Two women sitting at a kitchen table

Before my sister and I had our offer accepted on what is now our home, we got our hopes up several times only to have the sellers go with one of the other nine offers. That did not stop us from creating shared Pinterest boards, sending each other style inspiration on Instagram and texting each other that we bought (another) new thing to go in our not-yet-ours home.

When we found out that our offer had been accepted and were set to close in less than a month, the real work started. I had been dreaming of my new room for months, and now, it was becoming a reality. We had been waiting for the day we’d have our own kitchen again, and suddenly, that day was only weeks away.

Most days, I could barely complete my work out of excitement to see my sister and plan our living room or other shared spaces. I quickly realized that my expensive taste was not mixing well with my limited budget. We had to get thrifty and crafty to work around a budget, but we have now been in our home for nearly three months and most of our big projects are done.

Here are a few things I learned along the way about decorating our first home:

Start with paint.

The walls are the focal point of your room. By starting with a fresh coat of paint, you get a feel for what you are looking to do with the rest of the room. We painted an accent wall in our dining room a dark green. From there, our place sets, wall decorations and kitchen rugs came together.

Make a list.

One of the first things my sister and I did when our offer was accepted was make a list of things that needed to be done and purchased to make our home feel like it was ours. From painting walls to buying furniture to replacing floors, anything we could think of went on the list.

After the list was made, we rewrote it by priority. For example, new tile in the kitchen could wait. Replacing the grungy carpet in the living room could not. There are still projects we have yet to complete, but by spacing them out, we have saved money without sacrificing the aesthetic of our home.

By spacing them out [projects], we have saved money without sacrificing the aesthetic of our home.

Use what you already have.

While I wanted all new things in my room, the costs started piling up pretty quickly. Fortunately, I realized that there were plenty of things I already had that I could use to make my room look the way I wanted.

My nana gave my sister a vintage bed frame and dresser that she was not planning to use and was glad to let me have instead. I got a new mattress, sheets and comforter. Almost everything else I used in my room were things that I already had. I was able to save money and put what I saved toward bigger projects, like our living room.

Shop small and shop sales.

We decorated our entire living room with items from sales that we found either online or in-person. By browsing small shops through Etsy, frame shopping at places like Hobby Lobby (where there is always a sale) and decorating spaces with things like plants, we saved lots of money and achieved the exact aesthetic we were shooting for.

We decorated our entire living room with items from sales that we found either online or in-person.

There is still work to do, but every night, we look at each other and one of us says, “I love our home.” We have had a blast decorating our first home, and the work is not done yet! Next up: conquering the guest bedroom and office space. Stay tuned!

How have you learned to decorate a space on a budget? What details turn a space into a home?

Image via Fernish

1 comment

  1. You made a great point about starting with paint when decorating your first home. No matter how my first home is going to look, I know I am going to want to change a lot of things about it, and it definitely makes sense to start with a good paint color scheme. I’ll make sure that I follow that tip and focus there first when I find a single-family home that I like so I can decorate it accordingly.

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