My Super Frugal House Makeover- Part 1

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My pinterest board with my dream living room

My friend, Sarah, recently put up some pictures of her new living room, and it made me wonder how people decide what they want their living room to look like, what pictures they want to hang on their wall, etc. Because I, quite frankly, had no idea what I liked. But what I did know is that I certainly don't like how my house looks now.
If you'd walk into my house now, you'd have this idea in your head of what my "Style" is based on how my house looks. And that bugs me. Because none of what is in my house is actually my style. It's well lived in, yes. It's a home, yes. But it isn't something I'm particularly proud of, or that I particularly enjoy. My house currently is a mishmash of whatever things we got free or cheap, and functional. Basically the mantra we've lived by has been "If it's free/super cheap, and we can use it, why not?" without giving thought as to whether or not we'd like how it looks. Function and cost came first.
But it bugs me. I don't want my house to be haphazardly thrown together. I want it to be a house that I'm proud of, a house that makes me happy, and a house whose style speaks to me.
But it doesn't.

This has made me do a lot of thinking, because I can't just say that my house doesn't look like I want it to look like, if I have no idea what I actually do like. I know what styles I don't like. I'm very not into maroons or pastels. Of course, that's the colors of our couch covers now, since that's what we've gotten free, and beggars can't be choosers. But still. I've been to houses that the decor made me feel blah. So I know that those styles aren't for me.

I decided that I need to figure out what I do like, somehow, so I made myself a pinterest board. I looked on pinterest for living room designs, and when I liked what I saw, when a certain picture made me feel good, I pinned it to my dream home decor board.

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To give me ideas of what I liked, and a direction to even begin looking in for ideas, I started looking around my house, trying to decide if there actually is anything in my house that I do like, that does make me feel happy, and I was thinking about how this picture actually makes me feel both happy and serene at the same time, and then was thinking about how its the color that does it for me. I love orange. Orange makes me happy and feel full of life and energy. So many things that I love are orange, whether it is fire (I love nothing more than a good bonfire) or orange gerbera daisies or autumn leaves. Then it hit me- I need my home decor to have more orange in it.
I also was thinking about whether I like home styles more antiquated, or retro, or country-ish, or modern and sleek, and modern and sleek wins completely. I don't like old fashioned, country, rustic, or farm house style much as my lifestyle may make it seem that way. I like sleek and modern, specifically with blacks, whites, and greys.

So then I was able to narrow down my pinterest searches to look for modern designs with orange, and saw that orange was paired often with grey, which appealed to me, because as much as I like orange, too much of it certainly is garish.

I also realized that I also really like blue, that when I think of colors that make me happy, its the colors of Arizona- bright blue sky and orangey reds, so I figured, why not also blue in my decor scheme?

After a lot of time on pinterest, I found pics that showed my "ideal living room", which managed to combine greys, oranges and blues into a work of art.
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Another living room I really like

Finally I discovered, not just what I don't like, but what I want my place to look like, but I wasn't sure how to translate that into my current home, especially without buying new furniture, painting the walls, or spending a lot of money.

I asked for advice from some friends, and they recommended that I switch out the large swatches of color that I dislike (our table and couch covers) with colors that I do like- grey mainly, and then add accents and decorations in colors that I do like, like oranges and blues.

But then I realized that I can't just add things, because a big part of what I dislike is clutter. My house is clutter central, and I like sleek, clean, uncluttered looks. That's the biggest thing, actually, that bugs me about my house. Because it is so small and our storage areas are so small, the slightest things give it a cluttered look, and there's more than just a little bit of clutter.
And so, right now, my main mission is to declutter big time.

Over the past few days I've gotten rid of so many things that were taking up room in my house and not being used. Out went the stationary we ordered for our wedding with monograms on it, out went the clothing that none of us wear, out went the backpacks that aren't being used, out went the booster seat that Rose refuses to use. I've decluttered enough so far to fill a small Uhaul, at the very least, and I've just touched the tip of the iceberg.

