ROUNDUP: My Favorite Lighting (under $100)!

Maybe you can relate - I've probably been mentally planning our new adobe house (the one we're going to be moving into) since the first day I walked into it, but now that we are maybe a month or two away from being finished (!!!) it feels like it's finally okay to start doing a little decor shopping and planning for our home!

And maybe this is also too real and relatable, but we are sinking almost alllllllll of our money into our home, so our budget for the fun stuff is mega limited. I figure that I'm not alone in my search for cool things on a budget, so I thought I would share some of my favorite lamp finds for under $100 - both table lamps AND floor lamps. Too many hours of my life browsing the internet when I can't sleep has led to some pretty crazy good finds! Have a look:

Sources: one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight

I'm still narrowing down what we are going to actually get and what is going to go on the wish list for later, so which ones would you pick right away? Which ones would you hold off on until the budget allows? I'm thinking of sticking with black and white lamps right away and then adding color as the bigger pieces start filling in. Yeah?

I partnered with Article on this roundup post, but as always, all opinions are my own!

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Build your own (SUPER Easy) Fountain!

Hey guys! I'm partnering again with TruGreen to show you how to bring more curb appeal to your home to help you Live Life Outside - and this time we are going to build a really easy little fountain. No tools required, you guys! That's how easy this is!

We made this quick little video to show you how! Below, you can also see my extra tips on building your fountain.

1. To make this REALLY easy on yourself, choose two planters of various sizes - bonus if the top one has a hole in the bottom already! I found these two planters at Target! Otherwise, you can choose any kind of basin for the top part of the fountain, but if it doesn't have a hole and it is ceramic, you will have to drill a hole using a masonry bit. The bottom basin does not need to have a hole - in fact, if it does have a hole, you will have to seal it up to ensure that the water doesn't escape!

2. Choose a small submersible pump for your fountain! The type of tubing you purchase depends on the opening the pump you purchase specifies. Our pump said the opening was 1/2", so we bought 1/2" tubing. Pretty simple!

3. When you use the waterproof silicone, you will need to give it at least 24 hours to dry before you expose it to the water! Through the magic of video we were able to make it look like this takes one afternoon, and though it really is not a time-consuming project at all (it maybe takes an hour to build, tops!), you will need to plan ahead and make sure everything is properly sealed and dried before you can add your water. :)

4. We chose to drape the the pump cord over the bottom basin and hide it behind the fountain (you can't see it from the front, but you can see it in the overhead photo below). If you want a little more of a discreet look, you can drill a hole into the basin and splice the cord, but ONLY do so if you know what you're doing (or you know someone who does). Electrical stuff is no joke, especially in close proximity to water!

5. We were able to find our pump, tubing, river rocks, and silicone all at our local hardware store! If you feel intimidated looking for them, don't be bashful about asking someone. :)

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Let me know if you try this out!! I was shocked how easy a fountain is to actually build. I'm convinced my 3 year old could have done it, too - in fact, it might be a fun project to do with your little ones - why not!? Get outside and make something fun together! :)

This is part two of our series on ways to boost your curb appeal of your home or apartment - expect more to come (and click HERE to see how we built a wall garden). Be sure and follow TruGreen's Instagram page for a lot more ideas on how to live life outside!

This post was created in partnership with TruGreen, but all thoughts and ideas are my own! Thanks for supporting the companies that support us!

Cuter Tudor: The Living Area & Kitchen

First off, I have to throw this out there, if you're in Phoenix today then you are CELEBRATING with me because last week it was 108 degrees, and today it's 65. WE ARE IN HEAVEN. Hah!

As I've been getting a ton of questions about the various pieces in the living room of the Cuter Tudor, I've decided to do a few more posts and go a little more in-depth on my design choices and everything!

I think I mentioned this in my house reveal post, but right off the bat, the whole design of the living room started with these two mossy green Embrace chairs from Article. They're velvet, and they are incredible. I was already looking for a way to incorporate Pantone's color of the year (Greenery!) into this home besides just using plants, so it seemed like a no-brainer decision (now that I say that, you'll notice the subtle pops of green here and there... maybe!?).  Not only are they gorgeous to look at but they're insanely comfy - perfect for after-dinner conversation with friends or a quiet morning with a mug of coffee. They're also the first impression when you walk in the door of this house! So anyway, once I had the chairs, I actually used them to influence other design choices we went with (like lighting fixtures, tile, etc). I know that sounds a little backwards, but it just felt like the right thing to do! I think in a way, it helps the design of the actual home to retain a more timeless feel, when you make your strong design choices with your furnishings. I don't know about you guys, but my tastes are constantly changing. I don't think I could ever commit to a really wild and colorful tile for fear I would get tired of it in a month.

