How to Renovate Your Space on a Budget

Before becoming an Airbnb superhost and property manager, I loved decorating my own spaces. I enjoyed being able to change my living room, bedroom, or office spaces every 6 months or so in order to give my mind a refresh. In college, my major was Child Development and the department I was in was called Family and Consumer Sciences. In this department, I took classes such as Interior Design, Culinary Arts, and Textiles. I wondered at the time, the purpose of these classes, but then when I was in them I realized how fun and practical they were. I was able to design some hypothetical spaces such as my dream cabin, a future children’s hospital, and an orphanage. Of course, while designing those, I had no budget.  That meant I could design away without worry or restraint. Now, of course, managing properties for myself and other owners, I have to design and renovate spaces on a budget.  That is what this blog is for, to inspire others with some of my creative ways to redesign spaces without breaking the bank!

Decide on a theme and plan for that theme from start to finish.  

It is helpful to see a space and decide what type of theme or feel that you would like it to have. Are you seeking minimalist, clean lines? Modern or rustic? Is this your personal space or a rental and what is the desired function of this space? I ask myself these things and then narrow down the vision based on my answers. For example, when we bought our very first camper, it was an older model and hideous inside with old floral patterns on all the fabrics. The wall colors and cabinetry colors were white, bright, and neutral so I left those. I decided on a Shabby Chic theme and knew I wanted to keep the colors bright for accent decor and fabrics. The color pallet I chose was yellow, gray, and white with design themes such as arrows, chevron patterns, and varied textures. This came out beautifully and was a very successful Airbnb rental. Deciding and sticking to the theme for your space will keep you from purchasing items that are out of theme or not necessary. This helps the design stay consistent while keeping the purchases only to necessities.

Repurpose and upcycle what you already have 

Once you have your theme, it is important to assess the space and figure out how to repurpose what you already have. Can that antique dresser be used as a bookshelf instead by removing the drawers? Can those drawers then be used to hang on the wall and hold books or decor items? Is that old coffee table that has water marks on it able to be topped with a quality liner paper to continue to be used instead of buying a new one? I have redesigned spaces on a budget by salvaging a lamp with an awful lampshade just by updating the shade to match my theme and the same goes for recovering decorative pillows instead of purchasing all new pillows. Once you repurpose all that you can, then you can buy only what you need. It also never hurts to ask around to your family and friends for items. My in-laws were looking to downsize their Christmas decor and I had asked if they had anything I could use for Beary Viewtiful cabin? They were so happy to have items go somewhere to be put to good use and have their space decluttered while I was happy to have some extra Christmas decor! 

Use local marketplaces such as consignment, resale, thrift, second hand stores or Facebook Marketplace to shop for items.  

I have successfully found items such as lamps, runner rugs, end tables, and decor on Facebook Marketplace. My tips for using that platform are to find local items that are close to you for pick up. Spending a ton of time or money driving here and there to get items is not efficient. I try to find sellers in the same area that I live or where the properties I am designing are located. Then, I try to buy more items from one seller if they have multiple things for sale or from other sellers close to that seller. This really saves me time and energy when picking up items plus, some sellers offer discounts when buying more than one item from them. I also ensure to ask the seller if I can do porch pick up so that I do not have to arrive at a specific time but can give a time range instead. This allows me to strategize and map out my pick up plan to save time and gas.  

For hardware, cabinetry, plumbing items, or other renovation type items, I always check Habitat for Humanity Restores first. They have a lot of supplies for way less than major home improvement stores. For example, I was able to purchase a new, in the box toilet for my Farmhouse Tudor remodel for $60 instead of $120 and a vanity with sink for $125 instead of $350. I added a coat of paint to match my theme and done! Each savings helps and they do add up. For furniture, I love to go to local antique and thrift stores. If you are ever in the Nashville area, I highly recommend Thriftsmart. They have a great selection and discount tag colors and days for seniors and teachers. In the Franklin area, Graceworks is the place to go.  They have high quality items for amazing prices. The owners of the Farmhouse Tudor found an amazing genuine leather blue couch that matched the theme for only $300! Another great benefit of these locations is that they give back to the community. For example, Thriftsmart gives 100% of proceeds to local nonprofits. Graceworks uses funds to combat poverty, homelessness, and to provide food to those in the area. This means you can shop knowing you are also helping others.

Use coupons, ask for discounts and bundle deals!  

After I have obtained all I can from the thrift and resale stores, I then move on to the larger brand stores such as Bargain Hunt or Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby discontinued the 40% off one item coupon, but I still plan and go on the half off days for the items I know I may need.  The reason I choose their store is because they have so many themes and I can shop for multiple properties at one location, which again saves time and energy. For Bargain Hunt, I purchased a living room coffee table with an end table set and asked for a discount because one corner end was peeling off. I was easily able to glue that and received 15% off at the store. Win-win! I was also purchasing a rug, another table, and some lamps and was able to ask for a bundle discount on that since it was a larger furniture package. All they can do is say no, but they said yes so I received an additional 5% off.  

These are some of the ways that I have found tried and true for redesigning a space on a budget. You can do so much to a space with small changes but when you need to make larger purchases, following the above tips can save some money! Remember, that budgeting not only applies to physical dollar spending, but you should also budget for resources like your time, energy, and efforts. My goal is to redesign spaces thoughtfully and beautifully while being conscientious of monies spent and my time away from my family. I hope you love these ideas and that they help you redesign your home spaces or get into designing for others.  

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