Contractors Say These Genius Home Upgrades Seem Expensive But Are So Cheap On Amazon

Home experts share the tricks they use to upgrade their space.

Written by Bimini Wright
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If you’ve been binge-watching too much HGTV, you may have wild fantasies about winning the lottery so you can renovate your home. But if you don’t have to be bound by your finances (or lack thereof) to spruce up your dwelling. I spoke to contractors who say these genius upgrades may look expensive, but are actually extremely affordable.

From futuristic gadgets to new flooring with all the perks of hardwood and none of the price, this list has something for everyone. And all these tips come straight from the mouths of experts, so you don’t have to take my word for it.


Installing Security Cameras Around Your Home

When it comes to installing security cameras around the home, don’t let the potential price tag of a high-end system turn you off. "Luckily, there are some more affordable options on Amazon that still offer great features like motion detection and night vision," says Matt Teifke, Founder & CEO of Teifke Real Estate. "Plus, you'll be able to monitor your home from anywhere with the help of an accompanying app."

This 1080P pan-and-tilt security camera has motion detection, excellent night vision for up to 50 feet, and a built-in microphone and speaker that allows you to talk to your visitors when you cannot come to the door. In addition, it's compatible with Alexa smart devices and will send you real-time alerts if it detects any unusual activity.


Replace Regular Locks With Smart Deadlbolt Locks

Smart locks are an excellent way to add an extra layer of security to your home, but the cost can quickly add up. “Fortunately, you can find some reasonably priced options on Amazon that still offer all the features you need,” says Teifke. “Look for locks with keyless entry, remote access, and biometric authentication for maximum security and convenience.”

This keypad lock can offer up to 20 individual access codes for family use, and a temporary one-time PIN code can be set for guests and will automatically be deleted after use. Never worry, “Did I lock the front door?” again, as this deadbolt will automatically lock 10 to 99 seconds after closing the door.


Update All Your Electronics To Make Them Smart

If you want to make all your electronic devices "smart," then smart plugs are the simplest solution. But they can be costly if you want the full range of benefits. "Fortunately, there are some budget-friendly options on Amazon that still offer plenty of features including energy tracking and remote access from your smartphone or tablet,” says Teifke. “Plus, they're easy to install and use, so you can quickly upgrade your home's technology."

You don't even need a smart home hub to use this smart plug — plug it in, open the Alexa app, and get started in minutes.


Control Your Outdoor Lights From Your Phone

Utilizing smart plugs doesn’t limit you to indoor devices like your coffee maker or humidifier: thanks to IP44 weatherproof construction and socket covers to help prevent rain and other moisture from getting inside of it, this smart plug is great for outdoor lights. With three individually controlled sockets that work independently of each other, it’s perfect for patio lights, electric grills, sprinkler systems, or any other outdoor device.


Prevent Clogged Drains With One Simple Device

Hiring a professional to clean out your clogged drains can cost hundreds of dollars, so nip the problem in the bud and prevent your drains from ever clogging in the first place with this drain protector. "While this might not be an aesthetically noticeable upgrade, having good drainage is awesome," says Jake Romano, general manager at John the Plumber. "But if you have a hair clog, which is extremely common in showers and bathroom sinks, these things can often yank the blockage right out, and they're very easy to use."

The TubShroom is designed to catch any hair — human or pet — preventing clogged drains without disrupting the water flow. It fits standard bathtub drains and is easy to clean.


Give Your Lavatory A Hygenic Upgrade

This bidet attachment has over 13,000 five-star ratings, and it can be installed easily in minutes, with no special tools required. An adjustable and retractable spray nozzle allows you to get the perfect angle for your needs. It’s also a bathroom accessory that gets the contractor seal of approval.

“Bidets are rapidly growing in popularity,” affirms Romano. “People are becoming more and more conscientious about their hygiene, and toilet paper just doesn't cut it. Just be careful because some areas require that bidets meet certain standards that not all online bidets are tested for.”


Install Motion-Activated Lights Under Your Bed

If you're prone to getting up in the middle of the night and don't want to be blearily fumbling for a light switch, you have options. This motion-activated strip light gives off a warm, white glow designed to light your path without causing harsh glare and automatically shuts off to conserve energy. It's incredibly easy to install with the included 3M tape strips.

