Five Dollar Decor - Arts & Crafts Style

So, Mr. Scrimp and I were trying to figure out a good five dollar decor topic. We couldn't come up with one for the longest time, and then it hit me! Instead of talking about five variations on one thing--wall coverings, or whatever--what if I looked at five things you can add to or change about a room to make it feel more like a certain style of decor?

So this week, I dug up five things that you can do to make a room feel more Arts & Crafts. Now, when I say Arts & Crafts, I'm not talking about the thing you do with fingerpaint and popsicle sticks in kindergarten. No, I'm referring to the design movement pioneered by William Morris and John Ruskin at the turn of the century.

Think early Tiffany lamps, Stickley furniture, Frank Lloyd Wright, exposed wood beams, simple fabrics, geometric patterns, and leaded glass. The key here is simplicity. You should be able to replicate all of the following things for five dollars each.

1. Motto on Wall or Furniture

You know that trend to put sayings or quotations up on the wall? This is not a new invention. It was big during the Arts & Crafts/Craftsman movement.Choose something meaningful and either make stencils by printing and cutting out the letters, or by printing it on nice paper, enlarging it at Kinko's, and framing it. My favorite is the Chaucer quote, "The Lyf so short, the Craft so long to Lerne."

You can get free Arts & Crafts style fonts here and elsewhere.

2. Cover Furniture

One of the quickest dramatic changes you can make to a space is to cover your upholstery. If you have time and skill, you can sew a slipcover, but if you're in a hurry to make a change, pick up a few yards of fabric in an earth tone and tuck it around the upholstery on your furniture. It will get rid of a lot of visual clutter and change the look of your furniture dramatically, but not permanently or with any difficulty.

If you recall, I did this before Christmas in my nine dollar couch remodel.

3. Decorative Pottery

You can find beautiful vintage pottery quite often at Goodwill or Salvation Army, usually for under $5. I've bought probably ten or eleven McCoy pieces over the years, for instance, most of which I've given to my mom, who is a collector. I've never spent more than $5 on one that I found at a thrift store. Spend a few minutes reading up on their hallmarks and then just start checking pottery every time you go to thrifting.

Of course, anything works--it doesn't have to be an actual antique. To get an Arts & Crafts look, go for simple shapes (like squares, rectangles, and spheres), earth tones, and/or matte glazes.

4. Leaded Glass

I mentioned this a few weeks ago in my post on tape, but I'll mention it again here. Arts & Crafts houses often have leaded glass.Sometimes it's stained glass, but just as often it's regular old glass with geometric patterns done in lead on them. Mirrors are also leaded. For $5, you can make your own (lead-free) leaded glass using special tape--or, if you're adventurous, you could try doing it yourself with thin strips of duct tape for even less money. You can add a simple geometric pattern to a mirror or window in just an afternoon.

The image here is of a Stickley piece that sold at auction for nearly $10,000...but you can replicate the look of the glass on your own furniture using a little tape.

5. Stenciled or Embroidered Textiles

The Arts & Crafts era had a very distinctive look to its pillows, curtains, and other textiles. Based on Japanese art and coming out of a desire to simplify after the frou-frou excesses of the Victorian period, designs were geometric, often based on plants, and in fairly muted colors. Ginko leaves, stylized blossoms, and vines are a recurring theme.

If you're adventurous, you can try doing applique or embroidery on a plain white or natural linen or muslin cushion or curtain panel. If you are like me, and not quite as ambitious as all that, you can get some paint and stencils (or make some stencils from online printous) and do it that way.


Google has a ton of great and inspiring photos like this. Check out those gorgeous curtains in the background.

I hope you all liked this change of pace for the Five Dollar Decor posts--whether you did or didn't, don't forget to leave a comment and let me know what you thought. It will help me out for next week!

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