Last weekend, I cashed in our Sky Miles and made my way down to Bluffton, SC, to visit my sister-in-law who happens to be a new resident of the Palmetto State. (I wrote this New Year’s post with her in mind). During my time in this iconic little town set on the May River, we lunched and munched our way around, took long morning walks with her pup, and perused local thrift stores, but we didn’t forget this was a work weekend. I had come to help make Allie’s house a home and we only had 48 hours to do it.
First, we took inventory of what she had and what she needed: a stately leather couch, for example, would work with her decor but needed a pillow face lift. Easy enough. Then we chose what things brought her joy and what could be packed away or donated including framed art, lamps, and knick knacks. We also surveyed items that looked like they were headed for the trash but could be repurposed for her new space. Finally, we set our intentions of what we wanted the home to provide: warmth, peace, life, safe space, yumminess (Allie’s word), and we shopped and decorated with that in mind.
While your space may not provide the blank canvas that Allison’s does, there are still things you can do, cheaply I may add, to make your house feel more like home.
My sister-in-law is a dyed-in-the-wool romantic, so we knew we wanted to create a beautiful, warm space for her. She had already selected a gorgeous shag rug for her living room, and we found some faux fur pillows to accent it. We also looked at lighting, and added lamps on the end table and in the corners for a warm evening glow. We placed candles anywhere they would fit—not a problem since Allison has somewhat of a candle collection—and added a beautiful canvas of her mother, painted by our grandmother, just over the couch to pull the room together.
I knew what Allison’s townhouse needed as soon as I walked through the door: green. Before going on any of our other shopping errands, we headed off to the nearest garden store to find some new plant babies for Allie to mother. We didn’t have all our ideas sketched out as to where they should go, but knew we wanted a happy plant for the kitchen window, a succulent for the living room, and something for the kitchen island. I can’t tell you the exact names of the plants we bought, but I can tell you they are bringing a lot of life to Allie’s new space.
Freshen Old Pieces
As we inventoried 20+ years of decor from Allison’s previous house, I took note of some large, dark pots and vases. We put the red stems that had been displayed in those vases straight into the donate bin, but ran to the store for a can of white spray paint for the rest. Two coats later, we had transformed the old pieces into something fresh for her living room. White or metallic spray paint also works wonders on mismatched picture frames or knick knacks that no longer seem to have a place in your decor.
Tell Your Story
Allie and I talked a lot this weekend about our stories, and the long, winding path that brought her to Bluffton. We agreed that our journeys are often not the dreamy visions we have for our lives, but are a beautiful mess of love, heartbreak, and redemption. Part of our collective story is centered around a lake house that remained in the family for the better part of a century. I am lucky to have been grafted into that tale, and have sweet memories from Lake Lure. Allison is especially fortunate to have several pieces of antique furniture from the lake house. Another story is of a grandmother who gifted us all with her amazing works of art over the course of her lifetime. My home happily holds three paintings from Grandmother Crouch; Allison has many as well, the earliest dated 1941. Telling your story through family heirlooms is the most intimate and meaningful way to personalize your home.
My very favorite piece in Allison’s new space is, on the surface, as damaged as it can be. When my sister-in-law showed me the wooden dough bowl taken from the lake house, I immediately knew it needed to have a prominent place in her kitchen. Like all of us, the bowl is damaged. Over the years, worms have burrowed small holes through the bottom, and there are great splits in the wooden handle that have been crudely patched with metal brackets. What is so special about this piece is that someone in the family—we’ll never know who—deemed it valuable enough to repair albeit imperfectly. When our spaces reflect character over perfection, and livability over appearance, we have truly made a house a home.
///Allie and I shopped at Target, World Market, and Pier One for nearly all the new pieces in her home. Budget-friendly and beautiful!///