Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 31- Be Content

You know what the absolute cheapest way to decorate your home is? Be content with less.

I love that I've been given ways to furnish and decorate my home cheaply. I love that the internet and DIY show me how to give old furniture a second life. I want to have a home that is beautiful, calming, welcoming. I want to have a home that people love to visit.

But a home can also be an idol. And furnishing it and decorating it can be an idol as well. If I continue to always want more, better, newer, cooler... that could still be greed. If I'm worried about what people think when they visit, that could be fear of man. If I'm wanting change all the time (even if it's free), that could be discontentment.

Check your heart. (As I've realised I need to check mine.) God gives us good things. God gives us earthly joys and pleasures. But check your motivation. Are you building a sweet home to provide joy and comfort for your family and those you have over? Or are you building a cushy little kingdom- to your comfort, your good taste, your diy abilities. What are you hoping for with every project you complete?

A friend of mine admitted once that as she sat down to start a project, she realised she was already imagining all the great feedback she'd get when she posted pictures online. I've been guilty of the same thing more often than I care to admit.

Maybe the best thing for your home to put away the paint and the sewing machine, log off Craigslist and ebay, and just sit. Thank God for what you do have. Maybe go for a time without something you know you could get cheaply, to remind yourself that you don't need every creature comfort right away. Look outside your home to the needs of those around you.

Maybe, for a time, do nothing new, and just be content.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 30- Don't Get Greedy

I'm a bit ashamed to admit this is a lesson I've been having to learn lately.

I've never thought of myself as a greedy person. I'm moved so often that I don't often become attached to things or places. My home has been almost entirely second-hand, and I liked it. I never felt like I had to have designer furniture, or even new. Didn't that at least get me out of the 'greed' category on sin?

Then came the coffee table incident.

I love my coffee table- I really do! The problem was that it was like the fourth coffee table I'd had in a month. Or close. When we first came, I used a black Ikea lack table. £5. Easy. It worked, but it was small, and more modern than I like. A couple months ago, someone lent us a small wood table. I liked the look much better, but still, it was more like an end table than a coffee table and we were constantly moving it around to whatever chair we were using. So, using some pallets and wood I found, I made another one (not pictured). I was okay... but an awkward size for our living room, and the pallets were a bit too uneven to sit a drink on. Then I found this, and yay! I love it!

But it wasn't just the coffee table. It was summer and people were clearing out. So I was picking up Freecycle finds a couple times a week.

In my mind, every change was an improvement. And they were free. But I realised that I was becoming known for having 'new' things, even if they were second hand. I realised that wanting something better can still be greed, even if it doesn't cost a penny.

There are some amazing bargains out there. If you have the time and freedom to pursue them- do! Enjoy it! Save your money for better uses and make your home a place of beauty on a budget! But don't let a constant desire for 'more' rule your life. Don't let greed slip in.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 29- Bribe Your Husband

So this is our guest room. I'm standing in the doorway, and the only thing you can't see in the photo is a 2x3 table with a trunk on it that I use for storage. This room is teenie-weenie.... and higgly-piggly. There's not a right angle in the whole place! As is true with many old London homes, walls, floors, and ceilings are all just slightly askew, meaning that the angles are all a bit wonky. On the end where I'm standing, the room is about five feet wide (152 centimetres). On the far end, where the futon is... well, it's less.

When I saw this futon on Freecycle, I measured the walls. Right below 140 centimetres. Maybe 137 at the very back, but that would be right up against the radiator, so we could leave a few inches. Perfect fit!

But when we got it back.... it was no where near fitting! I realised that I had measured the wall at about waist height, not at the floor. The baseboards are each 1.5 cm, and apparently, the walls narrow as they go down. The width at the bottom 130 cm. (To recap, that means there's about 3 in difference from waist height to floor. And there's a 9 in difference from one end of the room to the other!)

Hoo boy!

