Cheapskate Hall of Fame IV
From roadside-salvage pot racks to plastic-fruit finials—and for the fourth year running—our tightfisted readers bring new meaning to the term resourcefulness
Who: Linda M.
Where: From the TOH discussion boards
"My neighbor was about to throw out the sink cutout from her new high-grade laminate countertop, but I couldn't let that happen. Before she could toss it, I asked if I could have it. After making the cabinet shell out of two red-oak boards, I outfitted it with a drawer and a shelf, both of which I made from a sheet of dinged-up ¾-inch plywood. What was slated for the landfill is now a beautiful Craftsman-style cabinet that my son uses in his (very tiny) kitchen. The entire project cost 38 bucks!"
What Linda Saved: $80
Who: Tracy Westwater
Where: Orland Park, Ill.
"I always wanted carriage-style garage doors, but they were way beyond my budget—that is, until I decided to create a faux version of them on my own. After removing the existing trim, I sanded the door and primed it. Then I drew a carriage door design right on the door. Some black gloss paint created surprisingly authentic-looking "windows." To add dimension, I cut some plywood sheets into strips, which I attached to the door with liquid nails, giving it a raised-panel look. After tacking on some used gate hinges (just $3.90 a pair!) and handles, ta-da! I had carriage doors that cost just $65!"
What Tracy Saved: More than $2,000
Who: Robin Martin
Where: Manchester, Mich.
"I was in desperate need of more storage and workspace in my small home office, but I didn't want to spend too much on a new desk and cabinetry or shelving. Instead, I picked up some old doors and a used upper kitchen cabinet at a local salvage shop. With some help from my neighbors, we cut down one of the doors to create a desktop, then hinged another door beneath it to conceal some storage bins. It's great because the hinged door can be flipped up for additional workspace. The kitchen cabinet provides more storage, but we also turned it into an elegant window seat by attaching legs to the bottom, painting it, and topping it off with a padded seat covered with material we found at the Salvation Army store."
What Robin Saved: At least $328
What Tracy Saved: More than $2,000
Who: Jaime Shackford
Where: Edmond, Okla.
"I was never a big fan of the vinyl shutters the previous owners installed on the front of our house. So, after tearing down an old fence panel that was hiding some pool equipment in our backyard, I decided to create my own authentic board-and-batten shutters. First, I measured each window and cut the reclaimed boards accordingly. Then, I glued and nailed each panel together, added strap hinges, and applied a wood stain/sealer. The whole project
cost me just $75."
What Jaime Saved: Around $2,100
Who: Margie Sagneri
Where: Rochester, N.Y.
"After we bought our house, in 2008, we quickly discovered that the kitchen cabinets were not properly attached to the wall—to the extent that we were reluctant to use them. We did, and then realized there still wasn't enough storage space. Redoing the kitchen was our next big project, but we couldn't afford it yet. In the meantime, we still needed a way to organize all of our pots and pans. The solution came in the form of an old ladder we found lying on the side of the road. We cut the ladder down, and after some cleanup and a fresh coat of leftover paint, we hung it on the wall and used some old deck screws as hooks. It works perfectly well and gives our kitchen an old-timey feel that we both love."
What Margie Saved: About $85
Who: Anonymous (for a reason)
Where: Fairfield, Conn.
"Last year my wife and I started noticing some huge cracks growing in our plaster walls. We considered hiring a pro to come patch them. The problem was that the walls had been custom painted by a previous owner using some kind of sponging technique, so matching the pattern—not to mention the paint color—would have been a nightmare. Instead of calling in a plaster repairman and a decorative painter, we decided to take the cheap and easy way out. After taking a photograph of the patterned walls, I printed it up on our color printer, then cut the printout into long strips, which I attached to the walls with a glue stick. Both of us were shocked by how well it worked. You would never know that it's a coverup."
What Anonymous Saved: Around $65
Who: Rose Byrne
Where: Hyattsville, Md.
"I wanted to create an interesting focal point on the side of my plain white garage. So I hung an old six-pane window a friend gave me right on the cinder block and framed it with two wood shutters from a local salvage shop. After attaching a window box and white picket fencing that runs the entire length of the garage, it now looks more like a country cottage than an ugly old garage."
What Rose Saved: About $1,840
Who: Patty Studdard
Where: Cookeville, Tenn.
"I used tin skirting—usually sold for mobile homes—to make a kitchen backsplash for my son's house. It comes in 5-by-8-foot sheets and is easy to cut to size and glue in place. Best of all, I paid only $30, compared with tin tiles, which can cost up to $20 each."
What Patty Saved: About $170
Who: Robert Lattin
"There are lots of commercial leveling compounds on the market, but they can be expensive and difficult to mix and pour—especially if you have a large surface area and are working by yourself. When I found out my floors were sloped, my solution was to use plain old kitty litter instead. After I checked to make sure the poured litter was level, I screwed half-inch plywood over it to make a flat surface. The litter levels the floors and also acts as a sound dampener."
What Robert Saved: About $3,060
Who: Mary Griffin
Where: Godfrey, Ill.
"'Now, what are you going to do with those?' my husband asked me when I started eyeing some cabinet doors at our local home center. 'I think they would make some good wainscoting,' I told him. At first he thought the idea sounded a little nutty. But I had wanted wainscoting for my newly finished basement and figured the white, raised-panel cabinet doors would work perfectly. After buying 36 of them—at 50 cents a pop!—we applied them to the walls with liquid nails. And let me tell you, they look terrific. Even my husband thinks so."
What Mary Saved: Around $1,500
Who: Bill Kesler
"My teenage daughter wanted her bedroom to have an "industrial" look, with lockers and lots of other metals. I thought about using stainless-steel boxes from Pottery Barn to make her a queen-size headboard, but they were $24 each. Each one was 12 by 12 inches, so it would have taken at least a dozen to do the job. Forget that. Instead, I bought a sheet of ½-inch plywood and covered it with aluminum roof flashing. Then I framed it and covered the seam with 1½-inch maple, fastened with sheet-metal screws. I hung it with a French cleat. The headboard cost less than $50 to build, so I saved a bunch of money. She likes it, and her friends admire the look."
What Bill Saved: $230
Where: From the TOH discussion boards
"When I needed new curtain rods for my house, I used galvanized electrical conduit rods, which I spray painted either copper, brass, or black. For finials, I just stuffed some dowels into plastic fruit, adhering it using expanding polyurethane glue. Then I spray painted the fruit the same color as the rods. It's been seven years, and they still look great—just like the real thing."
What Riata Saved: About $60 0