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Inexpensive DIY Living Room, Kitchen, and Bath Remodels

By: Danny Lipford

It’s easy to remodel your home when cost is no object. But for those of us on a limited budget, here are some great DIY ideas on how to remodel your bathroom, living room, or kitchen for less than $1,000 each.

Inexpensive Bathroom Remodel

  • Paint walls and trim.
  • Replace vanity and sink top.
  • Install new faucet.
  • Replace towel racks and toilet paper holder.
  • Install ceramic tile on floor.

Inexpensive Living Room Remodel

  • Paint walls and trim.
  • Install laminate flooring.
  • Make fabric covered window cornice.

Inexpensive Kitchen Remodel

  • Paint walls, trim, and cabinets.
  • Replace cabinet knobs, pulls, and hinges.
  • Install ceramic tile on floor.

Read episode article to find out more.

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This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re making changes in three different rooms of the house. The trick is we’re trying to update each room for $1000 or less. If you’re renovating on a budget, you don’t want to miss this.

This week we’re exploring renovation on a budget. Most homeowner have a least a project or two they like to do around their house, but very few of us have an unlimited budget to do it on. So we’re going to take a nice round number, like $1,000, and see how far it will go. Now, whether you have more or less than that to work with, you’re sure to get some ideas to make whatever you spend go a little further.

Now, we’re starting here in a bathroom, because this is a very popular room for do-it-yourself renovations. This one is older home, and it was recently renovated. And I have to say, they did a pretty darn good job on it.

One of the first things people typically want to change is the look of the walls; and that’s good, because it checks in really low on the money meter. Of course every room is a little different in terms of size and preparation needed for painting. But we’ll say around $75 for this project that will cover the paint for the walls and the trim plus some prep supplies like caulk spackle and maybe some primer.

Now, if you’re removing old wallpaper first, you’ll want to tack on a few more dollars for wallpaper remover and joint compound to repair any possible damage that occurs to the walls. But that’s not a lot more in terms of money, but you’ll invest plenty in time and sweat. But the more careful you are the less you’ll spend on repairing any damage to your drywall.

Now, these homeowners put in a new vanity as part of their renovation. And if a new vanity is in your plans, Jodi is checking in to some of your options. When you’re at a home center and you start shopping for your vanity, you can see all the choices made available to you. Let’s go ahead and start talking about these two. I liked his top it’s a solid surface top, and has an under mount sink that is already attached, so you don’t have to worry about any of that. Now look at this base cabinet. I like the wood finish.

Now, take a look at this one over here. It’s a cultured marble finish and again is just one piece. Just set it on top of your cabinet. And I like this cabinet is you get that beadboard look and it’s also a painted surface if that’s the style you’re going for.

Danny gave me a budget of about $400 so both of those definitely fall in the range of my budget. Now take a look at this one. I love this; it is a granite top, a little more expensive. But the nice thing is, it’s already prefabbed for you, so all you got to do is just put it in place. You don’t have had anyone come out and cut it, and again I liked this base. It’s pushing it to about almost to the end of my budget. But I really like this one because of this base.

So again you can see all the different options that you have. Danny had a vanity that’s made from furniture and make it look like furniture. It was closer to $400, but again depending on what your budget is. Now, remember none of these include the faucet, and Allen is going to talk about that.

The faucet is the workhorse of the bathroom. I mean think about its use constantly day and night. So when it’s time to purchase another one, do yourself a favor, and this is just my opinion, but if you find a $29 special, put it back. Seriously spend a little extra money for quality, particularly on the faucet. You want a faucet that is true metal not plastic. The inside workings you want to have brass in there. Plan on spending about $100 for a good quality faucet.

Now, once you pick that out, it’s time to accessorize. Of course I’m talking about towel bars, toilet paper holders, towel rings and the like. Many manufacturers today are creating designs that really mimic today’s faucets. And of course it is a little bit expensive because you typically have to buy these separately. However you can see you have a huge variety to choose from. And if you’re careful, a good shopper, go find some combination kits like this that will help of the sort that cost.

