Slide Into Style in 2010! Quick Fixes for under $500

By Todd Fratzel on Design & Planning

Today we have a great guest post by Barbara Kavovit from Barbara’s Way.

So another new year is upon us and that “Rosy Red” paint chip didn’t quite turn out to be the color you thought it was going to be! Sometimes repainting your living room or rearranging your furniture (again!) isn’t enough to really freshen up the look of your space. However, with some imagination and a modest investment (around $500 or less) you can make dramatic changes to the appearance of your home.

What better way to start the year “fresh” than with a little face lift for the home. Nothing gives quite the feeling of looking forward to a brand new year than repairing and replacing things to give your home a comfortable, clean, and organized start.

Here’s my list of top ten make-over’s – one or more will refresh tired living rooms and revamp boring kitchens and baths.

Always use my new Barbara’s Way/Isotoner gloves to make the work easier (and to protect your manicure!)

  1. Kitchen facelift! You will not be able to replace your countertops with granite or marble for $500, but laminate now comes in many styles that mimic stone or look gloriously mod. You might be able to replace worn laminate with new laminate for about that price depending on the size of your kitchen. Then paint your kitchen cabinets a glossy white and add new handles and knobs. Adding new knobs are easy. All you will need is a screwdriver (or power screwdriver). There! You’ve got yourself a new look kitchen for $500!
  2. Lighten up! Change the hanging fixtures and add sconces to the walls of your living room or bedroom. Depending on the cost of the fixtures, you can find replacement lighting in a new style and have it installed by a licensed electrician for about $500 per room. Check eBay for vintage versions (new wiring may be a must) or big home centers for modern looks.
  3. Roll out the carpet! Cover a floor with sisal or jute cut and trimmed with a contrasting fabric to almost cover the entire floor. It’s a wall-to-wall look without the hassle. Jute and sisal rugs give your rooms a modern look, and also allow traditional Oriental rugs to stand out.
  4. Fixture it! Change all fixtures in your bathroom. Mount extra shelves, and new towel bars, bathrobe hooks, shower set, and soap dish. Save on labor costs and do it yourself. At first glance, this may seem daunting especially if you have a tile wall and shower, but with the right tools it’s pretty simple. Make sure you have my 12 volt drill with variable speeds and a set of masonry drill bits – and if you don’t own one, buy one! Place heavy duty tape over the tile where you are going to drill and use toggle bolts which help strengthen and distribute the weight of what you are hanging.
  5. Clean up! Regrout Bathroom Tile! If you’re like most people you’ve put this job off for too long! The best time to deal with this problem is as soon as you see cracks that indicate the wall grout has failed. Extract the existing grout by using an abrasive grout saw to remove as much grout as possible from the joint. Make sure you vacuum all debris and dust. Clean the grout with a commercial mildew remover to remove all mildew. Make sure the surface dries thoroughly. Apply the grout with a grout trowel and spread diagonally across the tile going over the area 2-3 times using your fingers where you have too
  6. Replace window shades! Replace mini blinds or paper shades with bamboo or matchstick blinds. Big box stores such as Target and K-Mart sell good quality, but inexpensive versions. For $500 you can probable unify and outfit 3-4 rooms…these types of blinds never go out of style and always look chic, especially when draperies are layered over them.
  7. Mirror it! Hang large mirrors in your living room or bedroom instead of art work Large mirrors bring sparkle and light into rooms, make the space feel bigger, and give it a chic, modern look. A great tip. To locate the right spot on your wall for heavier mirrors use construction paper or newspaper. Trace the mirror or picture on the paper and use tape to hang the paper on the wall. Then step back to look, so you know the exact spot and you’re not fumbling for it while holding the heavy mirror. I do it all the time!!
  8. Minimize and replace! De-clutter one room – and be ruthless. Everyone usually has too much “stuff” in their rooms, not too little. Simplify, and get rid of any furniture or accessories that are broken, ugly, old, or tired. Then, bring one new piece into the room – such as a sculpture, a new rug, a fabulous pair of table lamps, a side chair, or coffee table. If you shop wisely, each of these items can be found for $500 or less.
  9. Material change! Change the entire look of your rooms by replacing their drab or broken doorknobs. There are so many styles to choose from now and this is a project you can do on a weekend. Go to any home center or hardware store and pick out the style that best suits your taste. Make sure you keep all the parts organized. All you will need is a screwdriver or power screwdriver for quicker action. All the appropriate hardware usually comes with the doorknob. Remove the existing doorknob by loosening the two screws that hold the plate on (if there is one, you may have to remove the cover (usually by turning it) to get to the screws). Pull the two sides of the doorknob apart and remove it and then the two screws holding the bolt. To install the new knob, place the trim piece between the new doorknob and the door and insert the doorknob into the hole in the door. Insert the other side of the doorknob with the trim piece on the opposite side of the door making sure the two are aligned. Insert the screws and tighten. Add the covers if there are any and you’re done!
  10. Stencil Painting! Cover one or more of the walls of your bedroom or living room with new paint using stenciling. This effect will make it look like you spent thousands of dollars on some fancy wallpaper. I created an elaborate looking headboard out of stenciling using great colors. It’s a project you can do on a weekend that costs less than $200 (and that included some expensive paint)! Buy the stencil for pennies at any good hardware or paint store.

