Most of us don’t live in perfect houses. We live with random furniture handed down and collected over time. We may live in a less-than-ideal rental or a home that was not custom built perfectly for our taste and needs. Things may be deteriorating faster than we can afford to fix or replace them. When faced with a choice of paying for braces for the kids or updating our furniture, the braces probably will win out.

Yet while decorating the house might seem frivolous when kids need to be fed and bills need to be paid, creating a home you love to live in is not necessarily a sign of misplaced priorities. I think loving the home you have while living within your means can be an act of gratitude for what God has provided.

While it would be helpful and even so much easier to feel the love for a home with more funds or mad DIY skills, I think there is a middle ground for the rest of us on a budget of time and money – the art of creatively living with what you have. Whether you rent or own, you can love where you live and still keep your current priorities in order.

You can see photos in this post of some of my extremely simple “creative solutions” for loving my own imperfect home on a budget of time and money.  Sometimes it just takes a little creative touch to make something better than it was, even if it can’t be perfect in this season of life. That is often my goal with a project, just to make it better than it was!

There are so many simple ways to fall more in love with your home when we can accept our limitations and make the best of what we have.

Living intentionally and creatively makes it possible to love your home no matter what kind of house you have or what your budget is!

Do you enjoy using what you have to creatively decorate and fix up your home? 

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  1. 1

    I love the reminder that our goal can be better, not necessarily perfect. Mmmm, that is a recurring theme for me, I think! Thanks for the practical encouragement!

  2. 2

    Love, love, LOVE this! What great ideas! The other thing that I do to freshen up a room is to add a really small and inexpensive plant or two. Even if you don’t have a green thumb you can get a pathos (the ones that grow in vines with heart shaped leaves and come either solid or variegated). They are easy keepers and the trailing green vines can brighten up any dark room or furniture!

  3. 5

    I love these ideas, and it’s true that creating a beautiful environment for your family doesn’t have to break you and shows great love and appreciation for what you do have.

  4. 6

    I couldn’t agree more. The “makeovers” that truly make a difference to me are the simple quick ones I do to make my living space just better.

  5. 7

    Oh, yes! I’m learning to love the rental home we’re in, which I think is so small. I’ve been learning that some of the ‘things’ we have we don’t love, so out they go, slowly but surely. I can say that I’m thankful for this little home, and try to see it’s flaws as quirks to grow me ;) My husband and I are working on the kitchen so that we can have a table to eat at. He didn’t have one growing up, and experienced it with my family. Now he wants/desires one very much so. I love simple solutions, and thinking out of the box! :)

    Hospitality begins with being content in our hearts, so that is my goal for my home. Also, to know that I’m blessing my family first, by making our home lovely, desirable.

    Thanks for this post!!! Love your befores and afters!

  6. 9

    mmm … when life hands us lemons, we can choose to make lemonade!

    love these ideas!

  7. 10

    This couldn’t have been better timing! I’m getting married in three weeks and moving into my fiance’s apartment as our first home together. I lost almost everything I owned three years ago and have been afraid to invest in decorating and “unnecessary” things since then, but recently God’s been showing me how healing and restorative it is to our souls to have a beautiful place to call home. Thanks so much for sharing the inspiration!

    • 11

      It is true, there is a distinction between investing in “things” for the sake of having stuff and creative a beautiful place to call home. I hope you find much healing in your new home! :-) Congratulations!

  8. 12

    This is such a great post. I recently moved in with my boyfriend and much of our furniture is mismatched or inherited by others. It’s not quite how I want it to look yet, but sometimes I have to focus on the little things that I can change or spruce up, rather than starting over from scratch. It will get there in due time, but i think spending time working on it and having patience as the process unfolds over months and even years is what will make us appreciate our home when we finally get it to where we want it. I love your idea for layer rugs and adding some personality to bookshelves. Great post!

  9. 13

    Yes, I’ve learned to love using a lot of what I already have! It’s been a process but I enjoy the value so much more this way and I know I’ve made efforts to create a unique-to-us feel for the home, rather than a carbon copy of someone else’s. I still love to borrow ideas from others since I can tend to be creatively challenged – then I tweak them to work for us. Great post!

