How to Remodel on a Tight Budget

You’ve just purchased a dream property and your wallet is a lot lighter. Expenses ran-up quickly in the form of inspections, closing costs, moving, and a few new items to transform your house into a home. There’s still quite a bit you’d like to do make it just right, but a total remodel just isn’t in the budget. When you look at the costs of new kitchen cabinets, a new bathroom vanity, and other upgrades, the cost becomes too steep to handle.

Remodeling a home is something that’s not only expensive, it’s outright intrusive and disruptive. It can be quite stressful because you’re without a kitchen, have limited use of your bathroom, and throughout the house, dust and debris is tracked into every room. All of this, not to mention that what initially sounded like a short period of time is a lot longer in reality.

This scenario certainly doesn’t have to be the case. You can make some little changes that have a big impact. When most people think about remodeling, they conjure-up images of a totally gutted kitchen, living room, and bathrooms. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that extensive, or that expensive.



Where some homeowners go wrong is believing their “budget” is set in stone. What’s more, some don’t really take the time to itemize expenses, which is an invitation to going overboard. What you need to do before you even begin to take out the toolbox is to write down a realistic budget. Go over it a few times to ensure that it’s accurate.

“Busting the budget is everyone’s biggest fear when it comes to renovation. And with good reason. Even if you follow the essential advice we’ve been doling out for years—build in a 20 percent cushion to cover the nasty surprises, get contractor references and check them, banish the words “while you’re at it” from your vocabulary—it’s hard not to end up shelling out more than you want to, even if you want to pen a check for a million bucks.” –This Old House

Whatever figure you come to, take it and reduce it by at least 15 percent, or, 20 percent if you’re the personality type that likes to rationalize little expenditures. The reason why is simple–any contractor will tell you that budgets are routinely exceeded. There are several reasons why this is so, there will be unexpected problems, you’ll change your mind about something, or you’ll make an impulse purchase or two.


To keep within your spending limit, make key changes rather than big ones. You’ll be amazed by how much of an impact some inexpensive items and materials will have, not only to make your home look better, but also bigger. Here are some great ways to remodel on a tight budget:

  • Install new fixtures. A great way to save money in the kitchen and the bath is to make small, subtle changes, like switching outdated faucets and light fixtures for new ones. You don’t need to be a plumber or an electrician, all you need is just a few common hand tools. To get even more for less money, change out cabinet pulls.
  • Refresh or change wall colorsNew paint can do wonders for a room, particularly if the color looks faded or is just plain ugly. Neutral colors work best and with a bit of new, inexpensive wall art, the walls will look even better.
  • Clean grout and re-caulk. One thing that makes kitchens and bathrooms look dingy is dirty grout and caulk. The fix is simple and cheap. Clean grout and re-caulk and you’ll be surprised at how much more fresh those spaces will look.
  • Install new window treatments. Another thing that can make a home look dated is old window treatments. You don’t have to buy top-end treatments because there’s an array of faux choices that look just as good.
  • Cover and rearrange your furniture. Instead of purchasing new furniture for your living room, use fitted covers to give them a new lease on life and to compliment the rest of the decor in the space.
  • Resurface or replace countertops. If your kitchen countertops are an eyesore, you can simply resurface them, paint them, or even replace them, but do so smartly. Instead of granite, go for butcher block and spend a lot less.
  • Replace wall switches, door hinges, and handles. For very little money, these small changes have a whole lot of impact in making a home look more up-to-date. These take only moments and don’t require anything but a few hand tools.
  • Freshen-up your curb appeal. Pressure wash the exterior and do the same on the driveway. Then, add a few colorful flowers on the porch, along the exterior, complete with mulch. You can also do this around your mailbox.

Another inexpensive thing you can do is to get a few artsy finishing details, like mini lanterns, candles, coasters, and other small decor.