Remodel in Arizona Part 3

I’m not going to fight my nature on this one… I like clear surfaces. Even more than organization sometimes, I love seeing a clear counter.

The top two places this is important is in the kitchen and bathroom for one simple reason: dirt. In the kitchen pieces of food stuck to things is just gross and in the bathroom you have the unholy trinity of soap, hair and makeup residue.

So are you ready for the before pics?

not so much surface space

This is what I mean by gross residue:


And the space between the bathtub and the counter became a magnet for trash:

see? soap residue is nasty

I should mention I did most of this cleaning while waiting for Ikea to deliver the bedroom furniture (shown assembled in this post). First everything came off the counter so I could scrub it down, Windex the mirror and sort out the make-up, lotions, medicine and all kinds of bathroomy stuff. I added the small trash can between the bathtub and counter and picked up a new (larger one) for the far side.

Here’s the after:

The two bath mats were $11 at Ross

Mostly I just picked up the trash and swept, putting things away in the drawers or cabinet (the white door on the far right of this pic)

and the (clean!) counter:

see all the counter space?

One of the first suggestions I made was using a nifty corner caddy in the bathtub to store a portion of the LUSH collection. Lower baskets are great for a bath while the taller ones are within reach for showers.

Shower Caddy for $25 at Target

I picked up the tension rod at Target and although it shows 96-100″ and I had only 69″ you can easily leave out one length of pole to get the right height. Fun fact: I assembled this while watching Saved By the Bell on Netflix streaming.

The rest of the bathroom was just messy, a recently departed shape shifting cat had left behind bowls and toys and litter and food, most of which was still in the bathroom. Such feline accessories went into the storage area of the laundry room making space for a great spinning towel holder:

Found at a quirky thrift store for $20

The makeup from the counter went into the first drawer:

while you can still see all kinds of makeup it's easy to hide too

And the counter top is used for hair supplies, toothbrushes and the turn style for bottles:

using the yellow dishes I brought from CA

I scored this one for $18 at a Phoenix thrift store and even found a smaller one for the counter top:

$15 smaller counter top organizer

The cabinet behind the door was great for storing the (immense) LUSH collection. BFF already had the colander but it needed to be cleaned up a bit. The tins in the back (on the bottom shelf) have LUSH soaps and bath bombs:

still room for storage

This tray is great for smaller items to ensure they don’t fall through the shelving:

$10 at Ross. And it's blue.

There you have it! The bathroom redo which costs all of $84 and a good amount of elbow grease. If you already have towel storage or a bathroom caddy then it should cost even less!


My Home is Plant Hospice

I’ve come to accept one thing about my skills. I am not a gardener. Oh no. While some of my plants have thrived (don’t ask me how), I am quite miserable at keeping my favorites alive.

For example hydrangeas shrivel up and die within weeks. “Forcing bulbs” indoors was a miserable failure as well. I even transplanted a fern that promptly wilted up.

Don’t let the ones still alive fool you. They’re just luring me into a false sense of security.




One thing I realized is that I am especially lured in by plants on life support. When they clearance out plants because of imminent death I can’t stop myself from buying them. Like this one for $1 at Wal-Mart.


Isn’t it pretty? So much potential.

For some reason getting plants that already on life support gives me a fall guy. Obviously if the plants die it was not MY fault but the slacker at the store who failed to keep the plant in good condition. If anything I’m just giving the plant a nice home for its last few weeks.

Plant hospice, if you will.

For the interior plants I most often get cut flowers from the store… like these white tulips


Actually tulips are one of my favorite flowers


And these lilies from Rob are one of my favorite flowers:


Despite the “mostly dead” status it’s always a little sad when I have to throw them out. Maybe I should start a flower graveyard and if any of them seed and resurrect it’ll be a miracle.

Remodel in Arizona Part 2

So the real reason for my makeover duties was the guest room which started out looking like this:

air mattress and classy cardboard box side table

 This room was lovingly referred to as the “trash room.”

corner by the closet

 yeah… lots of stuff:

before the decrapification process

We picked up the bed frame, mattress, side support, and cross supports at Ikea to have them delivered 2 days later. So in the meantime I worked on the living room (full story here) and then cleaned out the guest room. Once the room was relatively clean I went out shopping.

I started by finding these pillow covers:

Covers: $1.50/ea at Goodwill
Insert: $10/ea at Wal-Mart

 I wanted these larger pillows for the bench seat and found two smaller accent pillows:

$4/ea at Goodwill

I will warn you that 98% of the time the linens at Goodwill or other thrift locations are not good. You’ll find lots of stains, fraying and ugly out there. So when you do find something suede, pretty and clean (do the smell test): buy it.

