Sourcing Budget-Friendly Materials for DIY Projects

Are you someone who always chooses the most expensive option when you’re shopping? Us too! Somehow the most expensive and unattainable is always the one that jumps out on the page or in the store. While it means you probably have great taste, it makes budgeting on materials for new projects really challenging. 

There are certainly some moments where spending the money is worth it, especially if it’s an appliance or new technology, but there’s plenty of  home decor or finished that can be achieved for a fraction of the cost. A $300,000 house doesn’t need to have one million dollar finishes, but you can make it look that way. It’s the exciting thing about trying to live a more DIY and sustainable lifestyle! 

If this is your first time updating or upgrading something in your home, it can be a little hard to figure out where to start. Find some inspiration for what you’d like your finished product to look like – whether that’s on Pinterest, in a magazine, or in a store. Getting the vision down is critical because it will guide your work to the end result. From there, research how to execute – whether that’s sanding, painting, reupholstering, or upgrading a specific part of the fixture. Each project will be different, so there’s less of a one-size fits all approach here. Find one thing that you want to begin with and experiment from there. 

Our butler’s pantry in our new home!

We love interior brick and it’s been featured as a built-in bookshelf at our old house and as a feature wall in our new home. We upcycled brick on both projects, digging through piles of unusable and broken bricks on a local job site to find ones that were only slightly chipped or overlooked, and saving them from ending up in another landfill. You may not have as much as construction in your community as we do, but a poke around some salvage yards and antique stores could also be just as effective in finding new old materials of many shapes and sizes. If you also love brick and can’t find something you love, home improvement stores also sell embossed panels that are 4’x8’ and can be painted to look like real brick!

Another DIY-focused project in our home that we love is our gas fire pit. The top is a concrete block that Andy hand poured in the backyard (more on that process later!) and the surround eventually needed to be covered to hide the gas tank and supports below. We could have continued to work with concrete, but it would have required additional labor and cost. After looking around our local home improvement store, we found some metal roofing for only about $20 per sheet and reduced what our costs would have been if we used stacked stone or concrete. It also reduced time spent on the project, which freed up opportunities to work on other rooms around the house. Is it the same upscale finish or quality that concrete or stacked stone would have offered? No, but it was a creative way to get to our end result and we love to add stickers from our favorite breweries to the metal. 

When you’re working on a tight budget, it’s important to bring a bit of creativity into each project and sourcing your own materials is a great way to keep costs low. Search for old items that have potential to be upcycled into something new – even if it’s just one piece of it – or think about how an affordable material can help achieve your vision without breaking the bank. The most important thing to do is just jump in and start attempting to create. It’s okay if you don’t succeed the first time – enjoy the experience of trying to make something of your own. After all, that expensive piece that you were looking at in the first place will probably still be there waiting for you if you need it! 

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