So, here’s the situation: As a University student, I have a low income. However, as a designer, it is vitally important to the survival of my continuing creativity to have an attractive living space. Generally, this means trying to find new and inventive ways to pinch pennies without sacrificing aesthetics. Well, the good news is the Dollar Store can often provide me with essential supplies to be able to create interesting decor pieces to liven up my apartment. This week, I will be dispensing some tips to help guide you through ways that you can navigate the overwhelmingly hideous plethora of crap found in Dollar Stores and make cute DIY pieces to add a little flare to your home.
First off, I try to take a similar approach to the Dollar Store as I do when I am vintage shopping: View each item as a building block of something better you can make. Try to look at things as basics, if it costs a dollar, does it not make sense that it doesn’t matter if you rip it apart to use a portion of it in something awesome? Example: I’m a fan of reading design magazines, and home decorating magazines. One tip I picked up for organizing jewelry was to cut up a section of a cork tile and place it in a frame to hang necklaces on. Of course, I improved upon the idea by painting up the frame and adding on a damask stencil to go with my french themed bathroom. The entire piece cost me a total of $4.00. Not bad. It also made a nice decorative piece to hang on the wall and tie together the black and white boudiour-esque theme I was working with.
The other thing I always consider when browsing the Dollar Store is that many pieces can be fixed up with a nice coat of paint and some spray varnish (i.e. – little boxes, tacky nick-nacks, etc.) You may see something that looks gaudy and awful, but try to look at it in a new light. Consider, would it look decent if it were painted all white? Many nick-nacks can get a new life from being painted white, or black, or any number of neutral tones. This of course can be extended to cover many pieces you may have lying around, like old jewelry boxes to help create some unity with a theme you may be working with.
The Dollar Store is also a great place to get cheap little frames. I was lucky enough to take a film photography course last year and ended up with a surplus of great black and white photos. So when I was decorating my apartment over the summer, I decided to use the best photos and create a mini gallery on one wall. However, to do that would require a great deal of frames, and who wants to drive all the way to Ikea just to get basic frames? I also liked the idea of these black and white photos because they seemed like a more neutral and less pretentious way of decorating over putting up a series of my own paintings. So again, the Dollar Store provided me the solution, and I bought 11 frames at 1$ a piece and some black and white paint to make them all look like they belonged together and created a cute and trendy little photo gallery wall in my living room.
One of my other favorite finds at the Dollar Store are the fake flowers. However, fake flowers can be horribly tacky. Often I dig through to hunt for the wire paper wrapped filler flowers that are a little less flamboyant, or I use the faux grass. Painted up, or twisted into little spirals you can throw them into a short, round glass vase and put them on a shelf. When I assembled my “bouquet” I also threw in some strategically placed feathers and it added to the ensemble just enough. It’s just another nice way of adding in something pretty to look at in that unused corner in the bathroom without spending big bucks on fresh flowers.
So next time you approach the Dollar Store and are appalled by the onslaught of god-awful nastiness, just remember, with a little creativity, a little paint and thinking outside the box, you can create lovely inexpensive pieces of decor to brighten up your space and keep you inspired.