulking and wood filling. We caulked the gap on the top, bottom, and sides where the trim meets the cabinet face. We also caulked around the inner sides of the trim on the door and drawers fronts. Lastly, we wood filled all of the nail holes and seams where the trim meets.

Elizabeth Burns Design | DIY Shaker trim, update flat panel cabinets, 50s cabinet makeover, before and after kitchen

I don't know why caulking was so scary to us as new homeowners. Never having used it before, caulk seemed messy and easily screwed up. These days, caulk is my BFF. It is a powerful tool to make any carpentry work look professional and seamless. If you share our caulking fears, do not be afraid! It is WAY easier than it looks. You will be hooked, pinky promise. :)

Elizabeth Burns Design | DIY Shaker trim, update flat panel cabinets, 50s cabinet makeover, before and after kitchen
Elizabeth Burns Design | DIY Shaker trim, update flat panel cabinets, 50s cabinet makeover, before and after kitchen

Another issue we faced was the cabinet hardware was no longer taut which made the knobs spin under pressure. I think the screw holes in the wood became worn and loose. Brian added a small washer to the back of the cabinet door and this created a tighter fit. Problem solved! The last thing we did was slap a finishing coat of paint on all of the cabinets. Since they are painted in an oil-based paint, the white had yellowed over time. There was also some wear on the edges where the cabinets rubbed when opened and closed.  

Elizabeth Burns Design | DIY Shaker trim, update flat panel cabinets, 50s cabinet makeover, before and after kitchen

Overall, this trim has held up extremely well. Both our realtor and the buyers thought these cabinets were original to our 1909 house which is a HUGE compliment in my book. I have so enjoyed hearing from all of you who have found that post helpful. It is wonderful to know that our tutorial may have helped others find an affordable solution to sprucing up an outdated kitchen.

Guest Bath Before & After

You guys have no idea how exciting it is to have an actual before and AFTER of the Myrtle House! I mean, as much as I love renovating (and I do), three years is quite a long time and we are ready for this baby to be ova! So, even though the bathroom is missing some paint, I'm writing it off as D-O-N-E. Finished, friends. So let's talk a quick walk down memory lane, shall we?

Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring

Lovely, right? We were sad to see it go - the blue was very spa like. A classic beauty. Just kidding. Some things don't get better with age. It took me a few weeks to muster up the courage to venture into the bathroom. Luckily, it wasn't too long before the whole space was gutted. Oh happy day! And then it looked like this.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
IMG_3958.JPG

Oh boy. In case you were wondering - the photo on the left is really that crooked. The structure was sagging quite a bit due to our unwanted house guests: termites. Grrrr. So! Clearly, we had our work cut out for us. The new wood you see on the right is a temporary support that is holding up the house. The large hole in the dirt is for our new footers. Luckily, we had the help of Angi Construction on our side to make this 115 year old house of ours safe and sturdy again. Pretty soon, with a little bit of contractor fairy dust, it was looking like this!

Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring

We (and by we, I mean Jake, our fairy godcontractor) built a brand-spanking new support system and then the rest of the structure fell into place: subfloor, framing, electrical, plumbing, hvac, insulation, drywall, vinyl flooring, wall tile, vanity, toilet, trim. The whole shebang.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring

After drywall, it was up to us to finish out the space. The way you see it above is what Brian and I were working with. We slapped some paint on the walls (Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray) and framed out the original window. Not to sound cliche, but it really is incredible what paint will do!

Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring

So maybe that wasn't such a quick walk down memory lane. More like a meandering stroll. If you're still with me, thanks. :) As you can see, this bathroom renovation wasn't a quick cosmetic fix. We literally built it back from the ground up. So when it came time to finishes (the fun part), our budget was basically nothing. Womp, womp. I enjoy the challenge of a tight budget so it was game on. For the flooring, I picked a vinyl. Hard to beat $1.24 a square foot! We tossed around the idea of a cheap tile, but due to time-constraints and my hatred of dirty grout lines, we opted for sheet vinyl. I LOVE this sheet vinyl from Home Depot. The color is spot on with white, cream, and gray tones. It also survived our renovation which means it most be ultra durable. I'm talking utility knives and screw drivers laying on the floor kind of durable. This one's a winner, for sure.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring

We also had this little nook between the tub and the bedroom wall that I wanted to use for shelving and storage. As we all know, built-ins mean cha-ching, cha-ching, so we looked for other options. I had been saving/hoarding this little window and we discovered that it was almost the exact same size of the opening! We had to trim it down just a hair on the table saw, but after some paint and pairing it with leftover melamine shelving, we had our own little diy bathroom built-in! The best part? It only cost about ten bucks in hardware.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring
Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring

In retrospect, it would have been a heck of a lot faster to install a tub surround instead of subway tile but surprisingly not that much cheaper. While I cursed tiling this shower in particular (it was the third and final shower we tiled and included the terrible horrible thing that is a shower niche), I am glad we went with white subway tile. It really adds a lot to this little bath.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Bathroom Renovation on a Budget - diy subway tile, craigslist vanity, SW Agreeable Gray, vinyl flooring

And here she is in all of her budget-friendly glory! The vanity was a $75 Craigslist find that included the faucet! The mirror was a $6 Goodwill purchase and the vanity light was $29 from Ebay. My only regret is the toilet. We went with the cheapest option and I wish we had splurged a little bit. We still need to dress it up with some towels, accessories, and touchup paint, but I'd call this complete. :) Thanks for making it to the end with me, friends! I hope your bathroom projects aren't nearly this extensive, but if they are, hopefully you can see the can still be finished out on a budget.

