10 Affordable Ways to Update Your Home

With home prices falling, people who were considering selling are now staying put and learning to live with what they have. But you don’t have to put up with stale design elements. If your home’s size and layout still works for you, here are some simple, mostly affordable fixes that can update your home and make it feel newer.

Painting the outside of your house can cost a few thousand dollars, but it will drastically improve your curb appeal if you haven’t painted in a long time. If the outside is fine, you can paint a room on the inside for as little as $50. Spending a weekend applying a new color can transform the look and feel of the room. Just make sure the color complements your furniture, unless you can afford to buy a new sofa or slipcovers.

Make Slipcovers
If you’re handy with a sewing machine and have a fairly simple couch design, you can make slipcovers with a few weekends of work. I don’t necessarily recommend doing it with a complicated couch like mine, but it can be done, and it can be very affordable.

Change the Decorations
Has that vase been on the mantel so long it’s left an imprint? Rather than changing the paint or the slipcovers, just swap out your dusty candles and vases for something else you find in the closet. Or visit a home décor store to pick a few attractive new items on sale. It will feel just like a model home, at least for those few minutes before everyone else comes home.

Update the Yard
It never hurts to update your landscaping. Prune back the overgrown roses and other bushes. Dig up dead flowers and plant new ones. Paint some pots for your flowers. Buy new cushions for the patio table. Restain the deck. All of these are affordable things you can do to make your home more enjoyable.

Update Your Appliances
This costs a bit more, but it’s much more affordable than a complete kitchen remodel. Newer appliances may also be more energy-efficient and simpler to use. Take the measurements, then visit a home store to find out what current appliances cost. You should also check your local water, power, and gas utilities to see if they offer rebates for purchasing certain appliances, or for having them pick up your old appliances. DWP in Los Angeles gives owners $35 for turning an old refrigerator. You can get up to $75 for buying a new energy-efficient washing machine.

Add Chair Rail or Wainscoting to a Room
Chair rail or wainscoting in a living room, dining room, or bathroom can really make it feel more luxurious, for a lot less than new furniture or a bathroom remodel. In most cases, installing chair rail is a simple weekend project. Wainscoting requires a little extra effort, but not much. Warning: do not attempt crown molding unless you’re an experienced woodworker. It requires special cutting tools and knowledge that most people don’t have.

Update Fixtures
If your chandelier or bathroom fixtures came with the house, consider updating them with newer, more modern-looking options. Again, these are relatively cheap, but really change the look of a room. If you’re replacing a ceiling light fixture in the bedroom or a main living space, consider adding a fan to keep the room cooler without running the AC.

Clean the Walls
This one’s nearly free! Paint is washable, so you can update a room simply by washing off all those smudges and marks. Start with a magic eraser (about $5 in the grocery store cleaner aisle) to remove major marks. Then a bucket of soap and water and a sponge will do the rest. You may be surprised how much you like the color once the walls are clean. Bonus points: it’s a good arm workout.

Buy New Dishes
I don’t mean new fine china. But you can buy a set of new everyday dishes fairly affordably. Using them in place of your old chipped set will make you feel a lot better without a lot of expense or effort. If you still like your old set, consider the modern twist of mixing and matching various dishes.

Clear Clutter
If your home feels too small, see if clearing the clutter will make it feel large again. With all the stuff gone, you may be able to rearrange the furniture, which will also change your perspective on your home.

You can easily update your home for anywhere from $10 to $3000, both of which are far more affordable than buying a new home, and easier, too. Do you have tricks for updating the look of your home? Share them in the comments.

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