If you like the look of stainless steel but don't have the cash to upgrade your kitchen appliances, here's a clever workaround. Apply elegantly economical contact paper, which comes in a range of colors, including stainless steel. The budget adhesive can be acquired for under $10, cut to size with a razor blade, and adhered to ovens, microwaves, and other ordinary appliances to give your kitchen a modern, metallic facade. Cost: $10.
Related: How To: Clean Any Appliance
A bespoke doormat adorned with hand-painted flourishes can be yours—for a price—when ordered via on online store like Etsy. Save when you create your own: Start with a thrifty $5 mat, a custom stencil cut from cardboard, and $10 can of spray paint. Tape the stencil to the mat and paint it up. Cost: $15.
Insulating draft-prone windows does more than keep your home comfortable; it prevents heat from escaping your home, reducing your energy consumption and lowering your heating bills. Depending on the size of your windows, you can seal them with self-adhesive foam insulation ($3) or a combination of foam and $3-5 V-channel weatherstripping, reinforced with frugal finishing nails. Cost: $5-10.
You might not be taking home an original Monet anytime soon, but that doesn't mean you can't work with what you have. Create your own in-house gallery by mounting a single $12 picture ledge. Display your favorite pieces, and change your informal installation periodically to add an extra dose of culture to domestic life. Cost: $12.
If your aging cabinets are still structurally sound, simply updating their backplates, hinges, pulls, or knobs can transform their dated facades into elegant exteriors again. Quite likely, your local home center has a wide selection of cabinet hardware to choose from, and the prices are relatively low—often as little as one dollar for a single piece. Cost: $5-20.
Turn a beat up door or the back wall of a built-in bookshelf into an unforgettable focal point, by adding an eye-popping shade of paint. A little paint goes a long way—a $4 sample-size can (applyed with a $3 paintbrush) is often enough to coat a 4x4' area. Need more paint? A $10 quart-size can of paint covers four times the space for only twice the cost. Cost: $7-13.
Who said you had to splurge on a steam cleaner to turn a stained carpet into a spotless one? At The Home Depot, $20 gets you a four-hour rental of a steam cleaner—plenty of time to give your carpet a deep cleaning experience. Cost: $20.
Hit the Pavement
Repairing hairline cracks in concrete can prevent them from progressing into larger cracks or deeper holes that can be more expensive to fill. Take a chisel to the crack and chip away at the loose pieces, then clean out the debris with a wire brush. Next, fill the crack with $7 concrete patching mix and seal the deal with a $6 concrete bonding agent. Cost: $13.
A porch that's out of date and out of style can get a major face lift with just a few simple changes. Among these little fix-its, is getting a new house number plate. Make your own fashionable yet frugal DIY version with a few metal numbers (available at any hardware store for as little as a few bucks per number) attached to a sanded and stained board of scrap wood. Cost: $4-20.
Home security and aesthetics don’t have to be mutually exclusive. When you outfit your walkway with one or more $10 outdoor motion sensor lights, you’ll ensure that guests tread a well-lit walkway while deterring any would-be intruders from lurking on the premises. Cost: $10-20.
Hanging By a Thread
Forgo clumsy clotheslines and start drying garments on clothes hangers strategically placed throughout the laundry room. The secret to this space-smart system is bargain $2 coat hooks, which when secured to empty walls, lend extra wall space for stashing hangers, or suspend a tension rod between laundry room cabinets to create a mini closet for freshly laundered items. Cost: $2-10.
Window of Opportunity
Get the look of luxury at budget prices with a simple no-sew window covering. Take a length of dollar-a-yard fabric and fold the sides to create a hem, fusing with fabric glue. Then fold the top down to form a loop large enough to accommodate a $6 tension rod. Glue the edge of the fold to the fabric, leaving a gap to fit the rod. Once the fabric glue had fully dried, pull the tension rod through the rod pocket and secure it in a window frame. Cost: $8.
You don’t need ample square footage to grow an evergreen indoor herb garden—just a roomy windowsill and a $2 seed pack of your favorite herb varietal. Sow the seeds in $5 planters filled with potting mix in the same price range, and set them in south-facing windows for maximum sun exposure and optimal growth. Cost: $12.
Lumber to Remember
Bringing new life to wooden furniture is as simple as refinishing it with a fresh coat of paint. A $10 can of spray paint can do wonders to add youthful color and personality to a dated desk, dresser, or chair. Take the mini makeover even further by adding modern hardware, like dollar-priced chrome knobs or pulls, for added glamor but little added cost. Cost: $10-20.
With one or more tubes of $3 latex kitchen and bath caulk, you can restore a mold-stained shower, tub, or sink to pearly-white perfection. The key to a pristine caulking job is to fully remove the old caulk with a utility knife and then run a thin bead of new caulk along the seam using a quality caulk gun. Cost: $18.
A family command center brings order to a lived-in (and yes, sometimes chaotic) home. The options for a personalized organization center are limitless, even if your budget isn’t. Snag a $6 pack of command hooks and a $10 cork bulletin board at your local craft store, and attach them to the wall to create a go-to spot for memos, keys, and coats. And for those moments when you’re away from home, keep the rest of the household on schedule with a to-do list scribbled on a picture frame decorated with a $4 sample-size jar of chalkboard paint. Cost: $4-20.
Living on the Ledge
Floating shelves turn expanses of blank wall into usable storage—a perfect solution for small spaces. Secure a set of $5 wire shelves or $10 solid wood shelves to the wall. Most floating shelves come with mounting hardware, or you can buy a separate set of $3 shelf brackets. Cost: $15-20
Mirror, Mirror on the Door
A freestanding looking glass in the boudoir is a little luxury not everyone wants to splurge on. Luckily a door-mounted mirror works just as well. Secure a basic mirror to the back of a closet door with a roll of $4 mirror tape. Builder-grade mirrors go for as little as $6, or you can opt for a more elegant vanity mirror to bring a bit of beauty to your space. Cost: $10-15.
Whiten and Brighten
No matter how you scrub and scour your bathroom, it will always look dirty if your grout is dingy. If routine cleaning does nothing to budge stains, turn to a heavy duty spray or grout pen. It may seem like a time-intensive project, but it can completely alter the look of a bathroom—and at a faster and cheaper rate than retiling. Cost: $6-10.
Related: Top Tips for Cleaning Grout Lines
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!