Our Stone-Topped Coffee Table Hack | Young House Love

For everyone who has been asking for the details on our new coffee table (glimpses of it have made their way into my InstaStories over the last few months – and boy did you guys notice!), I’m finally writing up all the details.

How many words can someone possibly share about the hunt for and the creation of a living room coffee table that checks every one of their oddly specific boxes, you ask? Well, settle in. I shall regale you with a tale of woe and triumph and there’s even a random not-sure-it-even-works alien joke worked in there for good measure. Plus I’ll show you exactly how to get this exact coffee table if you want to pull this same hack at your house (it is BEGINNER LEVEL EASY).

Let’s back up for a second. You know how sometimes you dream about an item that doesn’t exist and you’re like “I like this one thing but wish it had that other top or that other wood finish.” Like you want to pull a Frankenstein combo move and merge three things together? That is exactly how my search for a living room coffee table has felt.

For ages we had a huge white padded ottoman and loved it. We literally kept it for like seven glorious years until it died a very slow death by flaking and peeling everywhere (we’d find little peels of it upstairs in our bedroom – it really got around in those final days). This is a picture from two years back:

It was perfect for small kids (no hard edges to bump into) and there was storage inside for games and blankets. A big padded ottoman is still my favorite living room tip for any family with smaller kids, but over the last few years we’ve started to really enjoy coffee tables since the kids are older. We have one at the beach house and it’s great for casually doing a puzzle or playing family games. There’s just something nice about having a centralized solid surface to you can rest things on and gather around.

And let me tell you, since upgrading from ottoman to coffee table in this living room, we have played SO MANY epic family games (Sequence or Ticket To Ride are near-nightly occurrences) and it’s really nice to use a room with a TV for way more than watching TV. Highly recommend it if your kids are old enough that the change would make sense for you.

But anyway, back my over-a-year-long coffee table hunt. I know. That sounds very high maintenance. I’m learning that I am, in fact, extremely needy when it comes to coffee tables. I’m ok with this fact. I’ve been called worse 😉

You might remember that last fall we bought a cheap secondhand coffee table for $35, just because the flaking ottoman NEEDED TO GO and I had been searching for a coffee table that I really loved for a while and couldn’t find one. So I basically was like: we are being crazy by holding out for this perfect thing, when all we need is something that’s cheap and fine in the meantime – so we can get that peeling beat up ottoman that literally drops “dandruff” all over our house outta here.

You know that saying: don’t let perfect be the enemy of good? We were literally living with terrible (the flakes everywhere were as maddening as inexplicably finding glitter everywhere), and for the cost of one meal at Panera we got a secondhand table that made zero mess and worked fine. We never should have waited that long. It was a huge step up. It wasn’t the perfect size or material that I wanted – but it was such a relief. No more shavings everywhere, plus it gave me a gift: the giant release of urgency to find that oddly elusive perfect coffee table.

Well, we got that “just for now” coffee table last fall. As in, over a year ago. And ever since I’ve looked pretty much everywhere, but this room is sort of an odd layout, so a rectangular coffee table is just too narrow. Even a very large round one feels too small in the room because it doesn’t connect the accent chairs as nicely as a larger square one does – which makes it feel like a legitimate connected conversation area. So after hours and hours of searching and scrolling… and even doing some in-person exercises, like trying a few different combos just to be sure (like a round coffee table + two white leather poufs, etc) I was 100% certain I wanted a large square one. Like around 3′ wide by 3′ long. Big and solid.

Easy to find right? Well, to make a short story long (my specialty! Ha!), it wasn’t. Because I also wanted it to be a similar wood tone to the side chairs and the side table that we already had in there (the darker old “placeholder” table didn’t tie into anything and I didn’t love that – and I felt like metal legs would’t be as warm looking as wood ones with our old secondhand rug).

I also wanted it to have an extremely durable, water-ring-safe top so the kids could draw with markers or play spirited board games without worrying about the finish. Which led me to the following thought… “that sounds a lot like our kitchen island – which is polished quartz.”

Polished quartz is super durable, the shiny finish always looks gleaming and lovely, and there’s no worry about juice or wine stains like you have with marble. The kids do very messy art projects on the kitchen island, and everything wipes right off. It has just been wonderful for our family. But who the heck makes a giant square quartz coffee table with a wood base in the exact size that I wanted?

Nobody, that’s who.

So I was like… what if I make one…? Not exactly make it from scratch, but I bet I can find a nice solid square wood coffee table that I love (not necessarily the right wood tone, but that can be changed) and then stain it the color I want. And then what if I just go to a stone yard and buy a cheap remnant piece of quartz (we made our living room fireplace surround with marble remnants and it was so much easier and more affordable than I expected). And you guys… this idea that felt kinda hair-brained at first. Well, it worked like a charm.

It really was as simple as ordering this unfinished wood coffee table (I loved the shape of it and the x-details on the side of it – plus the fact that it was unfinished meant I didn’t have to do any stripping or sanding to get it back to a raw wood finish because it literally came that way). I ordered it on Amazon, it came within a few days, and I took it out of the box and assembled it.

After I wiped it down with a damp cloth to make sure no dust or weird dirt was on it, I stained it Provincial by Minwax (which is also what I stained our accent chairs a while back – it’s a great wood tone). I applied two coats of that in the garage, where it could air out – followed by two clear coats of Polycrylic matte sealer – make sure you get the blue labeled one that’s water based because the oil based one tends to get really yellowed over time).

Then we took a trip to the stone yard and I basically was like “TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER! AND BY LEADER I MEAN CHEAPEST REMNANT PIECES!”

To anyone who doesn’t know about local stone yards and their remnant pieces, they’re basically the excess parts of the slabs that kitchen or bathroom clients don’t use (the stone yard cuts the counters for them, and some extra pieces of the original large slab are leftover). Since they’re smaller pieces for smaller jobs that typically wouldn’t work for a big kitchen island or a long span of cabinets, they’re traditionally marked at least half off. Our local place charges around $40 a square foot for quartz remnants, instead of the regular price which is usually around $90. For any locals wondering, we use Capitol Granite, who also made our kitchen island.

So for this huge block of quartz to top the table that is around 3′ wide by 3′ long, we paid around $370 ($40 x 9 square feet). Yes, that is NOT CHEAP. I had some second thoughts about if I was being extremely irrational and overthinking this far too much. So I did what any person who is teetering between “this is too much” and “but it’s exactly what I want” does, and I looked around for similar options to see if I really was getting the best deal, or paying through the nose. This gut check can be hugely helpful and illuminating either way it ends up going. And suddenly I felt much much better, because similarly sized stone-topped tables were upwards of $800 and in many instances they were $1,000 plus!

Even the ready-made ones that I found in those higher price points didn’t have all the features I was looking for (ex: wood legs, the right 3′ x 3′ dimension, good reviews, a quartz top that wouldn’t stain like marble, etc). Take this $1249.00 one for example. Suddenly the cost for my own quartz remnant ($370) added to the cost of the base that I bought (it was $149 thanks to the markdown they were running that day) didn’t sound that crazy. Especially for exactly what I wanted.

