Embracing Home with Lauren of The Dahl House

I first met Lauren at a random dinner that a friend set up for some local creative business owners a few years ago. I have since taken a watercolor class that she taught and loved following her interior design and thrifting posts on social media. 
Lauren was kind enough to share her home with us and some of her thrifting tips as a part of the Embracing Home blog series. You can find her personal design blog here.
-Tell us about your home/family:

My husband Mike and I have lived in our home going on five years this coming fall. We have two boys, Ari age four, and Maxwell age one. Our home is like most family homes, it’s all about the kids and what solutions can make life easier for the boys and ourselves, while still meeting the desire to have a well-designed home that we love.

-What did you love about your home when you first moved in? Anything you didn’t like?

We loved the area surrounding our home, we were attracted to the spacious and open layout, and we also loved the covered front porch and backyard space perfect for kids to play. The one thing we didn’t like was the lack of a basement space, and missing character in the home in terms of architecture and special details. It was very builder grade, but extremely reliable.

-How did your budget shape those things:

Oh budgets, aren’t they annoying? Ha. But really, a budget is an important aspect of designing any space. More often than not, having a budget forces creative thinking and problem solving skills.

Our budget varies for each project, and that can depend on many factors. The outside work I do (outside of my real job) often sets the tone for the budget of a project, as I tend to use that stream of income for interior related purchases. This system may not work for everyone, but there is a system for budgeting for interior items that you can create on your own. That may mean setting aside $100 every pay check to save up for a room, opting out of eating out for an entire month and applying that money to a project, using Tax money each spring to tackle a project, or maybe it means paying right out of pocket then and there for sprucing up a space in your home. Everyone is different.

Budget also is determined by need verses want, and how temporary or permanent an item needed or wanted may be.

Budgeting for a home project can be tricky, and my solution is always to work room by room. I create a budget, and come up with inspiration for the end result (this inspiration is never budget friendly, but the end result is). I take something that inspires me, or images of homes that I love, and make those ideas work for my own home and budget. That always results in thrifting, and DIY-ing. If I find myself inspired by a glamorous high gloss round side table with ornate details, I’m going to make that happen. That may mean hunting until I find a piece with similar shapes, and then using hi-gloss paint to make it black, then that’s what I’ll have to do.

-Tell us about your love of thrifting. How did you get started?

I started thrifting as soon as I started driving. I lived close to a Goodwill, and my sister and I would pass the time meandering the aisles. At that age, I didn’t thrift for home items as much as I did for clothing and accessories, but as I got older and got my own places, thrifting for home décor was a natural next step.

A friend of the family owned several Peddler’s Mall booths, and as a teenager I would help him set things and up and attempt to style the booths to attract more customers. The days I would help, I would also walk around and explore other booths full of old stuff. Touching and looking at old stuff has always been something I’m profoundly interested in.

If I were a zillionaire, I’d still thrift. Yes, it saves a ton of money, but it’s so much more than that. Thrifting to me means exploring items of the past, which I find to be made better. Spending $50 on an old coffee table means life-long quality and durability. $50 on a brand new coffee table from target or Ikea, would get a few years at most and not likely be able to withstand the elements of kids and chaos. Don’t get me wrong, I make those big box store purchases as well, but if I can avoid it I try to. Especially for durable furniture. Thrifting also reduces the carbon footprint on consumer goods, and guarantees a one of a kind item opposed to an item that multiple people may own.

-Any thrifting tips?

Utilize the internet as a source for thrifting. Look at yard sale sites, craigslist, and EBay. Sometimes thrifting in an actual store can be overwhelming because it requires a lot of digging. Online thrifting is less overwhelming when search bars are available. When thrifting at an actual store, look for quality, price, and attraction. Quality meaning solid wood or material, sturdy not wobbly, and often a brand stamp will be found on the inside of a piece. If you find a piece you love, consider negotiating the price, or ask if delivery can be thrown in for free. If you are thrifting locally, the cashier will be able to contact the seller for price consideration. I’ve never had someone turn down an offer or refuse to budge, sellers are typically have some wiggle room.

Focus on the actual need in your home opposed to a want. If you find an item that looks like an amazing deal, but you have no place to put it, then it can turn to clutter very quickly. If the item is in good quality, know that paint and new hardware can always transform it in no time. Be prepared to pay a delivery free, or be-friend a delivery guy. I have a few people I call on when I need a big piece of furniture from a thrift store, they charge a small fee and get it home safely.

If you have a place in mind in your home that is in need of some sort of furniture, and you are desiring to find it thrifted opposed to new, then prepare yourself ahead of time. Know that thrifting can take time, some days you’ll find nothing, and then boom one day you stumble across the perfect piece. In your purse or wallet, carry the dimensions you need for your intended piece, and on your phone keep a photo of the space it will live. Set aside money (preferably cash) so you can be prepared to purchase without debating in your head if it’s worth it. If you set aside $50, don’t look at items above that price range.

- Tell us about a favorite room or piece and the story behind it.

This is a hard one, I love all of the items I’ve thrifted, which is basically everything. Our coffee table, living room side tables, kitchen table, work desk, oldest sons bedroom furniture, some of my youngest sons bedroom furniture, foyer credenza, and even outdoor pieces have all been thrifted. As well as a slew of my clothes and the kids clothes, paintings and frames, and even kitchen utensils.

Max was home sick one day recently and we went to the Goodwill after his doctor appointment. I came across a perfect nightstand for around $5. I wasn’t looking for a nightstand, but I couldn’t pass it up! The drawers were safe and glided smoothly, the wood color was exactly what I’ve been drawn to lately, and the brass details were character I couldn’t pass up. I thought it was so fitting that this side table be given to Max, since he was the one with me when I found it. I always think of our little sick day we had together when I see it.

His sweet little side table may be my current favorite, but each item has a special story that I’m attached to.

-What are you currently embracing?

I’m currently embracing layered neutrals. I love color, and I love incorporating shades of green into our home, but neutrals are feeling lovely these days. I’m also embracing more family photos to be displayed, less clutter in terms of toys and junk, and combining store bought quality items with the thrifted items.


  • EnVHwXBLftc


  • LDeztfpiyvIXJPju




  • siPGpuCOWIHowU


  • cqfjEkONQJVp


Leave a comment