Friday, 7 September 2012

Frugal Friday - Simple Ideas For A Pretty Home

Source for this image here.

I read lots of "how to" books, mostly about homemaking and organising.  I really enjoy finding out about ways to make your home look pretty without having to spend lots of money.  Emilie Barnes is one author who has greatly inspired me, and helped me to rethink some of the ways I organise and store things around our home.  Some of her ideas are so simple, but work so well!

For example, she suggests that you try using pretty bedlinen as a tablecloth - a lovely idea that has meant that I've been able to "recycle" some of the pretty bedlinen that Little Bear had outgrown - rather than giving it away!  Once it has been laundered and ironed, there is no way that you'd know that it had ever been a bedcover.  You can also use bedcovers and flat sheets as throws to cover settees and chairs, and I also use pretty pillowcases as tray liners or on top of cupboards.

She also suggests keeping like things in groups, as in the lovely, uncluttered room in the picture above (which is by the Swedish painter, Carl Larsson), to make for a simple, uncluttered environment.  We don't keep plants indoors (in our culture, we prefer to enjoy plants outside) but we do have artificial flowers - and in fact, these are great if you are on a budget.  They don't cost much more than real flowers - but they last a lot longer!  Emilie suggests cleaning artificial flowers by putting them in a carrier bag with some salt or bicarbonate of soda, and shaking them well.  I've done this, and it really works, and is much easier than trying to dust them.

Another idea that she has is to use ordinary objects - perhaps ones that have a personal significance to you - as ornaments.  A rag doll or teddy bear can brighten up a dull corner, or a stack of interesting vintage books.  Old fashion cookware is another way to add a pretty feature to a room inexpensively.  Emilie shares ideas from her own home in her books, including her passion for collecting teapots and baskets!  By grouping them together in one place, they make a pretty, personal display that isn't cluttered.

If you don't have much space in your home it is easy to find your rooms looking cluttered if you have a lot of precious things to display, so I tend to rotate ours so that there is only a selection of them on display at any time.  This way we never get tired of our lovely possessions, but they don't overwhelm our home!  It saves money to do this - if you don't see them all the time, they seem "new" for a lot longer, so you don't feel the need to keep replacing or replenishing them so much!

Collections of natural things that you have found on walks, holidays, trips to the seaside and such, also make lovely room decorations which have a personal tale to tell as well.  We have some seashells collected from our honeymoon at the Isle of Wight, and a gull's egg, almost whole, that Cubby found on a walk one Christmas down by the lake near our home.  Things like this may have no value to anyone else, but they are precious to us, and make pretty ornaments that can also be seasonal as well as personal.  At this time of year there are plenty of things to collect that can add seasonal accents around our home - I collected a huge basketful of fir cones today, and hope to use them to make autumn decorations in the next few days.

Thrift stores (charity shops) are great places to find cheap furniture.  The items don't necessarily need to be beautiful when you buy them - they just need to show potential!  It's not difficult or expensive to sand down an old chair or set of shelves, and a can of paint can cost just a few pounds.  You can decorate small items of furniture with decoupage - I have done this with a chair and chest of drawers that were in Little Bear's room when she was wee.  I painted her nightstand, chair and dresser white, then I found some pretty wrapping paper with a heart motif on it, from which I cut motifs.  I stuck them to the furniture with PVA, then allowed them to dry.  After this I applied several coats of clear varnish. They looked really pretty and although the items didn't match at all before I painted them, they looked as if they were meant to go together.

Even if you have almost nothing at all, it is still possible to make your home look pretty.  When we were first parents we lived in a one-roomed apartment for a while.  It was very cramped indeed.  We kept our possessions to a minimum, and I just made sure that everywhere was clean and tidy, and smelled nice!  Even just these few touches can make a home feel welcoming and loved.  And of course, as I have said before, it isn't really the possessions in your home that make it precious.  It's the people that live there!

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