Home Improvement Ideas On A Budget

The main objective of home improvement ideas on a budget is to update, refresh, and improve existing features in pretty on a penny fashion.

The same logic applies to blog posts in need of a refresh.

Caught up in the splendor of sourcing, I accidentally changed the status of this four year old post (time sure does fly) from published to draft, so it and its sister post is coming around again with improved upon budget friendly remodeling ideas.

Many of the conversations around Places In The Home center around renovating, updating and home improvement ideas on a budget.

We speak fluent all things house that make a home around here, and we love when renovating, updating and remodeling projects leave a little change in our pocket.

Design on a dime is good, but project on a penny is even better.

wheat penniesFlickr

Both our flipping and personal home owning portfolio has consisted of pre-owned homes in established neighborhoods flush with properties primed for remodeling.

Older properties appeal to a large portion of the buying market such as first time home buyers, downsizers, and fixer upper decoristas.

I decided to check out our local real estate listings for a newer older property to use as a visual guide.  Being familiar with the residential landscape, I thought I would score a great listing photo from particular areas known for 60s-80s ranch style homes.

Guess again.

What I learned is good news travels fast among sellers.

Living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms of older properties remain stuck in a time warp, but the kitchens rock the modern update.

You would have to be living under a rock if you do not know the value of and  demand for the updated kitchen.

I remembered I kept the image file of the flip house we entertained purchasing a couple of years ago.

The deal didn’t work for us, but the images do for this post.

flip-kitchen-master-1

Click Here to Enlarge Image

It’s a fact of real estate and home owner life that not everyone can afford a total renovation of their new older home after purchase.

A business associate shared with me her philosophy as to why so many occupied properties on the real estate listings channel are sparsely furnished.

Too much month at the end of the money.

money

When there’s too much renovating at the end of the money work with what you have.

Let me share with you Dave the Builder’s short and to the point philosophy.

bite-out-of-apple

Flickr

Take it one bite at a time.

flip house kitchen remodel update

Let’s look at 10 home improvement ideas on a budget to update and refresh the spaces and the places in the home.

1. Function isn’t always stylish, so dress it up!

Fluorescent lights offer reliable affordable lighting for main and task lighting in a kitchen.

That’s the good.

The bad?

Basic fluorescent lighting fixtures.

I’ve got a couple of solutions for this dilemma that are relatively simple and inexpensive.

framed fluorescent light

This is our kitchen renovation and remodel in progress, in two very different paint colors, and completed.

Note the framed fluorescent light.

kitchen-pediment

Frame an otherwise plain fluorescent light with decorative trim to introduce a custom look to the project.

Hudson pendantsY Lighting

Light Shaded Drum Chandelier

Lynden 5 Light Shaded Drum Pendant
Bowe 6 Light Shaded Drum Chandelier

Another option is to take down the fluorescent light and replace its ceiling footprint with a decorative panel.

Liz Caan & Co.

Liz Caan & Co.

I’m crazy about chandeliers and pendant lights on a Carrie Bradshaw Manolo Blahnik level.

flip pendants

Destrey 3 – Light Lantern Square Pendant
Patrice 3 – Light Pendant
Landrum 2-Light Single Globe Pendant 
Vargo 1 – Light Single Dome Pendant

You’ve probably heard the reference “jewelry of the room” in regards to lighting fixtures.

Statement accessories and accents pull the entire look together and impress the eye.

modern-farmhouse-style-chandeliers-pendants

3-lights Chandelier with Drum Farmhouse Pendant
1-Light Brass Ring Hammered Hand Blown Glass Pendant w/ Clear Glass Shade
Keowee 4-Light Galvanized Orb Chandelier with Antique White Wood Accents
Calgary 1-Light Pebbled Rust Mini Pendant
Ferris 3-Light Blue Verde Patina Chandelier
1-Light Warm Brass Pendant

2.  Home on the Range

A new and/or improved range hood is is both an investment in function, safety, and updated style.

Christy Foran Design

Christy Foran Design

A contrasting finish and/or material creates a commanding focal point.

all-white-kitchen-with-brass-accents-Amber InteriorsAmber Interiors

beams

Reclaimed wood beams and scrap pieces strikingly fit in with home improvement ideas on a budget.

Scrap pieces of reclaimed wood left over from large jobs and demos can be bought at very affordable prices.

farmhouse-kitchen-beam

Reclaimed wood beams camouflage a multitude of design and decorating sins.

