For much of the last year and a half, people found themselves largely stuck at home either courtesy of lockdown orders or because their jobs became remote positions. With all of that time at home, it’s not much of a shock that a huge surge in home renovations and home improvement projects followed.
Of course, not everyone has the budget for funding renovations on a large scale. Take a kitchen remodeling project as a popular example. Even low-end kitchen renovations can cost around $13,000.
If you’re looking for easy home improvements that won’t cost a fortune, keep reading. We’ll cover 12 wallet-friendly projects that can help reinvent your home.
1. Repaint a Room
Even if every room in your house was the exact color you wanted when you first moved in, paint fades over time. It becomes less vibrant and inviting.
People brush up against walls, touch them, bang things against them, and even spill things on them. All of that can leave the walls in any room looking less than stellar.
Fortunately, paint is comparatively cheap. You can get decent mid-grade paint for $20 to $25 a gallon. Assuming you’re not making a radical color change, you can often skip the primer.
Three gallons will cover the typical bedroom, although you should do the math for larger rooms.
2. Removable Wallpaper
In the olden days of a few decades ago, putting up wallpaper was just this side of a permanent decision. The adhesive on wallpaper made it a time and labor-intensive job to take it back down. As often as not, people just put new wallpaper on top of the old wallpaper.
Fortunately, especially for people who don’t trust their painting skills, you can get removable wallpaper. It uses a basically stick-and-peel adhesive that lets you pull it back down when it’s time to move. Plus, the adhesive generally won’t leave any remnants on the walls.
It comes in a wide variety of looks ranging from single colors to wood and stone patterns. It’s one project that won’t drive your home improvement costs through the roof.
3. Kitchen and Bathroom Hardware
As noted above, full-blown kitchen renovations cost a lot. Bathroom renovations aren’t much better.
They’re expensive enough that many new homeowners put off remodeling the bathroom or kitchen, at least beyond replacing old kitchen appliances. That can leave you dealing with the visual choices of the previous homeowner.
One of the simplest changes you can make in a kitchen or bathroom is replacing cabinet handles and drawer pulls. You can pick from a range of contemporary finishes and styles that can give the kitchen and bathroom a new spark.
4. Painting Cabinets
The overall color of your kitchen cabinets can set the tone for the entire room. Dark cabinets can make the kitchen feel closed in or cramped, even if there is plenty of room. While replacing your kitchen cabinets can cost you thousands, you can repaint them on the cheap.
You can typically do this project with a gallon or two of paint and a weekend of work. You should remove all the drawers or detach the drawer fronts and the cabinet doors. Painting them separately from the cabinets will save you a lot of hassle.
5. Add Mirrors
Small rooms can feel almost claustrophobic once you put some furniture into them. Adding mirrors is one of the cheapest and easiest ways you make a room feel larger than it is.
For example, you can hang a full-length mirror on a closet door. You can use mirrored decals on a wall to create a sense of more depth and create a pattern on a dull wall in any room. They also reflect light, which can help brighten up a room a little.
6. More Light
Another wallet-friendly project is adding a little more light to a room. Brighter rooms feel friendlier and more open than dark rooms. That’s why most people lean toward lighter, neutral wall colors for their homes.
The simplest way you can add more light is with lamps. For example, you can get a decorative standing lamp for a corner or smaller lamps for tables in the room.
If the DIY runs strong in you, you can take on replacing light fixtures, just turn off the power first. Even switching out for a fixture that adds one additional bulb can add a lot of light to a room.
As a general rule, homeowners can switch out ceiling or wall-mounted light fixtures without hiring an electrician. Recessed lighting is another matter and typically does require a licensed electrician. When in doubt, check the local regulations.
7. Faux Tile Backsplash
The backsplash in a kitchen or bathroom is one of those projects that many homeowners fear. The idea of putting tile up on a wall in such a way that it stays in place sounds like a job for a pro.
Much like wallpaper, though, you can update the look of your kitchen with a faux tile backsplash. Instead of actual tile, it’s a gel substance that offers water resistance and heat resistance. It’s even peel-and-stick, so you can put it up in an apartment.
Also like removable wallpaper, it comes in many colors, patterns, and tile styles. That lets you match the faux tile backsplash to the existing colors in your home or apartment.
8. Update Your Floors
Wait! Wait! Hang in there for a minute.
Yes, replacing floors is usually an expensive proposition, but it can prove less outrageously expensive than you imagine. For example, did you know that you can paint most kinds of floors?
It works best on wood floor and concrete floors because you typically have a smooth, hard surface to work with. The main secret of effective floor painting is the paint itself. You can’t slap down acrylic wall paint on the floor and expect that it will last.
Wall paint goes on in pretty thin layers, which provides limited durability. For a good painted floor, you need actual floor paint. It’s designed with heavy foot traffic in mind and holds up far better.
You can also put down peel and stick vinyl tiles, which are much less expensive than actual tiles or other flooring options. These work best in areas like laundry rooms.
If your budget can stretch that far, you even look into click lock flooring. You can install it yourself as a floating floor for a fairly reasonable price.
9. Stencil Art
Do you have an old coffee table or dresser that doesn’t pop the way it did when you first got it? Don’t feel like painting the whole thing? You can give that table or dresser a whole new look with a painted stencil.
You can get stencils through a variety of online retailers. Then, you just need a little bit of paint. Pro tip: you’ll want some kind of sealant over the paint for things like the top of a dresser or a tabletop.
10. Get a New Shower Curtain
Your shower curtain is one of the biggest visual focal points in your bathroom. Take advantage of that by getting a curtain with a style that you like.
You can get one that adds a splash of color to an otherwise drab space. You can also look for one that has a bold pattern. You can even color-coordinate it with your bathroom rug.
11. Switch and Outlet Plates
Light switch plates get a lot of handling over the years. That can leave them looking dirty, stained, or worn. While outlet plates don’t generally get the same level of abuse, you do want them to match the light switch plates.
You can get plain plates or spruce up your walls with architectural plates in a variety of colors and styles. You can usually switch them out with a screwdriver and a few spare hours.
12. New Windows
Old windows in your home can make it appear dated and reduce the curb appeal of your home. Old windows can also make your home much less energy efficient because they don’t insulate from the exterior heat or cold very as well as modern windows. That can make home window replacement both a good visual choice and a practical choice.
While not as cheap as many of the other projects on this list, the average cost for replacing windows is typically a lot less than options like kitchen or bathroom remodeling. The improved energy efficiency in your home will often repay some of the costs over time. Plus, you get the curb appeal boost down the road if you decide to sell your home.
Easy Home Improvements and You
Most people see things about their home that they’d like to change, but funding home improvements on a large scale isn’t always practical. Fortunately, almost all of the ideas listed above are easy home improvements that you can do on a limited budget.
If you’re not sure where to start or don’t feel confident about DIY, start with a small project like peel-and-stick wallpaper or a faux tile backsplash. There’s almost zero chance of damaging anything.
Looking for more home improvement and home renovation ideas? Check out the post in our Home Improvement section.