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How to Update Your Home on a Budget – My 6 Best Update Ideas

Posted on January 3, 2020 by KylieMawdsley

Top 6 Easy and Affordable Ideas 

If you ask me, it should be the Top 50 things to update your home – as I could really go on and on and on (and on). However, for the sake of short attention spans, the best bang for your buck, and the amount of time it takes me to polish off a bottle of wine, I’m going to stick to the Top 6.

Kitchen with Chelsea Gray, subway tile, black laminate countertop, stainless steel, Gray Owl paint on the walls (3)

See the before/after of this affordable update here

To make it into my Top 6, these ideas needed to be as follows:

  • Affordable (buck)
  • Impact (bang)
  • Easy (peasy)

You ready Betty? 

1. Home Update Idea – Change your cabinet hardware

Approx cost: $150-$200 (approx. $5-6 per handle). Average 30 handles per kitchen. Of course, you can ALWAYS spend more or less, but there are enough options out there and that price range should satisfy most styles.

This kitchen below is the EPITOME of an affordable update!

oak kitchen BEFORE update by Kylie

Oak cabinets Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray. Formica Mineral Jet, black appliances, Gentle Cream walls. Kylie M Interiors E-design, online color consultant. Photo by Artez Photographpy

Kylie M Interiors E-Design and Online Color Consulting

  • Painted oak cabinets (should you paint yours? Read HERE)
  • Affordable laminate countertop (great ideas HERE)
  • Fresh wall colour (you’ll get some great links below)
  • Small backsplash detail (DIY friendly vs having to hire somebody)
  • AND…hardware! Before, there wasn’t a single handle to be found!

Where should you shop for hardware?

Wayfair. I like the selection and I like the range of prices. I’ve got some great hardware ideas in this blog post HERE. However, even Home Depot and Lowe’s have some great ideas. Same with Build.com.

What’s the best metal finish to update kitchen handles and knobs?

Refer to the notes below on door hardware (Update Idea 2).

What’s a trendy hardware style?

Check out this blog post for hardware ideas to suit your door style HERE.

Extra notes…

  • Make sure to measure the distance between the holes so you get hardware that is the right size
  • If you have knobs, consider handles instead. Buying a template like this one from Home Depot will make your life ten times easier
  • And don’t just focus on the kitchen, do the bathroom, laundry room cabinets and CLOSET doors as well!

2. Home Update Idea – Interior door hardware

Approx cost: If you do some smart shopping you should be able to do each door for approx $30-$40 (hinges and handle).

It’s shocking how many homes have been fully renovated yet the homeowners didn’t think to change the door hardware…CHANGE YOUR DOOR HARDWARE PEOPLE!

I’m going to give you a few examples below. And if you like the STYLE, but not the finish, still check it out as most handles have different finish selections.

HOWEVER, watch out for this particular one…

ideas to update outdated home with hardware

It’s not that is isn’t nice, I actually like it, but it was WAAAAY overdone in the early to mid-2000s and can look a bit dated compared to cleaner lined options (especially in an oil rubbed bronze finish).

Black is a SUPER trendy choice door hardware. However, you can also get this style in different metal finishes. Clean and simple…

Ideas to update home on budget. Schlage door level or handle

Schlage Solstice Series non-locking / Solstice Series locking

This one has a slightly more traditional vibe, with a modern approach…

Schlage traditional style door handle or lever

Schlage Accent Lever, Traditional

If you’re shifting your home from outdated to updated, but don’t want too modern, this is a good transitional style…

Torino schlage door lever handle to update a transitional home

Torino lever non-locking / Torino locking

How do I pick a metal finish for my home?

Look to your existing metal finishes – light fixtures, cabinet hardware and metal stair spindles, as clues for what finish to choose. If none of those are updated (in other words, they’re probably brass), then choose black. Black is great as a transitional finish when you have gold or antique brass. This works great if you’re on a budget and can only replace a few things at a time.

Hallway update with wood look laminate flooring, Sherwin Williams Creamy and Benjamin Moore Gray feature wall or accent wall. Kylie M Interiors E-design

In this hallway, the bathroom door hardware, light fixture and closet knobs all coordinate

What if I want to change ALL of the metal finishes in my home and don’t know what finish to choose? 

