Decorating On A Dime – Making a Decorating Journal


I love traditions and I love new things too. I think that about describes me pretty well. I feel a need to never lose sight of the past while embracing the future, find ways of keeping the important things of the past and yet not requiring everything to be exactly the same year after year.

I try to be very frugal and I’ve made mistakes, sometimes big ones. I’ve taken the route of buying things because I liked them only to realize it didn’t really work for my home or long term plans. You know those cute little angelic figurines of children playing that take up space, require more dusting than any human should have to do, and works with absolutely no decor?  Yes, I went there…. for years. It would be one thing if they just filled me with so much joy every time I saw them but they didn’t. I just thought they were very pretty. I had to sit down and come up with a plan of action to keep me focused and I’d like to share it with you.

  • Take some time and think about your vision for your home. What is the overall feel you are going for. Rustic? Modern? A cultural theme? Mediterranean? Beach inspired? If you are not sure start by writing down things that you love looking at. Look online for decorating ideas and make note of what you like. From here, narrow down your vision for each room. Some people like to have a different over all them per room, others like it to flow through the whole home.
  • What is your color scheme? Take cues from your home vision. Go to your paint shop or paint department and pick up swatches, then look at them in the room(s) you are planning to use them in. You may find you like the color in one room but not in another.
  • Make a Binder or use a Day Planner, preferably one with pockets. You can use binder dividers with pockets and page protector sleeves.  Have one section per room. Don’t forget to make a section for you porch or patio, garden, as well as for the general outside of your home. I’ve settled on a slightly larger than purse sized planner that zips up so I can take with me. Many stores now carry a variety of pocket sized accessories for day planners that are very useful for this purpose.
  • For each room have a pocket or page protector to fill with ‘inspiration’ clippings. Have a second one for samples you actually use. I keep curtain packaging (Picture, model, color info), furniture tags, paint swatches I use, and any other important key piece info. This allows me to reorder or find complimentary colors.
  • If possible, have a few sheets of paper/ card stock for each room too. This is especially important if you use a custom paint color as you can paint it right on the card stock and can be used to get an accurate sample. In my living room I used a color wash technique. I was able to paint a sample of it and then on the card stock next to it  I wrote the proportions and techniques used. You can also take photographs of any key elements or make pencil drawings with exact measurements.
  • Keep your eyes open year round. You may find the perfect item for Christmas in June. Make it a habit to check out thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales. Some items might need a little love but when you are saving 90% over the brand new price, it is a small thing. Most of the decorations in my home cost me under $5.
  • Only buy something if it speaks to your soul. There are plenty of beautiful things, but not everything will work for your home, and even less will “speak” to you. Never buy something for the “meantime”.  If I spent $5 on something for this Christmas and intend to get something better for next year, I’ve wasted those $5. It is better to do without than settle. By only investing in what deeply moves me I’ve saved so much money!
  • Pray. It might sound silly but I always make a list of things I’m looking for and pray that if God wants to bless me and my family with it, I would be happy to receive it. One year I had $10 to buy my husband a birthday gift. He he had been talking about how much fun it would be to have a compound bow for target practice but couldn’t see spending the money on it. I prayed before going garage sale shopping asking the Lord if He would help me find the perfect gift for my husband and if somehow that would be a compound bow for $10. As I was driving, I ‘just happened’ to see a garage sale sign out of the corner of my eye. I had stopped with my boys and walked around when we saw it. A bow case. We opened it and there was a perfect compound bow and it’s arrows inside. I almost dared not hope. The woman told us her husband only used it once and didn’t like it. I braced myself as I asked her the price. She said, “How about $10?” I think I almost fainted. Needless to say, I bought it. When we took it to a shop we found out it was worth $350 and it was in perfect shape. Talk about God blessing us in all ways!
  • Storage. Do you have room for storage? Determine just how much space you are willing to use for seasonal item storage. This will put into perspective that desire for the 8 foot teddy bear with a Santa hat.
  • Determine a budget. Use a coin jar for spare change or set aside a little from each pay check. It doesn’t have to be much. Just .50 cents can add up. Find what works for your family and your budget then stick to it.
  • Have fun! Decorating should be a joy. It’s about filling your home with visual reminders of God’s beauty. If it stresses you, change how you do it.

Remember that you can modify any or all of this to make it work for you. You might consider making a digital version using a tool like Evernote for when you forget to take your binder with you. However I suggest to keep the hard copy as digital images can leave something to be desired when color matching.

Do you have an idea or suggestion to add to this? Leave a comment with your ideas.


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