There was a time early in our marriage, right after building our house, when I really didn't have much to work with. Money was tight and we had a new mortgage payment. However, having always been an artsy kind of gal, I wanted to do something to make our house feel more like home.
For my first decorating adventures, I went with a primitive look. Dark colors, old stuff, you know.
Then about four years ago, all the dark was starting to drain the energy out of me! I still enjoy the look when in others homes that are decorated in the primitive style, but I needed something lighter, more airy.
So, I sold some of my primitive decor, but only the things that I couldn't alter myself.
I invested in some white spray paint and went to town on almost everything dark, black, or drab. Painted our red kitchen/dining area walls a nice light yellowish color. Bedroom walls all got light breathe-filled colors, as well as the others areas of our house. These color changes as well as a few other things, really lightened up our home and I felt so much lighter!
(Refinished and reupholstered chair)
This transition from dark, primitive to, oh I don't know, I guess I would call it more of a modern farmhouse/beachy combo, was a gradual one that occurred over a period of two or more years.
And it was not feasible for me to get rid of all of my old decor and buy brand new decor all at one time. By this time, we were a single income family.
So, what did I do? Probably what many of you already do.
I shopped thrift stores and made sure to have lots of white paint on hand. :)
(Pretty piece of scrap book paper cut to fit inside a white frame I had.)
I looked around my house to see what I could change without too much effort. There have been many, many things in our home that have been painted with white paint - lamps, shelves, bedside stands, frames, and more. I've even painted a fabric lampshade! (I thought that was really bad until I just read recently on another blog about how a woman painted her couch! It looked pretty good too!)
I found many things at thrift stores that fit my likes - blue-tinted mason jars, old wooden crates, white milk glass, and more.
(Shelf I repainted and the chalkboard I made out of an old framed picture from the thrift store.)
So here are some things I've done to save on decorating...
1. Buy second-hand. The trick to second-hand shopping when it comes to decorating is learning to see beyond the here and now of the item. Instead of seeing the colonial blue paint with the pink heart, imagine what it would look like painted a nice crisp white or another soft, light, airy color.
(White, chippy quilt display found at second-hand shop for $3.00!)
2. Go buy yourself a can of white paint. I have spray paint and regular latex paint. We've actually accumulated a nice assortment of colors from our various painting projects. For instance, this hutch in our dining area started out a forest green, then became black (which was better than green), and has now been this nice seaside blue since I painted it again last summer. Buying a new hutch was not feasible, painting the existing one was.
Here is a post from the past on my frolics with paint...
3. Think of ways that you could make the things you like yourself rather than buy brand new at a huge cost. For example, one of my friend's had a framed corkboard that she kept all of her pictures on of her friends, family, etc. I wanted one, but couldn't afford the price tag. So I found an old, large frame at the thrift store and bought some corkboard. I painted and distressed the frame, cut the corkboard to fit in the frame, covered the cork with a fabric I liked, and, voila, I had my own picture memo board.
(Repainted shelf; old pitcher found at flea market for 25 cents)
4. Use what you already have, as much as you can. Paint it. Or it may be just as simple as moving things around to keep the look fresh and new. I've been feeling the "I need to move things around" itch the last week or so. It's really amazing how you can change the look of your home just by moving your furniture and your decor around a bit.
(Toaster-hider that Brad and the kids made for me for mother's day several years ago; they built it and I painted and distressed it. Total price was a few dollars compared to $50 to buy one online.)
5. Change the look of your living room by changing the pillows. Target has the cutest pillows. And I found feather down pillows at Ross around Christmas time - lovely beachy blue color, 2-pack for $25.00. That's a STEAL! And if you can't dish the money out for new pillows and you know how to sew, sew some new pillow covers that fit your current pillows. Maybe you like your current pillows but they've gotten kind of flat and tired looking (like mine!). Simple way to fix that - throw them in your dryer with a fabric softener sheet and a couple of clean tennis balls and they'll be fluffed up and will smell fresh and clean!
How about some easy-sew placemat pillows?!
6. Hang some new curtains. I found some great curtain panels for $3.00 for the pair at our local thrift store last year. Because I didn't have a window to use them on, I turned them into a shower curtain that I really love now. The reason I tell you this is because you can find nice things at thrift stores. And if you can't find any at a second-hand store and can't afford new curtains (I certainly can't afford brand new, full-price ones), buy some nice fabric to make curtains. My living room curtains aren't even sewn. Go here to see how I did them! But if you can't stand the thought of not having hemmed curtains, then sew a quick hem or (if you can't sew) use an iron-on adhesive tape to hem them up.
My thrift store curtains turned shower curtain and some new sewn pillows.
7. Use the internet to find free printable wall art. I am currently using a lot of these in my home.
8. Shop craigslist. We have saved SOOOO much money by shopping on craigslist. Although I don't think I would ever buy a couch using this method, we have purchased many items from craigslist including our t.v. armoire ($50), computer armoire, white distress wooden desk chair and matching book case ($250), and two end tables, coffee table, and storage armoire (all four pieces for a measly $250!) We never would have been able to afford all of that furniture brand new off the floor of a furniture store!
9. In moderation, use the internet for inspiration to create things on your own. There is so much inspiration out there, but I do say to use moderation because things like pinterest and searching the web can be time-consuming and can cause discontentment and obsession. (I timidly raise my hand, guilty of this.)
10. Fill your home with the things you like. Don't worry about trying to figure out your particular decorating style! For goodness sake, you don't need a "home decorating style test" to tell you what you like! I used to get hung up on that. I felt like I needed to decorate a certain way and to limit myself to a certain "style" of decorating. I felt like I shouldn't mix different styles. Now, none of that bothers me anymore. I decorate with the things I like, the things that make our house feel like home.
Have a most blessed Friday!