The Best Under-$1000 Budget Renovations We Saw This Year

published Dec 20, 2019
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We see a lot of transformation success stories here at Apartment Therapy, but few are more impressive than the ones done on a budget. Sure, you can make any space look great with a bottomless wallet, but it’s the tales of triumph on a shoestring that really stick with us. Here are the 12 best transformations—kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, and more—that we saw this year, all of which rang up at less than $1,000 (which, if you’ve ever done a reno, you’ll know is truly amazing).

1. It’s Amazing What a Measly $100 Can Do for a Beige Bathroom

A builder-grade bathroom went from beige to beautiful with just a fresh coat of paint and a few strategically-placed accessories. Designed by the bloggers behind The Downtown Homestead, the new bathroom is bright and dynamic, with contrasting shapes and colors. By painting the room bright white and knocking down a set of cumbersome hanging cabinets, this couple made the space appear much larger and more spacious than it once had. A circular hanging mirror sits smartly beside a square picture frame, a multicolored rug and slate-colored vanity cabinets contrast the brightness of the walls, and a few colorful plants add a touch of life to the bathroom. The result is classy and colorful, and it was all done with a mere $100.

2. The Best Part of This Stunning Living Room Redo Is a $5 DIY

Okay, so, Kristina Steinmetz’s living room redo cost a little more than $5 in total. After replacing her drab couches with bright grey ones and replacing her carpeting with light hardwood, she then took to her walls, which she repainted white, and invested in a $5 roll of black washi tape to create a lively accent wall. Knowing wallpaper was out of budget for her, she opted to cut pieces of the tape at different lengths, with different angled edges, and placed them sporadically across the wall (albeit all pointing in one direction, to give the room some order). The accent wall brings life to the black and white color scheme she opted for, which could easily look uninteresting. And she earns extra props for the wallet-friendly wallpaper alternative.

Credit: Ashley Petrone
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3. This $400 Bathroom Redo Has a Genius Way to Cover Textured Walls

Ashley’s builder-grade bathroom was uninspiring at best, so when it came time to put the property on Airbnb, she jumped to action. She placed thin boards over the bumpy textured walls, layering the top half with romantic black and white floral wallpaper, and the bottom half with seafoam green paint. She painted the vanity cabinets black and hand-painted a hexagon design across the square tiles of her bathroom to match her dichromatic color scheme and replaced the faucet with an affordable gold alternative from Home Depot. Her final bill was $400, which is far less than it would’ve been, had she opted to redo the floors entirely.

4. A Mini $250 Makeover for That Awkward Space Under the Stairs

When Suzanne launched her own business from home, she knew she needed an inspiring space to work, but she couldn’t find room in her house. That’s when she got creative. Realizing there was little being done with the nook under her stairs, she got out her measuring tape and made a trip to IKEA. She found the perfectly sized white desk to fit into the nook, bought a matching white sheepskin rug, and found an emerald green velvet chair to give the minimalist space a pop of color. She strategically arranged a few pieces of colorful artwork on the walls, set a few books and tools in the corner, and installed a black and gold hanging wall lamp to give the space artificial light for working at night. The result is an inspiring home office that only cost $250 in materials to assemble (a good omen for her new business, we hope).

5. Faux Tile and Marble Helped Give This Basic Bathroom a $200 Facelift

You wouldn’t recognize Katherine Tlapa’s new bathroom after her recent redo, and you definitely wouldn’t expect it to cost only $200. But it’s true! She turned a tiny beige room into a regal black and white spa on a strapped budget by shopping savvy, relying on coupons, sales, reclaimed items, and her own DIY skills to keep costs down. She used a ruler and sharpie to paint a brick tile design onto the walls after painting them white, covered the countertop with marble contact paper, painted the vanity cabinets black, and added black picture frames to match the black mirror frame.

