Home renovation tends to take a backseat when you have young kids. Who can afford a $20,000 kitchen remodel when daycare costs more than your mortgage? Sure, a new bathroom would be nice, but college isn’t getting any cheaper and that 529 savings plan’s not filling itself. Financial tradeoffs must be made when you have a family and, more often than not, other expenses take priority over outdated countertops and a carpeted kitchen.
But for expensive as home renovation projects can run, there are ways to cut costs. That’s why we reached out to Jason Pickens, the Brooklyn-based bespoke furniture designer, former contractor, and host of HGTV’s See J. Work who knows how to tackle home improvement projects on a limited budget. Fatherly recently spoke with Pickens from his workshop in Florence, Alabama, to get his top tips for saving money on home renovation, redecorating, and repairs.
Pick a Project. Make a Budget. Stick to It.
It may sound like common sense, but picking one home renovation project and sticking to it is harder than you think. Homeowners often get excited ⏤ and overwhelmed ⏤ by the number of potential changes they can make to their space. And more often than not, they take on too many things at once and get sidetracked, making expensive changes in the middle of work. Pickens says spending more time in the planning stages will help you save a lot of time and money in the long run. He jokes that it’s common for people to be easily swayed by friends who come over mid-renovation and make suggestions about what you should be doing.
“The most important thing you can do is think about the project in the beginning,” Pickens says. “Choose the one thing that’s really important to you, that you want to spend money on, and do it. Then make a plan, stick to it, and stay on budget.”
“Being indecisive costs money,” says Pickens. “As does getting derailed on a project. It’s as simple as that.” The longer a builder or contractor has to wait for you to make up your mind about which cabinets, light fixtures, or countertops to order, the more money the project will cost you in the end. If you can plan ahead and make decisions quickly, says Pickens, they won’t have to build in so much padding to accommodate your indecisiveness.
Focus on Smaller Changes That Add Value
Rather than undertaking a budget-busting bathroom renovation while your toddler’s in the middle of potty training, Pickens suggests making smaller, less-expensive tweaks that both add value to the home and make an immediate impact. A few of the projects he recommends include adding a tile backsplash in the kitchen, swapping out kitchen and bathroom cabinet hardware, and replacing light fixtures ⏤ especially in the entryway.
“When you’re looking at a kitchen, consider changing the backsplash,” Pickens says. “It’s usually a small area but adding tile can transform the look of a kitchen and make it more elevated.” Not only that, he adds, it’s an easy two-day project that requires minimum skills and only a box or two of tiles.
“I also think people forget about changing hardware,” he adds, “Whether it’s doorknobs or cabinet knobs or fixtures in the bathroom, all of those things are modular pieces. You can buy good antique fixtures or antique knobs second hand at a yard or estate sale really cheaply and they add immediate value for almost nothing.”
While you’re at it, Pickens says, go through and upgrade your entire house to energy-saving light bulbs. “That’s just a good way to save money period.”
Pickens can’t stress enough how easy it is to save money by getting creative with your design choices. Whether is wrapping your kitchen island in leftover flooring, using reclaimed beadboard or a textured wall covering in lieu of…
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