Thursday, February 25, 2010

Budget and Eco-friendly Decorating

So, having lived in our home for a little over a year, we've begun to get settled in and are getting things decorated the way we want... well, mostly. Of course, there's the daily clutter to tidy up and the dog toys to put in her basket (you'd think if she can pull them out of there, she'd learn to put them back... nope, she knows that it's really all about her :)), which make the house feel lived in, but also annoy us to no end.

We're fortunate to have family who has given us most of the furniture we have in our home, or made it for us (our outdoor benches, thanks to Uncle David). The family pieces are certainly more eco-friendly than purchasing new, because most of them did their off-gassing years ago from the stain/paint, and most of them are made of solid wood, rather than the particle board of today that's put together with formaldehyde containing adhesives. But with that wonderful family furniture comes some things that just don't quite fit our style, although they're certainly functional pieces. For instance, I love the curved lines of this hutch that my granddaddy refinished, but I'm having trouble figuring how to make it work in the same room as our modern, clean lined couches (some of the few pieces we actually purchased, of course on sale). I think my modern china is helping (although I'm not totally sure this is the final arrangement of the pieces) pull things together, but we definitely need something above the hutch... a round glass bowl with some cool twigs, or an oval mirror above the hutch, or an original piece of artwork I make (I've been dying to get back into my watercolors and mixed media stuff). What do you think? What would help pull it all together?

And then, we're on to our bedroom. It seems that this is the last room we've gotten around to thinking about decorating, for now, it's almost purely functional. We love our down comforter, but have lived with the bed for almost four years with no headboard. I want something that will be sturdy enough to lean against for reading in bed, but probably not fabric covered, because I want to be able to keep it clean (I know that the mousse that I put in my hair to keep the curl can kind of bring out the oil by the end of the day, so I don't want a stain on the fabric... pillow cases are much easier to wash.) Thoughts there? And then there are the dressers... both certainly functional (although one of the larger drawers in my dresser is now sticking and the track seems to be slightly out of alignment, so that part isn't really functional), but they're not a favorite of either of ours. Benny can't seem to fit all of his t-shirts and polos into the drawers without stuffing them overfull, and I hate the knobs on the dresser (although I'm totally grateful for the piece, Mom :)). So, I'm thinking that my dresser would look cool in a dark espresso stain with cut glass knobs, once we figure out the fix for the drawer. So, then, how do we tie in Benny's piece and provide him with additional storage?

My mom and aunt helped me make a duvet cover a few years ago out of two flat queen sheets (which we found for reasonable prices, and much cheaper than purchasing a ready made duvet cover) in coordinating colors. I just need to find buttons to replace the original ones (I was dumb and didn't think about the "washability" factor of these cool wooden ones... and we didn't have a puppy at that point in time... after we acquired her, she found one of the buttons... and so it goes). Has anyone found a cool button store or online source? We're very limited here in Boone, especially since our major big box store is discontinuing the craft section.

As for artwork around the house, we've put of pieces we like and have special meaning, like some wedding photos, pieces friends or family painted (thanks, Kerry!), ones that I've done over the years (like this elephant piece that works great with our living room color), and things we've picked up on our travels (I love buying street art as a souvenir... it's easy to bring home, because it's flat, and it's a great reminder of the trip). To keep things coheasive, we try to stick with the same color frame throughout the space (mostly black frames, although we have gold toned frames in the office because they work well with the burnt orange color in there). To have the custom pieces framed, we often ask to have a piece framed for Christmas or birthdays. Sure, this might take the surprise element out of birthdays, but by the time you're almost 30, there's not a whole lot that falls into the "want" category that doesn't fit into the home decor or maintenence category anyway. (We asked for mulch last year for birthdays, and were totally thrilled! You know you're a homeowner when that's what you ask for for birthdays!) My mom and grandmother both seem to enjoy doing this and they both have a great eye for the colors we're going for in the space.

There's one more space I'd love some thoughts on... the side entry, which is the primary entry for our home. We have this "lovely" electrical panel right as you come in the door, with the laundry to the left and the half bath to the right. Since there's no logical place to hang wet coats or shoes (we often have these in Boone with all our snow and spring rains), we've put a rack over the bathroom door. Yes, it's functional, but it hardly is attractive. I'd love to do something to hide the electrical panel, so I was thinking of creating a custom wall-mounted coat rack to hang above that, then the coats and bags would hide that. Now, do you have any fantastic solutions for the shoes in this tight space? For now, they just hang out on the rug (which is washable), but that means that we quickly accumulate a collection of shoes and slippers here (we try to take our shoes off before coming in the house... it keeps things cleaner, greener (because we're not tracking in parking lot grease and other road chemicals), and means are feet are nice and toasty in the winter.

So, really, today's post was more about my need for new ideas and less about my thoughts for you, but I guess that's what this community is all about, right?! Looking forward to your sharin' the green decorating love and savings with me!


  1. Ok, so.. Here are my thoughts. Take them, leave them, but you asked, so I'm going to answer :)

    1. the cabinet looks amazing! The dishes really help bring it together. Maybe some pretty branches sitting in a pottery vase beside the cabinet or on top will help bring the look together?
    2. Either you need a larger dresser for Benny or get rid of some shirts. :) I'm always looking for an excuse to send items to the G.W. Drives John crazy. If you can't git rid of them, and you can't get a new dresser right now; then definately change out the hardware on each piece to the same thing so they look a little more matchy. That way it will help bring the look of the room together.
    3. The headboard. You are so right about not needing it to be cloth. Another suggestion would be using an old door that you can stain or paint to match your bedroom colors. I beautiful Mahogany one would be beautiful, earthy and if you get it from a resale store, you'd also be recycling. :)

    4. The entry. I like your idea of hanging a shelf above the electrical box for jackets. Keep a cute basket on the shelf for gloves and such. It would be way cute. And as a bonus, it would distract from the box.

    I hope I answered some of your delimas. If not, google ideas. That's what I do when I'm lost.

    Happy Decorating!

  2. Elizabeth, thanks for the ideas! I've been scouring the Restore, Freecycle, and Craigslist for a door that might work in our bedroom as a headboard.

    As for the dressers, I think if we paint/stain them a dark espresso color and add either cut glass knobs or brushed nickel ones, they will work together and with the finishes throughout the house.

    I absolutely love the idea of the basket over the wall mounted coat rack. That would be perfect for collecting all the hats, gloves, etc. that gather there. Maybe I can find some trim at the Restore to make that project happen... so many projects, so little time!