20 Small-budget, Big-impact home upgrades

Spring is the perfect time to tackle projects that can make your home more presentable and help increase its value, especially if you’re looking to sell. Here are 20 high-impact improvements – for inside and outside the home – that cost $1,000 or less.


1 “A splash of color by way of some shrubs or perennials can draw attention to the front entrance of a home,” says Glenn Ball, owner of Ground Effects in Anchorage. Just remember that you’ll need to stay on top of the care and maintenance of these plants, since the entryway is your visitors’ first impression of the home.

2 Re-siding is one of the simplest home improvements that recoup the greatest costs. “You don’t have to re-side your entire house,” Marshall Allen of ABC Seamless reminds homeowners. Re-siding just the front of the home will save you money and go a long way to refresh the exterior. Cut down on the cost by removing old siding yourself before the experts install the new material. You can also keep costs down by painting aluminum or vinyl siding to match existing siding if you are unable to find matching planks.

3 If the cost of re-siding seems too steep, simply repair any areas that are warped, rotted or water-stained – then brighten things up with some new shutters on your street-facing windows.

4 Here’s a quick afternoon project that won’t break the bank: Cover over your plain wooden mailbox post with a cast-stone “post surround,” which is durable, lightweight, easy to install – and visually more appealing. An installation kit can cost as little as $130.

5 Give your yard a haircut: Don’t just mow – trim all those overgrown shrubs and bushes, weed your flower garden and edge your lawn for both visual appeal and easy maintenance around walkways and driveways. The best part? If you’re willing to spend an afternoon in the sun, you can pay for this project in sweat equity!

6 Clean your gutters: Not only will it make things more presentable, but building inspectors often take into account the existence and functionality of rain gutters early in the home-buying process.

7 You can also install a gutter helmet, sold by providers like ABC Seamless. A helmet will keep leaves out of your gutters and, says Allen, “It’s appealing to a lot of home buyers.”

8 Upgrading the front door is an excellent way to spruce up curb appeal. While higher-end models run above the $1,000 budget, a basic fiberglass door with a nice design runs between $700 and $800. Repainting the door is a fairly easy and inexpensive job, and a new color can provide a big visual wow factor for your home, front-and-center.

9 Faux it up: Cover your bland, gray foundation with faux stone panels, which can cost as little as $50 to $100 per square. The color and texture will bring visual interest to an often overlooked part of the house. Save even more money by doing just the front of your home.

10 Light your way with exterior lighting by installing exterior-grade fixtures over the doorway and along the walkway – you (or the family who buys your home) will be thankful for the extra illumination when winter rolls around again!


11 Clean it up! “The No. 1 thing you can do is a thorough cleaning,” says Chris Bailey, vice president of design and customer care at Re-Bath Alaska. “Any tile and grout in the shower or tub – get that clean. If you have to, re-grouting or re-caulking is a low-cost option.”

12 Hate to clean? Hire a professional to do a deep clean that includes steaming the carpet and upholstered furniture, pressure washing exterior areas like the walkway or sides of the building, polishing windows, and banishing dust and grime from every corner of your home.

13 Reface your cabinets: You can pay a professional to strip and paint your cabinet boxes, then install new doors and drawers yourself, if you’re handy. “It will look like you have new cabinets, but technically you’ve just fabbed them up a bit,” explains Jaycina Maim of Cabinet Fever.

14 If the cabinets themselves aren’t too outdated, just changing out the hardware – the pulls, knobs and handles – can revive the look of your kitchen.

15 Select a porcelain or ceramic tile backsplash from a distributor like Rino’s Tile and Stone, then have one of their professionals install it, or do it yourself. A backsplash can make a disjointed kitchen come together and is often the finishing touch that will impress homebuyers.

16 A simple paint job can offer prospective buyers a clean palette that will let them envision their own belongings in the house you want to sell. “Get rid of old wallpaper and bright colors,” advises Bailey. “Go with neutrals – grays and whites are what people are looking for nowadays.”

17 “A new toilet is a super cost-effective way to update a bathroom,” Bailey adds. “Instead of the old five-gallon flush, get a low-flow toilet. I really like the American Standard Vormax series; it flushes really well and it looks nice.”

18 Other bathroom upgrades that can be done easily for well under $1,000: install a new mirror, upgrade light fixtures or switch out the faucet and other hardware (don’t forget the toilet paper holder!).

19 Crown your home: Bring an easy finishing touch to your den or bedrooms by installing peel-and-stick crown molding or a polystyrene foam molding like Trimroc.

20 Upgrade your light fixtures – or, if you can’t find the funds, refurbish old fixtures with a coat of paint or a new shade. Then replace all your bulbs with LEDs or CFLs for long-lasting light and energy efficiency.

Not every home improvement project has to involve knocking down walls or building additions. Focusing on just a few of these ideas can go a long way toward getting your home ready to sell – or just creating a more enjoyable space for you and your family!