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Best Home Improvements For Every Month Of The Year

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The best time of year to buy a refrigerator is right around the corner.

Does it feel as if your home improvement to-do list never ends? Try organizing your projects by month. Then knock these 12 items off your list.

Once you become a homeowner, the number of things you need (or want) to improve increases exponentially. There’s always something to be done. But certain times of year are better to tackle specific projects, whether your goal is to save money or sanity. Not sure where to begin? We’ve laid out a schedule below.

January: Clean your carpets and rugs

It may seem counterintuitive to do this when it’s cold out, but according to Jonathan Barnett, founder of Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning in Lakewood, CO, your flooring gets really dirty during the winter. Waiting until spring to remove all that grime can make it harder to get stains out. “Plus, the lack of humidity during the winter months allows moisture to evaporate quickly so wet carpets dry faster,” Barnett says. “And a clean carpet provides a healthier and better-smelling home, which is especially important during the winter, when most people spend the majority of their time indoors.”

February: Paint a room or two

Now is the perfect time to tackle an indoor project that you can enjoy year-round. “Indoor projects aren’t weather-dependent; it’s more of a supply and demand thing,” says Shaun McCarthy, president and owner of Handyman Connection in Colorado Springs, CO. If you’re hiring someone to paint for you, winter is a good time to do it. You’re likely to get a much better price than you’d get during the spring and summer, when many people book exterior painting jobs. But even if you’re planning to do it yourself, there are still benefits. Brisk winter air is good for curing paint, so cracking that window for ventilation serves a double purpose. (Unlike humid summer air, it won’t make your paint take longer to dry.) While you’re at it, if you haven’t weather-stripped or caulked your windows and doors, do it in February before the winds of March set in, says McCarthy.

March: Clean your gutters

“The most common problem I see in my home inspections is a wet basement or crawl space,” says Marc Shanley, a certified master inspector at Trinity Inspection, which services homes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. One common culprit? Clogged gutters, which do an ineffective job of directing runoff away from your home’s foundation. All that moisture can cause major foundation problems. Depending on your gutters (and whether you have overhanging trees), you may need to tackle this task more than once a year. Even so, it’s best to do this before the April rains hit.

April: Refinish your hardwood floors

If you’ve discovered hardwoods beneath your new home’s carpeting, wait until spring to complete this labor-intensive but transformative task. “If you wait until it’s really hot out, the finish can cure too quickly and the sheen might not dry properly, which leads to a glossy, uneven finish,” says Arne Johansson, owner of Arne’s Floor Sanding in Minneapolis, MN.

May: Buy a new refrigerator

Although most large appliances go on sale later in the year, refrigerators have their moment in May, in preparation for the summer. To make room for that new inventory, the older versions usually go on sale, which can mean big discounts for consumers. Want even more savings? Consider energy efficiency (look for the Energy Star certification) and ask if you can buy the floor model. Don’t forget to haggle!

June: Freshen up your exterior

Now’s the time to wash your windows (or pay someone to do it), power-wash your siding, and install screens in your windows. Before you power-wash, be sure that all your weatherstripping and caulking is secure (and your windows are closed). Otherwise, you risk shooting the cleaning liquid into your house, says McCarthy. He also advises testing the washer’s power on an inconspicuous area of your exterior beforehand. “You want to clean your house, not take the paint off of it,” he says.

July: Fertilize your lawn

“Your lawn needs a solid four to six fertilization applications throughout the year to keep it healthy and growing,” says Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, an app that matches customers with landscapers. “Fertilizing in July will give your lawn the vitamins and nutrients it needs to get through the rest of the hot summer months. Also, this midsummer application helps to prevent weeds from germinating — setting you up for less weed pulling in the fall.”

August: Paint your home’s exterior

The best time to paint your home’s exterior is when temperatures remain consistent from day to day and don’t drastically dip overnight. “The real key,” says McCarthy, is “to work your way around the house so that you’re always painting in the shade.” First, map out what time of day the sun hits each side of your home, then paint accordingly. Of course, you could always hire a pro for this task. You might want to get some estimates, especially for a multistory house. Investing in the equipment (including a tall ladder or two) might not be worth the cost or the hassle.

