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Seven Low-Cost Home Improvements That Make a Huge Difference


Renovating a living space can get real expensive real quick, especially if you’re remodeling an entire kitchen or bathroom. However, there are a ton of low-cost home improvement projects that you can tackle yourself and that make a huge difference.

Replace Your Outlets and Switches

If you live in an older house, your outlets and switches are likely a beige or almond color that just looks really ugly. Furthermore, the plastic they use begins to fade and discolor over time, leaving them looking even uglier.

By replacing your outlets and switches with newer white versions, you can brighten up the whole house. Better yet, it’s not that expensive to do.

You can get basic replacement outlets for as little as $0.50 each, and switches for around $0.70 each. Of course, you’ll also have pay for the cover plates for each outlet and switch, but those shouldn’t cost more than $0.50 each as well. Some of your outlets will be GFCI, which are more expensive, but those are few and far between comparatively.

You can also get outlets with built-in USB charging ports if you want to future-proof your house even more, but prepared to pay quite a bit more for that feature.

Slap On a Fresh Coat of Paint

Your new outlets and switches look great, but they pair even better with a lively new coat of paint. Again, if your house is a bit older, your walls may be looking a bit dingy. But giving them some color or even just slapping on a few coats of ultra white can make a dull room look way brighter.

Granted, paint is pretty expensive—you can expect to pay around $30 per gallon, and it takes at least a few gallons to paint an entire room. However, new paint is probably the single best home improvement that doesn’t break the bank, especially considering that your walls make up most of the surface area of your house.

Plus, anyone can paint their house themselves, so you’re also saving money on not having to hire professionals to do it for you.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Replacing your old thermostat with a newer one that can be programmed doesn’t necessarily make your house look better, but it adds value in the sense that it can save you a lot of money on your utility bill. This is worthwhile because your utility bill is probably your highest monthly home expense aside from your mortgage or rent.

Furthermore, a new programmable thermostat doesn’t have to be expensive at all. In fact, a basic programmable thermostat can be had for as little as $25. Or you can go all out and buy a smart thermostat for around $250. Either option will save you money on your heating and A/C, though.

Replace Your Light Fixtures

An old boring light fixture is a great way to make any room feel…well…old and boring. And if your house still has the original light fixtures from when the place was built, they could use an update.

The great thing about light fixtures is that they come in all different price ranges, so you can spend as little or as much as you want. Even this $10 ceiling light will work in a lot of different rooms. Or if you want something a bit more elegant and modern, this $50 light fixture can definitely brighten things up.

Pair them up with some LED bulbs and you’ll finally have a house that’s one step closer to the future.

Boost Your Curb Appeal With a Bit of Yard Work

It’s great that you’re focusing a lot on sprucing up the inside of your house, but the outside is just as important. Landscaping can get expensive, especially when you start adding border bricks, landscaping rocks, and larger plants. However, just doing the basics can make a huge difference.

Things like using fertilizer on the lawn, replacing the mulch, and adding just a few flowers around the perimeter can turn your creepy house parents tell their kids to stay away from into an abode that passers by will enjoy viewing.

Set Up Decorative Shelves & Picture Frames

It’s one thing to repaint a room to give it a bit more color and brightness, but plain bare walls are boring, which is why spending a little money on some decorative shelves and picture frames can go a long way to making a room feel homier.

You can get a set of great-looking floating shelves for around $15, plus a handful of basic 8×10 picture frames for $36 (and smaller sizes for even cheaper). Next, spend a few dollars on photo prints from pretty much anywhere and you got yourself a living space that feels really cozy.

Treat Yourself to a New Shower Head

When we moved into our first house a couple years ago, one of the cheapest home improvements I was really looking forward to was replacing the shower heads. The original ones were pretty awful and reminded me of most locker room showers that never get fixed.

We ended up getting a couple of these $25 Delta shower heads and they’ve made a world of difference, turning a crappy shower into one that you never want to hop out of.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He’s also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.


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