Lessons Learned From Houses Past


I found these two photos the other day.  Seven years ago we lived in Macon, Georgia in a tiny yellow cottage.  Cottage is the nice word to describe the only house we could afford that had plumbing {if you can call it that, the washing machine was right next to the sink in the kitchen, and a dishwasher?  those are for rich people}.


The photos are blurry since I had to take a picture of a picture but you get the idea.  My husband was a teacher at the time and I stayed home with our boys.  I cannot begin to tell you how much money we didn’t have. But that home still looks so cozy to me.  Here are some of my observations:

  • a pretty paint color can cheer up any room
  • fabric on windows goes a long way {even ripped up twin sheets from Kmart that are tacked above the window casing}
  • white dishes from the dollar store make for inexpensive wall filler
  • plants bring life to a room
  • if most of your stuff is neutral you can accent it with any color
  • DON’T buy the overstuffed chairs
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  1. LOVE this post Nester! :) my hubby is a teacher and I stay at home with our two boys (2yr old & 10month old)… and we are where you were then – getting by with next to no money! :) Your home looks quite cozy then and I strive to make mine cozy too on a next-to-nothing budget.

  2. Thanks for letting us see that beauty doesn’t have to be expensive.

    By the way, I got one of my new blogs up and running! To celebrate I’m hosting a giveaway by Pretty Stinkin Green. They are giving away a beautiful red rose pillow. Please stop by, when you get a chance, and see what you think!


  3. Our first house was a tiny yellow cottage, too! I had indoor/ourdoor carpeting in my kitchen, my husband was the dishwasher, a kitchen door that opened to a 5ft drop, and my stackable clothes washer/dryer sat right next to my stove. Ohhhh, the memories :-) We loved that house.

  4. Oh I loved this post!!!! The room does look yellow, you know. The pic on the right doesn’t look as yellow. I cannot believe that you remembered the color! I would never have known that those were sheets from K-Mart! I agree, this post was so inspirational!

  5. Ahh… cute. i love how you’re cheap style looks so professional and gorgeous!

  6. looks cozy to me…even with the oversized chair! it’s amazing what you can do on absolutely NO money! trust me

    macon? and we were almost neighbors!

  7. I couldn’t agree more about the overstuffed furniture. We bought a huge overstuffed couch when we were first married because we didn’t have much furniture and it seemed like our tiny apartment was cavernous. Now we’re still stuck with it. At least it is a neutral color! I’m waiting to replace it until all the kids are potty trained. Maybe by then I’ll have saved up for an awesome couch.

  8. Oh gosh, I just went through pics of my past houses. I think you have the right idea. I might post some of mine. Sounds like a post for Mr. Linky. :)

  9. I love seeing where people started out! Our first place was a 720 s.f. barebones one-bedroom condo no balcony or anything. We lived there til our first daughter was almost 2-that’s right, her crib was in our bedroom for 2 years! It was, um, cozy?! I learned so much from living there. I got really creative with storage.
    If I ever have enough readers I would love to have a “what did you learn from your first home?” party!

  10. Oh such a sweet post! Love the thrifty inspiration. My hubby and I are in this stage of our life right now…just minus the kids at this point. I daily ask God to help me remember to cherish this moment, as I know these will be the ones I will look back on and miss. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I’m still living in my first house. Perhaps one day I’ll take pictures of our pictures!

    I love your photos! But what I really enjoy are your comments! It’s like I can hear you.

    None of that has anything to do with anything. It’s the afternoon and I’m ready to nap. Sorry.

    However, your post is inspirational!!!


  12. Very frugal, very cute, and very cosy!

  13. Wow–a few years ago on a teeny budget and your living room still looks elegant! And I’m SO glad someone’s thrown back the veil on the overstuffed chair craze. I never understood them. Or at least, that’s what I was pretending, because they looked so comfortable and I wanted one myself.:)

  14. LOL!!!! Priceless ending.


  15. I mean “cozy.” I do know how to spell. Honest.

  16. Look at those babies! How adorable. First cottages have such a special place in our hearts, don’t they?

    • If only it were our first. It was our second owned home as a married couple and sixth place we lived. grad school, new job, home buying, temporary housing…

  17. That is a DARLING cottage! :)

  18. This is SOOOOO the decorating phase of life I am in now! For me, good decorating equals = being patient, and chipping away at the basics! Great post.

  19. Sadly I didnt have a decorating backbone in my younger years. My home was decorated with junky wedding gifts and more that I felt obligated to display. I made the mistake of telling people I liked cows. Seriously it looked like someone threw up cows all over my kitchen…… Lesson learned.

    Your homes seem to have evolved with the same fab style all along the way.

    I am totally gonna get some DS plates….. after my spending strike.

