As a single homeowner, I’m all for calling in a professional when something’s beyond my scope — for example, my stove, my sprinkler system, and my hot water heater, all of which broke this summer. Since big repairs like that are definitely pricey, however, I try to save money where I can. That includes
affordable DIY projects that make your home look way better (and function more efficiently, too), but are surprisingly easy to tackle on your own.
Don’t take my word for it, though; according to the experts, there are plenty of
annoying problems around the house that are easy to fix by yourself. For this article, Bustle got in touch with over a dozen home experts, including interior designers, organizers, painters, appliance professionals, and landscaping specialists. All of them offered brilliant tips for fixing seemingly expensive problems around the house without calling in a pro.
Best of all? Every single one of these projects can be achieved with an item that’s available on Amazon and comes in well under the $100 mark (with most under $45). Keep reading to see how you can boost your home’s aesthetic and functionality with way less money and elbow grease than you’d think.
According to Sarah Jameson, marketing director at
Green Building Elements, you don’t necessarily need to call in a pro for damaged wood. DIYers can “repair broken cabinets” to give their “kitchen a fresh new theme” — and judging by its 5,500-plus ratings, Goodfilla wood and grain filler is the way to go. This water-based, quick-drying putty comes in ample colors and allows you to revive old cabinets, floors, and wooden furniture. Reviewers even report that it’s “easy to use” and “amateur approved.”
If your drawers are so full that they often snag on random items while you’re opening them, you’re not alone. Brenda Scott is a professional home organizer, Adaptiv home specialist, and owner and operator of
Tidy My Space, who recommends that people “organize [their] drawers with dividers. This creates zones and keeps drawers from becoming random junk drawers.” This four-pack is made from bamboo and comes in three colors. The dividers are also expandable with foam pads on the ends, so you can fit them to almost any drawer for a custom-built look.
Robin Antill, director at
Leisure Buildings, wrote: “Upgrade your current furnishings if you’re tired of your outdated furniture but don’t want to spend the money on replacements. Old furniture can be given new life in a variety of inventive ways, such as painting, reupholstering, and adding forms and motifs with adhesive contact paper.” This contact paper, for example, has white and gold geometric patterning on the front, and a peel-and-stick self-adhesive on the back. It also costs $6 a roll, which explains its overall 4.5-star rating.
Wasted Entryway Space
“One of the least used rooms in a house, the inside entryway is also sometimes one of the least given architectural considerations,” wrote Antill. “Get more use out of yours by making a few simple changes, such as adding a bench and hooks for a fast DIY mudroom […]. Look for furnishings that complement the style of the rest of your home and offer both fashion and functionality.” (This
Homemaid Living bench doubles as shoe storage and a place to sit. Get it in your choice of black, brown, or natural bamboo.)
Lack Of Hanging Space
As per Antill’s suggestion, when combined with an entryway bench, hooks offer a quick, easy way to create your own hall tree. (This not only welcomes your guests into your home, but also gives some functionality to your entryway by providing family members a place to store their jackets and bags.) Since these
adhesive hooks grip the wall with a peel-and-stick glue, installation doesn’t require any tools at all. According to reviewers, they’re “much nicer than anticipated” and are “capable of carrying a fair amount of weight.”
Rooms That Appear Small & Dark
Nicole Pav, head of marketing at
Cloom Tech, recommends “employing uplights as a visual trick.” According to Pav, a spotlight placed along the side of a wall or an object will direct light towards the ceiling, making a “room seem larger.” These indoor spotlights are a great option because they’re affordable, easy to tuck away into corners thanks to their compact size and 6-foot cables, and cast a warm but bright illumination with their LED bulbs. They also have built-in switches that you can operate with your foot.
Shoes That Spill Out Of The Closet
It’s a simple and affordable fix, but according to Scott, one of the best investments is “
tiered shoe storage to organize the floor space in closets and keep footwear free from damage.” (You can also use them to more efficiently store shoes above clothes on shelves.) These organizers from mDesign can be used for pantries and cabinets, too, but their perforated steel construction, versatile size, and easy-clean material makes them a no-brainer for shoe organization. Get them in your choice of five colors.