September: Replace your windows

Caulk adheres better when the temperature is between 40 and 80 degrees, so those glorious days of late summer and early fall are an ideal time to replace your windows. Plus, when the cold weather does hit, new windows will keep the heat where it belongs — inside your house.

October: Buy new appliances

Big-ticket appliances such as stoves, washing machines, and dishwashers debut their newest models around this time of year. That frequently means deep discounts on the old ones. Some retailers will even start their holiday sales early. Double savings!

November: Remodel your bathroom

Contractors are entering their slow season this month, so they’re more willing to jump on a small project and get it done quickly, says McCarthy. “A powder room is a good way to test a contractor out, especially if you’re in the market for a larger renovation like a kitchen,” he says. “If you like the way it turns out, great; if you don’t, it’s low risk.”

December: Build a deck

You’ll probably get a good deal, because deck builders will be winding down for the winter. But adding a deck onto your house when it’s cold out makes sense from a building perspective too. December is less humid, so if you’re using pressure-treated wood, it’ll dry more consistently and evenly. Also, the hot sun won’t beat down on it, which can cause warping and cracking.

Posted by Michelle Hainer on Truila

 

7 Terrifying Things That Can Happen During Home Renovations

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Firmafotografen/iStock

A home renovation isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a good contractor who can take care of the heavy lifting. But even that doesn’t mean you won’t be exposed to your fair share of disasters—including some that can be scary, some that can be traumatic, and some that can even be harmful to your health.

You can’t avoid every terrifying possibility, but you can do your very best to minimize the risk. And that starts with knowing what terrors could be lurking behind that ordinary-looking brick wall or innocuous, if hideous, popcorn ceiling. We’ve got your back, friends!

Here are seven frightening and dangerous things to watch out for when you’re renovating or remodeling.

1. Flooding and electrical issues

Smart DIYers call 811—the service line that informs you where underground utility lines can be found—a few days before they dig. The helpful operator on the other end of the line will notify utility companies to send you indications of any water, gas, or electrical lines.

But maybe you forgot. Or maybe you hit a smaller water pipe in your wall, which the water company won’t know about.

“Mistakenly hitting a water pipe can have consequences much more serious than just getting your shirt wet,” says Dan Barr, a property restoration expert with 1-800 Water Damage.

Say you pop out for a bite after drilling a hole in the wall between your laundry and living rooms, not realizing you just punctured a pipe. When you return, everything is flooded. Including a puddle around your drill—that’s still plugged in. Yikes!

If you hit a line and find electric tools or appliances submerged, Barr recommends locating your home’s main electrical panel and turning off the power before you start wading through the water.

“It could be charged and extremely dangerous,” he says.

2. Creepy creatures

True story: My fiancé was unscrewing a can light in the living room of our brand-new house—and a handful of wasps smacked him in the face. Fortunately, they were dead.

But what if they weren’t?

“You can have really dangerous creatures fall or crawl on you,” says Texas designer Pablo Solomon. Dead wasps are just the beginning. Depending on where you live, shuffling around your attic or inching through your crawl space might bring you into contact with brown recluse or black widow spiders, scorpions, centipedes, or snakes.

While there’s no sure-fire way to avoid creepy-crawlies, full-coverage clothing will protect your skin from bites. As for the years of nightmares—you’re on your own.

3. Mold invasion

Skipping steps during a renovation is sure to cause you major problems down the line. And one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of a home renovation is proper ventilation.

“Most bathrooms have so little ventilation that they unintentionally become labs to grow mold and mildew,” says David Schneider, an interior designer in Chesterfield, MO, who focuses on sustainable, green remodeling.

So any time you remodel a kitchen or bathroom, make sure you’re installing enough fans—strong ones—to suck out all the moisture-ridden air. Most experts recommend one 100 cfm (cubic feet per minute) fan per appliance.

Plus, a whirring fan can cover up any unpleasant sounds. This is known as “value added”!

4. Release of asbestos and lead

You’re probably already aware of your home’s lead or asbestos risk. Unless you had a particularly unscrupulous seller, you should’ve signed a lead paint disclosure when buying any home built before 1978. And the second you Googled “popcorn ceiling,” you probably spotted the word “asbestos.”

