Who Says Decorating Your Home has to Cost a King’s Ransom & Your Firstborn Child!

I wanted to share some simple ideas with you, to help get you excited about your home during this new year!

Have you heard the old saying “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”? Well, I’ve always thanked God for the opportunity that I’ve had to develop my creativity in a very special way 🙂

As a teenager, I remember a gal who would go into a very expensive department store and buy a whole room display. Then, she would comment on the “deal” that she was able to get, because she bought the whole thing! Of course it cost thousands of dollars, but to her, it was something that looked beautiful – and it was already “pulled together” for her. For some people, having the “work” done for you is a huge relief, but for some reason, I couldn’t be happy doing things this way! I think it’s because, although the end result is wonderful, for me, the creative journey of getting there is still such a thrill!

For many, the cost factor of “pulling a room together” keeps them from even getting started!

Well, no more!

I’m here to tell you… that you can have a beautiful nest the same way the birds do… by going out and finding beautiful tidbits here & there… and then weaving them together into one beautiful nest!

Something to remember

Your “I found this for only $” might be a very different price point than my “I found this for only $” price!

Example: I was talking to a person who was sharing their excitement about a recent find they had made. It was a vintage pine cupboard that they “only paid $1000” for. Although that was probably a GREAT price for that particular piece, my mind was wandering back to the 2 vintage pine cupboards that I had picked up – one was $2 at a yard sale, and the other was $17 at a local auction. Also, sometimes you find great deals like the ones that I found, and other times… not so much. The point? Use what you have, and find the best deals possible.

For this mantel display I brought in several elements from the cottage garden.

Try to have places around your home, that you can “re-decorate” very quickly & inexpensively.

This helps you put off the urge to “re-decorate” a whole room, while still giving you that fresh look you crave 😉 Here’s a small example from an office in our cottage. I have a few things on a shelf that “speak the same message” – paper weights, black picture frame, a small tin with the same colors as the paper weights, and a black & cream toile covered inspiration board. This shelf changes very often depending on the holiday, season, or my mood 🙂

Office Shelf

This is the space during the summer – but between holidays.
Inspiration Board

Here’s how I changed it up this Christmas.
Christmas Display

I have a box of different paper items, vintage post cards, broken pieces of jewelry, and other little bits & bobs that I can quickly pick through to change up the inspiration board. Keeping pretty little things doesn’t cost any money either! If I get a card that I like, I’ll be sure to keep the front, and write who it was from on the reverse side. Most of the time, people don’t write to much inside of cards but their name, but if they do, you could keep the whole card. I’ve been known to keep gum wrappers (especially the “5” brand – such beautiful metallic colors!), bits of wrapping paper, cut little pieces of calendars, etc., to use in my displays.

Here is a grapevine garland that I made using vines from my yard, then adding a few little clip on birds that I had in my Christmas decorations. Cost? $0
Victorian Home FSBO

In my previous home, I decorated the ceiling around my chandelier by using some bits of craft paint that I had left over, a few pictures that I cut out of a magazine, and some stenciled grapes. Cost? $0
Victorian Home FSBO

You can make a beautiful natural looking display on a table top or end table by grouping several things that “speak the same thing” – such as these clay pots, some plants, an old watering can, a cast iron bunny, and a basket. They all seem to say… life… well, to me anyway 😉
Garden Things Make Nice Indoor Displays

Here is a display made of items that are mostly from the $1 store, thrift store, yard sales, and discount stores. I some of my favorite items that were similar in color & theme. This is a Spring display.
Vintage Pine Cabinet

Here it is in Fall
Vintage Red Cupboard

And last Christmas
Vintage Pine Cupboard Redo

Here’s a little display that YELLS Spring. I used a little greenhouse that I picked up for a couple of dollars at “Big Lots”, an iron bunny, a few plastic eggs, a doily found in the bottom of a $1 auction box, and a picture of roses found at the thrift store for .99!
Bunnies & Blossoms

You might remember seeing the bunny’s sister in the clay pot display or in the picture above? That’s because… I’ve learned, that if you really like a piece like that and you can buy it for a reasonable price, you should probably pick up more than one. That way you can use the second one in other displays around the house.

By this picture, you can see that I decided to pick up more than one iron bunny, and several eggs (they look so real!). Now I have several to sprinkle around the house in different displays, yet they all help pull the current them together.
Bunny Display

This works especially well if the two items have different poses, such as the pair of iron birds that I found for under $5. This display is a close up of one of the pictures above. The shelf was made by my husband, from an old board taken from a wall in our previous 1856 village home when we re-built that section of the room.
Love Birds

Here are some great ideas from others

Here is a beautiful kitchen island – made from a “found” dresser, with an added tile counter top.
Kitchen Island

Here is a beautiful bench made by Connie over at Life at Treetop Cottage. She used an iron headboard that they no longer needed, then added the extra pieces to make this beautiful bench!
Christmas Bench - Trash to Treasure

Here’s an old quilting frame that was turned into a BEAUTIFUL curtain rod from Home Again Vintage Treasures
Curtain rod

In this picture, several discarded suitcases were used as a new decoration – and new storage! Also notice the picture frame on the wall that now holds books!
Trash to Treasure

Look at what was done with this discarded suitcase! BEAUTIFUL!
trash to treasure

So don’t let the fear of getting started – or – the cost that others might pay keep you from pulling together beautiful rooms & displays in your home!

