Butler County Times Gazette
  • Through the Front Door: Budgeting never broke the bank

  • Budgets play a large role in how most of us decorate our homes
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  • Sometimes frugality is required to complete our interiors. Budgets play a large role in how most of us decorate our homes today. One of the brightest and most remarkable ways to acquire the things your home needs is recycling furniture.
    Recently, I found the most handsome hutch at the Pigeon’s Roost for—are you ready for this—$195! This piece is in perfect condition, ready to plunk right into a country kitchen and load with a collection of vintage milk pitchers. An unbelievable value that will go on to live yet another glorious life. Prior to arriving in its new home, the piece will be transformed with a rich green paint and touches of smoldering gold leafing to embellish the detailed millwork. I can see its stately presence against the honey tone of the cedar wall behind it. Oh, I am just giddy with excitement! I will share pictures once this fabulous hutch is reborn.
    Shopping with a purpose
    Budgets have been scorched by the economy, so smart people have learned to shop in different ways. Fortunately, the world has become an absolute treasure trove of exciting pieces and possibilities. Garage sales, estate sales, tag sales, and, yes, secondhand stores have become today’s new furniture stores.
    I am relatively new to this world of recycling, reclaiming and refurbishing, so I took a guided tour from a friend who has dabbled in the world of salvaged furniture and accessories for more than 40 years. While she admits to being, quite frankly, cheap, she honed her skills as a creative kid looking to stretch a decorating dollar. She learned from her grandmother how to adapt items to her needs. Need a vase? Try a Mason jar or glass milk bottle. Fix things up with paint to get what you need on a tight budget.
    As a seasoned, knowledgeable buyer, she understands the fascination and desire to own one-of-a-kind pieces. She fills her weekends with visits to garage sales and estate sales, finding the perfect pieces and then reinventing them. Cool mornings outside in the sunshine—can shopping get any better?
    Whether she finds a pair of chinoiserie (sheèn waazə rée) lamps or sculpted iron brackets for a kitchen shelf, she is wise and wonderful with her choices. (In chinoiserie style, Chinese ornamentation lends an Asian influence to pieces.) When communities have citywide garage sales, you can be sure she’ll be there, selecting fabulous finds for her home. Her buying approach is no different than mine when I went to market to buy product for my shop. Basically, I was trying to guess what you might want—before you even knew you wanted it! In her case, she spots an item and then thinks how she might put it to use—readapting something for one purpose into another purpose. Perhaps she might see the possibly of a 1950's plaid tin picnic basket loaded with greenery and geraniums as the perfect front porch display. Or a rusted child's wagon in all of its patina glory as the place to keep magazines in an eclectic family room. This same wagon could perhaps serve as the meal spot for an older lab with back issues, by bringing the food closer to his head. My friend finds fabulous in the old and forgotten.  
    Page 2 of 3 - A DIY approach
    Today, designing on a dime is a popular topic and it’s one of the smartest ways to achieve great looks and still stay within a budget. My gosh, just look at all the blogs dedicated to doing things yourself! But, even more than ever, what people really want is a hands-on approach. They want to apply some elbow grease and see the magic that happens from doing things themselves.
    Consumers are no longer interested in having a decorator “do” their homes for them. In fact, I just received a letter from the president of the American Society of Interior Design stating just this sentiment. This is not to say that people don’t need a little help or direction from an expert. Clients want to pay a project fee rather than the traditional hourly charge in order to control their spending. If you are working with a designer, make sure he or she will work within your budget. Be upfront about the money you have to spend, and assure the designer that there won’t be any more money!
    You can find products on website after website that will save you money and still give you a home worthy of a photo shoot. For starters, check out One King’s Lane, Home Decorators Collection (a division of The Home Depot), Schoolhouse Electric Lighting, CB (Crate and Barrel's jazzy new website) and Joss & Marten. If you need additional help staying within your design allowance, take a look at these smart sites: houzze.com and apartmenttherapy.com. You will find a kinship with the average Joes who want their homes to appear a certain way but whose last names are not, unfortunately, Winfrey!
    Filling your boxes
    As I’ve mentioned many times, rooms are merely a series of boxes in our homes. Filling them is one of the greatest and most satisfying aspects of life. Coming home to a room filled with wonderful tag sale finds requires just as much attention as shopping retail—and the benefit is amazing prices. Plus, if you like to do a smidge of haggling, this is the place to have a bit of fun. When you walk away, everyone is happy!
    Recently, a gentleman came to my home to install some equipment. As our business concluded, he asked, “Where do you get all of these things? Each room I was in has such an interesting collection of items.” He was completely taken aback when I shared with him where most of the items were purchased.
    Get it here in Augusta
    One of my favorite painters on the globe is delving into furniture refinishing. Just call Mike Ryan at Ryan Painting (316-807-0991) right here in Augusta. His finished products are gorgeous and he can give you any color your heart desires! Another local business is Redhead Re-Furb (1490 Ohio St., 316-300-7422). This savvy, scarlet-headed cutie scouts out great vintage furniture, from prairie pieces to mid-century modern classics. Beautiful bargains! You’ll find desirable small shelving pieces, chest of drawers for linens in the hall, counter stools, charming table and chairs. All affordable and smart!
    Page 3 of 3 - This type of shopping makes for lovely, leisurely Saturday entertainment. The rewards for the time and effort you put into these adventures is so cost effective and fun. Your budget might be a bit on the small side at times, but the riches you can surround yourself with can be priceless.
    Have a lovely week my friends!
            

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