  10. 14

    This really speaks to my heart right now.
    “There are so many simple ways to fall more in love with your home when we can accept our limitations and make the best of what we have.”

    It really is all about making the best of what we have and are given. I also keep trying to remind myself that it is not material possessions that fill a house, the floor coverings or the paint on the walls that make a house a home…it’s the love and family that truly create “home”. I admit that some days I look at the chipped paint, hand-me down furniture, etc. and need a lot of extra reminding!

  11. 15

    Many of us (me especially) have accumulated lots of lovely things over the years. Through my many moves much of it has stayed packed away. My goal in my “new” home it to use many of those items and hopefully see them in a new and fresh way. Right now my challenge is to unpack an organize my things in such a way that I can ‘shop’ them later for decorating and entertaining.
    Thanks for your encouragement and joyful spirit.

  12. 16

    Love these hints. I also add palms or other inexpensive house plants as easy and cheap fillers. And it’s amazing how a large live plant can change a room for the better!

  13. 17
    Tracey H. says:

    So loved reading your easy tips to decorating and on a budget:0)!! Thanks

  14. 18

    I’m with Missy Jane and you on this one. I fight constantly with things being perfect because I am a melancholy personality. I have never ever been pleased with anything I sew because I ALWAYS see my imperfections but no one else does. lol I have always been my own worst critic. BUT I AM learning and really working on it. LOVE your ideas!

  15. 19

    I really needed this today. My husband is taking a new pastor job and the house they are providing is well, let’s just say it hasn’t been lived in for YEARS. So many ideas are racing through my mind on how I’m going to make this home work for our family. I love your ideas you had posted. Perhaps I’ll just focus on one thing at a time and continue to feel ever so grateful that a home is provided for us.

  16. 20

    Great post! I’m right there with the no funds, except that I also have NO eye for decorating, whatsoever! lol. I have always seen decorating as a somewhat frivolous thing (and still do to some extent), however, I also believe it’s important for our homes to be a sanctuary of sorts, and that includes loving it, keeping it at least somewhat tidy, etc. Blessings to you!

  17. 21

    I loved the title of this post; it is how I feel about my home. This was very encouraging to me right now. And I plan on doing some sprucing up to make it more homey, so that I can love coming home to it. I’m almost there.

    God Bless you and thank you for sharing all the great ideas!

  18. 22

    Thank you! I have been doing this for years. It is so easy to compare to the neighbors with new homes and new furnishings and it can be hard to be content with what I have. Thank you for sharing this post!

  19. 23

    Great post and timely since I am currently in that process. We are moving to a rental house. I actually love the house but the kitchen has wallpaper that is not what I would have chosen. It’s not ugly just dated. The owners have graciously said that I can remove it and paint. I plan on doing that but not immediately since we are moving in, unpacking, and beginning homeschool. So I’m going to paint a few pieces that will go with what’s there and I think it will look fine for now. Other than the wallpaper, we feel very blessed to find a rental house that we really like since it will be our home far atleast 3 years. And making do with what I have has been the story of my life also for 20 plus years. It will probably never change and that’s okay with me.

  20. 24
    Amber Kemp says:

    This is a great post. Your ideas you shared are so great! Thanks for the encouragement.

  21. 25

    I agree, beautiful homes are wonderful “eye candy” but not embedded in reality. The vast majority of people have to “make do” with what they have, because finances are stretched in other ways. I have moved so many times in my life and to different countries that I have lost count, but I always managed to create a warm, cosy home for my husband and family. A home they loved to return to each day. In later years children don’t remember what their home looked like, but the love and security they found there. Best Wishes Daphne

  22. 26
    Louise says:

    Flaws-quirks-lemons versus creativity, love, gratitude, hospitality, restorative: one can go from the undesirable to the ideal in this post and end up feeling better. Here’s a thought for Diane about getting a look at all her stuff that’s been boxed up, then “shopping” it. Someone once mentioned that she had put open standing shelving in her basement, lots of it, and put every single item on a shelf, almost like a store with things on display. No messy boxes, the ability to see everything you have, easy remove-and-return. I have not done this but think there’s genius there. Thank you always for the grounding and good ideas.

  23. 27
    Beth Williams says:

    Loved the simple decorating ideas! I don’t like spending tons of money to “decorate” my home. I’m not one to keep up with the Jones’–just want a nicely put together home filled with love!