So yes, this coffee table was $519. Not the most expensive thing in our house, but definitely more than I thought I’d pay for a coffee table over a year ago when I started my search if I’m being honest. I don’t know what I expected, maybe under $300? But I can tell you that it completely meets all of my hopes & dreams for a coffee table, which I have since learned is surprisingly hard to do, so I can’t even be mad about that extra $219. Especially after the realization that I’d never end up with exactly what I wanted unless I made it myself. AND DANGIT THAT’S PRICELESS. Well, not priceless, but well worth the effort.

I love that it feels like something we’ll have forever and I really like how it ties into the marble on the fireplace and looks great with the kitchen counters too. Seeing the gleaming coffee table top between the shiny kitchen island and the stone fireplace surround is just lovely. In fact our son very enthusiastically proclaimed that he liked that the top of the coffee table is a giant coaster so they don’t have to use coasters on it. I laughed SO HARD (we have stone coasters in the same color/pattern – you can see one on the end table below). The table really is a giant coaster, so he’s onto something.

Oh and as for making a solid table even more solid, we added these satin brass corner brackets around the edges, because they blend in and stabilize it even more. See, when you put your feet up on a table over and over again, it can start to rock and not stay super square, and when it starts to rock back and forth, you have to worry about it loosening and continuing to rock more and more. And in an extreme situation it could eventually collapse. These hold it square. No rocking = no getting rickety or unsteady. Such an easy way to add even more strength and it only took a few minutes to screw them in (we predrilled small holes so they went in smoothly).

This thing is SOLID. As in, the kids can’t move it. Not an inch. Which is kind of nice because they used to push the ottoman all over the place – and it would do that annoying thing to us where it slipped out from under our feet sometimes when we both had our feet up on it. This stays put. We also used a few dabs of adhesive to attach the quartz to the tabletop, just because we worried that it might shift somehow over time. Although once we got it home we were like… this is so heavy it probably won’t ever move. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Oh and one more tip: order the coffee table first & assemble it so you can measure the exact size of the top. Sometimes every single table varies slightly, and you want to get a remnant piece of quartz that’s around 1.5″ wider and 1.5″ longer than your tabletop so it has a 3/4″ overhang on all sides, which looks really proportional and doesn’t read like an afterthought.

So that’s it! The story of Frankenstein-ing a few things together to get exactly what I had been hoping to find. Life will not end if your coffee table doesn’t do everything you want it to, or fit into the room as well as you’d like, or if it gets drink rings, or if you buy a $35 craigslist stand in and it stays there for a year or even ten years. But if you have a picture in your mind of something that you think would be amazing for your family, it’s nice to consider that you don’t only have what’s available at a store to choose from – you can always try to hack or combo-move a few things to hopefully end up with something you love that’ll last a nice long time.

Speaking of the long haul, our $35 “placeholder” coffee table that used to be in our living room ended up being the perfect shape and size for the beach house living room! So it’s happily living there now (and we have big plans to alter the top to work really nicely in that room – more on that here).

I love that our “just for now” secondhand find has worked out to be a long term solution for another space. And the coffee table that was in the beach house living room before is living it up in our son’s room as an often used play table (picture it covered in Pokemon cards & blocks to his little heart’s content). In summary: the sisterhood of the traveling coffee tables is real, and I’m gonna need Alexis Bledel and Blake Lively to take this to the big screen.

P.S. Want to read about other things we’ve built or hacked? We have a whole category of posts about.

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This content was originally published here.

How Can They Help?

A dentist in Harley Street is readily available to guide their patients through a series of differing treatments specifically designed to restore, maintain and beautify their smile. Having a healthy mouth is critical to the overall health and well-being of an individual and more and more research is finding evidence to backup this claim.

Several health conditions have been linked to poor oral health, with other conditions alternatively having an adverse effect on the health of the mouth, gums and teeth. Heart conditions and gum disease appear to have an irrefutable link and pregnancy complications and low birth weight may also result from poor oral health. Diabetes, osteoporosis, HIV and alzheimers can have a negative impact on oral health as each disease progresses.

By understanding that the body is a holistic mechanism and that every part is intimately linked to another, both dentist and patient can improve the quality of care and the overall satisfaction of the treatment process and most importantly, the end result.

How can this be done?

There are three main fields of dentistry that a modern dental practice will be able to offer their patients. These are preventive, restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Each field is important to the overall health and satisfaction of an individual and should be equally considered in order for them to receive all round care.

They also tend to overlap, whereas cosmetic treatments can also have a restorative element to them, or even a preventive one; such is the case with porcelain veneers or a visit to the hygienist to have teeth professionally cleaned and whitened.

When visiting an oral health care provider for the first time, there are many considerations that need to be discussed, in order for the dentist to begin to understand their patient and gather information that is critical to allowing them to provide accurate care.

What kind of information will be requested?

Usually upon arrival, a questionnaire will be handed to a patient by the receptionist that will need to be filled out before the consultation commences. Information regarding medical history and previous dental work may be requested, as could other information that is understood to aid the dentist in asking the right questions.

Once in the consultation room, in order to allow the patient to begin to feel comfortable and relaxed, the dentist will talk about their lifestyle habits and oral health goals so that a positive relationship can begin to be established.

Examination of the entire mouth, internally and externally will then be performed and X-rays or scans may be necessary to provide the professional with further information. A detailed report will then be delivered whereby recommendations regarding further work can be discussed.

This is an opportunity for the patient to consider any cosmetic procedures that they may be interested in as well. An understanding and compassionate dentist will provide information regarding all of the options that are available to their patient so that they can make an informed decision as to whether the treatment plan will be suitable for them.

It is important that both the patient and the oral health care provider are in agreement with one another and that a positive relationship based on mutual respect is formed in order for complete satisfaction to be attained.

Stuff We Own & Love That’s On Sale Right Now | Young House Love

Our annual rundown of stuff you can get cheaper than we did is here. Ha! Every year we check out the Black Friday deals (which literally start earlier every year) and we pull out stuff that we bought with our own money & really really like. And we share it here so you can snag things for 20% off, 30% off, and even over 50% off! We’ll try to update this post if more codes come out (just come back and scroll to the bottom to see all the sale links & codes in one place).

Our fully upholstered bed is marked down from $949 to $572 (40%!). Ours is the Talc color, and it’s such a step up from a metal frame and so much cleaner looking without needing a bedskirt!

Our woven blinds (we have these on every downstairs window) are marked down to start from $29.99 instead of $39.99 (19% off) .

Our diamond back chairs, which now come in 2 colors, are marked down to $129 each ($260 for a set of two ) for the white and $111 each ($224 for a set of two) for the navy (57% off).

Our bedroom dresser (same pic as the mirror) is marked down to $599! Haven’t ever seen it this cheap! Also, our huge stenciled mirror is on closeout for $219 – won’t get any cheaper & once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Our new kitchen stools are marked down to $276 down from $368 with the code THANKFUL (25% off). These were a splurge for us (we waited for a big sale like this one and got them before summer break) and we have loved them. They tie into our woven blinds & gray perimeter counters so nicely they’re like the icing on the cake of this kitchen. That sounds weird. But really, these stools are good.

Our foyer chandelier is marked down to $224 from $298 with the code THANKFUL (25% off). I love this thing I’m tempted to get three more for the hallway upstairs. CAPIZ EVERYWHERE OR BUST!

Our beach house front bedroom rug is marked down to $599 from $798 with the code THANKFUL (25% off).

