6 easy DIY home improvement projects

Laura Marran of Kenosha, WI., used colored beads as an inexpensive twist on a kitchen backsplash she saw made from sea glass collected from Lake Michigan.

“I’m too impatient [to collect sea glass] so I thought of the beads,” she said. “It was easy using ceramic glue and clear grout.” The project cost a mere $15 for supplies and took less than two hours to complete.

Marran enjoys finding small renovation projects around the house, and she freely admits that some do and some don’t work out.

“Our house is approximately 80 years old with many irregularities,” Marran said. “Until a kitchen remodel is on the budget, we’ve enjoyed using paint and creativity to make minor changes.”

Homeowners like Marran— even those challenged by the most minor of home repairs — can find a level of success with these six relatively simple, inexpensive home updates:



Professional painters are expensive, but paint is cheap and painting is fairly easy. Two gallons of interior paint, rollers, a small brush for tight spots and painter’s tape will set you back less than $75 to paint one medium-sized room. When you are done with the room, give your front door a facelift as well. Level of expertise: Beginner.


Change out doorknobs.

Those shiny brass knobs that homebuilders put into homes during the 1990s are so passé. Replace them with oil-rubbed bronze or brushed nickel. Each doorknob will set you back $12 to $20 with keyed deadbolts costing $50 to $125. A three-bedroom, two-bath house will cost about $300 to $400 to change out the entire house, including closets. Level of expertise: Beginner.


Install a new ceiling fan.

If your budget allows, consider an energy-efficient and quiet LED fan. Less money to spend? You can find a good-looking fan for under $50. Consider a fan in matte black for a modern, dramatic feel. Level of expertise: Intermediate. You’ll be dealing with electrical wires.


Tile a floor.

Tile choices are nearly endless and offer an instant update. One of the newest inventions is a ceramic tile made to look like wood, even time-worn rustic wood. These longer, 6-inch by 24-inch tiles or 12-inch by 24-inch tiles are durable and easy to clean. Updating a historic home? Consider mosaic tile for the bathroom floor. Tile varies widely in price so be careful or you can easily overspend. Level of expertise: Moderate.


Install a new kitchen backsplash.

Consider Marran’s glass-bead option or go with subway tile or a contemporary stone-and-glass mosaic tile. Level of expertise: Intermediate. Mosaic tiles come in sheets but cutting them to fit corners or around outlets can be complicated. A wet tile saw is recommended.


Change out blinds, curtains or a curtain rod.

Hang a new rod higher than the top of your windows to give the illusion of taller windows. Expect to spend $20 to $40 for a new rod. Give your dust-collecting faux-wood plantation blinds or your metal mini blinds the boot and go with cordless cellular blinds or a natural woven bamboo shade. Cellular shades help insulate your home while woven shades let in diffused light.

One individual shade starts at about $35 for a basic option. New curtains can also give a room a new look. Natural colors remain popular, but buy something with a bit of variation from the color of your walls. Think simple and sleek with fabrics such as silk or rayon. A power drill is recommended to secure the brackets. Level of expertise: Beginner.

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