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Extreme bedroom makeovers – on a budget

Dawn Papandrea

With my older son turning 14 in a few weeks and starting high school in the fall, we thought it’s time that he and his 9-year-old brother have their own space. They’ve been sharing a bedroom since the little guy was out of his crib, and that third bedroom has mostly gone unused, except for when grandma spends the night.

The issue is how could we makeover two bedrooms in a way that doesn’t end up costing thousands of dollars (which we currently don’t have lying around)?

At the very least, both rooms are in desperate need of a paint job – they’re the only rooms that haven’t been painted since we bought the house. And at least one of the boys will need a new dresser and chest for their clothes (we’re getting rid of a piece from our little guy’s original nursery set that takes up a lot of space in the smaller room).

Both beds are in great condition so we’re good there.

Then, of course, there’s the aesthetics of it all. Our big guy is a teenager now, so the generic sports décor and bedding he has now is on the lame side – and our little guy will need a whole new look since he doesn’t have any bedding yet.

So here’s how we’re planning our extreme bedroom makeovers on a budget:

Step 1: Cash in on credit card rewards.

I’m redeeming some credit card rewards points that have been piling up for Kohl’s gift cards that I can use for new bedding and curtains for both rooms.

Between those gift cards, the 30 percent off promotion that Kohl’s often runs, and some Kohl’s cash I earned from a recent purchase, I can get everything they need for less than $100.

Step 2: Take advantage of no interest.

For the new furniture, we’re not looking for anything over-the-top. It just has to be functional, economical and dark wood.

I already have a line of credit at Bob’s Discount Furniture store from when we bought our new dining table last year, so we are going to take advantage of that to finance the new dresser and chest (and move the kid-style furniture into the smaller room).

Doing this gives us six months of no interest, and because I’m already approved, I won’t have to apply and ding my credit score.

Of course, I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t able to pay off the furniture bill within the six-month period, but it’s nice to have the wiggle room.

The set we’re eyeing comes to about $850 with delivery, so over six months, it’s under $150 per month – totally doable if I take on even one small extra project per month (and I have savings as back up, just in case).

Step 3: Find a free way to move out the old furniture.

I asked around and found a company that takes furniture donations, and sends a crew to disassemble and carry it out for free.

I did try to sell the bedroom furniture online first, but didn’t really get any bites. Bummer!

However, I’m happy that I won’t need to pay anyone to haul it out (it’s super heavy!), and the donation is a tax write-off, so that receipt will go into my handy dandy folder for next year’s taxes. 

Step 4: Don’t hire any outside help.

Paying someone to do the painting isn’t in our budget.

When my “Trading Spaces”-addicted aunt and cousin who love to paint agreed to come and help us DIY all the painting and touch-ups needed to freshen up the rooms, that was a big win.

They even have supplies to bring (rollers, brushes, trays, painter’s tape, drop cloths), which equals more savings for me.

Step 5: Accept hand-me-downs.

In talking about our room plans with another relative, I mentioned that our little guy will need a new TV eventually, but that he’s going to have to wait on that.

As luck would have it, she had a small flat-screen that was just collecting dust and offered it to us. Score!

Step 6: Just say no to higher bills.

Now that we have a TV, it would mean that we’d have to get another cable box. Sigh – that would be an increase in our monthly cable bill, plus installation.

After thinking it over, we realized we can avoid that higher cable bill. Our first idea was to get an Amazon Fire Stick so he can access the various streaming services, which he prefers anyway.

Then we remembered that we have an Xbox 360 system (which connects to streaming apps) that hasn’t been hooked up since my son used birthday money and savings to get himself the newer model, Xbox One.

Now we can connect the old system and he’ll be set.

Step 7: Know your limits.

As much as I would have liked to remove the carpeting from our big guy’s bedroom and put in a wood floor, it’s just not in the budget now.

Eventually, it’s something we’d like to do, but it will have to wait.

Our extreme bedroom makeovers are a big enough project now, and having a strategy for how to tackle the work will help to keep costs down. If you have a big home or other costly project looming, a budget and action plan can help keep your finances in check, too.

When our bedrooms project is complete, the only things we will have paid for out of pocket are three gallons of paint (we splurged on Benjamin Moore paint that will last for years), the furniture (costs will be spread out over six months), the deeply discounted new bedding, and pizza to feed my hungry painting helpers. Not bad!

See related: How a big new bill has me adjusting our family budget, 4 easy things I did to trim my credit card bill

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