12 Before-and-After Home Remodeling Ideas

Modern interior design living room
Jacek Kadaj / Getty Images

Wouldn't you love to freshen up your home? Even if you're happy with your home, invariably there will be an area that you feel needs a little more love. That kitchen island you ambitiously installed is never used anymore. The dining room feels messy. Or every time you walk past that imposing brick fireplace, it is always so there

Often, the best home remodeling ideas are easy to do and inexpensive. Paint, new fixtures, and thoughtful re-organization figure heavily into many of these ideas. A few dollars for a self-installed thermostat saves hundreds in the long run. Brick and cabinets can be painted. Or you can spend a bit more for a pantry unit that wraps around your refrigerator or for an all-out bathroom makeover with a frameless glass shower and a drop-in bathtub. 

  • 01 of 24

    Before: Half-Sized Closet

    Small Bedroom Closet
    Ramshackle Glam

    Most of us want to have a larger bedroom closet. One problem is that apparently, closets are boxed in on all three sides with walls. Walls cannot be moved. Or can they?

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  • 02 of 24

    After: Double-Sized Closet

    Enlarged Bedroom Closet
    Ramshackle Glam

    This homeowner studied her closet and realized that it, like many closets in bedrooms that share a wall with another bedroom, is essentially one closet.

    A single non-load-bearing divider wall cuts the large closet in half and turns it into two smaller closets, half serving one bedroom and the other half for the bedroom on the other side of the wall. By taking down that middle wall, she instantly doubled her closet space.

    Double-the-Size Closet Makeover from Ramshackle Glam

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  • 03 of 24

    Before: Neglected Kitchen Island

    Kitchen Remodel With Island Before
    Murray Lampert

    If no one is interested in using your home's kitchen island, it might be because the island is not interesting.

    Except for being a place to drop the mail and set down groceries, this kitchen island had no redeeming qualities, nothing to draw people to it. On top of it all, the dark kitchen cabinets and pendant lights made this outdated kitchen feel gloomy. San Diego builder and designer Murray Lampert was tasked with turning this kitchen around and making it a showpiece.

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  • 04 of 24

    After: Lively Sit-Down Breakfast Bar

    Kitchen Remodel with Breakfast Bar After
    Murray Lampert

    With the kitchen island converted to a sitting/eating breakfast bar, guests have a reason to congregate in the kitchen. An added countertop overhang allows guests to sit closer to the bar.

    The cook's needs, too, are addressed with a sink installed in the kitchen island. Dated pendant lights have been stripped away in favor of unobtrusive recessed lights. And clean lines are preserved with the counter-depth side-by-side refrigerator.

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  • 05 of 24

    Before: Energy-Wasting Thermostat

    Old Analog Thermostat
    Influx Productions/Getty Images

    Old-school dial thermostats such as the classic Honeywell Round do have a certain vintage appeal. They're also simple to use and to understand.

    But looks count for nothing when it comes to saving money. Manual thermostats are notorious energy- and money-wasters because they rely on you to physically adjust the temperature. If you've ever forgotten to turn down the thermostat before heading out to work or for a long day trip, you'll know what it's like to have your HVAC system expensively pump heated air into an unused home.

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  • 06 of 24

    After: Smart Programmable Thermostat

    Programmable Thermostat
    Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

    If you're looking for a quick remodel idea that you can accomplish in less than an hour, install a programmable thermostat.

    These digital smart thermostats can be programmed to turn your heating or cooling system on or off at specific times throughout the day and night. Most have a holiday mode, which allows you to reduce the need for the HVAC system during long periods of absence. 

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  • 07 of 24

    Before: Unappealing Accent Wall

    Red Living Room Before Makeover
    Driven By Decor

    This living room had so many issues that design blogger Kris barely knew where to start. The lurid red felt imposing and the ceiling seemed too low. Everything was disorganized and in need of a serious update. Nothing about the living room felt special or unique. It was just blah, but a lurid blah that had to go.

