10 DIY Home Renovations for the Thrifty Homeowner


Whether you’re preparing to sell your home or staying put and craving a refresh, you may be concerned about how renovations can impact your budget. If you’re willing to put in some time and get a little dirty, these DIY projects will help you update your home without taking out a second mortgage.

1. Clean Your Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding can keep your house looking new for years, but it can start to look dingy after a while. Home renovation pros Vicki and Steph Kubiak, from Mother Daughter Projects, say that despite what you may think, you don’t need to hire a pro or rent a power washer to clean your home’s exterior.

“Sometimes the solution to a problem is the simplest and least expensive,” they say. “Cleaning vinyl house siding can be accomplished with nothing more than a long-handled scrub brush, good-quality cleaner, a garden hose, and a little elbow grease.” They recommend this handwashing approach over using a power washer, which can damage the siding.

2. Repaint the Front Door and Update Exterior Accents

Whether your exterior has siding, paint, shingles, or stone, updating your front door can boost the curb appeal of your home. Marty Basher, home design expert for Modular Closets, suggests that you “choose a bold accent color that works well with the rest of the exterior, but also stands out from it, to give the door a bit of a spotlight.” For an even easier project, “change out your house numbers and possibly your mailbox,” he says, “and voila, you have a whole new look and feel when you’re entering your house.”

3. Apply Removable Wallpaper

Updated walls can easily improve your space, but the very word “wallpaper” might make you cringe, especially if you’ve attempted installing wallpaper yourself in the past. Elizabeth Rees, the founder of removable wallpaper company Chasing, states, “Removable wallpaper is a stylish and affordable way to update your space with minimal investment. Moreover, it’s a really easy way to add color or pattern to your space with little commitment.”

Rees also recommends sprucing up the front of your stair steps with removable wallpaper. Just cut strips to size and apply, and your stairs will look good as new.

4. Paint Your Walls

If you prefer a painted surface to wallpaper, you may be surprised by how easy it is to paint a room yourself. The caveat is that you do have to take your time for quality results, especially with project setup. Skip Bedell, home improvement expert from Home Depot, says that preparation is everything and will make the job and cleanup much easier.

“I love CoverGrip drop cloths because they are reusable,” he says. “They also have PVC dots on the back, so they don’t slip or slide as you are painting.” If you don’t feel like doing the whole primer and paint approach, try an all-in-one paint to drastically reduce your paint time.

5. Refresh Your Cabinets

Old-looking cabinets can make for a dreary kitchen. Rather than replacing them, Anthony Navarro, author and co-creator of the online talk show The Wedding Planners, recommends painting them and switching out the hardware for a dramatic update. “If you are not adventurous enough to paint your cabinets, consider changing out one cabinet door in the kitchen to glass, so you can highlight your entertaining glassware, serving pieces, and china,” he recommends.

6. Apply a New Backsplash

A fresh backsplash can give the impression of a much bigger renovation, and the Kubiaks suggest peel-and-stick tile, rather than the real thing. “A new kitchen backsplash is surprisingly affordable and DIY-able for homeowners,” they say. “Peel-and-stick tile makes it a DIY project that can be completed without complicated or expensive tools. These tiles can be cut to size with ordinary tin snips and stick to the wall without added adhesives.”

7. Rejuvenate Your Bathroom

If you’re not in a position to pay for a bathroom renovation, Jamie Gold, a kitchen designer and the author of the New Bathroom Idea Book, suggests upgrading hardware and fixtures, but keeping it easy. “When replacing cabinet pulls, choose new ones that can fit into the same holes so you don’t have to patch old ones,” she says.

Gold also suggests replacing your shower door and fixtures to update the room: “For hundreds of dollars, instead of thousands, you can replace a shower door with a modern frosted style that will hide a builder basic interior, replace a basic showerhead with a handheld model offering massage settings, install a designer-friendly grab bar that doesn’t need to be blocked, or add handsome storage shelves if there’s no niche.”

8. Hang Wall Art

You can change the look of a room by simply hanging artwork. Judy and Jess, the mother-daughter duo behind interior design studio Verandah House, say, “Before you place holes in the walls, measure your wall and mark out the same space on the floor. Lay out your artwork on the floor.”

