The Valentine’s Day Spirit

FotoFlexer_Photo

I unlike almost all the other bloggers, have decided not to do any decorating for Valentine’s Day this year, and I thought I would share with you my reasoning for this since it was a choice that I made more for others than myself. I love Valentine’s Day, I have always exchanged small gifts with my friends and family to express my love and appreciation for those people in my life. Last year however, my experience was a little different than usual, I had just gotten my event management job and I had to work that night. My boyfriend (who is amazing) surprised me with a lovely candle lit steak and lobster dinner, which he had cooked himself, and gorgeous red roses when I came home that night. Let me just say that my boyfriend is not your typical “romantic” he is an asshole but me is my asshole and I love him. He thinks that Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday created so women can make men buy them stuff, while I don’t completely agree with him I do think that he has a point about the overly commercialized aspect of this holiday. While I know that he will do something special for me again, this year it is his turn to work on Valentine’s Day and we will probably just have a nice relaxing time together when he gets home from work. The other, more major, reason I chose not to decorate the house with an abundance of hearts and other love symbols is that our roommate’s girlfriend recently broke up with him and I don’t want him to feel any worse that he already will on Valentine’s Day. Because of this my boyfriend and I will probably go out to the beach or somewhere and get dinner while we are out so we don’t rub our love in our roommate’s face.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3

If you are like me, or just don’t feel like feeding into the commercialism of this holiday you can still find many ways to make Valentine’s Day special without covering our homes in Cupid’s throw-up. For example, I am making a handmade card for my boyfriend since we are so broke we decided that this would be a no-spend holiday. You can make (or buy) heart themed art which will be suitable for year round display, check out this cool Instagram Heart art made by Modern Parents, Messy Kids, which I would totally display year round! (shown above, middle). Another option is giving living (potted) flowers instead of cut flowers so that your significant other can enjoy them year round, I love the mini roses, they make great indoor plants (shown above, right).  I hope that this inspires you to get creative with your Valentine’s Day this year and celebrate in a more non-traditional way.

Best Wishes,

♥Leia

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Fab Find: Thrifty to Vintage Inspired Bread Box

Fancybreadboxes

Sources from left to right: 1, 2, 3, 4

Who knew that bread boxes could be so expensive? I can’t believe that the typical cost ranges from $30-$80 and I even saw one for $120! That seems like a lot of money for something that is so simple. I want to share this great and super easy project with you today, I was inspired by these vintage and retro style bread boxes (above) when I embarked on this project. If you are looking for more bread box inspiration check out this Pinterest Board

You may have read my previous post 5 Ways to Buy Cheap Home Decor, in this post I suggested keeping your eyes open at thrift stores for items that you can re-purpose and up-cycle and that is exactly what I did to find this wooden bread box for $3 at Goodwill. The wood was in good shape so I grabbed it up, originally I was just going to clean it up and use it as is but once I got the dirt off it was significantly lighter than the wood of our cabinets. So I decided to paint it with Americana Decor Chalky Finish paint in Refreshing and add a stencil to the front and side to make it more interesting. Let me just say a few nice words about this paint before we move into the how-to, please remember this is my opinion and I was not compensated in any way by DecoArt for this project. This paint is great, it goes on smooth and dries quickly and I found during the course of this project that a little paint goes a long way so there is real value in these small jars of paint. The one negative thing I noticed was the paint has a very toxic smell so I grabbed a face mask after working with it for a minute, it’s generally a good idea to wear a face mask when painting anyway. Ok, shameless plug done, lets get down to brass tacks the bread box.

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Here she is in all her dirty glory

Things you will need:

  • Bread box (or other object you want to up-cycle like this.)
  • 1 jar of Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint in your choice of color (I painted this in Refreshing.)
  • Acrylic craft paint or other type of paint for stencil in your choice of color (mine is just white.)
  • 2″ Chip Brush
  • 1″ Foam Brush for stencil and small area work
  • No. 0 small paint brush for fine detail work (if needed)
  • Stencil(s)
  • Painters tape to hold stencil
  • Adhesive contact paper, if you want or need to cover part of your project (I used it on the bottom inside the box)

Steps:

Always start by cleaning whatever you are planing to paint, I use a Lysol wipe and then dry it with a lint free towel, this will prepare the surface. Then I used a #60 grit sandpaper (medium grit) to scuff up the wood so the paint would adhere to the wood better, I wiped it again with a wet rag and dried it with the lint free towel, that prepares a great surface to begin painting on. Then I started painting the back and bottom using my 2″ chip brush, giving those areas two coats of paint, don’t worry if your first coat looks streaky, it will get better with every coat. Remember, you should always wash and dry your brush between coats of paint to get the best results. I only did 2 coats on these areas because I didn’t worry too much about total paint coverage since no one will ever see it, that way I saved some paint and money.

