Cheap House Improvements Under $500 That Will Increase the Value

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.

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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

We Asked Interior Designers: What Small Changes Make the Biggest Difference?

Give your rooms a fresh look with these designers’ best tips. Image: Catherine Staples Interiors

Sometimes interiors need change. Whether your style feels a little too outdated or your tastes have changed, making over the rooms in your home is a great way to give yourself a fresh start. However, for most of us, taking on the cost of a complete redesign is not always feasible, even if an update is sorely needed.

With that in mind, we called in the pros. We asked top interior designers to share their best tips on which small design changes make a big difference. Keep reading to learn how you can make a huge impact on your home without breaking the bank.

 

Go bold with your accent wall. Image: LMB Interiors

1. Add an accent wall

“To drastically change the look and feel of a room without spending a lot of money, paint an accent wall,” advises Todd W. G. Corder, the founder of Deja vu Decor. “A pop of color will instantly draw the eye and is a great way to liven up a room with no more than the cost of a can of paint.”

Where accent walls are concerned, there are a few details to keep in mind. The first is placement. Technically, any wall can be used as an accent, but it really should highlight your focal point. In living rooms, this can mean placing the accenting color around a mantle or some built-in shelving. In bedrooms, by the headboard is best.

Aesthetics are the other consideration. A bright paint color certainly does the job, but it’s not the only option. Darker neutrals like black or chocolate brown serve the same purpose. Contrasting materials can also be used. Wallpaper is an excellent choice, as is a patterned tile or even wood paneling.

 

Use texture to add visual interest. Image: Thomas Towne Reavey Inc

2. Vary the texture of accessories

“Texturizing a room is a game changer. Accent pillows in varying fabrics and shades can add another layer of depth to a room. Another opportunity to add texture is through the materials that your accessories are made from. Consider using metals, woven baskets and blankets,” says Dawn Stafford, the owner of Gathering Souls, a concierge design service in Fairfax, VA.

Conceptually, texture can be a bit hard to pin down. The best way to think of it is by evaluating how an item looks like it feels. Take the picture above, for example. Consider how you’re easily able to tell that the surface of the coffee table feels rough, while the blanket on the couch is soft.

Successful interior design is all about layering these contrasts. When you’re sprucing up a room on a budget, take stock of the textures in the accessories you already own. Then, look for additional items that would serve as their opposite. If need be, consider moving your existing accessories to different rooms as a way of giving your home an update that’s free of charge.

 

Include various types of lighting. Image: Black and Milk

3. Re-evaluate lighting

“You’ll need lighting in all the corners of the room; try to avoid just one ceiling light,” says Sarah Elsley, the voice behind Dream of Home. “Use wall lights and floor lights together, so the lighting isn’t concentrated to one place and spreads in an even glow around the room.”

There are four distinct types of lighting you can incorporate into a space. They are:

  • Natural: Any light that comes into your home from the outside via doors and windows.
  • Ambient: Light meant to illuminate the entire room, usually from an overhead source.
  • Accent: A light source that’s meant to highlight a particular feature of the room.
  • Task: Lighting used for a specific purpose, such as desk lamps or reading lights.

Ideally, a room involves a combination of these light sources. Take stock of the lighting you have in place and then look for which types are missing. Fill in the gaps where needed and you’ll be surprised how much of a difference you’ll see.

 

Styled surfaces give your home a curated look. Image: Alvhem Mäkleri & Interiör

4. Give surfaces deliberate style

“Coffee tables, side boards and bookshelves scream to be styled. It is amazing what you can pull together from the items in your own home. No need to go shopping for knickknacks; try shopping in your home first,” suggests Ana Cummings, the owner of ANA Interiors.

Pulling off this tip is all about having the arrangement look intentional. In all honesty, the items you put on these surfaces aren’t as important as how you display them. Do your best to lay out your items in groupings, stick to odd numbers and be sure to vary the pieces in terms of their direction, size and color. If need be, you can always look for some design inspiration to help you get started.

 

Sometimes small changes make a big difference. Image: International Custom Designs

No matter what your personal style is, at some point, you’re probably going to want to change things up. When that happens, there’s no need to wait until you’ve saved enough money to redo the whole room. Even the pros say small design changes can make all the difference. Keep their advice on hand for the next time you need to shake up your interiors. Their tips will help you make a huge impact at an affordable price.

