Change Out Cabinet Hardware
The kitchen is the place where everyone gathers, so you want yours to look good, but a full remodel can be cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, you can add a fresh new look just by replacing old cabinet pulls and knobs, an upgrade that can come in under $100. Choose new hardware that suits your style—maybe vintage faceted glass knobs for a boho-chic look or sleek chrome knobs for contemporary flair.
Paint the Front Door
Your front door sets the tone for the rest of the house. If it's drab, it won't make much of an impression on anyone who stops by, be they guests or prospective buyers. Painting the front door can renew the look of the whole front facade, for a mere $50 to $80—the price of a good exterior enamel. Choose bold blues or rustic reds to draw attention, or opt for soft tans or grays for classic appeal.
Clean Up Your Water
Tired of serving your guests cloudy iced tea? Mineral deposits (and sometimes, pollutants) can cause tap water to take on an unappetizing, hazy appearance. For healthful, crystal-clear water, expect to spend around $300 for a good-quality under-sink reverse osmosis system, such as the Home Master Reverse Osmosis Filter system. These systems put reverse osmosis, the same process used to produce some types of bottled water, right at your fingertips.
Paint an Accent Wall
To transform a room, you don't have to paint all four walls. In fact, painting just one wall in a contrasting or complementary color can give the entire space a new lease on life. Even better, the project will cost you less than $40 for a gallon of interior latex paint, plus a few more bucks for a roller, brush, and pan. Accent walls are a great addition to virtually any room, from the bedroom to the living room and beyond. Try to coordinate decorative elements, such as lamps or rugs, with the accent wall color for a polished look.
Build a Raised Flower Bed
Boost your home’s curb appeal by adding a raised flower bed, which you can build for $200 or less. In choosing the materials, try to complement those used in your home, whether bricks, wood, or stone. Carefully assess your property from the street to determine the best spot for the flower bed, and be sure to fill it with rich soil. Opt for annuals that offer bright splashes of color, keep it simple by planting attractive, low-maintenance perennials, or plant a mixture of the two.
Upgrade Your Mailbox
If your old mailbox has seen better days, replacing it with a new, more decorative one will enhance the appeal of your front facade. For under $100, you can purchase a new curbside mailbox. (You may, however, need to pour a concrete base.) If your mailbox is attached to the house, consider upgrading to a trendy model, such as Yahead’s Vintage Wall-Mounted Letterbox.
Trade Up to a Keyless Entry
Forget fumbling with keys! Today’s new keyless locks are safe and efficient, and they're manufactured to complement a range of styles. For less than $300, you can purchase a keyless lockset, complete with an exterior handle and touch screen, such Schlage’s Z-Wave Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt. Not only will a smart lockset eliminate the hassle of keys, it will also improve the appearance of your entry.
Show Off with Shutters
Adding decorative shutters to the windows on the front of your home can amp up curb appeal, and the upgrade won't cost a fortune. You can either build your own shutters from exterior-grade lumber and paint them to suit, or choose premade options in a complementary color, for instance, Mid-America’s Board-and-Batten Shutters in midnight blue.
Plank a Wall with Shiplap
For a touch of rustic charm, try covering one or more interior walls with shiplap. This horizontal cladding is trending everywhere. For less than $100, you can install shiplap planks on a 12-foot by 8-foot wall, then finish it off with paint. An antiqued whitewashed look is traditional, but feel free to paint shiplap in any color you choose.
Add Outdoor Accent Lighting
Your yard need not fade away after dusk. For less than $100, you can install outdoor accent lights to illuminate plantings, walkways, or even the entire exterior of your house. Accent lights, such as Zuckeo’s Six-Piece Low-Voltage Set, can be aimed up or down to highlight the best features of your house or landscaping.
Related: 8 New Ideas for DIY Outdoor Lighting
Refurbish Stairs with Carpet Treads
Real wood staircases are lovely, but over time foot traffic can dull the centers of the treads, making the whole staircase look worn and tired. Refinishing a wood staircase is time-consuming and messy, but you can give your stairs a fresh appearance without opening a single can of stripper. For under $200, you can cover worn spots and add a touch of luxury with traditional carpet treads like these Sydney Treads. As a bonus, treads provide a skid-free surface that will help minimize slips and falls.
Add Style with Crown Molding
Crown molding—the molding that sits between the top of a wall and the ceiling—draws the eye upward and adds panache to any room. Crown molding, available at home improvement stores, sells for $4 to $8 per linear foot and comes in lengths of up to 16 feet. Easy to install, crown molding can make a builder-grade home look like a classic.
Vent a Steamy Bathroom
Unvented bathrooms can suffer from peeling paint and warped cabinetry. They can even promote the growth of mold if the steam from a bath or shower lingers too long. For around $100 (plus the cost of installation, if you can't do it yourself), you can keep your bathroom cleaner and healthier by installing a vent fan like Delta’s BreezSignature Fan. Especially if you live in an older home with an unvented bathroom, this is one upgrade you shouldn’t put off.
Switch to a Programmable Thermostat
For less than $50, you can replace your old manual thermostat with a programmable model that will turn the heat (and AC) on and off according to your predetermined schedule. With a programmable thermostat, such as Orbit’s Clear Comfort Pro Thermostat, you'll never again have to come home to a chilly house. Not only are these programmable thermostats more efficient than the old ones, but their sleek styling will freshen up the look of your wall.
Replace Old Draperies
If your curtains have faded over the years, or if you just don’t care for the style anymore, you can change the entire look of a room just by switching them out. Wispy draperies foster a soft, romantic ambience, while strong colors and bold designs draw the eye and make a statement. Putting in new drapes gives you a chance to try something different—you can even install the rods at ceiling height to create the illusion of taller windows. If you install them yourself, you can probably keep the cost of new drapes under $150 per window.
Dim the Lights
Bright, harsh ceiling lights can make a room look stark and washed out, but you can put the lights back to rights by installing dimmer switches. Standard dimmer switches run less than $20 per switch; for around $50, you can upgrade to a smart switch, such as the GE Z-Wave Plus Smart Dimmer Switch, that connects with your home network.
Put Up New House Numbers
If your house numbers are small or dull, they're dragging down your curb appeal and doing little to guide visitors—or even first responders—to your house. For $10 to $15 per numeral, you can replace drab house numbers with clearer options in the material of your choice, for instance, wrought iron, bold brass, ceramic, or elegant brushed nickel. For around $100, you can even go the custom route, with something like this Rolling Hills Personalized Plaque.
Paint Old Vinyl Flooring
If your old vinyl or laminate flooring is showing signs of wear—or if you just can’t stand to look at it any longer—you can paint it! While this upgrade requires time and preparation, for around $200 you can buy two colors of flooring enamel and a durable acrylic sealer to apply on top of the painted floor. Checkerboard patterns are traditional, but don’t be afraid to try stripes or other geometric designs.
Frame Your TV
Flat-screen TVs are all the rage, but they can be eyesores when they're not in use. Camouflage a too-visible television by hanging it on the wall and framing it like a painting. Picture frame molding, such as this selection from Country Art House, sells for $1 to $10 per linear foot, depending on the material it's made from and how ornate it is. Framing your TV will transform it from a ho-hum must-have into a welcome design element.
Related: 9 Smarter Spots for the TV
Better Your Home
It doesn't have to take a lot of money or time to give your home a boost this year.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!