Think having a nice house is expensive? These clever things will prove you wrong

Smart upgrades at silly prices.

ByChristina X. Wood
Originally Published: 
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When you have a home with needs, every trip to the hardware or department store can become a bank-account-draining situation. It doesn’t have to be like that. For loads of $100 solutions sitting on a shelf in that retailer, there are brilliant alternatives on Amazon at a fraction of the price. Sometimes it’s a genius hack conjured up by the brilliant minds that congregate in the reviews section, and sometimes it is seemingly the same item for a price that’s more within striking range. So if you think having a nice house is expensive, these clever things will prove you wrong.

If you are trying to happily share your space with a fur-covered roommate, you can stop buying expensive tools for keeping that fur off your clothes and furniture because the smart, inexpensive solution is here. If you wish you had more elbow grease to throw at cleaning a stained shower or bath, you will find that here, too. And if you want an amazing bathroom upgrade but your remodel budget is under $40, I have just the thing.


A shoe rack & organizer that stacks

Create order in your entryway or in the closet with this two-tier stackable shoe rack. It’s stackable so you can add more units as your shoe collection grows, and it's expandable so you can maximize your storage and fit it into your space. Meanwhile, it holds your entire collection in one small footprint so you can see your options. Genius. It comes in three colors.


This bath pillow for a comfier soak in the tub

If your bath soaks are marred by a hard tub surface that gives you no place to rest your neck and shoulders, suction this luxury bath pillow into the tub and rest your head on its plush and springy pillow. It’s waterproof and has seven suction cups to hold it firmly, which means it’s maintenance-free and will stay put as you drift into dreamy relaxation.


The mineral oil your cutting board thirsts for

To prevent your cutting board from drying out and cracking, condition it with this food-grade mineral oil. It’s flavorless, odorless, and easy to apply — just rub it onto your butcher block using a rag or your hand and let it sit for four hours. The oil can also be used on knives and appliances, and one bottle should last for years.


A cozy throw blanket with a chunky waffle knit

Drape this soft throw blanket over furniture or place it in a decorative basket to have on hand whenever you want to get cozy. The chic waffle-knit design adds a ton of texture and the lightweight polyester fleece fabric is OEKO-TEX certified, breathable, and shed-free. Choose from four sizes and 22 colors, including charcoal, silver gray, and navy peony.


This gorgeous wooden cutting board for prepping & serving food

This beautiful wooden cutting board gets extra points for versatility. As one reviewer wrote, “I am using this board in more ways that I had planned... for food prep when making fresh pasta, but also as a board for serving because it is so pretty.” It’s made of durable acacia wood with a natural gradient and comes in four sizes to choose from.


These smart light bulbs so you never have to get up to turn on the lights

Screw these two smart lightbulbs into any light socket, connect them to your phone, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant, and never get up to turn the lights on or off again. You can set color schemes so your bedroom is a moody pink or the kitchen is bright white. You can even upload a favorite photo and let the app pull the color scheme from that to light your space. Reviewers love them and gave them nearly 5,000 five-star ratings.


The reusable pet hair remover that works so well

If you have a pet, you know the struggle to keep their fur from blanketing every surface. This pet hair remover is the solution. Rub it back and forth a few times on the couch, carper, or your pants, and that fur is gone. Or rather it’s stored in the handle of this genius device where you can easily toss it in the trash. It works better than the vacuum cleaner and is so easy, you can do it while chatting on the phone or before sitting on the couch.

“Genuinely obsessed with this product!” said one of the 98,000 five-star reviewers. “I’ve never been able to clean up my dog's hair so effectively on furniture until I got this ... If I could give 6 stars I would.”


These scrub attachments that turn a power drill into a cleaning machine

Turn your power drill into a cleaning and polishing powerhouse with this set of drill brush attachments. There’s a color-coded set of brushes in a variety of shapes, scouring pads so you can easily grab the abrasiveness that suits your surface, and a five-piece sponge set for scrubbing pans and cooktops. This means cleaning will be faster and easier.

“I love how much faster and efficiently these bad boys clean!” said one reviewer. “... This is the first time in my life that I had a spotless, white tub!”


A cushy mattress pad that softens & helps cool your bed

Add a layer of softness while protecting your mattress from spills and accidents by adding this pillow top mattress pad to your bedding. It has deep pockets so it stays on even if you have a thick mattress, and is filled with a fluffy microfiber down alternative for softness and improved air circulation, which can help you to sleep cooler even on a memory foam mattress.