When the tornado hit our house in 2017 and took most of our roof off, the kitchen ceiling suffered several issues including the exposure of tape joints on the drywall ceiling.

split-sheet-rock-tape-seam

After taking a project priority inventory, I consulted Dave and we decided to purchase a reclaimed wood beam from a local antiques store and install it over the joint in this image.

The current status on this update is project pending, patience waning, but I digress.

Standard-Tile-Photos-Chris-VeithStandard Tile-Photo by Chris Veith

Using decorative embellishments such as corbels, onlays and appliques will give an existing range hood and splatter guard a custom refresh.

appliques

Home Depot

There’s renovating and decorating gold in them thar Etsy listings, home improvement stores, flea markets, and antiques stores.

ornamental gate architectural iron

Iron Ornamental Grate

Architectural salvage pieces make visually interesting interior and exterior accent pieces.

An ornamental iron grate is beautifully put to decorative use as a splatter guard-fireback.

Antique 1800s Cast Iron Register GrateAntique 1800s Cast Iron Register Grate

3. Cabinets and the Techniques That Improve Them

Behr neutral colors

Behr

Select your color(s), grab a brush, bucket, roller, pan, painters tape, a couple of drop clothes and proceed to color your world!

painting-project

kitchen colorsPainting kitchen cabinets, walls, ceilings, and molding will bring forth an affordable change with instant visual gratification.

maureen.stevens.design.portfolio.interiors.kitchen

Maureen Stevens Design

traditional-home-contrasting-cabinet-fronts

Opposites attract comes to mind when I see these contrasting drawer fronts.

Contrast engages the eye and creates visual interest.

white-painted-cabinets-natural-wood-contrastBetter Homes & Gardens

contrasting-paint-colors

Maria Haidamus Interiors

Maria Haidamus Interiors

How about adding glass front inserts to existing cabinet doors?

DIY instructions HERE

Once the cut out is complete, I prefer to take the doors to a local glass company.

The pros measure, cut and install the glass, and the cost involved is surprisingly affordable.

Farmhouse is still the decorating style darling, and chicken wire cabinet doors will certainly achieve the style and put a unique twist on vintage chic.

How to instructions HERE

afb4cb6e6f8d1bb8372594c43d3c8a66Pinterest

I love this budget friendly idea for cabinet doors featured by Better Homes & Gardens.

Removing an existing cabinet door front and replacing it with a canvas art print results in a distinctive kitchen feature that’s anything but ordinary.

art-as-cabinet-doorsBetter Homes & Gardens

Ideas for this range from culinary art to black and white photography to photos from your own collection.

I’m seriously contemplating doing this with these photos on canvas of the Canadian snowbird’s wedding day and the wedding photo of my parent’s wedding cake.

Jade+Jackson-canvas

wedding-cake-black-white-photo

Dave and I often have conversations about the design and decor features of the houses we lived in as kids.  One conversation is particularly easy as it goes since our present house is also my childhood home.

panelingMy mother with her grand-mother and two first cousins
in our paneling covered kitchen circa 1974

My parents did an extensive remodel and addition to the house in 1986, modernizing for the time the design and decor including the removal of any and all paneling.

Timeworn and let’s face it tacky faux wood paneling is not my wall covering of choice.

Removing paneling is certainly an option, but it can test the budget therefore, we usually go the fill the grooves with drywall joint compound and paint over it route.

Beadboard paneling is the exception to our remove the paneling rule.

If it is in good shape and great style, it stays.

beadboard-panelingBetter Homes & Gardens

The flip house was built in the late 1960s- a prime paneling period in the ranch style house portfolio.

breakfast-area-walls

My home improvement ideas on a budget suggestions for this area:

Take down the upper cabinet unit to open up the space and enhance the sight line.

Keep the peninsula (note the bottom cabinets and drawers).

Replace the cabinet and drawer hardware.

Consider cabinet and drawer hardware in the same color family but different pattern and texture as the hardware choice for the main kitchen area to create statement contrast.

The canvas art idea as cabinet doors would work well in this area.

liberty-drawer-pull

Liberty Regal Square 3 in. Center-to-Center Champagne Bronze Drawer Pull

Square off (straight) the rounded edge countertop.

countertop-edge-profiles

Fill in the paneling grooves and paint the paneling in your color of choice.

