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50 cheap ways to upgrade your home you'll wish you knew about sooner

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I’ve been doing small weekend projects on my house lately and they have transformed the place. I haven’t spent much time or money, but it’s easier to cook in my kitchen, my stairs are no longer dangerous, there is less clutter, and my once-crappy shower is suddenly amazing. I don’t have the money or patience at the moment for tearing out walls or upgrading appliances, but these little improvements have had a huge impact. And along the way, I discovered 50 cheap ways to upgrade your home you'll wish you knew about sooner.

Lighting is one of the first things I tackled and I’m super pleased with the results. I love it when the laundry room light turns on when I enter, since my hands are full carrying laundry baskets, and turns off again when I leave. It’s more convenient and it saves power. So I installed lights in my closets and on the stairs that do the same thing. I also found a quick and easy way to declutter my bathroom, installed an incredible shower head, and found a permanent home for my electric toothbrush. Each of these fixes took less than 10 minutes yet the results please me every day.

There are dozens like this and none of them cost much money or take much time. Check them out.

1. This draft stopper that keeps out bugs & noise

When noise and bugs come into your house because there’s a gap under the door, heat and air conditioning are getting out the same way. For an easy fix, just peel and stick this insulated and soundproofed silicone weather stripping to the bottom of the door to close up that gap. You cut it to fit with scissors, so installation just takes a few minutes.

2. This smart protection from cats that scratch furniture

These clear, sticky sheets cover up the parts of your furniture the cat enjoys sinking claws into and makes them slick, impenetrable, and no fun to scratch. They are easy to install. Just cut the sheets to size, stick them on, and secure them with the included furniture tacks. You will hardly notice they are there but the cat will stop scratching that spot.

3. This clear wall protector that cleans up easily

If you have a spot that tends to get dirty, like near a trash can, where people tend to kick off their shoes, or behind a workspace, this clear wall covering is a quick and simple solution. Cut it to fit your space and it sticks on firmly and wipes clean. Forever more that spot will clean up easily.

4. These covers that catch hair before it goes down the drain

Drop one of these five hair-catching drain covers over your drain and it will let water through but stop hair and less fluid items that clog pipes. When it gets full or unsightly, pick it up, wipe it clean, and put it back. The cute colors look pretty in the shower and they are large enough — with a diameter over 5 inches — to cover most drains.

5. These sockets for easy motion-triggered lighting

How great would it be if the garage light — or the laundry room, basement, or closet lights — only came on when you entered the room and turned off again when you left? This light socket that screws in like a bulb will convert any light to a motion-triggered — no rewiring required. Just screw it into the bulb socket and screw your bulb into it. You can even set how long it stays on after you leave the room.

6. These clear covers that protect floors from chair legs

Do your chairs and small tables make a loud scraping sound every time you move them? Pull these clear, silicone leg covers over the bottom of each chair leg and the soft fabric on the bottom will stop the noise and protect your floors from scratches. There are 32 covers, which is probably enough to do all the furniture in your house.

7. The weird cloth that fixes water marks in wood

Not every scratch, water mark, or marker scrawl is a death knell for your fine wood furniture. In fact, most of them can be wiped away easily with this water mark remover cloth. Just rub the cloth gently in the direction of the grain, and the water marks, clouding, latex paint, and most permanent marker will come right off like magic.

8. A vacuum attachment that does dryer maintenance

Every time you dry a load, your clothes and towels leave lint behind in the dryer. You remove some of it when you clean the lint trap but, over time, what isn’t trapped accumulates in hard-to-reach places in the dryer and its vents. This vacuum cleaner attachment gets deep into the dryer and vents to clean them thoroughly, which can save money on repairs, make your dryer run more efficiently, and prevent fires.

9. This beautiful set of solar-powered string lights

Hang these solar-powered string lights in a tree, on a patio, or anywhere your outdoor décor could use some illumination. The charging station pulls power from the sun all day so the lights come on automatically at dusk. You can choose from eight lighting modes for constant, flashing, twinkling, or fading light.

10. The motion-sensing strip lights you can stick anywhere

It’s super easy to add lighting to places that need it with these stick-on strip lights that are battery-operated. Peel and stick them right where you need light in your dark closet, under the cabinets, or along the edge of a dark flight of stairs. You set them to turn on automatically when they sense motion or by touching the on switch.

11. This pack of portable, motion-sensing lights

These stick-on lights are so versatile you will want to stick them everywhere — under the kitchen cabinets, in the closet, in a scary corner of the attic, in the bathroom, and on the stairs. They cling magnetically to a mount that sticks to your surface so you can pull them off anytime you want a portable light or to recharge them. An easy three-way switch determines if they are on, off, or motion-sensing.

