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How to Renovate on a Budget, According to Sarah Gibson

With hundreds of design projects and three personal home renovations under her belt, Room for Tuesday blogger Sarah Gibson is no stranger to beautifying on a budget. Here are her tips for making your own reno affordable.

renovated white and pastel blue bathroom

Do the Math

The first step in any reno isn’t putting hammer to nail; it’s putting pen to paper. Determine exactly how much you’re willing to spend on your remodel. This number plus the cost of your home shouldn’t exceed what houses in your area are selling for. Be sure to add padding to the budget for hidden or unexpected costs. I’ve worked on enough projects to know there will always be at least one surprise. Water damage hurts less when you’ve budgeted for it.

Spend Wisely

There’s a common misconception that every dollar you put into a home is a good investment. Not so. Some improvements pay off more than others; remodeling the kitchen adds more value than putting in a pool, for example. Go for midrange products for “invisible” improvements—things behind closed doors, like plumbing, insulation, and water heaters. Save the high-range products for things you do see, like lighting and plumbing fixtures.

Think Thrifty

Whether you’re buying building materials, appliances, or decor, shop secondhand. (Used is just another word for “well loved,” after all.) I often visit my local stone supplier for remnant slabs, which are great for small projects like sink vanities. For appliances, shop at a scratch-and-dent warehouse or inquire about floor-model discounts from showroom retailers. I scored name-brand appliances from my local warehouse at half price! And remember: You can never go wrong with a vintage rug.

DIY or Buy

Labor will account for a large portion of your budget, so if you’re willing to learn, don’t be afraid to install tile or wallpaper yourself. Tackling projects can save you loads of money (and build self-confidence!). When you do have to hire a professional, choose someone with sparkling references and an impressive portfolio. Then talk to them—a lot. I always encourage over-communicating to make sure your vision is executed and your reno stays on track.

Follow Sarah on Instagram @roomfortuesday!

By Sarah Gibson | Photos courtesy of Sarah Gibson/Room for Tuesday

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