6 Cheap and Easy Home Improvements That Make a Big Difference

When we moved into our 1982-built townhome a couple years ago, there were some major design “no-no’s” going on. I loved the ’80’s as much as the next fella – but there are certainly some things that should have been left there! Among them are shag carpet, floral patterned couches and gold-colored anything (Gag me with a spoon!).

So, with a limited budget, the wife and I decided to make a few small home improvements that made a world of difference.

1. Light fixtures

The funky chandelier we had hanging in our dining room needed to be put out of its misery. We updated to a brushed nickel fixture that was classy and minimal. For under $100, it not only brightened up the room, but gave the area a much needed update.

2. Switch plates

Speaking of light fixtures – we also changed out the switch plates that were around the house. These included the outlet covers as well. We changed all ours from a yellow-tint to all white. Another minimalist update that didn’t cost an arm and/or a leg.

3. Window coverings

Another huge “dater” of a home is the window treatments. An easy way to bring them into 2012 is to get a curtain rod and some drapes from IKEA or Target. You can get these for a decent price and it will class-up your home in no time. We put a rod and curtain throughout our house and they looked much better than the old and dated blinds.

4. Knobs

When we moved in – the kitchen had these ugly gold-plated knobs on the cabinets. They really made everything look dreary and old. While some knobs can run a pretty penny – we found some fairly reasonably priced ones at our local hardware store. We chose a brushed nickel look. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this seemingly small change did to the overall look of the kitchen. Learning how to replace a doorknob and lockset is pretty simple and replacing doorknobs can also be a good way to change things up on the cheap.

5. Paint

Dark brown really has a way of making an already dark house look even darker. That’s what was in our place. So, a change was in order. This is an obvious home improvement and it does wonders to the look of your home. Colors trends still seem to be in the earth tones – so you can’t go too wrong with those. Also, gray seems to be making its way into a lot of decor/furniture (just pick up a Restoration Hardware catalog for reference).

6. Vent covers

The first home I bought was a new construction. But one thing I didn’t like about it was the floor vents. In the kitchen/dining area – on the hardwood floor – they used these cheap white metallic covers. I took them out and replaced them with wood covers that matched the flooring and it made a night/day difference.


I know there are other ways to improve your home on the cheap. What have you done to update or “spruce-up” your house?

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6 comments

  1. Thanks to your post. It has reminded me about replacing my front door knob. Lost one of the plate screws and after a little while, the inside of the knob is starting to loosen up. It’s one of those cheap newer door knobs. Will definitely go for quality this time.

  2. Yeeeees! A new coat of paint transforms a home like you wouldn’t believe. We painted our home before moving in and it looks much more elegant and, dare I say, fancy? :) Of course, that’s easy to top when the original coat was neon green (yes, actual neon green).

  3. Chris says:

    Your article gave me the idea to spray paint my existing white metal register covers throughout the house. I used a oil-rubbed bronze color spray paint (with primer in it) and they look amazing!! Thanks for the great tip. This is a terrific blog, full of easy, practical advice.

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