But the darling hubby buckled down, and with an ancient circle saw that we borrowed (no, seriously, it was so old it barely worked at all!), cut down all the slats on the futon base so that it would fit into that end of the room! It took 45 minutes. And that AFTER he'd taken me to pick it up, loaded it in the car, lugged it up to our flat, and assembled it. He's a keeper.

I know half my home musings would never come true if it weren't for a patient hubby who helps carry paintings, mirrors, and tables down the street, who pulls sofas up to a third floor window with a rope, and who wheels sofas half a mile down the street on a dolly!

I owe that man a good steak dinner!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 28- Hold on to Things

I know yesterday's post said not to hold on to things too carefully, to use them and not hoard them in a cupboard. But today I'm talking about when to hold on to things, for a time.

I'm not talking about keeping something indefinitely just for the sake of never getting rid of it. I'm not a big fan of the 'well someday I might use that' approach. But there are times when, in the midst of changing things around, you do want to keep your options open, and so holding on to something old for a time is a good idea.

Do you remember the artwork hanging over my sofa?

If you remember, I picked them up from a man who was clearing out his mothers home. These were two of eight pieces I carried home that day. I propped them in the corner for a while, trying to decide which to mount... but I liked a couple of the others. Several of them have huge gilded frames that are amazing... I really want to use them someday. But I can't right now. So they are tucked in the attic, for a time. I won't keep them indefinitely... there's no point. But for now, it's ok. 

Give yourself a break. I'm quite keen on regular purges of one's home, of keeping the clutter down and not storing what you won't use. But there's a balance, and sometimes, it's okay to just put it aside for now.

*PS- sorry to my email friends who were inundated with today's update. I missed the last two days, as our internet wasn't working, and I've been too busy to get internet elsewhere. I wanted to post the whole series, but I'm sorry for giving you so much junk mail!*

Monday, October 27, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 27- Don't Be Precious

I've been amazed at how many British English words are different than American English. Considering its technically the same language, they are SO different. (And that's a whole different post for another day.) But one word I've really enjoyed learning is 'precious'. Yes, I know, we use that word in America, but really only for things/people that are super important or sentimental to us. the English use 'precious' or 'dear' to indicate value, or expense. So I love when the little old lady in my church say this sack of potatoes is 'dearer'. Or when my friend says not to worry about the sweater I dropped food on, because it's not 'precious'.

I think many of us tend to keep things, especially gifts, as precious. If someone gives us something we love, we save it, not wanting it to break or be ruined. But then I find we don't really enjoy it as we ought.

I was given this bowl from a friend before I left the U.S.
I LOVE it! So for a while, I kept it tucked away. But I want to use it. I want to see it! I want to remember the sweet friend who gave it to me, and enjoy its beauty. So now its on my bedside table, holding my jewellery at night. (And I just realised that both the bracelet and the ring in the bowl are gifts as well.) Enjoy the things you have. God has given them to you for a time. You can't take them with you, and you ought not become too attached to material things anyway. So be grateful... send them a picture of their gift in your home. (Or send them the link to your blog when you feature it!)

But don't keep it precious, hidden away.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 26- To Dye For

This year I experimented with dyeing my own fabric. I didn't use it for decor, technically. I made a skirt. But still, I think the tip is valuable enough to point out.

I used turmeric and a couple tea bags to get this colour, and sadly, couldn't get a very good picture of it. It's really quite nice..a a bit mottled, with parts being lighter or darker depending on how the fabric took the dye.

The fabric was a large beige curtain I found on Freecycle.... but I really didn't want a beige skirt. (BORING!)

Here's a great site for what dyes can be found in your home, or at least the supermarket. Try it-- let me know how it turns out!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 25- Ikea

I know, I know. I can hear some of you groaning already. But it's definitely worth mentioning in a budget decor blog.

Ikea tends to one of those places people either love or hate. Well, actually, we all hate it at some point, when we're lost in the kitchen department trying to find our way out of the maze they designed to creative vertigo and confusion in their customers.

