Home Improvement the Frugal Way

The #1 rule of renovating and remodeling frugally: doing the work yourself.

Use your handy dandy carpenter's square to make a nice right angle.

Mr. FW uses his handy dandy carpenter’s square

Mr. Frugalwoods and I have discovered that most supplies and equipment are fairly inexpensive and can be used on multiple projects. Labor is where high costs come into play. For this reason, we tackle projects that are heavy on the labor and low on the skill. In other words, stuff that takes a long time to do but doesn’t require advanced technical knowledge. And, we’ve had to become somewhat fearless in our renovating–if we don’t know how to do something more technically advanced, we research it, and if we still don’t know how to do it, we just start trying. It usually works out fine and the places where we’ve made mistakes are not all that noticeable (though don’t be bringing a magnifying glass to our house!).

We operate on an 80/20 principle: if it looks 80% better, don’t worry about the other 20%.

Me prepping our gold closet doors for paint!

Me prepping our gold closet doors for paint!

Sure a professional would probably do it better, but trust me, you’ll appreciate a wall you paint yourself much more than a wall you pay someone to paint. When Mr. FW and I do projects ourselves, we tend to focus only on the positive outcomes because we know the sweat that went into it. The spots where I got a glob of paint underneath the staircase handrail are badges of honor, whereas if I’d paid someone thousands of dollars to paint it for me, I’d probably be furious that they dripped paint. We also enjoy DIY-ing together! It’s fun to learn new things and we feel a great sense of accomplishment with each project.

As part of living a frugal lifestyle, we spend a lot of time at home.

Some people ask us: if you’re so frugal, why do you spend any money at all on home beautifying projects? The answer is that we love our home and it’s something that brings value to our lives–the key for us is spending money purposefully and in meaningful ways that bring us fulfillment. Most of our dining, entertainment, and free time is spent at home. Our house is our restaurant, coffee shop, movie theatre, bar, salon (serves hounds and humans!), gym, and well, home. Since we’re home so much of the time, we want a place that’s peaceful, energizing, clean, and aesthetically pleasing.

We also save $ by employing Frugal Hound as our DIY expert

We also save $ by employing Frugal Hound as our DIY expert

We do projects that increase our home’s value.

This is debatable since taste and beauty are always in the eye of the buyer, but, we intentionally select styles/colors and projects that we think will appeal to potential buyers should we ever decide to sell our home. How do we know what buyers will like? Mr. FW and I go to open houses all the time. Like every weekend. In addition to being awesome free entertainment, open houses of recently renovated high-end homes in our region give us our best renovation ideas!

I hope you enjoy reading about how we’ve transformed spaces frugally. Please share your frugal DIY tips! I’d love to hear what you’re doing at your place.

Mr. FW builds window trim

Mr. FW builds window trim

The Frugalwoods Home Improvement Series:

7 Ways To Become a DIY Hero

How to: Cheap Homemade Seltzer With a Modified Sodastream

How to Refinish a Staircase for Under $50

Master Bedroom Makeover for Minimal Money

Refinishing Gold Mirrored Closet Doors

Master Bedroom Makeover: Frugal Finishing Touches

DIY Furniture Refinishing for Under $20

12 Ways to Get a Steal on Craigslist

How to Replace Exterior Window Trim

How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets: Part 1

How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets: Part 2

Refinish Kitchen Cabinets for less than $200

Refinish Kitchen Cabinets for under $200

So pleased with how it turned out!

So pleased with how the staircase turned out!

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9 Responses

  1. April 19, 2014

    […] thrifting opportunities in our ‘hood. We don’t grow food in our basement (yet), live in a hovel (anymore), or knit our own toilet paper (uh, never), and we live a lovely life in the middle of a […]

  2. April 20, 2014

    […] of our first Frugal House projects was updating our master bedroom. It was in sorry shape with bruised-peach walls and classy gold […]

  3. April 21, 2014

    […] would work, but it did and was a $4 fix to a pretty hideous problem, which makes this our cheapest frugal home improvement project yet! Plus, I like having full-length mirrors in the bedroom–useful for […]

  4. April 21, 2014

    […] tip: don’t rush out to buy a new tool or gadget for every DIY project. I often find I can re-use, re-purpose or […]

  5. April 22, 2014

    […] completing the biggies in the Frugal House master bedroom makeover: painting the walls, refinishing the gold mirrored closet doors, and […]

  6. May 3, 2014

    […] renovating a kitchen and you could get creative with colors. This is probably my favorite frugal home improvement. We went with white because we already have grey walls and a green backsplash and I didn’t […]

  7. May 3, 2014

    […] all about priorities and this fits in with the Frugalwoods 80/20 home improvement […]

  8. May 18, 2014

    […] knew we could put sweat equity into cosmetic features and have a great looking house. Since we were familiar with the area and had lived nearby […]

  9. June 9, 2014

    […] 80/20 principle. As Mrs. Frugalwoods espoused, we operate our home improvements according to this metric. If the end result looks 80% better, […]

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