Turning a House into a Home on a Thrift Store Budget: Day 1

I stood in the grocery store line staring at all the picture perfect homes featured on the displayed magazine covers. Their glistening perfection mocked my reality.

Those homes looked so inviting and put together.

How did they know to paint that table that color? Put those different patterned pillows on the same couch? And hang those pictures in an offset way that still looks so very balanced?

I decided to go home and give it a whirl. But I walked into my space and felt overwhelmed and paralyzed.

Have you ever felt that way?

We want our homes to have a welcoming look that functions well for our family but for the life of us, we can’t figure out how to pull it all together. And even if we have a decorator’s knack and a grand vision for making our space lovely, our budget taps us on the shoulder and reminds us of just how limited we are.

Well… what if I told you that what you’ve already got in your home, coupled with a little thrift store shopping, is enough to turn at least one of your rooms into a space you’ll love?

Turning Your House into a Home on a Thrift Store Budget: Day 1

That’s why I want to do a special series this week. We are about to learn together how to turn a house into a home on a thrift store budget. One of my co-workers, Alison, has agreed to be our featured makeover.

Alison only has $250 and three days to take her den from drab to fab.

And since I’m really no help at all in this area, I’ve invited my sweet friend, Myquillyn Smith (also known as The Nester), to do this fun decorating project with me and my team. You don’t want to miss our thrifting and sifting and wandering through all kinds of fun places!

I think you’ll find some simple ideas that you can easily incorporate into your own space.

And the best part? You won’t break the bank. Not even close.

Watch the video below to see what I mean. (If you’re viewing this in an email, click here to watch the video.)

“Nester Notes”: 5 Simple Reminders for Thrifting, Yard Saleing and Antiquing

1. Go with an open mind. Don’t walk in looking for a 20-inch green leather ottoman. Instead have a general idea of things you could use like a wooden chair, a lamp, a large decorative vase, etc.

2. Ask yourself, “If this was in Anthropologie would I love it and want to buy it?” If the answer is yes, you should buy it now!

3. Look first at size, shape, condition and function of items. You can usually change the color and fabric if you like it.

4. Don’t expect to find something every time you shop. Grab a drink from Sonic and just enjoy the process of looking through the items. If I can hit five stores in one day, I usually (but not always) end up with a few interesting items.

5. Start small and work up to bigger risks. Don’t buy the $150 dresser from the thrift store in hopes of refinishing it if you’ve never tried it before. Instead, start with the $7 night stand. What’s the worst that can happen? You hate it and lose $7. But if it works?! You now have a nightstand you LOVE for just a few dollars; this is SO worth the risk.

Isn’t Nester so smart and adorable? You will absolutely want to get her book, The Nesting Place. Click here to purchase your copy! You’ll find it chock-full of great tips, beautiful pictures from Nester’s home, and sweet perspectives teaching “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” You’ll feel right at home reading it.

The Nesting Place

Today, I’m giving 3 commenters a signed copy of The Nesting Place. To enter, leave a comment below telling me which friend you plan to invite to join us here on the blog this week.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for more decorating tips and to see the exciting progress on Alison’s room makeover.


  1. Vicky says

    I would love to read this. I have an incredibly hard time spending any money decorating my home and really don’t know where to start.

  2. Vicky says

    I would love to read this. I have an incredibly hard time spending any money decorating my home and really don’t know where to start. I will invite my friend Becca.

  3. Cindy says

    I am going to invite my college room mate. We graduated in 1984 from Carson Newman college but are still close.

  4. Brenda R says

    I will share with my friend Kay. Excited to follow the decorating ideas on video and would love the book!

  5. says

    I would love to read this! My house has gotten out of control over the years. When our kids were small it was comfy and happy and now it is chaos and I hate it! I need some ideas and some help. This would be terrific. Thank you for sharing with us.

  6. Heather Seyer says

    I really want this book!!! Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy while I save to buy it!

  7. Marjorie Miller says

    If I would be so lucky to win a copy of your book, it would help motivate me to change my son’s old room into a new guest room. He is grown now with a family of his own and lives an hour away and I have yet to change his bedroom from a twin bed-night stands with lamps-computer desk-teenage boy’s-room. Help!

  8. says

    This looks like a fabulous book!! I would bring my daughter and best friend, Mya! She is just 13 years old, but is my right-hand gal when it comes to all things home and decor. We are not only thrift store (and side of the road!!) hunters, we both love to decorate our new, little home. Built in 1901, it’s a charming little house 400 feet from the ocean. Quirky and cute, your book would give us more ideas on how to pull it together!

  9. Jordan Goff says

    I’m inviting all 3 of my roommates at USC! We are moving into our first house in August, and we have been discussing how we should try to tackle the daunting task of decorating. I would love to have this book sitting in our living room coffee table as a finishing touch to our newly decorated home!

  10. Jessica Evans says

    Oh my gosh! I love her style! THIS IS ME. I am totally lost with what to do in my home-I have ideas and projects and boxes of neat things I’ve picked up at thrift stores… and I get so overwhelmed trying to put it all together! I AM SO EXCITED to watch this! <3

  11. Carolyn Irizarry says

    Sounds like a fun book filled with tons of inspiration to better our home.

  12. Cindy Hancock says

    Can’t wait for the reveal of a room on a budget! I’m going to invite a friend to this blog who is redoing her home on a budget with painted furniture and thrift store finds. She will love to know that her DIY skills are “beautiful”! I’ve been eyeing this book for sometime now! Would love to receive one! 🙂

  13. says

    This is such a terrific series of posts with The Nester!!!!!! Also you are so great in the videos. Do you do public speaking for a living? I would love to win a copy of Myquillan’s book. Thanks!

  14. Nancy Moore says

    What a wonderful way to reuse & repurpose! I would love to share this book with my sister. We both need it & love to shop garage sales, flea markets, etc together but usually leave empty handed because we don’t want to end up with more junk. Love this book!

  15. Tricia says

    I have three boys under 3 years of age, and so my house looks like a Toys r Us exploded inside! This book would give me some great ideas to reclaim one of the rooms for me! I am going to tell my best friend about this site. She is always looking for great ideas! (And she is much more talented than I am at decorating!)

  16. Debbie Parker says

    I am inviting g my friend Donnette to join us here this week. She is a thrift store shopper (and good at it I might add) so I think she will love learning from Ms. nester!

  17. Catherine says

    Ooh, I’d love to have this book! I would invite my daughter (13) to join us 🙂

  18. says

    Lysa! I couldn’t be happier to read this series. I am taking the summer off before my senior year of college and one thing I am doing this summer is cleaning my parents’ house. And it is so hard! Thank you for putting these ideas out there. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 🙂

  19. says

    I live for Thrift Store shopping and have found many good treasures that I have added to my home and yard. I’m always up for new ideas on hope to repurpose and use different things. Looking forward to reading your book.

  20. VictoriaN says

    I love the Nesting Place site. I will invite my sister-in-law, Pam, to follow the series.

  21. Judy says

    I just retired from teaching and we bought a little cottage down south to spend time there in winter. I want to learn to repurpose and decorate on a budget. It’s always been a dream of mine and now I have the time. Your book sounds perfect for my new start.