"Adding a motion-activated LED light strip underneath your bed is an easy way to add some ambient lighting that is both stylish and practical," says Chris Alexakis, a Florida certified building contractor and co-founder of "It's a great option for those who want to keep their bedroom dark. You can find motion-activated LED light strips on Amazon that won't break the bank. Think of it as an inexpensive luxury. It's also great for aging adults or those with physical disabilities who may have difficulty finding their way around in the dark."


Upgrade Your Bathroom Faucet To A Modern & Water-Efficient Option

Upgrading your bathroom faucet not only gives your sink vanity an instant facelift, but it can also help to conserve water and add a touch of luxury to your bathroom. "My suggestion is to look for a water-efficient model that has a sleek, contemporary design," says Alexakis. "You can find a great selection of stylish and water-efficient bathroom faucets on Amazon that won't break the bank."

The wide spout of this waterfall bathroom faucet makes for a beautiful effect, and the water flow is quiet and smooth. It is made of beautiful rust-proof stainless steel and comes in three colors.


Replace Outdated Doorknobs With Sleek Modern Options

When upgrading your home, the devil is often in the details. "Replacing your existing door knobs and hinges with more modern options can give your home an instant facelift," says Alexakis. "You don't need to spend a lot of money — Amazon has plenty of stylish, affordable options to choose from. Not only will it look great, but you'll also get increased security thanks to the updated locks."

These privacy door locks are timelessly elegant. They feature self-aligning screw holes that make installation a breeze, and they lock easily with the push of a button. In addition, they come in eight beautiful colors, so there’s a finish to match any home decor.


Add Peel-&-Stick Wallpaper To Create An Affordable & Trendy Accent Wall

Your walls need something, but you hesitate to commit to major overhauls. This peel-and-stick wallpaper is an easy and reversible option. It has easy-to-use grid measurements on the back, so you can effortlessly cut it to your required size. The repeating pattern is easy to line up seamlessly. The panels can be removed by gently peeling them off, leaving no sticky residue, which makes it a great option for beginners.

"Peel-and-stick wallpaper is a great way to add color and texture to any room," advises Alexakis. "It's also an affordable option that can be easily removed and replaced if you decide to change it up.”


Mend Rips In Screens Without Having to Replace The Entire Window Or Door

Rips in old screen doors and windows not only let in bugs but are also an unsightly eyesore. “Screen repair tape can patch the hole in your screen and help further the life of the screen,” advises Jay Sanders, owner of Castle Dream Construction. “No need to replace the whole screen. It is a great way to let in fresh air without allowing bugs to come inside!”

This window screen repair mesh has an ultra-strong adhesive backing that sticks to any screen surface. It’s straightforward to use— just cut and put it in place to cover holes and tears of any size. It’s made of high-quality fiberglass and comes in black or gray.


Treat Yourself To New, Fluffy Towels

You can easily upgrade your bathroom without busting out the tool kit or installing anything permanent. “If you want to spruce up a bathroom, switch out the old shower curtain or towels with updated ones that match the space,” says Jeremy Yamaguchi, the CEO of Lawn Love.

This 12-piece set of bath towels is made from soft and cozy 100% ring-spun cotton. Thick and durable, these offer an easy way to indulge in a bit of luxury at an affordable price. They come in 21 colors, so there’s an option for every space.


Define A Living Space With A Beautiful Area Rug

The right rug can really tie a room together. “Incorporating an area rug with subtle designs will not only add class and definition to any area but also provide warmth for your feet on tile floors,” says Yamaguchi. This plush faux fur rug is made of soft, hypoallergenic polyester, so it’s great for sensitive skin. It has a nonslip backing and durable threading that prevents shedding, plus it comes in nine fabulous colors.


Dress Up Your Windows With Natural Bamboo Blinds

Windows let in light and fresh air, and can make or break your home’s curb appeal. “Adding some stylish curtains or blinds can instantly dress up a window,” says Yamaguchi. These bamboo shades have thousands of five-star ratings, with one happy reviewer stating, “These are outstanding and beautiful!” They come in seven gorgeous neutral color options and have an innovative cordless lift system.


Add Color By Updating Your Throw Pillows

Sometimes all it takes is a little pop of color to freshen up a space. “Small upgrades such as throw pillows, rugs, and unique vases can help add color and life to a room,” Yamaguchi advises. These throw pillow covers are very soft velvet and have a hidden zipper for a flawless and smooth finish. They come in a pack of two, with 42 different colors from which to choose.


