Global worker budget thwarting your decorating dreams? Not any more!
Have you sometimes looked at decorating magazines wishing that one of those gorgeous homes were yours? Alas, the place where you live and being a global worker on a budget effectively prevent those longings from becoming more than just dreams. Besides, even if you could afford the designer kitchens and lavishly decorated living rooms, you might still hesitate; because, what kind of message would an affluent lifestyle send to those you minister to? Not to mention your supporters who just might drop by for a visit from the other side of the world!
Well, you don’t have to be rolling in dough in order to have an attractive home. And you don’t have to come across as extravagant.
Begin by taking stock of your home. Is it really dismal? If so, what gives it that impression? Is the furniture sad looking? Do you have curtains from the seventies? Maybe the walls need a fresh coat of paint. Or maybe your home is just messy.
You may not be able to afford replacements right away. Therefore, work with what you have. First, pull the curtains aside to let in daylight. Right away your home will feel more cheery (unless you have curious eyes waiting to watch your every move or the view from your window is depressing).
Next, organize everything and clean, clean, clean. If you are a clutter bug and have piles of paper, toys and knick-knacks everywhere, it is time to clean it all out. When you are done, you can carefully replace a few things; the rest can go in storage or be given away. A little goes a long way, and your prized possessions will enhance your home much more when they are relatively few. If you have too many things that don’t have a designated place, purge! It is not the people that take up space, it is the stuff!
Experiment with placement of sofas and chairs. If the room is large, it may seem more comfortable if the sofa is ‘floating’ in the middle of the room. A word of caution: I have been known to haul heavy bookshelves from one room to another. Single handedly. You may be better off with some assistance.
Do your pictures and prints hang too high? This is a common mistake that makes a room seem unfriendly. Generally, when you stand up, you should be looking straight at the center of your picture. Still, it is OK to put a special woodcarving or a suitable print above a door. Just be careful of scale. A tiny painting above a sofa would seem out of place; instead find something that is the right size or experiment with a grouping of prints and objects.
Pillows can really add comfort and style to a room, but make them attractive. Old and ugly doesn’t cut it. Big and fluffy does.
Be daring when it comes to color. Color can lift your spirits. After one furlough I brought back a burgundy vinyl tablecloth and a pretty cloth runner to go on top of it. I added a valance for the dining room window in matching colors and the room began to sing—and I with it. A touch of black may add elegance to a room. Red or yellow brings in cheer. But don’t overdo it. A pretty throw or a runner for the table may do the trick.
You may choose to have an ethnic style to reflect where you live, or you may want to create a sense of comfort by using a style familiar to you from back home. Or something in between. If you have the luxury of a guest room, it would delight visitors to have their room decorated with local purchases. Again, show restraint by not overdoing it, but don’t make it too sparse either.
A table with photos of loved ones in pretty picture frames adds something special to a home. So do plants. Few and big plants have more visual impact than many small ones.
At night, good lighting is a must. If possible, have several table lamps and floor lamps in a room. Five or six in a normal sized living room is about right. Try to have two identical lamps next to your sofa, one on each side. Symmetry is pleasing to the eye. Candles can give wonderful light either alone or as a supplement to electric light.
Add music, hospitality, laughter, good food and kind words to the above and your home will be a resting place for yourself and those you care about. And maybe you won’t feel like you want that designer home after all!
View the original print magazine where this article was 1st published.