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Maybe you’re a first-time homeowner looking to tailor your new space to reflect your tastes and personality. Or maybe you’ve lived in your home long enough that certain features need a little updating.
In any case, the list of remodeling projects can add up quickly and become expensive and time-consuming. But, with the right strategy and project, upgrading your home can be affordable, impactful and – hold on to your painter’s caps – fun.
You can do many home updates yourself. Some DIY projects, like bathroom makeovers and paint jobs, may only require a few trips to the hardware store.
A DIY home improvement project can provide enough benefits to fill a dumpster. In addition to learning new skills and enjoying the results of your labor, DIY renovation projects and repairs can help boost the value of your home.
Check out this list of affordable DIY home improvement ideas to tackle during your next day off.
1. Paint Kitchen Cabinets
It can take a little time, but painting is a great way to refresh worn kitchen cabinets or change the overall ambiance of your kitchen. To get started, you’ll need some primer and paint (of course). A fresh coat of paint can add a modern touch to your kitchen that is as affordable as it is impactful.
But there’s a little more to painting kitchen cabinets than just slapping on your favorite color. Most people opt for quick-drying latex paints or extra-durable oil-based topcoats. Both options can look equally excellent with the right application. And speaking of application, don’t forget to buy a few decent brushes.
You don’t always need to strip cabinets down to the bare wood, but it can help with a nicer finish. At the very least, thoroughly clean your cabinets and give them a light sand before you start painting.
But how do you pick a color or finish? White cabinets are a classic, bright look for any kitchen, but you can also pick a statement color if you’re feeling a little bold. It’s your home after all!
You might also refinish cabinets to highlight the wood or opt for a more distressed look. There are other finishes to consider too, like metallic, matte or glossy. Each finish will bring a different style to your kitchen.
2. Peel-and-Stick Backsplash
Backsplashes protect your kitchen walls from rogue splatters and add to the visual appeal of your space. Installing a peel-and-stick backsplash costs less than getting a wall professionally redone with tile, and it’s relatively easy to use.
DIY friendly backsplashes come in a variety of materials and styles. High-quality peel-and-stick backsplashes can closely resemble marble, mosaic tile or other attractive textures and designs. There’s even tile that looks like brick.
Installation is straightforward. Figure out your placement and cuts, clean the wall and peel and stick the backsplash on. For seamless installation, look for panels with interlocking edges.
Keep in mind that peel-and-stick backsplashes only offer light protection. They aren’t suitable in spaces that take direct water spray, such as your shower wall. They also won’t be as helpful if you routinely turn your stovetop into a tomato sauce Jackson Pollock every weekend.
3. Bathroom Makeover
Listen, we know that bathroom makeovers may seem intimidating. But depending on how much time you’re willing to invest, you can easily give your bathroom a new look.
It can be as simple as giving your tile and grout a deep clean or changing up the towels and shower curtains. You can even swap out faucets and cabinet fixtures to modernize the space or install a luxurious rain showerhead for less than $100.
If you’ve got a little room in your budget and schedule, consider upgrading your vanity, storage space or countertops. You can replace them or try painting or refinishing your bathroom furniture. If the project involves plumbing, you can try it yourself, but consider hiring a plumber.
Need another incentive? According to the National Association of REALTORS®, most homeowners see a 70% return on investment for bathroom upgrades. That’s hardly flushing money down the toilet.
4. Replace Outdated Fixtures
Just like replacing a showerhead in your bathroom, you can make cost-effective updates to other home fixtures with luxurious results. If your doorknobs, sink faucets, cabinet hardware or other home fixtures have been around longer than you have, it’s probably time to swap them out.
But don’t get just any new fixtures. Consider the overall aesthetic of the fixture’s space and make sure it works. For instance, low-key and modern cabinet hardware might best complement a minimalist kitchen while brassy and chunky hardware can look great in a rustic farmhouse-style kitchen. Look online or in a home renovation store for fixtures and home improvement ideas.
