Don’t Wait: How to Create your Dream Home (Even if you’re not living in the home of your dreams)

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Today’s post is all about how to create your dream home right now…even if you’re not living in the home of your dreams. If you are feeling stuck with your home, waiting for something to change so you can finally be in a home you love, this one’s for you!

Top photo of an open blank notebook on a wood and light grey rug background, bottom photo of a made queen bed with throw pillows and a tan white-framed headboard on the wall above

We bought our first house three years ago this summer. At about 1,000 sq. ft. with three beds and one bath, we are so grateful for this little ranch house. It’s been the perfect place for us to learn how to be homeowners.  

a key with a blank white tag sitting in the open palm of a hand
The day we got the keys to our home

And yet, I’ve definitely held back on trying some of my decorating ideas in this house. Why? The usual suspects. Budget. Time. Or the big one: “This probably isn’t our ‘forever’ house, so why make the effort?” 

But lately, my mindset has shifted. I have no idea how long we’ll be in this house, but I am determined to make the most of my time here and learn as much as I can about design and decor. I want to make our home a beautiful refuge, and stop waiting for “someday” to create a beautiful space our family and friends can enjoy. 

A made queen bed with throw pillows on it, a white nightstand with a white lamp and grey lamp stand on it in a grey room with a tan headboard with white stripes on it

So, when it comes to how to create your dream home, I’m in the trenches on this. I don’t have a magazine-perfect house. In fact, when I started this blog, I was tempted to skip talking about home decor, because our house is not “perfect” yet. Our kitchen isn’t updated, I want to add some different features in the living room and in the master bedroom and our kids’ bedroom, and the list goes on. 

Blonde pregnant woman standing at a stove in a kitchen stirring a pot
Our first year in the house. Pregnant with our first child in our outdated kitchen. Keeping it real. 🙂

But you know what? This is real life. I’d rather document the ups and downs of making our house a home than wait for everything to be perfect before inviting others in. After all, if we’re waiting for perfection, we’re going to be waiting forever, right?  

So, if you’re in the same boat I am, here are three tips for how to create your dream home starting right now. This is not an instantaneous event. It’s a journey and a process, but it’s one I’m willing to invest in because I know I’ll learn so much along the way. 

Tip #1 Dream Intentionally

It’s fun to dream, and it costs exactly zero dollars. Use every resource you can find to dig for ideas, analyze styles, and study what exactly makes the rooms you love so beautiful.  

Cover of a book called "Cozy White Cottage"

Don’t just limit yourself to Pinterest! I mean, definitely pin to your heart’s content, but go even further. Look at home decor magazines (you can check several out for free on the public library’s Libby app). Wander through home decor stores. Explore architectural salvage yards and antique stores. Check out design books from the library. Here’s a few I’ve enjoyed:

Home Body by Joanna Gaines

Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith (if you’re currently renting, also check out her first book The Nesting Place)

Cozy White Cottage by Liz Marie Galvan

A Well-Crafted Home by Janet Crowther

Styled by Emily Henderson  

Open book with words on one page and a picture of a white and black kitchen on the other page

All of this dreaming isn’t just frivolous. It has a purpose. The more you study and determine what you like, the more focused and less likely to waste money you’ll be when it’s time to go hunting for deals. Which leads to Tip #2…

Tip #2 Go Hunting for Deals 

It can be easy when looking through manicured magazines or glossy home decor stores to get discouraged and think, “Well, I can’t afford any of this stuff” and just sort of give up, but you can’t let yourself do that. 

Just because you can’t afford something doesn’t mean you have to scrap the idea. I want to do my kids’ bedroom in an aviation theme and I came across an awesome airplane propeller at an architectural salvage yard…for $950. 

Yikes. Not gonna happen. 

Open shelves of antiques filled with crates and a wooden airplane propellor hanging above one shelf

But that doesn’t mean I have to give up the idea. I can search for less expensive options. You never know what could turn up at a garage sale or an antique store. This method of hunting for deals takes more time, but it can totally be worth it. 

Good Places to Hunt for Deals

  • Garage Sales
  • Thrift Stores
  • Antique Stores (some are spendy, but not all)
  • Clearance Sections (at big box stores, craft stores, etc.)
  • Building Material Discount Places (we’ve bought doors, baseboard trim and more at steeply discounted prices) 

When you’re looking at how to create your dream home, go where other people aren’t going. Be willing to put in the work other people aren’t willing to put in and you may be rewarded with some beautiful finds at an affordable price. 

Tip #3 Make a Project List and Prioritize It

If you thought this would be a post about how to create your dream home by simply adding a candle and a couple of throw pillows, you’d be mistaken. Nothing wrong with that (and I do it myself in our home), but I want to encourage you to take action towards actually making your home what you want it to be. Like, the kind of stuff where you’re actually knocking down a wall or adding that kitchen island or replacing the flooring. 

Make a project list. Everything goes on the list. Everything. Don’t hold anything back because it’s too frivolous or you think you can’t afford it. Write everything down you want to do to your home, then go back over the list and start prioritizing. 

open white blank notebook sitting on a wood and grey rug background

My husband and I started a house project list the year we moved in, and we’re knocking out each project little by little. On our list (it’s just a basic spreadsheet), we’ve written out each project we want to do, the year/season we’re hoping to do it in, and a roughly estimated budget. 

These are projects of all types, the unsexy (installing a sump pump in our crawl space) as well as the sexy (refreshing the kitchen). Having everything in writing like this puts us on the same page (literally) and helps us to be able to work in a focused way on achieving our project goals. I know we’ve gotten far more done having that list than we would’ve if we’d never written anything down and just gone by the seat of our pants. 

So, make a project list and start prioritizing! 


Scrabble tiles that spell "if not now when"

Remember that you don’t have to wait when it comes to how to create your dream home. And in fact if you do wait, you’ll likely regret it. Take the actions you can now with the resources you have available (even if those resources are small) and start putting together the home you love. Dream with intention, track down good deals, and make a home project list and prioritize it. 

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Top photo of a key with a white tag sitting in an open palm, bottom photo of a made queen bed with throw pillows on it against a grey wall with a tan headboard with white stripes hung on it

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6 thoughts on “Don’t Wait: How to Create your Dream Home (Even if you’re not living in the home of your dreams)”

  1. Wonderful post! We are in a similar situation and I have found hunting for deals and unique finds more rewarding than simply spending a bunch of money right away to get the look I’m going for. Love your book recommendations too.

  2. Yes! Why do we always get on the “someday” mentality?! Life is happening now! Thank you for the inspiration. I’ve actually had the cozy minimalist book sitting on my shelf for a couple of years, it’s time to dust it off and give my home a little TLC.

  3. I absolutely love this post! We live in an 1800 sq ft home (5 of us) and there are some pretty outdated spots in the house. We just don’t have the money to update them right now and I’m learning to make it a home without expensive renovations. We will put those renovations on the list for down the road and focus on some smaller things and just be inspired by new things I see out and about and try and find them at thrift/antique stores. Thanks for sharing!

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