Accent Your Home With A Unique Vase

If your interest is piqued by Yamaguchi’s suggestion that you can spruce up a room with a new vase, check out this set of two metal flower vases. The minimalist, Scandinavian design is simple and elegant, in a rose gold color that will beautifully and unobtrusively accent any room.


Redo Your Floors For A Fraction Of The Cost

Upgrading your floors can be an expensive nightmare, especially if you have your heart set on hardwood floors. “[...] you can easily and cheaply upgrade your flooring by using other materials,” says Zach Dannett, co-founder at Tumble. “[...] Sheet vinyl is a great option if you’re on a budget because it’s easy to install this material on your own. Laminate flooring is a good hardwood flooring alternative. They appear like hardwood, and they are fairly durable.”

This self-adhesive flooring has the appearance and appeal of natural wood grain but is much easier to install and maintain. With a scratch-resistant surface layer, these planks are waterproof and easy to clean.


Install Energy-Saving Puck Lights To Illuminate Dark Spaces

The proper lighting can completely change a room's tone, but paying experts and electricians to redesign every sconce, circuit, and floorplan is an unnecessary expense. "One simple but effective upgrade is to install LED lights throughout the house," says Austin Fain, owner of Perfect Steel Solutions. "LED lights last much longer than traditional bulbs and use far less energy, so they'll save money in the long run.”

These under-cabinet puck lights project a 3000K warm white glow, and they’re battery-operated so you don’t have to rely on your built-in wiring or bother with threading extension cords. They’re very easy to install, and can be controlled from a distance via the included remote.


Maintain Consistent Climate Control In Your Home

This programmable thermostat can achieve precise temperature control of +/- 1 degree Fahrenheit and can be scheduled to follow different programming depending on the day of the week. It has an intuitive interface, a clear, backlit display panel — and can save you a ton of money.

“Another great option for those looking to save money is to install a programmable thermostat,” says Fain. “This will help to keep heating and cooling costs down by automatically adjusting the temperature based on the time of day and whether anyone is home.”


Brighten Up A Room With A Fresh Coat Of Paint

When all else fails, a fresh coat of paint can work wonders to breathe new life into your home, and it's an expensive trick if you're willing to do it yourself instead of hiring painters. "This is a project that takes some time and effort, but it's well worth it in terms of both cost savings and satisfaction," says Fain. "And there are all sorts of helpful products available on Amazon to make the job easier, such as drop cloths, paint rollers, etc."

This paint roller set comes with everything you need to set yourself up for success: a tray, a 9-inch roller frame, two roller covers, a roller frame, an angel paint brush, and a high-density foam brush. With thousands of five-star ratings, it’s a sure winner.


Give Your Home A Face-Lift By Painting Your Front Door

First impressions count for a lot, so when it comes to upgrading your home Alex Federo, co-owner of FTW Concrete Contractors, suggests that you start with your front door. “A fresh coat of paint or new hardware can make a big difference,” Federo says. This front-door paint has a water-based formula that dries to the touch in just one hour and comes in 15 bold colors and will surely make you the neighborhood's envy.


Try Switching Out Old Light Fixtures For A Modern Pendant Light

You cannot underestimate the power of good lighting when transforming your space for the better. But you can keep it simple for an effective change. “Update your light fixtures,” says Federo. “New fixtures can brighten up your space and make it feel more inviting.”

This retro-style pendant light is made of iron with an exquisite matte black paint finish. The cord length is adjustable, so it can be converted to fit any space. It works with various bulbs, and the fixture is dimmable when used with compatible bulbs.


Show Your Personality With These Art Prints

Are you trying to figure out how to make use of an empty wall, and continually coming up blank? “Art is a great way to add personality to your space,” suggests Federo. Freshen up your walls with some new art, like with this set of six art prints. Their warm, neutral palette looks great in any space, and they’re set on non-toxic, durable, and water-resistant canvases.


Add Greenery To Your Home

For a pop of bold color that adds organic shapes and texture to a room, Federo advises adding plants. “Plants can add life to any space, and they're also known to boost moods[...],” he says. If you’re no green thumb, not to worry. This artificial pothos plant has all the charm of a live plant, with none of the responsibility required to keep it alive. Its realistic stem and leaves will stay green no matter the weather or how much sunlight it receives.


Rearrange Your Home Based On Calming Feng Shui Concepts

Sometimes it isn’t a matter of adding anything new but simply switching around the placement of what you already have. “Rearrange your furniture,” advises Federo. “Sometimes all you need is a new layout to make your space feel fresh and new.” But before you shove your couch up against the fridge all will-nilly; read up on how to best apply the art of feng shui to your space with this book from TikTok influencer Cliff Tan.


