2009 Home Improvement Challenge: Projects Under $5,000 Winner and More

Handy homeowners achieve stunning transformations using their own ingenuity and spending time rather than money. See the winning project and other outstanding entries.

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Powder Room
Projects Under $5,000 Winner: Powder Room Makeover

    Patience and a creative eye were the keys to this powder room transformation. Jackie Kalin of Valparaiso, Indiana, updated the flooring, paneling, vanity, and toilet, then glued flat-back glass gems to the walls above the wainscoting. To make the tree, she cut mirrors and art glass into the desired shapes and glued them in place, then filled in around the tree with gems.

More Projects Under $5,000: A Bathroom for Two

    New furniture-style vanities, new flooring, and new beaded-board wainscoting transformed this bathroom from an outdated eyesore to a handsome space that functions much better for the brother and sister who share it. A new partial wall gives the toilet area privacy and helps break up the space visually. With separate vanities, each child is responsible for his or her area. The granite countertops and backsplashes were purchased separately from the dark-stained cabinets and installed on-site. Dark-toned accessories -- mirrors, faucets, light fixtures, and ladder-style shelving -- complement the cottage style of the beaded-board wainscoting and create a look that's gender neutral.

A Bathroom for Two, Before

    A long vanity with a single small sink made squabbles inevitable over who left the sink a mess. Vinyl flooring, a large frameless mirror, and no privacy for the toilet stamped the bathroom as a relic. Peeling paint over the tub (not seen) made remodeling a priority for homeowners Sheri and Vince Sandy.

A Bathroom for Two, Now

    New crown moldings and beaded-board wainscoting capped by a combination of simple molding profiles give the room fresh cottage style. A dark metal shower rod and door hook pick up the tones of the faucets and light fixtures, creating a unified look. In this family project, everyone had a part -- Sheri and Vince Sandy's son helped with the demolition, their daughter helped pick the paint color (Crocodile Tears from Olympic Paint), Sheri made the decorating decisions, and Vince did the rest.

More Projects Under $5,000: From Closet to Wine Cellar

    A walk-in closet under the stairs proved to be just the spot for a wine cellar at the Florida home of Tom and Cindy Meyerer. Situated near the formal dining room, the cellar includes a wall for wine storage, a cabinet for stemware, and a small serving station that can hold a wine cooler. The arched ceiling, covered in strips of 3/4-inch oak, suggests a large wine barrel. The stained-glass door, salvaged from a damaged exterior door, and a new transom let in natural light and give the cellar distinctive style.

From Closet to Wine Cellar, Before

    Originally the closet under the second flight of the scissor-style staircase was finished with carpeting, painted walls, and one light fixture, but it had no rods or shelves. A small door on the right wall leads to storage space under the first flight of stairs. The paneled door was a standard interior door that didn't match the style of the formal dining room, and there was nothing above the door but a plain wall.

From Closet to Wine Cellar, Now

    Homeowner Tom Meyerer removed the carpeting, then built out the walls to create niches for wine racks, a cabinet, and a decorative barrel end. Weathered brick mosaic covers the walls and floor. The barrel end resting in an oak frame is just for looks, to add ambience, but the cabinet above provides more storage.

From Closet to Wine Cellar, Wine Racks

    Homeowner Tom Meyerer designed and built oak cabinets for the wine bottles on the left wall and installed black metal wine racks to hold more bottles. Much of the oak used in the project was recycled from a retail store that had been closed and gutted.

From Closet to Wine Cellar, Serving Counter

    A cabinet tucked into the back of the closet offers storage for wine supplies and can hold the wine cooler. The granite countertop is high enough to use as a serving surface. The backsplash is made from the bottoms of old wine bottles.

From Closet to Wine Cellar, Storage Access

    To retain access to the storage under the first flight of stairs, homeowner Tom Meyerer built an oak door to match the rest of the woodwork.

From Closet to Wine Cellar, Ceiling

    Recycled oak flooring gives an aged look to the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the wine cellar. A new spotlight provides dramatic lighting.

From Closet to Wine Cellar, Wall Cabinet

    The wall cabinet is distinguished by door grilles that were originally vent plates from a late-19th-century wood stove.

More Projects Under $5,000: Creative Kitchen Makeover

    One thing led to another, and what started as an idea for a new kitchen backsplash ended as a dramatically transformed kitchen-dining area. Homeowner Christy Reekie found a brick-look tumbled marble that she liked, but she didn't like the price tag of $8.99 a square foot. When she found the same brick-pattern tile in a 4-inch square for 29 cents each, she bought enough to cover the walls between the counters and the wall cabinets and continued the tile into the dining room. Using a wet stone and Dremel tool, she and her brother cut each tile in half and tumbled the sides. The cabinets were reconfigured to achieve better balance and to create a desk area, then painted and glazed for a rustic look. After three months of working on the project a little at a time, Christy and her family ended up with exactly the kitchen she wanted--for under $1,000.

Creative Kitchen Makeover, Before

    The original cabinets had picture-frame molding set into a molded edge and were stained a pale natural color. There was no corner cabinet on the sink wall, and the soffit stopped at the corner. Here the new backsplash is in place.

Creative Kitchen Makeover, Window Arch

    To add architectural interest over the sink, Christy Reekie's brother built an arch and covered it with tumbled brick tiles. New recessed lights illuminate the sink area from the underside of the arch. Christy stitched a valance from burlap left over from a previous project.

Creative Kitchen Makeover, Before

    Horizontal sliding windows with metal frames offered light but no architectural character, and they certainly lacked the rustic feeling that homeowner Christy Reekie wanted.

Creative Kitchen Makeover, Before

    Christy Reekie's brother built a shaped plywood box to continue the soffit across the sink wall and provide a base for drywall and brick tiles.

Creative Kitchen Makeover

    To balance the cabinetry better, a wall cabinet that had been upstairs was moved to the corner on the sink wall and the two wide cabinets from that corner swapped places with the cabinets over the desk area. Homeowner Christy Reekie had beaded-board sides and crown moldings added to the cabinets for a farmhouse look. Then she painted all of the cabinets with two coats of olive green paint, lightly sanded them for a distressed appearance, and wiped wood stain over the paint. Two coats of clear satin-finish water-base polyurethane protect the painted finish.

Creative Kitchen Makeover, Pantry and Desk

    To make the desk area beside the pantry more functional, homeowner Christy Reekie added a set of six square drawers and a set of undercabinet cubbies to the wall cabinets. She gave them the same paint treatment as the rest of the cabinetry.

Creative Kitchen Makeover, Towel Bar

    Homeowner Christy Reekie assembled the towel bar using a piece of turned wood that she had from another project and two door stops she happened to find.

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