How to Remodel a Home on a Shoestring Budget

Updated on April 15, 2019
Millionaire Tips profile image

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

Cheap ways to remodel your house
Cheap ways to remodel your house | Source

Cheap Remodeling Ideas

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,
  • and 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 and Renovating on a Budget

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 the space and make your home more functional without 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 the most bang for your buck. Things like paint, flooring, lighting, and arrangement and existence of 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

In addition to thinking big, you should also think small. There are small changes you can make that make 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 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 of 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. | Source

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 goods. 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 | Source

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 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 counter top to a dresser to turn it into an island. This will give you additional counter space as well as storage space.

How much did you spend on your last remodeling project?

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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

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    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      4 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

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

    • profile image

      Marwood Construction 

      4 months ago

      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. 

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      4 years ago from USA

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

    • profile image


      4 years ago

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

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      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.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      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.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      5 years ago from Minnesota

      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 profile image


      5 years ago

      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.

    • Jojo Yousef profile image

      Jomana H 

      5 years ago

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

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      5 years ago from Orlando Florida

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

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      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.

    • Jojo Yousef profile image

      Jomana H 

      5 years ago

      Great ideas, and useful hub

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      5 years ago from USA

      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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

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

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

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

    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

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

    • Kenny Vigil profile image

      Kenny Vigil 

      5 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      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

    • nathalia27 profile image


      5 years ago

      Following this tips can save lots of penny.

    • Besarien profile image


      5 years ago from South Florida

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

    • erorantes profile image

      Ana Maria Orantes 

      5 years ago from Miami Florida

      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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      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 profile image


      5 years ago from chennai

      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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      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 profile image


      6 years ago from Sweden

      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:)

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      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.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      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 profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      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!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      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.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      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.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      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.

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Esther Shamsunder 

      7 years ago from Bangalore,India

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

    • profile image


      7 years ago

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

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      7 years ago from USA

      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!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      7 years ago from Carson City

      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+++

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      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.

    • drpennypincher profile image

      Dr Penny Pincher 

      7 years ago from Iowa, USA

      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 profile image


      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      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!


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