Skip to main content

How to Remodel a Home on a Shoestring Budget

I take pride in living frugally on my meager earnings, including renovating my home on the cheap.

How to Remodel on a Shoestring Budget.

How to Remodel on a Shoestring Budget.

Renovate on a Budget

Renovating or remodeling your home does not have to be expensive. Whether you are trying to update and remodel a house to get it ready to sell or to make it a more comfortable place for you to live, there are plenty of ways you can fix up your house without spending a lot of money. These changes will:

  • Make your house a more comfortable place to live
  • Help increase the market value
  • Make it look better for your guests who visit
  • Let you enjoy your house to its fullest extent

Here are some tips on how to save money as you remodel, renovate, and beautify your home.

Remodeling a House Frugally

Remodeling and renovating a home does not have to be expensive. Here are a few ways to remodel your home without breaking the bank.

  • Make changes that have a big impact.
  • Considering small things that make a big difference.
  • Do it yourself.
  • Trade and barter for labor.
  • Borrow or rent tools.
  • Shop around for the best price.
  • Consider your needs when you buy.
  • Buy second-hand goods.
  • Think creatively.

By using the tips provided, you can save a great deal of money while increasing the functionality and beauty of your home. Read on for more information about each of these ideas!

Clean Up

Before making any changes in the house, it is best to put everything away where it belongs and simply clean up the place. Your place will look better immediately. Also, by cleaning, you get the opportunity to see how things are arranged and think of ways to simply rearrange the furniture or choose a better location of stored belongings to make it more effective or pleasing to the eye.

Getting rid of clutter will also clear up space and will make the rooms look bigger than they did when they were crammed with things.

You may find that moving items from one room to another will help clear up space and make your home more functional without you having to spend a single penny.

Make Big-Impact Changes First

To save money, you want to consider making the changes that have the greatest impact first—the things that will get you the most bang for your buck. Things like paint, flooring, lighting, arrangement, and appliances and furniture. A fresh coat of paint can quickly and economically update, brighten and enhance a home.

Then, if you still have money in the budget, you can make the changes that will enhance the home in more subtle ways.

Smaller Changes That Can Have a Big Impact

After you think big, it's time to think small. There are small changes you can make that will have a big impact as well.

  • Changing the hardware of cabinets, for example, can change the look of the kitchen without having to replace the cabinets.
  • Painting the trim instead of painting the whole house might be sufficient depending on your situation.
  • Adding a drawer organizer might keep you from needing another drawer.
  • Repairing instead of replacing some things could avoid headaches and cost less, depending on the amount of time and material it would take to repair them.
  • Changing the rug or towels in the bathroom, or a new bedspread or curtains in the bedroom can change the look of the room without any remodeling whatsoever.
Don't forget the outdoors when you are remodeling or renovating.  Gardens, porches, patios and decks add great value to the usability of all of your space.

Don't forget the outdoors when you are remodeling or renovating. Gardens, porches, patios and decks add great value to the usability of all of your space.

Do It Yourself

In order to save the most money, you will want to do yourself all of the things that you are capable of doing. If you have the skills and experience to do something, it will be cheaper for you to do it than to hire it out. There may also be some additional skills you can pick up by watching some YouTube videos or reading some books or articles.

Of course, you do have to be careful that you don't cause any damage that will cost more to repair. Some jobs may turn out to be bigger or more complicated than you expected. If you take your time and start with small and easy repairs, you will be able to build up your confidence and skill level over time.

Trade and Barter for Labor

If you have friends who have skills you are missing, you may be able to barter with them by sharing your skills with them. Don't forget, the trade doesn't have to be in remodeling. You could cook, babysit or run errands while they work on installing lighting fixtures for example.

Borrow or Rent Instead of Buying

If you need some big tools to get the job done, you may find a tool-lending library in the city or a place that rents tools. Since you will only need the tool for a short time, you can avoid the cost of buying it and finding a place to store it.

Shop Around for the Best Price

Most people know that prices vary tremendously for items, and usually comparison shop for basic household jobs. They also know they should get three estimates so they can make sure they are getting reasonable prices for quality service.

They may sometimes forget to comparison shop for the material. Be sure to compare the prices at different stores and online. You may find that it is cheaper to buy the item at a store when it is on sale, and then pay someone to install it for you. In this way, you will also be able to pick out the exact thing that you want in your home.

Also realize that since most items you install during a renovation or rehab will stay in your home for a long time, there is no need to buy the latest and greatest item. Most people will not know a couple of years from now whether you bought an item that was from 2012 or 2013. You can easily buy something on clearance (as long as the condition, quality, and features are good) and save a great deal of money without anyone being the wiser.

Don't Buy What You Don't Need

Many items come with lots of special features. Sometimes you can save money by not buying those features. For example, I recently replaced the garage door opener. When doing my research, I chose a make and model that would work best for me. I noticed a big price discrepancy, however, and realized that the same product was being sold two different ways. One included the keypad that was installed outside the door, and the other one didn't. I decided that I did not need the keypad, and saved myself $60 on the price of the opener.