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After three coats of Americana Decor Chalky Finish paint in Refreshing

After the bottom had dried, I used three coats of paint to completely cover the wood on the front and sides in order have a smooth finish with no streaking or wood grain. For the paneled front I used the 1″ foam brush on the wider parts and the very fine detail brush and toothpicks to help completely cover the cracks in the lid without leaving too much paint behind. This was important for the lid’s usability, it still has to be able to roll up and down. I really worked the paint into the cracks by using only a small amount and dabbing off the excess paint from the tiny brush before applying it to the wood. Using this technique helped cover the wood and not leave globules of paint behind. This left me with about three quarters of the 8oz jar of paint left! I actually bought two jars thinking that I would need them for this project since the jars seemed so small in the store but it really does go a long way. I think I will return the other jar or maybe exchange it for another color!

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Applying the No. 1 stencil to the side of the box

Then I applied my stencils, Bread for the front and the No. 1 for the side. I made these stencils on my Silhouette Cameo machine, I will follow up soon with a tutorial for stencil making because it deserves its own post and this was my first Silhouette stencil project so it was definitely a learning experience for me (translation: it did not go to plan).  I fixed the stencils to the wood with painters tape, I recommend a delicate tape for this so it doesn’t rip off the new paint. Then I used the 1″ foam brush to “pounce” the acrylic craft paint onto the stencil. What I mean is I held the brush vertical and dabbed quickly at the stencil, this helps not to over paint an area so it bleeds through the stencil. Even with this technique I noticed a lot more bleed through after I removed the stencil than I had anticipated or wanted since I used card-stock paper to make my stencil. I would not do this again in the future, I would use a plastic material or just trace the stencil in pencil and hand paint the design in. I think some of my issues were from the curved shape of the front which made the stencil not sit flat, I had much less bleed through on the flat side. I did also use the small detail paint brush to touch up the lines and cover the bleed out from the stencil. I used two coats of paint with the stencil and a third hand painted coat to fix the lines from the bleed through. You can apply as many coats as you want for coverage, you can also use chalk paint (or whatever) for the stencil if you want, I just had some white acrylic craft paint at home already, and I am so about saving every dollar I can by using existing supplies.

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You can see the unfinished bottom on the left and the applied contact paper on the right

I wanted to do something on the inside of the box to make it more attractive and to cover the rough wood bottom, the insides are more finished but for some reason the bottom wasn’t finished. You can see I wasn’t too careful when I painted the edge since I knew I would be covering this area somehow.To fix this I applied adhesive contact paper (which I bought for a dollar and have tons leftover, I might try to line our kitchen drawers with it too) to the bottom. I cut it to just a hair wider than the inside dimensions and stuck it down using a scrapper to press it down firmly and push out bubbles as I laid it down. Then I used my handy dandy X-acto knife to trim off the excess edges on the sides and front.

breadbboxfinished

Now I get to enjoy this beautiful vintage inspired bread box everyday and it hides the unsightly accumulation of various breads, chips and snacks which are always on the top of the microwave. 

Here is the cost breakdown for this project if y’all are interested

  • Bread box $3 – Goodwill
  • Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint $6 – Michael’s (purchased on sale with an additional 20% off coupon, jars are normally $8)
  • Adhesive contact paper $1 – Dollar Tree
  • Acrylic paint FREE – from my craft stock
  • Paint brushes FREE – from my craft stock
  • Painters tape FREE – from my craft stock
  • Stencils FREE – made on my Silhouette Cameo machine

