In my last blog entry, I wrote some ways I was able to decorate our house on a budget. For those who are still interested, here’s another post with more tips and anecdotes:
Sometimes it’s actually cheaper to have stuff made
Disclaimer: This is not a hard and fast rule. We did a lot of store hopping and canvassing (much to my husband’s dismay) before I settled on the cheapest deals.
But, labor here in the Philippines is so reasonable and workers are so resourceful that most of the time, you really do end up spending less.
From experience, the household items that came out cheaper were: Wooden furniture, curtains and beddings. (OMG! The amount of money you save when you have a duvet cover made!) Also, if you’re up for the effort, you get to control the budget a bit more when you source for your own materials and just pay for labor.
Of course, quotes come out less expensive when you commission them to do stuff in bulk as opposed to having things made per piece.
Stick to a color palette
People have this notion that I’m obsessed with zebra prints and teal, that’s why decided to fill the house with them (ok, fine, maybe I am a little). The truth is, I’m just so hardcore about saving a few bucks that I didn’t want to needlessly spend for another can of paint or another yard of fabric.
Plus, the more color schemes you have, the more accessories you need to pull things together.
It kinda worked out for us in the end because not only did the house look more cohesive, but it looked a bit more spacious since we didn’t have to break it into color chunks.
Ever since I started fixing the house, I’ve been on constant lookout for bargains everywhere I go. I bookmark stores online and would visit tiangge hubs and garage sales even when we’re traveling.
Sometimes, I even check out places when I have nothing to buy, just so I can compare prices.
Here are some places that I go to when I’m looking for cheap finds: Mandaue for furniture and custom foam mattresses; Kamuning for fabric (stock is not as varied as Divisoria, but dude, it’s also not as crowded); Dapitan for interesting knick knacks & house accessories. And, shamelessly plugging Subic:
a. Royal Subic –It’s seriously worth the trip if you want to load up on quality beddings, kitchenware and bath accessories. (all duty-free prices of course)
b. Trading Haus (right beside Royal) – Never mind the sketchy name; they have a hella lot of assorted stuff on clearance prices. Just don’t come there with an agenda, because you’ll never know what you’ll find. The first time we checked it out, we bumped into Moe’s boss and another SBMA director. As we all converged to small talk, one of them loudly exclaimed, “O nagsasama-sama yung mga kuripot!” Apparently, it’s every bargain-hunter’s haven.
Buy essentials first
Honestly, I was a little bit hesitant to post pictures of the house because well, after 2++ years, it’s still not completely done. (Right now, we’re in the middle of moving the guest room and making a dressing room so those areas are not very cohesive).
The thing is, in as much as I wanted to furnish all the rooms in one hit, I also didn’t want to pay the bills in one painful blow.
My ultra-talented and budget-savvy interior designer tita (Hi Tita Marissa!) gave me the best advice ever: It’s okay not to fill up your house immediately, because you naturally acquire more stuff as you go along. Besides, when you buy things right away, your tendency is to go matchy-matchy. Not only does that get boring, but you will also have a difficult time incorporating other pieces that you get over time.
Know when to spend and when to scrimp
This is where my husband has license to say I told you so – I was such a cheapskate that I ended up getting substandard items. So we have beds that would break when you so much as sneezed, a coffee maker that’s holding on for dear life, sorry-looking curtains, etc. (There were plenty nice, cheap fabric in Kamuning, but no.. Little Ms. Kuripot insisted on saving more by recycling cloth that I already had, even if the seamstress warned me that it was the wrong kind.)
Instead of saving, we now have to spend more having these things fixed or replaced.
So lesson learned: Invest on good quality materials especially for essentials. For frivolous, aesthetic stuff, you can scrimp to your heart’s content.
A Pinterest-looking house is not the end goal
What I learned is that it takes a hella lot of money spent on labelers, chalkboard paint and other crafty sh*t for your house to look Pinterest-worthy. And sometimes, it’s not even worth the effort.
Earlier on, I bought these adorable jars on sale; I happily used them for all our powdered beverages. One day, my husband comes home with a giant fugly container of whey protein. I actually berated him for not giving me notice because I didn’t have any more pretty jars left to transfer it to.
My well-meaning mom, knowing that I was obsessed with bed sheets, generously bought me loads of them. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that none of them matched our color palette.
Then it dawned on me how petty I was being. More than just the unwillingness to spend more on needlessly pretty-fying, I didn’t want to become the Pinterest-obsessed shrew who gripes about mismatched jars or uncoordinated beddings.
My biggest take away from all of this is that nobody really cares if our house is HGTV perfect. As long we keep it comfortable and inviting, then it becomes a happy place that people like going to. Rather than focusing on making a pretty house, I realized my effort is better spent on creating a warm and welcoming home.