12 Home Renovations for the Thrifty Homeowner

beautiful blue house with painted front door
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Owning a home brings joy—and the reality that it’s in constant need of maintenance and upgrades. When your brain says, “Let’s renovate!” but your pocketbook says otherwise, take comfort in the fact that you can achieve a lot of home improvement, even with a thrifty approach.

1. Refinish Cabinets

Dated cabinets make the wrong kind of statement. Installing new cabinets is expensive, but you have several options to upgrade your current ones instead. You can simply add or replace the hardware for a new look on otherwise workable cabinets.

Or refinish the cabinets with paint or stain to make them look new again in a way that meets the budget. You can also leave the cabinet boxes and replace the doors at a fraction of the cost of entirely new cabinets.

2. Shop Discount Flooring

When it comes to jazzing up old flooring, consider the pros and cons of different materials. You can go with real hardwood, cork, laminate, carpet, tile, and more. One way to save big on flooring is to hit up the clearance rack. Go to the local lumber warehouse-type store and see what they have on hand.

At the carpet store, check out the back room that houses the carpet remnants, which are partial rolls of carpet that are sold at a discount. At the home improvement store, watch for boxes of luxury vinyl tile or ceramic tiles that are discounted for quick sale.

You can also head to the internet to buy previously-used materials that are sold on online marketplaces all the time. Just make sure you’ll have enough material for the job since oftentimes these materials will have been discontinued.

3. Paint Countertops

If you’re dreaming of quartz on a tin foil budget, the best way to achieve the look without the financial bloodletting is by painting your existing countertop. If you don’t know how to paint your countertops, it’s a good time to flex your DIY skills and learn.

4. Create an Accent Wall

dining room with blue accent wall featuring wooden shapes

Just about any room can benefit from an accent wall. For a rustic appeal, install shiplap from salvaged lumber. For an ultra-modern look, mount foil tiles to a wall. The most budget-friendly option of all is simply to paint an accent wall a different color from all others in the room.

For a really fun addition, use chalk paint instead.

5. Paint the Floor

Is there anything you can’t paint? Not much. If your garage, carport, patio, or basement needs an inexpensive upgrade, grab the roller and some concrete floor paint to come to the rescue.

6. Add Curb Appeal

Curb appeal adds resale value, joy for the neighbors, and delight to your arrival each time you come home. Paint the front door and entryway, replace porch lights, add a screen door, DIY some aesthetic shutters for the front windows, and plant flowers everywhere.

Build window boxes, use pots you have around the house, pick up second-hand planters, and ask friends and family for cuttings rather than buying plants from the nursery.

7. Install Backsplash

There are at least as many options for backsplash as for your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room countertops. For a thrifty approach, scour the internet and visit Habitat for Humanity Resale stores. Use what you have or what you can find at a discount to install tile, Formica, metal squares, glass, or stone.

8. Refinish Bathtub and Sink

Instead of replacing the dated, but otherwise solid, bathtub and/or sink, refinish them instead. You can buy kits with everything you need at the home improvement store or online. Change the color and add protection with a new seal at the same time.

9. Upgrade Plumbing Fixtures

sleek sink plumbing fixtures

While you’re working on the bathroom and kitchen, swap out the faucets for a quick and inexpensive upgrade to the space. You may not want to invest in a complete remodel, but even small upgrades of towel racks, lighting, and a new mirror will make a huge difference.

10. Swap out Lights

Inside, outside, under cabinets, in the garage, over workspaces—anywhere you need light provides an opportunity for an upgrade with a small upfront investment. Smart devices and motion-sensored options will save you money in the long run too.

11. Invest in Textiles

The final look of your home comes from the soft finishing touches. Look for deals on curtains, throw pillows, scatter rugs, and bedding--or DIY--to pull the look together. This goes for your furniture too. Give the dated couch or chair a new look with fresh upholstery. That goes for the headboard in the spare room too.

12. Add Plants and Flowers

Bringing the outdoors inside is a trend that never dies. We’re naturally drawn to elements of the natural world so surround yourself with flowers, plants, fish tanks, water features, wreaths, and anything else that brings you joy.