View Full Version : Home Sweet Home

9-4-11, 8:44pm
I thought it might be nice to exchange tips and ideas about things we do to enhance our homes, since so many of us focus a lot of our energy and resources on homemaking. I debated about whether to put this thread here or under Housing, but I was hoping we could share ideas that are low cost or good value in nature. Let's face it, if your strategy is to call in a team of decorators, that won't be helpful to most of us!:)
Onr of my favorites is to always keep a small vase on the side of the bathroom sink with a flower or two from the garden, although in winter it might be a sprig of holly or boxwood. And after about three broken vases :( I learned the value of museum putty, which helps keep the vase from getting easily knocked off onto the tile floor.
My bathroom is tiny (just over 5' by 5') so there isn't space for a lot of decorative embellishments. The little bouquet does the trick though. I was surprised to learn that people who have been in my home consider it a memorable feature.
Do you have anything to share?

9-4-11, 10:13pm
I don't like a lot of fuss and muss but I do love my stars. I have several of all different sizes up around my home. I also took some of my son's artwork and framed it. Much cheaper and nicer than anything in a store. I also love large glass containers with candles and glass rocks as filler. They sparkle and the candle makes the house smell nice. I am about ambience, so I changed out a brown shade with a nice red one on one lamp (found the shade in the cheapo bin) and now the light is very soft and glowy. : ) I pick up old barn boarding or tin roof material and make many items out of them. I made some instant shelves with the barn board.

9-4-11, 10:15pm
What a lovely thread idea!

I decorate with all sorts of things I fall in love with at thrift shops - bits of lace, old enamel pots, quilts, spoons, lots of hand-thrown pottery, lace handkerchiefs, scarves, knick knacks, you name it. The most prominent of my decorations, though, has to be my collection of antique photographs. They're hanging from wool yarn I've strung across the ceiling by little wooden laundry clips (along with some of my grandfather's lodge membership cards and a few linen handkerchiefs), they're pinned to several bulletin boards across the room, they're stuck in mirrors, they're framed on the walls and on the shelves. They're everywhere.

However, the most frugal way I decorate is by using found natural objects - all over the house. Fallen leaves, stones, acorns, pine cones, berries (that are safe to have around pets), twigs, etc. On any available surface I can find. :o)

9-5-11, 6:25am
I am well aware that I have little in the way of decoration, to the point I have a corner shelf unit with only a bowl of dog treats on it. My inlaws came over this summer for three days. FIL said as soon as he looked around our house that there were no decorations and the shelves were bare. I think it is wonderful that some find beauty and homeyness with assorted collectables and I wish I could. I have thought many times why I do not though years ago it did. It comes down to I have moved so many times, it all becomes a weight to me. I want to get over this.

early morning
9-5-11, 7:32am
ctg492, do you like your home? Are you comfortable and at home there? If so, don't worry about what anyone else thinks of your lack of decoration! (this said by someone who is more likely to drown in decorations than to have too few :|() I do only use things I really like. I have some nice old redware (the cheap plastic containers of its day, lol) and stoneware. I use larger crocks as trash cans in most rooms (with baskets as liners). I have a dresser of old ironstone, with and without transfers. I have a lot of strange stuff - a collection of old men's hats, blue and yellow pottery, odd bottles and crates with my maiden name, lots of books. Wooden toolboxes, baskets, crates for storage. Quilts and throws to soften furniture (and cover spots). Plants. Too much, really - but I like it! Most of it is gathered very inexpensively and because we sell at flea markets, can easily be changed out if I fall out of love. ;)

9-5-11, 7:36am
MamaM: I like stars too. I have quite a few starfish scattered around the place. They are fun decorative objectives, and they cost me only a dollar or two each.
Folkypoet: We really like the nature motif, and our decor includes some found objects, as well as nature-inspired art with bird, bug and leaf themes.
Ctg492: And most of us have way too many decorative objects! I'm going to share a link to a blog I like ( I can't remember how I learned about it; probably from someone on this forum). She has a much more minimalist aesthetic than I do, but I really love the look and feel of her home. You might want to shoot for something similar. It's lovely and welcoming, but without too much stuff. I've been trying to focus on the "less is more" concept myself. I do try very hard these days not to bring home any more ornamental objects. I could probably accessorize another small house or apartment with just the surplus loveliness I have stored in my basement. That's just crazy. I'm going to work on trying to sell or gift some of these beautiful things that never even see the light of day.