TOTAL COST: $10

Best Wishes,

♥Leia

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My Rental Refresh Project

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I recently helped some friends look for an apartment in the area where my boyfriend and I live and I had the opportunity to look at the rental market in our area. My boyfriend and I have been discussing the possibility of moving to a new apartment when our lease is up in the summer, my argument for it was to find a more updated apartment since ours is very 90’s builders grade. However after helping my friends look at 1 bedroom apartments which were renting for the same price or sometimes even more than what we are paying for our 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment, we decided that we were not moving any time soon. How can our apartment be so much less expensive? Well, I will explain, try to keep up it’s a confusing story. The apartment itself has been continually occupied for about 4 years, my boyfriend moved in as a roommate to the previous renter (who lived here with his ex-girlfriend before) than that guy moved out and my boyfriend took over the lease and rented out the 2nd bedroom to our current roommate and I moved in about 8 months after that, due to this, the lease has only ever been renewed instead of signing a new one at a much high rate. Another factor of our low rent is that our apartment has not been renovated, the complex has been renovating apartments as they are vacated and renting them at a much higher rate than before.  These two factors are the reason our rent has only increase nominally over the past few years and we are paying a very good rate for our apartment in our area. This hunt opened my eyes to what we currently have and how much money we would be saving has caused me to look at our apartment with new eyes and make some long term plans to refresh our apartment so it will feel like new again.

I plan to share my ongoing progress with these projects with you all in hopes that I can inspire others to rejuvenate their spaces as well. Some of the things I want to accomplish are painting the living room, bedrooms and bathrooms, currently they are all painted a boring beige color, clean our carpets again, work on the patio area so it is more functional and maybe do some small projects in the kitchen and living room.

I will be posting my projects to the blog as well as starting a page, which you can access from the top of the blog, to track our rental refresh project.

Best Wishes,

♥Leia

5 Ways to Buy Cheap Home Decor

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Today I am going to share my top 5 ways to save money on home decor. I’m sure many people are familiar with popular home design names such as Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, Restoration Hardware and West Elm, however their prices tend to be exorbitant and out of reach for most people. I confess while I love these stores and their designs I have never purchased anything from them due to the cost, this is because I am young (a recent collage grad) and have a limited budget, so the high price drove me away. But having a limited budget doesn’t mean that I don’t buy new home accessories and decor that look just as good as their high priced alternatives. I have discovered these 5 easy ways to maximize your dollars and get the designs you want.

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1.    Discount Stores

Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross and Home Goods are my favorite discount stores to shop at. Most items are discounted between 20%-70% off of retail. Home Goods is the best for a large selection of well know bands and designers, including tons of furniture, decor, rugs, and lighting, however the typical cost per item is usually the highest of the three. While the others are more comparable to each other in price, they all have smaller home sections than Home Goods. My best shopping tips: shop the clearance aisles to really maximize your purchase. Also look for visible defects or damage to the product, usually they will give you a small discount on the item if you ask them nicely.

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 2.   Thrift Stores

I am a believer in up-cycling things and donating instead of throwing things away because, someone else’s trash is my treasure. Goodwill is probably the most well know thrift store but there are a multitude of other types, St. Vincent de Paul Society has thrift stores in many cities nationwide, another great option are hospice thrift stores because they usually have a very nice selection of items. One of my favorite places to go is my local county dump. You might be say eeewww now but every once in a while you fine an amazing deal there. My dump has an area where they sell salvaged items from dumps such as a large number of doors and windows, toilets, tubs, bikes, and lots of random stuff. I found the mantel (pictured above creativity) which is in our living room here for $5, I sanded and painted the raw wood to finish it. Compared to a $300 mantel it makes my $5 one look pretty darn great. The dump can however be hit or miss so I usually don’t go out of my way for it. My best shopping tips: check out bargain days where they are offering 50% off or my local Goodwill offers a different colored tag at 50% off each day, maybe yours does too!

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 3.   Walmart

I know, I know, it seems so white trash but Walmart is great for basic home decor needs. I buy all my candles for here because they are hands down the cheapest price anywhere and they have a good selection of brands and types. Their LED remote candles and LED tea lights are the cheapest price I have found anywhere and they carry soy and wood wick candles too. Walmart has other great sections too, such as fabrics (they just started selling Waverly Fabrics), good basic floral items such as wreath forms, craft supplies, even super fluffy bath towels, and cheap frames. They also carry a large selection of Better Homes and Gardens products, you can see some BHG towels I bought at Walmart in my bathroom makeoverMy best shopping tips: wait for after season sales, especially Christmas, for even lower prices and always check the clearance sections.

michaelsapp

 4.   Coupons and Apps

Michaels Craft Store is probably the best example of a store which gives great coupons and has a great app. Every time I go to Michaels I buy at least one item, usually two, for 40%-50% off. I accomplish this by using their mobile app on my iphone to get a coupon that is worth 40%-50% off one (full price) item. It will give me one of these coupons every time I open the app. Michaels also gives paper coupons, which are usually worth the same as the app, out at the register when you purchase that are good for a future date. I usually have one of those with me too when I make my purchases. Check out other store’s apps for coupons you can use to get discounts. My best shopping tips: have the cashier ring up your items as separate purchases to use two different coupons or even the app coupon twice!

