30 August 2015

Redecorate with what you already have

When our Big Boy recently moved out of his cot into a full-size bed, I wanted to remodel the space left in the children's bedroom. I determined to do this without purchasing any new items.

Our children's book collection had outgrown its various shelves and baskets around the house. I wanted to bring all the books together and make a lovely space. I wanted a space that made the books look inviting, at child-height, well lit, and that encouraged reading by having an attractive, comfy reading spot. 

We shifted things around to relocate two shelves that had been in other use. One of these is from Tyson's childhood, repainted with left-over black spray paint when it was moved inside about a year ago. Additional shelves and shelf dividers use strong, plain-coloured cardboard boxes.

The carpet piece was from the off-cuts pile at a local carpet store. The installers bring all their excess back to the store and it is piled outside, free to all takers. (Truly. I asked inside)

The 'reading box' is a wooden blanket box that belonged to Tyson's grandmother, for which I made a padded cover. The padding comprises pieces of foam glued together - primarily the end of a couple of long mattresses that we trimmed to fit into the camper trailer, plus some pieces from an old kitchen chair. 

This was cased within a large banner advertising a kindy event earlier in the year. The cover fabric was all in my box of odds & ends of fabric. Some of this was purchased ages ago from the off-cuts box at our wonderful local fabric store (previously used as dress-up scarves, teddy bedclothes, toy animal paddocks, dolls house furnishings, etc), some remained from projects years ago, including fabric from my wedding dress, and other bits were 'scraps' from the sewing table of a friend who recently finished a costume design course.

The bunting was a gift to us from that same friend, using her scraps. She also renovated the quilt on the lower bunk for me - a heritage item given to me for my first 'big bed' when I was three.

Initial Time: In all its stages, this took bits of time over more than a week. Half a day of moving stuff. Half a day of sewing. Time picking up carpets while taking Eva to a birthday party. Bits and pieces.

My trusty helper. He presses 'reverse' for me.

Initial Cost: Zero. Oh, except a donation to the friend who did quilt fixing and about $4 for a tube of glue. I tend to overlook the occasional costs of restocking materials, like glue, paint or sewing thread, that get used for multiple projects. For this project, nothing needed replacing except the glue.

Ongoing time or cost commitment: Zero. And committing not to buy a throw cushion for the box (we have SO MANY throw cushions, but I have a weakness...)

Impact: The widespread appeal of shops that sell nothing but items to fit-out a home, especially decorative rather than functional fittings, is indicative of our culture's emphasis on purchasing more and more whenever changes are desired at home. A steady stream of advertising encourages us to desire changes. The abundant piles of household items on the verge at bulk rubbish collection, many in perfectly good condition, affirms the rate at which remodeling and replacing occurs. I love beautiful things, I enjoy creating lovely spaces and I am attracted to all the options for 'improving' our home. While I can't measure an exact impact of this action, resisting the urge to go and buy, and channeling it instead into finding ways to creatively re-use what we already had, feels like moving in the right direction for me.

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