There are many families living a comfortable debt-free life in manufactured homes. Carolyn’s family is one of them and she was kind enough to share her home with us. You will love her eclectic single wide furnished with second-hand finds!

Carolyn’s Story

Carolyn shared the details of her eclectic single wide on a blog she had started after moving into the home called The Mobile Home Maker. Since she moved she has deleted the blog but her original blog, Cue the Banjo is still going.

Carolyn shared her story of living lean and attempting to become completely debt-free:

 I’m a 30-something stay-at-home mom who writes Cue The Banjo and forgets people’s names as soon as I meet them. Just warnin’ ya, it’s horrible.

I live with a mustache that has a man attached to it, my husband R, and we have one child (so far), her name is Ruth.

This is our journey of living lean and becoming debt-free. It’s also my personal swan dive belly flop into homemaking – aka, the most interesting job I’ve had to date. (And that includes selling dismemberment insurance at a telemarketing company).

I feel like I’ve started over from scratch as far as my mindset goes. Re-learning what should be valuable to my family and un-learning the Keeping Up With The Joneses mentality. Who do these Joneses think they are, anyway? Someone needs to give them a good kick in the rear, because they’re wreaking havoc on people’s psyches. Not to mention I bet they’re really boring with no imagination at all. Good riddance.

That didn’t sound jealous at all.

So, let’s start with the exterior of the mobile-home, or The Shack, as I call it.

Here she be, in all her glory. Don’t be afraid, she doesn’t bite.


beautiful eclectic single wide decor - exterior


We moved into The Shack in the summer of 2010 and it has taken me until now to upload photos of it, let alone come to terms with living in it. Not gonna lie, it looks like druggies live there. And the scary thing is, we don’t do drugs.

Yes, my friends, we have chosen with sober minds to live here.
Why? Well, I’ll tell ya. Take a seat.

It all started when I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye… too far back? Okay. In 2007, less than a year into our marriage, R and I bought a house in the cutest little area called Prairie Village, a suburb of Kansas City, because that’s what you do, right? Get married, buy a home. The neighborhood was built in the 1940s and huge oak trees lined every street. Another young couple had just moved in next door and everything was quaint.

THEN. Then, less than two years after buying it, R got a job opportunity in Arkansas. Like, we had to move down within a month type of opportunity. And so, with the help of our realtor, we managed to get out of that mortgage within 2 months of listing it despite the already down-shifting of the housing market.


beautiful eclectic single wide decor - living room with gallery wallThat’s when everything changed.

And when I say everything, I mean We changed.

We realized that our first apartment’s rent was 56% of our mortgage payment with just as much square footage and started paying off R’s undergrad & masters with that extra dough. I also came to appreciate obsessively salivate over passing the buck when something broke down. [In a British aristocratic voice] Excuse me Landlady – I dropped a crumb on the carpet, please send someone up to shampoo it. Thanks. Look, replacing a 60 year old sewer line, that broke while guests stayed for the weekend, will do that to a woman.

When we moved even closer to R’s job, we made the decision to rent the cheapest apartment available… putting us at 40% of our mortgage payment. We called it The Dorm Room because of the shoebox-size and, yes, slept in a loft bed slightly larger than a twin. This allowed us to pay off more of his loans, all the while going on trips, eating out, and donating to charities without feeling pinched.

That’s really the thing of it all, I don’t want to feel pinched. If that means living in a Dorm Room or The Shack, then so be it. It was cozy up in that loft anyway (read: hello Ruth!)
A year later, this beauty showed up. At a whopping 32% of our mortgage payment, we ran around like wild turkeys.

No literally, there’s a turkey farm 100 yards away.

Living off only one income now, that small rent payment is so incredibly worth the ugly exterior.


Carolyn’s single wide was a typical mid 90’s model. Since they were renting, I’m sure she had to abide by certain rules. Yet, she ended up with a very nice, very stylish eclectic single wide that was extremely affordable. 

beautiful eclectic single wide decor - bedroom


beautiful eclectic single wide decor - nursery

Stylish Vintage Mod Decor in Eclectic Single Wide

These vintage-era chairs are awesome!

 beautiful eclectic single wide decor - vintage mod furniture in living room

Carolyn mixed vintage mod with Victorian and it works wonderfully!

beautiful eclectic single wide decor - gallery wall in living room

That gallery wall is perfect!