Our beach house middle bedroom rug is 25% off with the code THANKFUL. This is a bad pic, but I love this thing. Ours is a 6 x 9′, so instead of being $498, it’s $374.

Our old kitchen stools are marked down to $96 from $160 (40% off). These were sturdy and awesome for our family for so many years (we got them back in 2016!). They looked new when we sold them and put the money towards the woven ones I had always wanted – but really, these are great if you want something that’s all one surface and easier to wipe down (the reason I didn’t get the woven ones off the bat = the kids were much smaller and I worried they’d smash all sorts of food into the woven ones).

Our beach house daybed is marked down to $330 from $550 (40% off).

Our favorite toilet ever is marked down to $261 from $350 (25% off). Don’t laugh. You’re a super cool person when you have a favorite toilet.

that we used it in the Real Simple room is on closeout for $349! This will sell out so grab it if you want it (anything marked “Closeout” doesn’t come back again once it sells out).

Our side table with the pull out bonus surface is on closeout in two colors – the white one is $88 and the greeny-blue one is $139.99.

Our white duplex dining chairs are marked down to $116 each ($232 for two). These are super solid and basically work anywhere & everywhere.

Our giant three-tiered end tables are marked down to $253 (the lowest I’ve ever seen!). So much storage = so many magazines if you’re me.

The rug that looks good everywhere is on sale too! We have it in the duplex and it still looks like now – and we see so many pics from you guys using it everywhere from the runner version of it in a camper to the larger sizes in dining rooms, bedrooms, living room, etc. It’s extremely versatile and durable, and an 8 x 10′ is marked down to $264 from $487 (46% off!).

My beloved weighted blanket is marked down to $70 if you apply the $40-off coupon at checkout (I paid $150 for this years ago and it’s worth every penny!) – Amazon changes things a ton so I hope this deal sticks!)

Our gray dining chairs at the duplex is marked waaay down to $107.09 for TWO CHAIRS – so they’re just $53 a pop! (be sure to use the code TURKEY at checkout to get that deal).

Ok here’s John’s contribution to the post. He’s over here rubbing his hands together like Pinky & The Brain because of all the smart/tech deals that are going on. Once again, we have purchased and love all of this stuff ourselves. Yes, our house is so smart it should basically be able to make me a sandwich at this point… but Alexa does turn my Christmas tree on & off so I can’t roll my eyes that hard 😉

Amazon Echo is marked down to $59 from $99 (40% off).

Amazon Echo Dot is marked down to $22 from $50 (56% off).

Amazon Echo Auto is marked down to $29 from $49 (40% off).

Nest Thermostat (which we have at our house) is marked down to $179 from $249 (30% off). We also have the Nest E Thermostat at our beach house, and it’s great (I like that it’s white so it blends into the wall). That one is marked down to $139 from $169 (20% off).

Our Roku Smart TV (50 inch) is marked down to $250 from $480 (48% off). We not only have two of these TVs at home, we bought two more for the duplex.

Our Favorite Printer Ever is marked down to $30 from $120 (75% off!). We never loved a printer before. This guy changed all of that. (*cue the romantic music*)

And here are some other smart things that we don’t have photos of, but they’re in our house just doing their thing & making our lives easier:

And now for the big rundown of all the sales in one spot (we’ll keep this updated, so check back here over the next few days (for example, sometimes TURKEY changes to CYBERMON or something).

Ok, that’s it! Happy Thanksgiving to you guys. Be safe, and I hope you get to feast with your family & friends and save some loot if ya can too!

P.S. I hear you all in your requests for our annual gift guide (we always do one big post with a few categories), and I’m always like the last one to get that together, but I’m aiming for next week! In the meantime here’s a link to last year’s gift guide, because a lot of it is still being sold & makes a great gift – there are lots of affordable ideas in there too.

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This content was originally published here.

Home Renovation Projects That Pay You Back

Outdoor home

Want to make sure you get your investment back on your next home renovation project?

Then make sure you choose a project that will get you the most bang for your buck.

If you plan on living in your home forever than looking for an ROI for your project might not be a big deal.  But the reality is, according to Lisa Sinopoli, a real estate agent in Vaughan says the average family moves once every 5 years.

There are hundreds of home renovation projects you can do to both improve the value of your home as well as provide a more enjoyable living space for you and your family.

Most of the home reno projects that prove to be a good value involve either improving important spaces in your home or adding additional living space in your home.

The most popular places int he home for most families is the kitchen.  The kitchen is the place where the family gathers to eat and talk about their day.  It is the central place for families to gather.  This is why a kitchen renovation can be one of your best bets when it comes to a renovation project for your home.

An outdoor deck also provides a great space for the family to gather and for you to entertain guests.  It is also an inexpensive renovation compared to adding an entire room to your house.

Getting the best ROI for your project is to turn current space in your home into enjoyable living space.  Adding quality square footage using your existing footage is always a great investment.

While you may not be concerned about getting a good ROI for your home renovation project, it’s always a good idea and you will be happy once you decide to sell your home one day.

You’ll also have to decide what kind of renovations are within your own skill set and which ones would require a professional contractor to help with.  Something like tiling your kitchen bathroom might be within your skill set to do but a larger project like a full home renovation would certainly require the help of a contractor.

When we did a home addition in Toronto for our home, it was a big project and we were very happy we let a professional contractor take on the project instead of us, which would have ended in disaster.

infographic reno

Seven Spaces We Updated At The Beach House Over The Last 2 Years (And Why) | Young House Love

I’m someone who loves those detailed “what worked & what didn’t” posts where someone looks back on the choices they made and shares what didn’t work out as well as they hoped – and how they adjusted to make things work better for their family (more comfortable/more practical/more beautiful/etc). And since we furnished this house over two years ago – can you believe we did it in the fall of 2017?! – I thought it would be fun to share the changes we made since then in one big rundown post. So here we go.

The Front Porch

The original porch swing we hung out here was nice and simple (white like the trim, and the vertical pickets tied right into the railing), but it sadly wasn’t up to the job of withstanding the weather. After only about 18 months, the white paint was hopelessly split and mildewed in numerous places. Towards the end we would scrub it to make it usable, but it looked worse over time, and eventually no amount of scrubbing could get it clean… so nobody wanted to sit on it. Which is extremely sad because it’s the best seat in the house! The listing for it is no longer active, so maybe they pulled it off the market for exactly that reason: it just didn’t hold up.

At the start of the summer, we freecycled the old one and ordered this new wicker-looking porch swing (right now it’s 26% off!) that has been WONDERFUL for so many reasons. For starters, the construction is actually metal wrapped in a weatherproof rattan-like material, so over the last 6 months it has already proven to be more durable than the painted surface of the last one.

It turned out to be WAY more comfortable too. Not only is it padded (a butt cushion on a porch swing = such an upgrade from the hard wood one we used to have!), but at 65″ wide it’s also a full foot longer than our last one – meaning we can fit more people and both John & I can actually lay down on it. John does it with his knees bent on his side – literally he takes naps on it like that.

Our only tip is to remove the back cushions that come with it (they’re super thick and push you so far forward on the bench that it’s not as comfy as it could be if you had a deeper seat, which immediately happens when you pop them off). When we added a few smaller outdoor pillows to rest our backs on, we truly unlocked the full amazingness of this thing. Here’s hoping we have it for years & years to come!

