How can I renovate in a recession?

Inexpensive Renovations

If you can't go all out for a renovation, there are some inexpensive upgrades you can make.
If you can't go all out for a renovation, there are some inexpensive upgrades you can make.
Janice Richard/

Painting is the cheapest way to make a dramatic difference to a room. A gallon of paint costs less than a meal out and can be enjoyed for much longer. A fresh coat of a cool blue over that drab beige in your living room can transform the mood of the room immediately. Make sure that the paint colors you choose in each room complement the overall aesthetic of your home.

While a full landscaping project may not be in the budget, planting flowers is a great quick fix to perk up the exterior of your house. You can buy small packs of annuals early in the season for considerably less than full-grown plants. Bulbs are also inexpensive and easy to care for, and many come back year after year, providing delightful ranges of color. And if you want to be really thrifty, you can start seeds early in the season and transplant them to your yard once the weather warms up.

Bathroom redos are big right now because they're one of the main things that buyers look for when purchasing a house. So, if you have an out-of-date bathroom, you can make several inexpensive improvements to get it up to the times. Updating your tile is affordable, and this is usually a project that a novice renovator can complete with success. New vanities can be expensive, so you might want to consider retrofitting an old nightstand or dresser with a sink. This kind of customization is highly desirable to buyers and kind to your wallet.

Kitchens are another hot ticket for buyers. Replacing cabinets is a huge job, but refacing or painting them is a great way to make a splash without breaking the bank. If you do want to replace your cabinets, you might want to consider open shelving, which is all the rage in design magazines and considerably less expensive than new cabinets. Replacing the hardware and drawer pulls is a great way to alter the look for little money. Granite countertops are highly desirable in kitchens these days, but they can cost a lot. But installing granite tiles with a complementary grout color can provide a custom countertop.