overcoming decorating paralysis :: dress up your ugly duckling
Friday, August 16, 2013 by {darlene}

Sometimes {often!}, money and time do not allow for changes in our home decorating.

Should this paralyze us? Should we live surrounded by ugly duckling things that make us frown? NO! I say! No we shall not!

Instead, we shall get creative, by golly.

 {this post is part of my Overcoming Decorating Paralysis series}

ugly duckling

I have an ugly duckling in my home: My dining room table and chairs:

ugly duckling Not my style. But a solid hand-me-down nonetheless. We have had this set for 13 years.

Now, I have always appreciated her for her value: Free. War-horse. Indestructible. Child-friendly. Filled with a lovely past {my husband ate at this table as a wee one}. Hailing from the 70’s. Good solid foundation and roots.

But you know about me and my visions: How about a Farmhouse Simplicity pine farm-table for 10, with dramatic High-Gloss Glamour chairs surrounding her?  THAT is more what I have had in mind for Fieldstone Hill.

About a year ago, the chairs went to the curb with a sign that read “FREE.”  And, I scored another set of 6 on Craigslist for $50. They have gorgeous Louis lines that I love, and good bones. But they had rattan caned backs. Boys and caning do not mix, people. So, Sadly these are now ugly ducklings as well. But ugly ducklings with hope, I tell ya.

ugly duckling

Torn up chairs, and a faux wood plastic-coated table??

So what do I do with these ugly ducklings?

How to overcome the paralysis of an ugly duckling:

1. I dress them up.

When you dress up an ugly duckling, dress it up with something VERY LOVELY! But also, do not make a big investment. The goal is to be able to save up to change out the ugly duckling someday.

ugly duckling table top

My faux wood table needs all the help it can get, but I have to stay realistic with two young boys in the house. So I chose simple, washable cotton placemats in a gorgeous green for my base layer. Then, I had fun with some simple plate layering: hand-thrown pottery favorites on the bottom, and everyday luxury plates from Villeroy and Boch on top. Those little orange plates make me so happy! Top it off with washable napkins and lucite {read: non-breakable} napkin rings, and it is so pretty. One barely notices the tabletop surface.

ugly duckling post Villeroy Boch closeup ugly duckling place setting

2. I don’t apologize for them.

{okay well, sometimes I apologize for the chairs. But that is only when a small child falls through the back of them…}

Everyone has an ugly duckling or two in their homes. We always think that people notice the “eye-sores” in our homes first. But the truth is, most guests take in the overall feel of our home. That is the first reason not to apologize. Why draw attention to what was going unnoticed anyway?

The second reason not to apologize is that it really is not all that important in the scheme of things. I may have, what I think is, an ugly table. But, I am thankful that I have a table. The end.

{a view of our table through the back of our very broken chair. Thanks to a very cute 5 year old}:

ugly duckling through the chair

3. I make sensible plans to change my ugly ducklings into swans.

I don’t have to live with my ugly ducklings forever. I simply don’t. With discipline and creativity:

1. I could save up the funds needed to replace the duckling.
2. I could recover the ducklings in swans clothing, if the bones are good.
3. I could DIY myself a new duckling.

Yes, now we are talking time and money. But, eventually, we should make the effort to replace things in our homes that we truly do not love.

Eventually, for my chairs, I am thinking more like this, but with gold leather {for more inspiration pics, click here}:

dining room chairs inspiration {via Architectural Digest}

{if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen the good news that I just sent my dining room chairs off to the upholsterer! Hooray. After living with no backs on half of our chairs for a year}:

And for my table, more like this:

pine plank table

 {via ourhomemadehappy }

Meanwhile, when I am waiting for “someday” with these ugly ducklings, I am bound and determined to enjoy every square inch of my home. I will dress it up, and wear it out, and laugh in it, and enjoy it, and fill it to the brim with memories.

Someday, when that table is carried away, you had better believe I will miss it.

Because it will be filled to the brim with life, and the sweet stuff of life that goes with it.

Tell me about your Ugly Ducklings. How can you dress it up… today even?

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Villeroy and Boch sent me those gorgeous orange plates and asked me to share them with my readers via pictures. All opinions are my own.

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Labeled: overcome decorating paralysis

14 Comments

  • What a fantastic reminder to be content. Something I struggle with, but you are so right-people see the “feel” of your home (that made sense in my head), not the ugly ducklings. Well said, Thank you!!!

