A neighbor stepped into my kitchen recently and said, “This is why I’ve been hankering for color in my house!” (I’ll admit that I went full force with some red.) I did not point out that my lovely kitchen is a masterpiece of thrift more than of color — but cost-effectiveness is the element of its design that I’m most proud of. I have a high-end kitchen for what this neighbor paid for a single appliance. And it’s not just my kitchen. My whole house is a study in making impressive home upgrades using very little money. Some of it I repurposed or found thrifting, but much of it I got on Amazon and installed myself. And I’m now sharing that part of my secret: Here are 45 cheap, clever things that'll make your home way more impressive.
The colorful elements in my kitchen include some stick-on subway tile that was so easy to put up, and so inexpensive that I don’t tell people the details anymore. They just end up mad that they spent so much installing tile. But the thing that impresses people the most was even cheaper and easier than that. When I leave the house, I say, “Alexa, I’m going out,” and my artificially-intelligent assistant turns off all the lights, the coffee machine, the music, and any fans that are running. When I get home, I say, “It’s dark in here!” and she turns all the lights on, just the way I like it. All I needed for this bit of magic was an inexpensive Echo Dot and a few smart plugs.
Read on. I’m sure you’ll find a few clever ways to make your house more impressive. You only need to keep them a secret if you want.
1. These light stakes to add aesthetic twinkly lights to your yard
Adding those aesthetic Edison bulb string lights to your yard or patio is easy with this pack of 10-inch lawn stakes. The durable design holds each bulb upright, so you can stick them in your planters or string twinkly lights down your walkway. They have a low-profile design, plus they’re already put together and ready to hold your favorite twinkling bulbs.
2. These lights that transform your TV into a movie theater experience
Peel and stick these TV backlights to the back of your set and turn it into a lamp when it’s off, and a home theater when it’s turned on. Use the in-line controls or remote control to choose 10 levels of brightness and to select from 15 colors. It comes in three sizes to suit a monitor, large TV, or even a huge TV.
3. An oversized knife organizer designed for your kitchen drawer or countertop
This oversized knife organizer fits 16 knives neatly inside your kitchen drawer. It has an angled base, and it’s even long enough to store a few knives that are up to 16-inches long, including their handles. There’s also a spot for your knife sharpener. The best part about this bamboo storage setup is that it’s easy to pull out of your drawer and place it on your countertop. That way, you have all of your knives out and ready for meal prep.
4. This ice crusher for the best cold beverages
When it’s hot out, turn any tasty flavored syrup into a cold and refreshing ice cone simply but putting ice in this manual ice crusher and turning the easy-to-crank handle until your ice looks like snow. Then pour flavorings over it and cool down deliciously. Your cocktails will also benefit from shaved ice, tiny ice chunks, or whatever level of crushing you prefer.
5. The clever tiebacks that create elegant curtains
When you want the light or air to pour in, these eight clever, magnetic curtain tiebacks turn your open curtains into a decorative element and help them stay put. Just pull the curtain to the middle or side of the window, wrap the cord around it, and let the ends of the tieback snap together magnetically. They are super versatile and come in 10 color combinations.
6. These cabinet pulls for a dramatic kitchen upgrade
Ready to up-level your kitchen? You need not undertake a full-blown cabinet replacement, because changing the cabinet hardware can have a dramatic effect on the aesthetics of a kitchen — and it’s so easy to do. This 30-pack of elegant, minimalist cabinet pulls is available in black, nickel, or brass, creating a modern look while being super functional. It takes only minutes to unscrew your old ones and screw these in.
7. This chalkboard stick-on wallpaper that’s way less messy than paint
Instead of trying to paint on a flawlessly smooth chalkboard wall, apply this stick-on vinyl wallpaper. The matte finish not only looks like a chalkboard — you can actually draw and write on it with chalk. This odor-free wallpaper kit even comes with five chalks in different colors. Plus, this wall upgrade can even stick to glass or tiles.
8. This palm tree that looks surprisingly real
For quick greenery that will pass most casual inspections, this 12-inch tall artificial palm tree is perfect. There’s no need to water it, worry that it won’t get enough light, or know the first thing about growing a palm because it shows up in a white ceramic pot ready to make your space — even if it’s too dark to support life — homey, tropical, and welcoming.
