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Budget-friendly upgrades to spiff up your new home

January 24, 2020

By Camilla Cornell

If you’re a newly minted home owner, you’d probably like nothing more than to put your own stamp on your purchase. But chances are good there’s not much money in the coffers for redecorating. Linda Stewart, a design consultant and owner of Madison Lane Design in Barrie, Ontario, says by taking on a few inexpensive DIY projects, you can give your new home a whole new look.

Slap on a fresh coat.
“The least expensive thing that you can do is paint,” says Stewart. Trendy colours for this year include Benjamin Moore’s First Light (a slightly retro pinkish hue) and Behr’s Back to Nature (a soothing green). But Stewart leans toward a more neutral palette, including shades of warm grey and off-white. “If I’m working in [cottage country], everything’s white,” she says.

Give your kitchen a facelift.
Who doesn’t want a shiny new kitchen? Painting dated cabinets and adding funky new hardware is a quick and inexpensive fix. Stewart recommends using Benjamin Moore’s Advance Satin paint because it’s self-levelling and provides a satiny shine that resists fingerprints. “I did that in my house,” she says. “It had orangey oak cabinets and I chose a soft warm grey that looks almost white. It makes a huge difference.”

Subway tile for a backsplash can be had for as little as $1 per tile, she adds, and new countertops don’t have to break the bank, either. “You can get really nice laminate counters that almost look like stone,” she says. “And butcher block is back. That’s an inexpensive alternative.”

Bathroom makeover.
The same paint that revitalizes kitchen cupboards can be used to update your bathroom vanity. Add new drawer pulls and a funky mirror and you’ve got a whole new look. If the budget allows, replace the countertop with a piece of easy-to-maintain quartz for $250 or so. Or simply opt for a new vanity. “Ikea has some great floating vanities and they’re not expensive,” says Stewart. “And you can buy a scratch-and-dent vanity for a quarter of the cost.”

Light it up.
“Lighting changes everything,” says Stewart. “And you don’t have to spend a fortune.” When she’s catering to a limited budget, she hits the Big Box stores. “Pick a theme for your lighting — whether wrought iron, brushed metal or gold — and stick with it throughout your house,” she advises. “It makes the flow so much nicer.”

A little “lipstick.”
Cosmetic touches such as paintings, framed photos, area rugs and curtains contribute to a more finished look. And replacing damaged floors or ugly carpeting with vinyl plank wood flooring can be an easy fix. “It’s water-proof, kid-proof and pet-proof,” says Stewart. “Plus it looks nice and you can install it yourself — it just clicks together. That cuts down on your cost.”

Boost the curb appeal.
Painting the front door and the garage door boosts a home’s curb appeal instantly. Stewart leans toward timeless colours, such as black, navy or charcoal for the front door, but particularly when garages are “in your face” (as they tend to be in Barrie) she opts for colours that blend with the rest of the house. “You don’t want the garage to be the focal point,” she says.

The article was originally published on TheStar.com

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