Contractors say you're making your home look cheap if you aren't doing any of these things
When it comes to quick home improvements, we asked the experts.
Updated: Sep. 9, 2023 Originally Published: March 26, 2023
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Maintaining a home is not only expensive but also requires strong attention to detail. From the upkeep of fresh paint to decluttering your space, there are a ton of surprising ways to elevate your home on a budget. And, who better to give us home advice than expert contractors with years of professional experience?
Ahead, you’ll learn incredible tips and home hacks that will prevent your home from looking cheap and outdated. Keep scrolling to discover 30 minor things that make a big impact when you want to take your humble abode to the next level.
01 Removing brass outlet covers
Bill Samuel, a residential real estate developer at
Blue Ladder Development, suggests staying clear of brass materials in your home. "If you have any brass hardware in your house, this will make your space look dated and cheap,” he explains. “Brass hardware was a common builder-grade finish back in the ‘80s and ‘90s so people typically associate this style as old and cheap. Swapping out this hardware for newer modern looking hardware will give your living area a more modern and custom appearance."
Available in a set of two in either matte black or white, these
wall plates will give a modern finish to your wall. They come with all of the necessary mounting screws for an easy installation. 02 Using bright outlet covers for a cleaner appearance
"Older outlets that are almond colored or painted over can make your living room look cheap as well,” says Samuel. Pick up this white
architecture wall plate that’s earned a 4.7-star rating on Amazon and will achieve a clean fresh look throughout your home. “Make sure your outlets/switches/covers are paint free and bright white to give your living room space a clean finished look,” he continues. 03 Adding skirting boards & trim
Joe Ferguson, Architectural Joiner at
SkirtingsRus, recommends adding baseboard trims for a quick and easy way to elevate your walls. "Skirting boards and trim [are] the best way to fix awkward terminations and can help soften the look of a room. Best used between ceiling and walls to blur termination,” says Ferguson. This peel-and-stick paintable trim is super easy to install. After you measure your wall, simply cut the flexible adhesive to your desired length and stick it on. It also makes for an affordable solution to mask cracks and damaged corners. “Trims can also be used to add accentuate door jambs as well as decorate furniture and hide imperfections,” he adds. 04 Replacing your mailbox
Shlomo Cherniak, contractor and owner of
Cherniak Home Services, told Mic, “Something I've done a lot, replace the mailbox. It's inexpensive and simple to do.” This black stainless steel mailbox from Amazon comes with a customizable address kit that includes over 70 matching vinyl numbers. The numbers can be mounted vertically or horizontally.
“If your mailbox is near the road, people passing by notice it. If it's on your house, it adds to the curb appeal of your front entry. Over time, your mailbox starts looking a bit rough. Or worse, it looks like it's about to fall off the post. Replacing with a new more decorative mailbox is an easy home fix,” he explains.