12. An outlet extender & shelf for a convenient charging station

If you have a plethora of gadgets, you need a charging station in the kitchen, bedroom, and office these days. And this outlet extender with a built-in shelf turns any outlet into one. With three USB ports, six standard outlets, and a roomy shelf with a lip, you can set a phone or tablet on it to charge, store your electric toothbrush on it, and much more. The surge protection will keep all your gear safe from power spikes.

13. This shelf that puts your gadget near an outlet

Now, if all you need is a convenient shelf, check out this slightly different pick. Your new Amazon Echo, Google Home, or electric toothbrush (and many other things) all have one need in common: a surface that’s near an outlet. You don’t have to rearrange the furniture to achieve this. Just replace the outlet cover with this one that has a shelf on top. It even has a channel to run the cords through so everything looks tidy.

14. These chubby twist ties that are so useful

Once you have a few of these rubber-coated twist ties in the house, you will wonder how you survived without them. They are a quick way to tie up your charging cords and wired earbuds, they hold a plant stem to a stake, keep your chopsticks together, and much more. Once you start using them, you’ll be modding things with them, hacking solutions, and ordering more.

15. The cord organizers that solve so many wire hassles

This three-pack of cable organizers will turn your bedside table cable chaos into an orderly solution and your in-car cable hassles into something that makes sense. Just peel-and-stick the organizer to your desk, the back of your bedside table, the dash, or the kitchen wall, and snap cords into the slots. No more cord chasing.

16. This shower head that boosts pressure & pleasure

Switching out a boring shower head for this AquaStar hand-held model with six luxurious settings is the huge bathroom upgrade your daily ritual needs. There are six water modes so you can get a pulsing massage, heavy rain, a soothing mist, and more. And the anti-microbial and anti-clog jets keep the water pressure coming because they won’t clog up like the old one did.

17. These silicone oven rack protectors that prevent burns

If you tend to burn yourself getting cookies and other just-baked treats out of the oven, these silicone protectors will prevent that. They wrap around the edge of the oven rack and don’t get burning hot, so if do come in contact with the rack, you will be warned but not scorched. Just cut them to size and snap them on.

18. A buffalo plaid doormat for a classy entryway

Why not dress up your entryway with this Buffalo plaid outdoor rug that’s like a sweater for the house? You can put it under a doormat or use it alone to create a homey look that also helps to keep dirt out of the house. It comes in eight sizes and four colors so you can completely redecorate the porch or just add an accent rug.

19. The battery tester that saves you so much hassle

It is so irritating to load the remote — or the flashlights or kid toys — with batteries only discover it still doesn’t work because you used dead batteries. Keep this battery tester in your battery drawer and test the batteries before you use them. A quick glance at the dial will tell you how much power is left in just about any battery.

20. These sheets that dim bright electronic lights

Why does every device have a light that never goes out? When you are trying to sleep, they create a bright spot in the room that’s hard to ignore. But these dimming sheets tone those lights way down. Just cut them to fit over the light and they cling there, cutting the light output in half. You can still see if the devices are working and read the numbers on the clocks but the light isn’t as bright.

21. The stick-on bumpers that silence doors & drawers

If the sound of people slamming cupboards and drawers has you on edge, run through the house with this package of sound-dampening bumpers — there are 100 of them — and put a permanent end to it. Just stick them on where the door or drawer meets the frame when slammed, and the jelly-like button on them will soften the landing and stop the noise.

22. The shower head that gives the most decadent showers

There is something about the combination of a wide rain-like shower that covers your entire body and terrific water pressure (both delivered by this cunning shower head) that makes a shower feel so good. Installing it is a matter of unscrewing the old one and screwing in this one, which comes in six finishes and cleans itself — even if you have hard water. Seriously, just do it.

23. This little light that helps you get in the door

Life is too full of irritants and dangers to struggle at the front door trying to fit a key into a lock in the dark, especially when the solution is $10 and takes two minutes to install. Just stick this battery-powered light to the door above the lock and it will light up if it’s dark when you reach with your key, making that daily task much easier. It turns off when you get in the house, so the batteries last for ages.

24. A bidet attachment for a cleaner life

Having a bidet in your own bathroom is transformative. You can get thoroughly clean whenever you like with little effort, and many bidet owners prefer a simple machine, like this non-electric bidet attachment that uses the toilet’s water supply. This design is simple to install, hardly alters the toilet at all, and delivers a completely adjustable water stream that is instant and gets quite powerful. It is also self cleaning — just turn the dial to clean — and comes in four color options.

25. These flameless candles you can take outside

Feel free to decorate your porch or patio with this set of 12 flameless candles because they are battery-powered and water-resistant. They also make for terrific lighting for your bath, bedroom, or living room. Turn them on and off — or set a timer so they come on at the same time daily or go out after you are asleep — with the included remote control.

