8 Designer-Recommended Home Updates Under $2,000

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Yes, it’s spring cleaning season, but freshening up your space isn’t just about washing windows or deep cleaning your grout. Nor does it mean a kitchen renovation totaling tens of thousands of dollars. If you’re looking to update your home – inside or out – while staying on a budget, we’re here to help. We asked design experts to share their favorite home improvement projects under $2,000. Here are their suggestions.

Get your closet in order. Make cleaning your closet a priority, says Michelle Gage, a designer in Pennsylvania. First, reduce: throw away anything you no longer see yourself using. Donate old sheets 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,” says Gage. She loves the Container Store’s Elfa closet system. And if you want to take it up a notch, Gage suggests installing wallpaper in the closet. For even more spice, consider painting the ceiling and adding an original light fixture.

Properly display your TV. According to New York designer Eneia White, installing flat-screen TVs and running cables behind walls can improve the look of any room. “A clean approach to displaying your TVs contributes to a visually organized space,” she says. And the process is relatively simple: buy a TV mount and a routing kit for the wires, then hire an installer to make sure the wires run properly 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 mudroom, foyer, or garage — helps your home make a great first impression, says New Jersey-based designer Beth Diana Smith. First, tackle storage by stocking up on bins, baskets, an umbrella stand, and hooks to store 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 entryway because it’s a small space and can easily be changed when the mood takes you,” she says.

Update your lampshades. While your lamps may be working 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 dull they can get over time, and updating a lamp with a shade in a new shape or material makes it feel like a whole new decor,” he says. It’s best to upgrade all shades in a room at once, choosing similar shapes that complement the shape of each lamp base. “Use the same fabric so they have the same light quality,” says Andrews. “You should also use the same wattage bulbs in all lamps.”

Makeover an outdated kitchen. Flex your DIY muscles and change up your kitchen without breaking the bank, says Rashida Banks, a DC-based design influencer. “The quickest and most cost-effective upgrade you can undertake is to paint your cabinets,” she says, noting that a water-based alkyd paint is best, given that it dries. hard and adheres well to the surface. Using a paint sprayer, which you can probably rent from a hardware store, allows for a smoother application. Not sure which shade to go with? “Right now, creamy, earthy whites, muted greens, blacks and blues are trending paint colors,” Banks says.

Economic integrated. Another simple DIY is to install faux built-in bookcases to house all your favorite reads or other decorative items. “Beginner 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 a few wood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) bookcases, along with trim, caulking, primer, and paint.

“After assembling the bookcases, attach them to the wall. You may want to build a simple platform base and place the shelves on it, depending on the height of your plinths,” says Gebru. “Then attach the trim along the face frames and edges using a nail gun or hammer and finish nails. Use wood putty and putty to fill nail holes and gaps, respectively, to create a seamless look, and finish with primer and shellac paint.

How to Paint a Bookcase Like a Pro

Rethink your doors. Megan Hopp, a designer from Alexandria, Va., says spring is the perfect time to replace tired doors. “If you have a standard size door frame – whether single or double – upgrading to a classic French door or a modern glass option can allow you to see out and in, in a whole new way,” she says. Hopp hired a professional 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 a do-it-yourselfer, she says, and have a helper, you might be able to tackle this upgrade without professional help.

Don’t neglect outdoor spaces. “One of the most transformative things I’ve done was power wash my patio, my fences, and the exterior of my house,” says Erin Gates, a designer in Massachusetts. Whether you rent a pressure washer or hire someone, the results are worth it, says Gates. “It makes everything look fresh and sets the tone for any extra landscaping or decorating work you do in anticipation of spring.”

Assessing your outdoor furniture and replacing anything that has seen better days is also key this time of year, says Clara Jung, a designer in Berkeley, California. “Maybe your string lights need replacing, or the outdoor rug needs a deep cleaning, or your outdoor sofa cushions need washing,” she says. “As spring approaches, it’s a great way to spend some time outdoors while putting some finishing touches on your home.”

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

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

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