Feature Home: Second Hand Decorating for the Home

I have  just met Ruth Dean and I already like her.  Ruth runs a B & B on a river in Tasmania and is featured in the gorgeously happy September issue of Country Style Magazine. She’s a chef, mum of three and second hand shopping expert!  I’m chatting to Ruth today about the secrets to second hand decorating in the home and what it’s like to run a B & B. Ruth, your B & B is officially on my to-visit list.

What are some of the values you’ve brought to your life in Tasmania, and how you aim to raise your children?

The move to Tasmania was a major decision in our life. My ex husband made the decision as he always loved Tasmania.  We made the decision as we felt the children could experience a different lifestyle. We could afford to have an acre of land in a very special spot, lots of space and live in a small community. I wanted my children to realise there is more to life than shopping centers, fast life and a materialistic lifestyle. To answer your question about what values are important to me, below are the main ones:

  • To instill in my children to respect, care and support family and friends.
  • To realise how lucky we are to have each other, a roof over our heads and our health.
  • The importance of looking after our world.
  • To laugh and enjoy the small things in life.

{space for a vege garden}

River Cottage B & B Tasmania -- Vegetable garden

“I wanted my children to realise there is more to life than shopping centers, fast life and a materialistic lifestyle.”

What are your tips for organising your home so family life is functional but fun?

I do think the feel of the space is important. The children are lucky enough to have their own bedrooms so we keep toys in their room and when they want to play in the living room, they can, but we pack it up after. Most things have a home, and I do try to reduce clutter as much as possible. The children help out a lot with jobs around the home; we call ourselves the Deans team.  When we have finished tidying up, we play a game together. When it comes to cooking, the children have their own night and I get the night off!   They have fun and we get to experiment with some interesting food combinations.

“The children help out a lot with jobs around the home; we call ourselves the Deans team.”

What are some of the benefits of second hand shopping?

The main buzz I get from second hand shopping is when I really find a bargain!  I couldn’t afford to decorate or change a room if I bought new, so expense is a main benefit. And it is exciting to do something up, give it a second life and it looks good!

decorating with second hand pieces

“Laugh and enjoy the small things in life. “

Does shopping on a budget mean you can’t make your home comfortable and special?

I know there is a bit of a stigma to shop second hand but I think your crazy if you don’t! I love it and am very proud of it! I think it makes your home even more special and unique; you don’t have to follow other people’s trends. I think our house is very comfortable.

“[Second hand shopping] makes your home even more special and unique; you don’t have to follow other people’s trends.”

How would best describe your sense of design style?

Eclectic. Buy something because you love it not just because you saw it in the latest mag. If you don’t like something in your house, get creative and give it a coat of paint; add something to it make it fun!

{the kitchen}

second hand decorating -- kitchen

Image Credit: Country Style Magazine Spring 2011, page 39

“Buy something because you love it not just because you saw it in the latest mag.”

How do you get a sense of what matches and still retain a strong sense of style in your home since many pieces are random and unrelated?

Don’t overdo or over clutter. For example, if you have a set of retro canisters, put them on a shelf by themselves; give them their own identity. Even better: make them useful; I have all my bits and bobs stored in my retro canisters. Another example: I have an antique jug and use it as a vase and put flowers from the garden in it.

decorating with second hand pieces teapot as planter

“Don’t overdo or over clutter.”

 Tell me about your favourite room.

Tough question. I love my kitchen as it works and is functional; being a chef, I enjoy cooking in it. However my bedroom is amazing as I have a wall of glass and look at the stars at night and river all day! Very lucky.

{view from bedroom}

decorating with second hand pieces -- view from bedroom

“I look at the stars at night and river all day.”

What is your favourite second hand object find?

I enjoy using the old stainless steel washing machine inserts. I use them as flower pots and I have one in the garden as a fire pit.

{washing machine insert planter}

decorating with second hand pieces -- washing machine insert as planter

What is it really like running a B & B?

Really hard work and a lot of cleaning! That is the truth, but what we get from it out weighs the hard work. I love sharing our space with people.  It means a lot to them and I love that. The guests pick fresh vegetables out of our garden, have a bottle of wine near the river and we get to know them. We have met some amazing people who still stay in contact!

river cottage b & B tasmania ruth dean

“I love sharing our space with people.”

River Cottage B & B Tasmania

354 Deviot Road, Deviot.

Contact Ruth Dean: 0410 54 1144

Price List

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow Ruth. You’ve created something very speical for your family. Thank you so much for sharing your tips for second hand shopping. There really is so much gold out there!

    I love look of your B & B, and the simple pleasures it affords. I want to move in! I am book marking this and I’ll look you up for when my husband and I visit Tasmania.

  2. says

    You’re in such a nice spot there on the Tamar, Ruth. Just gorgeous. I’m actually based in Devonport, so am nodding at your Tasmanian references.
    And love the things you’ve been able to pick up. I like the stainless steel washing machine inserts. I think they would work quite well in our garden.
    :)

  3. says

    I love secondhand/op shopping! You just never know what treasure you will find. Sometimes it’s nothing … other times you hit the jackpot! Our last house was a tiny worker’s cottage, and we had to get rid of all our furniture because it just wouldn’t fit. So we practically had to start from scratch. It was fully, very comfortably and stylishly set up 90% thanks to second hand shops / recycle land at the dump / op shops! Everything from window blinds, curtains, glass shelves, beds, light shades … it was amazing! And the habit continues in our new abode too :-)

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