10 Ways To Make Your Stuff Feel New Again

by Scott on September 12, 2008

photo credit: ILoveButter

I would like to thank everyone who has left a comment on this post, as your ideas are fantastic! It would be wonderful to see the list grow to 25. If you have a unique idea to make your stuff feel new again, just leave a comment.

My 2002 Toyota Prius is starting to look worn and tired inside and out and it’s only 6 years old. The carpets are dirty with several coffee stains from sudden turns, the paint is a little faded and several french fries are still lodged between the seats. I’ll be honest, the temptation to take it to the Toyota dealership and trade it in for a new 2009 Prius does exist. Does it make financial sense to trade-in a perfectly good 2002 Toyota Prius with low miles and HOV stickers for carpool lane for a brand spanking new $25,000 2009 Prius? Nope.

My front lawn never looked lush and green this summer as it never recovered from my daughters 4th birthday party bouncy house. Back in February we rented a princess jumpy house with our neighbors and celebrated two birthday parties on our front lawn. It was rainy and wet and the weight of the bouncy house was too much for my front lawn to handle. It’s a small lawn and I wondered if now is the time to rip it out and put in new sod? It would only cost $400 to have new sod put down. Did I do it? No way!

It’s tempting to buy new cars or replace items around the house, but how can you make your older car or house shine like new again. For some items on this list it will take a few dollars to make your stuff shine like new. In the end I think it might be worth it and save you from new sticker shock or buyers remorse.

1. Professional car detail. This is not a frugal option, but still thousands cheaper from buying a new car. Check craigslist or your local yellow pages for a professional car detail center or private individual that has a mobile car detail business. Prices can range from $100-$300+ Sounds like a lot of money, but your car will look and smell new. All those french fries will be removed from between the seats and your carpets will look new again.

2. New diamond ring for your wife. I’m not talking about a new diamond from Harry Winston or Tiffany, but a newer shinny diamond ring. If you’ve been married a few years, your wife’s diamond ring may have some soap scum or scratches in the setting. Make an appointment and take your wife’s ring to your local jewelry store. They will clean and even replace smaller diamonds for very little money. My wife has a very small diamond ring with two small baggetts on the side. For under $100, I had the ring cleaned and one missing baggett replaced. My wife was thrilled to have her ring look new again.

3. 1 hour massage. Want to feel relaxed and energized? My wife and I bough each other a 1 hour massage several years ago, and it was amazing. I’d never had a massage and it was more relaxing than 1 week in Hawaii and a lot cheaper. $50-$100 and you’ll feel like a new person. Extra bonus points if you buy one for your spouse and surprise her/him.

Money Grubbing Lawyer tip: Check your health plan to see if your massage is covered under insurance policy. He also suggests signing up for a couples massage class and learn how to give a massage. Great idea!

4. Paint your front door and trim. Tired of looking at your same house and want a cheap way to make it look new again. Our friends bought one can of Benjamin Moore mocha paint ($45) and painted door and front trim around windows. They left the existing house color the same, but now the house looks like it belongs in another zip code.

5. Curb appeal. Another way to make your house look newer, pressure wash your driveway and front entry. My neighbors replaced the driveway and walkway and spent $10,000. Sure, it looks nice but for $50-100 I bought a pressure washer and made my cement look new again.

6. New dining room table. Replace table chair seats and change the look of your dining room with new fabric. Visit your local fabric store and buy a few yards of cloth, remove the old and use a staple gun to fasten the new fabric. Total cost $40-$100.

You can do the same for an older couch. Buy a slip cover and change the look of your outdated or old stained couch. If you have kids, you know the look I’m talking about. A new slip cover can range from $50-$150 depending on brands.

7. Paint a wall. Want to make some brownie points with your wife and update the look inside? Have your wife pick out a color and paint one wall with this new color. She may just love the new accent wall color and you don’t have to paint the entire room. Maybe she likes red or mocha, whatever it is will change the look of the room and make it look new. Cost $25-50

8. New toys for your kids. This one is easy, fun, and it works. If your child has several favorite toys and they are younger, put one of them away in storage for a few weeks or months. You can introduce the toy back to them and they will get just as excited as the day they opened it. We have done this with a train set for my son. He received another smaller set and we put a bigger one up in storage. One day we brought the train set down and he jumped up and down and ran around the house in excitement.