But still, maybe that’s not top of mind when you’re in a hurry to yank out your ugly old cabinetry or rip up that garish old tile to start fresh—and you end up unleashing unknown amounts of those toxic materials.

“Inhaling or swallowing even small amounts of lead or asbestos is extremely dangerous,” Barr says. “Any time you remove walls or ceilings or do major work on floors, you run the risk of encountering both.”

Wear a mask during small renovation projects to help protect you. For bigger jobs, such as taking down a wall, contact an indoor environmental expert who can take samples. If asbestos or lead are present, plan to hire a professional for demolition.

5. Foundation damage

Have you ever used a drill to mount a pot rack or a flat-screen TV and found that your hands are a bit … wobbly afterward? Your walls feel the same thing—and the jiggling can cause major problems.

Constant shaking and hammering from power tools can create new fissures and other problems inside your walls. You might spot water leaks or even cracked Sheetrock, Solomon says. If possible, peek inside your walls after you drill for any new problems and repair them immediately.

6. Damage to your hearing

Construction is loud. You might think it’s tolerable, since it’s temporary. But if you’re, say, remodeling an entire kitchen, your ears will be under siege day after day for what could be a protracted period—and that could incur long-term damage.

“The noise of saws, hammers, power tools, and other construction machinery can wreck your ears,” says Bryan Pollard, president of Hyperacusis Research, a Hearing Health partner. “Noise damage is cumulative and presents with a delayed reaction. And the longer someone is exposed, the higher the risk.”

So maybe your ears feel fine the next day. But will they be fine a week later? A year later?Or 10 years later? Pollard warns of tinnitus—that annoying ringing in your ears—or hyperacusis, sound sensitivity, and noise-induced pain. Maybe those bulky protective headsets don’t look so dumb after all.

7. Exposure to high-VOC materials

Wearing a face mask can help keep you from inhaling fumes when painting, but their damage lasts long after the color is applied. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are chemical-emitting gases found in a number of renovation materials, including many paints, carpeting, or upholstering. You know that funny smell your carpet gave off for a few weeks after installation? That’s probably VOCs.

Many VOCs are known carcinogens, and they can cause headaches, allergic reactions, or asthma.

You can purchase low-VOC paint and carpeting to reduce your risk. Keep windows and doors open to ventilate your home and reduce the VOC danger.

 

Posted by Jamie Weibe on realtor.com

Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Fix Up Your Home Like a Flipper

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Flipping homes is a thrill, but don’t forget your own home’s potential. Enjoy that new-home feeling again with these simple tips.

If you’re anything like me, you may find that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush of flipping houses. I’ll admit — buying an old house, fixing it up, and flipping it for a profit is pretty exciting. But if you get too distracted by flipping houses, it’s easy to let your own home fall by the wayside.

While profitable remodeling projects can be more tempting to work on, you can still benefit from tackling projects in your own home. Remodeling your home will not only up its value, but also improve the way you feel about it. After all, who wouldn’t love to cook in a newly remodeled kitchen?

Here are five easy, inexpensive projects that will really make a difference in how you feel about your home.

Add a new coat of paint

Whether you decide to paint your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom (or all three!), a coat of paint can instantly transform the look and feel of a room. The best part about painting your own home is that you don’t have to stick to neutrals, because you aren’t trying to attract any buyers.

If you’ve been dying to paint your kitchen red or your bathroom blue, then do it! This is your chance to paint your home the colors that make you happy.

Refresh your kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in a home, so it should be one of the first rooms you remodel. And unless you moved into a brand-new home where you were able to design your kitchen from scratch, chances are there are a few things you’ve been eager to change.

If you’re lucky enough to have nice wood cabinets, don’t worry about replacing them. A splash of paint and some new hardware can work wonders and make your kitchen look brand new, without having to spend hundreds on new cabinets.

The same goes for laminate or wood countertops. There are plenty of DIY kits you can buy to transform your countertops for a fraction of the cost.

A new backsplash is also an inexpensive way to add some life to your kitchen — plus it’s a cinch to install.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Install new doorknobs, faucets, and light fixtures

While they are probably the easiest feature to overlook, new doorknobs and fixtures can make a huge difference in a room. Depending on the type of doorknobs you purchase, and considering that most homes have quite a few knobs, the price can add up pretty quickly.

