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In this post: Try some of these simple budget friendly ideas to cut remodeling costs, and turn your fixer-upper into the home of your dreams.

How to cut remodeling costs without cutting corners
Just because you don’t have a lot of money, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a home you love.  I am living proof.

I bought my house just before the housing crisis in the US began, at the end of 2007.  To be honest, I’m one of those people who probably shouldn’t have been approved for the mortgage I got.  The payments were eating me alive.

For a couple years I lived without TV, internet, phone, and even garbage service to keep my monthly costs down.  Seriously!

For one thing, this left me with a lot of free time to do DIY projects around the house.  I also spent a lot of time planning and researching ways to do the bigger projects that I was dreaming about, but couldn’t afford yet.

Here are some ways you can plan ahead, and reduce your costs for your home makeover projects.


1.  What can you change right now?

Take time to dream.  Daydream about how you want your home to look.

In the home of your dreams, is the living room overrun with clutter? Is the closet door off its hinges? Are there piles of stuff on the kitchen counter?

(Not that I’m assuming you’re a slob. These are just hypothetical examples.)

Of the things you don’t like about your home, what can you change right now?

Think about the simple things you can change to start moving toward a home you love.  Clean up, get organized, straighten the couch cushions, fix that broken shelf….

Look at you.  You’re already one step closer to the home of your dreams.  Now that’s motivating.

2.  Reuse what you can

Maybe you want new kitchen cabinets.  But if you can’t afford them, what can you do with what you have?

I was once dreaming about a full kitchen remodel, but there was no way I could afford it.  Instead, I managed to salvage my existing cabinets for just a few dollars, rather than the tens of thousands that kitchen remodels can cost.

Thrifty kitchen update
Save money on your kitchen update by salvaging your old cabinets.

I used the same trick for my bathroom vanities. I refinished what I had, and swapped out the sink and faucet for a quick facelift.

In my low-budget closet makeover, I did buy some new pieces.  But I also reused the existing shelf and bar.

Try updating what you already have, rather than buying everything new.

You may also be able to shop your own home to find pieces to repurpose in other rooms. For example, maybe you have an old dresser that would be perfect for adding more storage to your closet. Or an old trunk that would make a great coffee table.

Dresser in closet
Move a dresser you already own into your closet to add more storage without spending any money.

Look at your space, and think about what you can spiff up, repurpose, or reuse to save yourself some money.  You may be surprised by what you find when you start looking around.

Not only is this good for saving you money, it’s good for keeping useful items out of landfills.

3.  Shop around

I think I might have been born with a bargain shopping gene.  My family loves a good bargain.

Whether you’re looking for furniture, accessories, or even professional help, if you need to save money, I recommend shopping around.

Bargain Bins

Some of my best finds have been the bargain bins at home stores. I’ve found paint colors I love for just a few dollars. I even found a swing for my backyard for just $10.

DIY pergola
Always check the bargain section at home stores. You may find a great deal, like this swing I bought for $10.

It’s easier if you don’t go looking for something in particular. Just keep an eye out for anything you could use.

Thrift Stores & Garage Sales

I also love thrift stores. It is not an exaggeration to say that a good portion of my furniture is thrifted.  For example, the coffee table and my favorite chair in the living room are thrift store finds.

Most of my kitchen utensils and dishes are from thrift stores and garage sales, too. Flatware, dishes, mixing bowl, baking sheets, tea pot, waffle iron, and even the Lazy Susan’s and utensil tray I use for keeping things organized.

Utensil Storage
Nearly all of my utensils, plus the tray they’re stored in, came from a thrift store.

Wander around your local thrift stores and see what treasures you find.

Home & Garden Shows

For finding ideas, inspiration, and best prices for professional work, watch for a Home Show in your area. Home Shows are great opportunities to see who’s out there, and what kind of work they do. Many also offer special home show pricing.

You may also find new ideas that you hadn’t thought about before.  For example, rather than gutting your whole kitchen, maybe you’ll find you can get your cabinets refaced, and have new countertops installed over the old ones. The cost is a fraction of the remodel price, and nothing goes in the landfill.

