You can approach home improvement in one of two ways. You can go big and spend thousands of dollars on a multi-room remodel, which Home Advisor suggests will cost an average of $37,628 — yikes! Or, you can go for small home improvement projects that make a big difference, spending a fraction of that amount and getting similar results.

The keys are knowing where to start, knowing what projects provide disproportionate value, and then taking action.

At Review Bounce, we’re always here to help. With the help of Cora Velez, Dale Johnson, Tim Hawkins and some others on our team, we’ve come up with 8 small home improvement projects that make a big difference. Pick out the projects that are right for your home, and enjoy a more comfortable, more attractive, more valuable abode.

When most people hear the words “home improvement,” they picture sledgehammers tearing away drywall, exposed floors and living out of one or two rooms for months at a time while the others are renovated. That’s not what we’re addressing here. Not only do these small home improvement projects pack a big punch, none of them will displace you for weeks on end. They might take a little bit of sweat and elbow grease, but that’s a small price to pay for big returns on your home improvement investments. We’ll start inside and work our way outdoors with these ideas.


1. Minor Kitchen Makeover

I love starting in the kitchen, because that’s my area of expertise. Unfortunately, the cost of fully making over your kitchen can put you in the poor house — a full remodel that includes new counters, new cabinets, new floors, new appliances, tearing down walls, moving islands and more.

But there are other ways to create a fresh, new, modern feel in your kitchen. Simply updating drawer pulls and cabinet hardware can provide a pop to your dated kitchen. When you’re done, add a new mat in front of your sink, and make the small investment required to get new dishtowels. These small changes make a far greater impact than you think.

New light fixtures are another way to deliver a breath of fresh air into this oh-so-important room. If you’re feeling particularly handy, you can even take on recessed lighting as a do-it-yourself project. I’ve seen it done by someone that learned just by watching videos on YouTube.

You may not be up for a do-it-yourself project, and that’s totally understandable. But there are plenty of other ways to update the kitchen and make it feel renovated without going through the long, arduous and expensive process of actually renovating.


2. Minor Bathroom Makeover

The national average for a bathroom remodel is $9,465. That’s not many most of us have just lying around waiting to be used — not me at least.

But the bathroom is such a great minor makeover opportunity because of how small the room is. We recently shared some bathroom staging ideas for homeowners looking to sell, and you can repurpose some of those ideas for a minor makeover, too.

Many of the same places you would address in a minor kitchen makeover are relevant for a minor bathroom makeover. Cabinet hardware, drawer pulls and light fixtures are ripe for replacement. Also, simply upgrading your towels and mats can go a long way toward freshening your bathroom.

On the do-it-yourself front, you can install a new sink, a new tub or a new toilet, if you have the right tools and the desire to learn. But don’t feel like you need to go that far or that intensive to update your bathroom. Painting or adding fun wallpaper can be do-it-yourself projects that are just as impactful.


3. Paint and Wallpaper

Did we mention paint and wallpaper in our minor bathroom makeover section? I guess we were getting a little ahead of ourselves, because paint and wallpaper are two of the easiest to execute improvements that also offer tremendous value. Find a paint color that you love for each room in your house, or go with a fun wallpaper pattern (which is best for the kitchen or bathroom).

In fact, and I speak from experience here, a weekend of painting in your home can transform it wall to wall. You can stick to one color throughout, or you can choose a different hue for each room. I wrote about how to stage a kitchen to sell your house a few weeks ago, and I even shared some trending paint colors you can consider for your home.


4. New Front Door

This is my all-time favorite home improvement project. I purchased a new front door for my home 2 years ago, and it has made the most dramatic impact on curb appeal and on my visitors — almost everyone comments on how much they love it.

Here’s the kicker: A new front door delivers incredible return on investment when compared to other home improvement projects. Just ask Remodeling Magazine, which tracks the numbers each year.

As you can see from Remodeling Magazine’s report, you can spend tens of thousands on a full kitchen or bathroom remodel, but you won’t recoup nearly as much as you will from spending a few hundred on a new front door. That’s a home improvement project we can all believe in, right?