6. This $345 Laundry Room Makeover Made a Cluttered Spot Bright and Airy

Despite how much time we spend in them, laundry rooms seldom get the design attention they deserve. But after growing tired of using a room that felt cramped and cluttered, Fariha Nasir moved hers to the top of her to-do list. She used stencils to paint a geometric design on her floors, bringing some energy to the room. She paired it with peel-and-stick tiling applied to the walls and created a butcher block countertop by hand to house her machines and create a workspace on top of them. The final cost? Just $345.

7. This Pink Powder Room Reno Cost Less Than $600

Laurel Oberst’s closet-sized powder room had hardly gotten any love since it was built in 1909. With retro wood paneling on the walls and cold, drab tiles lining the floors, it wasn’t exactly a welcoming environment. But with just $582, Laurel made it one. She removed the wood paneling, painted the walls baby pink, and retiled the floor using gray and white tiles she found at her parent’s house that just so happened to compliment her pastel theme. She installed shelving, which she uses to store utility items like towels and soaps, and decorative items like plants and books. She calls her up-to-date bathroom “calming” and “mature,” and we have to say, we agree.

8. An Unused Closet Becomes a Cozy Reading Nook for Less Than $100

Book lover Lindsay Cisewski and her husband wanted an out-of-the-way area to store and read their books—something that seldom gets prioritized in the floor plan of a home. So, when she realized a closet in her basement was sitting unused, Lindsay sprang to action. She used new and leftover lumber to install a bench and wall shelving within the closet, painted the walls moss green to increase the illusion of depth within the space, and hung a chic square lighting fixture from the ceiling to make the nook usable on dark days. She threw in a white bench cushion, some pillows, and placed her books neatly on the shelves. For just $95, a virtually unused space became usable again.

Credit: Suzanne
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9. A $500 Equestrian-Inspired Kids’ Room Makeover

Decorating rooms for kids can be hard. Staying under budget in doing so is even harder. But with a bit of coral paint and strong commitment to a theme, Suzanne got it done with less than $500. With a second child on the way, the room was being converted from a space for one to a space for two—so she bought a second bed, cleaned up the designated toy area, and created a chic horse-themed haven for her daughters. She painted the bottom half of each wall a bright shade of coral, then threw in chestnut accents throughout the space to complement it. She hung framed drawings of horses and a cowgirl hat holder, installed dark wooden blinds, and threw textured Art Deco touches—like geometric blankets and throw pillows—around the room. The final product looks incredible, and we bet Suzanne’s kids agree.

10. This DIY Bedroom Redo Didn’t Cost Anything—it MADE $60

Samantha and Kevin Wiebe were working with tight space when they decided to redo the bedroom in their mobile home. The room got great light, but the bed housed within it took up too much space, leaving the pair feeling cramped. Their first step was to ditch the bed frame (which they sold for a $60 profit). They replaced it with a homemade alternative constructed out of pallets Kevin acquired from his work, and used the remaining pieces to line the white paneled walls, creating a puzzle-piece illusion out of multicolored wood slots. The result is homey and inviting—the perfect place for a couple to cozy up.

11. Budget Upgrades Totally Transformed This Kitchen and Its Dark Wood Cabinets

Courtney Hierath’s kitchen had a vast potential: It was spacious and had large windows that let in a ton of natural light, but its dark cabinets and buttermilk yellow walls left the space feeling drab. So, with $600, she gave it a major facelift. She used white stick-on tile to line the backsplash, painted the top level of cabinets eggshell white and the bottom moss green, and using pine trim to give the latter a chevron shape that added depth to the room. She installed a stylish black industrial faucet and added wood accents, like cutting boards and bamboo blinds, throughout the room to tie it all together.

12. A $1000 Rental Kitchen With One Luxe-Looking IKEA Hack

Redoing a rental is notoriously difficult, but interior designer Autumn Hachey was determined to make it work. With just $1,000, she repainted her upper cabinets and dark backsplash a bright shade of white, used peach on her lower cabinets, and installed gold and light brown accents—cabinet handles, a lighting fixture, a rug, and wall decorations—throughout to tie the room together. Her goal, she told us, was to make the kitchen “brighter and more inviting to cook in.” And—without spending a fortune!—she did.