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Mini Home Makeover - Tips for the Budget-Minded

A few years ago, we moved into a new home with freshly-painted walls. Our furniture, purchased pre-children, was free of marks and stains. The décor was simple, yet tastefully done. I thought I could check ‘home decorating’ off my to-do list for a while and focus on raising our family. Then I started to tire of the choices we’d made. Our house became cluttered with toys, and our bedroom became the dumping ground when the main floor was too congested. It was time for a makeover. But with three small children and less disposable income, our budget just didn’t allow for the changes I really wanted to make. So, we found a way to give our house a mini makeover without having to dip into the kids’ post-secondary education funds.

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your own home mini makeover:

Clean up the clutter. You are less likely to want to hang out or relax in a room with toys, magazines or shoes strewn all over. There are many budget-friendly options. For example, purchase inexpensive decorative bins for items you need to have close by as well as plastic storage boxes for things that can be stored in closets and under a bed.

Make the most of closet space. You can double the space in your closet by adding a second bar and shelf combination. It will maximize the space, giving you two rows to hang your clothes instead of one. Further organize the space by adding a shoe rack, tie bar, belt hooks and purchase small drawers for things like scarves, jewelry and other small objects.

Bring in more light. By moving window treatments higher on the wall and exposing more of the window, the room looks bigger, brighter and is more pleasant to be in on a sunny day. You can add lamps or simply change the light bulbs to add more light in the evening hours as well.

A fresh coat of paint. Paint is the best bang for your makeover buck. A gallon of paint is relatively inexpensive and if you paint yourself, you can save on labor costs. If the project seems too big, why not have a painting party and pay your laborers with pizza and beverages?

Give the doors a new do. Update the doors inside the house by changing the doorknobs, adding trim to flat doors or giving the doors a pop of contrasting color. You can also dress up the doors with chalkboard paint or create a faux plank door by drawing black lines with a permanent marker.

Liven up the baseboards. If you have white baseboards in a house with children and pets, your baseboards start to look beat up within a few years. Give them a good cleaning with soap and water. If they are beyond just cleaning with soap and water to revive, try a fresh coat of paint or a decorative piece of trim for a simple DIY project.

Hit the thrift stores. Thrift stores and garage sales are great places to scout for furniture and décor that may be high quality, but out of style. DIYers can give these items a fresh, shabby chic look with chalk paint. Keep your eyes out for gently-used frames, vases and wall hangings too.

If shopping for second-hand items isn’t your thing, update a room with new pillows, frames, plants or prints. This simple splash of color does not need to
be expensive.

Replace dated light fixtures and faucets. Handymen (or women) can make a big difference with new lighting and plumbing in bathrooms and kitchens. Take down eyesore chandeliers and replace plumbing fixtures that are out of date. Rooms will feel new again and lighting will give the room a new focal point.

"Help! I need a new look for my home in less than 24 hours!"

Okay. There’s no time for paint, shopping or replacement.

Here are five quick fixes:

1. Fresh flowers. Stop by the floral section of a grocery store and pick up a few bunches. If they are in season, cut fresh flowers from your yard and display them in simple vases around your home.

2. Give the room a once-over. Clean up the clutter and move it out of the room. Remove or rearrange furniture that may make the room feel too small.

3. Cover obvious errors. Flip over couch cushions, use a throw to cover a small rip, move a rug or move furniture to cover a stain on the floor.

4. Let in the light. Draw back curtains and open windows. If you are entertaining at night, light decorative candles to give off a soft glow.

5. Move things around. You must have some decorative things that you like. Take them from around the house and display them in the rooms that your guests are going to view.

Pam is a freelance writer, and mother of three. She is married to a handyman who has helped her family stretch their makeover budget for the past 25 years.

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