Alternatively, they suggest cutting out cardboard to the size of the artwork and temporarily affixing them to the wall with a removable adhesive. If you don’t have framed pieces on hand, Judy and Jess suggest heading to flea markets, antique stores, and secondhand shops for vintage artwork.

9. Put Up Window Coverings

New window treatments can dramatically enhance a room without requiring a ton of effort. You can find reasonably priced and easy-to-install shades, curtains, and rods at stores like Target and Home Goods. Basher suggests IKEA’s no-sew curtains that are easy to trim and finish to size.

10. Update Old Floors

Worn out, old floors can set the tone for an entire room, but re-sanding and finishing your floors could be beyond your capabilities. Basher has a fix: “Whether you have old carpet or beat up hardwood floors, a little measuring and a few hours of work over a weekend can spruce up your floors and change the complete look of a room. A couple coats of durable floor paint or peel-and-stick tiles from your local home store can go a long way.”

Fixing up your home doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult—just consider these suggestions for your next home improvement project. If you do decide to take your renovations a step further and need a loan, look up your credit score to get an idea of what you’ll qualify for. Get a free credit report at Credit.com and see where you stand.

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9 Ways to Make a Small Kitchen Feel Bigger


Image:Sarah Bossert




The post 9 Ways to Make a Small Kitchen Feel Bigger appeared first on Credit.com.

10 Home Hacks That Save Time & Money


It’s time to cast aside your cynicism. It turns out that the best things in life ARE free – or darned close — at least when it comes to little touches that make life a little easier and your house a little homier. Doubt it? Try these 10 home hacks and you will believe:

1. Banish Odors

Forget the fancy and costly sprays and plug-ins. In a small pan, mix water, vanilla extract and cinnamon, then simmer the concoction on low heat. Your home will smell fresh in no time.

2. Dry Clothes Faster

Don’t have a lot of time to wait for those jeans or that shirt to dry? Toss a dry bath towel in when you put wet clothes in the dryer. You’ll cut drying time way down (and cut energy costs, too!).

3. Freshen a Smelly Room

Easy enough: Just place two to four dryer sheets in a spray bottle, fill the bottle with water, and then add 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Voila! Your own effective, low-cost freshener is ready for you to spray.

4. Keep Your Pants Up

A zipper that won’t stay up doesn’t have to be a constant irritant. Slide a run-of-the-mill key ring through the hole in the zipper’s tab. Then hook the ring to the pant button above the zipper. Instant fix!

5. Solve the Toilet Brush Dilemma

Rather than returning a dripping toilet brush to its holder, tuck it between the toilet bowl and lid (dripping brush inside the bowl, of course). After a few minutes it’ll be dry enough to store.

6. Stop Static

Fashion two tin foil balls and toss them in the dryer with your clothes. They will keep your clothing static free.

7. Get at Corner Dirt

Don’t spend a fortune on extra vacuum attachments. Tape a cardboard tube – the kind that is in the center of wrapping paper – to your vacuum hose to get into tight spaces. Bend and flatten the tube to suit your needs.

8. Triumph Over Stuck Trash Bags

You know how, when you try to pull your full garbage bag out of the plastic container, it does not want to come out, because there’s a vacuum? Drill a few small holes in the lower part of your garbage pail and you can remove bags without struggle.

9. Keep Trash Bags in Place

Here’s a way to address another irritation related to garbage bags: Take a few pieces of inexpensive sticky-tape picture hooks and use them to attach garbage bags to the lip of the trash cans to keep them from slipping down.

10. Organize Your Clothes for Easy Reach

Do you spend time digging through clothes in your dresser, or even frustrated by a well-organized pile? Try this: Stack your clothes in the dresser vertically (not in horizontal piles as the picture here shows) to find your favorites easier. Bonus – you’ll save space, too.

You can also save time and money by keeping your credit in good standing. Checking your annual credit reports is a good way to do that, as is checking your free credit scores, updated monthly on Credit.com.

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