How to renovate on a budget – 21 ideas to transform your home

Here's how you can make stylish updates to your home on a budget

As the saying goes don't move, improve. We're all in favour of affordable improvements that can add value to your home and maximise how you use your living space. Whether you want to upgrade the shower in the bathroom, add a skylight to the bedroom or repair original Victorian hall tiles, we have budget renovation ideas that will make the dream a reality.

But where to start with how to renovate on a budget? Here's just a taster of our top 21 home upgrades for under £1,000 to inspire your home makeover projects.

Ideas for renovating on a budget

1. Do up or ditch the old front door

exterior with red front door and brick column with plants on pots

(Image credit: future PLC/Derek Robinson)

Start with the front door to make a lasting impression, because the right front door ideas add instant kerb appeal. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders for transforming an existing door. Not only does it revive the door, it adds a new look for the whole exterior of your home.

But if your front door has had its day, invest in a new one to make a great first impression, or install a smart new knocker or handle with the help of our how to fit a door handle guide. You can even design your own.

Cost: Exterior paint can be as little as £20, a new front door costs anywhere between £300-£1000.

2. Lay a stylish stair runner

staircase with carpet and white brick wall

(Image credit: future PLC/Olly Gordon)

Stairs are often the first thing that visitors see when they come into your house, so why not update shabby treads with a stylish stair runner? It's also a great place to indulge in some colour. Make a big impact by choosing a striped or bold coloured runner. Or go classy with a neutral weave or thick and pale pile.

Cost: For a few hundred pounds, you can turn an over-the-hill hallway into the strong introduction your home deserves. One of our readers carried out an impressive DIY job using IKEA Rugs! See the results here: See how this dated staircase was given a stylish transformation using £1.50 IKEA rugs

3. Paint the floorboards

wooden flooring with fireplace and sofa with cushions and glass table

(Image credit: future PLC/Richard Gadsby)

It's the DIY and decorating project that can instantly transform any room in an instant (or perhaps overnight, to give the paint a chance to full dry). A fresh coast of paint can give a bedroom, hallway or living room idea a whole new decorating scheme. Whether you choose to add colour or refresh in white, painted floorboards are transformative yet highly affordable.

Cost: Many of the best know paints these days, don't require an additional primer so you can paint the floorboards for as little as £25-£50 – depending on the floor area.

4. Reinstate a fireplace

fireplace with grey carpet flooring and bunting flag

(Image credit: future PLC/Olly Gordon)

A fireplace is a wonderful focal point to any room. But sadly, they weren't so hot in the 1970s and '80s, leading to many homeowners ripping them out. So if you have a chimney breast bare of a fireplace, why not reintroduce one? It certainly beats a TV as a focal point, and could bring back all the character you're home's been missing.

While a grand may not stretch to replacing an ornate marble surround, there are lots of cast-iron models at reasonable prices. You can pick up a cute combination grate like this for as little as £400.

Cost: Installation can vary, but if there is a bare wall with a hole it should be around £300, whereas if an unsuitable fireplace needs to be removed first, it could be up to £600.

5. Care for your cornicing

white wall with framed picture and lamp light

(Image credit: future PLC/David Woolley)

Original features are a real plus point, but sometimes they need a little TLC to restore them to their original splendour. Often, decorative cornicing is lost under decades of paint: by stripping it off, you can really bring out the period detail.

Cost: Although you can buy products to remove the layers yourself, you?ll need a set of goggles and lots of patience. Bring in the professionals, however, and you can get a 10 x 10ft room stripped back in a jiffy for less than £1,000. Call Cornice Cleaning, who can tackle the job for you.

6. Build bespoke shelves

bespoke shelves with cosy carpet on floor and bottles trolley

(Image credit: future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

You can never have too much storage space, so make the most of every inch with bespoke shelving. From clever designs for alcoves to tricky corners – making the most of awkward recesses is the perfect way to utilise every nook and cranny for savvy storage.

Cost: It makes sense to have the shelves tailor-made to fit their contents and create your own super-efficient library system. If you're handy with DIY it can keep costs to a minimum. Alternatively The London Alcove Company can construct alcove shelving like this, installed and painted, for £945.