5. New Garage Door

Pretty much everything that can be said about a new front door can also be said for a new garage door. Pair the two together, and you’ll enjoy a huge jump in your home’s curb appeal — not to mention its resale value. In fact, we recently wrote about how to add curb appeal to your home, and guess what was on the list. Yep, new front door and new garage door.

Remodeling Magazine’s report on home improvement cost vs. value confirms that this is an excellent idea. You get even greater return on your investment in a new garage door than you do for an investment in a new entry door.


6. A Green Lawn

When spring rolls around and you’re looking for ways to make your home look better, consider working on your lawn. If you have grass to work with, use some fertilizer and water heavily to get your lawn looking luscious and bright green. If you only have weeds and dirt to work with, consider laying down sod — which costs an average of $1,806. That’s a big chunk of change, but it’s worth it to see your home look far better from the street.

You can try other tactics, too. Simply aerating your lawn might help. A top-dressing could provide the injection your yard needs to grow and look great all summer. If you have a shady yard that struggles to grow grass, try a shade-friendly species of St. Augustine like Amerishade. One word of warning: Don’t go too far with your tactics. Top-dressing, fertilizer, aeration and new sod might mean too much nitrogen in your lawn, which won’t promote the growth you’re looking for.


7. Fresh Landscaping

Grass not exciting enough for you? Try landscaping instead. Hardscape areas for a low-maintenance addition that needs little maintenance, or be strategic about selecting plants and flowers that need little in the way of regular care. Have questions about what will work best in your yard or region? A little online research never hurt, but you can also find experts at your local nursery or hardware store.

Like planting sod, adding landscaping can be a relatively affordable home improvement project that delivers a ton of value. Your home will look and feel great, and your neighbors and passersby will do a double take because of the enhanced curb appeal.


8. Outdoor Spaces

Adding a room to your home can be expensive, and it doesn’t necessarily add value to your home. But creating outdoor seating areas is a great way to expand the living space at your home without incurring significant costs. How do you do it? Several ways:

  • Awnings: An awning makes an outdoor space more usable. You have shade in the summer, and you have protection from the elements throughout the year. The cost of an awning is far less than adding a permanent overhang or more permanent structure.
  • Furniture: If there’s nowhere to sit in your backyard, no one will want to hang out back there — even if you have an awning. You can find all sorts of outdoor seating options, from inexpensive Adirondacks to full furniture suites.
  • Accessories: Maybe you already have furniture in your backyard, but you live in a place where the weather isn’t always ideal for outdoor gathering. Add a chimenea or a similar heating source to make your patio or deck more accessible during the cooler months of the year.


Home Improvement Cost vs. Value

We mentioned Remodeling Magazine’s report on home improvement cost vs. value, which it updates each year. It might be helpful for you to see the best home improvement projects, so here’s a look at the top 10 (and I encourage to click through to Remodeling Magazine’s website to see the full report, plus region-by-region information):

Project Avg. Cost ROI
Attic Insulation (Fiberglass) $1,268 116.9%
Manufactured Stone Veneer $7,519 92.9%
Garage Door Replacement $1,652 91.5%
Entry Door Replacement (steel) $1,335 91.1%
Minor Kitchen Remodel $20,122 83.1%

And here’s a look at the bottom 10 — the projects that deliver the least return on investment:

Project Avg. Cost ROI
Bathroom Addition $42,233 56.2%
Backup Power Generator $12,712 59.4%
Master Suite Addition $115,810 64.1%
Deck Addition (composite) $16,798 64.4%
Major Kitchen Remodel $59,999 64.9%

Why didn’t we mention attic insulation, the home improvement project that offers the best ROI? We focused on things that you and your visitors can actually see. Adding attic insulation is certainly a worthwhile project that delivers incredible return, but it didn’t fit the parameters for this post.


Final Thoughts on Small Home Improvement Projects

Hey, you know your home and your budget better than we do. We tried to include a range of ideas that offer different price points and that address different rooms and spaces in the home. They won’t all be right for everyone, but you can pick and choose what works best for you — and still enjoy a tremendous difference in the look, feel and operation of your home.

Did we miss one of your go-to small home improvement projects? If so, you can let us know in the comments section below, or you can message us directly through our contact form.