Small Budget, Big Home Improvements

We all have a wish list for our homes.  From the moment I walked through the house on a tour before I bought, I was making a checklist of what I liked and what I wanted to change.   Some home improvement means big bucks; other changes can be made on a small budget.   The smart home owners learn what is doable, plan, and make changes as they are able. For large ticket items, plan ahead and save for the upgrade. I made a 10 year plan and budgeted for a roof replacement, flooring change, new sliding patio doors, and a new central a/c. That was achieved over the last decade. Now I’m planning new washer/dryer, a new front door, and some small improvements in the next 4 to 6 years. Let’s talk about common home improvements.


Just simply repainting the walls can massively change your rooms, making them feel fresher and more modern, especially if you go for light, bright colors like white, cream, and pretty pastels. You can easily buy enough paint to cover many rooms for $300 or less, but the transformation will look way more expensive than that, so if you do nothing else, repaint once in a while. While the painting the whole interior can be costly, painting one room at a time makes it easier to budget. If you can do the job yourself, it becomes more doable.

You can just update color of your front door for under $100.  How about a bright and cheerful color to welcome the world to your home? Check out HGTV’s “Read This Before You Paint Your Front Door.”

Photo via HGTV

Now what paint should I choose?  Go with a brand name, and I always stick with low or no VOC paints to avoid toxic exposure. Premium paints are proven to give more coverage in fewer coats, often eliminating the need for primer.  Grab lots of paint chips, place them on the wall near the trim, and look at during different times of the day to see how light affect the color. When you’re ready to start testing shades, paint sample colors onto sheets of heavy paper instead of the wall so you can move them around and not make a mess of your walls.  Choose the right kind of paint too. Flat finishes hide imperfections well and absorb light which can make the paint look darker. Eggshells and satins are tough enough to be used in family rooms, kids’ rooms, and hallways but don’t hide surface imperfection well. Semi-Gloss and high-gloss finishes are primarily used for trim because they accentuate woodwork details and clean up easily. 

Photo Lowes

Most home improvement centers make it easy to choose a paint color with information, color chips, and samples. Lowe’s has a paint visualizer where you upload a photo of your room and then play with their colors.

Need an app? The good news is there is an app to help you choose the right paint.  Check out Home Depot’s Project Color in the App Store. Want to paint the outside of the house? Upload a photo of your home at CertaPro Painters to see if in different colors. It really helps to visualize it.

Photo via HGTV

If you live in an older home, get the lead paint facts before you renovate.

Change Your Flooring

Decent flooring can make your house seem more elegant and cozier. Whether your floors are tiled, hardwood, or carpeted, investing time and money into them may greatly raise the value of your property. However, flooring can lose its functionality due to age and poor maintenance. For instance, Individual tiles in the bathroom and kitchen may begin to detach, ruining their aesthetic appeal and posing a tripping danger. You should also note that carpeted floors typically have a service life of 8 to 9 years, although indoor pets can reduce their lifespan. Wooden floors are durable, but they are also the most expensive and are prone to decay over time. Therefore, consider changing your flooring and choosing the most functional option for your household. Save for big ticket items like flooring. I planned my flooring change and put it in the budget.

If you don’t have the money to install new flooring, that’s fine. Paint them.  Most people think of painted wood floors but  you can also paint tile, concrete, plywood, even linoleum. There are videos on YouTube and lots of how-to posts online. For about $200 you can totally change the look of a room.  Check out Martha Stewart’s 5 Fresh Ways To Paint Your Floors.

Replace Your Roof

The average homeowner dreads the idea of replacing a roof due to the cost. How can you improve the life of your roof? Simple maintenance like a visual inspection from the ground every fall and spring, or removing leaves from gutters and rooftop. From Consumer Report‘s article, 5 ways To Make Your Roof Last Longer:

  1. Avoid Power-Washing Shingles. Concentrated spray can loosen the granules from the products’ top coating—and resulting damage might not be covered by the warranty.
  2. Check the Ventilation.
  3. Clean Gutters Regularly.
  4. Insulate Attics and Cathedral Ceilings Properly.
  5. Fortify the Roof.

The last 3 to 4 years of my old roof’s life, I had annual inspections by my roofer on the life expectancy. He helped me plan ahead to prevent roof leaks. Once you have a leak, you then have to repair the ceiling inside your home. That’s more money and time. If you don’t have a trusted roofer, shop around and compare prices. Ask neighbors and friends who put their new roof on. Get referrals. Some contractors give roofers a bad name.

Photo Sears

Add New Windows & Doors

You may want to remove outdated windows and doors for several reasons. To prevent heat loss is an important one. Wanting a more modern aesthetic is another popular one. Safety is also important. You want to work with an expert to achieve the desired results. For instance, a modern Florida window and door installer can install new windows to add value to your home and protect the house against harsh weather conditions such as strong winds.  Again, ask neighbors and friends who has successfully worked for them. Ask contractors for a quote and references. Check the references. Personally I’d love to have a beautiful new wooden door, but alas, it’s not in the budget for the next few years. I like the Craftsman look.

Photo Lowes

I hope I’ve inspired you to rethink planned changes to maintain and improve your home.

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

7 thoughts to “Small Budget, Big Home Improvements”

  1. I know I’ve had trouble with color on a small square looking totally different on the wall in my rooms. Live and learn. Have a blessed day!

  2. I started painting the rooms in my house earlier this year and it made everything look so fresh and clean. I only have the living room left to do. I wish I had kept going until it was all done but I ran out of oomph. Hopefully I’ll get it done during these school holidays.

    1. Great job Ruth! I also try to do big jobs a little at a time. It’s a little less painful I think. I hope you have good holiday season.

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