Contractors Swear These Cheap Upgrades Make Your Home So Much Better

Home upgrades don’t need to be expensive.

Originally Published: 
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Outside of work, your home is probably where you spend the most amount of time; that’s why I like to try and make mine look as nice as possible. The only catch is that I have to stick to my monthly budget. Luckily, there are tons of cheap upgrades available on Amazon that make homes look so much better. But if you aren’t sure where to start, don’t fret: I’ve reached out to a handful of contractors who were more than happy to share their favorite cheap upgrades. There’s something in here that can be applied to every home.


The Gardening Gloves Perfect For Landscaping

Even if the inside of your home is spotless, an unkempt front yard is likely to create a poor first impression. Luckily, Eberhardt has an easy fix: “Make sure your home's outside leaves a good first impression because visitors will initially notice it,” he explains. “Adding fresh plants, flowers, and hardscaping to your landscape may help you design a stunning and welcoming front entry.”

And while buying new flowers can be fun, don’t forget to grab the tools you’ll need to get them planted — like these gardening gloves. They’re made from breathable bamboo fibers that can help keep your hands sweat-free while you work. And since they’re also touchscreen-compatible, there’s no need to take them off if you need to answer a call or send a text message.


These Clog Removers That Can Help You Save Money

In regards to plumbing, Sean M., the assistant manager at John the Plumber Nepean, tells Bustle that “removing potential issues increases value” — which is where these clog removers come in. Even if you aren’t planning on selling your home, using them to clear gunk from your pipes is way cheaper than calling a plumber. They’re also reusable, durable, and even come with a small grabber tool you can use to retrieve small pieces of jewelry (or other items) that accidentally fall down your sink drains.


The Tape That Can Help You Cut Down On Energy Bills

If you’re trying to decide what part of your home to renovate first, consider tackling those drafty windows first. “One of the most affordable upgrades that can make a home better is by replacing old and drafty windows with energy-efficient ones,” explains Andrii Gurskyi, the owner of Mr. Glazier Window. “Not only will it improve the home's energy efficiency, but it will also enhance its overall aesthetic appeal.”

But if buying new windows sounds a little expensive, this weather-sealing tape is an affordable alternative at just $7. The moisture-resistant adhesion helps keep it firmly in place from season to season — and you may even notice that your energy bills are lower now that your windows aren’t so drafty.


These Battery-Operated Lights That’ll Only Turn On When You’re Around

Always forgetting to turn off your lights? Brandlin suggests installing motion sensor light switches to help cut down on your bills. “Motion sensor light switches turn lights on and off automatically when someone enters or leaves a room,” he explains. “This can help you save money on your electric bill by ensuring that lights are not left on unnecessarily.”

Or, if adding a new switch to your home sounds a little complicated, these motion sensor LED lights are an easy-to-install alternative. Use the three light strips in hallways and closets, under cabinets, or even in your car. Each order includes an adhesive that lets you press them into place wherever you like.


These Pathway Lights That Are Powered By The Sun

As Eberhardt advises, landscaping is important — and you can brighten your yard with these pathway lights. Each one features a solar panel built into the top, so there’s no need for any complicated wiring when installing — just press them right into the ground and they’re ready to go. They’re also water-resistant, and hold enough charge to keep them lit for up to eight hours at night.


The Peel & Stick Floor Tiles That Are *So* Easy To Install

Can’t quite figure out what’s making your home feel “bleh”? According to Eberhardt, “The look and feel of your house may be greatly improved by replacing old or damaged flooring. There are several alternatives to pick from that may enhance the comfort and style of your house, including hardwood, tile, and carpet.”

But if new floors aren’t in your budget? Consider opting for these peel-and-stick tiles instead. They look just like real wood — even up close — and installation is as easy as peeling off the adhesive backing, then pressing them into place. Plus, the waterproof and scratch-resistant surface helps keep them looking good.


This Window Shade That Looks Expensive

While natural sunlight can make your home feel inviting, it can also make it difficult to create a cozy vibe when you’re trying to relax. The solution? “Upgrading your window treatments is an easy and affordable way to add charm and coziness to any room,” explains Ben Kuhl, the Home Remodeler and CEO of Shelf Expression. “Whether you decide on replacing tired blinds with something more contemporary or accessorizing with some fashionable curtains or shades, the inviting atmosphere they create will make any space feel truly new again.”

