Are you one of those people who decided to spend a little less for an older home because you saw lots of promise and charm beneath the 80’s or 90’s decorating nightmare shell? This was us! We found ourselves a short sale in 2009 and even though the wallpaper made me want to vomit and the walls were a circus of different colors, we got the perfect house for us but it needed a little TLC. Maybe you’ve lived in your house for decades and you just know it’s time to make some updates, like the time you decided to take the shoulder pads out of your dresses and ditched the extra tease in you hair. Whatever you motivation to update- you can do it! Honestly, sometimes the simple fixes in your home can make a big difference. Those changes can be as a little as a $5 can of spray paint to as much as a $200 ceiling fan. This article is about how to re-style your older home without remodeling. These are all cheap DIY Home Improvement Ideas.
My neighborhood is comprised of homes build in the mid- 80’s. (So what you see throughout the post will be tips on how to update a house from the 1980’s but it can certainly be applied to other homes from other decades as well.) My neighborhood is also full of couples in their mid 20’s to mid 30’s. I was kind of surprised by this. I thought we were just old souls. Apparently with the market full of short sales and repo’s people buy older homes because they’re cheap!
In cases like mine where we got a decent deal on our home, we also got a home that hadn’t been updated since “Full House” came on TGIF. Therefore there are things I like about my house but also things that aren’t so fabulous. Sure I’d love to do a major remodel in the kitchen but I’m learning over time that it’s important to love the home your already living in.
The wall paper and borders came down immediately, but there were other areas that really needed improvement. Here are some ways we fixed things up without breaking the bank.
Man, what a fresh coat of paint can do for a room. It can really update an old house on budget! I recommend picking a relaxing color. One you can live with and love.
$5 Per Gallon Paint-
- Paint gets expensive! So every time I go to Home Depot, Lowes, Ace or even Walmart, I immediately go to the, “Oops!” paint shelf. Everyone of these stores has one, you just have to ask a store associate where it’s located.
- The “Oops!” paint shelf is where stores house gallons of paint that people have returned or denied because there was an issue with the color. Meaning, it wasn’t exactly what they wanted or didn’t match.
- The store discounts these gallons to cost anywhere from $2.50 to $5.00. I look for light/neutral colors. Sometimes you luck out and there is more than one gallon.
- Best uses of Oops Paints?
- Small Spaces- For my closets, small rooms or small bathrooms, the Oops! paints were perfect!!!
- Priming- These are also perfect for priming those rooms where you plan to paint over a darker color with a lighter color, thereby needing more coats than normal.
Paint w/ Primer- Lowes (Valspar Paint + Primer) and Home Depot (Behr Ultra) sell this kind of paint. It works better at getting a good coverage on the walls. I still have to do two coats but they are solid coats when I’m finished. I have only used Behr brand. I will never buy plain paint again.
- Warning on Color Selection- For years we had rented. When renting, I never wanted to mess with painting because I didn’t want to have to paint it back when I moved out. So when we bought our first home, I couldn’t wait to paint my bedroom a deep red color. TERRIBLE IDEA!!!
- First of all, it took 4 coats of paint/primer to get the walls covered. Then, I really disliked being in my room. My advice is to pick a calming color for the rooms you spend the most time in!
Counter-tops are one of those expensive messy jobs. Ours were a dark forest green color. It was quit terrible. While at Home Depot I ran across this small container of paint made by Rust-Oleum that was supposed to be made for painting counter-tops. It’s called: Rust-Oleum 263206 Countertop Coating Premix, 32-Ounce Kit. I was really skeptical at first.
In fact I bought some and my husband was so skeptical he asked me to return it. But after we decided that replacing the counter tops was not in the budget, we just went for it! It was worth it!!! It does exactly what it said it would do and now I have really nice looking counter-tops in my bathroom for about $40 with no ripping out of anything. This is defiantly one of those weekend home improvement projects.
