Home improvement ideas to save time + money in the future
I really am. Ben and I purchased our first home together four and a half years ago with rose tinted glasses. When viewing the house we thought a lick of paint and our own décor was all it might need. How wrong we were. Upon viewing it for the second time when the old owners had already moved out we realised the extent of the project we had undertaken. Everything needed replacing from floors to walls, to ceiling, the bathroom, kitchen, some windows. Yikes! We are still parting with our hard earned cash every month doing up or fixing bits in the house.
Now we have lived here for several years we’re also going back to the beginning if that makes sense. We are starting to need to replace things we installed at the start. For example the bathroom vinyl flooring we installed needs replacing already. Some of the doors no longer close into the frames (note: never buy the cheapest wooden doors!)
We haven’t even finished our original list of things to do to our home, and we’re already having to start replacing the things we did do.
Homes take a lot of time and, crucially, money in order to turn them into what they are. If only it was true that, once we got them to where we want them to be, they stayed that way. That, sadly, isn’t the case and every now and then we need to spend even more time and money revamping what we have already spent time and money on.
It’s annoying, isn’t it?
Very much so, and I can guarantee that I am not alone in pulling my hair out every time something needs doing around the house. As Bill Gates is quoted as saying:
“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”
If it’s good enough for Bill, then it’s certainly good enough for me. That means finding the easiest means possible to look after my home.
Removing and filling in borders with grass seed when we moved in
Easily the neediest part of the home, the garden constantly needs TLC in order to keep it in top form. Weeds that grow in between paving slabs, flowers that need constant nutrition and grass that simply won’t stop growing (or in our experience it sometimes just won’t even grow in some patches at all). The time we spend looking after our gardens really could be better spent elsewhere.
So what is one to do? Well, in order to strike the best balance between having a pretty yet easily maintainable you have to come to something of a compromise. Flowers will always need looking after if you want them to remain elegant, however, there is a solution to the ever growing grass and weeds.
Artificial grass may have started life looking somewhat cheap and tacky, but now it has developed into a genuine alternative to the real thing. That means absolutely no cutting and investing in lawn mowers. Just install it, clean it every now and then and you’re done. Now I just need to convince Ben. I came up with three ways to save money in the garden, including a fake lawn, in my recent blog post here: 3 ways to save money and future proof your garden
Whilst I haven’t managed to convince Ben to change the real grass just yet, we are trying our best to make our garden simpler and easy to maintain. Unfortunately we do still need to spend time and money out there to lay decking and a patio, but I hope once these are in place along with some high raised flower beds/vegetable patches then it should all be very simple to look after.
We took out huge borders that were the length of our 90 foot garden. Though many would disagree with this, we simply don’t have the time or passion to maintain them. They would just end up a weed bed! This will save us time in the long run and now we just have grass up to the fences and more of a grassy area for the children to play on.
Our new lino floor looked great at first, but now it is worn and tired
We really need a permanent solution for the floor in here. We laid lino which was an easy and cheap solution, but it’s needed replacing for ages. It’s not hardwearing enough in the one bathroom we share between four. There’s a lot of use in that bathroom and I think we’d be wise to invest in tiles or hard floor to save ourselves money and time in the long run.
For the shower we added a glass bath screen instead of a shower curtain. I hate how shower curtains become mouldy over time and need replacing, so a glass screen will last us much longer and it also looks great too.
For the walls that aren’t tiled we use bathroom paint which is a must in a bathroom. It’s mildew and mould resistant meaning it lasts longer in damp areas.
We saved money by Ben using left over kitchen worktop to create a shelf for a new countertop sink and he built a cupboard underneath. DIY has certainly saved us a lot of money, but it has cost us a lot of time.
Click here for how to improve your bathroom on a budget.
Laying our new floor. We find hard floor much easier to maintain and clean.
The living room is where you spend most of your time at home (other than sleeping in the bedroom) and, of course, becomes very messy very easily. Carpet stains, muddy footprints and general clutter are all pains in the-you-know-where that can be easily avoided if you are canny enough.
I’ve written before of the many benefits of hard flooring and for us it’s the easiest floor solution in our living room. We have a living-diner so half the room is for eating and with young children it can get particularly messy! It’s much easier to mop up spills and pick up dropped food from a hard floor instead of constantly scrubbing a carpet. Not having to constantly clean a carpet or think of replacing it, means we save money and our hard flooring should last for years to come.
