100 DIY Upgrades for Under $100
Invest a little cash and get a big improvement in how your home looks and feels. The editors of This Old House give you their top tips
You don't need a fat budget to give your home a noticeable boost. Invest a little and get a big improvement in how your home looks and feels. The editors of This Old House give you their top tips
How to do it: Check salvage yards for Victorian-era ones with patina for an extra flourish in the eating area.
Estimated cost: Two 30-inch-high-by-19-inch-deep Queen Anne–style corbels, about 95; Capitol Salvage
How to do it: Plant an evergreen screen on the north side
of your house to block winter winds. Arborvitae 'Green
Giant' can climb 3 feet in one year.
Estimated cost: $92 for two; Jackson & Perkins
How to do it: Suspend a chandelier in the laundry room for a bit of sophistication in an unexpected place. White Capiz pendant with cord kit.
Estimated cost: similar to shown, $80; World Market
How to do it: Wall-mount a row of hooks above your kitchen counter to keep dish towels and measuring cups at the ready.
Estimated cost: Polished chrome Alno utility hooks, about 8 each; Knobs and Hardware
How to do it: Fit an undermount sink with a cutting board for more prep space. Measure the length and width of the basin, adding ½ inch to each side. Trim a piece of butcher block to size with a jigsaw. Then create a lip around its underside so that it will rest on the edge of the counter.
Estimated cost: 18-by-12-inch maple block, about 86; Butcher Block Co.
How to do it: Use paper and paste left over from a big job to dress up door panels, letting stiles and rails frame the decoration. For slab doors, trace a shape on the back of the paper, cut it out, and center it on the door.
Estimated cost: Nothing
How to do it: Use natural fiber shades to highlight the transition between indoors and outdoors and help insulate windows.
Estimated cost: 23-by-72-inch Bamboo Roman Shade, similar one shown, about 26; Target
How to do it: Unhinge the door and trade hanging rods for shelves—a deep one for the desktop and two shallow ones above for storage.
Estimated cost: One 20-by-24-by-¾-inch and two 12-by-24-by-¾-inch white melamine shelves, metal standards, and shelf brackets, all by Elfa, about $95; The Container Store
How to do it: Remove the doors on a bank of upper cabinets, then paint the interiors for instant open shelving.
Estimated cost: 1 gallon of Elements Zero VOC 100 percent acrylic paint with a washable semigloss sheen, about $35; California Paints
How to do it: Cut vertical dividers to the depth of the unit minus ¾ inch, and secure them in place with glue and finish nails. Face dividers with 1x1 trim flush with the shelf fronts.
Estimated cost: One sheet of ¾-inch plywood and three 1x1 strips,$26; Home Depot
How to do it: Polish up an entry hall with a dirt-grabbing doormat to protect the finish on wood floors.
Estimated cost: Chilewich woven vinyl mats wash out in the sink, about $50; Crate & Barrel
How to do it: Take the gleam off like-new brass hinges and doorknobs with a simple rub of a darkening solution.
Estimated cost: 8-ounce bottle of Brass Antiquing Solution, about $7; Constantine's Wood Center
How to do it: Add a shelf above a doorway, paint it to match the trim, then use it to display pottery.
Estimated cost: 40-inch-long 1x6 red oak shelf and two 7-inch Classic Oak Brackets, about $32; Rockler
How to do it: Build in a soap dispenser beside the kitchen faucet to keep that Palmolive bottle out of sight.
Estimated cost: Whitehaus's Beluga Soap/Lotion Dispenser in polished nickel, about $90; KitchenSource.com
How to do it: Install a vintage-look ceiling fan to recirculate warmed air in winter. Reverse the blades' spin to lower summer cooling costs.
Estimated cost: 52-inch Energy Star Capri with "tarnished" oiled-bronze finish, shown at right, about $90; Lamps Plus
How to do it: Plant a mass of bulbs with grasslike foliage in your lawn. Early-spring bloomers will be ready to mow when your turf perks up.
