Sunday shout out: What tips and advice can you share with other readers who want to continue their projects during these economic times? Projects to prioritize… ways to economize… DIY or save for the pro’s?…(fill in the blank)…how are you keeping your projects moving along?

  1. atomicbowler says:

    Well, You all know I’ll suggest doing it yourself, of course.
    Most of this stuff is not rocket surgery!
    Growing up it was always a badge of defeat when Dad had to give up and actually call a plumber or something.
    There was always a book to look at (now the internet), someone to call, or a way to figure it out…all true for all of us today.

    Let’s say you are below the need for an actual contractor or specialized tradesman, right? Some are very very good, some not so good at all. You may be worried that you will screw it up…just think…you can screw it up TWICE for the cost of having someone else screw it up FOR you!

    Recycled building materials stores are wonderful places and there is a real sense of pride in installing something you bought inexpensively and lovingly cleaned/stripped/painted/restored/whatevered.
    If you have a partner you will swell with pride a bit inside every time they tell a visitor who asks or admires that YOU did it, etc…and so will your partner.

    Measure twice, cut once. Don’t force it unless you are sure you need to and can clearly identify why. Strive to do a professional job. Research. If in doubt, seek advice. Most of all, have fun saving money!

    Thrift stores are great for decorating, too, right? So is E-Bay. If you are not into digging thru junk or staring at the computer for hours, there are lots of fine small merchants who are online and have already done the scutwork for you.

    Laura and I had our first date to a Goodwill, and our second to the local ReStore (Reclaimed Building Materials).

    One last note, for the person overlaying the laminate. Take your 1/4-sheet palm sander or your 5″ random orbit sander and go over the surface you want to adhere to THOROUGHLY with 80 grit. You shouldn’t start digging holes thru it, but you shouldn’t see any shiny spots either. The scratches are what gives grip to your contact cement. After sanding wipe totally free of dust with solvent alcohol or Tolulene so the scratches aren’t filled up already. Don’t use Lacquer thinner or Acetone, it will melt your scratches shut. Please do not ask how I know this…


  2. Glamorlux Nancy says:

    Atomicbowler – I’ve thought the same thing exactly… Why should I pay someone to mess something up, when I can mess it up myself for free -ha, ha! Experience is important, but a lot of contractors I’ve dealt with cut corners, but still want to get paid top dollar! Most of the time, you are going to do a neater, more “exacting” job than someone you hire, who just wants to finish the job, and move onto the next one… which is afterall how they make their living.

  3. Femme1 says:

    Great advice, everyone. Being a junk store junkie myself, I agree with being patient and haunting your local thrift shops, used furniture shops, and ReStores. I’ve been finding cool stuff since the 70s when I was renovating a 1890s log house in the wilds of West Virginia. At first I did things on the cheap because of necessity, and now, even though we’re more “comfortable,” my husband and I still can’t stand to NOT do it ourselves. Let’s just say we’re extremely frugal. And I do get such pleasure from finding good stuff for cheap. It’s that old hunter/gatherer instinct.

    Luckily, I’m married to a handy guy who works in the construction industry. And I’m a seamstress and have reupholstered my own furniture and made all my own draperies. I feel fortunate that I’ve always had the wherewithal to just jump in and try something, even though I might not necessarily be skilled at it (like doing an undersea mosaic on my bathroom wall, which came out great). However, the one thing I swore I would NEVER take on again is sanding and refinishing hardwood floors; I’ve done this in three different houses, and I’m just too old to do it again!

    I’d put in a word for barter, too. I’ve traded all sort of things and my own skills for labor and goods. I’ve given sewing lessons in exchange for artwork and done wedding alterations for bi-monthly house cleaning. Craigslist has a barter section and you can join Freestyle.

    Also, if there are things you can’t do yourself, right now there are so many folks laid off in the building trades that you might be able to find some good people willing to take on small jobs. And you can do a lot of the prep work yourself and pay only for the skilled stuff you can’t do.

  4. Kristinski says:

    One word: PAINT! I’ve been retro-renovating on a budget from the beginning of my remodelling and the cheapest way to go is paint. I’ve (or more specifically, my dad) has painted almost everything in my kitchen. We painted the vinyl flooring that was there. It turned out really well and held up fine. When I got some money, I had Congoleum tile put down. I also painted my countertop. It was that fake butcher block stuff. I painted it a light grey and sponged on a shade darker for depth. I thought it would do til I got something better, but I really like it, so I’m keeping it. It takes some elbow grease and patience, but for $20-$50 you’ve got a floor or countertop or cabinets in the prefect vintage color. You can’t beat that!

    By the way, my father loves Wal-mart paint and it’s only $10 a gallon and they can match any color on that Sherwinn-Williams color pallette we all have.

  5. sumacsue says:

    Hey, Pam this topic definitely is a hit with your readers. Working on our homes is a fun and fulfilling undertaking. But even the most frugal renovator is affected by the economic situation. Prices are rising everywhere, even at the thrift stores.

    Tne thing that is free is time. My advice is to take your time, and not get into a hurry when it comes to renovating. Have some patience when looking for the accessories or materials you think you need. Not only will you maybe save some bucks, but, you might find that as you wait, you get some other ideas or solutions for your particular renovation challenge. Also, you might realize that you want to do the job correctly, rather than just rush in with a quick-fix solution.

