22 Mini-but-Mighty Remodels

white dining room with striped rug and green chair pillows

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

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Add a Sliding Barn Door

white dining room with striped rug and green chair pillows

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 sliding barn door hardware; choose one with details that pick up on accents already in the room, or paint your sliding barn door a contrasting color for a pop.

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Upgrade a Standard Ceiling

Cottage family room with red and blue accents and off white walls

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 statement 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.

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Add Interest to Plain Drywall

bedroom with blue walls and yellow accents

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. Learning how to install wainscoting, is simple, too!

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DIY Picture Rail

Take any bedroom from basic to beautiful with a simple DIY picture rail. Here's how to install one over wainscoting. It's the most simple way to display art on your walls without leaving any holes.

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Screen and Revamp an Outdoor Space

white porch with red accents and black rolling chair

While open-to-the-outdoors exterior spaces are great, a screened-in porch can boost 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.

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Revamp a Closet

closet with blue chair and yellow walls

Think about those things that fluster you on a daily basis: one of them is probably a closet. But a simple DIY closet 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.

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Remake Your Kitchen Cabinets

white kitchen with orange cabinets

Kitchen cabinets can be expensive, and redoing them is often a labor-intensive project that can quickly balloon in costs. One easy way to give your kitchen a kitchen cabinet makeover? Remove upper cabinet doors for airy, open shelving 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. Learn how to convert kitchen cabinets to open shelving.

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Connect One Room to Another

white kitchen with wood floor and table

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. This type of home makeover project will take some time, but it is so worth it.

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Join Inside to Outside

kitchen with hanging lights high chairs and french doors

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. Walkout basements are other great opportunities to install a sliding patio door.

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Install a New Garage Door

brown shed door with shrubbery and cobbled courtyard

Curb appeal can never be discounted as a way to improve a home, and a mini garage remodel 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. Look into the different garage door styles before deciding on your final garage remodel plans.

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Remake Your Fireplace Front

modern living room with decorated fireplace and pink orchids

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 you place to use in your fireplace remodel are fire-resistant and are up to your municipality's code. It won't be long until you have your dream fireplace.

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Revamp Your Backsplash

black and white kitchen with backsplash and green cooking pot

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

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Spruce Up a Shower with a Bench and Niche

gray shower with bench and niche
Beth Singer

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 a shower bench, too, which ensures it's waterproof. A built-in recessed wall shelf can hold all your bottles, soaps, and loofas.

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Change Out Stair Treads

wooden stairway with colorful old posters

Don't be afraid to tackle the staircase in your next home remodel. 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.

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Add Visual Square Footage with a Window

neutral tones kitchen with large window and wood floors
Michael Partenio

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. This small makeover project will let some serious natural light into your home and change the look of your space.

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Reconfigure Cabinets for Storage

white kitchen cabinets and kitchenaid mixer

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. This countertop nook has been turned into a useful breakfast bar and baking station.

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Add an Island to the Kitchen

white cabinets and dark wood floor kitchen
Brie Williams

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 a small kitchen island 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.

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Find a Premade Shelving Unit for Storage and Display

dark wooden pantry with yellow accents and gray patterned rug

If you're craving more organization but don't have the budget for pricey built-in storage, 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.

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Upgrade Storage and Display in a Laundry

washer and dryer in laundry room with colorful patterned rug

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 or a colorful rug will make all the difference in your laundry room makeover.

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Improve a Home Office

colorful family work zone home office with sheep painting

The level of remodeling to add a home office 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. Home office furniture should be hard-working, too. 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.

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Swap Out Light Fixtures on a Floor

neutral tones family room with warm lights

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 home makeover that makes a 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 light fixtures that 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.

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Install an Exterior Pathway or Deck

overhead view of garden with exterior pathway and deck

Many small home 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.

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Upgrade Your Vanity, Sink, and Accessories

neutral colors bathroom with dark wood sink cabinet

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. Bathroom vanities, for example, 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.

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