Eclectic Paper Trees

For this post, I teamed up with one of my favorite places to shop for home decor – Goodwill! I was provided a small allowance for supplies in exchange for this post. Not only is shopping second-hand good for your budget, it's great for the environment and exciting too!

It's holiday time! I officially just started vacation from my "real job" and can finally relax and go full steam ahead Christmas beast mode. While this time of year is CRAY-ZEE with kids' parties and gift buying and finishing up last minute work projects, I wanted to take the opportunity to work with one of my favorite places to shop, Goodwill! Plus, this project is so quick, you could still whip these up in time for Christmas Eve company. Promise.

Goodwill contacted me and asked if I would be interested in shopping their stores in search of not-so-traditional elements I could incorporate into holiday decor. Sign me up. I feel like that is what I do almost every year anyway, right? Let the shopping begin.
In my head, I wanted to make a simple garland out of who knows what, but when I found this amazing stack of beautiful paper my brain switch gears. I loved the eclectic, worldly look of the patterns and while they are not typical christmas colors, they reminded me of the holidays. My kids have been learning about Christmas traditions around the world and I think that's what got me. I knew big beautiful paper trees would look gorgeous made with these patterns.

So I got to working and simply cut each paper into right triangles.  Then it's just a matter of glueing the folds together.  I used hot glue so they were dry and ready to use almost instantly.  I did a variety of sizes and cut little notches to indicate branches in some of them. You could probably whip up a batch of these in less than 30 minutes.

I just love how crafty and simple they are and the variety of sizes makes arranging them easy.

Then... SURPRISE... I also found this amazing vintage globe to go along with my worldly Christmas theme. I. LOVE. IT. You never know what you will find at Goodwill. It's like an adventure every time. The colors of the globe compliment the patterns and colors in the paper so well and the whole thing is the perfect addition to the mid-century console in the center of our living room. I've looked for a globe like this for years at the antique extravaganza I go to each year and they are always way over priced or really damaged. Such a find!

I added of a few small sparkly ornaments for some shine and when the family starts arriving later this week, this table always holds all of the snacks.  The trees and globe are going to make my appetizers look even better.

So that's it.  So simple and so easy. The globe was quite the find but I ALWAYS see donated craft supplies on my Goodwill trips. I love that I can shop for decorations with very little money, know that I'm helping a good cause, and saving items that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill. I could even see heart versions of these for Valentine's Day. I might just need another trip in January. :)


{Series Part 7} How to Build a House: Lighting

Building a house is in some ways like giving birth. It's painful. In the heat of the moment you swear you're not going to do it again. But when its all over, the end result is worth it. So much of the building process is like that and buying lights was no exception. It actually might have been one of the worst parts. Like, really bad. Sounds amazing right?! Well come on, I'll tell you all about it!

Let's start with the budget–as in, we did not have much of one. And I know what you're thinking, How is that possible?? It's possible when you and your builder are not on the same page as far as the level of finish you are expecting (oh man... communication is so important!). In other words, I was thinking Pinterest Farmhousey Chic and he was thinking Contractor Builder Basic. The lighting budget was established almost a year prior when we got the quote for the construction. It was a small line item in a huge list of line items that was around a couple thousand dollars. It seemed unimportant and tiny in comparison to say the line item for lumber, or the roof. And when you're just trying to get approved for a crazy building loan, design a house, and deal with clearing land all at the same time, the lighting budget doesn't get much attention. Turns out, a couple thousand dollars is WAY low when buying dozens of lights, fans, and fixtures for a 4 bedroom home.
Electricians wrapping up the kitchen under-cabinet lights (September 2015).

Obviously, I know that now. Older = Wiser, right? And had I taken the time to price out the fans I wanted and chandeliers I was eyeing last year, I would have realized that we probably needed to double the lighting budget (triple?). But, it got over-looked and I thought, yeah, that sounds good. Let's go with it.

So armed with only about $2,000 I went to work figuring out first off, what I needed to buy. The electricians provided all recessed lighting but any sort of fixture was up to me. All fans, exterior lights, bathroom vanity fixtures, under-cabinet lighting, in-cabinet lighting, chandeliers, closet lights, etc were on me. Armed with my laptop and an Excel spreadsheet, I walked around the house and took inventory of every gaping hole with wires protruding. I listed all rooms and then fixtures required for each room. I ended up with 55 total fixtures! FIFTY. FIVE. *dies*

Butler's Pantry with in-cabinet and under-cabinet lighting.

