8 Designer Recommended Home Updates for Under $2,000

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Yes, it’s spring cleaning season, but freshening up your space isn’t limited to washing windows or deep cleaning your grout. It doesn’t have to mean a kitchen renovation costing tens of thousands of euros. If you’re looking to update your home – indoors or out – while staying on a budget, we’re here to help. We asked design experts to share their favorite home improvement projects for under $2,000. Here are their suggestions.

Bring order into your closet. Make decluttering your closet a priority, says Michelle Gage, a designer in Pennsylvania. Cut down first: Throw away everything you no longer use. Donate old bedding to an animal shelter. Then, “invest in some good baskets and organization—perhaps a semi-custom modular closet system—to make sure every little item has its place,” says Gage. She likes the Elfa cupboard system from Container Store. And if you want to take it up a notch, Gage recommends installing wallpaper in the closet. For even more pizzazz, consider painting the ceiling and adding an eye-catching light fixture.

Display your TV correctly. Adding flat-screen TVs and running the cables behind the walls can upgrade the look of any room, says New York-based designer Eneia White. “A clean approach to presenting your TVs helps create a visually organized space,” she says. And the process is relatively simple: buy a TV mount and cable management package, and hire an installer to make sure the cables are properly routed behind the wall.

To add drama and sophistication to a room, try painting the ceiling

Focus on the entrance. An organized and stylish entryway—whether it’s a bathroom, foyer, or garage—helps your home make a strong first impression, says New Jersey-based designer Beth Diana Smith. Tackle storage first by stocking up on trash cans, baskets, an umbrella stand and hooks for corral coats, bags and other items. “Then add paint or wallpaper, new carpets, decor and art, and new lighting for a new look,” says Smith. “The possibilities here are relatively endless and can be really fun.” And don’t be afraid to incorporate color. “I always recommend being braver at the entrance as it’s a small space and can easily be changed if the mood strikes,” she says.

Update your lampshades. While your lamps will work well, they’re probably more than three to five years old, and the shades have probably seen better days, says Los Angeles-based designer Jeff Andrews. “We don’t realize how dirty and dingy they can get over time, and when a lamp is updated with a shade in a new shape or material, it feels like a whole new piece of decor,” he says. It’s best to upgrade all the shades in a room at once and choose similar shapes that complement the shape of each lamp base. “Use the same fabric so they have the same quality of light,” says Andrews. “You should also use the same wattage bulbs in all lamps.”

Refresh an outdated kitchen. Flex your DIY muscles and transform your kitchen without breaking the bank, says Rashida Banks, a DC-based design influencer. “The quickest, least expensive upgrade anyone can tackle is painting their cabinets,” she says, noting that a water-based alkyd paint is best because it dries hard and adheres well to the surface. Using a paint sprayer, which you can likely rent from a hardware store, will ensure the smoothest application. Not sure what shade to match? “Right now, creamy, earthy whites, greens, blacks, and muted blues are trending colors,” says Banks.

Budget-friendly internals. Another easy DIY is installing faux built-in bookshelves to house all your favorite reading or other decorative items. “Novice DIYers could tackle this project at a great price, especially if they go the Ikea hack route,” says Dominique Gebru, a DC based design influencer. She suggests buying some wood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) bookcases, along with trim, caulk, primer, and paint.

“After assembling the bookshelves, attach them to the wall. Depending on how tall your baseboards are, you might want to construct a simple platform base and place the shelves on top of that before you set them up,” says Gebru. “Then secure the fairing along the face frames and edges using a nailer or hammer and finishing nails. Use wood filler and caulk to fill in nail holes or gaps for a seamless look and finish with a shellac-based primer and paint.”

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Rethink your doors. Megan Hoppe, a designer in Alexandria, Virginia says spring is a great time to replace tired doors. “If you have a standard-size door frame—be it single or double—upgrading to a classic French door or a modern glass option can give you a whole new way of looking outside and inside,” she says. Hopp hired a professional for this task, which involved removing the paneling or paneling and the old door, then hanging the new door and replacing the paneling. If you’re skilled, she says, and have a helper, you might be able to tackle this upgrade without a professional.

Don’t overlook the outside areas. “One of the most transformative things I’ve ever done was pressure washing my deck, fences, and the exterior of my home,” says Erin Gates, a designer from Massachusetts. Whether you rent a pressure washer or hire someone, the results will be more than worth it, Gates says. “It keeps everything looking brand new and sets the tone for any additional landscaping or decorating work you do in preparation for spring.”

Also, evaluating your patio furniture and swapping out anything that has seen better days is crucial at this time of year, says Clara Jung, a designer in Berkeley, California. “Maybe your string lights need replacing, or your outdoor carpet needs a deep cleaning, or your outdoor sofa cushions need a wash,” she says. “As spring weather approaches, this is a great way to spend some time outdoors while adding the finishing touches to your home.”

Another quick and easy outdoor update is to add some eye-catching planters with lots of greenery. “Nicely made stone planters are a smart investment for any garden,” says Marika Meyer, a designer in Bethesda, Md. And while the prices for the containers and plants can run the gamut, it’s definitely worth making an investment if possible, she adds. “Think of these items as something you will keep for years, and the best pieces will stand the test of time – and the weather – and pay dividends in the long run.”

Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and stylist based in New York. Find her on Instagram: @sarahlyon9.

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