Project On A Penny: Home Improvement Ideas on a Budget Part II

Our refreshed project on a penny home improvement ideas on a budget series continues with more money and time saving remodeling suggestions.

Home Improvement Ideas on a Budget

6.  Make the decorative call to replace outdated window treatments or elect not to use window treatments at all.


There’s no substitute for the beauty of natural light, but privacy concerns may trump this option.  If going with window treatments consider blinds, shutters, shades, panels or valances.  These are all great and affordable choices.

102084034.jpg.rendition.largestBetter Homes and Gardens

Dressing up a window frame with pediments, decorative corbels and/or architectural balusters is another decorative option that will help to achieve a custom look.

102133025_wMidwest Living

7.  Shed New Light On The Situation


New lighting fixtures instantly turn on the wow factor.  Pendant lights will be hanging around and on-trend for awhile. A well placed lamp on the countertop quickly becomes a focal point of function.  Battery-operated under cabinet lights are my first choice of affordable accent lighting. These types of lights cast a lovely light at night- an all grown up night light.


Recessed lighting or can lights or downlight accent beautifully as well. Wall sconce lighting is a versatile choice for ambient lighting in foyers, kitchens and bathrooms.

wall-sconce-lightingCushman Design Group via Houzz

It’s all about the lighting!



Bonus Suggestion**


Fireplace built-ins come in as one of the top remodeling projects I love to tackle.  It is amazing what you can do with a gallon of paint, new cabinet hardware and a double roll(s) of gorgeous wallpaper.  If time and the budget allows, travertine or marble wall tile enters the picture. Painting the built-ins and the bricks is a step in the right direction, but conducting a tile cover up over the bricks produces a powerful result.  Budget friendly?  Perhaps not, but in terms of adding resale value to the property it can be a justified expense.  Picture lights (very affordable) mounted at the center point at the top of each unit creates a stunning library effect, and wallpapering the back wall of the unit or painting in a fabulous designer color brings forth the decorative oomph in updated fashion.



8.  Places In The Home #1 rule of kitchen redesign & remodels: Furr-down be gone!

Furr-Down: A box-out at the ceiling typically 12″ high and 14″ deep. Often used for AC ductwork. Kitchen cabinets are installed up to it creating a step effect. Also called a soffit or bulkhead.

Furr-down. Soffit. Bulkhead. Whatever you call it I call it ugly.  I am no fan of the furr-down in kitchen design, especially if it is strictly for decorative purposes. Removing an ornamental furr-down takes years off the life of an outdated kitchen. May I suggest adding decorative crown molding to the tops of  kitchen cabinets to up the decorative ante and give a finished look.

crown-molding (1)

9.  Update (modernize) switches, plugs and the plates that cover them


Small changes make safe and stylish improvements.


10.  In with the new countertops.  Or not.

In real estate it’s all about location, location, location.  In decorating it’s all about enhance, enhance, enhance.  If the existing countertops are free of stains, marks, scratches and the like, are workable with your color palette and are not overly antiquated, you may be in business. Countertops are the utilitarian workhorse of the indoor and outdoor kitchen, and as such should be crafted from quality materials coupled with a quality look.


If a quality, style and affordability tops the list, consider laminate countertops. Certain products experience an ebb and flow of popularity. Laminate countertops are back on the radar of kitchen design. Today’s laminate countertops offer a stylish and affordable solution. Manufacturers pay very close attention to the design and decor needs and wants of the buying and remodeling public, and the kitchen design industry has made huge strides in bringing to the retail marketplace affordable alternatives to expensive kitchen countertop materials.


Working with, enhancing and home improving upon what you have with home improvement ideas on a budget, affordable materials, design ingenuity and DIY vision does a remodeling budget good.