Estimated cost: 100 scilla siberica bulbs, similar to shown, under $20; John Scheepers, Inc.
How to do it: Add floating wall-mount shelves in place of a bookcase to free up valuable floor real estate. The shelves' hidden hardware gives them a sleek, airy look.
Estimated cost: 3-foot-long wood Chunky Wall Shelf, about $34 each; West Elm
How to do it: Hide a through-wall air conditioner inside a stock kitchen cabinet you can close when the unit's not in use. Paint the cabinet the same color as your walls so it'll "disappear," or choose wood-veneer doors to mimic a pricey built-in.
Estimated cost: 36-by-18-inch Akurum fan cabinet with oak-veneer doors, about $88; IKEA
How to do it: Adhere rubber floor tiles to the wall for a lively waterproof backsplash in a kid's bathroom. Coat the tile backs with adhesive and stick them up.
Estimated cost: BR Profile Studded Tiles in 20 colors, about $4.25 per square foot; ACTiVA Rubber Flooring
How to do it: Brush on a vibrant color, such as a rich red, for a more welcoming entry.
Estimated cost: 1 gallon of RedSeal Exterior Latex Eggshell House & Trim paint, about $25; Pratt & Lambert
How to do it: Swap out a plain powder room doorknob for a vintage glass sparkler. Leave the hallway-facing knob in place for a unified look with the rest of your doors.
Estimated cost: Multifaceted 1900s glass knob with a brass shank that fits most spindles, about $38; Liz's Antique Hardware
How to do it: Mount it on the wall, stick letters and bills in the slots.
Estimated cost: Unfinished 12-by-41-inch Western red cedar fixed-louver shutter, about $91; JCPenny
How to do it: Run wiring behind a beadboard panel in the knee-hole at the back of your desk. Velcro the panel to blocking mounted on the rear legs or sides of your desk so that you can pop it off to access the outlet.
Estimated cost: 4-by-8-foot sheet of plywood beadboard, about $20; Lowe's
How to do it: Mask a messed up kitchen toekick with stainless-look peel-and-stick laminate strips.
Estimated cost: 6-inch-high toekick cover, about $12 per linear foot; Doors2Me
How to do it: Brighten up a dark, dated tile backsplash with cheery paint. Scuff the surface with sandpaper and apply two coats of adhesion primer. Let dry and roll on two coats of oil-based semigloss paint.
Estimated cost: 1 gallon each of Adhesion Primer and ProClassic Alkyd Interior Enamel, about $96; The Sherwin-Williams Company
Trim out your staircase with decorative brackets fastened to the outside of the stringer just below the treads. For more on this and other affordable upgrades, see 100 DIY Upgrades Under $100.
How to do it: Install a dimmer switch in your dining room to set the mood—and save energy. You can even get them in colors to match your wall or trim paint.
Estimated cost: Lutron's Diva C.L dimmer, starting around $31, including a tinted switch cover; Pro Lighting
How to do it: Group hardcovers and paperbacks separately and sort them by size for a tidier look. Use heavy decorative items, such as a stone bowl or vintage cast-iron tub claw-foot, as bookends.
Estimated cost: Salvaged tub foot; about $20; The Old House Parts Company
How to do it: Put a trellis over an exterior window for clematis to climb on. Coat decorative wood brackets with primer, then paint and secure them to the studs on either side of the window with deck screws. For the top, rip a piece of 5/4x6 red cedar decking into three strips, space them evenly across the brackets, and secure with trim-head screws.
How to do it: Spruce up a home-center ceiling fixture by swapping out the generic white globe for a colorful, vintage-look schoolhouse shade.
Estimated cost: 10-inch opal drum shade with a painted blue stripe, about $62; Schoolhouse Electric Co.
How to do it: Lean it against a wall and sling bath sheets and washcloths over its rungs. The white metal ladder shown here is new.
