It’s no secret… nobody is tossing thousands out the window anymore. Everyone is feeling a crunch and making much more informed choices on how to spend money. This is not to be said that people don’t still want to improve their homes – everyone wants a nice place to live – maybe we’ll just hold off on that antiquing trip to Sotheby’s for a little while.
In this regard, a lot of clients have been asking me about what we can do to their homes that won’t break the bank. In this instance, the first thing I would suggest is get a realistic and specific dollar amount in mind, and once that happens, decide on the places you would like to focus your ideas and energy. Then, as yourself if there work you would be comfortable doing yourself as opposed to hiring someone to do it for you? Spending $30 on a How-To book might be a great idea in saving lots more in labor costs! Painting, simple tile work and some types of simple flooring are areas where you may be able to learn what to do easily, while plumbing and electrical stuff are probably best left to the licensed pros.
If you’d like to give the house a once-over, nothing beats paint as the place to start. It is a low-cost way to add color and change the overall feeling of any room. A good primer should cost $20 per gallon, and paint can go up to $40 or $50 per gallon (always budget for two coats!!) A few brushes, some drop cloths, a good Ipod playlist and a little elbow grease, and you’ve got a new vibe in your bedroom!
Replacing some out-dated furniture is also a great way to go as opposed to a complete home re-design. Good upholstered furnishings should last 10-15 years or so, depending on use. At that point, the styles will most likely change. If you are not so attached to the piece, donate it to the Goodwill for a tax write-off and get something new. If you love the piece, but it’s just time for a fresh look, think about having it re-upholstered in a more updated fabric.
In the living room, accessories are the key. New pillows on the sofa can brighten up the space very quickly for only a couple hundred bucks. Maybe new art? Lamps? A foyer mirror? These don’t need to be expensive to look fantastic. This is also a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try a new look or idea!
Lighting is such a key aspect in your home. What if you replaced your older chandeliers and ceiling fixtures with something more contemporary. Simple things like this can – literally- brighten up your home instantly. Many lighting stores and websites are having sales right now, so it’s a great time to invest in these items… and don’t forget the dimmers – on everything! $20 per fixture buys you some great ambiance!
If you’re a little more ambitious, and want to tackle a few kitchen updates on a budget, you can do it, just remember to keep things in perspective. The best ways to give a big change are to sand re-paint your cabinet doors (or replace the doors if you have the cash) and add some new hardware. You’ll be amazed at what this can do for your space. I have done this a few times for clients, and the look is that of a whole new kitchen for a few hundred bucks. For a little more, you can add a new backsplash (maybe $25-40 per linear foot, depending on material.) This can also be a great eye-catching item!
If you’re going to replace your appliances, and the $6,000-$10,000 per piece on the Viking and Sub-Zero pieces are not an option for your wallet, you can plan to spend $1,500-$2,000 each on some decent stainless steel alternatives that will last you a while.
Can’t afford new wood floors? Sand and refinish the ones you have! Or paint them!
Will a new bathroom cost too much? Think about re-glazing your existing fixtures, or maybe a tub surround instead of expensive tile. New towels and accessories can also brighten this room.
Have a look at some Home and Shelter magazines or check out a few DIY books from the library to start getting some ideas.
My point is that things are possible to improve your home even when you think that it may not be the case. Check out some other great ideas on my website here.