5. Increase Storage Space
For some of us, crafting effective storage solutions is one of life’s greatest domestic joys. Even if you’re more of a throw-it-in-a-heap type, you’ll still benefit from increased storage space and organization. Best of all, there’s a storage solution hack for nearly any space.
If you want to start small, consider installing shelves around the upper perimeter of a room where you can display your favorite books, plants or other decorative items. You can also add floating shelves to your kitchen for frequently used seasonings or kitchen tools.
To avoid having to squeeze half of your body into a cabinet to find a single dish, pan or that last bag of pumpkin spice coffee, add pullout shelves to your lower kitchen cabinets.
If your closets contain mountains of clothes, shoes or mystery items, check out some cost-effective closet organizers. Modular closets allow you to customize your closet’s design with different racks or shelves but can be a bit on the expensive side.
For a more affordable option, take a look at adjustable closet kits.
6. Create an Accent Wall
One of the easiest ways to decorate your room is with an accent wall. An accent wall is a wall with a different color, design or material than the other walls in a room.
A soft green wall in an all-white room is a subtle accent, for example. But you don’t have to stick to understated colors or even solid colors. Use different patterns, designs or materials. Even a quirky wallpaper pattern can bring an otherwise ho-hum room to life.
If you’re artsy, you can decorate a single wall with pieces of art or pictures. If your home’s theme is more casual or natural, you can apply stone or wood-textured wallpaper to a wall. Regardless of what you choose, accent walls are flexible and cost-effective ways to upgrade your home.
7. Furniture Face-Lift
Whether it’s an old couch that’s been shredded by your cat or a worn-out dresser you found on the sidewalk, giving your furniture a face-lift can be a cheap way to customize your living space. You can even shop around at garage sales, thrift stores or online marketplaces for used furniture that could use a new home and a little love.
The most obvious way to update furniture is with a little paint. Opt for neutral colors that easily match your space or flex your art muscles, creating statement pieces with bold colors and designs. You can swap out the hardware on dressers or chests. You can find custom knobs that reflect an interest, like fish or maybe sports.
Some sofas and other seating only need new cushions or slipcovers. Others might need a full reupholstery. Your investment in your furniture might even have your guests asking where you picked up such unique pieces.
8. Try a Sliding Barn Door
Sliding barn doors have grown in popularity over the past few years as part of the ongoing rustic trend. Although buying a ready-made barn door can be costly, building and installing one yourself isn’t too difficult and adds lots of character and appeal to your home.
This DIY remodeling project requires a few materials, but none of them are expensive or hard to install. Depending on where or how you want to build the door, there are different installation techniques.
Consider installing a sliding barn door where it would make a stylish statement, such as in your dining room. You can also install one where it would save space compared to a regular door that swings out.
9. Baseboards, Molding and Trim
It doesn’t cost much to change up your baseboards, molding and trim – and it can have a dramatic impact on your space. You can paint your existing baseboards and trim or install new ones. All you’ll need are painting tools, sandpaper, a skill saw and, of course, new baseboards or trim. Modern baseboards are generally minimalist but tall, while rustic baseboards might feature naturally finished wood.
There are many styles of molding available. Each style can subtly change the aesthetic of a room. Try your hand at installing one of the faux molding options on the market. If the installation is more than you can handle, consider calling a carpenter.
10. Hide Cords
Most of the technology in your home probably has a cord or wire attached to it. Those cords can become a tangled mess, but there are a few ways to hide and organize unruly wires.
Attach adhesive hooks to the backs of desks and entertainment consoles to route cords. If you’ve got too many cords and wires to manage with hooks, try feeding them through sleeves to keep them from dangling all over the place. If your TV is mounted on a wall, you can get cable organizing kits to feed and hide cords.
11. Play With Lighting Options
Sometimes switching up the ambiance of your space only requires a light bulb swap or two. Bright lights might illuminate every corner of your room, but adding soft or warm light bulbs tends to better complement living spaces and have a soothing effect. Opt for LEDs for longer-lasting bulbs.