Estimated cost:For even more character, try a colorful, vintage five-rung wood ladder, about $43; A Rustic Garden
How to do it: Build up a wimpy entry door casing in your foyer with applied moldings to create a more substantial first impression of your home.
Estimated cost: Four 6-foot-long-by-3¾-inch-wide primed white miterless moldings, about $80; Van Dyke's Restorers
How to do it: Paint worn vinyl flooring to look like stone tile. Use two similar colors for the "stones" and white paint to create faux grout lines. Seal the surface with three coats of polyurethane.
Estimated cost: 2 quarts of Valspar latex Porch and Floor paint and 1 quart of Cabot Water Based Polyurethane, about $54; Lowe's. One 4-ounce tube of Pearl Acrylic Artist Paint for "grout," about $3; Pearl Paint
How to do it: Wrap a pedestal sink with a skirt and conceal your waste bin and toiletries below. Stick fabric to the basin edge with adhesive-backed Velcro.
Estimated cost: 60-by-32-inch white ruffled cotton sink skirt, about $60; Simply Chic Slipcovers & Simple Linens
How to do it: Fasten a kickplate to your front door as a traditional and stylish way to protect the bottom from scuffs.
Estimated cost: 30-inch solid-brass kickplate, about $64; Signature Hardware
How to do it: Buy a thrift-store Crock-Pot and fill it with water and 2 tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent. Drop in hinges, knobs, and escutcheons. Heat on medium overnight. By morning, the paint will be falling off the metal.
Estimated cost: About $5 for the pot
How to do it: Add eye-catching house numbers to make sure your address isn't missed.
Estimated cost: Arts and Crafts 2¾-by-3¾-inch glazed ceramic tiles $14 each; Pewabic Pottery
How to do it: Support a 4-inch-wide marble door threshold with decorative metal brackets.
Estimated cost: 36-inch-long threshold, about $28; at most flooring retailers. Two Mini Pennsylvania Dutch Motif 3-by-4-inch cast-iron brackets, about $11; House of Antique Hardware
How to do it: Refinish the treads and paint the risers white—or get creative and paint a runner-like pattern.
Estimated cost: 1 gallon of white paint, sandpaper, wood putty to fill tack holes, 1 quart of stain, and 1 gallon of clear polyurethane, about $95; Lowe's
How to do it: Retool your fireplace for spring with a screen made from a salvaged section of iron fence. Get one that's slightly larger than your firebox opening so that you can secure it to the surround. Add hook-on hangers to hold potted blooms.
How to do it: Brighten countertops instantly with battery-powered LED undercabinet puck lighting.
Estimated cost: Four adhesive-backed Bell & Howell Mini Power Pods, about $20; The Survival Store
How to do it: Use a spade bit to drill a recess in the tops for the candle. Group sticks of varying heights for a stunning tabletop display.
Estimated cost: Two 12-inch and two 7½-inch turned redwood spindles, about $9; Vintage Woodworks
How to do it: Unify unmatched bedroom furniture by painting pieces the same hue.
Estimated cost: 1 gallon of eco-friendly Inside Palette acrylic paint, about $45; YOLO Colorhouse
Group small prints, photos, and vintage plates and hang them together for the look of a large, expensive piece of art. Arrange the display on the floor first to limit nail holes. For more easy upgrades like this one, see 100 DIY Upgrades Under $100.
How to do it: Plant low-growing English thyme to prevent weeds from sprouting between pavers. Just sow seeds in early spring so that they'll sprout as the temperature rises.
Estimated cost: 400-seed packet, about $2; Diane's Flower Seeds
How to do it: Make this diamond-patterened ruglike mat on your stoop by mapping the design with painter's tape and using a
roller to put colors in their places.
Estimated cost: 2 quarts of Valspar latex Porch and Floor paint, about $24; Valspar
How to do it: Change the hardware on your kitchen island to give it the look of custom furniture. Leave the existing knobs and handles on the cabinets alone.