With that in mind, this roller shade is an affordable way to elevate your window dressing — the durable material has a linen-like texture, and when rolled down, it’s made to be completely blackout, blocking UV rays.


The Blackout Curtains That Come In *So* Many Colors

Kuhl recommends curtains as a way to upgrade your window treatments, and these blackout curtains are a great option. They’re made from super-thick material that helps them block up to 99% of outside light — and they can even help insulate your home against the weather outside. Choose from more than 25 colors, ranging from classic black to a deep shade of emerald green.


This Versatile Paint That Can Give Dull Homes A Total Makeover

You don’t have to shell out for expensive renovations if you want to update your home — just grab a bucket of paint. “One of the easiest ways to give your home a facelift is to change your paint,” Davin Eberhardt, a home designer, remodeler and the founder of Nature of Home, tells Bustle. “Fresh paint can drastically change the appearance and feel of your house, whether you want to add a splash of color or remain with a timeless neutral.”

This particular bucket of paint is so versatile that you can use it indoors and outdoors, making it a cost-effective pick. It also comes in 23 different colors, as well as two different finishes: low sheen or semi-gloss. And since it comes backed with a 10-year warranty, you can rest assured that it’s formulated to last.


An Area Rug That Won’t Break The Bank

As Eberhardt mentions, carpets are another way to upgrade your flooring — and if laying down tiles seems like too much of a hassle, consider covering up that outdated floor with this area rug. The pattern is timeless, making it unlikely that you’ll ever have to swap it out with a newer rug — and the stain-resistant polypropylene material makes it easy to clean in the event of spills. Choose from eight sizes as well as six colors.


These Floating Shelves That Come In 3 Stylish Finishes

If you’ve run out of places to store things, Eberhardt has a suggestion: “Adding additional storage may help your house seem more practical and orderly since nobody enjoys crowded areas,” he tells Bustle. “There are various methods to add additional space and make your house seem more livable, from built-in shelving to bespoke closets.”

And while those storage options can cost a pretty penny, these floating shelves will only set you back $20. They fit neatly into corners, adding storage space for books, tchotchkes, and more. You also have the choice of three stylish finishes: natural, espresso, or gray.


The Rope Baskets That Help You Hide Clutter

Relating to Eberhardt’s advice about adding storage to your home, these rope baskets can help provide organization — and they’re made from 100% cotton. Plus, they’re large enough to fit everything from books to art supplies, yet small enough to fit on shelves and inside cabinets. And if you finally find somewhere to store that clutter? You can also fold them down flat for easy storage when not in use.


A Cushioned Rug That Can Help Reduce Muscle Fatigue

Having trouble figuring out which rooms in your home are most deserving of an upgrade? According to Eberhardt, “Two of the most essential rooms in the house are the kitchen and bathroom, so updating them may significantly improve your quality of life.”

With that tip in mind, this cushioned rug is an affordable kitchen upgrade that any home chef can appreciate. Not only can standing on it help prevent muscle fatigue, but it also lets you add a pop of color to dull kitchens — and you even have the choice of 15 different shades. Plus, the nonslip backing helps keep it from shifting out of place, while a stain-resistant top works to keep it looking good in the event of spills.


This Towel Hook That’s Resistant To Rust

This towel hook is a simple way to upgrade your bathroom. Two prongs give you double the storage space for scrubbers, towels, and more, while a rust-resistant finish helps keep it looking good in humid bathrooms. And if you aren’t into black? You also have the choice of gold or chrome.


A Unique Lamp Made From Himalayan Salt Crystals

Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest impact — like changing up the lights in your home. “Lighting can instantly change the mood of any room,” explains Matt Teifke, the founder and CEO of Teifke Real Estate. “Whether you want a more contemporary look or just need to update your current lights, you can easily switch out light fixtures and lamps. You don't need to spend a lot of money to make this upgrade.”

