53 DIY Home Upgrades for the New Year

Cheers, it’s a brand new year! 2018 has just begun, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop being creative with your home. After all home is where the heart is, right? Here are 53 home improvement ideas to tackle this year.

  1. Turn your cabinets into shelving: Give your kitchen a super-easy facelift by taking the doors off your cabinets –– you’ll get a set of instant, built-in shelving that’ll look fresh and modern. Pro-tip: paint the inside of the cabinets, too, to add dimension.

  1. Build a fold-out breakfast bar: Capitalize on small spaces by building a foldaway breakfast bar (or desk, or kitchen table!). All you’ll need for this project is a couple heavy-duty hinges, a couple regular hinges, and your table top and legs. Attach the table top to the wall using the heavy-duty hinges, and the legs to the table top using the regular hinges, and voila! You’ve got yourself a Murphy table.

  1. Turn an old door into a table: Add some character to your kitchen by turning an old door into a kitchen table! Antique stores, estate sales, and flea markets are loaded with cool old doors, and you can buy prefabricated table legs at Home Depot or another hardware store. Just throw some legs on your old door, and you’ve got a cool new dining table. Take to the next level by topping the door with a piece of beveled glass for easy cleaning after meals.

  1. Make a desk out of half a table: If you’ve got an old hinged-table hanging around and it’s got too much character to toss, why not make it into a desk? Just take the table apart and anchor one half it to the wall for a cool new desk (or credenza, workstation or bathroom fixture).

  1. Add an outdoor ceiling fans: If hot, humid summers are a thing where you live, you know the value of a little air movement on a sticky day. Consider adding an outdoor ceiling fan to your porch space. It’s a relatively easy, affordable way to add a bit more live-ability to your outdoor space, and you won’t have to flee to the indoors on beautiful summer days.

  1. Pick a front door accent color: Spruce up your entryway by painting your front door. A pop of color can accent the facade of your house, and it won’t take much time at all. Pick a color that’s fun (think: red), or a dramatic one (black doors add serious dimension to your entryway), and totally transform the look of your house.

  1. Install mismatch knobs: There’s a whole wide world of cabinet and door hardware out there and you owe it to yourself to start exploring it. Change out as many or as few pieces of hardware as suits your fancy, and get wild with the variety, if you want! Think about all the ceramic, brushed nickel, and hammered brass possibilities!

  1. Install dimmer switches: Don’t you hate it’s been a long day and you just want to sit down with a glass of wine, but your overhead lights are harsh and your lamps don’t shed quite enough light? The answer to this problem is simple: dimmer switches. They’re cheap, easy to install, and they make it super easy to control the level of light in all your most comfy spaces.

  1. Change your carpet runner: Remember Grandma’s old Victorian with the staircase covered in a ratty old runner? That’s a bad representation, but trends come back around, and the staircase runner is having a modern heyday. And why not? Just find a runner you like, install it, and get rid of it when you’re not feeling it anymore. So easy!

  1. Hang some stained glass: Hang a section of stained glass in your window for an easy refresh to your kitchen, bathroom, or living room. You can find beautiful, affordable stained glass in most antique stores, and you can install your own hardware for hanging it the way you want. Pro-tip: large pieces of stained glass make a great room dividers, too.

  1. Install under-cabinet lights in the kitchen: Add a little bit of warmth to your kitchen with under-cabinet lights. They’re super easy to install, and they add an extra bit of detail that’ll make your kitchen feel warm and inviting. Bonus: under-cabinet lighting is a great way to leave a little light on for someone coming home late, or just to get around by during late night water runs.

  1. Consider wall stencils: Wall stencils are all the rage in 2018. They’re more interesting than ordinary paint, and they’re more up-to-date than wallpaper. Adding an accent wall with a pattern or decoration is a great way to freshen up a room, and you can just paint over it when you’re ready to move on. If you’re renting, contact paper wall appliques are a great alternative to paint.

  1. Seed your walkway with hearty ground-cover: Throw some ground-cover seed over your cobble or flagstone pathways for a super charming fairytale look. Choose a low-to-the-ground, hearty plant that can tolerate foot traffic, like Wooly Thyme or Goldmoss, and your path will look happy, healthy, and magical all summer long.

  1. Paint your front doorstep: Don’t underestimate the power of your front doorstep when it comes to transforming the street view of your house. Choose a fun pattern or an accent color, or come up with something totally unique! Painting your front doorstep is a fast way to make a big impact on the overall look of  your house, and most people don’t do it, so your entryway will stand out among the rest.