Posted by Tara Mastroeni on Freshome

8 Home Improvement Hacks From the Humble Dollar Store

Want some home improvement ideas on the cheap? How about the crazy cheap? Whether you want to spruce up the garden or streamline your closet, there are plenty of insanely clever creations that hail from the humble aisles of your local dollar store. Check out these simple DIY hacks that can transform a space—and best of all, no one will ever guess where they’re from.

Reflect your good taste

Build this work of art to be as “compact” or grand as you like. Thistlewood Farms

Anyone who’s priced wall decor knows it doesn’t come cheap. But, as KariAnne Wood of Thistlewood Farms points out, there’s no need to go broke when you can build a beautiful focal point all on your own.

This stylish mirror, made with dollar store compacts, set this DIY-er back a mere $19. Not too shabby!

Drip-dry boot trays

Simple stones make a great boot tray. Dollar Store Crafts

In lieu of throwing down a pile of dish towels to dry up puddles left behind by soggy boots, consider a simple tray and a bag of stones.

Heather Mann of Dollar Store Crafts decided this river rock boot tray was a more elegant addition to the entryway. We couldn’t agree more. Give your regular doormat the day off.

Grow an indoor greenhouse

This simple project will add a pop of color to your home in no time. The Wicker House

If you crave a little bit of nature indoors, this greenhouse terrarium should satisfy your green thumb.

Emily Sweeten of The Wicker House made this picture-perfect piece with picture frames from the dollar store. She put it together in no time, though she admits, it helped to have another pair of hands to construct the rooftop.

Posh spice rack

If you’re really good, you’ll alphabetize them.The Stonybook House

Want to free up some coveted cabinet space? Lori Leeper at the Stonybrook House was inspired to create this back-of-the-door spice rack, made from dollar store cooling racks.

Fresh herbs flourish at your fingertips

 

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme—all within reach in your kitchen. Vanessa Brady

Want an innovative wall hanging that doubles as your very own produce aisle?

Vanessa Brady of Tried & True and her sister, Adriana, shared this Minimal Modern Herb Garden, which, depending on size, might cost you less than a bunch of fresh cilantro from the market, thanks to galvanized tubs priced at $1 a piece.

Tea for two … birds

Your backyard just got a bit more beautiful thanks to this oasis for your feathered friends. Morena’s Corner

Morena Hockley of Morena’s Corner added a little Mad Hatter’s tea party influence to her garden when she built this teapot birdbath with cups, saucers, plates, and, of course, a teapot she found at her local Goodwill (but dollar store housewares work just as well). Go ahead and spray-paint your creation to match your outdoor decor.

Keep the bugs at bay the natural way

Bug repellent never looked so good. A Little Claireification

If you’re sick of your outings reeking of citronella, consider this natural and cost-effective way to repel pests.

These Mason jar luminaries, designed by Claire of A Little Claireification, offer a chemical-free alternative to those pungent candles and sprays. Plus, they make attractive centerpieces.

Just grab a few rosemary sprigs, along with cedarwood, lavender, and lemon essential oils (or the real thing), which Claire says will make your gatherings bug-free.

Thumbs-up for word art

Nothing “tacky” about thumbtack art! DIY Ready

Want to make a statement, literally?

Lisa Loperfido of DIYReady notes that this thumbtack word artproject costs just $3. Spell your way to stunning decor for only pennies.

Posted by Liz Alterman on realtor.com

 

 

 

The Best Time to Buy Everything for Your Home, From Linens to TV

Calendar: bgblue/iStock; products: Amazon.com

Calendar: bgblue/iStock; products: Amazon.com

If you’ve bought a home recently, odds are you aren’t rolling in money right now. In fact, between your mortgage payments and bills for repairs and much-needed upgrades, your coffers might be pretty bare—which is a shame, since part of the fun of owning a home is furnishing it. Right?

But even if money is tight, that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge a little—especially if you time your purchases right. There are good (read: cheaper) times to buy certain items and not such good times. Know thy difference! All you need is a little patience and the ability to curb your I-want-it-NOW instincts to save big bucks on everything from televisions to carpeting and tools.

Here’s your month-by-month guide on what to buy when you want to save big.

