It's understandable if you, like many Americans, associate home improvement projects with money flying out your door. After all, the average bathroom remodel tops $16,000, according to Remodeling Magazine's 2014 Cost Vs. Value Report. Replacing your windows runs $8,000 on average. Kitchens and master bedroom projects usually run many times that amount.
Turns out, though, that some smaller projects can add instant curb appeal, make living in your abode more pleasant, and come with a manageable price.
Here are some simple enhancements to consider.
1. Update lighting.
Remember that good modern lighting can make a room look larger and warmer. Thus switch out any old-fashioned fixtures and update them with new energy efficient models. To find stylish replacements, home retailer websites will update you on the latest lighting trends, such as copper or bronze fixtures. Pendants or chandeliers in attractive metals and designs can change the look and feel of a room more than you might think.
Expected cost: Fixture prices vary widely, and can range from $20 to $1000. If you need to hire an electrician, you may want to choose less expensive lighting to offset your costs. Simply spray painting your current fixtures can cost as little as $20.
2. Remake your entrance.
One of the best ways to improve the look of your home from the street is to make your front entrance livelier and more attractive. Replacing the front door is an obvious way to achieve that goal. Perhaps try a new solid door with contemporary fittings or locks. Or update your existing door with paint and new handles (keep in mind you may still need to budget for a handy man even if you're only switching the knobs).
If your front door is in good condition and you simply want to spruce up the porch, potted plants, a new exterior light, new house numbers and a new rug can instantly add charm, and be done quickly.
Expected cost: a new front door will run about $1,000 (a fiberglass door will likely run more). Expect to pay around $30 to $100 for supplies if you paint it instead.
3. Modernize the bathroom.
Since bathrooms are generally small rooms, $1,000 can go a long way. For example, you can replace the toilet and sink- plus pay a plumber to install them- for less than $1,000. You'll find the best prices on discontinued models. Another possibility: painting the room, which can typically be done in one weekend. If you like to DIY, and have a plain, frameless mirror, called a builder's grade mirror, try updating it with a frame or learn how to tile.
Expected cost: New toilets and sinks can be found for around $100 to $300 each. Vanities run about $500 to $900.
4. Hire professional cleaners.
A thorough cleaning not only enhances the look of your home, but also makes living it in more pleasant. While you can certainly do it yourself, there are good reasons to sometimes hire a professional. Carpet cleaners, for example, use high tech and powerful machines that suck out more dirt and water than you could get with a hand-held version. As for windows, they can be difficult to clean yourself when they're in hard-to-reach locations, tempting you to skip some. Professional pressure washers can clean moss and mold off of driveways and walkways, making them cleaner in appearance and safer for walkers.
Expected cost: Professional carpet cleaners can do the job for around $200 to $500, depending on the size of the area. Professional pressure washing machines can be rented for $100 to $200, or you can hire someone to tackle the job for less than $1000.
5. Decorate the walls.
A room can feel much larger if you add some wall decoration. Aim to use your walls from the floor to the ceiling, giving the eye a reason to move up and down, tricking it into thinking the space is larger than it is.
Adding decor such as open shelving gives you a place to pop in splashes of color and decorative or meaningful objects. Try installing simple shelves in a symmetrical pattern, or moving your artwork from one room to another. If you're lacking items to hang, take a vintage piece of fabric and stretch it over a canvas, or frame bits of your favorite designs on paper. Both are easy, inexpensive ways to add pizazz to your home.
Expected cost: Expect to pay anywhere from $20 – $100 for a single shelf or decent-sized frame from a big box retailer.