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10 Inexpensive Ways to Upgrade Your Home

10 Inexpensive Ways to Upgrade Your Home

Home upgrades can seem intimidating and pricey, but they don’t have to be. There are many low cost, even free, ways to add that extra pop to your home. If you are looking to upgrade on a budget, try one of these 10 tips.

Shop Thrift Stores and Garage Sales

One way to change up your home décor is to check out your local thrift store. You can get a great price on furniture, rugs, throw pillows, wall art, and more. Many people donate items that are in perfect condition. You should check all the different shops in your area. It’s also a good idea to go on different days as the selection will change frequently. When shopping for furniture, have a plan for transporting it to your home. Most of these stores don’t offer delivery.

Garage sales are another fun way to upgrade your home. Many people enjoy garage sales so much that they make it a hobby. Most of these sales take place on Saturdays. Plan to arrive early for the largest selection. In the past, you would find out about local garage sales from your local paper. Now you can check on neighborhood Facebook groups, Craigslist, and apps such as Nextdoor.

Find Freebies

Speaking of Craigslist, another great way to upgrade your home on a budget is to search the web for freebies. Websites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace often have listings for free items. All that is usually required is that you pick it up in a timely manner. You have to be quick to score a free item on these websites because they are claimed almost immediately once they’re posted. It’s a good idea to check these sites frequently so you can snag one of these deals as soon as it’s listed. 

Some of these freebies are given to the first person that shows up to claim the item. The item may be placed next to the road and posted as free to the first person who picks it up. These listings are a little bit more of a risk, but if you go to the trouble and aren’t the first one on the scene, all you’ve lost is some time. It may be worth the risk for a really good deal.

Dress Up Drawers and Cabinets with Contact Paper

You can add style and personality to any drawer or cabinet by lining the bottom with contact paper. Have a shelf or cabinet with glass doors? Line the back with contact paper to add visual appeal. This is an especially good idea for those who get bored easily and like to change things up regularly. When you are ready for a new design, just remove the old contact paper and add a fresh layer. You can find a design to fit any look, such as this old newspaper style or this floral pattern.

Create a Masterpiece

A large statement piece of wall art can cost a pretty penny. Instead of shelling out big bucks for a work of art, create your own. All you need is a large blank canvas, a variety of craft paints in different colors, and some inexpensive brushes. You can get the whole family involved and paint a beautiful, Jackson Pollock inspired drip painting. 

Start by laying your canvas on a flat surface. Doing this outside works well because it can get pretty messy, but that’s part of the fun. Next, dip your brush into one of the paint colors. To get the paint from the brush to the canvas you can use a couple of different methods. Either hold the brush over the canvas and let the paint drip down, moving the brush around to cover different areas of the canvas. The other method is hold the brush over the canvas and strike the handle of the brush across your free hand to cause a spray of paint to your canvas. Repeat this process with all of the colors you have chosen. 

The key to making this a beautiful piece of art is to use colors that go well together. Get inspired by the room you are creating it for. What colors are you already using in the space? If you have a dominant color scheme for a room, consider painting the entire canvas in that color and then using the drip methods with your accent colors. For less than $20 you can create a piece of custom artwork that fits perfectly with your home.

Add Some Life

Add some greenery to your home for an instant pick-me-up. If you have a flower garden, clip a few flowers and add them to your dining room table. No need to invest in a crystal vase. Flowers look great in mason jars, milk bottles, and even colorful pitchers. 

If you don’t have a green thumb but love the vibrant look plants offer, consider trying succulents. These hearty green plants are generally easier to keep alive than some of their more colorful counterparts. They offer a sleek, modern look for your home.

Try the Dollar Store

Dollar stores tend to get a bad rap for having cheap merchandise but you can find some great bargains there. If you are looking for glass votive holders, wicker baskets, or seasonal items, you should definitely try the dollar store first. Many people choose not to decorate for the different seasons because they think it will be too costly, but you can find seasonal decorations to fill your mantle from the dollar store for $1-5 each. This little upgrade can change the entire feel of your home.


It may seem counterintuitive, but an effective way to upgrade your home is to downsize your stuff. A cluttered room isn’t as appealing as a streamlined space so make Marie Kondo proud and get rid of the things that don’t bring you joy. That thing you are keeping stored in the closet might be just what someone else is looking for, so donate your items to your local thrift store or charity. When a room is uncluttered it makes it easier for the pieces you love to really stand out. 

