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HGTV’s “Good Bones” Cheat Sheet to Home Renovation

Mother-daughter duo Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak have risen to fame on HGTV's home renovation show Good Bones. They've shared their tips for spearheading your own home renovation—and doing it on the cheap.

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Start with a clean slate

On their own projects, Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak always start with demolition. Though this can be messy, they explain, “You have to get rid of the old to make room for the new.” However, it might not always be taking a house down to the bare bones like you often see on home renovation shows. “Most homeowners will find their demolition is less extensive then ours, perhaps limited to removing a tired bathroom vanity.”

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Create more space

Let’s face it: Many homes don’t have as much space as you would hope for, particularly in big cities. As a “cheat,” Laine and Starsiak suggest removing walls or vaulting a ceiling. “The square footage doesn’t change, but a feeling of spaciousness arises from how far your eye can travel (not how far your feet can travel),” they note. Check out these other 31 home improvements that can double the value of your house.

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Score cool, unique furniture and accessories

Houses on Good Bones always have a great mix of modern and old charm, thanks to cool and hip furniture and accessories. Chatham Home and Inhabit Living are the duo’s go-to places in Indianapolis, Indiana, for eclectic finds to brighten their renovated spaces. Try these other 52 ways to make your home look expensive.

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Understand the scope of your project

Laine and Starsiak note that there is no secret to working with professionals and contractors other than knowing what work you need done. They advise being precise with the professional about what exactly they are going to be doing for you. “Put the agreement in writing so everyone is clear on what will be done, by when, and for how much—for example who is cleaning up, etc.,” they say. Here are 11 more secrets contractors wish homeowners knew.

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Realize costly projects aren’t always an investment

If you’re planning to sell your home in a year or two down the line, know what buyers are looking for before you waste a lot of money on what you want. For example, while you may appreciate that sauna, a buyer may see it as a waste of space. Additionally, the Good Bones stars explain that a swimming pool is never an investment that you can plan to earn money on when you seek to sell your home. “This is something you install for your own enjoyment, not for resale,” they say. Don’t miss these other 32 home upgrades that are a total waste of money.

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Save money where you can

Doing as much work as you can on your own, like Laine and Starsiak do, always helps keep costs down. Also, buy in bulk when you can. If you think you’re going to need more of an item—say, tiles or mortar—for another project in the near future, you’re likely to get the most savings that way. But enlist a professional for these 12 home improvement projects you should never DIY.

Julia K. Porter
Dr. Julia Porter has worked in Higher Education since 2008, following a career as a High School teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a PhD in Global Leadership from Indiana Tech, an MA in English Literature from Brooklyn College, and a BS in English Education from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and rambunctious Australian Shepherd.