22 Mini-but-Mighty Remodels

Don't have the cash saved for a full-scale remodel? Pick one of these small, budget-smart projects for a mini-but-mighty remodel.

Add a Sliding Barn Door

Doors chomp up square footage opening and closing -- but they’re necessary to screen views from one room or another or hide storage. A sliding barn door -- used here to disguise adjacent dining and kitchen storage -- offers a pretty solution. Doors such as this roll on simple-to-install hardware; choose one with details that pick up on accents already in the room, or paint yours a contrasting color for a pop.

Upgrade a Standard Ceiling

People don't bother looking up -- right? That's probably the case, unless your ceiling stands out with distinctive details. In fact, a little TLC for a ceiling can yield a huge upgrade for a room. For a cottage look, think about tin or stained wood beams -- run them one way if the room is small to increase its visual size. Or, in a traditional or contemporary space, try geometric patterns such as regularly spaced and sized boxes.

Add Interest to Plain Drywall

Even simple wainscoting offers dimension to a plain-Jane room in a way that paint can never manage. Simple combinations and off-the-shelf boards can even lend basic display and storage space with a wider-than-normal top piece for a picture rail.

Want an easy and affordable way to bring architectural character to your home? This simple DIY molding project fits the bill.

DIY Picture Rail

Take any bedroom from basic to beautiful with a simple DIY picture rail. Here's how.

Screen and Revamp an Outdoor Space

While open-to-the-outdoors exterior spaces are great, screening such a room can boost its usefulness in refreshing ways. Screens help to keep out critters and insects, which may make using a space on warm-weather days even easier, and offer minimal, yet welcome, privacy. And, a few new screens can prompt a redo of other accents and finishes -- soft shades to further block views and sun, a light fixture and ceiling fan to extend hours of use, and a refinished floor surface to withstand foot traffic.

Revamp a Closet

Think about those things that fluster you on a daily basis: one of them is probably a closet. But a simple mini makeover can add both beauty and function to this daily-use space. Start by emptying the closet and refinishing the interior walls with a colorful interplay of patterns and hues -- here, wallpaper on the lower half, bright yellow on the top. Choose functional pieces that offer a range of storage options, including hanging rods, shelves, open storage, and drawers or baskets. To save space, think about eliminating doors for soft repurposed window treatments.

Remake Your Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinets can be expensive, and redoing is often a labor-intensive project that can quickly balloon in costs. One easy way to give your kitchen a mini makeover? Remove upper cabinet doors for airy, open storage that pops. (Bonus: The project will also force you to streamline the stuff you have inside those cabinets.) Fill and sand hinge holes and paint a bright white to open up the space even more.

Connect One Room to Another

Even if you can’t take down a wall, you can connect rooms such as kitchens and dining rooms to one another by using interior windows or pass-throughs. You’ll have to have a structural engineer check your support beams to see what kind of a structure you need to keep or work around. Think about connecting countertops on either side for convenience and flexibility, too.

Join Inside to Outside

Access to exterior spaces can increase both your enjoyment and your use of them. And you may have a room -- say a family space or kitchen -- that would greatly benefit from a connection to your yard. If you have a large expanse of wall space, consider adding a single or double door -- a slider saves space, one that opens outward keeps from intruding into the room.

Install a New Garage Door

Curb appeal can never be discounted as a way to improve a home, and a mini remodel of a garage is easy enough with a new garage door. Good, mid-range doors can typically be painted to match existing color palettes, with details and reveals, too.

Remake Your Fireplace Front

Tired and worn fireplace fronts can make the rest of any carefully coordinated room feel outdated. But a new fireplace front isn't terribly difficult or expensive. Most brick will take a coat of paint fairly well, and off-the-shelf tiles can cover a fireplace face, too. Make sure any materials are fire-resistant and are up to your municipality's code.

Revamp Your Backsplash

There are a variety of materials -- tile, granite, even tin to name a few -- that are backsplash appropriate. Which one you choose for your mini makeover depends on your decor and your aesthetics. If you’re keeping the countertop, make sure you can create a seamless connection to the backsplash.

