April 2, 2013

10 Home Improvement Ideas: How To Make The Most of What You Already Have!

Three years ago, we moved into our house, a 1970's fixer-upper. I'm sure people thought I was crazy to take on the renovation of an older home. I had a very limited budget, and I had never done any sort of home improvement or home remodeling in my life. 

I knew that the only way I was going to make our old house look the way I wanted it to was to learn to do things myself. Since our budget was basically nonexistent, I knew I would have to work with what I already had. 

And so that's what I've spent the past few years doing.
Today, I'll share those ideas with you!


10 DIY Home Improvement Ideas: How To Make The Most of What You Already Have! Awesome info!



Based on the reader emails I get each month, I know there are tons of you in older homes just like me, trying to figure out ways to improve things. I know how it feels. 
Not awesome.

 I was in that daunting place just 3 short years ago.  The good news is that YOU can do what I've done. It just takes a little willingness to learnAnd the ability to block out all of the people telling you not to paint something. 


So, here are my top 10 easy solutions to update things you might not like about your house, most of which involve paint
Because let's face it. When you need low-cost, high-impact results, paint is your best friend.

So, put on your man pants, and let's go.
I always wear my man-pants when painting.

My husband hates that all his pants have paint on them.

#1. Paint Your Trim
We'll start off with the one thing that will give you the most bang for your buck. Painting your old wooden trim. I painted my trim, and it completely transformed my entire house. Nothing will make as big of an impact as painting your trim. All you need is paint and a really great attitude.
Because although painting trim is fairly easy, it takes forever and you will likely want to cry at least twice. That's just a fact. 

There are very few things that will transform an old house like painted trim will, as evidenced by the below picture. 





I wrote a complete tutorial about how I painted my trim, and it shows you step by step how to do it on your own. And trust me, if I can do it, so can you. 



#2. Paint Your Tile
Did you know you can paint your tile? This is great news for owners of outdated tile countertops like mine. I found a special type of paint made just for sinks, tubs, and tile, and it totally transformed my kitchen. 



Making the Most of What You Have: How To Paint Tile!



#3. Paint Your Old Furniture

After we moved into our house, I quickly realized that my fantasy of shopping for all brand new furniture was not going to be a reality just yet. I was forced to instead think outside of the box and find inexpensive ways to furnish our home. This totally spawned my thrift store shopping and furniture painting obsession.
 This french provincial dresser was one of my faves and only cost me $50.
You truly have to see the before picture to understand.  

10 DIY Home Improvement Ideas: How to make the most of what you have (like painting old furniture!). This is great!


I also completely transformed another outdated dresser, this time using a vibrant blue paint.
I'm slowly learning to experiment with color, as mentioned in this embarrassing post.

10 DIY Home Improvement Ideas: How to make the most of what you have (like painting old furniture!). This is great!



#4. Spray Paint Your Doorknobs
If you've been blessed with tons of outdated 1980's brass doorknobs like me, you can easily update them with spray paint. Using the right spray paint will give you a high-end, durable result. And it's much better than paying $20+ a piece for new knobs! 
(See more about what paint to use here.)




#5. Spray Paint Your Light Fixtures:
I love a great light fixture. And our house didn't have any. So, I found an inexpensive way to upgrade old thrift store chandeliers just by using spray paint. The below fixture cost me $5. I spray painted it silver and it looks like a brand new fixture. 
You can see how it turned out here.


10 DIY Home Improvement Ideas: How to make the most of what you have (like spray painting old brass light fixtures!). This is great!



 #6. Paint Your Dirty Tile Grout
This one product has totally transformed our floors. I've used it on 3 rooms worth of tile, and it's held up great for a really long time now. The best part is that it cost me a total of $10. 
See how I did it here.


10 Home Improvement Ideas: how to make the most of what you already have (like the secret to restoring your dirty tile grout!) This is so great!



#7. Paint outdated Bathroom Fixtures
Rather than spend hundreds of dollars on new bathroom fixtures, I just used this silver spray paint and this metallic paint pen (affiliate links) to completely update our outdated two-toned fixtures. It's still holding up over a year later.
You can see more details about that transformation here.






#8. Paint the insides of old cabinets
I used a quart of this chalkboard paint (affiliate link) to completely update the insides of my kitchen cabinets. They were really disgusting before, and it's made a bigger impact on our little kitchen than anything else we've done. 
See the full before and afters here.





#9. Create an Accent Wall:
Adding a fun accent wall is one of my favorite things to do in a room. It's basically like making an entire part of the room into art.
 See how I turned an old coat closet into a nook in our entryway here, or how I added stripes here and here. 
DIY Accent Wall Ideas Anyone Can Do! Great tips!





