When it comes to things like flooring, ask your subcontractor if he has odds-and-ends stock left over from other jobs. While renovating a Civil War-era bed-and-breakfast in New Jersey some years back, contractor Bill Asdal needed wood flooring. He made a few phone calls and came up with hundreds of square feet of hardwood, in various lengths and widths, that otherwise would have gone into the trash on other job sites. Just by planing it to uniform thickness, then sanding and refinishing it, he saved his client almost $9,000 in materials costs.

Pedigree doesn’t necessarily mean better (whether it be art, furniture or dogs). Consider an “unknown” artist or designer and buy based on shape, comfort and how the art or furniture works for you and your needs. The most humble objects can have the most soul and be the most beautiful thing in a room. Do not be afraid to mix high and low price points. Not everything must be precious to be important. The opposite can be said with splurging on something that you really love.

Paint selection is one of the most important and cost-effective decisions you can make. Proper paint choices harmoniously connect spaces. Consider the house as a whole. You risk creating disjointed rooms if you paint one room at time. Take into account how colors affect our mood. Some colors make people feel happy, calm or even agitated. I have been known to paint interior doors a bold black for a contrast against crisp white walls.
By sticking to the lightest shades within a single color family for paint and furniture, you’ll avoid the strong contrasting hues that can make a small room seem even smaller. Matching your choice of floor tile to the wall color can also be a good idea—this will make the corners of the room disappear, creating a feeling of more space. Avoid putting any color on the ceiling, though; a basic white is the best choice here.
The more light that bounces around in your bathroom, the larger the room will look. The most obvious place to start is with the intentionally reflective surfaces: mirrors. “Anytime you have an opportunity to put a mirror on the wall, select the largest one that will fit,” Maykut says. “It will give you the illusion that the room is bigger than it actually is.”
Before you decide how extensively to renovate, you need to know what your end goal is for your home. Are you renovating to raise the resale value of your home, or will you be staying put for years to come? Consider the condition of your neighborhood before you begin, and know which renovations are a good return on investment, and which will be considered overdoing it for the area. Having a specific plan in place for your future will help you decide how deep to go with your project. Plus: 11 Important Things to Do When Planning to Sell Your Home
Start prowling the aisles at the hardware store or home center way before the wrecking crew shows up. Get a good feeling for what you want in fixtures and appliances and what they cost. If you aren't absolutely specific up front about what you want, you'll have to rely on your contractor's estimate, called an allowance, and his notion of what is acceptable may be quite different from yours. "Ninety-eight percent of the time, allowances are too low," says Tom Silva. For instance, you may have had a glass-tile backsplash in mind, but your contractor's bid was for ceramic.
Do-it-yourselfers can reap big savings with recycled or lightly used fixtures and building materials. Habitat for Humanity operates about 400 ReStores nationwide, which offer salvaged materials at half off home-center prices. One caveat: Many contractors won't work with salvaged items, or homeowner-supplied materials in general, because they don't want to assume the liability if something goes wrong. That said, if you're doing your own work, you can find anything from prehung doors to acrylic skylights to partial bundles of insulation. (To find a ReStore near you, visit habitat.org.)

Lucky for you, there are paints to help. Rust-Oleum makes a "mold and mildew-proof" paint for about $27 a gallon that can protect those mold danger zones. You can fight those nasty germs with Sherwin-Williams' Paint Shield, which costs about $85 per gallon. Unlike other microbial paints, this formulation is EPA-certified to kill more than 99.9% of surface bacteria in less than two hours, including E. coli and staph.

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