9-5-11, 8:17am
What a nice thread!

I am limited in what I can keep as far as decorative objects since it has to be out of reach of little hands.

In the boys' room, which has a subtle camping theme, I got prints made of black and white pictures of my relatives camping or doing outdoor stuff. My great-grandpa and great uncle (for whom my oldest son is named) on a pontoon they built themselves, my grandma and great aunts panning for gold in Alaska, my mom at age 4 running away from the creek in patent leather shoes and a twirly dress while her brother and cousins play, my 10 year old uncle in a sobrero in front of a tent. I arranged them on the wall in a nice pattern. I like them because they are personal.

I am working on getting rid of some artwork that doesn't really speak to me and replacing it with family photos. I'm thinking of doing a series of trip photos based on some collages I've made from our travels. Like this one.


I would do each photo individually, though and change them out occasionally. My friends have a whole wall devoted to family photos and it looks really nice.

Another thing that brightens up our home is the flowers Zach gives me every week. I have limited kitchen storage space, so instead of having vases I just use mason jars, teapots, bowls and other double-use items.

One more thing I love is that I have repurposed my grandmother's punch bowl as a fruit bowl. I can't think of many occasions when a crystal punch bowl would be useful to me, but I like the bowl and didn't really want to get rid of it. It's huge, so it actually fits a lot of the fruit we buy, which other bowls didn't really do.

A lot of my decorative items are like that. They have a purpose in life. My dining room, which also serves as our school room, has a giant map of the U.S. ($5 at Target), a bulletin board, a white board, a set of hooks for vintage aprons and four corkboard squares at kid height for displaying kids' artwork. While it sounds utilitarian, it's actually very cute. It's got a vintage schoolhouse vibe to it.

This week I made a little change in my middle bathroom. There is a built-in metal shelf behind the sink in that room that used to have glass doors to it, but they have been broken since I was about 10 years old. In the meantime the humidity from the bathroom has made the metal look worn, and not in a good way. It just looked kind of yucky. The shelf can't be removed without patching the wall and since the walls are wallpapered, that opens a can of worms I am not ready to open. This week I got some cork shelf paper, since cork is mold and mildew resistant, and covered the inside of the shelf with it. It looks much nicer now and it cost me about $5 for half a roll of cork paper.

Mighty Frugal
9-5-11, 12:54pm
I love homey touches that make everyone who enters cozy and relaxed! I also like to only display things that I love or use-rather than just stuff to dust.

I am an avid old book collector (I read them too:D) so in our dining room i have a lovely very old barrister's glass cabinet that has some of my treasures. The other 3 open bookshelves in the dining room hold the rest of my books. I love when new people enter and poke around and pull out a book to skim. If you could bury me in a library I think I'd go to the afterlife with a bigger spring in my step!

I also bought these turn of (last) century medicine glass bottles. I used to shove them deep in a cupboard and pull them out only when the boys rewarded me with a wilted dandelion but now I display them on top of our CD cabinet. Looks so pretty

I also have a huge (128 quart-does that make sense-not sure what a quart is) mason jar that was dh's grandma. In it are my 'healthy-ish) homemade oatmeal choco chip cookies...as well as in another old styled cookie jar.

I just love old ceramics that I can use. We have a HUGE cheery yellow lemonade jar with a spigot. Have seen them for sale for over 50 bucks. We found it at a 2nd hand shop for 7 bucks. Each b.day party we fill it with pink lemonade and let the kids pour their own drinks!

Oh and one more thing, dh just found a real kitchy early 60s mixed drink shaker. With colourful pics of olives and wedges of lime and a list of mixed drinks and how to make them. so cute! We also have this displayed and it is filled with choco covered almonds-yum!

Oh, and finally, one of the biggest thing that makes 'sweet' for me is to have it clean, neat, organized and every bed is made every single day-that's non-negotiable for my well being!:)

9-5-11, 2:07pm
I "decorate" with scent...home baked bread, spaghetti sauce, cakes...and I love a clean smelling house. I also will splurge on one nicely scented candle which I will light from time to time. Our house is more open concept so I don't need them in every room. Even though I can vouch for my own slobbyness, I also love the beauty of our cleaned house and "everything in its place'. Stella-quite jealous of the weekly flowers...what a hubbie!!!