It was about this time the Ikea delivery arrived and I assembled the frame first. Of course I put the headboard by the door and the foot board against the wall so this is me moving it around:

it's surprisingly sturdy and light

And you can see the bookshelf turned bench here too:

Ikea frame: $100

Let’s talk about the bookshelf bench for a minute. I created a pinboard here with inspiration and this was a main component

We’d picked this one out and then, by the miracle that is Swedish design, found one at the As-Is section on sale:

$45 and it came assembled

 Here’s the bookshelf turned bench with the pillows:

bench with pillows

Isn’t it great? So great for storage on the bottom and comfy!

Now for more storage… no offense to the cardboard box but it had to go into the closet.

I had always envisioned a side table against the opposite wall so you could walk around the bed (makes it much easier to change sheets) and I set out to find an appropriate table.

Table: $35
Lamp: $16.50

The table is actually a metal vanity chair that I picked up at a thrift store in Phoenix. The lamp was purchased in pieces and is controlled by the light switch.  The lamp base came from Goodwill for $3 and I purchased the adjustable lamp shade bit for $5 at Wal-mart and the shade at a thrift store for $8.50.

For the table I added a blue tray from Target and found this great silver leaf tray from a thrift store for jewelry, keys, anything small:

Tray: $2.50
Silver leaf: $3.60

The blue comforter was an impulse buy from Ross but the price was right at $10.99:

The finished guest room

 So there you have it, the guest room is done! Once again I cleaned up most of the stuff by putting like things together, moving all the Christmas decorations into one box (which went to the laundry room) and using the shelves in the closet. Then it was just some vacuuming, dusting and furniture assembly.

Remodel in Arizona Part 1

Well, this is going to have to be a series because there are far too many pictures, purchases and tips to squeeze into one post.

Recently I spent time with my best friend in Arizona and while she was away at work lawyering I was working from her two bedroom apartment. Of course I couldn’t just sit still, behave and do my work. Oh no.

The deal was initially to revamp her guest room as her sister will be moving in a few months from now. But I started with the living room. Here are the before shots:

Corner of the Living Room


Chaise & tables

And the other side of the room…

Living Room alcove by Guest Room

The biggest change was moving the desk across the room to create a small study area in the alcove shown in the picture above. Since the desk was rarely used in relation to watching TV, the new reading corner both contains all the books and papers but created more room for seating.

Now, I embrace my organizational tendencies and I even appreciate them. So using the bright yellow dishes I brought I started picking up stray coins, hair pins and buttons.

As I worked, I threw away any obvious trash and collected the papers in a single box. Camera and film went together, clothes to the bedroom, shoes to the shoe organizer. It may seem like I threw everything away but most of the items in the pictures above are in the pictures below.

Then I found the vacuum. With all of the stuff off of the floor tables and the couch could be moved and the floor was cleaned. Happy with the progress so far, I went out scouting for some storage and decor solutions.

Before I show you what I bought here’s the after:

Notice the rehung curtains. And Saved by the Bell on the TV.

Before the day was up, however, we solved the limited seating problem with another chaise. Here’s my favorite shot:

New chaise, new rugs, clean living room!

It’s worth noting that while the dollhouse was in this corner in the first pic we scored an amazing leather tufted chaise lounge for only $150, bumping the dollhouse across the room in the last shot. Doesn’t it look cozy? And here’s the new study alcove:

Desk & bookshelves

Here’s the Budget Breakdown:

Some of the items were utilitarian only. This  slim step stool from Wal-Mart was great for hanging curtains and fits in the small gap next to the fridge:

$19.00 at Walmart

These two rugs were great to catch stains and blend in well with the existing carpet (I got lucky there!) . My rule is if the rug is less than a carpet cleaning get a new rug and recycle the old one.

$30 at Big Lots for 2

I knew the room needed a little bit of storage so I picked up a basket for mail:

Basket $2 at Goodwill, Green tray $2.50 at Target

for cables and the modem:

$2 basket at Goodwill

and for Wii games and controllers:

$2 basket at Goodwill

This plant has survived despite all odds so I picked up a little tin for it to sit into (making it easier to water since it won’t leak all over):

70 cents at Goodwill

Although the colors in the room are primarily turquoise in various shades I liked this green tray for a pop of color. Inside I have a yellow cup with spare coins, a white canister with buttons and some matches.

Target $2.50

Finally in here I found this great little candy dish and used it as a bookend:

$8 at Big Lots


90% of the transformation came from cleaning. It took a good amount of work to just clear out papers (which all went into a box to be sorted and filed later), toss the trash and put like items together.

You don’t need to spend a lot to make a big difference. Rearrange the furniture, place a plant in a new tin, rehang the curtains.

When you find a leather chaise lounge in good condition for $150 sit on it and do not get up.