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6 Cheap and Easy Home Improvements That Make a Big Difference

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When we moved into our 1982-built townhome a couple years ago, there were some major design “no-no’s” going on. I loved the ’80’s as much as the next fella – but there are certainly some things that should have been left there! Among them are shag carpet, floral patterned couches and gold-colored anything (Gag me with a spoon!).

So, with a limited budget, the wife and I decided to make a few small home improvements that made a world of difference.

1. Light fixtures

The funky chandelier we had hanging in our dining room needed to be put out of its misery. We updated to a brushed nickel fixture that was classy and minimal. For under $100, it not only brightened up the room, but gave the area a much needed update.

2. Switch plates

Speaking of light fixtures – we also changed out the switch plates that were around the house. These included the outlet covers as well. We changed all ours from a yellow-tint to all white. Another minimalist update that didn’t cost an arm and/or a leg.

3. Window coverings

Another huge “dater” of a home is the window treatments. An easy way to bring them into 2012 is to get a curtain rod and some drapes from IKEA or Target. You can get these for a decent price and it will class-up your home in no time. We put a rod and curtain throughout our house and they looked much better than the old and dated blinds.

4. Knobs

When we moved in – the kitchen had these ugly gold-plated knobs on the cabinets. They really made everything look dreary and old. While some knobs can run a pretty penny – we found some fairly reasonably priced ones at our local hardware store. We chose a brushed nickel look. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this seemingly small change did to the overall look of the kitchen. Learning how to replace a doorknob and lockset is pretty simple and replacing doorknobs can also be a good way to change things up on the cheap.

5. Paint

Dark brown really has a way of making an already dark house look even darker. That’s what was in our place. So, a change was in order. This is an obvious home improvement and it does wonders to the look of your home. Colors trends still seem to be in the earth tones – so you can’t go too wrong with those. Also, gray seems to be making its way into a lot of decor/furniture (just pick up a Restoration Hardware catalog for reference).

6. Vent covers

The first home I bought was a new construction. But one thing I didn’t like about it was the floor vents. In the kitchen/dining area – on the hardwood floor – they used these cheap white metallic covers. I took them out and replaced them with wood covers that matched the flooring and it made a night/day difference.


I know there are other ways to improve your home on the cheap. What have you done to update or “spruce-up” your house?

after sprucing up your home, lower your cell phone bill

  • Matthew and his wife have saved hundreds on their cell phone bills using Ting
  • Read how Aaron pays just under $12 a month for his cell phone
  • Charlie shares his experience with Republic Wireless, after 3-years of use
  • Doug (a Three Thrifty Guys reader) shares his experience with Twigby

You might also be interested in:

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  • How to Distress Furniture
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