Cabinets & Counters That Are Too Full To Navigate
Additionally, tiered organizers are also great for cupboards, pantries, and spice cabinets. Most ingredients won’t reach all the way up to the next shelf, so there’s plenty of wasted space above them; this
expandable kitchen cupboard organizer makes use of all of it. It’s made from durable stainless steel and can be adjusted vertically as well as horizontally, so you can choose the best configuration for your specific kitchen.
Cold, Abrasive Lighting
“You would be surprised at how much lighting can affect the ambiance of a space,” wrote Chenise Bhimull, interior designer at
ZFC Real Estate. “Bright, cool-toned lights are flashy and do not give a calming or serene feeling. […] I personally love warm-toned lights.” Luckily, long-lasting, energy-efficient bulbs are as affordable as ever. Take these Sigalux warm LED bulbs, for example: They come in a pack of four for under $15, despite that they last for up to 15,000 hours each and cost under $1.50 a year in energy usage.
Cluttered, Unstable Mug Collections
Most households have pretty sizable mug collections, but stacking them often results in chipped ceramic and unsteady towers that could come tumbling down at any second. From Scott comes this “easy DIY for a collection of coffee cups instead of stacking them” — “purchase a
shelf insert that gives you another small shelf.” (This one is made from bamboo and designed to fit into a tight corner, so it’s both pretty enough for countertop placement and compact enough for small cabinets.) It’s also great for “pantry storage with bread or cans and jars.”
Dark Rooms In The Name Of Privacy
“A bank of naked windows is preferable to a bank of unsightly windows when it comes to heavy, obsolete drapes,” wrote Pav, but fortunately, you don’t have to choose between natural light and privacy. Gauzy, sheer curtains (ideally made from “cotton, linen, and silk blends” in “bright hues”) will adequately cover your windows while still allowing light to filter through. These
faux linen curtains are machine-washable, have slip-on rod pockets for easy hanging, and have reviewers feeling like they “hit the jackpot” in terms of value.
Not Having Enough Task Lighting
According to Pav, “There should be three different types of lighting in every space: ambient, which provides general illumination and is frequently provided by ceiling fixtures; task, which is frequently found over a kitchen peninsula or a reading nook; as well as accent, which is more aesthetically pleasing and highlights items like artwork. You need at least 3 watts (42 lumens) per square foot of lighting in a living area.” This
metal floor lamp functions as a stylish accent thanks to its bronze metal design — but it’s also great for task lighting thanks to its adjustable gooseneck that you can point any which way.
Messy & Distracting Cables
You might have electronics — but you don’t have to look at those messy cables. “For your living room appliances, cables can be distracting, especially if you have a bunch of devices for your home entertainment,” Robert Johnson, marketing director at
Coast Appliances explains. To achieve that, Johnson recommends that you “hide cords and wires,” either with “recessed cable plates or cord covers.” This cord cover kit helps you hide your wires in plain sight and channel them in whichever direction you need. While it comes with tons of raceways and elbows, it’s also cuttable and paintable for a totally personalized fit.
Messy & Distracting Cables On the Floors
Finally, for cords that can’t be hidden (or if you don’t think you’re handy enough for wall-anchored solutions), finish up with “cable wraps to keep the space looking clean and flawless,” Johnson wrote. This
cable sleeve comes in your choice of black or white, as well as 14 different size options. All you need to do is wrap it around a bundle of wires to keep them organized, compact, and protected from damage (including pets that chew your electronics).
Old, Dirty-Looking Light Switch Covers
“One of the easiest DIY home improvement projects that makes a huge aesthetic difference is replacing old, beaten up, or outdated light switch covers,” wrote Grace Baena, interior designer of
Kaiyo. Luckily, you can get them online for super cheap — like $2 a piece for an oversized design that’ll cover messily cut sheetrock or surrounding scuffs.
