Just the article I needed-- how to create an elegant living space without spending a fortune. I'm not into shabby chic or Ikea, but I find that our mishmash of stuff might say to the untrained eye, "I'm a shabby chic freak who dabbles in Ikea worship."
Ok, we're not that bad. I've been intentionally kind of draconian about not buying or even accepting donations of crap. So, yay me, good first step.
But it's nice to find a useful article with pointers. Nothing's new, but the advice is put together in an easy to use, non-threatening way. The fundamental thing here is to eliminate clutter. So basically, to achieve elegance:
Step 1: Remove all clutter. Even things you don't consider clutter, remove. The walls should be stripped bare, everything small removed. Only large furniture remains.
Step 2: Remove drapes (especially if old, musty, out of date). Paint a wall (or use these awesome wall decals).
Step 3: If you must, bring back a few things you removed. Group like things-- three photos together, a few candles. This looks less like clutter and more like an intentional collection.
NOTE: Do not bring everything back!!
I'm going to add the necessary but unmentioned Step 4: join freecycle and get rid of all the stuff you realized is subtracting from your overall elegance.
I realize this is just a variation on the old "remove clutter" theme. But I think it's useful, and it does help pare down to the nicest things we own-- a gorgeous yellow vase from a DC antique shop, a handcarved wooden box, a laptop and lots of empty space is ideally all that would be on my desk.
And it was, after an interior decorator had her way with my home office. Now it's creeping back toward clutter-- not much, but enough so that I see that this is an ongoing task. Yay!
p.s. The photos suck, so don't look to them as an example. They represent the best in 80s decorating...