9-5-11, 4:03pm
Our home reflects who we are. My DH collects old cameras and we have a display in the living room that holds 40 of them and a corner hutch that holds a multitude more. I have a collection of minature glass oil lamps of various sizes with the same design. Again, in the living room. I rarely redecorate except for the bathroom. Perhaps this year I will, since I now have the time.

9-5-11, 8:47pm
Mighty Frugal, my mom has a big old canning jar like the one you mentioned, that her grandmother used for cookies! She stores flour in it now. I think she said it was originally a pickle jar. It has to be at least 3 gallons.

We have a lot of houseplants, family photographs (old & new), and books in our home, and earthy colors everywhere.

9-6-11, 12:33pm
I know I've mentioned this before, but a lot of my decor at home are the many pieces of Asian art (mostly Indonesian) that I inherited from my grandparents. Luckily, it suits mine and my husband's natural style (lots of wood, greens and browns, a few touches of muted red, scary carved masks - ha!). These aren't just decorative items though. Our coffee table is from them and of course gets a lot of use. Also, there are many dishes, batik cloth napkins, baskets, etc. that are regularly used household items.

I also carry on two family traditions that make my home feel homey to me:

1) The walls flanking my stairs are covered with family photographs (all in unmatching, but mostly coordinated, black wood frames). One side has my family and the other has my husband's family.

2) For about 20 years, we have kept a guest book that must be signed by anyone who stays the night. My great-grandparents started this in 19th century Germany. It's so fun to read through it.

I agree that regular cooking and baking are a sort of short cut to hominess. I also think having pets makes a house a home, but I accept that not everyone who enters my home agrees with this sentiment.


Mighty Frugal
9-6-11, 3:20pm
treehugger- I LOVE your guest book idea! Darn, wish I did this! I've had cousins from Calgary (3 hour plane ride) and cousins from Milan, Italy stay with me...if I only I had been clever enough!

Mighty Frugal
9-6-11, 4:19pm
Oh, I thought of something else. This hasn't been done YET but is in the works.

Years ago, dh and I went to our city's reference library and were able to go thru old books to see who lived in our home. Our home was built in 1912 so there have been quite a few owners. So we wrote down the names, their occupation and how long they owned our home. I plan to pull up my creative sleeves and make up a nice wall-hanging-worthy document displaying all the former owners.

I feel that we leave a bit of ourselves in every home. And that our home still has the 'energy' from all its former owners. I often imagine what it must have been like way back when as the former owners watched their kids scamper up the narrow staircase...and all of them cozy in the front parlor room with a roaring fireplace (fireplace has been since boarded up) or in the fireplace in the kitchen (boarded as well-boo!)

I like to think that I have left a happy part of me in all my former homes! To emit joy for all those that now live there

9-6-11, 4:24pm
treehugger- I LOVE your guest book idea! Darn, wish I did this! I've had cousins from Calgary (3 hour plane ride) and cousins from Milan, Italy stay with me...if I only I had been clever enough!

No reason not to start one today. I'm sure you will have future guests.

Our first overnight guest we ever had after we moved in together, I forgot to get out the book (now it sits on the guestbed night table, with a pen), so when I remembered, after her stay, I told her about the book and asked her to write a guestbook message on a piece of notepaper and mail it to me. She did, so it was a great start to the book.

For my first guestbook (long since been filled and replaced by its descendents), I had people fill in the blank pages of our wedding guestbook (it was just a blank book with a pretty cover). Very frugal of me. :)


9-6-11, 4:55pm
Roses from the garden. Candles. Quilts.

9-6-11, 7:54pm
One of the best compliments I ever got was from a friend who walked into my apartment and said, "It's so comfortable!" Which is exactly what I was going for, in a pulled-together way. I have always had tiny apartments, so I have not been much of a collector because I don't have many flat surfaces to put things on (and I have had young nephews/nieces/godchildren around for over 10 years.) I have a very comfy sofa--$75 at Goodwill, ugly as sin but has a great purple slipcover--lots of color, and plenty of things on the walls. I HATE bare walls. I don't own much expensive stuff--partly because it's only been recently that I had extra in the budget--but also I love the philosophy of a friend who insisted on inexpensive glassware in her registry because she didn't want to cry if a guest broke a glass. I am not very good at crafty/decorating stuff (I so admire people who are) so I tend to pick a couple of colors I like and go from there. (For those out there who are not born decorators, I loved the book "Use What You Have Decorating." The furnishings now look quite dated, but the design principles the author suggests are still true, and helped me make my space look much more pulled-together. Most decorating books seem to focus more on DIY projects which seem overwhelming to me.)