If you don’t have the time or money to replace all your doorknobs at once, work on replacing just a couple every month, starting with the most obvious ones.

Faucets can get pretty expensive as well, especially if you want to replace them in both your kitchen and bathroom(s). If you want to save some money, I recommend searching online or heading to the clearance section of your local home improvement store.

If you’re lucky, you can find great deals on some beautiful faucets. Replacing all your faucets at once might not be feasible, so don’t be afraid to take your time with this project. Before you know it, you’ll be able to enjoy the luxury of attractive faucets in all your rooms.

As for light fixtures, you may already have fixtures that you like, but they just need a color update. Instead of buying new fixtures, grab a can of spray paint and go to town. It’s amazing what a difference a $3 can of spray paint can make!

Revive your bathroom

A coat of paint, wainscoting, and a fresh shower curtain and linens are all super easy ways to instantly transform your old and tired bathroom.

If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you could even replace the flooring or change up the vanity. Getting ready in the mornings will be that much more enjoyable if you can do so in a beautiful bathroom.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Boost your curb appeal

While it’s always satisfying to remodel the interior of your home, you don’t want to forget about the exterior. Fortunately, there are a couple of simple changes you can make to really boost your home’s curb appeal.

If you can’t afford to replace the front door, try painting it instead. A new porch light fixture, house numbers, and a mailbox can also make a huge difference for your home’s exterior.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to stop coming up with excuses. Go fix up those kitchen cabinets that you’ve hated since you moved in!

 

Posted by Christina El Moussa on Zillow

17 Affordable Luxuries For Your Apartment Bathroom

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You don’t have to be a homeowner to pamper yourself with spa-like bathroom features.

There’s no denying it: Sometimes it’s hard to turn off the water and step out of a hot, soothing shower. But your shower doesn’t have to be the only relaxing moment of your day. You may think the 10-foot-by-10-foot bathroom in your studio apartment in Washington, DC, is hopeless when it comes to Zen design potential, but it is possible to turn even the tiniest space into an oasis. Tackle these 17 bathroom DIY projects and be well on your way to enjoying a luxurious bathroom every day.

1. Dim the lights

Add a dimmer to ease into your morning or set the tone after a long day. The process is relatively easy, and with your landlord’s approval, your security deposit should be safe. Once you’re able to customize the lighting every morning, you’ll wonder how you survived without it!

2. Set a cozy mood

Creating a cozy, relaxing space can be as easy as leaving a few candles out in your bathroom. They’ll give the place a pleasant smell even unlit, and who doesn’t enjoy lighting a few candles before stepping into the shower or bath after a long day? Just remember to blow them out before you leave!

3. Add shower tunes

Catch up on your favorite podcasts or jam out to your favorite tunes while getting ready in the morning with a Bluetooth shower speaker. You can purchase a waterproof speaker for less than $20.

4. Warm your towels

You know that feeling of throwing on a sweatshirt right out of the dryer? Enjoy that luxury every day by hanging your towels on an electric towel rack that heats them up while you shower. Ahhh.

5. Keep your toes cozy

Don’t wait until you’re a homeowner to enjoy the luxury of a heated floor while getting ready in the morning. Throw a foot warmer mat by your bathroom sink on chilly mornings and enjoy getting ready without shivering on the tile.

6. Heat up the room

If toasty towels and toes aren’t enough, heat the entire space with a space heater — seek out a unit that’s small, sleek, and equipped with emergency shut-offs in case it overheats. Save money on energy bills by keeping the central heat on low and heat only your bathroom while you get ready in the morning.

7. Create the perfect pressure

Replace your rental showerhead with an adjustable rain-can version. If you’re tall, you can even add an extension to avoid the bent-over, crooked-neck shampooing experience. Pro tip: Especially if your rental has low-flow showerheads in place, you’ll probably have to get approval from your landlord before you break out the toolbox. Make sure you hold on to the original showerhead to reinstall at the end of your lease.

