Hello my friends! Our recent family room renovation has had me thinking lately…about the things that I’ve done in our house that have made the biggest difference. Some are little that only cost a few bucks. Some are bigger, but all are projects that I look at every time I walk by them and say “I’m so glad I did that.”

There are a lot of them, but these are my favorites. :)

This one is just “looks pretty” item but it was so easy and cheap! Last year I added some $10 hardware to the garage door to make it look more like a custom carriage door and less like the basic one that it is. I LOVE how it looks every time we pull up to our house:

diy carriage door hardware

It’s such a little thing but it makes me so happy. They’ve held up well too – no rusting at all. I’ve heard these kits went up in cost a bit but I believe they’re still under $30 – not too bad.

One that wasn’t so cheap but was still cheaper than paying someone were the DIY bookcases in our dining room. They are the first thing you see when you walk in our house and they make a BIG impact:

DIY built ins with kitchen cabinets

Our plan all along was to make this less of a dining room and more of a lounging space – but I’m playing with the idea of a larger table again. We’ll see. I’m SO proud of these built ins – not only because they’re pretty but because they are a perfect functional solution for us. The added serving ware storage is an extra bonus.

Another cheap and easy project that I am SO glad I did – adding some privacy to our bathroom window:

covering window for privacy privacy window

It took months before I stopped ducking when I walked by it at night, but now we’re used to it and I LOVE that it offers privacy but still lets the light in. And it was just a few bucks! I thought I not being able to see outside might bug me, but it doesn’t at all.

Of course a BIG one, the project that got me thinking about all of these – the removal of the wall between our family room and office. Oh that was a happy day!:

removing a wall

It’s come a long way since this photo but this shows where the walls were. From the very first day all I could think of was that it should have always been like this – and I knew it was the right decision. This project is the most expensive of all I’m mentioning here, but it’s nothing compared to the estimates we got to add on to the house. (And it was a whole lot less mess too.) You can follow along with the progress on this room here.

Years ago I wanted to brighten up our kitchen and I started by covering the black outdated tiles on our backsplash with white beadboard. It made a HUGE difference in this room:

beadboard backsplash

Yes, someday I will paint the cabinets, but in the meantime I can’t believe the difference it made in this space. All for less than $50 if I remember correctly. And yes, it’s held up incredibly well, I have no complaints! As long as it’s painted in a glossy white paint that you can wipe up easily there shouldn’t be any water or mess issues.

Another big project was our master closet storage that I created out of kitchen cabinets:

closet system with kitchen cabinets

Our closet was truly the thorn in my side for years and years – an utter disaster area and I was so fed up with it. I wanted more storage but wanted it to be closed storage – not just shelves that I knew we would clutter up like before. The cabinets have worked BRILLIANTLY. Ugh, why didn’t I do it earlier?? I still have plans to add shelves in the corners for even more storage. Again, the cost of the cabinets was way, way less than a custom closet system.

And finally, I know I mention it a lot but ripping the carpet off our stairs was one of the BEST things I’ve done, both for looks and functionally:

taking carpet off stairs

It is SO much easier to clean wood stairs than carpet! Just last week we had a drink spill down the steps and it was so easy just to wipe it up. All I do is vacuum them once every week (or two!) because we have three cats and a dog and you do see the fluff balls after awhile. Many have worried about how slippery the wood stairs are and I can tell you without a doubt that our carpeted stairs were more slippery than these. We each slid down the carpeted stairs a few times – it hasn’t happened once with the wood (knock on wood!!). This is just the case for our home, but I still think in general it’s easier to slip on that curved edge of carpet.

Because we had real wood under our carpet this project cost me less than $50 – I just needed some wood for the landing, stain and supplies. It was one of the cheapest projects but also one that was a lot of work. Pulling up the carpet and tack strips was no joke – but so worth it in the end!

There you go – my short list of the things that have made the biggest difference in our home, both in appearance and function. Function is HUGE for me – if it’s not going to work well for our family I’m not going to do it no matter how pretty it is.

Are there things you’ve done to your home that you think made a big difference? Things you want to do that you know you would love?