Project On A Penny: Home Improvement Ideas For Updating The Outdated Part I

This post is refreshed and ready for a reread.  Asking Dave the Builder not to bring his work home with him is like asking the man not to breathe. The man eats, drinks and lives the all things house that make a home life. Our how did your day go question and answer sessions somehow loop back around to remodeling, updating and home improvement ideas on a budget.  Who am I kidding?  Many of the conversations around Places In The Home center around remodeling, updating and home improvement ideas on a budget.  We speak fluent house & home and we do like change! Keeps things fresh and current.  We also like when remodeling, updating and remodeling projects leave a little change in our pocket.  Design on a dime is good, but project on a penny is even better!

home improvement ideas on a budget

Purchasing a new house doesn’t always mean purchasing a new house. Older properties appeal to a large portion of the buying market such as first time home buyers, downsizers, and the fixer upper-more bang for the buck inclined. Both our flipping and personal home owning portfolio has consisted of pre-owned homes in established neighborhoods flush with properties primed for remodeling.  It’s a fact of real estate and home owner life that not everyone can afford a total remodel of their new older home after purchase. A business associate shared with me her philosophy as to why so many occupied properties on the real estate channel are sparsely furnished. “Too much month at the end of the money.”  Hey, it happens to the best of home buyers.


When there’s too much remodel at the end of the dollar, and the budget is shy of taking things down to the bare walls, work with what you have. Good bones and budgets pair well together.

Stand back.

Take a design and decorative inventory.

Make a priority list.

Decide what one space or one part of the space is first in line for remodeling take off.  Let me share with you Dave the Builder’s short and to the point philosophy. Remodeling projects are like eating an apple- take it one bite at a time.  The info I want to share and suggest is making for a long post, so I will divide this into two posts.  Let’s look at 10 affordable, obvious, not so obvious and decorative ideas to enhance the spaces and places in the home on a budget.

outdated kitchen


1.  Function isn’t always stylish so dress it up!

Fluorescent lights offer reliable affordable lighting for main and task lighting in a kitchen.  That’s the good.  The bad?  Basic fluorescent lighting fixtures.  I’ve got a couple of solutions for this dilemma that are relatively simple and inexpensive.  Frame a plain fluorescent light with decorative crown molding.  Painting the crown molding in a favorite designer color is another way to introduce a custom look to the project. Another option is to take down the fluorescent light and replace its ceiling footprint with a decorative panel.



2.  Home on the Range


A new and improved range hood is both an investment and instant update that has the decorative power to draw the eye.  A contrasting finish can make a commanding focal point. Decorative embellishments such as corbels, onlays and appliques will give the range hood a custom look.

3.  Kitchen, Bathroom and Built-In Cabinets and the Techniques That Improve Them


Paint. Electing to paint kitchen cabinets, walls, ceilings, molding and even countertops will bring change with instant visual gratification. Select your colors, grab a brush, bucket, roller, pan, painters tape, a couple of drop clothes and proceed to color your world!

101899218.jpg.rendition.largestBetter Homes & Gardens

How about adding a glass-front insert to an existing cabinet door? DIY instructions here.  Once the cut out is complete, I prefer to take the doors to a local glass company. The pros measure, cut and install the glass, and the costs involved is surprisingly affordable.  Farmhouse is in, vintage is hot and chicken wire fronts will achieve that unique decor look. Instructions here.


4.  Hardware Schmardware


Replace cabinet drawer and door hardware for an instant update. Consider replacing the hinges for a totally refreshed look.  Clearance bins, Overstock, Amazon and ebay are excellent places to pick up super affordable cabinet hardware.


5.  Floors & More


Older properties sometimes surprise you with their quality design and decorative features, such as original hardwood or tile flooring. Unfortunately, older properties can also mean older color palettes where orange, yellow and avocado green reign 1970s supreme!


Here’s a few suggestions:

Replace the existing outdated flooring

Well, duh!  Who wouldn’t want to replace outdated flooring?  What we want, and what we can afford, don’t necessarily line up.  Don’t you hate that?  If new flooring is the area of priority, first search clearance bins, salvage stores, discount building supply warehouses, liquidators, online retailers and ebay for discounted deals.  If buying local, shop prices! Inquire about flooring goods left over from large jobs. Retailers will often sell these at great discounts. Dave the Builder wants me to share with you all a trade secret.  Shop flooring installation prices as well.  Negotiate the best price with the flooring retailer on the flooring and get a quote for the install.  Contact other independent and reputable installers in your area to see if you can negotiate a better price.

