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winter home exterior red front door

Want a snazzy home, but don’t have hours to spend on renos? Try a few of these easy, done-in-a-day home upgrades for a prettier home in a hurry.

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In Part 1 of this series last week, we learned a lot: wine is good, clipping your neighbor’s pine tree (and getting caught) isn’t, feature walls are snazzy, mantels are a great focal point, painting the fence ain’t so bad (with the help of your minions), and wall stickers add instant style and personality.

In this post, we’ll rattle off a few more budget-friendly, quick-and-dirty home upgrade ideas. So put away the toolbox and hardhat. Stow away that drill. No major renos are needed.

Here are a few more easy, done-in-a-day home upgrades to try:

1. Replace lighting

Whether it’s energy-efficient LED strip lights in the kitchen or a flashy new fixture in the bathroom, changing out your lighting is a great way to spruce up any space. Before you get started, heed the warnings of your high school shop teacher (and mom): safety comes first.

Before you poke around with stray wires, be sure to turn off your breakers and beef up on electrical safety. If you’re not confident in your do-it-yourselfer status? Bribe (or pay) a handy friend or (better yet) a professional electrician to do the work.

hanging lighting fixtures

Pro tip: If you aren’t ready to paint yet, but you’re antsy to get that new fixture in, affix painter’s tape snugly to the outside edges of the fixture before you install it. That way, if you decide to paint later, you can get right into those tight corners without splattering paint on your new fixture. Just paint around your fixture, peel off the tape, and you’re ready to rock.

2. Paint furniture

old dresser

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That old dresser may have been pretty showy in Eisenhower’s heyday, but it’s looking a little rough these days. The difference between shabby and chic and just plain shabby? A fresh coat of paint. If you have some old furniture kicking around that’s seen better days, liven it up with a coat or two of your favorite hue. If you’re going for that rustic, weathered look, opt for a chalk paint and sanded-down edges.

Before you get your hands dirty, put on some gloves and roll up your sleeves. Now open a few windows and doors for proper ventilation. Lay down a drop cloth to protect your floors, and you’re ready to paint!

Here’s a quick, step-by-step tutorial for painting furniture by hand:

  1. Remove any hardware, like knobs and hinges. You can put it back on later (when you’re done painting).
  2. Thoroughly clean the piece with warm, soapy water.
  3. Patch any chipped areas with wood filler, then use a putty knife and scrape away the excess.
  4. Sand everything down with 100-grit sandpaper to strip off any remaining lacquer. (This will allow the primer to adhere nicely.) If you have one handy—see what I did there?—you could use a power sander so your hands don’t get tired.
  5. Now prime your furniture, paint it, sand down the edges (if you’re looking for that weathered look), and seal everything up with a good furniture wax. Of course, allow for drying time in between. (Patience, grasshopper!)

If you’re low on crafty mojo, check out this handy online tutorial from DecoratingMagic on how to paint furniture with chalk paint, and this tutorial on how to paint furniture with regular paint.

3. Spruce up your entryway

With a few spare minutes, some imagination, and a screwdriver, it’s easy to give your front entryway a makeover. Switch out or repaint those old house numbers. Hang a decorative wreath to spread tidings of joy. Replace that tattered mat with something more welcoming.

If you have a pressure washer handy, give that dusty porch a good hose down. Now acquire a rocking chair and silently judge—um, greet—people as they pass by.

Which will you try?

I just added new lighting fixtures, so I think I’ll hit up the thrift store and find an old piece of furniture to paint. Which of these easy-peasy home upgrades would you try? Tell us in the comments!

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Tanya Roberts

Tanya Roberts is a writer and marketer who loves to spin stories about interior design and home decor. She is principle strategist at Bluefinch.ca