So if you do some quick math, that averages out to about $36 per fixture. Have you ever tried to buy a new chandelier or ceiling fan??? Let's just say that generally the under $36 club isn't a pretty club. So I decided to prioritize, giving the prominent fixtures more of the loot . 

The kitchen hanging fixtures, dining room chandelier, and living room ceiling fan became Tier 1. Meaning I was willing to spend the most on those (in my head... up to $300ish?). Then the bathrooms became Tier 2, then the hallways, then bedroom fans, then closets, garage, and exterior lights. It was basically like... what lights can we spend the absolute least on (outdoor motion lights, fluorescent fixtures for the garage, closets, etc.) and what should we put a few more dollars into? Then I got to shopping.

Five fluorescent fixtures in the garage... bargain basement pricing here :).

I got 90% of our lighting at either HomeDepot.com or Lowes.com keeping in mind budget and convenience (free and fast shipping). And funny side note. After I entered the worlds longest Home Depot order online–checking and rechecking my Excel sheet–and hit the final "Order" button (over $1,000 and dozens of lights), my credit card denied the charge because they thought it was fraud. I then spent the next hour on the phone with Chase and Home Depot customer service making sure I wouldn't be charged twice and then while they manually reentered my entire order since everything got deleted when the card was denied! Ugh. So so not fun.

View of kitchen pendants and "School House" fixtures down the hall.

The main focal point in our kitchen is the island which has two pendants hanging over it.  I knew they needed to be special to really get the look I've been planning since 2007 when we bought this piece of dirt and a dream. Even if the rest of the house was mostly basic and maybe I'll replace later when we have more money, the island was going to be amazing. So I did a ton of research and Pinterest browsing and finally decided that Lamps Plus had what I needed. They actually had EVERYTHING I needed wanted for the entire house (gorgeous selection) but like I said... budget.

So I contacted them and basically laid out my whole "I have a dream about gorgeous pendant lights" story and they graciously agreed to equip my kitchen in exchange for some blog love. So here I am loving. Really, I love them. Two Possini Euro Arlo 15 3/4" Wide Chrome Pendant Lights arrived and they are the perfect cherry on top of our kitchen. Sometimes I just stand in the kitchen waiting for my waffle to toast and stare at them. They really are better in person than they are in their internet pictures. Nice scale and weight and provide the perfect amount of light for the island. I would buy 10 more if I had a place for them.

And, since it's been over a year (yikes!) since they've been up, I can tell you that they clean up beautifully with the same stainless cleaner I use on the fridge.
Island lights to distract you from the amount of junk on the back counter.

So the take away from this enthralling tale of lighting woes, is to really check that the budget the builder gives you is actually going to cover more than light bulbs. Know the ballpark prices of what you want and the number of fixtures you need from day 1. You'll be so much happier in the end shopping for what you actually love instead of what you "can live with for now".

And now, I leave you with a variety of shots of my lights in action. Enjoy. 

Master bathroom fixture (there are two of these). Not my favorite but good enough for now.

The hubs assembling the dining room chandelier... and the kids whacking each other with styrofoam.

All of the kitchen fixtures in all of their glory.

You can see the garage lights from this angle. 4 total + 3 porch lights + 2 motion lights = 9 just on the front of the house.

Our living room ceiling fan. Simple but LOVE it. Seriously, one of our best buys. It's silent and works amazingly well even on the lowest setting.

Dining room fixture fully assembled... no styrofoam swords in sight.

You can see the kitchen table fixture and the "desk fixture" by the chalk board wall (one day there might be a desk over there) in this shot.


Mid-Century Bench Made From 2 Chairs

Lately I've been getting back into the swing of my DIY driveway shenanigans since we're getting pretty settled in the "new" house (it's been over 9 months since we moved in). So, I was excited to hear from the Habitat Restore here in Orlando again this year asking if I'd like to partner up and DIY some goodies for you all to see. When we came together last year I made the DIY Tripod Floor Lamp that is still one of the main sources of lighting in our living room. With $50 in-hand, Kaley and I hit the Restore to see what we could get into.

The Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando Restore offers a wide variety of items from household goods to home d├ęcor, furniture, and appliances. The store also accepts donations of these gently used goods and offers a free pick-up service through its donation hotline: 407-426-7859. And the best part is all proceeds fund Habitat’s mission to help homeowners achieve the self-reliance they need to build a better life for themselves and their families through affordable homeownership.

Since the Restore is only about 10 minutes away from where I work, I visit quite often on my lunch break so I know their stock is constantly changing. New things arrive (and leave!) every day. Today we were on the hunt for a headboard (which didn't quite pan out) but found MANY other things instead...