Not only does this lamp produce a soft amber glow that’s perfect for relaxing, but it’s also made from pink salt crystals mined from the Himalayan mountains. It also features a dimmer switch, as well as an extra-long power cable that makes it easy to use with distant outlets. Plus, each order even comes with one bulb included.


The Panini Press That’s Designed To Work With Nearly Any Sandwich

Ever wonder what guests are most likely to notice upon entering your home? “Appliances are often one of the first things people notice in a home,” Teifke tells Bustle. “Upgrading old, inefficient models to newer energy-efficient ones not only looks better but also helps you save money on your energy bills. Plus, many manufacturers offer special discounts and rebates for upgrading to their new models.”

But if shelling out for a new stove isn’t in your budget, this panini press is a sleek alternative that’s way more affordable. The floating lid allows it to press sandwiches of nearly any shape or size, while dual heating plates mean there’s no need for any flipping. And since they’re also coated with nonstick, cleaning up after you’ve finished cooking is a total breeze.


The Planters That’ll Bring Color To Your Windows

Adding pops of color and greenery throughout your home is an easy way to make it feel inviting, but if you aren’t sure where to put them? “One simple way to improve your home is to install window boxes to the exterior,” explains Ryan Farley, the CEO of LawnStarter. “Window boxes filled with colorful flowers can add charm and interest. You'll want to choose plants in a variety of colors to complement your home's color scheme and brighten up drab areas.”

These flower boxes — which are made with metal that’s resistant to rust — can be installed into your windows in order to create secure places for flowers to thrive. They’re each lined with coconut coir and are 24 inches wide. Many reviewers also wrote that they’re “easy to install.”


These Stencils For Painting Flowers On An Accent Wall

Home feeling a little dull? Andre Kazimierski, the CEO of Improovy Painters Denver, suggests using a new paint color to add some character. “Try entertaining a new color in your living area or bedroom, or bathroom or kitchen, that can act as an accent wall,” he explains. “Painting flowers or subtle nature themes on walls can also add a lot of character and charm in your room, as long as it is done in good taste.”

Once you’ve picked a paint color, these floral stencils are an easy way to get that accent wall looking good. They come in three sizes, making it easy to cover walls both large and small — and the flexible mylar material easily washes clean under running water.


A Paint Brush That’s Designed Not To Shed

Now that you’ve picked a wall to revamp, it’s time to make sure you’ve got the right tools on hand to get the job done. Not only is this paint brush made with vegan bristles, but it also delivers a smooth, even layer of paint — no brush strokes within sight. And since the bristles are packed together tightly, there’s no need to worry about them shedding into your DIY project.


The Peel & Stick Backsplash Tiles That’ll Upgrade Your Kitchen

If you know that your home could use an upgrade, but can’t figure out what to upgrade, Kazimierski has a suggestion — “Upgrade your tiling! Whether it's a bathroom tile, kitchen tile, or perhaps the tile on your countertops, these subtle upgrades will make your home look ten times more radiant and valuable.”

With that in mind, these peel-and-stick tiles are a solid pick that can be used in your kitchen and bathroom. Unlike some tiles, these ones won’t turn yellow over time, and they’re even heat- as well as moisture-resistant. And if they ever get dirty, simply wipe them down with a damp rag for an easy clean.


A Roll Of Contact Paper That Looks Just Like White Marble

If tiles don’t match your decor, this contact paper is a viable alternative that’ll only set you back $6. It’s made from glossy vinyl, making it so moisture-resistant that you can even install it around sinks. Plus, the white marble pattern looks just like the real thing — even up close.


A Lazy Susan Made From Sleek Bamboo

A messy, cluttered kitchen can make it difficult to cook — especially if you’re wasting time digging through disorganized cabinets. The solution? “Adding interior organization to your kitchen storage space is a great way to improve the efficiency of your kitchen without having to do a complete cabinet overhaul,” explains Simone Bumpus, a kitchen designer for Kitchens by Good Guys. “Additions such as a lazy Susan or pull-out shelves will allow you to store more pots, pans, utensils, and appliances in your kitchen and make it easier for you to get to them.”

With that in mind, this lazy Susan is a stylish upgrade from the plastic ones you’ve likely seen. It’s made from sleek bamboo, and can easily spin 360 degrees even when loaded up with spice bottles, condiments, and other ingredients. Or, if your cabinets are already looking good, you can also use it to create a stunning centerpiece for your dining table.


