Monday, January 29, 2007
Decorating with What You Use
In decorating a family home, it makes more sense to me to decorate using things you actually use. But many of the necessary items of family life aren't beautiful. There are roughly two things I do with every necessary item in my house:
1.Hide Them in Something Beautiful
If the objects I'm trying to store don't look nice (ie: medicines, tampons, toothbrushes) I hide them. That means I put them behind closed doors or I group them in containers that hide their wordy labels and jarring colors.
My hatred of plastic means that I don't like using plastic storage boxes anyplace where I need to see them. To me, plastic just isn't beautiful, so when I do use it, I hide it in closets, in the garage, in the attic and basement.
I love baskets. The neutral colors are calming and they go with almost everything, and I use them lots of times to hide things I use often. I almost always buy them from thrift stores, where they are usually only 50 cents to a few dollars each. I look out for large flat-bottomed ones with high straight sides to hide things in. (Tip: many times a basket is more useful AFTER its handle has been taken off -- ie: ripped off by a toddler using it to haul rocks.)
But the best baby-proof container I've found are large round tins that holiday popcorn often comes in. I have a row of these in my kitchen storing lots of odd things I don't want my kids getting into. Babies and most toddlers can't open these without resorting to (loud) violent striking with blunt instruments or throwing them downstairs.
2. Flaunt Them as Something Beautiful
Lots of times I decorate with what I use. After you simplify and pare down, the next step is to make what you have left beautiful, or replace it with something beautiful. For years I've thought of lobbying Ivory soap to come out with prettier dish soap containers that you could leave out on the countertop, like the ones from Bath and Body Works. My friend simply puts her dish soap in a glass vinegar shaker. When I had less kids, I used to empty new shampoo and conditioner into special bottles with no labels that I thought looked pretty.
I'm not a fan of the "everything in cabinets" look - it's too industrial for me. To me, a house looks more "organic" if you can see useful things set around where they are needed. I like to be able to see dishes and utensils in the kitchen, towels and cotton balls in the bathroom. So I use mason jars to store things like cotton balls, q-tips, and big baskets for bath toys and stacks of toilet paper rolls and diapers. (I think clean white things look nice in open storage in a bathroom).
Our current bathroom doesn't have much storage, just these open shelves next to the shower and a storage unit over the toilet. (I don't like to bend down, so I don't use the sink vanity for anything but trash and the toilet brush and plunger.) The top baskets have medicine and rarely-used items, the middle baskets (that you can see into) have bath salts and washcloths, and the bottom basket has bath toys (mostly wooden boats, another thing I collect) and the bottom basket holds about 16 rolls of toilet paper. I hide boxes of diapers and the vaporizer and little potty behind it.