    For instance, we really need tor replace the worn-out vinyl flooring in our kitchen and bathrooms. We’ve lived with this tattered stuff for a year and a half, and I can’t tell you how many Wednesdays have gone by with me saying, On Saturday, I am slapping down some stick-on vinyl squares right on top of that nasty flooring! Thank goodness, by Saturday, I have lost the urge. I think it’s because on Thursday or Friday, Pam usually has featured a great bathroom with beautiful tile floors, or a kitchen with some cool vintage linoleum. Those features get me back on track, and I vow to be patient and wait until we can afford to do the jobs right.

    1. beatrice jarrett says:

      The great thing about buying a usedkitchen component & then deciding later to use something else? You can always put the item you’re not using on craigslist & usually recover whatever you paid for it.

  6. Elvis says:

    Brenny, Pam and Glamorlux Nancy,

    We didn’t re-laminate over the old. I blush to confess we hired someone to redo the laminate countertops, due to our inexperience, time crunch and knowing a fabulous, reasonably-priced contractor. We used a simple, slightly variegated, medium-blue laminate, so it wasn’t too much color or pattern for the backsplash, and it’s only 6 1/2 inches high. I wanted the aqua boomerang but was out-voted (how does that happen?) by my husband.
    All the edging came from Lansing Linoleum here in Portland, OR, but I have seen it online. Our contractor had never installed the wide metal countertop edging and had issues with it (swore he’d never do it again!) but he’s a pro so we ended up with a really nice job.

  7. Glamorlux Nancy says:

    Elvis and Mid Mod Pam – I’ve installed pre-formed countertops (in our old house), but have never fabricated them… Online there are a lot of tutorials for making laminate countertops and backsplashes, but, of course, none deal with the metal banding! I’m nervous about this part. We will try it ourselves, but I’m sure there will be many tense moments (and choice words) trying to get it right. So, if I knew a contractor that had actually dealt with the banding before, I’d hire them in a heartbeat, too! =)

  8. lara says:

    Thanks for all the great pointers… We finally have a ReStore in our area and I am very excited to visit it regularly. I always try to do a project myself or ask friends/family for assistance before I would hire anyone. But I’m lucky, I have a carpenter/general handy man friend that does quality work at a reduced price. Also, friends and family are great resources. My grandparents have a household full of great furniture that has my name on it when they decide to get rid of it! For my birthday or christmas, they usually give me something from their house, rather than buying something new. That way it means more to me and they don’t have to spend any money (not that I expect anything, anyway!) Also, my friends are aware of my taste and they have surprised me with items they’ve found or were ready to toss. Recently, I acquired a pair of 50’s lamps… From a friend who loved them, but had no use for them! They are awesome, and now I am on the hunt for a matched pair of shades… I’m sure it will take some time, but I it will be worth it when I find the right pair. I would also like to add, that I have an entire household of projects underway. I know what I want for each room, but finding the items is always the hard part. And then one day, you find that last piece and the room is complete! That is, until you find something else you must have!

  9. Maureen says:

    We received lots of discouragement on the topic of putting new arborite on top of old arborite on our laundry sink vanity. As a result, we got the cabinet maker who made our bathroom vanity to make a new top (complete with new arborite) that sits on top of the former laundry sink vanity. It looks fabulous and it isn’t obvious to the naked eye that the vanity actually has 2 counter-tops (the original and the new counter-top).

  10. Anita says:

    Ok, I’m sure some of you are going to hate this but I have to say it…. I purchased a house in Merced last summer to fix up and have fun with, sell, rent I’m not sure yet. It’s a very non-descript 1980s 1400sf single story house. Appeared to have been rented for years. Kitchen cabinets cheap (very cheap) and painted ugly white, countertop a prefab fake butcher block style with multiple burns. (ok, here comes the part you won’t like… IKEA)
    Yes, I ended up at Ikea and purchased for an unbelievably low price a formica countertop in a steel gray color (the other side is white, they all are a ‘reversible’ style with 2 color choices) and it has a brushed metal (fake) edge on it. Considering it was less than $100 for a 96″ countertop it is a heck of a deal and looks quite nice. We installed it ourselves (first time) and it was really easy. They have it in about 5 or 6 more styles of formica . I also purchased a 48″ size of the same thing for the master bath (I think it was $59) and it is quite retro-fun also.

    1. Mid Mod Pam says:

      Anita, no apologies required! I don’t have anything against Ikea at all! I don’t write about it, because I live in the boonies and the closest one is probably 4 hours away. I am sure there is plenty of stuff there that would be great for our homes. Hmmm. I will add this to my list to research at some point. I am a bit overloaded right now. I have, like, 30 sets of reader home submissions/photos to sort through. Thanks for the tip on good priced countertops at Ikea!

    2. beatrice jarrett says:

      Hi Anita, Don’t apologize about IKEA! They have a lot of style for not a lot of bucks. I found a 1950’s style drainboard sink ( in stainless steel) for $200.00 at IKEA. I ultimately went with a used white porcelain sink I found at Habitat for Humanity, but had decided to use the IKEA sink until I just happened to run across the one at H for H.

  11. bethjt says:

    I have noticed a lot of local (Houston) suppliers taking advantage of Craig’s list and Ebay to sell fixtures. There are lighting fixtures, counter tops, plumbing fixtures, etc. available as well as all kinds of services. You must be a careful buyer (no refunds) but it can really pay!

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