7. Install a skylight

desk with wooden chair and cabinet with white ceiling

(Image credit: future PLC/David Giles)

If you have a dark loft room or attic bathroom idea, off-the peg skylights are a relatively inexpensive architectural solution. Adding one or two will brighten any gloomy room, instantly transforming a space.

Cost: Velux skylights start from around £500 for the fixed, non-opening solution, and should cost around £250/£350 for an experienced builder to install.

8. Add a garden room

garden room with glass door and hanging chair with dark grey wall

(Image credit: future PLC/Colin Poole)

Give your property the boost of an extra room, without the need for an expensive extension idea for small houses. Maximise limited living space on a budget by installing a garden room design idea. Whether it be a specialist garden room pod or a revamped shed, having an extra room allows for a home office, gym or summer house in which to escape the house.

Cost: Professional garden room costs can be very expensive, therefore if on a budget go for the summer house or shed idea instead. There’s a cost to laying a good-quality foundation, but with reasonable skills you can keep the price of this low by doing it yourself.

In order to run power to you garden room you will need to pay a qualified electrician, with costs starting round £300-£500. But digging the power cable trench to their specification in advance will keep the price down.

9. Reupholster an old sofa

living room with painting on wall and sofa with cushions and wooden table with flower on jug

(Image credit: future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Update a vintage sofa or sofa bed with a funky new fabric covering. Or give a sentimental furniture piece a new lease of life with neat new upholstery.

Cost: A typical two-seater sofa will require about 8m of fabric, so choose a design at around £40 per m for a spend of £320. If you aren't confident about upholstering yourself, a reputable reupholstery service provides services from £500.

10. Create an instant lawn

lawn area with plants and grass

(Image credit: future PLC/Claire Lloyd Davies)

Add greenery to your outdoor space with ultra-realistic artificial lawn. Artificial grass, everything you need to know – rather than cut it, you just need to vacuum it clean every so often. Unlike the real thing, it won't yellow and dry out in the the hot sun, so it's a practical and good-looking choice if you're looking for grassless garden ideas.

Cost: Carpetright has six great styles to choose from, which cost from £9.99 per sq m.

11. Change your worktops

kitchen with marble worktop and sink with tap

(Image credit: future PLC/Future PLC)

Go for a simple worktop, like laminate, which is generally the cheapest, in a finish illusion of a high-cost design. Faux marble is very on trend right now, and faux wood is a classic that won't date – just avoid any orangey tones.

Cost: A custom-built kitchen worktop idea from Ikea comes in at around £1,000, factoring in installation. 

12. Switch the splashback

kitchen room with oven and wall tiles

(Image credit: future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

You can transform your kitchen in an instant with a clever choice of tiles, or an all-in-one glass kitchen splashback idea. Look at designer tiles on the market, choose your favourite, then find a low-cost lookalike.

If you're looking to cut down on the work needed, adhesive glass splashback panels are really easy to fit. Laura Ashley has a great range. Or you can learn how to grout tiles yourself to save on installation costs. Oh, and both of these apply to bathrooms, too!

Cost: You can pick up a glass splashback for just a few hundred pounds, or tile a decorative design for the same costs.

13. Refresh or replace internal doors

living room with flower on jug and sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Future)

Give any room an instant update with the addition of a new door. From on-trend paint colours to revamp old internal doors to a new set of French doors with glass window panes, a new set of doors can transform the layout of a home. As this family home shows with the glass doors creating an open-plan living room idea without removing walls or making structural changes.

Cost: If painting, the cost can be as low as £16 for Dulux Satinwood paint for 750ml. Replacement doors would cost more but may be what's need for a complete overhaul of a layout. Putting in internal fRENCH doors costs on average anywhere between £300-£500.

14. Power the shower

bathroom with glass door and shower area

(Image credit: future PLC/David Giles)

If your water pressure is low and you don't have a combi boiler, your shower is probably less than invigorating. Installing a pump to increase the pressure and a thermostatic shower valve to maintain the temperature will improve it no end.

