Do You Want to Enjoy Your House More? Try These Micro-Updates

by Jessica Brita-Segyde

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a house feel like a home. If your level of domestic satisfaction is lower than you’d like, read on for some easy changes. These micro-updates will enhance the ambiance of your surroundings on short notice (and without breaking your budget!).

Smart Thermostat

Upgrading your thermostat is a simple switch that pays off. You can expect an uptick in energy efficiency, plus smart thermostats like the Nest look sharp on the wall. They’re not exactly cheap, you’ll spend about $250 but you can install it yourself if you’re comfortable with simple wiring projects. A smart thermostat can be controlled with your phone from anywhere, allowing you to increase or decrease use of your HVAC system as needed.

New Centerpiece

If you have a formal dining room, switch out your centerpiece for something seasonal or give your current centerpiece a deep cleaning and revive it with new candles or color add-ons. If you’re in need of inspiration, check out this slideshow from Martha Stewart.

Fix and Paint Trim

If you have a room that looks a bit under the weather, do a resurfacing and repainting of your trim. Start with a light sanding (assuming your existing paint is lead-free), then patch any cracks or gaps with wood fill. Sand once more to blend the dried fill, then it’s time to prime and paint.

Porch or Deck Lighting

LED and solar lights are available in many outdoor styles. Illuminating outdoor spaces creates a warm and friendly feeling and can make your porch or deck feel like an extra living room. Motion lights are also a simple update and can decrease the likelihood of a home invasion. For some handy DIY tips on this topic, check out HGTV.com’s landscape lighting tutorial.

Fragrance Switchout

Realtors often advise their clients to bake before an open house. It’s not sugar that sells the home, it’s the smell of cookies wafting throughout. Changing the fragrance in your home can help set the mood for whatever feeling you’re trying to curate. Apple pie in Fall, holly berries for Christmas, and florals in Spring are all beautiful choices. Bath & Body Works, the retail authority on trendy smells, is a great place to start.

Updated Family Photo

When was the last time you had a professional family photo shoot? Dressing up and getting everyone to the same place at the same time takes a bit of work, but the reward is lasting! You can turn your favorite pose into a canvas for the mantle or showpiece for the family room.

New Welcome Mat

We often overlook what we see every day. Is your welcome mat still as vibrant and clean as the day you brought it home? If not it might be time for a replacement. Try a discount store like T.J. Maxx before you pay full price. They often have a stack of welcome mats in stock at $10 or less.

Updated Hardware for Cabinets

Pick any room that needs picked-up and start with the hardware. The following order applies whether you’re working in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. First, remove all items from inside your cabinets. Next, remove the existing hardware. Now it’s time for a deep cleaning. Wash all your cabinets inside an out with a cleaner approved for the surface. (Murphy’s Oil Soap diluted in warm water works great on most wood cabinetry.) Once your cabinets are rinsed and dried, it’s time to install the new hardware. This upgrade can be a bit pricey depending on the size of your project and the hardware you choose, but the end result is noticeable. Check out Restoration Hardware for the latest in design trends.

Purge and Organize

This update won’t cost a dime and you might even put a few extra dollars in your pocket. Purge your closets, drawers, garage, and attic of unnecessary items. Your home will gain cubic footage and you’ll have more space to enjoy the things you do want. If your haul is large enough, consider a garage sale.

Small updates like new hardware and pretty trim are a great way to make the most of the home you’re in. With a budget of under $300 (or even much less!) you can elevate any space. Try one of the micro-updates described above and enjoy your home a little more than before.

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