How to upgrade your space without breaking the bank

For those who don’t know, i live in a house in Toronto that, while in a great neighbourhood and very cool, is full of tiny rooms with tiny hallways and decor from the 70’s (and not the cool 70’s feel people have now, like the literal 70’s). I’m super grateful to have this house and to get to play with it, recreate it, and have fun with it, but since i’m on a budget I don’t have the ability to start knocking down walls and creating a whole new concept. So! I have taught myself how to upgrade, DIY, and change a space on a budget and with things I can do myself (or with minimal help from friends). If you’re looking to upgrade your space but not break the bank, take a look at some of my tips!

Quick note – everything in the pictures looks 100% better in reality

Contact paper

Countertops can absolutely be expensive to replace, but they can also really change the look of a room. Contact paper is a very inexpensive way to redo your counter, just like the one below. Heads up though, the tutorials say it’s super easy and it’s super not – use a friend and take your time.


There is nothing that upgrades a room like a new coat of paint. Literally nothing. You could paint a white room a new shade of white and it will still feel 100% better. Paint your walls, your cupboards, your backsplash. Painting a small space a light colour will really open it up, and a dark colour can really pop as a statement. When looking to save money, I used any leftover white paint I had from previous room upgrades to paint smaller spaces instead of buying new cans. (P.s. when i originally moved into the kitchen pictured below, everything from the back splash to the 2 different wallpapers to the wooden boarder between the wallpaper was pink…)

Statement wall

Don’t have time or money to paint a whole room or change your furniture? Just do 1 wall! Either with a cool wall paper or a different shade of paint, statement walls can be fun and brighten up a space.


Thrift it all, baby. Get stuff from Value Village, antique stores, Habitat for Humanity, or get hand me downs from family and friends. You can find amazing items at these places, both furniture and décor, and if the price is right but there is something about it you don’t love, you can always make changes to it later. Facebook Marketplace is another amazing place to find secondhand items for cheap, including some hardly used furniture!

Change handles

Upgrading a cupboard? A dresser? A TV stand? It’s pretty common that these pieces (especially when you’ve had them for a long time or got them secondhand) have some pretty terrible handles. Updating those is a cheap and easy way to spruce up any drawer or cupboard door.

New curtains

You can pick up curtains at a thrift store, or inexpensively at HomeSense or Ikea. Know how to sew? Find some material and make your own. Curtains are often overlooked, but old, dusty, unattractive ones can really bring a room down.


Plants! I am a terrible plant mom, but there are lots of indoor plants that don’t need a lot of care, and adding greenery to a space is light and pretty and looks clean. Hang them up on the wall or add draping spider plants to the top of a cabinet.


ART! Just like curtains, you can find art anywhere. You can obviously buy very expensive art, but you can find inexpensive awesome pieces just as easily. They upgrade a wall quickly and are super important in creating a room or vibe for your space.


There are lots of Youtube tutorials on how to DYI furniture, lighting fixtures, decor pieces, and so much more. Just hop on the internet and you can find easy ways to make or upgrade items yourself!

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