35 smarter ways to renovate your home when you're on a tight budget

Refresh your space with less cash.

ByChristina X. Wood and Cassandra Seale

Not all renovations must include dust, demo, and completion dates that seem to always be around the corner... but never arrive. When it comes to sprucing up the home, there are loads of clever ways to bring a fresh, new look that involve minimal effort, minimal cash, and minimal dusty footprints across the foyer.

Whether it’s the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or the dresser you found on the sidewalk in college, the items on this list will help breathe new life into not-so-new places and things. And, there are tasks that appeal to the more hardcore DIY-er, while others fit more with the “throw a tablecloth on it” category. Either way, you and your house should get excited because up ahead are lots of smart ways to renovate your home, on even the tightest of budgets.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.


Installing dimmer switches instead of overhauling the lighting

If the too-bright lighting in your space harshes the mood, you might be shopping for accent lighting, which can get expensive. This LED dimmer switch is a much cheaper way to go and you can mellow or brighten the lighting to suit the mood. Installing one is easier than you think. This switch is compatible with most wiring and has both a dimmer and an independent on/off switch.

“I had never installed a dimmer switch before, but this was fairly easy,” said one reviewer. “It’s a simple task and the end result is great.”


Patching holes & cracks with an easy repair putty

When you get the urge to paint or hang new art, you will be faced with holes in the drywall. Fear not! This drywall repair putty is a quick and easy fix. The container works like a deodorant. Twist the base to raise the putty, then rub it on the holes to fill them. Wipe the excess off and you are done.

“I removed ... photographs from one wall, leaving obvious nail holes,” said one reviewer. “I rolled this ... putty over the holes, and it completely changed the appearance of the wall, hiding most of the previously obvious nail holes.”


Refreshing couches & upholstery with a fabric shaver

Sometimes a couch looks in worse shape than it is because the fabric is pilled, scratched, and fuzzy. That can be fixed quickly and easily with this inexpensive fabric shaver that has a large shaving area and three settings so you can use it on heavy fabrics (like the couch) and delicate sweaters and jackets. It comes in lots of colors and runs on batteries. (There is also a rechargeable version.)

“I bought a couch from FB marketplace and it was SEVERELY scratched and damaged,” said one reviewer. “I didn’t really think this would work but it turned [an] uncomfortable and damaged couch to a SOFT almost brand new looking couch within about an hour of using this tool.”


Using greenery to make a statement with a cool hanging planter

If you want to make your place look amazing, plants punch way above their price point when it comes to creating mood and helping improve the air you breathe. And if you hang them in this stylish hanging planter to get them off the window sill, they look even better. The pot comes in three finishes and gives your greenery a huge aesthetic upgrade. It comes with a ceiling hook and an elegant chain to hang it from.


Making the entryway more efficient with dedicated shoe or cubby storage

Tuck this shoe organizer under your entryway bench and clean up that shoe clutter almost instantly, without giving up the convenience of keeping your shoes handy. It’s easy to set up and has six cubbies that will corral all your kicks. It works in a closet, too. “Super easy and almost effortless way to organize shoes. Perfect! Assembling took literally no time,” said one reviewer.


Giving a luxe gold finish to furniture & hardware

The scenario: You found a stylish piece in a thrift store, but it has seen better days and might involve more DIY than you have time and space to execute. Or does it? This wax metallic finish can work miracles with nothing more than a bit of rubbing with a cloth. It will turn ugly paint or rusted metal — even plastic — to gold.

“This stuff is GREAT for restoring an old frame,” said one reviewer. “I simply tore up an old t-shirt, wrapped it tight around my index finger, and put little specks of this on the frame itself.”


Installing modern hooks in the bathroom for an easy update

It’s amazing how big a change you can make to a bathroom simply by removing the chintzy towel bar and creating a wall of hooks to hang your towels on instead. It’s stylish, minimalist, and functional. And the cost is negligible. These four simple wall hooks have a modern, architectural style that’s perfect for this. They come in four finishes so you can choose the look you want and come with all the hanging hardware.


Rejuvenating decks, siding, & sidewalks with a powerful outdoor cleaner

Not ready to drop big bucks to have your place pressure washed? This outdoor cleaner makes it easy to clean your exterior, deck, driveway, awnings, outdoor furniture, and more with nothing but your own hose. Just attach the container to your hose and spray. Then rinse it off and it will remove mold, dirt, algae, mildew, and more super fast.


Getting artwork into legitimate frames

If you have ever paid to have a piece of art framed, you know how shockingly expensive it can be. This black picture frame gets similar results at an affordable price. Choose the size you need from the drop-down menu. (There are so many, you can get a nearly custom size.) You will get a beautiful MDF wood frame with a glass front and a sawtooth hanger for easy mounting to the wall.


