You’ve probably spent more time at home than usual during the coronavirus pandemic, so all of those little things about your space that didn’t really bother you before have probably driven you crazy by now. If your home is in need of a refresh, you might not want to spend thousands on a full kitchen remodel or bathroom renovation, but there are plenty of home improvements you can make without spending a fortune. All of these home makeover projects can be done on a budget.
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1. Paint the Front Door
You can boost your home’s curb appeal at a small cost by painting your front door. “With a good coat of primer and a couple coats of exterior paint, your door will look new and striking at first glance,” said Dina Gibbons, home and garden design expert at RubberMulch, a company that makes environmentally responsible mulch from rubber.
Research shows that a home’s value can increase as much as $8,000 just by updating the front door, said Gibbons. The primer should cost between $30 and $40, and paint costs between $25 and $50 for a gallon. Then, you can install a door knocker for less than $50 to add a decorative touch.
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2. Make an Old Garage Door Look New
Another way to improve the look of your garage door without blowing your budget is to paint it. “People tend to underestimate just how big a garage door is,” said Connor Roberson of A Plus Garage Doors in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Once it is painted, no one will miss the difference.”
Homeowners can also attach decorative hardware such as handles or faux hinges to their doors. All of these upgrades can be done with a little elbow grease and for less than $100, he said.
3. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint to a Room
The walls in your home likely have dings, marks and paint that has lost its luster or is an outdated color. “For just about $35 per gallon, you can transform those interior walls into a bright, new color that has some fresh sheen,” said Geoff Sharp, founder of Sharper Impressions Painting Company. Or for about $350, you can get an average-sized bedroom for a child painted by a professional, he said.
Sean Juneja, the co-founder of interior design firm Décor Aid, recommends using neutral grays or creams that freshen and brighten a room and appeal to a mass market. “Avoid anything that is too bold or dramatic,” he said.
4. Use Wallpaper To Create a Bold Accent Wall
Adding wallpaper immediately transforms the look of any room, whether it’s a bathroom, bedroom, dining room or living room. The cost for this makeover project will depend on the size of the wall and the type of wallpaper you choose, but if you choose a smaller wall and less expensive paper, you can likely keep costs under $500. According to HomeAdvisor, adding wallpaper to a room ranges from $310 to $790, so doing a single wall would cost less.
You can save on costs by putting it up yourself. Peel-and-stick wallpaper makes this an easy home improvement to DIY.
5. Add New Textiles
Change the vibe of your living room or bedroom by switching out the textiles. Kimberly Ward, an interior designer and blogger at PinkEggshell.com, told The Nest that she recommends starting with a rug — ideally for $300 or less — and then selecting a throw blanket or throw pillows to match.
6. Change Out Your Window Treatments
Installing new windows can be pricey, but a cheaper alternative is to simply switch out your window treatments. A new set of curtains or drapes should cost well under $500.
7. Add Some New Art
The art you have on your walls can give new personality to a room — and you don’t have to spend a lot on wall art. You can find both art and frames on Etsy for less than what you’d pay elsewhere.
8. Upgrade Your Nightstand
You don’t need to splurge on a whole new furniture set to give your bedroom a refreshed look. Simply swapping out your nightstand for one that makes a statement — and ideally has ample storage — will upgrade the look of your room. Expect to spend around $80 on the lower end and $300 on the higher end.
9. Make Your Bed Hotel-Quality
Bring the feeling of a luxurious hotel bed into your own home by upgrading your bedding. You can find down duvet inserts and feather beds for less than $100 each. Use your remaining budget to invest in high-quality, high-thread-count sheets, and your bed will feel like a cozy retreat.
10. Add New Flooring
Replacing wall-to-wall carpeting and other outdated flooring will provide a great return on your investment. Juneja recommends using Pergo, a laminate wood that fits tongue-in-groove and is easy to install. An average-sized room would cost about $400, he said.
11. Replace Dated Brass Fixtures
Back in the 1980s, shiny brass fixtures were popular, but now they just make homes look dated. Replacing these fixtures with brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze fixtures can instantly update your home, said Mindy Jensen, community manager for BiggerPockets, an online real estate investing resource.
It won’t cost a lot, either, to replace the ’80s brass in your home. For example, cabinet knobs start at about $1 each and drawer handles start at $2, Jensen said. You can get modern door knobs for $20 and up, and plumbing fixtures cost $50 and up, she said.
12. Make Brass Fixtures Look More Modern
There’s a cheaper alternative to updating brass fixtures in your home. You can buy a bottle of brass darkening solution online or from a craft or home improvement store for less than $10 to give your fixtures an antique brass look, which is trendy now.
“Put it on everything brass, and bring your home into the 21st century,” said Sam Perks, a real estate broker with Re/Max House of Real Estate in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It will give your fixtures a more modern appearance and add appeal to your interior, he said.
