Where NOT to scrimp on your renovation

When planning your home renovation it’s definitely best to plan ahead and not spend money on things you don’t need to. But there are still times when scrimping is unlikely to pay off!

Sometimes it’s tempting to cut corners and save a few pounds but it’s likely you’ll regret it in the long term. You may even run the risk of making your interiors look old and worn out way before they should. Check out our 5 top tips about where NOT to scrimp when it comes to creating your dream renovation.

Image credit: Emil Eve Architects

TIP No.1 : Don't economise on your extractor fan

You may know that we go on about extractor fans A LOT but it’s because saving a little bit of money on this key item is a big no-no! Choosing one which isn’t powerful enough can mean humid bathroom air isn’t extracted fast enough and can make your bathroom look shabby more quickly.

Our ultimate guide to extractor fans

Check out our comprehensive guide to selecting the right extractor for your bathroom below!

TIP No. 2: Don't cut corners on paint finishes

Make sure you specify the right paint finishes for your new space (especially if you have kids). Spend a little more time on the wipe clean versions! It will mean you won’t have to decorate as quickly. 

HomeNotes_Make your budget
Image credit: @archway_home

 For the products with the best reviews, see these three below:

Dulux Trade Diamond Matt is a tough and cleanable emulsion with a smooth, even matt finish. Perfect for busy environments that require frequent cleaning.

Price: Approx. £31 / 2.5 litre

Johnstone’s Emulsion is the best washable paint for any homeowners looking for convenience. Tougher than conventional emulsion paints, this product is strong enough to withstand constant wear and tear, and for a lower price.

Price: £19 / 2.5 litre

Crown’s Clean Extreme Scrubbable Matt provides a true matt finish with the durability and longevity that allows repetitive cleaning. It also has the added benefit of excellent stain resistance.

Price: Approx. £30 / 2.5 litre

Image credit: Poulsom Middlehurst

TIP No. 3: Don't scrimp on your kitchen worktop

Looking for maximum aesthetics at minimum cost? A great way to achieve your dream kitchen for a wallet-friendly price is to use basic Magnet or IKEA carcasses and simple cupboard doors – but spend a little extra on a killer worktop. It will elevate the whole design plus the worktop gets the most brutal use and a good quality one will pay dividends over time.

Another way to reduce the overall cost of your kitchen is to use standard sized units, typically 40cm wide or 60cm wide. Bespoke items come with a price tag!

For some inspiration check out our three worktops below:

Image credit: By Chris Tubbs


Corian is a synthetic, solid, nonporous surface with the ability to feature a nearly seamless joint.

Corian is also extremely durable and easy to maintain. It’s stain, heat, and sunlight resistant and comes in a variety of colours that do not fade or tarnish from wear and tear.

Drawbacks: Although Corian is a strong material, sharp objects should be avoided as they could cause damage.

Price range: £300- 700 per sq/m

Image credit: Tessa Neustadt


Marble is effortlessly beautiful, and we especially love Carrara Marble with its light grey veins and patterning. It works really well against a white backdrop, or light timber such as birch ply, or with painted cupboards like the example above. It’s also heat resistant, a plus for any kitchen worktop.

Drawbacks: It must be looked after properly, including being re-sealed every few years.

Price range:  £300 – 500 per sq/m

Image: Via Apartment Therapy


Concrete is a very durable and long-lasting surface, immediately adding depth to any space.

It can be custom made to any size or shape, doesn’t scratch and is easily cleaned.

Drawbacks:  Concrete worktops are expensive, and require annual sealing. Additionally, they are almost impossible to repair and cracking does sometimes occur.

Price range:  £250 – 400 per sq/m


Your ultimate guide to cabinet handles

If you want to go one step further with your kitchen design, spend a little extra on door handles to give that bespoke handmade feeling!

TIP No. 4: Don't tighten your belt with ironmongery

If you are on a budget, then the slightly sad reality is you can’t upgrade every item to the higher end of the price spectrum. If you do – even with small bits here and there – you run the risk of going over budget, and fast! However, there is a place for considering a small upgrade on an item you’re in contact with every day. Namely: ironmongery.

Selecting the cheapest option for door handles can be a mistake as you need them to be robust and withstand the everyday use. We recommend getting a sample of your chosen ironmongery and checking how it feels and looks before pressing the go ahead button.