9. Fertilize your lawn. Don’t buy new sod or seed, try a good fertilizer first. You can buy name brand like Scott’s turf builder or you can buy generic ammonium nitrate for $10. Follow instructions and you will have a front lawn that rivals those on Sunset magazine.

10. Hire a gourmet chef. My wife received a gift certificate for 10 meals to a company called Sous kitchen where you prepare fresh family meals. They were recipes that we would never cook ourselves including some meats we have never even tried. I recall having a shepherds pie that was amazing. These can range in price considerably $50-$200, but are cheaper than eating out and will also help inspire your next grocery store list. You can freeze the meals and break one out when you have nothing else to eat, or you crave going out to eat.

11. Free From Broke tip: This one is free and only requires some elbow grease. Spend the weekend removing clutter from garage, office, and house. This would be a great spring cleaning project that would make your house feel larger.

12. Anthony’s tip: Have your old leather shoes polished and make them shine like new again. Great idea! I used to go to Nordstrom and have them shined for a couple dollars.

13. Miranda’s tip: Another way to relax. Get a pedicure. This is probably a cheaper alternative to a massage. I’ve never had a pedicure or a manicure. Has your husband?

14. Tyler @ Building Camelot suggested: Hiring a maid service to help clean your house. A cheaper alternative would be to have a maid service come every few months to do a spring cleaning special. It would be a nice treat to have someone give some extra shine to the floors and cabinets.

15. Asithi’s tip: This is another free idea. Wash curtains, tennis shoes, bath mats and make them shine like new. I used to wash my tennis shoes, but since I play a lot of tennis I usually wear out the soles first. This would be a great idea for shoes that still have lots of life left in them.

16. Mrs. Micah suggests polishing items in your house. If you have collectibles or even a coffee table lamp. A good dusting and polishing can make them look new again.

17. Laurel Plum’s tip: Take a workshop or seminar to acquire new trade skills. Base and crown molding come to mind and this can really make a room look fresh and new. Once you learn the basic miter angles, you’re all set and can replicate most cuts in a standard size room.

18. Virilitas has a great tip that will be a sure way to give you the extra jolt you need to clean your house or finish a project. Exercise.

19. LoriAngel suggested working with your existing clothes to create a new look. Lori recommends tailoring your favorite skirt, layer shirts for a different look, and work with existing accessories like belts and scarves. This sounds like a very creative way to stretch your wardrobe budget and give your clothes a fresh new look.

20. Prime Time Money suggests cleaning out your wallet or purse and organize your receipts. I’m guilty of keeping receipts and even expired insurance cards in my wallet. I also found a home depot card worth $50 that I forgot I had.

21. Laurel Plum had another great idea to move furniture around and trade small accessory items to change your color scheme. You might be able to trade smaller items at a consignment store and it would introduce a new item to your room.

22. RetiredAt47 suggests buying a slip cover for your older couch. Refresh the look of your living room or family room couch. Also, another idea to repaint to freshen a room.

23. Sasha at Debt Free Saver
has a very frugal and cheap idea to buy new dish towels for your kitchen or bathroom. The new color will make your room look fresh and clean.

Do you have a tip you’d like to share that has given new life to your old stuff?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MoneyGrubbingLawyer September 12, 2008 at 6:27 am

A professional car detailing can make a HUGE difference! I generally detail my cars myself, but every now and then I like to splurge to let the pros do it- I’m not sure what tricks they use, but they can do a much better job than I can!