Go to the store and pick out a style you like and see how it looks in the different finishes. When choosing new hardware keep these tips in mind…

  • If you change your door handle, you will want to change the hinges so they match. There are several different hinge profiles, so be sure to take one of your original hinges to the store with you to get the right size
  • Darker hardware is higher contrast on white doors and is a popular finish
  • Polished nickel is THE most popular finish for white doors
  • Darker hardware is the most popular finish for wood doors
  • Don’t forget to update your closet doors knobs too!

3. Home Update Idea – Paint your walls

Approx cost: $100 per room (paint, brush, roller, etc…)

Paint is one of THE least expensive ways to change your space! On a small scale, you can choose to do a feature wall or nook. On a larger scale – the whole shebang!

Bedroom before being painted, wood furniture, beige carpet

Sherwin Williams Silver Strand in a north east exposure bedroom. Wood floor and furniture. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consultant and advice blog

How do I choose a new paint colour? 

Okay seriously, that’s an entire book unto itself. Colour is VITAL to the aesthetic and emotional health of you and your home and any choice should not be made lightly!

BEFORE REMODEL, Open layout living room

Open layout, livingroom, tall ceiling, vaulted, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray best greige and White Dove. Sherwin Urbane Bronze painted stair railing and open staircase. DIY Decorating and Design ideas

If you need help with choosing a new paint colour, I’m here for you and have DOZENS of blog posts related to paint colour, for example:

The Best Gray and Greige Paint Colours

The Best Neutral Tan Paint Colours

The 5 Best Off-White Paint Colours

And many more…

4. Home Update Idea – Paint any wood trims/doors

Approx cost: Under $100 (paint, brush, rollers)

This applies to homes built in the 60s – 90s when there was an overabundance of narrow dark wood baseboards, window casings and doors. In some modern or old homes, this look can be striking and dramatic as the quality and scale of the wood is often better, however, in many homes, this dark wood sucks the living daylights out of a space.

Ummm, is this hard to do? No. Is this labour intensive? You bet your booty it is!

Steps to painting trims and doors

1.  Tape off walls and floors and lay down dropcloths – you don’t want to spend more time cleaning up from your paint job than you spent doing it.

2.  Fill any holes with wood filler and let it dry.

3.  Lightly scuff sand with 220 grit sandpaper – just a basic exfoliation is good.

4.  Use a primer like Zinsser oil base primer (I know, it stinks and takes longer to dry but it’s most likely to ensure adhesion of your paint). A lot of these wood trims have an oil finish on top of them and isn’t going to take new paint easily. If you prefer a non-oil primer, I totally forgive you.

5.  Apply 2 -3 coats of paint. Brush only where necessary and do the rest with a 10-13mm nap 5″ roller.

AND REMEMBER, paint can take up to 3 weeks to properly cure.

Be kind and gentle. If you hit it the wrong way it CAN peel off, but give it time and with the proper prep work it should be rock solid.

What’s the best white paint colours for ceilings, trims and doors?

Want to check out some beautiful whites?

The 4 Best Sherwin Williams White Paint Colours

How to Pick the Best White for Your Trim/Cabinets

The 8 Best Benjamin Moore White Paint Colours

What’s the best paint FINISH for trim…and walls…and cabinets?

The average home suits matte or eggshell walls and satin trim work. If you want more thoughts/details, read here: The Best Paint Finishes for Any Surface in Your Home

When painting doors…

  • Always remove the handle/knob before you paint the door. Otherwise, you’ll spend many tedious hours painting around handles and end up with a less-than-ideal finish with brush marks
  • Only use a paintbrush around the hinges (and tape those hinges off).

What’s the best type/brand of paint?

Talk to painters and consultants and you’ll get a WHOLE RANGE of answers. When it comes to choosing paint, regardless of brand, I usually go for ‘middle of the road’. Every brand has different lines of paint. I’d NEVER paint with contractor-grade paint and RARELY use the highest end. My fave brands are definitely Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams, which is why I dedicated my colour articles to them. 

