Renovating on a Budget: Tips, Tricks & Lessons Learned

After Picture of Renovating a Living Room on a Budget

Back in November, I wrote about how The Amazon Effect tipped me into home ownership. However, something I didn’t share is that the house we decided to purchase needs, as I have been saying, “a lot of love,” aka, a ton of work! We fell in love with our neighborhood and the potential of the house and knew that, over time, we would be able to make it our own. After a few weeks of renovating and with plenty more on our renovation wish list, I thought I would share what I have learned so far about renovating on a budget, as well as share two other budget-friendly things we did to increase the value of our home (that you can do, too!).

The single major project we decided to do prior to moving in was to renovate the bathrooms. Take a look at the before pics and you’ll understand why! The master “bathroom” only had a toilet and a tiny shower – no sink. Hmm, interesting! The hall bath was also in bad shape. The configuration was funky, rendering valuable space unusable. That “dead space” between the two bathrooms is what we were able to capture to make a true master bathroom — sink and all!



Find a contractor you like. This renovation process will test your patience. It’s imperative to work with someone you get along with and can trust.

If you set a timeline, forget about it. Renovations always take longer than planned. Unforeseen obstacles appear, causing unexpected changes and alterations to plans. You really have to just roll with the punches.

Buy your own materials. Buying your own materials gives you the opportunity to design exactly what you want and control of the cost. You won’t fall into the same cookie cutter contractor design we see over and over again, and you’ll save money.




Go to Floor & Decor on Eisenhower Avenue. Seriously, if you haven’t been you must go! Even if you aren’t thinking about a renovation, go see the place for yourself. It will blow your mind!! It is a huge warehouse full of affordable flooring, tile, and marble, and it is AMAZING!

Do your homework before you go. Walk in with a design in mind, otherwise there are just too many options and it becomes overwhelming. I browsed Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration and knew exactly the look and material I wanted to buy.

If you are on a budget, keep it simple. White and gray subway tile make up the majority of my bathrooms. Subway tile is both classic and affordable, a win-win!

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and be different. Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean it has to be boring! The reason you are buying the materials yourself is so that you can make it your own.

Find something unique then DIY it. I wanted a fun tile and a navy blue vanity for the hall. I couldn’t find any reasonably priced navy vanities, so I bought a white one and painted it myself.



Two more budget-friendly ways to improve the value of your home


Paint! We painted our house top to bottom before moving in. A fresh coat of paint can completely change the look of a home. If you have lived in your home a while and want to spruce things up, changing wall color is an inexpensive way to transform your space…and you can do it yourself!

Check out this great use of color by Kristen Try! See the whole house here.


Maximize closet space. If you live in an older home like me, chances are you have tiny closets. We need to be able to fit as much as possible into our small space but custom build-outs like Elfa and California Closets were too expensive. After hours of searching the web, I came across Is it a little bit more work than having a professional come out to measure and install for you? Yes. But the price can’t be beat, the quality is great, and the customer service is five-star. We turned three dinky closets into custom build-outs that fit our needs exactly.


Renovating a home doesn’t have to be a scary and expensive undertaking. Small changes like painting and closet organizers go a long way. If you do decide to take on bigger projects be smart about where your dollars are spent but don’t be afraid to make it your own!



  • The latest from Paige
Paige is an Alexandrian, born and bred. She attended Waynewood Elementary and St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes Middle and Upper Schools (Class of 2012), then went on to The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Go Heels!), where she studied Advertising and Entrepreneurship. She grew up on the Gunston soccer and Fort Hunt lacrosse fields and, for the last 24 years, has watched her mom and sister take on the Alexandria real estate market with integrity, loyalty, and professionalism and is happy to now be a part of The Patterson Group team.

The Patterson Group is one of the most experienced and trusted real estate teams in the area, serving Alexandria, VA for over thirty years. We offer professional, hardworking, detailed and friendly service and a large network of contacts and resources accrued over our many years in Alexandria real estate. Comprised of seven Alexandria locals, six of whom are licensed realtors and three of whom are accredited staging professionals, The Patterson Group is passionate and knowledgeable about Alexandria, VA and here for all of your Northern VA real estate needs. Allow us to help you find your home here and discover all that the Alexandria lifestyle has to offer.

400 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


1 Comment

  1. Avatar Pat Moore says:

    Where did you find the coffee table in your new living room? It’s great looking! You did a fabulous job! Thanks for all of the tips.

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