Linens: January

Find deep discounts on bedding, bath towels, linens, and other related products during January “White Sales,” with closeout prices both online and in stores. And don’t worry, other colors will be discounted, too; it’s called this only because linens were available only in white waaaay back when this sale was invented in 1878.

You can also find deals on linens in August when students head back to college and department stores are pushing dorm room supplies.

Furniture: January and December

Looking to buy a couch, dining room set, or any other big-ticket piece of furniture? Shopping after the new year can save you some serious scratch. The reason: Designers and manufacturers release new models in February, making furniture stores eager to ditch their outdated inventory, which hogs a whole lot of floor space. That means you could save 30% to 60% on a couch. Who wouldn’t like an extra thousand or so in their pockets?

Televisions: February and November

Black Friday is a no-brainer for TV purchases, but you can also take advantage of Super Bowl frenzy in late January and February to score a great deal on a big TV.

“Sales of TVs are often at their highest around then, since consumers want to watch big games on bigger screens,” says Kendal Perez, a savings expert with CouponSherpa.com. But it’s not just Super Bowl demand that lowers the price: The latest and greatest in TV technology is unveiled at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, which drives retailers to discount older models to clear the store shelves. (Yes, stores still exist.)

Snowblowers and shovels: April and May

Don’t wait till snow falls to buy your cold-weather gear. Pick up a new snowblower and shovel in the early spring, when “they’re less in demand and retailers want more room for barbecues and patio furniture,” says Perez. You might find decent deals on Black Friday, but they likely won’t beat spring discounts.

Carpeting: May

May is the slow season for carpeting, so if you’ve been waiting to go wall to wall—or replace your worn-out shag—hit up your local carpeting center this month. Homeowners are too busy thinking about the outdoors to bother renovating their indoors, so you’re likely to find good deals on square footage.

Gardening supplies: April

Everyone’s stocking up on gardening supplies during the spring, and you’ll find big-box home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot competing for customers with amazing “Spring Black Friday” (yes, it’s a silly name) sales, usually in middle to late April.

“Expect deals like five for $10 mulch, BOGO free seed packets, and discounts on other gardening essentials,” Perez says.

Tools: June and November

Millions of wives and children seeking the perfect Father’s Day gift makes June a great month to refresh your tool collection. You’ll find dozens of sales on everything from drills to nails to saws. Black Friday is another great time to catch especially good deals on tools.

Outdoor furniture: July and August

Don’t pick up your new patio furniture at the beginning of the season—wait until late summer, when the bulk of buyers have already done their shopping and retailers are putting their inventory on deeper discounts.

Picnic and grilling supplies: August and September

You’ll find acceptable discounts on new picnic and grilling supplies in May and June, but the best deals will be found in August and September, “when retailers are pushing out inventory to make room for winter-related accessories,” says Perez. Expect savings of up to 75%—and if you need a lawn mower, pick it up at the same time to score an even better deal.

Major appliances: Holiday weekends

Retailers aren’t tricking you: Those holiday markdown sales really are the best time to buy new appliances. If you’re itching for a new fridge and Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, or any other major retail holiday is around the corner, hold your horses.

“Most holiday weekends will feature some kind of discount or special financing on large appliances,” says Perez.

Different holidays are better for different bargains. Memorial Day is best for that fridge, because new models arrive in June. Look at Labor Day and Columbus Day for washer-dryer units, dishwashers, stoves, and ranges, whose lines are often refreshed over the holiday season. But even if it’s not the “right” holiday for your must-have major appliances, still wait for the next shopping day—sales during holidays will still be better than standard prices.

Paint: Summer holidays

“Many homeowners take on paint tasks and other home improvement projects when the weather is warm,” says Perez. You might think more homeowners out to buy means prices rise, but the opposite is often true: With more competition on the market, retailers are more likely to lower prices to entice buyers. Look for paint promotions during Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends, a great time to stock up on your favorite colors.

 

Posted by Jamie Wiebe on realtor.com

8 Cheap Kitchen Remodels for $500 (or Less)

Bill Oxford/iStock

Your kitchen is calling from 1988, but your bank account doesn’t want to answer. We get it: According to Remodeling Magazine, a minor kitchen makeover averages $20,122, while a major renovation can hit a you-gotta-be-kidding-me $60,000.

If you’re looking for something a whole lot more budget-friendly, a mini kitchen makeover for about $500 can go a surprisingly long way. Check out these eight cheap remodels to get your kitchen renovation cooking for a whole lot less.

