Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Debt-Free Decorating, Day 2

My little house on an ordinary day.
I received so many nice messages in response to my post about paying off all my debt earlier this week--both here and on my Facebook page--that I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things I have learned along the way. 

Maybe you have your own big debt to pay off. Maybe you want to have a debt-free holiday season (check out Thrifty Decor Chick's post on the Dave Ramsey blog). Or maybe you are trying to save for a kitchen remodel or a down-payment on a bigger home. Whatever your situation, I hope you can get something from my experience. So for the rest of the week I'll be writing about how I did it, and how you can, too! If you have questions, please leave them in the comments section and I'll be happy to try to address them (I say "try" because I am certainly no finance expert. Afterall, I am the one who got myself $30,000 in debt.)

To be perfectly candid, decorating with no money has been hard. Harder than hard. More than a few tears have been shed about my ugly, hand-me-down crap. (Clearly the brilliant thing to do in that case is to start a blog where you feature your house and your design skills...) 

Anyway, I like to look around and see pretty things. I love to shop, to bring home treasures that make a space look and feel and function just right. I believe my house says something about who I am, or at least it should. Having savings and not becoming an old woman who lives out of a grocery cart are more important obviously than decor, but not as much fun.

A couple of things that have helped me to appreciate what I have (and not feel sorry for myself):
1) Clean.
Neat and tidy go a long way on a little budget. Practice a ten-minute tidy-up before you leave to go somewhere and before you go to bed so you can always enter a tidy space. Clear surfaces (counters, table tops, floors) make a room look tidier than it really is. 

No budget for art? No problem!
2) Think creatively.
Challenge yourself to think of a way to not buy the things you think you need. For example, I desperately wanted a shelving unit for my garage to hold all the gardening supplies, grilling gear, kids' stuff, etc. that wind up out there. The old me would have spent $30-$50 at a big box store to get something, anything, that would work. Instead, I have organized and re-organized the stuff so it's not in the way of us pulling our cars into the garage, and we can still get at it. Often you can just "shop your house" to find something that will work.

Comfy AND coordinated.

3) Coordinate colors.
How can you accessorize something so that it looks intentional and not hand-me-down? That was the dilemma with my living room furniture. I had a brown chenille pull-out couch from the 1970s paired with a pink-striped sofa from the 1950's (re-upholstered in the 90's) and a green leather chair (also 90's) in my living room--with a stated theme of "beach house". Yikes! I bought a pillow sham that had many of the same colors in it (green, brown, pinkish red), and I used a collection of turquoise pillow covers as accents. If you've got a lot of pieces in a range of colors, pull out one or two of the colors to use as accents. The rest will fade into the background.

4) Flowers and friends.
Don't let an ugly couch stop you from having people over. Invite your neighbors in, set an extra place at the dinner table, throw a party. One of my favorite bloggers is Sandy Coughlin from The Reluctant Entertainer. She encourages people to be a blessing to others by showing hospitality. Because in the end it really doesn't matter as much what your house looks like as much as it matters how your house feels to the people in it. That said, definitely get a bunch of flowers and set them everywhere if you are having people over. It makes the house look and feel so pretty and fresh!

5) Hope list.
In some ways I haven't always seen my house just as it is because I know it will be so much more. There will be lots of hard work in our future still. But each step gets us a little bit closer. We have a list of what we want to do and we're marking things off the list. I can't wait to show you all the things we have in store now that there is no debt looming over my head!!!



  1. Really good advice! Cleaning and de-cluttering can go a long way!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie


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