Leave It ExposedHomeowners spend thousands of dollars laying carpet, tile and hardwood floors. But in Denver, one homeowner decided to go bare bones by leaving his subfloors exposed. He simply rented a sander and smoothed out the plywood subfloors, then bought some varnish and laid down three coats. For a total of $200, he has a distinctive, functional floor.
Blemished GraniteSo many homeowners these days are forking out big bucks for granite countertops in their kitchen. They're popular and pricey, ranging anywhere from $60 to $100 per square foot installed. Barbara Zappas wanted a slab of granite in her home in Walla Walla, Wash., too, but she managed to pay only about $20 per square foot. How? She bought one that no one else wanted. Marked with a huge blemish, the store had it on discount. Instead of trying to hide the giant birthmark, she celebrated it by buying cowhide furniture to match.
Salvaged LockersMost people want lots of storage space in their home, but custom cabinetry and built-in shelves can cost a fortune. In Olathe, Kan., homeowner Lisa Inglese had the great idea to use salvaged school lockers in lieu of cabinets. She picked them up for just $28 apiece from a local high school that was undergoing a renovation.
Metal RailingStairways in homes have become a sort of sculptural element, and many people are installing a cable-rail system that can run upwards of $5,000. In Boulder, Colo., a pair of homeowners opted against expensive cable and instead commissioned a bike welder to build them a metal railing that still has the same industrial feel of the cable rail. It saved them $2,000. They also built the steps themselves with glue-laminated beams that they cut to size, stained and then sealed. The cost for those? Only $300.
LightingHomeowners spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on lighting throughout their homes. Next time you decide to replace a fixture, consider making one with off-the-shelf materials. Architect Wynne Yelland had a great idea for lighting above his dining table. He connected a switch to an outlet on the ceiling and then placed a bunch of magnetic steel tiles in a grid. He bought several shop lights with an attached cord, plugged them in and voila! The great thing is that the lights can move.
Molding TechniqueIntricate crown molding can really finish the look of a room, but it can also be a big budget-buster. In Lincoln, Neb., one homeowner came up with the idea of using two simple little pieces of panel molding and then painting in between them so it looks like one large piece of crown molding. To give you an idea of the savings, he spent $200 dollars doing it his way, as opposed to an initial bid of $4,000 to use the real molding.
Personalized DoorIf you want to make a great first impression with visitors, an Indiana homeowner has a creative and fairly inexpensive idea for a front door. He bought a cheap $150 interior door, covered it with hearty reclaimed wood and then cast his handprint into bronze and mounted it as a door handle. The entire project cost about $650, compared with the $6,000 he'd considered spending on a new custom door.
Recycled FireplaceImagine having room for a 28-foot fireplace in your home. Now imagine paying to have it built. Using brick or rock could cost anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000. That was too much for one Texas homeowner. He spent a mere $6,000 instead by using recycled sheet metal that he topped off with wax to give it a rusted look. The lower portion is reclaimed barn wood siding and fieldstone that is indigenous to the area.
Curtain TracksWhen you have a lot of windows in your home, you can end up spending thousands of dollars on window coverings. This northern California homeowner came up with a few great ideas to control how much light comes into his home, without breaking the bank. He simply took hospital curtain tracks and embedded them into the drywall. The curtains are made from a long bolt of fabric that he had cut and hemmed at the top and bottom. Outside, he opted for shade sails (shown above) instead of an expensive pergola. The shade sails were $150 a piece and can be ordered online.
Recessed LightingBefore you think about installing a bunch of expensive recessed lighting, or up-lights, in your home, check out this idea: A California homeowner took regular external gutters, painted them, mounted them to her wall and put in fluorescent lights. They work just like any expensive up-lighting systems, but they cost just $50.