My Parents' Kitchen | Design

What's a girl to do when she wakes up at 4 am and can't fall back asleep? Design a kitchen remodel, naturally. ;)

My parents have a large 3000 square foot home in the burbs here in Raleigh. It was a great house for them while us five kiddos were growing up, but now as they look towards retirement and being empty-nesters, they are considering downsizing and putting their house on the market. Their home was built in the early 1990s and hasn't seen much updating since, especially in the kitchen. Budget is the name of the game here since the whole house will need to be updated.

Luckily, the layout and condition of the cabinets are good, so we plan on painting them white and doing the center island in a greige tone (Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, to be exact). The walls were already painted SW Sea Spray a few years ago, so I want to incorporate an accent tile in the backsplash to tie in the gray and blue/green tones. The chandelier pictured above was scored at the Rehab store a little while ago. What do y'all think about the hardware? I know when selling a house having mixed metals can be a bit of a wildcard, but I love the price of these and I think they would really bring out the warmth of the greige. 

I am really excited about this project and hope we can get started later this summer. Still a lot of selections to be made, but I am liking where this is going! Enjoy the rest of your week. :)

Budget Shower | Entertaining

This wedding shower is an oldie but a goodie. :) My dear friend Amanda tied the knot in 2013 and I wanted to throw a little party in her and her fiance's honor before the big day. In the past during my more reckless spending years, I have spent a ton of unnecessary money on entertaining. Over time, I have learned that the sweetest get-togethers don't have to cost a lot of money. Some of my favorite memories include entertaining family with cheap bottles of wine and Trader Joe's frozen pizza. In fact, the party I spent the most money on (complete with a hired bartender) was the most miserable soiree to date. I was trying to impress a bunch of people whom I shouldn't have been and it was just a mess. This wedding shower was different. It was simple; full of true friends and lots of laughter. I wanted to share with you lovely people some of my favorite parts of this event in hopes to inspire you to have sweet, budget-friendly parties with your loved ones.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower

This particular event was a very low-key couple's shower. The down-to-earth bride only wanted close friends so the guest list was small and intimate. The couple (especially the groom) are big fans of southern food - in particular good ol' Bojangles' biscuits. So this became the theme of our shower!

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower

We bought a ton of Bojangle's biscuits: mostly chicken but some plain. We also laid out an assortment of jams to create a mini "biscuit bar". Some more traditional hostesses may turn up their noses at the thought of serving (gasp) fast food at a shower, but the guests LOVED it, I didn't have to worry about not burning those darned mini quiches (that no one really likes anyways) and I was actually able to enjoy the party myself instead of being stuck in the kitchen. This is also a very economical option for a filling meal for a shower.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower
Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower

To accompany the biscuits, we served fruit salad and potato chips. I thought chips in a bowl are kind of boring (and reminiscent of a super bowl party) so I shortened some paper bags I had on hand and threw in coordinating sheets of tissue paper (also on hand) to dress up this otherwise blah side item. As a bonus, it also made serving a breeze since people could just grab a bag and throw it on their plate.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower

I think this DIY "naked cake" took... well, the cake at the shower. :) It was SO easy to make, ridiculously cheap, and quite impressive-looking if I do say so myself. I am by no means a good cook and a far worse baker, so when I make a sweet treat, you better believe it is going to come from a box. For this layered cake, I used two boxes of white cake mix and two cans of white frosting. I made four 9" round cakes, flattened the tops after they had cooled, and then dyed the pre-made frosting in shades of pink to create an ombre effect. The beautiful flowers on top were borrowed from a neighbor's camellia bush. All in all - this cake cost less then $5. A trick I learned to make a box cake taste more like it came from a bakery? Make the cake the night before and let it sit covered in the fridge overnight. It gets extra moist and I swear your friends will never know the difference. :) 

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower
Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower

The favors were also really fun to put together. For the ladies, I purchased some adorable gift bags from Etsy (sadly no longer available) and filled them up with inexpensive nail polish, a nail file, and good chocolate. Don't ever skimp on chocolate. :) Since I figured the men-folk wouldn't care as much about the packaging, I brought back out my handy paper bags, some twine I had stashed away, free chalkboard printables, and filled them up with guy-approved items: whisky, coke, and beef jerky.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower
Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower
Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower
Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower

For the decor, my motto is always "less is more," so I used a lot of things I already had on hand to create simple pieces. More camellias from my generous neighbor placed in an empty diffuser bottle from Target became the centerpiece outside. I cut up a clearance Christmas tinsel garland and attached to shish kabob sticks for drink stirrers. I used some leftover yardage of yellow chevron fabric as a table runner. A big gallon of Bojangles sweet tea become 100 times more elegant in a glass pitcher with lemon slices. Extra name tags from my sister's wedding were used as food labels. Pink doilies from my wedding dressed up the cutlery. I think a lot of people panic and buy a bunch of things for a party, but if you take some time to hunt around your house and get creative, you probably don't need to buy as many things as you think.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower

My gift to the couple were these cornhole boards. I bought them primed from a seller on Craigslist, and then painted the bride and groom's monogram on each board. The great thing about this gift is that we broke it in at the shower (instant entertainment) and then my sweet friends used them again at their actual wedding reception.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Budget Friendly Wedding Shower Ideas - Biscuit Themed Couples Wedding Shower

On food, favors, decor, and gifts, I don't think I spent more than $200 on everything. It was such a sweet little party; one that I will always cherish and I hope the guests will remember too. I would love to hear from you - any entertaining on a budget tips?