Estimated cost: Melon Knob and Melon Handle, about $26 for both; Anthropologie
How to do it: Swap in a cross-handle faucet to warm up a bathroom. A compact, centerset design—for basins with holes spaced 4 inches apart—preserves sinktop space.
Estimated cost: Randolph Morris 4-inch centerset bathroom faucet in chrome, about $84; Vintage Tub & Bath
How to do it: A bold-colored locking model will make your entry more eye-catching—and protect your privacy.
Estimated cost: Priority Mailbox in red, about $58; chiasso
How to do it: Screw classic bin pulls onto double-hung windows to keep frames free from fingerprints. Twenty Victorian-style cast-iron decorative bin pulls will outfit 10 windows in first-floor rooms, where guests are more likely to see them.
Estimated cost: About $82; House of Antique Hardware
How to do it: Paint your porch ceiling sky blue to create a more spacious feeling.
Estimated cost: 1 gallon of Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior paint in Niagara Falls, similar to shown, about $36; behr.com.
How to do it: Put turned wood corner moldings on the outside corners of foyer walls to protect paint and add architectural detail.
Estimated cost: Traditional 22-inch cherry Corner Guard, about $15 each; Van Dykes Restorers
How to do it: Roll stripes or stencil a pattern of shiny glaze over a wall painted with a solid matte finish.
Estimated cost: 1 quart of Studio Finishes latex glaze, about $9; Benjamin Moore
How to do it: Hang a wall-mount cup and toothbrush holder in the bathroom to declutter the sink deck.
Estimated cost: Banner Concave Design Porcelain Toothbrush & Tumbler Holder in chrome, about $23; Vintage Tub & Bath
How to do it: Transform an unadorned mirror by wrapping it in wood molding.
Estimated cost: A simple frame kit containing four mitered Pemaquid Slim molding strips in a distressed silver finish, the clips and glue to secure it together, and hardware to mount it, about $97; MirrorMate
How to do it: Drop in a floor receptacle so that you don't have to string long cords between table lamps and wall outlets.
Estimated cost: Carlon Drop-In Floor Box, about $58; tselectronic.com
How to do it: Install a chair rail in your bedroom and paint the wall below a serene accent color.
Estimated cost: Enough red oak Colonial-style moldings to wrap the walls of an 8-by-10-foot room, about $75; Baird Brothers
How to do it: Try barn-style caged lights to accent a traditional entry, then screw in outdoor-rated CFLs to save on your energy bills.
Estimated cost: Two cast aluminum vapor-tight lights, about $99.60; Warehouse Lighting
How to do it: Connect two rooms with a pass-through carved out in a nonload-bearing wall. Frame the opening with 2x4s, cover with drywall, and finish the edges with corner beading.
Estimated cost: Lumber, sheet of drywall, beading, and 5-gallon bucket of joint compound to coat it all in mud, about $55; Do it Best
How to do it: Use stick-down carpet tiles. Use six tiles for a runner or nine for a square. Mix and match colors for a custom pattern.
Estimated cost: Six 20-by-20-inch textured tiles, about $54; FLOR
How to do it: Support a ¾-inch plywood seat deck on 2x6 hanging strips anchored into the side and back walls. To form the cubbies, glue and nail in place two plywood dividers. Face the unit with 1x4 poplar.
Estimated cost: Materials for a seat similar to this one, about $60; at lumber yards. 16-by-26-inch Gripper Sensations Microsuede Window Seat Cushion, about $30; JCPenny
How to do it: Highlight a hanging light fixture with some decorative interest at the ceiling.
Estimated cost: Paintable 18-inch polyurethane medallion with floral-and-leaf pattern, similar to shown above, about $57; Creative Trim
How to do it: Change out the plastic switchplate cover in your dining room with an embossed metal one.
