If you have just purchased a home and need to make some updates, it can be hard to know where to start. Before you can start adding dream touches, it is important to address the biggest “ugly” and to get the physicals in order. Then make the changes that will inspire you to budget for the next renovation step. In order to renovate your home on a budget, you should get the physicals in order, decide what type of flooring you want, decide on your paint colors, know what kind of window coverings you prefer and which would work best for your windows, and compare your bathroom and kitchen to your dream setups to decide if it is worth a renovation.
Get the Physicals in Order
Make sure nothing is leaking and that all the electrical works. If you buy a fixer-upper, you have already had inspections, so call in a contractor to address anything that obviously needs an update. If you need to borrow for big repairs, check to see if VA loan limits will allow your funds up to the ultimate value of the property. Once you’re sure that the water, gas, and electricity are all safe and functioning up to code, you can start on the big eyesores.
If you need to update flooring, get it done before you move in. New carpet in a new house is a wonderful gift; new carpet in a space where you have to move the furniture you just set in the room is a nightmare. At the very least, get the carpets cleaned before you move in. The same goes for refinishing flooring, putting down plank vinyl, and sealing or dyeing the concrete. If you need to push your move-in date back by a week, do so.
A fresh coat of paint can completely change the feel and smell of a room, especially if there were smokers in the house before you took it over. Unless you are set on bold, dark colors, look for light shades that will work well in the house at all points in the day. Pick up small samples and paint patches on the wall with a foam brush to avoid changing the texture of your walls.
Before you paint, pull all the outlet covers and switch plates. Put the small screws back in the fixture and wash the plate in warm soapy water. Wash the walls with a mild vinegar and water solution to remove dirt, dust, and any clinging smoke. Patch the nail holes with a bit of spackle. Large cracks may need mesh tape and a fast-drying joint compound. Gently sand all your patches smooth and prime your patches with a small foam roller for a smooth finish.
Then paint the whole space, including the ceiling, in the light color you originally chose. Save the big, bold colors for accent walls where you want a splash of color.
If you really hate the existing window coverings, toss them. However, be aware that window coverings can be extremely expensive, so if you do not mind them, take them down for professional cleaning. Should you find that they are multi-layered, take photos so you can put them back up in the order they came down.
Of course, if you can sew or have a friend with a sewing machine, you can just save the hardware and make your own for a true custom experience. Once the original window coverings are down, wash the windows and check the mechanism to make sure the windows aren’t painted shut or otherwise damaged.
Kitchens and Baths
Kitchen and bath renovations can become very expensive in short order. Unless things are completely falling apart, try to wait to make big renovations. These rooms get used on a daily basis, and it is very possible that you will make a choice that really does not work in your early days in the house.
Do tackle the cosmetics that make you unhappy. Paint cabinets, update hardware, add a portable island in your kitchen, and change out the light fixtures. Add a dimmer switch to the master bath while you wait to put in your dream features. These simple fixes and basic starts will make you happier in your home as you get settled in. After a time, you’ll know exactly what it is about your kitchen configuration that doesn’t work, and you can tackle that problem and renovate the space effectively for you and your family.
Dollars are finite, especially if you just bought your home. Make changes on the broken stuff and address the cosmetics with labor rather than money. Once you have settled in, you can make your big changes and get the most for your renovation dollar.