Newlywed Nesting: How We're Furnishing a Small Home on an Even Smaller Budget!

Today we're kicking off a new reoccurring blog feature that I'm feeling more than a little excited without a whole lotta crazy-long, introduction-type talk, welcome to the Newlywed Nesting series!

There are a couple of things behind this series, starting with the fact that Taylor and I recently moved to Maui!

This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here. With that thereby disclaimed (is that a word?), NONE of these products were sponsored—all were purchased with our own money, and this post reflects our honest opinions about each and every one! 

While every day we've spent living out here has truly felt like #JustAnotherDayInParadise, our literal across-the-country move has also thrown us right back into the newlywed phase of homemaking. We sold everything before moving to Hawaii—rugs, lamps, bed sets, knick-knacks, whoseits and whatsits galore—and moved out here with four suitcases of clothes and one photo in a frame (I kid you not). Rebuilding our ENTIRE household from scratch was like registering for a wedding, but without the benefit of having other people pay for everything. (lol, but seriously.) With that said, our move to Hawaii caused me to consider what's truly essential when beginning a life together, which also caused me to rethink + rewrite the registry section of our eBook, How to Plan Your Wedding in Six Months or Less.

Second, while I love talking wedding planning, most of the butterflies in my stomach take flight when I start thinking about life after the aisle. That's the space I've been living in for five (!!) years now, and from that place, I have to say to my engaged gals—the best really is yet to come. Is decorating a home an integral, foundational aspect of creating a strong marriage? Well, no. But is it fun? And does it build communication skills? And does it teach the art of compromise—particularly when your vision for the perfect living/common room goes head-to-head with your husband's desire for an ugly office chair? Speaking from experience here, YES.

In this series we'll be talking about everything from registry items to recipes, but first up, let's talk about the really fun stuff—home decor and furnishings!  

5 Tips for Furnishing a Small Home on an Even Smaller Budget

Allow me to set the stage. Our ohana—that's the name of the small, separate mother-in-law cottages found at the front of many homes in Hawaii—is maybe 600 square feet. Maybe. When you walk through our front door you are standing in our living/dining/everything room, which opens directly into our sliver of a kitchen. One bedroom and one bathroom complete the unit. Although our little home still isn't completely set up, here are five things I've learned throughout the process of furnishing a small home on an even smaller budget:

1. You don't have to get everything at once. We started with a few essentials—a mattress, bed frame, couch, and TV—and slowly purchased more items as our budget allowed. I am not lying/exaggerating/trying to be funny when I say that we used an empty cardboard box as a TV stand and a Tommy Bahama beach chair for extra seating during our first two months in Hawaii. It wasn't ideal, but it did prevent us from spending too much cash all at once. It also encouraged me to do more price-comparison shopping than usual, and to wait to buy pieces we really liked rather than "quick fix" items that would only work temporarily. 

2. Style matters, but comfort and function matter more. Thinking specifically about our futon here. Keep reading and you'll see what I mean. 

3. Multi-purpose furnishings for the win. Two birds, one stone. You know the drill! This pack of two foldable storage ottomans has been indispensable for us. They look cute, are comfy to sit on, and are perfect for storing linens and other items at the foot of our bed. A beautiful marriage of fashion and function that helps save on budget and space, too!

4. Stick to a consistent color scheme to keep the space feeling unified. In our house I used shades of blue in every room. Our bedspread, shower curtain, and rug (and formerly our couch, but we'll get to that in a minute) all feature hues of blue, which I find unifies our space and creates cohesion from room to room. 

5. Embrace statement pieces. While keeping things clean and minimal (and white) does work well for small spaces, you don't have to be afraid of going big and bold, either! A bright rug or fun accent wall can lend a heavy dose of personality to a small space without demanding a big chunk of your budget.

And speaking of statement pieces...Y'all, at the risk of sounding like a #basic Instagram person, THIS RUG. Specifically, this rug—the Momeni Margaux Geometric Rug in Navy. I ordered ours from Bed Bath & Beyond and I. Am. In. Love.

I thought it looked cute on my Pinterest board, but it looks 100 times better in's both plush beneath my feet AND pleasing to my eyes. The vibrant colors and fun geometric design make a statement and help differentiate our living space from Taylor's office space in our (super) small abode. More photos of that space to come in the future!

In addition to a statement rug, I also decided that downsizing to a one bedroom home presented the perfect opportunity to go for a statement wall (and try out something a little on the trendier side in the process). Enter removable wallpaper. I went with a pineapple design from Target that blends the good kind of kitsch with a classic color scheme. Was it easy to apply? No, no it was not. And I would question the integrity and/or sanity of anyone who says otherwise in online reviews. But do I believe the final look was worth the struggle? Yes, yes I do. The coral throw blanket with macrame trim on the couch is from the same Target line (Opalhouse) which I am presently on the verge of giving all of my money to.  

I have either a gallery wall or a large statement (there's that word again) art piece planned for the blank spot above the couch, but until that coin toss has been decided, this is where we're at. 

Now, let's play a quick game of love it or leave it.

LOVE IT: I am obsessed with our transforming coffee table in a way I never thought I would be when my husband first mentioned his goal of finding a multi-purpose piece that could function as both a coffee and dining table. "It will be ugly and practical looking," I thought—and yes, I meant "practical" as an insult. The reality, though, is that while our coffee table IS practical, I actually find it visually appealing. In the previous (larger) home we were renting, we used this same table as a coffee table/conference table in our home office. Now, it functions as our coffee table, dining table, and occasionally as a pop-up work desk too. The height is adjustable in coffee table form and it also folds out into a complete four-person dining table—the perfect space-saving solution for our living-slash-everything room! This time around we ordered our table in white oak from Bed Bath & Beyond, as they are one of the only online retailers that offers free shipping to Hawaii. Score. We ordered our first transforming table from Amazon, but the pricing on Amazon tends to fluctuate pretty dramatically—you might want to do a little price comparison of your own before making a purchase! 

LEAVE IT: Believe it or not, that lovely navy blue futon in the photos above is no longer with us. R.I.P., chic futon—I loved your mid-mod look and cool girl style, but you made my butt go numb when I sat on you for longer than five minutes. We have since replaced the futon with a brown-gray sleeper sofa from Costco that looks a little old-manish but is INFINITELY more comfortable. I'm still waiting on the arrival of a few throw pillows to make it a little less retirement community up in here, but I'll do another post with updated photos and decor as soon as they arrive. Although I would NOT recommend this sofa for a full-time couch, I'm going to go ahead and drop a link to the Brittany Sofa Futon by Novogratz just in case you are a college student (because, man, you really can't beat the price of this thing), someone looking for a couch/futon for their home office that will rarely be sat or slept upon, or someone willing to completely sacrifice comfort for I admittedly did for the first three months of our time on Maui.

Well, that was about 2,000 more words than I planned on writing, so if you stuck around until this point, thanks! I hope you'll check back in for more updates on how we're rounding out our small space. Lots of storage solutions, cheap and chic finds, and DIY art projects to help you furnish YOUR newlywed nest are yet to come! 



  • How exciting for you two! Can’t wait to see how it turns out. Stay safe with this hurricane <3

  • Yay! This is a fun and functional little post. Am already looking forward to the next one.

    Beth Kiker
  • Thanks dad :) Love you!

    Karley | A Short Engagement
  • This was really fun and well written. Keep ‘em coming luv


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