#10. Paint your boring old walls! 
I painted our boring peachy colored walls throughout the entire house. I kept the color palette neutral, but varied the color from room to room. The overall effect is a calm, serene, cohesive looking house! See my favorite paint colors here.






#11. BONUS!! Make your own mantel for $30!
We were blessed with a 1970's gem of a fireplace in our living room, so to make the most of it, we built our own diy mantel for less than $30! It totally upgraded the fireplace and ended up being a super easy project! You can check out the full story here.





So, that's it! Those are my top 10 ways to make the most of what you already have! Thanks so much for stopping by! 
I'm so glad you're here.


For related posts, you can check out the following:





10 DIY Home Improvement Ideas: How To Make The Most of What You Already Have! Awesome info!


Are You Ready for Christmas? Here are a few of my LiveLoveDIY Christmas posts:
DIY Snowflake Books    Magnolia Leaf Wreath   DIY Christmas Ornaments   Christmas Thrift Tips

DIY Snowflake Books Magnolia Leaf Wreath DIY Ornament Ideas Holiday Thrift Tips


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59 comments:

  1. Hello, I am a spiffy brand new reader! My husband and I are in the process of buying a house which will be sure to include wood trim and ugly brass door knobs. I'm already in love with all of your ideas! One question - I painted a dresser once and I feel like the paint has always felt sticky. It's a semi-gloss. Seeing your cabinets and all sorts of rubby things (like drawers) just makes me think of the sticky dresser I made. Have you ever had this issue?

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    1. Hi Sylvie! I definitely have a tip! I've definitely had that happen before when I use semi-gloss. Try using a satin or flat finish and coating with a polycrylic coating. Polycrylic won't turn yellow over time like Polyeurathane will, and it will provide a nice solid, durable finish that shouldn't be sticky! Hope that helps! :)

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  2. By the way, can we be BFFs? :D

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  3. This is a great list!
    I'll have a look at it a few more times, as renting will be what I can afford over the next years. So I definitely need ideas how to improve my home easy (and cheap) and not permanent (or something I can paint white again.)

    Love, Midsommarflicka

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    1. Awesome! The great thing about paint is that you can always RE-paint! :)

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    2. Yes!! And that's why I always (okay…often!) have paintbrushes in my hand! ;)

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  4. Virginia, you are one brave lady! I have been reading your blog for about a year now and your creativity never fails to amaze me. I too have stained wood trim but with white doors. What is that, builders? It looks like thay forgot to paint the trim. So my question is how do you take off the baseboards and then put them back on. My DH and I are well north of 60 years old and getting down on our hands and knees for a length of time is no longer an option. Would love your thoughts

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    1. Hi Nancy! Thanks so much for your sweet comments! So happy to have you as a reader! I actually only removed the trim in our main living room. For the rest of the house, I simply used an old strip from a set of vertical blinds and shoved it underneath the trim, protecting the carpet!! It totally worked, too! That's a great fix if you have carpet flooring. If you have a solid surface (tile, hardwood, etc.), you can simply use painter's tape to protect your flooring. Both will save you from having to actually tear up your baseboards! You won't be able to sand though if you don't remove them, so definitely prime them before painting so that your paint will adhere properly. For tons of info on all of this, check out this post: http://www.livelovediy.com/2012/04/how-to-paint-trim.html

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    2. I recently painted my walls and baseboards that were on a carpeted flooring.
      What I did was, because I had a tarp down for painting the walls, I took a flat-head screwdriver and pushed the tarp underneath the baseboard. Was EXTREMELY FAST and worked well.

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  5. What great ideas!! And paint truly is the best thing ever!

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  6. I totally agree that paint is the best thing ever when you need an inexpensive fix. I've painted all my woodwork including paneling and our fireplace! Loved this post. :o)

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    1. Oh, that's awesome, Ann! I didn't realize you had done that yourself! Your home is so gorgeous!!

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  7. I love this post - your tips are indispensable for renovating on a budget! :)

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  8. This is a great round up tips with tutorials! You have been busy! Pinning :)
    - Lora

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  9. Thanks for all of the great tips! Pinned! You have a beautiful home! I found you at Home Stories A to Z--thanks for sharing!

    ~Abby =)

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  10. Wow... wow... WOW!!!! What great ideas you have here! I am so excited to have found this! I have my house up for sale and have found two 1970s houses that I really love but that need these kinds of updates... because if I end up with either one of them I'll have a teeny-tiny budget as well! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    Tania

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  11. Ohhh just love everything about this so far - I am getting sidetracked by clicking into each! Pinning {of course! ;) }
    Thanks for sharing Virginia!