Project by Hut Architecture
Plank Hardware

TIP No. 5: Don't save on design

We purposefully left the best tip until last! When working to a tight budget the fittings and finishes don’t have to be expensive. BUT it will always pay dividends to employ a professional to design a space for you. For example, paying for a bathroom design that is well considered will have more impact and look more expensive than paying for pricey fittings that haven’t been well placed or considered.

We have created a FREE Renovation Budget Guide that unpacks all the figures of a project – from building costs and professional fees to those extra expenses that no-one tells you about. This will put your construction budget in the context of the whole project’s costs and make sure you’re considering all those added extras from the outset.

How much will my extension cost in 2024?

It’s the all-important question for home renovators: how much is my extension really going to cost? Read on to find out!

Read More →

Natural Plaster – and why we can’t get enough

Want a material that is beautiful, and works hard for you? Look no further than Natural Plaster. We explain why we can’t get enough of it!

Read More →

The New DIY: Online Renovation Courses

More homeowners are turning to online renovation courses as a way to save costs on their renovations. Take a look at our top picks!

Read More →

Open House Festival: 8th – 21st of September

For those who have decided THIS is the year that they’re going to bite the bullet and renovate, Open House London is a chance to go and see some projects up close and personal. Here’s our list of recommended projects to go visit.

Read More →

Why do we still not have a national retrofit strategy?

We talk to Paul Testa of HEM Architecture about why we need a national retrofit strategy and why it needs to happen now.

Read More →

How to prepare your house for builders: 10 things you must do

When getting ready to receive contractors into your home it’s important to prepare your property. Get started with these 10 must do tasks!

Read More →

Our 10 top tips to buying a house

Buying a house is potentially the biggest financial commitment you will ever make, so take the time to prep with our tips!

Read More →

Don’t move, Improve! 2022 Shortlist

Check out the 15 incredible London renovation projects shortlisted for this year’s Don’t Move, Improve! Awards and get inspired!

Read More →

Viewing a property: The ultimate checklist

You’ve done your research! But when you’re in the actual property, remember to consider the following things…

Read More →

How much will my extension cost?

When it comes to home-renovating this is the most common question we get asked. So let’s get right to it, how do you work out the REAL cost? Read on to find out!

Read More →

How to make the most of a Trade Show

Returning to thoughts of renovating your home? Then jumpstart your project by attending a trade show. But first make sure you read our top tips on how to make the most of your visit!

Read More →

Top tips for renovating from industry experts

We asked a range of architects and experts working in the residential sector to give us their top tip for homeowners who want to renovate.

Read More →

Worried about increasing construction prices?

Everyone is concerned about increasing construction costs. We talk to BuildPartner about what measures home renovators can take to reduce risks for their projects.

Read More →

Your handy guide to assessing builders

Linden from Weaver shares his a handy guide to assessing builders. So before a spade is in the ground, it’s worth taking a moment to prepare.

Read More →

Product spotlight: Little Bishop Hook

A neat solution for pendant lighting; we take a look at the clean design and appealing simplicity of the Little Bishop Pendant Hook

Read More →

The ‘Iron Triangle’ you should embrace

It may sound daunting, but knowing about the ‘Iron Triangle’ in advance can help you plan your project and set realistic expectations.

Read More →

Making the most of your outdoor space

If you’re living in London, then chances are you’re severely lacking in one department: outdoor space. But even if you only have a small patch to play with, this space can do so much for you with a bit of care and forward planning.

Read More →

Your ultimate guide to extractor fans

Our complete guide answers all your extractor fan questions (even those you didn’t know you had!)

Read More →

EJ Ryder and the world of joinery

Edwin J Ryder and his team specialise in bold, creative design and impeccable workmanship in their joinery and interior finishes. We spoke with Edwin to find out how they work with clients on their property renovations.

Read More →

Why well designed homes cost more

Good design isn’t just a luxury for those with the biggest budgets; it’s a sound financial decision for everyone. We take a look at The Modern House and their approach.

Read More →

Coming soon . . .

Our membership is launching at the start of June.  Sign up to get notified when it goes live! 

Sign up for

HomeNotes news

Get monthly renovation articles, advice, news and offers to your inbox!