One of the common complaints I hear about designing a home is that either the "stuff" is too expensive, or it is too generic. Fortunately, breaking out of the mold and creating unique and inexpensive things for your home isn't difficult--you just need to have the right tools and the time to use them.
But what tools, and where do you start? Well, in my experience, I have found that these five things can carry you a long way when trying to spruce up your dwelling.
#1: a sewing machine & notions: I was fortunate to inherit my sewing machine from an aunt, and can’t imagine how I ever lived without it. Sewing machines are endlessly useful for home design, and you can save a lot of money by making your own bedding, curtains, throws and pillows. And once you get the hang of them, you’ll find they’re easy to use and simple to store.
#2: a fabric stash: when I’m out, I always keep my eye open for fabrics that I like, even if I’m not sure how I’ll use them. And there’s no source off-limits for me. I’ve been known to cut apart used trousers for the herringbone wool, or load up on napkins because I like the pattern. I bring them home, wash, dry and press them, and then stack them in my closet, where they rest, waiting for inspiration.
#3: fabric paint: everyone, I think, should keep a few fabric paints on hand just in case. Just in case, for instance, you want to dress up a plain black t-shirt with a funky design, or add initials to your pillow shams, or stripes to your table runner. And while certainly stores carry a multitude of colors, you can save money by sticking to the primary colors. I mix the majority of my hues from five basics: black, white, red, yellow and blue.
#4: blank canvases: I always try to keep a few blank canvases in varying sizes stashed in the back of my closet just in case an art project strikes my fancy. I find them handy for mounting photos and old posters I don’t want to frame, or for painting designs. Some I just paint in solid colors and scatter them around the house. In other words, don’t let your lack of artistic skills hold you back from having fun with canvas! Skill is rarely required.
#5: inspiration notebook: I’ve blogged before about how I always keep a notebook (ahem...notebooks) close by for filing away magazine clippings and photos of rooms, colors, landscapes and patterns I like. Often when I want to start a project, I begin with my notebooks to collect ideas or just dream about possibilities.
The truth is that part of successful creativity is having the right supplies on hand for when the mood to create strikes. Time and time again I have gone back to these basic things to liven up my home. For me, they're like the flour and sugar of design--staples to keep around for when you need them.
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Adding Patina, so to speak
Plotting more Patina