10 Affordable Remodeling Tips for Your Home
by Sue Doerfler - Sept. 30, 2011
The Arizona Republic
With the economy and real-estate market still in flux, most of us are nesting in homes we already own.
Now that the heat has started to relent, it's a good time to consider fixer-upper projects that can make our nests even cozier.
Here are 10 quick, affordable remodeling tips for your fall home-improvement list.
1. Shop discounted building-materials stores.
Looking to replace a toilet or your kitchen cabinets? Visit Habitat for Humanity's ReStores and Stardust Building Supplies, which sell new and used donated building materials, such as sinks, fixtures, lighting, doors, windows, carpeting and hardware at 30percent or more off typical retail cost.
Merchandise varies daily, and shopping here may require a few trips. Recent finds include cabinet sets priced from $400 to $3,000 and 12 pallets of new bricks priced at three bricks for $1.
You also save on sales tax, because both companies are non-profit.
Habitat for Humanity ReStores has six Valley locations. Stardust Building Supplies has two.
2. Shop holiday sales.
Looking for new furniture, appliances or electronics? Take advantage of time-of-year sales. Generally, the best time to get a mattress deal is on a holiday weekend, such as Labor Day or Presidents Day.
Want a new recliner, chair or other piece of furniture? Labor Day, Fourth of July and Memorial Day weekends are big times to save. For a recliner, check stores before the Super Bowl and Father's Day.
Find door-buster deals on television sets on Black Friday.
Need new linens? January has been dubbed "white-sale month," but these days, you can find bargains year-round.
Need a new refrigerator, washer or television set? You'll find different models on sale each week at a number of Valley stores. To save more, watch for save-the-sales-tax deals, which are occasionally offered on holiday weekends.
3. Do the work yourself.
Rather than hiring someone to install a ceiling fan or other home-improvement project, do it yourself.
Stores such as Home Depot offer workshops in tiling, installing toilets and preparing interior walls for repainting.
You also can find how-to videos and instructions on topics such as laying concrete blocks, framing and hanging doors, installing drywall and installing hardwood floors on websites such as lowes.com, homedepot.com and acehardware.com.
4. Shop closeouts.
If you're willing to buy last year's model or get a chair that's been on the showroom floor for months, you can save money.
Ask companies whether they have clearance items or are willing to discount a floor model. Some stores specialize in these items. For example, find closeout appliances at Arizona Wholesale Supply in Phoenix and deals on carpet at Carpet Closeouts in Phoenix.
Often, the Great Indoors in Scottsdale sells returns and floor models at good discounts with full warranties.
5. Buy scratch-and-dents.
Imperfections, such as dents or scratches, don't affect the functionality of a washer, refrigerator, chair or table. In many cases, the item can be refinished or the scratch can be hidden from view.
Find such pieces at warehouse outlets such as Sears Outlet Stores and B&B Appliances in Phoenix.
6. Make simple, inexpensive updates.
Give your home a minor face-lift by changing out your accessories.
Replace worn-out rugs with new ones. Switch out decorative pillows. Add a plant or two. Replace the dust-covered decorative soaps with new ones in your bathroom. Replace plastic switch-plate covers with decorative metal or ceramic ones. Change out drawer pulls with new ones.
If you can't afford to do anything else to a room, paint it.
A can of paint, which is $25-$30 a gallon, is cheap compared with other remodeling projects.
Painting is also a dramatic -- and quick -- way to transform a room. If you don't want to redo all the walls, paint just one. This will add interest to a room. You also can repaint your furniture, such as dressers and chests, to create a different look.
8. Refresh the lighting.
Use lighting to give a new look to a room. Dimmer switches, which are about $25 each if you install them yourself, can change the mood. They let you choreograph the light, changing the feel of a room, its colors and architecture.
Using different bulbs and varying the location of lamps also can change light levels and create ambience.
9. Repurpose and rearrange.
Rearrange decorative items and move around your furniture to give your rooms a new look.
Instead of buying new pillows, re-cover the old ones. It's also fun to go shopping in your own house, looking at things sitting in closets or stored away with a fresh eye.
Combining vintage with modern furnishings is another big trend right now. So you may want to retrieve some stored family heirlooms and incorporate them into your decor.
10. Buy secondhand.
Shop consignment, secondhand, thrift and antiques shops to save on decor needs. Supplement your decor with such finds as dinnerware, wall art, clocks, gadgets and furniture.
Take advantage of special sales, such as Christmas in July sales and Goodwill's 50 percent-off sale held every other Saturday. Some places, such as
A Second Look in Phoenix, offer dated price-tag markdowns.
Goodwill also has a home-goods store in Scottsdale called Redesign by Goodwill. It offers deals different from regular Goodwill stores.
Furniture Affair sells model-home furniture.