Cheap DIY Home Improvements

cheap diy home improvementsAfter 12 years in the same house, you could argue we either needed something different or that we ran out of projects to make the place better. Depending on the day, I would side with both. Now that we have bought our dream home, our last home, last August, the list of cheap DIY home improvements needed to be completed was reset and we started again.

Of course, we love doing what we can to bring comfort and value to our living space, so our lifestyle reboot is a wonderful thing for us. While our last house was a 1920s urban cape on 1/4 acre and this is a 2003 off grid homestead on a full acre, we can do a great deal more. It is simply a matter of integrating our needs with the space provided by our new home. This meant looking at what we really needed and balancing that with what we really wanted.


Cheap DIY Home Improvements


The secret to cheap DIY home improvements is knowing what you have to do, how to do it and what tools and materials will make the project sing. Waste is not an option when trying to save money, so when purchasing tools and materials make sure you have more than one or two uses for them. Scrap lumber cut offs have value as well, and for us, these end up going to the woodshed to make everything from spoons to cutting boards. Take your time shopping and look for not only the best price, but the best quality as well. Junky tools will cost you more in repair and replacement costs, and low quality materials will only make your task more difficult. When pricing a project, you should factor in your time as well- I use $75 an hour as a starting point.

With our homesteading attitude, we have chosen to buy local whenever we can. This means bypassing the big box stores for independent lumber yards and hardware stores. In comparison we pay a little more, but the quality and benefits far outweighs the 5-20% price difference. Cheap DIY home improvements are truly relative, so determine your own budget for a project and stick with it. If you are planning on selling your home later, the quality and time you put into a project will be repaid once you list your property as long as you remember to highlight those improvements in the listing.


DIY Kitchen


diy kitchenOur dream home already had many of the elements we were looking for- off grid components such as well water, solar power, wood and pellet stoves- but it was lacking enough storage options. Upstairs in what is arguably our most used space, this translated to cabinet space. For a starting DIY project, we increased our shelving in the cabinets. Since most manufactured cabinets have the peg system incorporated, we simply purchased a stick of coins at our local hardware store and cut shelves to size to bring in more options. The pins were less than .10 each, and the wood was left over from our bookcase projects.

diy kitchenThe next DIY Kitchen project we took on dealt with storage as well. Next to the fridge, we had some space that was't being utilized to its potential, so we created a plate and tray built-in out from premium 1/4" pine, priced at around $1 and change per linear foot. Based on a simple and practical design, the shelving climbs from floor to ceiling and is tough enough to withstand any weight put on it.

diy kitchenLastly, we built an open curio cabinet in the corner between our windows for the more decorative items from the kitchen. Pitchers, decorative salt and pepper shakers, wine bottle, flower vases and such.

Though not used every day, these attractive elements are part of our kitchen look and therefore required a dedicated area that wouldn't take away storage space from our more practical items. The corner design started with equal width and height pine boards, with a 45 degree cut shelf concept. By getting three boards of equal length and width, the third breaks down perfectly for shelving. Then it was a matter of priming it with some Zinsser primer to seal the sap bleed and painting it with a durable latex for protection and trim matching.


DIY Bedroom Projects

diy bedroom projects
Our two DIY bedroom projects were next on the list, with a focused balance on practicality, accessibility and much needed storage space as well. To start, we ended up mounting our television on the wall and placing a simple floating shelf beneath it to handle the Direct TV Hopper unit. The shelf is made of particle board and laminate, and is affixed beneath the tv with drywall plugs.

We decided to slant the tv shelf slightly to accommodate a cleaner signal from the remote to the box, and though the shelf isn't designed to hold much weight, we were thinking forward to a new DVD player as well. There is plenty of room, and the fictionality of the shelf discourages knick-knacks and curios from finding their way up there only to collect dust. If there's one thing we love more than each other and our kids it is a clear surface.


diy bedroom projectsThough not a shoe fanatics in the least, we did have enough dress shoes, sneakers, boots a slippers to endeavor us to put a shoe rack in our closet. This quadruples our storage option by moving the shoes off the floor and provides some structure in a space that is often neglected. Again, we used 1/4" premium pine at around $1/linear foot with a simple box and strut construction.

The shoe rack/shelf climbs just about two feet from the floor, leaving plenty of hanging space for the clothes rack above so that our shirts, pants and other items aren't crumpled on top of the shelf as they fall. Honestly, the simplicity of this little project has been the most fun diy bedroom projects completed to date.


DIY Home Projects


diy home projects
DIY Home projects don't have to be elaborate or ornate in our books, but simple, attractive and cost-effective. Our goal is to source our tools and materials locally to support our neighborhood businesses and reduce our carbon footprint by not driving 50 miles to a box store to save .05 on lumber. Cheap DIY home improvements are what you make of them, and the recommendation is to understand what you want, how you want it to look and what it takes to build them. 

If you don't have the tools, don't feel pressured to go out and buy your own if you will only use them once or twice. Ask your neighbors or check in with your hardware store for tool rental options. The daily cost is going to be far less than a purchase price, and if you are forward thinking, it gives you a chance to try something out before buying it.

Cheap DIY home improvements will not only bring added value and practical solutions to your home space but are an opportunity to create something yourself and add pride into your home ownership. Partner with your spouse and kids like we do and make it a family project. It may not be Disneyland, but it will be a fun experience everyone will remember and take pride in.

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