A kitchen in use.

A kitchen in use.

Second-Hand Rehabs

You may be able to find really good bargains by going to a Habitat for Humanity Restore and finding second-hand material that will fit well with the décor and other items in your house. ReStores sell new and gently-used home improvement goods, furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. A brand new item may look out of place in an old-fashioned home, but you can find beautiful pieces that will fit right in.

Save Money With Government Programs

There are some government and company programs that can save you money if you keep an eye out for them. For example, the following programs are or have been available to me:

  • turning in my old refrigerator for a rebate
  • low-price home energy audit, with additional discounts on energy improvements
  • federal tax credits for energy improvements

Think Creatively

You may also be able to find items either in your own house, at yard sales, at thrift stores, and at a Habitat for Humanity Restore that can be repurposed to a different function. I use a chest of drawers with a bookshelf that was made for a bedroom in my kitchen. The bookshelf part works great for cookbooks and cereal boxes while the drawers hold my kitchen towels, plastic wrap, and similar items.

You can also consider adding a countertop to a dresser to turn it into an island. This will give you additional counter space as well as storage space.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Shasta Matova

Add Your Cheap Remodeling Ideas Here

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on February 12, 2020:

We're doing substantial remodeling in our home. Your article provides us with some outstanding ideas. Thank you!

Marwood Construction on February 11, 2020:

Hey! This is indeed a great blog post that defines how to remodel a home if you are on a budget. The only thing I need to comment on here is that this blog speaks mostly about the DIY method. This, if you are not sure of what you are doing, can be a huge problem. It is, thus, always better to go for professionals for the job role. Speak to your friends and family and do your research to find out LEED-certified professionals who can help you with the work at affordable rates. 

Courtney on February 02, 2020:

Government help is available. Contact the United Way to find out who to contact in your area. They will give you all the resource information. Otherwise, in my area Advocap is a huge supporter. If you don't qualify for low income help you may qualify for a 30 month interest free loan.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on December 19, 2015:

I'm sorry I don't know, Pattie. Maybe you can call your local health and services office and see what they recommend.

Pattie on November 15, 2015:

How do u find the places to look for government help on repairs i need a new roof an as life goes im broke

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 18, 2015:

You're welcome Ron. A used furniture place can help you find antiques and older furniture that is no longer available, and is less expensive than buying new. Plus the Restore lets you help others at the same time.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 18, 2015:

Thank you Catherine and Jojo for your additional tip. Moving furniture around does provide a nice change, and if you do it right, can make the room more functional too.

Thanks Lucille, having good storage for your belongings does help the house be clean and clutter-free, which makes it look much better.

Thanks colorfulone. You're right a home remodeling does not have to take a lot of money. I hope these cheap remodeling ideas can help people fix up a home without going broke.

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on April 15, 2015:

Thanks for the tip on Habitat for Humanity Restore. I just looked and see that one just opened in our area. We'll definitely be checking it out.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on April 15, 2015:

A lot of great advice for remodeling on the cheap. Giving a home a makeover doesn't have to cost a small fortune. Useful information, MT.

lucille12 on April 15, 2015:

The open up rack is the perfect option if you are seeking for an easy and straightforward way to organize your footwear and accessibility them.

Jomana H on April 12, 2015:

Yes, I agree with CatherineGiordano, some changing makes you feel different

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on April 12, 2015:

Sometimes you can just move the furniture around to make the room look and feel different.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 11, 2015:

Thank you Fay for the additional ideas. Mounting bookshelves in a usually unused space near the ceiling would help a lot since you would have storage. That would be great especially for a small room.

Jomana H on April 11, 2015:

Great ideas, and useful hub

Fay Favored from USA on April 11, 2015:

Lots of good ideas that could be done right away without too much cost. Changing handles is one that I have done along with visiting a Habitat for Humanity Restore for doors. We have also donated there so it works quite well for us. The chest of drawers and bookshelf idea we used for my husband's shoes. We also mounted bookshelves on the wall close to the ceiling for items that aren't used often, but we flipped the shelves so the finished part is what you see. Pinned this.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 05, 2015:

Thanks peachpurple for your tip. A shoe rack would be great for all those little things in the kitchen.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 05, 2015:

Trading with others is a great tip Kenny. Thanks for your input.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 27, 2015:

great ideas, i turned my shoe rack into kitchen cabinet instead

Kenny Vigil from Pueblo, Colorado on January 26, 2015:

Some good tactics on saving $$$$ try to locAte restores in you area!!!! And sometimes I like to trade my trade for another that I don't have a lot of experience in!!! Big time budget reducer,and a good opportunity to meet good people!!! And always be open minded to everyone and everything!! Take a look at my hub I will take any advice you can or you bless me with


Kenny Vigil

Nancy on November 13, 2014:

Following this tips can save lots of penny.

