Not So Extreme Makeover — Non-Consumer Edition

by Katy on January 16, 2012 · 17 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Use What You Have Decorating

I love a juicy makeover.

It can be makeup and hair or even entire homes, it doesn’t really matter as those shows entice me equally.  Luckily I don’t have cable TV so I’m normally able to resist their opium-like charms. But the rooms at the hospital where I work are all equipped with cable TV and HGTV seems to be the channel of choice for laboring women.

But you don’t need a team of experts or even cable TV to give yourself a makeover. All you need is your local library. I’ll often check out a half dozen books on decorating, which I love to bring home and flip through. And no, I’m not looking for ideas of things to buy, but for inspiration for how to arrange the furniture differently or arrange collections or even simply an inspirational kick in the tuchus to declutter a bit more.

My ten-year-old son and I are continuing to slowly go through all the stuff in his room. He’s being really good about letting go of possessions that used to be special but are no longer in use. It’s actually been a good lesson for me, as I’m looking around at my own stuff/crap/precious belongings with an eye to cull.

Everything is so deeply infused with memories. But I keep telling myself that the memory will still be there even if the object isn’t.

In the past few weeks my family has:

  • Cleared two truckloads of remodeling debris from the garage. (It went both to the dump and wood recycling place.) This was done by my husband as a birthday present to me. Best. Present. Ever!
  • Donated two huge boxes of soccer jersies and equipment to Goodwill.
  • Donated three laundry baskets of stuffed animals and toys to Goodwill.
  • Given three bags of nice hand-me-downs to a friend who was more than happy to receive them for her sons, (even the underwear!)

There is something so incredibly cathartic about digging out from one’s excess possessions. Even when I hem-and-haw getting rid of a certain something, I never regret the decision later on.

And then, when my house is all decluttered, I’ll be ready for one of the makeover shows to come and work on the casa Wolk-Stanley. They just need understand that nothing can be bought new, and that I would actually prefer to just rearrange what I already own.

Looking for a few good books to get from your library?

Check these out:

Use What You Have Decorating, by Lauri Ward

Trade Secrets From Use What You Have, by Lauri Ward  **better pictures**

Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui, by Karen Kingston (IGNORE the chapter about how a good colon cleanse will help solve your clutter issues!)

What are your favorite books that inspire you in this regard? Please share them in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.

Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail Hassid January 16, 2012 at 11:17 am

I think you’ve just invented a great new show: Makeover with What You’ve Got. In our society, this would indeed be extreme.


Katy January 16, 2012 at 11:20 am

I just redid our spare bedroom for the Japanese exchange teacher that moved in with us. Of course, I didn’t think to take before and after photos. So you’ll just have to take my word for how cute it turned out!

And of course, I didn’t buy a thing to transform the room. I just rearranged, cleaned, repurposed and gleaned from what we already had.

I pretended it was a chore, but really, it was fun, fun, fun!



Kathleen Harris January 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Gail, HGTV used to air a show called “Freestyle.” It had three segments per show, and only used what each person owned. I wish they’d make new episodes and re-air it!


Elaine in Ark January 17, 2012 at 6:46 am

I loved that show! Joan Seffand had a segment on her show like that, too. In fact, there actually are decoraters who use only what you have to re-do your home.

I got so many good ideas from them! I’m not really a “think outside the box” type.


Jennifer G. January 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

One of my goals for the near future is to use the scrapbook supplies that are crowding my desk. I had the thought earlier today of making some wall art with strips of the patterned papers glued to a backing, then matted and framed.

Anyway, this post inspired me and allowed me to realize that I have frames sitting on a closet shelf that I can use instead of buying some…yippee!


Katy January 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Sounds cute. Please send pictures when you’re done.



April January 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I have “Use What You Have Decorating.” It is a great book for interior design challenged which includes me. I haven’t been able to rearrange our living room due to my husband’s big heavy oak mail desk, but I finally got him to realize that the desk is sitting where the couch belongs. I have been reading your blog for a short time, but I would love to work less at some point in the future, so I ordered the other Ward book from the library instead of ordering it.


Katy January 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Gotta love the library!



Lauren January 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I cancelled my Satellite a few months ago, but in my days of occasionally watching HGTV, I found the “Sell your house” shows had better decorating tips for using what you already had than the “decorate it yourself” shows.

I also find that de-cluttering often reminds me of cool stuff that I already own and really love that can now be displayed on my newly de-cluttered surfaces. If I rotate my favorite objects then it keeps things feeling fresh while actually using the things I already enjoy.


Trish January 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Thank you for reminding people to take advantage of the library! So many of us get into the habit of buying every book we read, and while money is hardly ever wasted on a book, it is just not necessary. I so enjoy reading your blog.


Practical Parsimony January 16, 2012 at 8:24 pm

I saw one of the makeover shows at the house of a friend. They guy had a room for himself, a man cave I suppose. The wife hated it. He had to leave, of course. He stated that he had certain things and was not willing to let go of these things. They told him he had to go.

When, he came back, his welcoming cave had plastic chair where a wooden one was and a wall of neat cowboy hats, including his first one or his father’s or something, were all gone to the dump. It was sad that he had to give up things he loved, wooden things, comfortable things, for plastic and a sleek look, all new of course. I was turned off forever by that one episode.

The room was not messy or contained hoarding. The wife just did not like his things. I hope that off-camera he got back his possessions he cherished.


AnnW January 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Now that the TV is in the living room, maybe the next change will be the additional of cable! I watched Extreme Cheapskate. It was horrible. The people were creepy. Consider yourself lucky that they cut you out. How about some pictures of the guest room. I love your house. I wish I could have a Craftsman bungalow, but I have a colonial. Ann


Katy January 17, 2012 at 6:40 am

I actually do have cable-TV, as my husband loves to watch European soccer games. To offset the cost, my husband started bicycle commuting.

And I like to think that my segment on Extreme Cheapskates would be very different that the ones that aired. The show has been picked up as a series, so there is a good chance that I will be included at some point.



Shelley January 17, 2012 at 6:02 am

I hate re-decorating, as I’m always so uncertain about what I want or what will work well. I worry about expensive mistakes. Using what I already have sounds a brilliant solution (though we tend to re-decorate when this old house starts showing cracks, as it does about every 5 years or so). I’ll be lookingat the library for these books. I’ve discovered that Lauri Ward also writes a blog


Pollyanna January 17, 2012 at 9:47 am

Ha, I borrowed that Karen Kingston book from the library and was surprised when I came upon the colon cleansing chapter – never imagined I’d be reading about that in a clutter book. Anyway, I just went to our county library search page and found there are 5 copies of Use What You Have… , only one of which was out on loan. I requested a copy be transferred to my local branch for pick up! Thanks for the ideas.


Pollyanna January 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

Hmmm, as I browse the library online catalog, another book has caught my eye and I have reserved it: Salvage Sisters Guide to finding style in the street and in the attic by Kathleen Hackett and Mary Ann Young.


Indigo January 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I’m always rearranging things. I’ll change the blanket on the couch, switch around the art from other rooms, put the pillows in different coverings and suddenly it is a new house again. I also have a good bit of art. I’ll keep 2-4 art posters in a frame and just switch around which on is viewable rather than try to show them all off all the time. The paintings just rotate around. I have a single box for sculptures so that some are out and some are up without it getting out of control. Then again I’ll swap art with my friends here and there so the number doesn’t grow and if I really decide I want it back we can switch back.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: