Saturday, January 2, 2010

FREE decorating

Every year around this time I do what I call "free decorating". Christmas decorations have been returned to their resting place in the attic, making it the perfect opportunity for a new look. Hubby says I do more with less (or was it less with more?) than anyone he knows. There's a certain thrill in getting a whole new look and not spending a cent.

If you want to get a whole new look, it helps to bribe a friend to come over. Promise her chocolate or coffee or both. We tend to get in a rut and look at our things the same way. Having a fresh set of eyes can be a huge help. Plus, it's just a heck of a lot more fun than doing it by yourself.

To get started with your free decorating, gather up all your decorations, knick-knacks, baskets, rugs, throw blankets, pillows, collections of favorite things...anything you have around your house, in any room. Pull things out you haven't used in awhile. That basket or bowl you just weren't sure what to do with will take on a new life when you fill it with your favorite balls of yarn, or your kid's rock collection. You'll be amazed at what inspiration will come to you once you've pulled something out of its usual space.

After you've collected everything into one place, start grouping like things together. Not only like function, but like color. You may notice you have a lot of off-white picture frames, candle holders and vases. Use them to create a unified look with each piece having more impact. If you find you have lots of picture frames in a variety of colors, consider spray painting them all black. This will take odd pieces and give them a similar look.

I wanted to create a focal point on my old/new again coffee table so I pulled together similar bottles, jars and candle holders. One jar holds a collection of wine corks and another sea shells we collected on our honeymoon 18 years ago. For years those shells hid in a box in our closet. What's the point if we're not going to enjoy them? Set it all on an awesome red tray I picked up at a yard sale, raised one of the jars up on some old books to give it height and then added the sweet little bird my son gave me for Christmas and there you have it. This spot makes me smile every time I look at it.

We've had this sofa table for about three years, but this is the first time it's ever done the job it was created to do. For the first couple of years it functioned as a desk, then it worked as a buffet in our dining room. I think it's happiest here...where it's suppose to be. Here's the skinny on the candle arrangement. The base is actually a mirror I got at a friend's yard sale (did you recognize it Tami?). It's been a hundred places in our house over the last five years. Yesterday I gave it a good sanding and then rubbed it down with Old English furniture polish to age it a bit. Set my new 70% off candle from Kohl's in the middle...perfect fit. Those white things (for lack of a better word) are actually little napkin rings I got at Goodwill (20 for $1). I flattened them and put them around the outside of the candle. Love it!

Never have really liked what I had on my mantle, so I was on the hunt for a new arrangement. The star came down off the wall and went nicely behind the candle sticks. The topiary/tree has made it's home in a variety of places...most recently in the powder room. It gives some nice height to balance out the star on the other side, plus brings out the color in the painting. I wanted to drop the painting down onto the mantle and lean it against the wall, but am not in the mood to deal with the gaping hole it will leave. UPDATE: The picture is now resting on the mantle and looks much better. Didn't have the time or patience to putty and paint the holes so I filled it in with sticky know, the stuff you hang posters with. Hey, it's almost the same color as the wall (what does that tell you about our terrible wall color?) and it'll do in a pinch. Mike just shook his head at me.

The black IKEA buffet by the windows is on of my favorite spots. The red quilt gives it a great color pop and ties in with the window treatments above. The candle holders, small bench under the candle holder and the lamp are all some of my favorite yard sale finds.

Do you see a pattern here? Yard sales and Goodwill are great places to find amazing items for your home. The trick is to look beyond an item's current condition and see its potential. You don't have to spend a boatload of money to have a home you love.

Why not start 2010 off with your own free decorating. Give it a try. I'm willing to bet you'll quickly become addicted...or maybe I'm the only one with such a strange obsession...but I doubt it.


  1. Wow! You have been busy while I have rotted away in my bed. I can't wait for you to come over and help me make sense of my treasures that have been stowed away much to long.

  2. OK. Seriously. How long would it take for you to get to Michigan???
    I need help.
    My husband found a large wooden airplane propeller at his mom's house and wanted to put it on the wall in our family room. I KNOW I don't want that, but if I don't get something going soon, who knows what he'll do? Yikes!


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