  • TKraft Art & Interiors

    To tell you the truth I’m pretty surprised it’s not already painted with Chalk Paint at least for the interim. My ugly duckling was all beat up and neglected, I was able to acquire a twelve foot long table from an old library for $50, price to haul it home. Looks similar to your inspiration photo via ‘our home made happy’. So what if it only fits in one spot between the two windows… we built 5 benches to seat 20 people, but you’re right I wouldn’t trade it for the world knowing all the history and stories she holds.

  • i have used/transformed many an ugly duck in 42 yrs of homekeeping but this latest one has me stumped. we are currently moving rooms and their functions around and working on a new guest room which is coastal with aquas, creams, blues and a hit of pink because the vintage 60s en suite bath is pink tile/toilet. we also have been blessed with a 2nd gran love and our daughter & family visit every couple of months so we bought a craigs list crib. it looked soldier or navy blue in the photo but turns out is dutch boy blue…like really bright blue! solid as a rock so i can’t ask the hubby to take it down/set it up all the time. it is killing me. just painted ben moore’s palladian blue on the walls, furniture is all winter white, shuttered look. painting it is unrealistic since i had two hand surgeries this year and kept dropping the brush when i was doing the trimwork. looks pretty cute when there’s a baby in it…but the rest of the time? not so much. ginormous slipcover comes to mind…any suggestions?…anybody? HELP

    • What about putting it in the corner and putting a room divider in front of it? A simple one with a frame of 2×2’s then staple on wax paper. That would be cheap and easily done. Also should be light enough to hang the frames from the ceiling, then taken down for the crib to be in use. That’s my two cents worth! I’m sure Darlene can help you better than I, she is a professional and is brilliant on top of that!

  • let me say, i AM super grateful for “needing” a crib…my grans are adopted so you know the drill…and super blessed that my daughter loves to visit…and super lucky to have an extra bedroom. not complaining, there is plenty of ugly here to go around all over the ouse…just looking for solutions. thanks :-)

  • I love this series of yours, and I love this post. I agree, we all have things we would like to update that will take awhile to get there, so make the best of them while they’re here. I love the idea of your chairs and can’t wait to see what they’ll look like after the upholsterer gets a hold of them!

  • I love that you wrote this, especially the part about being thankful you have a table. I’m linking your post in my Friday Finds today, I liked it so much!

  • We were given a book when we first got married written by a pastor who suggested newly married couples not purchase expensive furniture and such for several years so that they could grow into their style and decide how they live, save, etc. That’s wisdom, and that’s pretty much what we did. So by the time we started purchasing furniture (about 5 years in), we had some money to work with and they were classic choices that will last us many years. We’ve also done as you have- dressed it up or we’ve even just done without.

  • Your choice to be sweetly content with your ugly ducklings is balm to my spirit. Such a nice change from the usual bloggers’ bane of gotta make it pretty. I have old black leather living room furniture that is not going anywhere soon and I have truly made my peace with that.

  • […] please smile and tell me I am totally right :)  Darlene at Fieldstone Hill Design posted about ugly duckling furniture a couple weeks back and this is mine.  When I nurse Miss E I sit in the armchair opposite and […]

  • Thanks for the pictures and ideas. Really good ideas. Dining room is really superb. We won’t stop eating!

  • Currently I have a lot of ugly ducklings the biggest one being my home itself. However I am thankful to have a home! We bought it for the property knowing we would build. The building is years off though so we live in an old mobile home. It is super affordable though and has allowed us to upgrade some furniture. We recently got a desk that we have needed for some time. We got our girls the new white beds I have always dreamed for them. We upgraded our sons bunk beds. We are getting new couches in two weeks! Super excited, the most affordable way I could dress up my ugly duckling is pretty curtains but I love my big windows and natural light. First I want a patio set to enjoy the outdoors more. Then a new table set and last new dressers for the kids. Sorry, didn’t mean to write a book. I get carried away just thinking about it but then that is half the fun!

  • Just an idea but you can buy replacement rattan pieces and just remove the old ones. I know you want to go with the gold leather but as i said it was just an idea. I remember watching a 3 part series on youtube on how to renovating an old chair with rattan…to be honest it looked like a heck of a lot of work and i personally dont have the time to learn a new skill right now as i am sure you dont, but then i saw another youtube tutorial on how to repair a chair with rattan already made pieces that you can buy…not here in Portugal I am sure but in the USA no problem. Its just a thought until you can afford the gold leather.

    As for ugly duckling pieces I paint everything.

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