The Sliding Shelf That Makes It Easy To Reach Items All The Way In The Back

Add this sliding shelf to your cabinets, and you’ll instantly be able to reach any items stashed all the way in the back with a simple pull. It’s made from sleek stainless steel — and with a weight limit of up to 100 pounds, you can easily use it with heavy cast iron pans, bulky bags of flour, and everything in between.


The Wall Molding That’s Made For DIY Beginners

Can’t quite figure out what your bedroom is missing? Consider adding some stylish molding to your ceiling. “Trims and cornices are not only useful in hiding joints in traditional construction, it can also elevate any modern space,” Joe Ferguson, an architectural joiner at SkirtingsRus, tells Bustle. “Nowadays, trims and skirtings are not just stuff that are reserved for traditional homes. Any space can still achieve a streamlined and modern look with the right molding type and design.”

And not only is this molding strip gorgeous to look at, but it also features an adhesive backing that’s perfect for DIY beginners. It’s sticky enough to adhere to nearly any surface — whether you add it to your walls or use it to create a stunning mirror frame — and you even have the choice of two finishes: pure white or white/silver.


An Organizer That Adds Storage Space To Cramped Closets

Running out of space in your closet? It’s a more common problem than you might realize. “Oftentimes, a closet will have just one single long shelf to place items on and a single rod underneath to hang clothing items under,” Christina Giaquinto, a professional organizer and brand ambassador of Modular Closets, tells Bustle. “These closet spaces are inefficient, completely underutilized, and simply not designed properly, so it is vital to create a new system.”

The solution? This organizer not only adds five shelves to your closet rod, but you also get five drawers, as well as multiple mesh pouches on the side where you can stash smaller items. And if you ever decide you no longer need the extra shelf space, you can easily fold it down flat for storage.


This Shoe Organizer With Space For Up To 10 Pairs

If adding five shelves’ worth of space isn’t enough for you, this organizer boasts a full 10 — and each shelf is even sturdy enough to hold heavy pairs of shoes. Mesh pockets on either side still give you extra space to store socks, accessories, and more, while a swiveling hanger at the top makes it easy to access from any direction.


These Stackable Shelves That Add *So* Much Storage Space

Tall shelves don’t always maximize your storage space, as there’s typically a good amount of wasted space above each one. Luckily, Giaquinto has a tip. “In your kitchen cabinets, add adjustable shelves for specific food needs,” she tells Bustle. “Every pantry is unique because everyone will have different types of food in their home, and since food comes in all different sizes, adjustable shelves are the perfect way to customize your pantry just right.”

These particular shelves are not only adjustable — they can also hold up to 33 pounds each, making them perfect for flour, ketchup, and everything in between. Plus, the solid bamboo top makes them look more expensive than they are.


These Cabinet Pulls That Are Made From Stainless Steel

Making incremental upgrades around your home is an easy way to make it feel newer. But if you need suggestions? “Changing out the hardware on your doors and windows can help you change or elevate the look of your home,” explains Craig Ricks Jr., President of Acadian Windows and Siding. “This includes handles, door knobs, and locks. Check out hardware stores and antique shops for deals and install them yourself to save money.”

Or, if you don’t have time to go antiquing, you could just swap out your cabinet handles with these sleek pulls. They’re made from rust-resistant stainless steel, making them suitable for humid bathrooms and hot kitchens — and you even have the choice of three finishes: black, brushed brass, or satin nickel.


The Highly Rated Doorknob That’s Simple To Install

If you’re trying to change the hardware on your doors, these doorknobs can help. This one not only has a modern appearance but it’s also designed to fit right- or left-handed doors. Plus, its universal latch easily slides into place on most standard-sized doors without any tools needed — and it has a 4.8-star Amazon review.


This Keyless Door Lock That You Can Setup For Multiple People

Since this door lock can be programmed to work with up to 20 unique passcodes, you can easily give access to friends, family, or even delivery people. You also get two spare keys — just in case you forget your own passcode — and it only needs four AA batteries (which are not included) to work for at least one year.


