8 DIY Home Improvements That Don’t Have to Break the Bank

Before you start tearing down the walls and stripping everything away to improve your home, take a moment to look around and ask yourself if that’s really necessary. In other words, does the house need a refresh, a simple remodel, or a total renovation? If you’re looking to reconfigure a floor plan, for example — move plumbing, change electrical, and so forth — start the search for the right contractor. But if dramatic changes aren’t necessary or within the budget yet, take heart: We’ve got eight ideas for very simple DIY home improvements that’ll nonetheless transform tired and dated spaces into totally revitalized rooms.

Let There Be Light

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New light fixtures can give a room a major face-lift, and the right glow will ensure that you and your guests always look their best. Come up with a plan that encompasses what you need — that could include overhead, task, ambient, and recessed lighting. Choose your fixtures based on the style of the room.

Breathe New Life Into an Old Tub

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When you’re not loving the looks of your current bathtub and purchasing a $10,000, 500-pound luxury bathtub is simply out of the question, don’t despair. You can get results and save a bundle by going with a $250 solution instead. Try bringing back the fixture’s original sparkle with a bathtub refinishing kit from makers like Ekopel 2K, Rustoleum, or Bathworks. Re-caulking or applying a new color of grout right over the old one will also make a world of difference. There are also paints specially made for past-their-use-date tiles after a good sand and prime.

Freshen Up Cabinets and Vanities

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New Africa/Shutterstock

You can find a bunch of cool pre-fabricated vanities on sites like Wayfair, Home Depot, and Pottery Barn. But if the idea of ​​changing out a big piece of furniture in the bathroom is too overwhelming, just fix up the one you already have. This goes for your kitchen cabinets, too. Simply sand, prime, and add a few coats of paint, along with modern hardware in a trendy brass or brushed nickel.

Pep up Plain Walls

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There’s no denying it: A fresh coat of paint goes a long way. But you can also install charming details like wainscoting or shiplap, patterned wallpaper, bold tile backsplashes, or even tiles on the ceiling! A note: If you’re planning to wallpaper in the kitchen or bathroom, make sure it’s protected from moisture by using it sparingly like behind the vanity wall or in the water closet, and using a mold-proof wallpaper paste.

Start Reflecting

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New Africa/Shutterstock

Looking for a stylish, easy, and cost-effective way to fill blank wall space? Try a large mirror. Depending on your style, go vintage, modern, or even super ornate. Not only will a mirror add character to the space, it will also reflect natural light and make tight spaces feel airier and more spacious.

Treat Yourself to Some Low-Cost Extras

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Ani Elki Photo/Shutterstock

Not every upgrade has to be time-consuming or expensive. Bringing in new towel racks, soap dishes and dispensers, shelving, artwork, drapes and shower curtains will go a long way in making a room look refreshed.

Fortify the Floors

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Lubo Ivanko/Shutterstock

Buying and installing new wood flooring isn’t cheap. But if you’re feeling ambitious, you can lay down a laminate alternative. (There are a ton of YouTube videos on the topic.) If that’s a task above your pay grade, simply break out the paint and cover up a damaged floor with a whitewash or even a fun color. You can also come up with a fairly simple tile design and spend a weekend installing it.

Make a Splash With New Plumbing Fixtures

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Hendrickson Photography/Shutterstock

Get rid of water-damaged or corroding faucets and shower heads and make way for shiny and new brass, brushed nickel, or matte-black replacements. You don’t have to spend a fortune — many big-box home improvement stores have cost-effective solutions — but these jewelry-like accessories will go a long way in making a sink, shower, or bathtub look like a million bucks. Bonus: You can check out YouTube on the topic of installation.

A version of this article appeared in our partner magazine The Ultimate Guide to Fixer Uppers.