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Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to Furnish your Home

How to Furnish and Decorate your House
Subtitle: Avoiding sawdust and glue. One should not have a house full of sawdust and glue. Unless you are in college.  In which case I’m shocked you can afford furniture at all.  If not, well, here is your survival guide to antique stores, which are what we will be using to decorate.  Long subtitle, huh? Going for a record maybe?? Does Guinness have a record for this? Quick someone get on Google! Longest subtitle to a pointless fake advice column blog.  Might bode well for my celeb status...
Step 1: Measure your living space.  I cannot stress how important this is. As an impulse antique buyer, I often buy anything that appears remotely Victorian and pray to Athena the entire way home that it will fit into my house.  The result is that I have had, at various times, so many antique tables and chairs that it looks as if I am running a one room school house rather than decorating home. And it annoys Hot Roommate. We like to keep him happy, I kinda like having him around.  
Step 2: Know your decorating style.  Now, if you haven’t selected a style yet sweetie, now is the time.  Seriously. This all goes back to my advice about being grown (which we probably need a post about, you know, the grown thing, kinda important).  Because despite the fact that we have already talked about how the other parents will judge you, well, it just looks plain stupid if you have a floral couch with a leather ottoman and then pictures of birds on the wall.  You don’t need to hire a decorator, but at least pick a color scheme.  Oh, a normal one too. Some colors are just a no-no.  Like pea green. Because, any color that was shot from Linda Blair’s mouth should not be used to decorate. Ever. If you don’t know who she is, google “What came out of Linda Blair’s mouth” on images.  Then, to get that picture out of your head google “Michael Shanks.” That will erase image #1. Promise.    
Step 3: Scout the shops before you go. First, you don’t want to burn gas, and at $4 a gallon or Athena knows what you people in Europe are paying, you can’t afford to waste money here.  You need to have a plan and know where your shops are, the hours, and what they specialize in.  Here is where you dear friend the internet comes into play again.  Google and start a list.  Plan them out and map them on your phone.  Because you don’t want to a) be crawling through trash like a picker and b) nor do you want to be tailed by some snotty little old lady through her crystal department like you are there just to let the hell loose on her breakables. 
Step 4: Dress like a bum. This is my little secret, and it works every time.  See, when you come into the antique shop dressed like a bum, or to be honest looking like me all pierced and tatted, the antique shop owners usually leave you alone because they think you can’t afford anything.  If you go in there like you live in a gated community those same little biddies hunt you down and try to suggest every crocheted doily within three feet of where you step.  Remember, look like you are broke or a member of a female punk band = Quiet peaceful shopping.  (Look, MORE math!!) 
Step 5: Speak a Foreign Language. Now, if you shop alone, this doesn’t work, because then you are just talking to yourself and you sound like a crazy person and when you need real help those biddies will call the cops.  However, if you took the time to learn a foreign language and only communicate with said friend in that language not only can you confuse the old biddies, but you can then have another reason for them to leave you alone.  I’m probably confusing you, all this leave you alone mess, it’s because of step 6 and 7. You want to be left alone.  Here’s why:
Step 6: Tap, poke and prod and be generally annoying. You need to make sure that you are not buying a fake and that what you are buying is made of real materials and not that wonderful stuff we now get in the good ole US of A (i.e. sawdust and glue.  You get that, right? Go to the big name furniture store. It’s not wood.  It is LITERALLY sawdust glued together and then painted.  No lie.  Why do you think we have to replace this crap all of the time).  We want wood and cotton/wool.  We want copper and not tin foil.  So, if you did your research then you will know what it real and what is not.  DO NOT BUY THINGS THAT ARE NOT REAL WOOD.  STOP!! Put that down.  That is fake crap!! I am here to teach you not to babysit you!!
Step 7: HAGGLE.  There are a few approaches to haggling so I feel we need a chart.  

Method Name
Instructions for Haggle
Special Precautions
I am broke method
Act like you came today on a budget and that you are unable to spend a dime more. If they want to sell then they will accept it.  
Well, you look broke and they may just decide that you are not worth the trouble anyway. 
My spouse will kill me method
Works great when the shop owner has a spouse that might kill them.  Simply say, “Ugh, if I spend more than $x then my INSERT SPOUSE will kill me” 
This makes you look like they own you, which can be problematic in the future, especially if you bring in said spouse to the shop and then they get the stink eye...
The know it all method
If you have done your research, you will know how much things are going for.  You simply refer to these sources as you haggle.  
This makes you look like a douche bag. For real. Only do this if the person there was a complete asshole. 

Befriend the owner method
You are in there so much that you just ask, hey, can you do any better on this
Works the BEST! Trust me! I get stuff less than tag price ALL OF THE TIME! 
Step 8: Oops!! I forgot to mention to measure your car!!! Yeah.... let’s just say that nothing is more embarrassing then buying a huge bookcase and have the nice gentleman wheel it out to your car only to find that it doesn’t fit in your car at all and here you are, bookcase purchased, out of the antique shop calling your mom crying because you are the only idiot in rural Virginia without a truck and she has a freakin’ monster truck all the while your husband is standing there going, “See, this is why we need a truck.”  Yeah, it makes you feel stupid after you have been so smart with this purchase. Just measure the car in advance.  
Step 9: Hide it from your spouse and/or place it strategically.  Now, if you have gone without your spouse and quite possibly with an enabling friend (*Cough * Michael *Cough* - Oh and that is NOT Michael Shanks - But Holy Crap I think Mr. Canadian Hot Pants would be fun in my antique store smartassery!!!! ; That is a dear friend of mine who enables me and does not stop me from buying bad things) you need to figure out how to get these things into your home. Then, you need to make them fit in a manner such that your spouse will not notice and think it has been there all along.  I did this with a recent purchase of a Victorian chair.  It was red, like the sawdust and glue chair I was replacing.  It took Hot Roommate a week before he noticed.  By then, he decided he liked the new chair better. And never asked what it cost.  Which wasn’t much.... I used the hubby will kill me method. 
Step 10: Did you buy a wine cabinet? I probably should have mentioned that earlier, but if we are going to keep this up, you probably should have bought a cabinet.  Oh well, you can go antiquing again tomorrow. Here is a picture of mine, it’s a dresser from the 1940’s and it holds LOTS of Spanish wine.  

Oh and moonshine!  But, since this lack of a wine cabinet is partly my fault, go pour yourself a glass from your tiny little rack and I’ll owe you one.  


  1. And when measuring your car make sure to leave room for your children.

  2. Here's another idea for you - what's the difference between a frugal man and a cheapskate? For instance, my man has no problem spending money on beer, fast food, and hanging out with our friends. But when it comes to taking me somewhere nice, he refuses! He doesn't understand why I would want to go out when we could cook something at home. Help me out here!