9-6-11, 8:34pm
A friend gave us a vintage Roseville hanging planter that's been sitting in our cellar for two years because we didn't have the hardware to hang it. Another friend recently gave us a birdfeeder, which we really didn't want to hang out, because we already have three in use, and another would just help us get rid of our birdfood money faster :) But the feeder hardware works perfectly on the planter, and I bought a houseplant at the fair Saturday that just matches so perfectly that it's hard to believe I didn't have the planter with me when I bought the plant. So for the $6.50 price of the plant, we have something really beautiful. It's great when something comes together like that.
Stella, I like your pictures; how do you post them? It seems like more photos woud be nice on this type of thread.

9-6-11, 11:33pm
I am well aware that I have little in the way of decoration, to the point I have a corner shelf unit with only a bowl of dog treats on it. My inlaws came over this summer for three days. FIL said as soon as he looked around our house that there were no decorations and the shelves were bare. I think it is wonderful that some find beauty and homeyness with assorted collectables and I wish I could. I have thought many times why I do not though years ago it did. It comes down to I have moved so many times, it all becomes a weight to me. I want to get over this.

I also feel a certain "weight" in possessions. I've moved around a lot too, although I've managed to stay put for the past eleven years. I detest clutter and have very few decorative objects, most of which also have a function, such as the two matching owl jars (dollar store origins) I use for loose change and as a pencil cup near the stove. (I have a "thing" for owls, but don't collect them.) My friend and cat-sitter has remarked that my home has a Zen-like atmosphere which she and her family find very appealing. The blog cited by roserugasa has way too much visual clutter for my taste; although I think it's lovely, I wouldn't want to live there.

I agree with early morning. If the house feels comfortable to you, don't worry about it. I've been in homes that were so over-decorated they were suffocating. And the more stuff you have, the more cleaning you've got to do. Not my favorite pastime.

9-7-11, 9:58am
I don't have a lot of decoration, mostly natural things like a handmade ceramic bowl made by a friend with blue rocks in it and a smaller bowl sitting next to it with red seeds/beans from a Texas Mountain Laurel (the contrast in colors in nice) and I've got a wreath I made from Devil's Claws on the wall and a garland of dried rose buds on the wall in the bedroom. A little something I do, no matter where I live, is hang bells from the door knobs. I have some old bells (hippie bells I use to call them), probably imported from India, nothing fancy that I have always hung on my front door knob, and this has extended to the back door knob and a few of the bedrooms.

9-7-11, 7:00pm
What are Devil's Claws? That sounds intriguing.

9-9-11, 11:53am
rosarugosa, here is a link to show the plant and the claws. I deliberately grew them one year and now I depend on "volunteers". I harvest the "claws" once they have dried and split and then I attached them to a wire wreath form covered with dark moss. The wreath is quite unique I guess but I like it.


9-9-11, 7:03pm
Thanks, Jania, those are pretty flowers and cool claws!

9-11-11, 7:54pm
Many items in our home have a story attached, either a friend or relative made something or I picked up something at a little garage sale. We used to live in South America, and I have a few wall hangings or pieces of pottery from there. Not too much clutter, although our fridge is COVERED with pictures of our friends and relatives. I love that, even though it is supposed to be a big no-no in the decorating magazines.

9-18-11, 5:22pm

9-18-11, 6:26pm

9-20-11, 9:38am
Very nice. I love portulaca.

9-20-11, 10:25am
We don't decorate much since we have kids and cats. Kids are older now, but the cats are incorrigible. A few houseplants, some photos on the walls, books and more books. A mini Buddha altar on the kitchen window sill, which gets a rotating assortment of small items put on it. Love candles, but we don't use them since the curtains caught fire once - too much of a close call to risk it again. We have a strange brick-colored countertop in the kitchen, but our dishes are Fiesta in many colors, so it works. I get towels in Fiesta colors, too, and the kitchen looks sort of decorated without tchotchkies.

