Contractors say these are their favorite hacks of all time for upgrading your home for cheap

Easy upgrades that make a huge difference.

Contractors say these are their favorite hacks of all time for upgrading your home for cheap
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There are professionals who spend every day troubleshooting ways to make homes function better, look better, and last longer. Their day job is to know the tricks and pro tips that do this quickly, effectively, and without spending too much money. They have seen what updates turn out well and which upgrades are not worth the time and money. Contractors say these are their favorite hacks of all time for upgrading your home for cheap.


Add LED lighting systems

"Customized home features like solid core doors, advanced LED lighting systems, and built-in closet solutions transform a standard space into a standout property,” says Sherri Berry, licensed realtor and manager of MidSouth Construction. While outfitting your entire house may seem overwhelming, you can start by simply swapping old light bulbs out and replacing them with these LED light bulbs. They will save money and throw a custom-colored light in your space. Choose the color with an app on your phone. You can control them with your smart home system, too.


Integrate built-in storage to your closet

This closet organizer starter kit is an easy way to DIY a closet organization project and is a terrific investment in your home’s current livability and future value. It includes two adjustable shelves and four fixed ones as well as adjustable hanging bars. "These updates are much more impressive to a potential home buyer than having the newest trends that every other house will have,” says Berry.


Create closet storage solutions

For a cheaper solution to achieve a similar effect, these acrylic shelf dividers organize the closet setup you already have, making it easy to stack folded items, stash purses and backpacks, and keep everything in order but also visible. This is a set of eight but you can purchase them in smaller sets. They come in three colors.


Add over- & under-cabinet LED lighting

"Adding over and under cabinet LED lighting will make an existing cabinetry suddenly look new and updated!” says Berry. “Many of the LED lighting systems today are simply plug and play!” Like these LED lights that stick under cabinets and can be controlled with the included remote or by touching the lens. And they turn themselves off. “No electrician needed!” she says.


Update your garage doors with paint

Berry’s advice? "Update garage doors with paint! Builder-grade garage doors are so boring! Mark off some ‘windows’ with tape and paint some faux windows across the top." Use this latex paint for this project. It comes in 39 colors, is perfect for outdoor painting projects, and won’t chip, fade, or smell bad while you are using it.


Add faux windows to your garage

For an even easier way to fake the look of windows on your garage, stick these magnetic faux garage door windows to it. "People are surprised at how realistic these look from a distance and the curb appeal it adds,” says Berry. “Replacing the garage door to an insulated door with windows of course is great — but very costly!" You can choose from five looks — add some hinges, too — to get exactly the garage door look you want.


Swap in new cabinet hardware

"Cabinet hardware is truly easy to swap out,” says Brandon Walker, superintendent of ASAP Restoration LLC, “and it can make a dated space look brand new again in the blink of an eye." It is affordable, too. This pack of 20 cabinet pull knobs will transform your kitchen in a few minutes, giving it a modern sophistication that will likely leave you wondering why you thought it needed to be remodeled.


Add soft-close technology

"New hardware doesn’t just include the knobs and handles on the outside of cabinets either,” according to Walker. “It also includes the soft-close technology or door sliders for higher-end cabinets." Replacing a cabinet’s interior hardware can be expensive — but worth it. You can also silence cabinets and drawers with door bumpers. This stops them from banging closed and is peel-and-stick easy.


Add door sliders to cabinets

When you are ready to enjoy a high-end feel — even if your cabinets are builder grade — to your kitchen or closet hardware, replace the sliders with these soft-close drawer slides. They swap out easily and give drawers a smooth slide and soft stop. Choose the size and quantity you need.


Update your backsplash

"One of the most recent upgrades that we’ve done is replacing countertops and backsplash tiles in a kitchen,” says Walker. “These things aren’t the cheapest upfront costs, but on the back end, they make a huge difference in the sale price of the home.” If you aren’t ready for a construction project, try out the look with this inexpensive peel-and-stick backsplash. It can be installed in an afternoon with a few tools and some patience. Most people will think you remodeled.


Paint your walls

"Paint is not only a truly affordable way to upgrade any home from an ROI standpoint, but it also makes the space smell fresh and new,” says Walker. You can completely change the vibe of a room, refresh a tired-looking space, and modernize for very little money by painting the walls with this all-in-one paint and primer. Since the primer is built in, it typically takes only one coat. There are 44 colors to choose from.