The Foyer

If you’ve been in the vicinity of my Instagram over the last month, you’ve seen me gush about our new foyer light. As soon as I laid eyes on this four light white beaded fixture (it’s marked down to $216 right now!), I knew it would add so much beachy lightness to our once heavier feeling foyer. In Cape Charles, it’s actually a town tradition to have a beaded chandelier like this glowing in the evening – we see so many hanging in foyers or front rooms when we go for evening walks (you can always see them from the street!). I was ridiculously excited to add one to our beach house to make it feel as warm & inviting as those houses we had admired around town.

Oh but I always like to caution people that this foyer has a 9′ ceiling, so this big light works and people can easily walk under it, but if it was an 8′ ceiling, this smaller version would be the way to go. Unless you’re putting it over a bed or table, in which case people don’t have to walk under it, so I’d go for the big one!

This is what our foyer looked like a couple of years ago, when the renovation was first completed. I really really wanted a warm natural wood door and railing like the warm wood floors in here (I die for these 115 year old heart pine floors – we just clear sealed them and that’s it!). But sadly neither the door or the railings could be stripped back that far and clear sealed, which had been my original plan. The railing and the door were just not in good enough condition for that to work without making the deep cracks worse (trust me, I tried, both by hand and with electric sanders and stripping agents). So I used dark opaque wood stain, which is basically like dark brown paint (none of the original grain can come through, because that was the only way to hide the damage). I hoped it would have a wood-like look…

… but it felt… dark and heavy. Womp-womp. Topping things off with my beloved star pendant was nice because it tied into the dark stuff, but after a few years of living with it I wanted it to be bright and airy and beachy when we walked through the door.

In addition to painting the stair railing and the back of the door a lighter tone (not the same one – I still wanted the drama of a slightly darker railing than the balusters and trim), I also used Rub N ‘ Buff to restore some of the metal accents on the door. I had never used it before and It. Was. Amazing. As for the actual paint colors in here, the walls are White Heron, the trim and door are Stone Isle and the railing is Perpetual Gray (all by Sherwin Williams). You can see every paint color we used in the beach house here.

I’m thinking about writing a newsletter about it, because it took four mismatched and badly weathered/painted-over things on our original front door right back to their old brass glory! And yes, that round thing on the door is a built-in doorbell! IT’S SO CHARMING IT KILLS ME. I also like that by lightening things up, it allows the cool hardware and the graceful shape of the newel post to stand out, instead of such dark larger shapes stealing the focus (like the whole door & the entire railing). It finally feels like a beach house when we walk in the door to us. So so happy with this change.

The Living Room

When we saw these pink chairs at Ikea, John and I basically said “we need these for the pink house” in unison. It was that easy. Which almost never happens. We had been looking for more comfy seating in here for years (we used to have our leftover hard-backed office chairs from our second house in there, but always planned to upgrade to something comfier and more fully upholstered down the line).

In fact the folks who follow us on Instagram might remember a series of IG Stories last year where we ordered various other pink upholstered chairs and they didn’t work at all (the back and arms of one were too high & looked crazy with the sofa, one was too low in general, etc). So yeah, long story short, when we saw these, we basically ran to the checkout with them.

I’m happy to report these have proven to be significantly more loungey than the last chairs we had in here (which you can see in the photo below – they didn’t have fabric backs to recline on). And the diamond chairs below now live in the tiny office we made upstairs, where they’re more comfortable than the hard wood-seated chairs we used to have in there. So it was overall a great change for our backs and our butts and our eyes.

You’ll also notice a few other tweaks, like the TV on the wall (we finally mounted it!). We’ve noticed that a room usually feels more finished when we hang the TV on the wall (we also did it in our living room at home and in our bonus room upstairs). Here’s a link to the tutorial if you want to hang yours.

We also brought in a different coffee table. We’ve basically pulled a giant coffee table swap. The “new” darker table in here is actually the “temporary” coffee table we bought last Thanksgiving for our house in Richmond (literally, on Thanksgiving Day). Remember that $35 Facebook marketplace find? We got/made a new coffee table for our house in Richmond (post to come very soon!) so this one landed here, and the old white one from this living room has become a play table in our son’s room.

We still plan to do SOMETHING to the dark tabletop (the finish isn’t great) but for now it’s doing the trick. I keep thinking that tiling it with white marble tile would add so much more gleam and beachiness, and maybe the legs staying that dark ebony color will ground it and tie into the curtain rods and the dark TV. Or we could paint them gray to match the TV stand or go white like the round side table. I promise I’ll keep you posted!

The Kids’ Bunk Room

Our kids shared this bunk room all summer long (yes, two kids used this as their bedroom for three months straight) and we stored all of their clothes in this 4-cube organizer from Target. They each got two bins (one for regular clothes, one for PJs and bathing suits) and it worked surprisingly wonderfully. I know. It shocked me the most (I assumed one of them would want to eventually sleep in one of the two spare bedrooms, but the novelty of the bunks never wore off, and their summer clothes are small, so it was just fine!). Side note: if you’re looking for a tutorial about how we made these bunks, here’s that post for ya.

The desire for more storage & shelving actually wasn’t clothes-related at all, it was that the space lacked book and toy storage, which the kids also like to have in their room. So we made a few very affordable tweaks to take this room to the next level, organizationally speaking.

It was the very end of the summer when we realized that the 6-cube version of the 4-cubby organizer that we had bought for that space back in 2017 would fit in the room just fine! So we upgraded (for a whopping $59). Earning two bonus cubbies to wrangle toys has been game changing. I couldn’t find more of the chevron boxes, so we went with rope baskets instead, which actually look cute breaking up the pattern to me. And the larger storage system fits that space nicely without the bigger empty gaps on either side. So happy with this super cheap & easy change.

We also mounted two floating shelves to the wall (they don’t sell them in white anymore, but here they are in a wood finish), and moved the art so it hangs next to them instead of right where they are. Now the kids can stash tons of books there, and this was a zero dollar upgrade because these are the same small shelves that used to hang downstairs in the kitchen before we tiled the backsplash. Once we added the tile we liked it better without them down there, but I’m so glad we saved them under the bed because they’re super functional in the bunk room. Half the battle is just making a spot for things to be stored, and boom, cleanup = much more autopilot.

The other side effect of upgrading the cubbies was that it has been turned into a makeshift dollhouse/playhouse on more than one occasion. Gotta love those little creative minds that can literally find anywhere to play.

The Mudroom / Laundry Room

Have you heard our philosophy that a house can never have too many hooks? Oh you have? Allow me to say it again, because it’s crazy how many you need! We’ve learned it’s especially true in a beach house scenario where there are always a bunch of beach towels or a bathing suits to be hung up (it’s why the duplex mudrooms look like a hook convention). Back when we renovated this mudroom in 2017 we thought 6 hooks would be enough. Well, we were fools. So we moved the gold photos that you see below to another wall in here (the one just out of frame on the left next to the door in the shot below) and did another hook rail there.

Earning 4 more towel hooks has been indispensable to this room’s function.

They’re also the most convenient hooks in the whole room suddenly because they’re not only right next to the side door (where we come in from the beach) but they also act as overflow hooks from the downstairs bathroom in case someone has a bath towel or a wet bathing suit they need to hang.

