Inspired by some of the popular content that floats around the internet at the end of every year, this month I found myself inspired to think about all the objects I brought into my home to help decorate and furnish it in 2015. Being someone who has not yet mastered budgeting (or any real future financial planning) and having moved into a new apartment this year, I was curious to know what the final tally was. I was surprised at the outcome, and I found the exercise to be really valuable (and fun!) to do.
Sitting down and really examining what you bought in a year — and what was really worth it and not worth it — could be a great thing to do at the beginning of a new year to help shape future purchases.
Before you read on: I'm no financial expert, so I'm not promising that this is a scientifically accurate undertaking that will result in a pie chart or anything. This is just an activity I found fun and valuable. And: I’m focusing on decor and furniture items here — not things like bug spray and trash bags. You do this exercise any way that seems like it would be the most fun or useful to you and your household.
The decor I bought for my home in 2015:
- Curtains and curtain rods
- DIY draft snake supplies
- Baskets for the top of my kitchen cabinets
- Vintage lamp
- 3 small pieces of local art
- Holiday/seasonal decor (mostly for spring, fall, Halloween and Christmas)
- Two throw pillows
What was really worth it:
Functionally, some of the best things I bought for my home were more curtains and curtain rods to match the panels I had hanging in my last apartment (I was thankful to have found the same ones again!), the baskets above my kitchen cabinets that hold my tools (and add a great texture to the small space) and the vintage lamp I grabbed at a steal that really warms up my home at night. The DIY draft snakes (that my mom totally made for me) were an absolute necessity living in an older home with drafty windows.
Two types of items that might seem unimportant but had a huge impact on my overall happiness in this year were my plants and the local art I bought. I didn't spend a ton of money on any single piece or plant, but they all make me smile individually and together, not to mention beautify my home.
What I could have done without:
My much-beloved sofa from my previous apartment was just too big to fit in my new space, so I knew I needed to find something to sit on (I didn't even have any chairs!). I went with a really affordable Target sofa when I spotted a loveseat I liked in a house tour (sorry — I've completely forgotten which tour!). It works great (and is way more comfy than I thought it would be) but my dream was (and still is) to stumble on a perfectly preserved velvet tufted vintage loveseat, and I wish I would have looked harder/waited (because now I'm not particularly motivated to find my dream couch since the one I have works fine).
The same could be said for the bedspread and throw pillows I purchased. Though I like them and they look just dandy in my apartment, I had a lot of grand DIY plans that got pushed aside in a couple of "Guests are coming, I have to quickly buy something that works" shopping frenzies.
What really surprised me:
This year, I really made time to decorate for the holidays around my home. I didn't do a lot and I didn't spend a ton, but I was really surprised what a huge impact even just a little bit of seasonal spirit in my home had on my well-being and happiness.
For anyone who might be interested in precisely what I purchased!
Plants: Lowe's (it's convenient to my house), but do sort of regret not trying to seek out a local nursery to buy my plants from. It's a goal in 2016.
Sofa: They don't seem to make the one I bought but it looks similar in size and shape to this Target loveseat.
Baskets: Michaels baskets.
Vintage lamp: From this vintage furniture store I can walk to in my neighborhood that I'm honestly not sure has a name.
Local art: I bought three small pieces of art this year from local New Orleans makers and they make me smile a ton. One was a small modern abstract painting on wood by furniture designer and artist Scott Jarrett of General Public Designs (who's now become a friend!). I purchased a lovely original piece from Marianne Angeli Rodriguez. And I bought a really cute New Orleans shotgun style mini sculpture made out of clay, plaster of Paris and mirrors salvaged from Hurricane Katrina by Casey King Fortenberry. All found at local art and craft markets throughout the year.
Holiday decor: Mini "Christmas" tree and LED battery-powered mini star-shaped string of lights from Lowe's. Homemade bunting I made from an old red plaid shirt. A stocking my mom made for me years ago next to a mini stocking I sewed for my cat.
Throw pillows: West Elm
Final price tally: All told I think it added up to just under $1000 for the year.
Final takeaways to remember in 2016:
1. Stop buying placeholder stuff.
Really wait (and hunt for) items you'll really love for a long time.
2. Buy what makes you happy.
If plants and local art really make you happy, so go for it.
3. Get into the holiday spirit (for the holidays and seasons that matter to you)
It has a huge impact on your mental wellness and happiness and is worth every penny.
4. Use the amount of money you spent last year as a guide for a potential budget this year.
If you spent too much, what's a number that might fit better for your financial goals? If it was surprisingly low but you wished you invested more, figure out how much you can bump it up for 2016. You can divide that number by 12 to find out how much money you can budget on home decor (or even just little lovely things like flowers) to make smarter design decisions throughout the year.
If you do decide to try this exercise, feel free to leave the lessons you learned in the comments below!