Display Your KnickKnacks & Photos On Stylish Floating Shelves

Benefit from high-end designer looks without paying high-end designer prices. These floating shelves are lightweight yet sturdy, extremely easy to assemble, and come with all the necessary hardware included. “Floating shelves are an inexpensive way to add a touch of luxury to your home,” says Cam Dowski, an interior designer and founder of “[...] With the right styling, floating shelves can showcase your favorite decor items, such as books, vases, or picture frames, while also providing storage and freeing up floor space.”


Create The Illusion Of Higher Ceilings With A Strategically Placed Drapes

Nothing says luxury quite like high ceilings. If a costly renovation to increase the height of your ceilings isn’t in the cards, Dowski says you can create the illusion of a taller ceiling with well-placed window treatments. “To achieve this, mount the curtain rods near the ceiling and choose long, elegant drapes that will impart a sense of grandeur to the room,” Dowski tells Bustle.

This beautiful tulle curtain is airy and breathable, with a delicate vine pattern that draws the eye up and down, elongating the space. It’s sheer enough to allow natural light to pass through while blocking heat, keeping the room cool and breezy.


Revive Dull Floors With This Restoring Polish

If you’re fortunate enough to have hardwood floors, you can rejuvenate them and give them a new lease on life with the right product. “Weiman Floor Polish can take a home from dull to vibrant in one mop,” says Michael Bordes, a certified general contractor and the president of AA Jedson Company. “Vacuum, wash, and then finish with Weiman Floor Polish to increase the layers of protection and polish. You can add multiple layers weekly for an incredible shine that makes it look like new flooring.”

This polish forms a scratch-resistant layer that fades existing scratches and helps prevent new ones from forming. Not to mention it has a high 4.7-star rating and more than 5,000 reviews.


Install Smart Light Switches To Save Money

If you think you don’t have the budget for a smart home, think again. Patrick Grayson, founder and CEO of Paramount Property Buyers, weighs in: “Not only are smart light switches a great way to save money on electricity, but they also add a bit of convenience to your home by allowing you to control lighting from your smartphone or voice control,” he tells Bustle. “You can even set up scenes with multiple lights that turn on or off at the same time.”

These smart light switches are easy to install and have a smart scheduling feature that allows you to set timers to automatically turn your lights on or off at home or away. You can even enable a clever ‘away mode’ that randomly switches on and off to trick potential intruders.


Wake Up In The Future With This Projection Alarm Clock

No need to turn your head to check the time when it’s conveniently projected onto the ceiling above you. “If you're looking to add a touch of modernity to your home without spending too much, a projection clock is the perfect option,” says Grayson. “These clocks project the time onto your wall or ceiling and have adjustable brightness levels so they aren't too bright in the middle of the night.”

This projection alarm clock is extra loud (perfect for heavy sleepers), with five adjustable volume levels. It features a USB charging port for your cellphone and a crisp 7-inch LED display.


Hang A Clean Shower Curtain Liner

Think outside the box and inside the tub. Shower curtain liners are an incredibly easy and inexpensive way to make your bathroom look more luxurious, says Grayson. “Not only do they provide extra protection from water damage, but they also add a touch of elegance with their various colors and patterns.”

This shower curtain liner is resistant to soap scum, so it’ll remain cleaner for longer. It has heavy-duty magnets along the bottom to keep it in place, and comes in three timeless color options.


Ditch The Knocker In Favor Of A Wireless Doorbell

There’s nothing quite like a futuristic home feature at an affordable price. This wireless doorbell kit comes with everything you need for easy DIY installation. It has a range of up to 1000 feet, over 50 chimes to choose from, and it comes in a number of colors.

"A wireless doorbell is a great way to upgrade your home and make it more secure," says Shaun Martin, CEO of We Buy Houses In Denver. "It's relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and allows you to easily monitor who is coming in and out of your home. Plus, if you have visitors or delivery people that come by unexpectedly, you can be alerted right away."


Organize Your Bathroom With A Stylish Toothbrush Holder

Maintaining clean surfaces is a simple way to improve your home, and few places get cluttered faster than bathroom vanities. "A toothbrush holder is a great way to add a touch of style, organization, and convenience to your bathroom,” says Martin. “It's a great way to keep your toothbrushes and other small items clean, organized, and off the counter."