That dresser on the top left was awesome but I really don't have a place for it. Kaley tried hard to get a bright purple sofa for her bedroom. Chairs for days! And I couldn't resist that sweet "mom" needlepoint that I promptly turned into a "wow" needlepoint when we got home. :) I also found a Le Creuset pie plate for $3! If you're one of my cooking enthusiast friends, you probably know how amazing that is ($50 on Le Creuset's website... what?!).

But on to the main event. Like I said, we were looking for a full-sized headboard but ended up with a couple $5.00 chairs and some $1 planks of wood instead. Here's what the haul looked like when I got home (never mind the ever-present soccer stuff).

My plan was to turn these supplies into a bench for my kitchen. Total cost here: $15.

The chairs were $5 a piece and looked like it. However, the frames were a nice shape with the tapered front legs.

So I disassembled almost everything. I took the chair backs off and removed the seats. Then started playing around with what would work best as a bench base. Clamps are good to have in this situation.

This was version 3 I think. I liked the idea of following the curve of the chair frames and rounding the ends of the bench however, if anyone sat on one of the ends, then entire bench would flip over. Probably not a good idea when you know your children will use this as a stage/diving board/gymnastics apparatus at some point.

So this was the final configuration. I liked the tapered legs out to the sides and it was by far the most sturdy. Time to assemble.

First I spaced the top boards evenly using scraps of 1/4" plywood.

Then I clamped, glued, and nailed them together using another scrap of wood from the garage.

After that was dry, I removed all of the legs and added some wood glue to the joints to firm them up. They were a little wobbly.

Then I glued and nailed the bases to the top and trimmed off the ends with a circular saw so they were even.

After that, I sanded for. an. eternity. I'm pretty sure these boards were once bed slats and not intended for a finished furniture look. Anyway, I started with a rough grit and worked my way up to a 220 grit with my orbital sander. Then I sanded the legs mostly by hand and just to rough them up a bit since I knew they were going to be painted.

When staining furniture, my go-to is Minwax. Pre-stain works wonders for giving a smooth, even look and wax is 100% my favorite way of protecting whatever it is I just stained (I used wax when I refinished our bedroom dresser too). However, these wood finishing cloths totally did not work for the look I was going for this time. They are kind of like wet wipes soaked in stain, which is convenient and all, but it ended up going on way too thick and red. Kind of like brownish-red paint. NOT the look I was going for. I resanded that section and went with a walnut liquid stain instead.

I took a pic of the pre-stain going on since I sometimes get questions about that. It really just makes the wood a little wet/oily so when the stain goes on it spreads really evenly. No blotches.

After the stain cloth debacle, I found myself quickly running for rags and sandpaper to correct the red/brown blobs that I had applied. Since I was wearing stain-covered gloves, there are no pictures of the actual staining process that worked. But here's the finished product! This was 2 coats of Minwax walnut stain wiped on with a rag then waxed with Minwax Paste Finishing Wax.

Once that dried (in about 2 minutes since it was 103 outside), I flipped the table over and primed the legs.

After a quick sand, they got several coats of white paint. I usually use exterior paint for furniture because I think it's more durable. But, whatever you have should work fine with the right primer/sanding.

And that's it. My new mid-century style bench has found a new home in our kitchen. By the way, that blue pillow is also from the Restore. It's still had the Homegoods tags on it and cost a whopping $4. :)

The tapered legs are what I hoped to show off with this bench and I think the crisp white helps do that.

And who knew bed slats could look so yummy.

Here's the before and after. I hope this gets you excited to hit the Restore and see what fun projects you can come up with for very little money. If you're local, and mention my blog at the Orlando Restore, you'll get 15% off your purchase too! (Open: Monday–Saturday, 9am–7pm and Sundays, noon–6pm)

And I wasn't alone in this DIY challenge. Two other talented Central Florida bloggers braved the heat and created their own Restore projects as well. Head over to see how Kerri at Shaken Together Life and Elizabeth at Within The Grove came up with their own refreshingly summery ideas. I love how we all had the same budgets and shopped at the same places and our projects are so different! They rocked it. Such creativity by all!