9. The quick way to make your garage door look fancy
This set of magnetic door hardware for your garage door is like stick-on tromp-l’oeil. It looks like you have carriage-door style handles and hinges even though your garage is plain and you use a remote to open and close it. Super-strong neodymium magnets hold these four hinges and two handles to your metal door but they are easy to remove and leave no marks on the door. Presto, change-o.
10. This jumbo box of velvet coat hangers
Bring next-level order and tidiness to your closet by standardizing your hangers with this 50-pack of slender, velvet-flocked ones. The hook spins 360 degrees so you can’t hang your clothes in the wrong direction. The thin size — they are half the width of plastic hangers — means clothes take up less space, so you can fit more items. The notches and grippy texture keep clothes from sliding off.
11. A clever 3-tiered glass rimmer for craft cocktails
This three-tiered glass rimmer is the secret trick for easily making the best margarita and craft cocktails. Each labeled layer holds your necessary ingredients. One level is for salt, another for sugar, and the third level has a sponge that holds lime juice. It makes it easy to wet the rim and dip it in the spice you want.
12. The genius solution for a mess of power strips & wires
No one wants to look at a power strip and its inevitable snarl of wires and power bricks except the pets who want to chew it, and the children who might play with it. Tuck it all safely out of sight in this clean-looking white organizer box with a decorative wooden lid. There are slots to run the cords to their destinations and the tight-fitting lid becomes a useful surface.
13. A humidifier & essential oil infuser with so many options
Whether you want a small amount of mist for a few hours or lots of humidity all night long, this diffuser is there for you. Set it to run for one, three, or six hours at low or high. Or just pick the mist level and let it run until the 400ml tank runs dry and it conveniently shuts itself off. Add your own essential oils to invite a mood change. It comes in two colors.
14. This bamboo bathmat for a clean & minimalist vibe
Create a modern and minimalist vibe in your bathroom by using this bamboo bath mat instead of a rug. It’s easy to wipe clean, has grippy pads on the bottom so it stays put, and keeps your wet feet away from the slippery floor. Its elevated design allows airflow so that it dries quickly.
15. The fluffy hand towels that look super luxe
Choose a color — there are 15 to pick from — and adorn your bathroom with these fluffy, absorbent, cotton hand towels. They are large enough to be versatile and useful, pretty enough to set out on the counter or display on a shelf, and there are six of them so the look of your room will always be consistent.
16. An amazing high-pressure shower that feels like rain
If your shower currently disappoints, this rain-style showerhead will fix that. It improves water pressure, is easy to keep clean of hard-water deposits so pressure doesn’t diminish with time, and it douses you in a wide, powerful, rain-like shower that makes getting clean an absolute pleasure.
17. This touchless soap dispenser for easier washing
Get rid of the tiny dish soap bottles, bars of soap, and everything else that clutters up your sink area and replace it all with this elegant touchless soap dispenser. Instead of lifting a bottle or bar (so old-school) just wave your hand or dish sponge in front of the IR sensor and it releases the amount of soap you prefer — there are three settings — onto it. A transparent soap tank lets you know when it’s time to refill.
18. A pair of velvet pillow covers for a quick couch makeover
You can completely change the look of your couch or bed by recovering your throw pillows with these soft, velvet pillow covers that come in 10 colors and eight sizes. The hidden zipper matches the color of the fabric and you can use them to standardize mismatched throw pillows, create a fun color palette on the couch, or refresh worn or stained pillows. Almost 45,000 people give them a perfect five stars.
19. This folding leather tray for your keys, phone, or dice
This handsome leather tray snaps at the corners to create a rustic catch-all for your keys, wallet, glasses, and coins when you unload your pockets. It comes in several colors, including a blue velvet0lined brown leather that would make a great place for dice to land or to store jewelry or small office supplies.
20. A decorative organizer & charger for your electronics
This handy bamboo organizer and charger has a place for all your electronics, including your smartwatch and rechargeable earbuds. Put your own power brick inside, connect your phones and tablets with the five included short cables, and it becomes a neat place to store and recharge several tablets, phones, laptops, accessories, or whatever gear you have.
21. This wall-mounted storage shelf
Create decorative storage anywhere you have walls by mounting this two-tired, wall-mounted storage shelf and turning your clutter into artful displays. The metal frame makes it easy to install because you can see the mounting holes as you do it. The wooden shelves then fit into the frame to create plenty of storage.
