Home renovations can add value to your property, but there are ways to upgrade it without going into debt or blowing up your savings.
Interested in these budget-friendly options, Redditor u/scal369 made a post on the r/HomeImprovement community, asking its members to share $500-$1,000 investments that were "a total game-changer", and everyone immediately jumped into the comment section.
From re-painting the interior to battery-powered lawn equipment, the answers they provided touched on both aesthetics and functionality, and you don't need to be the handiest person on the block to try them yourself.
Image credits: scal369
#1Extra fridge. Just by coincidence right when the pandemic started we replaced our fridge and left our old one in the garage planning on craigslisting it. We kept it instead and used it for bulk storage. It's been great - fewer visits to the grocery store, and more home cooking.
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#2Automatic light sensors for the laundry room and pantry. Not having to fumble while carrying a load with two hands is wonderful.
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#3Insulated the attic for ~ $500 plus $150 to put a bathroom fan in(in the upstairs bathroom before I blew the insulation in)
Easily have saved $1800 in heating and cooling costs since
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#4Painted the interior of the whole house before moving in. It feels 20 years newer.
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#5Battery powered lawn equipment. No more gas cans. No more 'tune ups'. Much less noise and no stinky exhaust (I hate two stroke fumes). Only think I have to do is keep the blade sharp and keep things greased. And in terms of power? Snapper 58V is just as powerful as it's gas counterparts. Now there's an 82V model out.
FYI - I have the Snapper blower, weed eater, and mower (Walmart was having a 50% off closeout sale). I will never go back to gas lawn tools as long as I'm on a town/city lot.
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#6Range hood vent. I can cook what I want and sear the f*ck out of some steaks.
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#7Cabinet hinges with slow-close springs. Like moving to Beverly Hills.
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#8When my kids were little I bought a refrigerated water fountain and put it on the side of my house facing my backyard. I'd love to know how many thousands of gallons the neighborhood kids drank. It saved them from coming in the house when they were playing outside. Total game changer. They liked drinking from it so much they would get off the couch and go outside to get a drink.
#9Shelving system in the garage. The amount of space we freed up was well worth the cost considering we don’t have a basement or a useable attic for storage.
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#10Bidet toilet seat. Your butt will never feel so clean. And the heated seat is great in the winter.
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#11Hiring a professional cleaning service twice a month. :P
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#12I bought a Google Home Mini speaker and a bunch of cheap, compatible smart outlets. I say 'good night' and it turns on my white noise machines, turns off my lights (including the Christmas tree!), turns on my heated blanket, tells me the weather for the next day, and starts the sleep playlist I like on Spotify. All of that for just over $100.
Image credits: OyHereWeGoAgain
#13A 3D printer. Half the random things I need for my apartment I just make myself now. Want an under-cabinet mounted paper towel holder? Done. Little sliding shelves for under my coffee table? Np. Tiny, oddly-shaped random piece of plastic to fix some latch or whatever that broke on my expensive something-or-other? Give me 20 minutes.
#14Mesh Wi-Fi totally changed my life. It's so worth installing one of these systems instead of the router your cable company charges you monthly for — now I never have to think about where the 'good' or 'bad' Wi-Fi spots are. It's just reliable everywhere, and you can forget about it entirely.
#15when we redid a bathroom we put in radiant heat under the tile floor. fantastic. Will do same anytime I do a floor. my cousin put it his finished basement in MN and the TV room went from being cold and uninviting to the most cozy room in the house during those long winters.
you can buy an electric mat to put under a thin rug.
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#16I installed sliding shelves in all of my lower kitchen cabinets. Eventually, I'll swap all of them out for drawers, but sliding shelves was a low-cost upgrade that adds SO much functionality. No more taking out every single item just to find that one thing in the back!
#17USB outlets everywhere at $135/6 pack.
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#18Water softener is probably one of my favorite things.
#19Cleaning lady was a game changer, every 2 weeks they come and my home is spotless when I get back from work. Sheets changed, windows clean, bathrooms spotless, dope AF.
