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Tips for Home Makeovers on a Budget

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Decorating and renovating might seem intimidating and expensive, and indeed they can be, but you don’t need to hire a decorator or a contractor and spend tens of thousands of dollars to give your home a fresh new look. With some thoughtful choices, creativity, and a bit of work, you can give your home a makeover and increase its value for relatively minimal cost.



We want our home to be a reflection of ourselves, our family, and our personal styles. However, neglecting to consider what will work best with the architectural styling of your house can leave it looking like a fashion victim. Just as we have certain styles of clothing that make us look and feel best, the same can be said for a home. As the adage goes, “ya gotta work with what ya got”! With some care and planning, you will find just the right look that will fit both you and your home perfectly.

A mid-century home can often be styled in a contemporary way or be given a sleek modern look. An old-fashioned cabin may be transformed into a hip boho pad or a country-chic dream. Swap those styles with those homes and you may end up putting work, money, and resources into something that fits your home about as well as that sweater in the back of your closet. You know the one; you bought it because it looked so nice on the hanger, but every time you put it on you just feel awkward.



First, ask yourself “how long do I plan to live here?” The answer should factor into many of your decisions. If you plan on selling in a couple of years, you should focus on tackling damaged and dated items, pay attention to current trends, and keep your design choices conservative so your home will appeal to a larger range of buyers. If you plan on being in your home for a long time, you can make more playful and personal design choices and you don’t need to update everything all at once.

A great way to start planning is simply by looking at pictures online. Find images of homes with similar architectural styling to your own and see how people and professionals have styled them. Pinterest is a great platform for this. You can save images that you like and start to get an idea of styles that will fit both you and your home. Try searching phrases that describe your home and what you want to see.

Search examples: “Victorian home modern decor,” “wood paneling room decor,” “galley kitchen ideas,” “bathroom vanity makeover,” “studio apartment layout,” or “contemporary dining room.”



We live in a society of “toss and replace.” When something is old and dated, our instinct is to throw it out and buy a new one. But sometimes the item itself can be updated instead of replaced. If you want to take it easy on your budget and the planet, this will really help you save some “green!”

Replace part instead of the whole, such as globes on a light fixture, handles on cabinets, or the faucet on your bathroom vanity.

Specialty paints are out there for just about every type of surface these days! A simple coat of paint can totally transform trash into treasure.

Restore woodwork on furniture, cabinets, and even the trim around door frames with Dutch Oil or use a Gel Stain to change the color. These are easy ways to restore wood without the work of stripping the old finish.

Veneer, paneling, and other coverings can be applied to surfaces, such as walls, cabinets, and furniture, to cover unsightly damage or dated styling, or to add an exciting pop of interest.

Use fabric to cover cushions on small furniture items like bar stools and ottomans. If you have a sewing machine, you can really get creative! That sweater in the back of your closet might make a gorgeous throw pillow!



Flea market flipping and bargain store hunting are always fun routes to go, but they’re very hit or miss. Luckily, there are many budget buying platforms online that make it easy to find the piece you’re looking for and give a used item another life.

Amazon offers “used like new” items. Sometimes you only save a couple of dollars; other times it could be as much as 50% savings!

The Facebook marketplace makes it easy to buy and sell household items. You can haggle and make arrangements with people on local deals and sometimes you can even pay online and have items shipped to you.

eBay is not just an auction website. There are also items that you can “buy it now” or “make an offer”.

Mercari and Letgo are newer platforms for the buying and selling of household items. Prices tend to be low and people are usually willing to negotiate.



The small things that are not obvious or attention-grabbing make a bigger difference than you might realize. These details are picked up subconsciously and make your space feel more finished and higher end.

Outlet and light switch cover plates come in many styles and materials such as wood and stainless steel and give your home that subtle finishing touch. Even upgrading the actual receptacles is usually easy and safe (just make sure the breaker is off and power isn’t present).

Doorknobs are easy to change and fairly low-cost. You may not have noticed that your doorknobs look worn or dated, but as soon as you change them you will suddenly notice how much newer and brighter doors and corridors look.

Soft close hinges are not something you see with the naked eye, but when you close that cabinet, it somehow feels high-end and luxurious. You can order soft-close replacement hinges that will fit right in place of your old ones for a very reasonable price.


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There are countless items and examples that can fall into each of these categories. Always remember to be mindful when making your design decisions.

Do invest in quality, especially for heavily used items. Think flooring, couches, or anything that gets high traffic or lots of use. If you skimp, you will end up replacing it again in no time and losing money in the long run. Cheap window treatments look cheap, especially blinds, which wear out quickly and are difficult to clean. If you can’t afford higher-end window treatments, look for an inexpensive curtain in a plain color or very simple pattern.

You can skip some items if you need to trim back to keep your budget in check. Unless you are replacing a dated backsplash, adding a new one is not a must and is an item that will most likely become dated again quickly. Those modern glass shower doors look sleek in photos, but in reality, they require constant cleaning to look that way. A stylish shower curtain will cost substantially less, is easy to clean, and can be updated whenever you want, with no demo required.

Consider carefully before painting woodwork or cabinets. Paint colors come in and out of style and so does natural wood. Once you paint wood, it’s very difficult to restore. The same goes for painting brick.

Don’t do it! Contact Paper shows up online for DIY projects for everything from countertops to shelf liner and beyond. It has poor durability, is nearly impossible to remove, and it will always look like the cheap shortcut that it really is.



Ask yourself these questions before you dive into a DIY:

Do you have the skills? YouTube is filled with Instructional videos for pretty much any DIY you can think of. Whether you are feeling confident or doubtful about your abilities, watch some videos and see if your feelings change.

Do you have the tools? Some tools are inexpensive and easy to use; others, not so much. Using the proper tools makes all the difference in your ability to easily tackle a project and how well your project turns out.

Do you have the time? However long you think your project will take to complete, it will probably take twice as long. The last thing you want to do is start a renovation and not have the time to finish it.

Do you have the follow-through? Be honest with yourself. If you start a project, are you going to put the time and effort into completing it?

Do you have the funds? Make a plan, decide what you want to do, and research how much it will cost. You don’t want to jump in, get halfway through, and run out of money to complete your project.



My best advice is to keep your design clean and simple. A few eye-catching choices will “make it.” Too many will “break it.” And your budget—no matter your style, clean and simple will make it look more refined. Keep in mind that everything will eventually be dated again. Home decor styles go in and out in cycles and eventually come back around again. Update some things and embrace others. Love your home and it will love you back.


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Robbin Figura

About Robbin Figura

Robbin is a member service consultant at VSECU. She has a business degree and experience in local government. She is an artist of many mediums and an avid DIYer. Robbin loves mountain biking, hiking, mother nature and the great outdoors. Most of all she loves being a mom.
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