Not only can this toothbrush holder house up to six toothbrushes, but it also comes with three colorful mouthwash cups and room for your razor, aftershave, and other grooming accoutrements.


Replace Old Bulbs With Rechargeable LED Lights

If you feel your electricity bill has personally attacked you recently, you may want to switch out the bulbs you use around the house for a more efficient option. "LED lights are a great way to save money and energy in your home," says Martin. "They last longer than traditional bulbs, they're more efficient, and they come in a variety of styles and colors. Plus, if you invest in rechargeable LED lights, you'll never have to worry about replacing them."

These rechargeable LED bulbs come in a set of two and have over 10,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. They work as a regular lightbulb and maintain a charge when disconnected from an energy source, so in the event of a power outage, they can supply you with up to another four hours of light.


Keep Your Pet Well Fed When You’re Away From Home

Dogs and cats are creatures of habit, so feeding your pets on a consistent schedule is essential. But sometimes, our plans don't allow that because we're out late (or want to sleep in, just once). "An automatic pet feeder is a great way to make sure your pets are always fed, even when you're away from home," says Martin. "It's relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and takes the guesswork out of feeding your pet on a regular basis. Plus, it can be controlled from anywhere in the world using an app, making it super convenient."

This automatic pet feeder can be programmed to dispense the perfect amount of food for your fur baby's diet up to four times a day. It has a clever anti-clog design, and you can even record a personalized voice message that calls your pet to tell them dinner is served.


Invest In A Colorful Aquarium

If you don't have much of a green thumb, don’t worry; plants aren't the only way to bring organic, living color into your home. "A mini aquarium is a great way to add a touch of nature, color, and intrigue to any room in your home," says Martin. "Plus, it's surprisingly easy and inexpensive to set up and maintain. With the right supplies and the right fish, you'll have a beautiful miniature ecosystem that can provide hours of entertainment."

This 3-gallon half-moon aquarium comes equipped with a blue LED bubbler designed to enhance the colors of GloFish fluorescent fish. The kit is perfect for beginners and includes an air pump, filter, small filter cartridge, six blue LED airstones, airline tubing, and an airline connector valve — all that's missing is the fish.


Enjoy The Expensive Look Of Marble Tile Without The High Price

If your bathroom needs new tiles, but you're not ready to deal with chisels, grout, and caulk, there is a much easier alternative. "Peel-and-stick tiles provide a cost-effective way to refresh your bathroom, with a range of styles and colors to suit any design preference,” Owen Drury, home builder at Bilt Renovation, tells Bustle.

These peel-and-stick tile sheets are flexible, humidity-resistant, and simple to install on existing walls. The pattern mimics natural marble and comes in seven stylish colors.


Trim Your Walls With Gorgeous Removable Molding

Crown molding on walls is like icing on a fancy cake. “By adding crown molding to your ceilings, you can add more style and elegance to your home,” Richard Fung, the owner of Forever Homes, tells Bustle. “You will find many affordable options at home improvement stores and online.”

One such option is this flexible molding trim that comes in four chic colors and is incredibly easy to install. Cut it to your desired length, peel off the adhesive backing, and voila — it sticks to almost any smooth surface, giving you gorgeous, waterproof, easy-to-clean crown molding without expensive installation costs.


Upgrade Your Showerhead

Turn your bathroom into your own personal luxury spa, starting with your shower setup. “The cheapest and easiest way to improve your shower experience is by upgrading the showerhead,” Fung says. “You will find affordable options in different spray patterns and water-saving features. Some of these showerheads are so gorgeous that they will help to create a great first impression for anyone who sees it.”

This rainfall showerhead injects air bubbles into the water stream, which gives the water a softer, more luxurious feel and increases your water pressure. It has a beautiful, sleek chrome design and a brass swivel ball that lets you get the perfect angle.


Multi-Task With Outlets That Double As Night Lights

Never again will I fumble awkwardly in the dark behind my nightstand, attempting to plug in my phone because I stubbornly refuse to get up and turn on a light. There is an easy solution: outlet covers with built-in nightlights. “These outlet covers replace your standard outlet cover and have a built-in nightlight,” says Walter E Bennett, a handyman at Green Leaf Air. “They are easy to install and provide a soft glow that can guide you in the dark.”

This outlet cover does triple duty, acting as a nightlight and a three-sided, six-outlet power strip and surge protector. It even boasts an energy-conserving dusk-to-dawn sensor.