Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Temporary Home

There are both many rewards (travel, experiencing another culture) and difficulties with living abroad. Many of these difficulties such as language barriers, strange food, and cultural differences, I was fully aware of and mentally prepared for. But then there were those that I didn't expect. Like decorating. I know there are those of you that don't care what your place looks like as long as there's a bed to crash in. But I'm far from that. Even though our stay in Korea is limited, I want our place to feel like a home, like a permanent residence even though it's far from that. In our apartment back in the states, we had decorations galore, but unfortunately when we were only allowed to bring two 50 pound bags with us, there were more important things to bring with us besides decor.

When we first arrived in our school provided (thankfully furnished) apartment our first year, the only decor we were provided was a bright neon pink comforter, hub's favorite (and yes, we still have it). We have moved twice since then and with each move we accumulate a few more decorations. Also, with each move, it feels a little more like home (even though it's still hard to decorate around the sparkle wallpaper that's standard in Korean apartments). Finding decor is a little more difficult in Korea compared to the states. Decorations here are typically expensive and gaudier than what we're accustomed to.
A typical decor shop where we live in Korea
We weren't willing to fill our apartment with gold plated frames and vases and we also weren't willing to spend a ton of money on things that we would have to sell or leave behind when we leave in a few years. So with a tight budget, a little imagination, and of course Pinterest on my side, I set out to make this very temporary place feel like home.

.Greenery: plants are a great and cheap way to make a place feel more 'homey'. I took this pot, which used to be bright yellow, painted it and wrapped some twine around the base for it to blend more with our other decorations. 
.Pictures: pictures of loved ones automatically brighten up a place. I had seen this idea on Pinterest so decided to replicate it by using a map of Oklahoma, our home-state, as the background.
This is another way to present your photos. Simply take an old frame (we found ours abandoned by the garbage) and add string and hang photos with clothes pins. 
.Bathroom Accessories: you'd be surprised how quickly a shower curtain and a bathmat can spruce up your home, and both for fairly cheap.
.Artwork: there are so many great ideas to make some art on your own. The painting below was made with masking tape and paint. Viola. You can check out other DIY wall art here.
Along with making your own artwork, I love displaying independent artists. These two photos are from a local artist in Chiang Mai, Thailand that paints scenes of the city. 
Ok so this isn't really 'artwork' per-say but we love having a map on the wall and being able to circle every new country we visit together and dream up our next get away. 
.Vases & Candle Holders: even if you don't want to go out and buy any, you can easily make your own from old wine bottles. We took the wine bottles, and made a line around it with a glass cutter. We then put a flame to the line that we made and heated it up. Last, we dipped it in ice cold water to 'shock' the glass. It doesn't give you a straight line but I like the extra character that it gives. You may also want to take a piece of sand paper to smooth the edges. We used ours for candle holders but if cut higher, they can easily be used for flowers. 
.A spot to keep your memories: This has been one of my favorite projects by far and it also helps to spruce up our bookstand a bit. We use this jar to keep ticket stubs, pieces of paper with memories written on them, or other items that remind us of both special and insignificant memories throughout the year. We then plan to read each one on New Year's day and reminisce about the previous year. You can find the tutorial here
I hope these ideas can help both fellow expats or other women on a budget! Have you tried any of these?

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