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.