Home Improvement: Structural vs. Cosmetic Improvements

Improvements or additions to your home come under two headings; structural and cosmetic. What is the difference?

Structural Changes

As the name might imply, structural changes include changes that are done to the deep structure of the house. This includes a new roof, electrical wiring or plumbing, and work on the foundations. If you decide to tear out a wall, that will be structural because it affects the internal structure. Consultation with a building professional should be sought to ensure there is no loss of strength to the rest of the house. You will also need to know if there is electrical wiring or plumbing behind the plaster. Damaging things unnecessarily is foolish and can lead to cost blowouts.

Structural work is often done to bring a dwelling up to local building standards. It could be that the flooring is not stable, or vermin have chewed through the wiring. The roof could leak and cause damage, so structural improvements are necessary. The trouble is, although it is necessary, it doesnít add that much to the actual look of the place, so if you are upgrading to resell it is not a money-spinner like cosmetic renovations often are. The buyer has a right to expect that structural conditions of the house are adequate and up to code, therefore you cannot offer that feature as a selling point to any great extent.

When planning structural work, you need to factor in the weather equation. You donít want to have the roof off in the blizzard season. If snow or wet weather is imminent, donít plan on reconstructing the flooring or pouring concrete.

Cosmetic Changes

Cosmetic changes, on the other hand, are what affects the look of the place and gives the property a wow factor. They include fresh paint or wall-paper, new carpet and window fittings, light-fitting and faucet replacements, light alterations such as new kitchen cupboards and landscaping. In general, they donít cost quite as much as structural changes, yet they add a great deal of value to the property. This is because they can be seen, and everyone wants the chance to rent or own a house that looks great.

One of the best ways to add perceived value to your property is with cosmetic changes. Often you can do them yourself, thus cutting costs even further. You donít usually need any permits or permission to do cosmetic changes. They can be done without regard to the weather in most cases, though painting requires a certain temperature range to be effective. Cosmetic changes will modernize your house and give it a good resale value, or just allow you to enjoy it more.

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Easy DIY Projects That Will Make a BIG Difference in How Your Decor Looks

Easy DIY Home Improvements ANYONE Can Do

You don’t have to spend big bucks and haul in the experts for all home improvements. Some of the easiest are not only the cheapest but also the most eye-catching. One of these is to simply rejuvenate your front porch area. Re-paint the front door and trim, get a new doormat and add a fancy flowerpot, complete with flowers. Two may look even better, then you can have one on each side of the door or steps. If you have a handrail, paint that too, but don’t forget to do the right preparation that is required and use the right paint, e.g. metal or wood.

Kitchen Cupboard Doors

The kitchen is probably the most used room in most homes, so it will wear out more quickly. You could easily give the cupboard doors a new coat of paint and new knobs. When replacing knobs, line up the screw holes or you’ll have to drill new ones, then cover and paint the old holes. But it might be just as easy to replace the doors altogether. Make sure the new ones match up with your color scheme or go with the rich look natural wood. All you’ll need to do is screw in about four screws per door. Quicker than painting!

Floor Covering

Floor covering is another easy home improvement. Take out the ratty carpet and install new, or polish those old floorboards up and toss some new scatter rugs around instead. New carpet or linoleum are other options. Some like seagrass matting, but it can be hard to clean if you have toddlers.

The Bathroom

The bathroom is a small room that can benefit from some easy home improvements. Add a full-length mirror to give the appearance of more room. Changing the knobs on the cupboards will make a dramatic difference. An area of mirror tiles above the hand basin could be great. Or how about a line of fancy wallpaper along the top of the walls?

Painting and Wallpapering

Painting is probably the most popular improvement that homeowners do. It’s quick, easy and has a great wow factor.  Wallpapering is popular too, though it’s a bit more difficult, especially if you are working alone. But what about putting up shelves and changing light fixtures? Not sure how? Learning to use hand tools or simple power tools is not hard. If you would like to do more home improvements but lack the confidence to use tools, take a course or get someone to show you, then practice using them in places that are more unobtrusive like the laundry or a garden shed.

In short, you don’t have to spend much money to do some simple DIY projects that will make a world difference in how your home looks!


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How to Hire a Home Decorator on a Budget

So many of us would love to be financially free enough to not only redecorate our homes on whim and spend whatever we want, but also to hire a professional decorator. The reality for most of us is, though, that we have limited financial resources. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get some professional decorating help, if we are savvy about it.

Ask Questions in a Home Decorating Store

There are many interior design stores with professional designers who are just waiting for a customer to pop in with their decorating questions. Take a look around the store and find something that you’d like to use.

When assistance arrives, make sure to ask all the questions that you have in mind before making a purchase (if any). Remember that designers, like real estate agents, get paid on commission. So don’t go for all of their suggestions or you may end up paying a higher price than you planned for.

