9 Easy Home Improvements Under $100
Even if we’re not committing every weekend to home renovations, most of us likely have a wish list of home projects we’d like to tackle if we ever have the time and money to make it happen. Maybe you dream of one day installing shiplap paneling to give your bathroom a relaxed, coastal look, or perhaps you’re thinking about finally painting your front door that color you’ve had saved on your Pinterest board for years. Luckily, you won’t need to wait to win the lottery to realize your home’s potential—all of these easy home improvement ideas cost $100 or less to complete, but they make a room look like a million bucks. Many of these ideas don’t require buying anything new, but simply updating the items you already own with custom touches. A builder-grade bathroom mirror looks high-end when you add a frame, while a dated wooden headboard turns luxe once wrapped in elegant tufted fabric. These small budget, big impact changes will make your dream home more affordable than you ever thought.
The Problem: A Boring, All-White Room
If you love the peaceful, beachy look white wood paneling brings to a room, then let this office makeover from The DIY Playbook inspire your next home project. Before the shiplap was installed, the entire room was a blank slate begging for a redesign. Bridget Dutkowski, one of the bloggers behind The DIY Playbook, documented her hunt for the perfect white paint for this room (she ultimately went with Behr’s Falling Snow), but after a few months working in a minimalist office, she was ready to introduce some personality. “After adding the furniture into my office, I realized that the white paint seemed like it could use some additional texture to really warm up the space. That's where the DIY shiplap came in!” she says.
Frugal Fix: Add Inexpensive Shiplap
To introduce some texture into the space, Dutkowski created a shiplap accent wall out of inexpensive plywood. How do you get enough wood to cover an entire wall for less than $100? “Instead of buying individual pieces, which can add up quickly, I opted to buy four large plywood pieces and had those cut down to 6-inch strips,” she explains. By painting the plywood with the paint she had left over from the walls, she was able to cut costs and create a cohesive look. When combined with a soft rug and a wooden shelving unit, the wood paneled wall makes the office feel cozy.
The Problem: A Front Door in Need of a Refresh
The color you choose for your front door is not only the first thing visitors notice about your home, but this decision may even affect the value of your house. To help narrow down the color choices, some homeowners turn to the advice of experts (here are 7 designers’ top picks), but instead, Jo-Anna Rooney from A Pretty Life opted for a color that reflects how she wants guests to feel when they walk into her home. Before the door received a makeover, it was an attractive red color, but after five years without a refresh, it was starting to feel stale.
Frugal Fix: Brighten Up the Entrance
“I wanted to paint our door a sunny yellow because our front porch receives no sunshine, so I decided to add some of my own. I also wanted our family and friends to be greeted by a cheerful door,” explains Rooney. Compared to the former red color, the bright yellow hue creates more contrast with the surrounding charcoal trim. “Both colors are great, but the yellow just suits us so much more!” says Rooney. When selecting a front door color, there’s no single hue that works for every home, but the color you choose should match the feeling you want your home to inspire.
The Problem: An Old, Ugly Headboard
Ursula Carmona of the blog Home Made by Carmona was the not-so-proud owner of an outdated headboard she inherited from her grandparents, but she longed for the type of diamond tufted headboards sold at home stores for hundreds of dollars. Rather than splurge on a store-bought beauty or build a new headboard from scratch, Carmona decided to use the dated headboard she already owned as a framework for building something more magnificent. After adding wooden boards to the stripped-down frame, the former eyesore was ready for its refresh.
Frugal Fix: Give It a Tufted Fabric Facelift
Once covered in fabric and tufted with buttons, no one would ever guess that a dilapidated headboard hides inside this elegant piece. Although remarkably similar to the tufted headboards found at expensive home decor stores, the makeover cost less than $50, thanks to Carmona’s creative repurposing of materials. “While most people run out and buy upholstery foam (which can run well over a hundred dollars for just a couple yards), I used cheap $11 egg crate mattress foam with the same results,” says Carmona. Creative material alternatives, coupled with the patience required to tuft the fabric by hand, paid off in this $50 statement piece.
The Problem: A Builder-Grade Bathroom Mirror
Builder-grade accessories, such as unframed mirrors and uninteresting light fixtures, are common in newer homes that have been built quickly. These cookie-cutter details may lack personality, but that’s no reason to ditch these fully functioning pieces. By adding a couple custom updates, builder-grade accents can be made to match your personal style. When Chelsea Coulston of the blog Making Home Base moved into a home with large, unframed mirrors in the bathroom, she knew a quick custom frame would transform the space.
Frugal Fix: DIY a Frame
The only major change in this bathroom is that a simple white wooden frame now outlines the mirror, yet the entire room seems more polished. If you have some spare wood and know how to cut a 45-degree angle, this project is a cinch. Coulston finished the frame in an afternoon (about three hours to frame two mirrors) and the total cost came to $40, because she already had some extra paint on hand. “To get two proportionally sized mirrors would have been way out of our budget,” says Coulston, but an easy DIY fix proved very affordable.
The Problem: Short on Storage
Before Ginger Bowie of Ginger Snap Crafts decided to revamp her laundry room, the space lacked one important essential: storage. Besides the washer and dryer, the only other detail in the sparse room was a small shelf set too high on the wall to store items that are reached for often, such as detergent or dryer sheets. The main goal for the makeover (other than adding some flair) was to outfit the room with cabinets for linens and supplies. The second goal? To give Bowie a spot to fold laundry besides the couch.
