There’s nothing like a little dose of January to bring on the urge to re-vamp, re-arrange, or re-decorate. It’s the perfect time of year to evaluate your decor & freshen things up a little. And if the budget’s still a little tight from all the Christmas shopping, that just leaves all the more opportunity to get creative with what you already have & make it work for you.

That’s pretty much what I did last week when the Christmas decor came down & the living room was left with a Christmas-tree sized empty space in the corner. After brainstorming & shopping the house a little bit, I remembered a chair I had in the basement storage that’s been waiting for me to get up the nerve to re-upholster it. And when I brought it up & got it in place, it was the perfect touch I was wanting in the living room & the perfect reminder of some basic decorating principles.

1. Shop where the deals are. Thrift stores & yard sales are a creative decorator’s dream. I found my chair for $8 at a yard sale this past summer. I wasn’t even sure where I would use it at the time, but a deal is a deal, & sometimes you should buy even if you don’t know what you’ll do with it right away. (It’s advice like this that financial advisors tell you to run from.) But consider this–when you can buy a decent piece of furniture for roughly the same price as a Venti cup of Starbucks, buy it. If all else fails, turn a profit later by selling it on Craigslist.

2. Don’t limit yourself to Plan A. As I mentioned, my Plan A for this chair was to eventually re-upholster it for the library. I even have the perfect fabric already purchased & ready to go. And I still may do that eventually. But for now, I need an extra seat in the living room, so Plan B it is. Before going out & searching for that something you need, don’t forget to search what you already have. That certain something you’re looking for may already be in your house. (Remember this mirror?)

3. Don’t forget to accessorize. The real reason this chair works for me in our living room is because of the accessories. I mean, in all honesty, this thing is like a chameleon in our living room on its own…

Can you even see it? It just blends right in!

But with the addition of a throw my husband got me for Christmas (from World Market) & my Laurel Wreath Pillow, she’s a new woman. Why not try adding a throw to an old chair before taking the plunge into a full re-upholstery job? If it doesn’t work, fine. But if it does, it could be the quickest & easiest makeover you’ve ever done.

4. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Yes, it’s become the mantra of this generation of decorators everywhere. And that’s because it’s so true. The legs on my chair have more scratches & scrapes than a tomboy in a cat fight (okay, I have no idea where that came from). But let’s just say it’s been authentically distressed. So, who cares? It took you six pictures to notice it, right? And besides, people pay a lot of money for this kind of abuse. Embrace the imperfections. They just add character.

5. Be true to your style. By this, I just mean decorate your home with what you like, even if it might not be what someone else would choose. Obviously, the woman I bought this chair from was probably sick of it, but I love it in my house. You don’t have to have the latest trends or best brands to create a comfortable home for your family. Use things that appeal to your taste, and chances are, when you pull together items you love, they will work together coherently because they are a reflection of you. And if you still have trouble determining what your style is, start a collection of photos from magazines or websites that “speak” to you, and let them be your inspiration. Pinterest is perfect for organizing your inspirational photos. God bless the guy who created it! We love him, don’t we?

So that’s the lesson from my little chair. I hope this little refresher course will help get you out of a rut & give you a boost for some changes in this new year. What changes have you made so far?