It took us a few days to lay hard floor throughout our home and it did cost a small penny, but it was a worthwhile investment. Hopefully it’s something that we won’t need to think about or replace for a very long time.
We do have a large rug in our living room, but I try to have a strict no shoes policy on the rug, though the children sometimes forget, but this stops dirt and mud from getting on it whatsoever. A large rug is also a much cheaper alternative to having actual carpet fitted and it’s easier to replace.
As for clutter, that’s simple – anything that you don’t need or use, get rid of it. Be frugal with your possessions and don’t hold on to anything for too long. When you can bring yourself to do away with items that you no longer have a use for, you will soon reap the benefits of a clutter-free household. I save time by cleaning as there is less to clean in our minimal living space.
Read my blog posts here for how to achieve a minimalist look in your living room.
To save money and time in the bedroom we have limited furniture; a bed, a built-in wardrobe that my husband built, a set of drawers, a TV, a bedside table each and a lamp. Oh, and two house plants.
I know, I know, I have a TV in the bedroom. The bedroom should be reserved only for sleep and relaxation, in theory. Televisions should have no place in the bedroom as they can hamper your quality of sleep, leaving you feeling tired in the morning and taking longer to feel awake. Though I do agree with many points in this article, I also love snuggling up and watching a box series in the winter! In the summer I’m all for watching TV in the living room, but it’s a luxury in the winter to snuggle in bed for TV when it’s so cold and dark outdoors. If you can avoid it though, keep them out of the bedroom to see if your sleep improves. It will also save money as that’s one less TV to buy.
Anyway, having limited furniture in the bedroom means we can save time with less things to clean. We also share a tripe sized wardrobe between us, which is limited compared to most people I know who have larger wardrobes just for themselves. I have a capsule wardrobe of just 50 items for myself of regular clothes which saves time each day choosing what to wear. It’s also easy to put clothes away as we have one set of drawers for underwear and gym wear, then one wardrobe for the rest. Putting away laundry is quick and easy.
Keeping the original cupbaords saved us money in the kicthen and they're high gloss, so quick to clean!
We have a small kitchen so we have to be minimal in here. We only have what we need and do a food shop each week. This means we can keep on top of the groceries and out-of-date food, for example. We rarely have OOD food as we buy what we need each week and use up what needs using first each day.
We added hard floor to the kitchen that can be easily cleaned. To save money we kept the kitchen cupboards when we replaced the kitchen as they were just fine. They are high gloss and so easy to wipe spills and stains off, or mucky kids fingerprints!
I spend most of my time in the kitchen cooking, cleaning or doing laundry and it frustrates me how much of my time is needed in there each day. To save a bit of time we did buy a washer-dryer which saves me hanging all our washing over our house radiators each day. Instead we can dry each wash load and put it away right away, saving a lot of time. The clothes could take a couple of days to dry when hung around the house before. Though it does use money to dry the clothes this way, we do have solar panels and we use a 100% renewable energy company for our gas and electric.
I’ve shared tips to save money on your kitchen remodel here and eco-friendly ways to save money in the kitchen here.
This year we did take a little step back from our home and went on a few family holidays. I was so bored of putting all our earnings into the house and wanted to go on some adventures instead! We do need to have some work done soon on our home, so we are back to thinking about home improvements. For example, our bedroom window isn’t sealed properly so this needs sorting ASAP as it’s creating mould around the window almost daily which is wasting my time cleaning it constantly and it’s also a worry to our health. Plus we’re wasting money as it’s not allowing our bedroom to retain heat properly. As I said, wasting both time and money in the house is driving me bonkers!
Whilst doing up our home we have been trying to create a minimal and sensible space that is easy to clean and makes life more enjoyable. We don’t want a complicated garden or home that takes a lot of maintaining and needs more and more money thrown at it to keep it looking good. I also don’t want a home that takes hours on end to clean every day, so the more minimal and easier to clean (like hard floors) the better.
Anyway, rambling over, I hope that we come to the end of everything soon and get to spend more time and money on adventures as a family instead of in and on the house!
And I know we are not technically wasting money as we are improving the home... but I wanted a new home or refurbished one in the first place with no work to do, but that's another story...!