Contractors use these 40 easy tricks to make homes so much better for cheap

The pros weigh in.

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When you are ready to do a full-on kitchen or bathroom remodel, you will likely call in a professional for all or some of that job. But what about when you want to make your place look better without going all in? Is there a trick for modernizing a kitchen, updating the mood of your interior, or adding curb appeal to your home that doesn’t require a huge investment and weeks of living in a construction zone? We asked the pros. And the answer is yes! There are so many ways. Contractors use these 40 easy tricks to make homes so much better for cheap. And most of them are easy to do yourself.


Install shelves & use them for storage

"A tidy home always appears nicer,” says Matt DiBara, CEO of The Contractor Consultants and DiBara Masonry. “Install shelves, hooks, or other storage solutions to keep everything neat and organized." These floating shelves are a great way to turn everything from a collection of shells or toys — or a few plants — into decorative storage. They come in five colors and have a ledge so photos and books won’t slide off.


Add hooks to keep things organized

Before you take on any updates, says DiBara, “spend time organizing and cleaning up the space.” For that, it helps to have a place to put everything from your bathrobe to your purse to your keys, even if that place is a hook on the wall in the bathroom or inside the entry. These bathroom hooks are versatile enough to use anywhere and they install easily. They come in two finishes and you can save money by buying them in multipacks.


Add other storage solutions to minimize clutter

If getting everything off the counters in your kitchen is a challenge, you may need to create better organization inside cupboards so you can stash appliances, tools, and mixing bowls out of sight. This pull-out storage shelf transforms cupboard interiors by making everything visible and accessable. The two shelves slide out on high-quality rollers. They come in sizes that will fit any of your cupboards and install with a few screws.


Replace old light fixtures with energy efficient models

“Lighting has a significant influence on how a room feels and looks,” says DiBara. So focus next on your home’s lighting. "Replace old light fixtures with newer, more energy-efficient models,” he suggests. It is an inexpensive upgrade that punches way above its price point by making your space much nicer and saving money in the long run. These LED ceiling fixtures have a modern, minimalist shape and you can choose from four finishes and several light colors including warm white and daylight. They last for years, too, without changing a bulb.


Pay attention to your curb appeal

"Improve your property's curb appeal by trimming bushes, adding fresh mulch, and planting vibrant flowers,” says DiBara. “A well-maintained garden can significantly improve the appeal of an older home." Start by stocking up on some good tools. This heavy-duty garden rake will help you remove litter and leaves, pull out light weeds, and till the soil for plantings.


Keep your space green

Once you have cleared away the mess and loosened up the soil, use this big bag of grass seed to green up the areas of your lawn where the grass is sparse due to shade. This tall fescue loves shade and will thrive under trees and other low-light areas. It’s also drought resistant so that, once you get it started, it won’t require much attention.


Add plants to your outdoor space

Creating some color or greenery on the porch, along pathways, and on deck railing is a great way to boost the charm and appeal of the exterior of your home. This wooden planter box is an easy way to make those plants — whether you plant directly into the box or set nursery pots in it to make them look better — look like they are an integral part of the decor.


Boost your grass seed to reduce weeds[The list said, “Add fresh mulch...” but that’s not what this thing is for so...

If you mow your grass regularly, it doesn’t have the chance to make seed. So you have to add seed to your lawn or weeds will find an opportunity to grow. This broadcast spreader makes it easy to distribute those seeds. It’s also a great way to feed grass so it grows lush and healthy. It will treat up to 5,000 square feet of lawn on one fill.


Plant vibrant flowers

If you have blank spaces in your yard, you can turn those into a flower garden easily and cheaply by planting this big pack of wildflower seeds and adding water. This vibrant mix of colorful flowers — including poppies, forget-me-nots, baby’s breath, larkspur, and more — turns any patch of soil into a burst of color that will invite pollinators into your yard.


