Welcome to Brighter Home Projects! In this series, we explore DIY home renovation, repair, and a variety of related projects by taking to heart this simple idea: you are capable of more than you realize. Each installment focuses on home improvement projects, information, and advice aimed growing both your skill set and your self-confidence.
Everyone Needs a Project that’s Easy on the Wallet
As a dedicated believer in Do-It-Yourself (DIY), I often have the urge to do something – anything – around the house. For instance, I could raise my living room ceiling by a few feet, but my ambitions don’t always match my time or budgets.
So, to keep from climbing the walls as you wait for that next big project to come around, you should always have a handy list of quick and inexpensive home updates that will spruce up your house without emptying your wallet. To get you started, I’ve assembled five different home upgrades I’ve completed around my home with great success.
1) Hide Your Cables and Cords
Setting up a new home entertainment center is exciting. But sometimes, you get so busy installing the various audio and video components that you leave a bunch of cables and cords hanging down the wall between the TV and the rest of that fancy new media system. It just looks ugly, and if you don’t correct this during installation, it will be difficult to correct later.
While many different home kits and options exist, we have a simple solution for you:
- Cut two holes in the wall – one behind the TV and one behind your media console;
- Attach two recessed cable plates; and
- Run the cables down the wall.
Cheap, easy, and looks great in no time!
2) Create a Smart Home
While this one isn’t necessarily cheap, it is easy to complete, and from a budget standpoint, it’s really scalable. You need to start with a smart home hub, such as a Wink HUB (which sells for about $70), and a z-wave compatible device (light switches start at about $35).
While installing a single switch may not seem exciting, you’ll love the ability to control your lights while you’re away from home, and over time, you can continue to add on to your system and control nearly everything in your home from afar. Trust me, this is a great ongoing project that continues to deliver value and satisfaction.
3) Upgrade Your Outlets, Switches, and Wall Plates
If a smart home technology isn’t something you’re ready to jump into, an easy aesthetic update to your home is as simple as upgrading from the bland stock fittings to some more attractive options. I mean, do you really LIKE those standard white outlets and switches?
Switches, outlets, and wall plates come in an amazing array of styles and colors, so there’s bound to be something to suit your taste. And if wiring isn’t your forte, simply replacing standard wall plates (the white ones with the exposed screws) with nicer exposed screw or screwless wall plates spruces up a room with ease!
While you’re at it, if you still have boring return air registers, remove each one, pick a spray paint color that best suits your décor, and give it some new life with an attractive new color. There is no reason you have to stick to the same bland stock options when it’s simple to amp up the style in any room!
4) Install Dimmers in the Bathroom
Yes, I did just suggest installing dimmer switches in your bathroom – some folks look at me funny when I suggest this.
We all have those times when we have to use the restroom at 2 am. The last thing you want to do is to flip that light switch to full brightness, killing any chance you have for getting back to sleep easily. With a dimmer switch, you can control the brightness of the lights to match the time of day and your need.
And let’s not forget to mention the added ambiance of dimmed lights as you enjoy a relaxing soak in the tub (not that I’d know anything about that).
Basic dimmers start around $20 at your local home improvement box store, but if you do your homework, you can find some very cool options at great prices. NOTE: if your bathroom fan and lights are controlled by the same switch (as in, they turn on together by flipping one switch), you’ll need to first wire the fan to its own switch, as it will not work properly when attached to a dimmer.
5) Update Your Doorknobs and Cabinet Handles
My wife recently pointed out that all of our door knobs are of the uber-cheap, low-end gold variety that come in a 12-pack for a price not much higher than an extra-value meal. On top of that, the drawer and cabinet handles, and the other metal hardware throughout the house are not a whole lot better in terms of quality. Not only did this prove to be an easy problem to fix, it was completed on a limited budget!
You can find many options for “nice” doorknobs online at only $6-$20 each. If you find a style that you like, but the cost of a whole home replacement isn’t in your current budget, simply replace one door or set of cabinets at a time, but make sure to write down the brand and model number for future reference.
Shopping online is a great way to save money on nice doorknobs, hinges, and hardware, but when it comes to drawer and cabinet handles, I recommend shopping locally. This way, you can bring along one of your existing handles so you can compare the size and style before you buy.
Do you have any recommendations for home upgrades that are simple, budget-friendly, and sate that DIY jones? Share with us in the comments!