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Your Guide to Home Improvement on a Budget

By Nicole Bustamante

Spending more time indoors during the past year has made us all realize just how important it is to feel comforted and inspired by our homes. Whether you weathered the pandemic in your childhood home or purchased one of the 6.5 million homes sold in 2020, there has never been a better time than now to give your space a facelift. 


But even if you got a boost with the recent round of stimulus checks, renovating your home can be a financially daunting prospect. We get it: sometimes all you want is to add a little spice to your space without breaking the bank. 


Call us your financial fairy godmother, because we’re here to help you make your frugal home improvement dreams come true! With the tips and tricks below, you’ll know exactly how to improve your space without taking a heavy hit to your bank account.


Use Zip to Spread Your Payments Out


Wherever you decide to shop, you can use Zip to manage your spending and split any in-store or online payment into four installments over six weeks.


If you’re buying supplies in-store, start by pulling out your phone and following these steps: 



1. Open the Zip app and select the “In Store” option at the top of the home page.

2. Enter the total purchase amount of your supplies plus taxes and fees, then click “Continue.”

3. Review your installment plan, then click continue to create a Zip virtual card.

4. Pay with your virtual card by either sharing the information with the cashier manually or using the “Pay with Apple Pay” (on an iPhone) or “Pay with Google Pay” (on an Android) option. Hold the phone above the reader with your Zip card open to complete your purchase.



Checking out online is similar to checking out in-store. Just follow these four steps:



1. Open the Zip app on your phone and search for the store you’d like to shop at.

2. Shop as you would normally, browsing and adding your desired items to your cart.

3. When you’ve finished scouring the virtual aisles, tap “Pay With Zip” at the bottom of your screen (you can’t miss it). Enter the amount you plan on spending, including taxes and service fees, then tap “Continue.”

4. Review your installment plan, then click continue to create a Zip virtual card. Enter the virtual card information as a new payment method and check out.


Focus On the Details 


Whether you just want a small refresh or you’re looking to completely renovate your whole home, start by sitting down, creating your budget, and sticking to it throughout the whole experience. 


Even some of the smallest changes can make a major difference. If you focus on smaller (and less expensive) details, like getting new accent pillows rather than investing in a whole new couch, you may be surprised at how much you can reinvent your space on a limited budget. 


Here are a few more ideas of how you can update your space with smaller changes.


Paint your cabinets in a fresh hue. Repainting your cabinets can add a fresh pop of color to your kitchen and brighten up the area. 


Zip recommends: For an on-trend color story, try Behr’s Smoky White from The Home Depot or Clark+Kensington’s Blue Spruce from Ace Hardware.


cabinet paint


Update the hardware on your furnishings. Replacing the factory hardware on the cabinets and drawers throughout your house is an easy way to add a personal touch that reflects your style, whether you prefer metal hardware or antique finishings. 


Zip recommends: Mixed materials are ultra-chic, like these metal and wood handles from Wayfair or knobs made with marble and brass from Anthropologie.


cabinet hardware


Add some intrigue with a new rug. A new carpet can add instant depth and dimension to your space. Have a specific preference on color, texture, or material? Try designing the rug of your dreams with a bespoke service!


Zip recommends: A jute rug, like this one from Rugs USA, is our favorite way to add an earthy element to any room. If you’re looking for something a bit more eye-catching, opt for a geometric pattern like the woven Alstead Area Rug from Boutique Rugs or this indoor/outdoor option from TJ Maxx.


area rugs


Shed some light on the subject. Lighting fixtures can literally brighten any room. Add a new fixture to a dim space or replace an old one to liven up an existing area. We are all about geometric and bare-bulb pieces! 


Zip recommends: Minimal yet striking, this etched glass chandelier from Lamps Plus is a perfect addition to a dining room or kitchen. Give your living or bedroom an upgrade with this floor lamp that doubles as an art piece from CB2.




Modernize your kitchen with an appliance upgrade. If you’re looking to update your kitchen, consider new, energy-efficient appliances that not only elevate the space but are also eco-friendly. 


Zip recommends: Become an at-home barista with an all-in-one coffee, latte, and cappuccino maker from Keurig. Bidets are all the rage lately, and they’re a great way to reduce paper waste. Treat your bottom like royalty with the Tushy Classic. Or, take your at-home baking up a notch with a mini stand mixer from KitchenAid.




Freshen up with accent wallpaper. When painting is too much of a commitment, stick-on wallpaper is your best friend. Easy to apply yourself and perfect for adding in a trendy print, wallpaper is a great way to give your space a second life. 


Zip recommends: Find a wallpaper that transports you and transforms your space, like this dreamy pattern from Target or this bold option from Etsy.




Put your (fake) green thumb to the test. Adding greenery to any space will make it feel serene, inviting, and alive…even if the plants in question are of the decorative variety. Brighten any space without maintenance or worry!


Zip recommends: This hanging plant from Pier 1 is perfect for livening up a little corner, as is this faux potted snake plant from World Market. Florals more your vibe? You’ll have to take a whiff of this hydrangea arrangement from One Kings Lane to tell that there’s no watering required.


faux greenery


Do Your Research


If you’re looking to do a major home renovation project, take the time to think through what changes you want to make, who you want to hire to help you bring them to life, and what materials you want to use. 


If it’s a smaller project, consider if you have the tools and skills to take it on yourself. DIY’ing your home means savings on labor costs (and you’ll have more money to spend on materials for the upgrade!). Just be sure not to bite off more than you can chew—a shoddy reno may save you money in the short term, but it can mean more maintenance and repair costs down the line. 


If you’re planning to focus largely on cosmetic updates, do your due diligence to find the best deals you can. We recommend starting with TJ Maxx, Target, The Home Depot, or even resale platforms like Facebook Marketplace. You may have to do a bit more digging to find the perfect items for your space, but the money you’ll save will be well worth the effort you put in.


A refreshed home on a tight budget: it really is possible to have it all! Check out more deals on home decor and furniture in the Zip app, and get ready to make your home improvement dreams come true.

Get started with Zip today

Zip’s editorial content is not written by a financial advisor. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

About the author
Nicole Bustamante

Nicole Bustamante is a writer and journalist passionate about storytelling and the art of fashion. She has written for The Zoe Report, Angeleno Magazine, Modern Luxury Interiors California, and more in addition to writing for her personal blog.