For the month of January I am participating in a little something called the Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which is hosted by a blogger who styles herself as Mrs. Frugalwoods (it’s a thing, go read about it). To really get into the spirit of things I’ve decided that every post I share in January will be built around the core concept of frugality by exploring frugal design methods and tropes. I have some posts lined up for you, but first I want to explain a bit more about why I am doing this.
Basically, the idea of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge is that you reset your super consumerist mindset, so that you can look at the world, your life, and your finances differently. I thought this was a very interesting topic to broach on an interior design blog. For the folks at Frugalwoods the important central pillar in their life was escaping the drudgery of their 9-5 work lives to discover the serenity of self-sufficient mid-30s retirement on a homestead in the woods. These are life goals that don’t apply to me: as a writer I don’t work to live so much as I live to work.
My entire blog would seem to be antithetical to the Frugalwoods. I take great pleasure in design and aesthetic, and I consider decorating and designing my home akin to enjoying a gallery of carefully curated art. I love to talk about all the latest and greatest styles, colours, textiles, tiles, and stuff that you can get. I absorb design magazine articles like a sponge. I could spend all day in a good boutique. That said, I am an advocate of anti-consumerism, anti-materialism, and I have a vested interest in eliminating excessive behaviors from my life (mostly shopping and unnecessary spending). I want to know if I can be frugal and preserve a passion for design. I think it’s actually very easy, and I think that lots of people already do it.
Mostly I am writing about this today because I believe we lose track of what does and doesn’t add value to our lives in the context of home design. Ready-to-wear, fast fashion, these are words we associate with inexpensive trendy, quickly rotating closets sourced from developing nations with poor working conditions, but they are also terms that apply to our contemporary experience of interior decorating.
We are marketed an idea that our homes can be changed on a whim to suit our mood, and that we should to do just that. The proliferation of inexpensive home decor accents in big box stores is a testament to our buy it now, impulse shopping attitudes surrounding almost everything in our culture. Unfortunately, those “inexpensive” items add up awfully fast, especially in a culture that encourages the revamping of a room at every turn of the season. It also adds up to a lot of junk in a landfill, but that’s a story for another month.
I personally detest impulse shopping, but it is something that I can’t seem to stop myself from doing. A lot of people don’t know this about me, but shopping in general makes me feel terrible. I am frequently racked with guilt and extreme stress when I make purchases. I hate it, yet I do it. My anxiety around making purchases in one of the reasons I wanted to participate in this challenge to begin with. I want to exercise control over an area of my life that often feels out of control.
If we choose to make only quality home decor purchases we are usually looking at spending big $$$ to do so. What is the answer? I am assuming it lies somewhere in the intercession of carefully selected and well-planned purchases (that only happen once) and a focus on minimalism, utilitarianism, in-sourcing or DIY, and recycling or reusing.
I kicked things off on January 1st with a post about our study’s fireplace surround makeover—a project that could potentially have bankrolled into the low thousands had I not rolled up my sleeves, got dirty and did some serious “in-sourcing” as Mrs. Frugalwoods terms it. Next up we’ll be looking at the principal bedroom I put together when we moved into our new house, a space vastly different from our previous bedroom, containing almost nothing new.