• Lindsay Kohn

DIY Decorating on a Dime


Thank you for popping over to check out our first EVER blog post! This is uncharted territory for us here at Sawdust Savvy, but we hope to provide ongoing, JUICY content for all you DIY-ers out there!

My husband and I recently built our dream lake home up north...

We worked with an architect to design a space that works for our family now, but will also work in the future (hello main floor master!). We wanted a cozy space but modern amenities, so we landed on an open-concept, 3-bedroom home, with a TON of outdoor living space. Because when you're at the cabin, you should be OUTSIDE!

After we made it through the construction phase of overages, unexpected this-and-that, and furniture purchases…there was very little left for decorating.

So instead of crying over my wine (I did plenty of that during construction), I took it as a challenge to see if I could channel my inner-Joanna Gaines to create a minimalist-modern farmhouse vibe on a Target and Home Goods budget.

It is possible! And I’m here to give you some inspiration! What I've realized it that if you start with the basics, you can add to it as time (and budget) permits.

We start in the foyer, the hub of the house - it's where you enter from the driveway, and it is opposite the main door to the lake.

This room sees the most traffic - wet feet (and paws!), fishing poles, overnight bags, and more - so we went with a durable yet modern look.

In here, I paired this durable Chunky Knit Wool Woven Rug from Project 62 at Target and this simple raw edge bench from Home Goods (only $79!), adorned with a Sawdust Savvy custom pillow cover. I found these great gray felt baskets, also from Project 62 at Target, to hold shoes under the bench.

For now, the walls are to remain clean and blank because the view to the lake is the focal point! I just love walking in the door to this view! All in, I spent just under $250 in the foyer.

The main floor has an open-concept kitchen/dining/living room/wet bar. We wanted all windows on the lakeside, so the lake is the focal point when you enter, and then there is way less pressure to decorate! 😂

Whatever it is you're decorating, I like to get inspiration from what is around me. So of course I have lake-themed décor in our lake home!

One of my favorite projects is to take cheap canvas pictures and frame them in 1x2 pine. It gives them a much more finished look, and it's really cheap!

You can usually find a Groupon for the canvases (my deal was with - the small canvases on my mantle were less than $10 each. Be careful though, and make sure you read the fine print - sometimes they charge an arm and a leg for shipping!

I paired the canvases with the Lake Love Planked Sign from Sawdust Savvy.

To frame them, all you need to do is get a 1x2 from your local lumber store, cut the wood to length, stain, and then nail it together.

I will feature this as a step-by-step project in a future blog post!

I also found a picture of myself windsurfing when I was about 11 or 12 years old, so I painted an old oak frame with some leftover gray paint and hung it up! Gotta love FREE!

One of the wish list items that had to be cut during construction was the reclaimed wood floating shelves above the media cabinetry in the family room.

Looks pretty bare, doesn't it?

That was an easy concession for me because I knew I could build something instead.

I decided to follow the Shanty 2 Chic DIY Floating Shelves design - these awesome ladies provide great plans and tutorials for so many projects! You can visit their site for step-by-step instructions on how you can make these, but here are some of my photos from along the way.

The lumber was very inexpensive for two shelves (under $50), and from start to finish I maybe put in 3 hours to get these beauties!

A couple of frames and a vase from Home Goods, a stack of clearance books ($3 each) from Half Price Books, and a fake plant from Walmart are all you need! And thank goodness I can cover up those ugly outlets now! So for less than $100, this space looks 100x better!

Moving upstairs, we have two bedrooms. I wanted one bedroom to have a more mature feel to it, for friends and relatives who stay with us.

For this room, I found bedding from and because I waited until it was on sale, it was only $36!

The bed is flanked by matching end tables that I found in my parent’s basement. They belonged to my grandmother, and were made back when furniture was made from REAL wood. They just needed a little paint and now they are perfect!

Here's how I refinished them: I started by giving them a good sanding with my RYOBI Corner Cat sander. Just enough to get the sheen off so the paint would adhere better. Then I used Rustoleum’s new product, Chalked Paint, to give them an updated look. I used Country Gray followed by Smoked Glaze on the bottom, with Charcoal on top. And finally a protective coat of Matte Clear all over.

