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Design Tips - When You Can't Move, Improve!

Updated on September 21, 2011

For whatever reason, you’re stuck. Perhaps it’s money, your job, kids, or you just can’t find that perfect place you want to settle. But that bathroom is so dreary that it makes you want to cry. Or the furniture looks like it’s gone 12 rounds with Rocky Marciano. So what do you do? If you can’t move, improve!

Home improvements can be from the littlest accessories to large scale renovations. Here are some ideas to help you spruce up your home while maintaining your sanity.

For the home owner

Completing a renovation or decor project, whether it be simple or grand, can usually bring you a large return on your property. If you’re a d.i.y.’er, doing the work yourself will save a great amount of money. However, if you’re more of the bookish type, hiring a contractor or handyman isn’t such a bad idea. Areas of your home which will fetch the most bang for your buck include the kitchen and bathrooms. Here are some tips you’ll want to consider before starting your project:

Take Time to Conceptualize

The most important step to take if you are going to be remodeling is to take some time to conceptualize. Figure out the use of the space, what currently drives you mad about it, and what look you’re going for. Go to the internet, look at magazines, and check out books to find ideas that you can use.  It is also a good idea to get out there to pick up samples that you’re considering. Pull everything together before you start anything. Remember, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail!

Create a plan of action

The next step is the planning period. You definitely don’t want to start remodeling a kitchen or bathroom without coming up with a good plan first. You can start out with a sketch that is rough, and then you can work on drawings that are to scale. If you’re working with a contractor or designer, have them draw up plans, elevations, sketches, or renderings for you in order to better visualize the space. There are also some free internet planning aids that are available. In your plan show where every piece of furniture, lighting fixture, or material should go. This way you know everything that you want to do to get the room the way you want it.

Schedule it

After you have laid out the plans, the next thing you’ll want to do is to come up with a few different schedules. First off, you may want to work out a budget so you don’t give yourself any surprises at the end. Write up a list of things you’ll need from top to bottom and be as thorough as possible. Next, you’ll want to create a furniture and finish schedule based on your budget. For example, for tile you’ll want to know how much you’ll need, at what stage you’ll need it, how the tile will be laid, and the color of grout you’ll be using. And finally, you’ll want a schedule for completion. Projects can and will go over your schedule, but by setting goals for you or your contractor you’ll be able to avoid any unnecessary headaches in the future.

For the renter

So, you probably don’t want to do a large scale renovation on behalf of your landlord. What else can you do? Here are some ideas to liven up your space without contributing to your landlords wallet:

Paint or Wallpaper

Depending on your rental conditions, you may or may not be able to paint or wallpaper your walls. If you can, then great! There’s an abundance of choices available to you (read about it in our wallpaper post) If not, consider hanging wall slats or large scale canvases to cover bare walls. Most rental suites are very minimal with the color palette, so feel free to add a bit of color to your life!


Items of furniture and accessories are something you can take with you, so don’t feel you need to scrimp on them just because you’re in a rental. Choose great pieces that you love for the next ump-teen years. Not everything has to be purchased at once. Build your collection up, bit by bit, and you’ll have the apartment of your dreams.

Finishing touches

There are certain things you can replace in a rental suite, then put back when you’re ready to leave. For example, switch out a tired light fixture for something that is more becoming for your space. You can also add drapery to soften a room (although you may be required to keep the standard white fixtures up to maintain the building’s exterior appearance). By adding all the finishing touches, it will really start to feel like home. Interior design is what you make it. It’s all about feeling great in your space, because after all – you’ll be the one living in it!

10 Easy and Low Cost Home Improvements

  1. Replace old fixtures like handles, faucets, and towel rails
  2. Update the lighting by adding new ambient, floor, table, task or accent lighting
  3. Paint or refinish cabinets or furniture
  4. Change the decor with new window coverings, art, and accessories
  5. Replace flooring or adding decorative area rugs
  6. Clear out any clutter and organize your belongings in attractive storage containers
  7. Recover old furniture, either by yourself or get an estimate from a professional
  8. Introduce new life by adding plants, flowers, and herbs around the home
  9. Replace tile backsplashes in the kitchen and bathroom for an updated look
  10. Rearrange furniture and accessories - try new floor plans and improve feng shui

Accessories to Brighten Your Home


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    • Golfgal profile image

      Golfgal 7 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      You are so right with your approaches. I am a home improvement addict as well. I liked your hub very much.