Photos by Coffee on Sunday

Before we moved into our house two years ago, I had a (very full and detailed) Pinterest board of all the things we were going to buy to decorate and fill our home. Once we actually moved in, this mindset changed when buying bigger items and figuring out how we used our space became our priority. 

I’ve found that one of my favourite things about decorating our home has been that we’ve done it gradually. We took our time finding pieces we really love and that reflect who we are as a couple. It’s been fun watching our styles come together to create a home that is 100% Alex-and-Mel. 

One of our most powerful decorating tools – to both save money in the beginning, ensure our space feels like us, and take a more minimalist approach – is using items we already own. 


Alex and I read A LOT. And while Alex isn’t as attached to physical books as I am, our bookshelves hold some of my most loved possessions. 

Our taste in books is so individual to us, which is why decorating with them will never feel generic or boring. In fact, one of my favourite ways to decorate is with books. In some spots of our home they’re arranged by theme, and in others (like on top of our piano) they’re arranged by how I felt when I read them. Stick something decorative on top of a stack of books and you’ve got your own piece of art. 

(Plus, I am of the belief that there should be books in every room of your home. They just make life richer.)


One thing that a home decor store can’t sell you is a hobby (unless your hobby is browsing through HomeSense which, lol, same). Using your passions as decor is one way to inexpensively + organically make your home feel like you. 

Alex is a long-time guitarist and he currently plays in a metal band; as you can imagine, he owns many guitars. To reduce some clutter in our basement/his office, we hung his guitars on the wall. We loved the way it looked, so we hung one in our living room as well. It’s my favourite piece of art because it’s such a distinct part of who Alex is. 

On a similar note, I’m a photographer on the side and have inherited some of my grandfather’s film cameras. They’re on display in our guest room, and I love going in there and seeing them on the shelves. 

Travel souvenirs

I don’t tend to buy a lot when I travel anymore. Long gone are the days when I’d obsessively weigh my baggage before heading to departures because I bought too many things. Having said that, if I’m going to buy something, it’s an item that I can use in my everyday life. Usually, it’s a piece of art like a painting done by a street artist, photographs bought from a local photographer, or a decorative piece (like a Portuguese bowl brought home from Lisbon).

If you have a storage box shoved under a bed somewhere with old travel souvenirs, go through it and see if there’s anything that inspires you and your space! 

Reuse older decor  

My in-laws moved into a new home a couple years before we did; we were lucky they held onto some good pieces they weren’t using anymore, because we inherited a lot of them! Decor-wise, we got two cool pieces of art that hang in our kitchen and living room respectively, and an industrial pendant light that looks perfect over our kitchen table. 

Asking your friends and family if they have any decor pieces they’re done with is a fun way to “shop.” It’s sustainable and cost-effective – and it’s fun to see how you can make something old feel new again. 

I’m a firm believer that decorating doesn’t always mean expensive or brand new. The most beautiful part of decorating your own space is that it reflects who you are as a person. 

What are some already-owned items you’ve repurposed as decor?

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