Utilitarian or Aesthetic . . . or Both?

So many of the things we surround ourselves with in our daily lives are there because they serve a practical purpose.  But all too often, functionality exists to the exclusion of beauty.  Things are placed in one of two categories: utilitarian or aesthetic.  But why can’t they be both?  Wouldn’t life be so much more fun if we made a bit of an effort to dress up the practical and surround ourselves with simple beauties?  Take your office at work, for example.  If you, like me, work in a very small space the size of most people’s closets and every square inch of your desk is covered with papers, filing shelves, computers, phones, pens, sticky notes and general clutter, you may think that there is just no room for frivolous aesthetics.  But most of us use a desk lamp so that we don’t feel like we’re working in a cave all day.  So . . .

Why not switch it from this one . . . . . . . . to this one? (courtesy of Target.com)

Or what about our pets?  Many of us have pets because we love animals and the loyal, no-strings-attached affection that they offer daily.  But does having pets mean we are doomed to a life of mess and smell and having corners of our home that we hope and pray most people won’t notice?  Or perhaps even the practical necessity of a litter box can become a cozy nook in our kitchen or bathroom:

Which would you rather have in your home? (Second image courtesy of Merry Pet)

Or maybe our child’s relatively maintenance-free but awe-inspiring pet fish can go from a small plastic water hazard in his room to a living centerpiece in the home and garner much more attention that way as well.

Practical and pretty!

Unfortunately, most of the time this concept will only go as far as the budget will allow.  The three examples above are all very reasonable ways to upgrade functional objects to a new standard of aesthetic elegance.  But there are always things we daydream about one day being able to incorporate into our generally high standard of beautiful living.  Like some day being able to transform your bed from the place that you sleep to a mid-summer-nights dream.

Of course there are much more cost-effective ways to achieve this same aesthetic, such as leafy wall murals, earthy color schemes and throw pillows. But there is just something magical about this frame that can not be denied. (Image courtesy of theberry.com)

There are so many ways to convert basic, practical, and functional things in our environment into objects of beauty as well.  Just imagining the possibilities can put a brighter spin on your day and your general outlook, knowing that you’re making the world just a little bit nicer.

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8 thoughts on “Utilitarian or Aesthetic . . . or Both?

  1. http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/making-a-beautiful-home/

    I spend a lot of time and much of my income on my home, and am fairly adamant that whatever we own and use be both useful and beautiful. My desk is a sheet of plywood and 2 by 4s (i.e. cheap, homemade) covered with a huge piece of cream-and-sage ticking I found in the Paris flea market. There is very little reason a home can’t have both, even on the tightest of budgets..I’ve found amazing things at thrift shops, consignment shops, antique shows…

  2. Great post. I love a simple life as well, and am learning to live by the four R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle, and of course Upcycle as well. I enjoyed your post.

  3. Pingback: Sustainable Food Choices – The Journey to Backyard Gardening | Nostalgia in the Making

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