There are certain times in our lives when we just have to grow up. We move out of our parents’, take the plunge and start a “grown up” job, get married, or start a family. Life, it sometimes seems, is a revolving door of firsts. You get control of the last big change and the next one comes barreling towards you.
For some of us, one of those “sink or swim” moments is buying your first home. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where buying is feasible, then you know it completely scrambles your nest-egg. Any cash you worked diligently to save gets swept up into your down payment and closing costs, but, hey…you’ve got “equity.” I could talk about the financial logistics of buying and how to prepare, but honestly the long and short of it is you buy a house (or condo or duplex) and money gets tight. So instead I’ll focus on how to turn that house into a home on a now-really tight budget.
Lighting: Unlike those ugly fixtures in your rental, you aren’t stuck with the lights that come with your purchased home. New light fixtures can be pricey, but if you are thrifty and shop the sales, the money can be a great investment into really making your home your own. In the first six months of moving in we changed four out of six fixtures on our mainlevel and one in our bathroom. The changes made the space seem more modern and much more to our taste, and that change alone drastically improved the feel of homeyness.
This Portfolio chandelier from Lowes went much better with our more contemporary dining set than the black one the previous homeowner had tried to jazz up with gold paint. In our stairwell, we updated from red and green pool hall decor to a cool turquoise that fit better with our color scheme. Changing just the globes helped keep money in our pocket. And the plain pot light that was above our kitchen sink wasn’t bad, but it didn’t provide a lot of light or visual interest. Switching out to a track light increased both.
Decor: Revamp what you already own. When we moved in, we had a fireplace for the first time in our adult lives and the mantel was just begging for some decor. Rather than going out and spending a lot of money unnecessarily, I scrounged through the pieces I already owned. It turns out pulling pieces that had previously been used in other places made a tidy little mantle scene for zero dollars.
DIY:Why pay a lot of money for something you can do yourself? Even if you don’t think you are super crafty, there are a lot of projects you could probably handle. And in this day and age there are a ton of blogs and tutorials online that tell you just how to do them, step by step. I wanted an extra lamp in our living room, which is a bit dark. But everything I found that I liked was upwards of fifty to hundreds of dollars. This seemed absurd to me so I went bargain hunting. I found a working lamp at a yard sale for seventy-five cents. A little spray paint, a new shade and
some creativity with yarn and I had a brand new (to me) lamp for under $25.
Shop the sales: The yard sales. Buying a new place often means you will have extra rooms or fill, or rooms in which your current furniture just does not work. Furniture can add up to be, by far, your biggest expense. So instead of heading to the name-brand store down the street, head to your neighbors. Check out yard sales, Craigslist or family members for unwanted pieces. We got two sets of end tables and a huge oak corner storage cabinet for pennies on the dollar just by checking these sources first.
Buying a place can be expensive and intimidating, but decorating it shouldn’t be! If you use these tips, think creatively, and stick to your budget, you should get well on your way to making it feel like home, without breaking the bank.