I did a lot of window shopping on Aliexpress, found colors and shades that I thought would look good together, and then today I went out to the store and bought fabric and other odds and ends to decorate in that color scheme, and then I have to get to work and actually sew it- hopefully tomorrow...

When it's all finished, I'll show before and after pics. But already I am feeling happier with what I got, and excited about the changes we'll be making in our house. And best thing about it- everything I bought is stuff that will also work in our new house- and the colors that I chose for tiles and kitchens in that house actually work very well with the color scheme I chose!

I'm really psyched right now, and ready for this new chapter of my life, with a home that I can feel more confident in, that suits my personality and tastes!

If you like this, you'll like my other home makeover posts as well:

What is your favorite style of home decor? Do you have a pinterest board with your dream home decor ideas? (Would you share it?)
What colors do you like for decoration?

Is your house actually to your taste, or, for frugality reasons, does your house have a more thrown together look like mine currently does?
What are your best tips for giving a home a makeover on a budget?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Our home had no set style. The clutter seemed inevitable since we had such a small space, a rental with two kids and pets. We would research online and watch videos about living in a tiny home for ideas. You're right, simplify and let go of what you don't need. Utilize storage under nearly all furniture, we'd stack things, toys in a basket under the coffee table, hooks on doors..even the top of the cat condo was used for storage (our cat only used the bottom). Anyways, we're looking for a home now and are excited to make a place ours. This time we'll make it comfortable. Thank you for your post!
    ~ Natalie

    1. I am replying as I cannot figure out how to just leave a separate comment. I will just say that I have done a lot of frugal house renovations, whether it is painting rooms, putting up wallpaper accents or even recovering furniture with fabric. I have had a lot of success with a combination of a staple gun and a sewing machine covering both lounge chairs and even recently a fabric office chair that was falling apart. I unscrewed the plastic arm rests and filled the missing foam with some foam that I pulled out of a throw pillow (which I promptly sewed back up). I have also bought thin foam mattress inserts to replace worn or cushions by cutting them to shape and making a couple of layers inside the fabric casing. Covering the seat of a chair is quite easy with some fabric and a staple gun. I also cut out foam matress shapes to match the shape of the chair base and now I have padded chairs that I also covered with (stapled on underneath) just a plastic tablecloth that they sell in those rolls. They have lasted about 15 years, though I may have replaced the plastic covers once. I would be more than happy to send you pictures of them if you are interested!

  2. We moved into our new house 6 months ago and did not change a thing. We are a couple in our thirties with 2 young kids. The previous owners were a coupld in their sixties. So yes, the kitchen style is "country", but I still like it. The rest is just fine.. I deeply hate painting so I was very happy that the paint matches colors we like (mainly a soft shade of yellow with white trims) and was in good shape. I get where you are coming from. In the previous house everything was "functional". I was not proud of my house. I am very proud of the new house. We didn't change the furniture, we just got an all-together better house. It does make a difference to enter a home feeling love for it instead of feeling blah. 6 months later and I am still totally in love with my house!

  3. I moved into my new house 5 years ago, I'm still unpacking and to date, no good color scheme. I hope to change that with my "new attitude" for life in 2016. I proudly sent 6 bags and 1 box to the goodwill and plan to purge more and more as this year goes on.

    I do intend to do as you did, keep what makes me happy and go from there. And maybe this time, paint the walls a color I like, not what was on clearance.

    Good luck in your quest.

  4. We definitely have a "look"--old furniture, or at the very least dark wood, lots of red and warm tones. Kidlet's room is blue and white. Everything else is a mix of things but we've been really patient with getting furniture, buying pieces that mesh well with our aesthetics for a suitable price. It took us almost 3 years to find our coffee table, for instance, 5 for my husband to finally find a desk that works both in terms of size and look--but they cost a fraction of what they'd cost new, especially considering that it's all solid wood (not particleboard and veneer).

    In terms of tips: you really have to consider how you use the space, not just about what looks nice.

  5. I'm in the same boat.. Need to get my Pinterest working out for me.. You're inspiring :)

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