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Big home projects are exciting, but they can also be overwhelming, stressful, and expensive. In recent years, I’ve learned that making small, inexpensive upgrades to your home can have just as much of an impact as the big ones. Smaller projects can be the best learning experiences and for me, the best DIY confidence boosters.
Here are 10 home improvements under $50 that you can do now!
1. Paint or upgrade doors
When we changed out all the doors in our home, I was met with major sticker shock. Doors are expensive, and when you think of how many exist in your home, the cost to upgrade climbs very quickly.
One of the fastest and most impactful ways to upgrade a hallway is painting the doors. Doors are large, so using dramatic colours can really change the landscape of a room. You’ve probably seen grey and green doors popping up on Instagram and Pinterest quite often recently, but I’m partial to a classic black or white door.
Another inexpensive way to upgrade dated, hollow-core doors is to add trim detailing. There are hundreds of options for decorative trim, and with just a saw and a nail gun, you can give any boring door some dimension. One of my favourite blogs, Love Create Celebrate, did an amazing job of transforming their doors using this method. Check out the link below!
2. Change out hardware
A very non-permanent, renter friendly upgrade that anyone can do is to change out hardware. Cabinet pulls, hinges, door handles, faucets, etc. are all fairly cheap and can be changed out with just a screwdriver.
Swapping our door handles from builder grade shiny gold (hi, 70’s!) to matte black made such an impact in our home, and now I’m itching to upgrade to black hinges as well. My absolute favourite place for hardware is Amazon. Our black door handles come in all types (locking, privacy, regular), and you can even purchase cabinet pulls in full sets.
3. Build shelving
Scrap wood can be re-worked into shelving for free, but building something aesthetically pleasing doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
One of the most impactful projects I’ve ever done was creating 6ft shelves for our living room. I purchased 3 cheap pieces of pine, some stain, and brackets (mine are from Hobby Lobby, but similar below). For about $30 per shelf, the entire vibe of the space changed. To this day, those shelves are my favourite feature in our home.
4. Clean up or add details to landscaping
Landscaping is my least favourite task of all time, but with some elbow grease and very little cost, you can change an outdoor space completely. Cleaning out brush and leaves, removing weeds, and trimming existing plants are all free.
Beyond cleanup, DIY concrete decorations are my favourite low-cost way to add something unique to outdoor spaces. It might feel intimidating, but you’ll get the hang of it fast. The best part? A bag of concrete is only about $5 and can be used to make anything from planters to stepping stones to adorable little globes or mushrooms.
5. Explore contact paper
Something I see a lot on Tiktok right now is the use of contact paper for renter-friendly DIY projects. Contact paper is cheap, comes in many patterns and textures, and causes no damage. It can be used to cover countertops, tables, cabinets, and almost anything else you’re looking to resurface.
Most recently, I learned that contact paper can be used under primer and paint on things like appliances to make them bold and fun without damaging the original finish. Amazon has tons of options, and the possibilities are endless.
@baker.blooms Reply to @mystical_poncho here we go. Should I do the top gold?? #colorfulhome #diyhomeprojects #eclectichome #contactpaperdiy #dishwasherhack #AFairShotWithBlock ♬ original sound – Erich
6. Create an accent wall
We all know that accent walls can be powerful, but they are also really cost effective. Scrap wood, murals, and trim work are all very inexpensive options to create a focal point in your room, but my favourite accent wall in our home was actually created with dollar store stickers!
I purchased these faux wood wood stickers from Dollarama (a Canadian chain) and simply applied them in a chevron pattern at the end of our hallway. Everyone always assumes it’s real wood, and it really looks like it is! Not bad for an hour of work and $15.
7. Replace a light fixture
When we first purchased our home back in 2014, replacing the dated light fixtures was at the top of my to-do list. Lighting doesn’t immediately scream “home improvements under $50”, but I highly suggest shopping around as big box stores can charge hundreds for light fixtures that can be found elsewhere for a fraction of the cost. To my surprise, I was able to purchase 3 large lighting fixtures on Amazon for less than $50 each. The full blog post on this upgrade is linked below.
The fixtures I installed at the time are already fairly outdated, so I’ll be looking to do this again very soon. I’ve already got some options under $50 in mind for our hallway.
8. Update old outlets and light switches
Every time we renovate a room, we make progress in upgrading all of the outlets in our home. Going from yellowed receptacles and knob light switches to modern styles is just one of those little touches that makes a huge difference.
Beyond looking pretty, upgrading your switches and outlets can make them more useful. Recessed receptacles for behind furniture, LED lit plates for dark spaces, snap on covers with no visible screws, USB ports, coloured plugs, smart plugs, etc. are all amazing options. This is also a project that doesn’t require much commitment – one outlet at a time!
9. Re-do the caulking (everywhere!)
As a huge fan of caulk (lol), I will always advocate for replacing the caulking anywhere it’s noticeably wearing right away. Fishing work is important to the overall look of a home, and caulking is one of those things that doesn’t last forever.
Most noticeably, the caulking around sinks, showers, toilets, doors, and windows will crack and stretch with time. There are different types of caulk for every application, and a whole tube normally falls under $10. It might seem intimidating, but practice makes perfect. Over time, I’ve become really pretty good with caulk (lol, again) if I do say so myself.
My go-to for finishing work is DAP Alex Plus.
10. Paint your ceilings
If you live in an older home like I do, you might not realize how off-white your ceiling actually is. I recently painted our basement walls and the second I started priming near the top, it became clear that the ceiling was not actually white. Cleaning just couldn’t remove the yellow tone, but giving it a fresh coat of ceiling paint brightened the entire room in a way I can’t even describe.
If you’re looking for a really dramatic look, there are some really amazing room transformations that feature black ceilings.
For under $50, what have you really got to lose?
In the end, home upgrades can seem overwhelming, but there are small and affordable options that can a have big impact.
Which of these 10 home improvements under $50 do you plan to take on next?