The Crown Molding That’s Adjustable

Crown molding isn’t just for ceilings. According to Ricks Jr., “Adding or upgrading the moulding on your doors and windows can contribute to your home’s style, give it a decorative flair, and make your doors and windows look more expensive. This is another great project for homeowners who want to do it themselves.” But if installing it sounds like a challenge? This crown molding is DIY-friendly, as it can easily be glued right into place. And since it’s made from soft PVC, you shouldn’t have any problem trimming it with a pair of heavy-duty scissors.


A Bucket Of Paint For Your Front Door

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a new coat of paint. “A fresh coat of paint can make your home look brand new, whether you go big and paint your siding or focus on an accent or pop of color with your doors or windows,” Ricks Jr. tells Bustle. “If you have a wood or fiberglass door, you might also consider staining it for a more natural look that won’t chip over time.”

This paint is a good option if you’re revamping your door. It comes in bold shades, including cranberry and Vermont green — and the corrosion-resistant formula helps keep it looking good through all sorts of inclement weather.


These Smart Bulbs That Are Energy-Efficient

Looking for lighting upgrades? Jeff Brandlin, the owner of Assurance Electrical Services, has an easy tip: “Install LED light bulbs,” he tells Bustle. “LED light bulbs are much more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and can save you money on your electric bill. They also last much longer, which means you'll need to replace them less frequently.”

Not only are these LED bulbs energy-efficient, but they also have a lifetime of up to 20,000 hours — so there’s no need to swap them out anytime soon. Download the smartphone app, and you’ll be able to adjust their brightness and color, as well as put them on schedules so that they’re on when you come home.


A Thermostat That Lets You Set Daily & Weekly Schedules

Always having to tweak your thermostat to stay comfortable is an easy way to wind up with high energy bills. The solution? “Install a programmable thermostat,” says Brandlin. “A programmable thermostat allows you to set different temperatures for different times of the day, so you can save money on your heating and cooling bills. Some models can even learn your preferences and adjust automatically.”

With separate programming options for the weekdays versus weekends, and the ability to set different temperatures when you’re home, away, or sleeping, this thermostat is a must-have in any home. Installation is easy enough to DIY — and it’ll even remember how you programmed it should the power ever go out.


A Dimmer Switch That You Can Add To Lamps

Another way to cut down on your energy bill is to install a dimmer switch. “Dimmer switches allow you to adjust the amount of light in a room and can help you save money on your electric bill,” Brandlin tells Bustle. “By reducing the amount of light in a room, you can reduce the amount of electricity you use.”

And while installing a hardwired dimmer switch may require professional assistance, this plug-in version is so easy to use that you really don’t have any excuse not to give it a try. Its 6-foot power cable makes it easy to use with distant outlets — and it’s even compatible with incandescent as well as halogen bulbs.


This Power Strip That Can Help You Save Money Over Time

Now that you’ve insulated your windows and swapped out your light bulbs, Brandlin has one more tip on lowering your energy bills: “By plugging devices into power strips and turning the strips off when the devices are not in use, you can reduce your energy consumption and save money on your bill.” And since this power strip is incredibly compact, you shouldn’t have trouble fitting it behind your desk, entertainment center, or even on top of a nightstand. The best part? It also features a type-C and USB port, making it easy to power your devices without having to find a power brick.


A Waterfall Faucet That’ll Add Style To Your Countertop

You don’t have to use the crummy bathroom faucet that your home came with. “A new set of stylish and modern faucets can instantly transform a space and give it a fresh, clean feel,” explains Anthony Cafagna, founder and CEO of All City Plumbing. “Not to mention, replacing faucets is one of the quickest do-it-yourself renovation projects you can complete on your own. Oftentimes all that’s required is a few basic tools, such as an adjustable wrench, a screwdriver, and some plumber’s tape.”

This waterfall faucet in particular isn’t just a modern upgrade — it also features a rust-resistant finish, so you can rest assured that it’ll stay looking good for years to come. And with a drip-free valve that helps prevent waste, there’s no need to worry about accidentally winding up with a higher water bill than usual. Choose from four finishes: matte black, brushed nickel, brushed gold, or chrome.

This article was originally published on