Creating Home Real Life

How we, as newlyweds, decorated our home on a budget

May 28, 2015

A few weeks back, Troy and I were sitting at our dining room table, looking around our home, listing all the things we fixed, refurbished, painted or created ourselves. Since January, when we moved in, we figure we have saved about $5000 by either Troy building it, us finding a used version on kijiji or elsewhere, me painting it, and just shopping around, rather than buying new. You could say it pays to DIY or shop around, but really it SAVES!

Troy and I had both walked with debt in our lives before we met, where we swiped the credit card because we just really wanted something. It weighs on you. So we agreed from the start that unless we have cash or can pay for it within that month with a cheque we KNOW is coming in, we will say no to said item. I know that sometimes life happens, like an appliance or vehicle breaks down. I mean items to beautify your home or for enjoyment, and how we have decided to structure our finances. And oh boy sometimes it is hard! But, worth it. So worth it.

So, I wanted to share a little peak into some of the things we have created or found for our home, where we found it, and some tips and tricks for doing it yourself. This is a little out of the ordinary for my normal blogging, but I sure am grateful for our home, and can’t help but share! There are definite spots where décor will continue to change as I discover more of my style and add as our budget allows, but here we are, five months into our first home together.

Enjoy our home journey thus far…
(I don’t have a wide angle lens, so most of these are close up! Details for each photo are below)

_MG_2166Our bedroom (Just one shot!)
Well, when you get married you get these wonderful things called GIFT CARDS! Oh my goodness, we had fun with those. We got a grey bedspread as a gift, and then used a Bay gift card to get a white duvet/sheet set for summer. The shams I had before we met. I’d still like to find a navy stripe long pillow, but that takes budget and finding the right one. I’m trying this thing where I don’t buy just to fill a void, but buy because I actually love it. What a concept hey?

The lovely headboard is a recent creation of Troy’s, made from an old door we found for free. Through our new company, Lion & Light, we make these and have an order for one we are working on as we speak. I painted it with Annie Sloan‘s chalk paint (old ochre). The T&L were from Crate & Barrel for $15 each (Christmas gift from Troy!).

Tip: Pick one or two large or statement pieces per room. This helps you minimize what other decor you need and brings a focal point. And if you can find or build them on the cheap, then even better 😉

_MG_2144Front entrance
We live in a bungalow duplex. Our front entrance is narrow with a really long wall leading to the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what to do here, and I’m still not certain I love it!  I love the pieces, just not sure they all go in this space!

I found this coat rack/shelf at Homesense for $40. The only thing I bought, in this photo, since we got married was that green ball, also from Homesense for I think $8.  You can also place it on a large plant holder or vase. The radiator here was another pickin’ find 😉

Tip: Layer and texture with your decor. Here I have some ceramic, metal, leafy green and a glass item. Gather in odd numbers. 3, 5, 7. I don’t know why, that’s just what the designers say and I tend to agree!


Troy and I made this arrow, and then I painted it. The door photos are from my travels, with the matted frames  from Ikea for $9 each.


The room when you first enter our home, to the left, is a den/office area.  Though you can’t quite see it, our desk is made of an old washroom door that we painted black (door was a freebie!). Troy built a leg for one side, and the other side of the door is resting on his old filing cabinet, which we also painted black. Now, we have a 5′ desk – plenty of space for me to write! This chair in the foreground is a recent find at an antique shop in our community. It’s quarter sawn oak on castors – very industrial. We scored it for $80.


Troy built a library around the window, which actually makes the room look much taller. I love it. It’s my daily sanctuary! This light fixture was one that a client of Troy’s gave him, as they were replacing it. So, free!



