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The Economics of a Beautiful HomePosted on 07/28/2011 by Mike Samsel
From garage sale to design center, from do-it-yourselfer to skilled artisan, there are as many different strategies to creating a beautiful and unique home as there are shades of white. The home you have or the home you aspire to have is the result of money, time, its order of priority amongst the many other desires tugging at your purse strings, and your overall sense of what is acceptable in relation to your own personal economic order.
I’m constantly impressed with the small home that is unique and beautiful but obviously done at little expense. It can’t but make one feel a bit foolish for paying more for a couple of chairs than what they managed to spend to furnish and decorate an entire 3 bedroom house.
I have to laugh thinking of the many years ago that my girlfriend, living in a run down apartment, whose plumbing fixtures were worn leaking relics, decided a little gold paint would make things right. Yes… she painted the faucets, handles, drain and overflow of both sink and tub. By that time I had already educated myself on what constituted the very best of fixtures, but this was just one of the many small things she did that, taken as a whole… made for a very charming place (I don’t think the paint lasted!)
Whether you have bonafide skills or are just willing to try anything once… doing things yourself can keep costs to a minimum. And when it comes right down to it, there is no end to what can be done.
- Take painting, for example. You may have no experience, but some conversations with the local paint store staff and you’ll figure out enough to get you through. And whether you’re going with the “white look” or want to create your own unique palette, nothing is off limits… walls, floors, furniture, cabinets, windows and doors.
- If you have any basic sewing skills, advise can be found online and at your local fabric store to create slip covers for warn upholstered pieces that are the definition of the popular “shabby chic” look.
- Create your own art. Old frames can be found for very little at the local Goodwill or thrift store. High resolution digital cameras can produce striking images that can be printed in large format suitable for framing. Or – make a weekend project of buying canvas and art supplies to create your own unique piece of art. Start with a visit to the local galleries for some inspiration.
On the other hand, if you’ve come into some money or found yourself earning enough to splurge, certain key furnishings can really define a space. Whether it be the Tuxedo Sofa, the antique dining set, or the Eames chair and ottoman - these pieces can make all the rest of your do-it-yourself projects look to be modes of personal expression and not necessarily “all you could afford”.
“Junking” as I so fondly call it – can be the mother lode for finding pieces with intrinsic value well beyond their price. After a long hiatus, I have recently begun doing this again and I have a general sense that prices, if anything, are cheaper than what I recall from 20 years ago. And with the likes of Craigslist, EBay, and the never ending garage sale - with patience, you can find something very close to what you want for a fraction of the original cost.
The classic tradeoff of time vs. money is well illustrated in this endeavor. But many relish the process and place it in the “fun” category. I concur.
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