This article will help you improve your home on a budget; from planning the home improvement to executing it.
No matter how big or small the job is, regardless of whether your end goal is simply to give your home some much-needed TLC or to increase its value before putting it on the market; you’ve come to the right place if you’re planning on carrying out any home improvements.
We’ve put together a complete guide on home improvement, from where to start planning to the execution, as well as how to do most of the work yourself to help to cut down on costs.
Don’t be fooled by the perfectly put-together photos you’ll find on Pinterest or your favorite Instagram accounts for home renovations, as behind the scenes of those ‘before and after’ shots there’s usually a whole lot of work going on that you don’t necessarily see.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
Plan Your Home Improvement
If you’re not already a highly organized person going into a home improvement project, then you’ll soon see the disadvantages of being disorganized.
Renovation work can be challenging and often chaotic, so it’s imperative that you plan accordingly for each stage and for any potential problems that you could run into.
Before you even think about picking up a paintbrush, you need to consider what the budget will be for your home improvement project.
Are you planning on carrying out several improvements at once, or are you focusing on one area in your home to improve? If it’s the former, you’ll need to set aside a portion of your budget for each job so that you don’t exceed the total budget limit - and be realistic with it!
There’s no denying that the costs of a house renovation can quickly start to add up, and even though DIY home improvements generally require a smaller budget than what you’d pay for a professional to do the work, planning your budget is still of paramount importance.
How Much Time You Can Invest
Time equals money, but money isn’t the only thing you’ll need to invest in your home!
Renovations can be incredibly time-consuming, so to manage your time effectively it is recommended that you create a schedule for any work you’ll be carrying out on your home.
Think about how much time you can commit to the home improvement before you start, or you may find yourself halfway through a job with no free time in the foreseeable future to complete the work, and a half-finished home improvement won’t have quite the same effect.
What You Want To Improve
This one might sound obvious, but if you don’t go into a home renovation with a clear aim of what you want to improve, it can be easy to end up wasting both your time and money.
Working out what you want to improve before you grab any type of screwdriver or hammer will allow you to prioritize and plan jobs diligently.
This way you can plan accordingly and get the most important tasks done first instead of it becoming an almightly DIY mess. Plus, if there's anything left of your budget, that can be spent on further work, or a celebratory getaway when it’s all finished!
Gather The Tools/Materials You Will Need
Trust me when I say there’s nothing more frustrating than blocking out a certain amount of time to get a specific job done, only to discover that you don’t have the right tools for it.
Money doesn’t grow on trees, and neither do the materials and tools that you will need to carry out your home improvements, so once you know what your budget is and what work you’re doing you’ll need to gather everything that’s needed for it so it’s all in the same place.
Making a checklist is a great way to see what you need to get, what you already have. And if you’re really organized, hopefully, you'll already have a decent amount of tools in an organized tool chest where everything can be found.
Things To Improve At Home On A Budget
If you’re reading this article, it’s probably safe to assume that you’ve decided your home could use a little improvement.
That doesn’t mean you already know what needs doing, however, so this next section will cover some of the different things you can improve around your home whilst on a budget as well as pointing you in the right direction towards some of the best modern DIY ideas.
Re-Paint The Walls
A fresh coat of paint can hide a multitude of sins, provided that you do it correctly. “How hard can it be?” I hear you ask, but although re-painting your walls is considered one of the easiest home improvements, you have to take care at every stage for the best results.
When it’s done right, splashing a new color onto the walls of your home can completely change the space into a brighter, fresher room for a minimal cost. Just make sure you block out enough time to cover the walls you’re painting completely and for it to properly dry!
Our Top Tips:
- Cover the roller tray and any brushes you’ve been using in saran wrap whenever you pause painting for a few hours, as this will keep them from drying out. To avoid having to wash it at all, you can also cover the tray with saran wrap before pouring the paint in.
- Play around with shapes and block colors to break up any expansive white walls. This is ideal if you want a slightly brighter look in your room but you don’t want to commit to painting the whole wall. Just make sure you have enough tape to mark the shapes out, first!
- To ensure that the final coat of color is bright enough to completely cover the base coat, tint the primer with your chosen top coat paint color.
Re-Paint The Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen renovations can be hugely expensive, so why not spruce up your kitchen cabinets with a lick of paint instead? A good clean and a fresh coat can make them look good as new for a much cheaper cost!
With an estimated completion time of around 3 days, including the all-important prep work, you can easily cover up old food stains or create a completely new color scheme for your kitchen space by painting your cabinets, but it’s vital that you properly prep the surfaces first.
