When it became clear that allergies would prevent Nancy B. Westfall's infant daughter from having a rug in her room, the Atlanta-based artist turned instead to paint, a few stencils and a plan.
Westfall used the baby's bedroom floor much like she would a canvas, painting on it a diamond-shaped pattern that gave the space a custom look you simply can't achieve with a kid's area rug.
Eleven years and another house later, Westfall remains a big fan of bringing floors to life with colour instead of covering them up.
"They look pretty refinished, and they look even better painted," Westfall says.
You don't have to be a professional artist like Westfall to do it, although proponents of painting the floor say it does require patience and nerve.
Rachel Cannon Lewis, an interior designer in Baton Rouge, La., encourages clients to consider it. Painting a floor, whether it's wood or concrete, can be more affordable than tile, carpet or other floor coverings, she says.
And in homes that date back more than a century, painted floors are more historically accurate: Back then, people frequently painted their wide, plank wood floors to protect them from warping, Lewis says.
Story continues below slideshow: 10 tips to saving money on home renovations
Find A 'ReStore' Store
Whether you're hiring someone or are DIYing it, you can cut down on costs by buying supplies and material from a 'ReStore' store. ReStores, run by Habitat for Humanity, are <a href="http://www.habitat.ca/restore-directory-p5011.php" target="_hplink">building supply stores that resell quality new and gently used building materials</a>. You can buy items at a reduced cost, typically 50 to 80 per cent off the original retail value.
Everything But The Kitchen Sink
Whenever you do a big renovation, like move the kitchen sink or a toilet, it will cost you. Why? Not only are you reorganizing the floor plan of your home, you'll also have to look at your plumbing. Many old homes have leaks because plumbing hasn't been upgraded. So a way to save money is to upgrade your pipes at the same time as you gut your kitchen/bathroom. "<a href="http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,1186851-6,00.html" target="_hplink">That will save you money in the long run</a>," says Richard Trethewey, a plumbing and heating expert on <a href="http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/" target="_hplink">This Old House</a>.
Knock It Down Yourself
Rebuilding costs a lot, so why not save some dollars by at least doing the demolition yourself? With a little advice from your local supply/hardware store, you can do some "tearing down walls" yourself. Just proceed with caution. Beware of <a href="http://www.renovationplanning.com.au/display_story.php?story_key=244" target="_hplink">taking out a load-bearing wall</a> or sawing through live wiring or plumbing, RenovationPlanning.com.au says.
Not Sure If You Can Do It Yourself? Watch A Video
You can learn how to tie a tie and apply makeup by watching YouTube videos, so what's stopping you from doing a quick search of your DIY project online, too? Obviously it depends on what your renovation project is, but even for bigger improvements, watching a video can give you an idea of what the whole process will look like and how long it'll take.
Plan In Advance
You're probably thinking, "Of course I'm going to plan in advance," but many people underestimate the costs they will begin to rack up once they start a remodel. Research the renovation you want to make. How much will it cost? How long will it take? Try and write up a detailed list of things you will need along with how much each will cost. Walk around a home improvement store if you have to.
Buy Material In Advance
While you're out scouring the aisles to find out the exact prices of things, you might stumble upon a wonderful find. If you spot items you need for your renovation that are on sale -- be it bathroom vanities or baseboards -- consider buying them. Yes, you may have to store your materials for six months pre-reno, but it will save you money.
Use "Free" Home Remodelling Consultants
Many home improvement stores have consultants on site who can offer you free advice on how to proceed with a renovation plan. <a href="http://homerenovations.about.com/od/legalsafetyissues/a/artsaveremodel_4.htm" target="_hplink">Homerenovations.about.com</a> says even if you don't plan on using them, you'll walk away with a nice printed kitchen design layout. You can also get product samples of siding from siding companies and hardwood/laminate flooring chips from flooring companies. It's a great way to research/prepare/plan for any home project.
Plus, painting just looks good.
"I'm starting to think of the floor as the sixth wall," says Lewis, who considers floors "an overlooked opportunity to get creative and introduce colour." (The "fifth wall," by the way, is the ceiling).
Painting floors yourself can be a lengthy process, Lewis says, primarily because the thin, oil-based paint she recommends requires multiple coats, with lengthy dry times between each one. Getting fancier by, say, creating a pattern with paint or a stencil, requires even more patience and precision.
Even if you hire a professional painter, however, "You have to be willing to embrace the idea that it's going to be a different solution than what most people tell you to do," Lewis says.
"There are going to be friends that come over who don't get it, and your mom is not going to get it," she says. "But I love the notoriety that comes with pushing the envelope and going for it."
Painted floors are not as durable as some of the alternatives, especially in high-traffic areas, says Sidney Wagner, a Charleston, S.C., interior designer.
"Over time, even with polyurethane, they will show scratches and the paint will scratchoff," she says. "However, a tip to help combat your floors from looking too shabby is to paint a contrasting layer of colour underneath. So when that second layer of colour comes through with the scratches, the marred floors will look planned with your colour scheme."
Carol Charny, a Larchmont, N.Y.-based interior designer, says that painting floors requires a bit of throwing caution to the wind.
"You can do anything you want. The world is your oyster," she says. "You just have to disengage from fear."
In the home interiors shop she used to own, Charny used black and white paint to make the floor look like it was covered with an area rug, complete with fringe.
She warns that the margin for error grows with the complexity of the project. "You're not going to paint an Oriental rug," she says.
On the other hand, the beauty of using paint is that, if something goes awry, you can cover it up.
"You have to relax," she says. "It's only paint."