Keep your yard watered and healthy

Watering your yard is essential if you want it to look green, colorful, and alive — and especially important if you have spent money on plants. This spray nozzle takes much of the irritation out of that chore. It’s easy to switch from a gentle mist to a driveway-cleaning jet at the turn of a dial. The handle is easy on your hands and a dial lets you adjust the water pressure without returning to the spigot.


Invest in low-cost smart home gear

"Consider investing in some low-cost smart home gear, such as smart plugs, smart lamps, or a smart thermostat,” says DiBara. “These not only serve a useful purpose, but they may also give the home a more modern appearance." This smart plug two-pack is a terrific entry point, letting you control everything from fans to lamps to appliances from your phone. They are also perfect for adding more gear to a smart home system you already have.


Add a smart thermostat

You don’t have to shiver or sweat to save money on your power bill. This smart thermostat lets you optimize the in-home temperature by automatically adjusting the temperature so your space is comfortable when you are in it but not wasting energy when you aren’t. You can add temperature changes to your Alexa routines and change the settings from anywhere.


Power wash the exterior

"If the property's exterior is looking dull,” says DiBara, “a power wash can remove dirt and grime, making it look fresh and well-maintained." You don’t have to drop a fortune and take a day off to wait for a contractor to do this. Attach this high-pressure washer gun to a foam cannon or pressure washer and do it yourself in a few minutes. It comes with five nozzles and is great for working in tight spaces.


Add art to your walls

Leaving your walls blank until you can afford art might feel like your only option. But you can turn all sorts of things into art. “Don't be afraid to hang DIY art on the walls,” says DiBara. “Frame family photos, paint canvases, or make collages.” Grab this 10-pack of picture frames to put photos or your creations in a stylish grouping. “It adds a personal touch to the property,” he says. If you aren’t feeling creative, he says, you can “reuse existing items, such as vintage crates as shelves or an old ladder as a bookshelf."


Install a low-flow showerhead

"Installing low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets can help save water and lower utility expenses,” says DiBara. And you don’t have to sacrifice water pressure for those savings. Modern fixtures — like this high-efficiency showerhead — can boost the pressure while using 40% less water. “These fixtures use less water while maintaining performance, making them affordable solutions for homeowners," he says.


Swap in LED light bulbs

Another way to save money while sacrificing nothing is to switch out your incandescent bulbs for this ECO LED light bulb. “LED light bulbs can help save energy in the long run,” says DiBara. “LED bulbs use less energy, have a longer lifespan, and generate less heat than standard incandescent lighting." And this six-pack of them doesn’t ask you to pay a high upfront price or use a bulb that looks weird. You can choose the brightness and light color you like best, too.


Add LED lighting to other places

Overhead lighting can be harsh and leave your rooms feeling bare and unwelcoming. A simple solution to this dilemma is to add lighting under cabinets, bars, stair risers, and shelving units to create warm and cozy lighting that comes from different sources. This wireless LED light bar makes it easy to do that without running wiring. Just stick them where you want lights and use the remote — or tap the lens — to turn them on and set the brightness and automatic shut-off intervals.


Seal gaps in your windows and doors

Use this waterproof caulk and silicone sealant to seal up aging seams in your bath tile and window frames. "They will help put bonds around windows, doors, and other locations prone to air or water leaks,” says DiBara. “Sealing gaps properly can enhance energy efficiency and prevent costly water damage.” And it’s so easy to do. Just load the caulk into a caulking gun or squeeze the sealant from a tube. Your shower or windows will be ready to seal water out after 30 minutes. And you can paint right over it.


Add smart power strips to save energy

Instead of using standard power strips, upgrade to this smart power strip that lets you control the power delivered to your devices with an app or your smart home system. “They work when devices are in sleep mode or are not in use and switch off electricity automatically,” says DiBara. “This eliminates standby power consumption, which can account for a sizable amount of your total energy consumption." It’s easy to connect them to your phone, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant and you can control each plug in the strip separately.