Jenni-Kayne-kitchenRue Magazine

A decorative cabinet panel (under $20) added to the upper cabinet will cover and conceal any damage done in the process and give the end piece a fresh custom look.

cabinet-end-panel

Open-shelving is on trend and would work in this location.

Swedish Farm Kitchen Island

Swedish Farm Kitchen Island

Roll in a kitchen island for extra prep space.

Kitchen Island, Smokey Gray, Small, Boucherie

Kitchen Island, Smokey Gray, Small, Boucherie

kitchen island fixtures

Conard 1-Light Single Teardrop Pendant
Cavana 6 – Light Kitchen Island Linear Pendant
Maddox Collection Pendant
Carmen 6-Light Kitchen Island Linear Pendant
Freemont 5-Light Kitchen Island Linear Pendant

walnut-kitchen-island

Industrial Wood and Metal Island Table by Baxton Studio

pantry cabinets

The logic of good bones applies here.

Storage wins out, and there’s a good amount of it in place on this wall.

My suggestions for this area:

Fill in the paneling grooves, allow to dry, and paint the back wall.

Remove the hardware, fill in holes with wood putty, prep cabinets, and paint in color of choice.

Adjust the countertop to your liking (we’ll cover budget friendly countertop surface options in part two).

As far as the louvered door and wall to the left of this area goes, and if the budget allows, I’d demo it down and open up the entire space, incorporating the den/dining room combination into an open floor plan plan.

Taking down the entire wall all the way over to the opposite door opening (not visible in this image) would include losing this area, running up the budget, and bring in load bearing wall issues.

4.  Hardware Schmardware

armac.martin.portfolio.interiors.design.detail

Armac Martin

Replacing cabinet drawer and door hardware instantly updates the outdated.

cabinet-hardware-remodel

Consider replacing the hinges for a totally refreshed look.

hardware-kitchen-cabinets

Home improvement stores clearance bins, Overstock, Amazon, eBay and Etsy are excellent places to pick up super affordable cabinet hardware.

5.  Floors & More

Forest-Valley-Flooring-Pioneer-5-Engineered-Birch-Hardwood-Flooring-in-Tomahawk

Older properties sometimes surprise you with their quality design and decorative features, such as original hardwood or tile flooring.

flooring-French-Kitchen-style

Unfortunately, older properties can also mean older color palettes where orange, yellow and avocado green reign 1970s supreme!

70s-show-kitchen

Here’s a few suggestions:

Who doesn’t want to replace outdated flooring?

What we want, and what we can afford, don’t necessarily line up.

Don’t you hate when that happens?

luxury vinyl plank flooringLuxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

If new flooring is the area of priority, first search clearance sections of home improvement stores, discount building supply warehouses, liquidators, online retailers and eBay for discounted deals.

tile-kitchen-flooring

When buying local shop prices.

Inquire about flooring goods left over from large jobs.

Retailers will often sell these at great discounts.

Dave the Builder wants me to share with you all a trade secret.

Shop flooring installation prices as well.

Negotiate the best price with the flooring retailer on the flooring and get a quote for the install.

Contact other independent and reputable installers in your area to see if you can negotiate a better price.

k2-_bce12373-d8f6-476c-b953-64e301551026.v3If replacing the existing flooring is a budget buster, kick your flooring plan into clean and save gear.

Often our flip house budget left no room for new flooring, so I would hire a local professional floor refinisher to come in and clean the existing flooring.

He taught me that a bucket of cold (yes, cold) water, several drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid, a mop, and a lot of good old fashioned elbow grease can bring an existing floor back to life.

Home Improvement Ideas On A BudgetMore times than not the flooring in older properties is a blast from the past.

New flooring is a major expense- sometimes an expense best left for another time and project.

In these cases, a well placed decorative area rug covers a multitude of outdated sins.

French-Home-FurnishingsPopSugar

A patch of sheet rock, framed piece of art or decorative architectural wall piece can cover yet more design sins of days past.

NuTone radio systemNorthside Service Company

In part two of this series, I’ll address home improvement ideas on a budget 6-10 and several budget friendly remodeling bonus ideas.

Show & Tell

1 thought on “Home Improvement Ideas On A Budget”

  1. Thanks for all the really fantastic information in today’s blog. I love the picture of the ’70s kitchen. Brings back memories of my childhood! I was wondering, does Dawn and cold water also work on dirty walls? I can’t wait to read part 2!!

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