Home Improvements For Less

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I bought my house approximately eight million years ago (or, five, depending upon who you ask). We moved in, stupidly juggling dueling mortgages and a four-year old child, and were amazed by all the space. Nothing like a tiny three bedroom condo to make a full-sized house look a little intimidating.

Because we’d just been royally screwed by our tiny three bedroom condo, which we’d painstakingly decorated to match our garish personalities, and had not one but two new babies arrive shortly after our house was purchased, we left most of the original decorations intact. With the exception of the horrifying first-floor bathroom that had not one, not two, but three separate patterns of wallpaper, we didn’t have the time, energy or motivation to fix the house up.

 

Until now.

 

I’m throwing a party this weekend — the first in five years — which means that I’m suddenly confronted with the notion that people are going to show up at my house, not only to celebrate my daughter’s third birthday, but to silently judge my decorating skills. Which, as I’ve mentioned, are null. So I embarked upon a mission to fix up my house as best as I could without breaking my already-strained budget. Here’s what I’ve learned about doing home improvements on the cheap.

Painting a room is the cheapest and easiest way to change a room’s look, feel and atmosphere. Several gallons of paint can run you close to a hundred dollars — more if you have bigger walls, obviously — but make a vast difference. A word of caution — use quality brands of paint when repainting walls during your home repairs. You may FEEL as though you’re saving tons of cash by going with the cheapest brands, but it will take more time, energy and money to apply the additional coats of paint needed to completely cover the walls.

When replacing light fixtures, comparison shop. To pick out a new chandelier for my dining room, I went to no less than three of the big box hardware stores to see what my best options were for my limited budget. I found the best, biggest and most varied selection of chandeliers at Menards. I did peruse some online retailers of lights, but since I couldn’t physically touch and see the items, I didn’t feel comfortable shelling out the cash for those light fixtures. But I’m weird like that.

A great option for home accessories, light fixtures, and other household building supplies is an outlet called ReStore, which are located in both Canada and the US. ReStore is a unique type of home improvement outlet because it accepts donations from building sites and stores that are closing to support Habitat for Humanity. ReStore is both a socially and environmentally responsible type of store because it promotes recycling (yay!) and helping others. Each ReStore is a bit different in the items they stock, so it’s wise to check their merchandise regularly when doing home improvements. I’m a huge fan of theirs.

Now that I’ve been bit by the home improvement bug, I’m all about fixing up my WHOLE house, which means I’m bound and determined to learn more about home improvements for less.

 

If you have any other budget-conscious ideas for home improvements and remodeling, I’d be beyond thrilled to hear them. I’ve got most of a house to fix up!

 

 

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  1. mooivrouw

    3 years ago

    Oh wow. I’ll have to check out ReStore. That sounds awesome! Sadly, I have no suggestions for fixing up your house. I’m still using Ikea furniture and renting my place.

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  2. forever_trust

    3 years ago

    As someone living in a Habitat for Humanity house, I definitely recommend visiting a ReStore if possible! You get a deal, and they help the community – it’s a win-win!

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  3. FromTracie

    3 years ago

    ReStore sounds like a great business to support!

    The one time my husband painted a room, he bought really cheap paint, and by the time he finished his FOUR coats (seriously, it was REALLY cheap paint) he ended up paying just as much as he would have buying more expensive paint that would have only needed one coat.

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  4. triplezmom

    3 years ago

    That sounds like an awesome option. Now all I need is a budget. . .

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  5. aryka.chapman

    3 years ago

    Wow. You actually make me realize that the paint jobs Im hoping to do in the next few weeks wont be as expensive as I thought. My kitchen. Oh my kitchen. Previous renters obviously smoked something and thought they could sponge. In green. With these Frida-esque decals everywhere. Without covering up the cabinets. The only time Im thankful that the darn thing is so tiny!

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  6. thepsychobabble1

    3 years ago

    When my husband painted the garage for my father-which hadn’t been painted since I was toddling around-my dad purchased cheap paint and no primer.
    It took forever, and a metric ton of paint.

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  7. OriginalWacky

    3 years ago

    Ooh, I hadn’t heard about ReStore, and that is something I can support fully. I’ll have to check that out. I’ve been slowly learning about how to fix up things and such around the house, and it makes me feel really good to be accomplishing things. I do wish I had more money though, it’s slow going.

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  8. JHBtook

    3 years ago

    I know absolutely nothing about decorating a home. We’ve rented for the past 7 years and I feel good if I hang up the already framed pictures on the walls before we move.

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  9. lucidlotus

    3 years ago

    I love the idea of ReStore, I had never heard of them before. Good luck with your house. I bet it turns out beautifully. And on a budget:)

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  10. StaceyK

    3 years ago

    I love, love, love ReStore. I have 2 within 10 miles of my house, and whenever I’m on the hunt for household stuff, I hit those first.

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  11. benjamindsearle

    3 years ago

    I’ve used ReStore a few times. Nothing I love better than getting a good price and paying to a good cause.

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  12. Crystal.Ritchie

    3 years ago

    I’m going to have to see about a ReStore in our area! That sounds awesome!

    I use Etsy a lot for finding affordable art to decorate with. And overstock is often good for things like curtains and specific pieces of furniture.

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  13. Cacille

    3 years ago

    I will happily help give ideas to fix up a home and add some cheap options to make people go WOW! I’m a house painter who helps people decorate with paint and can give other ideas as well. I used to work at Lowe’s and Home Depot too.
    But, before I give advice here, I need to know some specifics which may help me come up with some great ideas. So I encourage people who want some advice to pick a room or two, tell me what the room has that Won’t be changed (carpet or wood floor, colors of them – how big is the room and what the room is generally called, how much light it gets, if it has any special features like trim molding dividing the room or crown molding or a special window or something, you get the idea). Tell me the type of lighting it has already (ceiling fan or chandelier, and what colors). Also, last but not least, your budget range. Not just “cheap” but a actual budget cause “cheap” means different things to different people. I’ll give you 2-3 good ideas for each room and you can run with it from there. Email me at saiiyah AT gmail DOT com. This offer is good to anyone who finds this post, until March 31st 2012.

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  14. mpekinjay

    3 years ago

    We go to the ReStore and thrift shops all the time. You just have to find the right shape to whatever you’re looking for, and paint can do the rest. Our blog (www.suburbanexperiment.wordpress.com) details all of our restoration projects. Keep up the good work and thanks for the tips.

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  15. iHubby

    3 years ago

    My wife and I have been doing home improvement lately and we LOVE going to our local ReStore. We also donate to the restore with items that are still of use but just taking up space around our house. Home improvement is fun but if you are on a budget you can find great items to help with this by going to the ReStore.

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  16. CycleNinja

    3 years ago

    I can personally vouch for the Habitat for Humanity (HfH) ReStore. They saved me a ton when I was re-doing the floor of my kitchen. The Des Moines, Iowa outlet had a large selection of laminate flooring that was new in the box, donated from local contractors. And HfH is also an excellent organization to volunteer for, because it lets you network with skilled people and learn some trade secrets that you can use in your own projects.

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  17. moblyana

    3 years ago

    Glad to see the shout-out to ReStore; they are the bomb diggity. You can get doors, sinks, vanities, light fixtures, everything AND the kitchen sink :-) And its for a good cause to boot.

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  18. kristinebrite

    3 years ago

    I’m with you a quick round of paint can do wonders! Also, going slowly and working on just a few things at a time.

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  19. SonOfCouponChicken

    3 years ago

    Oh, the drama!

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