One of my goals is to make decorating your home easier. Maybe that means helping make it more affordable or maybe it means giving you ideas based on our DIYs that you didn’t think of before. It can mean a lot of things, but today it means I’ve been working on a little freebie for you and I’m kind of excited about it. Starting now, when you sign up on my email list, you get these 16 super adorable signs (in a digital format) that you can print at home or send off to your favorite printing lab. Who doesn’t love affordable (or in this case, FREE) home decor? Be sure to share your end product with me on Instagram by tagging @monicabrownblog or using the hashtag #monicabrownblog.
Post contains affiliate links.
I’m pretty sure the last time I was in a Big Lots was approximately 9 ish years ago when we lived about a quarter of a mile from one in San Antonio. The last few days I’ve been seeing them pop up in my Instagram and Facebook feeds with sponsored ads and I’ve got to say, I’m seeing some cute things that I would have never expected from a Big Lots. I’m shocked really and just looked up where my nearest Big Lots is because I think a visit is in order this week.
I’m also the queen of a good deal. I almost never buy anything that isn’t discounted or at least that I know isn’t a good value for the money. There are days that I wish I wasn’t that person, but I am which means I spend a lot of time making sure I’ve found the best deal possible on just about everything. The dog chewed up my son’s shoes the other day and I still haven’t found him a new pair, because I just feel like I could do better than any deals I’ve found online or in store so far. It’s a problem I think.
So yeah, if you’re looking for that Farmhouse look in your home, but on a budget, I may have just found a solution for you with these items from Big Lots. There’s more than this online too, but here are just a few of my favorites with that Fixer Upper vibe.
So are you as impressed as I am? Seriously, I’ve never seen anything this cute in Big Lots, but I’m happy to see them stepping up their game and providing attractive Farmhouse decor at affordable prices.
I’m a Johanna Gaines fan. For some that’s cool and for others I imagine they’re over it, but I could literally watch Fixer Upper all day. I don’t reall buy magazines, but I finally broke down the other day and bought my first issue of The Magnolia Journal and I kind of love it. It’s not over ran with ads and I love that not every single item in the magazine is from Magnolia Market or the Hearth and Hand section at Target. I was a little surprised really and from my surprise came this post. I’ve compiled some of the things from the magazine that can be purchased elsewhere and put them all here. It’s a little doormat heavy because I guess that’s a thing at the onset of spring when we’re all trying to freshen up our outdoor spaces. It makes me want a few more exterior doors. And I really think I’d like to have The Kaufman Merchantile Guide. It looks like one of those things you could get lost in for a little bit.
Disclaimer: Post contains a couple affiliate links.
If you’ve ever thought about checking out the magazine and haven’t, I’d recommend picking one up. This issue had articles about authenticity and monthly journal prompts in addition to just being eye candy. I love the positive vibe and plan on subscribing.
Okay so the truth is I wouldn’t build another tract home (or cookie cutter home) again. That’s just me being real about the whole deal. Very little about the process was enjoyable and the stress didn’t end once our house was done. But I also understand that sometimes this is your only or your best option. That’s the boat we were in when we built our house. I could go on and on about our situation, but it’s not important and I can ramble with the best of them so let’s just skip over that and move on to what you came here for.
Disclaimer: This is all based on the experience we had with our builder. Upgrades, options, and standard inclusions vary depending on builder and I can only speak of our experience and hope it helps.
What I would do
Add can lights wherever possible. We did can lights in our bedroom because I didn’t want a light kit on the fan and we added them in our living room for the same reason. It just cleaned everything up and I’d defintley do it again.
Upgrade to taller doors. I never thought of this, but the model home had it done and it’s amazing how taller doors throughout your home can make it feel bigger and just overall give it a more open and grand appearance and for not a lot more money.
Add electrical outlets outside. We added one at the front corner of our house for Christmas lights and blow ups. Thank goodness for that plug. We also added one to the porch ceiling and it’s perfect for our string lights.
