75 Easy Spruce-Ups Under $75
Upgrade your home and yard in a weekend with simple, stylish, and wallet-friendly DIY improvements— most of which can be done in less than an hour
Screw 1x4 wood cleats to the side jambs and insert tempered glass shelves. Two 3-inch-deep shelves for a standard 30-inch double-hung, $64; dullesglassandmirror.com
Put in a polished brass peephole with a fish-eye lens and a sliding metal cover so that you can see who's at the door before you open up. Baldwin Hardware Observ-O-Scope, $12; efaucets.com
Build a wall shelf to serve as a nightstand and free up space in a small bedroom. Make one out of a vintage roof slate supported by carved wood corbels. About $70 in materials; at salvage yards. Get the how-to at thisoldhouse.com/oct2011.
Replace your rusted with a corrosion-proof stainless-steel model that has adjustable shelves to accommodate various size bottles. Simple Human Adjustable Shower Caddy, $30; containerstore.com.
Create privacy screening on your porch by hanging floor-to-ceiling outdoor curtains with grommet-style tops that slip right onto rods‚Äîno pricey clips required. Parasol fabric panels in a wide range of colors, patterns, and sizes, starting at $30 each; lowes.com.
Make your own designer-look pendant light by attaching a colorful fabric drum shade to a corded plug-in socket.
Shown: Euro Fitter Retro Honeycomb Drum Shade in navy, $59 with a 15 percent discount for TOH readers (enter TOH15 at checkout); shadesoflight.com. White Electrical Cord Swag
Kit, $10; worldmarket.com
Hang a cottage-style drying rack in the laundry to air-dry delicates and save on energy bills. Abundant Earth's expandable wood accordion model has a shelf for detergent and is made from woodshop mill ends from sustainably harvested trees. $72; abundantearth.com
Get the look of a vintage garden ornament without the price. Buy a new piece and weather it yourself by lightly sanding the surface and applying a faux-rust finish. Then leave it outside to further develop its "aged" patina. Similar to shown: Cape Craftsman 56-inch Folding Armillary Garden Statue, $47; $72; lowes.com. Sophisticated Finishes Rust Antiquing Solution, $6.50 for a 4-ounce bottle; michaels.com for stores
Replace fabric window-sash cords with attractive chains by feeding the links over existing pulleys and attaching them to the weights inside the jamb pockets. Copper Dipped Steel Sash Chain Kit, $35 for 100 feet to retrofit about six windows; sashchain.com
Replace an old, fixed showerhead with one that has an articulating arm so that tall bathers won't have to stoop. Danze brushed-nickel 6-inch downpour showerhead with 9-inch adjustable arm, $73; splumbersurplus.com
Cut down on closet clutter by tucking toiletries and washcloths in the pockets of a hanging shoe organizer that hooks on the inside of the door. 24 Pocket Cotton Overdoor Shoe Bag, $25; containerstore.com
Create a set of colorful dining chairs out of mix-and-match thrift-store finds by painting them all the same hue. Similar to shown: Yolo Colorhouse latex semigloss in Dream .04, $36 per gallon; homedepot.com
Hang a mail-and-key holder by the front door. First paint it a bright
hue so that it pops on the wall. Target Home Mail Holder with Key Hooks, about $10; target.com. Rust-Oleum American Accents spray paint in 35 colors, about $7 per can; amazon.com
Paint a border on bathroom walls to match accent tiles in your shower enclosure. Bring a remnant tile to the store to match colors by computer. Behr bathroom paint, $12 per quart; homedepot.com
Add a mural in a kid's room on an adhesive-backed wall canvas that you can easily remove without marring the underlying finish if your little one's tastes change. Tempaper by You, $56 for a 56-square-foot roll; tempaperdesigns.com
Maximize natural light in an entryway by decorating a wall with reflective frameless mirrors in different shapes and sizes.
Similar to shown: Husnes mirror, $30; Kolja oval mirror, $10; and Kolja round mirror, $15; ikea.com
Hang a rope swing from a limb that's at least 8 inches thick. Use a ⅝-inch stainless-steel eyebolt secured with a washer and two nuts. Swing with disc-shaped wood seat, about $45; theoriginaltreeswing.com
Cover the risers on a concrete stoop with tiles rated for outdoor use in your climate. Small batches of remnant tiles, typically $1 or less per square foot through online classified sites, such as diggerslist.com
Make dull wood floors shine without any sanding by cleaning them and mopping on a fresh top coat that fills cracks and restores the shine. Minwax Hardwood Floor Reviver, about $15; sears.com]
Put kitchen utensils within easy reach by hanging them from a modular utility rail mounted on the backsplash. Similar to shown: ClosetMaid Kitchen Rail System, $35; closetmaid.com
Make a cold frame out of an old window and scrap lumber to extend the growing season for veggies. Find a divided-light window at reuse centers for $5. Guard against lead paint chips, which can contaminate the soil, by sealing the old finish under a clear coat.
