Creating a Beautiful Home on any Budget: My Beginning
How I created a beautiful home on a budget to help heal from depression.
I’ll have a beautiful home when I have more money.
That was the lie I believed.
A big fat lie. It held me back for so many years until one day, something happened and I was determined to prove that lie wrong. That’s when I finally started to LIVE and THRIVE.
I’m so passionate about helping you achieve this for yourself that I can no longer keep it to myself. I can’t WAIT to teach you how and what I did to prove this lie wrong.
But first, a little back story into my life.
I grew up poor. My parents did the best they could but we usually lived in run down houses that needs lots of improvement. All of our furniture was mismatched hand me downs from friends/relatives. I do believe that my mom did the best she could with what we had but I was always embarrassed about our home and inviting friends over.
Our kitchen table was often full of some sort of electronics that my dad was fixing up for free to those we know. The clutter only was cleared off a few times of year, when it was someone’s birthday and friends were coming over for the birthday party.
Our garage was bursting at the seams, full of spare parts he might need. The feeling of living in a cluttered house, full of mismatched items with non-ideal furniture layouts affected me. I felt there wasn’t much I could do about it being a young child.
The one thing I could control (to some degree) was to rearrange my shared bedroom. I seemed to rearrange it once every couple of months. I would push and pull with all of my 11 yr old might to get the furniture moved around the room into new and fun layouts. Sharing a room with 2 other sisters, meant a lot of furniture and not a lot of room or privacy.
After seeing me struggle to move that last piece of furniture, only to find out that it just barely didn’t fit, my dad helped me measure and draw my room down to scale. I cut the scaled down furniture pieces out of paper and moved them around the drawn room layout. This allowed me to create a new layout that fit without having to move the real furniture first. I kept everything in a little pocket folder, ready to whip out for my next layout design whenever the switching bug itched again.
Fast forward a couple of years. I saved up and bought myself a bedroom shelf with my babysitting income. It was unfinished and I attempted how to paint furniture with that first piece. By this time, we had moved into a different home and I was living in a dark basement bedroom. It was sad and depressing with almost no natural light except for what came through a 24” non-egress window that was covered with dirt and blocked by shrubs outside. I needed light and bright or to create that light and bright feeling for myself.
I had been given my older sister’s thrifted canopy bed (with a broken canopy). It was a cream that aged to yellow with faux gold sprayed accent details on it. It showed lots of wear with partially ripped off stickers and old chewing gum marks. I decided to scrape off the junk and paint the bed white to match the bookshelf, making it feel new and pretty.
I remember using a craft foam brush, which was all I had. I don’t remember if I even asked my parents’ permission first before painting but I’m glad that they let me. Painting those pieces helped brighten that dark basement bedroom and helped me feel more comfortable in it.
In the next 2 years, I finally upgraded to an upstairs bedroom and my OWN room! Oh what a glorious day to have natural light! I immediately painted the bedroom a light lavender. I carefully decorated my room and made it as beautiful as I could.
My grandma came to visit us shortly after and upon noticing the bedding situation of my siblings and I, she took it upon herself to buy us some proper bedding. She took me shopping with her and I helped her picked out comforters that best suited the preferences of my brothers and sisters.
I saw a comforter that I fell in LOVE with. It was $10 more than the price range my grandma was buying for my siblings’ bedding sets. I didn’t think it was fair of me to ask for the one I really wanted and spend more on myself than my siblings, so I tried to pick the next best option. My grandma, being a generous and perceptive soul, knew what I really wanted. I proudly used that white with pink roses comforter every year on my bed until I got married. I would still choose it again today if it came in King size.
Fast forward several more years and now I was a mama to 2 babies 2 and under. My hubby was beyond stressed with his medical school tasks and we were poor. Our hand me down couch had foam busting out of the fabric and I couldn’t keep my toddler from wanting to rip it out and make more messes with it. I was embarrassed to have guests sit on it.
I became so determined to have a beautiful living room for our family and guests, that I became a consultant for Pampered Chef. My goal was to earn enough income to replace that couch with something comfortable and beautiful.