Our Top Tips:
- Select a good primer for the base coat, like this KILZ high-bonding latex primer which is suitable for both interior and exterior application, or use chalk paint and skip the priming step entirely.
- There’s no need to make extra work for yourself! If your cabinets are only light in color, one coat of primer is more than enough.
- Use pin tacks in the corners of the cabinet doors if you’re planning on painting both sides. Lightly hammering them into the wood allows you to place the freshly painted side face-down while you paint the other side without leaving any smudge marks.
Re-Paint The Stairs
As the only way to travel between different stories (or, as is the case in most houses, at least), your staircase is one of the areas in your home that receives the most footfall.
This means it’s also one of the quickest to deteriorate, but if your home features a wood staircase then this is nothing that can’t be fixed with a spot of painting, no matter how many scuff marks there are scattered across the steps.
Our Top Tips:
- You can’t just nip upstairs to grab something after repainting the stairs, so make sure you have everything you need and allow the paint to dry fully before using them.
- For a fun pop of color, you could always choose to paint the risers a different color to the rest of the stairs, just tape off any area you don’t want to get paint on.
Re-Paint The Front Door
Your front door is the first thing most people will see when they visit your home, so it’s no surprise that this is one of the best home improvements you can make if you’re planning to resell or to improve the aesthetic appeal of your house as it’s viewed from the front.
Painting your front door is much cheaper than replacing the whole thing, as they don’t hold their value for very long once purchased. However, it’s a little trickier than your walls will be, and you’ll need to factor in the time it will take to dry once you’ve finished painting.
Our Top Tips:
- Choose your paint color wisely - a gloss finish, for example, is conveniently easy to clean, but it requires a greater level of precision from you as you complete the job, or else every flaw and dent in the wood will be visible through the coats of paint.
- It usually takes between 3 and 5 hours for the door to finish drying, so factor this in if you need to and start painting at a time that’s early enough for you to replace the dry door as soon as possible.
Add Some Paintings/Artwork On The Walls
Hanging art pieces on the walls in your home is an instant way to add value and elevate your interior design. Collage walls have become hugely popular recently, where several prints, pieces of art, and/or photographs are arranged in a collection of frames on the wall.
For more inspiration for how to adorn your walls with beautiful artwork, check out this article for a list of creative ways to utilize the blank spaces in your home.
Our Top Tips:
- When choosing paintings or artwork for your home, always consider the space it will be displayed in. For instance, the kitchen lends itself particularly well to prints with popular phrases, whereas the bedroom is for relaxing, so the art should emulate this.
- Large paintings or pieces of artwork should be placed at eye level on the wall in a minimalistic frame that doesn’t detract from the beauty of the art itself.
Change The Wallpaper On The Walls
A feature wall can turn a relatively boring room into a backdrop that’s perfect for your selfies. Wallpapering only one of the walls, or the chimney breast, for example, means you can choose a bigger, bolder pattern on your wallpaper without it overwhelming the space.
There are various ways of removing wallpaper from your walls, and the method you end up using will somewhat depend on what type of wallpaper you’re dealing with. If in doubt, a steamer is a great way to get the job done quickly - just don’t overdo it if you have drywall!
- Before you start, make sure that the floor, any electrical outlets, and any furniture you haven’t already removed from are fully covered with drop cloths for protection.
- Always clean the walls with soap and water before you start putting the new wallpaper on to clear away any lingering residue from the previous paper.
Bathroom renovations are traditionally expensive, but changing even just one of the following three things in your bathroom will give it the perfect mini-makeover and will be a big improvement if your current bathroom is looking a little bit tired.
The average cost of remodeling your bathroom, although dependent on a few different factors, will undoubtedly be more than what you’ll spend on these bathroom makeover ideas, and a full renovation will be a lot more labor-intensive than these easy home improvements.
Refurbish The Shower
Refurbishing your shower doesn’t have to be as big of a job as it sounds. For example, getting a new shower head that features an eco-friendly mode to reduce water consumption can make a big difference, and will put the finishing touches on any bathroom improvement.
You could also replace the tiles on the walls around your shower, either with new tiles or with waterproof panels which are also becoming a popular choice for modern bathrooms. You could even install a couple of shelves to store toiletries like hair shampoo and conditioner.
Change The Cabinets
Changing the cabinets in your bathroom will have a dramatic and immediate effect on how the room looks, but luckily, it’s a fairly easy home improvement project to carry out.
To remove the old vanity or cabinets, you’ll first need to disconnect the water supply to the faucets and allow the assembly to drain completely. If you follow the instructions carefully or follow along with an instructional video, however, you shouldn’t run into problems.