Spruce Up a Shower with a Bench and Niche

New tile and a few extra amenities can make a stand-alone shower feel brand-new. If you’re keeping the faucet, you can probably complete the project yourself with some solid tile-and-grouting skills. Use tile to build the bench, too, which ensures it’s waterproof.

Change Out Stair Treads

There are a couple of options for refreshing stair treads -- new paint is one good option, while fresh treads are another. To update paint, you’ll have to sand, coat, and seal; treads entail a more labor-intensive investment (and some savvy DIY skills, too). You can either repeat a color or stain already present in a room, or choose one that complements decor in the room.

Add Visual Square Footage with a Window

New windows may have to be installed by a professional, but they can be a game changer for a room that feels cramped and dark. Before choosing a space for yours, look at your room from the inside and outside to best line up with existing windows.

Reconfigure Cabinets for Storage

You don't have to replace or redo all your cabinets to reap some big advantages. Choose an oft-used section and remake them, inside and out, to gain more storage, particularly for appliance garage or food storage.

Add an Island to the Kitchen

Even small kitchens with the right traffic flow probably have enough room for a kitchen island—and it doesn't have to be a spendy option either. Off-the-shelf counter-height tables offer helpful work surface area for prep and, in a pinch, serving, too. Look for an option with open storage, and install wire baskets and other storage accessories to use that vertical space, too. Bonus: A pre-made unit such as these involves zero sweat equity.

Find a Premade Shelving Unit for Storage and Display

If you’re craving more organization but don’t have the budget for pricey built-ins, look for an adaptable piece of furniture that offers bonus shelves and drawers as well as distinctive design elements, too. Placed inside an entry, in a family room, or against a wall in a kitchen, an armoire-like piece provides loads of storage square feet without any intrusive remodel. Look for one that comes pre-stained or that you can paint to offer colorful complement to existing pieces in the space.

Upgrade Storage and Display in a Laundry

Washers and dryers often get short-shrift when it comes to home improvement. They are, after all, simply work spaces—used a lot but without any glory. A well-designed space, however, makes all that drudgery a little less taxing—and the upgrades don’t have to be time- or budget-consuming. Here, open shelves, supported with gently curved brackets, supply the first alteration: They’re useful and, painted bright white, keep the space from feeling claustrophobic. Instead of packing pieces like this with lots of clutter, carefully select accessories and add a few pretty extras too—a vase, a colorful rug.

Improve a Home Office

The level of remodeling to add a home work space varies, depending on your home’s existing structure, but the end results can do much to streamline your family’s day-to-day flow. For starters, try to adapt a space that offers enough counter room for at least two seating spots, enabling multiple kids to do homework, or a kid-and-parent to work side by side. Drawers and cabinet doors as well as open shelves supply a useful storage combination to centralize family paperwork, and a chalk-, cork-, or magnet board is a must, too, for displaying schedules, to-dos, and family mementos.

Swap Out Light Fixtures on a Floor

New sofas come and go, side chairs get reupholstered, rugs replaced, but light fixtures? These essential room elements get far too little attention. And for a mini makeover that makes significant impact, changing the light fixtures should be high on the list. To get started, pick a room or an entire floor in your house, and choose fixtures offer function and an expression of your personal style. While sticking with one family of fixtures is an option, it's OK to choose materials and colors that complement each other—here, metalwork, wood, and textural shades.

Install an Exterior Pathway or Deck

Many mini makeovers tend to focus on interior spaces, but updating an exterior space can yield value-boosting curb appeal as well as daily-use space. And, a well-planned mini exterior makeover can help to solve persistent landscape problems—say, a spot that receives little sun or lots of shade. Focus on blending plants and hardscape; here, a simple deck transitions to gravel and paved path combo and lots of low-maintenance plants suited for the growing zone.

Upgrade Your Vanity, Sink, and Accessories

Many times a room will have items that work well enough—say, a floor, toilet, or shower in a bathroom. Carefully selecting certain pieces and redoing them for impact and usefulness can give your bathroom the feel of a much larger remodel without the expense or trouble. Many times, vanities, sinks, and accessories can be bought as packages, reducing cost and eliminating the hassle of multiple choices. Upgrade accessories, too, if possible, including mirrors, light switches, and light fixtures.

Share the gallery

Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.