Budget-Friendly Renovations – where to spend and where to save!

When you want a room to gain a new feeling or function in a different way, we sometimes think a big renovation is the only way to improve things.  But there are many ways you can improve a space with very little money.   You can create a huge impact even with a small budget as long as you can invest a little time, are strategic with your bucks, and are willing to take a risk.

Photo credit – Studio McGee

The first step to try is to just move things around.  Are you not liking furniture placement?  Try to switch out a large sofa and move in some arm chairs coupled together.  Spruce up your foyer by adding an old dresser and a bench.  Bedroom feeling bland?  Move your bed under the windows and switch out stale matching end tables with something modern or vintage instead.  Try new curtains, paint, bedding and/or area rugs for simple mood enhancers if moving things around doesn’t do the trick.  Maybe your bathroom is feeling builder grade – why not switch out the large mirror for one or two statement pieces and improve the faucets and lighting with an upgrade?  Small changes can totally improve a space, but sometimes we do need more.

Photo credit – Cynthia Weber Design

But if you are tackling a renovation, one of the best ways to save money is to keep the footprint of the room and any plumbing or electrical where it is. Changing any of this up will require you to, more than likely, hire professionals and your budget can go out the window quick. Another great way to save money is to use existing pieces you have or to at least purchase off the floor models instead of custom pieces and fixtures.

Knowing where to spend your cash for the biggest impact takes consideration and planning. Create a reasonable budget, source your items thoughtfully and execute with precision, knowing your time and effort will save you tons!

Photo credit – Birmingham Home & Garden Magazine


Here are some of my top areas to spend and what areas to save your $$ for the biggest impact with a tight budget:


  • If you need any electrical, plumbing or structural work done – hire a professional and spend the cash. No one saved any money by YouTubing how to install a new receptacle only to have it not work (or worse have some damage done to your home). You’ll probably end up forking out the cash in the long run anyway so save the stress and extra money trying to do it yourself and just hire a professional.
  • Durable furniture – if you don’t already have investment pieces or can’t repurpose stuff you already have, spend the money (unless you have a new puppy…). Buying an Ikea dinning table that you’ll want or have to replace in in a couple years is not a wise decision, compared to just buying something solid to begin with.
  • Paint and supplies – I have done my fair share of painting to know that paint and roller quality can not only impact the final product, but the amount of effort you have to put in to the job. Purchase wisely.
  • Mattresses – Don’t cheap out on something you will spend so much of your life on. Quality mattresses create quality sleep – plain and simple.
  • Fixtures and hardware– facets, handles and knobs are a great area to spend a little extra to really elevate the feel of a space.
  • Statement fabrics – if you want something like your drapes or throw pillows to have a specific pattern or be the statement of the room, spend the money. It can be exhausting trying to find a gorgeous set of drapes at a fraction of the cost.



  • Hired help – the biggest way to cut costs on a reno is to do as much of the work yourself as you can. If you can spare the time, find yourself somewhat handy and don’t care about testing the fate of your relationship, then try to perform tasks yourself (minus electrical, plumbing or structural as mentioned).
  • Area rugs – Personal story here… our living room area rug has been pooped and chucked on by each of our children and dog over the years so unless you live alone and never have people over, I suggest you take my advice here. Buy something gorgeous at your local Homesense and save hundreds if not thousands!
  • Accent furniture – furniture that won’t get a lot of wear and tear can afford to be less expensive. Think end and bedside tables, buffets, stools, etc.
  • Other fabrics – drapes, table linens, throw pillows and blankets don’t have to be expensive. Unless it will be the signature item in a room, save some pennies and cheap out on these fabrics as long as the fit and make are good.
  • Light fixtures – unless you want your light fixture to be the focal point of the room, you can save here too. Many hardware and décor stores have fantastic looking lighting at a fraction of the cost of what you can find specialized lighting stores. There was not an item in our old house that got more compliments than our island pendants – and I got them for a steal of a deal at $125 each! I put a vintage inspired Edison bulb in them to give them an elevated feel.
  • Accessories and décor items – save on décor items by using items you already have or looking at clearance sections in boutique gift shops. Shop at the end of the season for next year when thinking of seasonal or holiday decorations.   If you are saving pennies on a room renovation and still want a luxurious feel, spend a little more in key accessories only to still elevate the space (towels, bowls, pillows, tabletop décor, etc. are good areas to spend more for a big impact).


Hopefully you gained a little insight on how to save some bucks when tackling your next project. I’d love to hear what areas you like to save and spend when undergoing a budget-friendly renovation – share your comments below.

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