Home renovations can be a costly business. House extensions, loft conversions, conservatories, fitting a new kitchen and bathrooms can leave a serious dent in your wallet.
Just to give you an idea of how expensive things can get, we have done a little research into the average costs of some of the more expensive home improvements:
House extension – a single storey extension on average would cost you around £1,000
New kitchen – the average cost of units for medium size kitchen is around £3000 according to homeadviceguide.com
New bathroom – the average cost of a brand new bathroom is around £4000 of course, depending on the type of furniture it can get much more expensive.
Loft conversion – these are quite expensive with a basic “room in roof” type conversion starting at around £15,000
However there are some simple and cost effective improvements which can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your home. Here are our top tips on things you can do to improvement your home on a modest budget:
1) Change or Update your Front Door:
A tired looking front door can give the wrong image so a simple strip down and repaint could do wonders for your kerb appeal. Updating your door knocker, letter box and door numbers will give your old front door a new feel.
If you wish to replace the front door entirely it may be an idea to visit your local reclamations yard, there are always plenty of bargains to be had. Buying a new hard wearing composite door in a wood grain finish can be an expensive option. Solid wood doors are as tough and hard wearing and can be bought for a bargain if you take the time to hunt around. Just ensure you have your sizes to hand along with noting the side on which your hinges are fitted (left/right). Reclamations yard can be a treasure trove of solid wood doors with stained lead glass. They will most likely need stripping down and repainting but with some TLC they can really add character and charm to the front of your property.
2) Add Outdoor Solar Lighting
If you have a drive or a front/back garden adding outdoor solar lighting can be an effective way to give your home a stylish look, they can also help mark out your borders and decorate your plants and trees. Particularly effective on darker winter evenings the soft LED lighting will help create a welcoming ambience to your home or garden.
The solar lights are very easy to maintain and simple to install. Solar lights capture energy from the daylight and convert this into electrical energy to power your lights. There is no need for mains power and hassle with cables. The LED bulbs fitted within are designed to give up to 50,000 hours of light without need for replacing. A photo-resistor fitted within the solar unit helps detect daylight to helps to switch the lights on when it gets dark, so there is no need to switch the power on/off every night. A low cost and low maintenance addition to your home, outdoor lighting will also help create a safe a secure feel to your home and garden space.
3) Update the Stairs:
If you are greeted by the sight of your stairs upon entering your home you may consider updating the look and feel with some simple changes. Updating the stairs will make an instant impact to the ambience and tone set upon entering the home so it pays to take careful consideration when planning here.
Stairs only cover a small amount of floor space so you should be able to pick up a piece of carpet from the end of a roll from your local retailer at a very reasonable cost. Moreover if you choose a plain carpet over one which has patterns you may be able to buy several smaller lengths rather than longer lengths of carpet.
A fast growing trend are stair carpet runners, the growing demand has driven prices down and look amazing when finished with stair rods. You will need to prepare and paint the edges of the stairs (which will now be visible) to match the remaining staircase but this type of makeover can pay dividends. Stair runners are available in a variety of colours and styles. A stair runner will allow you to express your creative side whilst adding some colour and character to your entrance.
4) Restore Original Flooring:
Before going out to shop for your next new floor covering you may consider lifting up the existing flooring to see what is hiding beneath. If you have an existing solid wood floor it may be an idea to restore instead of covering it up. If your original floors are fitted neatly together without any breaks or unsightly damage then it would wise to take advantage. A great place to first take a look would be the entrance hallway floor. This floor area is relatively small compared to the living areas but can make the biggest impact.
It is not the easiest job but can give your home a warm and welcome feel.
5) Update your brass fittings:
If you have brass door handles and curtain poles it may be an idea to ditch these and replace with newer colours for a simple and effective way to update the overall look and feel of your home.
Brass is a strong colour for any room and too much of it can make your home look old and dated, going for a subtle colour instead will help give you a clean and elegant finish. Modern colours include polished/brushed chrome, black, titanium grey or even plain white.
If you are looking to update light switches and power switches we advise you do not take risks with electrical safety. You will need a qualified electrician for this job.
6) Add a Feature Wall
If your living or dining space needs updating then why not consider creating a feature wall for a touch of individuality and character.
The options are endless with lots of different wallpapers ranging from the very simple to the extravagant. You could also consider adding panels to your feature wall for that wow factor. Panels can be made from plywood or MDF which is overlaid with a veneer, the colours and styles available are endless so you will be sure to find something to catch your eye. Clean lines can be created using monotone high gloss panels, a more extravagant look can be created with wood grain finishes available in a multitude of colours. Wall Panels can also be a great way cover up any unsightly walls where bumps and cracks are difficult to cover up with paint or wallpaper alone. Panels are typically available in 15mm and 18mm thickness in large sheets typically 4ft x 8ft in size. They can be cut to smaller sizes and some are available with bevelled edges for a softer finish.
You may be tempted to finish your feature wall off by moving a TV or mirror here and veneered panels are perfect way to accommodate. The panels will help hide the depth of the TV by panelling around it to create a sleek and streamline look and hiding all the unsightly wiring behind.
7) Update your Kitchen Doors, Handles or Worktops
Renovating an entire kitchen can be a costly job not to mention the upheaval and limited cooking space whilst the work is carried out. Remodelling a kitchen and moving cabinets and appliances around can become a difficult job which will have a knock on effect to flooring a wall tiles too. You may therefore consider simply updating the doors and handles of your kitchen without changing the layout, this is a much cheaper option without the disruption.
