This is a photo journal of how much it cost us in real world dollars to make real world cosmetic upgrades.

If you're looking for designer names and a designer look, this site isn't for you.  This was done on a budget.  The goal was an updated, refreshed home, not a show home.  We lived in the house only a year before we had to move, so early choices were made with the expectation that we'd be in the home for years to come; later decisions were made with the goal of fixing the house up for the market as quickly as possible with the least expense possible while staying appropriate to the home's elegant neighborhood.

We did many of the upgrades shown after we had vacated the property and needed to get it on the market ASAP, so we hired a contractor to do much of what would have been DIY'd otherwise. 

What worked for us:

1) Shopping online.  Home Depot's and Lowe's websites often offered cheaper merchandise than they carried in store, particularly in faucets.  eBay was a great source for cabinet hardware.

2) Buying discounted gift cards.  We used cardpool.com to buy HD and Lowe's gift cards at 8% off their face value.  This then was like getting everything 8% off.  (Nope, no ties to cardpool.)

Please note that this home is located in a relatively low cost of living area (real estate runs about $90/sq ft), so materials and labor costs may be lower than in your area. 

Most prices are from December 2011.