22. A charcuterie board that has thought of everything
Turn your meat, cheese, nuts, and other delicious snacks into a catering-level spread with this big bamboo charcuterie board. There are two concave wells that are perfect for small items like nuts and berries that tend to roll away, recessed handles that make a full board easy to carry, and a hidden drawer underneath that houses all the cheese knives and spreaders you need.
23. This cream whipper & dispenser because life is short
Maybe you know how to make whipped cream with nothing more than cream, a bowl, and a whisk. But you will never do it again because you can just pour heavy cream, flavorings, and sweetener into this professional cream whipper and dispense it right into your beverage or onto your deserts. It comes with three plastic and three stainless nozzles that pipe different shapes.
24. A simple standing rack for all the coats and hats
Need a place to hang your hat — or coat and bag — when you walk in the door? This simple, wooden coat rack looks like a tree and assembles easily. It looks modern and minimal in an office or entry and has over 7,000 perfect five-star reviews. It’s even height adjustable so you can make it fit you or your kids. It comes in five finishes so you can use it as a design element that blends with or contrasts your interior colors.
25. The pre-seasoned cast-iron pan that’s like barbecuing
If you like your food with a crispy exterior and grill lines as if it just came off the BBQ, this pre-season cast-iron grill pan will let you have that, indoors, anytime you want. The cast iron can tolerate high heat and it holds that heat for a long time. The grill lines are designed to get those yummy crispy lines in your steak or chicken. It’s great for making grilled cheese, too.
26. This cocktail set with granite whisky stones & serving accessories
Not only does this whisky set make your cocktails taste better, but it also makes your drink presentation way nicer. It comes with classic Old Fashioned glasses, slate coasters, aesthetic recipe cards, and more. The granite whisky stones really make this kit stand out, and they even come with a pretty wooden tray to store them. Plus, all of your new cocktail supplies fit inside the included wooden box.
27. A slim toilet-paper dispensing cabinet that fits anywhere
This tall, slim cabinet looks perfect in a bathroom and brings much-needed storage to even the tightest corner. It’s just under six inches wide, but tall enough to hold cleaning supplies and rolls of toilet paper. A dispenser handles TP distribution and the flat top is a great place to set a plant, a phone, or wipes.
28. The toilet paper holder that has a shelf for your phone
Welcome to modern times, where going to the bathroom means taking an expensive phone out of a pocket so it doesn’t fall into the bowl — then discovering there’s nowhere dry to set it down. This toilet paper holder brings your bathroom into the information age with a flat shelf for your phone, complete with a safety lip, conveniently above the TP roll. It also installs easily; the back has an adhesive pad preinstalled.
29. This lamp with a built-in charging station
What two things does every desk or bedside table need? A light and a phone charger, right? And this lamp is both of those in an elegant package. The refined-looking lamp takes a standard bulb, and you simply touch the base to turn it on or off. It dims, too, by touch. There are two USB ports on the side as well.
30. A slick, mirrored digital alarm clock
Dress up your bedside table with this flashy mirror-finish alarm clock. The numbers are big and clear so you can see them from anywhere in the room and you can set the brightness to one of three levels. There are two USB charging ports on the side, the snooze button is big and easy to find, it comes in seven colors, and you can click off the display so it actually functions as a mirror.
31. These glass cookie jars to put all your treats on display
When you bake cookies, bring home a haul of candy, or even just have pretzels to store, these two glass jars with airtight lids are the perfect place to keep them. When you pull them out of the pantry, they already look like a display in a candy store. You can use them to store anything, even bathroom or craft supplies, and they require no labels because you can see what’s in them.
32. A set of kitchen utensils in a stainless steel holder
This complete set of kitchen utensils has everything you need to fry, saute, or bake and they come in a matching holder so everything will look great on your counter. There are spoons, turners, mashers, whisks, tongs, and more, all in stainless steel. Almost 9,000 people give the collection five stars.
33. This big, glass drink dispenser for parties or the fridge
Fill this big, glass, jar-style beverage dispenser with lemonade, iced tea, or infused water, and let everyone at the party or in the house fill their glass easily with a delicious beverage. Keep it in the fridge or set it out for a party. It holds one gallon and has a spigot in the front.
