50 High-Impact Home Updates That Cost $50 or Less

Take your home from builder grade to custom made with home projects you can do in a weekend or less.

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June 29, 2018

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Paint the Front Door

The front door is the first thing people see when entering your home. Make a great first impression with a bright, welcoming front door color. Not sure what hue to choose? Take our quiz, then follow the step-by-step instructions below for a total entry overhaul.

LEARN HOW: How to Paint a Front Door

Classic Carriage Doors (on the Cheap)

Carriage house garage doors are highly sought after in home design and renovation, but these charming additions quickly add up in cost. One carriage-style garage door alone can run upwards of $1,400. Luckily there’s a budget-friendly alternative: these magnetic hinges and handles will take your door from drab to fab instantly for just $12 — no hardware required.

BUY IT: Amazon, $11.68 (Originally $19.99)

Install a Shiplap Accent Wall

Do you love the look of old shiplap walls and ceilings, but live in a new, builder-grade home? Add a gorgeous shiplap accent wall in any space for $50 or less by trimming down plywood into planks, then attaching the boards to your wall using construction adhesive and nails. Finish it off by painting the panels, and admire your DIY shiplap on a dime.

LEARN HOW: How to Install Shiplap

Set the Mood With String Lights

The backyard pergola of HGTV Urban Oasis 2018 provides a true escape from urban living and a moment to relax in nature.

DIY "Glass"-Front Cabinets

Brighten up your kitchen and put that gorgeous wedding china on display by replacing interior wood cabinet panels with inexpensive plexiglass sheets. Not brave enough to go totally open with your cabinetry? Try this project on just the set of cabinets flanking your stove or the cabinet over the coffee counter. LEARN HOW

Upgrade Concrete With a Tile Stencil

Has your concrete patio seen better days? You could cover it with an outdoor rug or try this long-lasting DIY. With a can of concrete stain, a plastic stencil, a high-quality stencil brush and a few hours of work, you can totally transform the look of a porch, sidewalk or patio with a stylish, custom tile design. LEARN HOW

RELATED: Stencil Your Way to a Stunning Cement Tile Tray

Fake the Look of Marble

Make a worn dining table or old countertops look luxurious by transforming them into chic (faux) marble focal pieces. This unique and crafty DIY combines leftover project paint, ultra high-gloss epoxy and basic craft supplies to recreate the veining lines and texture found in real marble. Patience and a designated project day will save you anywhere from $500-$3,000 when dreaming of your very own marble furniture piece.

LEARN HOW: How to Paint a Faux Marble Tabletop

Try Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper

Want to go bold without the risk? Peel-and-stick wallpaper is a temporary way to add a burst of vibrant color or pattern to a room without tearing up the walls. To keep this project affordable and doable, try papering a focal wall or a small, low-humidity space like a powder room or closet.

Hide Outdoor Eyesores With Faux Rocks

Sometimes function gets in the way of form. When a well head, vent pipe or meter simply must sit in the middle of your yard or garden bed, a faux rock that fits on top offers a natural disguise

BUY IT: Amazon, $38.95

Hang Curtains High & Wide

Theoretically, this project should cost you zero dollars. Make your space look bigger and more luxurious by hanging drapes six to twelve inches above the window frame or all the way to the ceiling and extending your curtain rod out three to six inches on each side.

SEE MORE: Do's + Don'ts of Designer-Worthy Window Treatments

Remove a Popcorn Ceiling

Give your outdated ceiling a fresh update.

LEARN HOW: How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling

Paint Your Doorknobs

Is your home plagued with unsightly, dated doorknobs? While swapping them out for new might be tempting, it can add up quickly — especially when one oil-rubbed bronze privacy knob costs around $30 apiece. And that's not to mention the hinges and door latches to match. If you're looking for a cheap, long-lasting alternative, consider painting the knobs in your house for the cost of a can of spray paint and a weekend's worth of work. LEARN HOW

Update Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

A simple white kitchen is made instantly glamorous by the addition of brushed gold knobs and pulls. Pro tip: measure the width of your existing cabinet pulls before ordering. Also, be prepared to paint over small dings and scratches that may occur while removing old hardware.

BUY IT: Wayfair, $5.55

Add Bling to Closet Doors

Make a small bedroom look larger by adding mirrors to plain closet doors. Simply pick up a couple of cheap, framed floor-length mirrors for less than $10 at your local big-box store, then paint the frame to match your space. Attach to your closet door with construction adhesive for a permanent look or use removable picture-hanging strips if you're renting. Feeling extra crafty? Glue thin trim pieces to the mirrors for a high-end look.

