Feeling Bored? Have A Space That Needs A Makeover? Here Are 4 Ways To Save Money While Getting The Look You Want

Every day for the past four years, I have gone into my master bathroom and thought, “this needs an update.”  My husband has constantly said, “the way the old owner of the house designed this bathroom looks like a nursing home.”  Here’s the problem, the space is small, and we thought that to do what we wanted to do meant spending tens of thousands of dollars.  Instead, it required research, vision, and a couple of weekends dedicated to the mission on our part.

Ok, I’ll admit it.  The home design shows suck me in.  They’re addictive and I can’t stop watching the makeovers, turning rooms that look like their expiration date has passed into modern-day miracles in little to no time.  What they usually don’t address is the budget or the labor, and when they do, the materials are primarily what they show the cost of.  In fact, on at least two shows I recently watched, in order to better understand what they were doing, I had to watch the credits in slow motion to learn about the products used.  Instead, I learned that “the cost of labor did not factor into this project as it was given in exchange for participation in this show.”

With this, my dream of a master bathroom renovation began to take shape.  My goal: to find a reasonable vendor to do the construction we needed at a fair cost, without the extended markup on many items, including everything from tile to lighting.  As I looked for ideas on how to save money, I found a MrOwl Home Improvement branch that proved to be really helpful:  https://www.mrowl.com/user/connor/diyhomeimprove.  What I learned is that if I were to do the shopping and purchase the larger ticket items myself, I could do the renovation at less than half the price.  Yes, less than half!  A great tip that made it far more realistic for me to turn my bathroom makeover into a reality.

My first stop was to scour online and find the “look” I wanted.  In my case, I had an idea for a concept “spa meets beach” and because it is a smaller, narrow space, I decided we needed to do this in bright, light tones with a lot of white to open up the space.  After reading about the experiences of others, I realized that I needed to do two things: make a budget and find a reputable contractor to do the work at a reasonable price.  Once I accomplished these two feats, I set off to find what I liked best, to bring my vision to life. 

Throughout my remodeling journey, I found several things that helped the most.  Without a doubt, my contractor and my friends became my opinion givers.  That’s when I began using MrOwl for this project, as my lifeline of personal and shared ideas, decorating “how to’s” and a way to collaborate with everyone from designers to decorators to simply others with similar experiences.  One of my favorite decorating branches on MrOwl, where I got a lot of ideas for a multitude of projects is https://www.mrowl.com/user/michaelimarler/home_decorating.

By doing my homework, creating ideas first, and picking pieces from multiple projects I loved, I found ways to save time and money while getting top advice at no cost.  This became my decorating heaven.

In the process, I discovered four secrets to getting the look I wanted, while saving money in the process.  And I’m sharing them with you!  Here are my top tips to saving money – and stress – on a budget-friendly renovation.

First, shop around. Take advantage of free designer consultations in local stores.

When you go for the consultation, take pictures of ideas you have.  In my case, I put them all on a MrOwl branch so I could keep them all in one place and call out what I liked or wanted to emulate.  The branch was searchable and always with me whenever I needed to reference or share anything which was helpful.  I found bathrooms that I loved, regardless of their size, and made that “look” my own.  By skipping the designer and using the free services, I not only saved money, but I also got some great decorating ideas.  When a person would suggest something I loved, but it was too pricey, I would tell them I had to think about it, take a picture, add it to my branch, and thank them for their help.

Shop online whenever possible with free shipping and decorating or business discounts.

I found the vanity I wanted and the size, for example, in a cabinet store.  It was cost-prohibitive.  Then I went online.  I found another vanity, with the marble slab and sinks, on Wayfair, for less than half of the cost.  Bingo!  The vanity I wanted was suddenly affordable, with the look I wanted and with free delivery!  Life couldn’t get any better!

Pick one statement piece and work around it.

The best advice I got from the designers was to pick one “statement” piece or aspect to the bathroom and work around it.  In my case, it was the double mirrors.  I had seen something and loved it in a store that was no longer in business, but I had that picture.   Suddenly in about 30 minutes of Googling the product 20 different ways, and using the MrOwl Chrome Extension to save my research on my branch, I figured out who the vendor was and was able to order the mirrors another way.  I did pay shipping, but the bathroom was being done around it, so it was well worth the cost.

Save where it counts most.
In my foray into designing my renovation, I learned to save where it wouldn’t show.  Kind of like pairing a designer outfit with a tank from Target.  Nobody can tell and nobody knows, but you can save money at the same time.  In my case, that came in the form of ceramic tile.  After searching through the designer tile showrooms (where tile I loved started at a minimum of $60.00 per square foot), I looked online, in Home Depot and in Lowe’s.  Guess what?  I found floor tile that looks exactly the same but was priced at under $2.00 per square foot.  That’s right!  Nobody will ever know except me and my checkbook!

In all honesty, another great idea that came from a Decorating on a Budget branch was to add interesting patterns with accent tiles to help save money:  https://www.mrowl.com/user/mollieb/decoratingonab.  It only takes a small quantity to make a big design difference that can save you a lot of money.  I found a tile superstore and paid more for the accent tile (it was a very small quantity) I needed to make my look work, but even then, it wasn’t more than $15.00 per square foot.  In other words, I found a way to make my expensive look happen on a proverbial beer budget.  And it worked!

If you’re like me, getting caught up in all the new designs, renovation shows, or even in spring cleaning, my advice is simple, start with a vision.  And to make that vision come true, do your research, put in the effort rather than leaving it just to the experts, and you may just save enough for a vacation as well!