Style: Mixing Old and New

So a bit of backstory. WAY back in September when it looked like our move-in date was near, I contacted Rugs USA about teaming up for a post. They graciously agreed with a discounted rug and I couldn't wait to get my new living room together! Then life and the move happened and well, it took WAY longer to get my act and the house together than originally planned. But alas, we are here! We are moved in and somewhat settled and the living room is ready (mostly) for it's first official close-up... including my new (now 6 months old!) rug from Rugs USA. Come on in. I'll tell you about it. We have coffee and wine.
You know when you shop online for house stuff and they let you filter by style? Traditional, Modern, Transitional, Eclectic, yada yada. I never use those filters. I really never know what to click and honestly, I think my style is just in the "other" category. Like if it were multiple choice I'd be the sad, you-don't-fit-anywhere, default option. But it's cool.  I'm okay with that.

Sometimes I love farmhouse, country, traditional rooms and sometimes I love the saturated jewel tones of a bohemian style. I usually tend to shy sway from ultra modern but not always. I love classic lines and patterns but can be a sucker for a good trend too. I love, love, love form but am reasonably practical and realize sometimes function has to trump. My taste is really a hodgepodge, but for me, and our sometimes crazy, busy, dirty, chaotic house, hodgepodge works.

Our new living room is a total mix of everything. The couch was an epic $100 Craig's List deal that had me and my husband digging through a woman's garage to release it from the clutches of lawnmower parts and old bird cages (I checked for rodent poop... all clear). I'm fairly certain it's a traditional relic from the 1950's-ish (60's maybe?) and I bought it long before we moved. Granted, the color is not my favorite (my husband lovingly called it "pee-vomit"... so sweet) but reupholstering seems silly to me at the moment since the current upholstery is is really great shape. I'll just wait for the kids to spill something unforgiving, then we'll discuss options.

I topped it off with a collection of store-bought and DIY pillows that tie the incredibly desirable couch color into the brand new rug. I think this rug was under "Geometic" on RugsUSA.com so I'm not really sure what style category you'd lump that into. I might venture to say it's a little trendy with the bold lattice pattern but I love how that modernizes my totally old-lady couch. See what I mean!? All over the map.

The drapes are from halfpricedrapes.com via Amazon and honestly are great quality for the money (I already have a different pair in my cart for the guest room). I searched long and hard to find 6 panels in a super long length, that would jive with the rug and couch, and didn't require me to take out a loan. I love how the pattern of the drapes is sort of a traditional play on the trendy lattice pattern of the rug. I don't believe Rugs USA is selling this specific rug anymore but I found a few close matches here, here, and here if ya wanna peek.

The lamp was a DIY project from years past when I teamed up with Habitat for Humanity and I'd call it modern with it's thin sleek legs and large drum shade. It's current spot is temporary as I have big DIY plans for the TV wall. Big plans I tell ya. And the Doberman keeping a watchful eye in the background was a Facebook group deal ;). 

The ottoman is pretty traditional with it's detailed tufting, however I think the nail heads and charcoal color bring it into 2016... plus the charcoal color totally camouflages dirty footprints which really was my motivating factor on the color choice. The chair is a fairly new purchase topped off with a totally trendy chevron throw. Again, probably temporary in this spot until I get the TV wall underway. And, let's be honest... only for this picture was part of my milk glass collection on display for a vintage touch. Those suckers went right back in the cabinet before the kids returned from school. #reallife

The good part about being a little behind schedule on the "settling in" is that I can tell you how the rug is holding up 6 months in... lemons > lemonade: bam. So here's the play by play. Right after we put the rug down I LOVED it. Totally warmed up the space, great color, great thickness, great size. A couple weeks in and blue tumbleweeds had taken over my house! This puppy shed quite a bit there for a while. Turns out, I had a really crappy vacuum also.  haha. Sooo, we just recently got a macdaddy vacuum and a couple canisters of blue fuzz later, this puppy is back in action. It's been spilled on and the dog may or may not have done some bad things on it and you can't even tell! Seriously hard-working rug. I liked my experience with Rugs USA so much that after I got this rug, I purchased another for our office.

While this room is still quite the work in progress, the rug is my jumping off point and I lourvvve it. This is the Beaumont Distressed Adileh Rug in green and it's amazing. It's so soft on your feet... almost like velvet, and the colors are exactly what I was hoping for. Also, it's very low pile so a regular office chair with wheels rolls around with no problems. I may or my not have switched out a more attractive dining room chair for this pic. :) Not to mention shipping was free and it was delivered to my door in days. Also, that desk was $60 on Craig's List. (*Pats self on back) Now for the rest of the room... 

Even though the color is technically "green" online, it's really more of a mix of teals and blues. 

So there you have it.  The first official blog post look at While They Snooze House and all the goodies I've been collecting to fill it with. I've already got a post started on our lighting choices and a few DIY projects in process. Stay tuned!