Frugal Fix: Make Easy “Custom” Cabinets
The secret to “custom” cabinets priced under $100? Shop secondhand stores for the units, then make them your own with a fresh coat of paint and wood trim from the hardware store. “I was able to keep costs down by shopping the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I got the cabinets we installed above the washer and dryer for $20. That was a steal!” she says. A couple coats of white paint later, they look brand new. A wooden board above the washer, attached to the wall with brackets, provides a perch for folding towels and t-shirts. After the $99 makeover, the room is not only a more pleasant spot to do a load of laundry, but it’s also a more functional space, so she can get it done in less time.
The Problem: Outdated Kitchen Cabinets
If you don’t have it in your budget to replace the kitchen cabinets you can’t stand, there’s a good chance paint could help you live with them—at least until you’re ready for a full remodel. Laura Tusken, the owner of Inspiration for Moms, wasn’t satisfied with the builder-grade cabinets that came with her kitchen, but when she started a remodel, she realized that sprucing up the original units was much more cost effective than replacing them. Willing to put in the elbow grease required to update the cabinets, Tusken decided to DIY rather than buy, and ended up saving hundreds of dollars.
Frugal Fix: Fresh Paint and New Pulls
While the kitchen underwent many changes during the remodel, one of the most dramatic upgrades is the painted cabinets. Luckily, it also happens to be one of the most affordable. After sanding and priming the units, Tusken painted them a modern gray hue. Sleek stainless steel pulls finish the look, but for only $2 or $3 a pop, they won’t break the $100 budget. Finally, by extending the original cabinets up to the ceiling, Tusken helps the room look taller than it did before.
The Problem: A Dingy Carpeted Staircase
A fully carpeted staircase is one of those features guaranteed to give away a home’s age. While removing the carpeting and starting fresh requires some work, it doesn’t need to be an expensive project. Want proof? When Kim Wilson of Sand and Sisal snapped this “before” photo of her stairs in the midst of a kitchen renovation, carpeting made the space look dated, but just $120 later, the look is fresh and coastal-inspired. Although this project went $20 over budget, the finished effect is worth every penny.
Frugal Fix: Install a Runner
After removing the outdated carpeting, Wilson sanded, primed, and painted the wood staircase hiding underneath. At this point, the staircase looked so fresh and modern, she was tempted to stop the makeover right there. “But I knew that with four kids, those white steps wouldn’t stay white for long,” she said. To give the stairs a fighting chance, Wilson then installed a seagrass runner, which she secured to the stairs with a staple gun. The seagrass matches Wilson’s shore-inspired aesthetic, and it protects the white stairs from a stampede of dirty sneakers.
RELATED: How to Fold a T-Shirt
With dresses, blouses, and button-downs all vying for hanging space in your closet, T-shirts often don’t make the cut for their own hanger. Fortunately, if folded correctly, these casual tops are prime candidates for drawer or shelf space because they don’t wrinkle or crease as easily as crisp dress shirts do. To make sure these tops are always ready to wear (and keep them looking neat on open shelving), follow our no-fail folding technique. It may take a couple tries to learn the steps, but once you have the method memorized, you’ll never want to go back to a sloppy jumble of shirts again.
The Problem: Dated Bi-Fold Closet Doors
When Monica Benavidez of the blog Monica Wants It moved into her home, the office closet was outfitted with wooden folding doors. While the rest of the office underwent a complete makeover, the original closet doors sat in the basement for several years, awaiting a makeover. A few years later, tired of staring at her messy closet while working in her pristine office, Benavidez finally decided it was time to finish what she started. Rather than buy new doors, she got creative with wooden lattice strips and some pretty coral paint.
Frugal Fix: DIY a Decorative Trim
After adding wooden lattice trim and brushing on three coats of beautiful coral paint (it’s Dishy Coral by Sherwin Williams), the doors are unrecognizable. For the trim, Benavidez created a sophisticated X design, punctuated by pretty brass and lucite pulls. The estimated cost of the entire project, including paint, lattice strips, caulk, sanding blocks, and door pulls is just $75, but the finished doors look many times that price. To get the look, use wooden lattice to make custom designs on your closet doors, and be bold with an unexpected hue.
The Problem: Vintage Linoleum Floors
When Jamie Druke of Dear Lillie Studio updated her late uncle’s home, she inherited all of the details that come with a home designed in the 1970s—including this hallway with green walls and a matching green linoleum floor. Rather than remove the tiles and face what’s hiding underneath, Druke opted to brush over the unattractive flooring with a fresh coat of paint in a contemporary hue, once again proving paint’s magical ability to refresh dated design decisions.
Frugal Fix: Give It a Paint Makeover
While this isn’t the biggest makeover Dear Lillie Studio has ever tackled, they report it’s one of the cheapest. A couple coats of white paint on the walls and four coats of gray paint on the linoleum floor brighten up the formerly dim hallway. “It took a couple weeks of painting during naptimes,” says Druke, but the final result is worth the time put in. Located between the garage, bathroom, and laundry room, this hallway gets a lot of traffic, but a few months after it was painted, Druke reports that it’s still holding up well. While this quick fix isn’t designed to last forever, for less than $100, Druke was able to modernize a 40-year-old eyesore.