Related: Learn how to create a great gallery wall for less than $50 here.

DIY Cinder Block Shelf

Carolyn created a unique shelf using cinder blocks. Ikea could sell this for $199.99! The simple modular design is a popular trend in home decor. Carolyn was ahead of her time! Maps are a HUGE home decor trend now, too. This was 4 years ago so Carolyn certainly had an eye for home design trends.

Read what Pinterest says are the most popular home decor trends here. 


beautiful eclectic single wide decor - bedroom - DIY cinder block shelves


Eclectic Single Wide Goals!

I’m sad to see they moved but I appreciate Carolyn’s candor. She rocked that eclectic single wide decor!

Read about Pam’s Path to Living Debt-Free in a Mobile Home here. 

It’s nice to see someone share their story of living on less. Debt-free living has, thankfully, became a trend and a more acceptable way of life than it used to be. Two decades ago anyone trying to live a more simple life in an affordable single wide would have been judged a bit harshly. It was the day of the McMansion and living grand and in lots of debt was just what you did.

Related: Hip and Modern Single Wide 

After the recession, it all changed and our views on debt and housing shifted a bit. Today, going debt-free and keeping life simple is what all the cool kids are doing and that’s nothing but awesome.

You can still keep up with Carolyn via her blog, Cue the Banjo.

As always, thanks for reading Mobile Home Living!

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Crystal Adkins created Mobile Home Living in 2011 after buying a 1978 single wide and searching online for mobile home remodeling ideas but finding very little. Today, it's the most popular resource in America for mobile home information and inspiration and has been visited over 40 million times.


  1. I purchased a 1997 Belcrest double wide. 3 bedroom 2 bath. I am currently doing upgrades. It’s overwhelming at times. With, a mortgage payment along with cost of upgrades. But for the most part I love it. Excited about my vision of how it will look when completed and paying it off in a few short years. Debt free and enjoying life!

  2. I love finding free and cheap things for my home, too, Arba. It’s like a game! I’ve been known to drive around the ‘fancy neighborhoods’ the night before trash day and scrounge for things. There’s just something appealing about older, pre-owned stuff. I like the environmental aspect of it, too.

    Thanks so much for reading MHL and for taking the time to comment!

  3. Looks great! it’s the best way to live. I myself go one step further, many of the best pieces in my 1955 single wide (Bought for $1,500.00) came from dumpster diving and needed little or no refurbishing, including an antique Persian rug I found in the trash.

  4. Hi Ollie!

    A couple hundred dollars every month can really make an impact on a home! I would first find whatever water or dampness issue is causing the black mold. If there’s no leak in the structure or plumbing then make sure your belly wrap (the plastic under your home is intact with no holes – a damp ground with little to no ventilation under the home could be the cause). Once the black mold is figured out I would remove the mold in sections (one side of the room at a time is a good way to go).

    I’m a firm believer that paint is the best option for updating a home. You can always replace the paneling with sheet rock but that is a lot of work and fairly expensive, I personally think you can get just as much of an impact by just painting the walls and ceilings. New flooring for our entire mobile home (696 sq ft) was less than $500 in materials and we laid it ourselves. With the floating floor (laminate wood as some call it) you can do one room at a time as your budget allows too. It made a huge impact!

    Click around the repair and improve tab up top on the black bar – there’s lots of great ideas! Thanks so much for reading MHL!

  5. i have a 1998 16×80 manufactured home when i bought it i did not know it had black mold in it but since my kids are all grown up i want to remodel it into a 2 bedroomand 1/2 bath at both ends of the trailor having the laundry room and main bathroom in the middle how would i get this doneon a budget of less than 1100 a month

  6. A little bare on the outside but that's understandable since it's a rental and it doesn't look like druggies live there. I've seen a lot worse! The interior is very cozy and I love that large map.


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