Last month I commented on an exchange that I overheard between a couple discussing the purchase of some furniture.  She wanted new, and he said that they couldn’t afford it–because the credit card interest rate was too high.

As I walked away, I thought about the early years of our marriage and how, as a young couple just starting out, we had to ‘make do’ with whatever cast off furniture the relatives could spare. 

We’ve never had a decorator magazine looking home.  We’ve always said that our home is furnished in the style of early junkyard and late attic. I think the term today is eclectic–meaning nothing matches!  Most of this furniture is still in use in my house.  Some of it is old, some, not so old.  Some may be considered antique now, but when we got them, they were in the category “old stuff nobody wants but too good to throw away”.  But we have everything we need, and it’s fairly comfortable. 

No, it will never look like a furniture store showroom, but we’ve never had any credit card payments, time payments or the interest charges either, just to pay for something to sit on.
Ours is a country home.  March means calving time, and it’s entirely possible that there will be a baby calf curled up in front of the heating stove in the living room. We used to have litters of newborn baby pigs in that exact same spot.  Yes, the thought of this might cause some ‘ick factor’ grimaces on the faces of the city folks, but when the critters are your bread and butter, you do whatever is needed to see to their needs first. And floors should always be scrubbable!
Having a country home with an eclectic look means I can have anything I want, as long as I can get it in the door and we all like it. I know I’m going to keep my look forever. I once had a visitor that said to my husband, “Your house is like a hug and it makes me feel good to be here.” I can’t think of a better reason to leave things as they are.
Some of the pieces are recycled belongings of family members. I have an old sewing rocker in my bedroom that belonged to a great grandmother, passed down to my mother, who rocked her eight children in it. I have memories of rocking my baby brothers and sisters in that same chair when I was growing up. The chair was passed on to me when my children came along. We believe in rocking our babies!
We have an old icebox from the pre-refrigerator and electricity days in the dining room. This belonged to my husband’s great-grandparents, and the handles are worn from years of use. We rescued it from the farm shop about 30 years ago where it held tractor books, oil cans, seeds and tractor junk.  It was a major challenge to clean up, but I wouldn’t trade it for the fanciest of china cabinets.  Every time I open one of the doors to retrieve a dish, I think of great-grandma’s hands.  

My buffet in the dining room is an old cast iron cook stove, complete with warming ovens and water reservoir.  I didn’t want a fancy piece of furniture that everyone would be afraid of scratching. My kids used to roller skate from the living room through the dining room to the mud room, and I told my husband that if they ever hit that stove the only thing that could get hurt would be the kid!

My family room couch came from another grandmother and dates back to the 1940s. It’s saggy and worn, but we still use it.

My point is, be creative and use what you have and accept anything else someone gives you. If you can’t use it, chances are that you know someone you could pass it along to. Refreshing the looks of a room may be as simple as moving the furniture around to a different location. Just putting some of those things away for a few months and changing out table covers or pillows can change the look for very little money.

I’m a great one to use washable covers for my living room couch and chair; sometimes the guys’ coveralls carry things into the house I’d just as soon not have on the furniture. I made my covers by simply sewing strips of denim cut from their old worn out jeans and hemmed around the edges. Denim blue is the main color in my living room.
Yard sale time isn’t that far off in my part of the country, and is already underway in warmer regions.  If you can, make yourself a savings bank (I use an old peanut butter jar) and put away any stray quarters or dimes that come your way. I gather mine from cashing in what few coupons I do use. I just might end up with enough to buy something pretty to add to my country home–without spending a fortune!
Remember, it’s all about how you use YOUR money!

Till next time,

Paula Vogelgesang, the author of the monthly column "Pennywise", is a monthly contributor to the Farm And Livestock Directory. Email her at [email protected]Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.