  1. Install a bedside shelf: Instead of a taking up valuable floor space with bedside tables, look into floating shelves that can be installed next to your bed. You’ll find tons of great options, including shelves with drawers and two tiered shelves, so there’s plenty of space for your books and water glass and cell phone.

  1. Install a beadboard ceiling: Beadboard ceilings are already popular in 2018, and installing one can transform the look of any space, indoor or outdoor. Try adding a beadboard ceiling to your kitchen for an inviting, country-kitchen atmosphere, or take it to the look outdoors by applying it to the ceiling of your porch. Installing a beadboard ceiling is an easy way to lend a “finished” look to any space.

  1. Add wood border to untreated mirror: Fancy-pants mirrors in baroque frames are expensive, and it’s often hard to find the mirror (or mirrors) that best mix with your home’s aesthetic. But here’s the good news: you can build your own! Find the finish you like (building supply stores like Home Depot carry pre-beveled molding, and they’ll cut to your dimensions) and apply it to a cheap mirror from Target. Easy.

  1. Put up a ceiling medallion: If you’d like to add an old-world luxe look to your interior, ceiling medallions are where it’s at. They’re super easy to install, and you can find one to fit any design aesthetic. They’re a cool way to add character to your ceiling space, and you can even make your own out of molding, if the printed metal look isn’t your thing.

  1. Get on the Edison bulb wagon: Edison bulbs are experiencing a big time revival right now, and rightly so: they’re super cool looking! They come in all different sizes and shapes, so you can pick the one that fits your lighting needs. Talk about a quick way to freshen up your space: it’s as easy as screwing in a lightbulb!

  1. Add some window boxes: Install some window boxes to your home for a look that goes from summer to fall to winter. Window boxes add a sense of dimension to your house’s facade, and you can change out the plants as often as you want. Just remember to mix tall, spiky plants with short, fluffy ones, then add some long drapey plants ones, and you’re golden.

  1. Hide the litter box: The only thing worse than smelling the litter box is having to look at it every day. But you don’t have to live like that anymore: get crafty and hide kitty’s bathroom! You can put the box in a low cabinet and replace the door with a curtain, or buy a piece of furniture to modify into a swanky powder room. Trust us, your furry friend will appreciate the privacy, too.

  1. Make your fake drawers functional: So you’ve got one of those confounding cupboard panels that looks like a drawer, but actually isn’t one. Turn that unused space into something functional, like a place to house your paper towels, and a built in spice shelf. It’s a one-afternoon project that’ll add a sense of practical charm to your kitchen.

  1. Recess your wall outlets: How many times have you come up with “the best arrangement ever” for your living room furniture, only to find out the hard way that your couch won’t sit flush against the wall because of your electrical outlets? Solve the problem by installing recessed outlets. They’re easy, they’re cheap, and you’ll never be foiled by bothersome cord placement again.

  1. Go stainless with contact paper: Stainless steel appliances look great, but they’re expensive, and if you’re a renter, you’re definitely not going to invest in fancy new appliances. Now you don’t have to! Just get some stainless steel contact paper, apply it to your fridge or oven, and voila: brand-new looking appliances that didn’t cost a billion dollars.

  1. Install a secret passageway: For an upgrade your kids will be nuts about, consider connecting bedrooms with a secret passageway or a portal. It’ll make the kids’ rooms feel like part of a fairyland or fortress, and they’ll be delighted with their new secret hideaway. Installing a secret passageway will take some doing, but it’s totally manageable, and it’ll buy you hours of peace and quiet while your kids play.

  1. Save on space with Murphy beds: If space is a commodity in your home, or if you just don’t like to look at the guest bed in the spare room, installing a Murphy bed might be the fix you’re looking for. You can add a Murphy bed to a built-in, bookshelf, or wardrobe, or you can go all in and add it as a permanent fixture to the wall. Just pull the bed down when you need it, and stash it away when you don’t. Pro-tip: a bookshelf Murphy bed is a great way to maximize space in studio apartments, too.

  1. Change up your house numbers: Refreshing the look of your home doesn’t have to mean throwing down tons of money or spending hours and hours painting or adding wallpaper. For a super-easy change, just switch out your house numbers. Pick numbers that appeal to you and throw them up on the front of your house for a style refresh. How easy is that?