05 Fixing leaky faucets
Kamil Kowalski, President of
LimakWay Remodeling, recommends buying faucet washers to easily fix a leaky faucet. "Leaky faucets can often be fixed with a simple washer change. If your faucet is dripping, it’s likely the washer has worn out and needs to be replaced. Do-it-yourselfers can quickly replace the washer and be done with this easy fix in a matter of minutes,” says Kowalski. This pack from Amazon comes with 58 pieces that include everything you need to fix your faucet. From flat and beveled washers to a variety of brass screws, you’ll be set. 06 Replacing your lightbulbs
David Nicholas, an electrician at
Sparky Base, loves these LED bulbs that give off a retro-warm light to create a cozy ambiance. Nicholas explains, "As a professional electrician, in my opinion, one of the simplest fixes homeowners can do is change out their standard lightbulbs for the modern Edison type that prominently displays the filament.” “These bulbs are common in high-end bars and restaurants as they produce a warm glow that is less harsh on the eyes than traditional LEDs and help create a relaxing environment,” he continues. “Harsh LED lighting also has the negative effect of highlighting imperfections on the walls and ceilings, which these Edison-style bulbs overcome” 07 Re-painting your walls
Painting your walls is no easy feat, but the best place to start is by making sure you have all of the right tools. For instance, these
drop cloths are a must for protecting your floors and furniture from paint. As Bruce Rodriguez, the owner of LAX Concrete Contractors, explains, "Many people think that painting is a simple task, but there are actually quite a few things to consider before starting a paint job. For instance, you need to choose the right type of paint for the job, as well as make sure you have all the necessary supplies — drop cloths, tape, etc." Snag these cloths in a pack of three for just under $10. 08 Using plants to refresh the air
When it comes to creating an inviting environment, Muhammad Waqar, Founder & CEO of
Build Pakistan, recommends plants. “Add some greenery: A lack of greenery can make a home look sterile and uninviting,” Waqar says. These indoor house plants from Amazon come in a pack of four and help to purify the air inside your home by filtering out toxins and pollutants. Whether you keep one on your desk, in your kitchen, on your window sill, or give it as a gift, you can’t go wrong. 09 Adding floating shelves
Waqar also suggests investing in floating shelves to help declutter your space, saying, “Cluttered countertops or lack of storage can make a home look messy and disorganized. Installing floating shelves like the
Love-KANKEI Floating Shelves Wall Mount can provide extra storage while also adding a touch of style to a room." With over 2,600 five-star reviews, these shelves are definitely popular. The set of two measures 16.5 inches long by 12 inches wide. They come in seven different color styles available to match any room. 10 Replacing cabinet hardware
"Old, worn, or mismatched hardware can make a home look outdated and unkempt,” Waqar adds. “Upgrading hardware on cabinets, doors, and drawers can add a touch of modernity and uniformity to a home. A product like the
Amazon Basics euro bar cabinet handle can help achieve a sleek, cohesive look in any room." With an impressive 4.8-star rating, thousands of shoppers agree that the steel handles are better than the expensive options on the market. Snag them in nine different lengths (ranging from five to 15 inches) and a variety of colors ranging from black to silver. 11 Replacing baseboards
Elevated renovations don’t have to break the bank. "Thin or poorly installed baseboards can make a home look cheap and unfinished,” says Waqar. “Installing high-quality, thick baseboards like
the M-D Building Products 75507 vinyl wall base can add a touch of elegance to a room while also hiding gaps between the floor and the wall." Measured at 60 feet per roll, this wall base comes in a silver-grey finish and can be bought in a five-pack for bigger jobs or spaces. 12 Fixing interior & exterior cracks
If you’re looking for a cheap fix to repair cracks, Scott Chambers, carpenter, contractor, and content editor of
BuildEazy, has the answer. "Cracks in exterior and interior walls can easily be fixed with caulk — sometimes referred to as ‘builders caulk’ — which should ensure a smooth, professional finish if it's applied carefully and will prevent the cracks that it’s been used to repair from getting worse or allowing any insect or rodents to get into your home through said cracks,” advises Chambers.
high-strength crack repair is the best alternative to spackling and works best for big damages like large cracks and holes. “Best of all though? It’s easy to use and you don’t need to be a pro to use it to mend cracking,” says Chambers. 13 Patching up drafty spots
Chambers also says he’s a “big fan of draft excluders and window sealants because even professionally fitted windows and doors can let a draft in, and out, adding a zero or two to your heating bills over time. Again, they’re easy fixes that can be used to decrease your bills and ensure your home stays warm when you want, and need it to.”
