Million Bucks Interior Design on a Shoestring Budget

 

Are you constantly in awe of the amazing architecture magazine covers showcasing phenomenally decorated homes, perfectly staged and scattered with luxuriously looking details? You want that for yourself, don’t you? But then you remember that there are thousands of dollars invested into those rooms on the covers, and you definitely don’t have those funds. Don’t worry, there are ways to make your home looks just as amazing without breaking the bank. We’ll give you some ideas that will spark your imagination, and you can take it from there.

Start with a clean slate

If you want to make your home look elegant and luxurious, a paint job is a good place to start. Both warm (e.g. beige) and cool (e.g. grey) neutrals can serve well as the backdrop for the rest of your designing endeavors. A monochrome color scheme is the best choice, but if you consider that too boring, you can use different tones of the same color or introduce subtle elements of other shades.

Add a focal point

Every room needs something that will instantly draw attention. What that will be depends on your preferences. You can design an entire wall as a focal point where you will create a wall gallery, or use more subtle hints, such as one piece of artwork, a striking chandelier, a unique furniture piece, or wallpaper.

It’s all about the reflection

The combination of matte paint finish and reflective surfaces brings sophistication into any space. This is, at the same time, very affordable to achieve. All you need are a couple of stylish designer mirrors, which will serve both as decorative elements and a means to create the illusion of spaciousness. If they have metallic frames, they will fulfill their purpose even better. For their second task, the mirrors need to be located properly (opposite a light source or a window).

Shine on…

No, we haven’t finished with reflection yet. Not only mirrors and glass provide that sparkly lux feel inside a room. You can also use other metallic accessories, such as flower pots, vases, pendant lamps, light fixtures, coffee table, etc. Metals you choose will depend on the rest of your décor, but the types that are trending now are copper, brass, rose gold and aged silver.

Set the mood

The thing that affects the overall ambiance of some space the most is the lighting. Although the mood isn’t something that is tangible, there are some foolproof methods to do it properly. Layering the lighting types is the most efficient one. This means you should introduce ambience, task and accent lights, and create a pleasant and warm atmosphere.

Layer the textures

A room that has only one or two simplistic texture looks dull and poor. On the other hand, the room that is too cluttered, looks cheap and corny. It is up to you to find the right balance between the two and enrich the space with area rugs, throw blankets and interesting upholstery. Some of the most elegant things you can introduce are a velvet-upholstered sofa, sheepskin rug and a leather armchair.

A whole new window

Windows are essential, because they allow natural light in. However, they can also be used to enhance the “expensive-looking” interior design. Besides pulling the curtains back to allow plenty of natural light, you can make your windows pop by using upscale window treatments or installing shiny metal framing. Woven bamboo shades and wooden blinds are a subtle, yet effective addition to your million bucks décor.

Less is more

Interior design can certainly stir up your emotions and motivate you to buy and display various different items. However, it is important to be in control of the amount of items you are using in your place. Going minimalistic is the best road to take if you want to create a tasteful, yet exquisite interior, so throw away everything you don’t need and find adequate storage for the rest of your things.

So you see, there is no need to ask the bank for a loan. Your house can be magazine cover-ready in just a few steps.-

5 Ways to Organize Children’s Toys and Books on a Budget

I remember a time when I was so excited to start my family. The joys of being a parent are something that cannot really be explained in words – it’s something you can’t even fathom until you’re knee deep in it and take time to reflect on how incredible it can be.

With that being said – who actually knew just what a full-time job it could be to keep up with kid’s toys! Have you ever stepped on a Lego? I am pretty sure that pain is the worse than a broken bone.  So, before another season of chaos, wrapping paper, and new toys comes and goes – I am on a mission to organize the toys and books we have and donate the ones we don’t need to Goodwill.

When I first started this mission, I stopped by several retailers around town only to find that storage tubs, shelves, and even fabric totes were off-the-charts expensive! It is, after all, the holiday season and my budget is already tight. I walked out of those stores as fast as I walked in and headed to my local Goodwill store – and if you’re lucky, you have more than one close to you!

