DIY · Home & Garden

How To Do Home Renovations on a Budget

Learn how to do home renovations on a budget with my latest tips and ideas. Cut costs by doing it yourself and factoring these in.

White, newly refinished tile is behind a new bathroom vanity, which is a great way to do your home renovations on a budget.

One thing I hear people say when it comes to home renovations is that they don’t think it’s possible to do because they’re on a tight budget. However, it is possible to complete lots of home renovation projects on a budget!

Although it’s obvious you’ll save money by doing it yourself, home renovations can still add up if you’re not careful. I’ve acquired quite a few skills since AJ and I started renovating our home. But we’ve also had to be selective about which rooms to prioritize, what types of materials we use, and how we change our home.

It’s important to set a budget in the beginning of starting renovations, though I for one can say we almost always go a little over. (I talked about this over in my post Everything You Need to Know Before Renovating A Home.) 

Using a budget as a guideline is important, though, as it’s easy to get carried away with creating the perfect home. It is so easy to indulge in all the pretty stuff, believe me. I’ve learned to practice a lot of self-discipline. 

Here are a few ideas on completing home renovations on a budget…

A young man works on hardwood floors in a cottage home.

home renovations on a budget

Paint is your best friend 

I can’t stress this one enough. Paint is a game changer! I’ve literally solved about 75% of my home renovations on a budget through painting. Paint is relatively cheap when you compare it to replacing items. I love paint because instead of replacing something, I’m investing in repairing it (or at least making it look nicer). It’s a more sustainable practice that I take pride in doing. 

Paint is so versatile, and I’ve used it to update not only wall colors but also trim, doors and door frames, the bathtub, tile, and floors. I’ll even be painting my kitchen cabinets at some point instead of paying for entirely new ones. That is a huge money saver.

It’s amazing how a few coats of paint can transform an entire room, kind of like here when we created a cottage dining room. It can truly make something old look brand new. 

I like to recommend investing in some good quality paint brushes for painting. Don’t buy the cheap disposable ones that last for one use. Use quality ones you can wash after each use and use multiple times. They paint much better and are worth the price. The cheap ones often have hairs that fall out of the brush and get stuck on painted walls. And they just don’t hold up well like some nicer ones do.

For painting smaller areas or around edges, I invested in these craft store paint brushes for $6. They give a professional quality without the hassle of having to tape everything beforehand.

A newly renovated dining area awaits you. Home renovations on a budget include painting a lot!

Give a room a facelift with new trim

Adding new trim can give an entire room a whole new refresh. These small details really matter. Whether adding crown, chair, or just plain old baseboard moulding, making these updates are a great way to keep your home renovations on a budget. 

Like most things, certain pieces of trim can get expensive if you choose really fancy ones with intricate designs. However, plain ones can be very affordable and still make a room look so much better and updated. This is especially true if you opt for slightly taller baseboards. If you don’t have a nail gun, all you’ll need is a hammer and nails to install them (and a circular saw to trim them to fit, of course). 

One simple way to give a room a more elegant look is to add chair moulding around the room and then paint the wall between the baseboards and the chair moulding to resemble a wainscoting effect. 

New baseboards are located in a new bathroom with a cottage flair.

Update hardware for a modern look

Want an easy way to update cabinets and drawers without completely replacing cabinets? Well, you can take my advice about painting them, but be sure to change out the hardware too for a classic, clean look. You can even find antique pieces if you have an older home that you want to update yet keep true to its character.

This is a very affordable way to make small updates that will make a huge difference. Hardware and other fine details are often overlooked by DIY home renovators, but they really will create a difference in design.

This can includes door knobs & hinges and floor/wall registers, too. Updating all of these will make others think it’s all completely new when you really just refinished the wood and replaced the hardware. 

New hardware has been added to old doors after being painted for a hack for home renovations on a budget.

Update your ceilings

One way to change a room is to update a ceiling. Especially if you have popcorn ceilings, you’re probably dying to change this up. You can easily wet it and scrape it off, which takes time and patience, but is a cost-effective way to make an update.

I will note that if you have an older home, there are very high chances of it containing asbestos. This means you would have to hire a professional to safely remove it. This can be expensive. Get it tested first. If you have to, you can always opt to cover it up instead.

Refinish hardwood floors

Hardwood floors are my favorite because they’re traditional and veer more toward the traditional, historic approach of restoring. They’re easy to clean and look great. Even if you don’t have hardwood floors or they’re past the point of refinishing you can opt for affordable carpet. 

Hardwood floors are also cheap to refinish. Rent a large drum sander, buy some stain and varnish, and that’s honestly about all you need. Learning this skill can save you so much money and can even be used for refinishing furniture, too. 

