Have a wish list a mile long and limited funds? Here are five household projects to stretch your dollar
1. Get a Handle on Things: Replacing dated hardware on dressers, vanities, and kitchen cabinets can go a long way toward an all-over update. Think tinted glass doorknobs, sleek metal drawer pulls, and cool copper cabinet door handles. Specialty shops, such as Bird Decorative Hardware and Bath, will have the widest variety while Lowe’s and Target offer classic, budget-friendly alternatives. Feeling bold? Check out Anthropologie for a colorful selection of glass and ceramic knobs and pulls.
2. Wow! Your Walls: How hard could it be to build character? The answer: it’s a snap with prefabricated wainscoting, available in a range of widths at most home improvement stores. They’re inexpensive at $10 for a three-foot section and come with easy-install instructions. Do the same with crown molding, which is often sold as part of a DIY kit for under $120 for a standard-size room.
3. Square Off: Speaking of blah to beautiful, tile projects are tailor-made for roll-up-your-sleeves homeowners seeking high-impact improvements. Bathroom floors and kitchen backsplashes are prime retiling real estate, with materials starting as low as $3 per square foot (DIY experts recommend ordering 10-15 percent more than you need so they’ll be handy for future repairs). First, check out a video tutorial online (try finehomebuilding.com, thisoldhouse.com, or reputable home improvement stores’ websites). Then thumb through design magazines (Charleston Home is always a good place to start!) to find your look, and bring favorites to a local vendor (try Tile and Stone Design Studio downtown) to weigh cost and options.
4. Put Order in the House: The very best budget-friendly route to a better look? Overhaul your rooms by ushering space-hogging odds and ends into a freshly organized closet or small room. Invest in a prefab storage unit like the John Louis Home wooden shelving system ($264.99) available at Target (this would look great painted a high-sheen orange or black) or use your cash to consult a professional organization consultant. Even better: start the process with a yard sale to pad those cash reserves.
5. Find the Right Light: Better light = better look. Get rid of dated or generic overheads that cast shadowy, fluorescent glows in favor of a coveted (and quality) decorative chandelier or fixture. (How to find an affordable one? Local vendors like Candelabra and Carolina Lanterns have regular sales, or browse an antique mall for a deal.) Install accent lighting along built-in bookshelves to put the spotlight on focal pieces, like large family photos or favorite collections. Use table and floor lamps for ambient lighting (Charleston Lamp Company has a wide selection), using high-quality, compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Lowcountry bargain hunters, listen up: Diggerslist.com, an online classifieds outfit specializing in construction and home improvement materials, launched earlier this month in Charleston on the heels of 30 other cities nationwide. Billing itself as a CraigsList for DIYers, the site lists everything from reclaimed wood to countertops, hand tools to appliances, at a fraction of the cost of traditional sources. It also connects homeowners with local craftsmen and service providers, and works with the Charleston Habitat for Humanity ReStore to help them list items at a discount and use that money to fund charitable work. Visit the site at www.diggerslist.com.