  24. 28

    Thank you for this post. It has really helped me remember to be grateful for the camper trailer that we live in and just to use what I have to make it “better than it was” and to make it as homey as possible for my family.

  25. 29

    ‘Yet while decorating the house might seem frivolous when kids need to be fed and bills need to be paid, creating a home you love to live in is not necessarily a sign of misplaced priorities. I think loving the home you have while living within your means can be an act of gratitude for what God has provided.’

    Love this post and all the ideas! Growing up we never had money for pretty things, if we needed furniture it was always second hand and so everything was a bit mismatched. When I got married we started off with second hand / hand me down stuff with the plan to slowly replace it as we could afford to. But I felt sooo guilty for spending our money on nice things even though we’d worked hard to achieve them.

    Slowly but surely God has been showing me that it’s ok to have beauty in my home. In fact it is a good thing. A few years ago my parents (who’d never owned anything brand new) decided to replace a few things in their living area and (gasp!) went and bought a brand new matching set of furniture. I was floored to hear my father (of all people) to comment on how it really lifted the mood in the home and made things a lot cheerier. That did me the world of good to hear that!

    Now that we’re renovating an old home (on a shoe string budget) I’m loving keeping an eye on a couple of local antique/second hand shops that deal in the kind of furniture we love for a reasonable price…and when a suitable piece comes along all it usually needs to cheer it up is a good scrub and a fresh coat of paint…oh and often a new metal handle to replace the garish green plastic thing somebody put on it in the seventies!

  26. 30

    “creating a home you love to live in is not necessarily a sign of misplaced priorities.”
    I love that you said this. I think about this a lot… I want to create a happy, healthy space for my family, but at the same time, I don’t want to get all caught up in consumer more useless stuff.
    P_S- I love the book shelf idea and the cabinets!

  27. 31

    LOVE this post. I struggle with this all the time.

    Also I thought you might like to know the link to your blog in your bio box is incorrect. The url has two the’s in your title and it doesn’t go to your awesome blog. I was so inspired by the post I went to check it out and it didn’t work. Just thought you might like to know! :)

  28. 33

    Thank you so much for this post! We just signed a lease for another year at our apartment- it’s a small second story walk up with no washer/dryer and we have a new baby. I’m struggling to be content but inspired to make our little place feel like home! Love the ideas!

  29. 34

    Hi, Melissa,
    I saw your post at simplemom.net an I had to stop by. I love these before and after pictures, the difference is amazing. Great tips!

  30. 35

    Totally loved this, and want more, more, more of this type of post!

  31. 37

    Loved this post!

    I did a front hallway redo for $6.42 last year using mostly what I already had. http://comewearymoms.blogspot.com/2011/06/room-redo-1-front-hallway.html

    Then I did a front of the house makeover and a desk area for my bedroom:
    http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2012/04/not-so-extreme-makeover-front-of-our.html
    http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2012/06/desk-for-mom-featuring-habitat-for.html

    Next month, I’ll get out my fall decorations:
    http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2008/09/easy-autumn-decorating-on-dime.html

    I’ve got a huge family so my budget is tight already, but I find that it’s more fun to be resourceful than it is to spend oodles of money anyway.

  32. 38
    Rosanne says:

    what a great post – this is just what I needed to hear as I have been looking around and seeing the need to redecorate (or decorate, as the case may be). It’s okay for it not to be perfect and it’s okay not to have it done all at once. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I’m over at (in)courage sharing a few of my simple fixes in hopes you’ll find simple ways to fix the issues around your house that are bugging you [...]

  2. [...] This article on (in)courage about loving your home totally hit home as we start over together. It’s going to be a total project making our new space feel like “us,” and I’m so excited that God has been showing me how healing and restorative it is to make a house feel like home. I can thank Steph and the fiance for continually reminding me of that and pushing me to personalize my space when I’m scared to take the leap. [...]

  3. [...] This article on (in)courage about loving your home totally hit home as we start over together. It’s going to be a total project making our new space feel like “us,” and I’m so excited that God has been showing me how healing and restorative it is to make a house feel like home. I can thank Steph and the fiance for continually reminding me of that and pushing me to personalize my space when I’m scared to take the leap. [...]