8 Economical Updates for
by Nikki Willhite
When you buy an older home that has not been updated, it can seem
financially overwhelming to make it look less dated. You may
have plans for the future, but while you wait, living with things
that are very outdated can bother you.
Here are 8 ideas for quick fixes that can make the wait less
difficult. You may also decide that you are content with the
results of these budget fixups, and not feel the need to spend
the money to make the more expensive upgrades.
Various pictures of these projects can be found at:
Pictures for Updates
1. Update the floor moldings by painting them the same color as
If you are lucky enough to have large moldings, you can paint
them white, or refinish the wood. However, if you have plain
moldings that just look dated, just paint them the
same color as the walls. They will visually "fade" away.
Hint: If you are very careful, and place masking tape down on the
carpet in front of the moldings, and push the tape firmly into
the carpet, you do not have to remove the moldings to paint them.
2. Paint dark paneling.
Painting paneling is as simple as applying a layer or two of
primer, and then choosing a paint color. Do not skimp on the
primer for a good paint job. Your room will seem lighter and
3. Paint or tile over unattractive fireplace brick.
Painting your fireplace is the quickest and most economical fix
for old brick. One step further up is to cover the brick with
tile. To cover brick with tile, first you must first make the
surface as smooth as possible by adding filler on top of the
brick to smooth it flat (Consult your hardware store for the
best kind of material for this job).
Then it is just a matter or placing the tiles on top. In the
picture ,the tiles are granite. As you can see from the
picture, the mantel has yet to be upgraded.
4. Replace Vertical Blinds
Vertical blinds do nothing to soften a home. They give a hard
edge, commercial feeling to a home. Current drapery treatments
are soft and informal, and the panels are not expensive and often
go on sale for half price at department stores.
You can buy curtain rods at IKEA for a reasonable price. If you
have a large expanse of window, you will find the rods at IKEA
run large, (approx 150 inches) and if you still need more length,
just buy 2 of them and attach them together.
5. Paint your kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
Paint your cabinets a fresh, crisp white. For your kitchen, take
a few panels to a glass shop, and have them cut out the wood
inside a few panels and place in glass inserts. Even the worse
cabinets will be easier on the eyes:
6. Update the hardware and faucets on your bathroom cabinets.
The picture shows a bathroom where the cabinet was painted, but
the countertop, although old, was left untouched. The updated
drawer pulls and new faucet make a significant different. When,
and if, the bathroom is ever remodeled, the same faucet can be
used on the new cabinet, and the drawer pulls can either be
reused or recycled elsewhere.
7. Paint dated fixtures, like light boxes or florescent kitchen
Until you have the money to replace bathroom light boxes, or dated
kitchen lights, paint them. Your eye will not be drawn to them,
and they will not be as noticeable.
When you do decide to remove a light box, if you don't want to
patch the wall, be sure you buy a light fixture that has a large
enough footprint at the back of it to cover any holes left in the
wall from the wires used by the light box.
8. Open up the space
Last, but not least, if you have small rooms, think about opening
up visual space by removing walls. If you just take out the
top part of a wall, you won't have to deal with changing the
flooring in any way.
You may need a handyman if you are dealing with a load bearing
wall, but there will be very little expense as far as materials.
Open floor plans are very popular. Your home will seem larger,
and lighter, as more light will bounce around in the room from
While these changes may not be as nice as having your rooms
totally remodeled, you can always make big changes when, and if
you can afford them. In the meantime, you can enjoy a casual
cottage style feeling in your home.
Nikki Willhite, mother of three, and an
Interior Design Graduate, is the editor of The Pennypincher E- zine and Tightwad Tidbits Daily. Visit her at