Living on a single parent income can be challenging, especially when things need doing around the home. That’s why knowing the tricks of the trade for cheap home improvement is invaluable.
Whether it’s teaching yourself some simple DIY or finding clever ways to cut costs on home improvement projects, there are many purse-friendly options that won’t break the bank.
Here are 15 easy and cheap home improvement ideas to pretty up your pad.
Further reading: 7 Tips to transform your bedroom from cold to cosy.
Cheap home improvements on a single mum budget
BRIGHTEN UP THE ENTRANCE
The front door is the first thing you and your guests see when they arrive at your home. Be sure to make an entrance!
You could put a new lick of paint on the front door and add a shiny new knocker and/or number. Or keep it even simpler and add evergreen plants either side of your door.
HANG NEW CURTAINS OR BLINDS
New blinds or curtains make for easy and cheap home improvement. They are the perfect way to freshen up any room.
Go online and check out the sales. Measure up and get some quotes. Unlined curtains will be cheaper, and plain fabric is usually cheaper than patterned. If your windows are a standard size, buy ready-made to save heaps.
ADD A STAIR RUNNER
Carpeted stairs often give away a home’s age, and with kids running up and down them all day, they may have seen better days.
Once you’ve removed the outdated carpeting, you can sand, prime and paint the wooden staircase underneath.
Don’t be tempted to stop the makeover there. Instead, install a hard-wearing stair runner to protect against constant use.
CHANGE YOUR HANDLES AND KNOBS
The devil is in the details, and small things like cabinet handles and knobs can make or break the overall look of a room.
Think of the theme you’re going for, and choose pulls and knobs that complement your design. For instance, Scandi is all the rage now, so go for clean and sleek. On the other hand, if you’re going for a rustic farmhouse feel, look for twisted wrought-iron or antique brass.
Don’t forget to thoroughly clean the holes from dust and rust before screwing your new trinkets on.
UPDATE YOUR STORAGE SYSTEMS
If you feel like traditional walk-in or built-in wardrobes and cabinets make your space cramped, it’s time to upgrade your storage.
For example, update swinging doors to sliding ones or remove them altogether to save space. Likewise, add (or remove) shelves and line with organisers made of plastic, acrylic, fabric, or natural materials.
One trend in home improvement is switching to modular shelves. Buy as many shelves as you need now, adding more as the need arises. These shelves are also easily movable for when you feel like redecorating again.
Another Insta-worthy trend in homes today is open storage that emits a natural vibe, like shelves made of iron and wood, woven baskets lined with linen, and glass jars. Open storage makes it easier to find things!
ADD SOME GREENERY
Plants have heaps of benefits for a home. They give a splash of colour and signs of life. Some plant species are also known to purify the air and fend off certain rodents and insects.
Don’t pick the first beautiful shrub you see when choosing plants for your home. Instead, consider factors like soil, light source, humidity, and care requirements. Endemic plants are great because the geography is already suitable for them to thrive.
Also, watch out for plants that are poisonous to kids and pets. Please do your due diligence when choosing plants and where to place them around the house.
GET NEW BED COVERS
In addition to the right mattress (or mattress topper for a more affordable option), the right bed covers will upgrade your room and your sleep. If you don’t have much time to redecorate or are not confident with your DIY skills, getting new sheets is an easy way to spruce up your bedroom.
When buying bed linens, check the size, thread count, and material. Also, consider getting more than one set since you have to wash and change them regularly.
CHANGE YOUR LAMP SHADES
Replacing your lamp shade is an effortless way to revamp the overall look of a room. A different colour, shape, or size can diffuse light, reduce glare, and direct light in a brand-new way without completely replacing your lamps.
When buying new lamp shades, get the right fitting size. You can, of course, find an adapter if your fitting is wrong, but that’s another additional expense.
If you’re artistic, you can defo DIY your lamp shades by sewing them yourself or spray-painting over the existing fabric to change the colour. Just resist overdoing it with the spray paint so the fabric remains opaque.