Never thought I’d get there but I can see why everyone with more money then me does it.
#20For the dry winter months, install an automatic whole home humidifier. Total game changer in terms of breathing and feel of the air. With an automatic control, there is no adjusting the humidity level to balance with outside temps, keeping excess condensation under control.
#21Putting a dimmer switch in the bathroom was the best decision ever. In the early mornings, it's not blindingly bright — but when you're cleaning the bathroom or want a bright shower, you have the option of turning it all the way up. Such a small investment, but I appreciate it every day.
#22Way less than $500, but removable shower heads. Makes cleaning the shower so much easier.
Also less than $500, smart lights and plugs for interior and exterior lights.
Then, closer to $500, the artificial Christmas tree that already has the lights in them. No more tangled light strings. Get them on a smart plug and you don’t have to fiddle with it all season.
$500-$1000: drinks fridge. Keeps booze and bottled drinks out of the kitchen fridge space.
More than $1000, remote control motorized blackout shades in the bedroom. Pretty much total darkness. And you can set up a schedule for them to auto open partially to fully. We used Hunter Douglas via Costco.
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#23No brainer! Keyless entry lock. We got a Schlage. It was an easy install. The battery life is good and you get plenty of warning when it is time to change the 2 AA batteries. I no longer have to carry a house key. I can give workers, guests or relatives the other door code and then easily change it when I want to.
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#24New water saver toilets. My water utility had a $75 rebate per low usage toilet so I replaced all my old water-wasters for next to nothing.
Part of the contract with the provider is you have to disable the old toilets so they can not be reused so as an added bonus I got to put on my safety glasses and find out how many hits with a hammer a toilet bowl can take before it shatters.
(For reference the answer is one).
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#25Best $20 investment was properly fitting door sweeps. I didn’t realize how much cold air was entering the house during the heating season. Take time to measure the size of the gap and width of the door.
#26Shade sail for the back deck. The shade itself only cost $40 but I had to get a custom metal pole to attach it to and a sh*tton of concrete to set it in, and some strong guys to set it all up. Ended up costing me over $500 but half of it was labor. If you did it yourself you could do a bigger setup with more posts and shades for under $1000.
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#27Replaced pantry bifold doors with a French door style opening. Put spice rack on back of new doors. Added a few things to the inside and it seems so much more usable and organized
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#28Film projector for about $450 in total. Sun room in the day, movie room at night.
#29Installing ceiling fans in every room — even the kitchen and garage — helped significantly with our cooling bills in the summer. Why turn the AC down when you can just turn a fan on?!
The $70 Home Depot ones look perfectly fine to me, and they make SUCH a difference in my everyday happiness.
#30Looked for this but didn’t see it: timer switches for bathroom vent fans. Hit the button, take a shower and it turns itself off in 20, 30 or 60 minutes. Easy DIY and now have them in all my bathrooms.
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#31We love our smart thermostat. They have really amazing features, and it's so much easier to know exactly how your system is working. We got ours for $180 at Costco during their Christmas sale, and installing it on our own was a piece of cake too.
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#323 new LED light fixtures in the garage paired with a Maestro motion switch so when the garage door comes up the whole garage lights up super bright, looks amazing, and is much easier to park. It's crazy how much more inviting better lighting can make an area.
#33We added a hepa air upgrade to our AC unit. It included a UV light. My allergies are no longer an issue. We actually got it before our premie daughter was born as a preemptive measure for her health. She’s been perfectly healthy and is almost 2 without any issues. No colds/ear infections/runny noses. Literally nothing. *she doesn’t go to daycare as my wife is a stay at home mom. We limited exposure due to covid as well. So this is almost all at home quality air without much outside factors.
#34I bought a four-pack of rechargeable lights, and they're amazing. I have one in the hallway between the bedrooms and bathroom, one in the laundry room, one under the sink, and several under our kitchen cabinets. It's the best $30 I've spent in years — and it's been eight months since I've had to recharge any of them!