Or Upgrade Those Light Switches For Extra Style
If you’re also looking to update the look of your outlet covers, consider these
Franklin Brass cover sets instead. You can get them in several different multipacks of duplex, switch, switch/decorator, and switch/duplex covers. All of them have a stylish beveled design and are made with machine screws for easier installation.
TVs That Take Up Precious Counterspace
In most modern households, electronics are everywhere. Robert Johnson, marketing director at
Coast Appliances suggests also adding “a mounting bracket for your television.” (This one has an incredible 90,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.7 stars because it’s sturdy, slim, tiltable, and easy to install.)
Especially if you have a small kitchen, you need as much counter space as you can get for cooking. “For kitchen appliances you rarely use, you can store them in the pantry cabinet,” Johnson wrote. “You can also use a sturdy [three to four]-tier kitchen rack to store your microwave oven, toaster, blending, and other small kitchen appliances for better organization.” Since these
steel wire shelving units are durable, sleek, adjustable in 1-inch increments, and can be assembled without any tools, they’re an easy addition.
Things Falling Through Wire Shelves Or Messy Counters
To store smaller objects on wire shelving units, or to ensure that they’re easy to keep clean, pick up these brilliant
shelf liners. Unlike your standard roll, these are made from sturdy, waterproof polypropylene that lays flat on wired shelving, plus they come in several sizes, and they’re cut to accommodate rounded corners. “I don’t know why I didn’t buy these when I bought the shelves,” one reviewer raved. “They are great and it’s so much easier to put anything on the shelf now.”
According to Scott, “cutlery trays are another DIY improvement that doesn’t cost a lot but the ROI is huge. Utensils have a home, you can see what you have, [and] they don’t roll around with other items and get damaged.”
Expandable bamboo organizers, like this one from Signature Living, have gotten tons of attention in past years due to their ease of use and high-end appearance. While the result is an organized drawer that looks custom built, all you really have to do is adjust the insert to size, slip it in, and add your utensils.
Cabinet Handles That Are Dating Your Kitchen
Believe it or not, switching out your cabinet hardware could
completely change the look of your kitchen — and according to Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, it’s easy to do: “For your replacements, pick something sleek and modern that will have long-lasting appeal. Black is almost always a solid color to choose, but a gold finish is another option that makes a big statement and looks expensive.”
Not Having The Right Screwdriver For The Job
“All you need to change these out is a
screwdriver,” Yamaguchi continued. While most people have an old screwdriver lying around, there’s a reason this one has over 20,000 reviews and a number-one best-selling status: Thanks to its interchangeable, double-sided bits, it takes the place of 11 different tools in one. It also has a textured, cushioned grip for improved torque.
A Chaotic Pantry
According to Scott, “Pantry organizing can be a massive challenge. Food containers come in so many different sizes and shapes that unless you decant everything, you’ll have odd spaces on your pantry shelves.” Scott recommends pull-out drawers, but for a more budget-friendly alternative, you can also use “clear lidless containers with a handle or open handle. [These allow] you to pull out the group and retrieve what you’re looking for, then slide it back into place on the shelf.” mDesign makes these stackable
organizer bins in plenty of shapes and sizes, all clear, sturdy, easy to clean, and top-rated.
Disorganized Spices & Condiments
“For bottles or jars, I always recommend a turn table, tiered for small spice jars,” Scott continued. (It “uses the height of the cabinet” for maximum storage, but also allows you to see your entire selection at once.) This compact
Lazy Susan is made from bamboo, so it’s one of the more attractive options, despite its affordability. Reviewers love it so much that they’re buying multiples: “I was looking for something simple and easy to assemble to help organize my new apartment. So happy with this purchase. I bought two, one for my spices and one to put in the bathroom.”
Drafty Windows & Other Energy Leaks
“According to Energy Star, there are severe air leaks in the majority of American homes,” wrote Peter Drow, head of marketing at
NC CuttingTools. “The cost of heating and cooling your home may increase because of these gaps. Luckily, caulking around windows can frequently stop leaks. Gently wave a candle over windows to locate issue places; if the light flickers or goes out, you’ve undoubtedly found a leak. Because silicone caulk resists moisture, windows are a great place to use it.” (This is one of the top picks on Amazon because it’s discreet, paint-friendly, can be used inside or outside, and is designed to last a lifetime.)