    Always love to see what you are up to. You give us something to be happy about no matter what our circumstances.

  20. I hear you on the overstuffed chairs!

  21. I lived in Macon for awhile as a nanny, and LOVED that place! I would move back in a heartbeat if all my family would move with me! I dreamed of having a cottage in Macon! You know what they say? Love grows best in little houses! I am a born and bred NWer, but my heat belongs in the South! I also love how your overall ‘classic/country’ vibe hasn’t changed at all! It is amazing to me all the time how something ‘expensive’ does NOT mean ‘tastful’ when it comes to decor. I get the most compliments on the things in my home that usually came from GW or a garage sale and people are always shocked!

  22. Love the idea of cheap white plates – genius!

    I understand about cheap first places – my first apartment didn’t even have a kitchen!

  23. So cute! I love your mistreatments, they actually look like expensive pleated draperies!

  24. I’m with you when you say DON”T buy the over stuffed chair!!! I just can’t believe I got rid of the one he had here at home. That’s definitely a D O N ‘ T!!
    By the way, the drapes in my bedroom were one day a huge king size white sheet and now split in half. Looks just perfect! Ah! I even sewn cute little ties on the top so they would look cute on the rod. You always have the best ideas for mistreatment. Best! Vanessa

  25. I love the color combo ;)

  26. I made the same mistakes with overstuffed furniture! I don’t have it now. Thank God.

  27. What a great post! And fabulous reminder of what’s really important. :-)

  28. Love that yellow! We used that for our first baby girls room (we called it pottery barn yellow since the inspiration was a yellow star clock from PB). Very great advice – I’m fwding this to my little sis (who just got married & is living in a basement apartment – if you can even call it an apartment…so small)

  29. FYI, your blog is a lovely light blue on my screen, yet the photo on the left appears entirely yellow. But I understand the reason – turn down the temperature on your photo and it should correct the color (too warm to appropriately cool). Thank you for reminding me that you don’t have to have a sufficient paycheck on the way to have a beautiful home! BTW, did you know those photos look like they’re straight out of a home decorating magazine?

  30. sooo cute, I love it. In fact I think it is my favourite. The yellow is lovely and the big fern and orchid are what really ‘make it’ for me. wow. you’re place looks so good, even on a young family’s budget, I am ashamed with my efforts.

  31. I love this, Nester! These photos give us a little glimpse into your wonderful life!!! Once I read that the window treatments were ripped up twin sheets I had to go back and look! hah! fooled this Gussy girl ;)

  32. Green walls make me happy and I love the trickery of ripped up K-Mart sheet mistreatments!!! Thanks for sharing a look at your past.

  33. Nadir@Hodgepodge says

    That’s amazing! And it brings such hope to me as a broke newlywed :-)

  34. It’s always fun to go back and see how our styles change over the years. I started out really country, when country was wood and cows etc.

    Oh man, that just made me cringe. LOL!

  35. How sweet that you lived in Macon. I was born and raised there but now live in Atlanta. For those moving there–you’ll love it. Charming town.

  36. Oh I so did the too big furniture in one of my first houses! It was a 700 sq ft apartment and for some crazy reason I bought a hugh loveseat and chair and oversized chunky coffee and end tables…..oh well, I do still like the furniture and thankfully we have lived in bigger houses since then!

  37. What a great post. As a fairly new blogstress I sometime wonder what I should write about. Other days, I start making lists of posts I would like to do. This was just so fun to see. It makes me want to show some of my awes and oh no’s from the past twenty years. Thanks for posting and such a fun idea.

  38. So I’m new to your blog ~ thanks to BigMama’s reference today ~ and you lived in Macon? Get out! I live in Macon! Love your great decorating tips!

  39. I hear you with the overstuffed chairs – and I’ve heard your feelings on that before… but when we first got married, the only “furniture” for our apartment new to us was our couch. two years later, when a tiny bit of extra income came in, I went and ordered the matching loveseat. It was definitely my dream to get the overstuffed chair/ottoman, but for the cost, it made more sense to get the love seat… and at the time, a couch and loveseat in a living room seemed to make more sense than a couch and chair and ottoman..
    I know they are huge, and take up a lot of decorating space which could be used to create better mood elements etc of smaller pieces of furniture, but I can’t get over how cute it is to see kids “sinking” in the overstuffed pieces of furniture!!!
    I don’t plan on replacing my couches soon (and they aren’t the over-soft, over-stuffed, & over-sized style, but) they are comfy, sage green, chenille, and I think they “soften” up a room, just by the texture of their fabric. I do want to keep my eyes out for a cool, second-hand chair that is either part wood and part upholstered, so I can change out the fabric to compliment the rest of my livingroom. What style should i look for if I kind of have traditional style furniture, with shabby chic detail to some of my furniture…???

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