13. Install New Light Fixtures
Lighting is one of the most important things you can update in a home, Juneja said. And it won’t set you back too much to install updated overhead fixtures and add both floor and table lamps to a room.
You should budget about $100 to $200 per fixture and $10 to $20 for enough light bulbs for each room, Juneja said. Be sure to avoid fluorescent lighting, which can cast a harsh glow, he said. When showing your house for sale, switch LED bulbs for incandescent lights, which create a softer light.
14. Change Light Switches to Dimmer Switches
As you update the light fixtures in your home, don’t neglect the light switches. Perks recommends replacing standard light switches with dimmer switches — ideally models that have motion sensors that turn lights on when a person enters a room and off when there’s no activity for a certain amount of time.
“Buyers today want energy efficient homes,” Perks said. “In low-traffic areas, a motion sensor switch can save a lot of energy that would otherwise be wasted when lights are left on.”
You can get dimmers for as little as $13 and light switches with motion sensors for about $25 and up.
15. Add More Reflective Surfaces
In addition to upgrading your lighting, you can amplify the lighting you already have by adding more reflective surfaces and strategically placed mirrors around a room. You can find a wide variety of wall mirrors, floor mirrors and mirror sets for less than $250 on sites like Wayfair.
16. Install a Ceiling Fan
Improve airflow in an especially stuffy room by installing a ceiling fan. The average cost of a unit plus labor is $247, according to HomeAdvisor.
17. Revamp Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen updates can be the key to maximizing your home’s value. But you don’t have to start from scratch to remodel your kitchen. A relatively inexpensive way to give your kitchen an updated look is to paint — rather than replace — cabinets and add new knobs, Juneja said. Expect to spend about $35 per gallon of paint and $10 to $12 per knob.
Or, you could replace a couple of cabinet doors with glass doors to instantly modernize them and bounce light throughout the space, Juneja said. It will cost about $500 to add two glass cabinet doors.
18. Update Your Kitchen Tile
Your tile could be making your kitchen look outdated. Swap it out for classic subway tile or mosaic tile, which Jensen said is popular and affordable. Jensen said she bought mosaic tile for her kitchen from Costco, which cost $5 per square foot.
You can also take a class at a home improvement store to learn how to install tile. “Take your time, and you will be amazed at how easy it can be,” she said.
Another alternative is to clean your existing tile and grout, which will instantly refresh the look of your kitchen. It typically costs between $282 to $665 per room to have this done by a professional, according to HomeAdvisor.
19. Revamp Your Kitchen Counters
Some big-box stores offer kitchen countertop revamp packages, which include the cost of the counters and installation, for less than $500. The cost will depend on the size of your counter and the material you use. There are now lots of great-looking laminates that work as a cost-saving alternative to granite.
20. Freshen Up a Bathroom
In addition to the kitchen, the bathroom is one of the rooms that benefits the most from small improvements, according to HGTV. And you can update it for less than $500.
Juneja said lighting is the most important feature in a bathroom to upgrade. You can add new overhead lights and wall sconces near a mirror for about $400.
21. Add New Bathroom Accessories
If you don’t want to undertake the project of installing new lighting, buying a new rug, shower curtain and towels will freshen up the room. Give your bathroom a spa-like feel with a plush or bamboo-style bath mat, a fabric shower curtain and extra-soft bath towels.
22. Install Floating Shelves in Your Bathroom
Cut down on clutter and add more storage to your bathroom by installing floating shelves. Or, invest in an aesthetically pleasing standing unit if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of installation. You can find high-quality ladder floor storage units for less than $250.
23. Clean Your House’s Exterior
Realtors suggest that a good, thorough cleaning of the front of your home can increase the value by several thousand dollars, Gibbons said. But the cost of making this improvement is low. You can rent a pressure washer for less than $100 to clean the dirt and mildew from your home. Or, you can hire someone to do it for you for about $200, Sharp said.
24. Spruce Up Your Yard
Improving your property’s curb appeal can be as simple as cleaning up your current landscaping. Janine Acquafredda, an associate broker with House-n-Key Realty in Brooklyn, New York, said you can pay about $150 for a lawn care professional to spruce up your front yard by trimming bushes and removing weeds. A clean yard — along with a clean exterior — can attract more eyes to your property and get you offers that are as much as 5% to 8% higher than offers for homes that haven’t made these simple improvements, Acquafredda said.
25. Plant Evergreen Trees
Planting a screen of evergreen trees can create year-long privacy and a natural property line that can give a home seller an edge over competing properties, Perks said. A 4-foot tree can cost around $50 or so.
“While it’s unlikely to add much dollar volume to a sale, it can easily create a perception of completeness that will make a sale happen,” Perks said.
26. Buy Indoor Plants
Even if you don’t have outdoor space, you can bring some green into your life by purchasing some indoor plants. You can even grow an herb garden inside. There are many indoor herb garden kits available for around $100 or less.
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.