I love that this was another super affordable change (those are always the most satisfying, right?!) And if you want to learn how to make your own hook rail, here’s that tutorial for ya. They’re so strong you can hang a cooler full of beverages on them (ask me how I know).

The Pantry

Since this summer was the first really extended amount of time we spent at the beach house, those three solid months heavily tested the efficiency of some of our systems – especially the kitchen and the pantry. We’ve actually got a post in the works about how the beach house kitchen is organized (with a video tour of each drawer – like the one we made of our own kitchen). But for now let’s focus on the simple but super helpful pantry changes we made.

The photo above is from when we and the photo below is from this summer. The changes are subtle, but we basically packed in SO MANY more storage baskets. Notice how there’s only about one per shelf in the photo above? By grabbing some extras and rotating many of them sideways (so they’re deep instead of extra wide), we doubled the amount of baskets. Taking advantage of the shelf depth that we hadn’t used before was major (on the far side of the pantry each shelf that had one wide bin now hosts two of the same size, just by rotating them!).

It’s a small adjustment, but it has been hugely impactful in the amount of stuff we can store. And on this closer side you can see that two bins fill even more space than the single wide one that sat there before did (there’s no longer as much space behind the bins or on either side). Plus having four of them in that bottom area helps to keep us more organized instead of two larger ones with various mismatched things inside (we use one for baking stuff, one for cereal, one for bags of chips, and one for cleaning supplies).

The Backyard Patio

If you’re a subscriber to our email newsletter you may have already caught this update, but I couldn’t skip over it for this roundup because it’s one of our favorite adjustments. We shared our big backyard makeover back in June with the furniture arrangement that you see below.

It looked great, but we found that the cushions on the outdoor daybed were constantly wet because of their placement under the eave of the house (dew dripping down in the morning wouldn’t dry until the sun traveled over the house and started shining back here around late afternoon). So sometime in August we decided to spend $0 and rearrange the furniture in a way that would make it all a lot more usable.

Simply swapping the dining table and the daybed kept the daybed dryer (and although the table gets dew on it, it dries more quickly because wood dries a lot faster than a cushion!). We also managed to create a conversation area that we never really had by stealing two of the dining chairs (they’re so easy to move back when we need seating for six) – and we ended up using this area a lot more for outdoor game nights as soon as we made the swap! Speaking of game night, taking the cushion off of the daybed’s bench make it more of a coffee table, so it became the perfect board game spot – and also came in handy when we had people over & wanted to sit & chat (the way the daybed was oriented before meant we would all basically be laying in the same direction – please picture that and laugh out loud like I just did).

You can see the new layout (and the backyard layout as a whole) a lot better in this short video (wherein Burger is incapable of locating the source of my voice). I love the view of this tiny backyard from the second story window, so if nothing else, press play just to see how it all looks from above in 30 seconds.

And since people always ask this question around this time of year, here’s a shot from about a month ago of the backyard after we winterized it for the off season.

As for what we use, this is the exact cover that we have & love (we just cover the entire dining area with it and pull the corner ties to make it fitted so it won’t blow off). Then we put the sofa cushions in the shed, and voila: done.

I hope that was a fun look back for you guys. These “what-isn’t-working-so-we-changed-it updates are always my favorites when other bloggers do them because I feel like I get to learn from their mistakes without making them. So I hope we saved you some trouble somehow or sparked an idea to make your space work better for you. And remember… YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY HOOKS.

P.S. If you want to know what paint color we used or where we got something that you saw in these photos, here’s a full source page for ya! And if you want to look at the before & after photos of this makeover (ALWAYS MY FAVORITE PART!) they’re all right here on this page for ya.

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This content was originally published here.

What We’ve Changed Since Painting Our Brick House White | Young House Love

This is a smorgasbord of an update, since the exterior of our house has changed in a bunch of different ways since last year when we painted it white with masonry paint that lets the brick breathe (you can read all about that project & the cost right here).

It’s my very favorite makeover we’ve ever done to date, but as I mentioned in that post (probably 10 times if I know myself), the exterior was still very much a work in progress after the house got painted. So without further ado, let’s talk about the new path we added, the awning, the new porch lights (we not only switched them out, we lowered them when we hung the awning) and a bunch of other landscaping related things that have happened over the last 12 months. And the few remaining things that we’re still working on… because that’s how it goes 😉

First let’s take a second to look back at the before shot because it blows my mind every time. Did I ever tell you guys that my dad texted me in all caps last fall saying “YOU MOVED AND DIDN’T TELL ME?!?!?” because he saw a picture of our house painted white on Facebook and couldn’t comprehend that it was the same house… so he literally thought we moved without mentioning it to him?! It was my favorite text convo of 2018.

But back to the present day. Here we are now (we took these photos just a few days ago, so this is currently how things are looking outside).

And just for comparison, this is a photo from last fall, so you can see some of the updates pretty obviously when you compare the two photos. We felt like the facade around the door was a little flat looking from some angles, so we mentioned wanting to add a little something over the door in the form of a slight awning. Nothing huge like the old portico we knocked off the house when we painted it, but just a little something to define it a bit more.

Enter this awning that we had shipped all the way from the UK, stage left. Yes, that’s right. And I’m aware that it sounds like something Ariana Grande or Lady Gaga would do, but I fell in love with some inspo pics with a sloped gracious awning like this on a white brick house and couldn’t find any ready-made options that were even remotely similar except for this one all the way in the United Kingdom.

Of course off the bat I assumed buying something that didn’t have to be shipped from a different country would be more affordable, so I consulted with some local pros & some online awning companies and every single quote to get one that looked like the ready-made U.K. one that I loved was 2-3 times more expensive than just paying the extra shipping to have it sent right to our door. Insane right?!

Literally 3-4K quotes were rolling in, and the one from the UK (at the time that we bought it, since exchange rates are always changing) ended up being around $1,500 including shipping). It’s 8′ wide since we have sidelights, so this thing is a beast. It arrived in a big wooden box that we affectionately called “The Coffin” for months before we finally cracked it open and hung it.

So as much as I love hiring local pros to create something that we can’t find ready-made and available to us (which is what we do 99.9% of the time), in this case I liked the idea that this UK company commonly makes and installs this exact product without issue (whereas someone trying to copy it and make it for the first time might run into some unexpected issues with the production or the way it functions or how it holds up/warps/flexes over time). So that gave me some nice peace of mind when I ordered it. It even has a hidden drip edge across the front of the awning that’s ever so slightly sloped so water funnels out each side if it’s wet/raining (instead of streaming down and dumping right on the person walking in or out of the door). Really smart design. So far we’re very happy customers.

Let’s flash back to a before shot from this angle, just because it amazes me every time. Look at that giant rocket ship of a portico coming off of the house. I love that we bought the house with it, because those railings get to live on at the duplex (it was MEANT TO BE! More on that here), and it just feels a lot more classic to us without that big hulking thing out front.

We’ve lived without it for a year and never miss it (packages get left by the garage on the side of our house which has a slight overhang, so not having this out front didn’t change much at all). We also enter and exit the house through the garage every single time, so it’s not like we stand in the rain when we unlock the door now – but those are good things to consider if you’re taking the big overhang off of your front door. My BFF goes in and out of her front door all the time and not having a larger awning or overhang would drive her crazy.