Use dryer balls over dryer sheets

These wool dryer balls are a terrific alternative to dryer sheets. They reduce static and soften clothing to replace dryer sheets, says DiBara. You can use them repeatedly and they “separate clothes in the dryer, saving drying time and energy," he says. You can drop some essential oil onto them to add scent to your laundry, too.


Install removable wallpaper

"Peel-and-stick wallpaper can add patterns or textures to an accent wall or update the backs of bookcases and cabinets,” says DiBara. You can choose a simple color, a delicate pattern, or a wild statement piece that brings real character to your space without spending much money. “It's a simple and removable technique for achieving a distinct appearance.”


Refinish or stain old furniture

You don’t have to spring for new furniture. “Find affordable, fashionable furniture at thrift stores or yard sales," suggests DiBara and apply a little TLC to give it a fresh look. "Sand and refinish or stain old furniture to give it a new, contemporary appearance,” he says. This oil-based wood stain is an easy way to turn unfinished or just-sanded wood into beautiful pieces while letting the wood grains show through. Choose from 51 colors.


Seal any gaps in your insulation

"One of the best investments homeowners can make is in energy efficiency,” says Roman Smolevskiy, a general contractor and owner of A+ Construction & Remodeling, a home remodeling company in Sacramento. “Simple adjustments, such as switching to LED light bulbs, sealing any gaps in your insulation, and installing energy-efficient appliances can offer long-term savings on your utility bills." Start with this weather stripping to seal doors, windows, and any place that lets air, light, and sound in.


Swap in energy-efficient appliances

Next, make a plan for upgrading your appliances to models that are more energy efficient. This electricity usage monitor makes it easy to decide which appliances to replace first. Plug your fan, dehumidifier, or other gear into it and it will tell you which ones use the most energy so you can target the impact of your changes on the hungriest appliance.


Add dual-purpose storage

"Storage is a premium in many homes,” says Smolevskiy. “Adding shelves, hooks, or pegboards in garages, closets, or pantries can keep spaces organized. Under-the-bed storage bins or ottomans with storage compartments can serve dual purposes." This faux leather ottoman, for example, is an easy way to store toys, blankets, and other gear within easy reach. And it’s the perfect place to set a tray of snacks or your tired feet at the end of the day.


Utilize under bed storage

There is a lot of storage under your bed that’s likely going to waste but this under-bed storage bag organizer makes excellent use of it. Zip blankets, shoes, holiday decorations, or anything that’s crowding your closets into this big, flat bag with a clear top so you can see what’s in it. Big handles make it easy to access everything you have stored.


Keep your pantry organized

Turn the back of a door into a snack dispenser, spice display, or even a place to store personal care supplies in the bathroom or desk supplies in an office with this pantry organizer two-pack. Hook the 24 clear pockets over the top of the door and you can see everything you put in them.


Add cabinet organization

This pull-out cabinet organizer makes it easy to access the pans, dishes, spices, or appliances you have stored in a cabinet. Choose the size that fits your cabinet and screw it in. Then instead of sitting on the floor or standing on a stool to see what’s in low and high cabinets, you can pull the contents out on the industrial-grade sliding system and see everything that’s in there, easily.


Maintain your existing garden

"A well-maintained garden can boost your home's curb appeal,” says Smolevskiy. “You don't need to hire professionals; planting a few flowers, adding mulch, and regularly mowing the lawn can work wonders." All that takes is a few tools and a good pair of gardening gloves. This pair is knitted from breathable, stretchy bamboo for a snug fit and the palm and fingers are coated in textured rubber to protect your hands.


Apply a fresh coat of paint

According to Smolevskiy, you should "never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint.” It’s inexpensive to do but the chore is much easier if you have this home painting supplies kit that includes rollers, foam brushes, an angled brush, and a roller tray. “Whether it's a single room or the exterior of your house, painting can drastically change the look and feel of a space. Choose neutral colors for broad appeal or go bold for a statement."