Two men work on renovating an old bedroom, focusing on hardwood floor refinishing.

Opt for low-cost tiling 

One thing you can do to reduce costs when renovating a home is to choose materials that are more affordable. For example, if you’re replacing or adding tile, choose ceramic or vinyl instead of porcelain tile. (Though it’s recommended more for walls and areas with less moisture-so be aware of that.) There are so many affordable options out there right now. 

I personally love real tile, though, so if this is the case for you, you may be able to afford it if it’s in a small space. I chose to do this when renovating my bathroom and was able to still stay within my budget for the entire bathroom. Sometimes you just have to splurge in one area if you know you’re going to go frugal in another.

Bathroom tile has been painted for an affordable, fresh look.

DIY art

Instead of spending a ridiculous amount on art for walls, you can buy art secondhand or you can actually try to make your own if you’re artistic. I’ve seen so many tutorials on YouTube that show exactly how to use watercolors, how to paint landscapes, and how to draw. Once I refresh our hallway, I plan on trying my hand at some of this to save money. 

Don’t stop there either. Picture frames can be pricey. Find a company where you can purchase frames in bulk, purchase some from a secondhand store, or make your own with leftover trim from another project. There are always ways to use up leftover materials in other areas of the home.

Focus on updating rooms you value most, first

At least at first, focus on rooms that you use the most. This means the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. But also don’t be afraid to start smaller, if you’re intimidated by tackling a large kitchen first (I wouldn’t want to either). 

More importantly, focus on rooms that will add the most value (again, the bathroom and kitchen). If you ever need to sell your home, especially sooner than you anticipated, you won’t be scrambling to complete these important rooms. 

Paneling on a kitchen wall has been painted and updated.

Shop around for appliances and wait for annual sales

When doing home renovations on a budget, you may want to update appliances for a whole new, completed look in some rooms. You’ll have several options for creating a new look on a budget.

Most appliances have certain times of year they go on sale. Certain ones are released during specific months, so retailers need to get rid of the old ones first. That’s when the sales begin. Do your research to know what times of year are best for buying new stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers, etc. for all the best deals. 

Better yet, you can always shop secondhand for these, too. Some people just want a change of color and go the affordable route of using appliance paint to refinish their appliances. Though I’ve never done this myself, at least yet, I’m sure a quick Google search could provide a tutorial on how to do this. 

Add in secondhand decor 

I can’t forget decor! Sometimes we only think of the nitty gritty work when factoring in costs of renovating, only to remember we may want new furniture, curtains, rugs, or other decor replaced to fit the new style.

I love shopping at antique and thrift stores to find one-of-a-kind pieces that are fit for my home. We have a mid-century ranch home that we’ve been turning into a cottage, so putting older items in our home fits its character and personality well. 

You can also peruse garage sales and estate sales to find secondhand items for your home. Sometimes there are hidden treasures after sifting through a bunch of junk. You never know when you’ll get lucky.

A secondhand, antique kitchen scale is added for character in a living room nook.

final thoughts

These ideas for making home renovations on a budget should be beneficial to you when making decisions regarding updates to your home. Hopefully this list gives you some new ideas for cutting costs.

Completing home renovations on a budget don’t have to be daunting. But you should be strategic about it.

It can be stressful and chaotic while it’s going on, but it is so worth the investment. Your home will gain resale value and you’ll enjoy being in it so much more.

More Home Renovation Posts Like This

Everything You Need to Know About Home Renovations Part One

DIY Interior Door Makeover

Everything You Need to Know About Home Renovations Part Two

Small Cottage Bathroom Makeover

My Best Painting Tips for Beginners

How to Paint Hardwood Floors

5 thoughts on “How To Do Home Renovations on a Budget

  1. The wood look on the ceiling is something I’d love to try. What kinds of paint do you suggest? Do you like any particular brand and or type (flat, gloss, semi-gloss) the most? How about primers?

    1. Hi, Chasity! The ceiling pictured was actually done using thin paneling we picked up from Menard’s. It was already pre-painted to look that way. We just used a nail gun to secure it to the studs in the ceiling—but had to trim it down to easily get it up and hold it there while nailing it. It was very laborious, and since it was one of our first projects in our home I definitely need to touch it up. I’ve thought about writing a post about how to do this, but I’m not 100% happy with the outcome… so I’m going to figure out a way to “fix” it first. It is cute right now, but definitely looks very rustic indeed (due to panel spacing issues, hard to find studs, lining the panels up properly, etc.).

    2. As far as paint goes—semi-gloss, no preference on brands (I’ve used several and don’t feel any particular way toward certain brands), and I usually buy paint that has primer in it already.

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