Not So Extreme Makeover — Non-Consumer Edition

by Katy on February 19, 2009 · 11 comments


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.”

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Daphne February 19, 2009 at 7:51 am

Oh boy! I’ve added Lauri Ward’s books to my library check-out list, and can’t wait to dig into them in preparation for re-doing my 12 year old daughter’s bedroom next month. Her favorite furniture pieces are re-purposed hand-me-downs from her great-grandmother’s house. My baby’s desk is the same desk her grandmother used growing up, and has been painted MANY times to match the decor du jour. We plan to spend spring break stripping paint, sanding, and repainting that little jewel! In April, my 13 year old daughter gets to re-do her room. At the top of our project list is to make a new door curtain for an antique armoire purchased at a garage sale more than 30 years ago. My dad and I stripped the paint off that little treasure, refinished it, and my mom fitted it with new glass, a mirror and drawer pulls. It warms my heart to see these well loved things in active use in my girls’ rooms.


LeAnna February 19, 2009 at 8:54 am

I found that Ward’s book didn’t work so well for me, because you can’t use what you have if you don’t have anything. 😛 I’m basically just starting with furniture and such. But she did clue me in on what to be looking for, symmetry in a room, coordinating furniture that doesn’t officially match but goes together well, etc. I was hoping to walk away from it with just a room re-arrange and voila, everything would look HGTV-ready, but sometimes it doesn’t work quite that way. Sometimes, it still involves buying stuff (from the thrift store, naturally, but still spending money…)


Kristen@The Frugal Girl February 19, 2009 at 10:39 am

Ooh, I’ll have to look for those books. I do like to have a nice-looking house, but I don’t like to have to buy a bunch of stuff. And while I like to decorate, I don’t really know very much about the rules and such.

I do have a bunch of rockin’ free wooden furniture from freecycle…perhaps I just need to do some accessorizing.


nancy February 19, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I guess I’m still hung-up on the casual mention of laboring women watching TV. Really?? I cannot imagine watching TV while in labor. I couldn’t even bear to listen to my midwife’s clicking knitting needles.


thenonconsumeradvocate February 19, 2009 at 2:50 pm

It’s amazing what you can do with an epidural going!

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Mandy February 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm

I used to love looking at pages of a magazine called Domino (which I think recently shut down or is going to). They featured ways to live in small spaces a lot (I love living in small spaces). I almost like buying the magazines that have things in it I can’t afford, because it forces me to find way to recreate it on my own budget.

But thank you for the inspiration to look for decorating books. I am about to move into a brand new small space in a few months, and I really want my room to have a certain “look” instead of just kind of barren or cluttered (I can never find the happy medium).


Judy February 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm

I just want Nate from the Oprah show to come to my house for a re-do!
Love Feng shui books. The Simple Home by Sarah Nettleton. Spirit of the Home how to make your home a sanctuary by Jane Alexander. One I read on wabi sabi I think I got from the library was fun, based on the theory that things don’t have to match or all be perfect, but if you love everything you have for whatever reason, the things somehow fit together.


Kassie February 20, 2009 at 6:37 am

I started my business 8 months ago as I had found so many people in this predicament. Hiring one cheap momma to make what you have beautiful vs. tossing what you have and buying the showroom floor can be a wise investment! Here is my tip- visit your local home improvement store and buy mis-tinted paint, you can usually get a gallon for $5, a good accent wall can make all the difference in a room re-do! Good luck to all!


Jeanine February 23, 2009 at 11:26 am

I have to co-sign on the mistinted paint.

My entire duplex is done in these. We moved in and there were those (no offense Katy) pure, hospital white walls….only not. They were so dingy, and nasty. ( like….fingernail polish thrown against the wall nasty) Scrubbing only made it worse, and that’s when we realized that the paint was not paint…it was primer.

Oh well. What did I expect for 475.00 a month?

I painted 900 square feet and about 10 walls for about $30.00.

My DH and I moved around our bedroom around this weekend, and moved in my newly off of layaway Thomasville suite. The first time in ten years of marriage that we have a new to us bedroom set. Heck….the first time in either of our lives we had a matching one.

That spurred the idea to move around the kitchen and den as well…..who knew the loveseat on the west wall would make so much more room in the middle?

And those old linen place mats? Turned them over and they made great covers for the ends of the couch and chairs.


thenonconsumeradvocate February 23, 2009 at 11:41 am


No offense taken. I think the hospital walls where I work are a light peach color.

And I have not a single white wall in my house.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


katyallgeyer March 15, 2009 at 12:43 pm

The premise of your blog is an inspiration! We can choose to be free of the high maintenance lifestyle and gain real riches in the process. I am going to add you to my blogroll.
Another Katy


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: