Want to save money furnishing your home? Shop overseas online.
By Joyce Standridge
No matter how generous your budget, who doesn’t love saving money? That’s dinero, euros, shekels, yen and dollars to save or spend elsewhere. It’s also not necessary to journey to the pricey showrooms of Paris or Tokyo to couple quality with style. Here are a few value ideas you can find at a local international outlet or with your keyboard.
Bohemia. Just the name excites, but if your travel plans don’t extend to the Czech Republic anytime soon, visit the numerous websites that specialize in Bohemian style. Because the furnishings can be kitschy, even fussy, use that trait to enhance your accents. The panache features not only gypsy-bright color, but also distressed edges, glass, mirrors and other elements that enhance wood’s warmth. Log says you don’t follow the crowd. Bohemian accents say you have fun on your own path.
Malaysia. Didn’t know that the Malay Peninsula is a source for its own flair? Indeed, that tropical paradise has long contributed rich, dark wood, especially with a brilliant patina. Thanks to its abundant rain forest, Malaysia even has a timber resource board to ensure standards, and many artisans there hand-carve exquisite designs into the dense surfaces. One species, rubber wood, is environmentally friendly and grown on rejuvenating plantations. It is water-resistant but better for indoor use, as it can sun-bleach easily. Very competitively priced (especially for flooring), it allows homeowners to exhibit an uncommon, but renewable, wood.
Nigeria. Africa has long been an exceptional source for brilliant color and unique design. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Akwete cloth woven by the Igbo of Nigeria. While it can be made from sisal, even the dyes for textiles are all naturally produced. Hundreds of motifs are used on the loomed fabrics, but new or unique designs are assigned an unwritten copyright. Thanks to the limited costs, the purchase prices for these patterned textiles are surprisingly affordable.
Stockholm Region. It’s hard to miss Sweden’s influence on current decor, but rather than sharp-edged furniture, think lamps. Spending so many winter hours in darkness, the Swedes appreciate beauty, as well as functionality, in lighting. Not surprisingly, the lines tend to be simple and sleek. Whether purchasing an import or just enjoying the influence, remember how important lighting is in a log setting, too. Thoughts of too dark interiors are banished when there is enough accent lighting; moving lamps around can also dramatically change a room’s appearance.
Gran Chaco. The sparsely populated region of Argentina is home to South American cowboys, as well as indigenous tribes. You needn’t jump on a plane to enjoy its influence. While some homeowners want actual artifacts from the isolated region, many log-home owners can be just as satisfied employing Gran Chaco-style influence. Much as the American Southwest has added its own stamp to log-home decor, the gaucho look reaches all the way to our shores. A wee bit of research can inspire those who love the wide-open spaces with its richly woven textiles and the appeal of using natural elements to decorate. Remember, there is beauty in keeping it simple.
Siberia. No, your home should not take a cue from a gulag. But from Russia’s frigid far north comes the reminder that for those who have limited financial resources, the focus has long been on singular, extraordinary pieces. In Siberia, it has often been religious icons featuring handcrafted wood or exceptional stained glass. Even without religious influence, creating a breathtaking focus within a room can be both cost-effective and thoroughly satisfying.
Oceania. It’s almost impossible to impress an Aussie or Kiwi by just throwing down money. We can thank our mates on the other side of the world for reminding us always to make it simple, make it inexpensive and, for heaven’s sake, take it outdoors. And if you can’t because the weather isn’t cooperating, then bring the outdoors inside.
Log-home owners are already receptive to nature’s appeal, so what more can be learned? Because importing furniture was expensive and difficult for much of their early history, folks Down Under had to craft most of what they had. They learned to appreciate value and building things that will last. That means sometimes it is more cost-effective in the long run to invest in quality, initially higher-priced pieces that will serve a lifetime.