Add a gas stub out to your back porch (if you have gas in your home). Nobody wants to change out propane tanks for the grill. Now we don’t have to. We also added an electrical outlet and water to the back porch because we’re building an outdoor kitchen. Paying the builder to put in an outdoor kitchen was hefty so we decided we’d just have them add these things and then we’d do it ourselves.
Add the third car garage and extend the length. Okay so this may not be as big of a deal for everyone as it was for us, but we don’t regret it and our garage is the envy of our neighbors. The garages in these track homes are so short and we’re the only one who can actually get a mid size SUV in their garage. We also added the third car garage so my handy husband could have a dedicated workshop area.
Pay extra for white ceilings. Or better yet, just paint the whole house white. The builder paint is so terrible and we ended up repainting the entire thing anyway and I was glad the ceilings were already white. We actually argued about this one so don’t tell Tyler I actually agree with him now.
Get another Blanco sink. Y’all I love these things. It’s a granite composite sink that is not only beautiful, but also so easy to clean and maintain.
Upgrade the baseboards and cabinets. We didn’t do this and I wish we would have. We were pinching pennies and to go with what was included and I really wish we had shaker cabinets and the big squared off baseboard.
Upgrade shower and bath fixtures. I mean the ones that aren’t going to be easy to switch out yourself. We would literally have to bust out walls to change some things out and I regret not getting what I wanted from the builder.
Add irrigation. Our builder charged extra to put it in the back, but it was something we wanted and the upgrade amount seemed totally worth it.
What I Wouldn’t Do
Upgrade light fixtures. This is something else they builder tried to charge us a small forture for and what they had to offer wasn’t even in style (hadn’t been for years) and the quality wasn’t great. Let them put the basic light fixtures in and then come in and change them out afterwards.
Upgrade areas that can be carpeted. There are two reasons for this. One is that they charge you too much for just okay material. You can get something nicer for way cheaper from a reputable flooring company than you’ll get it from the builder. Carpet is easy to rip up. The other reason is the sub contractors the builder hires are not great. If they mess something up (and they will) it’s not an easy fix. If it’s an area that has to be tiled, go ahead and have the builder do the tile and get one you actually want.
I hope this helped in some way or at least got you thinking about what makes sense for your family in your new home build. Really decide what’s important and what you don’t want to have to deal with later. Ask yourself when you’re in design if these are the things you really actually want and bring you joy or if it even matters to you. We make some really great decisions and ones I regret. Good luck and feel free to share your woulds and would nots in the comments.
Our laundry room is a mess. We plan to put cabinets in there soonish to help with all of that, but we’re moving through projects at a snail’s pace lately and so it sits neglected and completely disorganized. I accidentally came across the long print from this group of wall signs last week and was like “oh that would be perfect in that one spot when it’s all done”, but then sometimes I feel silly for wanting to decorate the laundry room at all. Let’s face it, anything to make being in there even slightly more enjoyable is a win. I’m not laundry’s biggest fan. I’m more of a #4 from the group of wall signs below (which I’m probably also buying). So if you also have a boring laundry room in need of a facelift, check out these adorable laundry room wall signs below.
Full Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links.
The Laundry Guide from Kirklands. Once we have our cabinets done, I should have the perfect spot for this one. It’s like it was made for our space.
Alexa, Do the Laundry from Amazon. This one is just the print with no frame but super affordable so it’s easy to add one to fit whatever your style is.
So yeah, go forth, spruce it up, and make doing laundry at least a little more pretty since it ain’t ever going to be fun.
This weekend was a weekend of I’m not really sure where the time went or what all got done. I guess technically we did lose an hour, but even still…
I’d hoped to finish up some projects this weekend that just weren’t moving along as expected. Lots of lots of sanding went down and I think the sanding part might finally be done. And let’s be real, kids need things so it’s not like these things ever get my full attention for too long. Here’s a visual of what we’re working on. I’m sanding and staining multiple projects at a time because they’ll all get stained the same color and it seems like the easiest way to control having them all look the same. Sometimes I just eyeball the stain mixture and don’t actually measure so… yeah. The picture ledge will get painted the same white as the shiplap, but the rest of these are getting stained.