When Replacing Is A No-Go, Kick It Into Clean & Save Gear


One bucket, one bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid, cold water, a mop and good old fashioned elbow grease does an existing floor good.  In our flipping days there was many a time the budget left no room for new flooring.  I hired a professional floor refinisher to come in and clean the existing flooring.  He swore by the dynamic cleaning duo of Dawn dishwashing liquid and cold (yes, cold) water.

Cover It Up!


More times than not older properties come fully equipped with a case of the design and decorating uglies.  Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like a stylish home filled with stylish accessories.


A well placed  area rug covers a multitude of outdated sins.  Jute, sisal, seagrass and wool blends in natural palette choices colors inside the neutral lines.  A reliable non slip rug pad will aid in the fight against bust your butt syndrome.


A patch of sheet rock, framed piece of art or decorative architectural wall piece can cover yet more design sins of days past.  Unless your interior decorating style is retro chic, not that there’s anything wrong with that, conduct a cover up that only you and your work crew are privy to.

Project On A Penny: Home Improvement Ideas For Updating The Outdated Part II is on deck for tomorrow.

Design Your Dream Room with Tarkett

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tarkett NA for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I never shy from a good challenge.  The steps involved in the selection process of core home furnishings can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.  It’s time once again for a Places In The Home show and tell. The time has come for our guest room to make the transition to home office. The repurposed space will be a better fit in the scheme of things.  There’s not much to change in terms of design, but tastes and trends change many a mind. After great debate, I’ve decided the carpet is out and flooring is soon to be in. The issues of comfort, ease of maintenance and quiet factor into the flooring selection, especially in certain spaces of a home.

I have questions about flooring options just like everyone else does. I like to take advantage of pro tips and tools offered by manufactures of all things house that make a home products that assist in the selection process of home furnishings and home decor.  Seeing a product in actual working spaces is a plus in the process.  The Tarkett iSelect system, a design feature which groups Tarkett flooring options into 6 beautiful, easy-to-live-with color families, is an innovative design feature that allows the homeowner to coordinate flooring types, from room-to-room, throughout the entire house.

Introducing the iSelect® System from Tarkett North America on Vimeo.

iSelect  features Fiber Floor® and Luxury Floors from Tarkett. Fiber Floor® is a unique flooring option that stands up to real-life wear and tear in a warm, comfortable and it-looks-great kind of way. Tarkett Luxury Floors offer the ultimate in style, durability and versatility. Tarkett Luxury Floors are available in tiles with-or-without  grout, planks, adhered floors and floating floors.

Tarkett has organized a selection of FiberFloor products into six easy-to-shop palettes- Hushed Conversations, Fireside Chats, Warm Gatherings, Champagne Celebrations, Evening Reception and Earthy Connections. Each design complements the others within that palette.

 photo WarmGatherings_zpsdb05f015.jpg

The intriguing interior design feature of iSelect is that no matter which floor you choose, it will complement any other floor in the same palette making it easy to coordinate adjoining rooms. Flow is one of the most important factors to consider, and iSelect will answer those questions for you.

The next tool of use in the flooring selection process is TarkettNA’s online visualizer, RoomVūe. Visualize your room at RoomVue by designing a room using an image from Tarkett’s onsite photo gallery of room design inspiration or upload an image of your own room as I did.  A variety of viewing options puts the design control in your hands. Photos and information gathered can be saved in the “My Projects” tool on TarkettNA’s website, printed, emailed or saved to your computer for future ideabook reference. Tarkett also provides a chat feature where you can chat online with professional Designers regarding questions about room design, flooring options and product details.

 photo Champagne_Celebrations_zps0de51385.jpg

Are you in the decorative contemplation process, looking to update up a room in your home with new flooring in a design palette that suits your style?  Check out iSelect, RoomVūe, and the entire family of Tarkett Flooring. Tarkett Flooring has over 10,000 retailers across the country. Find a retailer close to you with Tarkett’s retail locater  Further the flooring inspiration experience by following Tarkett on Facebook, Tarkett on Pinterest, and Tarkett on Twitter.





Visit Sponsor's Site

Renew Home Decor With Leviton Renu

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Leviton Renu. All opinions are 100% mine.