8. Sit pretty — and hygienic

Swap out your rental’s toilet seat with the seat of your choice, as long as you have approval from your landlord. Most are more than happy for renters to make this upgrade, and some will even cover the cost.

9. Add some art

Adorn your apartment’s bathroom walls with paintings or photography to add a bit of character. Kylee Trunck, senior staff designer at Havenly, recommends incorporating light-blue and green hues, which are known to be soothing — that’s why you see these colors at the spa! “Steer clear of fabric wall hangings that could also be potentially damaged by steam, and instead select prints that can be framed with a protective glass insert,” says Trunck.

10. Pull on pretty hardware

Replace drawer pulls and cabinet knobs with some prettier options. “Replacing drawer knobs and pulls is an easy and inexpensive way to change the look of a bathroom,” says Trunck. Look for options that are “the same size that can easily be screwed in and out” of the existing hole. You’ll also want to hold on to the old knobs, to screw back in place at the end of your lease.

11. Get a better look

Add a magnified mirror with a light to perfect your hair and makeup before heading out the door. You can opt for a free-standing version for your sink or one that screws into the wall.

12. Take in the full view

And don’t forget to check your entire reflection before heading out the door. Over-the-door full-length mirrors are a great option to save space (and your walls!), or pick a wall-mounted option with storage space inside.

13. Create a unique entry

Start by bumping the tension rod for your shower curtain close to the ceiling and invest in a longer shower curtain and liner for a taller, more luxe look. The added height will make your shower feel more spacious from the inside too. For an extra boost of design goodness, use two shower curtains instead of one to lend a symmetric, window-curtain effect.

14. Shower in a rainforest

Hang plants from your shower curtain rod or showerhead. Aloe vera thrives in hot, humid environments, and the leaf’s juice is filled with vitamins and minerals. If you have a sunny window in your bathroom, plant ivy for a natural air purifier: The plant helps keep spaces hygienic by removing mold, dust, and other icky particles from the surrounding air. Pro tip: Place the plant on a high shelf and let the stems grow long enough to elegantly trail down.

15. Add eucalyptus

Hang a bundle of eucalyptus from your showerhead to ward off colds. The plant emits a soothing smell, and its essential oils can help ease congestion. Bundles of eucalyptus can be found at flower shops and craft stores and can last up to a month in the shower.

16. Make an au naturel bathmat

Forget soggy bathmats: opt for a natural, wood mat made from IKEA outdoor decking. This “bathmat” is relatively easy to make — just click the pieces together and remove the edges once your mat is the desired size.

17. Sit back in some bubbles

Create your own bathtub shelf out of some reclaimed wood or two-by-fours and a bit of wood stain. Being able to eat, drink, and read a book in your tub? Completely unnecessary but totally worth it.

Posted by Nicole Esplin on Trulia

Is Your Home the One Buyers Want?

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Boost your home’s sales appeal by adding key amenities and playing up hot features.

 Shutterstock ID 38093410; PO: Cat Overman;
Shutterstock ID 38093410; PO: Cat Overman;

When it comes time to sell your home, whether you’ve lived there for three years or 30, you need to see it as a product for sale. And just like an item on a store shelf, you want your home to stand out from the competition.

Of course, your feelings and emotions about your home — and all of the memories you made there — may make it difficult to detach and view your home as a product. But sellers who quickly transition away from the emotional connection and into investment mode will reap the financial benefits many times over. Homes that go into contract quicker and with few (if any) price reductions ultimately sell for more money. And isn’t that every seller’s goal?

What’s on buyers’ wish lists

Homes that sell quickly probably have many of the features today’s buyers find desirable. Smart retailers try to understand better what consumers want, and then deliver to them. Home sellers should do the same.

When you’re preparing to sell your home, consider small renovations, updates, cleaning and even some light staging. I’ve seen sellers make significant upgrades to their home before listing, leaving them to question if they actually want to move.

Today’s buyers look for move-in ready and turn-key homes. The more bells and whistles, the better.

Focus on kitchens and baths

It’s a pretty well-established fact that kitchens and baths sell a home. If your kitchen or bathroom is tired or outdated, consider modest upgrades that pack a punch.

Painting cabinets white gives the kitchen a clean and fresh look. Consider new stone countertops like quartz or granite. And replace old faucets with shiny new ones.