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5.    Creativity

While creativity isn’t a trendy brand or place to shop, it will maximize your budget more than any of these stores can. Getting creative with your existing decor pieces to reinvent your space or actually creating your own art for your home are great ways to get FREE home decor and have an unique piece which no one else has. My previously mentioned dump mantel is a great example of using creativity and the decor was all purchased using the above methods. The taller flowers (the mixed bouquet is from Walmart), boxwood in the copper tin, and the bird on the ball were all found at different thrift stores and Goodwill. The candles are LED remote candles from Walmart and the lantern came from Target in the clearance section (always check clearance), I paid less than $10 for it if you can believe that. The ceramic bird and birdcage pedestal came from Michaels using coupons from the app and the owl mirror was a gift, gifts are the best cheap free decor ever! My best shopping tips: keep your eyes open when shopping at thrift store and craft stores for items you can use to create new things out of, or refresh with paint, check out Dollar Stores for cheap mason jars and other items you can craft with. Even use the natural environment around us for greenery or if your really brave you can look for things that other people are throwing away as trash and up-cycle it.

These are my favorite ways to buy (or make) home decor on a budget and still have class and style in my home. My favorite places to be are the clearance sections, thrift stores or up to my elbows in hot glue and burlap and some of my favorite home accessories have been found, up-cycled or made.

Comment with your favorite places to find a deal and your up-cycled or made decor, I would love to see what other have accomplished.

Best Wishes,

♥Leia

Images: Home Goods, Goodwill, Walmart

Better Homes and Gardens Bathroom Makeover for Under $75

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Accessories are a great way to bring a fresh look to an outdated bathroom, especially in a rental where you do not have the luxury of changing the fixtures, lighting, cabinets or paint. Changing up the colors and patterns alone can bring a new perspective to your boring builder grade rental bathroom.While buying new everything for your bathroom can get expensive, if you shop carefully you can spruce up your bathroom for around $75 or less! Just adding new towels, rugs, and a soap dish or dispenser can completely update the overall look of the bathroom.

BathroomBefore

For my update, since I already had the furniture in the bathroom all I had to do was decide on a color scheme that worked with what I already had. Which is dark, and I mean DARK walnut furniture, not my first choice compared to my previous apartment (I had white furniture), but hey it was free and better quality than mine. My previous bathroom (in my old apartment) was designed with stripes in cool, beachy greens and blues. I grew up at the beach and those colors and my seashell watercolor (which makes an appearance in the updated bathroom) really evoked the calm of the ocean for me. I knew I wanted to keep the blues or greens and my watercolor, but with all of the furniture being a very dark walnut and I needed a way to tie it together. The bedroom decor is very girly so I did not want to have an overly feminine feel to the bathroom.

BathroomAfter

See the seashell watercolor hiding on top of the wall cabinet?

I shopped around for colors and styles I liked and found these towels and floor rugs in this great trellis pattern from Better Homes and Gardens at my local Walmart for a great price! I love the pattern, its sophisticated but not girly and the dark brown reflects the dark furniture. Plus they are SUPER fluffy and soft and the pattern is woven in so the colors are reversed on the other side. I bought two different styles of rugs, one patterned and one in the pretty teal color, to keep the space more interesting and less repetitive, patterns can be overwhelming sometimes. Unfortunately this pattern is not available online anymore, but I do still see them in the store if you are interested in buying them. I had the wire basket which holds lotions and sprays on the counter. I used jars from the dollar store for cotton balls and Q-tips in the wall shelf. I also bought a oil rubbed bronze toilet paper holder  with a plastic sleeve to protect the paper from moisture (I love this feature!) from Ross to complete the look.

BathroomDecor

The soap dispenser and tumbler are from Target’s Threshold Antique Bath collection in blue. I could have spent a few dollars less on these if I bought BHG brand accessories from Walmart, but I absolutely love the farm styling of the pump so I splurged on it. I also found some very cheap art at a thrift store to keep my beachy vibe going.

