A limited budget make creativity and resourcefulness essential.
Take note of four key ideas from homeowners Joe and Kalli Rivers Altieri, and then apply them to your next budget-friendly makeover.
1. Combine mass-market items with splurges.
"We mixed Ikea and the Home Depot with more expensive purchases," Joe says. "More modest materials sometimes work better, like the five-ply bamboo floors from Harmony Grove Company. They're more durable and much cheaper than oak floors, which I would have had to treat myself."
The slate in their bathrooms and mudroom came from Santa Monica's Bourget Flagstone Company. "It cost a buck a square, and it's easy for an amateur to lay because it's intrinsically uneven."
Pictured here: Christmas lights in bamboo covers from Target
2. Look for clever ways to recycle.
Joe recommends saving materials from around the site. "I'm most proud of pulling the original rough-hewn Douglas fir siding off the house and carefully milling it for beams, doorjambs, trim, and all the baseboards. I also recycled scraps of beautiful black walnut from a previous job and used them for all the interior windowsills, and cedar from a shipping crate for the sliding bedroom and den doors," he says.
3. Maximize outdoor living space.
"Given the modest size of our house, we wanted a gardenscape that flowed in and around the property," Joe says. He created drainage on an almost flat lot by digging gravel-filled trenches.
He also built raised planters to organize succulents and tropicals into zones with distinct watering systems. "We picked one or two expensive plants, like our Japanese maple, and found cheaper young plants in place of mature expensive ones."
4. Know when to hire a pro.
"Don't stucco or drywall yourself -- someone else can do it better, cheaper, and faster!" Joe says.
"Getting help framing the addition was the best money we spent. I painted the outside of the house myself. An electrician buddy gave me a lesson on how to install plugs and can lights. And I hired a neighbor’s kid to help me shovel dirt."