Make Do Challenge Part Two

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Last week I challenged you to “make do” with at least one thing or situation.  How did you do?  Did it turn out to be a big deal that you went without something or made a substitution?  I’m hoping that you found results like I did quite some time ago:  It didn’t matter one bit. Plus I saved time and stress because I didn’t give in and go for society’s solution: more. Using a fork instead of a wisk may not be ideal but it will work.  Using minced onion instead of fresh onion is a pretty easy switch too. I’ve found it’s pretty easy to make do with the little things.

But what about the big things?  Is it easy when your bathroom is really dated and driving you nuts?  When your family grows and there’s no extra bedroom?  It all depends on your resolve, but I’m gonna guess that most of us would find these situations increasingly harder to avoid giving in to.

The thing about us as wealthy humans, (compared to most countries) living in a society surrounded by nice things, is that when we think we need something we jump to the solution that we have to get something new. Not necessarily brand new, but new to us.  It’s just our mindset.  I once read a book (and wish very much that I could remember the name of it) where the author spoke of his family’s clothes not getting dry on the line during winter before they ran out of clothing.  The wife said they needed to buy a dryer.  They discussed the options and eventually they realized that instead of a dryer they just needed to buy one extra set of clothes at the thrift store per person. That would give them enough to last until the clothes on the line were dry.  They were jumping to an obvious solution instead of looking at the problem. 

One current such “problem” in our house is our bathroom.  It has baby
blue tiles everywhere and mint green trim and cabinetry.  I’m sure it
was really styling back in the 50’s, but it’s just not working for me. 
It irritates me everytime I go in there.

(trust me when I say this picture doesn’t do the clash of colors justice

My first thought when we looked at the house was that the bathroom would have to be gutted.  Then I thought that maybe we could just take the tiles down and get a new vanity.  Then I finally decide that we would paint the entire thing, including the tiles.  By the time we closed on the house (less than 3 weeks after looking at it, mind you) I had decided that I could live with the tile all together if we just painted the trim a more complimentary color.  I bought a can of chocolate brown.  Of course it’s still sitting in the can, but I’ll get it painted eventually.  Obviously having a really nice bathroom doesn’t make enough impact on me to have painted it 5 months ago!  How did I finally come to his solution?  Well, in addition to my husband wanting to keep the tile for some strange reason, I took some time to look at the cost of getting what I wanted.  It wasn’t worth $8,000-$10,000 to me to have a new bathroom.  Nor was it worth $4,000 to remove the tile and get a new vanity.  $1,000 to paint all the tile was more reasonable, but why go all that effort and expense to just hide something I don’t like anyway?  So we agreed on the paint and I’m happy with that.

Now, what would you do if you ran out of rooms for a growing family?  If I could afford it, I personally would sell my house and buy a larger one, or would add on.  Space is a big deal to me.  I can work around decor and furnishings, but not lack of space.  The current housing market may not allow for selling a home either. We know, we own two. I have two friends who have been in this situation in the last 4 years and have decided to be creative about their spaces instead of changing spaces.  Are you reading this with an open mind? This one may take some getting used to- I know it did for me. Both of my friends have made space for their children to sleep in
the laundry room.  Just think about that for a minute.

Most homes in America didn’t have laundry rooms 60 years ago.

Current society has made us think that we need a room just for laundry, which may run up to 12 hours a week if all the loads are done completely separate from each other.

When I first heard about this, I thought it was a great idea- for the babies.  But as they’ve grown and become children it’s taken some getting used to.  I think they both have the right idea and their hearts in the right place though.  You see, a laundry room really isn’t used that much for laundry. It’s more of just an extra room in a house for occasional use.  Both of these friends have good sized laundry rooms and they have small children.*  They’ve decorated the rooms very nicely and appropriately for their kids.  Honestly you wouldn’t even realize that these rooms are laundry rooms except for, well the presence of the washer and dryer.  :-) They both also have very family oriented minds so the laundry/bedroom is used for just that: laundry and a bed.  The kids play together in other areas of the house as a family.  Isn’t that how a family was designed to work and play?  

