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10 home renovations you can DIY on a budget

Wall paper room
Photographee.eu/Adobe Stock
Wall paper room
Photographee.eu/Adobe Stock

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Whether it’s to improve their property’s value or just enhance their living experience, homeowners are increasingly looking to touch up the spaces they are utilizing all day every day. DIY home renovations can be an economic way to transform your space, but they can easily become pricey endeavors if you are not careful. With a bit of education and planning, however, there are countless ways to give your home a face-lift that don’t involve having to borrow or spending a fortune.

Think of the following as 10 ideas as DIY home remodeling projects on a budget — home improvements you can do without breaking the bank.

Budget remodel no. 1: Repaint the front door

Average cost: $20-$50

Your front entrance is like the gift wrapping for your home, making it feel inviting and drawing people in when done right. Rather than buying a new door, spring for a fresh coat of paint, new hardware and spruced-up trim. Re-painting to the door and updating the accents around it are simple, cheap renovations that can drastically change your home’s appearance.

Don’t stop at the door. Give your home’s exterior a good scrub using soap, a garden hose and a sturdy brush. For an even faster job (but for more money), you can also rent a power washer.

Budget remodel no.2: Apply removable wallpaper

Average cost: $75-$100

Painting does get pricey if you do the entire interior of your house — not to mention the mess it causes. If you want an easier refresher for tired-looking rooms, consider removable wallpaper, which you peel and stick — instead of paste — onto surfaces. Aka reusable or temporary wallpaper, it comes in a variety of colors, patterns and textures, any of which can cover up a bland paint job and instantly transform any space in your home.

Budget remodel no. 3: Add a new kitchen backsplash

Average cost: $200-$300 (depending on material and scope)

To update your kitchen without undertaking major renovations, consider installing a new backsplash. It’s one of those little things that goes a long way, appearance-wise. There are thousands of stone or tile patterns to choose from, so you can find options that best suit your space and accentuate your cabinets and appliances. Bonus: A fresh backsplash limits the need for extensive cleaning and can add value to your home.

Budget remodel no. 4: Refresh but don’t retile bathroom floors

Average cost: $65

While a small part of a kitchen redo, retiling can get expensive in the bathroom. Instead of installing brand-new tile, you can achieve the same kind of updated look by painting the existing floor. There are tons of unique stencil designs and paint shades to choose from, making it surprisingly easy to complete the job yourself for less.

Budget remodel no. 5: Repaint cabinets

Average cost: $200-$600

In addition to revamping backsplash or tile flooring, you can completely update the look of your kitchen or bathroom by repainting the cabinets, especially if they are decades old. While it will require time to repaint them, the costs are fairly low compared to replacing cabinetry entirely.

If you want to take things a step further, invest in new cabinet hardware, too. Ben Fisher, a property investor and owner of the Fisher Group, a Park City, Utah real estate agency, says, “Just a simple addition of brushed gold knobs and pulls can make the simplest kitchens glamorous in moments. However, when you are doing such a project you should be prepared to touch up the tiny dings and scratches that might occur when removing the old hardware.”

Budget remodel no. 6: Add some flowers

Average cost: $20 or more

Adding a few colorful annuals such as pansies, marigold or petunias to a garden is a great way to create curb appeal. As an alternative low-maintenance way to freshen up your front yard, try a couple of potted, flowering plants or “window boxes with seasonal and overflowing blooms.” They add color and provide a great view from the outside and inside.

Budget remodel no. 7: Replace bathroom hardware

Average cost: $10-$200

It is no secret a bathroom remodel can be expensive. For cheaper, DIY upgrades, consider replacing the faucets, drawer pulls, towel bar or bathroom mirror. These items come in a variety of shapes and colors that could help give your bathroom a new look. For example, replacement bathroom mirrors can be wood-framed, steel-framed or frameless.

Budget remodel no. 8: Add new curtains

Average cost: $20-$300 (depending on material)

Window treatments can transform a room’s look and feel, especially draped fabric. Curtains, specifically, are easy to find on a budget — if you go for pre-made models — and they are simple to install quickly. For example, you can pick up a stylish curtain rod for $6 on Wayfair and a set of two curtain panels on sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $25. That’s about $30 for a new look. If you have windows that aren’t standard sizes, go with adjustable no-sew drapes, using double-sided fabric tape.

Budget remodel no. 9: Bring in artwork

Average cost: $10-$100

Hanging artwork can add interest to any room. You don’t have to be an experienced art collector (or spend like one) to find the perfect piece, either. Look for wall art that catches your eye and fits within your budget. Thrift stores and craft stores are good places to start. Or, opt for high-quality prints of famous works or posters from museum exhibitions.

Budget remodel no. 10: Increase storage space

Average cost: $40-$100

If you are looking for a way to store more things — and who isn’t — there are several options. A closet organizer can help you declutter, freeing up more walking space and giving it a neater look. To add more storage space, you could install new shelves in the garage or other living areas to organize or display different items.

Other tips for renovating on a budget

Invest in home improvements that have long-term value. Ideally, any home remodel you do should increase the value of your property. That includes “invisible” fixes, like adding energy-efficient insulation or sealing cracks, for instance. These preserve or even add to the worth of your home without being too expensive — and save you money on your energy bill while you are still in the home.

Incorporate materials you already have. One of the most effective ways to save money on DIY home improvement is to use upcycled or recycled materials, such as pallets or scrap lumber.

Anticipate all the costs. Proper project planning, saving and budgeting can help you avoid overextending yourself and reduce the chances of maxxing out your credit cards or draining your checking account.

Final word: DIY home renovations on a budget

There are numerous DIY home remodeling projects that can help you spruce things up. The trick is to think superficial, not structural. Many of the ideas above are just cosmetic changes. But it does not take much to change the look of a room, a space or even an entire exterior; one small but strategic alteration, like a repainted front door or refinished kitchen cabinets, can work wonders. By using a bit of elbow grease and ingenuity, you can transform your space without expensive upgrades.

Written by
Sarah Sharkey
Contributing Writer
Sarah Sharkey is a contributing writer for Bankrate. Sarah writes about a range of subjects, including banking, savings tips, homebuying, homeownership and personal finance.
Edited by
Senior homeownership editor