Designing on a Dime? 8 Affordable Home Update Ideas

Interior Design on a Dime: 8 Affordable Home Updates

We get it... you bought a new home and now funds are limited. Or you've been in your home for a while and want to update it, but renovating is expensive and time consuming. Or it's time to sell and you need to make some budget friendly updates first. So what can you do to update or personalize your space on a budget?

Using our latest real estate design-stage-list project in North Oakland to exemplify (www.1176-66th.com), here are some of our favorite tricks for updating on a budget!

Granted this property had good bones to start with (technologically advanced net-zero new construction) but in our opinion, the home lacked warmth and character. Our client hired us to bring the space alive to impress home buyers, but within a strict budget. Here are our design ideas at work to inspire your own budget-friendly home updates! Enjoy...

1. Reglaze or tile shower and tub

The home was built with a boring, builder-grade plastic shower insert that lacked style and looked cheap. To add pop, we chose tile with a handmade look and vibrant color and had the contractor tile all the way up to showcase the high ceilings. The bathroom went from blah to ahhhh with this one change. Of course we couldn't help but also add contrasting black hardware, unique wood mirror, and floating wood shelf to make the space more functional, interesting and inviting!

 New shower tile at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

New shower tile at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

2. Change bathroom and kitchen plumbing fixtures

The bathroom photo photo above illustrates the contrasting new sink faucet that replaced the builder-grade standard faucet. In the kitchen below, we selected this champagne brass faucet that looks so beautiful against the brick tile backsplash. While technically there was nothing wrong with the original fixtures, by selecting a different design and finish, the fixtures went from functional to fabulous.

 New kitchen faucet at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

New kitchen faucet at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

3. Install Open Shelving

Both functional and architectural, open shelving is a inexpensive win-win for creating a design moment with the bonus of extra storage. In this case, we added floating reclaimed lumber shelves to both the kitchen and bathroom. As smaller spaces, both benefited from creation of storage. And in need of a design punch, both benefited from the visual interest of the shelves themselves and how we styled them during the staging process.

 New reclaimed lumber floating shelves at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

New reclaimed lumber floating shelves at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

4. Install kitchen backsplash tile

Originally this kitchen was built with a tiny and totally uninteresting 4" quartz splash that was the continuation of the countertop. The smaller kitchen has 10' ceilings, so in order to highlight the impressive ceiling height and thus make the kitchen appear larger, we chose a striking real brick tile to bring all the way to the ceiling. Hands down, installing this tile had the most impact in the home transformation.

 New brick tile backsplash and accent wall at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

New brick tile backsplash and accent wall at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

5. Create an accent wall (or two or three)

By creating an accent wall with paint, wood, wallpaper, tile, vertical garden, fabric, or any other number of creative materials, you can easily and inexpensively update your home and create a focal point. In this small home, we managed to install not one but three accent walls: kitchen brick tile, living room whitewashed lumber, and office chalkboard paint (we even commissioned a local chalkboard artist to create original artwork depicting Oakland/East Bay Area landmarks). Depending on the accent material you select and your skill level, this can easily be a weekend DIY project! No contractor needed!

 Chalkboard accent wall with original artwork at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

Chalkboard accent wall with original artwork at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

 Whitewashed reclaimed lumber accent wall at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

Whitewashed reclaimed lumber accent wall at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

6. Swap light fixtures

In with the old and out with the new! Look for great statement lighting on sale or at the Alameda Antique Fair (1st Sunday of every month) to get the most bang for your buck. Grab a friend, watch a YouTube video on installing light fixtures, and get to it!

 New vintage-look steampunk-inspired chandelier at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

New vintage-look steampunk-inspired chandelier at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

7. Buy freestanding kitchen island

No installation required when you buy a prefab kitchen island! In an instant you can add storage, seating, and great design! They are easy to find these days at many national retailers.... we've seen them at Crate and Barrel, The Container Store, Ikea, and William's Sonoma, just to name a few.

 New freestanding kitchen island at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

New freestanding kitchen island at 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608

 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608 | Just Listed | Asking $725,000

1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608 | Just Listed | Asking $725,000

8. Shop at Habitat for Humanity ReStore, vintage markets, etc.

You've heard that sometimes what's old can be new again and of course one person's trash is another's treasure. If you've got more time than money, use your time to hunt for deals at a second-hand store. At the Home Co., when we have leftover materials and staging furnishings we no longer want, we donate them to Habitat for Humanity ReStore to help raise funds to support their mission to create shelter and stability for those in need. So who knows, when you shop ReStore you could buy one of our former treasures at a fraction of the cost and for a great cause!

 1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608 | Just Listed | Asking $725,000

1176-66th Street, Oakland CA 94608 | Just Listed | Asking $725,000

We hope you've found our tips useful! But if you need more help with buying a home, home renovation design, or staging and selling your property, just contact us and tell us how we can help! 

The Home Co. is an award-winning provider of real estate solutions in the San Francisco East Bay Area. Founded in 2007, The Home Co. has grown into a vertically integrated company offering home buying and selling services, home renovation design and project management, property staging, investor/developer services, and more. We have offices in Oakland and Lafayette to accommodate clients throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.