You’d be surprised at the difference a few little changes can make.
After closing on a slightly “lived-in” home, you’re probably dying to renovate. But that Pinterest-fueled excitement might need to be tempered by the reality of your budget. There may not be a lot of money left in your bank account after dropping a down payment on that dreamy, antebellum-style home for sale in Nashville, TN, for instance. However, you don’t have to let your budget stop you from revealing your fixer-upper’s potential. Here are 18 small, under-$500 makeover ideas that will freshen up an entire room.
Kitchen makeover ideas
Add a new backsplash
This project’s a relatively easy one for the novice DIYer: Your main mantra should be “measure twice.” Subway tile, as in this for-sale kitchen at 315 Quinnhill Road, Los Altos, CA 94024, never goes out of style and is one of the most budget-friendly tile options out there. In addition to sealer, grout, and thinset, you’ll need to rent a tile cutter. Even easier — and cheaper? Stick-on embossed metal tiles, which look more antique.
Refinish (or replace) cabinet doors
While solid wood doors will set you back a pretty penny, swapping out only your current cabinet fronts for composite (or even glass-fronted) doors is a more affordable option. Be sure to check out salvage shops for higher-quality doors at budget-friendly prices.
Or try open shelving
Removing your current cabinets will require a bit of muscle, but replacing them is a cinch when you opt for open shelving. This is a better option for those who subscribe to a more minimalist aesthetic.
Install overhead lighting
If you rented before buying your home, you probably lived with some horrid fluorescent fixtures. Now that you’re a homeowner, it’s time to finally enjoy a customized lighting option. Canister lights tend to be everyone’s go-to, but hanging pendant lights (especially over an island as in in this home for sale at 28482 N. 127th Lane, Peoria, AZ 85383) offer a little more personality.
Replace countertops with butcher block
Until you can afford the granite, marble, or quartz countertop of your dreams, basic butcher-block countertops can affordably tide you over if your current counters are beyond repair. IKEA has some of the lowest prices out there on basic butcher block, starting at $169 for a 98-inch counter.
Living-room makeover ideas
Fake an area rug
A large, neutral sisal rug can cover a multitude of floor sins, from inexpertly laid tile to hardwood floors that need to be refinished. You’ll want to buy the biggest size you can find, so it covers nearly the entire floor.
Prop up a palm
There’s a reason you see potted plants in nearly every interior design mag: they fill in awkward corner spaces while adding a pop of color and natural texture. The classic palm is a decorator’s favorite, especially when paired with a colorful ceramic pot. If yours is a little on the smaller side, give it a boost with a plant stand.
Paint your fireplace
A fresh coat of white paint like the one in this home for sale at 3240 Windsor Drive, Charlotte, NC 28209 can completely rescue a dark and dreary fireplace. You should expect to put in a full day’s worth of elbow grease to scrub the surface clean, as years of soot can prevent paint from properly adhering. When it’s time to paint, experts recommend using a roller with a longer nap that can get into the crevices of bricks.
A wall of bookshelves create a handsome library feel while adding architectural interest. For a more budget-friendly execution, buy premade bookshelves and trim them out with molding for a custom look. Blogger Kate Riley of Centsational Girl did just this for under $400 thanks to a few identical IKEA bookcases, some baseboard, crown molding, paint, and an afternoon.
Add architectural details
Wainscoting, crown molding, and ceiling medallions like the one in this home for sale at 16 Fenton Drive, Short Hills, NJ 07078 bring a stately feel to a room, especially when used in an older home. Each of these elements can be installed in an afternoon or less.
Create a sliding “barn door”
Rustic-inspired design elements like the barn door in this home for sale at 127 Ridge Rd., Millersville, PA, 17551 are big right now. You can hop on the trend with Vintage Revival’s genius idea that fakes a sliding barn door with easy-to-source items from any big hardware store.
Bathroom makeover ideas
Re-tile a powder room floor
Like a backsplash, the petite proportions of a powder room floor like the one in this for-sale home at 4950 Greenbush Ave., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 make this one of the easier tiling jobs out there. White penny-style tiles can cost as low as $2.99 per square foot and bring a subtle vintage feel to any space.
Wallpaper your powder room
Chalk this one up as another benefit of the small size of a half bath: It’s cheap to wallpaper, even if you choose a high-end paper. Faux grass cloth is a classic choice, bringing subtle texture in addition to a cozy neutral hue.
Install a pedestal sink
The classic pedestal sink like the his-and-hers sinks in this home for sale at 29365 Shell Cove, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 is also (usually) a cheap option for a bathroom sink — you can find pedestal sink models as low as $90 at many home improvement stores. The sleek silhouette also makes the room feel so much more spacious. Just one word of advice: This project is ideal for those with a very strong background in DIY projects.
Replace your vanity
For those who need a little extra storage space in their bath (read: everyone), a new vanity is a must. If yours is stuck in the ’80s, you can find budget-friendly options for free-standing vanities in the $300 range. Additional materials and size can send the price higher.
Paint your porch floor
If you’re lucky enough to have a porch, refresh it with a new coat of paint (dark blue and gray are timeless options). But not just any exterior formulation will do — look for paint labeled specifically for porch and patio floors, which will stand up to foot traffic without losing its luster.
Accessorize with shutters
Like crown molding in an interior, shutters like the ones on this home for sale at 335 Nassau St., Princeton, NJ 08540 are one low-cost way to amp up the curb appeal of your house’s exterior. Depending on the number of windows you have, you can get fancy with high-quality wood shutters or opt for easy-to-replace vinyl versions.
Flank your front door with topiaries
These plants only look high-maintenance: You can get pretrimmed ball-style potted hedges at many garden centers. Just give them a trim when they get a little unkempt.