Work With What You Have

This month, as I strive to not buy unnecessary things, I’m trying to be content with what I already have. I have started to see greater potential in things currently in my home, finding ways to get creative and repurpose items that have been overlooked or underutilized. This way, I can change things up when I want to while avoiding big hits to my wallet.

As my sister and I are hoping to find a new place to live, we’re taking this transition as an opportunity to look through the things we currently have and create a space that better reflects our personalities and what we want our home to look and feel like. We’ve both collected various items over the years that don’t necessarily represent who we are or how we want our space to function. We have picked these things up at thrift stores because they were cheap, gotten them as well-intentioned gifts, or even purchased them because we liked them at the time, but have since grown out of them. The result is an apartment full of mis-matched things that we’re not so crazy about. So begins yet another pile of items to be donated.

Hoping we’ll have a new home to call our own and decorate in whatever way we wish gives us a blank slate, an opportunity to start over in a way.As twenty-somethings, we don’t have much dispensable income (especially considering the fact that we’re looking to move), so we’re getting creative with what we have. Knowing there are some treasures hidden in the clutter we’ve accumulated, we are also brainstorming ways to create a space that does suit us better. My sister is really good at repurposing things, and I’m working on channeling her creativity and artistic eye in transforming old, ignored pieces into true treasures.

I began by taking a look around my room and my apartment to see what could use a little sprucing up. I also took inventory of what supplies I had on hand, both so that I can make sure I use them up in an effort to not accumulate too much, and to save money when possible by using what I already have. I knew I didn’t need to go out and buy all-new decor for my home to make it look and feel the way I wanted to; there certainly were things I wanted to change, and I set about trying to do it creatively.

When I purchased a new bed and bedding set a month ago, I told myself I was going to work to create a more cohesive color palette and decor theme. Instead of seeing such a wide array of miscellaneous things that don’t go together, I wanted to work to make things feel like they really fit and belong in the space.

I drew inspiration from Pinterest, of course, to find some DIY projects that wouldn’t break the bank, and my sister and I quickly put together a board full of fabulous ideas for our next home! Some things will have to wait until we have a new space, but there are others that I can try my hand at now to get a head-start on creating a unified, relaxing, calming space of things that I love and things that really fit well together.

 

I recently re-made my jewelry board that I didn’t want IMG_0577 (1)to get rid of but kept thinking was a bit of an eyesore. So I began by painting the frame of my jewelry board (just an old bulletin board) and recovering it with fabric that actually matches my room instead of the purple floral linen I had used when I made it a few years ago. I had the new fabric and paint already, so I didn’t have to spend any money on the project, and it fits much better with the other things in my room now (including a large picture frame that I updated with new scrapbook paper to mat the photo, tying it in to the other pieces I have in my room).

Of course, this little one-evening project got my wheels turning about what else I can do to transform my space. I have already come up with a list of small changes I can make,IMG_0580 and I look forward to slowly seeing my room come together as I cross them off the list. There’s a special feeling of accomplishment when you see your hard work pay off, and I think handmade items add a certain touch that store-bought pieces just can’t measure up to.

What kinds of things have you repurposed? When have you used your creative talents to transform a space? Do you have any suggestions for making your house feel like a home on a tight budget? I’d love to hear them!

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Intentionally Investing

“In order to make purchases that support our values, we must be willing to be conscious, thoughtful consumers—even if it means spending more on quality items…It’s about investing in products that are a reflection of what we really value.”-Jesse Carey, Relevant Magazine

Saving money is good. Finding deals is good. Shopping sales and second-hand stores is good. But so is investing in quality, even when it comes at a higher monetary cost.

The question we must ask ourselves is “what matters more to me?” Do we want the bottom-of-the-barrel price and subsequently lower-quality product, or are we willing to pay a premium for organic, locally grown, sustainably resourced, environmentally friendly, well-made, longer-lasting alternatives instead of cheap imitations? If we truly value the quality of something and want it to last, we might have to be willing to pay more for it.

There is no shame in paying a higher cost for something when you have thought about it and decided that quality is something you place a high value on. At first glance, these might seem like splurges or unnecessary expenses, especially for people without much disposable income. But if we budget and plan for it, we might be able to incorporate more higher-quality products into our lives, even if we can’t buy everything that we would like to right away.