Home decor revolves around the desire to create a look with style and function in mind.  When function meets style without compromise, decor synergy exists.  Small changes and “freshen ups” through color, accents and accessories breathe new life into your decor, maintains affordability and in most cases is instantly recognizable.


I have focused attention on both my bathroom remodel and the upcoming master bedroom and bathroom remodel.  Paint colors, wallcoverings, and fabrics set the look but accessories pull it together.  Traditional  switches, wall plates and dimmers have their place, but when decorative lagniappe-that little something extra would better suit the space and perfectly bring it all together, a choice is now available.


As seen on the DIY network, Leviton Renu is the way to update the look of a room in a snap. The Leviton Renu collection includes switches, wall plates and dimmers with faces you can update yourself whenever you’re ready for a new look.  Available in 20 popular paint colors picked out by decorating experts, Leviton Renu products can blend in or contrast with a room’s walls or trim.  Leviton Renu turns the electrical device into a decorative, easy to change accessory.

The Leviton Renu Collection includes:


Combination Switches

Wall Plates


Tamper Resistant Outlets

Tamper Resistant GFCI Outlets

QuickPort Connectors

The Leviton Renu color palette offers trend appropriate color choices for today’s traditional, modern and classic tastes.  Replacing the traditional electrical hardware in my bathroom with Renu switches, wall plates and dimmers in tranquil Sea Spray is the all important gorgeous pop of color needed to further accent the wall covering, wall tile and marble countertop.  Whispering Wheat is under consideration for the soon to be under construction master bathroom.

leviton Renu

A major decorative impact for minimum costs, attractive color choices and easy installation shed new light on any home decor situation. Please do visit Leviton on Facebook for more Renu information, ideas and inspiration.  When only the perfect color will do, Renu!

Love your style!



The Joy Is In The Home Furnishings and Home Decor Accessorizing

The color foundation is laid and now comes the fun part, home furnishings and home decor accessorizing.  The home decor marketplace is on its game with stylish options at every price point.  Manufacturers and retailers have done a great job of offering beautiful furnishings that can be easily found,  regardless if the interior design and decorating budget is on a shoestring or the sky’s the limit.

master bedroom moodboard

Our existing furniture archives will fill out the spots.  Dave’s favorite piece of furniture we own is an antique Walnut Scottish chest, and it will stand out against the wall color.  I have an 18″ X 30″ oil painting of a Victorian lady in storage that I can’t wait to retrieve and display.  The painting will complement the color scheme and furnishings beautifully.  There will be plenty of time and room to fill in when this part of the remodel comes to pass.  I am on a constant treasure hunt for a treasures that will look great. That’s the real fun of all of this!  The Gotta Have It list is growing!

Now for a little housekeeping and the disclosure portion of this post:

As it in life and disclosure policy compliance with FTC rules, honesty is the best policy. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of the product links I have an affiliate relationship with and make a purchase from the retailer, I receive a commission from the sale.  To read the disclosure policy in full (fun, fun) please read my disclosure policy.



glidden marshmallow whiteMarshmallow White from Glidden

dana landing by Mohawk

Mohawk  Dana Landing Series in Ice Plant ~ Price available through Mohawk retailers

Kravet acanthus

Kravet Acanthus Gilded Silver Drapery Hardware ~ Price available upon request

Duponi silk pewter

Dupioni Custom Silk Drapes in Pewter

schnadig compositions carleton arm chair

Schnadig Compositions Carleton Series

Emelia Cotton PillowEmelia Cotton Pillow

carly pillowCarly Pillow

Portfolio-Canvas-Decor-Girl-in-Dress-by-Bridges-Painting-Print-on-Wrapped-CanvasGirl in Dress by Bridges Painting