BUY IT: Target, $6.99

Try Peel-and-Stick Tile

If you're on the internet at all, you've likely seen these amazing, sticky vinyl tiles. They usually come in 12"x12" sheets or a nine-foot roll in a myriad of styles from Moroccan to subway tile. They're an inexpensive, easy way to update a small space. However, we wouldn't recommend installing these temporary tiles in high-traffic areas like a bathroom or kitchen.

Whitewash a Brick Fireplace

Give your dated brick fireplace a cozy cottage makeover with a mixture of paint and glaze. LEARN HOW

Swap Your Shower Curtain

Your shower curtain takes up the single largest piece of real estate in the bathroom. So, needless to say, swapping it out makes a huge impact for very little money. Choose a fringe-style curtain for a boho look, go bold with large, moody florals or opt for a soft, modern ombre like designer Kerra Michele Huerta did here. We also love how she upped the drama by installing a shower curtain on each side of the tub.

BUY IT: JCPenney, $34.99

Fake Fancy

Give builder-grade light switches a custom look with this hack. Pick a picture frame that's the same size and color as your switch cover, then attach the frame to the wall with adhesive putty. Pro tip: 3.5"x5" frames will fit a standard 1-gang switch plate.

BUY IT: Michaels, $10.49

Double-Up on Porch Rugs

Designer tip: Layer an area rug underneath a standard porch rug for an extra-luxurious look.

Give Your Fan a Makeover

Paint an old ceiling fan using high-heat spray paint.

Make an Old Couch New Again

Are you squeezing every last bit of life out of that couch from college? While you're saving up for your dream couch, don't skimp on style. Give your sofa a mini refresh by draping it in blankets and loads of fluffy throw pillows, strategically placed to hide stains.

SEE MORE: 30 Sofas Made for Hours of Lounging

Frame the Bathroom Mirror

Could your bathroom use a little TLC? Add a quick and easy dose of style by framing that builder-grade plate glass bathroom mirror with decorative molding.

LEARN HOW: Bathroom Update: Add a Frame to a Mirror and Paint a Vanity

DIY a Sliding Barn Door

Turn any door into a unique statement piece by taking it off the hinges and installing it on a sliding barn door track. Snag the hardware here for less than $40, then get the step-by-step instructions below. If you want to use your existing door as a bard door, follow these instructions: LEARN HOW

GET THE INSTRUCTIONS: DIY: How to Make a Sliding Barn Door

Wow With Window Boxes

Add color and interest to the front of your home with natural wood window filled with overflowing, seasonal blooms.

LEARN HOW: DIY Wine Crate Window Boxes

Make It Rain

Make every day a spa day simply by swapping out your showerhead. For less than $50, you recreate this high-end look at home with a matte black rain head and matching extension arm.

BUY IT: Amazon, $36.99

Go Antiquing

Want to add lived-in character to your builder-grade home? Swap your basic pantry door for a charming antique find like designer Jasmine Roth did here.

MORE IDEAS: 20 Old-Home Design Elements to Add to Your New Build

Make Planter Posts for String Lights

No place to hang outdoor string lights? Try this budget-friendly project.

LEARN HOW: How to Make Planter Posts for String Lights

Customize Your Cabinets

Make builder-grade cabinets look custom with the addition of furniture feet painted to match.

Build Wood Shelving

Break up endless cabinetry in the kitchen with a wall of open shelving. To pull off this lovely look, Jasmine hand-charred pine boards, sealing the wood without the use of chemicals. You likely won't be able to

Add Farmhouse Trim to Windows & Doors

Give doors and windows a total overhaul by framing them in farmhouse-inspired trim.

LEARN HOW: 5 Easy Steps to DIY Farmhouse-Style Trim

Stencil Stair Risers

Have you ever seen those photos where designers tile the stair risers and it looks beautiful? That’s quite a commitment when you can get the same look with a stencil and some paint. We recommend measuring your stair risers then looking online for a stencil. Then, instead of stenciling directly onto your staircase, cut plywood boards to size, stencil them at a work table and install.


Mailbox Makeover

Boost your curb appeal instantly by giving that old, tired mailbox a quick, inexpensive spruce. Eileen of Just Measuring Up updated her mailbox for just under $20 with some basic supplies from the hardware store and a fresh coat of paint. Pro tip: Before installing a new mailbox, remember to check with the postal service for current installation guidelines. GET THE INSTRUCTIONS

Jazz Up Kitchen Cabinets With Beadboard

Is your kitchen lacking charm? Add a major dose of it by installing beadboard around cabinetry, like designer Sarah Richardson did here.

