How to renovate on a budget – 18 ideas that will transform your home

Here's how you can make stylish updates to your home on a budget
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  • Whether you want to upgrade the shower in the bathroom, add a skylight to the bedroom or repair original Victorian hall tiles,– we have affordable ideas that will make the dream a reality.

    Our All Room Ideas can be applied to every space in your house

    Here is just a taster of our top 20 home upgrades for under £1,000 – … we hope you find them as inspiring as we do.

    1. Lay a stylish stair runner


    Image credit: Olly Gordon

    Stairs are often the first thing you see when you walk in a house. Why not update shabby treads with a smart and stylish stair runner.

    Related: Best stair carpets – our pick of the most fabulous flooring for staircases and landings

    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 a over-the-hill hallway into the strong introduction your home deserves.

    2. Reinstate the fireplace


    Image credit: 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.

    3. Care for your cornicing


    Image credit: 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.

    4. Do up or ditch the old front door


    Image credit: David Giles

    A coat of can work wonders, but if your front door has had its day, invest in a new one to make a great first impression. You can even design your own.

    5. Build some shelves

    tenement flat Georgian townhouse Edinburgh

    Image credit: Douglas Gibb

    You can never have too much storage space, so make the most of every inch with bespoke shelving. Have it fitted in whatever style and awkward sized space you desire, from alcoves, to tricky corners – and every nook and cranny in-between.

    Cost: It makes sense to have the shelves tailor-made to fit their contents and create your own super-efficient library system. The London Alcove Company can construct alcove shelving like this, installed and painted, for £945.

    Related: Clever designs for alcoves – making the most of awkward recesses

    6. Install a skylight


    Image credit: David Giles

    If you have a dark attic room or bathroom, 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.

    7. Recover an old sofa


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Update a vintage sofa or sofa bed with some funky new fabric or give a sentimental 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 upholsterying yourself, Moores Reupholstery provide services from £500.

    8. Create an instant lawn


    Image credit: Bridget Peirson

    Add greenery to your outdoor space with ultra-realistic artificial lawn. 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.

    Cost: Carpetright has six great styles to choose from, which cost from £14.99 per sq m.

    Learn more about it: Artificial grass – everything you need to know

    9. Change your worktops


    Image credit: David Giles

    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 worktop from Ikea comes in at around £1,000, factoring in installation. 

    10. Switch the splashback


    Image credit: Laura Ashley/BCT

    You can transform your kitchen in an instant with a clever choice of tiles, or an all-in-one glass splashback. 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. Oh, and both of these apply to bathrooms, too!

    Cost: You can pick up a glass splashback for just a few hundred pound

    More kitchen tips: Budget kitchen ideas – spend less without compromising on style

    11. Power that shower


    Image credit: 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.

    12. Hang striking new curtains or blinds


    Image credit: David Giles

    Spruce up any room with new 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.

    13. Design a bespoke rug


    Image credit: 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.

    14. Overhaul sash windows


    Image credit: 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 replacements.

    15. Hang chic shutters


    Image credit: Olly Gordon

    Smart shutters can make a statement in any room. 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.

    16. Lay on-trend carpet

    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.

    17. Restore original floor tiles


    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    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.

    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.

    18. Introduce panelling


    Image credit: Max Attenborough

    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.

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