“Your home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love.”
– Nate Berkus
When my husband and I moved into our big two-story farm house in 1993, we knew it would take a lot of time, effort and money to update it. Besides having the wiring and plumbing redone to bring it up to code, the interior of the house needed a serious makeover. It was obvious the previous owners didn’t have any decorating sense whatsoever.
The walls in the dining room and living room were painted light green (the color of pond scum), the windows were hidden under heavy full-length drapes (the kind you’d find in a funeral home or the Munster’s house) and the floors were covered with filthy shag carpeting (I’m sure it harbored all kinds of nasty microscopic critters). The downstairs bathroom looked like it was straight out of a 1970’s flop house – big gold sunflowers against an olive green background, a grungy mustard-colored linoleum floor and a bathtub they probably hauled out of a junk yard. The bathroom upstairs had a long closet decorated with goofy duck stickers instead of a bathtub or shower. I kid you not. It was ridiculous!
Our realtor referred to this 1917 fixer-upper as the “Bates Motel”, but beneath all the unsightly trappings we could see that this place had a lot of character and loads of potential.
For starters, beautifully carved woodwork, plate rails and beveled mirrors in the spacious dining room, bay windows in the dining room, living room and master bedroom, and underneath that hideous shag carpeting we discovered a magnificent oak floor with mahogany inlay. We were also impressed with the size of the kitchen – 17 ft. x 17 ft. with high 10 ft. ceilings – and the charming built-in cabinet, not to mention the transoms above the bedroom doors (something you’d usually find in grand hotels, not private homes.) Suffice it to say this house was a diamond in the rough.
After buying the house for a song, we decided we could save a lot of money if we tackled minor renovations ourselves. It’s taken quite a few years (and muscle) to do some of the improvements and, as with most old houses, there’s still plenty to do. But, anyone who has seen the before and after pictures will agree this place looks ten times better than it did when we first moved in.
If you’re thinking of remodeling your home, I have some ideas for easy and affordable upgrades you can do yourself.
Give walls a fresh coat of paint. Probably the easiest and least expensive way to change the look of any room is to repaint it. Think beyond the usual shades of beige and go with colors that reflect the mood or purpose of the room or your personal decorating style. For example, try bright yellow or tangerine in the kitchen, rich burgundy or hunter green in the dining room, and fresh lilac or jade green in the bathroom.
- Need help selecting the right colors? Check out the interior paint guide at bhg.com
- Learn how to paint like a pro with help from diynetwork.com
Restore or replace your flooring. If you’re lucky enough to have hardwood floors underneath your worn carpet (like we did) and they’re in relatively good condition, you may just need to spruce them up with a floor sander/polisher from a rental place or buy this handy Floor Scrubber/Polisher. You can always get an area rug if you want to add some color and warmth.
On the other hand, if your floors are in bad shape, you’ll want to hide them under new carpeting or flooring. Look for special deals from Empire Today, one of the featured offers in Smart Perks.
Refinish cabinets, shelves and furniture. Instead of investing in new kitchen cabinets, consider refinishing your existing ones with paint or stain. Why not dress them up with different knobs or handles too?
Go to hgtv.com for a simple tutorial on refinishing kitchen cabinets.
Replace faucets and sinks. Make an outdated bathroom look like new instantly by replacing your faucets and sink with more modern designs. You don’t even need a plumber to do it!
Re-tile the floor or backsplash. Tiling is relatively easy. All you need is a little know-how and the right supplies, like tiles (standard subway-style tiles are the most common and the easiest to install), a v-notched trowel, tile mastic (adhesive), a tile cutter, and grout. You can find most of these things at home improvement stores. Go to diynetwork.com for step-by-step instructions on tiling floors, backsplashes, showers and more.
Update window treatments. Get rid of those heavy drapes or dated curtains and put up some sleek new blinds, Roman shades or sheers. Or, you could create your own custom curtains, drapes, shades & more out of materials you already have on hand. Check out the amazing (and easy) DIY Window Treatment ideas from hgtv.com!
You’ll also find some cool ideas in Melanie’s March 2nd blog post!
For supplies and products, look no further than Smart Perks! You’ll find some great offers from Build.com, Lowe’s, 3 Day Blinds, and more in our Home & Garden section.
Final Note: Before you invest in an older home, have it inspected by a professional to make sure it’s structurally sound. It’s easy to correct cosmetic flaws, but if the foundation is fragile you’ll have a nightmare on your hands. If you don’t believe me, rent the Tom Hanks’ movie The Money Pit!
Good luck and remember, it’s worth all of the effort once you see the fruits of your labor! Have any of you renovated your home yourself and have pics to send? Include them in the comment section!
Catherine B., a Smart Perks employee, may not be handy with a hammer, but she does know how to create an awesome honey-do list.