In order to do this toy and book organizing on a budget, I knew I was going to have to think outside the box to find untraditional methods and items that could be used for my mission. And of course, I found everything I needed at Goodwill! Be sure to shop the whole store because you might see something that sparks an unconventional idea or way to organize while you’re browsing!

Books – once you figure out how to store them then find the best way to organize them. Alphabetically, by age, by type of book, etc…:

  • Wall storage – this can be anything from a shelf, to a fabric shoe hanger, to a gutter that would traditionally go on the outside of your house. Look around and see if you can find something that would hang and hold the books.
  • Bookshelves – this might seem obvious, but just throwing your books on the shelf is messy. Use bins, tubs, and other things to not only store but organize your books.

Toys – oh the joys of toys!

  • Zipable or otherwise closeable bags are the perfect place to collect and store those (ouch) Legos, matchbox cars, or other small items that need a place.
  • Hangable fabric shoe organizers can be a great way to not only store things but see what you’ve stored to easily grab it out to play with. Think barbies, arts and crafts, and this might even work for the matchbox cars or Legos.
  • Plastic tubs or drawers are always a great tool for organization. You can even get creative if you have little ones by printing off a sticker or tag of some kind to help them remember where each type of toy goes when it’s time to clean up.
  • Magnetic strips on the walls can be a perfectly simple way to store anything that is metal – such as matchbox cars.
  • Laundry baskets, especially tall ones or ones with lids, can be a great way to store those stuffed animals. It may not seem like organization, but when all of those fluffy things are in one place, it will feel great.
  • Hooks and baskets – If you don’t mind putting a small hole in the wall, hanging some hooks that baskets can then hang on is a brilliant way to easily store and organize toys. You can also get the stickable hooks that won’t damage your walls.

What have other creative ideas you come up with for organizing your kids toys on a budget? We’d love to see your unique ideas and Goodwill finds! Share them with us on social media using the hashtag #ShopGoodwill.

P.S. By shopping at your local Goodwill for your organizing mission you’re not only getting a good bargain, you’re also supporting a great cause. Did you know that 87 cents on the dollar of every purchase from a Goodwill goes towards local job training opportunities? You can find your nearest Goodwill store at http://www.goodwill.org/locator/. You never know what treasures you will find there, but you can be confident you’ll be helping your local community!

Take Your Delicious Meals to the Next Level: The Importance of Perfect Food Presentation

Take Your Delicious Meals to the Next Level

There is no arguing about the fact that the most important thing about food is its taste. The second most important thing must be its nutritious value. And the third– its appearance. This doesn’t mean that food that looks bad also tastes bad. The final look of the meal you are preparing is the thing you can control the most, meaning that every food can be made to look exquisite. If you are interested in enhancing your meals’ aesthetic appeal, stick around because we’ll discuss the importance of arranging and decorating food, but we will also share some inside secrets on food presentation.

Eating is an experience for all senses

Good food must trigger much more than just your taste buds. It should smell nice and, of course, look great. If you have kids, then surely you’ve noticed that some meals look “yucky” to them. And truly, nobody gets the importance of food presentation as much as kids do. They will probably push away a plate of steamed broccoli, but if you arrange the broccoli flower buds in a shape of a flower or tree, they may even enjoy it.

Food presentation is art

If you have invested some time and effort into the preparation of a meal, surely you must take pride in what you have made. One of the best ways to show it is to invest some more time and effort into the presentation that will entice your family or guests. Food presentation shows your appreciation for cooking and it also allows you to express your creative side. The plate is actually an empty canvas where your artwork will reach its full glory.

Take your cues from artists

If food presentation can be considered art, surely it must draw inspiration from some specific art form. Painters or photographers could be the best artists to “steal” your inspiration from, since the paintings have focal points, contrasts, and proportions, such as the ones you would use in arranging the food on a plate. For instance, you can use the rule of thirds to find a focal point and play with contrasts to draw attention to the star of the meal.

