10 Budget-Friendly Home Improvements for the First-Time Homeowner

So you just bought a house; congratulations! Making your home yours is where the real fun begins, but when you’ve just purchased a home you may find yourself on a tight budget when it comes to home improvements. Here are some cost-effective but aesthetically-pleasing home improvements you can do on a budget.

10 Budget-Friendly Home Improvement Tasks

Paint, Paint, Paint

Cost: Approximately $30-$75 per gallon

Fresh interior paint can bring so much to a home. Make sure you do the proper prep work to avoid common painting mistakes and then head to the paint store to stock up on supplies. Most major paint manufacturers have in-house designers who can help you choose the right color palette for your home.

Upgrade Your Kitchen Cabinet or Bathroom Vanity Hardware

Cost: Approximately $3-$5 per knob or $6-$15 per pull

Replacing drawer pulls and cabinet knobs is an extremely easy way to upgrade dated cabinetry that you can’t afford to replace.

Paint Your Cabinetry

Cost: Anywhere from $200+ depending on paint type

Another way to turn your outdated kitchen into your favorite spot in the house is to paint the cabinetry. The process requires a significant amount of prep work, but the end result is well worth the time spent. This Old House has a great how-to for this DIY project.

Add a (Faux) Backsplash

Cost: Approximately $8 per 10″x10″ square

Backsplashes really add depth and interest to a kitchen, but installing tile isn’t the simplest DIY task for a new homeowner. In the meantime, you can invest in an adhesive backsplash which is a much easier, not to mention cheaper, way to get the look of tile for less money, time and mess.

Paint Your Countertops

Cost: 1 case of Rust-Oleum Countertop Coating (2 quarts), approximately $40

Outdated, builder-grade laminate can be an eyesore but replacing with quartz or granite can run you anywhere from $30-$150 per square foot. Rust-Oleum sells a variety of countertop paints ranging from black satin finishes to granite look-alikes.

Add Shiplap

Cost: Depends on the project. This DIY-er used thin strips of plywood for a faux shiplap room, costing approximately $140.

If you’re a fan of any home improvement shows, you’ve probably noticed the growing trend of using shiplap to transform just about any home surface. Shiplap is a great way to cover popcorn ceilings, rather than tackling the laborious task of removal, or great for creating an accent wall.

Update Your Appliances…Without Buying New

Cost: Giani Liquid Stainless Steel Appliance Paint Kit – 1.5 qt., approximately $80

If your appliances are in good working order but are simply outdated in looks, use a paint-on stainless steel finish to fake the look of new. Here’s the DIY Network’s how-to.

Replace Worn Flooring

Cost: Varies among flooring types, anywhere from $1-$6 per square foot for the most affordable flooring options.

Whether your new home has dated, stained or simply not-your-style flooring, there are several options that can cater to a budget-conscious new homeowner. Lower cost options with minimal installation time and high durability include laminate, linoleum and vinyl.

Upgrade Your Garage Door

A new garage door is one of the top home improvements for value, but the replacement cost comes with a hefty price tag of nearly $1,600 on average. Give your garage door a new look by:

Make Energy Efficiency Improvements

Though you’re probably more focused on bringing your home’s appearance up to date, it’s important to make home improvements that will improve your entire home’s water and energy efficiency, as well as cut down on your utility costs. Start by:

  • Installing weather-stripping around door and window frames that are drafty.
  • Installing a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can save you approximately 10 percent on your heating/cooling bills and essentially pays for itself over time.
  • Calling in a professional energy auditor for a thorough check-up. Many utility companies offer free or discounted audits to their customers.
  • Installing a low-flow showerhead.
  • Fixing or replacing leaky faucets, which can amount to 165 gallons of wasted water per month.
  • Planting deciduous trees outside south-facing windows, which will provide shade in the summer and allow radiating light to shine onto your home in the winter.

For more inspiration on DIY or budget-friendly home improvements, follow us on Pinterest. Interested in making home improvements on a larger scale? Download our free Rehab & Construction Guide for ways to finance your home improvements or renovations into your home loan.

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