1. Declutter the counter space

Kitchens tend to collect tons of stuff—like Mr. Coffee coffee makers, George Foreman grills, and weird canisters of wooden spoons—on countertops. An easy way to dramatically transform a kitchen is to simply put all that junk away. For around $490, you can install two separate shelving units to transform the dead space in that cabinet under the sink that no one ever uses.

“Glide-out shelving can get around obstructions like pipes or disposals and make the kitchen a more useful space,” says Nina Ward, interior designer and regional director for ShelfGenie. Plus, the shelves can hold up to 100 pounds of kitchen detritus—that’s a whole lot of paper towels.

2. Paint just about everything

A chorus of experts says the most affordable and transformative kitchen makeover is to paint, paint, paint—and not just the walls, points out Tracy Kay Griffin, lead designer at Express Homebuyers, a real estate investment company based in Springfield, VA.

You can also paint the kitchen cabinets (NuVo Cabinet Paint Kit in taupe, $70), laminate countertops ($22 a gallon), formica countertops (Rust-Oleum Light Base Satin Cabinet Resurfacing Kit, $75), or even old appliances (12-ounce stainless-steel appliance paint kit, about $25). In short, you can make an old kitchen look like new, proving that beauty is only skin-deep.

3. Add an island

If a kitchen lacks an island, consider adding this popular workhorse.

“An island not only increases the use of the space and offers storage, but it also creates a wonderful social hub,” says Amy Bell, an interior decorator with Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, NC. A good option is Wayfair’s Dorothy Kitchen Island With Wood Top because it “offers lots of functionality at a reasonable price” of $324.99.

4. Make the dishwasher pop

Colors such as orange or red immediately “spice up” your kitchen, says Sean Juneja, co-founder and CEO of Decor Aid. A new Viking red stove can cost upward of $5,000. But a stove panel that’s easy to install can quickly and easily cover your existing dishwasher. It costs about $500 and comes in vibrant shades like cherry red and pink lemonade. It’s like a quick shot of decor adrenaline.

5. Amp up the lighting

One of the single most important elements that have a profound effect on any space is whatever devices are holding the humble lightbulbs.

“Changing out fixtures can not only update your space but also provide ambiance,” says Juneja. “A new pendant upscales the kitchen instantly and provides the biggest bang for the buck.” He likes this West Elm pendant style for a sleek yet warm look, or you could go for a bit of drama with this bundle of glowing orbs from CB2. Handy? Buy black cables from your local hardware store and hang generic lightbulbs for approximately $100 plus an electrician (maybe another $100 to $150) to make sure everything is safe.

6. Reface upper cabinets with glass

There are some things in your kitchen you definitely want to hide, like that family-size bag of Cheese Balls. Other stuff you want people to see: the vintage barware you scored at a garage sale. Swap out the heavy wooden doors on your kitchen cabinets for ones with glass to display your cute dishes and glassware.

“It instantly modernizes and opens up a kitchen,” says Juneja. It costs approximately $500 for an average-size space.

7. Update tired flooring

“If you have outdated vinyl or linoleum flooring in your kitchen, a fresh wood-looking floor can make a huge difference in the overall appearance of the room,” says John Horner, founder of Central Ohio Home Buyer.

Depending on the size of your space, a nice wood laminate can easily be put in for about $500 in material.

“Many of the laminate flooring found in your local home improvement store is either click together or stick down, and very simple to install yourself.”

We found some options that start at about $2 a square foot.

8. Replace outdated countertops

Another inexpensive way to transform your kitchen from something “dull into something amazing” is to install new laminate countertops from your local home improvement store, which often carries its own brands.

“New countertops can drastically improve the look of your kitchen for a very reasonable price,” says Horner. “For a medium-size kitchen, they can cost around $500 and installation is easy.”

Typically, you’ll have two to four different styles of laminate countertops and colors to choose from. 

Posted by Margaret Heidenry on realtor.com

Home Improvements for Less

Ever find spare change lying around you houses, either in drawers or behind cushions? When all these coins and loose change add up, think about how you can use it for some last minute and affordable (really affordable) home improvements. Maybe your home improvement projects are a bit more than your spare change, so try using your spare change for cleaning tips or landscaping projects.

Posted on HomeZada