Home renovations always seem like a great idea to start. When you’re six days in and covered in paint, however, major improvements start to feel expensive, time-consuming and draining. That’s because, when it comes to home improvement, it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew. Reality shows and websites make DIY seem so easy, which might be why you find yourself playing amateur electrician when you should have hired a pro.
The trick to home renovations is to know your limits. You don’t need a complete overhaul to see a huge difference in your place. In fact, a few afternoon improvements might be all it takes to really love your home or apartment. By choosing a couple of afternoon renovations, you can have the same sense of accomplishment without the time and expense of an extreme makeover. Here are a few of our favorite big impact, small effort renos.
Organize your drawers
Let’s face it: we all have junk drawers. Some of us might have many junk drawers. And while a few disorganized nooks and crannies might not seem like a big deal, that disorganization can bleed into other areas of your home. Miscellaneous phone chargers, keys and other stuff have a way of cluttering up other surfaces, making your home feel messy. While you might not be able to devote weeks to a complete cleanout, simply organizing your drawers puts everything in its place. Head to the dollar store and load up on inexpensive baskets and organizers. Then, dump out everything from the drawers and don’t put anything back until it has a specific spot in your home. Nothing beats tidy, organized drawers — even if you’re the only one who sees them.
Spruce up your entry
Your front door is the first thing visitors notice about your home and it’s so easy to spruce it up in an afternoon. Painting your door a new color — or just repainting the same color — only takes about half an hour. While you’re waiting for the paint to dry for a second coat, clean up your porch and entryway. Get rid of old leaves and debris and add a welcome mat to match your new door color. Add planters with flowers or even sturdy faux plants. If you have extra time, swap out your porch light for something more modern before adding a second coat to your door. Then, step back and watch the compliments arrive with every guest.
Regrout and recaulk
Bathroom grout is one of those things that really shows your home’s age. Over time, the caulk and grout in your bathroom become dingy and yellow, and can even chip off and leave gaps. Regrouting and recaulking might not be the sexiest of home improvements, but it’s a quick fix that can make your entire bathroom look better. Caulking is simple: just pull out the old caulk with a scraper and add a new, clean bead with a caulk gun.
Regrouting takes a little more time because you’ll need to chip or grind down the jagged, old grout. Still, it’s a pretty simple process. Once the old grout is removed, you apply new grout to all of the tiles and then just wipe away the excess with a damp sponge.
Hardware is one of those “set it and forget it” items in your home. You probably don’t even notice all of the handles and pulls on your doors and cabinets because you use them so often. But hardware can have a big impact on the look and feel of your home. If you’re itching for an update, hardware might be all it takes. Most cabinet or door hardware is swapped out easily with a screwdriver and an afternoon. Go for square pulls for a modern look or add more character with antique doorknobs throughout your home.
If you don’t feel like hardware is a big enough change for you, think about repainting your cabinets. Installing new cabinets is a huge expense and takes a lot of time, even if you purchase them pre-made. The truth is that as long as the actual cabinet boxes are in good shape, you can remove the doors and paint them. Just make sure to use the right type of paint for your cabinets’ material (e.g.: wood versus composite) and prime your doors beforehand. The color of your cabinets makes a huge difference in your kitchen and bathrooms, so it’s a quick renovation that gives you a huge bang for your buck.
Create a feature wall
Sure, you could paint an entire room. But taping off walls, patching and painting takes forever. You can probably get the same impact by just choosing a feature wall. A feature wall just means only painting or wallpapering one wall in a room to add color, draw interest and give more character. It also only means painting one wall, freeing up a lot of time. Don’t like the idea of paint? Choose a graphic wallpaper and only use it on one main wall in a room. Today’s wallpaper is simple and less messy than the sticky stuff of yesteryear, so it’s an even quicker way to spruce up a room.
Switch your switches
Light switches are only about $1 each, making updating them one of the cheapest home renovations possible. Switches can start to look discolored and dirty over time, making even clean rooms look tired. What’s more, you can score smart switches that have USB ports, streamlining power in your home. You don’t need to be an electrician to swap your switches, but you do need to make sure to turn off your electricity before you start taking the plates off. Then, it’s quick work to screw on new plates. Don’t want to install new switches? Try painting them or using washi tape to add character without changing them completely.
Update window treatments
If you’re still living with cheap mini blinds or your home’s original vertical blinds, it’s time to update your window treatments. Swap out faded or damaged blinds for cool new bamboo shades or hang sheer curtains for privacy without losing light. Or, just update your plastic blinds for wood versions. Many home improvement stores can simply cut new blinds with your measurements and you’ll have updated windows without a lot of fuss.
Stick on a backsplash
A traditional tile backsplash can definitely be a major time and cost commitment. It’s not something you’d want to DIY unless you had experience with tile before since it requires precision and skill. Still, you can totally update your kitchen with a simple stick-on backsplash. New stick-on tiles look just like traditional tiles but are lightweight and easy to use. Check out stick-on metallic tiles or try an urban loft feel with easy brick tiles. A steady hand and a little time are all you need to completely transform your kitchen.
Rearrange your furniture
It’s probably the easiest afternoon renovation of all: simply rearrange your furniture. Chances are you put your furniture in your home on move-in day and haven’t done much since. But moving around your major pieces — especially couches, bookshelves and tables — completely changes the way you see your home. Try this: walk into your home and visualize what you would think if it were the first time you’d ever seen the space. Pushing the couch on a different angle or moving a table that could be more functional somewhere else breathes a little more life into a stale layout. The best part? If you don’t like it, you can always put your stuff right back where it was.
Home renovations don’t always have to be complete home overhauls. With a spare afternoon and a few extra bucks, some of your home’s biggest pain points can be completed resolved — or at least reduced. Adjust the way you think about home improvement and, suddenly, renovations become a lot less overwhelming.