As for the massage, it’s definitely worth the cost. Check with your health plan- mine covers up to $300 a year, and if you need a doctor’s referal most are more than willing to give you one if you ask. Another great option is to sign up for a couples massage class- for about the cost of one massage, you and your wife can take a couple of classes and learn the tricks so you can massage each other. The biggest problem is deciding who gets to lie and who gets to knead…

2 FFB September 12, 2008 at 11:12 am

We had our old car detailed once. We had a strange black I don’t know what stain on the back seat. They were able to get it out as well as clean up everything else. Made the car look new again.

Another thing – take a weekend and clean out all of the clutter from your home: garage, closets, kitchen cupboards, everything. You’d be amazed at how fresh your house will seem once you’ve cleared out the clutter.

3 hank September 12, 2008 at 12:11 pm

I like #9 – The lawn is a big expense (I just went through it) and keeping it up doesn’t take that much $ either and REALLY bumps up the value of your house both to you and to a prospective buyer if you’re in the market…

4 Anthony September 12, 2008 at 12:26 pm

One thing that came to mind is having your old shoes polished. It can make them look like new AND help you realize that the shoes can last much longer.

Great blog!

5 Miranda September 12, 2008 at 1:03 pm

I actually prefer a pedicure to a massage :) But the principle is the same. Another thing I like to do is periodically re-arrange the furniture in the house. It gives the house a fresh new feel. Changing the curtains can do this as well.

6 Tyler @ Building Camelot September 12, 2008 at 1:14 pm

These are some great ideas! I can relate to the car detail because our old Jeep Cherokee could really use one. I don’t think it’s ever been cleaned out and is almost embarrassing to show other people.

What about a maid to come in every now and then and deep clean the house? It’s more of an ongoing expense, but one that I’m sure my wife wouldn’t mind paying.

7 asithi September 12, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Like Anthony said, I buy black and brown shoe polish. I polish my leather shoes twice a year. Sure beats having to buy new one since a little bottle of shoe polish can last for years.

I like take down my curtains once a year and put them in the washer. Sometimes I do that with stuff animals, tennis shoes, and even bath rugs.

In general, if you buy good quality stuff and take good care of them, they can look new for years.

8 Mrs. Micah September 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm

If it’s washable, wash it. If it’s polishable, polish it. If it’s cluttered, straighten it. Just vacuuming and mopping the floors gives our apartment a fresher, newer feel.

Taking a bunch of old papers off a coffee table and then polishing it will make it seem like new again. It’s wonderful what a little cleaning can do.

That said, I need to get our car cleaned, but since it was Micah’s for several years before the marriage, I never feel as comfortable either taking charge and doing it myself or asking him to do it. Still feels like his territory. The rest is definitely OURS.

And sometimes you need professional help. I have a friend who gets her ring cleaned periodically and it always looks great. I just inherited a serger which has been cleaned once a year for the last dozen years and it runs like new!

9 Lindsay September 12, 2008 at 3:56 pm

I definitely agree that a professional car detailing is a great way to make your used (and paid for!) care feel new again. It does cost a pretty penny, but it’s faaaar superior to just getting a car wash and vacuuming out the interior on your own. :)

10 Laurel Plum September 12, 2008 at 7:48 pm

This is a great list! Painting the front of the house is actually on the to-do list for this weekend. There are a couple of others I have also done. The hubby has been making grumblings about his car lately. Maybe I better surprise him by getting his car detailed! If we could put off acquiring a car payment for even a few months, it would be a wise investment.

Several of these including a couple from the comments just went on my master to-do list.

We are big into DIY projects. We always research a project to see if it is possible for us to do most or all of the work ourselves. A few times we’ve paid for workshops/seminars to add needed skills, but it sure is less expensive (and more satisfying) than hiring a professional for the whole project.

Actually, now that you have started my mind working, I am getting all kinds of ideas! Too may to write them all down here. Maybe I’ll write about them on my blog as I do them and do a link back to this article to let you know all the things we’ve done! Thank you for the practical advice

11 Scott September 13, 2008 at 12:37 am

I really appreciate all the wonderful comments and good tips on making your old stuff new again. If you have a new idea, please share it with us.

@ MGL I had no idea that some insurance companies would cover personal massages. Wonderful tip. I wonder how many people never think to ask?

