Sometimes car stories don’t have much to do with cars. Sometimes the cars play a supporting role instead of a starring one. Such is the case with my recent experience as the only non-DIY blogger invited to attend the GMC Yard Sale event.
The DIY bloggers and I met up with the GMC Communications team and attended the World’s Longest Yard Sale. At the end of the yard sale, we traveled to a new Habitat for Humanity home outside of Atlanta and each of us furnished a room in the house. The dramatic ending involved an eclectic mix of DIY style and a homeowner getting the surprise of her life.
GMC Communications team played by Meg, Sean, Katie, and Jasmine
DIY Bloggers played by Nancy of Artsy Chicks Rule, Christy of Confessions of a Serial Do-It-Yourselfer, Nick and Sarah from Nestrs, Courtney from French Country Cottage, and Allison from Two Thirty-Five Designs
Lone Auto Blogger played by Fadra of A Girls Guide to Cars
Awesome Traveling Vehicles played by the 2017 GMC Acadia, 2017 GMC Sienna (with trailer), 2017 GMC Yukon
All participants in this journey started at the hub of GMC activity in Detroit, Michigan. A quick stop for lunch, an introduction to the team, a swag bag to make any DIYer drool (complete with DeWalt drill and drill bits), house room assignments, a vehicle… and we were off!
Day 1: Detroit, Michigan to Bryan, Ohio, a town so small that they laughed when we asked if there was a Target nearby. They had great Mexican food though!
Day 2: Bryan to Frankfort, Kentucky, where we stayed in the only multi-story hotel I’ve ever seen without an elevator.
Day 3: Frankfort to Chattanooga, Tennessee – a trip that will forever endear both beautiful states to my heart.
Day 4: Chattanooga to Lithonia, Georgia, where we turned a hotel conference room into a makeshift workshop.
Day 5: House reveal in Georgia!
The GMC yard sale assignment
Before starting the journey, each blogger was assigned a specific room in the Habitat for Humanity house in Georgia along with pieces of information that would help us tailor the decor to the new homeowner’s tastes and preferences. Being the only non-DIY blogger, I was assigned the kitchen and dining room, most likely because it would be a challenge to really screw it up!
After our room assignments, it was time to grab a GMC Acadia (Denali, no less) and hit the road. Only one small problem. Nick and Sarah are married. Christy and Nancy are from the same home town. And Allison and Courtney are friends. That left me one additional role: THIRD WHEEL.
No worries, though. Nancy and Christy took me under their wing and let me ride along in an Acadia, bathed in White Frost Tricoat and outfitted with a Jet Black leather interior. They soon found out that I was the car blogger and since I enjoy driving, I became the designated driver for most of the trip.
We survived the drive so I’d say I did a pretty good job. I was quick to pull over when a yard sale caught our eye. I was always checking to see who needed a potty break (that’s the mom in me). And I was able to slip in a little driver education along the way.
Together we learned about the electronic parking break (situated on the left when I clearly felt it should be on the right) and the safety features like Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Seat Reminder (we never forgot Christy in the car) and my personal favorite, Adaptive Cruise Control. I even corrected Christy telling her that the safest hand position is no longer 10 and 2 but 9 and 3. I’m totally sure she appreciated me correcting her.
Where we really put the Acadia to the test was with its cargo space. With the third row seating folded flat, the Acadia had 41.7 ft³ for our yard sale goodies but with the second row seating folded flat it had 79 ft³. Unfortunately for our vehicle, we had the THIRD WHEEL on board so our cargo space was somewhere in between. No worries, though, because we were being followed by a GMC Sierra towing a trailer. We called them in when we needed help to pick up the big stuff.
Although the drive was sometimes tedious (how many cornfields does it take to get through Ohio?), we enjoyed exploring the hot, humid, but lovely mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky. We loved meeting with people from all over (both sellers and buyers) and we loved telling the story of our trip as we wore our GMC gear throughout the entire trip.
In addition to seeing barns and windmills and mountains and lakes, we also saw the most unusual finds along the 690 mile yard sale corridor that we traveled. Some people were willing to bargain while others stood firm on their prices. My favorite people were the ones who helped us out knowing that our mission was to help a family in need.
The kitchen and dining room
What does it take to create a dining room and kitchen from scratch? To help me organize my purchasing, I made a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves and things that could be refurbished vs those that should be bought new.
In the end, I got a mix of everything.
I started the day purchasing an excellent find of a kitchen table with six chairs. It needed a little fixing up but I was sure I could rely on my own DIY skills with a little help from the experts.
I found an amazing steal on canisters (only $4) that looked like they had been rolled in the mud and stored in a barn for years (wish I had taken a true before picture) and purchased an adorable set of drinking glasses for only $3.
My favorite find, though, came from an older woman manning a booth for someone. She was selling brand new Black & Decker appliances for less than I knew I could find in any store (or used, for that matter!). I chose a new blender, toaster, and hand mixer. I offered her $25 for $28 worth of merchandise. But when I explained our mission, she insisted on taking only $20.
For the rest of the items, I did a lot of bargain shopping at new stores like Target (brand new pots & pans for $30!), Big Lots, and Walmart. And found accent items at TJMaxx, Michaels, and even my favorite cookbook at an Atlanta thrift store.
The hotel conference room was our makeshift workshop and this is where it got a little crazy. We were seven different bloggers with seven different senses of style putting together seven different rooms in one house. How in the world would it all come together?
I watched and learned while others sanded and painted to bring their visions to life. I found myself saying, time after time, OMG that looks amazing! I would have never thought of that!
And finally, it was my turn, I sanded and refinished my table top. I repaired one of the kitchen chairs. I spray painted the stools I bought at Walmart to personalize them. And then I washed every. item. for. the. kitchen.
On the last day, still high on victory and spray paint fumes, we loaded our furniture and projects into all the trucks and trailers and began putting the house together. We knew Crystal, the new homeowner, would be arriving for her 2pm house dedication ceremony so all work had to cease by 1:30pm.
Here is how the kitchen and dining room came together.
Have you ever watched those HGTV shows where you say to yourself there’s no way they’re going to pull this off? Yeah, that’s pretty much how we felt.
And then magically, it all came together. We all had one goal in mind: make that house a home.
When you watch Crystal walk in, you can decide if we succeeded. (P.S. that little sob at 1:27 might be me)
The grand finale
After the reveal, we barely had time to give Crystal and each other a hug before jetting off to the airport and heading home to our normal lives. This was not a typical press trip where we wine and dine and enjoy scenic drives. But this trip was probably more rewarding than any of the others.
Not only did I get a chance to get very up close and personal with the 2017 GMC Acadia but I got the chance to make new friends, learn new skills, and make a difference.
Check out the other amazing room assignments from these talented bloggers:
Family room and living room: Nestrs
Laundry room: French Country Cottage
Daughter’s bedroom: Artsy Chicks Rule
Son’s bedroom: Confessions of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer
Master bedroom: Two Thirty-Five Designs
GMC provided travel and transportation for this trip and provided a $600 budget to cover expenses during the trip.