Thursday, January 19, 2012

Our First Post on Budget Decorating

Decorating on a strict budget can be so very frustrating. This is especially true when your imagination runs wild with all sorts of ideas for what you could do to spruce up your home and make it more mythic, romantic and adventurous. The imagination is willing, but the pocketbook is weak. The internet is full of all sorts of amazing examples of breathtakingly beautiful one-of-a-kind artisan pieces created for just the sort of home you may want to create: Wrought iron beds elaborately welded and crafted to look like trees arching together. Life-size statues of Titania with small faeries dancing in her hair. It's easy to look at these things, and wistfully sigh, if only.

I know these things. Oh trust me, I do. I myself have an extremely strict budget on all home purchases as well. And I can tell you that as a budget decorator, there is one cardinal and very important rule to remember (and I'm looking at myself in the mirror as I say this): Be. Patient.

There are about a million plans I have for our house (first time home owners, moved here a year ago) that have not yet been realized. And a big part of the reason why for several of these projects is that I haven't yet found something I need to make them happen. We would love matching corner cabinets for the dining room. We would love a long, short bookcase for the upstairs hallway. We would love a window seat for our bay window. I could go on, but I won't bore you ;) The point is...if money was no object, we could go out and get all of these items tomorrow. We could even order one-of-a-kind whimsical show-stopper artisan versions of them on the internet. But money is very much an object, so the spaces we reserve for them remain empty, and I have to keep reminding myself to be patient.

There is a sort of gift given to those of us who have to wait for an affordable price on an item we've been searching for. The gift arrives when we finally discover that perfect beautiful antique cupboard tucked into the back of a flea market stall, or half-covered with a sheet at a garage sale, finally found and at a great price. It's in those moments that our patience pays off, and we realize it was so very worth it.

Let me give you a personal example. When we moved in to our house, I decided I wanted our bedroom to be enchanted forest-themed. We painted trees on our walls (a post on that is forthcoming) and I wistfully dreamed of being able to get a beautiful bed like the aforementioned wrought iron one that has been seen on many a blog:

The bed is beautiful. It is truly a work of art, deserving of its $15,000 price tag. But of course a bed that cost more than both my husband and my cars combined would not be feasible for our house budget. I scoured the internet for a more affordable tree bed alternative, and found absolutely nothing in our price range.

But I continued to do a daily search on Craigslist (I have a list of about 20 daily searches I do on the local Craigslist in our city) for "queen bed", looking to find something that really seemed just right for us. We didn't have a bed frame at all, so over time, my search got less and less picky, and there were several times I almost purchased something I found.

Then, just a few days before my birthday in June, I typed in my typical search to Craigslist, and my heart leapt into my throat. My hands started shaking and I couldn't type an email to the seller fast enough. The perfect bed was on the screen in front of me...a tree bed, magical and enchanting, but simplified enough for our cozy small cottage home.

And instead of $15,000, we paid $170.

Patience is sometimes rewarded in a big way, and every time I look at the bare corners of my house, waiting for the piece of furniture we hope to put there, I remind myself of the tree bed I wanted, and finally found.


  1. In my experience I've found this to be true too. The longer you wait the more time you have to focus in on *exactly* what you want, and more often than not you find the perfect piece, at a price you can afford. Rushing in all guns blazing tends to mean you end up with something *almost* right, but at a high price (and later on the right piece comes along anyway and you have to kick yourself!).

  2. An excellent lesson, and what a lovely bed! Do you know where it came from? Would the rest of us be wasting our time to look for one like it? :)

  3. Bryony, you hit the nail on the head! There have been a handful of times I'll buy something cheap just to have it in a space, and then later find just the right item. The first one just goes to a garage sale.

    Rebecca, I'm afraid the sellers only told me that it was from "a department store". :/ But it's always worth searching the internet! Who knows...maybe it's your turn to find just the right thing you were looking for! :)

  4. I love, love, love how the search for the right bed turned out.

  5. That bed is gorgeous and if you ever wanted to change your colors, you could paint it. I love it.