One of the things I value most about Design*Sponge is the focus on real people and their homes. It’s easy to see a beautiful picture of a house and make assumptions about the family’s budget, values, luck, etc. but sharing the personal stories and journey make room for creative inspiration. It changes the elements of a house from aspirational to approachable. Design*Sponge taught me early on that a home and budget are what we make them and that waiting to win the lottery before we can love our homes’ interiors isn’t the only way.
Something to love about this age of blogs, YouTube tutorials, and library books delivered to any device is that there’s always information to find to support the resourceful creative. If the desire is there to reupholster a couch found on the side of the road with discounted upholstery fabric, a rented staple gun, a sewing machine and a 20 year old instructional book, it can be done (first hand experience right here). It’s true that most everything will cost something but money isn’t the only thing to spend. The final product can be beautiful, impressive and cost effective at the same time. That nagging voice on Instagram and design blogs to have the newest, best, prettiest pieces can be quieted when our values shift from getting the lifestyle we’d like to making the lifestyle we’d like. Being resourceful isn’t always glamorous, but it does create independence from the need of approval and staying on-trend.
Images Above: (Top) Mallory and David’s home is no stranger to refinished Craigslist finds. The living room sectional frame is a Danish Modern piece that they found secondhand and had cushions made to fit them. (Bottom) It was tricky for Jane to find floor tiles for her new dining room extension that matched the original kitchen tiles. After searching all around the UK, she found the matching reclaimed tiles. They were covered in concrete so the process was tedious but worth it to see the cohesive, original flooring in place.
A few months ago my husband, Austin, and I were talking about our round coffee table. It was a Craigslist find and it had been in decent condition. After 2 years of owning it, Austin was interested in trying to coat the top with concrete. After some research, supplies and an open evening, we got to work. The next morning it was evident this was not going to be a long-lasting application. The sides of the concrete were already cracking. We chipped it off and started back at square one, this time with the coffee table looking a little traumatized from the project. This last week I mentioned to him that it was maybe time to invest in a new coffee table. We had tried and failed–time to move on. Austin’s mind went into problem-solving mode. The base of our coffee table is solid wood, modern and very pretty. We made a trip to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and found a 2- x 3-foot piece of stone countertop finished on all sides. Austin cut the top of our coffee table off with a hack saw, added adhesive pads and set the new surface on top of the base. The concrete was messy, somewhat pricey and just didn’t work the way we expected. This second idea was almost mess-free other than some sawdust, easy and took about 5 minutes total. It makes our living room look cleaner, more welcoming and more pulled together. I was so grateful for that first “mistake” and the five minutes it took to come up with an even better solution that cost a fraction of the price of a new stone top coffee table.
Creative resourcefulness is a skill worth cultivating for any budget, design style and lifestyle. It doesn’t have to look like DIYing or thrifting everything. It can mean rearranging the layout is the way to go or that a side hustle’s profits are saved for those pricey pieces. Even editing things out can make an incredible impact on the existing furniture and arrangement in a home. Home is what we make it. Instead of waiting for it to come together, we can work towards the potential we see in small ways and big ways. –Lauren
Image Above: Vicki and Travis Taylor found this amazing marble tabletop on Craigslist. They enlisted Vicki’s brother to create a modern coffee table base for this piece.
Here are a few things to remember when staying savvy and resourceful at home:
- Done is Better than Perfect: Finding inspiration online is good and bad. It’s good because it encourages us to expand our view on what our home could be, but it can be bad if we become discontent until our home meets our new standard of perfection. Whether cleaning or decorating, focus on the next thing that will make the biggest impact visually. If that’s the only thing that gets done, it’s still a big improvement and gives a sense of fulfillment.
- Your Point of View is Yours: Interior Design can feel like a giant contest of who stays in front of trends better than others. If people are moving away from a style that you’re still loving, own it. Stop feeling the need to justify choices and designs that work in your home.
- Embrace the Creative Practice and Process: Working on something, anything, can spark ideas for other creative pursuits. When we use our brains in a way out of the ordinary, it expands our thinking in other areas. Who knows what problems you’ll solve by working on something completely unrelated.