Whenever the prospect of economic recession looms, conversation is often peppered with words like "belt tightening," "frugal," "thrifty," and "economical" as we scramble to change our spendthrift ways.
However, what we often overlook in our haste not to make waste is that there's no place like home to save a bundle.
Just ask architect Sarah Nettleton and landscape historian Frank Morton.
They wrote the book on the subject.
Well, not specifically about saving, but it does engage other means to that end.
"The Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough" (Taunton Press/American Institute of Architects, $40) delves into the realm of simplicity, the idea that having "enough" is often much more than we really need.
Human-scaled, low-maintenance, green, unadorned homes with straightforward floor plans and natural lighting can be a better deal than starter castles cluttered with stuff we don't use.
The key is, when we inspect our lives at home, we can often find areas where the simple life is a better, less expensive life.
It doesn't matter where we live, what kind of home we have or how much it cost. If we make it simple, the savings will come.
Enough already. A simple home offers the luxury of space in a world of clutter. When you identify your true tastes, throw out notions of what you think you should have, avoid excess clutter and maintain only the essentials, simplicity begins to set in. Sure, you need a place to eat, but does it really have to be a separate dining room?
Flexible use. Rooms can serve multiple purposes and help you get more out of what you already have. A breakfast nook can be a play area until a child ages. A kitchen can double as an art studio. Make a small screen porch more functional by installing a custom-sized table rather than going to the equity till again to enlarge the porch.
Thrift-minded simplicity. Fresh tomatoes from the garden taste better than greenhouse food. They'll also get you outdoors. Make a list of simple pleasures that delight but do not require expenditures for more stuff.
Timelessness. Avoid the attraction to "new" for "new's sake." Select a starting point for the feel of your home, edit your wish list down to one favorite image from a book or magazine. Trust your instincts. Your own style is authentic and timeless.
Sustain. Gizmos don't create sustainability. You do. Find the balance between what you can afford and what you really need. A comfy window seat tucked into a window nook in a just-right size room can be as comfortable as a large custom leather sofa in an imposing large room.
Resolve complexity. We all talk about disliking complexity in our lives, but can we walk the talk? Examine aspects of your home that prove troubling. Identify the real value of change. Is bigger really better? That new home's kitchen is darkened by the attached garage. Is saving a few steps with the groceries really worth missing the morning sun in your kitchen?