Jan 23, 2011

Cute and meaningful decor, on the cheap

For Christmas, my parents gave me the Dolce folding bookcase from Target, which I'd been coveting and nearly bought twice (the second time, my mom, who had already bought it, talked me out of it without even making me suspicious! She's good.). 

I liked its modern look, its price and that it's made of real hardwood, with veneer on top. Not all Target/big box furniture is, and I'm always wary to spend big bucks (even little bucks!) on MDF furniture that might not last. Once the hubs put it together, the fun part began -- decorating!

Before buying our house, my husband and I did a great thing -- we paid off all our credit card debt (it wasn't a lot, but it still hangs over your head). Of course, our goal being new homeowners is to only spend money we have and avoid the plastic, which means having lots of willpower when it comes to buying things to fill the house.

So, instead of real shopping, I shopped my house and the boxes of stuff we still have packed to find cute and meaningful things to put on the bookcase's four shelves.

First up -- the top shelf. This is our wedding album, and the ceramic birds that topped our wedding cake. We had a birds motif at the wedding, plus I wanted something that would look just as cute decorating our future house, instead of sitting in a box forever. And they do!

And three glass bottles I got for $6 total from the local flea market. My plan is to fill them with sand from various beaches we've been to -- although they are pretty cute empty.

On the second shelf is a framed photo from our honeymoon in Aruba, plus a couple pieces of coral I snuck through customs, and a tropical-colored votive holder (I think also from Target?).

I thought I'd repaint the picture frame, but the gold is kind of growing on me...

On the right are old engineering books that belonged to the hubs' great grandfather. And a cool rock I found. :)
The third shelf has more old books and some souvenirs.

I bought this in -- where else? -- Paris.

Some purchased sea glass and a cute tray.

And on the bottom shelf, we have a cute seagrass basket from Home Goods with some antique canning jars (from the same flea market) filled with shells collected by me or family members (my mom and my sister know how much I love shells, so they collect them as gifts for me when they travel to beaches -- aren't they sweet?).

The jars are leftovers from our wedding. I bought more than 70 of them to use for our centerpieces for less than a dollar each, and they made beautiful vases and candle holders.

I sold most of them to another bride, but saved a few for myself.

(Yes, that's a real lobster claw, salvaged from a delicious meal and dried out in the sun. It's kind of gross, now that I'm thinking about it. Imagine eating a chicken wing and saving the bone, then sticking it on a shelf and calling it decor...?!).

And here it is all together in the living room!

(The shelves above are a work in progress, so please excuse.)

They kind of have an overall beach-y, antique-y vibe, which I like. The only thing I bought new for these shelves was the gold frame, and it was on clearance at Target for less than $4. Love it!

What I love more than spending less than $4 to fill the whole bookcase was how much meaning each item on there holds for both of us. 

(Since taking these photos, the shelf got a new addition. The hubs was so happy I used his great-grandfather's engineering books for decorating that he busted out an antique voltage reader -- meter? -- and fit it in. It's a little industrial-looking, but since I usually call all the shots when it comes to decorating, I decided to reward his initiative by leaving it. It's all about compromise!).

What are your favorite ways to decorate on the cheap?


Eric @ my First Garage said...

Looks great! Have you thought about adding a lamp to the top shelf? You've got the outlet right there, and I thing something with additional height would fill the space nicely

Mindy said...

Yes, I agree, a little more height is needed. I hadn't considered a lamp, but maybe I'll give it a try. Thanks for your feedback!