Or For Another Way To Seal Out That Draft…
As an alternative to liquid caulk, you can also use
caulk tape. This sealant strip is made from PVC and designed to self-adhere to most surfaces, including bathroom fixtures, but also walls and windows. Just clean the area, heat the strip with a hairdryer, peel off the backing, apply it to the area, and cut off the excess. According to reviewers, it “leaves no mess to clean up and it looks neat.”
Tired Light Fixtures
Another little project that makes a huge difference? “Upgrade light fixtures,” wrote Jameson. “Replacing light fixtures either with a new bulb or a whole new style altogether can really help improve or make a room feel brand new.” (Jameson also recommends switching to LEDs and smart lighting to reduce your energy bills and make your life easier.) Cue this
rattan pendant light. Since it plugs right in and the rattan cord is part of the decor, you won’t need to hire an electrician. It’s also dimmable and easy to pair with a smart plug for voice activation and smartphone control.
A Lack Of Security
Stephen Keighery, CEO and founder of
Home Buyer Louisiana, says improved home security and smart devices can mean big ROI. Luckily, there are affordable options like this Ring video doorbell. It hooks up to your existing doorbell wiring so you can see who’s at your door and keep an eye on your yard via alerts from the Ring app. (The wireless rechargeable version is slightly more expensive, but still way cheaper than traditional security systems.)
Limited Storage & A Lack Of Decoration On Your Walls
You don’t need to store all of your stuff in closets or drawers; in fact, toss it in a jar or basket, and it doubles as decor. According to Amanda Santoro, DIYer and co-founder of
Big Living | Little Footprint “floating live edge wood shelves” will “bring a little warmth and movement to the space” while also providing some storage on an empty wall. It’s pretty easy to make your own, but you can also pick up this set of three rustic shelves for $25. They’re made from Paulownia wood with industrial metal brackets for easy mounting.
Or Consider These Floating Shelves That Hug The Wall
For areas with higher traffic, consider these
Greenco floating shelves. They still hold your decor and essentials, but their design has a lip and more closely hugs the wall, so your stuff stays secure and no one bumps into them. As a result, they’re great for picture frames and decor, but also for kitchen ingredients, beauty products, books, and toys. Get them in your choice of five different colors, all made from wood.
Boring Exteriors & Window Areas
“One cute way to lighten up your outdoor patio at home is to fill glass jars with fairy lights,” Bhimull wrote; and it’s one of the most affordable DIY projects out there, since you can pick up glasses at the dollar store and this
33-foot strand costs little more than $10. It’s also battery-operated, waterproof, and easy to shape thanks to its copper wire, plus the included remote lets you set timers, adjust the brightness, and choose different flashing modes. “They are bright and add just the right amount of light for a summer night’s gathering,” one reviewer wrote.
And A Cute Mason Jar To Display Them In
You can also use jars to house your fairy lights — or, when used for herbs and ingredients, said jars instantly become decor for your windowsills. These
mason jars have airtight lids alongside steel bait and trigger clasps, so they’re great for pickling, food storage, and an apothecary vibe. The glass is durable and BPA-free, while the four capacity options ensure that you can find the best one for your needs and space.
Wasted Water From Outdated Faucets
“Switching out your faucet is a great way to spruce up your home with little effort and money,” wrote Nick Mueller, director of operations of
HawaiianIslands.com. “You might even opt for one with an aerator in order to lower your water bill.” Alternatively, you can add an aerator to your existing faucet; this one swivels, has two different sprayer functions, and saves up to 70% more water. Since it’s made from various metals, it adds a high-end touch to any faucet.
Not Enough Closet Space
Most people can’t dedicate more space to storage — but they
can make the most out of the space they already have. “Maximize height [in closets] using easy wire shelving systems,” Scott wrote, and even though the result looks custom-built, this ClosetMaid ShelfTrack system is easy to install and costs under $100. It provides hanging space as well as shelves, all adjustable and made from vinyl-coated steel, and reviewers have called it an “inexpensive alternative for a custom closet system.”
