How to Look Great and Decorate on a Budget

How to Look Great and Decorate on a Budget

Dear Fierce Ones,

Thrifting has always been a way of life for me. Ever since I can remember, my Mom would take me to garage sales and estate sales and we would shop for whatever we might need. My Mom has always been an incredible shopper and we always found really great stuff. No matter what we needed, whether it be household goods, furniture, or clothes, we found it second-hand and then incorporated it into our home or wardrobe and made it charming and cute. No one ever knew that almost everything we had was second-hand, or found for free and reclaimed. Folks would just exclaim and gush about how charming and cute everything was.

Many of the things didn't start out charming and cute. They had what I call "Potential" or "Character". It takes a little bit of vision and a lot of hard work to become transformed. I am gifted with the ability to see what will be rather than what is, and this allows me to walk through the process of a major re-design without panic.

My mom is a natural designer, and I learned to be one as well.  I watched her. I learned from her. I saw how she pulled things together through Color. Shape. Composition. Fabric. Style. It was a great way to learn. My dad is one of those handy-man extraordinaire guys and so they were a perfect team. We moved many times throughout my childhood and that gave me a lot of practice fixing-up and re-designing many different rooms. I learned to see the potential in EVERYTHING.

As an adult I continued to move from house to house and place to place. I became an expert at fixing-up all kinds of homes and it has served me very well. Buying the "fixer-upper" in the neighborhood and turning it into a real charmer has been my thing long before "Fixer-Upper" arrived on HGTV. (I love Joanna and Chip Gaines.)

My mind enjoys being creative. I am constantly racking my brain for innovative and easy solutions. I like using what I have on hand. This requires thinking "outside the box" and I often think "outside the box" when I am re-designing a space. Most times it saves me a lot of time and money.  Sometimes it ends up being a colossal waste of time, (not everything works out the way I think it will) but it is super-fun when an unconventional idea turns out really great. For example, I recently re-purposed a bookcase into a cute bathroom cubby. Megan and I were re-vamping our beach-house and I got this idea to flip a bookcase on its side and re-purpose it. The two of us half-dragged and half-carried that solid oak bookcase (so heavy) up a flight of stairs by ourselves! It was almost a 911 event at one point when the bookcase started tipping over and came down on Megan's poor arm!...OUCH! (she was bruised but fine) and WE DID IT! That is GIRL POWER! I absolutely love how it turned out. It warmed up an otherwise odd empty space and provided additional storage with charm. 


Because I grew up thrifting everything, I have never been comfortable buying things retail.  It has always seemed like a waste of money to me when I know I can get whatever I need for so much less! Thrifting also compliments my lifestyle philosophy of reusing, recycling and re-purposing whenever possible. Nowadays, even though I can afford to buy new, thrifting is a lifestyle choice for me, rather than a one-time experience. I enjoy this practice far more than just picking what I want from a store. I really do love to wander around thrift stores and hunt for unique finds, daydreaming about how cute it will be when I put it all together.

My entire family is comprised of amazing thrifters. Sundays are often spent finding old and unwanted treasures and incorporating them into our wardrobe and lifestyle. We can entertain ourselves for HOURS. People are always surprised when I tell them how or where I got this or that. The joy of thrift-style is also in the stories... I love telling everyone about my amazing deals! 


I have been stopped in stores and on the street and asked where I got my outfit? This happens frequently. It brings me joy. Some of my favorite things in the world have been given away by others. One person's trash is truly another person's treasure!

Here are some tips...

1. Keep an open mind.
2. If you love it! It won't be there when you go back. Also, when you buy what you love, you will find a spot for it.
3. Follow when the thrift store advertises their sale days and go early.
4. Try everything on.
5. Get creative.

When I need clothes, I focus on what I need such as jeans or a warm sweater. (I never seem to have enough warm sweaters, but I honestly don't need much in the way of clothes because I wear hospital scrubs for work, I live on a farm, and I prefer to stay home rather than go out) That being said, I have found some really cool vintage items that I absolutely love.

When you need decorative items for a special event, spend some time on Pinterest before you go shopping, It really helps when you have a visual snapshot of what you are looking for. For my wedding, I wanted lace table cloths, flower vases, and vintage furniture items so I focused on that. I was going for a rustic, old-fashioned vibe. It was EASY to find. Thrift stores are packed full of old lace and pretty dishes and all kinds of candle holders and vases. These items are perfect for outdoor and rustic weddings or any kind of backyard party or event. It will cost you about the same as renting. It will take more time and imagination but it will be more fun and you can always donate the items you decide not to keep when you are done with your event. You will feel good about the entire experience.


Tips to follow for a good design theme:
Buy different items with similar colors...for example, thrifting for my DIY wedding included soft yellow, gold, and ivory colored items. This included furniture, tablecloths, and decorative items. The color scheme and vintage vibe made everything work really well. 
Buy what you love.

We decided to get married 3 months before the big day and so it was a whirlwind rush to get everything ready but I went to a few 50% off day sales and I scored BIG!

My wedding cost under $5,000.
This included all the Attire, Rings, Flowers, Decorations, Rentals, Food, Beer and Wine! To be was a complete DIY event. And it was in my back-yard so I didn't pay for an event rental, plus friends and family all pitched in....but was AMAZING! It was my dream wedding. Intimate and rustic. Simple and old-fashioned. Beautiful. One of my co-workers, did my flowers for me and they were spectacular. More than anything though...I loved how everyone came together and pitched in. I felt the LOVE and that what it is really all about. 

Important thrifting tips:

When you go...bring some things you no longer need or want and donate. I always have things that I need to get rid of. I like keeping it "fresh" and I really appreciate the "guilt-free" aspect of a thrifting lifestyle. Thrifting is Easy come...Easy go. I am not riddled with the guilt of giving something away that I paid a lot of money for. It is really easy to let go of something when it only cost me $5. 

It is very fun.

It saves a ton.

Gotta love that. 



Empower Yourself.

Find Your Fierce.

Take the journey.



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