Whether you intend to sell your home in the near future or stay put for the long haul, house improvements can increase the value of your property. But if you shudder at the thought of wasting your time on labor-intensive projects that may or may not add equity, you’re not alone.
Luckily, you don’t have to spend your entire savings—and every weekend from here to eternity—to keep your house up to date. We found a slew of smart projects that are relatively simple, will cost you no more than $500, and will be catnip to future buyers—or just make your everyday life a bit brighter.
Before you begin your house improvements…
We’ll offer this pre-project tip that will make your life a lot easier: declutter.
“A common problem I see when I initially start working with a client is too much stuff that is not being used,” says Tracie Stoll, a DIYer, designer, and decorator who blogs at CleverlyInspired.com. “Declutter first—and in many cases, you can sell those extra items to make money to tackle home improvement projects.”
Now let’s get to the projects!
Make a splash in the bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most visited rooms in your home, and just a few changes can make it one of the most functional and stylish rooms as well. Simple touch-ups like regrouting and recaulking can instantly make the room look cleaner and newer.
Also, swapping out inefficient toilets, faucets, and shower heads for products that aid in water conservation can make a big difference. A low-flush toilet uses 20% less water than a standard toilet, and water-saving shower heads can help families save almost 3,000 gallons of water a year.
“Touchless water faucets are all the rage right now, especially if you have kids,” says remodeler and licensed contractor Mark Clement of MyFixItUpLife. “Touchless faucets are clean and easy, and there are literally thousands of fixture choices, including stainless steel, brushed nickel, chrome, and bronze.”
Just be sure to keep your fixture finishes consistent throughout the bathroom.
Create style underfoot
While updating your flooring is typically seen as an expensive project, it doesn’t have to be.
“If the carpet has seen better days, pull it up to see what is underneath,” says Stoll. “If it is concrete, that surface can be cleaned up and painted. Throw an inexpensive area rug down, and the room will be updated immediately.”
Tiling is another budget-friendly flooring update for your kitchen or bathroom.
“Porcelain and stone are very inexpensive,” says Alan Zielinski, owner and president of Better Kitchens in Niles, IL, who adds that linoleum floors are also very cost-effective, and come in several styles.
“[Porcelain] tiles are very strong, and they can mimic the look of stone and wood,” says Judy Mozen, designer and president of Homecrafted Homes in Atlanta.
Beware: Tearing out an existing floor can add significant labor costs, so if it’s at all possible, lay the new flooring on top of the existing one.
Customize your cabinets
Another inexpensive bathroom and kitchen update to tackle? Fix those cabinets. If they’re in good shape, you can simply clean, sand, and paint them.
“This is also an opportunity to provide a pop of color in the bathroom,” says Clement.
So, what color should you paint them?
“White is a popular color because it is clean, and it looks good with any style,” says Mozen. Black is another popular cabinet color.
Mozen advises homeowners to weigh the condition of the cabinet’s interior area. “If there’s water damage, it’s not worth it to repaint them—that’s like polishing an old shoe,” she says.
Both Clement and Mozen say that sometimes it may be just as cost-effective to purchase new stock cabinets from a big-box store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot.
You can also update your cabinets by simply replacing the hardware. New knobs, handles, and pulls in the kitchen and bathroom will make a huge difference.
Add architectural details
You can use wainscoting, shiplap, and crown molding to add craftsmanship to your home.
“I love wainscoting,” says Clement. “It takes a two-dimensional drywall surface and immediately makes it feel homey. And there are a lot of wainscoting choices ranging from wood to PVC.”
However, Clement warns against using trims made from medium-density fiberboard in a room with a lot of moisture, because this material cannot withstand water and will mold.
“Adding crown moldings to the ceiling of various rooms or adding shoe moldings to the floor is a great way to dress rooms up without major additions,” says Allen Shayanfekr, CEO and co-founder of Sharestates, a real estate investment company that focuses on fix-and-flip properties. “Working with a trim carpenter to have these added can do a lot aesthetically for the appearance of rooms and the overall value of a home.”
Light it up
Lighting is another way to update your home without spending a fortune.
“Adding inexpensive new lighting fixtures in areas with a lot of visibility in the house can have a large impact on a home’s value,” says Shayanfekr. “Adding a few sconces and possibly an inexpensive chandelier—something around the $300 price point—can make a huge difference in a hallway, living room, or kitchen,” he says.
Create the perfect palette
Perhaps the easiest way to transform a room is with paint.
“I would say paint is the No. 1 room changer with very little expense,” Stoll says. “And don’t forget the trim; that is the icing on the cake.”
The beauty of paint is that you can use it to update practically anything. You can paint the interior or the exterior of the home. You can paint the walls, the cabinets, and other furniture.
Stoll even recommends spray-painting your lamps and then buying new lampshades. On the outside, you can paint the front door and paint or stain your deck or wood fence. You can paint your outdoor furniture and, depending on the material, you can even paint your garage doors.
Posted by Terri Williams on realtor.com