“Dream big!” they say. Good advice for life in general, but what happens when your small budget doesn’t match the big dreams you have for your home? We live in a gotta-have-it-now society, where saving up and delayed gratification are things of the past, vanquished by credit cards and the need to scratch every material itch that pops up.
I get it.
I struggle with it too.
Sitting in our family room, with my back against the wall I’ve been dying to take out since we saw the listing photos, I look around at the shag carpet, non-functioning corner fireplace, cavernous 20-foot ceilings, and generally awkward layout, and I dream of all the potential of this space.
We could rip out the corner fireplace and create a wall of built-ins, lower the ceilings and make it more cozy, take down the wall blocking off the kitchen (pictured above) and create amazing flow, and…and…
Reality sets in.
In order to do those things, we need to replace the flooring. And it would make more sense to take out the wall before replacing flooring, but then that would cascade into a full-blown kitchen renovation, and we’d still need to demo the fireplace and hire out lowering the ceiling, and on and on it goes…but it would be SO perfect.
I can see it.
But I can’t do it.
This corner fireplace isn’t even functional and is standing in the way of a wall of built-ins.
Home Thoughts – Big Dreams, Small Budget
Being content in any home that needs work is a battle of the mind. It’s not a matter of pretending everything is wonderful in the name of gratitude.
It’s a matter of hope.
Sound dramatic? Let’s look at the definition…
Hope – a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
The thing about hope, in life and our homes, is that it keeps the mind in a state of anticipation that things will change. That anticipation keeps us moving forward, making plans, saving pennies, making the best of what we’ve got right now, and dreaming big. Without hope, we can fall into despair about the state of our home, build up resentment toward others who are able to make changes right now, and stop dreaming of doing anything creative or personal where we live.
I’ve experienced the full range of feelings that come along with having big dreams and a small budget for our home, and I’m here to offer hope. More specifically, I’m here to share with you five practical ways I’ve learned to sustain hope of the someday changes while working with a right now budget. If you happen to be a homeowner who is happy with every square inch of your home, that’s wonderful…this post isn’t for you. But if you long to make changes, big or small, because you can see the potential in your home, and your budget is literally the only thing standing between you and those changes, then these tips are for you…and me.
Create Beauty In the Here and Now
This was one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp with our kitchen, which is small and has a less-than-ideal layout. For an entire year, I was stubborn and told everyone I knew that I wasn’t going to touch our kitchen until we could do the big renovation. The problem was that I had demoed the space, and my family was living with ripped up drywall and exposed ducting. It was depressing to even be in there, so we never were. Once I decided to create beauty in the here and now, with the meager budget we had after being forced to pay for a new roof and A/C, my entire perspective changed. Now, we love being in this space because it’s cute, interesting, and welcoming, and my girls will always remember this as the kitchen they grew up in.
Click here to read the entire Cozy Café Kitchen Reveal post and here for the Kitchen Budget Breakdown post.
I have BIG dreams for this little breakfast nook, but until my budget catches up, I love the beauty we created in here.
Focus on Small, Budget-Friendly Projects
I was so discouraged for the first year we lived here. We encountered problem after problem that needed immediate attention, and I very quickly watched my big dreams dwindle to impossibilities. The turning point was when I narrowed my focus to one tiny project and saw it through to completion. There was an old, unused dry bar in our family room (makes total sense), and I decided to make something special out of it. It was very DIY friendly, fairly affordable, and it completely reignited my hope for this house.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the size of your home, the scope of all your project dreams, and the lack of budget you have to work with, pick one small-scale project to focus on and get after it. It will distract your mind from fixating on what you want to change, and give you a beautiful, completed space that can act as a reminder not to lose hope, even when things are moving slow or not moving at all.
Click here to read about how I transformed a little hole in our wall to this cozy Reading Nook.
