While you’re thinking about resolutions, your mind may wander to your home: how will you make your house a better place this year? While a big project isn’t always feasible, you can still work within the existing framework of your space to transform your home into a better, more functional place.
How? We asked the pros—from realtors, to contractors, to interior designers—to dish on the easiest and cheapest home upgrades. You don’t need to hire anyone to take on these quick fixes. In fact, they can all be completed in one weekend, tops.
1. Paint your front door
According to a recent analysis of more than 135,000 photos from sold homes around the country, homes with black or charcoal gray front doors sell for $6,271 more than expected. (Check out the best black or gray paint colors for your front door, plus get a handful of other colorful recommendations.)
2. Add a smart thermostat
“Adding a smart thermostat to your home is a project that will offer homeowners a projected 23 percent savings on their heating and cooling,” says says Shawn Breyer, owner of Breyer Home Buyers. Heating and cooling bills typically account for about 40 percent of utilities, so considering the size of your home, a smart thermostat could pay for itself within a year of use, he adds.
3. Clean and paint
If you are looking to sell your home this year, focus on the simplest visual upgrades, says Eric Sztanyo, a Realtor at Keller Williams. It sounds so basic, but cleaning and painting are easy and inexpensive changes that make a big difference. “Get items packed away or into storage and paint with fresh, neutral colors.” If painting a whole room seems daunting, focus on door frames and baseboards to give the room a quick refresh.
4. Replace old, outdated light fixtures
“Light fixtures don’t have to cost a lot of money and easily transform the look and feel of a space, elevating it from drab to fab while increasing the value of your home,” says San Francisco Bay Area interior designer Alice Chiu. To get the most bang for your buck, focus on the kitchen and the bathroom, she adds.
5. Spruce up your mailbox
Curb appeal is key, says Matthew Breyer, president and lead designer of Breyer Construction & Landscape. “Make sure that your mailbox looks good, meshes nicely with the style and quality of the rest of the neighborhood, and has the number clearly marked.”
6. Make small improvements to your appliances
If an entire reno isn’t in the budget, some small improvements to your kitchen, like a new faucet, can really help, says Matthew Breyer. Outdated kitchen or bathroom faucets need to be replaced—you don’t have to go super high-end, but they should be of good quality and function well, he says. “If resale is in mind, I recommend using a name-brand (such as Moen) fixture.”
7. Swap out your hardware
“Swapping out hardware can instantly make a piece of furniture feel new again, or give your kitchen an upgraded look,” says New York-based interior designer Kate Spiro. “Source unique pieces, and don’t worry about matching existing metals—mixing it up adds a lot more visual interest to your home.”
8. Replace outlet covers
For as little as $2 each, you can replace outlet covers and light switch plates with new ones, says Deborah Ribner of Warburg Realty. “You’d be surprised how much of a difference that makes, and it’s so easy to do that anyone can do it.”
9. Upgrade bathroom accessories
“If you have an outdated bathroom, you can update your fixtures and hardware for a completely updated look,” says Build.com‘s in-house interior designer Lauren O’Donnell. “Outdated light fixtures, faucets, and hardware can be real eye sores and are easy to swap out.”
10. Replace window dressings
“Replacing old blinds with new ones can give a home an immediate upgrade,” says Ribner. Big box stores, like Home Depot, offer a huge selection of custom blinds and shades that you can order online. “They guarantee the right fit, so if you somehow measure the window incorrectly, they will allow you to measure it again and send you a new one, completely free. They also provide a step-by-step guide as to how to properly measure. You can’t beat that!”