UPDATE: I have had these counters for 4 years now and have only two tiny places that paint has chipped off. You can’t see them unless you stare and they can be touched up. With this particular color of paint I find that when water splashes on the counter it form as water stain that you can see until the water dries and it will disappear. When you go to clean the tops, you will see the spots again until they dry. Despite the water mark stuff, I love the counter-tops far better than my previous ones and the bathroom still looks much better than before. I would do it again.
They also make this Rust-Oleum 258512 Counter Top Transformations, Small Kit, Charcoal paint for kitchen counter updates which is a little more expensive but based on the way the bathroom turned out and if I was struggling to live with my current kitchen counters, I’d give it go!
3. Lighting/Ceiling fans
My husband is an electrical engineer so I kind of have a pro around to do these kinds of jobs. To make our house consistent, we tried to pick the brushed bronze finish fixtures for our whole house as we replaced lighting. Check out his cool video showing how to spruce up your outdoor lights with a little spray paint metal primer and spray color paint:
- We used to have old black fans with gold accents and half the light fixtures were dangling or not even working.
- Grab a new ceiling fan w/ light and you get an instant update to a room.
- Tip: We decided to make sure that as we updated each room we stuck with a similar color and style of fan. That way the master bedroom didn’t have leaf looking fan blades while our son’s room had a space themed fan.
- New fans can range from $60-$200 and you can search for your favorite colors, styles and brands pretty easily on Amazon.com.
Bathroom Vanity Lights-
Just buying a new, updated vanity light can change your bathroom’s look!
Replacing Old Chandeliers-
There is a time and place for nice chandelier or low hanging light fixtures but honestly, the kitchen isn’t always the greatest spot. In most of the homes I’ve lived in, low hanging kitchen chandelier lights results in many head bumps.
Our new home had a really weird hanging chandelier style light that was really, really low in our small kitchenette. We replaced the low hanging chandelier light with a flush dome light and now we don’t hit our heads, we have plenty of light, and it looks like we added a few feet to our kitchen space. There are many many cool styles of these lights so be sure you check them out to see which ones would take less space but add the style and look you want to your own home.
Outdoor Light Fixtures:
About 2 years ago we freshened up the paint on the outside of our house. Once we had refreshed everything, I struggled with the appearance of the brass finish outdoor light fixtures and even the brass door bell button. Instead of going out and buying brand new fixtures my husband simply updated them with a little patience and some spray paint and now they look brand new!
My husband has a Youtube channel called Makercise and here’s the video he created to show you how you can fix up all your own outdoor lights for under $15 with some easy to find spray-on self etching metal primer & spray paint!
4. New Faucets
These make a huge difference in updating a bathroom or kitchen. They can also improve functionality. I hated wrestling to get things like canning pots or bottles under my old faucet. Now that it is arched and skinny I can fill up all kinds of stuff in my bathroom and kitchen sink!
If a project like this seems daunting, websites like Lowes Home Improvement have simply DIY videos on how to Replace a Bathroom Faucet.
5. Update Old Hardware-
One interesting problem we came across in our journey to restyle our kitchen and bathroom was that our cabinets were made in the 80’s and new hardware doesn’t actually fit our old cabinets. Therefore, when we tried to replace drawer and cabinet handles with new hardware, the new hardware didn’t line up with the old holes.
So we decided to simply prep and spray paint the hardware around our home which was way cheaper and actually came out looking nice. We are fans of the brushed bronze look and it’s now on all our fans and lighting fixtures so we are updating hardware around our house to match with paints like this Krylon K09191000 COVERMAXX Spray Paint, Brushed Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze.
If you are thinking about flipping a house:
I know that it’s easy to watch TLC and all those channels and watch as people basically destroy and old house and make it look amazing and new but that stuff takes a ridiculous amount of time, research and money to ensure that works out in your favor. I have several friends that have been through this journey already and give you great insights into how to avoid Flipping a House that Flops and 3 Income Property Mistakes to avoid.
Well, there you have it. Four ways that you can update your house without having to do a major re-model. It really makes a huge difference and you can expect to pay under $100 each if you are be thrifty about it. I believe that many of these suggestions are super easy home improvements that add value to your own enjoyment of your home as well as when/if you decide to sell.
Feel free to leave comments, ideas or questions!