HGTV stars share 7 tips to renovate your home on the cheap

Jeanie Ahn
Senior Producer/Reporter

Spring and summer seasons are the busy time for home buying and selling – and renovations. HGTV’s newest star couple, Erin and Ben Napier, urge homeowners to spruce up their home without springing for new things. “Good taste doesn’t have to cost a lot of money,” says Erin.

On their new show “Home Town” the couple focuses on restoring old historic homes in Laurel, Miss., on a reasonable budget.

Here are 7 of their favorite cost-effective tips:

#1 Use existing floors, if salvageable.

As a woodworker with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Ben respects the quality craftsmanship in the original details. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, he urges homeowners to resist ripping out the floors in favor of preserving hardwood. It can costs thousands less to refinish hardwood floors than it does to install carpet, Erin says.

But refinishing floors means it needs to be able to stand another round of sand, stain and seal. The best thing you can do to check if your floors are solid enough is to call a professional.

#2 With ceramic floors, a good cleaning might be all you need.

One of Erin’s favorite tricks to make any grimy surface shine: take a soap-dispensing dish brush and fill it with gel bathroom cleaner. The handle makes it easy to scrub off all the tough stains that have been lodged into the grout over the years.

If you’re looking to restore some damaged or missing tile pieces, the Napiers suggest a visit to your local recycling center or salvage yard to find parts you can use.

#3 If the cabinets are in good condition, try to keep them.

Always keep the cabinet bases intact if you can, but feel free to replace the doors. It costs about $25 each to buy custom-made cabinet doors to replace the ones you have, says Erin.

#4 If the bathroom/kitchen has porcelain fixtures, keep them. Clean and restore them.

Using Erin’s cleaning trick mentioned in tip #2, scrub off tough stains on fixtures with the soap-dispensing brush. For fixtures like old porcelain tubs, consider getting them restored by professionals. Wherever you live, call your nearest porcelain restoration company and get a quote to refinish your fixtures like a cast-iron tub. For a couple hundred dollars, your old stained tub could look like new in less than an hour.

#5 Make old windows more energy efficient

For older homes, energy efficiency is always a challenge. Replacing windows altogether can be costly, so consider reglazing them. Replacing the ropes and weights in old windows can help the windows close completely.

#6 Pressure-wash your home’s exterior

You might not even notice your house is dingy until you have it power-washed. Unless you’re able to dedicate your entire weekend to do it yourself, have a professional come through and do the job. Not only will your house look new, but the paint on your house will last a lot longer, too.

#7 Get your family members involved

With some sweat and creativity, these projects can all be accomplished within one weekend, even a day if you get some family and friends involved to help. Make it a social event and treat them to good food and refreshments as they’re helping with demos, hauling off debris, painting, or cleaning up the yard. And be generous with your time as well, offering to swing by on a weekend when you can return the favor.

For more of the couple’s restoration secrets, tune into HGTV every Tuesday night at 10 p.m.

Have any cost-effective tips to update your home? Share them with me, or in the comments below.

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