Stair Progress | The Plan


It may be tax season… but we are going to tackle the staircase reno (and by we I mean mostly Jake and me cheering loudly for moral support).   So, I talked with you before about my considerations, and the various ways we could finish the stairway.

As per typical me fashion, we are going with a totally different decision than my original sway.  So, fasten your seatbelts as I take you through the thought process of a wiffle-waffler and how we ultimately made our decision.

Brief recap:  I was thinking we would attempt to salvage the construction treads  and sand, caulk and paint them in an effort to save money on buying all new treads.  Then, to hide the fact that they were construction risers, I wanted to put a nice runner down the middle.

Jake usually brings grounded-ness to our decision-making and suggested that if we’re going to do this stair renovation, we should do it right and have wood treads.  (Cue the the dolla signs in my head….)  But, after some research we found these treads that were only $10 a piece!

Ok, so with these pine treads, the cost becomes bearable again.  But, Jake had concerns about the quality/hardness of pine and it holding up over time.  So, I suggested we put a runner over the pine treads as extra protection (which, I know, costs more money).  In the end this is the plan we agreed on, and I think it will be the best bang for our buck.

These are my top picks for runners at the moment.  This one is probably front runner in my mind.  I don’t know why but I just love the pattern and how it marries geometric and chic into one adorable runner!  I’ve never been an orange person, but lately I’ve really been craving more orange (strange, I know).  My concerns with this one are that it’s accent color is ‘bone’, will that clash with our hallway if I paint it white?  And what if the pattern is too large with the stairs?

This was a last minute addition, and on one hand I love it so much, and on the other I keep asking myself if it’s true to ‘me’ and my style vision for the home.  I think it’s adorable, whimsical, colorful, and fun, but… I had been picturing a bright geometric runner.  What color would I even choose? And another part of me thinks this is safer choice (gotta think about resale sometimes people).  So which do you prefer?

Marina Indoor/Outdoor Rug

We’re hoping to still finish the stairway in under $400 (including paint, stain, poly, rug runner, new treads, and new risers).  It hurts to spend so much on stairs, but in the long run, I believe this investment will pay back and then some in resale value.


Now, building codes in Illinois state that the maximum variance of rise between steps cannot exceed 3/8″.  Because we originally had carpet on the stairs and landing, and laminate on the first floor, our heights varied up to 3/4″.

So, to fix that and make sure our stairs don’t cause anyone to trip, we are decreasing the bottom stair rise to bring our variance down to 3/8″.  To do that, we’ll remove the plywood construction tread and replace it with a slightly thinner version.

The other night Jake started trimming the nose off the construction treads.  Soon we’ll be replacing the first plywood tread, sanding the trim (might as well do all the messy stuff at the same time!), and making a Home Depot trip for our new treads!

Tax Tips | Is my blog a Business or Hobby?

It’s that time of year again… tax season.  Some people dread it, others are hopeful for a generous refund.  Whatever boat you’re in, if you’re a blogger I’d encourage you to think twice about how you file your taxes this year.

I’m a tax accountant by day… so can we just have a little blogger heart to heart here and discuss your taxes?

According to the Internal Revenue Code, all income is taxable unless it is specifically exempted.  This means that technically, if you pick up a random twenty in the grocery store parking lot you need to report that as income on your tax return.  And of course any money you receive from your blog is certainly includible as well.

But, there are two different ways you can classify your blogging income that will affect the rest of your taxes.  You can report your earnings as coming from either a hobby or a business.  Do you know which your blog is for tax purposes?

business or hobby blog tax tips


If your blog is classified as a business, you can deduct the expenses you incurred (web hosting, camera equipment, possibly even a part of your home’s utilities) against your income to lower your tax bill.  And isn’t that what everyone wants?  A lower tax bill.

If your blog is classified as a hobby according to the IRS, you also can deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses, BUT are limited and can only be taken up to the amount you made in hobby income.  In other words, you can take more deductions as a business than as a hobby.


These are the considerations of the IRS in determining whether or not you operate a business or a hobby.

  • Does the time and effort put into your blog indicate an intention to make a profit?
  • Do you depend on income from the activity?
  • If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond your control or did they occur in the ‘start-up phase’ of your blog?
  • Have you changed methods of operation to improve profitability?
  • Do you (or people advising you) have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
  • Have you made a profit in similar activities in the past?
  • Does the activity make a profit in some years?
  • Can the taxpayer expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?
  • If you’ve made a profit during at least 3 of the last 5 years (including the current year), the IRS assumes your blog is a business.  

Ok, so you’ve read through the list, some of the points describe you, but some don’t.  Now what?  How will you determine what to classify your blogging activity as?

There is one ultimate question that it all boils down to in the eyes of the IRS…

Are you trying to make a profit?

If the answer to that question is yes (and a true yes that can be supported) then your blog can be classified as a business.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve had losses for its entire existence.  As long as you are running your blog in such a way that your goal is to be profitable, you can classify your blog as a business.

That’s good news, isn’t it?  I’m very excited to be reporting Mrs. Fancee blog earnings as business income this year and to be deducting my expenses fully.  I’m looking forward to the year when I do have a profit to report, but for now I’m just glad to have a few extra deductions on my 1040.

Have you been filing your blog income as hobby or business income?  The tax accountant in me would love to know!  Also, is this interesting and helpful?  Because I would consider doing a few more tax posts with tips for bloggers.  Let me know what you think :)

IKEA Astorp Floor Lamp

Don’t you just love IKEA?  We are fortunate enough to be only 20 minutes away from, not one, but two of the only IKEA’s in Illinois.  Back when we were in an apartment, I could literally walk to one, it was great.  And dangerous 😉

You can do so many neat, ‘look for less’ projects with things from IKEA.  Lately, I’ve been on the hunt for a floor lamp for our den.  With no overhead lighting, it gets pretty dark in there during the evenings.  Floor lamps can be tricky for some reason, and I don’t feel like there is a predominant trend right now to guide you on what is and isn’t cool about them.

On a recent trip to IKEA I spotted the ASTORP lamp, and I knew it was meant to be.  At only $25 for the base, it was definitely priced right.  The style kind of mimicks the popular ‘tripod’ floor lamp and its clean geometric lines really appealed to me.  So I snatched it up!  I have plans to hide the cord a bit and spray paint the legs gold (don’t you think that will give it that extra special touch?)

Get the look for *WAY* less!!  |  IKEA Astorp  |  Mrs. Fancee

Get the look for *WAY* less!!  |  IKEA Astorp  |  Mrs. Fancee

(image via Stylebook Closet App)


After finding such a great deal, of course I had to look around and see how it compared.  I found these lamps that are very similar to the ASTORP IKEA floor lamp, but cost considerably more… So I would say this is a very successful ‘look for less’ purchase!

Get the look for *WAY* less!!  |  IKEA Astorp  |  Mrs. Fancee

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What are your favorite IKEA products?  Do you ever struggle when picking out floor lamps?