But it can be great. I know they don't have investment pieces that will last generations. But they are pretty cheap... especially for bits and pieces. And with Ikea hacks all over the interweb, there's no reason you should settle for plastic-looking furniture. So stock up on snacks, tuck your head, and take a look. Then get it home, work on your marital communication while you try to assemble said piece, then put your own spin on it!

Or.... just go and buy lots of candles, frames, and cheap dishes that you don't have to do a thing to.

Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 24- Tackle a Project

So... my headboard. It's not the best picture ever, but I'm pretty excited about it. This is what it looked like when we got it.
 It's not the worst thing in the world, but since I prefer cozy and warm to sleek and modern, I decided something needed to be done about it.

Since we happen to work at/live right next to our church, I happened upon an old kneeling prayer bench that hadn't been used for years. They planned to just get rid of it, so I claimed it, and with the hubby's help, cut that baby up, stapled some zip ties to it, and zip tied it to the rails of the headboard. Simple as that! All in all, I think it took two afternoons, and if you look close, you can see where some of our cuts aren't even, all the little things like that. But really, who looks that close anyway? If they do, they're too picky!

Not bad for a couple hour project, right? Get creative, grab that staple gun, and get going!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 23- Make it Work

Ah... the immortal words of the infamous Tim Gunn. 

But sometimes, you've got to do just that. Sometimes, you know something isn't right, but you need it anyway. So you figure something out. You turn the cushion over so no one seems the rip in the fabric (totally did that for a solid year in my last place). You rearrange the furniture to cover that stain the carpet (who hasn't done that?).

Or you make a paper shade for that lamp that's broken....

Originally, I'd planned to remove the glass completely and just give it a new shade, but it wouldn't come off, so I just papered it.

I know I need to get another lamp soon. It's starting to give of a burning smell when left on for too long. :-P But it works, for now.

I like to think of it as an art.....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 22- Check the Attic

Often when we think about decorating, we think about new things. Perhaps not 'new' new items, but at least 'new to us' items. But sometimes, its best to think old. Usually, most of us have already surrounded ourselves with things we love: souvenirs from places we toured, little impulse buys that caught our eye. Check your storage, look through the attic and under the stairs, all those places you've put the trinkets you thought you 'outgrew' and give them a second chance.

For a while, I and my family spent quite bit of time traveling in Asia. I picked up a few things, and received a few gifts from my family's travels. I really liked what I had, but 'saved' them, because they were 'special memories'. But I realised they weren't appreciated as special tucked away in a box I only look at once a year. So I pulled them out. Now these elephants, along with several other pieces, grace my shelves and walls and windows, constantly reminding me of the memories and the family that I shared them with. Which is exactly what they out to do!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 21- Hunt for Odds and Ends

So usually when you hunt for something on Freecycle (or Craigslist), you know you're going to get little imperfections. Often that means you end up investing some money to make it workable.

And sometimes, if you're very very patient.... you get everything you need!
A friend of mine picked up this chest of drawers from the side of the road. (LOVE that I have such awesome friends who know me!) But it had only one drawer pull it good condition. Two were completely missing. So we 'jimmy-rigged' it for a while and made it work.

Then... about six months later, I saw a post for a free set of drawer pulls! A whole set! And they were antique, the right size, and easy to install! You bet I jumped all over it, and surprised my hubby that night with fully-functional access to his sock drawer!

Sometimes if you wait a bit, you'll find something that works better than you expected.

.... and yes, I understand its a silly little thing. But sometimes, it's the little things that matter.

Monday, October 20, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 20- A Bit of Black

Someone somewhere said, "Every room needs a bit of black." No idea who... the internet attributes it to several grand designers, a few grandmas, and miscellaneous inspired bloggers.

Well whoever it was is right. A bit of black grounds a room, gives it cohesion and a bit of solid-ness. If you feel like a room is a bit blah, or just lacking... add some black. A couple pillows, a rug, maybe paint a piece of furniture, or even a wall, like I did in my last flat. (I SO wish I'd kept a picture of it!) I seriously LOVED my black wall. We currently live in church property, and the committee is a bit too scared to trust it to me again, but I had friends in shock when I mentioned my black wall... though they'd sat in front of it for months! It's awesome!