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  • 08 of 24

    After: Crisp, Organized Accent Wall

    Crisp and Modern Living Room Makeover After
    Driven By Decor

    Two important remodeling ideas are at play in this living room. First, the owner imposed clean, grid-like lines on the accent wall, so that everything works off of straight horizontals and verticals. The grid implies order and organization.

    Second, by painting over that red wall color to match the ceiling color, the eye is now encouraged to view the room as higher than it really is. Eliminating these horizon lines is a surefire way to promote height visuals. The light is a Ganador 9-Light Shaded Chandelier.

    Family Room Reorganization from Driven by Decor

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  • 09 of 24

    Before: Storage Opportunities Wasted

    Fridge Without Storage
    Eating Bird Food

    That lonesome refrigerator is good for keeping food cold, and that's about it. But it sucks up a lot of floor space, plus there is plenty of room above and to the side that could be used for storage.

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  • 10 of 24

    After: Fridge With Integrated Pantry

    Fridge and Pantry
    Eating Bird Food

    The brilliant solution for space-wasting refrigerators is to install pantry units to the side and above the fridge. This expanded storage wraps around the fridge and produces a clean, integrated look. Slide-out pantry shelves aid in reaching food items since refrigerator pantries tend to be very deep.

    By wrapping cabinets and pantries around the fridge, the appliance melts away—far less noticeable than if it were a freestanding unit.

    Fridge Wrapped in Pantry From Eating Bird Food

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  • 11 of 24

    Before: Kitchen Wall Cabinets

    Kitchen Wall Cabinets
    The DIY Playbook

    It's a familiar look in so many kitchens: wall cabinets hanging over the work surface.

    Wall cabinets definitely have great utility. Items are right there, within arm's reach. And wall cabinets' doors hide items that are less than attractive.

    Yet wall cabinets can loom over your work area, casting a shadow and generally creating a ponderous look.

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  • 12 of 24

    After: Open Shelving

    Kitchen Open Shelves
    The DIY Playbook

    Open shelving replaces the former wall cabinets in this kitchen. Open shelves clear the kitchen of that dark, heavy look and make everything feel lighter and brighter.

    The owner cautions that it's a move to be made with great thought, though. Be sure that you already have storage in place for items that will lose their home. Whatever ends up on the open shelves will be in full display to anyone who walks by.

    Another idea is simply to thin out much of the unused, unloved junk from the wall cabinets, reducing the need for alternate storage.

    Kitchen Open Shelving From The DIY Playbook

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  • 13 of 24

    Before: Dated Brickwork

    Fireplace Peach Eradication Makeover Before
    House of Hepworths

    Should you paint brick or not? What makes this such a lively debate is that once you paint brick, it is largely irreversible. Removing paint from brick and restoring it to its original condition is nearly impossible.

    But what about when you have brick so dated and unattractive that you can't even stand looking at it? For this homeowner, that was the case. Plus, the sheer size of the fireplace only made things worse.

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  • 14 of 24

    After: Fresh Brick Paint Job

    Fireplace Peach Eradication Makeover After
    House of Hepworths

    Painting brick does not have to be difficult. This owner admits that she barely did any prep work, and she confined her painting to anything that could be rolled out. The result is a fresh-looking fireplace that is easy on the eyes. By choosing a light color, she was able to diminish the massive look of the fireplace.

    Painted White Fireplace From House of the Hepworths

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  • 15 of 24

    Before: Tired Bathroom Nook

    Bathroom Nook Before
    Bigger Than the Three of Us

    For small bathrooms and powder rooms, a bathroom nook arrangement is inevitable. Tight walls and limited floor space dictate that the bathroom vanity and mirror should be wedged into this space, if only because this is the only space available.

    In this bathroom, the yellow wall was garish and dirty, and the cabinets were chipped. Due to the size of the bathroom, this nook could never be enlarged. Still, it needed some decorative help.

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  • 16 of 24

    After: Inspired Bathroom Nook

    Bathroom Nook After
    Bigger Than the Three of Us

    It doesn't cost a bundle or take much time to refurbish your bathroom nook. For less than you might spend for a nice evening out, you can paint the bathroom cabinets, install new hardware, paint the walls, replace the vanity light, and put in a new rug, along with other pretty decor.

