- Life & Money
- Family & Work
- Your Home
- Catherine McHugh
- Mar 31, 2020
Low-Cost Home Improvements You Can Do Right Now
Spending more time — a lot more time — at home means you’re probably noticing some areas of your surroundings that could stand a little sprucing up.
If you’ve already spent your extra house-bound hours tackling your annual spring cleaning, now could be a great time to make some easy low-cost home improvements. Here are some inexpensive do-it-yourself ideas from experts that can help you make your home sweet home even sweeter, and maybe even save you some money over time.
MAKE YOUR HOME OFFICE HOMIER
Licensed general contractor Brittany Bailey, who runs the DIY blog Pretty Handy Girl, says that orders to work from home have created a conundrum for some.
“Many people are frantically trying to carve out a home office for the first time, and they are looking for ways to do it without spending a lot of money,” she says. She suggests getting creative by upcycling a piece of furniture or creating unique storage solutions. “These types of DIY projects can really help you round out that new home office.”
For example, in her own home office, Bailey fashioned a large L-shaped desk from two old doors she bought at a church yard sale and two pedestal file cabinets she bought at Office Depot. A layer of custom cut glass on top of each door completed the look, and an $8 yard sale bookcase underneath holds her computer, back-up drive and supplies.
Other easy home-office DIY projects Bailey suggests: creating a wall-mounted desk out of finish-grade plywood and some shelf brackets; repurposing clothespins to make a wall organizer; and assembling a few pine boards into a wall bookrack.
TACKLE SMALL REPAIRS
Licensed contractor Kayleen McCabe of DIY Network’s “Rescue Renovation” suggests that while you’re home you should focus on practical fixes first, starting with your bathroom. “Listen to your house and make sure you don’t have any water leaks,” she says. “These two things can save you hundreds of dollars: Caulking your bathtub and changing the wax ring on your toilet.”
McCabe acknowledges that these tasks may sound a little daunting, but they shouldn’t be. “The toilet is a very simple piece of machinery,” she says. “The ring costs about $10 and it’s a super-fast project.”
PAINT A ROOM (OR TWO)
It’s no surprise that one of the most common DIY home projects is giving a room a fresh coat of paint. It's a fairly quick and affordable way to upgrade your home’s décor, and choosing a color you find soothing or inspirational can provide instant cheer.
However, McCabe cautions that this isn't a good time to be super choosy about your color. “With workers stretched thin in the current work climate, you may have a long wait to get your paint mixed,” she says. “But if you aren’t set on a particular color, you can buy quality paint online almost anywhere: Walmart, Target, Amazon. They all sell paint and the supplies you’ll need.”
If you’re a novice painter, you may want to check out some online tutorials or read up on tips from professionals before you break out the drop cloths and rollers.
PLANT A VEGETABLE GARDEN
If you have the lawn space, you can reap numerous benefits by planting a vegetable garden. “Especially in places where the weather has warmed up, you will see people are spending time outdoors focusing on gardening or landscaping projects,” Bailey says. “After years of saying I would start a garden, I finally made some rot-resistant raised planter beds that are built for the long haul.”
Gardening will not only allow you to commune with nature, you’ll get some exercise and save money on vegetables that are bound to taste better than those you can buy in a store. One tomato plant can potentially provide 10 pounds of tomatoes in one season, according to Better Homes and Gardens. If you opt for a traditional plot and it’s your first garden, start small — think 10 feet by 10 feet. Depending on your yard’s composition, you may want to rent a tiller from a local hardware store to prepare the soil.
INSTALL A CEILING FAN
As the weather begins to hint of summer days ahead, you may be looking for ways to cool the air inside your home before resorting to the air conditioner. “Installing a ceiling fan is not a difficult DIY project,” Bailey says. You can easily find step-by-step instructions online. The average ceiling fan costs less than $350 and can help create year-round energy savings — not only can they help cool in summer, they can help circulate heated air during the winter.
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