Take into consideration the colour and condition of the existing kitchen cabinets, if they are in good condition then simply changing the doors would make a huge difference to the overall look and feel of your kitchen. We would recommend opting for a plain door (high gloss or painted wood), the plain doors can be hung to the left or right hand of the cabinet giving you further options to make subtle changes to the function without moving cabinets around. Also take into consideration the weight of your new doors, are they heavier than the existing doors? Will they cause additional strain on the cabinets?
When shopping for quotes ensure you have the overall width and height of the doors and drawer fronts you require with details of where the holes which accommodate the hinges are drilled out on the doors. You will need to know the distance between these holes, this should be a standard size but it’s best to take note. Your local kitchen retailer will be able to drill your hinge holes to your requirement.
For a quick and effective solution simply update the handles on your kitchen for something more fresh and modern. Brushed and polished chrome handles are most popular with a focus on simple clean lines. If you require something eclectic; antique shops can be great places to look for something more unique. Take into consideration your existing handles and where the screw holes are currently drilled. If you have a single knob handle then your options are endless. If you have two or more holes drilled you will need to know the position and distance between these holes to ensure your new handles will cover them. Of course; if you are buying new doors and handles then you can mix and match as you please
Another effective update for any kitchen is a change of worktop. For most the worktop is first to begin looking tired after some years and updating it can make a huge difference to the overall look and ambience of a kitchen. Worktops should serve to complement the kitchen cabinets and offer a practical workspace which is hard wearing and easy to maintain. Consider the thickness of your existing worktop to see if the new worktop will effect the wall tiling or splash back. You will need a qualified plumber to disconnect and reconnect the sink and oven/hob.
8) Renovate or Replace The Fireplace
A Fireplace is the focal point of any room, along with Kitchens and Bathrooms are a sure fire way of increasing the value of your home as well as adding a homely feel. If your home is lacking a centre piece you may consider adding a fireplace to create a focal point to any room. If you want to save on cost you may consider an Electric Fireplace which in most cases can be installed yourself without the need for a qualified tradesperson. Gas fired versions will need a qualified Gas Safe engineer to install and service every 12 months. Electric fires don’t need regular servicing and offer you the ability to have a realistic flame effect without the heat output. This makes it very cheap and practical to run, the running cost in most cases is the same as running a regular light bulb.
Some modern Electric Fires can simply be hung on the wall (similar to a mirror or TV) without the need to buy a surround. Perfect if you require something sleek and modern or you don’t have the floor space to accommodate a hearth whilst at the same time saving you money on buying a surround and hearth. An Electric fire is also a good investment, in most cases an electric fire can also be taken with you when you next move home.
Alternatively you may look to buy a fireplace without a working gas or electric fire, the centre opening where the fire usually sits can be filled with real wood logs sitting within a decorative basket. Perfect if you want a mantelpiece with a hearth/base on the floor for a more traditional look.
If you don’t fancy doing away with your old fireplace and it is in good working order, most fireplace surrounds can easily be changed without disrupting the gas or electric fire. Keep the existing stone back panel and base and simply replace the surround. You will need to take careful measurements of your existing surround to ensure the new surround will cover any mess left behind, be sure to take pictures and sizes with you when shopping around.
You may also look to update the gas/electric fire trims and fronts. These are usually fitted with magnets and will easily pull away. You can purchase a fire resistant matt black spray from any good Fireplace retailer and repaint your brass or silver trims to a more subtle matt black colour. The matt black will match almost any style and colour and once refitted will look amazing against the glowing flames of your gas/electric fire.
This spray should also be suitable to repaint your tired looking ceramic coals within the gas fire and get them looking like new too. You will need the user manual to remove and refit the coals but it is relatively simple to do. Before carrying out any work on your fireplace please ensure all appliances are switched off and it is cold to touch. It may be an idea to wait until the weather is dry so you can spray outside, remember to always use a face mask and gloves.
9) Add Some Vintage/Retro Furniture
Reclamation yards, car boot sales and charity shops can be great places to hunt for vintage or retro furniture for your home. Vintage furniture carefully mixed with modern decor can really add some character to your home. Look out for individual pieces that are made from quality materials with high levels of craftsmanship. If you are a keen haggler then there are definitely some bargains to be had. You can expect to knock anything between 10% and 20% off the asking price so don’t be shy to ask the question.
A vintage or retro pieces will be a showstopper, less is definitely more so avoid having too many items which are vying for attention as this can look messy. Attention should be drawn to the unique furniture so avoid decor which will overpower and wash out the detail and design of your furniture. Also think about lighting and decor, vintage furniture will create an intimate ambience for your room so opt for subtle colours to complement along with reading lamps and dimmers to create the perfect look.
10) Update Your Ceilings
This one is often overlooked but a well decorated ceiling will help enhance and complete the finish of any room. A tired and drab ceiling will bring the overall look of the room down, a well finished ceiling can take your redecorating from looking like an average DIY job to one that looks like a professional finish.
If you have a patterned ceiling paper or ceiling tiles you may want to consider getting rid of this and replacing with plain paper or getting it newly skimmed with plaster to create a fresh look. Patterned ceilings can make your room look busy and complicated, a simpler finish will help draw attention to other aspects of the room and create a more relaxed feel.
Much like how the skirting board and architrave help to finish a room by giving it a trim to making your walls look less stark, a Plaster Coving can really help to finish your ceilings off too. They help to hide any unevenness and slopes in your ceiling and help to break up the lines between your wall colour and ceiling colour. When you think of plaster coving you may think of antiquity and ornate patterns however there are many simpler style available for the modern home too. You could also opt for a matching ceiling rose to finish the look, for a more traditional home you may look at a Victorian or Georgian Cornice range, for a more modern look we would recommend the Art Deco Cornice ranges which are widely available.