Besarien from South Florida on November 10, 2014:

Great advice! This is a very inspiring hub. Voted up!

Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on November 09, 2014:

Thank you for the advices. It is good to know how to remodel any place in the house or outside the house on a small budget. I like the sentence. Do it yourself. I like your article. I am glad you are sharing your knowledge. I am going to try to use the tips of your article on my pool remodeling.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 17, 2014:

Thank you for your visit and comment Mathira. Remodeling a home can be done very inexpensively. We spend a lot of time in our homes, and making them as nice as they can be uplifts our spirits.

mathira from chennai on September 11, 2014:

I had always been interested in remodeling my house. The ideas you gave made me feel happy as now I know that I need not spend lots of money to give a new look to my home.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 20, 2014:

Thanks kerlund74. I like to do something small every year to my house. I have found that people who don't do anything wind up having to do so much before they sell, and they don't get the enjoyment of having all that work done. I hope your remodeling project is enjoyable and successful.

kerlund74 from Sweden on February 18, 2014:

A great hub, many ideas to use. I have not done anything in my house for years. I have so much things and so little space. Some of your ideas can be really useful when I start off:)

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 17, 2013:

It really doesn't take much does it, Dolores. Your newly decorated living room sounds lovely. It is amazing how everything feels different when you only change a few things around.

Rebecca, thank you. I hope your new cabinet knobs and drawer pulls make the room fantastic.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on September 14, 2013:

A very thorough and comprehensive guide for redecorating on a budget. I like these ideas. I am definitely going to use the changing cabinet knobs and drawer pulls tip. Thanks!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on September 14, 2013:

You are so right, sometimes a little goes a long way. I recently redecorated my LR by painting it and changing the curtains. The paint was on sale and a friend was getting rid of some curtains that I just loved. Move some of the pictures around, some of the furniture and the whole room felt different!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 19, 2013:

Thanks Purple Perl. I am sure your house will look great when you use these ideas.

Thanks Cyndi. I just got my check for recycling the refrigerator and used it to buy some paint. You're right, sometimes a small change makes a big difference.

That is a great idea Aurelio. Looking at decorating magazines and other sources of inspiration, you can often get some great ideas. I know I was a lot more comfortable with choosing bold colors of paint for my walls when I started seeing them on television.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 19, 2013:

Thanks Effer. I am sure that your house is amazing with your affordable home decorating projects.

Thanks Stephanie. Spring is a great time to remodel or redecorate, and I get that urge too. Hope you can find a Restore near you.

Thanks Justsilvie. Glad you enjoyed it.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on March 19, 2013:

Thanks Chrissie. So often I am dissatisfied with the way something looks, and it is simply a matter of cleaning and organizing it. When it is clean, it is easier to find quick and easy solutions to whatever is causing the dissatisfaction.

Great idea drpennypincher. I don't think we have one like that, but there are places to get used material for better prices.

Thanks vocalcoach. Often by looking at furniture you already have, you can find new and better uses for them.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on March 03, 2013:

I like watching decorating shows like "Design on a Dime." One suggestion for decorating on a shoestring budget is to find a room that you like in a decorating magazine, and see what substitutes you can make for the expensive treatments and furniture at a lower price. Typically, as long as you keep the same colors, patterns and arrangements, you can get the look for far less. Voting this Up and Useful.

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on February 13, 2013:

Hello, Some really good tips for making a change without spending a lot. Good tips on tapping into rebates and other incentives from the government. When you're remodeling or making just small changes, every little bit helps. Voted up.

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on February 04, 2013:

Valuable tips here. Will use some of the ideas given. Thanks,voted up & useful.

Justsilvie on February 02, 2013:

Some Excellent ideas. Well done Hub. Voted up and sharing.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on February 02, 2013:

It seems that every spring, I get the urge to do some remodeling. Love your budget friendly advice for revamping without breaking the bank! I haven't heard about the Habitat for Humanity Restore - sounds like something I should look into next time we're considering a home improvement project! Voted up and useful!

Suzie from Carson City on February 02, 2013:

Great work here, MT....Right up my alley......saving where ever and when ever possible. I have done amazing things on a budget.

As you suggest here, there are creative ways, as long as we're willing to search for them and put them into action.

I enjoyed this hub, immensely. Your talent is shining brightly. UP+++

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on February 01, 2013:

An excellent hub on remodeling on a budget. Great tips. Love the idea of turning a dresser into an island for the kitchen as well as the bookcase for cookbooks etc. Voted way up, useful, awesome, interesting and will share.

Dr Penny Pincher from Iowa, USA on February 01, 2013:

Some landfills have recycled building materials available. The one in my area has antique/vintage doors, windows, hardware, etc. for a fraction of the cost of new materials.

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on February 01, 2013:

Wonderful and informative article. I agree many times just cleaning up, organizing and rearranging things in your home can make you realize it really isn't in need of a remodel. Many people look to remodel because they want a change and a few simple changes can sometimes be done inexpensively. Voted up!