Frugal Home Decorating-How to Make Your Home Comfortable and Beautiful without Breaking the Bank

Home Sweet Home!

To have a good life it is necessary to have a comfortable and inviting living space. Even travelers have to come home sooner or later. But the things that make a home into a haven can be expensive if you aren’t willing to invest the time. This is one of those things where the tradeoff of time and effort for money is most apparent. If you are willing to do the work of figuring out exactly what you want and then take the time to find alternatives to throwing money at the project, you will wake up one morning in love with your home.

Interior decoration, like fashion, is a place to really let your personality and spirit shine through. But, unlike clothes choices that are a relatively small expense and change with the seasons, your choice of home décor will stay with you for a long time. So take the time to really learn what you like. Go to the library and look at a bunch of magazines to see if your tastes run more to the antique, the modern, or something else. Take out a decorating book or two while you are there. Peruse the online home furnishing sites. You aren’t going to actually buy from these sources; that would be way too expensive. This is just to learn about your own tastes.

Once you get an idea what really makes your heart sing, it is time to start looking—in second hand stores, discount outlets, on Craigslist, even in the odd antique store for something really special. If there are built-in elements to the design you are looking for, such as cabinets, try a local cabinet maker. Sometimes they are really reasonable, and most would be happy to have your business. The same goes for all the fabric elements. If you fall in love with the comfort and style of an older chair, see about having it re-upholstered. A seamstress can also make window treatments, throw pillows, and much more. You may be able to trade with a skillful friend or join a time bank and trade that way. Of course if you are handy at either carpentry or sewing you could certainly do it yourself.

Paint is another really inexpensive way to add style to a room. Don’t be afraid of a little color. You would be amazed at how the right shade can change your mood. If you can paint at all do it yourself, otherwise have a paint party and buy everyone pizza.

By the time you have all the fabric and wooden elements created and installed you should have a stash of nice pieces from your second hand shopping expeditions. Try to get the bread and butter pieces for as little as possible to have some left over for a couple of really special things where it counts. Every room should have a focal point. You may want to save your splurge for that, or, if you can create an effect with something relatively inexpensive like paint, or if you can use something already in the room like a fireplace as your focal point that will free you up to get that great lamp or slightly pricy desk.

All of these ideas can be adjusted up or down to suit your budget. If you are voluntarily frugal and your environment is an important value don’t be afraid to spend a bit to get what you want. This is one area where spending is not wasting as long as you think it through.

If you are forcibly frugal, don’t give up hope. As long as you have a home at all you will be able to slowly improve it, as long as you keep focusing and looking for the things you need. You might have to rely on friends with too much stuff, curbside foraging, Craigslist freebies and freecycle.com. But if you persist you will eventually be able to create tranquility, functionality, and beauty in your home no matter what you circumstances.

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Bring Frugal Beauty into Your Home with a Cutting Garden

 

Beauty

Being frugal does not mean giving up beauty or a gracious life. It simply means finding better ways to fulfill these needs. One of the things that creates a lovely atmosphere at home is the presence of beautiful flowers. But the flowers that are available in stores and at your local florist are very expensive. Not only in cost to you but also to the environment through factory farming and 8000 mile supply lines. Luckily there is a simple solution. A cutting garden can be as simple as a few flowering bushes. Even if all you have is a little side yard or patio you can have flowers.

The first step is to visit your local library and do some research on the flowers that grow well in your locale. While doing so you can also get an idea about what you like. Decide whether you are more concerned with visual appearance or fragrance. I like both myself.

Once you have a bit of a plan it’s off to your local plant nursery to chat up the owner and get your supplies. The people that work in nurseries can be a fount of wisdom for new gardeners. I would suggest buying starts instead of seeds if you are just starting out. They are much easier to handle, and you can collect your first bouquet sooner.

If you absolutely can’t grow anything, try foraging. Go walking in an area where there are wildflowers and remember to bring clippers. Just not your neighbor’s yard, please, unless you have permission. Maybe you can barter with a friend with a green thumb.

The selection may be a little sparse if you live in an area of heavy winters. Then you might expand your definition to include holly berries and pussy willow, or other less glamorous shrubbery. This is the time to get creative.

Once you have the flowers, all you need is a nice vase to place them in. If you don’t have a “real” vase, try a mason jar. Put the flowers in the water, and then play with them a bit. Pull some up a bit. Change the position of others. Flower arranging is a fine old art. You can learn much from books, articles, and the internet.

Finally, remember to keep your flowers fresh. Change the water, and throw them out and replace them when they start looking shabby. The reason you brought them in to your home was for the incomparable charm and feeling of prosperity that they bring. If they are half dead it is time for a fresh bunch.

Here are some links:

http://www.gardeners.com/Cutting-Garden/5011,default,pg.html Some ideas for what flowers to grow

http://www.perfectentertaining.com/article1100.html Flower arrangement tips

Frugal Abundance: Daily Rituals add Luxury to Life for Free

Sunday Morning

What is a Ritual and Why is it Important?

A personal ritual is anything that you do just for yourself that makes you slow down or stop completely and come back to your centered self. It can be done alone, as a couple, as a parent and child, as a family, or as a community. It can be daily, weekly, or seasonal. It is generally free or very inexpensive. That is why it is frugal. Money may not be distributed equally, but time is. Taking your first cup of coffee outside in good weather to drink slowly in the backyard while you watch the birds is a ritual.  Baking bread, getting your nails done or doing them yourself, walking to the park with your toddler, or having a drink with your pals every Friday at the same time can all be rituals if you do these things mindfully and allow the break in the frantic pace of life, with all the attendant obligations.

