Do you ever get an itch to spruce up a space in your home, but you get frustrated because everything you want just seems too outside your budget? Well you are going to love meeting Shelly in this edition of Living with Kids. She and her husband have completely redecorated their entire home for a few thousand dollars — and the results look they spent ten times that much.
Shelly was featured on DIY Network’s First Time Flippers, and now runs a blog all about renovating on a budget. Welcome, Shelly!
Living with Kids: Shelly Nupp
Hey there. I am super excited to share our home with you! My husband Justin and I bought this house about a year and half ago, shortly after our youngest son Cole (2) was born. We also have Hudson who is 5, our boxer Duke, and 10 chickens.
Justin and I were married at the young ages of 19 and 20. We were just babies. In hindsight, I sometimes wonder what we were thinking getting married so young, but here we are 12 years later, happy, and so thankful we did. We met at a bible school in Hudson, Florida. (This just happens to be how our oldest got his name.) Justin is originally from a small town called New Windsor, Maryland, and I am from Knoxville, Tennessee.
Our boys always keep us moving and there isn’t much time to relax around here. We love it! Justin is a welding and fabricating engineer, and I am a stay at home mom (most of the time) with a small growing business in interior decorating and renovations. My mom and I also recently started flipping houses and we absolutely love it!
Our oldest son started kindergarten this year, and our youngest is a huge Daddy’s boy. They both absolutely love being outside and helping in our garden and taking care of the chickens.
We live in a small town right outside of Knoxville. We actually live in an area that was nicknamed the “promised land”. It is out in the country with tons of beautiful farms and most people don’t get homes out here unless they are passed down from generation to generation. So unless you are “promised” land, it is super hard to come by.
My husband was commuting about 45 min one way to work, and we decided we really wanted to look for something closer for him. We had never purchased a home before so this was all so new to us. Thankfully we had a great realtor that made the whole process super easy.
We actually came across our home and knew right away we wanted to make an offer. It was perfect! It had been vacant for several months and needed a lot of TLC. It was really the perfect blank slate for me, and allowed me the creative freedom to do whatever I wanted. I had so many ideas about how I wanted our home to look and feel, and I was so excited to finally own something we could really make ours.
We snagged our house for just $200,000, which we thought was a great deal. Our closest neighbor is a sweet little lady across the street who I frequently visit. Our home used to belong to her grandson. We are surrounded by a couple hundred acres that she owns and lets us use any time we want. She is truly the best neighbor.
One of my favorite things about living in the country is the people. It’s not uncommon to have people honk their horn and wave when they drive by, or to get stuck behind a big tractor when driving to town. When we first moved in, we had a lot of people stop by and introduce themselves, which was so special to us.
Although we do not technically live on a farm, having a lot of the “farm” features was important to us as we considered how we wanted to raise our two small boys. Justin grew up on a farm, and the work ethic he learned is something we want to instill in our boys.
Having our first home really brought out an unknown creativity in me. I have always been crafty, and love to make and redo furniture, but having a blank canvas the size of an entire home really has been so much fun.
I didn’t go to school for design. In fact, before this, I had always worked in the medical field. I was a nurse for about five years before having babies. I think once I came home full time, small projects really gave me a creative outlet. It was something that was my own. I loved finding old furniture for dirt cheap, redoing it and selling it for ten times what I paid for it!
Once we purchased our home, there wasn’t a lot of extra money for design things. I had so many fun ideas but not a lot of budget to execute them. This is where my DIY and budget-friendly mentality really started taking shape.
I would look at photos of spaces that I loved, and be inspired to recreate them for a fraction of the cost. I would do this by being creative with my supplies and salvaging for items I could repurpose. One of the first projects I did was the faux shiplap wall in my dining room. I had about $50 in my budget to accomplish this project. I went to Home Depot and had them cut 4×8 sheets of underlayment into 6 inch strips for me and each sheet was only about $13. It came out so pretty and you would never know its not the real thing!
I also found my light fixture for the room at a second-hand store, and my table was purchased for $15 at a thrift store. It was terribly scratched when I bought it, but after sanding it down and refinishing it, it looks brand new.
I also purchased my desk, which I use as a buffet, for $30 at Goodwill — I love a good bargain! This has really been my mentality throughout my entire house. I love to put a budget on each room and see how far I can stretch it.
My budget for my laundry room was $75. I painted and stenciled my floors, added some stained faux shiplap, shelves, and a piece of tin over the ugly vent bump-out, and it changed the whole look of the room.
In my living room I built my entertainment center for about $200. I used two bookshelves from Ikea as my base, added laminate flooring to the walls and made the center bench from scrap wood I had. Pretty much every room in my house has a similar story.
