Remodeling on a Budget


Recently my husband and I were talking about what our trailer needs. It’s twenty years old so the list is pretty expansive (and expensive!). We still have a long time left until it’s paid off (which is a long story), but it’s not worth much. So we agreed that while we want to make it comfortable, we don’t want to invest a fortune.

The above picture is our home a year ago. It hasn’t changed much, but we are hoping to fix that with shutters and some paint. Along with a few other ideas we’re tossing around.

A big thing is the outdated and undersized HVAC system. Add that to the aluminum siding and lack of insulation and you understand why it’s hot inside and our electric bill is high. In case you don’t, I’ll add the missing piece, we live in Alabama.

We could replace the furnace, exterior unit, and the broken ducts for around $5,000. That we don’t have. Instead, we are going to use window units on the back and portable units on the front since they’re not as unsightly. We discussed propane for heat, but our floorplan isn’t set up where it will work well. Basically, our TV and Xbox will melt while our bedrooms and bathrooms freeze. We are looking into infrared heaters and an infrared fireplace for the living room.


We’re also looking into window awnings and shade cloth until we can put on vinyl siding and a good metal roof. Our current roof requires cool sealing which is what you typically do with an RV. We are hoping to eventually put on a real metal roof.

Another problem is the furring strips on the walls that they do in manufactured homes to save money instead of spackling and putty. We’re going to take them off, spackle, and putty then repaint. It will feel like a house and a home then.

If you live in a manufactured home and you’re in need of inspiration I highly recommend going to Pinterest and putting in your dimensions along with “manufactured home”. In my case I put in, “16×80 manufactured home”. I found a similar floor plan that with minimal effort would give me a full laundry room and a pantry. So we are going to take down one wall and build two plus add two doors to our home. I’m ecstatic! This will give us two things that we have wanted for about $1,000 or less once we’re done. This also makes our space more usable.

What I am looking forward to most is my children’s bedrooms. We decided to put our 12 and two year old boys together in the large 15×9 bedroom and give our daughter the 8×9 bedroom. To maximize her space we’re going to build her a loft bed with a desk and a swing where she can sit and draw or do her school work. She’s four so she pretty much designed it herself and I think it’s going to be an amazing space. Our oldest is getting my 90 year old mahogany bed and the little guy wants a John Deere tractor bed. I’m going to try to build it for him.

I will write posts as we accomplish goals and let you know how things are going and how things are working. I’m hoping to put a lot of pictures on Pinterest, too, in case anyone wants to copy our ideas. We’re hoping to get started soon, but it may be November with everything going on. Which is fine since it gives us time to make sure that we’re doing what God wants and not just what we want.


How Small is Too Small?

I talk a lot about the Berry Cottage because it is the namesake of this blog, but if it is no longer an option, then what? Do we continue swimming/drowning in this enormous 1,200 square foot tin can? Or do we still downsize, but in a different way?

My husband and I have discussed this and I realized that I don’t need a set amount of square footage. We have half an acre of land in the middle of nowhere that I would much rather see my children enjoying instead of just sitting indoors all day. My children and I set up the pool today so I probably won’t see my kids indoors until October (we live in the deep south).

This opened up a new conversation. What do I need in a house? Sure, I would love an Italianate or French Country kitchen, but do I need it? No. Do my kids need their own bedrooms? Nope! All I need is a home that is cool in summer and warm in winter, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. A covered outdoor kitchen has always been a dream of mine with a small indoor kitchen for winter. Which lasts about two months in Alabama.

I’m not making any announcements now because we are still giving God the reigns to lead us where He wants us. I know that’s the season we’re in and I’m learning obedience. Slowly and painfully at times.

He may still want us to stay in our tin can, it certainly seems that way since the mortgage company has been super helpful thus far. If He does we will be grateful and work on making it feel like home. If He doesn’t, then we will do what He wants. Even if it may be painful at times. I know He has a better plan for us than we could ever come up with ourselves.

When Plans Change


“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21 ESV

Like most people, my husband and I try to plan everything. We have a budget to plan our money, a calendar to plan our days, and a list to plan what we’ll eat. Where we fail is when we don’t give our plans to God and wait for His approval. Sometimes He approves things, but then He shows us that we need to change those plans to follow Him.

Unfortunately, we don’t know if His plan is for us to move into our cottage. We have prayed, we’ve had others pray for us, and we just don’t feel like we have a definitive answer. We’re praying for guidance because we don’t feel that He wants us to stay in this big, metal can anymore either. Or we’re hoping he doesn’t because the utilities are expensive. We have made big cuts (no dishwasher, we turned the hot water heater down, and we hang our clothes on a clothesline) and our electric bill is still the same as someone who lives in a 3,000 square foot house with three HVAC units, a washer/dryer, and two hot water heaters running on high.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow wil bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast in arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-16 ESV

So, we will pray for guidance and see what Jesus has in store for us. I know that it will be far better than anything we can plan for ourselves. We are also praying for the person who buys Berry Cottage, if that’s what He wants, and we hope that it blesses them abundantly. My husband thinks that maybe God gave it to us and allowed us to make some repairs because the next person may not have the money or ability to do them. Only God knows and that’s okay.

