Bougie (adj.): Anything that is perceived as “upscale” from a blue-collar point of view; a hacked truncation of the word Bourgeoisie, which refers to the middle-class in Europe, but a more affluent class level in North America.
– Urban Dictionary
My little family and I are blessed to be so rich – in love, laughs, health and happiness. But cash wise we live on a budget, like most middle class North Americans. Be forewarned – I won’t be showing off many brand new, fancy or expensive things that we own – my children have destroyed any hope of that, quite literally. I prefer to brag about the attributes I find more impressive – my frugality, but with a little bit of flair. What’s more important to you – a new roof, or a fancy dining room table set (that kids are going to scribble all over with crayons)? I’ve learned a way you can actually have both if you play your cards right, and don’t have to compromise your style just because your your funds are low.
When I’ve posted pictures of seasonal decor or my kids posing in the upstairs sitting room of our home (A.K.A. ‘the area with the nice furniture that nobody is supposed to touch’) I often get questions like “How the hell is your house so clean?!” (toys are thrown aside for pictures – trust me, my house is a tornado most of the time). But I’ve also received some lovely compliments: “Your home is gorgeous, where did you get that table?” or other nice things about the way I’ve put together various rooms in our home. Instead of being a normal person and saying “Thank you, I worked so hard picking everything out and appreciate your kind words”, I used to respond with “Oh Lord, that old thing? I got it on sale half price, it actually has a dent underneath.” I did this for two reasons: the first being my inability to take compliments without putting myself down (underlying self esteem issues that I’ve since worked out in therapy – more of that to come in later posts!) but also in an odd attempt to spread the word, and share one of my biggest secrets and thrills in life – saving money and having nice things, without breaking the bank.
Life for me now is all about balance. I fill my home with mix of a few special things that we splurged on a bit, but mainly stuff that is lovely and was super cheap – but you can’t tell the low cost of. For example, we spent a good amount of money on a great mattress because we spend a lot of time on there (not like that weirdos – my husband does; I am currently a sleepless Mombie). But other things just aren’t worth investing the money in, especially when you have little kids that could potentially destroy everything in one swift Sharpie stroke. However, I do enjoy the look of a room with nice pieces that look high quality. So how do I do so?
To start, when I decide to decorate or furnish a room in our home I have a centerpiece that is the theme or inspiration for the space. In our upstairs sitting room I used a beautiful large clock that I loved and used it as my inspiration for a ‘French Provincial’ theme. High ceilings, some splashes of gold, carved wood and tufted furniture with some fleur-de-lis and Parisian references thrown in occasionally for fun. I have no training in interior design, just a creative mind and good eye for aesthetics so old fashioned research helped me out a lot!
Pretty cute, non? Like I said there is a mix but mainly super cheap items in there for what they’re worth, and you probably wouldn’t know it to look at them. The large fleur-de-lis clock as I said was from a store in Great Lakes Crossing (outlet mall) so it was already marked down in price. The large carved wood mirror, credenza and small round greeting table are from Bombay, but purchased during a Boxing Day sale so they were around 75% off. Those pretty frames are from Home Sense – the glass is missing on one (less dust to clean!) so they were on clearance as well. The Parisian pillow cases you can find on Amazon for around $5, and the other pillows I purchased were all on clearance at Home Outfitters for less than $10. And the tufted couch, love seat and chair set – get this – are from a small private furniture store and cost $699 on clearance and final sale. For all three pieces!
Now for some of the really fun stuff. The ornate stone, glass and iron coffee table – Kijiji find! In mint condition from an expensive local furniture store, a very unique piece, and a small fraction of the original cost. In my world I would never spend upwards of $1200 for a coffee table but now I could have one in my home, without breaking the bank. We also purchased our lovely dining room table and chairs off Kijiji, which are getting a ton of wear on them from our toddler and family dinners – so I was very pleased that we got a nice, high quality set but they weren’t brand new and expensive and then ruined right away. Other pieces around the house – like that other large brass metal fleur-de-lis art piece – thrift shop finds! There are so many nice and unique pieces for your home that nobody else has currently when you search these places. The key is that you really have to look, and shop around when trying to find a hidden treasure. Personally I love to shop but not spend, so the thrill of the hunt is the funnest part!
My advice? Watch for sales on things, and always scour the clearance section of the place you’re shopping at – there are hidden steals in there that can totally compliment your space. Keep an eye open online or search for pieces that might work in your home in the buy and sell groups or Kijiji. You can discover some amazing finds, and things of extremely high quality that you just couldn’t afford at full price. And give the thrift shops a chance – you’d be really surprised at the hidden gems in there that could be waiting for you to give them a new, stylish home!
Being fancy yet frugal can be tricky, but with patience and persistence you can save a lot of your hard earned cash and still have a fabulous place to spend time in. And although most people I know love a good deal, things are truly just that – things. What’s most important is that you’re happy in the space you live in, whether it’s a mansion or a shoe box (Toronto condo life). Truthfully, the happiest people I know do not have the best of everything – they make the best of everything they have. Happy hunting!
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