Wasted Corners & Not Enough Storage
“Everybody has a corner in their house that they aren’t exactly sure how to use,” Antill wrote. “Installing some basic
floating shelves, which provide you with more storage space [and] look wonderful at the same time, is an easy DIY solution.” This one is specifically designed to fill a wasted corner; its abstract shape draws the eye in, while its two shelves provide a spot for potted plants, picture frames, and other decor. It also comes in espresso, gray, or natural.
Bland Walls That Date Your Space
Bland walls can make your space look outdated and stuffy — but painting a whole room can be a huge, expensive undertaking. Jan Walter, painter and founder at
Gocolorize.com, recommends this fun fix: “Accent walls are a popular choice for easy at-home DIY home projects. It can add visual interest to any room and doesn’t require a lot of time or money to do. You can either paint, wallpaper or install panels for an accent wall.” Blooming Wall’s wallpapers add gorgeous, modern floral designs to your space with peel-and-stick ease. They’re also moisture-proof and soil-resistant for placement in kitchens and bathrooms.
Or Consider Adding 3-D Texture To Your Walls
“If you’re looking for something a little different, you can install panels on your accent wall,” Walter continued. “Panels come in a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and even glass. You can find them in a variety of colors and styles to match any room’s decor.” These
3-D panels, for example, come in four solid colors, so they’re easy to match to your existing style; however, because of their geometric diamond texture, they still add plenty of modern flair to a room. Each box contains 12 PVC panels, which are lightweight and cover 32 square feet.
Cabinet Doors In Need Of A Refresh
If your cabinets are still in pretty good shape, but the color isn’t working for you anymore, you’ve got options: “You could strip and paint or stain the cabinets you have, giving your kitchen a whole new color palette,” wrote Roland Foss, senior operations manager at
Bellhop Phoenix Movers. Jolie Paint has dozens of modern, matte paint finishes to choose from, and the water-based, non-toxic formula is designed for superior coverage on cabinets and furniture.
Antiquated Backsplashes In The Kitchen Or Bathroom
Backsplash trends come and go fast, so they can leave your kitchen or bathroom looking dated
. “Our favorite easy DIY project for updating a space is to add a peel and stick backsplash above the counters in the kitchen and bathrooms,” wrote Melanie Hartmann, owner of Creo Home Buyers. “You can use vinyl ones or they even make them with real tile that just requires some grouting after you stick them on. These are simple projects that really update the look and feel of your most used spaces.”
A Space That Feels Stale & Impractical
Finally, “If you don’t want to spend any money on a DIY home improvement project, simply rearranging a room/floor can be an easy, zero-expense, zero-tool way to renovate your home’s interior,” Yamaguchi wrote. “If you completely change up your floor plan and overall room design simply by moving things around, you can give your home the appearance of being redecorated, even though it wasn’t.” (To make this task even easier and your floors safer, pick up a
furniture moving kit, which comes with 16 felt sliders that work on hard floors and carpets alike.)
Sarah Jameson, Marketing Director at Green Building Elements
Brenda Scott, professional home organizer, Adaptiv home specialist, and owner and operator of Tidy My Space
Robin Antill, Director at Leisure Buildings
Nicole Pav, Head of Marketing at Cloom Tech
Chenise Bhimull, Interior Designer at ZFC Real Estate
Robert Johnson, Marketing Director at Coast Appliances
Grace Baena, Interior Designer of Kaiyo
Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love
Peter Drow, Head of Marketing at NC CuttingTools
Stephen Keighery, CEO and Founder of Home Buyer Louisiana
Amanda Santoro, DIYer and co-founder (along with Tyler Santoro) of Big Living | Little Footprint
Jan Walter, painter and Founder at Gocolorize.com
Nick Mueller, Director of Operations of HawaiianIslands.com
Roland Foss, Senior Operations Manager at Bellhop Phoenix Movers
Melanie Hartmann, owner of Creo Home Buyers
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