Choose your canvas well

Even though the food and your method of arranging and decorating it will be the essential part of the final product, the plate (the canvas) also plays an immensely important role. Some meals will look better on simple white plates, while others will benefit from dark-shade organically-looking stoneware. Fortunately, finding quality, stylish collections like my favorite Royal Doulton is just as easy as it is rewarding since there are so many offers and the prices are affordable.

The odder the better

If you think that it is logical to arrange food in even numbers, think again. Ingredients arranged in even numbers can often look strange. On the other hand, if you arrange your food in odd numbers, you will create a fun dynamic that your guests will surely appreciate. This goes not only for the main part of the recipe but also for the details, such as scallops or sauce.

Go up

When we talked about art earlier, we forgot to mention that food arranging gives you much more freedom than painting or photographing. Here, you have a chance to add another dimension. By stacking or layering the ingredients, you are giving the meal more depth and making the plate look more interesting.

Keep it simple

Finally, don’t go overboard by combining all of these tips and adding too much of your own to them. The essence of a refined plate lies in simplicity, which is always elevated and beautiful. Keep the number of the ingredients to a minimum, use plates that complement the colors and style of the dish and find a composition which is not overwhelming for the eyes. Now that you know why it is important to present your meals properly and how you should do that, it’s time to get started. After all, practice makes perfect.

Image source: https://burst.shopify.com/

What to Wear With Leggings, Jeggings and those Skinny Jeans

leggings with boots

Every woman has them in her wardrobe, though few women have been able to come up with new ways to wear them or ways to wear them so they feel comfortable. Leggings, jeggings, and skinny jeans are some of the most versatile pieces we have, so why are they so hard to create an outfit using? They really aren’t, if you learn the basics of creating shapes and lines.

Here are a few options that allow you to play around with lines and shapes using your skinny jeans, leggings, and jeggings. You’ll be able to show off your figure, hide those areas you are a little more concerned about and feel great.

Let’s take a look:

The Shoes

You can really change the look and feel of your outfits by just changing what you put on your feet. Each pair of shoes will make them feel a little more fashion forward, a little more comfortable, and even a little more casual.

High Shafted Boots for a Streamlined Look

How about a great pair of knee-high boots? Leggings, jeggings, and skinny jeans have remained popular for so long because they coincide with some of the best designs in boots. Tuck your bottoms into the leggings and you will have a longer, leaner look. Whether your high shafted boots have tall heels or short ones, stack heels or skinny ones, your look will be more streamlined and beautiful.

If you have smaller legs, you can even add some layering by putting socks or leg warmers under your boots. This makes the outfit feel a little cozier and more comfortable as well.

Sky High Heels Push You to the Limit

Let’s be honest: heels make just about everything look better. Since they can sometimes be uncomfortable, pairing them with more comfortable bottoms can be a great option. Tailor your skinny jeans or wear your best leggings to ensure that you get the best look. Whether you want to go with a strappy pair of sandals, some great pumps, or even a good chunky heel, you’ll get a lot of use out of that look. Adding heels can take your look from day to night, casual to professional. With every step you take, you will ooze confidence and status.

Make sure that you do get your skinny jeans tailored if you are going to wear them – you want everything to look at put together as possible.

Cowboy Boots for All Occasions

Need to look a little more casual? Putting in some hard work? Classic cowboy boots over your leggings, jeggings and skinny jeans look great and is a classically American feel. You will protect the bottom of your jeans from any muck that you might put it through, and you will have a western feel that is very popular right now.

Use a classic pair of boots with a pair of light wash skinny jeans or a decorated pair with a great skirt and some leggings. You’ll be able to make many different kinds of outfits with your cowboy boots – and you’ll be comfortable the entire time.

skinny jeans converse

Sneakers Keep It Casual

Running errands? Traveling? There is nothing better than a fun pair of sneakers to keep your look comfortable and cool. Match your skinny jeans or jeggings to a great pair of shoes that look cute and keep you comfortable.