Paint accents in your space

If you like your wall colors, you can also use paint on accent areas of your space. Transform a boring chair or piece of furniture or tie elements together by making them part of the color scheme by painting accent pieces or trim with this Country Chic paint. The chalk finish covers blemishes and creates a lovely finish and there are so many colors to choose from. You can paint almost any surface with this, from metal to plastic, to glass.


Swap in new light fixtures

Alice T. Chan, a designer and project director at Freemodel, a pre-sale home renovation company, says "People often underestimate the significance lighting has in a home. Swapping out outdated recessed lights with new LED versions can make a substantial difference in the ambiance." This modern, low-profile light fixture is a great example of a modern update that can have a huge impact. Choose the light color and temperature and watch your space transform.


Switch to warm-white LED lights

"Older lights tend to emit a yellow hue whereas newer lights offer a range of options,” says Chan. Switch out those older bulbs for these warm-white LED bulbs. It will completely change the mood in the room. “I recommend opting for 3000K warm lights and no higher than 4000K white lights,” she says. These are perfect.


Paint your interior front door a deep hue

"An excellent way to add high impact in your home for very little investment is by painting your interior doors in a dark hue like black or charcoal,” says Chan. “This simple change instantly elevates the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of your living space." This door and trim paint offers several color options and dries quickly so you can that door back in action fast.


Declutter your space

"Begin by decluttering to gain clarity on the space and then craft a wishlist outlining how you envision its functionality,” says Chan. Bag up soft goods — towels, blankets, out-of-season clothing, and jackets — in these vacuum storage bags and pull the air out of the bags with the included pump or your vacuum. Those goods will go from eating an entire closet to sitting in a tidy stack on one shelf. Now you have room to declutter your living space.


Organize what you do need to keep

Part of decluttering means finding a place for the things you do need to keep. Clean out the closets even more by storing sweaters, a shoe collection, bags, or holiday decorations under the bed in these big, flat storage containers designed for the purpose. You can find things stored in these two bags easily because the top is clear. There are handles on the sides for quick retrieval. And the top zips completely away to make organization a breeze.


Don't ignore your garage

"While every room benefits from updates, the garage is often overlooked or placed at the bottom of the priority list,” according to Chan. “Although it's one of the most frequently used spaces in the house — as it serves as the entry point for many homeowners on a daily basis — it’s usually a dark, cluttered, unwelcoming space." Create some order in there with this easy-to-assemble, affordable storage unit. It holds lots of tools, sporting goods, and other items. Create a wall of them to organize all your toys and tools. You will enjoy the visual order and the ability to find what you are looking for.


Add recessed lighting to your garage

"Finishing the garage with drywall, paint, recessed lights, and an epoxy floor will transform how you feel each time you return home," suggests Chan. An easy place to start is with lighting. This motion sensor downlight turns on when you enter the room and off again when you leave so it boosts the ambiance and makes carting gear to and from the car easier.


Paint everything

"Hands down the highest return on investment is paint,” says Chan. “Paint is pure magic. It has the ability to truly transform spaces and features like nothing else. Paint everything — the body of the house, trim, gutters, doors, walls, ceilings, cabinets, garage floors, tile, bathtubs, rusty sheds, the possibilities are endless." Keep a good paint brush on hand so you can do this when the mood strikes. This one has angled brushes, won’t leave streaks, and comes in three sizes.


Switch to phone-controlled lighting

"Whether it is dimmable, phone-controlled lighting, programmable shower systems, or thermostats — these tools bring your home to a new level of functionality, while often providing minor aesthetic enhancements (goodbye clunky thermostat)," says Chan.

These LED strip lights are an easy way to step into the world of app-controlled lighting. Peel and stick them into cabinets, under furniture, or anywhere that a colorful glow would enhance your space. You can choose the colors, control them with your voice via your smart home, and set them to sync with the music.


Swap in a smart thermostat

This smart thermostat from Amazon is a terrific option, especially if you have an Amazon Alexa smart home. It’s easy to install, lets you shout at Alexa to turn up the heat or make the room cooler, and looks sleek and decorative on the wall.


Install new house numbers

"Speaking of curb appeal, that's another major area where I find most homes could benefit from some smart upgrades,” says Justin White, a contractor and the VP of Marketing at Overhead Doors. “Things like planting fresh landscaping, installing new house numbers, or even just adding some exterior light fixtures."

