My Castle, My Home
This Bard has Champagne taste and a beer budget. 
The following are some tips for those of you who want to live like Kings but can't afford to.


One thing many folks don't realize is that they spend most of their waking time at the job and commuting to and from.  The place that they spend the second most amount of time is their home. 
With that said, think for a moment about what pleases you visually.  Everyone who has sight is visually stimulated but it gets taken for granted.  We use visual stimulation when we select our clothes for the day, or choose a vacation destination, we even use it when selecting food (how many of you bought a food item because it LOOKED good), or painting our walls.  Now think about how you feel when you are on vacation looking at the beautiful white sand beach with the crystal clear turquoise water or in the forest looking at the majestic snow capped mountain  rising before you.  How do you feel when you put on that SPECIAL outfit for an evening out.  I'm sure the answer is "very good" to any thoughts about what pleases you visually.  I realized some time ago that it makes a significant difference when you are enveloped in a room that has been completely redone.
Think about your desk at work.  Is it cluttered with paper?  Do you have memo's and phone lists tacked to the walls?  Is there anything in your cube or office that you put there that is not work related?  Do thoughts of your cube or office depress you?  Most of that depression is due in many cases to tough working conditions but it can be alleviated somewhat by bringing in objects or pictures that visually stimulate you.  I know that many offices have policies prohibiting personalization but even in the most strict environments you should be able to have a small picture frame.  Try personalizing your cube with pictures, inexpensive art objects and some fake greenery (Live plants may not be allowed and today you can find some very lifelike plastic and silk plants).  Try to keep your paperwork a little more organized, replace the pinned up memos with photos or magazine clippings and basically redecorate.  Now that you have done that, how does it feel?  The job still stinks but when you look around your space, a certain euphoria creeps in to lessen your burden. We spend so much time at work that it can make a significant difference in how we feel at the end of the day.   The example of how your environment affects your mood is more sharply defined in a work setting but it is also very relevant in your home.  That is why I detailed that example first.

Take a few moments to think about what you like and dislike about your home.  What is it about one room or feature that you like more than another?  Is one room decorated better than the other or is the functionality at issue?  In either case, you can remedy the situation with a little time and money.  I know that money is tight for many folks, myself included but most everyone has areas that they can trade off from to get a little extra cash.  Some examples would be bagged lunch versus restaurant lunch, renting a movie versus going to the movies, etc.  Time for some may also be an issue but you should still be able to complete a room renovation even though it takes longer.  I am going to offer some tips and suggestions on how to get high priced interior designers to help you decorate for less than $20 and I will also fill you in on some neat sources of unique furnishings.

Ok, ok so my $20 interior designer statement is a bit over the top but here is the tip.  Go to a bookstore and browse the home interior magazines and pick up a few that impress you.  Many if not most of the homes featured were done by interior designers.  This will give you a foundation for your makeover and numerous ideas from furniture to fabrics to lighting.  Do not ignore the effects that lighting plays on an interior.  Many of the interiors that you will see look so much more exciting with dramatic lighting.

I subscribe to Architectural Digest and find that it fits my style most closely.  Many of the interiors featured in the magazine are from rich estates and it shows.  I like classic European elegance which is virtually timeless.  Browse a copy at the book stand and you will see what I am talking about.  There are other magazines that are tailored to specific trends.  A few that I know of are:

"Home" which seems to be a mix of styles that are more conservative.

"Metropolitan Home" If the magazine is still being published it should feature interiors that are more modern, trendy and somewhat minimalistic.

"Florida Design" This magazine is similar to Architectural digest but with a more "Miami Vice" feel.  For those of you not familiar with the stylish 80's cop drama it featured a lot of expensive homes and designer clothes.  I think "90210" might be today's equivalent.  Don't quote me since I have never seen 90210.

"Country Living"  I think that's the name but I'm sure you can find a number of mags dedicated to country style decorating.

"Victorian Home or Living" This mag features interiors, of course,  from Victorian styled homes.

You get the point, whichever style you prefer, you can find a magazine to fit.  I would strongly recommend that you look at all styles available, especially if you do not have a strong sense of what you would like.

The biggest drawback to this sort of design challenge  will be with finding affordable substitutes for furniture, and fabric.  On the flip side, it should not be as difficult to recreate lighting and painting effects or finding all the little accessories that fill the room with points of interest.  Reasonable Artwork for the walls can also be had in the form of prints or from these traveling "Original" factory produced oil painting shows.

There are a number of sources available today that the average consumer can use.  We receive a number of mail order catalogs that feature different furnishings and decorative items.  In addition to buying from them, these catalogs can also be used for design reference.  You also have the wonder of the internet at your disposal, a great tool for locating stuff that you cannot find at your local home furnishings store.  Be careful to factor the shipping costs into the total cost of the item.

One of my favorite stores is Kirklands.  I do not know if it is nation wide but there is one in Orland Park Illinois and it has a constantly changing inventory of exotic looking replicas with no particular overall decor style.  Stores like Pier One Imports and Bombay company have unique furnishings but generally lean toward an Asian or British Asian mélange.  I shop at all three but have purchased most of our accent pieces at Kirklands.  Their prices are exceptional and the quality is quite good.