23 Genius Home Improvement Projects You Can Do in an Hour (or Less!)

Lynne M. Centeno

Remodeling your home doesn’t just cost a pretty penny—major home improvement projects can take months to complete, often throwing your home into disarray in the process. However, you don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time amidst chaos and clutter to achieve the magazine-worthy home you want.

With the help of top contractors, flippers, and interior designers, we’ve rounded up the best home upgrades you can tackle in under an hour. And for more ways to make over your space, check out these 50 Affordable Interior Design Tips for a Gorgeous Home.

1

Add a peel-and-stick backsplash.

modern kitchen with dark cabinetry, white stone counters, and gray chevron backsplash
modern kitchen with dark cabinetry, white stone counters, and gray chevron backsplash

If you’ve always dreamed of an elegant kitchen, but don’t have the money or time for a major renovation, installing a peel-and-stick backsplash is the project for you.

“Peel-and-stick backsplash tiles are affordable and come in sheets with a sticky adhesive backing that peels off and adheres to wall on with little effort,” says Marty Basher, a home improvement expert with Modular Closets. “The finished product is so impressive, you’ll never know they’re not pricey backsplash tiles that took days to achieve!” And for more ways to upgrade your space, check out these 20 Must-Haves From Chrissy Teigen’s Kitchen Collection.

2

Put up peel-and-stick statement wallpaper.

open concept room with wallpapered wall, joanna gaines tips
open concept room with wallpapered wall, joanna gaines tips

Home improvement projects don’t have to cost you a lot of money or time. Case in point: peel-and-stick wallpaper.

“Peel-and-stick wallpaper is inexpensive, fun, and is easy to add. Whether you decorate one wall or the whole room, it can spruce up any space in no time,” says Julia Turner, design director at Ring’s End.

3

Paint an accent wall.

accent wall home problems
accent wall home problems

Wallpaper isn’t your only option when it comes to adding a pop of color to your walls, however. If you prefer solids over patterns, interior designer Clara Guzman Perez, RID, recommends painting an accent wall to transform an otherwise lackluster space. And for more great information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

4

Rearrange your bookshelves.

a modern mahogany bookshelf
a modern mahogany bookshelf

Cleaning your bookshelves, repositioning shelves within them, and adding some new decorative items can completely change the look and feel of any room in minutes.

“Follow a ‘less is more’ attitude and consider removing some of the accessories—maybe more than you think,” suggests interior designer Pamela O’Brien, founder of Pamela Hope Designs, who says that you can even get away with leaving a few shelves bare. “Leaving space between items allows you to see and appreciate the décor.” And while you’re sprucing things up, make sure you tackle these 20 Things in Your Home You Didn’t Realize You Should Be Cleaning.

5

Install floating shelves.

Empty Wall Shelves {No Closet Space}
Empty Wall Shelves {No Closet Space}

Hanging floating shelves is a quick and easy way to transform any room in a hurry.

“Hanging shelves are an excellent way to fill a large plain wall,” says Turner. “These shelves not only add color to plain walls, but also offer more space for storing your gadgets and some small vintage items.”

6

Upgrade your cabinet hardware.

white cabinet with gold handles
white cabinet with gold handles

While new cabinetry can be pricey, upgrading the hardware on your existing cabinets is a price- and time-conscious way to upgrade that space.

“If you don’t go crazy with buying top-0f-the-line knobs and pulls, you should be able to add some bling to your cabinets for under $200,” says Owen Dashner, owner of house flipping company Red Ladder Property Solutions. “Simply pick out your hardware, grab a screwdriver or drill, and replace those ugly things with a little elbow grease.”

7

Install a chair rail.

wooden chair against chair rail molding, vintage home upgrades
wooden chair against chair rail molding, vintage home upgrades

Want to give your home vintage appeal in no time? A chair rail—a piece of molding that runs chest-height on your wall—takes little time to install, but can make a major statement in any room.

“Not only does it add an architectural element, but it delineates the space, has great eye appeal, plus has the functional benefit as it acts as a bumper, so that chairs being pushed back don’t scuff your walls,” explains Glen DellaValle, CEO of property management firm DellaValle Management, Inc.

8

Re-stain your cabinets.

white woman in white hat painting cabinets brown
white woman in white hat painting cabinets brown

Those dingy cabinets are doing no favors for your home’s overall aesthetic appeal. If you want to spruce up your space quickly, try re-staining them to bring them back to their original glory. `

“Re-stained cabinets will instantly shift the feeling of your home’s interiors,” says Megan Thompson, owner of Denver-based interior design firm Spark Interiors. Better yet, many of the newer stains on the market “can provide a refreshed tone in those living spaces.” And for more ways to pass the time at home, try tackling these 15 Great Home Projects to Tackle While You’re Quarantined.

9

Put a new faucet on your sink.

modern silver faucet with running water into sink
modern silver faucet with running water into sink

If you’re not looking for a major bathroom or kitchen remodel, this one upgrade can completely reinvent a room in no time at all.

“Rather than replace an entire kitchen or bathroom sink, pick a new, modern faucet to give the sink a complete facelift,” suggests DellaValle.

10

Swap out your kitchen blinds.

sheer blue kitchen curtains
sheer blue kitchen curtains

Those old blinds aren’t exactly a striking addition to your kitchen’s design scheme. However, interior designer Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home, says that upgrading to a new one—or a set of new curtains—can “give a fresh look to the kitchen.” Her recommendation for a more cohesive style? “Coordinate towels and jars for a completely new look.”

