It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought a newly built home, settled into an older home, or looking to purchase a fixer-upper, owning your own place often eventually brings out the home improvement itch in us.
Giving your home a makeover is all about being resourceful and strategic. Here are 10 tips to help turn your dwelling place into a better home.
1. Have a plan
It might be tempting to do a project in phases if you want to save money or just take it slow. But if you haven’t planned the entire project ahead of time, you may do something that you’ll have to go back and change later, which will cost you more money in the long run. One of the worst things you can do when it comes to home improvements is to start a project without the major details – cost, time, materials and design – as realistic as possible from the start. Nothing costs more than having to “change horses in midstream” (e.g., you want to move the fridge somewhere else now or want to change your tile choice). Use design tools to conceptualize your project and add a healthy buffer (10-15 percent more) to your time and financial budget to account for the inevitable surprises.
2. Work with what you have
If your cabinets need an update, consider refacing or resurfacing them rather than replacing them. They’re probably good quality if you live in an older home, and getting brand-new cabinets of the same quality can be costly. Refurbish what’s already there, and you’ll get a whole new look while saving a bundle. You can also add a dash of color to your kitchen cabinets, drawers and doors by replacing plain old knobs and handles with fun, quirky ones in the shapes of animals, hearts and other fancy shapes. One of the most cost effective things you can do is replace existing hardware with new hardware. This is especially true in the kitchen, where fresh hardware can totally transform outdated cabinets. And the good news is that you can purchase hardware pretty cheaply, depending on where you look.
3. Add wall art with plates, photos & mirrors
Do you have a blank wall at home that could make a suitable background for an art piece? Make your own using plates, photos or your children’s artwork that you have lying around. Plates of different colors and sizes can be grouped together to make an interesting piece of wall art. Family photos, children’s artwork, inexpensive mirrors, magazine cutouts and even movie posters can be used in the same way to add an instant face-lift to any room. Just make sure you follow a theme, and don’t forget to arrange your selected pieces on the floor before you start swinging the hammer,
4. Move existing stuff around
Rearranging your belongings can give your place a whole new look. The long bench in your study can be added to the end of your bed for an interesting look. Group all the things on your coffee table onto a big wooden tray for a new look. Change the rugs in your rooms. Move the bedroom rug to the dining room and vice versa.
5. Install new light fixtures
While you may not spend a lot of time thinking about your home’s light fixtures, they actually have a profound impact on your overall design. Not only do they create high focal points, but the light they give off can create a unique ambiance. You should also consider installing a dimmer switch in bedrooms, bathrooms, and dining rooms – as they provide a unique mood. Light fixtures can be expensive, so be patient. Start by considering whether you want practical or decorative lighting and then narrow your options down based on style (recessed, pendant, etc.). You’ll know when you’ve found the right one.
6. Use leftover paint
There is so much you can do with the leftover paint lying unwanted in your garage! Paint your paper lampshade a new color and give new life to old chairs and tables. If you’re good enough with a brush, you can try your hand at some creative wall painting. Even some simple horizontal stripes on the wall can perk up a room instantly. If you don’t want to take chances, you can also get hold of some wall art stencils to sketch some pretty murals on your dining room and nursery walls!
7. Put old household items to new uses
Use old Mason jars to hold strands of battery-powered festive lights and brighten up your passageway or walkway. You can also fill such jars with brightly colored beads, buttons, pebbles or sand of different colors to make unique decorative pieces. Put pretty old baskets to use as magazine holders.
8. Brighten your space
Bring color into any room by collecting different objects from around the house. For instance, you can collect accessories, books and other items of the same color from different rooms and arrange them on your dining room sideboard. If you normally use matching towels in your bathrooms, mix them up. Drape a bright, colorful quilt over your headboard to add a fresh look to your bedroom.
9. Go green
Adding energy-efficient features to your home is a great investment, but don’t assume you have to make major upgrades to cut energy costs. New windows, for instance, can take up to 20 years to recoup the cost from energy savings, so it may be smarter to simply fill in air leaks around your existing windows. Consider how long you’re going to live in the house to decide what will work best for you in the long run.
10. When in doubt, hire a pro
DIY projects are a great way to save money, but if you find yourself guessing your way through your renovation, stop and hire a pro to do it. You’ll save yourself the trouble and expense of having to hire someone to fix your mistakes in the long run. Vet your contractors carefully, though!