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How to Decorate with What You Own {Even If It Doesn’t Really Work}

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I think it’s safe to say that we all have something in our homes that we love and cherish but it just doesn’t really work…I’m talking about decor items, people, not husbands!  {I kid}  But in all seriousness, it’s not realistic to think that everything we own is going to be right for our homes, but often, sentimental attachment or finances mean that we use it anyway, even if it isn’t perfect.  For example, family heirlooms that have been handed down, or items hand-crafted by a loved one, or even gifts we’ve received from someone special.  These are all examples of things that we use in our homes every day, even if they don’t work with our decorating style.  So how can you decorate with what you own and make it work, even if it really doesn’t?  Here’s how.




Too Small?  Make it Bigger

My husband bought this clock for me on my birthday shortly after we were married.  I L-O-V-E this clock.



I love using the clock above the fireplace in our family room because this is the clock we actually use for everything!  I look to see if it’s time for school or time to pick up, and the kids check it for their bedtime every night.  The problem is that the color blends in with the wall and it’s too small for the space.  It was perfect in our old house, but it never really worked in this house.

Over the years, I’ve tried all sort of things for decorating around it, but because the color blended with the wall, anything I put on the sides or even on top of the mantel detracted from it.  So last week, I decided to change the color and make it bigger!



Okay, as you can see, I didn’t actually change the clock itself but rather, make a larger backdrop for the clock to sit on, giving it the appearance of being bigger than it is.  It’s just plywood cut in a circle and painted black and dry brushed with vintage white.  I might change it again, but for now, I’m happy with this easy and inexpensive update!

To make a small item bigger or more impactful, you can also frame it…



Have a sofa that’s too small for your space?  Try adding matching side tables on either side to visually extend it and make it appear longer.  If you can’t actually make an item bigger, think about ways you can give the illusion that it’s bigger!


No Use for It?  Repurpose it

It’s not necessary to use items in the manner they were intended if you’ll get more use out of it as something else.  The goal is to incorporate our meaningful items into our home in a manner in which we’ll appreciate them…so it doesn’t really matter how you use them.

For example, how often do I need a silver champagne bucket in my daily life?  Never.  But as a utensil holder, I use it every day!

TIDBITS & TWINE - Champagne Bucket Utensil Holder v2 REV


This dresser?  It was love at first sight but I had no use for a dresser in my home.



I did, however, need a bathroom vanity.

A guest bathroom transformation: from builder-grade to beautiful! Beadboard ceiling, wallpaper, sconces, marble floors, and a vanity converted from a vintage dresser!


Wrong Color? Paint it

Yes, I know how controversial painting furniture is, especially if it’s high-quality wood, but my opinion is that you should love everything in your home and if you don’t love the current color, change it to something that you will love!  Sometimes, just a simple color change can make a dramatic difference and change something from okay to outstanding!


Guest Room Antique 8 Tidbits&Twine


This gorgeous piece was a Craigslist find but I didn’t want yellow and gold in my guest bedroom and I didn’t have any other furniture that would coordinate with this color.




A coat of black paint made this piece a much more dramatic statement and by painting the nearby headboards black as well, I was able to give the room a coordinating look!


Wrong Style? Embellish it

Swapping out decor every time we change our styles or preferences just isn’t financially feasible for most, so if painting it isn’t possible, try embellishing it! You can add ribbon or trim to pillows, curtains and other textiles to change the look.  You can also decorate backs of chairs, add textured fabric to pictures, change up knobs on furniture pieces, or even add a touch of crystal to a chandelier.




If something isn’t working in your home but you want to keep it, give some thought as to how you can change it or add to it to make it work better in your space.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing the location of the object, but if that alone isn’t enough, consider making it bigger, changing the color, repurposing it, or embellishing it.  All of these things will change the appearance but keep the sentimentality so that your home continues to be filled with things you love. There’s no need to get rid of things you love if with just a little tweak, you can make them work for you…even if they don’t. ;)


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  1. This was so much fun and full of good advice. The one about not using things only as what they are intended is one I live by and the possibilities are endless. Thanks so much, hope you keep,adding ideas.

  2. I literally just did that exact thing with a round clock I ordered online. When it arrived I realized it didn’t really fill the space the way I intended. It was a perfect fix. I plan to do the same thing with my kitchen clock, as, since painting the kitchen walls the old clock disappears. I think of it as matting the items, much like I do with my photographs to give them more prominence.

  3. Great post with great ideas! Hopefully it will help me think outside the box. Pinning so I can refer back to this as needed.

  4. Yvonne Chavez says:

    Hi Kim, Really enjoyed reading this post…you gave us some great ideas and so practical too. Thank You

  5. Kim,
    Such great ideas and it’s always helpful to hear about ways to make things work rather than purchase new all the time. :-)
    Love the clock!

  6. Sara Jenkins says:

    I just love this post! We have “inherited” much of our furniture and decor from family members when they no longer had a use for it. I’m too practical (and broke) to replace it. This post and your style is inspiring me to look at what we have with new eyes. Thank you!

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