Once you’ve made all those decisions you still have a little money left in $1,000 budget the floor is a great place to do a little upgrading. For a bathroom nine times out of 10 that means tile which is a pretty do-it-yourself friendly process. The other good news is if you do some careful shopping, you can find great bargains on trial at your local home center. It’s not uncommon to find the looking tiles in the $1-$2 per square-foot price range.

But often they are in limited quantities, so make sure you measure your bathroom carefully first, and add about 10-15% for cutting waste any mistakes you might make. That means for an eight by eight bathroom, you can get all the tile you need for under $100. Then add in thin-set adhesive, grout, and hand tools for another $50. I would suggest renting a wet saw that goes for about $75 a day.

So let’s add it all up. $75 for the paint, a new vanity and sink for around $400, and $100 for a new faucet, another $100 for accessories, plus about $225 for all the tile that you need. And the grand total comes out for about $900. Which is a good place to be for theoretical numbers, because inevitably they’ll be surprises with any bathroom renovations. So keep that in mind.

Before you get started, Joe has one more tip to simplify your bathroom remodeling. The first step of painting the bathroom is trimming off the surface and you don’t want to get paint on as I did here with this blue masking tape. I masked off the toilet paper holder and the casing around the window. But for the toilet itself, I usually just use a canvas drop cloth to protect the poll and the floor.

For the toilet tank I’ve come up with a really good solution. It’s adhesive backed food wrap. It’s a relatively new product, and it works great for protecting the toilet tank from paint. Take one long piece, and stick it on the top. It has just enough adhesive that if you press it down and it hold pretty well. And take another piece along one and wrapped the back of the toilet, so when you paint the wall you don’t get paint all over the toilet tank. Rip it off, and again press it on, and sticks nice and tight. I would probably put one more piece along the bottom.

Now, when you paint, you get your roller or brush back there, and you hardly won’t get any paint on the toilet tank, as longest protected by this plastic. Then when the job is done, peel this off after the paint dries, because you don’t want to mess up your fresh paint job. And you only have to worry about cleaning the inside of the toilet not the outside.

The family room is coming up next, so make that trip the fridge quick.

Hey, we’re continuing our look see how far $1,000 worth of materials will go in different areas of your home. You’re right middle of the living room here that looks pretty good, but it didn’t look so good a few weeks ago. Unlike the bathroom to Danny showed you earlier, this room has no cabinetry or plumbing fixtures. Were mostly dealing with large surfaces, the ceiling and walls and the flooring.

In a room this size, you should probably looking at about $150 worth of paint. Of course the next big surface is the floor. And certainly it looks a lot better than it did earlier, because it had some very old carpet and a very stained pad underneath the carpet. All of that had to be removed. We had a lot of scraping we had to do on the concrete slab before this floor could be installed.

Now, this show was all about bringing in under $1,000. When you are renovating a room like this, flooring can make a big difference on how close you can get to that budget. Allen’s over the home center right now checking out a few of the prices.

When you’re looking for and expensive flooring for your family room or living room, two types come to my mind immediately. The first of course is carpeting. If you really shop around you can get some pretty good deals. Here’s a nice neutral tone, nice little short pile, is less than $10 a square yard. But remember there are nine square feet in a square yard, so the cost of this is basically a little over a dollar a square foot. Not bad but remember installation of carpet really is not a do-it-yourself friendly type of project. So you really don’t have to add in the cost of labor for that.

When you do, you’re going to prices comparable to the second type that I think of. And of course that’s plastic laminate. And they look great, particularly in the family room or living room, beautiful colors are available. Again shop around about two dollars a square-foot. So, not bad on the price, but you do have some extra charges on laminates. You do have to add for your transition strips, these are kind of expensive, about $15 each. And don’t forget you’re going to need some quarter round molding. This material sure does make a good looking floor, doesn’t it Joe.

It sure does Danny. The other advantage is that the flooring is a really easy do-it-yourself product. The panels just lock together there’s no glue or staples involved. But if you’ve never installed a floating floor before, be sure to leave yourself a little bit of extra time because it can take longer.

It is very easy, but it does take a little while the first time. Now the material cost for this room is $700 plus the paint the walls that the hundred and $150. We have just a little money left in $1,000 budget, so we thought what would be perfect is a nice finishing touch over the front window.