This solar-powered address sign is an easy way to boost the visibility and style of your house numbers. It is solar powered so it turns on automatically at sunset, illuminating the numbers. You can stick it into the ground or mount it to a wall. And the big, bold numbers are easy to spot.


Give your landscaping some attention

Don’t neglect your landscaping. Put on this pair of bamboo gardening gloves when you head outdoors to spruce up your outdoor space. The stretchy, breathable fabric is comfortable and the palm and fingers are coated with a textured rubber coating that protects your hands from sharp, abrasive, dirty, and stinging things.


Add exterior lights

These solar garden lights add illumination and a whimsical look to a garden bed or plantings and they are so easy to deploy. Stick them into the ground and let the integrated solar charger power them. It soaks up the sun all day and turns them on at night. The effect is magical. It looks like fireflies — or fairies — have invaded your garden.


Add storage & organizers in high-traffic areas

"On the interior, built-in organization systems are another upgrade I always recommend,” says White. “Especially in high-traffic areas like mudrooms and entryways." Set this coat rack at the entryway so you always have a tidy place to drop a bag, hang a hat, or stash your shoes. It has nine hooks, two rows of storage shelves, and a bench to sit on. It comes in five colors.


Invest in a storage bench

"Things like cubbies, shelving, and bench seating with hidden storage underneath instantly cut down on clutter while elevating the space," says White. This bamboo shoe rack is small enough to tuck into a hallway or beside a door — under a row of wall hooks — to create the perfect place to stop and take off, or put on, shoes and a jacket. It keeps that clutter from spreading into your home.


Utilize motion-sensor lighting

"Motion sensor lights are a game-changer,” says White. “No more stubbing your toe in a dark hallway!” Wherever you need a spot of illumination, stick one of these lighting strips. They have a remote control for setting the color temperature and turn on automatically when they sense motion. “Those are the kinds of affordable projects that just make your daily life more functional while also stylishly updating the home,” he says.


Update your hardware

"One easy win I recommend for any home is updating hardware like knobs and pulls,” says Adrian Pedraza, owner of The California Home Buyer, a professional house-flipping company. “It's inexpensive but so impactful. In five minutes you can completely change the aesthetic of your cabinets or drawers." Unscrew the pulls you have now, screw in these cabinet knobs, and stand back to marvel at how much better the entire room looks. They come in six colors.


Add artwork to disguise bare walls

"I also always suggest adding artwork or plants wherever you can,” says Pedraza. Don’t wait until you find the perfect one-of-a-kind piece and are rich enough to afford it. This set of four botanical wall prints is easy and affordable and brings a bit of nature into your space. They are framed and ready to hang. “They bring personality and disguise bare walls or shelves,” he says. They come in two sizes.


Integrate plants into your space

Set a favorite plant in this indoor plant stand to get it up off the floor so it becomes a standalone decorative piece. This stand will protect your floors — it comes with protective pads — and you can choose the height by flipping it over.


Add greenery in new places

Greenery doesn’t have to take the form of growing plants, though. This eucalyptus wreath brings the feel of nature indoors while bringing personality and covering walls — or doors. It looks realistic but will never die or fade, since it is artificial. You can add decorations to it, remove stems, and arrange it however you like.


Put in pathway lights to accent your yard

"Outdoor lighting makes a big impression too — both functional and stylish,” says Pedraza. These solar outdoor lights are easy to implement. Stick them into the ground and let the sun charge them to add light to paths. Stick them into potted plants to create outdoor lamps. They boost the safety and aesthetics of your outdoor spaces. “Pathway spots or soffit lights define your landscaping without breaking the bank,” he says.


Add storage solutions to reduce clutter

"As for clutter, it's amazing how much nicer a space feels when everything has a designated home,” says Pedraza. “Even just 15 minutes of tidying can improve the look and flow of an area." Having a place for everything is key. These clear storage bins are so useful to have on hand, and tuck easily into closet storage, under beds, or anywhere you need one. This is a pack of four.


Create designated homes for your things

Use these clear plastic stackable storage containers to stash everything from crafts to clothing on shelves in the closet, pantry, or garage. They are clear so you can see what’s in them. The lids fit on easily and won’t pop off. They stack. And this is a pack of six so you can organize an entire area with them.