Now you’re on the road to total independence!

Installing bamboo shades and high quality fixtures are a low cost way to transform a room.

For more tips, videos, and how-to’s please visit my website at

Do it …Barbara’s Way!

Barbara K

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Barbara Kavovit was the founder and chief executive of one of the largest female owned renovation and construction management companies in New York City.
“When I was younger, I never imagined that I would be the founder/CEO of one of the most successful construction management companies in New York City. At the time it never occurred to me that construction was a career path for women’.

After 9/11, I established Barbara K! Enterprises and was the innovator of a line of ergonomically designed home improvement tools for women. I take great pride in knowing that I have created tools and kits that have helped develop skills and confidence for women to participate in any home repair.

My newest venture, “BARBARA’S WAY” uses my background and expertise to further my mission to empower women in other areas of the home where they may not feel confident – one such is plumbing.

With 10 years experience in construction, Barbara K recognized the need for tools designed specifically for women. Barbara K’s extensive line of high-quality do-it-yourself kits, tools and accessories were launched in the first quarter of 2004. The barbara k! signature 30-Piece Toolkit, is a must-have for women. “The barbara k! Toolkit proves that Rosie the Riveter can also be Riveting,” explains Barbara K. Packaged in a sleek, compact carrying case, the beautifully designed tools are perfect for women, combining practical solutions and fashion.
Reinforcing Barbara’s mission to educate women, the products include the how-to booklet, Barbara K: A Simple Guide to Home Repair.

The introduction of barbara k! and Barbara’s Way coincides perfectly with the home-improvement movement in which women are playing an increasingly prominent role.
Barbara K envisions a similar picture with her brand…and then some. “My products encourage women to be more self-sufficient, more cost-efficient and more independent.”

Barbara K is the exclusive home improvement expert for AOL’s Coaches, to inform, motivate and help millions of web users learn how to make simple home enhancements and repairs. She is also the author of “Invest In Your Nest: Add Style, Comfort, and Value To Your Home” (Rodale 2006), and “Room for Improvement: Change Your Home! Enhance Your Life! With Tools, Tips and Inspiration from Barbara K!”(Rodale, 2005).

Barbara K has been featured in publications around the country and internationally including “O” The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Parade, Forbes, MSNBC and made numerous television appearances including The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Donny Deutsch Show, and Fox & Friends on Fox News Channel. Barbara appeared on 8 shows for

SAVVY a video magazine show where she was the host of the home segment on the WE Network. In addition, she appears currently in a documentary about her life on Canadian Lifetime TV and a pilot was filmed for the E! channel. She also appears on a new CNBC campaign for “American Entrepreneurs”. Lastly, Barbara just appeared as a guest commentator on HGTV’s new show “25 Biggest Home Renovating Mistakes”.

Barbara also writes the weekly column ‘Invest In Your Nest’ for the New York Post’s Real Estate section and “Getting Their Fix” Barbara’s Way in the New York Post.

For more information on Barbara please visit

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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1 Comment

  1. Deborah says:

    Fabulous great makeover tips! Thanks so much for the list.

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