At long last, I love our house. It used to be old and poorly designed but it is now newly renovated and the layout is beautiful and suits our family’s needs. The problem is, I have no idea how to decorate it, to take the lovely bones of the structure we’ve built and make it our own. See, there’s pretty much zero budget when it comes to decorating. All of our funds are going to slightly more important things like food and the mortgage and stuff. I’d love to march in to HomeSense with a dozen empty buggies, madly run down the aisles tossing in every throw pillow, end table, stretched canvas painting, and flower vase that happens to catch my eye, but we just don’t have that kind of cash. So, instead I don’t buy anything and I just stare at the bare walls and the unfinished corners and feel kind of mopey about it.
Which is DUMB. Because our house is lovely and we’re beyond lucky to have the space we do and 97% of the world lives in cardboard slums so I should just quit my whining and move on, right? But here’s the thing: I know people who are really gifted at making their homes lovely, on a budget! They go to thrift stores and find lamps to spray paint and they make headboards for their beds out of old doors, and they always have candles burning and banana bread baking and I kind of want to kick them in the nards for it. I envy their vision and their skill in the homemaking department. I wish I could do what they do, but since I don’t know where to start, I just do nothing. Good plan for success, hey?
I think part of the bigger problem is the pressure we all feel from channels like HGTV and all the home decor magazines and shiny, happy craft blogs that portray life as one big chance for everything to be beautiful and I just don’t know how attainable it actually is. Sometimes the walls stay bare and it’s mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner and (gasp!) there can still be happiness in the home. In the same way that supermodels make us feel like fat slobs if we don’t wear a size two, all the home improvement magazines send the message that our places just don’t quite measure up.
(I’m not saying we can’t strive for beauty in our bodies or our homes, but I do think it’s good to realize where the ideals are coming from, you know?)
So much of it comes down to how we choose to spend our time, I think. If I have a spare hour, I’m going to catch up with a friend, or write a blog post or watch some TV with my husband, not run out to the garage to sand the antique desk I found for a steal of a deal at a garage sale.
Do you feel pressure to make your home better? Do you set aside part of your monthly budget for things to beautify your living space? Are you one of those people I’d like to kick in the nards? if so, any secrets or tips to share on how to make my house a home on a minimal budget?
juicing recepies says
Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?
juicing recepies says
With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation? My blog has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any techniques to help protect against content from being ripped off? I’d truly appreciate it.
I have no decorating skills and i do feel like i have the ugliest house of all my frineds/family. I have lived here 5 yrs and still don’t feel like i have any design what so ever. However, with my boys i don’t thikn anyone woiuld notice if i did have it decorated, because it is a complete disaster almost all the time!!!
We built our house a couple of years ago, it took almost 2 years so by the time we moved in we had a baby on the way and I was already on mat leave. We also were still waiting for our old house to sell!
I tried to mix up my old decor by using it in a different room and searched Home Sense for new pieces every couple of months. The bigger the piece the more impact it made. Take your time, I think decor looks better when its been pulled together over time, not just buying a set from a showroom.
I also watched Nate Berkus everyday, he usually has some good ideas on how to achieve a look for not a whole lot of money.
Good Luck and Have fun!!!
Lisa G says
You know how girls get together for clothes swaps?? Maybe you could rally your friend/ neighbours together for a decor swap? This way something old to your friend is brand new to you (and vice versa). To make it fair – put a price tag value on each item so that the trading is somewhat fair (Red Tag = $ 5- $20, Blue Tag = $ 20- $ 50 etc etc)
I keep a list of my wants for my house and attach a dollar amount for what I am willing to spend on it, then I slowly chip away at it by visiting garage sales, thrift stores, craigs list etc..
Right now, my list includes:
Area rug (in reds and browns)-$75
Wooden bunk beds (twin over full)-$100
Insulated dark red curtains for slider-$30
Funky Throw pillows- $7/each
…and the list goes on.
I know some of these things will be hard to find, but they are also “wants” and not “needs”, so if I never get them, then we’ll be fine.
I think it’s difficult to do if you don’t have the money or the time. Most people with beautiful homes have either money or time.
Also, remember that people who make the time it’s usually because that’s what they love to do, so do them it’s happy time. If decorating isn’t happy time for you right now, then don’t worry about it. You have three young kids- the house can wait.
