Update Your Home Without Breaking the Bank

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer on a budget, finding ways to get the most from your home is a fun, but constant challenge. Here are some tips, thanks to the folks at ThisOldHouse.com and Blog.RealEstateBook.com.

 1. Turn a Closet into a Home Office.

Simply remove the closet door, take out the closet’s hanging rods, and replace them with shelves. Use a deep shelf for the desktop and add two shallow shelves above for storage. Grab a chair and voila!

 2. Magically Increase Your Window Size

By hanging drapes from the ceiling to the floor on either side of your window (rather than from the top of the window to the bottom of the window), it gives the impression that your windows are bigger than they are.

 3. Make Your Bathroom More Elegant

Either replace an existing window with stained glass, or if you can’t find a window to fit perfectly, simply hang a stained glass window from chains in front of the existing window. Stained glass provides privacy and beauty, as well as a touch of elegance.

4. Wall-Mount Bedside Table

Don’t have bedside tables? Install a wall-mount end table in your bedroom by using wood corbels with a slate roof shingle on top.

 5. Add a Chair Rail and Some Paint to Brighten Things up

Paint is one of the least expensive and most dramatic ways to update your home. Rather than painting your wall a single color from floor to ceiling, install a chair rail (a piece of crown molding in the middle of the wall) and paint the wall above and below complementary colors. And this is one of those times you want to use the absolute best paint quality you can find. A chair rail protects the wall but can take some beating from chairs.

6. Replace Laminate Countertops with Modern Cement

While marble, granite, and other countertop materials are beautiful, they are also expensive. One creative do-it-yourselfer cleaned and roughed up her existing laminate and applied three thin layers of Ardex Feather Finish, a portland-cement-based product typically used as a flooring underlayment. She spread on the mix in a fashion similar to frosting a cake, sanding after each layer, and finished with two coats of clear concrete sealer to repel water. The whole project cost less than $100 and she never had to look at her crummy old laminate again. Before you do this though, check out the price of granite, prices have come way down in recent years.

7. Go Sideways

If wooden paneling seems outdated, go diagonal. Install paneling at a 45-degree angle and paint it. It provides your walls with texture and interest.

8. In the Kitchen

Swap out lighting with pendant lamps. Replace the pulls and knobs on your cabinets. (Repaint the cabinets if they are outdated or in need of a fresh coat of paint.) Add storage with simple wall-mounted shelves. Remove upper cabinet doors – it’ll make things feel more spacious. Update your avocado-green fridge by covering it with chalkboard paint. Then you can write your shopping list right on the refrigerator door. If you have young children, encourage them to indulge their creativity with chalk.

9. Framed Art

Art magazines and vintage books can be great sources of art. Grab some matching frames with mats already in them and let your imagination run away. You can pick images based on theme, color, or just choose an eclectic mix that makes you happy.

10. Glass Tile in the Bathroom

Guarantee that no one will forget your home’s small bath by installing bright glass mosaic tile. If a whole accent wall is too extreme, go for just a colorful band in the shower for a fun surprise.


If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.

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