    - Claire @ A Little Claireification

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  12. Your blog is just what I needed today!!! Our house is the same way...I can see what I want it to be...but I don't have the $$$ to get it there and the time it is going to take makes me want to just move! Do did you tackle all of the doors and trim at one time?? Or just go room by room??

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    1. Thank you so much! I went room by room and it took me nearly 2 years. Take your time and do a little at a time if you want to. I tried to not take on too much at once and finish one thing at a time. Plus, then you feel really great once you've finished that ONE room...knowing that you're taking your time! :)

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    2. That is one of the most inspiring blogs I have visited recently. Thank you for the bright ideas.
      Joana

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  13. Hi, I just found your blog today and I'm going to be back a lot....so packed with advice and inspiration. We too have an old house and sometimes it feels like i'm getting nowhere with it. We did a lot, but still have far to go. Thank you for posting your advice!
    Greetings from Germany
    Siggie

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    1. Thank you so much! I feel that way sometimes, too. Just keep making little changes and after awhile you'll be surprised by how much progress you've made!! :)

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  14. Hi! Can you make a post on beautifying a shoebox room? :) My room is really small.

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  15. Great post! I bought a 1970's fixer upper myself and used many of these tips. I did not know you could paint tile or faucets! Very cool. Paint makes a WORLD of difference. Congrats!

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  16. I pinned for later! Painting the trim made a huge difference! So fresh and light! Also I love the idea of painting the inside of the cabinet doors with chalk paint. Cute! Thank you for this post. :)

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  17. This is 1st time I've been to your site. I love that you share your pictures of before and after. WOW what a difference you have made to your house. We currently have dark wood trim and dark wood doors throughout our house as well as dark wood trim windows. In the next month we are having all our windows replaced and getting all white vinyl. I'm pretty certain now that I want to paint all that trim white. I have light to medium color solid oak cabintes in my kitchen that my husband built himself. Will they still look good surrounded by all the white? Also we have an Anderson wood oak sliding glass door. Can we leave that wood color?

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    1. Of course! It's all just about personal preference, so if you love the way it looks, then you should totally do that! I actually love the way certain types of wood look! Thanks for your sweet comments! :)

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  18. I absolutely LOVE the feel that you have created in your home! It is SO cozy and relaxing! My husband and I just purchased our first home about six months ago and I am finally starting to paint. Have you ever mixed paint brands and different finishes together? I have a gallon of Sherwin Williams paint in satin and I think it might be a little shinier than I would prefer for the living room, but don't want a completely flat paint since I have a small child. So I was wondering if I could possibly mix it with a flat of a less expensive brand. But I also don't want to end up wasting my $$. I would love to hear if you have ever tried this or if I am completely crazy HAHA! TIA

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    1. Hi Tia! Thank you so much! I've mixed different brands and colors before (which works fine), but I've never mixed finishes. You might just end up with a kinda satin paint, but I'm truly not sure. I would try mixing a very small portion of each and see how it comes out. That way you'll know before mixing the entire supply of each. Hope that helps! :)

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  19. Love it. Pin and Read! Read and Pin! Share Share and Share! It is all possible. I had no idea. I have always wanted to do what you have done, but thought it was too hard. Everything you have done is beautiful. I would love a home decorated in such a way that really makes it mine. Thank you for sharing your ideas, which have given me many of my own. I am so excited to get started.

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    1. Well, thank you so much! That's so sweet of you to say! Glad I was able to share them with you! :)

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  20. So excited to find your website. I am horrible at decorating, I can always see the vision in my head but it never seems to look the way I envisioned it. Our house is about 17 years old, my first house my husband built. It's small and simple, I decided this year we needed to update alot of things including the brass door handles he picked out (we weren't even dating yet when he built it). We have all oak cabinets and I haven't been able to get him to agree on painting them yet but I'm working on that. :) Thank you so much for all of your wonderful ideas, they are going to be so helpful.

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    1. Oh, I so know how you feel Angela! When I first started decorating, I had more than a few total flops! It's a total learning process, and gets better the more you practice! :) Thank you so much for your sweet comments!

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  21. Thanks for the ideas! When you spray painted the light fixture, did you have to prime or do anything first? Thanks!

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  22. Hi Virginia - I just tried tip #4 and painted my door knobs with ORB spray paint. I am in LOVE with my upgraded shiny old door knobs. What a cost savings over buying new! Thanks for the tips - can't wait to try some more. :)

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    1. That's so fantastic! Thanks for letting me know, Sarah!! xo

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  23. Great!I've been searching google for several hours looking for relevant home improvement, they definitely need to position your site on the first page!

