These creative ideas will add new life and a modern touch to your home.
One of the greatest benefits of owning your home is the freedom to work on any home improvement projects you want, whenever you want. Whether they know you by name at the home improvement store or you’ve let your toolbox gather dust, here are ten creative home updates—big and small—you can make this year.
1. Go Solar
Installing solar panels is one of the biggest and longest-lasting home updates you can make. Beyond the state and federal tax credits, you can earn back what you spend with a reduced energy bill and add value to your home. If you aren’t ready to jump head first into the world of solar energy with rooftop solar panels, consider installing a solar patio roof or building an outdoor solar oven to get a better feel for the solar update options available (though it may take some patience to cook a steak in one).
2. Update Old Hardware
Switch out the hardware on your doors and cabinets for an inexpensive and simple way to get an updated look in your kitchen or bathroom. Get rid of outdated brass cabinets, pulls, and locks and go for a sleek nickel, bronze, or black finish instead. Mix and match different shapes and types of pulls, or make your own out of rope knots, river rocks, or wine corks.
3. Eliminate Popcorn Ceilings
Popcorn ceiling instantly ages a home and you can’t paint over it to cover up stains. Hire a professional to remove a popcorn ceiling or, if you’re on a budget or prefer to do the work yourself, follow a how-to guide. If the popcorn was added before 1979, have a professional test the ceiling for asbestos before you try to remove it. Once the popcorn is gone, add tin tiles, wallpaper, or reclaimed wood to the ceiling for added dimension.
4. Replace Your Front Door
Replacing your front door transforms the external appearance and significantly increases the curb appeal of your home. Additionally, new exterior doors often insulate better than older ones, resulting in lower energy bills—just look for an ENERGY STAR® qualified door that provides adequate insulation. Steel doors add extra security and can increase your property value as well. Personalize your entry with color: white trim, dark shutters, and a brightly colored front door can make neutral siding much more interesting.
5. Add Smart Devices
Home automation can improve and simplify your overall living experience, not to mention impress all your friends. A smart thermostat helps you use your heater and air conditioner more efficiently, and a keyless door lock improves your home’s security. If your home and devices are already connected or you find smart thermostats too mundane, consider adding some more creative smart devices to your repertoire: try a Bluetooth-connected toothbrush for pearlier whites or the LG Magic Mirror for a daily skin diagnosis.
6. Make Fake Drawers Functional
Many kitchens and bathroom vanities include fake drawers that you can easily make functional. Open up the fake drawer space to add a paper towel holder, replace a decorative drawer face with an extra electrical outlet, or transform a vanity drawer into a tray. The options are nearly endless and all you need are a few basic tools.
7. Add Splashes of Bold Color
Make a space look new again with color. Paint one wall of a room a darker color for added dimension and drama, or add a tile backsplash to your kitchen or bathroom using a mixture of neutral and bright colors. To start smaller, use one bright paint color for accents throughout your home, including wall shelves, table legs, and window framing.
8. Add Character to Your Walkway
Replace a sidewalk or dirt path leading up to your front door with a stone walkway that enhances your home’s architecture. Flagstone works best for a smooth finish, but you can also use crushed granite gravel for a more rugged appearance. Add herbs or native plants between stepping stones for a more natural, rustic look. You can also get creative with your lighting to make a big impact: the unexpected addition of a chandelier on a front or back patio can be a wow factor.
9. Boost Your Bathroom
As the smallest room in a home, the bathroom is a great place to start for a makeover. You can instantly modernize a bathroom by adding crown molding, re-grouting the bathtub, and installing new fixtures and a mirror. If you want a bolder look, heat-sensitive tiles add a splash of color. Mirrored tiles can make a small room seem bigger, and a bold wallpaper means you’ll spend less money on materials. And if a chandelier on the front porch is too flashy for you, consider adding one to the bathroom instead.
10. Insulate Your Home
It may not sound like the most exciting or attractive update to make, but most homes in the U.S. lack sufficient insulation and have significant air leaks—so many that it’s the equivalent of having a window open every day of the year. Within one day, you can add insulation to help your home maintain a consistent temperature and cut back on your energy bill. You can even use green materials like hay bales, glass, and blue jeans.
Warmer weather is coming, so grab your tool belt and prepare to get creative with your home updates this year.
Photo: Flickr/melody hansen
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