The Rustoleum product worked great and was much cheaper than some of the other chalk paints that I've tried (about half the cost of Annie Sloan, for instance). They are available on Amazon or at most local retailers. I probably spent under $50 on paint (and I've subsequently used the remaining paint on many additional projects) and probably 6 hours of labor on the project. This is a really easy project for anyone that can hold a paint brush!

It's so easy to add a little POP of color with a decorative pillow. While this room is very gray, I added the orange to give it a little oomph. This 20" custom pillow cover can be made at Sawdust Savvy. I love the play-on-words here!

There are also some fun, fuzzy pillows on the daybed to add some texture but I will continue to add more as I find cute ones.

I still have some work to do in this bedroom with wall decor but it's a good start. All in, including bedding, I spent around $150 in this room.

The other upstairs bedroom, a.k.a. the Bunk Room, was designed to hold ALL THE KIDS. There are five beds! It also happens to be the farthest bedroom from the master! 😂🤣

I've always wanted built-in bunk beds and as we were designing the cabin, I knew this was something I had to include. We designed the perfect spot...and it includes a little charging nook (you can see it on the left) with power outlets!

I looked at a couple of online tutorials, and most closely followed the DIY Bunk Bed plans from Young House Love blog. This was full two-day project, and my dad provided an extra set of hands during the heavy lifting. Thanks Dad! 😘

I wanted to build them extra sturdy, to withstand my crazy boys, so we put the 2x4s closer together than was suggested in the blog, and we hit every stud with these awesome 4" lag screw alternatives, GRK Fasteners Rugged Structural Screws.

Then we covered the frames in 1/2" plywood. This baby isn't moving! 💪🏼 Finally, a nice 1x6 facing gives it a clean look.

I designed my own 2x4 railing and ladder, again to withstand the abuse that can only come from boys! I primed and painted the bunks and railings with the trim paint, Super White, to match the trim in the room. I added the Long Framed Sign from Sawdust Savvy and inexpensive quilts from to finish it off.

I love this room! The bunk beds were about $150 in wood and supplies, and the bedding for 5 beds was $160. This is such a fun room for kids! Rosie loves it too! 🥰

And finally we go out to my favorite room, the screened in porch. To think we almost cut this room from the plan! It's the only room where we went with the traditional cabin look (cedar framing and tongue-and-groove pine walls) and we added WeatherMaster porch windows from Sunspace Twin Cities to weather-proof the room and to extend our porch season.

Look at that view! 😎 It feels like you're floating right up to the edge of the lake!

These windows slide open either all the way to the top or all the way to the bottom and give you that true screened-in feeling but the vinyl windows provide your space with protection from the elements.

There is only one wall in this room (the rest are screens!)...

I felt inclined to go with a boat theme in this room. My parents happen to have the cabin next door, so I was rummaging through my dad's boat house and found these old canoe paddles.

SCORE! 🙌 He hasn't had a canoe in 20+ years so I knew he wouldn't miss them! ;)

I have seen so many cool ideas for paddles and I knew they would be perfect to break up the big WOOD wall.

So I sanded them down to remove the shiny coat of old polyurethane - this will help the paint stick. Then I white-washed them with a mix of white acrylic and water.

Then I painted some stripes. I found a color palette on to incorporate the rusty orange and tan color of our furniture. I gave them a final sanding so they would look worn.

❤❤❤ I love them! ❤❤❤

And here is the whole room with additional decor (under $50 worth) from the local Walmart. Adding just a few items can really pull the room together! Look for complementary colors and pretty much anything goes!

Rosie likes to be in my pics, but Willie, not so much. This is the only pic I could get of him, even though he wanted to be featured in our first blog post too. #shydog 😊

I hope this first blog post of ours has inspired you to spruce up your space for less.

Happy DIY-ing!

~ Sawdust Savvy

Who needs decor when you have a view like this? 😍


(651) 705-6614

Stillwater, MN

© 2020 by Sawdust Savvy.

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