#35Install crown moulding! It may sound dumb, but crown moulding is a simple addition that can make the interior of your house so much nicer. It just adds some detail to what would otherwise just be a rectangular ceiling.
All you need is a saw and a nail gun — both of which are easy to rent at your local hardware store. When you do it yourself, it's probably $100 (or less) for each room.
#36I just upgraded my undermount kitchen sink from a 60/40 split to a nice, big stainless single bowl and let me tell you, I never thought I could love a kitchen sink but here we are. I legit love my new sink and actually look forward to washing dishes, so much more room for activities!
Sink was about $450 + how ever much for new drain pipes, silicone, etc... But I saved a bit because I did the install myself! It was surprisingly easy to DIY.
#37Robot vacuum cleaner, total life changer if you have pets.
Image credits: BootScoottinBoogie
#38Window film to protect furniture from UV rays. Under $100
#39Smart lighting with color temperature shifting. Being able to adjust the brightness and color temp depending on the time of day and occasion is something I can't live without now. Automating the changes makes it even better.
Bonus mentions would be ecobee smart thermostat with the room sensors and Dyson V8 or V10, nice cordless stick vacuum for super fast and convenient sweeping.
#40$1000 worth of Ryobi tools. Ive saved probably 30k on researching the hell out of projects on YouTube/Reddit and doing them with Ryobi tools and its been amazing. They basically have a tool for EVERY kind of job and its sub $100. Having the right tool makes such a difference and at the end of it you have your project done, saved a TON of money, and built a tool collection.
#41We put a new window in at a dark area of our kitchen. The sun is in that area in the afternoon which means we went from cooking in a dark depressing kitchen every day when we came home from work to cooking in a sunlight spot with view to the garden where the kids play. 500$ investment that is better than any of the 5000$+ investments we have done to improve the house.
#42Small house here: had the darkly stained floors sanded and stained.
Four rooms cost 800$ total and completely modernized the living spaces. They even replaced a few boards.
#43Whole house humidifier for my furnace. No more waking up with a clogged nose in the winter and the air just feels better.
#4420 LED canister retrofits cost $100 at Costco on sale. Now every light looks uniform rather than having some bulbs at different levels and wattage. I now get 60 watts of light for 9 watts electricity on each light.
Also, slow close toilet lids are the cat's meow. Never have to worry about slamming the lid ever again.
Swapped out 2 toilets from 1988 that took 3 gallons per flush with new Kohler Cavata dual flush at 1.1 GPF and 1.5 GPF. These toilets are oblong and 2" higher off the floor--much more comfortable when sitting down and getting up, particularly in the middle of the night. I spent about $600 for the two. I stuck the old tank and stoop in the garbage and cracked them with a sledge with little effort and they fit nicely into the can; rather heavy so I did this over two weeks.
Also, love the Nest thermostat. Really nice features--$180 at Costco during their Christmas sale.
#45A tankless water heater. Taking a shower with endless hot water is life changing.
#46High end Dyson cordless vac
#47When I had toddlers that answer was a fully fenced yard. Life changing.
#48Way cheaper than $500 but if you have front loading washer and dryer combo, go to Home Depot or some thing similar and buy the prefab particle board counter top with the moulded 4-6” back slash on it and lay that over them to give your self a new counter space/remove gaps where clothes can fall down between Units and the back part keeps things from falling behind them too
#49When I remodeled my bathroom I installed a space heater above the toilet and put it on a 1-30min timer switch. Now when I get out of the shower the room is toasty. Also nice for pooping in winter!
I don't have a dryer and no clothes line outside to dry laundry, so I always had at least one clothes horse standing around / in my way.
With my Hangbird, I hang up the laundry, then pull the whole thing up to the ceiling and it's out of my way. No pegs required either, since I'm not moving the drying laundry around all the time, so it can't fall off.
#51Spray insulated my rim joists for about $800. Don't know how much weve saved in heating yet, but my basement is at least 10 degrees warmer on average.