Oh and this photo above shows you another update, which is that we planted a tree! It’s the one on the left side of this photo, which balances the existing dogwood that we have over towards the right side of the house. We used to have a second dogwood out front, but it died a few years back, so this fall we bought a tree that’s all over our neighborhood (it seems to love the conditions here) and is very very lovely when it’s not in stick mode (UGH, FALL IS THE WORST). It’s called a river birch and they are truly gorgeous trees. Can’t wait to share more photos of this whole front yard in the spring when the dogwood and our new river birch baby are all greened up and lush again.

We also did a bit more landscaping in the front beds – mostly things that were already there last year have just filled in a little (and I clipped the ridiculous looking ball hedges to be a little shaggier so they look less like the big red cement balls out front of Target). We also added three peonies that I randomly found at Costco. You can’t really see them in that smaller bed on the right side, but in the spring if they bloom I’ll share about 347 photos.

We also added one white hydrangea bush on each side of the steps (they’re currently in stick mode, which I think all of them are in right now, but the deer ate them in the summer just like I feared/knew they would (when they were not in stick mode, and, in fact, were in lovely full bloom mode). I just can’t let go of how good a row of white hydrangeas would look with some boxwoods in the front beds – but the deer always treat them like a salad bar (even when I try every single method known to man to deter the deer – our deer are lovely and sweet but also SAVAGE when it comes to eating plants). Oh well, I tried.

Ok, onto the front path! We talked all about this project on the podcast (more on that here) but you can see it below in all of its glory. We love how it came out.

Bluestone is forever my favorite outdoor stone and the big happy surprise was that it was significantly less than some of the other natural stone options for paths and patios (for example slate and fieldstone was around twice as much when I priced it out locally). As for how much you’ll spend having this done, bluestone is usually around $10-13 per square foot installed (yes, that price includes the material & the labor by a pro), so measure out how many square feet you want and it’ll give you a good idea. Just remember to get a few estimates and meet with a few different pros to see who you mesh with best (more on why that’s a step we’ll never skip again on this podcast).

Speaking of meshing with people, waaaay back in my original we-painted-the-brick-white post, I shared this pic of Reese Witherspoon on her front steps and talked about how we dreamed of topping ours with thick stone like hers…

Nailed it.

Please take a moment to appreciate: 1) my closed eyes, 2) the fact that I wore John’s shirt since my entire closet is black, and 3) Burger’s intense desire to bark at the dog that walked up our street at the precise moment this photo was taken.

Oh but if you look up at the bigger photo of me channeling Reese above you’ll see some of the discolored yellow-ish marks on the brick “risers” of the steps (it was taken a while ago, before John primed & repainted with Romabio to cover the latex paint the pro we hired used on our steps instead of using our breathable paint – ack). You can hear that whole story here and I’m happy to report that they look great again thanks to the primer + correct paint going back on (much less of a yellow tint and there’s no more stain seepage).

This photo was taken a few days ago so you can see the difference – it matches the house exactly and isn’t as oddly beige in some spots anymore (for comparison, scroll back up & look at the big picture of me & Burger, and you’ll notice the brick to the right of my left shoulder has a vertical seam that looks oddly yellow).

We also got the steps widened before we added the bluestone on top (by the same pro who added the stone), so they’re finally the graceful welcoming stairs that I’ve always pictured leading up to our door. It was around $450 to go that extra mile before adding the stone on top, and we’re glad we went for it.

For comparison’s sake, here’s the original setup one more time, just to refresh your memory. The steps pinched in and always felt oddly narrow…

… so it’s really nice and open feeling now that they’re all that same width as the landing up top and the nice large area of bluestone that we added below.

You can also see the new-ish lanterns that we got last winter I think. They’re even bigger and we like that they’re less narrow, and their new placement is so much better. We originally just hung them to fill two holes in the brick that were exposed when we removed the portico – but that placement looked extremely odd & high once the awning went up.

So it felt good to finally get those brick holes patched, and put the lanterns were all the other door-flanking lights around the neighborhood are located. In case you’re wondering, it seems to be common practice to line up the middle of the light with the cross rail of the door (that’s the horizontal plank of wood on the door that’s about 12″ from the top) so that’s what we did and it looks great.

As for what’s next out here, a bunch of you have already heard this, but on the podcast we chatted about why we suddenly had clarity on wanting shutters again (tune into this podcast for more on that). We’re not going to go with black though – tonal inspiration images like this have me super excited.

So our new shutters are currently on order. It’ll be a few more weeks or months if it gets too cold to paint them, but I can’t wait to show you guys the photos whenever we get them up. These are the exact louvered shutters we got, and I think they’re going to look so good (we love how they came out at the duplex). I definitely want to add operable hardware like we did for the duplex too.

As for what else is on the front yard agenda, I’m sure we’ll keep chipping away at the front landscaping (the target ball bushes are less intense since I went ham on them with a clippers, but they’re still not my fav) so I’m sure over the next few years things will continue to slowly evolve up there. Maybe someday I’ll even figure out some way to have white hydrangeas, but hold me back, because if that happens you’ll never see photos of anything else. I’ll start a new blog called Hydrangeas & White Brick and it’ll just be a new angle every day with musings about life and inspirational quotes. Actually, I’d read that blog…

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This content was originally published here.

How To Sell Your Phone Online And Support Charity

We all have old cell phones laying around.  With the innovations in cell phone technology and features keeps us updating our cell phones on average about once every 18 month.

That’s a lot of phone turnover.

Most of us either give the phone away, stick it in a drawer or worse yet, trade it in to the cell phone carriers for a fraction of what they purchased it for, giving the cell carriers a second chance to rip people off by selling the phone again.

If you ever want to sell your old cell phone, do not sell it to the cell carriers, they will totally rip you off.

Your best bet is to sell your used cell phone to an independent cell phone buy back service who will pay you way more than the cell carriers will.

I have an even better option for you.

How would you like to sell your used cell phone online for more money than the cell carriers would pay and also support animals in need?

Check out Cell4Pets.com

Cell4Pets.com typically pays about 30% more for your old phone than the cell carriers will pay.  They also donate a proceed of the resale of your phone to help support no-kill animal shelters.

It’s a win-win for you and the animals you are supporting.

When you sell your used phone to Cell4Pets.com they will typically pay you within 3 days of reviewing your phone and also pay for shipping so there are no out of pocket costs for you to sell your used phone online.

They will buy phones from any brand and condition.  iPhones are the most popular with Samsung and Google also filling up the top 3 slots in phone popularity.  But they will also buy other brands and models and offer an instant online quote for your used cell phone.

Check out Cell4Pets.com and get your free phone quote instantly and help animals in need along the way.  It’s a win-win for everyone. Think of the amazing pets you’ll help save!

The Return On Your Investment With Tooth Implants

A dental practitioner will tell you that High Dental Implants Melbourne is not expensive, but a high cost. But what does this mean essentially? If you consider the high precision of skill, the work put into crafting tooth implants and the advanced tools and equipment that are used to build and design the device; implants are worth the greater yet justified price tag. Read on to find out more about what goes into creating a prosthesis of this type.

The materials

A pure titanium screw is inserted into the bone of your jaw. These materials will cost more if they are of superior quality.

