Before you start tearing down 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 in the budget yet, take heart: We’ve got eight ideas for very simple DIY home improvements that’ll nevertheless transform tired and dated spaces into totally revitalized rooms.
Let There Be Light
New light fixtures can give a room a major face-lift, and the right glow will assure 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
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
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
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 tile 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 use a mold-proof wallpaper paste.
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
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
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
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.