34. These Art Deco-Style house numbers with street appeal
Mount these big, five-inch-tall house numbers at the front door or on your mailbox so that visitors can find your address easily. The font is slender and simple and you can install them flush or use the included spacers to create a drop shadow effect. They are made from a durable zinc alloy, coated in glossy black, and come with templates that make installation super easy.
35. A complete set of edgy, matte flatware
Didn’t inherit your grandmother’s silver? Not to fret. This slick and modern stainless steel flatware set, finished in a matte black, is the comfortable, dishwasher-safe utensil set you want to eat from in these goth-leaning times, anyway. The handles are curved and comfortable. The pieces are edgy and balanced, and go beautifully with modern black stainless appliances or provide gorgeous contrast against white or colored dinnerware or linens.
36. A 12-pack of cotton & linen napkins
Ready to move beyond paper napkins? This 12-pack of colorful, cotton and linen napkins is reason enough. They come in 18 beautiful muted or bright colors and color combinations so you can create the tablescape you’ve always dreamed of. They are easy to launder, will get softer and more pleasant to use with each use, and will last for decades.
37. This knife set with a matching holder & cutting board
Set this slick set of knives on your counter and always have the perfect tool for the job right at hand. The five knives are stainless steel and come in a matching holder that not only matches them but also keeps them upright and separated and has a second holder for the (included) sharpener and sheers. The cutting board not only complements the set but has a built-in knife sharpener.
38. The easy subway tile that transforms a kitchen or bath
Instead of painting, tiling, or wallpapering the wall behind your sink, peel-and-stick this realistic-looking vinyl subway tile to the wall. The result will look like you spent money on tile but it takes very little time, a fraction of the cost, and there’s no messy remodel. The tiles are easy to clean, create a water barrier, and look terrific in any of the eight color choices.
39. This little device that does all your bidding
If you want your house to do more of the small daily tasks required of living in a home, you need the artificial intelligence that’s bundled into this tiny Echo Dot. Ask it to read aloud to you, play some music, do some math, turn on the lights, make the coffee, remind you where you left your keys, time the cookies, call your sister, and so many things. All it needs is Wi-Fi and a few minutes of setup and you’ll be fully living in the future.
40. This glass decanter that makes even budget whiskey look posh
If you buy those giant whiskey bottles at Costco or have found an economical source of wine in a box, this glass decanter will class up the serving part of your clever acquisition. It will beautiful on your bar or table, has an airtight, glass stopper to preserve your liquids, and makes pouring easy.
41. This set of large-capacity, glass coffee mugs
Want to be able to see your coffee as you sip? These capacious, 14-ounce glass coffee mugs are stylish and modern for when you want to see the brew you created. The handle is comfortable and doesn’t get hot. They’re made of borosilicate glass that can handle rapid temperature changes, so won’t crack when you pour even the steamiest coffee or tea inside.
42. This expanding bamboo drawer organizer
This bamboo drawer organizer is so versatile you can move it from drawer to drawer and it will change its size for each spot. The sides open outward — creating additional storage spots — for wide drawers and slide closed for narrower drawers. The water-resistant bamboo looks great, too, and is quieter than metal organizers.
43. A kitchen faucet with a pull-down sprayer
Your faucet is central to how well your kitchen functions, and there is no reason to struggle with a stationary, featureless model. The pull-down sprayer on this versatile faucet lets you pull the spout out of the mount to fill a pot that’s next to the sink, switch from spray to stream mode with the tap of a button, or pause the spray to avoid wetting the counter. It comes in nine gorgeous finishes.
44. This new Fire Stick & Alexa that will find your show
Tired of the endless scroll through streaming options while you hunt for something to watch? Hate typing into the irritating on-screen search box? The remote for this Fire TV Stick bypasses all of that by letting you press a button to ask Alexa to quickly find what you’re looking for. Installation is so simple — just plug the stick into your TV’s HDMI port and start watching everything from Amazon Prime Video to Netflix, to Hulu to YouTube.
45. A caddy that keeps all the water & soap in the sink
This clever sink caddy suctions to the inside of your sink to keep sponges and dish brushes where water and soap belong. There are lots of drain holes so everything stays dry and mildew-free, and the brush holder has a pop-out bottom to accommodate longer dish brushes. It looks stylish and reviewers love it, giving it close to 17,000 five-star ratings.
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