“I purchased this because of the good reviews and price point. I'm extremely happy. Good quality. There is a nice ‘fluff’ to it and it doesn't pull or stretch,” one satisfied sleeper shared.


These handsome oil dispenser bottles with 2 spout styles

If you buy your cooking oil in huge bottles at a big box store, pour them into this oil dispenser set to make cooking easy and more fun, and to keep oil handy at your cooktop. They come with two styles of pour top so you can choose between a flip-top pour spout or one with a cover. They also come with a funnel and lids that seal tight. The square shape and amber color look pretty next to the stove, too.


The bidet attachment that transforms your bathroom with clean luxury

The best bathroom upgrade you will ever make can be had — in the form of this bidet attachment — for less than $30. It transforms your standard toilet into one with a bidet cleansing feature that might change your life. Get your nether regions just-showered clean anytime you like by sitting down on your commode and turning the dial. It is easy to install under the seat, taps the toilet’s water supply line for an always-clean inverted shower, and the water jet is completely adjustable.

“It is a lifechanging experience,” said more than one reviewer.


This set of candleholders for creating elegant displays

Create a beautiful and affordable lighting display on the mantle or amid your table setting with a few pillar candles and these three candleholders made from chic black metal. The varied heights make it easy to decorate under the candles and the thin and elegant shape works well on its own so you can create the look you want. The wide trays catch wax melt to help keep your table clean.


These 3 beautiful pillar candles

This set of three pillar candles is so affordable and beautiful they will transform your table setting, mantle, or bedroom lighting with the soft glow of clean-burning candles when lit. But even when unlit they are pretty. They come in 11 gorgeous colors, including a gold metallic, and are fragrance-free and dripless. And at this price for three, they will probably become your go-to candle choice.


A 12-pack of solar ground lights for stunning outdoor lighting

It’s fast and easy to create gorgeous landscape lighting with this 12-pack of waterproof solar ground lights. Each light has six LEDs that are powered by soaking up sunlight during the day. Just stick them in the ground and they will throw light up at your trees, illuminate a path, or create lighting amid your flower bed for subtle nighttime decor that makes your yard easier to navigate in the dark.


The all-season comforter that’s reversible

If you think upgrading your comforter is an expensive proposition, you will be pleased to discover this all-season comforter that is affordable, luxurious, and an ideal weight and thickness for most days of the year. It comes in eight beautiful colors and each one is reversible so you can use it alone — and change the look of your room just by flipping it over. Or, put it inside a duvet cover. The microfiber down alternative filling is completely machine washable, too.


These LED lights that transform your TV-watching experience

Peel and stick these USB-powered bias lighting strips to the back of your TV and be amazed at the transformation to your TV-viewing experience. The backlighting reduces the contrast if you watch in a darkened room, which makes colors pop and blacks appear more intense because your eyes aren’t straining so hard. You can also use these true white light strips with 3M adhesive backing as accent lighting anywhere in the house, too.


A white noise machine for better sleep or focus

When sleep proves evasive or a nearby coworker (or family member) is damaging your calm with phone chatter or other sounds, tap a button to turn on one of the calming sounds in this white noise machine. This fills your personal space with crashing waves, a rainstorm, a babbling brook or any of the six sounds available. You can set a timer so it turns off after you drift off and adjust the volume, all with the tap of a button.

“Finally, I can get a good night's sleep!” said one of the 20,000 five-star reviewers.


This LED bar for easy lighting upgrades

It’s simple to create better lighting in the kitchen, a closet, or any dark space by sticking this LED light bar under the cabinets, on the stair risers, or to a closet wall. You can set the brightness and adjust how long they stay on before automatically turning off with the remote. Or, just tap the lens to turn them on and off.

“This was PERFECT for attaching under the cabinet and above the sink!” said one reviewer.


A set of glass mixing bowls with lids

Outfit your kitchen with this set of durable glass mixing bowls with matching lids for easy meal prep and food storage. The bowls are made of strong tempered glass, ranging in size from 27 ounces to 4 quarts, and the clear, airtight plastic lids are BPA-free. The bowls are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning and the lids can be hand washed to maintain their shape.


