In 2006 we moved halfway across the country with three children under three. We bought a cute home, and planned to live there for five years while we looked for our forever farm.
Fourteen years later, we’re in the same house.
And it isn’t so cute anymore.
We had no idea a recession would make our house unsellable; or that my husband would be laid off. Or that we would be hit with everything from financial and medical crises to hidden special needs.
It took us ten years to recover, and our home suffered as we focused on simply getting through each day. Looking back, I see little things I could have done to make our home beautiful and inviting. Things that would have cost me a $1 or less.
But I was too focused on survival to see the possibilities.
How I Find Beauty in Our Home
Last fall we began making repairs, painting, and brightening, but then we had to put everything on hold.
That’s when I accepted an important truth: I don’t have to wait for a perfect backdrop to make our home beautiful.
Our living room walls are patched beyond recognition, I don’t like the color of the bookshelves, and the toy bins need to be recovered. But I set up the play area the kids needed.
Our 100+ year old kitchen has no insulation and adding it isn’t an option right now. But we used some black iron pipe from the basement to hang old thermal curtains we had in storage. I attached them together with safety pins so we can still use them separately in the future. On warmer days, we tie them back with pretty fabric and clothespins.
The floor needs to be refinished but I’m knitting a rug for the kids’ play area. Yes, I’m using white in a house with 7 kids. This yarn washes up really well!
My desk lives in the patched living room, but I reduced the visual clutter and made it pretty with some fabric and a hot glue gun.
Tips for Making Your Home Beautiful
Whether you’re living through hard times, or your home is just missing a sense of beauty, here are some tips that to help you bring pockets of beauty to your home.
Keep a Home Box
Last year I started saving little things that could be used to make the house nice. I filled in gaps with small items from Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby and everything fits in a vintage sewing box my mother-in-law gave me.
What’s in the box?
In my box I keep all the things I need to make our home beautiful in small ways. These supplies give me options but also encourage me to be resourceful.
Currently, my box holds:
- Glue gun and glue sticks
- Industrial glue
- Clear tape
- Safety pins
- Small screws and nails for hanging things
- Ribbon and trims (many of them salvaged from other things)
- Small pieces of fabric
- Craft paint and a brush
- Sharpie markers
- Scissors, pinking shears, and a rotary cutter
- Craft knife
- Kraft style cardstock
- Letter/number stickers (I trace these for painting/lettering projects)
- Craft wire
- Small boxes and tins
- Some odds and ends
Depending on the size of your box and the things you want to do, these could be helpful items to include:
- Trims from old clothes, wreaths, or product packaging
- Craft wood
- Small floral stems
- Quart of white paint
- Sample size of your favorite wood stain color
- Chip board brush
- Chalkboard markers
- Scrapbook paper
The trick is to only use one box.
If a new item won’t fit in my box, I clear out an old item (my kids love getting the hand-me-downs!) or I skip getting the new item. An exception to this is a large plastic tote that holds bulky things like yards of fabric, patterns, skeins of yarn, etc.
Find deals at Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby
My box covers a large variety of projects and I make sure to stock it with items I can reuse such as small tins or the cardboard from an old notebook.
But if I need something else for a specific project, I see if Dollar Tree has it, or I wait for it to go on sale at Hobby Lobby.
Hobby Lobby has a set sales cycle so I always know when things will be at their best price.
For our school room art display, I bought the panels, buckets, and greenery on sale at Hobby Lobby and used mini clothespins from Dollar Tree. I already had the paint and wood stain.
This was a larger project for me, but it only cost $10-11 to complete each panel.
Our local Dollar Tree is nothing like the ones you see on DIY videos, but I can usually find the basic items I need.
If your local store isn’t well-stocked, or your nearest one is too far away, their website does have online ordering. They also started a “Smaller Quantities” section. The selection is limited, but it lets you buy a few of each item instead of a full case!
Watch others for inspiration
Watching DIY channels on YouTube really helps me see the possibilities for things I have around the house. Some of the ideas can be cheesy, but these channels tend to have really nice projects that only cost a few dollars to make:
Glue Guns and Roses — this one is hit/miss, but her good ideas are worth weeding through the others
Don’t Chase Happy
If we say, “When I accomplish this next thing I’ll be happy with my house,” we’ll spend the rest of our lives chasing that happiness.
There will always be a next thing.
Instead, we can be content with the good things that are in our home, while we work to improve the not-so-good things. We can be at peace with the Grace and Beauty we have today.
Where do you want to add beauty in your home?
Honestly Jen, you have a great sense of style and talent to match! I am very tempted to learn how to knit a rug. It sounds so cozy, and if you say it washes well…
Thank you for your encouragement!
You’re so sweet! For the rug, I’m using size 50 needles and a double strand of the yarn linked in the post. It’s just a plain stockinette stitch so it works up quickly even though I’m not a fast knitter!
This is my second rug and the yarn definitely washes well (I do use stain remover). The lighter colors get dull if they’re in a high traffic area so I try to wash the rug once a week and I use a laundry whitener as needed to bring it back to life.
Be sure to post a pic when you make one!
This is such a beautiful post! Thank you for reminding us to practice gratitude for God’s gifts. We all have so much, but it is easy to think we “need” more. I appreciate the reminder and nudge to “grow where we are planted.” Blessings on your Lent.
Thank you, Melisa! Blessings for your Lent as well!