If we invest more in these products, we’re more likely to take better care of them and make them last as long as possible. For instance, if we pay more for expensive foods, we’re more apt to make sure we store them properly to keep them fresh as long as possible, and ensure we use it all instead of throwing any away like we might if we knew we hadn’t spent much money on it. In terms of things like cars, furniture, technology, or other high-ticket items, we treat them with greater care and respect when we had to save and shell out a great deal of money to buy them. Just think about how you felt when you bought your first car– it was your cherished baby, not just your parents’ car on loan.

I’m all about finding good deals and shopping second-hand stores when it comes to some things, although I have been more careful about taking my time to search for hidden treasures in those places– pieces that are of good quality and sold at a lower price. It takes a lot of time, and sometimes I have to be willing to walk away empty-handed if I don’t find exactly what I’m looking for, but in the long run, I know it’s better than compromising and getting something that’s not quite right, thinking it’s “close enough,” and ultimately being dissatisfied with it because I don’t really love it.

For me, it’s well worth it to bide my time and wait for the right piece instead of settling for something less. That way, I end up with fewer pieces over all, but I like them more and get more use out of them. It’s a win-win. I have less clutter by way of unwanted stuff, and I’m getting more use out of the things I have, surrounding myself with the things I love.

When are you willing to spend more to get products of higher quality?

 

Further reading:

The Power of Buying Less by Buying Better by Elizabeth Cline, The Atlantic

The Case for Thoughtfully Buying Expensive Things by Jesse Carey, Relevant Magazine

 

Image source: www.distributiondirect.com

Home Improvements

This month, I’ve been trying to focus on my physical possessions (although I’ll admit it seems like early summer business has distracted me quite a bit).

In trying to make my house (apartment) a home, I’ve done more decluttering and purging (shout out to my cousin for having a well-timed garage sale!) to create cleaner, more simplified spaces, which has felt like a bit of a cop-out since the effect is pretty minimal. After getting rid of unnecessary clutter and reorganizing what was left, however, I do find myself spending less time staring at my stuff and feeling dissatisfied with how much I have and how it’s organized/arranged. I’m getting closer to feeling like I have kept only the things that are useful or beautiful and gotten rid of the excessive clutter that just takes up valuable space.

I’m also working on some projects to spruce up what I already have and make it more beautiful so that I can feel more at home in my space. After all, we all want to feel more comfortable, restful, and peaceful in our homes, right? I find that comes more easily when our heads aren’t full of a list of improvements we need to make in order to appreciate our surroundings. Sure, there are always going to be things that need repairs or upkeep, but I’m talking more about doing the things necessary to transform a space full of drab, uncoordinated things that appear thrown together by chance into a cohesive space that doesn’t make us feel discombobulated or anxious to fix it.

I commissioned my sister and her friend to create a headboard for my new bed, both after seeing the great job the two of them did on her headboard and after realizing that a store-bought one would cost quite a bit more (and I didn’t see any I loved). They did a great job!

Eventually, I hope to work with them to frame my full-length mirror, too. My sister added a large wooden frame to hers a while back, and it looks so much cleaner, crisper, and polished (no pun intended) than mine that’s screwed directly into the wall with the manufacturer’s brackets.

I tried taking on the big challenge of re-fitting the slip-covers that have been on our couches since we moved in. The couches and covers were generously given to us, and while we are incredibly grateful to not have had to shell out a large sum of money for furniture, the covers don’t fit well and look rather disheveled. However, I discovered the work was far more difficult than it was worth, since it’s a bit above my skill level as an amateur seamstress. But I tried!

I also rearranged some of the kitchen cupboards’ contents to try and make our storage more efficient. I ended up moving some things around in our linen closet, too, and finding enough room to store some bulk items in there to create more space in the kitchen. I’m not sure how long it will last, since I feel like I’m continually coming up with ideas that seem more logical or efficient, but we’ll see!

What sorts of projects have you done around your house to make it feel more like a home? Do you have any tips for working with what you already have to create a more personalized and relaxing space? I’d love to hear them!