Inside the box. Affordable Makeovers.

7 do-overs that won’t un-do your bank balance.

Brilliant observations are sometimes also the simplest. Years ago, a very successful architect countered the observation that his clients had unlimited funds to spend on their home «Everybody’s on a budget,» he said. «It’s just a matter of how generous it is.»

Obviously, Scrooge McDuck or Jack Benny would present a different budget than, say, the Kardashians. More than just money, there would be a difference in approach, values, requirements and expected results, but all those issues are as important, if not more so, than the actual dollars in creating a budget. Still, in the end, one always comes back to the bottom line.

If you planned well, you didn’t spend all you had on the original home. If all went well, you’ve enjoyed living in it as you rebuilt your bank account. Now you feel it’s time to make some changes. Even in the most livable, lovable log home, over time you will want to freshen its appearance and reflect current trends instead of the features that you were convinced were timeless — but turned out not to be.

It’s not necessary to start ripping out walls or raising the roof or adding a bunch of zeroes to the checks you write. After determining just how much is available for the house, you can turn your attention to how to best utilize the funds. Here seven suggestions, beginning with the least expensive.

1. Re-arrange a room. All rooms, intentionally or inadvertently, have focal points. In living space, it’s usually a conversational arrangement, media space or display of a piece of artwork that has special meaning. Re-think, re-team and re-create. Pull something from another room, such as a chair, table or cabinet, and try a different setting. Unless electrical outlets limit movement, don’t buy into any room’s being limited to one layout.

Perhaps you’ve taken advantage of a lovely vista through the windows to create a conversation pit. Move the furniture to the fireplace or a quiet corner, and you can still enjoy your view by placing a chair or two to use for reading and contemplation. Just moving things around changes perception. A square room can take on a rectangular look by shifting the furniture, even if it is the same square room.

2. Think salon wall. Most families have collections that include a few heirlooms, family pictures and mementos with special meaning. By taking a single wall and designating it your salon (a la Victorian Paris), you open up all kinds of possibilities. These walls are usually a bit busier and fussier than what you normally find in many log homes, but they can work well, especially if you use an interior drywall-finished wall as the canvas.

3. Add architectural features.

A room can be transformed by the addition of permanent but limited changes. For example, adding a crown molding or built-in cabinetry is really effective in the right circumstances. Wood meets more wood — and it works!

There are other elements — stained glass for windows, slate trim for the fire-place hearth, replacing an overhead light with the chandelier you’ve always wanted or any other number of components — that can, individually or as a group, alter the look of a room without changing larger items.

4. Change furniture. This is the classic budget makeover. Styles change and furnishings can date a room almost more than any other element in it. There are timeless styles, to be sure, but often we walk into a room and realize that not only did we buy that bedroom set 20 years ago, but now it also looks like it was chosen 20 years ago. Although more expensive that some other makeover tricks, changing furniture is often the easiest and most dramatic change.

5. Change color. The darling of interior decorators the world over, color is the quickest, easiest, cheapest change of all. Most log homes include at least some drywall, but even full-log homes have furnishings and accessories that allow for changing palettes. Just changing an accent wall, replacing rugs, adding a slipcover or replacing artwork can completely alter the perception of the room’s mood and setting.

Paint is the most convenient change for quick impact. Trends at the moment are diametrically opposite. Monochrome or black-white-gray is a reflection of a continuing interest in mid-century modern, but happily for log-home owners, jewel tones are resurgent. You’ll find that bright, strong mix of color is only enhanced by a background of logs.

6. Turn to fabulous fabrics and texture. Sometimes, borrow-ing from another part of the home just won’t get it done. Recovering a comfortable sofa will cost more than buying an attractive throw or new pillows, but it will prove to be a fairly low-cost way of sprucing up a room. Adding window treatments can change a dining room. A sisal rug can enliven a family room. A new tablecloth or place mats can be small but effective changes for a breakfast nook or bar. Whether it’s big or just a new accent, your sense of touch can be as thrilled as your vision by adding something that — literally — feels new.

7. Last resort: Tear down a wall. If you framed your partition walls instead of making them all-log, you not only saved money when you built your home, but also can rearrange a wall or two to reflect how you now know you really want to live in it now. For many log-home owners, the original build had some limitations of some kind. If circumstances allow, and you can now make some major changes, start pricing that bonus room or fireplace, or tear out that wall that has nagged at you ever since you moved in. It’s a much bigger undertaking and one that may very well test your budget limits, but it can have the effect of making it seem like you have re-booted your living space.

However you approach a makeover, always do your homework and make your best effort to stay within the budget you establish. Remodeler’s remorse isn’t as bad as buyer’s remorse, but it can still nag you silly. Besides, you will want to do more makeovers in the future, so if you can’t afford to do something today, hold on to the thought that you will get it in the next go-round.

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