How to get the home you want without moving

Five years ago, when we started to remodel our home, we knew that basically every inch of it would be replaced. Every wall has been covered, every electrical outlet switched out, all the molding had to be added (because mobile homes don’t really have it to start with,) every floor needed recovering. We knew it would be a very long process, since our plans didn’t include any home improvement loans. Our budget has never allowed us to have the top of the line anything. Each and every piece of our home has come through creative uses of what we could afford, either taking a risk with second hand bathroom fixtures, figuring out how to make our own flooring, recovering thrift store furniture, or any other crazy idea we could muster to help us get from “just a house” to our dream home. 

Here’s the thing though: When you’re looking back, it looks overwhelming. I have to literally stop and remind myself how far we’ve come and compare that to how little we have left to go. I realize that you may not have such a long path ahead of you. You may have beautiful floors, gorgeous crown molding and wonderful windows. I didn’t. But through a lot of thrifty shopping, more hours of work than most people would consider sane, and lots of creative budgeting, I can tell you that it can happen.

We’re not done, I really don’t know if we’ll ever be completely finished. I do know that all the floors can be laid, all the windows replaced, and all the walls recovered – but there’s always room for improvement (as in all aspects of life.)

My office is another good example. I wanted an amazing schoolhouse light – but I didn’t have the money for it. Y’all know I’m all about redoing a whole room for dirt cheap. My office cost about $250 total – including the rug, curtains, paint & a brand spankin’ newly built cabinet. So spending $200 on a light was out of the question.

 But a $30 light? That I could afford. But the base was brown, not black. See, that’s where I had to get creative.

 I knew that about 3 minutes worth of hands on time with a little tape and some chalkboard spray paint, I could make it me. Why chalkboard paint? Because I had it on hand. (Of course, I did finish taping it up – don’t leave a hole if you paint one, m’kay?)

But this post isn’t really about spray paint. It’s about finding your way to make your home one that you love, learning to embrace your space so that you can reveal it’s true potential. I really can’t tell you how to do it – but I can tell you that I know you can.
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About Gina Luker

Gina Luker is a writer, photographer and lover of all things quirky. She's usually found with a drill in one hand and a cocktail in the other while blogging along the way. She's addicted to coffee, polka dots, rock stars, Instagram, and everything aqua.


  1. Gina, what a lovely post. How very heartening to see young people being sensible and doing home projects themselves. Your school light is beautiful!

  2. Love it and it looks so good. One day I’m going to get started on decorating my study but unfortunately it won’t cost me $200 things are more expensive here in Australia and we don’t have the same range of products that you have Gina. Love your work 🙂

  3. Such a great post! I didn’t start blogging for a long time, because everything you see on the internet for inspiration is so beautiful and so out of reach for a family of eight, and I wasn’t inclined to go back to work full time so I could have crown molding. Along the way, I’ve come to realize that I think like you do- how can I use what is available to me to get a look I’m comfortable with and proud of and still make my mortgage payments? We’ve gotten more and more creative, our home is a work in progress, and I thank bloggers like you!

  4. A great post. I hope people are listening to your advice… especially the people who really DO believe that moving and taking on the burden of a larger mortgage is the only way to realize the dream of a beautiful home. A BIGGER, NEWER, BETTER home isn’t always the answer. Congrats on persevering through hard work. I hope you enjoy the fruit of your labor!

  5. I love this post, Gina! That’s what I am all about…big impact, very little spending, and using what is on hand. Love the new light fixture!!!

  6. Gina, You are truly an inspiration to me! I had recently contacted you about your floors and we are actually starting them now. While it is hard work, it is so satisfying to know we did it ourselves.

  7. Looks great. I’ve been looking at very similar if not the exact same light for our kitchen. Looks so authentic!

  8. I am in the same boat!!! I have been in my house for three years and we JUST finished the kitchen. It’s a long, slow process that requires a lot of hard work and patience. 🙂 Sometimes I wish money didn’t exist… What a stupid, stressful thing.

    I watched your home tour video… Your home is gorgeous! It gives me hope that one day my home can be as beautiful. I love how you hung a photo on top of shutters in your bedroom. Great way to layer textures!

  9. We have been in our house for 14 years and now I feel like I need to replace all the dated things! Of course, my husband thinks everything is “just fine the way it is”. Ughh… I love your new light. I bought a schoolhouse light for my laundry room last year but you definitely got a better deal!