Uncover Hardwood Floors

Back in the 70s it became fashionable to cover up gorgeous hardwood floors with carpet. However, these days hardwood floors are back in vogue. If you have a hardwood floor hidden under your carpet, now is the time to pull that carpet up and display your home’s original floor in all its glory. Do the work yourself and save a ton of money.

Start by removing the carpet. There are plenty of articles online and tutorials on YouTube for how to do this effectively. Next, you’ll need to sand the floor and coat it with a couple of coats of polyurethane. If you already have the tools necessary or can borrow them from a friend then the only cost will be the polyurethane. This upgrade isn’t easy but it is inexpensive.

Check Your Utilities

If your home isn’t as energy-efficient as it could be, you should check with your utility providers to see if they offer any freebies or deals for switching. Many times these companies will send a representative to your home to see if switching from electric to gas, or vice versa, would be beneficial for you. Because they want your business, their offer often comes with an incentive for you, such as a new hot water heater. In addition to the freebie, you will also enjoy a more energy-efficient home which means lower utility bills for you.

Add a Splash of Color

A fun way to upgrade your home is to add a splash of color by painting a small area of your home. Think outside of the box and try colors you normally wouldn’t use to add a bit of drama to your home. Some great small spaces to paint are your front door, an accent wall, or your coffee table. You will be surprised how much a small amount of paint can entirely change the feel of a space. Trendy colors of the moment include teal, sunshine yellow, and gray. Have some fun and do the unexpected.

Hopefully, these ideas will get you thinking of other ways to creatively upgrade your house on a tight budget. You don’t need thousands of dollars to take your home to the next level. You can DIY your way to a home you love.

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Alice Maxwell

To know Alice Maxwell, Top Agent in Tuscaloosa AL, is quite frankly to love her. Vibrant and charming, she’s one of the region’s most successful REALTORS®. When asked about her sales, she sheepishly says, “Honestly, I’m not sure. I just take care of people. That’s what I love doing.” – Top Agent Magazine A Tuscaloosa Native, it’s this passion for people and knowledge of her hometown that has made Alice Maxwell a top REALTOR® in the Tuscaloosa area since 1993. She is quick to say, “I eat, sleep and breathe real estate. I love taking care of people!” It’s no surprise that clients quickly become lifelong friends, making her business one that is built on personal relationships, personal referrals and corporate relocations. By employing the latest technologies and marketing strategies, Alice does everything possible to ensure her clients’ properties are positioned and marketed for success. She and her team are committed to aggressively marketing their client’s listings, as well as finding the perfect home or condo for their buyers. To further assist her buyer’s need, she has a trusted network of professionals from inspectors, contractors, handymen to loan officers. Devoted to giving back to her community, Alice can often be found hammering at a new Habitat for Humanity house or feeding a group of students from Collegiate Recovery Community. She has served on the United Way Board, the Chamber of Commerce Board, and the Board of Directors for Capstone Bank, and as an Elder at First Presbyterian Church. She also serves her alma mater, The University of Alabama, as a member of the President’s Cabinet, Women of the Capstone, and Human Environmental Sciences Leadership Board. After earning her REALTOR® license, Alice earned her CRS, ABR and GRI designations. Since becoming a principal in Keller Williams Realty Tuscaloosa, she has participated in extensive training--recently completing Keller Williams’ signature training program, BOLD. Her knowledge of the industry paired with her knowledge of the Tuscaloosa market allows her to offer the highest level of service to each client. Because of her training and hard work, she has been named REALTOR® of the Year, and won the Arthur B. Pope award from the Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors. Alice is married to her high school sweetheart, John, and together they are parents of Anne, Davis and Stuart. In the spirit of the Maxwell tradition, all three children have pursued individual careers in different spheres of real estate. When not busy with real estate, Alice and Johnny are often found spending quality time with their five grandchildren, their dogs, close friends or Alice’s 89-year-old mother, Dee. It’s a full and busy life! Alice probably sums it up best saying, “If you had told me years ago that I would be where I am today, I wouldn’t have believed it. I just know that I work hard and I believe that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

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