15 Ways to Refresh Your Home If You Have $0 to $1,000 to Spend
Owning a home isn’t cheap.
Outside of your basic mortgage, you have real estate taxes and utility bills. There are the major expenses that may only hit every 10 to 15 years, like an HVAC or new roof. And then there are the smaller, less expensive issues that still require regular attention and effort.
It all adds up, leaving you with less money to keep your house looking fresh and in tip-top shape. Still, you can make the most out of your home on any budget, even if your budget is $0.
These updates aren’t major commitments — just little things you can do here and there over a few hours on the weekend.
15 Ways to Refresh Your Home on Any Budget
Let’s break it down.
If you have no money to spend:
Don’t fret. If money is tight, that doesn’t mean you can’t do some things to help spruce up your home and set yourself up for the future.
1. Make a Budget
Sometimes, just a little intentionality and effort can go a long way toward saving you money around the house. With a basic zero-based budget, you know exactly how much you are spending on everything, down to the last penny.
From there, you can assess where you can cut back in order to make home improvements or save up for future expenses. If that gym membership has sat unused for six months, maybe it’s time to do some cardio at the local park. And do you really need all those streaming services?
Asking a few questions like this can help you reset your spending and save more of your income toward more immediate priorities.
2. Renegotiate Bills
Did you know you can actually negotiate how much you pay on certain bills per month? There’s no guarantee that it will work, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Whether it’s your cable package, expensive medical bills or even credit card debt, it is possible to negotiate a lower payment. Cell phone plans and basic gas or electric bills are also worth trying to negotiate.
3. Declutter Your House
Cleaning out and reorganizing the closets, pantry, kitchen cabinets and hidden piles of “stuff” around your home and garage costs no money if you do it yourself. All it takes is a little elbow grease.
The next step is simply unloading all that unused stuff by selling, trashing or donating to a thrift store or nonprofit, like Goodwill. In 2023, it’s easy to sell items online or even through an app.
An organized, clean home will not only add storage space, but just might make you feel better about your home’s appearance — and, honestly, better about yourself too.
If you have $100 to spend:
4. Replace Lightbulbs
Make a run to the hardware store and stock up on LED bulbs.
You could either replace the dead lightbulbs in your house or replace the whole bunch. LEDs use 75% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lighting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and will make your home feel brighter.
5. Spruce Up a Room or Two With Paint
For $100, you can’t paint the whole interior. But you can choose a few areas to freshen up with a new coat of paint.
Maybe it’s the kid’s bedroom, an office, an entryway, cabinets or even the exterior of the front door. Just a little bit of a paint job can make a big difference.
6. Update the Mailbox
That mailbox that stands guard at the front of your driveway is more than just a mailbox — it also plays a role in the curb appeal and overall landscaping of your yard.
Think about replacing your dated mailbox with a new one or adding a fresh coat of paint. If it’s already in good shape, add some flowers — like tiger lilies, daffodils, tulips and peonies — as a small flower bed at the base of the mailbox.
7. Replace Your Kitchen Hardware
This is another inexpensive, low-effort job that really goes a long way. If your kitchen or bathroom cabinet hardware is a little worn and dated, maybe it’s time for a new set.
You can find cabinet knobs online for as low as $2 each. Or you might want to focus on just one area and add a towel bar and ring set for your bathroom.
If you have $500 to spend:
8. Pressure Wash Your Home’s Exterior
In several hours, you can make the outside of your house look brand new with a thorough pressure washing.
You’ll spend at least a couple of hundred dollars to pay someone or you can rent a pressure washer and do it yourself. Home Depot currently rents towable pressure washers for $146 for four hours or $209 for an entire day. They might even deliver it to your house.
9. Replace Light Fixtures
A new light fixture can change the dynamics of a room dramatically.
Whether it’s a large chandelier in the entryway or a smaller light fixture in the dining room or a bedroom, you can absolutely update your lighting situation for less than $500. If you’re frugal with your spending, you can even update several rooms all at once.
10. Add a Doorbell Camera
Since coming on the market in 2013, doorbell cameras have become increasingly popular with more than 5 million sold in 2022.
These cameras are excellent sources of security, helping you get a visual outside the front of your house whether you’re in the bedroom upstairs or across the country. While you can score some doorbell cameras for under $90, some of the higher rated cameras may run you up to $258.
11. Update Your Art Collection
You don’t have to be an art collector to appreciate inexpensive, sophisticated art that will brighten and add good vibes to any room.
You can check out local art galleries or antique stores, but your best options for cheaper art will likely be at large retailers or online stores like Minted and Society6. You can even buy relatively affordable custom prints of famous paintings from The Met.
12. Deep Clean Carpets and Rugs
It’s not a bad idea to shampoo your carpets and rugs at least once a year.
If it’s been awhile since you had them deep cleaned, maybe now is the time? Cleaning a 2,000 to 3,000 square foot house can cost about $400 to $600. With a smaller space or less carpet, you’ll pay even less.
If you have $1,000 to spend:
13. Replace a Major Appliance
As long as you’re not looking for a high-end appliance, you can easily buy a new one for under $1,000 at a home improvement store.
Lowe’s has plenty of refrigerator options in the $600 to $800 range. The same goes for dishwashers. Over at Home Depot, you can find quite a few washers and dryers under $600.
You could save even more by looking for discounted appliances, shopping at a scratch-and-dent store or buying at the right time.
14. Landscape Your Front Yard
Add some new plants to your yard and flowers to your flowerbed. Put down some fresh mulch or pine straw.
You can really upgrade your yard’s appearance for $1,000, and you can make that money go a lot further if you are willing to make landscaping a do it yourself yard project.
15. Replace the Garage Door
Does anyone even think about their garage door until it’s broken? Maybe they should.
If you’re still using the 20-year-old garage door from when the house was built, maybe it’s time for an update. Look around your neighborhood to get ideas or visit a local garage door sales center. While the national average cost is $1,200, you can find garage door options for as low as $600.
Robert Bruce is a senior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder covering earning, saving and managing money. He has written about personal finance for more than a decade.