Inexpensive Ways to Update a Room

I see my share of houses over the course of a year. One thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes when people build their house and live in it for many years, they never update much. For instance, our last house looked straight out of the 1980s when we purchased it. The first time I saw it, I felt like I was stepping back into my childhood. It was well-maintained, but just very outdated cosmetically. The previous owners built it themselves and probably (like most of us seem to think as we get older) felt like they just moved in yesterday. They never bothered to change much about the house. My husband and I vowed that we wouldn’t be one of those people when we built our current house. We decided that we would make a conscious effort to pick a few rooms each year and make small inexpensive updates.

I have no plans on selling my house anytime soon. We found plans online, bought them, and started building it with Horst & Sons over three years ago. The market was very different at that time and we were having a difficult time selling our last home. We were facing the real possibility of two mortgage payments, so ultimately, we had to scale some things back with the house. There are definitely a few rooms in my house that I’m not quite satisfied with. They look “builder grade” and pretty blah. We are currently saving our pennies for a basement remodel, so we can’t spend a ton of money on other areas of the house right now. We thought it would be easy and inexpensive to give our laundry room a makeover.

My laundry room pictured above is the essence of plain. It’s a large area, but very dull and lacks personality. The walls were flat off-white because it would have cost a fortune to pay the builder to paint each room a custom color. We also opted for vinyl flooring because even though tile wasn’t very expensive, it all added up and we had to make some cuts. We have been here for almost 3 years now and I never even bothered to hang anything on the walls. The light (which unfortunately you cannot see in the pics) was cheap-looking and installed by the builder. I didn’t care about this room when we moved in because at that point, I had bigger fish to fry. My washer and dryer were ugly and beat up. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my washer was being held together with neon green duct tape! The duct tape finally stopped doing it’s job a few years ago and we were forced to get a new washer and dryer. Now I just needed a laundry room as pretty as my washer and dryer!

My husband and I discussed what we wanted to do to give this room some personality. Here’s what we did on a budget to give this room some character:

  1. Paint- Paint is a very easy and inexpensive way to change a room. We decided on painting it with Behr Green Balsam with an eggshell finish. That way, when detergent splashes, I can wipe the wall easier. The color is a soft green and gives the room a warmer feel. I paid extra for the paint that guarantees that you only need one coat. Not having to paint a room twice is priceless if you ask me! $50
  2. Shelves/Storage– We purchased a plain white shelf and three EKET cubes from IKEA. Actually, we purchased four cubes, but IKEA neglected to put a sign up telling us that we needed to buy a suspension rail. We improvised (there may have been some four letter words involved) so we decided that 3 cubes were just fine. I also picked up 3 canvas bins from Target that fit in the cubes so that I could hide some of my laundry supplies. $130
  3. Decorative Items for the Shelf– The shelf above my washer and dryer is pretty high. I need a step stool to access it, so we decided that this space was best for items that we didn’t need to access much. I’m thrifty, so the first place I look for decorations is my own home. It’s amazing how many cool things you accumulate over the years. Two antique stained glass windows we bought on our first anniversary in Ocrakoke NC, (these were purchased 13 years ago and 2 houses later were still sitting in my basement because I just never had the right place for them), a vase with flowers that my aunt gifted me that were in my office and too pretty to be tucked away in there, and a glass ball planter that my sister-in-law gave to me a few years back. The plant in it died long ago because my kids kept knocking it over, so I did have to pick up a new plant for it. I also found a rustic looking “S” from Home Goods. $14
  4. A Plant– Wall planters add a nice touch and are popular right now. I had some wall space and didn’t know what to do with it. I ended up finding a metal watering can that had been made into a wall planter at Always Never Done and purchased a plant at Stauffers to put in it. The woman at Stauffers assured me that this plant can live just about anywhere. We will see. It has never lived with me yet. $40
  5. Updated Light Fixture– Changing out old light fixtures is an easy and inexpensive way to update a room. As I said, our light fixture was jus plain and ugly. We found a fairly inexpensive light at Lowe’s to replace the one that the builders had installed. I like this one because it has a little big of bling and sparkle which seems right since I’m the one that spends the most time in the laundry room. $100
  6. Flooring- We discussed the possibility of ripping up the vinyl floor and replacing it with tile. Ultimately, we decided that it wasn’t worth it right now. My husband is very handy and could tile it himself so we calculated it to be around $300 for the tile that we liked. But it would have taken a few days and with two kids and endless laundry here, I decided it wasn’t happening. I just don’t want to be without my washer and dryer for that long right now. We are saving that for down the road.

Our total cost for everything was around $334 and I feel like it made a big impact. Not only do I have a pretty room to do my laundry in, but my cats can eat their meals in style!