A power strip for the charger plugs nests inside, and phones sit on top. Use 1√ó4 to make a four-sided box and 1√ó6 for a bottom and hinged top. Drill one hole in the back of the box for the strip‚Äôs cord, and multiple holes in the top for the charger leads that fuel the phones. About $10 in materials; at lumberyards
Add a little soda-fountain style with a bottle opener fastened to a kitchen doorjamb. Smedbo Wall-mount Bottle Opener in polished chrome, $15; efaucets.com
Have one cut to size at a glass shop, then glue it in place. 20-by-70-inch mirror, about $70, and Liquid Nails Mirror Adhesive, about $4
for a 10-ounce tube; acehardwareoutlet.com
Different sizes and materials work together when they're all the same color. Prime metal or wood finds, then spray-paint with enamel. Try Valspar's Basic Colors in Gloss Blue, about $6 per can; lowes.com.
Add a motion detector to a hall light so that nobody has to traipse through the dark on the way to the loo. Leviton occupancy sensor-light switch, $19; smarthome.com
Tile the wall above your bath vanity with graphic ceramic squares. Adhere the new backsplash with mortar, grout the joints, and squeeze a bead of caulk where the tiles meet the countertop. Similar to shown: 4-by-4-inch Moroccan Talavera tile, about $1 each; finecraftsimports.com
Create a pull-out pet feeder in a cabinet toekick. Use a saw to make an opening in the existing molding, and order a custom drawer to fit inside. Add a plywood top with cutouts for stainless-steel bowls, and line the underside of the drawer with felt to protect your floors and make it easier for the drawer to slide. Custom drawer, about $30; drawerbuilder.com. Heavy-duty adhesive felt, $4; homedepot.com
Install wood corner shelves to take advantage of untapped space. Use a pair to raise cordless speakers off the ground. Corner Cornice Shelf in four finish options, about $68 for two or the Southfield Corner Wall Shelf in two finish options, about $41; Home Decorators Collection
Plump up a flattened armchair cushion by replacing the seat's fill with a high-density-foam insert that'll hold its shape longer. EverFlex V44 four-inch-thick insert in a typical 22-by-24-inch size, about $50, including a Dacron wrap to keep the cushion cover tight and wrinkle-free; foamorder.com
Use kitchen utensil dividers to tidy up grooming supplies in your bathroom vanity. The solid wood Expandable Drawer Organizer fits drawers from 12 to 23 inches wide. $35; chefscatalog.com
Plant a diminutive indoor garden in a Victorian-style tabletop greenhouse. Terrarium Rustic Daisy planter, about $70; glasshouseworks.com, which also sells plants and supplies to keep them healthy.
Use shutter dogs as drapery tiebacks. Colonial-style S-shaped ones have a traditional look. Cast Iron Scroll Design shutter dogs; about $25 per pair; houseofantiquehardware.com.
Dress up a mantel with a wood applique. Pre-finish the piece to match the mantel's stain or paint, center it on the face, and use glue and finishing nails to secure it in place. Fill nail holes and touch up the finish. Classic Rosette, 6 by 8 inches, $25 in red oak; osbornewood.com.
Put your kids' doodles in frames from a secondhand store
or new ones made from reclaimed wood, and celebrate them like fine art. Homestead Narrow rustic frame, 11 by 14 inches, $35; mybarnwoodframes.com.
Give stock kitchen cabinets custom appeal by adding furniture-like feet at the ends and corners and painting them to match the cabinets.
Similar to shown: Maple pedestal end feet, $15 each, and corner feet, $25 each; vandykes.com
Top the sink cabinet with a wood shelf before installing an apron-front basin. This enhances the farmhouse feel by making it look like the sink is set on a table.
Similar to shown: $45 for a 4-foot length of teak, 3½ inches wide by ⅞ inches thick, that you can cut in half to support the sink at the front and rear; terramai.com
Mount a ceramic welcome sign beside your front door. Choose an Arts and Craftsstyle sign or one with script lettering to complement a Victorian-era or Colonial Revival home, $35; housenumbertiles.com.
Exchange your plastic hamper for a seagrass one that's moistureproof and fresh smelling. The Target Home Natural Seagrass Hamper has a removable fabric liner, and its hinged top keeps dirties out of sight. $50; target.com
Replace plastic downspout splash blocks with bluestone. Dig out the spot, set the stone flush with the surrounding mulch or grass, and pitch it slightly away from the house. About $5 per stone; earthmaterials.com
Display a collection of vintage postcards on a salvaged wood shutter. Attach them to the louvers with paper clips or simply slip them between the slats. Find exterior shutters for as little as $10 apiece on ebay.com.
Add a dry-erase message board to a laundry room, kitchen, or kids' play area—just by painting a wall or other surface, such as the recessed panels in cabinet doors (shown). IDEA white interior high-gloss dry-erase paint, $30 for 6 square feet of coverage; lowes.com
Pump tunes to your porch, patio, or deck without running any wires. Just hook up a relay to your stereo or iPod for the Acoustic Research Portable Wireless Outdoor Speaker, about $75; jr.com.
Install a medallion around a ceiling fan without taking it down. The Jefferson two-piece urethane foam medallion fits around the fan canopy like a puzzle. $16; architecturaldepot.com