I've gotten the most questions about this gorgeous rug, but sorry ya'll, this was an Offer Up find! (Offer Up is like Craigslist if you haven't heard of it). It happened to have all the right shades and it was really unique, and a great deal. The lightweight concrete side tables were made by my handsome husband. The sofa is actually our personal sofa - sometimes with homes we end up playing musical furniture - but this one is the perfect size (it's an apartment-sized sofa) and just felt right.

We live in the Coronado neighborhood in Phoenix, and I think our neighborhood yard sales, message board finds, and estate sales are the best. The cow skull and small antique oil painting over the euphorbia (the thing that looks like a cactus) were both finds from one of my neighbors! Most of the other little trinkets, stoneware, and small paintings were also local thrift / antique store finds. (How good is that green hand!? It spoke to me so I had to get it.)

In the kitchen, the black bentwood chairs were another Offer Up find, and the table we purchased from CB2.

Okay - let's talk sources! One of the things I get asked about the most is the geometric tile we put in the small laundry room! I originally wanted to put it all throughout the kitchen but in the end, I'm glad we chose to just have a surprise little splash of it. I ordered it from Home Depot online. It's like a budget-friendly version of cement tile, because it's porcelain and printed, but you can't really tell unless you're a few inches away from it.

The sconces over the fireplace were a splurge that we originally bought for our last house, but they ended up being too big to work. But it's kinda like they were meant for this house! I found them on Homary.com.

The hanging pendant over the kitchen is from World Market - it was not hard-wired, so we had an electrician convert it to a hard-wired fixture. We also found these colorful chindi balls from World Market, too. It ended up being great because we needed to stage the fireplace with something decorative. WHO KNEW they could serve a purpose!?

If you're in the Phoenix area, you are in LUCK because we have this crazy awesome place called Desert Liquidators, which is where I sourced the marble counter tops, the wall tile in the kitchen, and the laminate flooring throughout the house (I'm usually very anti-laminate, but I LOVED this. You can't see a repeating pattern, and the color and quality were great... so I made an exception!). The cabinets were from another local cabinet place, too, but I'm not sure of the name of it (sorry!) as our contractor handled that.

Lots of people have asked about the ceiling fan, but I sadly cannot recommend it, as it came in a non-working condition and we have since had to replace it! But I found a great replacement on Amazon. It's surprisingly hard to find a good white fan without a light on a budget.

Alright! I think that's all as far as sources go, but if you see anything else that I didn't mention, feel free to ask about it! :)

This post was sponsored by the freaking awesome folks at Article, but as usual all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the people who support us! If you've never heard of Article, I highly recommend you browse their stuff. They're more affordable than most brands because they cut out the middle man and operate without showrooms or anything - they sell direct to consumers online, and their customer service is amazing, fast, and helpful! :) I only partner with brands I truly believe in and would be happy to support as a customer and I can't say enough good things about Article! 

The CUTER TUDOR - Before and After!

This is officially my second before and after post I've written for our flip houses - our second flip house - but I guarantee that the Cuter Tudor was not your typical second child. Hah! This is the home where we approached a totally different style of home and said HECK YEAH WE CAN DO THIS. And we DID IT! I'm so proud of this tiny little cute house, and simultaneously, so, so exhausted. And OH - we are also already UNDER CONTRACT so this definitely feels so rewarding already!

Let me walk back a little bit in time and tell you how this gem came to be ours! My friend Grace is also a real estate investor, and had seen this house and passed on it. (It's funny because I also saw another house and passed on it - she ended up buying it and did things with it that I never could have imagined! We laugh about it but we really believe some houses are YOURS the second you see them. It's a gut feeling!) Anyway Grace called me when I was feeling so anxious that our previous home hadn't sold (when you have a house on the market, time seems to go by SO SLOWLY), and she informed me that I needed a project home to take my mind off of our house on the market. She was totally right, of course. I drove down and saw it that day, and I fell in love with it - plywood front door and all.

This was absolutely the roughest house we had ever decided to tackle. Both our lender and investor were hesitant - for good reasons! But I was passionate about this house from Day 1, and this neighborhood I'm convinced is the next big development area (it's near the state capitol buildings in Phoenix). I saw the vision though and I wanted to bring some fresh life back to these old bones.

