How I’ve Renovated my 1920s-era Home on a Budget (So Far)

When a husband and wife searched for their very first home, they noticed that many places presented a multitude of problems. They had come to the conclusion that houses that had been redone were too small to their liking or completely out of their available budget. Instead, they went with the most beneficial option and bought a non-renovated household that they would in turn fix up with a budget of 15,000 dollars.


They thought to hire a contractor to complete most of the work which would have allowed the couple to enjoy the finished renovations more but they realized that if they were the ones to do the work, it would mean a bigger return of their investment.

In order to save money, they asked for assistance from their loved ones. This allowed for a contractor to pass along ideas to the couple. The husband and wife even brought on their friend who had plenty of experience in construction. The couple bought the materials and simply paid their friend for his labor to redo the bathroom which saved the couple the costs of hiring an actual contractor. In the bathroom alone, many modern features like a handheld shower head were removed and replaced with retro attachments.


One bedroom proved to be quite the challenge. The original closets only reached to about chest-level and needed to be raised up more. The couple widened the closet openings and added another wall to create a walk in closet: something many old houses do not possess. The last space that needed renovated was the master bedroom. This room was in need of newer model windows, trim and half of the bamboo flooring. The couple found it difficult to complete these tasks by themselves and so again they required assistance from others for help.


The projects in the master bedroom as a whole took the husband and wife almost three years to complete. While the years added age to the house, the couple found that they could also allocate their finances as they saw fit without having to take out a loan. In perspective to how much money the couple saved by doing their own renovations, they were able to take a trip to Southeast Asia and enjoy the sights.

In the end, the couple saved a lot of money to renovate their home but in the end the ultimate cost was time. Many weekends were spent on renovating the house to ensure that it was done to their desire. They lived in their renovated house for about another four years and when their house sold, the sale paid them back for the time they had put into the house.

The Bathroom Renovation Tips I Learned the Hard Way

Hi guys! Another fun renovation post for you today! As you know, I’ve been on a whole long mission to re-vamp this house since I moved in, and as a first time homeowner, it’s been full of learning curves, some steeper than others. This blog is all about my travails trying to fix plumbing in this house, which has been quite the adventure.

Now, of course, first things first, I had to make sure everything worked well. So I had a number come over and take a look at the whole system from the water pumps to the taps and he said things were actually looking a lot better than he would expect in such an old house. That was great, but then things got kinda awkward because he asked if I was planning to make any changes, and I said I was thinking about changing the faucet and the shower head in the bathroom, which then of course prompted him to look expectantly waiting for me to tell him when I wanted him to come back. Well, that’s what I interpret that look as now, anyways. That’s not how it processed at the time. What I actually said was “cool, so it should be pretty easy to change the tap and the shower head on my own, right?” which is basically the most insulting thing you can say to someone who’s spent literally their whole life working on these things. Anyway, as much as I don’t regret saving money by doing things myself, I do have to say that some experience might have come in handy.

I like bohemian things, that’s no secret. So I went out and scavenged some cool looking figures for the sink and the shower which looked great and were (I now realized suspiciously) affordable. My mistake. Anyway, they were absurdly big and artsy, with lots of fun curves (which don’t worry, they do exist on nicer things as well), and I was in love. Until I learned a few DIY bathroom renovation tips:

Lesson one: don’t cheap out. Cheap things are cheap, yes but cheap things also leak. That’s not so bueno.  Turns out what I had bought was something called “chrome”, which is code for “not metal”. I guess I’m a silly goose, but I had assumed that anything that looks like metal and was in the plumbing section would be actual metal that was very much not the case, which is how I ended up with snapped pieces of plastic in less than a week. So, lesson one is to avoid chrome and anything that’s painted plastic. Always do the “ding test” as I’ve fondly dubbed it to make sure what you’re buying is actually metal, and spend a reasonable amount to avoid the garbage heap.

I also learned on my (yes, second set of fixtures) that it’s a good idea to pay attention to the packaging as well as the actual fixture, because it contains details. Who knew? That brings me to:

Lesson two:

Get low-flow fixtures or you pay a fortune on water for some artsy fixtures. See, my next mistake was to focus completely on the fact that I wanted my next fabulous decorative shower head and faucet to be all metal that I didn’t think about how much water they would use. Then I got the bill. Apparently, those blissful gushing showers weren’t free. It turns out the best handheld shower heads aren’t to be found in the bargain bin at the local resourced furniture store. Again, who knew? So, I was basically back to square one.

I’m happy to report that after taking both water usage and metal-ness into account, I have ended up with a very handsome shower head and faucet combo, which are actually from the same series, Kohler Forte. I found them after giving up on my natural scavenging tendencies and doing the smart thing by reading reviews on These Kohler’s that I got are apparently what’s called water-saving fixtures which I would definitely encourage you to look for if and when you’re shopping, unless you want to be saddled with a suddenly massive water bill and also the cost of buying more fixtures. These went on super easily, because not only were they made far better than the previous ones, but I had already learned:

Lesson three:

Which is, get some good sealant and plumber’s tape. You’ll need it, trust me. The first two sets of fixtures leaked like crazy when I got them up, until google told me that you can’t just plug and play when it comes to pipes. So definitely be sure to get some backup  tape and silicone, especially if you’re working with older pipes, which is what I have.

Well, I can’t tell you you won’t end up having lots of fun adventures like me, but I hope this blog helps you get a better idea of what you’re up against. And before I start sounding too miserable, I have to say that now that the whole ordeal is over, I absolutely love my bathroom. So go for it and overhaul yours! Achieve your bohemian dreams, my children!