Elegance is not about spending a lot of money or following each year's decorating trends. A nice item (lamp) mixed with thrift store finds (plate and table), a canning jar filled with flowers from the garden create an inexpensive, relaxed elegance.
Easy Elegance is not expensive if you follow the practices of Elective Frugality (see previous post).
Easy Elegance is easy on the pocket book. It's fun. It's creative.
Simply deciding your own personal style - and not what magazines and TV shows tell you that you should want and/or spend - is your first step.
Go with what you like. You can mix and match styles. If you have things you love they will go together. A mix-and-match style is called "eclectic".
My decor is definitely eclectic. It mixes cottage, shabby-chic, rust-chic, a smattering of Egyptian with a bit of Prairie- and French-country styles.
The British, Dutch, and French once had many colonies and they decorated their homes using all these colony-imports such as, Indian, Egyptian, Asian, Indonesian...and it all worked together, and still does.
Think of Victorian-era homes and you'll see a blend of styles and cultures.
Magazines and TV shows can act as guides to finding your style but not as gospel because they have a vested interest in selling you what their advertisers are selling - granite counter tops, complete and costly renovations.
Now these things are fine if you really need them...and...if you have the cash to buy them (not on credit, please!).
Personally, I lean toward a little minimalism in my style because I don't like to spend a lot of time dusting "tchotkees" and "goo-gaws".
However minimalism is not everyone's cup of tea. Have what you like. Love what you love. Have only what you love and is needful. That should be your decorating style!
If you choose to have lots of stuff and love to flea market and yard sale shop, do arrange your items according to color and type. Create vignettes. By doing so you create order - mental and emotional - and your collections will be wonderful and harmonious.
Easy Elegance combines one or two nice, quality pieces with a lot of creativity and inexpensive "finds", such as flea markets, thrift shops, traded, and bartered things.
Remember, paint and fabric can transform your home into your own creative, cozy nest with a minimum of cost.
And, keep in mind that "finds" can be elevated to a quality look with paint and new fabric, even the application of new hardware and molding.
Lace and fabric scraps can elevate simple things like pillows, canning jars, hemlines, and more!
Canning jars have vast potential. Wrap them with lace, burlap, make them into candles. Use them as beverage glasses, vases, and more.
Some nice silverware inherited from my grandmother is shown to advantage using simple canning jars. A set of white dishes - any style - can mix and match with the lovely odds and ends of china inherited or found at thrift shops. New, used, or antique linens add a homey touch. The black and white checked cafe curtains were purchased on sale years ago at Kmart. I crocheted a decorative red border on them.
Will your home be your own vision or someone else's vision?
For example, a decorator that comes in and furnishes your home at high cost to your wallet?
Money well-spent - if you feel you must have advice - might be to hire a professional "stager" or borrow a friend whose style you'd like to adapt, adding your own touches to make it yours, of course.
A stager is someone who comes into your home and uses your existing stuff to create a great look. Realtors hire them all the time to increase the eye appeal of homes they're selling and...stagers cost less than decorators.
Great ideas come out of magazines that feature such styles as minimalism, flea market, yard sale, or thrift shop decorating styles, and prairie, French country, or shabby-chic decor.
You can get practical ideas for painting, recovering, and re-purposing things you already own from these sources, and on-line, as well.
And, you can polish up your DIY skills to create a fabulous look all your own for minimal expense.
For those who love color and variety and lots of stuff, "Bohemian" is a mix-it-up style that is much more than the simple Eclectic-only decor.
If your sewing skills are rusty or non-existent - like mine once were - you can learn from the Internet.
Does a knitting pattern call for a stitch you don't know?
A knitter friend can help but there are lots of how-to videos that will illustrate exactly how to work the stitch if "knitter-friend" is absent or unavailable. A video is worth a thousand words and these short "how-to's" show and tell exactly what to do.
Fabric stores have lots of how-to manuals for acquiring basic sewing skills, knitting, and crocheting. I taught myself to crochet from such a book. I'm not great at it but I have learned to crochet simple borders, toppers for canned goods, and place mats, learning as I go. With each new project that arises I get to learn a new skill.
Don't forget classes! Most fabric and yarn stores offer classes for minimal fees.
I taught myself to sew decades ago. I bought a used sewing machine and a how-to book on basic sewing. Over the years I've developed moderate sewing skills which are sufficient for creating my own style. The most difficult and scary project I ever took on was tailoring a too-large sofa slipcover to fit a small love seat.
Then, I used the matching curtain panels to make covers for the love seat cushions so I wouldn't have to tuck and re-arrange the slipcover each time I stood up.
I used a combination of snaps and Velcro to close the cushions at the back as I'm not very good at zipper installation. Nor could I find those really long zippers that upholsters use.
After my re-tailoring of the slipcover, and fashioning covers for the cushions, it fits and doesn't need re-tucking.
To see how I did this go to...
Or, see the April 9, 2012 post on this blog.
A minimum of sewing skills was needed to recover utilitarian office chairs into something a bit more elegant for my sewing area.
Simple, natural things add elegance. Flowers add instant elegance to any room. A pretty bowl or dish - empty or filled with pebbles, shells, or potpourri, a pitcher of dried flowers or branches personalize a room.
Lace and crocheted borders, strips of burlap, some bakers twine or ribbon applied or wrapped around vases, canning jars, hot-glued to frames and fabric edges brings instant style.
A bit of artwork on the walls adds interest. Think about framed photos, prints, baskets...
Paint is an instant transformer of walls and furniture. It is one of the least expensive means to accomplish a makeover. I try to use paint left over from other projects if possible.
On occasions I've mixed colors together to create the shade or hue I'm looking for...usually variations of off-white. I particularly favor ivory paint with a few drops of yellow for a warm-white look. For my cottage/shabby-chic style off white paint is a must.
If you don't have enough paint think about dry-brushing your project.
Dry brushing adds a venerable, distressed look to tables, chairs and other furniture, as well as wood floors.
For dry brushing use a dry paint brush lightly dipped into water-base house paint. Dab any excess paint off the brush onto paper towels or rags. Apply the brush to your project lightly adding more paint, if needed. A minimum of paint results in a look you'll love.
One technique to get a look you want is to take an expensive look from a magazine and shop for it in thrift, budget, and import stores for near replicas of the costlier looking items. This is a tried and true technique that gives the "look" without the "price".
With Easy Elegance the key is to find the look you like then to replicate it using your talent (and yes, you do have talent!), your wits, creativity, and very little money. You'll love the results because they are yours and no one else's. And, you didn't have to spend a lot of money!
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Next, we explore the fourth lesson in living simply, frugally, and elegantly...Simple Grace!