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Easy ways to update your home on a budget

Easy ways to update your home on a budget
Posted at 4:15 PM, Mar 04, 2024

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If only you could make your home look fresher, cleaner and bigger — without the hefty price tag that goes along with home renovation!

Here’s some good news: there are easy ways to update your home on a budget. And if you’re trying to sell your house — or you might eventually try — realtors and interior designers are brimming with ideas for easy, affordable fixes. It’s all about first impressions.

“First impressions are everything when it comes to residential home sales,” says Samantha Sousa, a real estate broker in California. “People are buying an idea, a lifestyle, and they want it to feel luxurious, new and fresh!”

That could mean clearing away ceiling cobwebs, pressure washing your driveway or adding some new address numbers to the front door. Small efforts like these can make a big difference — without a big financial investment.

MORE: 6 expensive home renovations that aren’t worth the money

Even if you’re simply looking to refresh your home for your own enjoyment, anything that improves your house’s value is a good idea. Here are 11 ways to update your home that are easy, budget-friendly, and able to be done without hiring a contractor.

Declutter

Adobe

“The first step to improving the look of your home is to declutter and organize,” says Sara Abate Rezvanifar, the branding and communications director for the interior design company Ambience Design Group.

Shop thrift stores for charming storage solutions (like woven rattan baskets or pretty canvas cubes) to hide away any excess clutter in your home.

“Once you’ve minimized the belongings taking up visual space, select a few favorite pieces that you’d like to keep on display,” says Rezvanifar.

She suggests selecting three items — you might choose a small sculpture, some candles or some tasteful coffee table books — to set on a fireplace mantel, shelf or console table.

MORE: How to make money decluttering your house this spring

Refresh Your Lighting

Lutron Sunnata Touch Dimmer Switch with Wallplate

$43 at Amazon

The secret to making anything look better? More flattering lighting.

“Replacing old light fixtures, adding LED strips under cabinets, or incorporating more natural light can make your home feel more welcoming and spacious,” says Seymen Usta, an interior design specialist and the founder of Seus Lighting.

Switch to LED bulbs for energy efficiency and buy a package of dimmer switches to create a warmer mood in various rooms. Usta also suggests strategically placing mirrors around your home to amplify natural light.

Paint the Walls

Adobe

“Paint is the most cost-effective, easiest and fastest way to increase the value of your home,” says Sousa.

In her experience, most home buyers in the $200-400K price range are looking for move-in ready homes.

“They’re likely to pay a few thousand extra for something that costs you a weekend of time and a few hundred dollars in paint supplies,” she adds.

When choosing the paint color, think neutral and warm. The idea is to create a blank canvas that home buyers can project their own ideas onto.

Update Your Kitchen Cabinets

Ravinte 30 Pack 5 Inch Cabinet Pulls

$27 at Amazon

The kitchen is a great place for adding big value with just a few, small changes.

“One of my favorite easy home updates is simply switching out old kitchen cabinet/drawer hardware,” says Seamus Nally, CEO of the rental property management company, TurboTenant.

If your cabinet handles were designed in the ’80s, they’re probably dating your kitchen. Or, they’re looking shabby from years of wear and tear.

While changing out your kitchen cabinets is usually an expensive proposition, changing the hardware can be done for a fraction of the price.

“And the only tool you need for this project is a screwdriver,” says Nally.

You can also go a step further and give your cabinets a new coat of paint. Chris McGuire, a licensed real estate broker and founder of Real Estate Exam Ninja, suggests going with a trendy, two-tone makeover.

MORE: 7 DIY Kitchen Updates You Can Do This Weekend, Even If You Don’t Have A Lot Of Cash

In other words, paint the upper cabinets in a light, neutral color and the lower ones in a contrasting shade. (Think white or eggshell with walnut or sage green.) This creates visual interest and adds a modern touch to your kitchen.

“Remember to clean and sand the cabinets before applying paint,” says McGuire. “And use high-quality paint for a durable finish.”

Add Plants

Adobe

A little greenery — on both the inside and the outside of your house — can make everything feel fresh and clean.

“This works for your garden, on your front porch, your back porch, around the home, and even just in your yard,” says Jeremy Yamaguchi the CEO of Lawn Love. “It’s one of the cheapest, easiest ways to improve your curb appeal.”

You don’t need to be a nature expert. In fact, you can steal ideas from the pros who spruce up your town.

“Drive around and look at restaurants or hotels, and mimic their flower arrangements,” says Sousa. “Take photos of their landscaping and match it to flowers you find at your local home improvement or garden center. Add mulch or bark to your beds to freshen them up.”

Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to get the real thing for your interior. Faux greenery can have just as much impact as the real thing.

Add Crown Molding

Adobe

Crown molding can add architectural interest to a room, giving it an air of elegance and covering wall imperfections. It also draws the eye upwards, which makes a room look bigger.

The best part? You can add peel-and-stick crown molding yourself. Just measure out how much you need, buy it from a home improvement store, cut it, peel off the tape and affix it to the desired spot.

“Think of it as a DIY venture into crafting elegance,” says Newman. “Armed with basic tools, you have the power to redefine your rooms.”

8 Ft Trim Fast Crown Molding

$24.99 at Walmart

Add an Accent Wall

HAOKHOME MR47 Peel and Stick Wood Wallpaper

$19.99 per sheet (was $25.93) at Amazon

“Adding an accent wall can speak volumes,” Newman says. “Whether it’s peel-and-stick wallpaper or reclaimed wood, you can create a focal point that’s uniquely you, all while keeping your wallet happy.”

McGuire recommends shiplap accent walls, which you can install horizontally along one wall.

“This adds texture and a rustic charm to the space,” he says. “Use a level and an adhesive to ensure a proper installation.”

If you need help doing so, consult YouTube videos. Or, get this job done with peel-and-stick shiplap, which is basically textured wallpaper. It’s surprisingly realistic-looking, so why not go the easy route?

Refresh Old Kitchen Countertops

Marble Paper Granite Gray/White Roll Kitchen Countertop

$22.99 (was $32.99) at Amazon

“Countertops make or date a kitchen,” says Lauren Byington, a licensed real estate agent.

The most obvious fix is to replace an outdated one with a gorgeous slab of quartz, but that will set you back hundreds of dollars.

A cheaper alternative? For an ambitious DIY project enthusiast, Byington recommends applying a coat of micro-topping to existing countertops. She points out that tutorials on this abound, since “it’s a beloved concept for updating counters.”

And if you’re a little less ambitious, you can always affix a peel-and-stick laminate over your countertop. PracticalWs makes a laminate adhesive covering with a marble effect.

Change the Curtains

Lush Decor Insulated Grommet Blackout Window Curtain Panels

$32 at Amazon

If you’ve got dingy lace or outdated, floral-patterned curtains in your windows, this quick and easy change should be the next item on your to-do list.

“I cannot stress enough to my clients the significant impact curtains and windows have on home decor,” says Amy Tuntasood, a home designer, realtor and owner of Salem Home Designs. She suggests swapping outdated curtains (usually they’re too short) for longer, higher curtains.

Instead of patterned curtains, which can go out of date, “go with solid colors or simple Nordic designs,” she says. If in doubt, go with a neutral gray or beige. And if your blinds have begun to look yellow, replace them as well.

This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.