I have yet to be lucky enough to win Lotto. I don’t gamble at the casinos. I haven’t been alerted to any trust funds coming my way in the near future — or ever. I am only slightly intrigued by the stock market. HGTV hasn’t called yet. “Antiques Roadshow” didn’t even blink at my early American artifact.
And, yet, there remains the matter of genteel living to be done to the best of my ability, which means on a freelance writer’s budget.
It’s been said that the one thing that separates humans from the rest of the animal world is our ability to accessorize — I couldn’t agree more.
When a complete makeover of the domicile is beyond reach and assuming the world at large is one giant pool of freelance writers, envision, instead, the five essential accessories that I prescribe for staying within budget (let’s say $400) and still doing something interesting with the home this season.
Sounds like a reality-show theme? Are you up to the challenge?
Let’s start with categories. It’s so much easier when there are guidelines; everything has a category. For home decorating, mine include form, function, color, light and texture.
Maybe the ultimate challenge would be to find all five elements in one piece. Now, there’s a reality show worth watching! Could a 1960s lava lamp be the perfect contestant?
Nothing says classy living better than a beautifully shaped pitcher for pouring the morning juice, the afternoon (iced) tea, the evening wine, the fresh-squeezed lemonade, the Virgin Marys, the margaritas….
I’m a self-professed devotee of this essential, and over the years, I have acquired a small but distinctive collection that is all about form: tall, small, slim, squat, hefty, delicate, whimsical, practical, thrown, blown, lidded.
A quick search of my favorite accessoryfi x source (www.shopgoodwill.com)turned up nine pages of myriad styles and spanning several centuries. Highest-priced (with a few days left on the bidding): $63; lowest-priced (starting bid): $3. Most fall in the $10 to $20 range and won’t be found all in a row on the Target shelves.
Add a few bucks for shipping and you have achieved accessory nirvana without even leaving the house.
Stepping out of a still-steaming bathtub into a sun-drenched room and wrapping myself in the thick plushness of a brand-new bath towel is somehow the epitome of indulgence and fine living. Next to room service, it’s the best part about a hotel stay.
It takes no effort to spend a small fortune on even a mediocre ensemble, but if you have a shrewd eye for the sales events around town, a quality set — bath, hand, washcloth — will probably set you back about $50.
With towels, it’s all about the thread count and manufacturer. Name brands are better — trust me.
After an interminable stretch of gray and rain, welcome a splash of color with garden pots on the porch or patio, along the path or parking strip, beside the pergola or pond, in the parlor or powder room — in other words, just about anywhere you choose.
No other, single home accessory can add drama to an empty corner, turn a wallflower of a plant into a conversation piece or be an imposing personal statement like the garden pot.
Walk into just about any nursery or garden center around Puget Sound and be prepared to blow your entire accessories budget in record time. “Reasonable” may not be the word to use when sizing up a garden-pot purchase since that could mean anywhere from $5 to $500. But if you walk out with a few dollars change from a C-note and a smile on your face, that’s all that matters.
I’ve been privileged to live in a number of unusual spaces in my life and the one dimension that always distinguished each place as uniquely its own was the quality of natural light.
From the 19th-century farmhouse where I grew up to the 1940s urban cottage that I currently rent, I’ve always found great enjoyment in that singular characteristic.
Generally, I seek out secondhand stores or estate sales when I need a lamp fix, simply because the quality and style of new lamps (that I can afford) is, in a word, disappointing.
I’ve also found that lamps are some of the least mobile home décor items, and I’ve sacrificed quite a few gems in the course of numerous moves. From now on, have lamps, will travel.
Lamp prices in the secondhand market are generally very reasonable. If you score on a keeper under $50, you’ve done well.
Summer is the season for baring — and bearing — it all, particularly when it comes to the feet.
Whether it’s a gritty day on a rock-strewn beach, a toe-jamming tumble down a mountain slope, dancing until dawn in 3-inch heels or an all-day walking tour of city sights, the tootsies take a beating around the clock as we make up for our couch-potato winter lethargy.
Give them the essential reward that will inspire them through midnight on Labor Day: the luscious, sumptuous, divine richness of a well-crafted and beautifully patterned area rug.
Haggle like a Moroccan souk merchant if you need to because this is the one essential worth fighting for. Bargains are difficult to come by, and origins can be tough to verify. If it’s authentically Middle Eastern and less than $200, take it and run!
Now, who’s ready to accessorize?