Incorporating fresh greenery into a garden or window with a rustic planter box

Dress up your deck, balcony, or windows with this planter box made from handsome acacia wood. It brings a rustic look and an easy gardening spot that will make your plants happy. You can plant directly into it because there are drain holes in the bottom. It’s light enough to move about when you clean or change your mind. And the size is perfect for an indoor shelf or deck railing.


Creating a home gym with this set of multi-use workout equipment

No space for a home gym? This Pilates bar set will fit in a drawer so all you need to do is move the coffee table and you can get a terrific workout at home in any weather and at any time of day. The set includes six cloth resistance bands that can be used alone in small increments or combined to achieve a total weight of up to 150 pounds. A door anchor, tackle straps, and a bar let you achieve a full-body workout. And it all stores in the included bag.


Making the cleaning closet tidy & efficient with a mop & broom rack

When you have a sparsity of closets, where do you store the cleaning supplies? This wall-mounted mop and broom organizer lets you turn any wall, corner, or the back of a closet door into a convenient storage area. Slip the long handles into the grip locks and they will stay put. Use the hooks to hang dusters and rags. Problem solved.


Enhancing outdoor space with energy-efficient solar string lights

Turn your outdoor space into a place to gather and relax by adding 27 feet of solar-powered outdoor string lights. They soak up the sun during the day and use that energy to power the lights at night. There is no wiring involved and you don’t have to turn them on and off. Just place the solar panel in a sunny spot and hang the shatterproof Edison-style bulbs and enjoy. Over 17,000 people give these five stars.


Modernizing cabinets or dressers with a set of new pulls

If you want to update the look of your kitchen cabinets, change the drawer pulls. You might discover there is nothing wrong with the cabinets after all. This five-pack of cabinet handles will give your kitchen a sleek, modern vibe that will modernize even the most frumpy base cabinets. Choose the size that matches your drawers, unscrew the old ones, and screw these in.


Updating lighting easily by using a plug-in pendant light

If you long for a light over the dining table or your favorite reading corner but don’t want to pay for wiring, hang this plug-in pendant light instead. With a switch in the 15-foot cord, it’s an easy and elegant solution. The linen shade comes in seven colors, it accepts all kinds of standard bulbs, and it comes with all the hanging hardware and cord clips you need.


Creating a statement wall or backsplash with affordable mirror tiles

These adhesive mirror sheets are a clever way to refinish furniture, create a mirrored wall, or incorporate into any project where you need a mirror of a specific size. You can cut these to fit. Then peel and stick them to your project. This is four 6”x9” sheets. Since they aren’t glass, they are great for projects where you don’t want any risk of them breaking.


Taking the bed or couch to new heights with furniture risers

Got an armchair, couch, or bed that’s a little too low? There is no need to replace it. Just lift it up onto these bed risers and that piece will be three inches taller. Usually, that’s enough to transform the under-bed area into a roomy storage space. Choose the color that suits your decor. They come in round or square.

“I recently had a double knee replacement making it very difficult to sit and get up comfortably,” said one reviewer. “I was very concerned because I was only able to sit in one chair due to my couch being too low. These worked perfectly!!”


Making walls visually interesting with unique shelving

These floating, intersecting cube shelves are ideal for creating a visually appealing display of anything from collectibles in the living room to personal care in the bathroom products to dishware in the kitchen. They are easy to snap together and hang, and come in four finishes. Over 7,000 people give them five-star reviews saying they are “chic,” “super cute,” and “fancy.”


Giving countertops & furniture a makeover with peel-&-stick paper

If replacing the icky vanity in the bathroom is completely out of your budget, or you have a piece of furniture that’s a color or finish that just doesn’t work for you, this marble wallpaper will transform it into an elegant faux marble that’s waterproof and easy to clean. And all you have to do is peel and stick it over what’s there now. You don’t have to strip off any finishes or do any construction. Choose the size you need and bring some scissors to the job.

“Did this while my husband was at work and he actually thought I paid someone to come change our fireplace,” said one reviewer. “Super easy to use.”


Bringing a fresh look to any room with a statement rug

If your floors are damaged or your carpeting is old, layer on this striking, geometric area rug and cover that up while creating a totally new vibe in your room. The fabric is soft underfoot, easy to vacuum, and won’t bunch up and annoy you. And the pattern is just exotic enough to bring a hint of groovy to your space. It comes in three colors.


Repairing scratches & dings with a furniture marker kit

There is no need to freak out over the mark that a coffee cup made on your nice table, the scratch in your wood cabinets, or the kick marks on your painted chair legs. This furniture repair kit has every color you need to repair that. The six markers and six wax sticks can color right over it and no one will ever know it happened. Just choose the right color and draw right over the blemish.