Okay - let's walk inside. :)

Every room was SCARY. Smelly. TERRIFYING. Baffling. Here were a couple of redeeming factors I saw:

  • The built-ins in the living room
  • The natural light
  • End of list

Not even the original wood floors underneath the urine-soaked laminate flooring were redeemable. Everything had to go. Parts of the floor were even missing where tweakers had come and removed the flooring to get to the copper pipe. Unreal. But here she is today:

The styling vision for this one came VERY quickly as soon as I found the moss green Embrace chairs from Article. Before those chairs hit me like a Mack truck (in the BEST way), I wasn't sure which direction to take the decor for this one. But I loved the deep green of these chairs, the velvet, and the soft lines (reminiscent of a more traditional style) combined with the sleek and modern legs, and I figured it was the perfect direction to take the whole design - combination of traditional, modern, earthy, and unexpected. They set the tone for the rest of the house as soon as you walk in the door (and they're crazy comfortable - It feels like getting hugged when you sit in them). I know that redoing the house is the point of the post, but for me, the end design of it was so essential to making renovation decisions, because it almost felt like having a client in mind, and it made final decisions on hardware and fixtures so much easier. A cohesive and staged house sells so much faster! But more on staging later!

The front bedroom didn't require much work besides the essentials - new flooring, new windows, etc., but it actually had a weird door that led to the front porch, which didn't feel very safe. The old function of two front doors was to allow the breeze to flow freely through the old homes before air conditioning was a thing, but since we here in Phoenix like our modern conveniences of AC, we felt like removing that door and making a usable wall was a better call.

You might have noticed those little concrete side tables (there's one in the living room as well) but my handy and very handsome husband Josh made them! They're light as a feather and super cool, too. I believe he also has a tutorial on how to make them still available on A Beautiful Mess!

The bathroom was by far the scariest part to tackle. It felt scary even walking in there for fear the floor would collapse.

Man, I gotta say - how good are those big black hex tiles? We originally bought them for the bathroom of our last home, but found we needed smaller tile in the shower floor for risk of slipping and falling (grout provides traction. See? These are the weird things you never think about until you purchase the wrong thing).

Also I'm thinking I should probably revisit this photo taken by my friend Constance Higley:

Okay - now the master bedroom is what really stumped us, admittedly!

The floor was missing in parts, the closet was impossibly small. It had an extra attached "room" which was really just a closed-in porch that was pieced together. We decided to take that extra room and make a large closet and master bath, and a little hallway nook for plants, reading, yoga, whatever!

It's compact but it makes a big impression, right? The Godsey upholstered bed frame we got from AllModern and I knew it needed some side tables, but didn't want it to feel cluttered, so we chose the clear acrylic stacking tables from AllModern to give the illusion of more space! They're not tricks - they're ILLUSIONS.

Anyway thanks for sticking with me through this huge commitment of a post!! I'm so pumped on how this turned out and don't worry - I'll be sharing more on my styling and sources soon!! Huge thanks to Article and AllModern for generously providing pieces for staging this home - though this post is sponsored, all opinions are honest and my own!

Time to Focus

This post is in collaboration with Bona Floor Care, but all thoughts and opinions are my own! :)

I gotta be honest - I'm not type A. I hate cleaning. I could easily be okay living in a moderately messy place forever. (Am I the only one?) But the problem is that we have these extremely messy kids, and even I have a breaking point when it comes to having a messy house (nobody likes to walk on food, which as any parent of a toddler knows, is what inevitably happens after every single meal, snack, and even every moment in between. Like, how are you constantly getting crumbs everywhere!? Are there crackers stashed in every fold of fabric on their clothes? Are they leaking graham crackers or something?). And even though we live in a very small house, it still somehow takes up the better part of an entire day just to make the place feel clean, in order to mess it up again the next day.

When the team at Bona first approached me about a partnership, I thought, sure, this would be a good challenge for myself to actually clean a little more. Hah! But I didn't realize how FAST and EASY it would make keeping our floors clean. It's seriously crazy. I love using the spray - it smells good and even gives our vinyl faux-wood flooring a bit of sheen that makes them look so much better than they are. This morning, I put Loyal down for a nap, and had the floors mopped so fast, and then I was able to sit down and work on some of my plans for the new flip house before he woke up. Just having time to focus on things I love and enjoy is such a gift. And I have so much mom guilt when my kids run around the house and get dirty feet because of how bad the floors are, so in a way, this is like a gift to them, too. It's exhausting when your precious few moments of alone time every day are spent cleaning, right? Now all I need is a Bona mop that will miraculously do the laundry. ;)

Have you tried a Bona mop? I highly recommend! Let me know if you do! :)

*This post was sponsored by Bona, but again, all thoughts, opinions, and admissions of mom guilt are my own.*