Keeping your wood trim and doors? Check out this blog post for some great coordinating paint colours –The Best Paint Colours for Dark Trim 


5. Home Update Idea – Paint the interior of your front door

Approx cost -$35

Entryway with Sherwin Williams Collonade Gray, front door painted Urbane Bronze, Pier 1 rug, large oversize metal clock and gray bench. Kylie M Interiors Edesign and online paint color consulting

Here are a few reasons why you should paint the interior of your front door (or other interior doors)…

  • In our previous home, the entryway had 3 doors that all looked the same and were all shut 95% of the time (front/garage/suite). This was a great reason to single out the main door and paint it a key colour. If there is any confusion at all, then pick out your main door and give it some TLC.
  • Your front door is a direct backdrop or in the SAME room as your living room or dining room. This is a great opportunity to add an accent colour and personality and really REFINE your entryway, especially if you don’t have a defined entryway.
  • If you have a back door (not including a sliding door) that leads out to your garden/backyard and it’s located in a major room (kitchen/family room/dining/etc…)
  • If you have a pantry door in your kitchen that stands out in comparison to your cupboards (ie: you have espresso or wood cabinets and a white pantry door or white surround with glass insert). Painting your pantry door will reduce the level of contrast in your space which will add to the flow and overall appeal OR it will add visual interest if you have all white cabinets/trims/doors

To read more about the best paint colours for your front door, check out this post… The Best Paint Colours for the INSIDE of your Front Door

6. Home Update Idea – Get rid of those booby lights!

I actually wrote an entire blog post on this as I’m so passionate about it (no pun intended with the boobs reference). Boob lights instantly advertise the age of your home and are one of the LEAST expensive ways to update a space – so why not change ’em!

My favourite transitional light fixture is this one…


And it’s hard to beat the price! Click HERE

Is it thrilling and exciting? HELLS no, but it’s affordable and simple and is a great choice for hallways, closets and secondary bedrooms – common locations for ye ole booby light.

Want to read more about boobs? Well, you’ve got the wrong site! Want to read more about updating booby lights? Check out this blog post… Budget-Friendly Lighting Updates

Well, that’s it my funny friends. My Top 6 Update Ideas. If I’d done the Top 50 I’d be about 10 bottles in and flat on my face at this point, so ‘cheers’ to moderation!

Need help finding your room’s BEST paint colour?

Check out my Online Paint Colour Consulting, I’d love to help! 

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign


Bathroom Update Ideas: High End Look, Low End Price

How to Add Curb Appeal to the Exterior of Your Home

The New Era of Laminate Countertops and Why They Rock

 Originally written in 2016, awesomely updated in 2020



  1. Pingback: Kylie M Interiors - Changing Lives One Room at a Time - The SITS Girls

  2. I love these ideas! Yay for making things look amazing with a little bit of money. Thanks for giving me some ideas I’d never thought of (first time home owner! This is all so new to me). I can’t wait to start planning my first room make-over.

      1. oooo, you should do it!!!! The only thing to keep in mind is that if it’s a panelled door then you will see ALLLL the dust collection in the little corners – other than that it’s such a fabulous look!!

  3. Wow! These are all great tips! I love the cabinet hardware in the kitchen but we definitely need to do some painting. Hopefully this summer. I know it can make a big difference. This might have given me the little push I needed to just get it done! Following you now!

    1. Thank you Michelle! Painting is such a life changer, visually, emotionally, everything! And it’s the cheapest way to redecorate! Send me some before/after pics and if you need any colour inspiration ideas shoot me a note and I’d be happy to tell you about some of my super fave colours 🙂

  4. These are great tips. We changed the hardware on our cabinets and it made a big difference in our kitchen. I have been wanting to paint the interior of our front door for a while now – and your post has reminded me to do it. 🙂

    1. Oh, you SOOO have to do it – you will be gobsmacked at the visual difference it makes! If you want any colour selection ideas shoot me a note and I can give you some of my personal faves (which really change on a monthly basis, but that’s okay 😉

  5. I love your sense of humor woven in with your suggestions. Painting is definitely something I need to do in the kitchen. I changed the light fixtures and they were smaller than the originals, so need to paint that ceiling, and the walls. Thanks for the suggestions.

    1. Thank you Sheila! You should read the things I ‘delete’ when I put my filter back on – it’s scary 😉 If you want any ideas for your kitchen, please feel free to send me a few photos and I’d be MORE than happy to give you some colour suggestions!

  6. Wonderful tips. The painting the wood trim and doors is a controversial topic in my home. I like the brighter look but the rest of the family feel you “never paint wood.”