I first talked with a Bath Fitter rep at a home show, and I love my bathroom transformation.

4.  DIY – Or with a friend

Since this is a DIY website, hopefully it goes without saying that tackling some projects yourself is a great way to cut down on costs.

There are so many tutorials and how-to’s available out there. You can find a way to do most things yourself. This is a great way to save money if you have the time and willingness to try.

It’s also a good idea to chat with your friends about your projects. Many people have hidden talents you don’t know about, and they may offer to share advice, loan you tools, or even help you out. I was fortunate to have friends help with my kitchen updates, and the steps out my back door.

Also, my family members have helped with many of my projects. They’re a great source of free labor, and moral support. (My front porch really did look like this.)

I will admit, for some bigger projects, I will save up my money and hire a pro. I just know that with my personality, I am not happy if a job is not done right. So, I am willing to invest in someone who has the right tools and skills for the job.

This is when it’s important to shop around for the best price, so you know how much you need to save.  And be patient as you save.  That’s the hardest part for me.

5.  Work in sections

As an impatient person, I usually have to remind myself many times that I don’t have to finish a project all at once. It’s OK to start updating a space a little bit at a time.

Have an ugly bathroom? Install a curved shower curtain rod and buy a pretty shower curtain as a first step. That will make a huge difference, without a huge investment.

Next, maybe you can swap out the light fixtures. And then the medicine cabinet.

You can make changes to your home a little bit at a time, as you can afford them, and as you have time.

Change can start with just a coat of paint. Then you can keep planning and saving for future updates.

Your Dream Home

Hopefully, you will agree with me that you don’t have to have a lot of money to love your home. Do what you can with what you have to cut remodeling costs.

Make changes right now, like tidying up and fixing broken items, to start living in the type of home you dream about.

Reuse and repurpose items you have, to make inexpensive changes. Shop around for bargains on new pieces.

Plan some DIY updates, and work a little bit at a time to create your own beautiful home.

You deserve it.

How to cut remodeling costs without cutting cornersCreate your dream home on a tiny budget

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8 Comments on How to Cut Remodeling Costs Without Cutting Corners

  1. It has nothing to do with having the confidence with me…it’s an age thing and health issues. Back in 2013 we bought our forever home that needed some projects done. Unfortunately, hubby got cancer and it took all of our remodel funds and we are still paying for medical bills. We are surviving however my own health hasn’t been that great living with fibromyalgia, two replaced knees and peripheral neuropathy and aging on top of that. For many years I couldn’t even get off the couch until around August of 2019. Something changed and I’m now able to do things again. I’ve lost all muscle and now trying to build that to be able to do different things. I would love nothing more than to do everything we talked about years ago but what you have described above is a great way to start so thank you for this post!

    • Shirley, I am so honored to have you as part of our community. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I wish you continued recovery in both your health and finances, and hope that you have beauty, sanctuary, and joy in your home.

  2. Our family had a “name” for our DIY projects. We called them “NPBPDC”. “Not Perfect But Pretty Darn Close!” The projects took planning for design and cost but then the whole family joined together to bring them to completion. I’ve lived in this home for over 30 years and still look around remembering the time we built, or removed, or remodeled…and the special times when things didn’t work out quite exactly as we planned, but PDC…

  3. Some other budget savers are the Free Stuff sections on Facebook Marketplace, the Nextdoor forum, and Craigslist, to name a few. I am sure there are others, but on CL alone, I have gotten free paint, drywall, and furniture, all that add to my DIY lifestyle without busting my budget.

  4. These are great reminders that we don’t have to have it all done right this minute to feel happy in our homes. For me, taking control of what I can vs pouting about what I can’t is empowering. I just have to remind myself to do it. Also, there is so much you can do on a budget! My kitchen had no backsplash- only builder grade flat, beige, dirty, gross paint. So nasty! My husband installed a wainscot backsplash for $80 and it looks amazing. Keep up the encouraging blog!

    • Thanks, Tricia. Such a great reminder to focus on what you can change. Even if you just make little updates over time, creating change is empowering.

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