Our readers are so creative! Please share your ideas & pictures of your “nest” in our Home & Garden Forums!

A New way to flip through, search, and read books online before you buy

The French Inspired Home

I wanted to share a great new resource with you, that I have really been enjoying this month!

A while back I wrote an article on my website called: Great Ideas For Finding Cheap Books, Discounted Books, and Free Books

The article has lots of ideas for saving money buying & selling books. It also show you some methods of researching books before you buy them.

Since that article, I have been enjoying another new method of “flipping through the pages of a book” before I buy it. It’s similar to sitting down in a comfy seat at Barnes & Noble reading bits of the book to see if it’s something you’d like to take home with you or not.

This new method, is a brand new service offered by google called – google books. Although it’s still in beta testing, it is available to use fully right now – and it’s FREE of charge!

Here’s how it works:

You simply go to the book section of google, type in a book title (or keywords that you may like to look into – such as gardening, home decorating, etc.), and click search books. Then, a list of available books will come up for you to look through.

Even though you might not be able to read the entire book (they omit some pages to make you still want to go buy the book – as well they should), they usually have a large portion of the book online for you.

I have used this service to look through many different kinds of books, and have found it to be very helpful in determining if I want to go ahead & order the book through amazon. Although Amazon does have a service to allow you to “flip through” the book, the amount of content is extremely limited compared to the new google service.

Perhaps you’d like to look through some of my favorite books on topics such as; home & garden, home decorating, kitchen, art, etc., then go over & peek inside using the google service before you buy!

Finding New Uses For Old Things

Using a vintage advertising box as a vase for flowers

vintage advertising and flowers

For those of you who might not know… I have had an online newsletter, and a home & garden website for several years now. Because of this, I tend to get lots of email from readers. I love to exchange creative ideas for our homes & families.

Feel free to respond in the comment section below. I’d also love to hear from you 😉

Letter from a reader:

Hello Pearl,

I hope that my frugal-living-goal may be helpful to you and your readers. Notice that I said “goal” as I’m still trying to achieve it. Here goes:

I live in an economically advantaged county, probably one that has a higher average family income level than other counties in the state. Whether it’s right or wrong, many households in this county have enough disposable income to want to update or upgrade their possessions. They feel free to either donate items to thrift stores or to throw the items away outright. I take advantage of this.

It is my personal goal to show that a person or a household can live in a comfortable and attractive way, with all possessions being second hand (with many items being free). I rescue items from the curb, I shop at thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales. I take in many more items than I can use personally, so I fix things up and donate them to other families or to thrift stores.

Fortunately, I love the cottage and shabby look, and have small collections of pretty collectible items. I try to have all my possessions serve a double purpose, but some items are purely decorative.

I find that this is a very motivational goal – plus it’s FUN!

Hope you can use my idea – Best Wishes!

* Dear Reader,
I share your love of finding new uses for old things! Most of the time, items can be used in many more ways than one! If we would just look a the items that we come across with eyes of creativity, a whole new world of ideas would be opened up to us! Bravo for your efforts in helping bring new life to the old things you come across, and we WOULD LOVE to see some pictures of your creativity!

Here are a few ideas to get everyone started in thinking “outside of the box” – the garbage box that is 😉

Vintage Aprons to decorate a bedroom
Aprons on the wall

Vintage birdcage as an artful planter
Vintage Birdcage

Vintage slip becomes an evening dress
vintage slip

Vintage glass bottles become a fabulous chandelier
vintage glass

Scraps of vintage fabric come together as a wonderful apron!
Pretty Ditty Aprons

Licence Plates turned into charms!

Stained glass windows used as headboard
stained glass windows

Vintage salt shaker turned into a beautiful little doll/jewelry
vintage salt shaker

Old soda caps made into magnets
Soda Bottle Caps

Get Free Hair Cuts for Your Family

After reading a recent article that I wrote in the Article section of our website called “Money Saving Hair Care Ideas for the Whole Family“, Anna sent in this tip for us:

Hi Pearl,

I was reading tips on how to save money buy buying hair products at the local beauty supply, so I thought I would share my own tip with you.

Since 1993, I have been going to the Supercuts training center in my city and having my hair cut free of charge (although I usually leave a tip ;). Every new hairstylist that Supercuts hires has to go through a week long training session. It doesn’t matter if they’ve just finished beauty school, or if they’ve been cutting hair for 20 years – and these hair cuts are all free!

All you have to do is call a Supercuts hair salon in you area, and ask them for the phone number to the TRAINING salon. Then, call the training center to make an appointment. They will ask you what kind of cut you want, and schedule your hair cut (they usually schedule hair cuts Wednesday – Friday). Occasionally, I have gone on a Monday and the director has used me as a model.

The stylists are carefully watched, and your hair is checked to make sure that it meets the Supercuts requirements. If they are not busy, they will even style it for you too!

Most major cities have Supercuts Salons, as a matter of fact, Houston has two of them. I have also been to the one in the Phoenix/Metro area (Scottsdale).

Another hair salon chain that trains their stylists is Visible Changes. Check the salons in your area for more details.


Dear Anna,
Thank you for such a great tip. I’m sure that everyone could use a little more savings with their hair care!