Un-Shopping: Tips for Using What You Already Own

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

If your shopping eyes are bigger than your budgetary stomach, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can pull together just by rethinking how and where you display what you already have.

A few months ago I visited my best friend and helped her decorate her otherwise sparse apartment. Given her tight budget, we made only one big-ticket purchase, which she had been saving up for. Mostly what I did was help her find the best way to use what she had on hand but wasn’t sure how to showcase. Here are some ideas for taking what you’ve got to make your home more like what you want.

Collections: My friend happens to have a trove of colorful, patterned cigar boxes. Instead of letting them keep languishing in a drawer, I stacked several of them around her apartment. Maybe you collect figurines or stones, ticket stubs or records; whatever it is, displaying them in an organized way will add a creative personalized touch. See the links below for ideas for corralling your collection.

Souvenirs: Travel finds are another great ways to add character to your home — highlight them! My friend is lucky enough to have traveled to some very interesting places, and I helped her find spots on her tables and shelves for her Russian nesting dolls, Tanzanian “crown” and necklace, and Uzbek tile. We also used colorful foreign money as art in an Ikea frame.

Your wardrobe: When your budget and your space are tight, make your stylish duds and accessories do double-time as decor. Hang them neatly (Images 1, 2, 3, and 7), and the clothes and jewelry will add color and texture to the room.

Storage: If you, like me, have lots of little knickknacks, try rotating them. Keeping a portion stored away can not only help you avoid clutter but also make your possessions feel like new when you rediscover them.

Images 1. Pure Style Home 2. Amanda Johnson for Apartment Therapy 3. Kim Rinehimer for Apartment Therapy 4. Lindsay Wood for Apartment Therapy 5. Design*Sponge 6. Infarrantly Creative 7. Sarah Rae Trover for Apartment Therapy 8. Lauren Naimola for Design*Sponge 9. Gregory Sparks for Apartment Therapy 10. Sonia Smith