5 Inspiring Home Renovations on a Shoestring Budget

Katie Rothman's Photo
By Katie Rothman Updated December 27, 2022


Renovating your home doesn’t mean you have to wreck your budget.

You have cost-effective options, whether you're updating a house to sell or stay.

DIY projects are usually the most cost-effective but require sweat and creativity.

So, we’ve scoured the internet looking for savvy home flippers and renovation pros to give us the best tips on transforming your space from dull and drab to chic and fab. For all you DIY rookies, we’ve included a kitchen cabinet project and a stairway transformation that even a first-timer can pull off in a weekend.

Here we go with five cost-effective renovation and remodeling projects, ranging from $100 for a cabinet refresh to under $7,000 for a kitchen makeover.

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1. Affordable kitchen cabinets: $100

Before/after photo source: Full Hearted Home

Repurposing or rehabbing existing cabinetry can breathe new life into your kitchen. Courtney from Full Hearted Home shared stunning photos of her budget-friendly kitchen cabinet update.

She completed it for less than $100, plus some sweat equity. "I won’t pretend this was a lot of fun," she writes. "It took us a long couple of days of work to paint our cabinets. But the money that you will save to paint them yourself instead of hiring out or even replacing the cabinets altogether is worth it!"

Replacing kitchen cabinets can cost from $2,000 to $5,600 total, while hiring a professional painter might cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the project's size. So, if you have the patience, DIY is the way to go.

2. Bright and cheery sunroom: $1,500

Before/after photo source: Kelly Frere

Design team Bryan and Catherine Williamson of Columbus, Ohio, had a $1,500 budget to update her parents' gloomy sunroom in their 1950s home. The room initially felt cramped with worn carpeting, tired acoustic ceiling tiles, and awful fluorescent lighting. So the pair started with light demolition — ripping out the old built-in cabinets, tearing up the rug, and painting the room a cheerful yellow.

One way they were able to save money was on the flooring. "Vinyl is perfect for rooms that are

exposed to moisture like this one," Catherine says, noting they used luxury vinyl planks costing under $2 per square foot.

In addition, they covered up the existing ceiling tiles with shiplap for a more cottage-core feel. And they left the lighting in its original location, avoiding major electrical work.

While the furnishings weren’t included in their $1500 budget, Bryan and Catherine do recommend investing in quality pieces that you’ll have forever, like a vintage Persian-style rug, a wood player piano, an old hutch, or a unique piece you’ve picked up during your travels.

3. Relaxing bathroom retreat ($1,000)

Before/after photo source: Noting Grace

Jen and Trent Fancher from the DIY and home décor website Noting Grace had a problem. They hated the look of their dated bathroom but didn’t have much money left in their budget for a complete remodel.

With a $1,000 budget, they raised their countertops, removed the popcorn ceiling, and elevated it above the shower. But the update they made to the wall behind their sinks made the most impact visually.

They removed the 8-foot-long builder-grade mirror and the sad single light fixture that hung

above it. Then, they installed a "Thin Brick" sheet and painted it with a limewash finish for a

more weathered look. Finally, using glass cutters, they repurposed the original mirror into two smaller ones and surrounded them with custom-built Cedar wood frames that cost just $44.

Above the mirrors, they hung industrial-style light fixtures that were under $40 at Home Depot. You can duplicate this project with some basic tools and DIY effort.

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4. Matte black stairway ($471)

Before/after photo source: Cass Makes Home

For under $500, home and DIY blogger Cass Smith of Cass Makes home completely transformed her tired stairway into a modern showpiece. All it took was paint.

She started by ripping out the old carpeting on her stairs, filling any holes or cracks with wood filler, and sanding everything down.

She then applied a coat of primer and a flat black Rustoleum Enamel spray paint to the railings. Once the railings had dried, and the stairs were prepped and cleaned, she used the Rustoleum Floor Coating kit to get that rich matte black finish. Cass recommends waiting at least 24 hours before you remove the tape or walk on the stairway to make sure the paint has had time to cure. The result is clean and modern but still gives the space plenty of character and charm.

5. 1920s Craftsman kitchen ($6,930)

Before/after photo source: Domino

Gutting and renovating an entire kitchen for under $7,000 seems impossible. But actress and blogger Courtney Halverson and her husband, Eric Neujahr, did that at their 1920s Spanish-style home in Los Angeles. So how did they pull it off?

First, they refurbished the original hardwood floors for just $325 with a rented standing floor sander, wood stain, and sealant. Next, the couple got resourceful by combing Craigslist to find period-specific windows for just $20 each and had a contractor friend help install them.

Their largest purchase was $2,500 in custom kitchen cabinets. They saved money by completing the installation themselves, painfully piecing together everything using wood glue, screws, and a nail gun.

There you have it. A full kitchen makeover for under $7,000.

Key takeaways

  • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty – if you do it yourself, you’ll save yourself a fortune on labor fees.
  • Repurposing existing cabinetry can revive your kitchen or bathrooms.
  • Decide what pieces you’re going to save on versus splurge on. Invest in furnishings that you love.
  • Explore local flea markets, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and estate sales to find the best deals on one-of-a-kind pieces for your home.

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