Say "Buh-Bye" to Boob Lights

And "hello" to a myriad of new, trendy, semi-flush mount lighting styles.

Replace Outdoor Lighting

If you've got twenty minutes and $40, you can totally transform your home's curb appeal with a new set of outdoor lights.

BUY IT: Amazon, $39.89, 2-pack

Give Cabinets a Lift

Add height and interest to your builder grade cabinets without paying the hefty price tag of custom cabinetry. Interior designer Sarah Macklem from The Yellow Cape Cod achieved this rich, tall cabinet look in her own kitchen by adding pre-primed MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) and decorative crown molding to the tops of her cabinets. GET THE INSTRUCTIONS

Hang a Plant Shelf

A plant shelf over the kitchen sink adds instant charm.

Furniture-Saving Scratch Board

If you have a kitty that loves to use its little claws on your couch, you’ll both dig this clever scratch pad project. Refurbish an old frame by giving it a fresh coat of paint, then replace the art with a patterned doormat trimmed to fit the frame. You’ll need a deep-set frame and heavy-duty tape to secure the mat inside the frame. Once completed, hang it with proper anchors and hardware so it’ll stay put during playtime.

MORE IDEAS: 12 Adorable DIYs for Cats + Cat Lovers

Put House Numbers on the Front Door

Skip the standard kick plate and install chic house numbers on the bottom of your front door instead.

Under-Cabinet Lighting

Set the mood in your kitchen by installing soft, inexpensive lighting under the cabinets. A 3-pack of LED puck lights costs around $30 and they're ultra-easy to install. But puck lighting isn't the only option — this helpful guide can help you pick the perfect under-cabinet lighting for your wants and needs.

BUY IT: The Home Depot, $27.99, 3-pack

Washi Tape Accent Wall

This gorgeous accent wall was created with just two rolls of black washi tape. And since it's so easy to remove when the time comes, this beauty is a fabulous option for renters. GET THE INSTRUCTIONS

Pretty-Up Your Pantry With Baskets

Do pictures of organized pantries bring you joy ... and jealousy? Give your messy closet a pretty, practical overhaul by placing pantry staples in dedicated bins. These woven beauties will only set you back about $8 each, leaving plenty of wallet wiggle room for the handy clip-on labels.


Turn a Bedroom Door Dutch

Saw an existing door in half to pull off this charming kid's room project.

LEARN HOW: How to Make a DIY Interior Dutch Door

Cheap + Chic Headboard

Who says a one-of-a-kind focal piece has to break the bank? Make your very own stylish, tufted headboard using a wood board, canvas drop cloth and quilt batting. The best part? This no-sew project has the same look as an upholstered designer headboard, for less than $30!

Glam Up the Grounds

Decorative fence post caps aren't just for looks — they add years of life to your fence by protecting the posts' end grain from the elements.

BUY IT: The Home Depot, $3.97

Backsplash With a Purpose

Need extra storage in your kitchen? This DIY pegboard backsplash is both decorative and ultra-functional.

"Stainless Steel" Dishwasher DIY

Stainless steel appliances not in the remodeling budget? Blogger Julie Blanner upgraded her basic black dishwasher by covering it with an inexpensive stainless steel decal. For just under $20, this self-adhesive film will instantly take any appliance from basic to luxurious without breaking the bank. LEARN HOW

Fake It Till You Make It

These containers are filled with faux flowers. When used correctly you can get a real-life effect without the maintenance. This backyard is filled with lush greens and color, but the containers don't get enough water and bake in the sun, so getting annuals to thrive is very difficult. So to blend in with the landscaping of real trees and flowers, faux boxwoods and faux annuals were mixed with real vines to give them the look of real flowers, but maintenance-free to last all summer.

Panel a Plain Door

The easiest way to make a designer-worthy impact in your space? Update the doors. If your home is plagued by one-dimensional doors, consider transforming them into gorgeous, Shaker-style doors with plywood panels and a fresh coat of paint. Since most Shaker varieties can retail for over $200, we’ll call this project a steal! LEARN HOW

Vintage-Style Bathtub Surround

Give a built-in bathtub a cozy cottage makeover with charming beadboard trim. This project requires roughly one 4’ x 8’ sheet of beadboard (which comes in just under $20) and zero hardware (only glue!), making this thrifty upcycle ideal for moderate DIYers.