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Upgrade your home, thrifty style

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Have you been dreaming of concrete-finish counters, a sleek panel wall, or some other luxury finish for your home, but goggling at the actual price tag? It can be frustrating to add upgrades to your house when you see how it affects your pocketbook, but I'm here today to let you in on a little secret: you actually don't need to spend tons of money to get the same beauty, grace, and gorgeousness as fancy upgrades.

Home bloggers across the United States are using thrift, craft, and ingenuity to put together their own DIY versions of beautiful home upgrades, and some of their projects are indistinguishable from the real thing. They're kind enough to share their work at sites like Hometalk -- including not just pictures of the finished projects, but discussions of every step and the lessons they learned along the way.

This is basically a win-win for you, because not only can you get tons of inspiration from their projects...you can also learn from their mistakes and complete the same amazing home upgrades, without the heartbreak.

If you're thinking about some fancy home upgrades, you have a couple of options that will help you use home bloggers as an effective research resource. You may already have a very distinctive idea of what you want: subway tile in the kitchen, for example, or a nailhead texture for the ceiling. Maybe you know you just want a change, but you're not quite sure what it's going to look like yet.

Cruise on over to a home blogger's site (or a community like Hometalk -- and I'm not just talking them up because they're our friends, they really are great -- though another good alternative is Pinterest). Search for specific examples of the project you'd like to do and get ready to be amazed by the diversity. Narrow down to a few examples you like and read through the directions, pratfalls, and advice so you can prepare your own version.

If you're not sure what you want to do, try searching by room -- Hometalk has a kitchens category, for example, with lots of inspiration, as well as a countertops category. Prepare to get seriously inspired with a wealth of ideas for whole-room upgrades as well as individual things you can do. Home bloggers will have tips on what to start with and how to do it, and they'll have a wealth of information on reuse and recycling as well as tricky tasks like tile installation, getting the perfect alignment with carpentry projects, and making sure your Dallas paint job is flawless.

With home bloggers blazing the way, you can DIY all kinds of amazing, wonderful, and cool projects. Get started today!

Katie Marks writes for Hometalk.com.

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