Work in Phases
From the day we moved in, I knew adding windows to the front living room fireplace wall was going to happen…someday. It still hasn’t happened. We are on track to make this all-important change, but life and other expenses keep getting in the way. Still, I won’t let that keep me from making the best of the space as it is right now. The temptation to do nothing, leave it alone, and not love on it at all, is real, but I refuse to give in. And the way I do that is by working in phases. I like to make each space in my home the best it can be right now, and then circle back around to make additional changes and tweak certain things when the budget allows.
Adding things that can be reused and that you’ll still love once you get to the point where you can make those big changes is very important. If you have outdated, worn-out furniture and accessories in a space now, once you make big changes to a space, you’ll want to change all those things, and then it’ll be so expensive to do everything at once that you’ll wind up discouraged. Work in phases and enjoy each one along the way to a completed space.
Utilize Facebook Marketplace and Second-Hand Finds
I cannot overstate the budgetary benefit of utilizing Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, and any other avenues of accumulating second-hand finds that you can. My house wouldn’t even be furnished if it weren’t for the brilliant invention of FB Marketplace. It has helped me achieve a unique and personal aesthetic in my home without the high dollar amount of retail pieces, and the quality is unlike anything made today. Scouring FB Marketplace has become a sport to me (perhaps an addiction), and I love it so much that I wrote a whole post about it. Seriously, second-hand finds give me so much life in a home with so many limitations.
Click here to read 7 Secrets to Scoring Big on Facebook Marketplace.
Style “Moments” In Your Home
I recently wrote a post about creating “moments” in your home because I realized they’re all over my house, and they bring me so much joy. It helps to be a blogger and take pictures of those moments so I can focus on just what’s in the frame, but it works in real life just as well as it does on a blog. To be able to walk upstairs and see a beautifully-styled “moment” rather than a haphazard pile of junk is pure gold when you have a case of big-dreams-small-budget. It’s a treat for your eyes, but it also allows your mind to rest from constantly thinking about what needs to change or what you want to change. It’s become my secret weapon in the fight against discouragement with my budget-t0-dream ratio, and I highly encourage you to go create some “moments” in your home.
Click here to read about how I Styled Some Thrifted Items to Create a Hallway Moment.
When I say I use all of these strategies to sustain hope and maintain a positive attitude toward my home, there’s no exaggeration. The benefit I’ve received is substantial…worth writing a whole post about. I went from being discouraged, frustrated, and resentful about my big dreams for our home to feeling hopeful, encouraged, and grateful on a daily basis. And when those negative thoughts about what we can’t do right now pop up (as they tend to do), I’m able to quiet them and remain hopeful.
I want you to be able to do the same.
That’s the goal of sharing my struggle, even though it seems superficial and very first-world. I wish I could magically feel grateful in any and all circumstances, but I am human and so are you. We have the struggles we have…end of story. I just hope this post is helpful if you find that your dreams are bigger than your budget.
That’s it for this month’s Home Thoughts! I love these posts so much, and I hope you do too.
Until next month,
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Tharina Impellizzeri says
Hello! Do you kind sharing where you got the great large artwork over the sofa?
Hi there! It’s from Juniper Print Shop and it was created by Hannah Winters.
I love your heart in sharing this. We’ve spent so many years in temporary living situations and putting off hanging pictures and avoiding temporary fixes to things you plan to replace doesn’t help your home feel like home in the meantime. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration.
I’m so glad you found this post encouraging and helpful! It can be so difficult to contend with the feelings and emotions we have as homeowners on a budget or in temporary living situations, but you can never go wrong with making the very best home you can wherever you’re at with whatever means you have and for however long you’re there. 😉
Robbie Zeller says
This post was so encouraging! Thank you.
Thank YOU for always being supportive and encouraging! You’re one of my favorite followers/readers!
You pretty much summed up my entire home design life. Thanks for a very inspiring post!
Ahhhh, so nice to know we aren’t alone right?! You are very welcome…it’s my absolute pleasure to write about real life and the struggles that come with even the most blessed of situations.
What a wonderful post!!
Thank you so much Mila!