BestMasterFurniture-3-Drawer-Chest3 Drawer Chest by BestMasterFurniture


Marble-top Louis Philippe Chest

artisana table lamp

Artisana Half Corinthian Column Table Lamp 

cardoni gloss white table lamp

Uttermost Cardoni Gloss White Hand-Blown Glass Table Lamp


Antique Gold Rectangle Wall Mirror

Aubrey-Wall-ShelfAubrey Wall Shelf 

antique accent chair zebra upholsteryFrench Carved Wood & Zebra Cowhide Chair

Jennifer Adams gray throw pillow

 Inspired By Jennifer Adams Pillow

leopard gold throw pillow

Metallic Leopard Throw Pillow



Master Bedroom Remodel Ideas

We are on a remodeling roll here at Places In The Home.  Between the DIY projects, the oppressive heat that takes no prisoners, and the decorating tweaks over the last month we are in full-on “what can we do next?” mode.  The next project to eventually tackle is the master bedroom. Due to difficult circumstances beyond their control my parents now live with us and occupy the master bedroom. Dave the Builder and I insisted and would have it no other way.

A picture shows it all and here it is~the master bedroom  in all its pre-overhaul glory.  This photo was taken the day before the new carpet was installed last March.  The reason I am posting this photo is to demonstrate the space I will be working with when the next phase of the remodel commences.  What is not pictured is a very nice master bathroom, dressing area, and walk in closets the length of the sleeping area.  We are talking nice square footage to work with- 800 sq. ft. to be exact. I’m going big with the master bedroom remodel ideas.

master bedroom remodel ideas

I am forever working and tweaking the master bedroom accessory board, and may I just add I am in home furnishings heaven!  I’m not one to jump into the trend pool too quickly or strictly attach myself to one particular style.  If I have a signature style I guess it would be simply classic. Classic styling is the foundation I work from.  It is timeless and can be tweaked by adding current accessories.  The  all important  pop of color  is obtained through paint, wallcoverings, and/or window treatments.

But on second thought…

glidden marshmallow white

Gold & silver are consummate favorites of mine.  Empire Gold from Sherwin-Williams is a maybe contender in the wall color competition. Marshmallow white in all its neutral gorgeous goodness is the front.  I can’t help it- I’m a fan of carpet in a bedroom.  I  swooned when I found the Dana Landing series from Mohawk in the color Ice Plant.

dana landing by Mohawk

The other night we were watching a movie that I can’t remember the name of at this moment. It must not have made an impression.  The big scene with the male star of the movie came up.  I put down my magazine (when a movie doesn’t hold my interest I tend to multitask) and Dave noticed I was paying close attention.  He inquired when the movie was over if I liked it.  He mentioned he noticed the male star got my attention. No, it wasn’t the actor.  It was the crimson red dupioni silk drapes in the scene.  Talk about a scene stealer!

Love your style!

Cucina Construction: A Kitchen Remodeling Project

Oh my decorating & designing goodness, this kitchen remodeling project was a doozy!  Our home is my childhood home and I realize I’ve gone full circle in my house to home life.  Familiarity and fabulous memories from the past, the nail & hammer present, and the next generation future offers a comfort we can, and are, easily living with.  Design tweaks, adjustments, and repurposes have been met and mastered.

kitchen remodeling project

Eight foot ceilings I love to hate have been embraced, especially when the architect gave us his bid on raising these puppies two feet.  Heavy, and I mean h-e-a-v-y five figures later- that’s a big negatory!  Please excuse the fact that I can’t help myself with the homage to Convoy.  Casey Kasam’s Classic American Top 40 is on the radio. Between the before pictures and the tunes I’m swimming in the 70’s.

outdated kitchen

The kitchen is a multipurpose high traffic area of the home and ours is no different. When my parents built the house in 1965, the kitchen was a design marvel among the ranch house set. It underwent two decor remodels that simply did not stand up to the test of time or design. When we took our first real look at the kitchen as the present homeowners, we realized this space needed some space. To give you some idea of what we were working with, I am posting before and way,way before pictures of the space in question.

kitchen remodel

First order of demo was to take down the wall at the end of the first picture of me and my paternal grandparents.  Immediately after first demo we tore down the breakfast bar, broom closets, and cabinet built ins shown in the second picture of a dinner with family, our preacher, and his wife.  My thought process was to incorporate the formal dining room.  I’m all about removing walls to open up a space.  We are picture deficient of the demo process.  Just imagine dirt, dust, and chaos.