  10. Gina, love, love, love this post! Congratulations on all of your hard work. I think you’re correct that you will never be finished. There is always another project. I thoroughly enjoy figuring a way to make my home my own at Goodwill and curbside prices. Doesn’t it give you a great sense of accomplishment? What a deal on the light. I enjoy your blog and your home is wonderful. Keep it up.

  11. What a great light! It’s such a great feeling to creatively achieve something within your budget…

  12. My husband should read this. We just moved and it’s our 8th move in 7 yrs. LOL


  13. The task of renovating and/or redecorating (especially DIY and on the cheap) is overwhelming. I think bloggers look at it however as 5 years of fabulous posts! Cannot wait to see how your office turns out too

    xo, Tanya

  14. The light came out fantastic. Great story by the way, not everyone can buy an amazing home. Some need fixer-uppers with a tiny budget. It’s understandable. At least you won’t have a cookie-cutter home, you have a home that reflects you and your family the best!


  15. DIY on the cheap is the only way to go. I’ve been doing this forever (and am prob old enough to be your grandmother), and have ended up with a houseful of good things that I’ve scrounged, found, bought for little at the flea market or local auction, or bargain hunted. I’ve learned a lot about how things are put together, how to fix, make, and most of all, how to recognize something good when I see it. I keep a book when I’m redoing the house with all my measurements so I know right away if something is the right size or colour.

    Love your blog! You’ve made a really pretty and comfortable home for you and yours, and you always have such good ideas.

  16. Thanks for the inspiring words Gina.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  17. Honestly, I have no idea how I would cope if someone handed me thousands of dollars and said “go for it” in my house, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’ve spent my entire life salvaging and recycling and revamping. I wouldn’t be happy any other way! And yep, one day I’d love to gut my kitchen and start over, but I’d still use all my honed skills to get er done!

  18. In a culture where mobile homes are considered ‘disposables’, I have found myself in an old one that I just LOVE. And, like yours, comes with a long list of things needing to be fix, redone, or replaced. Reading about your piece-by-piece renovation has been SO encouraging! I can’t do the home loan thing either…some insurance companies won’t even insure mobile homes; so, the loan thing isn’t feasible, even if I could afford it. I’m hoping to be able to do just what you’re doing. I was so excited to see someone blogging about fixing up a mobile home and love getting your posts! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  19. Amen and well said! So many people spend so much and get way in debt just to have the things they want. Kudos to you and your hubby for keeping it real!:)

  20. I LOVE this post. I much more appreciate the DIY decor and home improvement I see online, than the exquisitely decorated-by-designer rooms (with their astronomical price tags!) You have done so much to your house YOURSELF and that makes it even more yours. And more special. Bravo Gina!!!

  21. Hi Gina: As your post popped into my email inbox, I was in the process of looking for cheap (yet beautiful) rugs for our new house. We’re leaving our lovely cape cod home that we’ve owned for 15 years this month to move closer to work and school. It’s a hard move for us all as we love the home we’ve made here and the neighborhood. Big question for ya… the new house has lots of hardwood floors and my kids really want nice cozy rugs in their bedrooms. Could you advise me on the best place for inexpensive rugs? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Martha,
      I watch clearance sales online at West Elm, Target & Rugs USA so I can scope out for the best deals. The rug from my office was only $49 for an 8×10 rug at West Elm – not bad, huh? If you don’t have time to wait, Ikea has a lot of great budget friendly options. Congrats on your new house 🙂

  22. Andi Thomas says:

    Thank you so much for writing about this. My husband and I just bought 30 acres in a small town in Texas and wanted to pay everything cash or nearly, so we looked into used mobile homes. When he first suggested a *gasp* used mobile home all my sensibilities screamed, “NO! Not a MH much less a used one.” But we paid cash for one and it’s not half bad we just need to take the carpet out to make it livable. Which is how I found your sight: the wood floors. The best part is we have more land for our three boys, our house is paid for, and the land payment is more than half less what our mortgage payment was in the suburbs. So much less stress! Thanks again for sharing your journey of remodeling a MH.

  23. dawn claus says:

    Not taking out a home improvement loan was a very smart decision. I applaud you.

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