    Thanks for the tips.

    1. Men in particular can be super funny about painting wood. My fave saying is ‘just because it’s wood – doesn’t mean it’s good!’ – there’s only the odd piece for me that actually looks good in it’s original condition (like floors….) and the rest…PAINT IT BABY!!!

  7. Great ideas, Kylie! We are in the middle of a total kitchen remodel, but when the dust settles I would like to update the doors and door hardware on the rest of my first floor. Bookmarking this post for future reference. Visiting from SITS – have a great day!

  8. I love these tips! One thing I definitely want to tackle in the future is repainting the walls in my house. Right now, they’re white, and it’s just so plain and boring. I would love to get some warm colors in here!

    1. Ahhh, I’m a warm colour girl. Cool colours are great accent for me, but I live in a warm world most of the time. If you decide to paint and want some ideas for some SUPER DUPER fab warm colours, just send me a note and I”ll be happy to give you some ideas!!!

  9. Its amazing what paint and hardware can do. I love to find hardware on clearance at World Market and Anthropologie. Sometimes I just buy them with no plan at all but to keep them inside a drawer. Until I decide to put it ON the drawer 🙂

    1. Ooo, I’ll have to check those out, thanks for sharing!! I know, I totally hoard random things (I love feather toss cushions….) Thank you for visiting me on Sits Day, come back any time!!! I’m going to check out your site now!!!

  10. I love all of these ideas and they are so true. Paint, hardware and a little creativity can go a long way in changing the look and feel of any space.

    I sell some pretty cool hardware – knobs at this point will be providing handles shortly but they are hand painted and very unique. Check out my entire online home decor store. I would appreciate the support since it is a new venture of mine.
    Once again, Happy SITS day and hope we can keep in touch. I’m a new follower.


  11. Our kitchen cabinets don’t even have handles, so I guess the sky’s the limit when choosing options for those!! I would love to take the cabinet doors off and make them look nicer. Maybe I could get that done this summer…

  12. Saying hi from SITS! Great suggestions – I am working on several of them now and have the others on my list – especially the interior door hardware. Hope you are having a great SITS day.

  13. Love this!!! We’ve remodeled our home but have yet to change the door knobs. We are in desperate need of updating from the brass!!

    Visiting from SITS!

    1. Ugghh, they say brass is coming back and I can agree that maybe in very small details or decorative accessories, but somehow I don’t see brass hardware coming back in style! You’ll be amazed at the transformation!

  14. These are all great ideas. It really is crazy how painting a wall or a door can totally change the feel of a space. Hardware too is great because it’s such a small change w/a big impact, I’d like to be able to change mine out every year or so.

  15. LOVE these tips! When we moved in our kitchen & entryway were pink. Yep, pink. We repainted and it was like night and day! Our next project will be new hardware for the cabinets. Never thought about painting the front door either. Will definitely be doing that ASAP! =)

    1. Thank you for commenting and visiting Sara! Good luck with your front door, it’s amazing what a difference you will notice – it’s one of those weird things where you didn’t know something was missing until it was fixed!!

  16. Uhh, that hand knob IS creepy. I’m in the middle of selecting a new color for my living room right now. I’ve got one small segment of wall painted from beige to terra cotta. I love it & am going with it, but in a different finish. Happy SITS day!

  17. Wow…old post, but still 100 percent relevant. I love your ideas. Alas, I own one of the 70’s ranch homes with DARK stained woodwork (which apparently was a must-have to go with all the Harvest Gold and Avacado lurking around.) While I admire the bright look of painted woodwork, we have lived here for 28 years and I am positive it is NOT gonna happen (I did paint the kitchen cabinets.) And although nearly every home in every magazine on earth has white woodwork, it’s actually not a “thing” where I live. Seriously, no one I know has it! Must be a quirky rural thing.
    Anyhoo…after seeing your post about paint colors to work with the honey oaks (TONS of that around here) I was hoping you could do a post on working with dark wood. I’d love to read about it. Love your blog.

    1. Now THAT is a fabulous idea – I will put it on my to-do list!! And thanks for visiting my blog! If you haven’t subscribed, please consider it as it’s free and then you can get my quasi-weekly updates (and I will write on that topic…)
      Hugs, Kylie

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