St. Croix Valley Designers Give DIY Tips for Budget-Friendly Home Makeovers

Incorporate items from nature, like faux beetles, feathers and antlers, among your own stacks of books or picture frames.

If your decorating habits are anything like mine, you have hundreds of paint samples in kitchen drawers for paint projects you’ve been intending to do forever; you might have well-worn living room curtains that you’ve been meaning to replace, but just haven’t gotten around to it. And you’re a little daunted, dismayed to not be a professional decorator. Thanks to two professional area interior designers, we’ve put together helpful home makeover tips that are also budget-friendly—for folks just like you and me.

According to interior designer Lynn Woodruff-Peterson of Lynn Peterson Design, “Our homes, when designed well, can uplift our daily living spirit. They are our space of respite, joy and love. Let those important spaces speak to you about the change or the lift they could use to make your dwelling one that you are proud to live in.”

When you’re making over your home, Woodruff-Peterson recommends thinking about what gives you the most trouble. Sometimes transformation involves just the smallest change, especially when working on a budget. Does that old brass dining room light fixture make your brow furrow every time you look at it? Do the dated lamps in your bedroom give you an unhappy feeling every time you walk into the room? Woodruff-Peterson suggests buying a new light fixture or investing in new lamp shades to give the space a boost the next time you walk into the room.

When starting with a room transformation, Woodruff-Peterson’s first tip is to remember that whatever project you want to take on doesn’t need to be completed in a day, nor should it necessarily be. A makeover project should bring you joy and excitement. Updating your surroundings should be a fun and enjoyable activity to bring you renewed calm, contentment and serenity.

“Take your dislikes, and make a list of what you want to transform, then list them in order of priority,” she says. “This will help you tackle the changes in smaller projects, and will feel a lot less overwhelming and keep you from getting stuck or doing nothing, which is what we all know is the worst thing.”

Tami Holsten of Bear Trap Design has been designing since 2002. She concedes that some of the most popular rooms to remodel tend to be the most expensive. Bathrooms and kitchens are always the most expensive rooms to redo, as they can involve plumbing, lighting or flooring renovations. If you’re looking for a change in one of these spaces, consider small upgrades that can make a big impact and give the room a fresh look and feel. Replacing hardware on doors or cabinets, changing light fixtures, painting walls or adding wallpaper are relatively simple upgrades to give either the kitchen or bath a facelift.

Woodruff-Peterson suggests clearing off the bathroom vanity and starting over with a new accessories set—a toothbrush holder, soap dispenser, tumbler or wastebasket from an affordable store, for example. Then add an element of your own, perhaps something unexpected, like a piece of driftwood to add interest and texture.

As for the kitchen, you don’t have to install new granite counters or invest in all-new stainless steel appliances. If you have a bare wall, consider installing shelving and a new set of lovely aquamarine dishes to give the room a pop of color. Order a steel rack for hanging pots and pans to display your cookware in the kitchen, at the same time freeing up cupboard real estate. Consider investing in a new set of dish towels or ordering decorative vinyl wall wording to bring the space together and give it personal flair.

Peterson says one of the best things you can do is to repurpose your unwanted household items. Let it go if you are not in love with it anymore. What seems well-worn and used for you might spark someone else’s interest. Have a swap with friends and gain a new painting, lamp or chair that your friend might be more than happy to give away.

The best times to tackle makeover projects, says Woodruff-Peterson, are fall and spring. These are popular seasons to make changes to your home, as they are natural transitions to a new chapter in our lives. Summers tend to be hectic, and winter abounds with holiday activity.

All seasons, however, are ideal for brainstorming ways to transform your home. Nature is a wonderful source of inspiration and a beautiful way to bring the outdoors inside. For example, Woodruff-Peterson says a fun and inexpensive décor solution for any room in the house might be as simple as finding a handful of smooth rocks near a stream or lake and buying an attractive vase or glass jar to display them in.

Holsten says she gets inspiration everywhere and anywhere. “Sometimes it’s totally unexpected,” she says. “I could be on a bike ride somewhere and look over and see an old barn and say, ‘I could use that old barn wood and put it on this wall and put sconces on it.’ Keep an open mind. Be aware of things you like.”

Finally, use designers, contractors or associates as resources. Very often they will be more than willing to give advice. Or pay a designer by the hour just to get some fabulous and inspiring ideas. Remember: It’s what they love to do.

Keep It Local
Recommendations for affordable resources in the St. Croix Valley.

The Lived in Room // Stillwater
From gently used vanities to loveseats, dressers, armoires and mirrors or throw pillows, the Lived in Room provides like-new items at a discounted cost.

Manomin Resawn Timbers // Hugo
Lynn Woodruff-Peterson recently designed a table made from used barn wood: “It can be used in different ways and brings into your space the coolest smell.”

Warners’ Stellian // Multiple locations
This company offers great savings on quality appliances during sales, usually in the fall and in spring, to prepare for the next year’s model.

Kowalski’s // Oak Park Heights
Grab some succulents or other plants in decorative urns, and place them on your kitchen countertops for a fresh nature vibe.

All are low-cost resources to give you what you’re looking for or sometimes inspire you with a treasure that’s even better than what you originally had in mind.

Found items can make interesting focal points, such as a sleigh-turned-pot rack or a primitive-style rocking chair paired with a gilded frame.