  1. Get into chandeliers: Chandeliers don’t just belong in the entryway of a grand hall or over the dining table of a palace. In fact, juxtaposing an intricate chandelier with an ordinary space or in an ordinary location, like say, a bedroom or a bathroom, can add a very cool sense of style to your space. And they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either –– check out Craigslist or Oodle to find a great deal on the  vintage chandelier of your dreams.

  1. Add a slide-away step for kids in the bathroom: When it comes to kids, it’s all about functional accessorising. Step stools are pretty much a non-negotiable in the bathroom, but they get caught underfoot or just plain get in the way. Here’s an answer: if you’ve got a sink surround with a drawers, turn the bottom drawer into a pull-out stool. The kiddo’s can get to the sink, and all they have to do is slide the drawer closed when they’re done, so there’s no more tripping on footstools.

  1. Upgrade your stools: If you want to save space in your kitchen, or if you just want to change up the look of your space, swap out your old stools with hinged ones. Hinged stools come in a variety of styles and fixture types, and they can add an element of character to your center island or breakfast bar.

  1. Try out mirrored tiles: If you’re working with a small space like, say, a studio apartment, and you want to add a roomier feel, mirrored tiles could be your best friend. You can install them in the kitchen or the bathroom, or anywhere that makes sense to you! Mirrored tiles can help bring more light into your home and create the illusion of more space. Plus, they’re really cool to look at.

  1. Invest in temperature control sheets: There’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night because you’re overheated. You kick around, throw your blankets off, and then you can’t get back to sleep. It’s the worst. If that’s how you live, it’s probably time to invest in some temperature-control sheets. You’ll find a variety of different brands to choose from, so you can pick your price point and stop losing sleep to bad sheets.

  1. Control your lighting remotely: Remote control lighting is not a new concept, but if you don’t already have it, it might be time to invest. You can add a remote-controlled fixture to most types of lighting, interior or exterior, and it’s affordable. Bonus: a lot of remote lighting fixtures also have automatic timer functions, so you can program your lighting scheme based on the time of the day.

  1. Upgrade to soft-closing cabinets: Here’s a little upgrade that might not have occured to you: why not install some soft-closing hardware to your cabinets? Slamming cabinet doors don’t have to be part of your everyday life, and soft-closing cabinet hardware is cheap and easy to install. It’s one of those little upgrades you don’t really notice, until you remember that your cabinet doors used to be the kind that slam.

  1. Get efficient with your hot water: Check out the Evolve Ladybug adapter with ShowerStart technology. Everyone knows the pain of waiting for the shower to heat up, and if your hot water is particularly sluggish, the hot Ladybug might be the answer you’re looking for. It’s a temperature-sensitive shower head attachment that automatically puts your hot water on pause when it reaches 95, so it’s ready when you are.

  1. Install a motion sensor for your appliances: As long as you’re automating everything anyway, why not add an easy, plug-in off-switch and motion sensor? Systems like the Belkin WeMo Switch allow you to turn connected appliances on and off remotely, and you can get remote notification if motion occurs around synced appliances, giving you ultimate control over your home, even when you’re not home.

  1. Upgrade to combo outlets: When it comes to cheap, easy fixes, upgrading your outlets is the place to start, so consider adding some dual outlets with built-in USB ports. You’re going to have to charge all your devices at some point anyway — how nice would it be if your outlets also had USB ports? Plus, you’ll save on valuable plug space, so you can add more lamps or TV’s, or whatever else you need to plug in.

  1. Upgrade your backsplash: Upgrading your backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen, but you’re not stuck to tile when it comes to backsplash design. Pressed metal can add major style and character to your kitchen, and you’ll find a wide variety of design, color, and metal type, so your kitchen will look as unique as you want to make it.

  1. Build a reclaimed wood headboard: Reclaimed wood is a big style trend right now, and it’s no coincidence: reclaimed wood looks cool, it’s abundant, and you get all kinds of feel-good points from knowing that you’re reducing waste by reusing materials that would otherwise go to the landfill. There are lots of ways to build your reclaimed wood headboard, and they all look cool.

  1. Add some wainscoting: Wainscoting can totally transform the look of a room, and it has the impressive appearance of a project that took specialized skills and lots of time. But the sneaky secret about wainscoting is that it can be very simple and fast, and you don’t need to be a carpenter to install it. Plus, there are a whole bunch of different ways to design your wainscoting, so yours doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s, if you don’t want it to.

  1. Change your faucets: Don’t underestimate the power of a simple hardware upgrade: changing out your faucets can give your kitchen and bathroom sinks, or even your tub, a whole new look. Go peruse the hardware store to check out all your options, and pick the ones that speak to you. Mix and match, or pick one style to unify the design elements throughout your house.

