Black and White galley kitchen
Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez

15 Upgrades for Your Home That Are Super Easy and Cost Less Than $50

Small budget, big impact.
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Sometimes, small things can make a big difference. And, yes, this theory applies to home improvement projects. While we can always daydream about knocking out a wall, redoing a bathroom, and rethinking the kitchen layout, a major renovation is not always in the cards or budget. In moments where you need some change without calling a contractor, a quick and easy DIY project can do the trick. Sure, it's maybe not as good as the real thing but can it still improve your room and mood? Yes, yes, it can.

Here, our editors share 15 quick and easy home hacks that you can do in a weekend (or weeknight!) with products available on Amazon and Etsy. From adding picture lights above your artwork to wallpapering a kitchen and decorating the front stoop, we have ideas for every space that's calling for a quick upgrade, refresh, or "band-aid" renovation. In fact, many of these looks are so timeless that you'll want to keep them around for a while.

outdoor garden box

Decorative Outdoor Garden Box

BUY IT: $44.99,

Not loving your front entrance? Framing a door or space is a great way to distract from the eyesore without replacing it. These white-lattice planters ring in at under $50 each, and let's be honest: They look expensive. Fill with topiaries, palms, or in-season blooms to achieve your desired look. 

picture light

Wireless Picture Light

BUY IT: $28.99,

Picture lights are a designer's go-to for adding warmth and layers to a living or family room. While installing new wiring and investing in a high-quality fixture can add up, you can get a similar yet budget-friendly look by hanging a battery-operated model above a large frame or cluster of photos. One Southern Living editor has this one from Amazon in her living room, and can attest that it looks great and was easy to install. 


Grassweave Peel & Stick Wallpaper

BUY IT: $23.49,

Paint is an upgrade we can always get behind but you know what's even better? Peel and stick wallpaper. Adding a textured backdrop to a space—like a kitchen backsplash, powder room, even the back of a shelving unit—is a quick and easy way to elevate whatever you touch. We love grassweave as it's a textured neutral material that feels Southern and timeless. 

floor tile

Self-Adhesive Black-and-White Tile

BUY IT: $14.49,

Classic black-and-white floors are something you've seen in kitchens, bathrooms, and diners your whole life. And there's a reason why they work. They are easy to clean, have a modern feel, and make a statement without making too much of a statement. If you're looking to cover some ugly floors or add a pattern below, we say throw it back and recreate the look at home. These peel and stick floors are affordable and easy to install—and if you tire of them after a while, you can always peel them right up. 

bistro lights

Smart Outdoor String Lights

BUY IT: $29.99,

There's something about twinkly lights that makes restaurants and patios feel chic and sophisticated. Recreate that feeling at home with a set of lights you can control on your phone. It'll upgrade your outdoor dining area with the touch of a button. 


Velvet Curtains

BUY IT: $48.02 (orig. $159.98),

Want a room to feel layered, done, and beautiful? Hang drapes! These velvet ones from Amazon look expensive—seriously, one Southern Living owns them and the quality is insane. But no matter the color, model, or fabric you choose, the secret is in how you hang them. Instead of hanging the rod at the top of the window, hang it as high as possible in the room (like up to the crown molding!). This will make the ceilings feel higher. Don't trust us? Just look up any Nancy Meyers movie and see how her curtains are hung. 

led lights

Mini LED Lights

BUY IT: $34.98 (orig. $49.99),

Don't underestimate the power of these tiny, plastic lights. They are an affordable alternative to expensive recess lighting and can be utilized in cabinet shelving and small spaces (say under your kitchen shelves) to highlight styled shelving and elevate anywhere it shines. 

Credit: AMAZON

Magnetic Decorative Garage Door Accents

BUY IT: $14.34 (orig. $19.99);

Garage doors can be surprising expensive. That's why, if you're looking for a quick and easy upgrade, this under-$20 toolkit can be your best friend. Simply attach these magnetic metal hooks and accent pieces as instructed, and you'll have an elegant barn door in minutes. 

wall stencil

Triple Yew Pattern Wall Stencil

BUY IT: $33.99,

Feeling crafty? This upgrade requires some level of artistry but with patience and a stencil, it can be done. This template allows you to paint a maximalist print to any area of your home in any color of your choosing. You can even use paint you have leftover from another project to make this project even more affordable. 

wall sconce

Brushed Gold Wall Sconce

BUY IT: $39.99,

Many think wall scones are a luxury, and they are. But they're also an attainable luxury that can be DIY-ed with simple yet high-class fixtures. This brushed gold wall sconce from Amazon is guaranteed to give you a lot of bang for your buck, no matter where you decide to hang it. P.S. These look great in twos!

vintage prints

Minimalist Flower Drawing (Set of Four)

BUY IT: $7.13 (orig. $11.88),

Collecting art for a home is a hobby that can be fun and fulfilling—yet expensive too. While we always encourage you to invest in pieces that you'll have forever and shop at estate sales and markets for new-to-you treasures, there are also times when you simply need "filler" pieces to create a vignette or fill a room. In such cases, investing in a set of inexpensive yet cohesive print pairings can be just the solution—for now or forever. 


Colorful Throw Pillows

BUY IT: $32.50 (orig. $38),

Throw pillows are not forever pieces, but that's OK. We are all about upgrading a seat or sofa with a new pillow just for fun. It's a great opportunity to try a new color in a room or add a dose of seasonality to the space. We especially love the contrast piping on this colorful set from Amazon. 

door mat

Greek Key Natural Hand Woven Natural Coir Doormat

BUY IT: $22.99 (orig. $28.99),

Simple yet impactful, a new doormat is an upgrade that can often be underrated. We're not sure why, though. It's the first thing you see when you walk into your home so why not make a good impression!

Credit: AMAZON

Bamboo Roman Shades

BUY IT: Starting at $45.10,

Bamboo Roman shades are a favorite of Southern Living editors for our living rooms, bathrooms, home offices, you name it. Why? They're both functional and pretty, adding a layer of shade and a neutral texture to any space. This model comes highly recommended from Amazon and is available in a variety of colors and sizes that can be customized to your space. 

Credit: AMAZON

Traditional Runner

BUY IT: $48.58;

Make your kitchen feel lived-in and loved by adding an Oriental-style runner to the space. It's an affordable purchase that adds a lot of look, as evidenced in this photo. Pro tip: Measure to the length of the cabinet as the longer the runner, the bigger the room will feel.