Home Updates You Can Do on a Tight Budget
Home Ownership

5 Home Updates You Can Do on a Tight Budget


Naturally, you always want your home to look cozy, comfortable and reasonably up-to-date — but a full-blown remodel isn’t necessarily in your budget. Plus, upgrading your home can be complicated to manage on your own when your toolbox contains nothing more elaborate than a few screwdrivers and a hammer. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of minor upgrades you can make to your home that won’t break the bank — and they can all be done without major tools or a contractor’s help.


1. Fix up Your Yard

Increasing your home’s curb appeal can increase your home’s value by 7% or more, which is great if you’re hoping to sell soon. Even if you aren’t looking to sell, however, revamping your lawn can increase your personal satisfaction with your home’s appearance. Depending on what you already have sitting around your garage, fixing up your yard can also cost next-to-nothing:

  • Grab a hoe or a hand trowel and edge your walks to create a more orderly look
  • Use garden shears to trim back your bushes and ornamental trees
  • Thin out any overgrown plants (and move the extra to any bare spots)
  • Add a fresh layer of mulch to your garden beds, especially around the front 

If you have any old pots sitting around in your garage, now is also a good time to pull them out and add a few annual flowers that will look pretty lined up on your porch or front steps.


2. Redo Your Bookshelves

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is to treat their shelving like they’re merely functional storage items instead of also an important way to display your personal style. Overhauling your shelves is a cheap, easy and effective way to revamp the whole look of your home.

This is kind of a fun project, and there’s very little you need to make it work. Here are some tips that have the Better Homes & Gardens seal of approval:

  • Clear off your shelves. Starting with a clean slate can help you establish your style.
  • Pick a color scheme for your accessories. You want to mix books with some objects of art or curiosities that you’ve collected. Choosing items that are all in the same basic color (not shade) helps unify the look you’re creating.
  • Group small clusters of like-sized books together (and feel free to stack them horizontally in places) between a few ornamental items.
  • Leave some space between your clusters of books and decorative items to create a loose, casual look that’s both comfortable and practical.

If you want even more visual interest (or just feel inspired), you can add a layer of paint to your shelves that will add a pop of color to your room and more visual interest.


3. Add Some Easy-to-Install Wallpaper or Decals

Remember the old days when adding a single sheet of wallpaper to your wall could take up an entire weekend (or longer)? Well, those days are gone. There are some amazing peelable wallpapers out there today that eliminate the hassle and mess of putting it up or taking it down. 

Adding wallpaper to a single wall in your living room or bedroom can pull together a room for about the price of the loose change you can find floating around your home and still make it look like you ponied up the money for a consultation for an interior designer. Pick a soft, calm pattern for behind the bed, but feel free to jazz it up with geometric shapes or funky designs in the living room. If you grow tired of the look, it’s easy enough to remove without damaging your walls.

Wall decals are also a popular (and inexpensive) option that can eliminate bare walls. Skip the tired old “Live, Laugh, Love,” sign, however, and go for something that really speaks to your soul. Consider a decal that has a pop-art design or just generally makes you happy when you see it and let it be a focal point around which you arrange the furniture for a while. 


4. Paint Your Front Door

Painting your whole house — or even a whole room — is a big project that can turn pricey pretty fast. Painting just your front door, however, can give you home a whole new look on the cheap. 

If you have any leftover paint from the last time you tackled the living room walls, using the same color can create a sense of continuity that starts outside your door — but don’t be afraid to pick up a whole new color and go wild. It’s such a quick, easy upgrade that you can simply redo it in a few weeks if you decide that the color doesn’t work.


5. Update Your Cabinet Hardware

Redoing your entire kitchen or bathroom is both messy and expensive — but cabinet pulls are pretty cheap and they’re easy to change using nothing more than a screwdriver. New hardware can instantly make your old kitchen or bath look new, styled and complete.

If you’ve never replaced your pulls before, remember:

  • Examine your existing hardware to see if they have one screw or two. If there are two, make sure that you measure the distance between them so you know what size or style the replacements need to be.
  • Spend some time browsing drawer pulls and hardware online and go with a style that reflects the overall atmosphere of your home, whether that’s modern and bold, eclectic and romantic, or something else.

If you’re slowly restoring an old home to its former glory, you may want to look for hardware in salvage stores or consignment shops. There are loads of treasures out there, just waiting on some thrifty homeowner to snap them up and make them useful again.


Eventually, you may want to move forward with a bigger renovation — and there are plenty of good contractors available. In the meantime, these small-but-subtle changes can help you take a newfound joy in your living space.