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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Little things make a big impact when you're selling your home. Making it market ready will not only help you sell faster but you'll get the highest price possible. 


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