There’s no denying that big projects can have a huge impact. Obviously a kitchen reno or new floors make a world of difference. But, the devil is in the details, and it’s the little things that count just as much for making a big improvement both in functionality and in making a space feel clean and comfortable. Here are some cheap and easy DIY upgrades that will make your space feel spiffy in no time.
1. Touch up your molding.
Grab some wood filler, sand paper, and semi-gloss paint and clean up your baseboards and door-frame molding. You probably won’t need to do everything at once, so focus on areas with a lot of dents and dings (hallways always tend to have some damage). Make sure to clean the area well before you start and wear a mask to prevent dust inhalation. You’ll feel like you’re in a new house.
2. Replace your toilet seat.
You can pick up a new toilet seat for about $10, and installation requires a screw driver and the ability to read 3-step instructions. It’s dead simple and makes a huge difference. Kinda like having a new toilet without having to install a new toilet.
3. Clean your stove grates.
If you have a gas range, check your manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your grates. Sealed grates can often be cleaned by sticking them in a large plastic bin with some ammonia overnight. Boom. New stove, minimal scrubbing.
4. Re-caulk your tub surround.
Attention to detail is what matters here – make sure you have plumbing caulk (silicone) treated with anti-fungal, and a caulk gun, a razor blade and caulk stripper tool. Grab some rubbing alcohol and cotton pads to really clean the area and prevent mold growth. This makes a huge difference with very little cost or effort. That said, don’t be a hero. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this correctly, you can pay someone to do it for you. Re-caulking badly can be worse than not re-caulking at all.
5. Replace switch and outlet plates.
Dingy, dinged, and beige plates get an immediate upgrade when you replace them with modern plates. These things cost cents to buy and make a huge impact.
6. Clean up hard surfaces with a razor blade.
I love this trick. It’s so easy but so satisfying. Paint, mystery grime, caulk, all of it comes up with a razor blade and a little pressure. Take care to stay level with the surface so as not to scratch or gouge. I took a razor blade to the marble transition plate in my bathroom, and it looks so much cleaner and brighter. A razor blade, when used carefully, is much less damaging to marble than harsh cleansers.
7. Replace string pulls.
If you have light or fan pulls, they probably aren’t that awesome looking. But I don’t know you. Maybe they look great. String pulls tend to get dirty and fall apart over time. Replacing the default string pull with something more durable and stylish will instantly make the space look a little bit tidier.
8. Replace bifold door knobs.
Whatever your personal style is, you can replace bifold closet door knobs with something more to your taste. You can get a pack of 10 knobs for under $10 at the hardware store. Grab a screwdriver and go to town.
9. Switch out entry knob or deadbolts so that they match.
When we moved in, we had a satin chrome knob and a bronze deadbolt. We swapped the deadbolt out for a satin chrome version. Easy, and made everything look a bit more intentional and uniform. Make sure you measure and replace with a very similar model, otherwise you’re in for a much trickier job. So for instance, don’t replace a vertical deadbolt with a horizontal one. Go for like with like. And for fuck’s sake, stay away from Baldwin hardware. That shit is expensive and miserable to install.
10. Replace your lightbulbs.
Think about the level of light you want in your space. Gloomy hallways? Get a higher wattage. Too bright in the bedroom? Get a lower wattage. To me, a lightbulb is a lightbulb is a lightbulb, but you can get different hues of light (warmer or cooler) as well. Take some time to think about your space and how you want to illuminate it. Light makes a huge difference in every way. We live in the modern era, folks, get with it.