11

Install a curved shower curtain rod.

white shower curtain on curved rod
white shower curtain on curved rod

Want to make your bath or shower appear bigger and more elegant? Invest in “hotel-style luxury of curved shower curtain rods,” suggests Basher. “It makes bathrooms look more luxurious and upscale,” he explains.

12

Seal your bathroom tile.

Woman cleaning the grout on the tile walls, cleaning mistakes
Woman cleaning the grout on the tile walls, cleaning mistakes

You don’t need to replace your tile to completely change the look of your bathroom.

“Clean your tile (generally an acid-based cleaner is best, but do test a small area first), and then seal it with liquid car wax. Even the oldest tile will look shiny and new,” says DellaValle. And if you want to keep your newly-sealed tile pristine, check out these 20 Amazing Tricks for Cleaning Your Bathroom.

13

Install a smart home light switch.

silver light switch plate on gray wall
silver light switch plate on gray wall

Want to make your home more attractive and more functional in one fell swoop? Try installing a smart home switch.

“Smart home light switches can give you that automated control so you can turn on the lights with your voice, smart app on your phone, or with a smart home hub,” explains certified kitchen designer Eric Goranson, who says this makes it easy to control your electronics from any room in the house.

14

Put in elegant light switch covers.

Stainless steel light switch plate
Stainless steel light switch plate

Believe it or not, you don’t have to settle for plain old white light switches.

“One of the easiest home improvement projects to complete in a short amount of time is swapping out electrical cover plates,” says real estate investor Dustin Singer. Singer says, “[This] can easily be done with just a screwdriver and can make a huge difference when upgrading from dirty or old covers” and will cost you as little as a dollar per new cover.

15

Add dimmers to your lights.

Young girl touching light dimmer switch
Young girl touching light dimmer switch

Want to make the most of the lighting you already have at home? Installing a simple dimmer switch can make a major difference in your space’s overall aesthetic.

“Dimmer switches are incredibly easy to install and they have significant influence over the mood in a given room,” Thompson. “If you want to create a cozier environment on a rainy day, just dim the lights a bit and your space will be instantly transformed.”

16

Install a new light fixture.

Statement Light Fixture in the Kitchen Transform Small Space
Statement Light Fixture in the Kitchen Transform Small Space

Virtually every home goods store sells myriad fixtures for every interior design style imaginable, so don’t be afraid to invest in a chandelier or bamboo pendant that’s more up your alley than the builder-grade ones your home came with.

“You’d be surprised at how much a new light fixture can change the atmosphere of a room,” says Thompson. “All you need to do is turn off the power at the breaker box, then disconnect and reconnect the wires to the new light fixture,” she explains.

17

Replace your existing bulbs with LEDs.

Changing light bulb for an LED bulb
Changing light bulb for an LED bulb

It’s easy to make your home greener and brighter with a single action: just upgrade your light bulbs!

“LEDs can make even the dullest room look bright, and even make any paint on your walls look better,” says DellaValle, who also notes that LEDs will also save you big on your electric bill.

18

Install under-cabinet lighting.

cabinet with under lighting, 80s interior design
cabinet with under lighting, 80s interior design

Want to make your kitchen more attractive and more functional in one fell swoop? A little under-cabinet lighting is all it takes.

“These are so simple to install and can run off batteries,” explains Stark. “They will transform the look of the kitchen and make food preparation much easier.”

19

Add solar lights to your garden.

Solar garden lights
Solar garden lights

Not loving the look those waterlogged string lights? “Get rid of extension cables and add a nice ambiance to outdoor areas” with some solar lighting in your garden instead, suggests Stark.

20

Upgrade your gutter trim.

white gutter trim
white gutter trim

That chipping paint around your gutters is doing your home no favors. Fortunately, with just an hour of time, you can make your exteriors look like a million bucks again.

“Grab a bucket of outdoor paint, get on a ladder, and paint over the roof or gutter trim. This will significantly increase the curb appeal when [you] or a potential buyer pulls
up to the home,” says house flipper Shane Dutka.

21

Pressure wash your siding.

white man pressure washing dark siding
white man pressure washing dark siding

Want to give your house a major exterior upgrade? Start with a trip to your local home supply store.

“[You] just need a pressure washer and a chemical solution to spray the sidings with from Home Depot. This will instantly kill mold, mildew, and any organic matter within a few minutes,” says Benjamin Nguyen, owner of Full Color Cleaners, who notes that all chemicals should be followed up with a clean water rinse afterward.

22

Paint your front door.

blue front entry door with wreath
blue front entry door with wreath

Nothing makes a statement quite like a colorful front door. And if you’re looking for home improvement projects that won’t take up too much time, painting your front door is a great one.

“Make your whole outside look vibrant and fresh with a coat of new paint in a beautiful color such a sunny yellow, glossy black, Kelly green, or fire engine red and watch your curb appeal come to life,” says Basher.

23

Plant some flowers in the front yard.

man trimming plants in a garden help the earth
man trimming plants in a garden help the earth

You might not pay as much attention to it, but your yard speaks volume of your home’s appearance—and if you neglect it, it will only serve to counteract all of the hard work you do inside. But it’s easy to use your outdoor space to your advantage. Spend an hour or so planting some pretty flowers and bushes, and you’ll find that both the inside and outside of your home feel brand new. And for more easy ways to make over your outdoor space, discover these 20 Genius Ways to Spiff up Your Backyard.

 

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