Not only should you be considering the materials used, but the process it takes to shape, mould and refine the titanium into the screw-type shape that has to fit perfectly into a small area of bone.

The crown is linked to the screw and is the visible part of the artificial tooth. Crowns are not mass-produced – a lot of time and dedication goes into making a single crown because every patient’s mouth is different.

The skill and craftmanship

The failure rate of dental implants is low, less than 5% and this is because of the supreme skills and competencies of implant dentists.

In theory, the procedure might sound simple enough: drill a screw into the jaw bone and place a crown atop of it, but actually, the surgery is highly complicated and requires precision, time and attention to detail.

Only dentists who have undergone the long and hard hours to obtain the necessary skills, experience and qualifications should be operating on your teeth.

While a general dental practitioner can perform the surgery, it may be better if you see a specialist, such as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a periodontist. A general oral health provider can perform the occasional dental implant procedure but might not administer the surgery as frequently as the specialists mentioned above.

These kinds of dentists have studied beyond the four years of dental school and among other things, specialise in implants. You will pay more for the services of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or periodontist, but the price is worth it knowing you are in the best hands possible.

The stages of getting implants

Having an implant fitted requires a lot more than drilling a titanium screw into your jawbone. There is an initial consultation to diagnose your unique dental issues, follow-ups to work on possible complications, and creating a custom-fabricated crown that is unique to your mouth.

The above only takes into account patients who are healthy enough for the surgery. Not having enough jawbone or struggling with your gums are obstacles that need to be addressed before your dentist can start on your implants.

You might need to undergo root scaling and paning – a gum-cleaning treatment or bone grafts before you are declared fit for implant surgery, procedures that will cost you.

Implants are a method of tooth restoration that will cost you more but, at the same time, grant you lifelong benefits. Look forward to a restored smile and being able to eat, speak and chew without difficulty.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

What Options Are Available for Straightening My Teeth?

There are now many options available to patients with crooked, protruding or misaligned teeth. With modern dental technology having come a long way, there is even now the option of braces which are clear and removable, so that you can experience a discrete treatment that is almost invisible to any onlooker. These braces are usually referred to as clear or invisible braces. The wearing of these braces is beneficial in many ways. For one, they mean that your confidence and self-esteem does not need to be affected while you undergo your treatment. With traditional braces, patients would often become self-conscious as their braces were so obvious. However, invisible aligners negate this problem.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is one popular type of clear braces in Sydney CBD that many modern dentists offer. This treatment involves having a series of clear plastic aligners fitted, that are moulded to the unique shape of your teeth. In order to make sure that your aligners continue to fit snugly on your teeth as they move, a new set will be needed every two weeks. Your dental practice may use new technology to take digital impressions of your teeth and to allow for a precise fit of your clear aligners.

A great aspect of Invisalign is that you are able to remove them for eating, brushing and flossing, so that you are able to keep both the aligners, and your mouth, really clean. Some dentists also offer a free whitening treatment as part of the overall treatment plan, so that you really are supported in getting that gleaming white smile you’ve dreamed about! In addition, with the use of revolutionary technology, many dentists are able to give you a free before and after simulation of your smile when you undergo this treatment. If you feel that this could be the right choice for you, then your dentist will do a smile assessment with you to see if the treatment is the best solution for your needs.

What does orthodontic treatment mean?

Orthodontic treatment focuses on straightening and aligning your teeth with braces, in order to both improve their appearance and the way in which they work. Braces use a combination of wire and brackets, which gently move the teeth into the desired position. There are several orthodontic treatment types available and your dentist will be able to advise you on the best treatment for your personal circumstances. Orthodontic treatment usually includes having photos and x-rays taken at the start of your treatment, so that the correct process can be applied for your individual needs. Many modern orthodontic braces are also removable, so that you are able to eat, brush and floss without them in, helping you to maintain good oral hygiene.

So, if you are looking for a solution to straighten your teeth, then get in touch with your dentist now to find out about what options are available to you.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

The Costs Of Running A Vacation Rental (With Real Numbers) | Young House Love

We’ve gotten hundreds of questions about the financial side of running an Airbnb or other short term vacation rental. Specifically: “can you detail the expenses and fees that take a bite out of the profit? Are there hidden costs? How exactly do rental taxes work? Insurance?! ACK!

Whether the person asking us was considering doing one themselves, or just plain curious (talking about money = interested face emoji), we’re laying it all out in the hope that it demystifies it a little bit, and is helpful to anyone who might be on the fence about whether or not this is a viable side hustle. We actually really enjoyed learning the ins & outs of this stuff – so it’s fun to share what we learned.

Obviously there are expenses like actually purchasing, renovating, and furnishing a home that you’ll be using as a vacation rental. Those big obvious start-up costs will differ by project (as will your mortgage payment) – and heck you might be Airbnb-ing your own house, which is already full of furniture – so this post picks up from the “ok, I have a rental-ready house, now what?” point, and covers the on-going “operating” costs that you may incur year over year.

We’re sharing REAL NUMBERS from our experience with you. Just please don’t take them as predictive of your own costs, which obviously will vary. It also bears reminding people that the duplex is one building, but it’s TWO distinct rental units (totaling 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms, 2 laundry rooms, 2 backyards, etc). So if you’ve got just one rental and/or a smaller space, these numbers might be much higher than any that you’ll incur.

The existence of utilities is probably not a surprise to anyone, but how much they really cost can catch you off guard if you don’t do the math and look at the year as a whole. Unlike a typical long-term rental where your tenant may be responsible for some or all of the utilities every month, in the vacation rental world, you typically pay for all of them. At the duplex, we pay for the following utilities:

For other people the list might also include gas, oil, or propane (depending on your heat source) and even parking or HOA fees.

Our utilities combined for both sides of the duplex cost about $5,200 a year, based on the last 12 months. The most important thing to think about is that utilities don’t disappear when the house isn’t rented (which can be very important if you’re renting somewhere seasonal). Our electrical and water bills go down a little bit when there’s lower usage in the offseason, but there are minimum fees that keep them at around $150 a month.

We looked into pausing some of our duplex utilities (like internet or trash pick-up) in the vacant winter months but many come with a hefty reconnection fee that negate any potential savings. We are able to pause some of our streaming TV subscriptions (Netflix & Sling) when we knew the place would be empty for a solid month in the offseason, which was nice. (Just don’t forget to restart them in time for the next guest!).

Lawn Care / Property Management

If you’ve ever rented a vacation home, you’re probably used to seeing a “Cleaning Fee” on your bill. That’s typically the cost of someone to clean the house after your stay so that it’s ready for the next guests (this includes doing laundry, remaking beds, unloading dishes, etc, etc). We charge a cleaning fee of $150 per stay because that’s precisely what our cleaner charges us. So this cost is a total wash on our end. Zero dollars spent a year, except for a holiday tip 😉

But outside of the cleaning fee, you may have other regular maintenance costs to keep it ready for each guest. This might be things like lawn care, pool or hot tub service, or even snow-blowing if you host in a wintery destination. We pay a small local landscaping company to mow the yards and blow the outside areas of the duplex on a consistent, reliable schedule. This isn’t a year-round cost luckily (nothing happens in the winter months) but since they come more frequently during the spring and summer when everything is growing like crazy, it adds up to about $800/year.