A simple pair of slip on sneakers, a great pair of Converse, or any other non-running sneakers will look great with the leggings, jeggings, and skinny jeans. Be careful about choosing running shoes, or you will look like you are going to the gym. (Unless you actually are. If so, continue on!)

The Clothes

Shoes aren’t the only important way to dress up your leggings, jeggings, and skinny jeans. You can change up what you wear with them to really transform your look.

With a Baggy T for a Lazy Day

Whether it is a t-shirt you bought to be too big or a shirt that you stole from your boyfriend, bigger shirts play off the fitted style of the leggings, jeggings, and skinny jeans extremely well. The bagginess is comfortable, but it still looks good because you will show off the shape of your legs. Throw on a great necklace, a belt, and get ready for your day.

T-shirts aren’t the only option – you can choose a big button down shirt, a peasant shirt, or anything else that meets your needs.

Go Warmer with Oversized Sweaters

Just like the t-shirts, throwing on an oversized sweater is a fun and comfortable look for fall and winter. You’ll look like you are ready for a day of cuddling, picking apples, or just running some errands. You’ll still feel comfortable, but you will be in style the entire time as well.

Make sure that your jeans and/or leggings fit you extremely well because an oversized sweater can add some weight.

Professionally Tailored Blazer For the Office

Does your office walk the line between comfortable and professional? If you can wear your skinny jeans to the office, getting a professionally tailored blazer will keep the look professional. This is an approachable way to do casual, but still, show that you take your profession seriously. Even better, it is a great transitional look for a woman who is always on the go.

Match your blazer to a great fitted shirt and a pair of cute flats or heels for a put together look.

Throughout the years, the size of your leggings and skinny jeans will likely change. However, your personal style never should. Match your style to the above tips and see what kinds of outfits you can create.

Amazon Prime Day: Tips to Get You Ready!

Amazon Prime Day: Tips to get you ready!

 

I hope you had a great 4th of July holiday and are enjoying your summer! I, too, have been busy trying to find the best deals, resources, and giveaways to share with you.

I wanted to give you a heads up because I would hate for you to miss out! Did you know Amazon Prime Day starts TONIGHT? The preview is actually going on right NOW! As a busy mom of boys, I love being able to shop right from my phone or computer and get the latest deals while my kids play right in my front yard. It can’t get any easier than that, right?

So here is the scoop so you don’t miss a thing: 

  • You have to be a member of Amazon Prime to get the amazing deals they offer! You can start a free 30-day trial if you aren’t already a member. (The FREE shipping is why I joined)!
  • To check out the deals quickly, you can download the Amazon App to your phone or tablet.
  • You can look at deals right on Amazon when the sale starts OR you can create a shopping list and receive alerts as soon as the items in your cart go on sale.
  • You can start “watching” for Amazon Prime deals today (this is 1 day before you can actually purchase the deals).
  • The sale will go live at 9 pm EST on July 10th, 2017 and lasts for 30 hours! That is tonight!! New deals will begin all throughout the day and don’t get discouraged if the item you want sells out quickly. You can join the waitlist and receive a notification if/when it is available. I have gotten several deals this way!
  • Amazon features Spotlight Deals (popular brands on sale) and Lightning Deals (limited quantity and usually sells out fast). Search for awesome deals in either of these categories!

(more…)

7 Ways to Save Money When Paying for Stuff Online

online shopping

If you’re reading this right now there’s a good chance you’re a mom who uses the internet quite frequently. Anyone who shops online, uses online banking to pay bills, or pays for online services, knows that there are almost always techniques you can use to get something for much cheaper or even free, you just have to be persistent in doing your research and shopping around.