#52My adjustable closet shelving systems are the best. I've installed them in most of the bedrooms now. It's amazing when your storage needs change, as you can switch up your space fairly easily. Your home will feel way less cluttered when everything has proper storage space!
#53Sump pump in the basement. Instead of emptying the dehumidifier twice a day in the summer, it drains into the sump.
#54Sprinklers. I installed them myself. Took about 4-5 hours. $150 compares to paying $1500 to have a pro do it. I never have to touch my lawn except for mowing and it stays alive all year. I hate gardening.
#55Replaced the shower head (more $200-300 range). Got one with a wand that has multiple settings, including one that's very gentle for washing children. It's helped a lot with cleaning the tub, as well as cleaning the baby after a blowout.
#56Getting rid of carpet and installing luxury vinyl planks. So much nicer with pets and now we have Roomba picking up all the dander
#57Bidets on all the toilets (just basic add-on style, nothing fancy). Started with one toilet and then had to add to the others.
Also- paying a designer that I trust to come in and do a color consultation. I had all my wall colors picked out in one quick afternoon visit …. and it looks cohesive, stylish but not trendy, and to my taste.
#58Legit network setup. Went all in with a rack, Unifi UDM pro, several Unifi APs, and a small NAS. I pulled CAT6 all over including to my now office in my detached garage/shop. Having solid and fast wifi everywhere in my home plus network drops for the TV and office is awesome. Paired with fiber internet, the transition to WFH has been seamless.
#59Find out where your local dump/recycling center is, rent a flatbed truck and the just get rid of everything you haven’t used in over a year. If you are honest with yourself, about 30% of everything we own is meaningless cr*p. 20% is inherited/gifted cr*p that we don’t want but feel guilty about throwing out. Another 20% is good intentions cr*p that we will never use, wear,etc.
Get rid of as much as you are able without getting a divorce. You will feel 100lbs lighter and your house will look way better.
I hate to say this, but people use the idea of gifting/selling as an excuse to do nothing. Recycle it or dump it.
#60Whole house fan. Imagine waking in the morning in summer to a house that is 62 degrees, and the AC not turning on until 4:30pm, and it cost 40 cents of power to do. It was a more advanced DIY project.
#61Commercial grade metal hose reel that attaches to the house. Its up high and is a dream to operate compared to that dumb reel-in-a-box thing we used to have sitting on the ground. Probably spent $150 on it at Northern Tool.
#62A dishwasher is a must. So many fights used to be about who’s turn to do the dishes. Now we just place them in the dishwasher with some soap and press the button.
#63A very nice bidet. Heated seat, reservoir where it heats its own water, remote control with several settings you can adjust, etc.
I very much look forward to coming home and using it after work. Especially on cold days. Lol.
#64Litter-Robot. As a cat owner, it is absolutely worth the money. I’m happier, my cats are happier. Odor, mess, and overall costs and efforts are down dramatically.
#65Ion exchange water softener for the whole house (right after the shutoff valve).
We used to have to descale everything at least once a week. We have a shower with a large glass divider and after a couple of days of showering, it started looking like frosted glass. We had to use large amounts of soap and shampoo to get them to foam up.
All of that solved, for the equivalent of about $800.
#66A motorized garage door.
My house came with a manual door. I put off the upgrade for years because I wanted to save for the bigger projects first, but man it was a complete game changer and I wish I had done it before all the other stuff.
#67How about closer to $35$20? Motion-sensor light switch for the garage. Heading out with an armful of stuff? Abracadabra... LIGHTS!
#68Blown cellulose insulation.
It was just over 1k as a diy project. My attic had almost no insulation at all. In the summer the AC would turn in the morning and stay on all day and the temperature inside would still climb. Now in the summer it runs at 50% duty cycle and the house stays cool.
#69Smart thermostat and lock
I’ll add I use to be away from home a lot and a smart water heater was another great add. I could turn it off when away and then twenty minutes out I could turn it back on after being away for weeks. Saved the heater devices from burning out especially the bottom one