Once you’ve removed the old cabinet, make any minor repairs to the wall and paint the area that was once hidden if you're planning on positioning the cabinet somewhere else or if the new cabinet is slightly smaller than its predecessor and there is still unpainted wall showing.
Redo The Floor
Having new flooring laid is the ultimate way to complete a mini-makeover in your bathroom, and it can be a great way to add to the value of your home if you’re thinking of re-selling.
Porcelain tile has a higher resale value than most flooring options, depending on the style and design of them, and it is “denser and more durable than ceramic” as a “premium flooring [option] that holds its good looks for decades”, but there are plenty of tiles to choose from.
You can also save on costs by tiling the floor yourself, although unless you already have previous experience, you might want to leave any patterned-floor-laying to the professionals!
Boost Natural Light
Natural light will make even the worst interiors look just a little bit brighter and a little bit better, and luckily, there are plenty of ways to boost the natural light that shines into a certain room without having to knock through a wall in an attempt to create a bigger window.
The best ways to boost natural light in your home include:
- Use light colors for the walls and furniture
- Fill the room with high-gloss or shiny surfaces
- Go for a lighter, neutral flooring
- Cut down any greenery causing your windows to be in the shade
- Clean the windows
- If replacing any external doors during your home improvements, opt for ones with a partial window to allow more sunlight in
- Use better artificial light within your home
DIY Garage Door Makeover
Just because your garage door has seen better days doesn’t mean you have to replace it entirely. Why not give it a makeover to match the rest of your home choosing a custom paint color, or replace the mechanism that opens the garage door with one that’s more efficient?
You can transform your garage with some DIY trickery and improve it's aesthetic appeal by giving it a DIY door makeover. With a bit of clever taping or potentially a few pieces of wood, for example, you can create stunning paneling on your plain garage door and you can customize the style to suit your home.
Simply giving your garage door a good clean will have a huge impact on its appearance, but if that doesn’t do the trick then it’s worth digging out your trusty brush and paint tin to give it a new coat of paint, which should cover up any wear and tear (or any accidental dings from your last attempt at reversing the car into the garage).
Our Top Tips:
- When deciding what sort of design you’d like for your garage door, try to stay in keeping with the surrounding area to increase the curbside appeal of your home.
- If you don’t want to paint your garage door, why not opt for a garage skin or overlay, which can have a big effect whilst still being a cost-effective home improvement.
DIY Fireplace Makeover
Fireplaces can be a beautiful statement feature in any home, so many people choose to restore their fireplace when they’re considering home improvement, especially if you’re hoping to modernize a slightly more old-fashioned or vintage-styled home.
You can find some great ideas for fireplace inspiration here. The great news is that you can still modernize your fireplace on a budget, whether that’s through paint, a new mantle, or an array of accessories adorning the said new mantle to decorate the surrounding space.
Our Top Tips:
- If it’s possible, try to make the fireplace the focal point of a room. For example, to ensure that it isn’t in direct competition with your television, position these two features on top of each other instead of side by side.
- Painting the mantle a bright contrasting color will instantly draw the eye and can complement the rest of the room nicely. An alternative option for your mantle is to hang a floating wooden beam above the fireplace for a more rustic aesthetic.
De-Grime Your House
People don’t talk about the benefits of a good spring clean for no reason, but if you haven’t done yours already this year, let this be your reminder!
If left alone, certain areas in your house can become clogged or cause other problems. For instance, take that stainless steel kitchen sink of yours that you've been neglecting and is now in dire need of a deep clean.
Apart from the potential hygiene-related issues, an unsightly-looking stainless steel sink might not be the ideal image you want to portray when guests come over.
That said, you can improve your home by cleaning the grime that naturally builds up over time, like the sink trap and other appliances, or by paying attention to other areas that may require a clean out.
This doesn’t just apply to the interior of your home, either, as your garden may also be in need of a good de-griming. If in doubt, get the pressure washer or jet wash out and give your outdoor surfaces a good spray down to remove any dirt and grime.
Our Top Tips:
- Use bicarbonate of soda to eliminate odors around the home by leaving some out in an open container to absorb and neutralize any unpleasant smells.
- Break it down - cleaning isn’t exactly the most exciting home improvement in the world, but if you split it into 10-minute chunks then you’ll get the job done faster.
Upgrade Exterior Light Fixtures
Your exterior light fixtures are constantly exposed to the elements, so this is an area of your home that will need improving more regularly than others. With modern designs and interesting new ways of playing with light, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Brass or copper fixtures look great in any style garden and will be a highly durable option due to their hard-wearing properties, or if you don’t want to go to the trouble of replacing them entirely, you can re-paint or box in your existing light fixtures for a simple upgrade.
