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8 Easy Home Upgrades for Under $50

You don’t have to pay big bucks to a contractor to update your home. If you’re putting your house on the market soon, or are just looking to spruce up your living space, here are some easy home upgrades that are surprisingly simple and won’t drain your time—or your wallet.

Say it with color
There’s no quicker fix than a fresh coat of paint. Paint can brighten any space and add just the perfect burst of color. Painting a ceiling light sky blue for instance, can promote a sense of calm and add the perception of height. Painting drab, dingy walls is like giving your home a facelift that will knock years off of its perceived age.

If you don’t have the time or budget to paint whole rooms, consider painting just your front door, garage door or front porch. These are some of the first things buyers and guests will see. A freshly painted front door not only boosts your home’s curb appeal, it can also boost your home’s sale price.

Make a faux backsplash
A backsplash can instantly breathe new life into an outdated kitchen. It also protects your walls from food splashes and splatters. However, ceramic tile or stone can be costly and difficult to install. A simpler, and much cheaper option, is to use a peel-and-stick tile backsplash. These are available in a variety of colors and patterns, and mimic the look of stone or glass, minus the high cost. You usually get several sheets that you simply peel off the back and stick on your kitchen wall. You don’t need grout or special tools.

Brush-on stainless steel
Stainless steel appliances add a modern, elegant touch to your home, but also come with a pretty high price tag. If your major appliances still work fine, but look dated, there are kits available that allow you to “brush-on” a trendy stainless steel finish.

The paint is 100% stainless steel, and once applied can even hold magnets. The kits cost less than $30 and include all the tools you need. The finish can withstand temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Update light fixtures
An easy upgrade is to update your light fixtures. Replace ceiling light covers in bedrooms and hallways, especially if they are cracked, discolored or outdated. Light covers are usually less costly to replace than buying new lights. Consider a few additional table lamps to a room to add light to dark corners; a good place to look for accent lights are your local Goodwill or thrift store. And don’t overlook the porch light. If the light is dim, or shows extensive wear, buy an updated one for outside your front door and replace the bulb with a brighter one. While you’re at it, stock on up light bulbs next time they are on sale, too. More light conveys a sense of space and openness, while dim light makes rooms seem smaller and dingier. Replace any bulbs that are burnt out.

Replace light switch and outlet covers
Sometimes little things have a big impact. Light switch plates and outlet covers can become stained over time, scratched, dirty and out of date. Replacing your visible and most used light switches and outlet covers is a fast and inexpensive upgrade.

Refinish and caulk your bathtub
If your tub is looking old and grungy, but it’s not in your budget to replace it, give it a new look instead with a tub and tile refinishing kit. Rust-Oleum has a highly rated one that’s less than $30. The acrylic applies a smooth, porcelain finish while also helping to fight moisture and resist corrosion.

While you’re there, put down some fresh caulk. Not only will your bathroom look better, new caulk around your shower and bathtub protects your bathroom floors and walls from leaks. The good news is caulk is cheap and easy to apply, and brightens your bathroom. You can use a caulking gun for larger areas, or the small squeezable tubes for smaller projects. Be sure to remove the old caulk first before you apply the new material.

Refresh kitchen cabinets
Replacing kitchen cabinets is often an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. If your cabinets are structurally sound and in good shape, sometimes a fresh coat of paint and new hardware are all you need to give them an update. To paint your cabinets, all you will need is paint, sandpaper, a paintbrush and some elbow grease. The new look will transform your kitchen at a fraction of the cost of even cheap cabinets.

Once the paint is dry, update the handles and drawer pulls on your cabinets for another quick and low-cost upgrade. Remove one handle to see the number of screws and spacing required. Your new hardware will need to have the same configuration.

Got Bigger Plans?

If your home is in need of more than just minor upgrades, consider a Tower home equity loan or line or credit for a low-rate way to pay for larger projects.

Tighten door knobs and hinges
Loose doors, hinges and knobs convey a sense of disrepair and even neglect—certainly not the message you want to send to your guests or prospective buyers! Check all of your door hinges and knobs to see if any are loose or need replaced. This is a cheap and easy way to add value to your home, according to Forbes. Plus, it doesn’t require any special skills or expertise, and a screwdriver may be the only tool you’ll need.

Resources: Forbes, Money Talks News, This Old House