HOW-TO: NEST WITHOUT BUYING NEW S#@*!

WORDS & IMAGES: NICOLE STANTON

So often, newness and being cognizant of one's environmental impact are incompatible. Buying new things is tempting, but often stressful when holding a vacant wallet or when considering the resources it takes to make a new couch. I faced these challenges when attempting to make my new, white, bare apartment resemble a handcrafted, well-loved home.It's not there yet, by any means, but I'm learning it takes time. The intention of these words is to give a few hints, a few pokes and prods to inspire using the old to make anew, even if it is a bit more challenging. 

Dumpster diving is something I never thought I would do, until wandering some alleys on the way home from work and finding beautiful, barely used furniture sitting on the curb. The wooden chair in the photo above was outside an art studio, it's nicked with paint and glue, cared for and well-worn. A friend was moving out of an apartment and had a cupboard, marble topped perfect for my bedside table. Finding furniture has been a bit of a treasure hunt -- peeking through the classifieds for free things, and joining local "swap" groups on Facebook to watch for unwanted gems. Ask friends, ask strangers, check your local thrift stores, and keep eyes peeled for garage sales. 

The parts of my home that feel most like "me" are the knick-knacks -- the clutter on the window sills, the bowls full of this and that. These are the parts that most often remind me of loved ones. In my room now, the dried roses in a Mason jar contains a thoughtful gesture from a lover. The silver plate with feathers and pressed wildflowers spilled out of a letter from a dear friend. The succulent and orchid were given to me to welcome me into my home. Clusters of photos remind me of cherished moments. The dried tea bags hanging along a strand of twine were saved on the window sill of my last home, now reminders of a place and a people that are far from me. 

Making your space sacred and your own is one of the first steps to making roots in a new city or town. It can feel stressful to not have the resources to fill a blank space immediately, but with time it can feel handcrafted and extra sweet -- made up of this and that, a collage of past homes, loved ones, things lost and things found.