@ FFB Spring cleaning can be done anytime of the year. Great tip and it’s frugal too.

@ Hank Our neighbors just put in new sod and it made the house look a thousand times better. It was just a dirt lot for a few months and now it looks like a park.

@ Anthony Yes, the shoes. When I used to wear a suit at the office, I would treat myself occasionally too. It’s actually very relaxing and you can read the paper. Great idea!

@ Miranda My wife just told me that a pedicure and manicure are very relaxing. I had to ask, since I’ve never had one. This could be a great alternative to a full massage.

@ Tyler Having a maid service come every few months to help with spring cleaning could give everyone a little vacation. Just having someone clean the grout would be nice.

@ Asithi Washing tennis shoes is a really good and cheap way to give them more life. A good frugal tip.

@ Mrs. Micah Polishing household items and dusting would certainly freshen up the house. We have a large book cabinet that could probably use a good dusting.

@ Lindsay I agree. If you don’t have car payments, it would be nice to treat yourself to a professional car detailing once in awhile.

@ Laurel Plum Taking a seminar or workshop to learn a new skill is a fantastic way to build or remodel your home. The project may be expensive, but the skill learned is priceless. I’ve helped install baseboard, crown and hardwood floors for several friends and it saves a ton of money.

12 Ron@TheWisdomJournal September 13, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Rent a carpet cleaning machine and clean your carpets.
Take a Saturday and wash your windows with soap and water and then squeegee them clean.
Clean and re-stain your deck.
Plant some tulip bulbs this fall and enjoy fresh flowers next spring.

The best way to keep things “new” is good old regular maintenance! :)

13 Scott September 13, 2008 at 2:42 pm

@ Ron These are some great tips! I’ve rented a rug doctor from Safeway grocery store and for under $40 cleaned our carpets. The rug doctor is great for removing muddy dog paw prints.

14 BusyDad September 13, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Funny you mentioned the train set. My dad bought me a train set when I was 3, and we only set it up around Xmas time. Every year, opening and setting it up was something I totally looked forward to. I STILL have that trainset and have continued the tradition with my son. The SAME set!

15 Virilitas September 13, 2008 at 6:41 pm

It always helps ME to feel new again (and ready to take on projects like the ones listed above) when I make sure to get regular exercise. ;)

16 LoriAngel September 15, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Hi there,

I love all these great ideas! I’m a huge proponent of improving what you already have instead of looking for replacements.

My suggestion is about clothing, as fashion is my shopping weakness. Whenever I think my wardrobe needs an overhaul, I pull out all my favorite items, and then get creative in styling them. I see which dresses I can tailor cheaply for a new feel. I layer shirts to create a different look. I play around with accessories, like belts and scarves. Not only does this maximize my existing pieces; it also gives me an outlet to be creative.


17 Scott September 16, 2008 at 10:54 am

@ Virilitas Exercise is a great way to get that extra jolt needed for home projects. It’s easy to forget to take the time to workout, especially when focused on another project.

@LoriAngel This is a great fashion tip for anyone looking to stretch a clothing budget. Get creative with the clothes you have and create a different look or style. Fantastic!

18 PT September 17, 2008 at 5:24 am

Great list you have going. I suggest cleaning out your wallet and purse every now and again. There’s always stuff in there you aren’t using or need to put somewhere else. Cleaner and lighter is better. :)

19 Scott September 17, 2008 at 10:46 am

@ PT This is a great suggestion. I have a wallet that makes me lean to the side when I sit down. My wallet has so much junk, including old receipts and even old health care cards. It’s time to clean it out again. Great idea!

20 Laurel Plum September 18, 2008 at 12:43 am

This week we had another little experiment in our home that I thought I could share with you. We moved furniture around. Not just in the room, around the house. When you move even small pieces and swap with another room, it makes both rooms feel updated and revitalized. Sure beats buying new! We also traded small accessories which mixed up the colors schemes. Free whole house redecorating!