Stick to neutral colors

“When it comes to home renovations,” agrees Nick Lopez, founder of Lime Painting, “many people underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint.” But he recommends you don’t overdo it with bold colors. “A little bit of color can go a long way in bringing new life to your space,” he says. “Start by choosing light, neutral tones.” One of the eggshell colors in this interior paint + primer line from Glidden is a terrific option and it makes the job easier because the primer and color can be applied in one coat. “These shades reflect light, making your space appear brighter and more open,” says Lopez. “It’s an easy way to bring more light to your home without installing new fixtures or windows.”


Add an accent wall

If plain white and cream sounds boring, Lopez suggests playing with color or texture on one wall or a small space. “An accent wall is the perfect solution,” he says. “Whether you opt for a bold paint color, wood paneling, or trendy wallpaper, an accent wall adds a refreshing and modern touch to any room.” These vinyl wall panels are a fun and easy way to dress an accent wall or knee wall of a kitchen island. The panels are easy to apply — just cut them to size with scissors and peel and stick them to any surface — and they are waterproof, flexible, and durable.


Upgrade to a dimmer switch

Jay Sanders, contractor and the owner of Castle Dream Construction, a home remodeling company in Baltimore, Maryland, says that updating your light switches to a dimmer is an easy and affordable way to quickly improve the lighting in your home. "[Then] add new light bulbs that have a dimming feature to create mood lighting in your living room, bedrooms, and hallways," he says. This smart dimmer will also let you use your phone or AI to control the lighting. It’s a simple, smart, and super-effective home update.


Swap in dimmable fixtures

You can take the dimmer switch home lighting hack to the next level by also installing fixtures that are dimmable. Especially in the bathroom, these modern vanity lights will transform the look of the room, and allow you to brighten the vanity lights for primping and dim them to barely there for a party or late-night trip to the toilet. They come in five finishes and five sizes.


*Switch out your door knob

Sanders suggests that while you are making improvements, that you switch out old or brassy doorknobs for something modern and stylish like this matte black exterior door knob. Or opt for satin nickel for an elegant look. It’s surprising how big an impact this small change can have on the appearance of your home. “These small fixes will give your home more curb appeal and satisfaction,” he says.


Check that your windows are insulated

"Sealing gaps around windows and doors, adding weatherstripping, and insulating areas like the attic can significantly reduce your energy bills,” says Rich Mullins, contractor and plumber at H20 Plumbing. This window insulation kit is a fast and easy way to accomplish this, either seasonally or on windows in spaces like the attic. “This type of improvement not only saves money in the long run but also contributes to a more comfortable living environment."


Decorate with string lighting

Jason Farr, the CEO of Aviara Pavers, a San Diego-based paver installation company that specializes in outdoor living designs, suggests you step outside and look for places that would benefit from lighting or improved ambiance and add these solar-powered string lights there. "I love decorating porches with string lighting,” he says. “String lighting gives an aesthetically appealing vibe to the space, creating a sense of warmness.” Using solar-powered lights means you don’t have to run wires or remember to turn them on and off.


Add some plants to your outdoor space

"Adding some plants to decorate your outdoor space can elevate the entire look of your home exterior while being easy on the pocket,” says Farr. You can even save money on groceries while you are at it if you use this huge package of food seeds. It adds greenery as well as herbs and vegetables that you can eat. It has 32 varieties of seeds — and enough of them to help you survive an apocalypse.


Swap out your kitchen hardware

"Cheap yet impactful home renovations often come down to small details,” says Todd Saunders, CEO of “For example, swapping out your kitchen cabinet hardware can go a long way in making your cabinets look more modern.” These brass cabinet knobs are super affordable. Just choose a finish and add the number you need to your cart, unscrew the ones that are there, and replace them with these new ones. “This project is easy enough for almost any homeowner to DIY,” he says.


Add new hardware to your cabinets

For drawer pulls — or a bigger statement and a better handhold — on your cabinets, these stainless steel cabinet pulls will bring a bold and modern look to your kitchen and they require only one screw hole, which your cabinets very likely already have. You can use them to update furniture and closets, too. Just screw them in and enjoy a completely new look. They come in three finishes.