Browse and Ask Questions on Interior Design Websites and Internet Forums

Another way to get insight from a professional designer at a low price is to pop by an interior design website that offers advice and will answer to your questions. There are many of these sites out there with forms you can fill out with your decorating plans, measurements, and perhaps some photos, to which designers will reply with their suggestions for your decor.

Save By Doing the Easy Jobs Yourself

You can also save some money on your remodeling by tackling jobs yourself. Is there a duvet that you need to buy or get custom made? If you sew it yourself, you’ll be saving money that you could be investing in an interior designer in exchange for valuable tips. You can also do tile work, demo, or save cash by designing your own accessories or pillow covers.

Try to hire a decorator that charges per hour instead of per project (and make sure they have good reviews!). With just a few hours of their time they can give you several ideas and resources that you can later employ on your own or with the help of other professionals.

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Finding New Home Decor Ideas

If you have undertaken a few home decor remodeling jobs in the past, you may think your creativity tank is running a bit dry of new ideas. They say that everything changes, nothing stays the same. That’s certainly true of home decorating trends. But the good news is, there are countless places that you can look to get new decorating ideas!

Magazines and Catalogs

Next time you’re in a waiting room, pick up a magazine. Both catalogs and magazines are filled with home decor ideas that are just waiting to be applied. They offer fully decorated rooms, decor styles, furniture, accessories, and feasible layouts.

If you’d like to try a more classic decor style, subscribe to Pottery Barn. If you want to go for a more modern look, an IKEA catalog would give you tons of ideas.

Magazines and catalogs feature not only individual furniture and accessories, but also the concept of a room as a whole with the use of those elements.

Dropping By Furniture and Home Stores

You can also get a glimpse of decor elements in action by visiting a furniture store or walking by a window display. Home decor stores will always have the latest trends in home decor, so if you’re looking for something new, this is definitely the way to go.

Browsing the Internet

Of course, the Internet is another excellent resource of home decor information, and you can sit in your favorite easy chair with your laptop and a cup of coffee as you browse through any of thousands of choices of online stores and magazines. Here you’ll find free tips on home decor, do’s and don’ts, blogs, and articles. Many websites even feature step-by-step articles on DIY home decor, which are a good source of information if you are looking to save some money.

Decorating your home is an exciting, rewarding process. With just a little research and your own unique visions, you can get the house that you’ve always wanted – without ever moving! While home decoration requires work and effort, the results are often satisfying, and in many cases, life changing.


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Home Decor Styles: Unique / DIY

Are you ready to start a home decorating or re-decorating project, but you aren’t interested in getting what everybody else has? Well as you know, when it comes to decorating your home, there are many choices available.  It seems like there is a store selling home decor items on every corner.  But what if you are interested in more unique home decor items?  Fear not – there are many avenues available to find unique items for your home, you just need to know what those avenues are.

Do It Yourself Home Decor – And Do It On A Budget!



One choice for obtaining unique home decor items is to create them yourself.  This is an option for the more adventurous at heart and individuals with a large amount of patience.  There are many home decoration items that can be created by the home owner with a small amount of instruction and a large amount of practice.  Almost anything can be created with a DIY project, but the most popular are blankets, rugs, wind chimes, and bird houses.

Finding instructions on how to create unique home decor items is easy.  Many craft stores carry kits that can be customized by color or fabric while adhering to a basic design.  The best thing about buying these kits is that if you encounter a problem or have a question, you will be able to call a help line number provided with the instructions for the kit.

Other options include finding the directions for a particular project on the internet.  These directions are quite comprehensive and provide step by step instructions on how to manufacture your personal project.  Whether purchasing from a store that carries unique home decor items or crafting them yourself, you are certain to have a great item that will be a conversation piece for many years to come.

Finding Unique Home Decor Items

If purchasing your home decor items at a national chain store where all of your neighbors have frequented does not appeal to you, try using some less conventional shopping options to find unique home decorating items.  One of these lesser known options is to try a local store that sells handmade crafts. Many of these items are the personal work of an individual artist and the items will only be available at that one particular store.

The items sold could be ceramic figurines, hand woven baskets, or unique blankets, throws, and rugs.  There is no predicting what you will find when searching one of these locally owned stores and the prices are comparable to most items found at national chain stores. To be even more sure that your decorations are unique from what your neighbors have, go to out-of-town locally owned stores.

Another option for finding unique decor items is to frequent arts and crafts shows, usually held in the summer.  These art shows bring together up and coming artists from all over the state.  The larger art shows include artist from all areas of the country.  These shows display unique works of arts and crafts created by individual artists that reflect their personal visions.

Because many of the pieces displayed at art shows are hand crafted, there will be only one or two of the items in existence in the entire world.  These items also have a free-ness of form and structure not found in items offered in stores, as these pieces were never designed to appeal to the masses.  The prices for these items may be more expensive than purchasing from a store, due to the uniqueness of the product and the amount of time it took the artist to hand-craft the piece.