I’m not suggesting that you all go out and convert your laundry rooms or garages into bedrooms for babies.  But I encourage you to stop and think about all the possible solutions to your wants and needs.  Maybe you can do with just a new coat or paint, new curtains, or a good carpet cleaning.  Maybe you can get season passes to a local theme park or water park instead of taking the unaffordable vacation. By taking some time to think about all the options, you may realize just how much, or how little something matters to you.  Then you’ll know what’s worth spending your family’s hard earned money on.  Or there may just be a more affordable option that you can “make do” with. 

*If you’d like to read one friend’s story and see pictures of their laundry/bedroom,  you can visit her blog Simple Purpose here (don’t you love that title?)


  1. Anonymous says:

    My bathroom had the pepto-pink tile all over, along with some random wallpaper (that covered up the previous “faux-tile” board on the walls). I couldn’t deal with it, but since we have one bathroom, gutting it was not an option. But, by putting the bathroom (that seriously drove me nuts) over projects all through the rest of the house (Wild Duck wallpaper in the master bedroom, home repairs by previous owners consisting of cardboard and duct tape), I have a Re-Bath’d shower and new laminate topped vanity (got rid of the pink tile-kept the cabinet). Do I want new kitchen cabinets? Absolutely! But, we can deal with those :)

  2. S. Davis says:

    Yikes – I was thinking small. The only thing I can come up with is we had run past our menu, and hadn’t been to the store. We looked around & came up with omelets & crispy crowns for dinner. Not the best meal, but made at home with no extra expense!

  3. Love it anon! Picking your battles!

    S. Davis- It’s small, but it’s exactly what I’m talking about though. You’re at least 2 miles and 5 mins from Walmart, making that trip cost $2 in mileage and no less than 30 minutes of your life when omelets and crispy crowns worked just as good for your 3 guys in a pinch!

  4. Great blog, following you from the whimsical wednesday blog hop, look forward to your future posts! You can find me at

  5. new follower here! another mom from loving your blog :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Penny, I’ve been in situation when there were 21 people (!) living in a small house with only 4 rooms in it; all the “necessities” outside (no running water, bathroom or shower/bath, wooden/coal stove for heat etc)… I can live pretty simple life if there is an absolute need BUT I don’t want to anymore (is 30 yrs enough?). I am still finding ways to save money (that’s why I am your fan), do a lot of DIY projects, recycle/reuse things around house but I don’t think I would easily “sacrifice” space.

  7. Great post!!

    I just “found” you via WFMW – we do lots of “making do” around here too. I LOVE it when we see our children saying making do – it becomes a way of life in so many areas of our lives!

  8. Great to have you Frugal in WV and Mama Kat & Girls! Thanks for stopping by yesterday.

  9. Anonymous- I agree with your theory on saving. In fact, I think it’s the motto over at Family Friendly Frugality “Save where you can, so you can spend where you want” She even admits that they have an expensive cable package and she gets expensive haircuts. But she saves in other areas by being frugal so that they can have those things that they want. We’re all about that here too. We have a timeshare that we absolutely love. We decided years ago that we would invest in our vacations by saving in others areas to do it.

  10. Jessica- I don’t know that we’ve used the phrase “make do” with our kids, but that will be really neat when they are old enough to understand the idea and begin to practice it!

  11. Great post! Lots of things can be “good enough” if you apply a little creativity and gratitude!

    We try to use up the usefulness in things before replacing them, especially if our dislike is only aesthetic. We’ve endured dark gray kitchen cabinets for almost 9 years because they don’t NEED repainting yet, and now that we’re used to them they don’t seem so grim.

    I love your idea about sleeping in creative places. You don’t have to sleep in the same room where you store your clothes, play, do your homework, etc. We slept in the living room in one apartment, and it was really nice!

    It may sound wacky, but my family has been finding that the exact thing we want often will come our way free or cheap within days after we say, out loud, what it is that we want and the practical reason for it. The most recent example: We got a digital movie camera for Christmas that does not have a carrying case. Last week my partner said, “I hope we can find some kind of bag that’s the right size for our camera and is padded. Then we could take it places without worrying so much about breaking it.” The next day, as my son and I were coming home, a neighbor was setting a box labeled FREE STUFF on the sidewalk, and one of the things in the box was a small insulated lunch bag exactly the right size for our camera. Is God rewarding us for our frugal ways?? I don’t know how it works!

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