Moving toward modernity: Notes on thrifty redecorating

Ever since P and I moved into our new Chicago apartment in June, it’s just never looked quite right. That’s partially due to the painters who overtook the place for a month with their tarps and trails of dust, and then too many nights with friends and too few nights at home, and then a book-editing deadline for me. And some laziness thrown in there, too. But in working from home for the past month, I spent a lot more time noticing little things that bothered me, that we’d never changed or refinished or gotten rid of as we’d promised ourselves. Thus emerged my inspiration for redecorating. (And the fact that redecorating involves many trips to thrift stores and virtual trips to the biggest thrift store of all—Craigslist—didn’t hurt, either.)

And I think, without realizing it, I’m making more of a move toward modern furniture. My little apartment in Corvallis was perfect for shabby chic decor, thick tapestries and florals and silk brocades. But somehow this larger apartment (much, much larger), with its exposed brick walls and long, open spaces, calls for something more sleek, urban, clean. A $50 CB2 rug (8 by 10 for fifty bucks! Craigslist, of course . . .) and a lucite console table later, we’re getting there. Our bedroom side tables, both Salvation Army finds, need to be refinished and painted white to match the lamps (local Ark thrift store finds). And the hanging lamps are still sitting on the floor, and there’s a really kitschy brocade loveseat (think Grandma’s sitting room) in the hallway, and will the “Lauren’s sewing studio (slash) Pete’s bass-playing room” ever be ready? They had best be, soon, because we have friends coming into town in a week for the Northwestern five-year reunion. It’s good impetus, and they’ll provide inspiration, I’m sure, for many more projects to come.

It’s work, but it’s good work. It digs deep into my ability to both rescue old things and make them look pretty. For me, there’s much more reward in this than in ever owning anything brand new.


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