Like this picture from Pinterest that has lost its original source. (Not my home or photo. Internet world, please don't hate me for using it!) It's not dark and depressing! Its cosy and wonderful!

Here, with no black walls, I've contented myself to painting a small cupboard. It's not big, but it does the job. And it worked with what I had... which made it free.
I have my 'bit of black.'

Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 Day of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 19- Use Mother Nature

Autumn is the perfect time to use mother nature to its fullest advantage. Harvest-time, Thanksgiving.... all lend themselves to twiggy branches and colourful leaves... inside and out. Go with it!

I added some bits last autumn, and found I liked them so much, I just kept them all year.
These glittery leaves were the result of some cheap glue and a leftover jar of sparkles. Some lasted better than others, but I love them!

You don't want to get me started on having sticks in my house! I'm seriously such a fan! This birch had been planted lining a street and sadly hit by a ill-measured parking car. I was lying pitifully on the ground, doomed for the dump, and I rescued it from its fate! It's quite happy sitting in my corner.

In my last house, I use a stick as a curtain rail (wish I had pics)! It took some time and sanding, but worked quite well and added an organic element to the room! Seriously fun... and free!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 18- Know When to Invest

Okay, so I'm cheating today. This advice may not be cheap or free.

But there is something to be said for investment pieces. When you have something you love that you know you will use, wise investments aren't always a bad thing.

I love this picture hanging on my wall. When we were newly married, a friend of mine took this photo and posted it online. I loved it and asked for a copy, and immediately went to have it framed. Naive little me didn't understand the costs involved in custom framing, and ended up 'investing' more in the frame than in all my other artwork combined (plus my sofa!). I hadn't planned on investing, but I did... and I don't regret it.

I love it every time I look at it... print, frame, and all! And that's worth something. How much, I leave up to you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 17- A Paper Trail

Quick Tip: use paper like you would fabric. Favourite pictures, obviously, but postcards, maps, even decorative scrapbook paper.... some simple framed prints can make a great impact!

These are some hand painted notecards I got on a trip to Asia. I couldn't part with them in letters, but love them as a framed series! Cheap and easy-- that's my kind of decor!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 16- The Borrowers

So it sounds a bit silly, and you may not always be comfortable with it, but consider borrowing something from someone.
I claimed both of these mirrors when I helped a friend purge her home.

She didn't want them anymore, but also didn't want to get rid of them completely (one is sentimental), so I offered to 'take them off her hands' for a few years, till one of us decides to move on.

You may not feel comfortable enough to do this with many people, but maybe a sister? I've 'borrowed' lots from my mom, though she's not got all of them back yet. (Sorry, Mum!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 15- Go Industrial

I've already posted pictures of my dining room.

I love the warm tones of all the wood and the simplicity that fills up when we have a house full of visitors. I love that we have a massive table that's way too much for the hubby and me, but fills up every Sunday with friends from church. And that at times, we've been able to cram ten or even twelve people there if we're in a squeeze. Big tables with elbows bumping is such a joy to me, I'm blessed to have a space where we can have that!

But finding a table that large cheaply was not looking like an easy task.... till we went industrial.

My first attempt you can see on the under layer of the table. A post online advertised £30 for a six foot table top with trestle legs. But when we arrived to pick it up, we found the table top to only be two feet wide.... not enough to cover the whole trestle legs, let alone fit eight to twelve dinner guests!

So we asked our builders (who were still working on other bits in the flat) if they could get a piece of plywood for us. So £20 later, we plopped a piece of 4x6 mdf on the top, coated it with mineral oil (which was highly debated among those we asked), and there we had it: a big ol' table that can fit twelve if needed, for just at £50.

So go raid Lowes or Home Depot! (Please do for me, we don't have them here and I miss their convenience!) Maybe a plywood headboard is calling your name! Or a diy bench is just around the corner. Rough edged picture frame? Know your limits (as I've written before), and don't bite off more than you can chew, but get creative, and see where it leads!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 14- Make Do

It seems with the recent economy, many have taken the opportunity to return to a more frugal lifestyle. The 'Make do and Mend" community has grown a bit again. Do you do this? Do you make do?