This old secretary desk is one I just refinished in the last week. It belonged to me great aunt, who has passed. It’s a very light and soft wood. I spent about six hours sanding (oh. so. much. sanding), and then applied a dark walnut stain. The knobs I splurged on – $60 for 8 at a local home shop. I figured since everything else was free, this piece would allow for some extra love 😉

Tip: Choose 2-3 colors to anchor a room. For this one, the black pendant light, black desk and black/cream rug have set the tone. The comfy chair in the room is a seafoam green (my favourite). Add in some wood and plants and you have my color scheme – black, cream, wood, seafoam (and you’ll find yellow and fuchsia throughout the house).

_MG_2163 _MG_2161

This tv cabinet/hutch was a score we found on kijiji for $50. Made of solid wood, we hauled this baby home and I spent a weekend painting it. I tried a new chalkpaint called Heirloom, that I found at a local shop. I wasn’t happy with the paint as I had to apply nearly an extra coat to everything, in comparison to what I would’ve used with Annie Sloan. This was probably the most frustrating thing I’ve ever painted 🙂 The decor on top is evolving, again, as I find things I really like that add to, rather than ‘fill’ a space.

The chevrons on the wall you see below are another of Lion & Light creations.  The old books were, I believe, from my Grandpa’s stash, and the tray is a piece from Lion & Light (Troy!). The ladder in the corner was one I found in my old townhouse when we cleared it out recently for new renters. Paint, and score!

And the lovely coffee table was a set (with end table) that we found on kijiji for $125. The lady told us they came from Mexico. They were a pine color, and neither of us are a fan of pine. We were originally going to sand and stain both pieces in like a dark walnut, but when we first put the stain on, the wood took it red. I am learning that wood has a mind of its own when it comes to stain! So we decided to paint the bottom half cream, and love the end result!


_MG_2157This gallery wall is an ongoing evolution for me, and one that will likely continue as I find new pieces for it. Does anyone else hone in on their ‘style’ AS they decorate? Right now, I do love what is up there, again, just not sure it all goes together!  The brown sofa was a kijiji find for $200 🙂


This mirror was oak when I found it at a garage sale for $10. With some Heirloom chalk paint (okay for small projects), and a bit of sanding, it gave a pop of color and depth to an otherwise relatively small livingroom! As soon as I hung it there I was amazed what an impact it did. It’s staying 😉  The vase that’s holding the pussy willows I found at a local store for $10 (and actually added some chalk paint to antique it a bit).

Tip: For me, a livingroom should make you smile. It’s often a gathering place, and for us, you can see it from our kitchen. So whatever makes you smile, this is a good room to bring it into. Be it photos, a book, candles, or your favourite throw – this is the room!


1798595_10155252030825601_2936964651417823078_nJust a couple from our kitchen…I love it all, and am slowly finding antiques to add to above the cabinets.


Dining area
This beautiful buffet was a wedding gift from my in-laws. Absolutely stunning! The big mirror above is a mirror Troy got, again, free form another project. So he built a frame, I painted, and voila… something proportionate for yet another large wall. The decor on the buffet is a work in progress. Right now I like the simplicity of it and don’t want to add to it unless it’s something I love 🙂

The flowery metal detail above the mirror is a piece I got at, yes, Homesense, for $15. I painted it to match the mirror (as my interior designer friend suggested!)

Tip:  Proportion. We had another mirror up here for the longest time, and I had a heck of a time figuring out how to decorate it. It was beautiful, just not proportionate with the buffet. So when Troy built this bigger mirror, it was ‘voila’ for me. Again, I find having 1-2 items that anchor a room are a great foundation for decor. Now, I feel like I can slowly add to the decor on top of the buffet as I find it.



Our kitchen table was a kijiji find – two leaves, six chairs – for $350. Troy refinished the top, in walnut, and myself and my mom-in-law painted the chairs and pedestal using Annie Sloan chalk paint and dark wax. Don’t look too closely on the wax job, it was my first time 😉

I am so incredibly thankful for a husband who can build and create with me! I hope you got inspired on how you can make a lovely space as you find your own deals and treasures 🙂 Thanks for popping by!



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