We  salvaged, saved and strategically placed existing cabinets in with purchased solid wood prefabricated cabinets.  We took the door and drawer fronts off both the old and new cabinets. Dave the Builder ordered 60 MDF cabinets doors and 29  MDF drawer fronts. Dave primed all with oil base KILZ interior oil stain block and primer from Lowe’s. The cabinetry color is a standard favorite of ours,  Sherwin-Williams Pure White. The wall color is Sherwin-Williams Anjou Pear. Counter tops were born by sheeting the new cabinet tops with 3/4 ” CDX plywood as the base.  I selected MS International 12″ square granite tiles for the counter tops.  For the backsplash we went with 12 X12 ceramic paired with 6″ copper half round rope metal molding wall tiles.


Slab granite was definitely a consideration, but the $$$ difference between the two is money we can spend elsewhere. Dave won the “discussion” of bull nose vs. wood trim for the counter top front edging.


We dressed up the upper cabinets, existing fluorescent light fixture, and ceiling molding with decorative molding from Home Depot.

sub zero refrigerator

The Sub-Zero refrigerator was moved from our previous home and repainted to match the new cabinets on site.  A casing was built to house the refrigerator to match the new cabinets.  There were several left over cabinet doors.  Dave repurposed the doors as side casing decoration, adding them to the refrigerator casing.

painted kitchen cabinets

We removed the original windows and installed Pella replacement windows from Lowe’s. I knew from the get- go I wanted 13″ X 13″ ceramic floors with the tiles laid diagonally, and I am thrilled with the result. I was adamant the original Baccarat crystal chandelier my mother selected forty years ago fit into the overall look.  The breakfast area chandelier is from Lamps Plus, and the pendant light from Home Depot.

decorative corbels

Amerockcabinet hardware was purchased on clearance from Lowe’s. Let’s build something and save money while doing it together, Lowe’s!  Both the corbels framing the window above the sink and the ceiling medallion were purchased from Wish I Had That.  And now, without further ado, may we present a preview picture of our new kitchen.



kitchen-B-WClick on the picture to begin the updated kitchen remodeling project tour

Remodels, Redos, And Renovations In Pictorial Preview

Remodels, redos, and renovations are the three R’s ruling the past two weeks at Casa de Places In The Home.  I’ve had a few things on the creative part of my brain (this could be trouble), and there’s no time like the present so here we go.   Let me share a in progress preview pictures with you.



and now we have…


Are we having fun yet?  You bet we are!  More details and pictures to come.  I have added the Our Home page with pictures of the spaces recently completed.

Love your style!


DIY Home Remodeling Projects: DIWhy Did I Think I Could Do This?

DIY home remodeling projects are here to stay.  Books, blogs, websites, and entire television networks are dedicated to the pursuit of teaching and sharing the inside scoop on how to face, tackle, complete, and master the DIY  home remodeling project.

Reluctant contemplators  may at first over think their qualifications and/or limitations. The bevy of information available helps to reinforce the I think I can into the I know I can project. One slip back into negative territory and here comes the over thinking it stage which leads to regression, which ultimately brings us to the solid ground of “suck it up (insert name here), let’s do this!”

DIY home remodeling projects

Perfect doesn’t always make for realistic instruction or television.  We are all fallible and make mistakes.  The professionals on DIY programs allow for, show and emphasize missteps, mishaps and mistakes.   How else would we, the captive audience, take the pressure of  perfection off ourselves and put the do it yourself in DIY.   Seasoned pros in the know are eager to share problem and time saving techniques. Dave the Builder is a sharing fountain of how to information.  People have asked over the years  how he came to be able do so much of everything? Vision, drive, desire, attitude, and financial creativity make you learn real fast how to jump in with both feet.

The more you do, the more proficient and comfortable you become with your level of expertise. Each remodel or new construction job can be described as controlled chaos.  It is true of professionals and DIY amateurs alike.   When it all comes together, and the light of the DIY day can be seen, you”ll know exactly why you do this.   One completed and beautiful project, one renewed sense of  confidence, two consonants and an apostrophe later you’ll  ask yourself the final question,  “DIWhy did I think I couldn’t do this?”

Love your style!