Saving money is hard. Saving money is even harder when you live close to Home Goods, Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel and West Elm. Of all the things I like to blow our money on, it's clothes and stuff for the house. When we found the house we wanted to buy, we realized that suddenly we had to buckle down and put every extra penny in our savings account. Then we realized that, even though we do need some furniture for the new house, the big purchases are going to have to wait so we can focus our efforts on renovating/updating the house. We have been painstakingly number crunching the last few weeks to see just how much we can spend per month on renovations. I'm fairly positive Steven will be sick of looking at budgets by the time we close.
On top of figuring out how much money we can spend, we've spent a lot of time thinking about how much we can save. Renovations are expensive. Saving any bit is good, because that means that extra goes in the "West Elm has a new product line, omgI'msoexcited" fund. So, the purpose of today's blog is to talk about different ways that we've found to do this.
Blog-o-Sphering to Find DIY Solutions
The "Blog-o-Sphere" (my favorite, stupid term) is full of house renovations/DIY/Arts and Crafts blogs. After spending two weeks slodging through a ton of them, I've narrowed my reading down to a few select, really good blogs. It's not to say there aren't more great ones out there (and in fact I left a few off the list), but the ones mentioned below have a very thrifty but very chic attitude that's perfect for a future home renovator.
Bloggers Sherry and John, at Young House Love, have a ton of excellent tips on how to DIY a lot of renovations. They're so awesome at DIYing and writing how-tos, their full-time job is now blogging about renovating their house. Which, I have to say I'm particularly grateful for because I can't get enough. Their "projects" section is full of goodies that are relevant to most people who buy "fixer-uppers" and it has everything from "How to check if your furniture has lead paint" to building a patio to money saving tips. It's a great resource.
Design*Sponge has an excellent interior design DIY. They're where I found the how-to for creating my pimp fake capiz-shell chandelier.
The Art of Doing Stuff is one of my other favorites. Karen, the blogger, is an intensely funny writer and makes even the most mundane task (like cleaning out a grill trap) seem fun. She has a ton of practical blogs about fixing things around the house that would result in costly repairs if done by a professional.
House Tweaking is a good resource for some really cool DIY projects (Dana's sliding barn door will be in my house probably within a month of moving in) and she's currently moving her family to a cheaper house to downsize so she can quit her current job and go into interior design full-time.
When talking about materials, I have three current favorite choices: Second Chance, The Loading Dock and Craigslist. While the first two are Baltimore specific resources, most cities have reclamation warehouses now. The Green movement has been very good to us cheap renovators.
Second Chance is four gigantic warehouses stuffed with reclamation items. They have literally everything you could ever need to put in your house and tons of stuff in between.
They have a lot of beautiful architectural elements from torn down buildings all over the country
..and then they have things like this
But they have tons of hardware, windows, doors, sinks, bathtubs, lighting fixtures and furniture in another warehouse
This is me trying to be cute.
And here's a view of just one corner of one of their gigantic warehouses.
All-in-all, it's scavenger's heaven. I've already found about 50 things on my list of things to buy for the house and the best part is the longer it's there, the cheaper it gets!
The loading dock is just one warehouse, and there aren't as many interesting architectural element, such as the Tiger's Blood shower door and stained glass windows, but it does have interior and exterior doors for $5 and plenty of slate roof tile, bathroom tile, linoleum, carpet, hardwood, etc to renovate an entire house on a limited budget. They even have discounted paint! On top of this, they do bi-weekly classes on things like plumbing, drywalling and gardening for the less hardcore DIYers (we're doing Plumbing 101 tomorrow, in fact).
Then there's Craigslist. Craigslist is the best online source for cheap furniture and random things you might need for a DIY project/renovation. I'm not sure I really need to break this one down. It's a free classified page used by millions of users, everything can be found on there and the Craigslist Killer is a rare result of the website. That's about it!
If I can figure out how to write it without sounding all materialistic and furniture mad, I'll write a post on the best strategies for getting deals at furniture stores.