First House on a Budget? 3 Cheap, Fast Renovation Guides to Tide You Over

So, you've bought your first house on a budget, and you're now a little broke. You hate the kitchen cabinets, loathe the colour of the bathroom tiles, and your old walls have seen one too many nails. What can you do without spending too much money? Read on.


Some older houses suffer from poor quality walls that could use a skimming of plaster. If you're on a budget, how can you achieve a smooth wall finish without the cost of a plasterer? A good quality lining paper applied correctly can give you that freshly plastered look for very little money. Pick up some good quality lining paper of at least 1200-grade.

Preparation and Execution:

  • Remove any existing wallpaper with a steamer. Clean and lightly sand off any residue.

  • Fill all holes with ready mixed filler. When dry, sand down any bumps so that it lies flat against your wall. Hairline cracks will be covered by the paper, so don't bother to fill these.

  • If you're planning to paint your walls, then hang your lining paper vertically. If you're planning to wallpaper after, hang the paper horizontally.

  • Thick lining paper can feel like cardboard. You'll need to let the paste soak in before it is pliable enough to hang. Follow the lining paper's guide on the time required for this.

  • When you hang each piece of paper, you should place them as close as possible to each other without letting them touch. You want a tiny gap between each piece.

  • Allow the paper to dry for 24 hours, then fill the seams between the strips of lining paper using a filler knife and flexible filler. Aim to get these as flat as possible and then lightly sand any protruding plaster, being careful not to damage the paper.

  • Once the seams have been filled, you will have flat seamless walls that you can now paint or paper over.


If you have melamine kitchen cabinets in a colour or finish you don't like, the temptation would be to rip them out and replace them. However, structurally sound cabinets can now be transformed with specialist melamine paints designed for the purpose.

Preparation and Execution:

  • Start by removing doors, drawer fronts and hardware.

  • Kitchen cabinets are a magnet for grease, steam, and food splatters. Thoroughly clean all surfaces that will be painted with a solution of 1 part trisodium phosphate and 4 parts water, allowing them to dry thoroughly.

  • Lightly sand all surfaces that will be painted using 150-grade sandpaper. You don't need to sand too much; the aim is to roughen up the surface and provide the new paint with a clean base for better adhesion. Clean residue and allow the surface to dry.

  • Apply a melamine primer and follow the drying time instructions.

  • Follow the recommended tool instructions for your paint. Some will recommend using a natural bristle brush while others may suggest a high-density foam roller.

  • Apply the melamine paint using smooth up and down strokes to achieve an even finish.

  • Best results are achieved by painting 3 thin coats rather than 1 thick coat. Be patient and leave plenty of time between coats for a smoother, more durable finish.

  • When completely dry, you can reassemble your cabinets and put back hardware.


Bathroom renovations can be expensive, so before you take on the massive job and expense, ask yourself whether it's really necessary. If you don't like the colour scheme of your bathroom tiles but have a good quality bathroom suite,  you can transform your bathroom without having to rip anything out. Choose a specialist paint that is designed for painting tiles. The colour palette is limited with these paints, but they do the best job. If you're looking to brighten a room by lightening the tiles, you should find a colour that suits your needs.

Preparation and Execution:

  • Thoroughly clean the tiles, removing all dirt, mildew and soap scum using an abrasive bathroom cleaner. Make sure that all residue from the cleaner is removed using a clean, wet sponge then allow the tiles to dry thoroughly.

  • Lightly sand tiles with a fine grit sandpaper to take the gloss off the glazed surface.  You can speed up this job by using an orbital sander.

  • Wipe down the sanded tiles with a damp cloth to remove any dust and allow to dry thoroughly.

  • Follow the paint manufacturer's recommendation for tools to use and drying times.

For more information, contact companies like Summit Bathrooms.