Serena Appiah


I never planned on having three children. In fact, we were quite cozy in our 2-bedroom top-level condominium raising one cute (but messy!) little boy. However, several years later, his brother made an unexpected appearance. And what felt cozy suddenly began to feel cramped. In 2010, we embarked on a journal to buy a single family home with a yard, twice the space, and an overwhelming number of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. 

Just two months after moving in, our family was blessed with the news that--surprise!--we were going to become a family of five. Suddenly, what seemed overwhelming in trying to turn a house into a home (especially on a limited budget) now seemed downright impossible, especially with three children to raise and clean up after, as well as finding the resources and time for DIY projects.

As a lover of journaling, I turned to an online blog (what has now become to document the adventures of DIY in our “new” 1973 outdated house. I’ve always loved shopping thrift stores and decided I would outfit our home with all of my amazing thrift store finds while documenting it online. Not only would I be able to share my love of thrift with a few people online, I would also save a ton of money.

And let’s be honest: raising three young boys who had no shame in spilling, scratching, wiping, hitting, cracking, or breaking, it served me well to buy second-hand that could easily be replaced. It wasn’t a matter of “if” something would get messy or broken; it was a matter of “when.” As a result, over 90% of everything in our home came from a thrift store, yard sale, or was a hand-me-down of some sort.

Our family is now rolling into our 8th year since moving into this home, where nearly every DIY project and thrift store find has been documented, photographed, step-by-stepped, or filmed. What used to be a home with avocado green toilets and horribly outdated peel-and-stick tiles has now become an updated, modern home in which we’ve grown very comfortable. Over 175,000 people every month come to my blog looking for affordable inspiration for their own home. I’m ecstatic that I’m now able to blog full-time and help others who want to make their homes look great without investing a lot of money.

While our house has changed over time, one thing that has not changed is how messy our children still are! Despite them growing up (now aged 11, 8, and 6.5 years), messes are still an everyday occurrence: spaghetti mashed into the carpet...discarded lollipop sticks get stuck...and gum…. Well, we don’t want to even go there.

Sometimes I fantasize about how clean my house will be once the children grow up and leave home--a thought that’s quickly replaced by how deafening the silence would be. I realize that dealing with messes is simply part of this job called parenting and it’s best to find strategies (and products!) to help withstand those messes. (It also doesn’t hurt to train your kids on how to be a little more careful and how to clean up, too!).

One room I haven’t spent a lot of time DIY’ing is my sons’ room. My 8- and 6-year-old share a bedroom that has gone through a couple of transformations, but only half-hearted makeover attempts. A little bit of paint here...a few pieces of furniture there… However, they’ve never had Mommy’s full attention in turning their room into their own private oasis.

For this makeover, the boys’ room will be outfitted with a super soft, stain-resistant Relax, it’s... Lees carpet, which will clean up easily when the boys make a mess on the carpet. They’ll get some light-blocking drapes that will help them sleep longer in the bright summer mornings. New bedding, posters, pictures, crown molding, and some bright new lighting will help add the “cozy factor” that’s missing from the room. And lastly, my sons will get larger thrifted DIY dresser makeovers with more storage for their clothes.

The boys have been asking for this makeover for quite some time, so I can’t wait to get started and get them to help, of course!

See the results of Serena's Relax, it's... Lees bedroom makeover >>