Monday, November 5, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Live Well On Less: Home Decoration

Is there anything more ladylike than concern for others? Our lives may reflect God's grace, but so often, our homes do not.

Perhaps you truly aren't affected by the way things look, but what about your family? Is your husband is longing for a handsome place to sit? Are your children's toys unwelcome in the living room? Providing an attractive, comfortable home is an extension of caring for others.

You can live well on less by creating an environment that makes others feel at home--on any budget.

Let's not talk about styles or even colors. Let's talk about the elements of beauty in the home, what some might call good taste. When we're dealing with a tight budget, we can't afford to buy junk.

Below, I had to sift through many ugly lamps to find this $11 pottery lamp.

The more an item costs, the more carefully you should scrutinize your options:
$100 at a consignment sale..."when will this item be reduced in price?"
$5 at a yard sale..."I will use it for now, and sell it when I find something better."
FREE..."Sure! I can make this work somehow!"

Appropriate vs. Tacky
Does the item suit its purpose? Is it there for show or function? We don't have room in our budgets (or our homes!) for looks alone. As much as I love the spirit of Emilie Barnes, I could never advise you to decorate an adult room with teddy bears!

The reading chair and ottoman was a splurge at $90, but its natural sheen and soft seat make the whole room cozy--and functional.
Genuine vs. Fake
It is always better to choose a real thing, even worn, over a reproduction.
An old Oriental rug adds richness that a polyester version can't. I would take bare wood floors over an ugly rug. Whenever possible, choose natural materials over synthetics--you can't fake the sense of touch.

The same applies to flowers. I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but it would be better to paint your front door a rich glossy color than to hang a wreath of fake roses on it. You can buy gallons of expensive paints for $5 at Habitat Homestores or the Oops bin. Plant a six-pack of annual plants for $1.47 in pots on either side of your door. The yellow rattan chair-turned-pedestal was rescued from the curb.
Plain vs. Fancy
Simple forms mix better than highly ornamented furniture. The bigger the piece, the less pattern it should have, if only because this makes coordinating with other secondhand finds easy. My childhood windsor chair mixes with curbside chairs and a $5 coffee table.

Handmade vs. Mass Produced
Always choose the unique over something that came out of a box. Don't buy a print from Target when you can hang your children's artwork for free. Why? Handcrafted items pack more decorating punch. They look real.

How To Cut Your Decorating Budget Without Even Trying:
Don't buy accessories.
Make your functional objects beautiful, and you won't need to accessorize.

My advice may be contrarian, but it works. People always write to ask how I keep my home from looking cluttered. Now you know my secret! I may choose a pretty pitcher, but I would never buy a decorative figurine to sit on the kitchen counter.

The few accessories I keep have sentimental family value. My home gets most of its color and interest from books, art, plants, and functional beauty--all items which can be made, grown, or found with little cost. (We bought this French Country patterned lamp for $5.)

New to Like Merchant Ships? Here are all the lessons in our Live Well On Less week of study!

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