I’m blessed to have an amazing artist for a step-grandfather…so my home is filled with his amazing art which suits my tastes perfectly. My second bit of luck is having an incredible interior designer as a close friend – she gives me tips and helps me pick paint colours etc. So you may want to kick me in the nards too…but I’m a bit with Erin – for the time being with little kids…it’s a challenge.
Erin Little says
You definitely won’t want to kick me in the nards. My house is a big fat effing dump, remember? Anyhoo, the only time I had a “decorated” house was when I lived with Sarah’s sidekick Tommy, who was my roommate, and he decorated it.
It will come over time. Three kids under 5 would likely trash it anyway, so it makes sense to wait until they are older and you have more time.
I buy things as the deals come (over the course of years and years, no one can do it all at once). I do have a particular colour / style in mind for each room and if I come across a deal and I love it, I still won’t buy it if it won’t fit in the room. And I’ve learned about buying used stuff to ‘fix.’ Most of the time I don’t get around to fixing / painting it, so if it doesn’t work for us as is, I’ve learned not to waste the money.
And yeah, I know what you mean about the glossies. I still like them for inspiration, but I try to limit my viewing so I don’t get all wrapped up in ideals.
@Tracey, I’ve done just about the same thing but I took up a hobby instead. The fashion magazines were killing me, I couldn’t afford this or that and I couldn’t look like all the girls, even taking their idiotic advice usually turned sour for me, from relationships to life in general. I haven’t touched even 1 fashion magazine in ages, instead I picked up a hobby: fitness. I started working on my own health and body, not just crazy running or overtraining, but rather smart health training. From detox juices and Greens products (I used My LifeForce Balance Greens to lose 40 lbs.!) to meditation , to yoga to light weight training. It changed my life and brought my husband back, he has obviously been unhappy with me, but I can see a huge change now.
You had me at kick them in the nards
I think I might be on my way to being one of those people you want to kick… we live in a house trailer and I’m always changing things… we can’t afford to buy house decorations, so I do one thing at a time – maybe paint a room, hang a picture, rearrange the furniture we already have, and sometimes just getting rid of something(s) does the trick too. I love the thrift store and always keep my eyes peeled for something that might be useful/beautiful in our home. My husband and I enjoy doing/making things together, so it doesn’t take away from family time when I want to rearrange or make something for the house. It’s not something we spend many hours on either… I recently painted a few planks of wood to make hook boards and that only took a couple evenings at home.
How did I start the whole process? We hope to build a home in a few years, so a couple years ago I just started perusing design blogs to get an idea of what style I like – not letting myself be pressured into thinking our home has to look a certain way. I have a “Home Ideas” file on my computer where I save pictures of what catches my eye. Over time my mind has become adept at seeing what I’d like to do/change in our home, but, like I said, just one little thing at a time. One of my favorite design blogs is Design Sponge That blog has tons of different styles.
I agree with you. I furnished my living room after living here for four years. The vacant room was a great play space and it gave me time to save money, get to know my house and furnish it thoughtfully. Your reno sounds fabulous!
Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) says
I slowly accumulate house things (buy cushions one month and maybe a painting the next). Over the past few years since buying our first home we have began to make it feel more and more homey. We haven’t spent a lot, because I like a simple/clean look. A little goes a long way.
Throw pillows and a couple large paintings can make a HUGE difference. If you can squeeze one thing in every couple of months, it won’t take long to transform your home into a work of art in itself 🙂
I don’t always have candles burning or the sweet aroma of baking filling the air … but if I have guests coming over, then I clean the house and get the candles lit and the oven toasty (luckily we have a very small house, so cleaning only takes about 1/2 hour with 2 of us).
You should post pics of the rooms you think need some sprucing up, and I am sure your readers will have some simple, cheap suggestions for you.
Oh lady. Did you write this for me?
I stopped buying fashion magazines years ago because they only made me feel bad about myself, for reals. Instead, I’ve spent a small fortune on buying decor magazines, and licking the pages, crying at times at the cruelty of it all. I totally get it. Martha ruined my life, remember? I lust for a shiny, pretty home. It’s not such a good thing.
I think when it comes to decor, I start dreaming up the outcome – in a very possible (read: budget) kind of way, and then I work backwards from that. No drapes for now… but maybe a cushion or two. (They’re still $$$ sometimes!) Small tricks that might make a difference, and stick to the plan – don’t deviate, unless it works with the “picture” at the end.
I’m the QUEEN of Winners, yo. It’s my dream to have a wicked shopping spree in there too… I know. I know. In the end, we have to like what we have, right? Please yourself.