10-19-11, 7:43am
I cut a vase of Callicarpa japonica from the garden yesterday. This is one of my favorite types of frugals, free and nicer than anything I could buy at the store :) The berries are a really intense lavender, a color you don't see much in the autumn landscape, at least in this neck of the woods.


10-19-11, 9:10am

I'm sure that's a nice plant, but I really love the Roseville planter!
We have a modest collection of Roseville pieces and that looks like a nice one.

10-19-11, 9:44am
Thanks, Alan, and we got it as a gift from a friend who has a good eye for quality. He found it at the local Salvation Army store.

10-19-11, 9:53am
I make a lot of our own artwork, which, while it may not impress guests, pleases me and DH. Also, keeping the house clean, well organized, and consistently decluttered makes me enjoy it so much more!

10-19-11, 10:07am
Thanks, Alan, and we got it as a gift from a friend who has a good eye for quality. He found it at the local Salvation Army store.
Wow, that's a find! It's nearly impossible to find Roseville outside of antique shops anymore, and then it's terribly expensive.
That looks like a $250 planter to me.

dado potato
10-19-11, 10:08am
Scandinavian interiors are usually bright and simple: "Less is More". Nothing is ostentatious. But the commonplace can be sweet and beautiful, if one takes time and notices (be it the woodgrain of a tabletop, refraction in glassware, a candle flame, twigs from nature brought indoors, etc.)

Of course, not everybody would have an affinity for Scandinavian interiors.

10-19-11, 2:20pm
I love the colors of Scandinavian interiors, but I'm just not that brave.
rosarugosa, that is a beautiful planter and plant.

10-19-11, 3:06pm
Aren't Scandinavian interiors often blue and white? I'm very partial to that color scheme and much of my house is done in those colors.
Re: "less is more" - I'm tackling the basement on this rainy day (I'm on vacation this week) and I keep telling myself that. I am getting rid of a lot of stuff. It's kind of sad that I have so many nice things that I don't want or need. Hopefully some of this stuff will find good homes via the Salvation Army. The Roseville planter was in the basement until recently, so I'm glad I was able to put it to good use. I'm not really even a packrat, and I'm very organized, but it's hard to avoid accumulating lots of stuff. Much of it was given to us - people are too kind! :(
Selah: That's great that you have the creativity to make your own artwork, and as long as it pleases you, then that's all that should matter. Would love to see pictures though!

10-19-11, 9:49pm
The Scandinavian interiors I'm familiar with are more like a progression of colors from room to room. Yellow in one room then orange in another then red then....on and on. With accent colors scattered throughout. Lots of color. Maybe I'll paint my spaces that way some day. When I feel old enough to wear a purple hat! ;)

10-21-11, 11:46am
Scandinavian interiors are usually bright and simple: "Less is More". Nothing is ostentatious. But the commonplace can be sweet and beautiful, if one takes time and notices (be it the woodgrain of a tabletop, refraction in glassware, a candle flame, twigs from nature brought indoors, etc.)

Of course, not everybody would have an affinity for Scandinavian interiors.

This is the look that I love only a bit Americanized. I have a book that I have looked at until the binding has broken with beautiful pictures of Scandinavian photos of interiors and exteriors both. So spare (as a rule) but warm at the same time.

I love the play of light through colored glass, or the patterns from the sun shining through lace or the warmth of a candle that has burned down and just glows.

It makes me feel totally home when I come in to a tidy house. I hate to set my purse down to make clutter, lol. Funny, but I would rather the house be picked up than clean.

Float On
10-21-11, 2:51pm
http://chezlarsson.com/ I love this blog for her clean lines, white everything, and organized style. Just as she got her first house finished, she sold due to divorce and she is now redoing her current home she shares with her son and 2 cats (well, one cat keeps running away back to the old home).

10-21-11, 3:52pm
Thanks for the blog link, Float on. I just love this style. I would also like to look like her,too, lol!

10-21-11, 4:29pm
chez larson is nice.

i like very clean scandinavian style, really looking at going all-white in this place with just color in the kitchen (using a long stripe along the wall. hard to explain, but anyway.

i like emma's design blog (http://emmas.blogg.se/) as a launch point. :)