Cost: The supply and fit of a new pump should cost around £250, then £150–£250 to fit the shower.

15. Hang striking new curtains or blinds

dining room with curtains on window and dining table with chairs

(Image credit: future PLC/David Giles)

Spruce up any room with a new window treatment idea – whether curtains, blinds or an on-trend combination of both. Unlined curtain panels are easier to make than traditional curtains and, with no pleats to increase the amount of fabric you'll need, you can go for more luxurious options.

Cost: If you can make your own, you're looking at the cost of two-to-three metres of fabric, per curtain or blind. Or you can go for a made-to-measure service. Curtains2Go constantly reviews the price or competitors to ensure it's offering a good deal. A 240cm x 180cm blackout roller blind will set you back less than £100.

16. Overhaul sash windows

glass window with curtains and sofa with cushions

(Image credit: future PLC/David Giles)

Gaps around a typical single sash window can add up to the equivalent of a 6 sq in hole. So enlisting the help of an expert to repair your originals will dramatically improve their performance, and cut your heating bills.

Cost: A window like this could be overhauled for £630, including sealing to put an end to rattling, draughts, dirt and noise seeping in and heat rushing out, new cords and weights, and new locks for added security – all at a fraction of the cost of replacement windows.

17. Hang chic shutters

glass window with curtains and wooden table with flower on jar

(Image credit: future PLC/Olly Gordon)

Smart window shutter ideas can make a statement in any room, and are particularly useful if you are wondering how to dress a bay window. They provide privacy and are a cool way to filter light. Either team them with light voile drapes or do away with other window treatments altogether.

Cost: Shutterly Fabulous can create shutters in any colour you like. Four full-height panels, including a home consultation, a 10 per cent custom-colour fee and installation would ring in at around £1,000.

18. Lay on-trend carpet

hallway with patterned carpet and bookshelves on wall

(Image credit: future PLC/Jo Bridges)

Carpet in high-traffic areas of the home needn't be confined to neutral shades – think ice-cream colours for an on-trend look. Simply choose a wool blend for flooring that's durable, soft underfoot and striking.

Cost: The average UK room size is 16 sq m, so the total would be £480 for a carpet that's £30 per sq m, with an additional £200-£250 for fitting and underlay.

19. Restore original floor tiles

hallway with cloths on hook and shoes storage with umbrella stand

(Image credit: future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Make a great first impression with a new hallway colour scheme by way of new floor tiles. Encaustic tiles often have a layer of old polish, wax or ground-in grime on them that seriously detracts from their original charm. You might also have some that have broken or worked loose.

Panic not though, as professional cleaning can restore your floor to its former glory. These beautifully restored quarry tiles work perfectly in this traditional grey hallway idea.

Cost: For £1,000, you can have an average hallway of around 6-8 sq m cleaned, any loose or damaged tiles repaired or replaced and the floor re-sealed with an appropriate product. London Mosaic provides a full range of restoration services.

20. Introduce wall panelling

grey wall with floor lamp and armchair with table ad plant on pot

(Image credit: future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Wall panelling ideas of all styles are hugely popular for transforming homes right now. Equally at home in a modern space as a period property, wall panelling hides a multitude of sins as well as adding interest to a featureless room. Choose the correct dimensions, and it can also be used to rebalance the proportions of an unusually shaped space.

Cost: The Wall Panelling Company can advise on all aspects of panelling and construct a feature wall for around £1,000. However to keep costs low take inspiration from our reader who had a go and saved fortunes: Homeowners incredible £50 bedroom wall panelling makeover

21. Lay bespoke rugs to transform floors

rug with patterned and wooden chair

(Image credit: future PLC/David Giles)

If you're searching for the perfect rug, but can't find your dream design, don't despair. Theres a whole host of companies who will help you create a rug or carpet to your exact specifications for less than you might expect.

Cost: Rug Couture offers rugs in 360 standard colours, and special dyes on request. Expect to pay around £194 per sq m.

What changes will you be making to your home?

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.