White spa-like bathroom.

Renovation Free Makeovers To Update Your Space

Cathie Ericson4-Minute Read
UPDATED: May 30, 2023

When you consider remodeling or redecorating, it’s that “re” part of each word that can send any homeowner into a tailspin. What you might really be looking for is just a new look – but one that doesn’t entail a lot of work, or a lot of money. A “free home makeover” if you will. Believe it or not, that’s possible with some simple steps that will give you a similar vibe as a complete home makeover – without the hassle or expense.

How Can I Update My Home Cheaply?

Simple, relatively affordable fixes include swapping out bathroom and kitchen cabinetry hardware, like knobs and pulls, suggests Amy Kilcoyne, real estate broker for Keller Williams Northern Colorado. Ditto the fixtures, like faucets and showerheads.

Speaking of fixtures, new lighting can also make a big impact—whether it’s overhead lighting or cozy lamps. Two lighting trends to note for 2020 are French modern and Art Deco lighting designs.

Another free home makeover strategy involves usingsome tricks of the “staging” trade, which can revive your rooms for practically free, says Kilcoyne. She recommends updating bedding to a neutral bedspread and adding oversized pillows. “It will make you feel like you just checked into a hotel, at least in the master bedroom.”

Keep that luxury theme going with fluffy, fresh white towels in the powder room, with more rolled in a basket like you’d find in a spa. And finally, adding fresh flowers in a variety of vase heights will add warmth and life to any room.

Want to really get your house remodeled for free? If you want to spend no money, as in zero, go for a good declutter, saysLeslie Frausto, interior designer with Living Spaces. “Sometimes, less is more when it comes to decor. Taking time to deep clean and filter through items that don’t suit the space anymore is a great way to start fresh.”

Finally, think about your whole property, not just your home, and consider how you can essentially expand your living space by creating an outdoor oasis. From a garden room to a deck or a patio, comfortable furniture, twinkle lights, pots of flowers and a backyard fire pit can make your outdoor living room as desirable as your indoor one.

How Do I Update My Decor?

Look for things that are really dating your house, such as if you have ceramic tile with the stripe of pink through it, says Jean Groesbeck, managing broker at Jean Groesbeck & Assoc. LLC/COMPASS in Anacortes, Washington. Sure, you could retile or otherwise resurface, but you can even just paint the tile, she recommends. Same with dark woodwork that can use a lighter hue. You can also make a big impression by changing to thicker baseboards.

Bright new throw pillows around your living room will update your look. And don’t forget to look down … find new, colorful area rugs even if you can’t update your flooring … and then replace old, faded, or just plain outdated window treatments with simple blinds that let in lots of light, recommends Kilcoyne.

And while an outdoor room is great, as mentioned above, an easy way to get the outdoor vibe inside with a simple decor idea is adding an indoor water fountain, which is appealing to look at, soothing to listen to and very on trend.

Is Painting Considered Renovation?

So, while we mentioned different things you can do with paint, there’s something to remember: While painting is a great way to bring fresh life to specific rooms in your home, it doesn’t technically count as a renovation, says Groesbeck. “Many people think that they have updated their home when really all they have done is maintenance items, and painting falls into that category,” she says.

However, painting is still an affordable way to freshen your home so don’t hesitate to get out the brush. For a really modern look, consider incorporating “Classic Blue,” the Pantone Color of the Year. You can’t go wrong with calming shades on your walls, or just as an accent.

How Do You Modernize An Old House?

Whether you just want to live in a more modern-looking home or you’re trying to get your house ready for sale, there are techniques you can use to bring your home into 2020, says Groesbeck.

But it depends, of course, on howold your home is. If it’s a house from the ’20s (as in 1920s), decor might be the least of your issues, because it’s even more important to take care of structural things first. “Those don’t necessarily add the most bang for the buck, but they are necessary for safety reasons,” she notes, citing projects such as updating electrical, having the foundation checked and checking your piping to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced, especially if you still have lead pipes. After that, she says the most important modification would be to add a master suite, which most homes from that era lack.

If you have a midcentury house, stop right now before you go updating. “I would not disguise the age, but instead I would actually accentuate it, as it is very popular right now,” she says. If you do want a more modern look, check online for midcentury look accessories and furniture that have a more contemporary flair.

However, if the house is from the ’70s, feel free to start the makeover. If you have to prioritize, Groesbeck says a great place to start is if you have one of those sidelight windows with gold glass by the front door that was common in that era. “You would definitely want to get rid of that,” she notes.

If you have more time and budget, she recommends removing walls in order to create the more open, flowing floor plan that most home buyers prize today. However, that will definitely veer from the “free home makeover” theme, so if your price point is closer to free, more affordable cosmetic updates abound, from getting rid of shag carpet and wood paneling, to choosing modern furniture and accessories.

Want additional ideas for home makeovers? We offer more tips here. And of course, if you’re considering getting your house ready to sell, don’t forget that any changes you make – even if it’s not really a free home makeover – can be considered an investment that could pay off in a quicker sale and higher price.

Cathie Ericson

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, small business, education, retail/ecommerce and other topics for a host of brands and websites. Her work has been featured on major media websites, including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Business Insider, The Oregonian, Industry Dive, Boston Globe, CNBC, MSN.com, Realtor.com and Yahoo Finance, among many others. Find her @CathieEricson.com.