Of course, this could mean simply doing without something. This last year, I had a number of shopping lists that I put in my notebook to save up for, but often, when the money was saved, I found that what I thought I'd badly needed was no longer a high priority. Double check, ask yourself if you really need it or if you have something that you could use in place of it.

Our home is a high priority, as it should be. But as long as it is well cared for, welcoming for guests, and not a hindrance to your family's daily routine or ministry to others, that's enough. You are not required to keep up with magazines, shop windows, or even *gasp* blogs. Sometimes good enough is just that: good enough.

Having said that, perhaps there are times where you'd be able to make do with items you already have (or find), as opposed to buying something new (or even used). Make do could simply mean to choose not to spend money on something.

We are currently blessed to live next to our church, which was much larger in the past, and consequently, has some extra pieces around the building. Our dining room chairs are all the same seats that we sit in every Sunday morning.

Well, at church they have cushions (on my list to buy or make, eventually.)
 They aren't fancy, but they work. And I can comfortably sit eight people at my table, without having to buy extra chairs! Its wonderful!

I was also looking for some kind of jewellery rack. I've tried a number of boxes and drawers that never seemed to work- so when I found a cork board, I decided to try to give it a shot.

But I still needed something for my earrings. I tried drilling holes in veneers... which kind of worked, but not great. Then I happened upon a hutch by the side of the road that was a bit worn and out of shape, but did have a wire door that would be just perfect for my earrings!

(I weaved a piece of ribbon through on edge to hold my post-back earrings that wouldn't just hang over the wire.)

And voila! My jewellery corner is complete! I'm so happy with it, and think it looks great together. And since I had ribbon and thumbtacks in the house already, it was absolutely free!

Can you make do with what you have for a while? Get creative about how you use things, or find an item that can do double duty. Challenge yourself to find a solution that doesn't require money! And let me know in the comments below if you do!

Monday, October 13, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 13- Cardboard, Baby

Ok, so this isn't my most dignified post.

When you hear me say cardboard, you might think of strange pieces like this from Cardboardesign:

If you like this sort of thing, then by all means, go for it. But I'm talking about more usable, normal uses for cardboard.

I actually have quite a few cardboard boxes around my house... and you know what I usually use them as?


Earth shattering, right? But using cardboard boxes doesn't mean you have to have Amazon labels and shipping packets on display for the whole world to see. Find a plain side, add some sharpie designs, and its all right.

Or, like the burlap box on the middle shelf... cover it with fabric. I have several fabric boxes around the house that are cardboard underneath. They work just fine, and they cost me nothing!

Also, consider cardboard for organising. Boxes with dividers in them, like wine boxes or packing for glass items, work really well as drawer organisers.... socks and undies, makeup, crafts..... it's way cheaper than buying those plastic organising systems, and works just as well!

I admit, there's a bit of a pride element for a lot of us. We think cardboard boxes belong in the broke, milk-crate decorating phase of college life. But if we can be a tad more creative, we realise that it can work just fine, and no one will notice, let alone judge you for it!

To quote Tim Gunn: "Make it work!"

Sunday, October 12, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 12-Going Green

Not THAT green! (Though you're very welcome to go that green too, but that's not what this blog is about!)

THAT kind of green!

You've probably already heard this, but seriously, get some plants in your place! They fill up blank spaces, they add a natural touch to a sterile room, they purify the air... there's no good reason not to add some plants.

Look what they did for my dining room,


It's not much- but it helps liven up the space. And guess what- those are just clippings I got off neighbours and stuck in some dirt to try to root for next summer! Oh, and some spring onions- which I always keep in water- they last almost indefinitely that way.

So many plants can be divided easily- succulents, aloes, mother-in-laws tongues, spider plants, lavender.... ask around- someone is bound to have some they can give you!

