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Skip the Reno: Working with What You Have

By: Liz Harrell
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Skip the Reno: Working with What You Have

By: Liz Harrell
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In an era of “tear it all down and start from scratch” home renovation culture, those of us who don’t relish ripping everything down to the studs (or even something as simple as painting) are left shrugging our shoulders. What about those of us who haven’t won the lottery? What about those of us who are tired and want to binge-watch Netflix instead of vacuuming up sawdust?

Here are just a few ideas for changing your home without breaking down walls or missing important after-work couch time.

Easy Flooring

The world of peel and stick flooring has exploded in recent years, with all kinds of options for those of us who are renovation shy. Current brands like Wallpops have beautiful floor tile patterns to choose from, but it’s important to read the application instructions and follow them to the letter of the law. I once made the mistake of not properly cleaning a tile floor before application, and these will not adhere well if steps are skipped. The nice thing about this option? You can easily transform a crusty old floor in one afternoon.

Paint, Just a Little

One of my pet peeves is when I hear someone on a home improvement show say, “It’s just paint, that’s an easy fix.” Apparently, they’ve never tried juggling dogs, jobs, toddlers and a too-full house while trying to wield a paintbrush. There are easier ways to change your home with paint that don’t involve whole room transformations. Painting an accent wall in a dining room is always a sure-fire way to create a new mood. Taking down a dated light fixture and spray painting it is a quick easy fix. Instead of repainting an entire kitchen, consider painting just the bottom cabinets a colorful shade, like this royal blue. Painting can, sometimes, be an easy fix.

Learn to Love Retro

My first home was a midcentury ranch with a Mamie Pink tiled bathroom. These bathrooms were once the “it” décor choice, named after Mamie Eisenhower’s favorite color. That little pink bathroom was my favorite part of the whole house, and I was so sad to realize that the couple who purchased the home from me tore it out. They ripped out every pink tile and replaced it with boring cheap choices. I still get a little misty when I think about it. I submit a proposal to all of those lucky enough to possess retro tiled bathrooms: just love them. Instead of ripping it out, run with it. Embrace their midcentury charm, hang up a starburst clock, buy some matching candy-colored towels, search for some historically accurate wallpaper. Save history and skip the renovation.

Skip the Paint, Accessorize Instead 

Sometimes we don’t have to paint at all in order to create a new mood or design. I’ve personally chosen this option with my current house. I initially pledged to repaint every single wall. Their macadamia-nut beige shade was not to my liking. But as I began moving in colorful rugs and furniture, I found that the beige faded into the background and was a much more warm, cheerful color than I previously thought. Bright and colorful rugs, painted furniture, art, and curtains are sometimes the key to transforming a room, and any time I can skip wielding a paintbrush, I will.

Who Needs Open Floor Plans?

Open floor plans rule the world, but there are ways to recreate their open-airy aspects without ripping out walls. The best way to harness the charm of open floorplans is simple: bring in the light. Open your windows. Skip heavy curtains. Roll your blinds all the way up. Natural light is an instant room enlarger. Mirrors are also a room’s best friend when it comes to adding some extra space. Place a mirror across the room from an open window, add a lamp, and you’ll find your room feeling fresher and lighter.

Not everything has to be brand new. And sometimes when we look on our homes with fresh eyes, we can discover creative options that don’t involve removing walls or buying spackle. I believe that we can create beautiful homes without bringing in a backhoe or emptying their savings accounts. Sometimes you can find happy, easy, affordable solutions and skip the renovation.

Meet the author

A little about Liz Harrell

Elizabeth Harrell is an author, freelance writer, and lives in Conway. Her book, My (not so) Storybook Life, was published in 2011. Her blog projects and articles have been featured in At Home Arkansas, Apartment Therapy, Better Homes and Gardens, Design Sponge, and here on Only in Arkansas. Visit her at https://elizabeth-harrell.com

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