This electric wine opener that’s so easy to use

Tired of struggling to get the cork out of the bottle every time you want to sip some wine? This electric wine opener removes a cork in seconds with almost no effort from you. Set it on the bottle top, press the button, and it drills into the cork with the corkscrew and removes it. Press another button to expel the cork. It sits on a charger stand, will remove 30 corks on a single charge, and comes with a foil cutter.


The quick & easy solution to your under-door draft

If you can feel a draft coming in through the bottom of your door, that’s the feeling of wasted energy budget. Stick this door draft stopper to the bottom of your door to fix that situation quickly and simply. The insulated weather stripping covers the gap while letting the door open and close easily. It is also super easy to install: Just peel and stick it to the bottom of your door.

“Now, the whole apartment is one temperature and I’m saving a good amount of money on my bill!” reported one reviewer.


These beautiful glass bulbs that water potted plants

If you are going away for a few days, make sure your plants survive without you by sticking these self-watering bulbs into their pots — filled with water — before you leave. The water in the bulbs replenishes the moisture in the soil as needed, providing water for up to two weeks. They also look beautiful so you will probably use them when you are home, too.

“After a 2 1/2 week vacation I came back to all my plants alive and healthy!” said one reviewer. “[And] these are great at keeping my plants watered when I get forgetful about watering them!”


A set of silky soft sheets for a startlingly low price

The soft and silky texture of this bed sheets set is brought to you by microfiber, which has a thread that’s as thin as silk but much less costly to produce. The end result has all the softness of silk and none of the cost. This complete set for $21 includes the top and bottom sheets as well as four pillowcases. Choose from seven colors and enjoy.

“Five stars!” reported nearly 99,000 reviewers.


These geometric wall shelves that make terrific displays

Create decorative displays on any wall easily with these wall-mounted floating shelves in intersecting squares. They create visual interest in any of the four colors on their own, and turn small collectibles, framed pictures, and even common items — perfumes in the bedroom, hair products in the bathroom, kitchen tools in the kitchen — into wall art.

“They look great in my office for little knick-knacks,” reported one reviewer.


A stainless steel utensil holder that looks great & tidies the kitchen

Get the clutter out of your kitchen drawers and make food prep more streamlined by setting this stainless steel utensil holder down on the counter and filling it with your most-used spatulas, whisks, spoons, and tools. It sits on a base that lets it spin 360 degrees so locating the tool you want is easy (and fun) and it has an optional divider so you can better organize your collection.

“It holds even supersized utensils easily, and the three compartments help to keep them organized,” said one reviewer. “It is sleek and modern which looks fabulous in my mid-century modern home.”


This fix for the shower door that stops drips on the floor

Does water get out of your shower and create a dangerous, wet mess on the floor? This shower door seal will put a stop to that. Just snap it over the bottom of your shower door and it creates a water barrier that won’t impede the door’s movement but keeps water inside. It takes almost no time to install.

“This is so much better than the junkie one that my installer used,” said one reviewer. “[That one] never really sealed up our zero-entry shower. This did the trick.”


These 2 smart plugs that let you control appliances with your phone

If you want to turn on a lamp, make coffee, or control your fan with your phone or by shouting commands at Alexa, this two-pack of smart plugs is the first step. Plug them into a wall outlet, connect them, and you can control whatever you plug into them however you choose. They work with most AIs or the Kasa app on your phone.

“I have about 10 of these in my home for a ton of different applications,” reported one reviewer. “Kasa has made these almost plug and play getting on your network and Alexa recognizes it without any effort. Perfect pairing for scenes or anything you want on a [timer]. These are my goto smart plugs and I have never been disappointed.”


The little traps that help get rid of fruit flies

Fruit flies and soil gnats are aggravating creatures. They fly in your face, swarm your food, and are very difficult to get rid of. But these sticky traps are here to help. Stick them in your potted plants and hang them over your fruit bowl and trash — those irritating flying insects will get stuck to them and perish. Slowly their population will be decimated by this and you will be free of them. All you have to do is throw away the traps when they are full and replace them. This is 18 traps in your choice of cute shapes.


A set of fancy glass coffee mugs

Create the look and feel of a fancy coffee bar with this set of coffee mugs made from shock-proof and food-safe tempered glass. They have cool-touch handles (ideal for piping hot drinks) and feature a weighted bottom for extra stability. You can use them for hot and cold beverages and easily clean them in the dishwasher when finished.


