We Want What We See

Before we go into stores (and while we are walking through them), I often tell my children, “Be careful, we want what we see!” It is true for them, and it is true for me. Too true, in fact! I didn’t know that I desperately needed a new shelf or a collapsible strainer or a maroon chair or a microfiber mop head until I saw it… and then my resolve to buy only what I came for suddenly dissolves, the “Oh well! Gotta live sometimes!” factor turns on full force, and that beautiful, shiny new toy lands in my shopping cart.

And after hours and hours of shopping at garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment sales, I can tell you that just because things are cheaper, older, and more used, it does not necessarily diminish the revving engine of WE-WANT-WHAT-WE-SEE. The “I want” feelings that I experience when I see a cute old lamp or a wooden crate at an estate sale is the same “I want” feeling that I have when I’m walking through the home decor aisles at Target. And although the items may be cheaper, I have started to realize that I do not want to be owned by “I want”, no matter what the actual cost of an item is.

So now my confession. When I saw the floral fabric picture [above] at Hobby Lobby, I wanted it. BAD. Almost bad enough to pull out my credit card (and my 40% off coupon, of course) on the spot. The wall above our bed had been blank for too long, this was cute and the perfect size, and the colors made me happy. But the $130 price tag was enough to tip me over towards restraint (you can cheer for me – my spotty self-control worked for once!) and I decided to try to make something on my own. FYI – it is easy to be thrifty and crafty when you are just playing around with renovating and updating old things. But it’s a lot harder when you already have something else in mind that you really like!

Now, about a year and a half, one baby, at least a dozen out-of-town trips, and multiple other projects later, I have the final results of this experiment in restraint.

The project started when I started running into quilting hoops at garage sales this past summer.

I pulled out a bunch of fabric and buttons that I had collected over time from many “I want” moments at garage sales, and started stretching fabric in all of the hoops (with leftover fabric from the headboard project in the largest one).

The biggest hoop seemed like it needed something else, too. At first I super-ambitiously decided to sew a bunch of buttons onto it. Then I changed my mind and grabbed my trusty glue gun instead. Good call.

 Once I got them on the wall, I liked the effect, but it was still missing something.


I decided to try to hang up a huge wooden frame that my neighbor was trying to get rid of, and see if that helped.

Ah, much better!!

The total cost ended up being less than $10.

Hoops ($7) + Buttons ($1) + Frame (free) + Fabric (already had it) = $8

And guess what?! Now that I see it – I WANT IT! And I already have it, so I’m all set.

Now if I can just stay away from all stores for a while…

This Give the Difference to Make a Difference post is dedicated to our good friends Tony & Katie Chiaramonte and Dan & Gretchen Moyer, two sets of amazing parents who are raising money to adopt. The money I saved by making my own wall art rather than buying it new is going towards their adoptions. 

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