weatherstrip tape is available in black or white and can be bought from three to five millimeters. Not only is the foam material totally waterproof but it also refrains from dust build-up. The adhesive strip requires no glue — just simply peel, stick, and place. 14 Using attractive lighting
Troy Shaffer, the founder of
Blu Corporate Housing, says that "Adding new lighting fixtures or updating existing ones can make a big difference in the overall look of a room. It can make a house less cheap by providing a more modern, stylish atmosphere, such as this industrial floor lamp." This standing floor lamp is a great choice — it features three tiers of bulbs designed in a rustic cage. Each bulb features its own on-and-off button, so you can control the amount of light. 15 Patching up drywall
Shaun Martin, the owner and CEO of
We Buy Houses In Denver, says, "If you have any holes in your drywall, don't fret! You can easily patch them up with a bit of spackle and some mesh tape. All you need is a putty knife, the spackle, and the mesh tape." This drywall repair kit will help you get started. It includes scrapers, sandpaper, drywall repair patches, nozzle extenders, and wall repair paste that is formulated with non-toxic safe ingredients that dry in just four hours. 16 Fixing scratched floors
Martin also recommends adding this
best-selling wood filler to your cart. "Scratches on your wood or tile floors are unsightly, but they can be easily fixed with the right supplies from Amazon,” says Martin. “All you need is some wood filler, sandpaper, and polyurethane. With Amazon, you can buy all three items for a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional." This durable paste is a game-changer for repairing cracks and holes and leaves a smooth and water-resistant finish on your wood floors or furniture. 17 Addressing sticky doors
Jon Sanborn, Co-founder of
SD House Guys tells Mic, "If you have a door that is sticking or squeaking, try some lubricant such as WD-40 from Amazon. Spray a small amount onto the hinges and then use a cloth or brush to work it into the moving parts. This should help reduce friction and get your door working smoothly again." The hydrated formulated instantly provides a lubricant to loosen up stiff metal materials like hinges, chains, and wheels. With a 4.8-star rating, thousands of shoppers love this can because of its smart staw spray nozzle that gives an accurate application. 18 Paring down collectibles
Artem Kropovinsky, the founder at
Arsight, thinks it's important to pare down your tchotchkes rather than letting them pile up around the home. “Don't clutter your space with too many souvenirs and knickknacks. They make your home look messy and chaotic. Instead, choose a few meaningful items that showcase your personality and interest,” Kropovinsky says.
acrylic display case is a genius way to show off your collectibles because it mounts to the wall freeing up space. It features 25 compartments that each measure two inches wide and 1.8 inches long. 19 Filling up bare walls
Blank walls are destined to be a canvas for creativity. Kropovinsky says, "Don't settle for boring walls. Walls are an opportunity to express yourself and add some color and texture to your home. Instead of leaving them plain or painting them white, try some wallpaper, decals, or art prints that suit your style." This
affordable wall decal option from Amazon features a whimsical design of butterflies, flowers, and dandelions. The adhesive can easily be applied to any surface without damaging your walls, easily transforming your space. 20 Opting for better window treatments
Kropovinsky also added, "Don't use vinyl blinds as window treatments. They look cheap and outdated. Instead, opt for wood or fabric blinds that give your home a designer's touch."
Roller shades are the easiest way to instantly elevate your windows. Available in black, grey, and white, these blackout shades prevent harmful UV rays from coming in and are crafted from a waterproof material. They measure 72 inches long and 24 inches wide. 21 Hiding outdoor eyesores
For a chic and affordable way to disguise pipes, sprinkles, and anything else, Matt Bigach, home contractor, designer, and founder of
We Buy Houses For Cash, recommends a faux sandstone rock. "If a vent pipe or meter is ruining the attractiveness of your flower bed, cover it up with a faux rock that fits nicely on top and looks natural,” he explains. Available in a range of different sizes, this lightweight rock is a favorite amongst thousands of Amazon shoppers and is durable enough to withstand harsh weather conditions. 22 Using baskets for decorative storage
Bigach also loves a stylish basket to neatly store household products around your home. "Do images of neatly-organized pantries make you happy and envious? Place pantry essentials in designated baskets to give your disorganized closet a lovely, useful makeover,” he explains. These
