home improvement

Adult Homework: Decorating the house is a not-so-secret guilty pleasure

I enjoy making stuff out of things. The cool kids call it ‘re-purposing’ but I like my sentence better than their word. Our coffee table? It’s a former crate that used to hold who-knows-what inside a building at Kodak. The entry way table pictured above? It’s scrap wood, stone and paint picked up at ReHouse (my favorite local salvage store). The box frames in the living room? Drawers I pulled out of a dresser someone put next to a dumpster.

Take that, Hobby Lobby.

The drawers on the wall could easily be standard box frames. But instead, they're drawers. The dangling drawer pulls make the  difference.

The drawers on the wall could easily be standard box frames. But instead, they’re drawers. The dangling drawer pulls make the difference.

Let me be clear, I like Hobby Lobby. And Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Homegoods–pretty much all stores like that. They’re like candy stores for grownups that make you feel like you can afford to look like you have more money. What’s not to like?

But I have a fundamental problem with walking into one of these stores and buying ‘shabby chic‘ furniture. I can’t stand the idea of someone walking in, sitting down, and saying, “Nice end tables. We just picked up the same ones at Marshall’s.” I’ll buy the napkin holders, maybe some pillows and a new coffee mug with a catchphrase on it, but there’s something about furniture and wall art that makes me want it to be unique.

So, I make stuff out of things.

It was surprising when I realized how much I enjoy coming up with an idea for how to use something and then pulling it off. The backdrop for our wedding was three antique doors supporting an antique chandelier. It wasn’t an entirely original idea (see Pinterest), but it had some uniqueness to it that will never show up on anyone else’s big day. It probably wasn’t built the right way. I probably used the wrong screws and maybe it’s not “level” by a level’s standards. But that’s how I know it’s mine.

My new favorite piece of art is the watercolor painting my niece Madison did for me, and it’s new home is inside one of those three drawers. It’s an original, signed by the artist herself and is 1 of 1 in a collection of 1.

I can tell I sound like an ass writing this, scoffing at the un-creative buying their wares with artificial shabby and mass-produced chic. SCOFF! SCOFF, I say!! It’s not like that (entirely), it’s just the way I want to be. I already know Caitlynn is biting her tongue at some of my decor. We have different tastes and she’s letting me get away with it for now. At some point she won’t, and I’ll have to say, “Yes, I love that hutch from Pottery Barn way more than this one made from old picnic tables.”

And then I’ll make a shelf out of discarded window shutters. That’ll shutter up.