Great Cheap Remodeling Ideas

by Jackie L. Gregston

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Are you in the market to remodel a room in your home? Been pining over those gorgeous specialty magazines at the checkout lane for kitchens and baths? Instead of paying an average of nine dollars per magazine, I found a much better way to get ideas. Best of all, you don't even have to leave home.

All it takes is an Internet connection and a mailing address. Patience helps. If you're like me, you're apt to change your mind a dozen times anyway, so it's best not to get in any hurry about decision-making.

Updating your circa-1970s kitchen? Jot down a list of the upgrades you'll be making or are interested in, such as flooring, appliances, and cabinetry. Now for the fun part. The old Yellow Pages ad said, "Let your fingers do the walking." That's what you're going to do, only using the Internet.

Search for each individual upgrade type you'll be making. A recent query for "kitchen cabinets" netted over 2.6 million sites! Of course, the more narrow the search, the better. If you already know you'll be buying oak cabinetry, type that in your search box.

Now start clicking on manufacturer websites, preferably the ones that you know are available in your area. You'll find a tab, usually at the top of their homepage, such as "Request Product Catalog." It may just say "Products" or "Catalog." Simply click and fill in your name and address. These companies will be more than happy to mail you their full-color catalogs, highlighting their array of products available. Best of all, they're free. Kraftmaid even offers a free 120-page, full-color idea book.

Take a look in the back of one of your home-oriented magazines you probably already have lying around. Oftentimes, there will be a free request card where you can select which companies you would like to send you more information. When my husband and I were planning on remodeling a bathroom, I submitted a free request card from the back of a home improvement magazine. I requested free catalogs and brochures from various suppliers and companies. Within a few weeks, I had a large stack of full-color, glossy catalogs mailed to my home.

Perusing the faucet catalogs while sitting on my porch swing, it occurred to me how brilliant I'd been. The last time my husband and I had remodeled, we went to the large home improvement store with three kids in tow. Flipping through their worn-out catalogs in search of the perfect faucet for my kitchen sink (while our little one kept running up and down the aisle making me nervous) was insane. The young salesman wasn't much help either. We both ended up so frustrated and confused that it's a wonder we got out of the store with a kitchen faucet at all.

"No, this time would be different," I thought, smilingly, as I sipped my iced tea. I could dog-ear, circle my choices, and walk to my bathroom and think about which finish I really wanted. Polished nickel or chrome?

I couldn't believe how easy it was. I had brands like Moen, Price Pfister and Delta's full line of products in gorgeous full-color photographs to help me make the best selection. The cabinetry catalogs were even more incredible. Double-page layouts of kitchens and baths were featured just like in the magazines to get a real idea of how each particular grain, color and style of wood cabinetry would look. They even have hardware selections. These are large catalogs. Merillat, for example, sent a book that had 79 pages of impressive photographs. The back pages are marked with individual pieces available and sizing so that you can measure and know which you will need.

The best part was once we were ready to buy, we already knew exactly what we wanted. I had model numbers, colors, and sizes with me when we headed to town. It made the entire ordering process a breeze. I saved myself a lot of time, and got exactly what I wanted. We even got smart and left the kids with a sitter! It's a win-win situation. The companies compete for our business through these marketing materials. Why not take advantage of them the next time you're in the market to remodel?

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