“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris
For a long time, I swore that I was someone who values substance over style and function over form. I still don’t think this is necessarily untrue. I’d much rather have something functional but not so nice to look at than something pretty but useless. But I’ve recently realized fairly acutely that valuing practicality and utility doesn’t mean that I don’t like nice things, or that I don’t want a home that’s somewhat aesthetically pleasing and relaxing to be in.
One of my recent projects has been revamping my apartment. I suspect that at least part of the reason I told myself that I preferred form to function for so long was because it excused the fact that my apartment was an ill thought out, overstuffed, poorly arranged mess. The remedy? Getting rid of some things, replacing others, and spending a bit of time just making the place look and feel nice. I spend a lot of time here, and the truth is that making it into a nicer place to be does me a world of good.
I was, however, not really willing to spend all that much on style just for the sake of style. On top of that, I needed to watch my budget. I put a good bit of money towards a new bed and it was important to not spend a lot on other things. I didn’t want to wind up buying whatever was available simply because it was there and it was cheap, though. As I keep shopping the secondhand market, it’s become clear that it’s important to be selective and to not just buy things that are sort of what I want or need. It’s easy to justify “close enough” when something only costs five dollars, but it’s not worth it in the long run, so I tried to hold out for things that were both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Most of my shopping was done through August, when I had the loan of a car from a friend. Since thrift stores have such highly variable stock, I simply showed up a lot in the hopes that some good stuff would show up. Other than some basic bookcases, I didn’t buy anything that didn’t make me think, “yes, that’s lovely and exactly what I need!”
I was fortunate there was quite a lot of “yes!” happening on these trips. For furniture, my trips yielded two bookcases ($8 and $10), two chairs with solid walnut frames ($5 each), a metal filing unit ($5), two brass floor lamps ($5 and $7), a brass table lamp ($3), a pottery table lamp ($3), and a pine side table ($3). I also picked up four down throw pillows ($3 each), a couple of baskets ($1 and $5), linen napkins and placemats (8 for $1), crystal glasses ($1.80 each), candles (25 for $4), and a few pieces of pottery (from $1 to $4). All told, as of the end of August my apartment revamp cost around $100, excluding the bed.
I’ve been thinking of this style as some kind of hybrid of modern, industrial, vintage, and rustic. It’s probably really just eclectic, but I like it and it leaves me feeling comfortable and relaxed. Do I need an aesthetic or style? No, not really. I’d be fine without it and would function just as well. If I didn’t have the resources I wouldn’t have done it and would have been just fine. But, given the choice, it’s nice to be able to have a little bit of form along with my function. It’s a pleasure to turn on lamps that cast softer light, to appreciate the design and materials of a chair, and to light candles and look around at an apartment that feels much more like home than it has in awhile now.