See the green spiky plant on the desk here?

That baby was in an arrangement a friend gave me two months ago. I stuck it in some water, and its still alive. I've changed the water once. I have no idea what it is, but apparently, it's indestructible!

Go green! And then post your pics below for everyone to see!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 11-The Magic of Spray Paint

When we first moved here, I bought a can of gold spray paint and went a little crazy!

Well, that can isn't gone yet, and I'm still spraying anything that's got me at a dead end. Seriously, try it. 

My suggestion: GO BOLD. Black, gold, red-- its a can of spray paint, for Pete's sake. Just have some fun with it. 

I'm especially loving the painted toy bookends that are around right now, like this example from Natalme:

You'll be amazed at the new lease on life a coat of paint can give your old tired knick-knacks!

Go on! You know you want to!

Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 10- Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Sometimes, in the frugal decorating world, you gotta give DIY a try. And that means, sometimes, you're going to fail.
So.... maybe this isn't a complete failure, but its definitely not a work of art. (In case you're still wondering what on earth it is: its a stitched sketch of birch trees.)

My hubby is confused by it. I don't love it. But it works, for now. And I know it doesn't have to be permanent. (See yesterday's post!) I gave it a decent shot.

I'm not alone either. As much as Pinterest is great for inspiration, it also sits on a throne of lies in regards to many of its 'diy projects' hence providing the world with the hilarious stories at Pintrosity!

So give it your best try, don't take yourself too seriously, and laugh when it goes askew. Maybe it's salvageable (the project, not your pride), and if not, email me and I'll share in your misery!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 9-It's Not Permanent

Little bright, eh?

It looks a little better in context:
... but it's still pretty darn bright.

That's what comes from trying to 'mix it up' like I talked about the other day. A few months ago, I looked around my living room and saw that just about everything was some shade of brown/rust. I decided I needed some colour, and the next week, this rug appeared on Freecycle. It's wool- and it was free- you know I jumped at that!

So, here it's sat for a few months, and you know what, I don't love it.

I've learned:
  • It's a little too bright.
  • A wool rug is hard to clean, especially when small children spill food, or husbands spill tea and coffee!

I've also learned: 
  • I really like a rug in this space.
  • It's cozy for my toes.
  • I do like that the room isn't all brown now. 
  • I don't want to spend money on a wool rug.

And I learned all of that for free!!

So, when I find another rug for cheap or free... I can change it! I can pass this on to someone who wants it, and I can find something that works better for our space. But it was worth a shot, and I'm glad I did it.

Do you have a question about something in your house? Experiment. Try it for a while. If it's free (or cheap), you won't lose much in the process!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 8- Follow Your Gut

What do you think of the art hanging above my sofa?

My hubby doesn't love them. But guess where I got them?


From a house clearance of an old lady who'd hoarded tons. They were piled at the top of a long staircase line with dark dingy wallpaper, orange sculpted carpet that lost its 'sculpt' decades ago... in a stack of about 12 pictures/paintings covered in layers of dust and grime and nicotine.

But I love artwork. I love gallery walls. I love all kinds of pictures. So I took the lot (well, most of them)!

I almost didn't. They needed some work, no particular picture grabbed me. Half of them were yellowing. But since most weren't originals (except that farmhouse pic, which I'll come back to), and I wasn't yet emotionally invested in them, I took them home, gave them a much-needed scrub, and set them out for a bit. Over the next few days, certain pictures grew in my interest, and I started seeing possible pairings. It took a couple weeks, but eventually, I decided to hang the two you see here.

And I like it. The two together are sweet, and since I used the existing nail holes (we have plaster walls... which make a mess) they hung more flat-topped rather than on centre. But I like it. Its sweet. Its casual. Its imperfect.

It was worth trusting my gut, grabbing all those paintings and sticking them in a corner for a week to see if they grew on me. I'd never find artwork like this free again!

