Fix Up Your Home - Five Inexpensive Things You Can Do Now
Evaluating Your Home's Needs
Our home has seen many changes over the past almost thirty years that we have lived in it. The function of our home is different now than it was thirty years ago, when we were starting out and building a family. The things we needed from our home have changed through the years as our lives have changed. Our family is grown, and now, in our retirement years (hopefully sooner than later), our home's purpose is evolving yet again. We have begun making some changes and fixing up our home.
Like many people, we have fallen prey to cut-backs and downsizing, and the recession has taken a huge bite out of our retirement savings. Costly home repairs and remodeling were simply not an option. We evaluated our home's condition and determined our current needs. With lots of research, the help of a couple of friends, lots of elbow grease, and some creative thinking, we were able to fix up our home with very little cost.
I will share what we have learned, and hopefully save you some unnecessary expense if you are looking to update and fix up your home. It can be done cheaply, and well, with a little preparation, planning, and a creative approach.
Before you begin, take the time to discuss your needs now and anticipate your future needs, individually and collectively, as a family. Take a good, hard look around, and evaluate the condition of your floors, walls, windows, stairs, fixtures, window treatments, and everything else. Write down your ideas, plans, and goals for your home. Start collecting ideas from magazines, paint swatches from home improvement stores, wallpaper books, fabric swatches. Keep these in a binder or binders for each room. Take measurements of floor space, windows, walls, and record those in your binder. Even if you do not plan to do everything right away, start collecting and building your plan in your binder. Having all this information handy and ready when you need it will save you much time when you get down to actually doing the work. Having this reference tool will also keep you motivated and working towards your goal, and it will keep your vision clear during the process. Take the binder with you when you shop for fixtures, paint, wallpaper, and accessories so that you will have your measurements and color references. This will insure that you purchase the correct amount and the right colors.
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Five Cheap Fixes For Your Home
You may not be able to do everything you want all at once, but there are steps you can take now to fix up your home. These five "cheap fixes" won't cost a great deal, but will make a huge improvement in your home's appearance and functionality:
1. CLEAN AND REPAIR - This may seem obvious, but it's a good place to start. Simply give the house a good cleaning, from top to bottom. Get rid of clutter. Discard things you haven't used in several months. Wash ceilings, walls, woodwork, windows, and floors. Clean grout in your tiled floors, walls, and countertops. Steam clean carpeting, and launder throw rugs or replace them with new colors. Repair anything that is broken. Replace broken light fixtures, patch holes or cracks, fix or replace worn or broken window shades or blinds, patch or replace screens in windows, replace cracked or broken windows.
2. PAINT AND/OR WALLPAPER - Just painting your rooms will do more to transform and update your home than anything else you do. Paint can brighten up a room, or subdue, depending on the colors you choose. Don't forget ceiling fans. A coat of paint to match the room will instantly update a fan. Wallpaper is great for covering trouble areas, or for adding interest. It is easy to apply, and you could do an entire room in an afternoon. Home improvement stores have wallpaper on sale often, and will often discount discontinued patterns. You can paper a single wall, or paint halfway up the walls and paper the rest of the way up, dividing with a piece of molding. There are many good references on how color affects your room. Do some research and choose wisely. We painted our dark wood kitchen cupboards a cheery lime green, and the kitchen trim to match. Some perky matching floral wallpaper finished off the look. The transformation was immediate and the tiny kitchen instantly appeared larger. Furniture can also be made to look new with a coat or two of paint. Mismatched pieces picked up from garage sales or thrift shops can be unified with paint.
3. REPLACE "HARDWARE" AND "SOFTWARE" - Faucets - Replacing your kitchen and bathroom faucets is easy to do, and inexpensive. We changed our outdated kitchen faucet with a high, gooseneck faucet, and I love it. The whole room looks more modern, and the faucet is much handier than the old style. Knobs - Change the knobs on your cupboards, cabinets, and doors. After I painted the kitchen cupboards, the old brass handles seemed outdated. I replaced them with round white knobs, just the right look for my "new" cupboards. It's these seemingly small things that can change the feel of your home. Light fixtures - Replace outdated light fixtures. Add a ceiling fixture or ceiling fan. Get new lamps, or new lamp shades for tables. Vanity and toilet - Replace an outdated vanity, or spruce up your current one with a coat of paint and some new knobs. Replacing a toilet can instantly transform a bathroom. Don't forget the toilet seat. There are so many styles and colors to choose from. Area rugs - Replace area rugs with fresh new ones. Area rugs will add color to a room. They can "hide" scratched areas on floors or be used over existing carpeting. Window treatments - New shades, vertical blinds, or curtains will soften a room and add color and texture. Simply changing the style of window treatment will dramatically change a room. There are so many styles to choose from. I made my own curtains by simply hemming a long length of fabric and draping it over a rod. I added some beaded tie-backs for interest. Upholstery - New furniture was not in our budget, so I replaced our dining room chair seats with some perky fabric. Slipcovers are an economical way to make a tired couch and living room chairs look fresh and new, while adding color and design to the room.
4. ACCESSORIZE - Wall art - A picture is worth a thousand words, the saying goes. It also is a key element in designing a room. Photographs, or artistic pictures and wall hangings add interest and color, and can change the feel of a room. Add some sconces, and a shelf or two, to break up the shapes and sizes of items on the walls. Mirrors reflect light and visually make a room look brighter and larger. Table art - Well arranged groupings or collections bring design and texture, and personalize a home. Flowers bring fragrance and beauty into a home. A pot of daisies on a windowsill, or an arrangement of mums on a table refresh and revive a room. I have floral "chains" draped casually over my kitchen windows in colors to match the wallpaper. They add just the right touch of charm. Plants can be strategically placed to hide a structural defect. Plants keep the air in the house fresh, and greenery is soothing and calming. Pillows - Pillows freshen the look of your furniture, and bring color, design, and texture. Vary the shapes and sizes for interest. There are many patterns available to make your own pillows at a fraction of the cost of expensive store-bought ones.
5. CHANGE A ROOM'S FUNCTION - Just because a bedroom was a bedroom when you bought the house, and has always been a bedroom, doesn't mean it has to stay a bedroom. If you have three bedrooms and only use one, why not re-purpose one of them. It can easily become a den, or a home office. In our home, one of the small bedrooms became my craft room. At one time our dining room became a family room for a couple of years, and our sun porch became the dining room. When we tired of that arrangement, we turned it back the way it was. Let your lifestyle determine how you use your space. The charming sun porch off our living room is windowed all around the three sides, and has a double wide opening into our living room. We rarely used this room, so I made it into my office. I love the sunny windows, and find it very conducive to writing. We installed a rod and curtains to close it off from the living room. I can close the curtains for privacy, or keep them open when I want to be more accessible.
You Can Say You Did It Yourself
Fixing up your home can be painless and inexpensive, if you do it yourself and use some creative planning and ideas. These tips should give you a good start. I'm sure you will develop some of your own fix-it ideas along the way. It will be work, but the payoff will be a "new" home, which you will enjoy for years to come. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself, and nobody will be the wiser when it comes to how little it cost.
I would love to hear some of your ideas. If you have some "tried and true" tips, please share them.