I also learned how to sew from reading tutorials online (this was before Youtube). I created an Etsy shop and started selling nursing covers and burp cloth sets. After a lot of hard work, balancing being a mom working out of her home and a husband who was gone all of the time, I did it! I saved up enough to buy a $480 sage green sofa and loveseat set.
We eventually moved to Michigan, far away from any family, for my husband’s residency. We added a third girl to our family. This was when I suffered the most devastating depression during and after pregnancy.
Money was non-existent, support scarce and motherhood overwhelming with 3 young children. I was worn thin from stress and a colicky baby that cried from noon until 1AM every day for the first 4 months of her life.
I cried so much during this phase of life. I was so desperate to escape my extremely stressful life. The whole house felt dark and sad. I felt dark and sad.
I went to a therapist and took some anti-depression medication but it still wasn’t enough.
But I learned something going to that therapist. He taught me that what I choose to think, will affect how I feel. How I feel would affect my actions.
I needed to start being aware of my thoughts through some journal exercises he gave me. And then I could start changing my life.
Then one day, after going through my daily scroll of beautiful home blogs, I decided enough was enough. I wanted to make my home beautiful NOW.
No more waiting until we had money.
No more waiting until the children were older.
No more waiting until hubby had time to help me with projects.
No more waiting until I had someone’s permission to make my home pretty.
No more listening to the critics that said I shouldn’t paint over wood furniture.
I was letting all of these excuses stop me from living my life and making my home MINE. It was stopping me from feeling at peace in my home.
I started devouring DIY tutorials from my favorite bloggers on how to paint furniture. I googled all I could before I had the courage to paint. I didn’t want to screw up, I wanted to do this right. I knew that painting all of my mismatched thrifted furniture would make it look brighter and cohesive. It would feel lighter, happier and more peaceful in my home, the feeling I craved.
I found free furniture and décor items on the side of the road that I knew would look good with a little paint or new fabric. In Michigan, it’s common for neighborhoods to set out these items the night before trash day, allowing those to come take the unwanted items to a new home. I would go through the nicest neighborhoods, in hopes of some discarded treasure. I even scored a treadmill from my neighbor once (thanks Liz!).
I went garage sale shopping and found incredible deals ($10-$40) on scratched up furniture that I knew would look amazing with a new paint job. I would make sure the bones were good and all of the drawers were in sturdy, working condition.
I found old paint in the basement of our rental and asked our landlord if I could use the paint. I combined several leftover cans to make enough paint to paint my bedroom a neutral beige (the current trending color).
I bought primer and a gallon of white paint for the furniture. I spent hours working in the garage, full of furniture, all at the same time. I sanded and painted over almost all of the furniture in our home. I learned a lot during this time through trial and error, working hard to complete everything.
I started noticed a shift in my mood. Instead of waking up wanting to cry and go back to sleep, I started waking up excited to make more progress on the furniture. The process of transforming the furniture was transforming me. I was climbing out of depression.
Within a couple of months, I completely transformed my master bedroom into a comfortable place of rest and rejuvenation. Every time I would look around my room, my heart would swell with pride over the work that I did and the new skills I had learned. The room now felt full of peace, beauty, rest and safety.
Check out current my Modern French Country Master Bedroom Makeover.
Or learn how I style shelves using budget decor items.
In the years and homes that I’ve decorated since, I’ve continued to use these principles.
You can’t always control what happens in life but you can control how you create your space. And how that space is designed, can create the feeling you wish to have.
Homes do matter.
What it looks like matters.
How it functions and is organized for your life matters.
How it makes you feel matters.
Even when my hubby doesn’t think I need do some new project, he later agrees how much better it feels and how it improved the space once it’s completed.
I want you to have the feeling in your home that you’re craving. Maybe you don’t know how. You don’t know where to even start with décor and furniture placement.
I believe in you, just like I believed in my depressed mama self. I’ve been there and I can’t stand to see anyone else stuck there for one more minute.
Let’s do this. I’m here to help you. Are you ready to make some changes?
Check out my Intuitive Interior Design Services.
So proud of your for sharing your story and your beautiful home! Your writing is so personal and open. Love your sweet heart and fabulous design eye! Can’t wait to read more!
Thank you Sarah! I appreciate that so much. Love you dear friend!