Simple But Significant Upgrades that Change the Look of Your Home

With a budget big or small, you can change the look of your home with simple but significant upgrades.

The more time you spend in your home, the more you realize what is and isn’t working for you. So, how can you improve not only the functionality of your home but the wow factor as well? Here are some upgrades to consider.

Simple But Significant Upgrades

Upgrades that Offer the Most Value

Whether or not you’re in your forever home or you’re thinking of relocating someday, some home improvements are more beneficial than others when it comes to increasing your home’s value. Typically, you’ll get the highest return on your investment (ROI) for the following upgrades:

  • Garage door replacement
  • Exterior siding upgrade (manufactured stone veneer, fiber cement, or vinyl siding)
  • Kitchen refresh (not necessarily a full-scale renovation)
  • Vinyl windows
  • Exterior door replacement 
  • Adding a deck

Other remodels or updates to consider also include the bathroom, but that can get pricey. However, you can pick and choose the most impactful elements in any project to get the update you want at a price you’re comfortable with.

Upgrades on a Budget

It can be overwhelming to know where to start when tackling home improvement projects. Even if you hire out some or all of the work, what do you prioritize? You can always consult with a realtor to see what’s trending in the market right now, which will help you know which direction to take when it comes to prepping your home for an eventual sale.

If you want to complete some upgrades so you can stay in your home longer and enjoy it more, consider consulting with a designer who can offer a fresh perspective on tapping into your home’s potential. 

For some budget upgrades, consider the following for your home:


You can change the look of ceilings, walls, floors, and even built-ins with a good can of paint. If you don't have the budget to replace your existing kitchen or bathroom cabinets, upgrade them with paint! It only takes a bit of prep work (cleaning, sanding, priming), but after a few days, you can have what feels like a whole new room.

With paint, you can increase the appearance of space by carrying wall colors onto the ceiling or floor. With no break in color, the eye travels more seamlessly throughout the room, making it feel more spacious. You can also bring in visual interest with color blocking, simple stripes, or a statement wall.  

Finish Work

Crown molding, baseboards and other finish work can bring luxury to any home. You can also add molding to cabinets to bring dimension to them, and make plain ones look more expensive. Trim comes in a variety of sizes, and you can purchase prefabricated panels for things like beadboard to make the work more streamlined.

Types of Trim to Consider

  • Apron - Trim that goes on the wall under window sill trim (aka stool).
  • Baseboard - Trim the runs at the base of the wall, where it meets the floor.
  • Base Cap - Trim that goes along the top edge of baseboard trim.
  • Ceiling Medallion - Typically a decorative trim that surrounds the base of a ceiling light or fan.
  • Crown - Trim that runs around the base of the ceiling, where it meets the wall.
  • Chair Rail - Trim on the wall that is placed where the back of a chair might otherwise hit a wall (it protects wallpaper and paint from being damaged by chairs).
  • Door/Window Trim - Known as side casing, side jamb, head casing, and head jamb, these pieces of trim frame a door or window.
  • Plinth Block - A piece of trim that is installed at the bottom of the side casing, where it would meet with baseboard trim.
  • Shoe Molding - Trim that covers the gap between baseboard trim and the floor.
  • Stool - Wood placed at the base of the window to create a window sill.
  • Wainscotting - This can be individual pieces of trim placed to create vertical lines on the lower portion of a wall, or it can be prefabricated panels of wood. 


New flooring can make a huge difference in how your home feels. Installing luxury vinyl plank (LVP) makes an upgrade easier than ever, so you don’t have to be intimidated by a lot of prep work. LVP is also a less expensive upgrade compared to hardwood or tile and doesn’t require specialty tools for installation.

Another simple upgrade that can make an impact is adding a stair runner. Whether you purchase a piece of carpet intended for that use or use a remnant piece, a stair runner is a welcome addition to any home. It can cover up imperfections in your stairs, or help preserve their life over time. You don’t even have to invest in fancy trim or tools to install a stair runner; a staple gun can get the job done just fine.


Holiday sales are the perfect way to save on new appliances. Better yet, look for floor models that are discounted any time of year. Kitchen appliances are one of the best ways to upgrade your kitchen, and they take little to no expertise to install (except maybe the dishwasher). 


If you’ve painted the bathroom and added new trim, next it might be time to upgrade the vanity or shower surround. Ditch dingy and go for light and airy instead. Consider adding a bigger mirror over your sink(s) to help bounce light around the room. The experts at Smitty’s Quality Glass also recommend a glass shower enclosure to make your bathroom feel bigger, which is a great way to showcase new or existing tile.


No matter what type of work you do in and around your home, show it off with lighting upgrades. A new fixture, such as a pendant over your stairs or can lights to brighten up the kitchen, doesn’t have to cost much. Likewise, outdoor lighting, including solar-powered pathway lights or soffit lights (under the roofline) can illuminate new siding, windows, or a fresh coat of paint on your home’s exterior. 

It’s common for first-time homebuyers to see nothing but flaws in a potential new home, but it’s important not to let cosmetic issues deter you from investing in your dream home! On the flip side, if a home needs to be gutted to have the floor plan you've always dreamed of, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a fixer-upper. For first-time home buyer advice, check out what Cadence suggests HERE.

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