Spending a modest sum can reap incredible benefits — tenfold.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it

Research shows that certain features help sell a home faster. Even if you don’t have time for renovations, you might luck out and already have some of the items on buyers’ wish lists.

For example, subway tiles in the kitchen or bathroom, barn doors, and craftsman features are proven to help homes sell faster. If your home has these, play them up, because today’s buyers want them.

Just like companies figure out the next hot car, handbag or shoe for their respective industries, smart home sellers must know their audience and market their product to meet customer demand.

When it comes time to sell, consider your buyer, and try hard to make your home into a top-notch product.

Posted by Brendon Desimone on Zillow

How to Increase Your Home Resale Value

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Ever wonder how to add more value to your home with the best home remodel projects? These tips will help you determine how to which projects will add more value to you home than others. More living space found in basements remodels go a long when you are ready to sell your home. Updated bathrooms and kitchens are what we call money rooms! These rooms alone can sell a home for those on the market. But do not forget about the simple items like basic house repairs. These are important because a great looking home still needs to function.

Posted on HomeZada

Renter Rescue: The $100 Bathroom Makeover

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Ready to spruce up your bathroom on the cheap? Try a few of these fixes.

Although you may not want to admit it, you probably spend a good amount of time in your bathroom. And when you’re on a budget and looking for an apartment for rent in Philadelphia, PA, bathrooms tend to be one of those features that are often … overlooked in the “recently updated” department. (And also? Grimy.) But renting is all about working with what you have. Luckily, the bathroom is such a small room that little changes can have a big impact — and they don’t have to cost a bundle.

Most of the 12 bathroom makeovers below can each be achieved for around $100 (or less!). Depending on what your rental bathroom needs (and your DIY level of confidence), pick a few and get to work!

1. Hang a new shower curtain and liner

There are lots of pretty, affordable shower curtains out there (Urban Outfitters and Target are both great sources). If you decide on a curtain with a design (like the one shown above at the AVA Ballard Apartments in Seattle, WA), treat it like a wall tapestry, and play with colors from the design in the rest of your bathroom decor. Consider buying a new one and washing the liner you have: Even plastic liners can be washed in cold water in the washing machine, along with some towels. (The towels help scrub mold and mildew from the liner.)

To create even more drama, hang an extra-tall shower curtain; use a tension curtain rod to avoid adding holes to the wall. Elongated shower curtains will make the room look taller, not to mention hide any less-than-fashionable tiling you’ve got in the shower.

Total estimated cost: $10 to $20

2. Swap a standard showerhead for a raincan

A raincan showerhead is the ultimate quick fix when it comes to adding a little luxury to a ho-hum shower. It can transform your everyday lather into a lavish experience, which is why you’ll almost always find them at spas and in luxury hotel rooms. Find an affordable one on sites like Amazon, install it yourself, and make sure to take it with you once you move out. (Read: Don’t toss the one you’re replacing, or be prepared to give up a chunk of your security deposit.)

Total estimated cost: $20 to $60; prices vary online

3. Get creative with temporary tile

Depending on the size of your bath, purchasing enough peel-and-stick vinyl tile to cover an entire bathroom floor could go over your $100 budget — but contact paper tile can be a quick (and temporary) way to make a design statement. Hate the border of pink tiles circling your bathroom? Cover it, and other low-traffic surfaces, with contact paper! Just be sure to thoroughly clean before you stick (and wait until the bathroom is all dry); otherwise, it may start to peel.

Total estimated cost: $20 to $30

4. Add shelving

The wall space over your toilet is prime real estate to hang shelves. But once you hang said shelves, don’t just throw your gigantic bottle of mouthwash up there. Artfully style them with bathroom canisters, soaps, rolled towels, and even extra toilet paper. Just remember: Always group items in odd numbers. Even TP looks chic when three rolls are stacked in a tiny pyramid. You can buy an over-the-toilet rack, or DIY some shelves with scrap wood for no cost at all.