Estimated cost: Single-toggle, lead-free, pewter-finished Lattice switchplate, about $65; Eleek
How to do it: Build an outdoor planter from leftover deck boards and railing balusters. Frame the box with balusters, then clad the sides and bottom with cut boards. Drop in a plastic liner to hold the soil and protect the wood from rot.
Estimated cost: Square liner, about $15; Lowe's
How to do it: Mass like objects—vases, candle-sticks, bowls—and displaying them together. Follow the designer's rule of thumb and group items in odd numbers for a look that's more pleasing to the eye.
Estimated cost: Nothing
How to do it: Paint trim lighter or darker than walls, rather than bright white, for a more subtle contrast.
Estimated cost: 1 gallon of Farrow & Ball's Water Based Eggshell yields a saturated color and a slight sheen. About $99; Farrow & Ball
How to do it: Use a folding screen in the corner of a small room to make the space appear larger by blurring the line where walls come together.
Estimated cost: Espresso Shinto Screen, about $99.99; DHDTV Specialty Hardware
How to do it: Swap in an insulated mail slot to keep out weather and muffle noise.
Estimated cost: Polished aluminum Draft Dodger insulated mail slot, about $45; DHDTV Specialty Hardware
How to do it: Affix mirrored tiles to the soffit above kitchen cabinets. The reflective surface will bounce light around the room, making it appear bigger and brighter.
Estimated cost: Twenty 4-by-4-inch peel-and-stick tiles, about $10; Amazon.com
How to do it: Hang an oval-shaped mirror like a pendant from a decorative chain for an elegant look in a bath, bedroom, or foyer.
Estimated cost: Frameless oval mirror, about $84; Bellacor
How to do it: Screw in vintage-look sash locks for a tight seal between double-hungs to prevent drafts.
Estimated cost: Bronze bamboo-pattern sash window lock as below, about $13; House of Antique Hardware
How to do it: Create an accent wall in the living room by papering the fireplace or sofa wall with grasscloth. Choose one with a tone that picks up the surrounding paint color.
Estimated cost: Double roll of Oriental Grasscloth Knot Textiles, about $70; Creative Wallcovering
How to do it: Change the quality of the light with a hue other than off white.
Estimated cost: The medium-size Mica drum shade shown above creates a warm glow in any room.About $59;Pottery Barn
How to do it: Update an old fridge with a faux stainless-steel painted finish.
Estimated cost: 1 quart of Thomas Liquid Stainless Steel TM Base Coat, about $56; Thomas' Liquid Stainless Steel
How to do it: Mount flower boxes planted with colorful perennials to front-facing windows to boost your home's curb appeal.
Estimated cost: 18-inch cedar window box with liner, about $29; Hooks and Lattice. Flat of flowers, about $10; at garden centers
How to do it: Brush on a tinted latex stain, wipe, and repeat until you achieve the desired look.
Estimated cost: 1 gallon of Studio Finishes latex glaze, about $23; Benjamin Moore
How to do it: Banish flat-screen TV wires using a recessed outlet and an open-back wall plate to route wires behind the wall.
Estimated cost: Vanco Rapid Link Power Dual Recessed Outlet Flat Panel TV Power Kit w/Romex and Signal Cable Wall Plates, about $66; Amazon.com
How to do it: Roll out a seagrass hallway runner. It'll stand up to heavy foot traffic and make your house smell beachy.
Estimated cost: 2¼-by-7½-foot basket-weave seagrass runner, about $60; Overstock.com
How to do it: Trim the wood vent hood cover above your range with a tile border.
Estimated cost: 6-by-6-inch Interceramic Antique Metals Hammered Ceramic Tiles in bronze, about $10 each; artofceramic.com
How to do it: Nail an easy-to-clean panel on the wall or right over tired tile.
Estimated cost: 1½-by-4-foot stamped Design 204 panel, about $70; Classic Ceilings
How to do it: Create a crawl space in an existing built-in. Remove lower cabinet doors or place his cushion below a window seat or on the bottom shelf of a bookcase, as shown below.
Estimated cost: Nothing