The main objective of home improvement ideas on a budget is to update, refresh, and improve existing features in pretty on a penny fashion.
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 it 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take it one bite at a time.
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.
Basic fluorescent lighting fixtures.
I’ve got a couple of solutions for this dilemma that are relatively simple and inexpensive.
This is our kitchen renovation and remodel in progress, in two very different paint colors, and completed.
Note the framed fluorescent light.
Frame an otherwise plain fluorescent light with decorative trim to introduce a custom look to the project.
Another option is to take down the fluorescent light and replace its ceiling footprint with a decorative panel.
I’m crazy about chandeliers and pendant lights on a Carrie Bradshaw Manolo Blahnik level.
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.
Keowee 4-Light Galvanized Orb Chandelier with Antique White Wood Accents
Ariella 1-Light Brushed Champagne Bronze Mini Pendant with Glass Shade
Hanks 1-Light Midnight Black Medium Pendant with Smooth White Glass Shade
Talullah 1-Light Matte White Pendant Lighting with Gold Interior
Benita 4-light Brushed Champagne Silver Metal and Crystal Orb Chandelier
Brant Point 1-Light Brushed Nickel Pendant with Matte Gray Metal Shade
2. Home on the Range
A new and/or improved range hood is is both an investment in function, safety, and updated style.
A contrasting finish and/or material creates a commanding focal point.
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.
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.
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.
Using decorative embellishments such as corbels, onlays and appliques will give an existing range hood and splatter guard a custom refresh.
There’s renovating and decorating gold in them thar Etsy listings, home improvement stores, flea markets, and antiques stores.
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.
3. Cabinets and the Techniques That Improve Them
Select your color(s), grab a brush, bucket, roller, pan, painters tape, a couple of drop clothes and proceed to color your world!
Painting kitchen cabinets, walls, ceilings, and molding will bring forth an affordable change with instant visual gratification.
Opposites attract comes to mind when I see these contrasting drawer fronts.
Contrast engages the eye and creates visual interest.
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
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.
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.
Dave and I often have conversations about the design and décor 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.
My 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.
Better Homes & Gardens
The flip house was built in the late 1960s- a prime paneling period in the ranch style house portfolio.
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.
Square off (straight) the rounded edge countertop.
Fill in the paneling grooves and paint the paneling in your color of choice.
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.
Open-shelving is on trend and would work in this location.
Roll in a kitchen island for extra prep space.
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
Replacing cabinet drawer and door hardware instantly updates the outdated.
Consider replacing the hinges for a totally refreshed look.
Home improvement stores clearance bins, Overstock, Amazon, eBay and Etsy are excellent places to pick up super affordable cabinet hardware.
5. Floors & More
Older properties sometimes surprise you with their quality design and decorative features, such as original hardwood or tile flooring.
Unfortunately, older properties can also mean older color palettes where orange, yellow and avocado green reign 1970s supreme!
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?
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.
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.
If 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.
More 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.
A patch of sheet rock, framed piece of art or decorative architectural wall piece can cover yet more design sins of days past.
In part two of this series, I’ll address home improvement ideas on a budget 6-10 and several budget friendly remodeling bonus ideas.