Rituals Should be Enjoyable

Whatever rituals you have incorporated into your life, they should be things that you truly love. Your rituals may even look like work to other people that do not have the same temperament as you do. One person may relish a five mile run, another a slow “getting ready” with time to do hair and make-up. A third person may rock out with loud music. The only two questions are “do you love it?” and “does doing it break the time sickness and bring you back to you?”

Rituals can Create Connection

The couple who takes breakfast together each day, or the family that has a traditional Sunday dinner are on to something really important. When we rush through our days without breathing we lose each other. Stopping and taking the time to do something together on a regular basis that involves giving each other our time and attention is really one of the only ways to enjoy true intimacy. The form of the ritual is completely up to you and your companions. The fact that it happens and happens regularly is what counts.

If You are Forcibly Frugal, Rituals can Help You Reclaim Your Life

In this economic climate, there are many people who feel displaced. Losing a comfortable economic place in the world can be very disorienting. But, one thing you still have and still control is time and your relationship to time. Being poor is hard work, and by definition keeps you from the type of comfort that money can buy. But—you still have twenty-four hours to fill. You still eat something every day, and likely have coffee in the morning, even if it is now made at home. If you can slow down enough to change your mind set you will notice that the sun is shining on the tree outside your window just so, and that you are still truly alive. You are still you. As long as you are alive your circumstances may change. In the meantime, what small thing can you do each day that will make you smile?

When I went through my own crash in late 2007 and early 2008 I though the world was ending. But, each day, no matter how bad it had been, I would pour a glass of (cheap) red wine and stop doing anything else. Sometimes we would sit outside and listen to the boom box. Other times it was a fire in the woodstove and curling up in my chair. It could just as well have been tea instead of wine. The important thing was the turning off of the day in favor of complete relaxation. The total cost of this exercise was near zero. You could do the same thing and if you do you will soon feel the results in the form of greater happiness and less stress. This is your life, no matter what.

When You Buy Clothes the Color is Free—So Get it Right

The Power of Color

Before the Color Party

No matter what item of clothing you buy, it comes in at least one, probably many colors. You don’t pay extra for this; it is just part of the item of clothing. The interesting thing is that proper use of color is one of the easiest and most astoundingly powerful ways to really improve how you look. Yes, you can look younger, thinner, more confident, and healthier just by learning what works for you and wearing “your colors” consistently. What’s more you can even change your fortunes in love and business as you look more pulled together, causing others to feel more comfortable with you. I know, it’s not fair, but human beings are hard-wired to react to appearance.

How to do Your Own Colors

The good news is how easy this is to learn and to implement. First, get a whole bunch of paint chips or fabric samples, a book or two on color theory, and a few girlfriends. Set your get together for the afternoon when the light is natural and indirect. Make a big pot of tea (or whatever you gals like to drink…) and get to work. There are several good books on the subject of color typing. I just love The Color of Style by David Zyla. To work his system you have to use your eyes to decipher your personal palette, because his book has no color swatches, just a masterful knowledge of what works. If you want a more traditional approach, get Color Me Beautiful. Then get to work. In a few hours you will have a piece of knowledge that will stand you in good stead for a lifetime. If this seems like too much work, or you are unsure of your own judgment, you could go to a professional and get your colors done.

Next Steps

Once you know your palette, it is time to clean out your wardrobe. Toss all the cloths that are absolutely wrong for you in a box. Bring it to the next clothing exchange in your town or to charity. Take the absolute yes clothes and hang them up. Now evaluate the almost hits. Put them in a separate area to replace as possible. Now you have the power to look better and feel more put together without spending one penny more than you would have to look just “OK”

Here are links to some resources:

http://www.amazon.com/Color-Style-Fashion-Attract-Impression/dp/0525951539/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302746608&sr=8-2 The Color of Style

http://www.davidzyla.com/ David Zyla’s Site

http://www.amazon.com/Color-Me-Beautiful-Carole-Jackson/dp/0345345886/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302746689&sr=1-1 Color Me Beautiful

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_analysis Some General Info

 

The Frugal Splurge

Make Your Dreams Come True

Being frugal is not about deprivation but rather about values and priorities. Once you have crossed the threshold into having enough to live on, the purpose of frugality is to have the surplus available to create the life you really want. Everyone has dreams that they would like to have come true, and everyone has a few luxuries that really make them happy. Some of mine are really good artisanal cheese, wine from the upper shelf, and dinner out at a real upscale restaurant. Then again I am a foodie. You may crave fancy soap, or a new amplifier. It is all about who you are. I don’t indulge very often in these things, especially not the eating out thing. My luxuries remain more special to me when I indulge rarely, and savor the moment. So, what do you crave? Make a place in your life to have it. If you are hurting financially right now it might seem frivolous. But that tiny slice of real Munster might just make it easier to get through the hard times. Just get the smallest quantity you can and enjoy every bite.

When it comes to having your big dream, a lot of thought and planning are in order. Do you want to travel the world? Publish your own book? Start a business or a band? Make sure you are really clear what it is you want. Find out everything you can about the object of your desire. If there is a way to start small, do it. For instance, if you want to travel, start with a domestic trip before you break out the passport. If you want to make art, buy some small supplies. Then, start to build the financial edifice to build your dream. I suggest a separate savings account. This will become your cauldron into which you pour the money to make your dream come true. Start putting away eighty percent of whatever surplus you have. Don’t touch it until there is enough to make real progress on your big project. In the meantime you can enjoy the learning and planning process. Taking action on achieving your heart’s desire can energize your life in ways you never dreamed of.

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