On their HGTV hit series "Fixer Upper," now in its second season, Chip and Joanna Gaines take buyers in central Texas to see several houses that need work, and then restore the chosen property down to the last stud, turning it into something drool-worthy.
Though budgets can go higher, a majority of these projects are under $200,000, including purchase price and renovation. One of their more spectacular renovations, for example, was a bullet-ridden mess purchased for about $10,000 and overhauled for an additional $100,000.
Between demolition and the big reveal, viewers also get to see the couple at their own home, a vintage farmhouse on 40 acres in Waco, taking care of their four kids (ranging in age from 5 to 10) and an ever-growing menagerie (including cats, dogs, chickens, turkeys, goats and a horse; pigs and donkeys are next).
He provides the muscle (i.e., he's the contractor), she provides the beauty (she's the designer and proprietor of Magnolia, a local and online home goods store), and their funny, flirty, can-do attitude gives DIYers hope for their own projects.
We asked these experts in the art of revamp for advice on projects homeowners should tackle this year.
"There are a lot of things you can do for under $1,000 that will get you a lot of bang for your buck, like changing your [furnace] air filters. Most people do it every couple of months or just once a year, but I do it monthly. There's a lot of dust that can get stuck up in there.
"Caulk and/or weather strip around your windows and doors -- you'll save a lot of money by keeping the warm or cold air in the house.
"Change your toilet to a low-flow and you'll save a lot on your water bill. With a little bit of elbow grease, it's not hard to install a new toilet -- you can look online -- but for a few hundred dollars, you can hire someone to do it for you. And you can buy the toilet for around $200-300.
"Fix that leaky faucet! You don't realize it, but all that water adds up over time and you're losing a significant amount of money over the course of a year. Again, if you can't do it yourself -- but most people can -- hire someone to do it for you."
If you have $5,000-$10,000 to spend and can hire a local contractor: "Replace your windows for more energy-efficient ones -- this will save a lot of money."
"Repair or replace your roof; this can easily cost more, depending on size and where you live.
"Replace your HVAC heating/cooling systems. If your systems aren't working properly, it's costing you money.
"Insulate your home; the old-fashioned pink [fiberglass] stuff will do, but I like the foam, which is expensive but super-efficient."
"The easiest way to instantly freshen up a room is with paint. I like a light and airy feel, so one of my go-to colors is pale gray with a hint of blue or green. It's neutral and you can pretty much put any color in the room with it.
"Changing the light fixtures makes a big difference. You can find something beautiful for $100-$150 and either install it yourself or hire someone. My electrician charges $100. And keep your eye open for a chandelier at a flea market or second-hand store.
"There are things you can do in the kitchen instead of spending $20,000 and up to get a new one. For $2-$3 apiece, buy new hardware for the cabinets and drawers. And you can retile the backsplash yourself for around $200. Painting the cabinets is a little harder because it's oil-based paint, but you can do that too for around the same amount. If you do all these things over a period of time, before you know it, your kitchen looks completely different.
"You can give your living room a new look for the season just by buying new throw pillows or just new covers and adding a throw or two.
"Something I run into all the time involves children's rooms. A client will have invested a lot of money into a nursery and then the child starts growing up -- say, she's 5 now -- and the room needs to be updated. My feeling is the older the kid, the simpler the update. So start by painting the walls a new color and then add new linens -- change the duvet or quilt -- and maybe an area rug. Play with patterns. You can do this every few years as the kid grows up!"
Season 2 of "Fixer Upper" airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on HGTV.