I remember at our last Florida rental there was a pool guy AND a separate lawn crew that came by while we were staying there. Neither were costs he passed along directly to us when we booked, so they came out of his rental profit.

Another potential expense would be if you choose to hire or rely on a professional property management or rental management service. They can take a lot off your shoulders (handling bookings, cleanings, and issues that arise) but they typically charge a percentage of every booking. In Cape Charles, the rate seems to be about 20%, but that number may vary depending on your area and exactly what services they offer.

Restocking Consumables

Because we choose to provide consumable items for our guests, we not only bought the initial stash, we also have to replenish everything when it’s running low. Here’s a list of what we provide:

Every time we share what we provide our guests we hear from people who say “we do all of those too!” and others who say “what?! nobody provides that stuff here!” My best guess is that it varies by region, but many other vacation rentals in Cape Charles also provide similar items. At the end of the day, if it helps our guests feel at home, we’re happy to have it on hand.

All told, we spent $900 on those items above this year. Again, it might not be a big line item in your region at all – but it’s smart to figure out what you’re planning to have available, and how much you think it’ll be to replenish things throughout the year.

Extra Linens & Towels

This may be something specific to how our cleaner operates, but she advised us at the start of the summer to keep a COMPLETE extra set of bed linens and towels handy, that way if laundry ever didn’t finish in time or there was a stain that needed longer treatment, she could still leave our next guests with everything they needed. So for us this meant buying:

Actually you should double those numbers because we did that PER SIDE. Thank goodness for the locked owner’s closet, where we stashed that extra stuff in bins.

We never ended up relying on a complete extra set, but we did dip in and grab one or two spares more than once, so we’re definitely glad we had them around (the two extra duvet covers especially!). This extra stock of linens and towels cost us over $400 per side (for a total of $800). We’ve also had to replace a couple of towels over the last few months (we feel very lucky that’s all we’ve had to replace!) so either grabbing extras ahead of time or setting aside a small budget for the replacement of random items as you go is probably a smart idea.

Insurance & Taxes

Now we’re getting to the fun stuff (ha!). Let’s start with insurance first.

It hopefully doesn’t surprise you that your property should have insurance on it, but we found insuring the duplex to be a bit of a learning curve. But we came out on the other side! The complicating insurance factors of our duplex are: 1) the fact that it is a short term vacation rental, which is treated differently than a full-time residence and 2) it’s near the water (mo water, mo problems – at least that’s what the insurance folks say). Those two factors meant we had limited options, but we ultimately ended up with three policies that work together to give us peace of mind.

We don’t need either of those last two policies for our primary residence here in Richmond, but if you’re renting out your primary or secondary residence part-time, you might want to consult with an expert to make sure you’re sufficiently covered with your existing policy. Many standard homeowner’s policies may not suffice if the damage or incident occurs while a short term renter is occupying your house.

If you thought insurance was fun, boy will you love taxes! Taxes are the part that we felt like we knew the least about going into this, but it’s pretty straightforward to figure out. So take this as your cue to investigate what’s going to be due in whatever town or city you’re operating your rental in (call your local government office, check out their website, or ask other hosts in your area). But also please know that if it feels complicated, everyone we spoke to at our various government offices was super happy to help (they were probably thrilled we were trying to pay our taxes – ha!) and within a week or two we got the hang of it.

For the duplex we pay the following:

The property taxes collected by the two localities where the duplex is located (the first two items listed above) are based on the house itself, not on how much or how little we rent it out. But the others are percentages of what we earn from our rental income and we have to calculate and submit paperwork for them on a monthly or quarterly basis (although now Airbnb does the sales tax automatically in Virginia when guests check out on their site – but all summer we had to take it out of our Airbnb payouts manually).

You may get lucky and your town won’t charge transient occupancy tax, but you might end up getting charged twice like we do: once by the town, and then again by the county. I feel like I keep saying “vary wildly” in this post, but taxes really do that as well. For example, my dad has a rental in another state and he pays a 3% transient occupancy tax, while ours is 6% in Cape Charles. Between those two transient occupancy taxes & the sales tax, about 11% of every booking we had this summer went to the state, county, & town in the form of taxes. Keep in mind that does not include property taxes.

So for the duplex, our combined taxes and insurance for this year have been about $13,400. Long story long – you should definitely know you tax responsibilities when you’re weighing the viability of your rental because they can definitely affect your profit.

Airbnb Host Fee

If you run your rental through a site like Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway, keep in mind that they also take a cut of your nightly rental rate. As a guest you’re probably used to paying a fee that’s tacked on top of the total nightly rate, but behind the scenes Airbnb also deducts a 3% fee from the nightly rate before they pay the host. So I guess neither the guest or the host are actually getting the listed nightly rate. Ha! We don’t really include that 3% fee in our operating cost calculations (or our total at the end of this post) because it’s money we never see. So just remember that when you set your nightly rate, a bit of that will go to whatever rental website you choose.

We get asked why we chose Airbnb over other vacation rentals like VRBO or HomeAway, and the answer is just that we polled a few friends with vacation rentals & they all liked that interface the most. So we went for it. So far we really like it. We contemplated listing the duplex on multiple sites but heard it can be hard to avoid double booking dates when you’re running multiple calendars across different platforms.

Miscellaneous Costs

And while we tried to be super thorough in this post, we can’t predict everything that you might encounter along the way. This year, we probably spent around $750 in miscellaneous items. Thankfully nothing crazy happened (we didn’t have to replace an HVAC system or anything like that) but one tiny example is that we learned that the state and town also collect a small fee for an annual business license (and perform an annual rental inspection to make sure we’re still up to code each year) so that was a small unplanned expense that surprised us – but now that we’re used to it and know what to do, it’s easy peasy.

There are of course costs like replacing things that break, paying a maintenance guy to fix a malfunctioning appliance, or even adding/changing a particular amenity in your home. A concrete example of that is that we spent $250 halfway through the summer to add blackout curtains to the two front bedrooms at the duplex after a few guests mentioned it got very bright in there early in the morning. So while it might be a ding to your budget, it’s all part of the fun & adventure of trying to provide an awesome experience for the people who are staying at your house. Speaking of which…

We also choose to leave our renters a little welcome gift when they arrive. It’s a handwritten note with a gift card to get ice cream or a souvenir at one of the local shops in town, along with a pre-stamped postcard. Again, that’s definitely not a cost you have to incur, but we’re happy to do it in the hopes that our guests enjoy their stay and frequent some of the great local businesses – and our guests seem to really like it too. Who doesn’t like ice cream?!

Let’s wrap this puppy up. I’ll spare you some scrolling and recap all of the math above. Combining all of the costs that we just laid out, it’s about $21,750 in annual “operating” expenses for the duplex this year. Again, that’s for two separate rental units, so it’s likely higher than a single or smaller rental. But our point is less about the total number and more about the variety of costs along the way. So if you’re considering starting an Airbnb, I hope this post is a jumping off point for figuring out your own operating costs in the categories I listed here.

And while that number above feels like a lot, we feel lucky that we were able to book enough nights in 2019 to still make a profit after it was all said & done (high five, anyone?!). Are we going to be out of the red for all of our construction and furnishing costs anytime soon? Nope! But at least we’re on our way, and we got to learn a lot and have a bunch of fun in the process.

This content was originally published here.