Unfortunately, most moms don’t have the time or patience to sit around and wait until they find the perfect deal – they just want to get the transaction over with so they can go back to making macaroni and cheese, finishing the laundry, feeding their children, or whatever motherly duty is next on the never-ending list. Fortunately, we’ve made it easy by compiling the following round-up of the best ways to make sure you’re getting the best deal when paying for products and services online:

1. Always Consider Alternatives First

If you’re about to buy something like an app or a software-as-service (SaaS) where you log in and use a certain platform, then it would be best to go ahead and compare all of the competition before making your choice. Later on, you may be regretful to find out that not only did you choose the more expensive option, but it turns out the cheaper alternative was more to your liking as well. For example, I was about to pay for an expensive subscription to Skype when I started comparing others  and found out Discord was actually a better fit for me and much more affordable.

2. Search for Coupons on Discount Sites

Did you know that at least half the time you buy something online you could’ve gotten it cheaper simply by entering a coupon code at the checkout page? Where do you find these elusive and magical codes, you ask? Well, it’s actually very easy – you just use a search engine like Google to find discounts and coupon sites. Groupon and RetailMeNot are two of the most popular for starters. You’d be surprised at how much you can save just by copying and pasting a few simple numbers and letters.

3. Subscribe to Freebie and Bargain Newsletters

A must-try technique that will help you find the hottest sales is to subscribe to a few different newsletters about bargains or freebies. That way you’ll receive notification to your email every time a good brand or online store is offering a deal that you can’t afford to miss. There’s no shortage of couponing, bargaining, and frugality sites and tips online, so spend a bit of time subscribing to a few different feeds and before you know it, your inbox will have a steady flow of deals for you to check out.

4. Take Advantage of Rebates

Rebates are often overlooked and discarded because people want to find ways to save money before the sale, not after it. Still, it feels great to get a check in the mail or a gift card that covers the cost of something you’ve already purchased. Sure, there’s a waiting period that you’ll have to get the past before you actually save anything, but once you get the rebate it’s often more worthwhile than a standard discount.

5. Look for Stores that Offer Payment Plans

There are a number of stores and payment processors that make it easy to sign up for payment plans in which you only have to pay a small down-payment towards what you’re buying. Although in the end, the interest and fees usually make the item more expensive, these options allow you to obtain the things that you normally couldn’t afford and then gradually pay for them on a schedule that works with your income level. There are also companies that will help you finance electronic and appliance purchases made online, giving you a set line of credit to order certain items. Such third-party payment plans are sometimes even offered to low-income applicants, so long as proof of income can be shown.

6. Apply for Store Credit Cards

If you have decent credit or can show proof of income, you might be able to get approved for a store credit card or membership, which would provide access to a line of credit and/or exclusive discounts. Many stores don’t offer payment plans, but they do offer a store card that will essentially let you do the same thing. You also don’t need to have exceptional credit to be approved for one of these cards, so you might as well try it out. Most of the time an average credit score will be sufficient, but it really depends on the store’s approval policies as well.

7. Compare Shipping Prices

Finally, don’t forget to look for ways to save on the cost of shipping, especially if you’re ordering a larger item. You might think you’re getting the lowest price, but when you factor in the shipping, it turns out you should’ve gone to another store that was offering free shipping but had a slightly higher sales price. Some sellers use this trick to fool people into buying on sites like eBay and Amazon. They’ll list the item lower than everyone else, but then charge an exuberant shipping fee that makes their overall price higher than the rest.

 Be Thrifty and Patient for the Best Deals. One of the biggest reasons people spend more than they have to is because they don’t want to spend the time searching for the lowest possible price. Convenience and urgency are, of course, the motivating factors that cause people to knowingly overlook possible alternatives even if they might be cheaper. However, if you’re willing to put a little bit of effort into your shopping and payment methods, you could save a significant amount of money when you add up all the savings over the course of a year, especially if you’re a shopaholic mom who likes to buy things for her little ones online.
Disclosure: This blog received a form of compensation for this publication. All opinions are my own.
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