Tools for Thrifty Transformation

Right as the housing market began to take a nose-dive, we decided to give unloading our smallish condo one last shot. Suffice to say, it didn’t work. For awhile I was distraught and downright depressed. Now though, even as we sit nearly $100K upside down in a mortgage, I’m glad we weren’t able to sell. The same reasons we opted to buy this condo, after all, hadn’t changed. The location couldn’t be better for us and, heck, hubby and I still don’t like lawn care. The circumstance has forced me to reinvent our current home into a space that not only still meets our needs but teaches our children resourcefulness as well. One of the tricks in my back pocket that has also helped me fall back in love with the condo is what I affectionately call “thrify transformation.” Here’s a quick rundown on exactly what that is and the tools that help me do it.


The worst part of not being able to sell our condo was the feeling of being “stuck” or “trapped.” I hate having my hand forced. Instead of taking this lying down, I opted to change what I could – the interior of the condo. With money as it always is – at a premium – I got creative about ways to transform our space without forking out a lot of cash. Instead of purchasing brand new throw pillows, I looked for beautiful fabric by the yard that I could then easily sew into (washable) slipcovers for my existing ones. If this sounds intimidating, don’t let it be. No pattern needed and no fancy sewing skills necessary, just click here for super easy, step-by-step instructions. To reinvent even my storage shelves, I purchased beautiful, but inexpensive contact paper and covered my plain but sturdy cardboard boxes and lids. Not only did this liven up my closets, but it served a useful purpose, too, by making the storage boxes more resistant to moisture. I reinvented my entry way and the backs of many of my interior doors by installing pretty and functional hooks with removable adhesive strips by 3M. Not only was I able to take better advantage of all my closet space, but I was able to create a convenient place for my two young boys to deposit their backpacks and coats when returning home from school. It teaches them responsibility, saves me the aggravation of having to pick up their stuff and I can quickly and easily move the hooks up with the strips as the boys grow taller.

Accent rugs are another inexpensive way to transform a home. For less than $20, you can immediately change the décor of your entryway and protect the larger investment of the flooring throughout your home by investing in a small rug for right inside your front door. With two young children and a steady stream of visitors, I don’t have to tell you how many stains my little accent rug has likely helped me avoid on my living room carpet. Breath fresh life into your bathrooms, too, by plunking down a small bit of cash for a new, plush bathroom rug in an unexpected, punch of color.

Lastly, look to the unexpected and untapped storage options in your home to help clear out the often cluttered and overly cramped living space. If something’s not used on a daily basis, it can likely be stashed elsewhere. But where can it be stashed is the question? Free yourself from the confines of convention in order to divide and successfully conquer your space. Create a small, makeshift pantry inside a coat closet, for example, by placing a small set of sturdy shelves inside for canned goods. Got “his and hers” closets in the master bedroom, but not that much clothing? Opt to share one closet with your spouse (each take one side) and use the other for household or linen storage. Got a great collection of board games, but not enough space to store it all? Consider sliding some under the couch or invest in a bag of large rubber bands, place one around each game box and then stack them on their ends like books on a shelf to create more horizontal storage space.

Photo credit: Little Wang

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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