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Home Decorating Styles: Minimalist

For the minimalist home decorator, who generally is decorating a smaller space and wants to SAVE space in order to have MORE space, less is more.

This style of decor doesn’t incorporate many accents, accessories, or even furniture items. Colors are monochrome, simple, and in small quantities. It is based around the idea of white as a way to maximize space.

Minimalism generally manifests its decor style in modern, contemporary ways, even though it is possible to find minimalist designs that are retro and more outdated.

The minimalist style appeals to organization and order. But it does so in a more casual, relaxed way that is not present in the case of formal styles of home decor, for example.

This type of decor follows the principles of functional decorating, where a decorative piece is also a usable resource. The design highlight is placed in the building structure itself, and efforts are made to preserve a maximization of space in as open a layout as possible.

The common concept of colors in home decor do not apply to the minimalist style. Like a blank canvas, a minimalist room uses light and bright colors to increase the perception of space and establish a neutral palette for other elements of design.

While white is the color of choice, off-whites, teals, pale greens, and blues are other possible options that appeal to this type of home decor.

Minimalist furniture appeals to clean lines and geometric shapes, generally of dark colors to make full contrast of the brightly colored walls. In this way, light affects a minimalist room in a special way, increasing perception of its size and placing our attention on the functional furniture – the only decorative elements used in this style.

Just like furniture follows clean lines, smooth textures, and glossy materials, fabric from the minimalist style is also plain, with no prominent textures to distract the eye.


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Color and Texture: What Mood Do You Want to Set?

Color and texture are two of the critical aspects that you need to decide upon when thinking about how to re-decorate a room. Because they encompass virtually the entire space, those two aspects alone can promote the “feel” of the room more than any other aspect, while the other aspects such as furniture, wall hangings and other accents are really secondary.

If you want to take the least expensive route possible to re-decorate, simply changing the color of the walls is a great way to start (especially if you do it yourself) because the color change can completely change the mood, if the color you choose is vastly different from the previous color.

For humans, color can be a mood-enhancer, so whatever the mood is that you want people to feel when they enter that space is the color (or color spectrum) that you should research and consider.

The color purple, for example, promotes a peaceful feeling and stimulates creativity. Green signifies harmony, peace, and nature, while yellow is related to youth, fun, creativity, and warmth. Red indicates passion and love, and blue reminds us of the ocean, tranquility, and security.

Selecting pleasing colors for your rooms doesn’t always mean selecting the ones you like. If you are after harmony, balance, peace, warmth, and tranquility, a color scheme with hues of greens, blues, whites, and tones of gold, yellow, or red is sure to do the trick. If you’re after an invigorating environment, choose colors such as orange, yellow, magenta, turquoise, and aqua to energize and brighten the atmosphere.

Texture is another critical aspect of home decor, as it gives a room complexity and detail while complementing the decor in a subtle way.

Texture is generally used to attract immediate attention to an area, especially if the colorscheme is restricted to just a few similar colors.

Fabrics are perhaps the best way, though not the only way, to incorporate texture into a room. Options can vary from linen or silk curtains for the windows to the type of carpet (or hardwood floors) that you lay, to the type of fabric that covers your couch and chairs. All of this plays into the mood that you set for the space that you want to decorate.


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Planning a Home Decor Project on a Budget

Budget Considerations in Home Decor

We all know that home decor can be expensive and labor intensive. Many of us can’t afford the time or money to upgrade a worn-out kitchen or an outdated living room.

To maximize the yield of your money, minimize efforts, and still get awesome results, follow these simple budget-decorating tips.

Save the big bucks for a quality piece of furniture. You can invest a fair amount of your budget in a signature piece that will be the focal point of a room, and that is also classic in style to stand the test of time.

Should You Select the Expensive Fabrics?

When using fabrics and other materials, be careful with the more expensive ones and eliminate any room for error. Double check measurements and buy only what you need. Use more affordable materials as much as you can to minimize costs, and take into consideration whether you have small children and/or pets. No matter how well-trained they are, accidents will still happen.

Select quality materials for decor components that you will rely on. Cutting back on quality when buying sofas, chairs, duvets, or slipcovers can be detrimental in the long run, forcing you to spend even more than you bargained for.

Consider Doing the Easier Labor Yourself

To cut costs, tackle easy home decor tasks such as painting and tiling yourself. By doing this, you will save money to invest on something else, such a signature piece or eye-catching artwork or another great piece of furniture.

But even if you’re on a budget, there are certain home-remodeling jobs that are better left to the professionals. Instead of spending your money on high-cost materials, spend the money on high-cost labor. That way you’ll end up with professional results and your home will be coordinated, paying off the investment in the long run.

Plan in Advance

Finally, to get the most out of your money, plan everything in advance and take the home decor process step by step. That way you won’t have to go back and change an element that is no longer suitable for your style.


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