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Home improvement projects tend to be costly, but they make great investments toward increasing the value of your home, help with resale, or even simply elevate your everyday living space.
We found ten projects you can tackle easily for $500 or less.
Add a Kitchen Island
You don’t need to plan a wholesale—and costly—remodel to add attractive functionality to your kitchen. A kitchen island can add storage, counter, and seating space for less than you might think.
Our top choice, the solid-hardwood Alexandria Portable Kitchen Island with Granite Top, comes in 24 combinations of colors and finishes. Brushed-nickel hardware complements the raised-panel doors, which conceal anything you need to store, from utensils to containers. Its short and narrow footprint (40 x 31 x 21 inches) fits even small kitchens, and adjustable levelers facilitate portability.
Crosley Furniture Alexandria Portable Kitchen Island with Granite Top
Install a Window Box
A window box to brighten up your home’s curbside appeal has been called the “ultimate do-it-yourself project,” and it takes only a few basic tools and not much money to install yourself. But if you’d rather opt for a box to add soil, plants, and TLC straightaway, you have many to choose from.
Our top choice, the Mayne Fairfield 5823B Window Box Planter, takes up only 48 inches, and the double-wall design creates a water reservoir, keeping your thirsty plants satisfied. Users especially liked its sturdiness and ease of installation. Also, its high-grade polyethylene material reduces the need for winter preparation, as well as inhibits sun fade.
Mayne Fairfield Window Box Planter
Change Your Garage Door Opener
Imagine how frustrating it would be to need to get to work or the kids to school, only to have your garage door opener’s chain break. If it’s been awhile since you've installed your mechanism, consider the newer generation of belt-drive openers, which are quieter, sturdier, and last longer.
The belt-drive Chamberlain B2405 Smart garage door opener, which is motion-detector sensitive and includes smartphone access via the myQ app. Customers particularly appreciated how quiet it was, as well as its encryption security, protecting the codes needed to engage the opener.
Chamberlain B2405 Smart myQ Blue Garage Door Opener
Add Color to Your Walls
A good old-fashioned paint job can work wonders on interior walls. While hiring a professional can cost upwards of $3,000, you can do it yourself for under $500. After you decide on a color, your next step is to learn the basics, then purchase the paint.
We like the Ovation Plus Satin Tintable Latex Interior Paint + Primer by Sherwin Williams. Not only does this latex paint apply evenly to a maximum of 100 square feet on a variety of materials, but also, no primer is needed, and spills clean up with soap and water.
Additionally, a quality paintbrush ensures a quality finish. The best feature artificial bristles, which soak up little liquid and retain their body. We prefer the Purdy XL Sprig, which you can buy in several sizes. We found the 3-inch big enough to quickly do the job, while also small enough to control.
HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams Ovation Plus Satin Tintable Latex Interior Paint + Primer
Brighten Your Pathway
A softly lighted pathway adds safety and ambience to your walkway. Solar-powered ones are easy to install and maintain, require no additional wiring, add a variety of illumination, and are eco-friendly.
The classically designed Hampton Bay No Voltage Solar Landscape Path Lights are our best overall pick because they’re reliable and affordable, and the durable, weather-resistant metal withstands the changing seasons. Standing at 18.1 inches tall, they provide warm white light and turn off automatically when daylight arrives. They come in a set of 10.
Hampton Bay No Voltage Solar Landscape Path Lights
Secure Your Doorbell
Increasingly, burglars are becoming more sophisticated in evading home security cameras. Thus, homeowners are turning to security doorbells to see who might be lurking around their porch and pilfering packages. The latest generation of security doorbells not only can do this, even remotely, but also alert law enforcement if something’s not right.
Ring is one of the most well-known doorbell camera brands, with several tiers of monitoring systems. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro includes a super-clear 1080HD, motion-detection camera and infrared night vision. You can interact with the person on your doorstep, and it holds up to temperature extremes. Four included interchangeable faceplates help you match the device to your door’s design.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
Cool Your Rooms with Ceiling Fans
Whichever path you choose, the Hunter Channing ceiling fan is our top recommended option for a full-featured ceiling fan that looks great without costing a fortune. It includes LED light bulbs for the light fixture (some testers preferred to use brighter bulbs instead), and a remote to control the fan speed and dim the lights.
Hunter Channing LED Indoor Noble Bronze Ceiling Fan
Make Your Bathroom Sparkle
Bathroom makeovers can add thousands to your home’s value—and cost thousands of dollars. But upgrading your bathroom’s lighting costs far less, plus it adds new pizzazz to a frequently used area. Keep in mind that your bathroom’s fixture may require special lighting, but most bulbs fit in most sockets.
The GE LED Reveal Light Bulb, brings you clear, white light that emulates natural daylight and features great color contrast without yellow overtones. It uses only nine watts to provide 60 watts of power, and it lasts an estimated 13 years! Installing a dimmer switch enables you to lower the brightness at night or set the mood for a relaxing bath. (However, some users preferred a smoother transition.)
GE LED Reveal Light Bulb (60-watt Equivalent)
Swab That Deck
A deck or patio means pleasant evenings outdoors, grilling out or chilling out in the balminess of summer. It also means needing to remove the built-up grime accumulated over time. A pressure washer makes this chore easier, plugging into your water supply with a garden hose and boosting its power with a gas- or electric-powered motor.
One of the best pressure washers we tested is the Simpson Cleaning MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer. The device is so powerful, it makes quick work of washing away all sorts of grime but requires care when hosing down delicate surfaces such as old wood or siding. She also appreciated that while loud, this pressure washer isn't nearly as noisy as some other gas models.
Simpson Cleaning MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer Powered by Honda
Walk to a Trimmer Lawn
Newfound cash may mean you can keep your lawn shorter—and healthier—by swapping out your heavy, gas-powered lawn mower for a new machine that propels itself. These are the way to go especially if your landscape is hilly, or you don’t want to take the plunge into a riding mower. We researched and tested dozens of the top options, evaluating maneuverability, value, noise level, and safety features.
Experts at The Spruce personally love the EGO Power+ Self-Propelled Electric Lawn Mower, which just comes over our $500 benchmark. It stands out for its adjustable speed, battery life, and ability to tackle tall, tough grass. You can adjust it to suit your height, cutting height, and speed, and fold it down for easy storage when you’re through.