Total estimated cost: up to $30

5. Update the vanity

Stuck with an orange-y oak vanity with brass hardware from the ’90s? Paint it. This one requires landlord permission, of course, but if you pick a neutral color like white or gray, you might stand a good chance of gaining approval. You can also ask to spray-paint the hardware for a quick fix, or skip the request altogether and swap the old hardware for adorable knobs or pulls from places like Anthropologie, Wayfair, and World Market.

Total estimated cost: paint, $3 to $5 (get the sample-sized paint can!), $2 to $10 for each knob or pull

6. Get a new rug

Bathroom rugs can start looking dingy pretty quickly. Make sure to replace them every year or so, and machine-wash once a month to keep them fresh. If you have a large bathroom (lucky you!), opt for a 3-by-5 area rug instead of a bath mat. And, renters with narrow bathrooms like the one shown above at Seven Apartments in Austin, TX, may benefit by searching for runners or hallway rugs. You’ll have a larger selection when it comes to pattern and color — just avoid rugs made of wool, jute, and polypropylene, which can be rough on bare feet and are harder to clean.

Total estimated cost: $10 to $20 (for deals, check stores like T.J. Maxx or Marshalls)

7. Paint your grout

Even in the most beautiful bathroom, dingy grout makes a bathroom look unkempt. The fact is, white grout can age over time; even if it’s freshly cleaned, the grout may be permanently stained. Enter grout paint. This handy invention costs less than $15 at home improvement stores, and for just a few dollars and hours of your time, you can totally transform your grout. If you have white grout, you can choose just to freshen it up with white paint. Or, with your landlord’s permission, you can paint your grout a new color — gray grout with white tile is having a moment.

Total estimated cost: $13

8. Install a new faucet

Why would you upgrade your landlord’s digs with your own money? Well, if you’re planning to stay awhile (and that ugly hardware offends your design sensibilities), the real question is why wouldn’t you? Faucets are shockingly easy to install (you just need a basin wrench and a YouTube tutorial). But if your landlord is just as particular as you are (or you’ve gotten attached to your pretty sink jewelry), hang on to the old faucet and reinstall it when you move out, so you can take your spiffy new one with you.

Total estimated cost: $10 to $40

9. Hang a (budget-friendly) masterpiece

Just because it’s a bathroom doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of wall art. Print out and frame a colorful illustration like the one shown above at NEMA Apartments in San Francisco, CA, print a free space travel poster from NASA, or opt for an original from the National Gallery of Art or The Met, both of which provide free access to thousands of digital downloads from their galleries. Pick your favorite (we vote French impressionists for a bathroom), print out an 8-by-10 or 11-by-14 photo at your local pharmacy, grab a frame, and voilà! Your reflection won’t be the only masterpiece to gaze at while you brush your teeth.

Total estimated cost: $0 (the art is free!), $3–$10 to professionally print depending on size desired, $10 for a frame

10. Match your fixtures

Many bathrooms have a hodgepodge of fixtures installed over the years: a brass toilet paper holder, white ceramic towel bar, and chrome faucet, for instance. Fixtures, unite! Pick one metal (satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze are safe bets) and either spray-paint your current fixtures (again, seek landlord approval first) or, for a higher price point, install new ones to be removed when you leave (that is, if you can’t persuade your landlord to give you a little discount on your rent to compensate for your work). It’s oddly satisfying to have all the metals in your bathroom match.

Total estimated cost: $4 for spray paint

11. Update your lighting

First, consider updating the metal base of your light fixture to match the finish of your aforementioned newly coordinated fixtures. Once that’s complete, you can pick up new glass globes at home improvement stores for $5 to $10 each. Or, if you’re stuck with the ever-popular Hollywood-style light fixture, buy some vintage-style filament bulbs for an instant industrial-chic upgrade.

Total estimated cost: $5 to $10 each for globes, $6 per filament bulb

12. Frame your mirror

Stuck with a builder-basic mirror in your rental? Fear not. Get some crown molding (or better yet, use some free scrap wood from another project or from a crafty friend) and cut it down to the dimensions of your mirror. Paint it to match your vanity or in a fun color to add a pop to the room. Attach with some heavy-duty Velcro, so you can remove it when you leave. Instant update!

Total estimated cost: up to $20, depending on the type of wood and how much you need

Posted by Liz Olech on Trulia