Taking a DIY approach will save you on labor costs and the mark-up contractors charge for materials. If you're feeling handy, here are some doable fix-ups:
Refinish or Reface Kitchen Cabinets
Consider either refinishing existing cabinet doors with paint, stain, or laminate; or reface them, which means putting new doors on existing kitchen boxes. Hint: Order one door and one drawer front before ordering the whole set so you know they'll really work. Check out more budget-friendly kitchen renovation tips.
Buy New Knobs for Cabinetry
Replace wood knobs with modern stainless ones, or swap cold metal ones for antique colored glass knobs (Anthropologie always has a great assortment).
Add Track Lighting
Because these are lights that go on the surface of the ceiling, as opposed to “pot” or “can” lights that are recessed, you can install these yourself.
Insulate the Attic and Other Energy-Sucking Areas
Caulk around windows and spaces between the floor and baseboards. Service your furnace so it produces the most for the least, and insulate your visible pipes for heat loss. Buy a “draft stopper” or “draft guard” for the bottoms of your doors (a cheap fix from $10 per door) so wind or heat doesn’t slip through.
Tile the Bathroom Floor or Kitchen Backsplash
Make sure your surface is flat and dry surface -- like a cement or plywood subfloor, an even wall, or a tiled surface you want to cover with new tiles. Use spacers between tiles and the notched trowel to create even ridges on the mortar under the tiles.
Replace Faucets and Fixtures
A new, modern faucet can make a sink in your kitchen or bathroom look brand new again. As long as the new fixtures don’t require a smaller hole in the furniture or sink than the one that’s already there, it’s an easy upgrade.
What looks like an intricate wall design is actually a straightforward DIY project, provided you’re working with even walls in good condition. Basically, you just need to purchase the wainscoting (according to your measurements) along with a coordinating baseboard and rail, and some glue or nails to put it up. For tips, click here.
PaintNestperts Judy Scott of The Home Depot; Tom Silva, general contractor for This Old House; Jennifer DeLonge, an LA-based interior designer
Is it obvious? Yes. Is it an easy solution to changing the entire look of a room in an instant? Yep, that too. Paint a whole room, add a bold accent to a wall, or do some fresh, glossy white trim for the cost of a few gallons of paint.
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