Making Do: Get Along With The Means Available

Making Do: Get Along With The Means Available

Left, Associated Press; right, Sam Oberter for The New York Times

Left, Associated Press; right, Sam Oberter for The New York Times

"Making do" is a term I just love. It is a simple phrase that captures the philosophy of using what you have. Often, making do is required when resources are scarce.

When we travel lightly, we have to make do. But we are often cheerful about it, because we are happy to be travelling. We wear the same clothes and shoes every few days and if we've forgotten to bring a sweater we make do by layering all the shirts we brought.

The harder task is to think about making do when we have the resources to buy everything we need and want. This is a major modern dilemma.

Making do in the realm of cooking is evident these days in books like Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and GraceIn fact, her book elevates the notion of making the most of everything we eat. And eating healthy, beautiful, fresh foods. She promotes a kind of getting your hands in there connection to the food we prepare. 

I would say it also a contemporary aesthetic in home design. And it is a principle of the movement to reduce reuse and recycle. Repurpose just about anything, like Coney Island Boardwalk planks, and everyone feels good.

Quite often, after a de-cluttering session for a client (or for myself), once we've moved out all that was designated "donate, recycle, discard" an amazing thing happens:

The need for more baskets, shelves or organizing materials goes away.

Image via Magic Jelly

Image via Magic Jelly

Before the project started, it seemed to the client that they needed a new bookshelf or organizing baskets or a desk. After, they discover they had what they needed all along. The old antique secretary was freed from it's former jam packed corner and repaired, it's beauty and functionality revealed. The sagging bookshelf was relieved of the unsightly broken odds and ends, extension cords, old catalogs and unwanted books and suddenly, after a wipe down, it is a lovely place to set up art supplies.

Without all our excess we find we can make do. In fact it is an unexpected pleasure. It can be had for free or close to free (if repairs are required). We realize that sometimes we have we need already, and that the impulse to go out and buy new is really just an old habit.

Up Close: Lauren's Apartment

Up Close: Lauren's Apartment

Case Study: Gushing About Art, Digging Out From Under the Past