    Bathroom Nook Remodel From Bigger Than the Three of Us

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  • 17 of 24

    Before: Neglected Patio

    Patio Remodel Before
    Pretty Prudent

    If you ever gaze longingly at your shabby patio and wish that it were different, you are not alone.

    Patios are central gathering points. They bring friends and family together in the great outdoors for barbecues, drinks, dog dates, or whatever your heart desires. But when the patio is far from beautiful and overrun with neglected plants, no one wants to be there. 

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  • 18 of 24

    After: Remodeled Patio

    Patio Remodel After
    Pretty Prudent

    Lay down new concrete pavers to define a sharp, new patio area and add a portable firepit as a focal point. Above all, pruning back overgrown foliage is the lowest cost method of sprucing up your patio. 

    Patio Remodel From Pretty Prudent

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  • 19 of 24

    Before: Random Dining Room

    Dining Room Makeover Before
    Sugar and Cloth

    It's always best when your dining room has a cohesive design plan. But for this owner, the dining room felt random, with lots of mismatched furniture that reminded her of college dorm rooms. 

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  • 20 of 24

    After: Dining Room Makeover

    Dining Room Makeover After
    Sugar and Cloth

    With this stunning dining room makeover, the color scheme ties together so that everything now works in harmony. Pieces have been specially chosen for the new space, from the inexpensive molded plastic chairs to the mid-century modern sideboard.

    Just one item from before remains: the bar cart.

    What really makes this refurbished dining room work, though, is the introduction of a focal point: the statement chandelier

    Dining Room Makeover From Sugar and Cloth

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  • 21 of 24

    Before: Cramped Bathing Area

    Deco Bathroom Makeover Before
    Homebody in Motion

    What worked in the past doesn't necessarily work today. The bathtub planted within a truly cramped alcove, plus the lack of a shower, made using this bathroom a dreary affair. The vintage tile only further dragged down this look of this bathroom.

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  • 22 of 24

    After: Drop-In Tub and Frameless Shower

    Deco Bathroom Makeover After
    Homebody in Motion

    The owner opened up this bathroom, making it airier and more open, by removing the alcove bathtub and ripping out the claustrophobic alcove. Then she installed a drop-in bathtub.

    To cater to today's needs, she also added a frameless glass shower. Frameless glass enclosures make bathrooms feel larger and less imposing.

    Vintage Bathroom Remodel From Homebody in Motion

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  • 23 of 24

    Before: Old Kitchen Cabinets

    Kitchen Cabinets Before Painting
    Place of My Taste

    Shaker-style cabinets are a classic staple of so many kitchens. Maybe it was a little too classic and ordinary. This owner loved them for many years until she felt it was time for a change.

    Given the high cost of kitchen cabinets, removal and replacement were out of the question. Even two low-cost solutions, ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets and cabinet refacing, can be out of reach for many homeowners' budgets. But there is one solution that is very inexpensive.

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  • 24 of 24

    After: Painted Kitchen Cabinets

    Painted Kitchen Cabinets
    Place of My Taste

    When you need a rapid style change and money is an issue, painting your kitchen cabinets is nearly always the best way to go.

    Painting leaves structurally sound cabinets in place and is considered eco-friendly since it reduces items sent to the landfill to zero. Avoid using the type of standard interior acrylic-latex paint that you might use on walls. Instead, pick a cabinet paint that gives you long-lasting durability. 

    Painted Kitchen Cabinets From Place of My Taste

  • What is the difference between remodeling and an update?

    Remodeling a house might include taking down a wall or changing the layout of a kitchen, while an update could be as simple as painting or replacing the light fixtures for a more modern look.

  • When do you need a permit to remodel your home?

    During a home remodel, you will need a permit, for instance, if you will be moving or adding additional plumbing or electricity or removing or relocating walls. Check with a contractor or your local building department if doing a large remodel project.

  • What home remodels increase resale value the most?

    Remodeling the kitchens and bathrooms brings in the highest resale value when selling your home.