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The 5 smallest home upgrades with the biggest impact

Every house project or renovation doesn’t have to be a complete transformation. Sure, we’d all love to have a remodel that lands in the pages of, say, a prestigious design magazine. But there are a lot of ways you can make big and noticeable improvements to your home without knocking a wall down or a huge cash outlay. What's that saying? The best gifts come in the smallest packages? This can be true when it comes to housing upgrades as well. Sure, an entirely new kitchen would be wonderful, but you might not have the time, the money, or the energy for a full revamp.

Here are five small changes that can make a big difference in aesthetic and monetary value.

Address the kitchen.

Today is not the day for a full kitchen remodel. The more realistic option for the vast majority of us involves a few choice upgrades. Let's start with the cabinets. A new paint job—make sure you take off the handles (consider getting new ones, too), fill any dents with wood filler, and sand first—can transform the space, at a fraction of the cost of new custom cabinets. 

After you’ve upgraded your cabinets, it’s time to think about what’s under them. A new faucet—something brass, perhaps?—can spruce up the kitchen. As can some new countertops. Marble, quartz, butcher block—it all comes down to how much regular maintenance you want and what kind of cook you are.

Rethink the shower.

It sounds simple and obvious, but the key here is a new shower head, one that creates a powerful stream of water that caresses the skin like a warm spring rainstorm. This quick-and-cheap project—think less than $50 and 15 minutes of your time—will pay dividends for years. 

Standing in your shower, luxuriating in the splendor of your new shower head dialed to the perfect temperature, and notice that the grout is discolored? Well, there's a (fairly easy) fix for that situation. A grout pen eliminates the need to replace grout, making a shower look and feel new with minimal effort.

Read more: Home improvements that can increase value

A room with a view.

While window film may sound strange—no, it’s not the plastic stuff college kids put on their windows to save on heating bills—installing some changes the complexion and privacy of a room. Especially if you have a ground floor apartment or a house on a busy street. There are plenty of options, from simple privacy frosting that keeps passing eyes out but lets natural light in to patterns that mimic stained glass. The added layer may help reduce electricity bills as well because the film can help a room maintain its temperature (without the shoddiness and temporary nature of the aforementioned bachelor pad). 

Think outside.

Curb appeal is real. A pleasing and welcoming view from the street will increase a house's value and make returning home every day a bit more pleasant. You want to be the nicest house on the block, right? But improving curb appeal doesn't need to be a large project. Start small. 

Adding a series of exterior lights to the front walk is a simple move that positively influences look and safety. Take an afternoon to plant some flowers—we suggest low-maintenance perennials—or buy and fill a planter. A little effort, a little color and a lot of reward.

A paint touch-up.

Depending on the size and location of your home, repainting the entire exterior can be a big-ticket item, right up there with the dreaded cost of a new roof. That's not an option when it comes to a small upgrade. But touching up wear and tear on the existing paint job is something that can be handled with a little effort and a ladder—and makes a big, noticeable difference. 

Before you start the touch up job, however, rent a power washer and start spraying. By removing dirt and mold from the side of the house, as well as any sidewalks, patios, or other adjacent areas, you'll extend the life of the surface while also improving how it looks. That’s the kind of low effort, big impact project we can get behind.

These five changes are the refresh you need to love your home even more.

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