Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Inexpensive Home Beautification

When I posted about using glass containers for soaps and things on countertops, people had some great ideas to share! I thought it would be fun to discuss home beautification more generally. I believe that we can make lovely homes for our families WITHOUT buying all the expensive things that the home decor magazines try to convince us that we need! What are some low-cost ways that you beautify your home? Below are some more of mine...

1. Candles. They add such a warmness and homeyness to a room! I have candles in every room of my house. I always light one in the bathroom when we have company, and I light a candle in the kitchen or on the dinner table just for Micah and I to enjoy on a regular basis. Granted, some candles aren't cheap! But less expensive ones can be found at stores like Ross or TJ Maxx (or whatever discount/overstock type stores you have in your area!)

Keeping in mind flammability and safety concerns, you can be creative with your candle holders. For instance, I had a set of four pretty crystal plates and one broke. Since three plates was an odd number for a set, I now use them for candles. I've seen candles in things like teacups, jars, or wide-mouthed glass vases. For my coffee table, I bought an inexpensive white porcelein serving plate and arranged five pillar candles of different heights and complementary soft colors on the plate. I bought a bag of river-stones at Hobby Lobby to cover the bottom of the plate.

2. Consider whether something ugly can be improved. When we first got married, we had this ugly--I mean UGLY--lamp! The base was bulb-shaped, porcelein, and painted a pukey yellow color. We also had a hand-me-down floor lamp that was a brassy gold color. Nothing wrong with gold...I just don't decorate with it. I much prefer silver:o) We bought a silver finish in a spray can and recoated both lamps. The finish also came with a rub-on darkening cream designed to coat any crevices in the surface to texturize and make it look kind of pewtery. Both lamps now look MUCH better and seem to match the rest of the house instead of sticking out like a sore thumb!

Furniture is another category ripe with possibility. Sometimes, all you need to do is add new hardware (handles or knobs) to make something look 500% better. In other cases, you may need to paint or refinish. I've mentioned before that Micah and I found a dresser and a side table with drawers on the side of the road with a sign saying "Free!" There was nothing special about the pieces, but neither was there really much wrong with them. A couple of the drawers had come apart and need to be nailed back together. The side table had a warped plywood top, which was easily replaced with a piece of wood. The dresser is mostly made of real wood, but has plywood sides which I am planning to also replace with wood so that I can paint everything. Then I am going to sand the pieces to give them a distressed finish, replace the handles and knobs, and I suspect that I'll have two wonderful looking pieces for mere pennies on the dollar of what they would cost in the store!

3. Recycle. I made curtains for my kitchen out of an old bedskirt and am really happy with them! Right now, two matching twin-size bedsheets are serving as curtains over the glass french doors leading to the backyard until we can afford actual curtains. They're not my first choice, but they don't look bad! Nobody ever realizes that they aren't real curtains.

4. A couple well-selected pieces are better than a myriad of knick-knacks. I suggest thinking about what's important to you and finding a way to display them. Arrange smaller keepsakes in a shadowbox. My mom is an expert at this! She has several themed shadowboxes around her house containing family heirlooms, like her mom's baby shoes and a picture of her mom as a baby, or little keepsakes from her own childhood. She made a shadow box for me containing flowers from my wedding bouguet and our wedding invitation. I have dried petals from all the roses Micah's ever given me in a large glass jar. Things like these are SO much more meaningful than knickknacks you just pick up at the store!

5. Pictures. My mom is great at this, too! I still have a lot of work to do in getting good pictures in my frames:o) Hanging black and white pictures looks extra classy, in my opinion. It's very easy to get colored pictures scanned and converted to black and white if you want to (Wal-Mart has machines that do it!) Try themed pictures in the different rooms. My mom has a black and white picture of my sisters and I making cookies together when we were little hanging in the kitchen. In our study, Micah and I have kind of a "travel" theme, so we display framed maps and pictures from some of our travels in the past.

Well...those are some of my thoughts! I would LOVE to hear some of yours! I'm sure that some of you will have ideas that I haven't thought of:o)


Blogger Kathy, Jeff's wife said...

Great ideas. We visited our local Botanical Gardens a few weeks ago, the ROSES were gorgeous! I snapped some pictures, had them developed. Now I am going to mat and frame them, and hang a set of 4 in my bedroom...just as soon as I find the 'right' frames at the thrift store or yard sales. I am always buying *nice* frames, sometimes with mats, at the Thrift Store for just a few dollars.

Another idea, I took a doily that I made several years ago, placed in on a dark scrap of tapestry fabric, framed it and it hangs in our dining area. Guest always comment on it.

On my blog, the first post is a picture that my daughter took a couple of years ago. The Lord placed a sunbeam in just the right spot. I had this enlarged in sepia tones, matted and framed it and it now hangs in our hallway. I just love it and it makes our home more *us*. Decorating a home does not have to be expensive :o)

6:55 AM, May 27, 2006  
Anonymous Ren said...

You can get all sorts of old frames at yard sales or thrift stores and spray paint them to have a uniform color. A friend of mine sprayed her with matte black, to get a modern look. In some cases, she even sprayed the matboard, although I don't know what that does to the photo over time.

8:28 AM, May 27, 2006  
Blogger Jeannine said...

I really like your blog, Erin. It's my first time around :).
I love collecting ideas for home beautification. Could you explain what a shadowbox is? It sounds really nice, but I cannot picture it.
Thanks so much!

3:24 AM, May 29, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Kathy and Ren...I love all your thoughts about pictures and frames! Even though I like to refurbish furniture, I honestly have never thought of painting or refinishing picture frames before! What a good idea! I know there are TONS of frames at thrift stores! (Usually with really ugly pictures in them!:op )

I would love to change a few of the photos I took in Italy a few years ago to black and white and hang them.

Hi Jeannine! A shadow box is a deep, enclosed frame. Sometimes it has little shelves or cubbies, and sometimes it's just open.

Though their shadow boxes are expensive, Pottery Barn has some neat examples of what can be done with them:

Click on the "more images" button to see more pictures!

12:56 PM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Erin said... I thought that the above address was going to be a hyperlink, but it's not working! Does anyone know how to make hyperlinks in a comment?

12:58 PM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Jeannine said...

thanks for the link! I copied and pasted it and it worked just fine. They look really nice - what a fun idea.

1:02 PM, June 04, 2006  
Anonymous don f said...

Here is an inexspensive idea, yet realy fancy, personal and stylish. I call it, Giving Landscaping the Boot.

It's really novel rural idea, easy to do and adds personality. The neat thing is, even if you only have a balcony, you can make one of these boots. (PS: this is a real actual boot, no one wares anymore. :>)

9:04 PM, August 29, 2007  
Anonymous Susan said...

Boot Barn the rite place to buy quality boots

11:35 PM, October 11, 2010  

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