Cheap Home Remodel and Redesign Tips

Dining room with yellow chairs and wooden table with huge arrangement of flowers

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If you've been living in the same home for many years, or if you bought a fixer-upper, it's natural to want to renovate and upgrade your home. However, upgrades are expensive. A new set of kitchen cabinets will cost thousands of dollars. New countertops, bath vanities, and hardwood floors will cost several thousand more. Not willing to shell out five figures for your home upgrade costs? Here are 20 cheap ways to remodel your home on a budget.

Surfaces and Fixtures

Use peel-and-stick contact paper with stainless steel finishes on appliances. This gives you the modern look you're going for without the astronomical price tag. Your appliance will have a stainless steel façade at a fraction of the price of the real deal. No one will know the difference.

Install new switchplate covers—these are the covers on light switches and electrical outlets. A basic white cover will cost about $1 each at major home improvement retailers, and they're easy to install. A new, clean white cover will look much nicer than that old, yellowing cover you had. For added oomph in the kitchen, try stainless steel covers. You can also hunt for patterned and decorative covers online.

Change your doorknobs, handles, and hinges. These are inexpensive finishing touches that make a huge difference, and the installation is quick and easy. Along the same lines, you can also buy new hardware for the cabinets in your house.

Change your lampshades. This is a seemingly small detail that has the potential to make a huge difference. If you start making small changes like this, try and think of a theme to build off of so everything in your home looks cohesive.

Install crown molding, baseboard trim, and doorway trim. Trim and moldings go a long way toward making a home look upgraded, especially crown molding. Depending on your budget, you can go fancy with wood trim, or give a room an extra splash of color by painting over white trim.

Improved Lighting

Make sure the "light spectrum" from your bulbs is appropriate for the area. You want soft bulbs that emit a yellow/red undertone in "hanging out" zones such as the living room. You want bright bulbs that emit blue undertones in "study" zones such as your home office or library.

Install new blinds or curtains in the windows. Two-inch wood blinds give your home a nicer aesthetic than most one-inch vinyl blinds. As a plus, they're harder to destroy if you have any kids or pets in the house.

Hang more mirrors. By hanging more mirrors, it increases the light that shines through the house. If you can hang two mirrors in the same room, put them on opposite walls; this will make your room seem bigger. You can even hang them in places that are above eye-level, like over a fireplace.

Decorate and Declutter

Rearrange your furniture. You don't necessarily need new pieces of furniture. Simply creating new shapes and reorganizing the flow of a living space can do wonders. Is rearranging not enough? Adding some decorating with slipcovers or fabric will give your furniture a new color or pattern, and this is another item that can add to the theme of your home.

Is your home a little bare? Put a personal touch on the walls with photos or art. For an even more frugal alternative, simply change the frames of your existing photos and art.

If you're crafty, you can sew a new bed set and pillow covers out of old pieces of clothing or fabric. You can also knit a blanket. Don't have any that are good enough? Hunt for fabric at yard sales.

Purchase small decorative pieces to fill your space. Examples include mini-lanterns, artsy coasters, or a new coffee table book. Place plants both indoors and out. If you already own plants but have them potted in cheap plastic containers, upgrade them to a nice ceramic pot. Are you feeling creative? Paint the pots. These are "finishing details" that can give a space a modern feel.

Clearing unnecessary items can make the space feel much more inviting, and anything you declutter can be sold or donated.


Repaint your walls and/or change your wallpaper. You'd be surprised at what a fresh coat of paint can do for your home. Try a matte finish if you had a glossy finish before. If you have wallpaper, rip it off and paint instead.

Alternatively, paint your ceiling a new, fresh color. Some people are experimenting with soft neutral colors on the walls and a bold color on the ceiling, or opt for white walls with a bright yellow ceiling, or light beige walls with an eggplant/purple ceiling. If bold is your style, go for it.

Finishing Touches

Clean and tune-up your furnace and ventilation shafts. Taking care of these items doesn't constitute a cosmetic upgrade, but it will make your home function more efficiently.

Burn candles or incense, or use an air freshener. A new scent can help you enjoy the feeling of a nicer atmosphere.

Finally, your kitchen rugs, bath rugs, hallway runner, and your doormat are perfect candidates to swap out. You can even switch to a new shower curtain or buy a new bathroom set. Imagine you're moving into a place for the first time and own nothing. What would you change?