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Our money-saving home decorating ideas

Today I wanted to share with you our money-saving home decorating ideas today and tomorrow. These are things we’ve upgraded and done in our home,how much we’ve spent, and how we saved money to add character that haven’t broken the bank.  I’ve included the links so you can click over to see the full project. As I continue the series this week, I realized I really need to come up with a name for it.  Maybe creative decorating on a budget? Let me know what you think. Yesterday I talked about general ideas to budget decorate and how it doesn’t have to be “cheap”. Today,I really want to give you the dollars and sense to what we’ve done around here.

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Many of you know we have lived in our home for over 16 years. This was going to be our starter home, but we are still here!!! I still am holding out hope for a house on an acre, with a wooded lot, where every one has a bedroom, we have a 2 car garage we can park in, and a full basement. Oh, and did I mention a sunroom, studio for me and fireplace? In our school district. Ha ha ha!!! I can really dream, can’t I? Oh, and I don’t want our mortgage to go up that much…. Whew, I almost wet myself laughing that hard.

I’ve put it up to God, so I’ll work like it’s all on us, and pray like it’s all on Him. That’s all I can do!

When we bought our home, it was a 1,200 sq foot white box. The previous family hadn’t really been in it long enough to do any major changes from the person before them.They did fix some things that we are grateful for! That owner before them left it with white walls, oak cabinets, and beige carpet. Of course, with living here as long as we have, we’ve been able to really work on it. We’ve even done some of the biggies like the roof,  and furnace and put in hardwood floors. We’ve learned, after some hard lessons, the idea with renovation, is to not spend a huge amount of money on cosmetic items, but save and spend your money on what’s going to have real-life quality impact.

Here’s a peek at the original real estate listing pictures. This was back before it was all digital and you could sneak peek on-line (I love house-lurking., I’m so nosy!).

Let me start with our sub-level.

When we first moved in, it was really extra space. It’s funny how one (then two, then three) baby changes that!

Later, it became a main living area. When we first moved in, it had a built-in and the other side of the wall was a bedroom. I took these  from the original listing pictures.

OUr downstairs family room before

We did remove the built in, it ate up a lot of space.What we did add was a window to the wall on the right which made a huge difference.

The window was an old sidelight window from a door the Habitat for Humanity Restore. It was $30 for materials. It lets the light in between  the rooms and really opens it up.

Window added into wall

It really makes it feel much less boxy. One thing we did splurge on was ceramic tiling the entire sub-level floor. We used wood-look tile in the main area, and home improvement store  hex tile in the bath and laundry room. We didn’t go with super-high end tile, but we wanted it to be really livable, and cleanable. It is below grade level after all.

The new TV stand was a trade from my sister in law. I love this one, but the one we have was free!

Wood look ceramic tile in basement

We felt in saving money on other things that this was money well-spent.We did have carpet down there from a long time, and it just got gross. I  am not a huge whole room carpet fan, area rugs seem to work out much better.Plus, in the Midwest,even  if you run a dehumidifier in the summer in anything below grade, it can get damp-smelling. Carpet is better above grade. The total cost to tile approx. 460 sq feet was $3,500. More than  our upstairs wood! But, that did include all the labor. I am all-about doing a DIY ,but I am not about to lay and grout THAT much tile. My back couldn’t handle it. It was worth every penny.

family room rehab

Removing that built-in cost us nothing and gave us much needed space! The trunks were thrift store finds, for under $20 each, and the couch was another thrift store find from years ago we had recovered when I was really into yellow. Not so much any more…

Onto the living room!

Main living room before

The biggest thing we’ve done beside the floors, is added a faux fireplace mantle,some trim and painted.

The faux mantel in this room was $80, I have another one I shamelessly trash picked a few years ago. I don’t do it so much any more, but used to do it quite a bit when the kids were little. Enough that I was loading a nightstand and my oldest asked once “Why do I always have to sit next to the garbage?”

The mirror was a $9 thrift store find, and the coffee table was made from a slab of wood and legs I found on Amazon.

You can find a similar mirror here and coffee table here.

White painted walls and boho decor

I tried to show you  the room from the same angle. It’s amazing how paint can make such  a difference! The plant in the back corner was $10 from Home Depot, and my fancy gold chair was one a family member was getting rid of. I did spend full price on the curtains from Cost Plus World Market . I get asked all of the time about my living room couch. That couch is actually the one my dad grew up on, it was my Gram’s! It was  furniture she and my grandfather bought in the 1950’s. It has a few loose springs, and I’ve recovered it once, but it’s still holding up! It’s probably ready for another  reupholstering,  but for now, she’s hanging in there!

When we moved in there were laminate floors, which were fine, but I am a hardwood lover. In 2010 when we did our kitchen reno (I’ll talk about that tomorrow), we had to replace the flooring an ended up doing all 600 sq feet of first floor.

Custom stained wood floors rustic red oak

I really wanted super wide plank wood floors, but our budget was tight. I like the imperfect look, so we ended up going with what was called “grade 2” rustic Red Oak in a slightly smaller plank (4 inch instead of 5). In other words, it wasn’t perfect. The flooring had a mix of long and short boards, and it had imperfections like holes and knots, but I have to tell you, that’s what I love about it! The character! At the time it was $2.00 cheaper a square foot, and at 600 sq feet, it saved us a lot of money. The flooring with refinishing in the end was about $2,500 with finishing, compared to the $4,500-$6,000 it was going to cost with the high end “perfect”wood. And quite honestly, at the time we had a dog, and small kids, so I knew that they were going to have the snot beat out of them, so I was okay starting with Character!

Matching stairs with custom stain

This year, we were finally able to pull up the carpeting in our upstairs hallway and refinish that ourselves. It would have only been about $60.oo in materials, but it took me 9 cans of stain to get the right color, so it cost a little bit more.

Speaking of wood… we had enough overage from our wood floors in 2010 (which we hung onto) that we decided to do a wood accent wall in our downstairs bathroom recently.

Small guest bathroom renovation, small buffet as vanity

Not only do I love that it was free, but it makes a great statement. If you are thinking about a wood accent wall, look into using real wood instead of the pre-made stuff that has a sticky back. It is a 1/4 of the cost, if you don’t mind putting your own finish on it and using a nail gun.

The vanity was a vintage buffet my sister in law found for me at $50 that I painted, and the little cabinet to the right was $35 from the thrift store. The sink was more than all of that combined! It was about $170 from Home Depot. But, since similar size vanities were over $600, I felt like I got off pretty easy!

Tomorrow Ill share more of our money-saving home decorating ideas in  our house, and the cosmetic upgrades we put in and what they’ve cost.

Easy money saving home decorating ideas. Decorate on a budget with big impact

One Comment

  1. Here you go ~ “Cents and Sensibility Decor” ha!

    We lived for 24 years in a mid-century that had been my grandparent. Over the years. we lovingly and painstakingly remodeled all by ourselves. To say we were shocked at being transferred to FL on a 6 week turn-around is an understatement! oh, and we had just completely gutted a bathroom. The funny part is, we built a house here, using no upgrades (who wants granite or wood on a mortgage payment) – and the task has become, how can we add the character we loved in our “old house?” We are up for it – but will def need some “cents and sensibility!”
    I love your ideas and sharing!

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