Challenging myself to make a beautiful space, by being creative and building things on my own, has allowed me to decorate and furnish our entire house (over 4,000 sq ft) for only a few thousand dollars. I am super proud of what we created and most people would never guess we spent so little to accomplish what we have.
Once I felt like our home was done (is it really ever done?), I started looking for more ways to continue doing design work. About a year ago I talked my mom into buying a house to “flip” with me. I was so excited that she was onboard. A lot of my creativity and drive is a direct reflection of her.
I am a go big or go home kind of person, so when we purchased our house to flip, I told my mom I was going to apply to be on the show First Time Flippers on the DIY Network. I think she may have thought I was joking. Lo and behold we got accepted to be on the show and they filmed the entire process. It was so much fun and we truly loved EVERY minute! The Boy Wonder production team was amazing and the show was true to our personalities. It aired on June 30th and was so crazy to watch!
The show really opened the doors for me to help others. My ideas about design on a budget really resonate with people. I started getting messages and calls from people who wanted me to help them design and decorate their homes. From that, Centsible Designs was born.
I think people love the idea of being able to hire someone to help, without breaking the bank. I use the same strategies and money saving tips in my business that I used in my own home. It’s fun to help people who thought something like this was out of reach. I love seeing their faces when they see the finished product, and what all we were able to accomplish.
Something that has been so special about flipping our first house, and about helping others with design projects, has been the interest my oldest son Hudson has taken to it. A lot of my design work and building happen at home. Most of the time this takes place in a few hour window when Cole is napping. Hudson really loves to help me with my “projects” and even makes up a few of his own. I really love his creative mind, and that he enjoys this kind of thing like I do.
Being a working mom comes with its challenges. My husband Justin works full-time hours and we don’t have a regular babysitter. There is a lot of working around each other’s schedules at this stage in our life. Somehow we just make it work.
My business is pretty flexible at this point and that helps. I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t take on more than I can handle. It is hard sometimes to stick to that. There is a fine balance between motherhood and working and I don’t always love when those lines are blurred.
I am so thankful for my husband and thankful that he is equally active in our boys’ lives. I’m not sure they even know I am gone when Daddy is home. Having an equal partner in parenting makes such a difference!
One thing I really hope the boys remember about this house is that it is HOME. This is a resounding theme you will see in almost every room. I have the word plastered everywhere. For me, there is a big difference between a house and a home. I want them to remember a home filled with love, with happiness, forgiveness, and pure joy. Although home may not always be this house, I hope they always know wherever we are together, it’s home!
I hope they forget my wanting to always have a clean house. Early on in motherhood I let the perception of having the “perfect” home steal my joy. This was a hard lesson I had to learn. Allowing this idea of always being neat and tidy and looking like I always have it together is just not real.
Thankfully after a lot of failing at this, I was able to let go and really enjoy my boys at every stage, mess and all! There is a freedom in this. If I could pass along a message to any mom of young children it’s that it is ok to NOT be perfect. There is so much beauty in this messy lives we live.
My absolute favorite thing about motherhood has been the many lessons I’ve learned along the way. Children have such a way of changing us for the better. They teach us how to love, how to relax, and most of all: patience! I already miss so many stages that have come and gone. The days can be so long sometimes, but the years are so short.
I wish someone had told me much earlier (and I had listened), to make sure I cherished every moment. The good, the bad and the ugly. I wish they had told me to take more time to laugh at myself and all the stupid mistakes I have made, and will make, as a mother. I wish they had told me to quit taking everything so seriously and just be flexible.
Don’t get me wrong, I still deal with these challenges every day, and have to make a conscience effort to be better, but I don’t allow these things to control me anymore. I hope that you can realize the same thing if you haven’t yet. Parenthood has been my greatest adventure, and I am so thankful I get to experience all life has to offer with my family.
Thank you, Shelly! What a beautiful home.
I think she is right. It definitely feels like a home: lived in and comfortable and full of love. And I kinda feel like I want to go shiplap my whole house now. I love the DIY spirit.
I also really loved what Shelly said about letting go of the idea of having a perfect home. It feels like this has been a recurring theme in these Living With Kids home tours. I think we all spend so much time looking at beautiful homes online (including in the Living with Kids series!), that it’s easy to forget someone spent hours cleaning that house for that photoshoot, and there is typically a lot of chaos going on behind the camera that you just can’t see.
What the best project you’ve ever DIYed? Are you a DIY master or a DIY novice? What are your best secrets for saving a bit during a remodel?
Photo Credits to Kennedy Creative. You can follow Shelly on Instagram or check out her website. Living With Kids is edited by Josh Bingham — you can follow him on Instagram. Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.