  1. Plant some trees: Home upgrades don’t have to happen exclusively indoors: consider adding some trees, shrubbery, or other landscaping elements to your outdoor space. Adding landscape elements often adds to property value, and you get to enjoy the nice view when your new trees and shrubs start to fill out. Pro-tip: flowering shrubs or trees can add the extra pop of color that’ll take your yard to the next level.

  1. Add molding to accent wall art: Set artwork off by installing fixture-frames made of molding. Think of it as hanging a permanent picture frame that can accommodate whatever piece of art you choose to hang. Fixture-frames lend an elegance to your art display, and you’re not married to dimensions when you chose a piece of art for that space. Hang one, or make it a theme –– it’ll look great either way, guaranteed.

  1. Style your accent wall with wallpaper or paint: Adding an accent wall sounds like old news, but do you have one? If you do, when’s the last time you changed the color? Adding or changing up your accent wall can totally transform the look of your space, and it’s an easy, inexpensive upgrade. Pro-tip: wallpaper is making a comeback, and while a whole room full of intricately-designed wallpaper can be overwhelming, just one wall can be totally perfect.

  1. Paint the ceiling: If you want a unique way to add a pop of color to your living room or bedroom, but you don’t want to paint the whole space, consider painting the ceiling. We often forget about the ceiling, but there’s a ton of potential there. Choose a bold color or one that compliments the rest of your color palette. And if you’re ready to make a real statement, try out a simple pattern to take your interior space to the next level.

  1. Accent your staircase: Don’t overlook the staircase when you start dreaming up new ways to upgrade your home. Paint your staircase a bold accent color to add dimension, or paint a design on the face of each stair for a more eclectic look. Here’s an idea: think about adding ceramic or pressed tiles to the stair face if you really want a design but painting isn’t your thing.  

  1. Upgrade your shower head:  If you’re tired of your same old shower routine, change it up! Pick a new shower head and treat yourself to a refreshed bathing experience. Shower heads come in a billion different styles, so you can pick the one that most suits your fancy, and (most of the time) you don’t need an expert for installation. It’s a super easy, super affordable way to treat yourself.  

  1. Replace interior doors: Interior doors are often ignored when it comes to design, but if you think about it, they take up a lot of space in your home, and you can leverage that space to add style elements. Take a hard look at your bedroom, office, bathroom, and closet doors, and if they’re not doing it for you, replace them. Pro-tip: check out antique stores and architectural salvage for cool, unique doors that are full of character.

  1. Swap out cabinet door inserts: You don’t have to totally replace your cabinets to change the look of your kitchen: just change the inserts! Replace the inserts with milk glass, pressed metal, or even chicken wire to find the look that reflects your sense of style. It’s easier and cheaper than replacing the whole cabinet unit, and because you pick your own insert, your cabinets are automatically more customized than cabinets you’d find at the store.

  1. Fix your flooring: Ragged old flooring can completely kill the entire look of your home, so this year, why not deal with that cruddy old linoleum? Upgrade your flooring with roll-on vinyl –– it’s totally easy, you can pick from a ton of different styles, and with vinyl, you can get that wood-floor look without the hassle or the cost of genuine wood flooring.

  1. Make a message center: You’ve got a family, and having a family means there are always a billion things going on at once. It’s hard to keep things straight when everyone’s coming and going, but you can get a thumb on your family’s schedule but putting together a message center. And there are lots of different ways to style and customize your message board to make it fit your lifestyle.

  1. Get a new rug: When all else fails, invest in a new area rug. A new rug can totally change the look of any space, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to both design and price range. And don’t forget your outdoor space when you go out rug shopping –– outdoor rugs can add that next-level feel to the design of your patio or screened porch.

  1. Style your switch plates: Changing out your switchplates might be the easiest way to upgrade your interiors, and it’s a change you can make that comes with very little commitment –– if you don’t like your new switchplates, or if you get sick of them, just swap them out! There are a billion different styles and types to choose from, so you can pick funky or elegant designs that showcase your personality and style sense.

  1. Choose hanging storage: Save tons of space by hanging your storage instead of adding bulky furniture. You can go big with hanging storage (like a bookshelf), or small (like installing some baskets for your kitchen utensils). Hanging storage is a functional way to keep everything in its place, and it looks cool, too.



*Photos courtesy of Pinterest