This valance was very easy to put together, even Allen can do it. Actually he got a little help from a designer friend of ours, Diane Berry. She had Allen start by ripping some half-inch plywood down into 24-inch pieces. Then he connected the two together with metal mending plates in order to cover the 118-inch wide window.

Next, they mapped out the arch Diane wanted, and cut it out with a jigsaw. When Allen’s carpentry work was done, and the frame was inside, Diane began her magic. She used upholstery batting to wrap the valance frame and to soften the edges. The fabric is stapled along the back edge of the header, and then folded back over to cover the balance, before you lay it face down so you can finish attaching the fabric to the back side. The corners take a little more time and care.

In this case Diane also covered the back with plain white fabric, so the neighbors couldn’t tell it was homemade. Hot glue was used to secure a decorative fringe along the lower edge, and some L brackets were used to hold the valance in place on the wall. It’s hard to believe Allen and Diane only spent $50 for the materials, that’s a pretty good bargain.

Now, I mentioned earlier, there’s no overhead light fixtures in this particular room that we’ve been working on. But that’s an excellent way to upgrade to look of a room by simply changing out the light fixtures.

Absolutely, Danny. You just have to remember if you’re going to take down a light fixture and put up a ceiling fan, you can’t hang the fan from the existing box. It’s not rated for the vibration and the weight of the fan, so you’ll have to replace it with a code approved box that specifically designed for ceiling fans.

Yes, that’s pretty important. You don’t want a ceiling fan coming down. Now let’s total everything up here: we’ve spent $50 for materials on the valance, about $150 on room paint, and $700 on the floor. And that brings the total to $900. I have a feeling we’ll find some place to spend the $100 that we saved in this room.

Now, we were talking about ceiling fans earlier, so is Jodi. This is one of the most popular fixtures and homes today—the ceiling fan. In summer they help keep us cool. And in winter, reverse the rotation and they helped circulate the warm air. Now ceiling fans are great, except when you get that annoying wobble. There are several reasons why this may happen. It may not have been installed correctly or sometimes the blades get bent or worked quite cleaning it. I’ve actually seen people tape nickels to the blades to try and stop the wobbling.

But the folks at Hunter fans have solved that problem once and for all. They have developed a new technology called Perfect Balance. Inside the motor is a shifting disc that automatically balances the fan blades with each rotation. Which means they will guarantee your fan won’t wobble ever during the entire life of the fan. No one in the industry can make that kind of guarantee, but Hunter is confident in this new technology.

So far only two models have the Perfect Balance disc inside. But all of them will have it by the year 2012. Just look for this logo on the package to make sure the one you’re getting carries the no wobble guarantee.

After the break, our kitchen update for $1,000 or less. This week were doing some digging to see how far $1,000 will go in renovating different areas of your home.

So far we’ve covered the bath and the family room. But one of the busiest rooms in the house, and one of the most popular areas for renovation is of course, the kitchen. This place is usually the hub for family activity, even if you eat more takeout food than you do home cooked meals. It’s also important because it has a big effect on the home’s resale value. Most of the money you put in here will likely come back to you at resale. Especially if you stick to a low budget like ours.

Now, we’ve been starting with paint on all the other different areas of the house, so there’s no reason to stop now. For a kitchen to want to pay particular attention to the type of paint you buy because if you’ve ever need a paint that will stand up to scrubbing, this is the place. The paint manufacturers make what they call a kitchen and bath in enamels. These tend to form tougher out for shells, so there were out as quickly with constant cleanup. For an average size kitchen, you can expect all your paint supplies to set you back around $150, unless you plan to paint the cabinets. But we’ll talk about that in just a minute.

Right now, let’s focus on the countertops. No wonder the first questions I usually hear from homeowners is, can I afford granite. Well, when you’re looking at a modest budget like ours, answer is usually going to be no. But it might surprise you how affordable it is. In recent years the cost of installed granite has come down significantly because of the new tools that have been developed to fabricate it into countertops. That means the process is less labor intensive saving the installer and the homeowner a lot of money.

In some cases you can find the more common varieties with very basic edge treatments as low as $40 a square-foot. At that price, you can cover a small kitchen island as an accent and stay well within your budget. Remember things like cutouts for sinks and cooktops add to the cost, so do your homework. Now, even if you only add granite to see an island, you still might is a good chunk of your budget, depending on its size.

