19 DIY Home Upgrades You Can Handle Yourself

Woman and little girl doing home repair

Home upgrades may sound like a big hassle, but with just an hour or two of work, a few bucks, and a little elbow grease you can be on your way to a more fun, vibrant, and valuable home. Whether you have the deep home improvement knowledge of Bob Villa or the clumsy skills of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, or just have a dusty tool box sitting in the garage, these 19 projects are easy enough to do yourself. Who knows, you might learn something and have fun along the way!

Painting

A coat of paint can do wonders for a home. If you are just sick of a room’s color or have old, peeling paint, a trip to the local hardware store for some paint, brushes, and blue painter’s tape is all you need for a successful paint job. Painter’s tape protects trim, door frames, and molding. Also, consider a drop cloth to protect your floors and furniture from drips and splatters. Pick up a roller and pan to save some time while sprucing up any room in your home.

Caulking

Sinks and showers should be lined with caulking to protect your walls, cupboards, and floors from trips at the wettest areas of your home. Caulking doesn’t last forever, so if you see your caulk peeling away, head to the home improvement or big box retail store to pick up a caulking gun and caulk. Be sure to pick the right type of caulking for your needs, as it comes in a handful of varieties. Also, be sure to avoid caulking around the base of your toilet. Doing so could mask damaging leaks that can corrode and destroy the flooring in your bathroom.

Adding a New Plant

Adding shrubbery to your landscaping is an easy job. Visit a local nursery or garden center and talk to an employee about what plants might work best around your home. Remember to consider sunlight, watering, and climate before planting. Once you pick up your plants, you just need a shovel or a spade to finish the job.

Replacing a Toilet

Replacing a toilet sounds like a huge job, but if I can do it, anyone can do it! I’ve replaced toilets at my parent’s house and my home on several occasions. Upgrading for cosmetic reasons, mechanical reasons, or just to update and save water isn’t too tough. You just need a wrench, a new toilet, and a wax ring. Check out a video on YouTube to watch how it’s done. Just be sure not to tighten the bolts on the floor too much or you’ll crack the porcelain at the base of your new throne.

Upgrading Your Thermostat

Nest Thermostat

Nest Thermostat via Wikipedia

Nest thermostats put climate controls in your phone, and you can control it by voice with an Amazon Echo or Google Home. You don’t need an electrician for this job. When you get a new thermostat, you just have to put the green wire in the green connector, the blue wire in the blue connector, and so one. Before you know it, you’ll have a smart thermostat that offers both function and form.

Hide TV Wires with a Shower Curtain Rod

In the age of wall mounted TVs, hiding the array of wires running down your wall can be a challenge. Sure, you can hire the Geek Squad to run a wire through the wall for you, but you can save money by doing it yourself. Head to the store to pickup a plain color shower curtain rod. Cut it to the right length, run your wires through the rod, and you’re all set!

Changing Door Locks

The insides of a lock are a lot simpler than most people realize. If you want to upgrade the look of your locks, pick up a new one online or at a home improvement store. Most deadbolts and doorknobs are a standard size, so you just need a screwdriver to swap out for a new one. Reading along with the included instructions makes it a piece of cake.

Add a Shelf

The router and modem at my house used to sit on the floor of a bedroom, but a quick trip to target, a hammer, and a screwdriver gave me everything I needed to install a new shelf to hold these important electronics. Make sure to use anchors or find a stud so the shelf doesn’t tear itself out of the dry wall when you put weight on it.

Add Mirrored Closet Doors

If you have a walk-in closet, add some flair to your closet doors with a $10 mirror and some paint. Paint the mirror’s frame and the door the same color, then hang it in the center of the door with a nail. This is especially cool looking with double closet doors as long as they are not sliding doors.

Frame Your TV

Another upgrade for wall hanging TV made this DIY home improvement list. Get a frame to fit around your TV to give it a little extra elegance. You can paint the frame to match the wall like crown molding or leave it a different color to make it pop.

Upgrade Light Switch Covers

Light switch covers are one of the easiest home improvements you can make. You just need a new cover and a screwdriver. This change takes about 30 seconds, even for completely inexperienced DIYers.

Upgrade Your Kitchen Backsplash

Some people hire a handyman for custom tiling, but you can buy pre-made backsplash tiles for your kitchen or bathroom. The tiles come in sheets with sticky backing. Just peel, stick the wall, and enjoy a nicer looking home.

Plant an Evergreen Privacy Fence

If you don’t have a fence between you and your neighbor or just want to block off an area of your yard, you can plant an evergreen tree fence for just a couple hundred dollars. Make sure to measure the length of your new fence and space the trees apart so they will grow together, but not so close they will kill each other.

Turn a Closet into a Home Office Nook

An empty closet can turn into an office with just a few shelves. Use one shelf as a desktop and install another shelf or two above for storage and displaying pictures and other trinkets. Leave room for the doors to open and shut and try to find a chair that’s a good fit for the space.

Add Smart Lighting

Phillips Hue hub and bulbs by Shokai on Flickr

Phillips Hue hub and bulbs by Shokai on Flickr

Smart lighting doesn’t require a single tool. With bulbs like Philips Hue or a WeMo switch, your lights can become a dazzling addition to your home. Control them with your phone or by voice with a home assistant. Imagine dark blue or red lighting for a movie, blinking lights for a dance party, or dim lighting for a romantic dinner at home. You can do those and more with smart bulbs or switches.

Install a Kitchen Sink Water Filter

With just a wrench and some plumber’s tape you can swap out the nozzle from your faucet and install a water filter. Change the filter periodically for high quality water without paying for any more plastic bottles.

Swap Out a Kitchen Faucet

If you can use a wrench, you can change a faucet. Go a step beyond the water filter or incorporate it in a new kitchen faucet. Unscrew the water hose from below, swap out the hardware, and screw the hose into the new faucet to give your kitchen sink some new flair.

Build Raised Flower Beds

If you have a green thumb but nowhere to plant, you can build a raised flowerbed to plant flowers or a small garden. Just determine the size, head to the hardware store and ask them to cut the wood to your measurements, and hammer it together in a square or rectangle shape. It can sit right on top of existing grass, concrete, gravel, or wood chips. Place the flowerbed, fill with soil, and plant away!

Update Cabinet Hardware

A screwdriver is all it takes to modernize outdated kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room cabinet handles. Buy new hardware at the hardware store or online and you can install them in just a few minutes for a completely fresh look. Paint your cabinets at the same time for a total kitchen makeover.

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