If you are looking for guidance, trust in the Lord and wait. He will lead you in the way that you should go. He knows the plans that He has for you.

“”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”” Jeremiah 29:11


Unexpected Blessings

Unexpected Blessings

This morning I had plans to pray, read my Bible, and finish the blog post I started last night. Preferably just before or while I drank my first cup of coffee. Instead, my power went out as I finished my devotionals. I thanked God for the rain but prayed the lights would come on soon because kids don’t do well without power.

The first estimate was 1pm to have power restored. So I sat with my littlest one and shared something a friend taught my small group on the Walk to Emmaus. I want you to open your Bible and read Mark 15:34. In the ESV it says, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In Jesus’ time, there weren’t chapter numbers or verses in the Torah and there weren’t any hymns. They sang Psalms and the leader would start singing the first line to get everyone singing the same one. Go to Psalm 22 and look at the first line. Read it and see if it doesn’t sound familiar, remembering that it was written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.

As my other children came into the kitchen, bored, I shared that with them. My eleven year old son was floored and I think it really opened his eyes to what I have been trying to tell him all of these years. I hadn’t had time before now to show him how the Bible backs itself up and really that should be my priority.

After that I picked up the book my friend bought me a month ago that I haven’t finished and read three chapters. I love this book (and my friend), but I never seem to have time to read it. If you are looking for an incredible book, Love Does by Bob Goff. It’s on Amazon and probably has it, too.

Today was such a blessing without coffee, electricity, and hot food. It gave us time to do things that we won’t do when the lights are on (and WiFi is working). It was so nice that I may start turning off the power supply after my coffee is brewed every morning.

How God Blessed Us With Berry Cottage

How God Blessed Us With Berry Cottage

First I think you need to understand that my husband and I were not looking to move. We were meditating on Hebrews 13:5 ESV, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””. We were even fixing up our twenty year old single wide so that it would become our forever home.

At the end of October, my family and I got sick. We were sick for almost a week so we were bored. I was swiping through the Facebook marketplace because I hate that red dot. I swipe through everything to get rid of those dots. As I scrolled I saw an adorable little house for $13,500. I clicked on it and as I read the ad my jaw dropped and my heart sped up. Not only was it cheap, but we could put $1,000 down, pay $350 a month for three years, and not pay a dime in interest. There had to be a catch.

We drove forty miles to look at the house, expecting a mess. Housing is cheap where we live, but not that cheap. When we pulled up we immediately noticed a new metal roof and new vinyl siding. The issues had to be internal. The company who listed the house gave us the code to the door and we went inside to look around. It was dirty, but not damaged.

We did our due diligence, of course. We went to the courthouse and bought the deed and the plat to make sure the person who owned the house was listed. That checked out, but we could not figure out how the land lay. I prayed that God would show us because there was a shed that seemed to be encroaching. Before I could say amen a very nice woman walked outside. Her father had owned the house and land that we were hoping to buy, so she was an expert on the house and the property.

With all of our questions answered, we were ready to proceed. We agreed that we weren’t going to fight for it and we would accept no and move on. We were approved and beginning the minor repairs five days after I saw the listing on Facebook.

It has been six months now and we are still working on replacing a few walls and the flooring, but we are grateful that God has blessed us with our Berry Cottage. My husband and I prayed for years that we could buy an old home, but God waited until we were content with what we had and where we were.

Due to extenuating circumstances, it will likely be August before we can move into our home. It’s hard because there is a peace there that we don’t get anywhere else. Even our preschooler and toddler are quieter and laid back when we’re in the Berry Cottage. It truly is a gift from God.


Finding Inspiration

You can find inspiration anywhere, but my family tends to find it outdoors. When my husband and I were younger we lived in Virginia and we loved the mountains. That was our happy place and we were content to stay there and never leave. Especially not for the beach.

Then we grew up and God called us to Alabama. We love the mountains here, they’re beautiful, but Gulf Shores is our happy place. While visiting we got the opportunity to stay in a beautiful beach house that is similar to The Berry Cottage.

It’s not identical, obviously, but there were a lot of similarities. It is a good bit bigger at just over 1,100 square feet, but there were six of us staying there so that was a good thing. It was a two bedroom, two bathroom with a sleeper sofa in the living room.

The Berry Cottage isn’t near the beach, but we decided that we didn’t care. We can still add beach charm to our little piece of paradise. We are doing this with colors inspired by the sand and water, decor of sea creatures, and various marine items like crab traps and fishing nets.

This was the interior of Bon Vie. We loved how it felt like a farmhouse on the ocean. Ours is going to feel like a beach cottage in farm country. I just wish that I could find a front door like this one for our home, I loved it.

I am hoping to have The Berry Cottage completed in August. As we complete these projects I will tell you what we did, how we did it, and I will share before and after photos.