New Column: Makeover On a Budget

makeover on a budget

This week we're starting a new column here called "Makeover on a Budget" which I'm super excited to share! We recently purchased a 70's built townhouse which is in dire need of some upgrading. It's a typical townhouse of it's era with wood- siding, two floors, surrounded by a few evergreens and a nicely sized fenced-in patio. We love the neighborhood, and although it's a fixer upper, the place has good bones and we can see it's potential. Most of the place needs a complete overhaul as it was sorely neglected and in some cases terribly, so I thought it would be fun to share the process, as we attack room by room in hopes of a better place.

As the kitchen and living room are pretty much a right off, we have moved our living quarters temporarily upstairs into the bedrooms and will slowly work our way down. As we don't have tons to spend on this makeover, the process will be slow at times, but thankfully Earl is super-amazing at fixing things as well as loves (yes, loves) reading manuals and how-to books (unlike myself). We are planning to do everything ourselves, except for of course any scary electrical issue we'll have to deal with, along with the odd plumbing situation.

A little background before we get started. We moved in at the beginning of the month, and are living in one room upstairs. This room is the master bedroom, where we've set up sleeping, eating, living and working quarters. I know, a little crazy, but like I said, this is a "makeover on a budget" and since we don't have the luxury of renting a different place while we do this, we'll just have to make it work. The initial plan was to have one of the smaller bedrooms for the kitchen and the master bedroom as the sleep/work/living quarters, however it turned out that the bedroom we were going to use as a temporary kitchen room was terribly dirty, so we are currently painting this room first (now primed) so we can set that up shortly (hopefully with style). We plan on using a slow-cooker, microwave, toaster oven (all previously owned by us) for cooking tools, and I purchased a single burner heating coil for $20. We also purchased a dorm fridge. As the sinks here are clogged and way too dirty for washing dishes, we will be carrying water in with a basin for dish duty. Basically we'll be camping indoors.


The master bedroom as you can see had it's original sculpted 70's green carpet still which we pulled out before we moved in and now have placed a temporary laminate floor in there (scraps from our previous apartment) until we finish the walls and decide on a permanent flooring. We needed something more than just the bare wood for now (due to the residue from a 40 year old carpet). The ceiling in this room (which you can't see in this picture) is 16 feet high, so the room seems alot larger than this image shows, . We are drawing on a few images collected for inspiration:


I like the idea of a simple bedroom with not too much clutter around to confuse thoughts and disrupt a restful environment. This image from Boligliv magazine of a room at the Hotel du Nord in Bornholm, Denmark is an inspiration to start things off, with it's symmetry and basic palette. I've always loved blacks, browns and whites together. (Image of room found via Emma's blogg). I can see everything here could probably be purchased at Ikea, making this a pretty reasonable choice. We may not get the bed right away (in fact I know so) - but it will be the inspiration to start, and we'll see where it takes us.

This is such a plush cosy-comfy-looking room (another I found via Emma's Blogg) but which looks a little more expensive than the one above. The grey-white-tan palette also appeals to me, emitting a restful saturday morning appeal. I've never thought of actually buying carpet, but looking at this room, makes me almost want to go there. I doubt we'll take this route, however we may draw some inspiration from it.

Because of our climate here in the Pacific Northwest coast (lots of rain and darker days), I am drawing inspiration from the Scandinavians (hence my visit to Emma's blogg), with a plan to have lighter walls and ceilings, so they will give the illusion of light, and will brighten up the bleakest of rainy days (there are many here come winter). So the thought is to go with white flooring, where we'll paint when we can, and lay laminate and tile for the rooms/stairs where we can't.

So we hope you'll follow us in this adventure, where we hope to successfully do a "makeover on a budget" and where too, you'll feel free to make suggestions, give advice or share similar stories in the comments area.

Jan Halvarson


Crystalyn Kae said...

oh exciting! I look forward to updates on your makeover on a budget. we just purchased a townhouse in seattle, ourselves. .and I look forward to seeing all the great things you come up with to keep the bright lightness in your home! good luck!

MiA said...

For a budget makeover I think IKEA furniture works great for the basics. With some secondhand pieces added, and maybe a few more expensive designer items to set the personal touch the result could be awesome :)

Greetings from Sweden.

Wolfie and the Sneak said...

I'm so excited for you (and for me. . .I get to follow it!). Good luck!

Susan said...

I can't wait to see you transform this place - and on a budget. Thanks for so many great before pics!

My name's Haley said...

Oh my gosh I'm so uber excited to see this process! I can't wait to see how you make it your own. I think this is a dream of a lot of your DIY readers including myself. This should make for some glorious blogging.

Fiona Cartolina said...

So exciting - can't wait to watch it all come together jan. We have wood floors in our house but we put a wool sisal in the bedroom and I love it(it feels cozy on your feet in the morning) Good luck and congrats.

September's Bliss said...

Congratulations for your blog, so amazing !

kickpleat said...

Wow, I'm so excited to see the progress of this! Total transformation potential, indeed. Good luck!

seesaw designs said...

exciting! makeovers are my favorite. congrats on the new home purchase.

laura@makemerry said...

This is so timely for me - my husband and I will be starting something similar next year. Can't wait to see your posts!

saskia said...

congratulations on your new home! I know exactly what this sort of thing entails as I am doing the same with an old home in vancouver. Check out my blog about it at

hopefully you will find it usefull, or at least you will be able to commiserate!

Good Luck

rossa said...

we are just at the tail end of our 15 month reno, all did by us on the island (even scary electrical work, checked by an electrician friend). we didn't know a think about reno and construction and learned everything online from youtube to DIY manuals. we lived with my family meanwhile and even had a baby in the middle of it. so you can do it!! i wanted to say that i too was very inspired by Scandinavian interiors and stained our floors white. there was no flooring but we layed unfinished wood floors (this type of floor can be a bargain) and i stained it with "BONA" brand white. tons of work but little cash outlay for million dollar floors. they look beyond amazing. we did 1000sf for just under 4000 (wood floor, nails, stain, finish).i know tons of people use it but laminate will never give you a high end look on a budget. i'm a big fan of emmas blog too and there is no laminate in sight!! good luck!!