11 Modern home upgrades that are cheaper than you think | homify

11 Modern home upgrades that are cheaper than you think

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
morningside apartment BHD Interiors Classic style bedroom
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As we are human beings craving change and perfection, it’s perfectly normal to always be on the lookout for ways to improve our living spaces, whether that be a simple one-bedroom flat or a gigantic three-storey home. How many times do we fantasise about having friends over while flaunting our spacious open-plan kitchen? Or hosting a get-together on an updated terrace complete with shaded pergola and/or swimming pergola? Or indulging in some luxurious “me time” in an elegant bathroom and bedroom

No wonder interior designers and decorators have their hands full trying to please everyone! 

But when it comes to upgrading our homes, especially DIY home improvement ideas, cost is undoubtedly the no.1 issue for most of us. But if you think that you can’t accomplish an eye-catching home makeover for only a few hundred rands, think again! The secret is to approach it one room at a time, then opt for budget-friendly tips and tricks to add some interior beauty.

Which is where these 11 examples of modern home upgrades come in, none of which work out to more than R500 (depending, obviously, on where you shop and which fittings and finishes you choose). 

So, without further ado, let’s explore these 11 ideas to transforming your home into a sleek living space one area at a time…

1. Bring Mother Nature indoors

No ‘upgrade your home on a budget’ list can be complete without mentioning plants and flowers. But look around to see what other choices nature affords us for interior beauty: driftwood décor, seashells in glass bowls, dried twigs on a coffee table or fireplace mantel, coloured pebbles, etc. 

2. Stylish shelves

Let your new décor pull double duty by also being 100% practical, like floating shelves! Fortunately, designers thinking outside the box have realised long ago that not all shelves need to be just linear / flat. And these are not exclusive to high-price stores.

So, see where you can spot some floating shelves sporting quirky shapes and funky colours to help you exhibit many a decorative item. 

3. One man’s trash…

Thanks to the beauty of thrift stores and second-hand outlets, there is a wealth of treasures to discover that other people don’t have room for anymore. And a lot of those are still in mint condition! 

See how perfect these bar stools look at that modern kitchen island – they are not identical (and chances are they were not picked up at the same store), and that’s what makes them so visually delightful. 

4. DIY your décor

morningside apartment BHD Interiors Classic style bedroom
BHD Interiors

morningside apartment

BHD Interiors

Not everything picked up at second-hand stores need be shabby-chic, as we know personal taste differs. Fortunately, there exists various DIY tips and tricks, especially videos, that teach us how to turn one man’s trash into our own treasure.

For example, isn’t it wonderful what stripping, sanding, staining, and painting an old chest of drawers can accomplish? 

5. Pottery

This hand really goes hand-in-hand with our number one… Potted plants are the epitome of home improvement ideas, especially DIY ones. Just look around your home, or outside, to see where a touch of freshness, colour, and pattern is needed. 

6. Framed memories

Stairs homify Country style corridor, hallway& stairs



The trick is to make your home look personal and lived-in, and one way to accomplish that is via photographs. And when it comes to home improvement ideas on a budget, we just love photo frames (especially in a variety of styles) hung on a wall or scattered on a side table flaunting special people and memories.

7. Kick it up a notch with canvas prints

sala de estar - bege, cinza, azul e marrom Mariana Von Kruger Modern living room
Mariana Von Kruger

sala de estar—bege, cinza, azul e marrom

Mariana Von Kruger

Admittedly a bit pricier than budget-friendly photo frames, but canvas prints still needn’t work you out thousands of rands. 

8. Wow with window treatment

Don’t have big bucks for lush drapes cascading downwards on each side of your windows? Simple sheer curtains, hung on just one side, can still add an element of luxury, especially in bathrooms where one still wants a touch of natural light. 

9. Don’t overlook the magic of wallpaper

Wallpaper is a trend that comes and goes, and at the moment it’s considered “in”! Cost-effective, easy to apply, and available in a multitude of different designs and styles, wallpaper remains one of the cheapest and most creative ways of upgrading a home. 

10. The devil is in the detail

Living Room homify Living room

Living Room


If you spend thousands of rands on scatter cushions, you might be shopping at the wrong stores. For under R500, you can treat your living room (or bedroom, or spare room, or child’s room) to some new colour and pattern. 

homify hint: Swap out those cushions with new covers detailing other colours / motifs on a regular basis, like the change of every season, to ensure a fresh change. 

11. Be energy-efficient

hall de entrada - bege, cinza, azul e marrom Mariana Von Kruger Modern living room
Mariana Von Kruger

hall de entrada —bege, cinza, azul e marrom

Mariana Von Kruger

LED lighting remains a very popular way of paying less for more illumination. We especially love LED strips that can be added to unique spaces, like staircase sides, which works out even cheaper without compromising on lighting. 

Your home will thank you – and so will your electricity bill!

Want to refocus your makeover attention to the heart of your home? Let’s see the Top 7 kitchen upgrades for South African homes in 2019

Any other home upgrades you can think of that won’t break the bank?

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