21 RetiredAt47 September 25, 2008 at 2:40 pm

This is a great post! I’m always amazed at what a difference it makes to my home when I give it a good cleaning, or even better, repaint. Often the small details make the biggest impact.

My tip is actually something I just did. I felt like my house looked tired and sad (I’ve been in the same house for 17 years), and it was in need of a serious makeover. I bought new curtains for a couple of rooms and also slipcovers for an older sofa and chair. It is incredible what a difference that made.

22 Sasha September 25, 2008 at 4:14 pm

1- More fun with paint. Repaint or refinish an old dresser, desk, bed frame etc. Or, just change the knobs on a dresser or cabinet to give it a newer and more modern look.

2-Get rid of things. How does this help you have new things? I recently went through my clothing and realized some old pants fit again, and got rid of some that didn’t. I went trough my books and found a bunch I hadn’t read. plus, getting rid of things I didn’t want helped me remember which of my clothing I do like and just hadn’t worn in a while.

3-sort of like the curtains thing, but an easy way to revitalize a kitchen or bathroom is to get some new towels. Way cheaper than painting or getting new appliances or tiles, and a new colored towel or pattern can bring out whole other colors in a room.

This is a really great and inspiring post. thanks

23 Scott September 30, 2008 at 9:12 pm

@ Laurel Plum Moving furniture or getting rid of small items can really make a room look larger. We enjoy moving furniture every 6 months. We also flip the cushions to make them last longer. Kids are brutal on furniture:)

@Retiredat47 New slipcovers is a fantastic idea. They can really make an older couch look new again.

@Sasha New towels for a kitchen or bathroom is a wonderful cheap idea to make a room look newer.

24 Colombian Coffee October 1, 2008 at 10:54 am

These are awesome ideas!

I love the car detailing. Of course you could detail it yourself and spend the extra money getting new plastic mats that are easier to upkeep and maybe even car seat covers. These are great if you have kids because they’ll damage/dirty the covers rather than the car seats.

Also, consider going some place like Massage Envy (massageenvy.com) where you na get a one hour massage for $39 and then get a monthly membership, just like at the gym.

Other tips:

Clean your fridge and rearrange the shelves. You’ll fell like you have a new roomier fridge.

Pack away the clutter and things you’re saving “just in case” that you never use. You could even sell them on Ebay and actually make money. You’re house will feel bigger and cleaner and so will your wallet.

Clean out/Declutter you PC. Get an external hard drive to save images/music etc. Your computer will be faster and easier to use. You’ll think it’s brand new. Go all out and defragment your hard drive, run full diagnostics, besure to get rid of malware, etc. Get rid of old programs, excessive toolbars, etc. Also, clean your screen, mouse and keyboard.

Redo your bedroom get new bedding/accessories. You’ll think you got a new bed!

25 Andy @ Retire at 40 January 2, 2009 at 4:14 am

One thing I did recently was go to a bicycle maintenance course. Luckily our city council runs a beginners and an intermediate course for free. Things I learned:

* cleaning your bike
* adjusting the brakes
* adjusting the gears
* fixing a broken chain
* replacing the brake pads

After all that, your bike not only looks new but feels new too!

26 Isabel February 9, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I think we live very different lifestyles (case in point, #10: $50-200 is cheaper than going out to a restaurant??? seriously??); so to me, many of these look like tips on how to spend more money. :)

That said, I relate to your story about the car. I took an alternate approach with the same intent recently. My car is 15 years old, and is obviously showing its age in many, many ways. Detailing frankly wouldn’t help it that much. Although I am very frugal and believe in driving cars until it’s no longer possible, I was having a hard time fighting the urge to buy a different car. So for about $50, I turned it into an art car. It turned out GREAT, and now I wouldn’t sell my car for the world. I’m hoping to get another 5-8 years out of it.

Understood that this may be a bit extreme for some, but to each his own, right? :)

27 Scott February 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm

@ Isabel

I would love to see a picture of your art car. When my wife and I lived in San Francisco, we saw several cars that were decorated by some amazing artists. I also remember seeing a car that was decorated with sea shells. Every space on the car was covered in shells.

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