For a more ambitious improvement project, replace or add light fixtures around your home, too. Swap out generic ceiling fixtures or place a few decorative or reading lamps around the home. Dimmer switches let you control the intensity and energy expenditure of lights around your home, helping you to create more tranquil living areas.
A word of caution: If you’re not skilled in electrical work, hire a professional electrician.
12. Incorporate Smart Home Technology
Programmable thermostats let you set air conditioning or heating preferences from your phone, and some even track behaviors to create intuitive schedules. Smart fridges let you see what groceries you have when you’re out shopping and can’t remember what you need.
Smart bulbs are an easy way to modernize and customize a space. They come with customizable shades and patterns, and you can usually program light schedules, too. This lets you set dimming or on/off schedules depending on when you wake up, go to work or go to sleep.
For extra security, you can install smart locks and cameras. Set a custom keypad code for your front door and check alerts by looking at camera footage from your phone. You may get an alert for a stray kitty inspecting your front door, but cameras can provide peace of mind and might even catch a “porch pirate” in the act.
One of the fun things about smart home technology is the ability to use a smart home assistant to control everything. You can tell your system to play music, turn lights on or off and control appliances that are smart home compatible. (If only you could tell it to clean the bathroom, too.)
13. More Mirrors
Strategically adding mirrors throughout your home can improve lighting and make spaces feel larger than they are.
Consider placing mirrors near sunny areas to reflect light throughout the room. In small areas, like bathrooms or entryways, you can add larger mirrors to make the space seem roomier. Narrow spaces, like hallways, can benefit from large mirrors on one wall to visually widen the space.
Just be sure not to go overboard with the mirrors unless you’re a fan of the house-of-mirrors aesthetic.
14. Hang String Lights
String lights have a soft and cozy glow. Adding them to your outdoor spaces can create a pleasant ambiance. You can string them along patio or porch rails, in your backyard or in areas that don’t get much light. Set up a few posts and attach the string lights with carabiners or string them between the trees in your backyard.
You don’t need much for this DIY renovation project. Get a sturdy ladder, drilling supplies and an outdoor extension cord if your lights aren’t battery powered. Opt for LED string lights to save energy.
Like furniture knobs, you can get string lights that reflect your personality. Are you into spicy food? Hang a string of illuminated chili peppers.
15. Upgrade Entryway/Curb Appeal
Curb appeal is the first impression of your home. A little elbow grease and a critical eye in this area can convert to more cash if you plan to sell and want to attract buyers.
Rather than replace an old front door, repaint it and upgrade the hardware. Black or white are classic paint choices for doors, but bold colors can also create an impactful statement. If you have worn out closet doors in your entryway, give them the same treatment or remove them to create a mini mudroom nook.
You can also enhance the natural beauty of your front lawn. Consider building a path out of stone or brick pavers or adding some planters or window flower boxes. You don’t need to have a green thumb to add greenery to your lawn. If you opt for high-quality, fake outdoor plants, only you and your friendly neighborhood florist will know.
Level Up Your Home With DIY
Home improvements can sometimes be costly, but a DIY renovation project can be an affordable way to improve your home’s value. If you’re thinking of renovating or remodeling your home, cost-effective solutions are probably a priority for you.There are loans available to help you finance your home improvement, allowing you to make renovations with terms and rates you can handle. If you’re thinking of applying for a home improvement loan, ask your lender which loans might work best for your goals.
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The Short Version
- You can do many home updates yourself. Some DIY projects, like bathroom makeovers and paint jobs, may only require a few trips to the hardware store
- DIY renovation projects and repairs can help boost the value of your home
- There are loans available to help you finance your home improvement, allowing you to make renovations with terms and rates you can handle
National Association of REALTORS®. “Remodeling.” Retrieved March 2022 from https://www.nar.realtor/remodeling