*The farmhouse painting features Top Withens, an abandoned farmhouse in Yorkshire which is said to have been the/an inspiration for Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 7- Mix It Up

Sorry if I confused anyone with yesterdays post. I posted it early in the morning, which meant it was posted Oct. 5 US time, though it was Oct. 6 here! So sorry!


What is wrong with this picture?

There's nothing technically wrong with this picture. The sofas are perfectly decent, as is every other piece in the photo. The problem is they're all a bit too perfect. It all matches. From the tan sofas, carpet, and lampshade, it's all too matchy-matchy. 

This is SO easy to do- especially for new married couples, or folks buying their first home. They get ready to make their first home and want it to be 'perfect'. The problem is, perfect isn't liveable. It's sterile. Predictable. It's JC Penny catalog boring.

The key is to mix things up a bit.

Here's how my living room looks at the moment, and I'm not holding it up as an example of perfection- just showing you where I am.

I've been trying to add some texture to the cold leather sofa (which I'm deciding I'll never buy again, as I'm freezing in winter and sticky in summer!) But my pillows are a bit.... blah. Individually, they're great. I like them all. But there's nothing terrible interesting about them.

And the rug... well, it's definitely the visual interest in the room right now, and I think it might be a tad much.... but I'll talk more about that later.) But it's liveable-- cosy, but imperfect enough that it's not intimidating.

Some tips to breaking the matchy-matchy rut:

  • DON'T buy a whole furniture set. Whether its a sofa/loveseat or a whole bedroom suite.... putting it all in one room will instantly overwhelm a room.
  • DON'T buy a bunch of accessories from one collection at Target! Even if you love it! I don't care how good they look together on the shelf. They won't look as good at home.
  • DON'T ask yourself if it matches. Matching isn't what's important. Working is.
  • DO mix and match. Have a few pieces that match and a few that don't. You don't want to go crazy and have nothing that coordinates, but you want to keep things moving visually.
  • DO occasionally buy that random pillow you love- even if it doesn't go with your living room.
  • DO shop your house.... change the pillows on your bed for those on your sofa. Or find one you threw in the basement two years ago
  • DO look for cheap/easy changes. DIY pillow cover. A random blanket/throw. Sharpie something. (Seriously!)
Check out The Nester's blog for inspiration. She changes things around A LOT. And even if you don't like her particular style, she links to tons of other designers who are brilliant with mixing things up a bit!

Monday, October 6, 2014

31 Days of Cheap & Free Decor: Day 6-Know Your Limits

Anyone remember this post from last year?

Yeah- in trying to save us money- I bought a leather sofa for £100, which isn't too bad. But it's big-- like really deep and wide big. Yep. I'd not been here long enough to know really just how small the doors are in England. And the halls. And the stairways. The only way to get that baby up was hoisting it with ropes... it ended up being a bit more difficult than we expected.

Looking back, I'd rather have spent more money to just buy an Ikea sofa that we had to assemble. (I know- did those words really just come out of my mouth?!) But I didn't know my limits.

Same with this chair, which I love. 

I didn't know my geographical limits in London yet. So when I saw that it was only 5-6 miles away, I didn't realise that is REALLY far in London! So, we took the tube up to Southgate, found the chair, and then realised that sucker wasn't coming back on the tube with us. My £30 chair turned into a £65 chair with the large taxi we had to hire to get it back.

At least I learned my lesson.

Right now, I'm considering reupholstering a few pieces. I have this leather-ish chair that has great bones, but is too cold and crinkly to be comfy.

But I haven't a clue where to start with reupholstering this baby. I need a solution for the meantime- till I can figure out how to recover it properly.

Fortunately, I had an old poncho the hubby got in Mexico that's just the right kind of cozy. A few folds and tucks, and voila! It's slipcovered!

Know your limits. If you can't change a lightbulb without complaining, don't take on a fixer-upper chandelier! When you look at an item- know how much work it will take to get it 'presentable', and know whether or not you're willing to do the work.... or be willing to live with it a bit shabby.

My mom told me not to date guys for their 'potential', and the same rule can apply to furniture. If you're not willing to do the messy work of getting it up to par, don't make the investment!