1. Use peel-and-stick tiles to make your backsplash look brand new (and to make it easier to clean than bare wall).
It’s removable, so it’s renter-friendly — yay! The prices vary depending on the specific color options (see some here), but you can get enough white subway tile to update a small kitchen for $38.50 here.
2. Paint your cabinets if you want them to feel fresh or different than how they feel now. But be forewarned: there’s no actually easy AND affordable way to make this happen.
That said, this is an excellent tutorial that will take you through it step by step if you’re interested.
3. You can fake cute “shiplap” wooden siding inside with similar peel-and-stick vinyl.
Then you can use pennies as spacers and paint it white. Here’s the tutorial for re-doing the backsplash this way, but you could also use the technique for a wall, or even a piece of furniture that you want to update.
4. Add drawer pulls and cabinet knobs to your kitchen and bathroom cabinets (or replace the ones you have).
This chart helpfully shows where you should install them, if you’re not simply replacing existing hardware.
5. If you don’t want to shell out for more drawer pulls, but still hate the builders-grade brass ones, soak them in brass ager for 10 seconds.
Take them from typical boring house to Pottery Barn — here’s how.
6. Install bead board or bead board wallpaper to upgrade the kitchen cabinets you already have.
Beadboard wallpaper is easier to work with than actual beadboard, costs only $24.98 per roll, and unless you closely investigate, looks the same. In this kitchen, they did use *actual* bead board, which is more complicated, but still cool. See the transformation here.
7. Add a new top (and maybe some casters) to an old dresser to turn it into a kitchen island.
8. Lay peel-and-stick vinyl flooring in your bathroom or another small room in your home.
It’s not removable, so if you’re a renter, ask your landlord first. Learn how this bathroom was done here, and buy it for $2.49/square foot here.
9. Imitate the look of trendy pressed-concrete patterned tiles without ripping out your floor — just paint, stencil, and seal.
Here’s the tutorial, which calls for approximately $70 in paint and supplies (including the stencil) — still a way lower price than $25/per tile. (PER. TILE.)
10. Ditch the colorful 1960s-style tubs, sinks, and tile by painting them with a tile and tub painting kit.
Read more about how she did this here, and get more tips from the DIY Network on this project here.
12. Update builders-grade light fixtures with Rustoleum’s metallic paints and new light bulbs.
You aren’t required to use Edison bulbs; just pick the type of light bulbs that give you enough light and that make you happy to look at. Here’s the tutorial.
14. Pull your brass fireplace out of the 1980s with a coat of high-heat spray paint.
It’s $7.73 per can here, and there will be more than enough for you to give your fireplace a couple of coats, and to maybe even touch up your outdoor grill. Read the fireplace tutorial here.
16. Secure a Billy or two in the closet to work as custom-designed closet system on the cheap.
Read the tutorial here.
17. Stencil a pattern you love to create a custom accent wall.
It’s cheaper than paying for a wallpaper installation, and you can do it over the course of a weekend if your wall isn’t too large. Here’s the tutorial, and find high-quality stencils starting at $29.95 here.
18. Switch out your “boob lights” for nicer fixtures, whether you do it yourself or hire an electrician.
If you DO want to attempt it yourself, here’s how.
20. If you’re not blessed with a built-in mudroom, pick an area to set a bench and hang up a shelf and a few hooks.
See this entryway here. You can get similar hooks for $5.39 each here.
21. Dress up your stair railing with gel stain and paint.
Just because it was the style in the ’90s doesn’t mean it’s the style now. Here’s how to do it, complete with tips to do it right.
Or add a custom runner in your favorite fabric.
This staircase also got a fresh coat of paint to take it from off white to bright white (and the railing to a warm grey). Learn how to do this yourself here.
22. Secure plywood strips to a plain door and paint them white to give it some character.
You can probably bring the measurements to your local hardware store and ask them (politely) to cut the wood for you. If you want more color, you could paint the door in a base color and the trim in an accent color. Here’s the tutorial.
23. Transform any door you want into a sliding barn door using garage door wheels.
This tutorial is a little complicated, but it looks good and doesn’t require any welding. (You can just straight up buy barn door hardware, but it is usually at least $160). If you don’t want to drill through steel — which, fair, but you can do it! — this is a great tutorial, too.
24. Cut wooden paint stirrers to size and stain them to make a midcentury modern backdrop for house numbers.
You’ll still have to buy the house numbers if you want them to look exactly like this, but you could also stencil them on. Here’s the tutorial.
25. Install faux stone tiles to the outside of your house to disguise an ugly layer of foundation.
Buy your own for about $13.50 per square foot here.
26. Overhaul your faded garage door by coating it with gel stain.
A can of gel stain costs only $17.73 (get one here or at your hardware store), and applying it takes only a few hours of work. Then your garage door looks brand new! Here’s how to do it.
27. Pick an outdoor-grade metallic paint to update your rusty porch lights.
Learn how they did this here.
28. Hang foam crown molding above your front door, and paint it and any other windows and windowsills the same color.
Yes, you can get super cheap and easy-to-work-with crown molding, like this one, $11.96 for 8 feet. Then, just paint and, if you’d like, add house numbers and accessories. Read the full tutorial here.
Don’t forget to tape up the windows, hardware, and hinges before you paint your door, though, because you’ll definitely splatter on them if you don’t.
29. Build a simple fire pit for less than $40 using heat-resistant stones.
Read more about it here.
30. Replace your standard AC unit intake with prettier aluminum sheeting from your hardware store.
You can get a 24” x12” version of this here for $11.15. Here’s the tutorial.
31. Create a patio by laying concrete pavers and filling the gaps with river rocks.
There isn’t a tutorial for this, but you can see more photos of this space here. To pull it off, you’d buy several 20×20” patio stones (like these, $6.58 each), and lay them out. Then fill in the gaps with rocks like these, $28.33 for 20 pounds.
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