Our Top Tips:
- Choose light fixtures that are to scale so that they don't look out of proportion or off-balance.
- In order to save money on your electricity bills and to reduce your energy consumption by up to 75%, you can swap out your most commonly used light bulbs for energy-efficient models.
DIY Clean Your Carpet
Even though there are so many different options available, there are still a huge number of houses that feature carpet as the main type of flooring. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, carpet makes up around 51% of the entire flooring market.
You don’t need to hire a professional cleaning service to bring your carpets back to life if they’re looking a little tired and trodden on, as there are a couple of DIY carpet cleaning hacks that can have them looking as fluffy and fresh as when they were first laid.
- To remove stains, avoid rubbing them too aggressively as this could push the color of whatever you have spilled further into the carpet. Instead, gently dab carpet stains with a damp cloth and some cleaning solution.
- If you don’t have any carpet cleaner, you can use shaving cream or a bicarbonate of soda, water, and white wine vinegar mixture to remove the majority of stains.
Other Home Improvements
For some good advice on what not to include on your list of home improvements, click the 10 biggest faux-pas home ‘improvements’ you could make.
It’s important to remember that not everyone is going to be a dab-hand at DIY home improvements, and many people live in rented accommodation where doing any type of work to your home’s structure may result in a lost deposit at the end of the tenancy.
Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to improve your home that don’t involve having to kiss your renter’s deposit goodbye!
Buy New Furniture
If you don’t want to do any work to your actual house, one alternative is to improve your home by filling it with new furniture. Whether you swap out all the wood for brick or simply style the room around a statement piece, new furniture can transform your home.
One of the key benefits of buying new furniture is that it’s usually a quicker way to improve your home compared to carrying out other work, and you can find a lot of great deals online.
Don’t panic if there’s nothing in the sales that takes your fancy, as up-cycling has become a popular way to give old furniture a new lease of life and add more character to your home.
Rearrange Existing Furniture
If you’re not in the position to buy new furniture, or if you’re not quite ready to part with your belongings but you want to refresh one of your rooms, rearranging the furniture can be a simple yet seriously effective home improvement method that doesn’t cost you a thing.
Try moving your safe so that it sits at the other end of the room, or move your bed to rest up against a different wall and see how the view looks from there. The great thing about rearranging the furniture is that, if you don’t like it, you can easily change it straight back!
Get Some Plants
Having house plants isn’t just a way to improve your home, but it can also improve your health due to their air-purifying properties and the ability to eliminate up to 87% of harmful toxins. There are also many mental health benefits to being a plant parent.
Create your own personal plant paradise by filling your shelves with pots of your favorite flowers and shrubs. You can even use the plant pots themselves to bring some fun to a boring room in the house by choosing ones that have interesting and unique designs.
Hanging plants are popular and are a great way to add greenery without taking up too much floor space, or adorn your windows as an inexpensive, decorative display. Certain plants only thrive under certain conditions, however, so do your research and make sure you know how often you should be watering your plants and what type of light they do best in.
Increase Storage Space
If you’ve already tried to ‘Marie Kondo’ your drawers and you still don’t have enough room, it might be time to think about increasing the storage space in your home. Just because something doesn’t spark joy doesn’t mean it’s worth throwing out forever!
Having more storage space is also a great way to make your home feel less cluttered as belongings can be stored away neatly instead of scattered about the floor and taking up unnecessary space that you could be using for something else.
These days, there are plenty of storage options available that are designed to maximize the space in even the smallest of homes, so there’s something for everyone’s storage needs.
Concrete Countertop DIY
Concrete countertops add a modern feel to any home, and despite being one of the more complicated and time-consuming types of DIY home improvement, you’d be surprised at how forgiving concrete is to work with.
You would have complete freedom over the design and you can easily add your own personal touches, and you can tailor it to perfectly fit within your home. Click here to find out more about what instructions you need to follow to create a DIY concrete countertop.
Install Lamp Dimmers
When the mood changes, you’ll find that the option to change the lighting accordingly can completely transform the atmosphere whilst simultaneously reducing the costs of your next electricity bill as they’re a more energy-efficient option.
There’s no limit as to how many dimmers you can have, so why not install one in every room for total control over the lighting in your home? Plus, dimmers also give off a more natural-looking light which is a good way to balance the artificial lighting in your house.
We hope this guide to home improvement has helped you to decide what DIY project you’re going to tackle first.
Just remember that whatever home improvement task it is that you're tackling, make sure that if you're utilizing different types of saws, always wear the correct PPE and proceed with caution.
So now that we’ve given you enough information to confidently decide to increase either the value or the aesthetic appeal of your home, you can start your DIY journey with conviction.