These pet bowls with a spill-proof silicone mat

If your pet leaves a mess on the floor or pushes the food dishes all over the room at every mealtime, switch to these pet bowls with a mat that holds those bowls still and catches all the spilled kibble and water. The mat has a lip around the edge so water doesn’t leak out and the 12-ounce bowls are weighted to help the kit stay still no matter how wild mealtime gets.


A handy stand that keeps the kitchen sponge cleaner

Instead of letting your dish sponge float around the kitchen or spend time marinating in dirty dishwater, set this cute ceramic sponge holder on the counter and give it a home. The sponge will dry out between uses so it can stay freer of mildew and won’t leave a damp spot on the counter.

“Looks super cute in my kitchen!” said one reviewer. “[The] sponge fits perfectly inside whether it is dry or wet.”


This white noise machine with 31 soothing sounds

Create a relaxing atmosphere and block distractions with this white noise machine that contains 31 sounds and melodies, including birds, rain, and lullabies. You can set the timer for 30, 60, or 90 minutes or let it play indefinitely throughout the night. A memory feature will remember the last setting it was on, and a night light will provide a soft glow.


A glam alarm clock that doubles as a mirror

Chic up your bedside table with this glam mirror clock. The numbers are big and bold so you can see them from across the room. But they dim automatically — or you can adjust the brightness manually — when the room goes dark so the light won’t keep you awake. You can use it as a mirror, too, so it’s perfect in a small space or for a quick hair check before a Zoom call. Choose from seven colors.


The smart controller for your garage door

Ever driven away from your house and wondered — hours into a road trip — if you left the garage door open? Install this smart garage control and you will never be tempted to turn around to find out again. You can look at your phone to see if it’s open or closed and close it if you did leave it open. If this is a chronic problem, just schedule the garage to close every day at a specific time. It’s handy for letting delivery people in to drop off packages or to lend your lawnmower to the neighbor when you aren’t home.


These rug grips that keep corners from curling

Reduce trip hazards and keep rugs in place with a set of these nonslip corner grips. They can be used on any floor surface, including carpet and stone, and are made of rubber so they won’t scratch your floors. They stick to the underside of your rug via a weatherproof adhesive and can be used on both indoor and outdoor mats.


The washable puppy pee pads that look like throw rugs

If you are housebreaking your puppy or just need a place for your fur baby to go if there’s an emergency when you are out, these washable pee pads are so much better than disposable ones. They look like a cute throw rug — there are two patterns to choose from — so your place doesn’t take on a dog kennel vibe and you can throw them in the wash for a thorough cleaning after they get used. This is a two-pack so you have one on hand when the other is in the wash.


A luxe-looking faux fur rug at a bargain price

Create a fur-laden, Game of Thrones interior by draping this ultra-soft faux fur rug over a chair, dropping it in front of the fireplace, or setting it where your feet land when you get out of bed. It comes in eight colors and the bottom is a nonslip faux suede so it stays where you put it.

“It looks so nice next to my bed and I love feeling the softness under my feet when I first get up in the morning,” said one reviewer. “Definitely recommend!”


The ceiling fan duster that makes it so easy to clean

Once you look up and see how dusty the blades of your ceiling fan have gotten, you will need to do something about it. This ceiling fan duster is the easy way to handle that. The handle goes from 27 to 47 inches long so you can reach your fan, and the microfiber dusting end slides right over the blade to grab the dust on the top and bottom at once. That dust won’t rain down on you, either, because it will be trapped by thousands of fluffy fibers. When your fan is clean, wash the duster and let it dry.


A stainless steel cleaner & protector made with coconut oil

Clean your stainless steel appliances with this coconut oil-based stainless steel cleaner kit so the kitchen shines like new. It leaves behind a protective barrier that rejects fingerprints so you will spend less time cleaning and be happier with the results. It smells like lavender and comes with a specialized cleaning cloth.

“This product not only smells great and is safe to use around my dogs, but it also leaves ZERO streaks behind!” said one reviewer.


This squeegee for cleaning all your windows fast

If you are still using paper towels to clean the windows, this window squeegee will rock your world. Dip the microfiber cleaning cover into some soapy water and scrub the windows of your house or car clean. Then use the squeegee to remove the water and dirt, leaving behind spotless windows. It’s actually fun to do and super fast. The squeegee head rotates to get at all the glass, no matter the angle, and the handle has an extension pole so you can reach high windows.