I feel like the frames for the mirrors are going to take our bathrooms to a whole new level and I’m really excited about it. Our master bathroom especially is in major need of a transformation and paint and framing the mirrors seem like the biggest bang for our buck. We’ve also got some inexpensive light fixtures from Lowe’s that will be mounted into the header portion of the frame. The top of the frame is a 1x10 and the rest of the frame is going to be made out of 1x4s.
I painted a couple of accent walls black (one in our bathroom and one in the office). I don’t regret it, but admittedly I do regret the sheen. Before we can finish and install the floating shelves, I have to head back to Home Depot for more paint. I went with an eggshell by mistake thinking that was what we used for our outdoor kitchen, but the outdoor kitchen is a satin. I think I may purchase a matte this go around. I did try to sand down the sheen because I saw something on the internet that said I could, but our texture is too heavy for this idea to work so back to painting I go.
Saturday evening we attended a random crawfish boil at our home builder’s house. Two years later he and Tyler still keep in touch even though we were a tough customer. The picture below is all the kids (except Corbin) and their big hearts letting the last two crawfish go. Saida is there on the left cautiously watching the release go down. She was curious, but not interested in getting anywhere near those pinchers.
We had some solicitors show up to our door not that long ago and for some reason unbeknownst to me we decided to answer it. Maybe it was because between the dog, the kids, and the two cars in the driveway, we were obviously home. I don’t know, but we answered it. Those solicitors were trying to sell us some solar panels and for some crazy reason my husband said, “Okay, we’ll make an appointment.” I thought he was nuts. What do we need solar panels for? Do you even want these solar panels? We had literally never considered it ever in our adult lives, but some dude from Momentum Solar was going to show up at our house the next day and talk to us about it anyway.
Fastforward a little bit and we now have solar panels (they’re not on yet, but we should get switched over any day). I’m still not really sure what to think about all of that, but we couldn’t think of a single reason not to do it after meeting with the guy. Plus supposedly he’s going to hook us up with some free Lobster at his sister’s restaurant, Garbos. You may have seen the food trailer she sold on Diner, Drive-In’s and Dives just weeks after she sold it.
Let’s get a little more real with how all this went down.
The solicitors told us it was “free”. Of course I knew this wasn’t going to be free because nothing is, but before this dude showed up to my house I wanted to get a better idea of how all this worked and there really wasn’t a lot of information out there. What those solicitors meant is there isn’t any up front cost associated with the installation and purchase of the solar panels. That’s all good and great, but we would still have to pay for them for the next 20 years. After that we’re making free electricity.
So in order for this to be worth it for us it need to do two things. It needed to add value to our home and it needed to not cost us more than our current average electric bill (we added a year of electric bills together and averaged it out per month and basically it’s the same as our monthly payment for the panels and the ones that are being installed are virtually maintenance free with a 25 year bumper to bumper warranty). It’s going to do both of those things. As electricty prices increase, our monthly loan payment stays the same so each year we look better and better. When we move, we’ll transfer the loan to the next homeowner who should be cool with it because the monthly payment will be less than what they would be paying to the electric company each month and the longer the stay, the more value it’ll add to the home when they resale. Everybody wins really.
The only reason the numbers worked out is because the federal government is giving a tax credit for people who qualify. We qualified. We’ll get money back at tax time that we’ll then turn around and pay back to the lender with our personal loan. If we choose to keep the money rather than put it back into the loan, our monthly payment on the loan would go up. Obviously we plan to pay it back into the loan. Without this piece it wouldn’t make sense for us as we don’t plan to stay in our home long enough for it to make sense with a higher payment.
It’s definitely worth talking to a solar company if it’s something you think you might be interested in. Some electric companies are also giving rebates for people who install solar panels on their home. Our electric provider is not unfortunately, but it still made sense. If you need a guy, I’ve got a guy and he may even hook you up with lobster dinner. Feel free to message me for more info including contact info for Momentum Solar.
Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated to write a blog post about Momentum Solar and our experience. I simply wanted to share and educate anyone considering solar as a option based on our experience. The install is done and we should get switched over to our panels any day now.