While countertops represent a lot of the surface you see in a kitchen, the cabinets usually add up even more. So making a change here can make a very big difference. If you plan on doing that with paint, you probably want to plan on spending about as much supplies on the cabinets as you did for the walls. Now, if you have the wallpaper removal we talked about earlier, your real investment will be in your labor.

Proper preparation for cabinets has to be done. You have to remove all that dirt and grease completely so the new paint will stick. Now even if you brush paint all the boxes and bodies of the Cabinet, it’s still a good idea to borrow or rent a sprayer for all the doors and the drawer fronts.

If you like your wood cabinets, but just want to update the look little bit, think about changing the hardware it’s amazing what a new set of handles or say a new set of pulls make in your cabinet. They range anywhere from $2-$20 a piece, depending on how plain or fancy they might be. So count how many doors and drawers you have so that you can add up the total cost, and make sure it fits in your budget before you head down to the home center.

And speaking of the home center, Allen and Jodi are there right now, looking at the cost of another kitchen upgrade.

You know I like to start from the ground up. And since Danny was talking about tile earlier in the bathroom renovation, you know you can definitely put tile in your kitchen as well. And Allen and I found some great tile pieces that we want to show you. This right here is my favorite. I love this, it’s travertine. And when you seal it, it gives you a good look when you wet it. You can see just the beauty that comes out. This is a 20×20 piece, and this averages about $2.50 a square-foot. This one right here is a ceramic tile, but it’s made to look very similar to travertine. This is $1.50 a square-foot. And this is just a standard piece of ceramic tile that $0.88 a square-foot.

This is definitely my budget right here. Okay, so let’s add everything up. Average sized kitchen, let’s say 150 square feet. We’ll go with a medium range tile. And let’s see, the tile and all the material to put it down, we’ll say about $340. Add to that the paint, let’s say they paint the walls and the cabinets. I know the cabinets are an option, let’s say they’re going to paint the cabinets, too, that’s 300 bucks there.

Okay, so talking about the cabinets. Though you need to factor in your pulls. What you got new knobs or new polls are going to be about $4 each, so let’s just say $100 there.

OK, let’s add it all up, $340, plus $300, plus $100, that’s $740. So here we are now, our budget. We have $,1000, that’s $260 left to spend on granite. It won’t happen. And Danny mentioned just doing an island. Even something like this, we have about 12 feet here. Even for smaller, 10 feet, you’re still looking to pushing close to $485 to$500, so it won’t happen. But here’s an idea. You saved so much money on all the other rooms, pool the money together and get the granite.

Because you won’t regret it.

When tracking down ways to Think Green your home, the trail should lead you straight to the bathroom. It should come to no surprise that toilets are the biggest water wasters in the house. There are more than 300 million toilets in the United States, and millions of them leak, each wasting up to 50 gallons every single day.

Millions more have tanks with a 3-5 gallon capacity. So if you want to start saving water, switch those old models out for the new 1.6 gallon toilets. And that one move you’ll be saving at least 50% of the water your toilet uses.

Another idea is to replace your old toilet with a dual-flush design that uses less than a gallon to flush liquid waste. If a new toilet is not in the budget, there are kits now available on the market that will allow you to convert your existing toilet to a water saver. We’ve spent all her money but we’re not done yet, so make sure you come back right after the break.

This week we’ve looked at putting $1,000 to work in three different areas of the home, to see just how much of difference we can make. The changes you make may be as simple as a coat of paint or changing the hardware to your cabinet doors. But maybe you’re ambitious enough to take on a new floor for the bathroom kitchen or the family room. Whatever the case, I hope we’ve helped.

Every house is different.

And every homeowner has different tastes.

The purpose of this week show isn’t necessarily to spend $1,000.

But to show you that even without an enormous budget you can make a big difference.

So if you plan carefully.

And you shop carefully.

And you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty.

And if you want more ideas on budget minded renovations and home improvement, check out our website at todayshomeowner.com. And while you’re there, make sure you check out the blogs from all of us.

Hey, I’m Danny Lipford and the crew. See you next week. We’re not magicians, but next week will share some great tricks to improve your kitchen.



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