Making DIY shelves with simple brackets

Need shelving? Creating custom wall shelving of exactly the size and height you want, wherever you want it, is an easy and affordable project with these shelf brackets. Just pick up some wood planks and mount these to the wall and screw your planks to them. “Needed shelves in my art studio,” said one reviewer. “These were super easy to screw in and add the shelf on top.”


Giving the couch a new look with a stretchy slipcover

A new couch is a costly purchase. But there are always comfortable couches in thrift stores. If the only thing wrong with that old couch is the color or pattern, this sofa cover will fix that quickly and easily. It’s super stretchy so it’s easy to put on, doesn’t look sloppy, and stays put. And there are so many colors you can have exactly what you want. They are a great way to protect a nice couch from a pet, too.

“Saved us getting rid of a whole couch!” said one reviewer.


Refreshing nearly any surface or furniture with versatile chalk paint

When it comes to budget-friendly upgrades, giving much loved (or neglected) furniture or frames a makeover with a fresh coat of paint really packs a punch. This chalk paint contains built-in primer and topcoat, goes on smoothly, and can be used on wood, laminate, metal, and even glass for a neat new look.


Incorporating unique seating indoors or out with a hammock chair

Get your lounge on in a serious way with this comfy hammock. It’s extra long and wide and is made with heavy-duty canvas for a strong, sturdy, cocoon-like swaddle. Use it with a traditional stand (check the measurements first!) or pack it up in its carry bag and tote it to the park for a nap in the trees.


Installing crown molding easily with this trimmable border

Give walls and ceilings a new level of visual interest with this simple, malleable wall trim. It’s made of flexible PVC that you can cut to size with regular scissors. Use the adhesive of your choice (they recommend Liquid Nails), apply to the wall, paint if you like, then kick back and enjoy your revitalized new space.


Making old grout look brand new again with a tile paint pen

Grimy grout can be just about impossible to clean. Rather than going through the hassle of re-tiling (or breaking out the scrubber and elbow grease), pick up this grout pen and make the bathroom floor or shower wall look good as new with ease. Just paint over the old grout lines, and voila — done.


Rescuing old or unsightly tables by covering with a chic tablecloth

Before you toss out Grandma’s dining table, consider topping it with a budget-friendly yet elegant tablecloth. This one is made of a cotton and linen blend with fun tassels along the edges for an extra pop. With five sizes and 11 patterns to choose from, you can find one to complement your current style or take things in a whole new direction.


Using a chic wall organizer in the entryway or bathroom

Streamline your access to daily sundries with this surprisingly versatile shelf organizer. Use the hooks as a handy home for keys and purses, though they also work just as well for towels in the bathroom. The warm and rustic design slips easily into many different decor schemes.


Beautifying the outdoors by growing your own sunflowers from seeds

Purchasing plants can be a pricey affair — trying your hand at this simple sunflower kit is budget-friendly and can reap gorgeous rewards. It comes with three different, beautiful varieties of sunflower seeds and everything needed to take them from seed to stalk, including soil discs, seed markers, and planter pots.


Masking past-their-prime cabinets & drawers with snazzy liners

These cabinet liners are a simple yet effective way to breathe fresh life into less-than-fresh shelves, cabinets, and drawers. They’re non-adhesive so won’t damage any finishes, yet provide a nonstick surface to keep goods in place and looking nice. They’re thick, durable, and easy to clean.


Covering scratched or damaged couches or chairs with a cozy throw blanket

If the dog and cat have made the couch their nesting place (along with their fur, stains, and scratches), tossing a sumptuous throw blanket over the whole thing is an easy solution. This one comes in sizes ranging from “large” to “giant” and there are 20 rich jewel tones and plaid patterns to choose from.


Creating a more elegant kitchen with coordinated food storage

Take that cabinet from chaos to ship-shape by switching out random packages for these elegant food containers. They’re airtight so are ideal for everything from flour to coffee beans and cereal, though they also do well with art supplies, pet food, or anything that gets a boost from a clean, organized environment.


Restoring old hardwood floors with a protective polish

Help heal and protect those hardwood floors all at once with this restoring floor polish. The formula has micro-filling technology which does wonders for smoothing over scratches (especially good for high-traffic areas), is safe to use around children and pets, and doesn’t leave a sticky residue.


Having a dedicated place for off-season items by using sturdy, expandable storage bags

When your closets are overflowing, these expandable storage bags can be a lifesaver. They’re ideal for loading up bulky blankets, pillows, or even winter boots, and they also collapse for smaller items. Plus, thanks to the clear lids, you can easily see what’s inside each one.