How Remodeling Backwards Can Save You Big Money

How Remodeling Backwards Can Save You Big Money

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m cheap, really cheap. I love to decorate, but I don’t love to spend money. A professional decorator once told me that I know all the cheap ways to decorate. So sue me. I decorate more with found objects than with money. It does seem a bit backward, but the results make me really happy and they appeal to buyers, too.

I still want things to look good, but I don’t want things to cost much money. A professional decorator could never promise you that your big outlay of cash will pay off at resale. Appraisers hate to hear the dreaded phrase “custom paint” because it usually means the whole house will have to be repainted to sell.

Lots of times I will go to DIY stores, like Lowe’s and Home Depot and check out the rejected or returned things or things that are just a bit imperfect. Paint is one that really appeals to me. I can work with nearly any color. One can of basic white paint is likely to change a color that’s a reject into one that will work just fine in your space. There is a big difference between muddy brown and a light tan, fire plug yellow and lighter, paler yellows or charcoal gray and dove gray. Light paint is the only kind people like at resale.

Other rejects can work, too. I once found a lovely piece of 12″ X 3′ oak that was just a bit warped. I added some trim, some decorative brackets and some hooks and turned it into a functional pot rack. It’s mounted on the wall at one end of my galley kitchen and has made what was once dead space useful.

Another place I look for useful bits and pieces is in junk and antique stores. Many things in these places are damaged or have missing pieces and can add character and interest to any home. The broken stuff is always the cheapest, too.

We are not big fans of the living room suite or any other room package. It’s both too uniform and too expensive. We have collected up and re-purposed a BIG houseful of furniture, either on sale or second-hand.

The creativity of it is half the attraction, plus it’s much better value. Our personal style tends to be pared down and contemporary but we have been able to find plenty of things we like and enjoy in our space. We want comfort but not much clutter.

Old tables are great and can be reused in a number of ways. We have both a phone station and a shelf for a surround sound speaker made from one. They can also be cantilevered to a wall as an eating table, desk or cut in half to make 2 side tables.

Much of our furniture has come into our lives through garage sales. Nearly every occasional chair we own cost $35 or less and just needed re-upholstery, which I do myself. It’s surprisingly easy. Look for fabrics at thrift stores.

Another option anyone can exercise is to choose new things that are cheaper or a better value than other things. Do you really need a sink that costs hundreds of dollars or will a classic white porcelain sink be just as good for much less money. The fact is that classic ANYTHING always works better at resale but don’t let it cramp your style if you plan to stay in your place and enjoy the things you put into it.

Second hand stores and salvage stores often have expensive upgrades like marble, ceramic and stone tiles, bathroom fixtures and windows that can be customized into your place for a fraction of what you would pay decorators and contractors to do the work. A cabinet seems like it would be hard to make, but it really isn’t. We have built some. We had the courage to try because our current house is rustic in character.

Most cabinets are simply a wood box with some type of door and maybe (or not) a face frame. It’s not rocket science. If you don’t feel capable of constructing a door, use a window or have someone make doors and drawers for you.

Any home can benefit from these types of upgrades that happen just because we find something that’s interesting and think of a way to use it.

The big benefit is that your remodeling and décor will be both unique and cheaper. The ultimate test is how you do at resale. If your house sells quickly and for the asking price it is a pragmatic measure of how well you have done.

The best thing is to keep the house that didn’t cost too much money to remodel and enjoy it your self.