December 2, 2022

Yes, it’s spring-cleaning season, but refreshing your space isn’t limited to washing windows or deep-cleaning your grout. It also doesn’t have to mean a kitchen renovation totaling tens of thousands of dollars. If you’re looking to update your home — indoors or out — while sticking to a budget, we’re here to help. We asked design experts to share their favorite home improvement projects for less than $2,000. Here are their suggestions.

Get your closet in order

Make cleaning out your closet a priority, said Michelle Gage, a designer in Pennsylvania. First, pare down: Toss anything you don’t see yourself using again. Donate old linens to an animal shelter. Then, “invest in some good baskets and organization solutions — perhaps a semi-custom modular closet system — to make sure every little item has its place,” Gage said. She likes the Elfa closet system from the Container Store. And if you want to take things up a notch, Gage suggested installing wallpaper in the closet. For even more pizazz, consider painting the ceiling and adding a statement light fixture.

Properly display your television

Mounting flat-screen televisions and running the cables behind the walls can enhance the look of any room, said New York-based designer Eneia White. “A clean approach to displaying your TVs contributes to a visually organized space,” she said. And the process is relatively simple: Purchase a TV mount and a routing package for the wires, then hire an installer to ensure the wires run behind the wall properly.

Focus on the entryway

An organized and stylish entryway – whether it’s a mudroom, foyer or garage – helps your home make a strong first impression, says Beth Diana Smith, a designer in New Jersey. First, tackle storage by stocking up on bins, baskets, an umbrella stand and hooks to corral coats, bags and other items. “Then add paint or wallpaper, new rugs, decor and art, and new lighting for a new look,” Smith says. “The options here are relatively endless and can be really fun.” And don’t be afraid to incorporate color. “I always recommend going bolder in the entry, since it’s a small space and can easily be changed when the mood strikes,” she says.

Update your lampshades

Although your lamps may work fine, they are probably more than three to five years old, and the shades have probably seen better days, said Los Angeles-based designer Jeff Andrews. “We don’t realize how dirty and dingy they can get over time, and updating a lamp with a shade in a new shape or material makes it feel like an entirely new piece of décor,” he said. It’s best to upgrade all of the shades in a room at once, choosing similar shapes that complement each lamp base’s shape. “Use the same fabric so that they have the same quality of light,” Andrews said. “You should also use the same wattage lightbulbs in all the lamps.”

Revamp a dated kitchen

Flex your DIY muscles and change up your kitchen without breaking the bank, said Rashida Banks, a D.C.-based design influencer. “The quickest and most cost-effective upgrade anyone can tackle is painting their cabinets,” she says, noting that a waterborne alkyd paint is best, considering it dries hard and adheres well to the surface. Using a paint sprayer, which you can probably rent from a hardware store, makes for the smoothest application. Unsure what hue to go with? “Right now, creamy, earthy whites, greens, blacks and muted blues are trending paint colors,” Banks says.

Budget-friendly built-ins

Another simple DIY is installing faux built-in bookcases to house all of your favorite reads or other decorative items. “Novice DIYers could tackle this project for a great price, particularly if they’re going the IKEA hack route,” said Dominique Gebru a D.C.-based design influencer. She suggests purchasing a few wooden or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) bookcases, as well as trim, caulk, primer, and paint.

“After assembling the bookcases, secure them to the wall. You may want to construct a simple platform base and set the shelves atop that prior, depending on how tall your baseboards are,” Gebru said. “Then secure trim along the face frames and edges using a brad nailer or a hammer and finishing nails. Use wood filler and caulk to fill in nail holes and gaps, respectively, to create a seamless look, and finish with a shellac-based primer and paint.”

Rethink your doors

Megan Hopp a designer in Alexandria, Va., said spring is a great time to replace tired doors. “If you have a standard-size door frame — be that a single or double — upgrading to a classic French door or modern glass option can have you seeing outside and in, in a whole new way,” she said. Hopp hired a pro for this task, which involves removing the trim or casing and the old door, then hanging the new door and replacing the casing. If you’re handy, she said, and you have a helper, you may be able to tackle this upgrade without a professional.

Don’t overlook outdoor spaces.

“One of the most transformative things I’ve done is power-wash my patio, fences, and the exterior of my house,” saied Erin Gates, a designer in Massachusetts. Whether you rent a power washer or hire someone, the results will be more than worthwhile, Gates said. “It makes everything look brand-new and sets the tone for any additional landscaping or decorative work you do in preparation for spring.

“Evaluating your outdoor furniture and replacing anything that has seen better days is also key this time of year, said Clara Jung, a designer in Berkeley, Calif. “Perhaps your string lights need to be replaced or the outdoor rug needs a deep clean or your outdoor sofa cushions need to be washed,” she said. “As spring weather approaches, this is a good way to spend some time outdoors while also placing some finishing touches on your home.”

Another quick and easy outdoor update is to add eye-catching planters with greenery. “Beautifully made stone planters are a wise investment for any garden,” said Marika Meyer, a designer in Bethesda, Md. And although pricing for the containers and plants can run the gamut, it’s certainly worth making an investment purchase if possible, Meyer added. “Think about these items as something you will keep for years to come, and the best pieces will stand the test of time — and weather — and will pay off in the long run.”

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8 designer-recommended home updates for less than $2,000