21 Ways To Update An Old Home On A Budget

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: April 19, 2021

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How to update an old home on a budget

If you’re looking to update an old home on a budget, you’re in the right place. Updating an old home doesn’t have to be expensive; it just requires some creativity and imagination.

Maybe you’ve recently bought an older home and are looking for cost-effective ways to make it feel newer. Or perhaps you’re in the business of house-flipping, and you need to turn old houses around in the most cost-effective way possible. These tips are useful for anyone who wants to give old or outdated spaces an upgrade.

Many of these tips involve projects you can do yourself to keep costs low. The more hands-on you can be with your renovations and upgrades, the more money you’ll save on labor costs. Here are some simple updates you can make to your old home without spending a fortune.

1. Power Wash The Exterior

Before you start making changes and upgrades all around your home, it helps to have a clear vision of what you’re working with. Dirt and debris build up on the exterior surfaces of homes over time, so an easy first way to update an old home on a budget is to clean it thoroughly.

And one of the best ways to do this is to power wash the exterior of the house, including any old decks or patios, and even your roof.

Power washing roof tiles can make an old house look like new. Though, you may need to hire someone who is skilled at working up on roofs since this is a dangerous task for the inexperienced. 

Even if you do end up hiring someone, this is a low-cost update that can make a big difference in the appearance of your home.

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2. Paint The Front Door

You may not be crazy about your current front door, but replacing it could cost several hundred dollars. Instead, give your existing front door an upgrade with a fresh coat of paint. 

This will add some new, fresh color to your exterior, and it will only cost you around $30.

Even if your current front door is satisfactory, making this small, inexpensive change gives an old home a hint of something new. 

Plus, your front door is one of the first, and most eye-catching, things people see when they come to visit your home. So, if you can make it look nice, you’ll likely improve the initial impression of your home.

3. Paint The Shutters

Old, faded shutters can bring down the look of a house down and show its old age. 

Add some new paint to your old shutters to make them look new again. 

You can choose a fresh or unexpected color to add some extra charm.

This is a big change you can make for just the cost of some sandpaper, paint, and a little bit of your time.

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4. Refresh Interior Paint Colors

When was the last time the rooms in your house got painted? 

Sometimes, the colors of rooms in old houses may not match, making each room look like it belongs in a different home. This can make the house look both dated and disorganized.

Give the interior of your old house an upgrade by choosing a cohesive color palette for the rooms of the house. 

This is an inexpensive way to give your home a significant upgrade that will make living in it much more pleasurable.

5. Replace Dated Light Fixtures

Upgrading dated light fixtures is another simple change that can make a big impact on the look and feel of a home. 

After all, the light fixtures in and around your home are important accents that add a lot of character to your property. 

Changing them out can be inexpensive, and it’s easy to do yourself.

You can find modern light fixtures for low prices at many home and garden stores. Or, if you’re happy with the shapes of your old light fixtures, try cleaning them up and giving them a fresh coat of spray paint instead. You may be surprised by how different (and better) they look!

6. Paint Floor Tiles

Retiling bathrooms can be an expensive endeavor, even just for the cost of materials. Beyond that, replacing tile isn’t the easiest task, so you may also have to hire someone to do the install, which will end up costing you more money.

Instead of ripping out old tiles and replacing them with new ones, paint over the existing tile instead. If you like tile that has intricate details or designs, you can purchase a tile stencil online and use it to paint your own uniform designs directly onto the tiles.

Another option is to purchase some inexpensive tile decals to lay on top of your existing tile. This will give your bathroom floor a fresh look without the hefty cost.

7. Refresh Your Bathroom Caulk

Old caulk in the corners of your bathtub or shower can look terrible, especially if it’s moldy. It can start to crack, yellow, and allow mildew to flourish.

Adding a fresh layer of caulk is an easy, inexpensive fix that will transform an old bathroom and make it look both new and clean. It’s a simple task to do yourself, and it can cost you as little as $10.

8. Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinets undergo wear and tear from being opened and closed throughout the years. Old homes also tend to have outdated cabinet styles, making entire kitchens look old.

But let’s be honest, installing new cabinets is usually quite pricey. 

Instead, upgrade your old cabinets by painting them with a new, more modern color. 

While this obviously won’t affect the shape or style of your old cabinets, even a color change can make a big difference in the overall aesthetic of your space.

9. Update Cabinet Handles

After your cabinets have gotten a fresh coat of paint, make them look even better by upgrading their hardware. 

New cabinet handles can make any old kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom look instantly more stylish.

You can find beautiful cabinet handles in a variety of styles online, at hardware stores, or at other home good stores.

Consider replacing any exposed cabinet hinges as well to match your new handles. This is another small, inexpensive way to update an old home on a budget.

