Beauty In The Everyday

beauty in the everyday - daily essentials

I’m frugal. My husband is frugal. Our parents raised us this way, because they were raised this way and their parents were raised in this same way. And although I feel so blessed to have been taught the value of a penny at such a young age, I often feel uneasy when I recognize my love and appreciation for beautiful, well-designed (often expensive) objects. My mind focuses on the price tag – my soul on the shape and the texture and the detail. It’s an inner struggle that feels petty to admit, as there are much more worthy causes than the ever-important quest for a beautiful laundry detergent.

But then I re-read this post and your tremendous comments. And I realized that, in my own life, I’m choosing quiet. I’m choosing calm and peace and beauty. And for me, that includes visual pollution. It might mean transferring boxes of cereal into non-branded containers. It might mean mixing my own cleaning solutions. Or, in today’s case, it might mean spending more on packaging that doesn’t subconsciously bring stress and energy and anxiety into my home and mind and family.

Author Charlotte Moss once wrote, “We must occasionally remind ourselves of our brief visit on this planet. Shouldn’t we try to express ourselves clearly, make a personal stamp on our environment, and pay attention to the details that make the difference?” And I suppose that’s why my surroundings are so important to me. They’re details – a loose narrative, a personal stamp, a collective visual diary of artifacts and mementos and souvenirs that illustrate our daily lives.

I want my diary entry to be one that reflects mindfulness, written with the ink of passion and soul and beauty. And whether or not the pen I hold is more expensive than its traditional alternative, it will always hold more value. Not because of the price tag, but because of the story.

Because in my opinion, being frugal doesn’t mean purchasing fewer items or cheaper products. It means living a lifestyle with little waste. With a watchful eye. With a thoughtful spirit.

A life of immense value.

A typographic box of spaghetti certainly doesn’t guarantee a life of value. But if your diary reads anything like mine, it might just provide a bit of beauty in the margins.

beauty in the everyday - daily essentials

I’m celebrating those margins today with a few functional, well-designed objects that provide beauty in the everyday (pictured above). Here’s to a beautiful diary for us all:

1. Cheese paper bags ($12) at Terrain
2. Burroughs beard oil ($28) at Prospector Co.
3. Schoolhouse cloth extension cord ($39) at Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.
4. Natural mechanical pencil ($42) at Pulp
5. Equilateral nails ($28) at Winsome Brave
6. Wood cutting board ($160) at General Store
7. Aesop cleansing masque ($39) at Artilleriet
8. Gold handle shears ($43) at Hancock’s
9. Small Batch Tonic ($32) at Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.
10. Marvis whitening mint toothpaste ($15) at Barneys New York
11. Gold coffee spoon set ($46) at Magpie & Rye
12. Hay’s cloth pegs ($23) at A+R
13. Grano Duro spaghetti ($12) at Terrain
14. One-hand tape dispenser ($125) at Canoe
15. Animal shampoo ($42) at Artilleriet
16. Ballo toilet brush ($68) at Royal Design
17. Tyvek reusable tote ($16) at Vault
18. Organic apothecary salts ($12) at Fig+Yarrow
19. Fierzo desk organizer ($58) at A+R

p.s. For utilitarian shoppers, Kaufmann Mercantile is a must visit.

  • Oh, Erin. Yet again you have stated very eloquently what many of us feel. My husband and I are both designers. We like ‘beautiful’ and ‘interesting’ and ‘well-designed’ items. But our frugality, like yours and Ken’s, often leaves us saying, “oooh! but, no.” You have made good points and I must try to remember that surrounding ourselves with a modest of beauty is much more meaningful than cluttering our lives with the cheap and mediocre. And living a peaceful, beautiful life is always money well spent.

    • Ah, I love that you and your husband are the same! “And living a peaceful, beautiful life is always money well spent.” (I love that!)

  • I feel your pain! I love beautifully designed, modern things, but have to pinch pennies and save for everything I purchase because of my frugality (thank goodness for SmartyPig!).

    I often take great roundups like the one you just posted above and scour the internet for cheaper versions or websites. For example, the Marvis toothpaste can be purchased for half the price if you go to the C.O. Bigelow website–the maker of the toothpaste. Although, Barneys is more elegant and who wouldn’t want a Barney’s box arriving on their doorstep?

    Love, love, love your style! And hope you never stop blogging. Thanks for enriching my life.

  • Why did I ever stop reading your blog?!?? Thanks for articulating how I feel;)

  • Like Maggy, I so much enjoy coming here because I always have the impression that you put words on my feelings. And not any word, BEAUTIFUL words.
    I feel like distorted between my two sides (the love of simplicity and authenticity and the love of design and beautiful objects) and again, you helped me to feel a bit better and to notice that I’m not alone.
    Thank you for that, Erin.

  • I love the examples you chose! I especially love beautiful things when they are practical and I get to use them everyday. I’d much rather use beautiful things than only get to look at them!

  • Ah yes the internal struggle. I deal with this by really tapping into my intuition and remembering that while some things are indeed expensive, if they have been made to last and with love then these things transcend the price tag and will hopefully be around for decades. My own father has shoes and suits that will outlive us all. I would like to think that in this day and age we are slowly returning to an age of quality over quantity. I for one intend to make things that will be handed down from one generation to the next.

  • Beautifully expressed Erin! Love this post! Being frugal.. was so hard for me.. until I quit my job! Now, I’m struggling to get the most beautiful things yet be frugal :) I think we all need to indulge a little bit at the same time cut down somewhere else..

  • YES, I completely understand. I love beautiful things, but I rarely splurge myself. I’m lucky that some my lust from the beautiful things is satiated by blogs and my own Pinterest collections. I feel lucky that it doesn’t work in the opposite direction, otherwise I’d be in big trouble!

    • Ha – I completely agree! Pinning something feels like you’re almost fake owning it for a bit. ;)

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