You can live well, and even feel like you live luxuriously, if you just separate what marketing tells us is 'luxurious' as opposed to the things that really stand the test of time in the lives of the truly wealthy.
Here are some of my favourites.
1. Monogramme or personalise household items. You can monogramme serviettes, pillowcases, handkerchiefs, or even personalised gift ribbon ordered online. A monogramme can be flowing script stitched in embroidery floss and fancy stitches, or block letters stitched in wool and running stitch and look equally effective. If embroidery is beyond you, look to stencilling or ordering ribbon printed with 'made by (insert your initials)' with which to tie your home made gifts. This in itself elevates home made to a whole new level. Etsy has many shops who offer this service. What about just stencilling your initials onto wooden handled kitchen utensils. Even that makes stirring the spaghetti sauce special.
I have an entire alphabet of monogrammes, downloaded from needlenthread.com, which is also a wonderful resource for learning to embroider.
2. Wear lovely lingerie. Yes even if you're 'of a certain age'. Why not? The pleasure of sliding into gorgeous lace trimmed undergarments should not be limited to the young. You don't imagine Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey slipping into industrial strength lycra, do you? Lingerie is incredibly easy to make yourself, and whilst some of us might need more support, this doesn't have to mean that you can't at least trim those garments with something that makes them pleasurable to wear.
Here's my much viewed post on making lingerie from recycled sheets.
3. Support the Arts. Now you may not be into Ballet. We are, as The Diva has danced since the age of two. She also sings and acts, and is heavily involved in Community Theatre. So we actually have several opportunities to support the Arts in our city, without paying a fortune. But even if you're not arty, try local dance studio recitals, University, School and College showcases, and community theatre. These are a fabulous way to support up and coming talent, and pay far less than you would to see 'the big shows'. We're often pleasantly surprised at the standard too. Some have been better than 'the big shows'. True.
4. Eat lots of fresh, unprocessed food. Grow some if you can. Even a simple thing like mint and chives in a salad, adds something special to a meal. The rich and famous don't fill up on stodge. They are choosy, and will only eat the best.
My Quinoa Salad is a perfect example. Quinoa steamed with vegetable stock, and tossed with chilli, coconut flakes, coriander (cilantro) and mint. Utterly delicious, and so fresh and light.
5. Make every meal beautiful. A simple thing like setting the table, and laying out utensils tied with slips of organza or satin ribbon, add an air of celebration to a meal. Remember when Sunday was always Roast Night? Why not reinstate a special weekly meal, be it lunch or dinner, and set the table with a theme. Tie the cutlery and serviettes together with twine and set it with rustic ironstone or mix and match cutlery, or drag out the heirloom china and beribbon your utensils.
A checkered cloth and red glassware, a black and tan stripe with sunny yellow candlesticks, or fine linen and thrifted silver. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you make an effort. I don't think Kate and Wills, or Kim and Kanye depending upon your interests, eat from their laps in front of the TV.
6. Add a tassel here and there. I adore tassels and have started making my own. Little tassels on the doorknobs of the house, and the smaller knobs of furniture just make things look more lush. They can be silk floss, beaded, rustic calico and offcuts, or sequinned and embroidered. It's just such a lovely touch to reach to open a door, and brush your hand against something so gorgeous. A seemingly insignificant action, becomes luxurious in itself.
7. Always have a few special ingredients on hand to liven up a simple meal. Having mentioned herbs, let's not forget things like a gorgeous relish or confit to add to a plain old burger or cheese sandwich, for a touch of five star.
8. Become a collector or a connoisseur. I collect vintage kitchen items, and I'm very specific about what I like. It has to be Harlequin, where the items in a set are in a rainbow palette, or soft pink or green. And it has to be within a certain price range. I don't waste my time, money or energy, on anything that doesn't fit this description. It's taken me many years to build my collection to a size where it's actually useable, but now that I'm there, I'm truly proud of it. I'll share photos of that soon.
My daughter collects cameos. She has one or two special inherited ones, and some that have been gifted to her. A few of those go back as far as when she chose them as treats over an outing when she was really little. Funny little thing she was. But who can complain about a child that wants a cameo over a trip to a theme park! The great thing about that too, is that when we were on our Meditteranean cruise, she did not waste money on insignificant touristy purchases. At the tender age of 15, she saved her hard earned money to buy a special cameo in Naples. I was really proud of her.
The one below was a gift....
9. Commission a self portrait. Yes really! I don't mean asking the local noteworthy artist to paint your likeness. Ask your children (child or adult!) to do it. Or do it yourself. Photos are nice, but a painting is very special!
A great way of doing this is to stand in front of a mirror, and trace the outline of some of your features with a dark creamy lipstick. Grab some blank paper, and press it onto the lipstick outline, rubbing firmly to transfer the image, then use that as your template for your portrait.
Sometimes it's the things you leave out of your outline that make your portrait artworthy, so be restrained. The shape of your face, your eyebrows and one side of your nose, the upper lip, but just the middle of the lower lip, eyes and lids but not lashes, a few strands of hair. Frame it as is, or go wild with paint, pastels, or collage to turn your portrait into a work of art. I'll be sharing my Christmas portraits and a tutorial soon, so you can see how easy this really is!
Of course, children are a great source of artistic talent, and I have several portraits done by my children that are frame worthy. You probably do too.
10. Use the power of fragrance to make an impact. A simple thing like a signature hand wash or hand lotion can make a huge impression on people. We use a gorgeous Molton & Brown Naran Ji handwash here, and everyone, down to The Divas school friends, comments on it, and how lovely your hands smell after using it. I dilute it 1:5 in a foaming bottle, and each Molton Brown bottle lasts a whole year. Just as well at nearly $50! But we love it so much, and The Diva gets lovely comments all the time about how our home smells all Frenchy and yummy.
I also use an Avon Vanilla Soy hand cream that The Diva and The Musician Husband both love to snuggle up to. You'll love the way your family and friends react, and even better how you'll feel, when you surround yourself with beautiful scents.
What's your favourite way to live luxuriously for less?