HisHersHooks

I have had these his/hers hooks since I moved in months ago but I didn’t know where to hang them until I made-over the bathroom, now they hang on either side of the wall cabinet and we each have our own towel hook since there is no towel bar in the bathroom.

RainfallShowerhead

One of the biggest upgrades we did to the bathroom when I moved in was install a new Waterpik rainfall shower head. I love strong water pressure and lots of spray when I take a shower and my boyfriend loves showers even more than I do. Replacing your existing shower head is a great way to update a rental since it is so easy to do, just save the old one for when you move out. I will follow up with a tutorial for installing one yourself in the future. I don’t really consider this part of the makeover since it was one of the first things I did when I moved in, but I love our shower 100 times more now that we did this.

BathbeforeafterBefore and After 

Overall I like the combination of dark brown and light blue together with the dark walnut and oil rubbed bronze, the dark browns tie in with the wood, the light blue adds a pop of color and the pattern adds interest to an otherwise boring bathroom. I hope this inspires you to see what a few new colors and patterns can do to your bathroom!

So here is the cost breakdown if y’all are interested. I added links to the Target products.

Better Home and Gardens Bath towels: $10

Better Home and Gardens Hand towels: $15

Better Home and Gardens Rugs: $22

Threshold Antique Oil Rubbed Bronze Soap Dispenser: $12

Threshold Antique Tumbler: $9

Oil Rubbed Bronze Toilet Paper Holder $7

Total: $75 (without shower head)

Best Wishes,

♥ Leia

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Home Stories A to Z

 TDC Before and After

The Idea Room

Rental Reno: Store It!

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This is the first post in an ongoing series called “Rental Reno” which will showcase different “renovations” which you can do in an apartment. 

As a renter I struggle with trying to find space for all of my stuff, not to mention my boyfriend’s and roommate’s things as well. I can well remember my first weeks in this apartment when I was trying to unpack my things, which I had moved from a 1br/1ba into a 2br/2ba apartment that I share with two boys (men). I had boxes everywhere, even in the bathtub! After moving some of the duplicate things into storage, I was able to really evaluate what there was in the apartment and what storage needs I had.

If you are struggling with an over abundance of stuff, I recommend “culling” your collection. Systematically evaluate what you have, consider how often you use it, its location, and its function. I judge things by the “one year rule”, if it hasn’t been used in a year its time to rehome it. Another good evaluation is dust, if something has collected noticeable dust you probably haven’t used it recently. When an item is ready to be rehomed, donate it your local Goodwill or thrift store, you can even get a tax deduction!

Once you have culled you collection of junk stuff, you are ready to start organizing your storage solutions. My favorite things to use for storage are baskets, glass jars, and containers. After moving into a home with two tech focused men, who watch sports games, and play video and online games constantly, I needed to store all the accessories which go along with having an Xbox,Wii, PS3 and PS4 in the apartment. I picked up these super cute shabby chic chicken wire baskets which are lined with polka dot fabric trimmed with lace to store video games, controllers, wires and other accessories under the tables on either side of our living room TV.

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I got a few smaller sizes of those polka dot chicken wire baskets and I use one for dog toys and one for leashes.

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I use hermetic glass storage jars in the kitchen, which seal out moisture and air, for bulk items like flour, sugar, tea and coffee. You can use chalkboard stickers to label them like I have. I use other glass jars to store things like Q-tips, cotton balls, change or whatever small things I need stored. It looks great and keeps it organized.

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We also have tons of kitchen utensils since I love to cook. I used these two kitchen utensil holders to separate our non-stick and metal utensils. A knife block keeps knives handy and contained, while large stacking cups are great for soup or tea!

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Consider buying multi-function items, especially if you live in a small space. I have had this mirror with galvanized steel drawers forever, I use the drawers to store communal keys for our apartment.

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I use this cute wire basket in the bathroom to store lotions and sprays, it ever looks good with my oil rubbed bronze soap dispenser.

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Storage doesn’t have to be cute to be functional! I love cabinet shelves, which I use to store my china and wire under sink baskets to store hair dryers and straighteners in the bathroom.

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Those are some of the ways I have dealt with the clutter in my home. How are some ways you all are managing your storage solutions, leave your answers in the comments!

Best Wishes,

♥ Leia