If you've been putting off updating or sprucing up your home because of the high cost of home improvements, today's readers are sure to inspire you to do those projects yourself -- for less!
My husband and I wanted a hardwood floor, but the estimate of more than $3,000 (which worked out to more than $7 per square foot) was out of our budget. We decided to try 4-by-8-foot sheets of veneer plywood at less than $45 a sheet, or about $1.40 per square foot. We installed the plywood and sealed it with 2 gallons of polyurethane. The floor is beautiful and cost about $675 total. -- Jenn
*Shower Curtain Rescue
In a house full of boys who don't know their own strength, I frequently find the shower curtain torn away from the hooks. To fix this, I use clear packaging tape to cover the hole, punch a new hole, replace the shower ring and it's good as new. Double the tape and it lasts twice as long. -- Maureena
*Vertical Blind Renew
Do not throw away your old, faded cloth vertical blinds. I didn't want to pay for new ones, so I painted them with the same off-white paint I was using in another part of the house. Any color latex paint will work. Just allow a couple of days for them to dry. I discovered that with the extra weight of the paint, they hang more beautifully than ever. -- Dottie
*Outlet Cover Re-Do
We recently painted the inside of our house a lighter color. Suddenly, the almond-color light switch and outlet covers stuck out with their darker color. Instead of replacing all of the outlet plugs and light switches with white ones, we made a cardboard template to go around the plugs and switches and sprayed them white with an epoxy spray paint (must be epoxy to adhere to plastic). We bought it from our local hardware store and chose a nice white color. This saved an enormous amount of time and money, and it looks really great. -- Steve
We bought an older house that had old, outdated Formica countertops in the bathroom and kitchen. Instead of replacing it, we very successfully painted it. We used a product called Kilz to prime the Formica. Then we used the color paint we wanted, semi-gloss, and added two or three thick layers of crystal-clear top coat, like Krylon's, to seal it and protect it from water. For over a year now, it has held up against the toughest of tests, two little boys. It looks beautiful -- and all for under $100. -- Katherine
Mary Hunt's column, "Everyday Cheapskate," can be found at creators.com.