Tuesday, 4 March 2008

A Teacup

I saw this beautiful cup and saucer on eBay last week and fell instantly in love with them. They’ll look just right in my kitchen when it’s finished and I can already see the cup filled with a bunch of tiny flowers from the garden or perhaps holding a little candle. If I wanted, I could even use it in my bedroom, filled with some gorgeous scented pot pourri or I might even grow a small plant in it, like a pink African Violet or a baby spider plant.

From a practical point of view, I didn’t need it; it isn’t something that will make my life easier in any way so some would say that if I’m serious about simple living, I shouldn’t have wasted my money on ‘knick knacks’. But aesthetics are important to me. If my surroundings aren’t beautiful then I soon feel depressed, so I could argue that I do indeed need things like this little china teacup.

I'm sure this need to be surrounded by beauty is part of our natural design; we were meant to live surrounded by the beauty of nature and the only way we can satisfy that is by bringing beauty – in whichever form we feel it should take – into our homes.

But having a beautiful home doesn’t have to cost the earth – either figuratively or literally. This little cup and saucer cost just over £3 on eBay, including P&P, and looking at it brings me more pleasure than a £50 designer vase or a Burberry mug ever would (yes, apparently they do mugs, too!). When I see it I think about its origins and the people who may have used and loved it before me. I look at the exquisite detail in the design and think about how beautifully nature’s represented through a simple piece of china. To me, it’s nothing short of perfect. But then I'm a sucker for pretty florals, lace and dainty little things.

This, to me, is what frugal – or simple - décor is about. It isn’t about not having nice things; it’s about finding pleasure in things that don’t have to carry a high price tag or designer label to be of any value and aren’t necessarily the latest ‘in’ thing to have. Whether you're into retro, minimalist, vintage, urban chic or whatever, there are things out there that won't break your budget, aren't being mass produced in third world sweatshops and aren't the same as every other Tom, Dick and Harry have. You just have to look for them.

Sharon J

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or
believe to be beautiful. - William Morris


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Anonymous said...

'need', is a relative thing. If that cup and saucer gives you a lot of pleasure, then it is well worth it.

Chris said...

I agree! I think you really did need it and am pleased you were able to have it!

Sharon J said...

'Need' is indeed relative, as long as it isn't a artificial need that's been placed in our minds through insidious marketing schemes.

I'm pleased I got it too, Chris. I've decided that the bedroom will be its new home - filled with pot pourri it'll look lovely on the bedside table.

beanpole said...

my problem with this is that I never see things I like in charity shops when I go in them with my friend who also likes things like your cup set. My taste is to modern to find second hand so I dont have any choice but to buy new things.

Sharon J said...

Hmmm... the only thing I can suggest is maybe modifying your style slightly to incorporate some funky second-hand stuff. A lick of paint and a bit of imagination can do wonders too when it comes to turning something old into something trendy. The web's full of ideas, it's just a matter of putting them to work for you.

Not that I'm trying to tell you what to do, I'm merely making suggestions. It's up to each of us to decide what our priorities are.

the anners said...

That quote is so lovely, and what a great way to figure out what to cut down on in your home.

Sharon J said...

Yes, it is a lovely quote and a question I always ask myself nowadays before buying anything. That along has helped me a lot :)

Katie Wudel said...

I always worry about ordering things online because of shipping. Isn't that why we buy local food? But I do purchase many of my books used online, and most of my clothes, too. What do you think about this?

Sharon J said...

Hi Katie, nice of you to drop by :)

You raise a good question there. Here in the UK, because we're a small island, I don't have a problem with it as most of the mail, which includes small packages, is moved by rail. I don't order anything from eBay that comes from overseas though and don't even look at items that are posted by US sellers as there are too many carbon miles involved. Also, I always use the "show nearest first" funtion when searching.

It's probably different for you as I'm guessing a lot of what you might bid on comes from out of state.

As for buying used clothes, I suspect that the majority of new items come from overseas anyway so the carbon problem related to transport might actually be less when buying through eBay and certainly the pollution caused through production, not to mention workers' conditions, is minimised.

All in all, I think you have to look at all sides of it before making a decision.

Katie Wudel said...

Thanks for your thoughts! :)