eco-friendly woven baskets come in a set of three assorted sizes and are perfect for organizing towels, skincare products, snacks, office supplies, and anything else that needs to be neatly stored. 23 Focusing on better exterior lighting
"A new set of exterior lights may completely change the curb appeal of your home if you have 20 minutes and $40 to spare,” Bigach adds. “Therefore installing new lighting is more attractive than using outdated lighting." With 9,000 five-star reviews, this
outdoor patio string light is 50 feet long and features 50 clear bulbs. The bulbs are made with weatherproof technology, so you won’t have to worry about them getting destroyed in a storm. 24 Making your pathways safer
David Tully, a realtor of
eXp Realty Reno, loves these solar pathway lights to protect your home. “If your walkway lacks enough lighting, then burglars and intruders will get more encouraged to attack at night,” he explains. “To make the path safe for visitors and to add more romance to your garden path or sidewalk, you can install some solar-powered lights." Available in a pack of two or four, the lights are totally weatherproof and give a whimsical glow to your yard. 25 Protecting doors with kickplates
"Kick plates are broad strips of polished metals that are placed horizontally along the bottom edge of front doors to protect from kicks, scratches, and dog paws. Kick plates are not only decorative but also functional,” says Tully. If you’re looking for a
durable door kick plate option, this one from Amazon is designed for use on 36-inch wide doors. It’s 34 inches long and is made from a satin nickel finish. Plus, the pre-punched holes make the mounting process a breeze. 26 Upgrading your flooring
John Ward, contractor and account executive of
Mold Busters, says, "Worn-out, stained carpets or outdated linoleum flooring can make a home look cheap and uninviting. Upgrading to hardwood, laminate, or tile flooring can add value and give a home a more high-end look." This best-selling vinyl adhesive is made to look like high-end grey wood flooring. It also comes in a variety of different styles such as marble, light oak, and more. The pack includes 20 tiles which cover 20 square feet of space. Each tile measures 12 by 12 inches. 27 Adding more USB plugs
Making sure your home is equipt with the latest technology is key. Joe Borress, CEO of
Tri Star Electric & Automation, says, "[Take] a fresh look at the current technology, energy-efficient products, and modern aesthetics, especially regarding lighting and electricity. Installing more geometrical electric receptacles with USB ports for charging is an instant upgrade both visually and functionally."
wall charger is equipped with three USB plugs and has three traditional charging ports, so you can charge three devices that won’t block each other. This updated wall plug is not only great to keep in every room, but it’s also ideal for traveling. 28 Adding motion sensor lights
Another easy upgrade Borress suggests is to consider adding
motion sensor lights, saying "Installing battery-powered LED tape lights or motion sensor lights under cabinets or in closets are also inexpensive and thoughtful ways to upgrade a space." Available in a pack of six, these super bright lights automatically turn on within 10 feet of motion and will turn off if there is no motion after 15 seconds to help sustain the battery life. There are no screws required — just simply peel back the adhesive and stick them on any surface. 29 Fully replacing old faucets
Anthony Cafagna, owner of
All City Plumbing, told Mic, "Nothing makes a bathroom look cheap more than faucets that are leaking or have rust. Swapping out faucets is a simple and cost-effective way to refresh the look and feel of your bathroom. Replacing fixtures is also a great way to update both the aesthetic and function of your bathroom in a minimally invasive way.” Gafagna explains, “Not only is it simple to install a new faucet yourself, but the cost of purchasing a faucet is a lot cheaper than replacing the entire sink or vanity. Mueller has a single-hole bathroom sink faucet that comes with everything you need to install it in one box.”
This sink faucet is designed from durable stainless steel and features a sleek single-handed lever. The installation process is also super easy to mount and comes with everything you need.
30 Brightening up wall photos
Keith Melanson, founder of
Renos Group, recommends incorporating this LED picture light to create an elevated ambiance. "This is the cheapest and easiest way to add to your lighting as well as your wall hangings. A picture light lends your house the same ambiance as an art gallery and allows you to layer lighting around your room!” he explains. It comes with all of the necessary mounting tools and the long-lasting illumine bulbs last up to an impressive 35,000 hours.