How A Single Mom On A Budget Transformed Her 1-Bedroom Bungalow Into A Modern, Spacious Home

Decorating on a budget doesn’t have to be difficult — this woman shows us how it’s done.

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Living room ideas for decorating on a budget: A mom pictured with her kids

Photo, Nicola Tree.

Samantha Hyde knows what it means to be patient. For the past four years, the 49-year-old has been steadily transforming a one-bedroom bungalow into a two-storey home to share with daughters Ava, 13, and Maude, 10. As a single mom with an extremely limited budget, she has had to rely on a clear vision and a series of smart, cost-saving decisions, but the result is a unique, incredibly forward-thinking design.

Hyde and her two daughters Ava (left) and Maude (and their dog Arthur).

For two years, Hyde claimed the bungalow’s living room as her bedroom, and the closed-in dining room was shared by the girls. But as they inched closer to adolescence, Hyde knew they’d each need more space. “There wasn’t enough privacy for any of us — it was such an odd layout,” she says. Over the course of a year and a half, she added a half-floor loft space on top of the house, transforming it into two bedrooms and a bathroom to be used exclusively by the girls.

The stairs leading up to the loft space and the loft space itself are made entirely from OSB (similar to trendy plywood, but made of wood flakes and considerably less expensive). To save additional money, Hyde hasn’t plastered the upstairs, and she doesn’t intend to, leaving the exposed OSB as a feature of the house. The remaining open space from the extension boasts 16-foot ceilings and skylights that flood the eating area with natural light.

Here’s how Hyde made her dream home possible on a budget — and how you can too:

1. Take it back to basics

When Hyde purchased the house, the living room walls were covered in outdated floral wallpaper. She removed it layer by layer, taking the walls down all the way to the plaster — and then she stopped. The original walls look textured and finished, and she didn’t need to bother with drywall, paint or wallpaper.

Living room ideas budget renovation

Photo, Nicola Tree.

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2. Don’t splurge on material when you don’t have to.

When it comes to plain white ceramic subway tile in the bathroom or kitchen, there’s no real difference in quality between brands, which means no reason not to go for the most affordable option. Once you delve into colours, patterns or different materials like porcelain, the price begins to climb.

3. Get creative with storage. 

Don’t waste valuable wall space (and your valuable budget!) on kitchen cupboards. Line up Mason or Ikea jars of various sizes on a simple wood plank — it will not only keep your dried goods close at hand but also add a pop of colour to your kitchen.

4. Save on kitchen counters.

Hyde started with the cheapest available Ikea cupboard fronts, then added a custom countertop. For a fraction of the cost of butcher block, she found a piece of cheese aging board (traditionally used to ripen cheese) at a local decor shop. You can track one down on eBay.

Kitchen ideas budget decorating

Photo, Nicola Tree.

5. Cover your walls in art.

Hyde’s home is filled with art that she’s collected mostly from student art shows and gallery auctions. “Unique pieces don’t have to cost thousands of dollars,” she says.

Living room ideas decorating on a budget

Photo, Nicola Tree.

6. Use paint to accessorize.

“Paint creates drama, and very little else is needed to add to it,” says Hyde, who painted her bedroom walls a dark, inky blue and continued the colour onto the ceiling for impact and depth. Then, instead of spending money on wall adornments, she accessorized with more colour by painting her wardrobe hunter green. “It really plays with the blue in all its intensity,” says Hyde.

Bedroom ideas decorating on a budget

Photo, Nicola Tree.

7. Embrace the DIY.

Hyde made this statement coat rack using copper pipe and red valves from the hardware store.

Entryway ideas budget decorating

Photo, Nicola Tree.

Watch: The Home Primp: How To Create A Functional Living/Dining Room In A Teeny Tiny Space — For Under $300