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10. Change Your Doorknobs

While replacing all the doors in your home would be costly, upgrading their knobs is an easy, cheap way to give them a new look.

You can find trendy doorknobs by looking through vintage stores or searching on Etsy

If you don’t want anything fancy, a hardware store will have doorknobs that are practical and that fall within your budget.

11. Upgrade Outlets, Light Switches, and Plates

Over time, light switches and outlets can start to yellow. They may also have paint around their edges from past upgrades, or there may be mismatched switches in every room.

Getting some new, cohesive outlets, light switches, and plates for the whole house is a cost-effective way to update an old home on a budget. 

If you’ve never done this before, you may want to hire an electrician to help you. Always be careful when you’re working with your home’s wiring!

12. Refinish Hardwood Floors

Give old hardwood floors new life by applying some fresh new stain. This is a great way to work with what an old home already has going for it.

If you’re looking to sell your home now or in the future, this is an important update to make. 

Keeping hardwood floors in good shape is an effective way to increase the value of your home. In fact, it’s a feature most buyers really like to see, so it’s important to keep your hardwoods looking nice and cared for.

13. Add Molding

Crown molding adds a touch of charm and elegance to any home and makes it look much more put together.

It’s possible to install new crown molding yourself, but it can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before or don’t have any experience using a miter saw.

Thankfully, there are plenty of great YouTube videos out there that will walk you through the exact installation process.

If your old home already has crown molding, but it’s not looking too great, a fresh coat of paint should do the trick.

14. Get Clean Water

Mineral deposits from old faucets can cause your drinking water to be cloudy – who wants to drink that or serve it to their guests?

You can solve this problem easily with an under-sink reverse osmosis system. 

It will cost you around $300, and it will give you crystal clear drinking water, so you can stop buying water bottles. 

It’s a win-win for your wallet and for the environment!

15. Add Shiplap To A Wall

Create some variety and contrast by covering an interior wall or two with shiplap. 

Shiplap is an inexpensive material that’s easy to install. It’s very trendy at the moment because of its low cost and ability to quickly increase the charm of any space.

A shiplap wall creates great visual interest and is a clever way to spruce up an old home on a budget. 

Most people opt for white horizontal shiplap, but you can paint it any color and install it at any orientation you’d like.

16. Add Outdoor Lighting

If you want to update an old home on a budget, try adding some outdoor lighting to the yard. 

Outdoor accent lights can be very inexpensive; for less than $100, you can install outdoor lights that highlight walkways, steps, and even certain plants around your home.

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17. Install A Programmable Thermostat

Installing a digital thermostat is not only an inexpensive task, but it can also help you cut the cost of heating and cooling your home.

While new thermostats are typically installed by HVAC contractors, you can buy a digital thermostat online and install it yourself fairly easily. 

It’s a small upfront cost that will pay off because it will likely save you money in the future.

18. Switch Out Old Drapes

Another great (and inexpensive) way to update an old home is to replace faded, tattered, or outdated window treatments. 

And the best part is, new drapes don’t have to be expensive! 

You can shop around for some cheap ones, or you can buy some inexpensive fabric and sew them yourself.

Replacing curtain rods is another great way to upgrade the look of your windows. 

You could also vault curtain rods and hang them at ceiling height to give the illusion of higher ceilings. This is an easy trick many interior designers use to drastically change the way a space feels.

19. Add Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to lower the cost of cooling your home, and they also add stylish accents to your rooms.

During the summer, you’ll be able to use your air conditioning less frequently and rely instead on the cool breezes from your ceiling fans. They’ll also help keep your rooms warm during the winter by circulating warm air.

Installing ceiling fans is relatively simple to do yourself. In most cases, you can hook up the fans to the existing wiring for your ceiling light, meaning you don’t have to pay for an electrician.

20. Install Low-Maintenance Backsplash

DIY-ing traditional tile backsplash can be a little tricky. If you’re not up for the challenge, install a backsplash that comes in one solid piece instead.

Some companies offer inexpensive material that you can cut, shape, and glue up yourself. 

These materials come in a variety of patterns and styles, and they are easy to install, even if you’re an amateur.

21. Upgrade Your Mailbox

Old, rusted mailboxes can give away an old home’s age. 

Since it’s an accessory that’s visible from the front of your house, it’s one of the first things people see when they view your home from the street.

Give your house an upgrade in curb appeal by replacing your old mailbox with one that matches your home’s style. 

Mailboxes are typically inexpensive, and you can find some unique and trendy options online or at home and garden stores.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to update an old home on a budget. Whether your floors need an update, your kitchen cabinets are looking a little dated, or your walls need a new coat of paint, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to improve the style and feel of your space.

So, what are you going to do to update your home? Let us know in the comments below!

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How to update your old home on a budget | Be The Budget

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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