10 Small Home Improvement Projects That Make a Big Impact

View as:

IT'S TIME TO UPDATE

Whether you're looking to fix up your house or condo before selling it or simply want a fresher, more modern look, these tips can help you seal the deal. From the bathroom to the bedroom, there are little things that can add the "wow" factor without costing a fortune.

SPRUCE UP THE KITCHEN

If you're selling your home, the kitchen is key. Who doesn't want a kitchen straight out of a magazine? Unfortunately, kitchen-focused home improvements are often associated with dollar signs -- and lots of them. But don't despair. Some inexpensive do-it-yourself home improvements include updating cabinet and drawer handles, changing light fixtures, and installing a backsplash. You can also give cabinets a facelift by replacing, re-staining, or painting the door and drawer fronts.

MODERNIZE THE BATHROOMS

Replacing the toilet seat; switching out the sink and bathtub handles; replacing broken tiles; and deep cleaning, bleaching, or re-grouting the bathtub tile are the little fixes that easily spruce up a bathroom. If your DIY remodeling schemes veer toward the adventurous, there are several ways to give new life to an old bathroom. A pedestal sink won't cost a fortune and can instantly take your bathroom from bleak to chic. If the floor is a problem, change it up with vinyl over the old floor. For small bathrooms, add some depth by painting an accent wall and then going over it in a lighter color with a stenciled pattern -- an instant modern twist.

FRESHEN UP THE FLOORING

The floors throughout your home are also candidates for simple freshen-up projects. For carpet, rent a carpet cleaner at any home improvement store (or some grocery stores) for about $30 a day. All it takes is a 24-hour period to give carpets in an average-size home a good scrub and make them look new again. While working on that bathroom floor, you might as well replace the worn-out kitchen floor and entryway; low-cost vinyl will do nicely. Additionally, place an area rug atop a hardwood floor to cover blemishes while also adding color and texture.

CLEAN THE WALLS

One of the easiest value-added and most affordable home improvement projects is painting a room -- or several. All you need is can of paint, a brush or two, some tape and drop cloths, plus a few hours of manual labor. For very little cost, the room will look fresh and bright.

REPLACE LIGHT SWITCHES, PLATES, AND SOCKET COVERS

You may not have noticed, but chances are the light switches, plates, and electric socket covers dotting the walls are getting yellowed and beat up. Replacing them all is an easy fix that gives bang for your buck. Buying matching switches and covers will give your home a coordinated and dignified look. See what a difference this low-cost change makes.

REDO LIGHT FIXTURES

Lighting is a big deal in a home. Most potential buyers want space that is flooded with more than adequate light. Cleaning the fixtures allows more light to shine through, while painting old fixtures brightens the look (spray paint works best). If there's room in your budget, replacing mismatched light fixtures is always a good investment.

ATTEND TO THE WINDOWS

Make the most out of available natural light with windows that are sparkling clean inside and out. The same goes for mini-blinds, which might be worth buying and hanging if the current window coverings are dated. Alternatively, new curtains add a homey touch to any room and don't have to cost a fortune. If you're good with a sewing machine, whipping out a set or two will save you a few dollars.

MAKE THE DOORS STAND OUT

Doors quickly accumulate handprints and smudges. Clean or paint room doors and closet doors, and pay special attention to the main entrance doors, which make a big first impression on potential buyers and guests. You can also update doors by replacing squeaky hinges and installing new doorknobs.

REARRANGE AND DECLUTTER

One critical way to make your home shine is to keep it free of clutter. An organized home means that everything has a place and finds its way there daily. A lack of clutter enhances the beauty of the house and imparts a general sense of calm and well-being. Once the clutter is cleared away, try rearranging the furniture. Spend an afternoon experimenting with the layout to see what looks best and suits usage and traffic flow.

ADD ACCENTS

While a neutral color scheme on the walls is a no-fail way to market a house, pops of color give it life. Small things such as couch pillows, wall hangings, mantel decorations, and the like add inexpensive splashes of character that make your home memorable.

Raechel Conover

Raechel Conover is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on Yahoo, blogs, and other websites. She's a self-confessed shopaholic and frugal mom, always scouring the sale and clearance racks for deals and taking full advantage of free community activities and events with her husband and young sons.

See full bio