There’s a huge misconception that home improvement projects are always expensive, complicated, and reserved for men like Tim Allen. As much as I love Tim, I’m here to show you exactly how home improvement on a budget–ANY budget–can be done. And they can be done by you!
What is home improvement?
A lot of people use the term “home improvement” when they really mean “major renovation.”
I really do want to flip a house one day, but that is not the kind of home improvement I am talking about here. Renovations are expensive and you probably will need to hire at least one guy who is kind of like Tim Allen.
Although it’s likely that he won’t be nearly as charismatic.
The home improvement on a budget that I know you can do is a lot more simple–we’re just going to improve your home.
So if you have the world’s ugliest kitchen (I was the lucky winner of that award in 2017), or your closet is always a messy disaster, or your living room is just insanely boring–we can improve that.
Tip #1: Take One Thing At A Time
This sounds simple, but it can actually be really hard. If you live in a house that hasn’t been updated since 1960, like I did, it’s hard to not feel overwhelmed by all the things that need to be improved.
But in terms of doing home improvement on a budget, you definitely can’t tackle it all at once.
And also in terms of your mental stability, you should still not tackle it all at once.
If you live in a home that’s new-ish and isn’t covered in dated things like cheap wood paneling and pink tile, this may not be quite as difficult.
Here are a few ways to narrow down the first home improvement project to work on.
What’s the ugliest?
If there’s one thing that is especially desperate for some home improvement magic, you should prioritize that over things that are less vomit-inducing.
What’s the most visible?
There may be one part of your home that really needs to be made prettier or more functional, but you don’t actually have to see it that often. For example, there may be one potential project in one of the back corners of your house, and another in the front hallway. You will probably benefit more quickly and get more motivation from doing the project in the front hallway first.
What’s the easiest?
Which home improvement project will take the least amount of time and effort?
This one depends–if you have some time off, or a full weekend to work on something, then you could definitely tackle one of the harder projects first. But especially if you have kids or are a stay at home mom, it’s a good idea to start with simpler projects.
This helps you learn how to get budget home improvements projects done around your kids. Here are all my best tips for doing DIY projects as a stay at home mom.
What’s the cheapest?
If your budget is the most important part of your home improvement projects, this is the most important factor to consider. Just start with doing projects as you have money available.
Getting any project done will give you the motivation to get others done.
If budget is not the most important factor, you’re free to choose project based on other factors.
Example: My Home Improvement on a budget
So, let’s talk more about my award-winning Ugliest Kitchen of 2017. Here it is.
The cabinets were nasty, orange, cheap oak and the walls were covered in the cheapest orange wood paneling you’ve ever seen. The tile backsplash was probably a cheap choice even in the 60s, as well as the hardware and hinges. Even the floor was ugly, beige, and cheap.
And let’s not forget about that circle-y wood pattern above the sink. It would also on two sides of cabinets.
I wanted to do EVERYTHING, but I had to choose one home improvement project at a time.
The easiest one to start with was the backsplash. Seeing that tiny little sliver of beauty in this space made me so excited to do the next thing.
Then I painted my countertops–which ended up being much easier and less time-consuming than I thought.
Finally, I painted all the cabinets with milk paint and covered the rest of the wood paneling with latex paint. This was by far the most difficult project in terms of time and effort. I also replaced the hardware.
But look at the difference:
Yall, it was incredible. It’s amazing what you can with a little bit of money and a healthy chunk of creativity.
And YES, your home could have this much transformation potential, too.
Tip #2: Use Consignment
Shopping in thrift stores and consignment probably won’t help you much if you’re doing a lot of painting or using really specific supplies. But it is a great way to find creative ways to make your spaces more functional.
Here’s a small example. My 3 year old daughter kept bringing home artwork from school. I try not to keep everything, but I’m not about to put all her sweet scribbles right in the trash. I found this at a consignment sale, and I bought it for $3.
But if it were more expensive, I would have just made it myself! And honestly… I still might make a bigger version.
Here a few other places to shop for your home improvement on a budget.
If you haven’t been shopping through other people’s used stuff, well it’s time to have your mind blown.
….Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Your mind might not be blown. Thrift stores are still grimy and you have to search through lots of junk to find hidden gems. My bad.
However, thrift stores can definitely take your home improvement on a budget to the next level.
The most obvious things to look for in thrift stores are furniture, but you can also sift through the home decor section and find some things to beautify. I also love to look at the picture frames–it’s a great place to get huge frames for as cheap as possible.
Habitat for Humanity
It depends on your location, but if you have a Habitat for Humanity, you should definitely check it out. You can get lots of things for pennies–this is great even if you are doing a full renovation.
I have found that most consignment furniture stores are actually still too pricey for me. I really do focus on home improvement projects on a TINY budget, but most of the furniture I’ve seen in these stores have already been painted beautifully.
Which is great, but I’m looking for ugly things. 😛
Now this… this is when I hear angels singing. Facebook Marketplace is amazing for finding and selling pretty much anything for a good deal.
I wouldn’t hold your breath for painting supplies on Marketplace, but you never know–I did sell a basket of brand new spray paints for $5 when we moved. Here’s my guide to making baaank by selling on Facebook Marketplace.
Use Online Coupons
When you do have to buy new things, like supplies, for your home improvement projects, do it wisely.
When I was painting my kitchen cabinets, I decided to use General Finishes milk paint. Instead of going to the store and not even looking at the price tag, I searched online for the best price.
You probably already do that with other products, but people don’t often do it with DIY supplies. I ended up finding the General Finishes sealer for WAY cheaper on Etsy. The milk paint was super cheap on Amazon at the time, too. I didn’t expect that, but I’m glad I checked.
And then I actually got money back from BOTH of those stores through Ebates. I always, always, always check Ebates when I buy things online. I usually hate adding browser extensions, but Ebates only tells me when it will give me money–and that’s a browser extension I can approve. ?
I’m not going to say I’ve made hundreds of dollars from Ebates, because I just don’t spend that much online. You still need to make sure you’re getting the best deal on everything–but I definitely recommend it. Here’s my Ebates link–if you use it to sign up, you’ll automatically get $10 extra.
Your Home Improvement On A Budget
Do you feel more prepared to make your home better for you?
For more ideas, join my free Love Your Home email course in the blue box below–and join the Facebook group!
Or check out these budget home improvement projects: