Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fixing up our little nest

We've spent the last few months doing stuff to our house. Starting off a new marriage in an old house can drag you down...we wanted our external environment to be as fresh and different as possible. We've done quite a lot on a very, very limited budget. Since money is tight for most people these days, I thought I'd share some stuff I've learned along the way:

1) the cheapest and most effective facelift you can give your home is a paint job. What a difference a little fresh paint makes. We used a painter, but if your funds are seriously tight, do it yourself.

2) paint all your ceilings white, no matter what.

3) use Facebook to get recommendations from friends on contractors. Get a million estimates before you hire someone. Estimates are free. You will eventually find someone who fits your budget and does good work.

4) Home Depot takes Lowe's coupons, expired or not. Lowes takes unexpired Home Depot coupons. Sears will usually match Lowe's and Home Depot prices on appliances...don't be afraid to bargain. Lowe's 10% off coupons are available at the post office, in change-of-address kits. Grab five of them at a time. I buy nothing at HD or Low's without a coupon.

5) Another way to do cheap updates that make a difference is to change doorknobs, drawer pulls, handles, switchplates, socket covers, toilet seats, towels, lighting fixtures. You can get much of this stuff very cheaply online.

6) when decorating, use odd numbers when displaying things. Put out five plates, not four. Put out three vases, not two.

7) Use Craigslist, but very, very carefully, because there are a lot of weirdos out there. Hire lawn guys from Craigslist, but don't necessarily hire contractors that need to come into your house. Never give a contractor money in advance, no matter how trustworthy they seem. If they need to buy supplies or paint at a store, have a store call you from the register for a credit card number. They do it all time.

8) Go on and look for posts on people giving away painter's tape, ceiling paint, clean dropcloths, etc. And when you are done with your paint job, freecycle your stuff as well.

9) A good handyman is priceless. Get one through recommendations. Wait until you have at least five things he can do and have him come and fix/install it all at'll save the multiple traveling costs and it's so nice to get a bunch of stuff fixed.

10) If you're doing ongoing renovations, go into home improvement stores periodically to check out the floor sales. I stopped in one day and got a Moen faucet for our sink for $50, just because they were on overstock sale. I got a stainless steel refrigerator for $400, because it was the floor model.

11) if you're painting and driving yourself crazy with color choices, rather than just choose a color and hope it works, invest $3 and buy a color sample and throw it up on the wall. We made one bad mistake in a bedroom and had to pay the painter to repaint it (and buy new paint). We should have bought five or six color samples instead.

12) do things in stages. Don't try to do everything at once. Get your floors done. Pause. Get your repairs done. Pause. Get your painting done. Take a breather. Then get your window treatments. Put up some shelves. Go slowly or you will make bad choices.

13) Nothing gives a house a quickie external face lift and curb appeal like painting the front door. Make sure to use a semi-gloss finish and exterior paint...the elements are tough on paint.

14) Another cheapola face lift that brightens everything...have your windows professionally cleaned. Suddenly, the sun will come in.

Feel free to post your home reno tips here. Could use some ideas about low-cost window treatments.


Anonymous said...

If you have a sewing machine, curtains are super low-cost window treatments and very easy to make. You can pick up very cheap fabric on sale at Jo-Ann's or Hancock fabrics and all you have to do is sew a hem around the entire piece and then make a pocket at the top to put the rod in. Rods cost almost nothing at Wal-Mart and you can really brighten up a room with a pretty fabric.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the house. Have a happy and healthy new year.

RY said...

Great Post! I missed reading your blog!
I am moving into a new home in a couple of weeks, and I appreciate your ideas.
Take care and Shana Tova!

Liz said...

Oh my gosh - these tips are grand! Who have got to circulate these somehow! (Ladies Home Journal perhaps?)