Improve Your Home: 23 Weekend Projects

Spiff up every space in your home. Here are 23 quick do-it-yourself updates to get you started.


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Glass backsplash
1/24
Redo Your Backsplash

    Tired of dull plastic laminate? Transform the mood of the kitchen with a bold new backsplash in ceramic or glass tile. Just make sure the wall is sound before you start the installation.

2/24
Light Up the Kitchen

    Dress up an eating area with a fresh light fixture. Replacing an existing fixture is your easiest option: Just turn off the power at the breaker box and connect the wires.

3/24
Update Your Hardware

    Spice up your cabinets and drawers by replacing factory-issue handles and pulls with designs that reflect your personal taste. For a unique, eclectic look, scour antiques shops for hardware pieces.

4/24
Hang a Medicine Cabinet

    With just a stud finder and a drill, you can install the cabinet in less than an hour. For quick installation, choose a cabinet that can mount directly to the wall above your bathroom sink, rather than cutting away drywall and recessing the cabinet between studs.

5/24
Swap Out the Sink

    A new sink can energize a boring bathroom. Before you replace it, though, consider your needs. You might want to try standing in front of the model you're considering and acting out your morning routine. Will you have enough room to brush your teeth or put in your contacts? Your choice should balance aesthetics with practicality.

6/24
Replace Your Showerhead

    Choose a low-flow unit and you'll get virtually the same sensation of water flow while saving money on your water bill. If your showerhead flow is already low (and shouldn't be), check to see if hard-water deposits are clogging the holes.

7/24
Install a New Faucet

    Inject elegance into your daily life with a faucet that ups the ante in looks and quality. Just make sure the configuration matches your existing sink, or you might end up replacing that, too.

8/24
Add Grab Bars

    The most important thing to remember here is to find the studs and mount the bars directly to them. Miss the studs and you'll be pulling out more than the bars when you put your weight on them.

9/24
Install Beaded Board

    Beaded board lends a traditional touch to kitchens and bathrooms. Cut holes in the boards or sheets for outlets, phone jacks, and other wall necessities.

10/24
Swap Out Cabinet Door Inserts

    Make boring cabinets sing by replacing the door inserts. Stainless steel, stamped tin, wrought-iron grillwork, glass, and wood painted to match your flooring or countertops are all possibilities. The process is simple, says Mike McAllister, owner of Riverside Kitchen Center in Mount Vernon, Washington: "Remove the small flange that holds the existing insert, then replace the insert with your material and add wood or metal stops to keep it in place."

11/24
Replace an Appliance

    If you bought your refrigerator before 1993 or your dishwasher before 1994, when the federal energy-efficiency guidelines for each went into effect, consider replacing them with more efficient models. Some newer models use at least 15 percent less energy than required by current federal standards and 40 percent less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001.

12/24
Light Up a Corner

    With attic space above a dark corner, it's easy to add a new light fixture, says Daryl Berg, a journeyman electrician in Longview, Washington: "Just cut the hole for the fixture and run the wires through the ceiling joists to a new circuit."

13/24
Install a Ceiling Fan

    Add a ceiling fan and save money by not running the air-conditioner on those marginal days when all you need is air movement.

14/24
Add Molding

    Living room, dining room, great-room: Any common area looks better with the finishing, defining touch of crown molding. If you live in a historic home, make sure your molding choices complement your home's architectural style.

15/24
Paint or Paper a Wall

    Paint and wallpaper make any room look better with just a day or two of work. Take your time when selecting a color, comparing it to the colors in adjoining rooms so they won't clash.

16/24
Dress Up Your Fireplace

    If it's time to replace that dingy 1970s-era mantel, choose one with enough depth to let you display pictures or other decorations. If you buy a ready-made mantel, don't be afraid to paint it or add moldings.

17/24
Make Your Fireplace More Efficient

    To quickly and easily rehabilitate your existing fireplace, a gas or wood-burning insert adds energy efficiency to your home without tearing apart your hearth and mantel.

18/24
Revive Your Railings

    Add drama to a staircase with distinctive railings or embellishments. Architectural-salvage and reuse centers are hot spots for ideas and materials.

19/24
Replace Interior Doors

    Update these often-overlooked interior elements with form and function. Switch a blah door with a finely detailed antique. Or simply upgrade with solid-core doors, which dampen noise far more efficiently than the hollow-core doors common in new construction.

20/24
Upgrade Your Flooring

    Installing a hardwood floor can take longer than a weekend, so choose a material that's less time-consuming. Start with anything that comes in a roll, such as sheet vinyl, which looks better and lasts longer than it used to.

21/24
Get a Built-In Look

    Create extra storage in a snap with kits for bookcases or shelving that you assemble yourself. Try a cabinet/open shelving combination for display spaces.

22/24
Put Dimmers on the Lights

    Dimmer switches quickly give your dining room the atmosphere of a swank restaurant. You can use standard incandescent bulbs, but if you prefer fluorescent light, look for special dimmable bulbs.

23/24
Switch to Energy-Saving Windows

    If you have a window that faces the prevailing winter winds, replace it with a high-efficiency unit. If the window opening is a nonstandard size, you'll probably have to order the new window.

24/24
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