More cheap home improvements ideas that won’t break the bank
PAINT YOUR CABINETS
A fresh coat of paint may be just what your dated cabinets need. Painting can also sufficiently hide your child’s “artworks” (a.k.a. scribbles), which inevitably happen at some point.
Before you paint your cabinets, unscrew pulls, knobs, and hinges, peel off stickers or wallpaper, sand if necessary, remove dust, and prime. You may also have to use putty to even out rough surfaces.
If you have a bigger budget, get an all-in-one paint, so you don’t need to prime. Also, use a roller instead of a brush for a more even coat.
PUT UP SOME NEW PICTURES
A family photograph, your child’s art, preserved foliage, or a print you found on Etsy can breathe life into your wall or bookshelf. Pictures can also add personality to your home, making it truly yours.
You have a couple of options when hanging pictures on a wall, each with pros and cons. The more secure option is drilling, but you’d have to cover the holes if you want to move your pictures. On the other hand, you can use adhesive, which is no-drill and almost invisible, but it can peel off the paint one day and is not as secure.
For many, it can be hard to know where to start when choosing art. As a starting point, head to Printivart and scroll through their collection to see what you like and what will work with your home decor and style.
GET NEW LIGHT SWITCH PLATES
Who knew something as basic as a light switch plate could refresh a room and be a winner for cheap home improvements? Yet, whether we realise it or not, we always touch light switch plates. So naturally, they will be dirty and grimy through the years.
Did you know that you can buy decorative light switch covers now? Yes! Today, they come in many designs: cute, girly, cars, punk, and even handmade, artsy patterns. Now, even your light switch plate can be a topic of discussion.
Additionally, you can make your child select their favourite design for their bedroom. It can help them remember to switch the lights off when not in use. There are heaps of budget-friendly options available online to fit their personality.
CHANGE YOUR SPLASH BACK
Give your kitchen a makeover by simply replacing the splash back. Splash backs protect your kitchen walls from grime and condensation. They give any sad kitchen that fresh touch-up and make cleaning more manageable.
For mums on a tight budget, tiles, acrylic, and stainless steel are the most economical options. Lightweight, thin, and with self-adhesive backings, acrylic splash backs are easiest to install by yourself.
On the other end of the price spectrum, glass is more expensive but, depending on quality, can last indefinitely. So, consider this if you’re concerned about replacing your splash back in the future.
CHANGE A ROOM LAYOUT
Whether you’ve already outgrown your current floor plan or need to repurpose a room for additional living space, the cheapest way to flip your home is to move your furniture around.
After all, you already have everything you need. You require only your inner architect and, of course, muscles to push/pull things from one area to another.
When changing the layout of your room, keep mobility and safety in mind. For example, keep breakable stuff away from where a running toddler can knock them down. Also, ensure nobody has to cross an entire obstacle course to reach another area, especially entrances and exits.
TIDY YOUR GARDEN
Don’t forget the garden when it comes to cheap home improvements.
Beautiful, lush flora can have a calming and refreshing effect on you, your kids, and anyone who sees it. But it’s easy to overlook your garden, especially for a single mum who works outside the home for most of the daylight.
When planning your garden, choose more low-maintenance plants. For example, lavender, thyme, and agave are beautiful yet undemanding plants you might want to consider.
If you don’t have time to maintain your garden, there are a couple of things you can do more regularly. As you pass, remove dry flowers and leaves along the way. Leave dried leaves on the soil under your plants to become organic fertiliser.
You can also participate in “No Mow” campaigns for the bees to thrive, so you have every excuse to keep your garden wild!
PAINT A ROOM OR JUST ONE WALL
Nothing says “change” more than new paint. Whether it’s a fresh coat of the existing hue or a completely new colour, repainting a room gives that much-needed facelift.
Not keen on repainting the whole room?
Many homeowners and decorators paint an accent wall instead, which becomes the room’s focal point. The general rule for an accent wall is that it can be a few shades lighter or darker than the rest of the walls, as long as it’s a complementary colour. If you can’t find a suitable wall, ceilings are often underutilised.
Finally, consider getting non-toxic, water-based paint if you have a baby or a little kid at home.