Dirt-Cheap DIY Home Improvements

Whether you’re planning to sell your Chicago home, or are simply seeing your space as a little outdated, structural and design improvements are an essential part of maintaining a home. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by thoughts of the time and cost demanded by a full-scale renovation. Fear not. “Micro renovations” are an effective option that won’t have you reaching too deep into your pockets.

First, keep this in mind when undergoing mini-renovations: simple is better. Especially if you’re doing the renovations yourself, you’ll want to avoid any major surgical procedures—try not to open any walls or get too crazy with the sledgehammer. Limit yourself to things like wall and window treatments, furniture and lighting.

No matter how many DIY improvements you’re planning, you should first set a definitive, overall budget. Consider which areas you’re willing to splurge on and which will receive more conservative treatment. Budgeting your micro renovations ahead of time will prevent you from spending more money than you actually have, and will force you to draw up a plausible renovation plan before you even start.

Before you spend even a cent, ask yourself this: How can you rearrange the furniture you already have so that it transforms your rooms? Sometimes home improvement is as simple as shifting your chairs and tables around, or moving furniture from one room to another. Swapping a chair from one room with a couch from another can shake things up just enough to add some eclectic flare.

Repainting the walls in one or more of your rooms can also result in a dramatic change. If your walls are mostly white, consider painting over them with a bold, fun color. Or breathe new energy into a tired space with a lively wallpaper print or wall decals.

Build around your strongest and biggest pieces of furniture. Take inspiration from the bed in your master room, the table in your dining room or the sofa in your living room, and go from there. If a room is in need of a “showpiece,” consider investing in a beautiful storage unit, like a credenza, that can be used in multiple ways.

Above all, be imaginative with your space. Don’t get bogged down by a room’s past history—your den, for example, might actually work better as an office or a playroom. You can define your piece of Chicago real estate from the inside-out–so think outside the box and you’ll be rewarded with a fresh, lively space.

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