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  24. Thank you for sharing and inspiring! We just had our floors redone due to a kitchen flood and now everything around it really screams old! I will be starting with the baseboards to make things look better. Reading your blog makes it seems less overwhelming. I'm excited to start!

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  25. Your home is gorgeous! I'm loving the stripes on the bathroom and bedroom wall, what colors did you use for these?

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  26. Fantastic ideas and instructions :) I just recovered two footstools with the French script fabric and before they are dirty and grimy....can I paint over with some type of clear poly?

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  27. You really have a great eye for design! Our last house that we renovated was built in (gasp) 1898!! We only had to do the bedrooms and the ONLY bathroom in the house, thank goodness (and I mean taking down walls and electrical and plumbing). So I can see and really appreciate the work you have done to your home. So much work is in the prepping and underneath the pretty facade so congrats on a job well done! It looks amazing. The only thing that sucks is even if you ever get a "new" home, you will see all the little shoddy things they did wrong. So the renos never end! ;) And remember, a house is made with boards & beams, but a home is made with love & dreams...!

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  28. Hi! Love all your ideas inspired me to do a few projects.. any advice on painting furniture so it can have a wood grain look? I'm looking to paint a dresser a dark brown but I don't want it to look painted..thanks :)

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  29. Thanks for sharing these tips! I am in the middle of doing a major home renovation myself, but there are some rooms that have an old fashioned look to them that I am trying to conserve. I just purchased an antique clock to make one of the rooms have an old fashion feel to it. You have any more tips to make a room look good without making it too modern?

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  30. Is it possible to fall in love with a blog? I was going through DIY christmas decor on pinterest (avid pinner, never a blog reader) and I saw something of yours. Honestly my first thought was "oh gosh another rich stay at home trophy wife trying to show people how to do DIY with super expensive crap that I'll never be able to afford," because all of your stuff was absolutely beautiful and looked high end! I'm an 18 year old high schooler who is addicted to thrift store/garage sale fixer upper decorating because, like you, if I were to decorate my room with Pottery Barn stuff it would not only cost a fortune but I would change it every other week; I pretty much have to buy everything I need to decorate also because my parents try not to feed my addiction. But anyways! I went ahead and clicked on it because I was just hoping and praying that maybe something could be useful to me out of all of the expensive projects I assumed you would have but I could honestly say I have never admired a blogger/DIY Guru/thrift fanatic/human being so much in my life (and this is just my first day reading your blog!) Im so excited about finding this blog because not only is your style like perfect and I strive to have the same style but you are so funny and down to earth and just from reading a few of your things, I already feel like I know you. Well anyways just wanted to let you know a random kid wants to be like you when she gets older, basically the summary of that huge comment haha.

    Definitely staying in touch!

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  31. So I am 13 and my true passion is hone designing and architecture. So for the past year, I have been saving up my money to remodel my room, inexpensively. I just wanted to see if you had any tips for me when I remodel because I wanted my room to look very modern. If you have anything that will help me on my way, I would very gladly like to hear it. Also, I am new to your blog and I find it so fascinating. Your creativity is beyond compare. Keep up the good work and thanks for inspiring me withnew ideas for the perfect bedroom :) ps, already have 170 saved up!

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  32. Just my kind of blog, great makeovers on the cheap!

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  33. Wow! I am so excited with all the fab ideas for home redecorating. I have wanted to change out our door knobs for so long and just couldn't swing the price for them. I really want to paint ours now. Do you take them off the doors or tape around them to get a clean edge?

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  34. hey,
    Any ideas on how to make wooden sliding closet doors more glamorous??!!
    Thanks!

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  35. We added our own mantel and it's made a huge difference!

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  36. I hope this isn't s repeat question. I apologize if it's posted somewhere and I've missed it (that's totally possible!). What are the paint colors of both the white and tan? Their gorgeous! Thank you.

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  37. Hi new reader here! All the way from the Bahamas. I literally stayed up until two going through your blog posts! I am in looove! I don't have an old house, actually building a small cottage/house. So my issue is budget! You have so many inspiring ideas, I can't wait to get started. I don't have access to the gold mine where you discovered all your treasures, but I plan to make paint my best friend too! Looking forward to more of your gems of thriftiness in the future.

    Side note: What are your thoughts on painting wicker/rattan furniture? Thanks

    Jade

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  38. Thanks for this! Love the ideas and how things transform like new things.. I can use these for my house renovation.

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment!! I do the hammer dance every time I read one.