Unless you've got loads of time (and expertise) to spend on your project, the best way to add sweat equity is up front, by handling your own demolition, or at the back end, by doing some of the finish work yourself. "If you want to save money, dig in and start helping out," says Tom Silva. "You can insulate, you can paint, you can sand." Or better still, he says, help with cleanup every day. "Instead of paying someone to pick up sawdust off the floor, put your money into the time it takes to trim the window properly," he advises.
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.)
"Most clients don't want to hear those words," says Paul Irwin, design director with Landis Construction, in the Washington, D.C., area, "but it really needs to be considered on major remodels."In one case, for example, plans for a 1,300-square-foot addition revealed that the house's existing foundation wasn't up to code and would have to be replaced—a $30,000 proposition. After crunching the numbers, the owners concluded that it would cost as much to update the house, a former summer cottage, as it would to reproduce it new. "For a relatively small additional cost," says the owner, "we get all the benefits of new construction while preserving the character and feel of our old house."

I really want to remodel my bathroom later on and I wanted to look up some ideas and tips on how to go about it. I didn’t think about adding recessed lights with some over the mirror as well! Having a dimmer would be a really nice thing to have in the morning as well when everything is too bright. That’s a great idea. Thank you so much for the tips and ideas!

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.
It's exactly what Jenny Cipoletti, founder of fashion, beauty and travel blog Margo & Me, did in her decidedly Parisian office (which is actually in West Hollywood). "Just like when you walk into a cafe in Paris, and you see all the details and the golds, silvers and light blush tones, all of these elements in this space really sing to me," says Cipoletti. This lets you travel to your favorite destination without stepping outside.
Space planning, which impacts scale, is essential. People often use furniture that is too large or too small for a space. I like to blame a certain retail company for the large-scale furnishings that saturate interiors today. Build around the furniture that you actually have space for. Think about the balance of a space. For larger rooms, consider establishing zones for different activities: a seating area that is conducive to conversation; another area for television viewing; a work area with a desk or table for projects or games. Even though I love symmetry, you can make things feel too contrived when you make everything symmetrical. Think about the visual weight and distribution to balance out a space. Proportion and scale are key to any design.

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.)

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