26. The oven liners that keep spills from wreaking havoc

Before you put that lasagna or casserole that’s likely to bubble over and spill onto the bottom of oven, put one of these two non-stick oven liners on the rack below to catch those spills. That way, you can just toss the food-safe, BPA-free liner into the dishwasher to clean up instead of scrubbing the oven. You can also set foods like kabobs and pizza on the liner when you grill to keep the grates clean.

27. A cable box to clean up that mess of wires

When you have a snarl of plugs, power strips, and cords creating an ugly — and dangerous to pets and small children — mess near your desk or entertainment center, this cable management box is the right tool to rein that in. Just drop it all in the box, run the cords out the back, and pop on the lid to keep out curious paws and hands.

28. The waffle-weave shower curtain for modern hotel vibes

This heavyweight waffle-weave shower curtain will make every shower in your bathroom feel like a stay in a luxury hotel. The weight of the heavy fabric keeps it from billowing all over you when the hot water runs, the long length looks clean and finished, and the metal grommets are easy to use and look sophisticated. Nearly 8,500 people give it five stars.

29. This mesh curtain that keeps bugs out of the house

Want to let some air into the house without inviting every bug that’s flying by to live with you? Hang this mesh screen door, and the breeze will come in without the bugs. You can also walk easily through this curtain, even with your hands full, and it will close behind you due to a panel of magnets down the center seam. Well over 40,000 people love this solution and give it five stars.

30. A coloring pen so you can restore the grout

If you have been struggling to get the grout in your tile floors or shower clean, it might be hopeless. Try this white grout pen instead. It colors right over the grey grout and turns it back into its original bright white to make your room look clean and fresh. Reviewers love the results and give this solution 6,600 five-star ratings.

31. These two wall dispensers for easy-to-access soap

For a tidy and convenient bathroom, mount these two soap dispensers right to the wall over the sink or in the shower and fill them with hand soap, body wash, shampoo, or conditioner. They come with adhesive for mounting, the lids lift up for filling with product, and a push on the front button dispenses product into your hand.

32. A small, plug-in air cleaner that reduces odors

This 7-inch tall plug-in air sanitizer is so easy and economical to use. Just plug it in. It requires no filters because it pulls air into a UV-C light bath to clean it, which reduces or eliminates smoke, bad smells, viruses, and bacteria in the air. Keep it in the kitchen to cut down the cooking smells or over the litter box to stop kitty stink.

33. These shelf liners that decorate & organize the fridge

Color code your fridge while hardening it against spills with this five-pack of shelf mats that slide in easily. They soften the landing for glass jars and produce, and they wipe up easily if something spills. They also work well in drawers and for lining cabinet shelves.

34. A set of shelves so everything you need is in the shower

Hang these two stainless steel shelves and a soap dish in the shower and have everything at hand and organized when you bathe. They are big enough to hold your entire personal care collection with room to spare and there are hooks to let facecloths and razors drip dry. They are easy to install with the include adhesive backed hooks.

35. The vacuum for everything from floors to counters

This clever stick vacuum converts easily from a floor vacuum to a dust buster, so you can use it to clean the floors, couch, stairs, and counters as you whip through the house. Pop off the swiveling floor head when you encounter a big spill or crumbs on the couch to use the precise capture nozzle. It weights only four pounds, so it won’t wear you out, and it plugs in so it won’t run out of power when you are on a roll.

36. These straps that keep the sheets on the mattress

Clip these BedBands to your sheets and loop the elastic band under the corner of the mattress, and those sheets will finally stay put. You can loosen the sliders for a deep mattress or pull them tight if you use a top sheet as a bottom sheet. Best part, though? Because of the clever way they are designed, you don’t have to lift the mattress to get them on.

37. A cooling bamboo blanket for sleeping in warm weather

If you tend to wake up fitfully all night to throw off blankets so you can cool down, this soft, cooling bamboo blanket can help you sleep through the night more comfortably. The bamboo is light and breathable so it doesn’t trap heat, but it feels heavy and comforting the way a blanket does. It comes in 10 colors and five sizes.

38. This contoured memory foam pillow your neck will love

This memory foam pillow is designed to support your neck while your head relaxes into the softness, which helps prevent and eliminate neck pain caused by pillows that are too high, too hard, or too soft. One side is higher than the other so you can turn it around for a perfect fit and the memory foam is soft but rebounds to offer head support.

39. A boot brush that stops dirt from getting indoors

Set this boot brush down outside your entry so that everyone coming in the house can clean their boots off before they track mud in. There are brushes on three sides so it’s easy to do, and the dirt falls through to the surface below. You can attach it to your porch or stand on the flip-out wing with one foot while you clean the other boot.

40. This big assortment of cedar closet fresheners

This handy mix of 10 cedar balls and 30 rings is everything you need to freshen the scent of your closet and drawers while keeping moths away. Toss a few balls into drawers and shoes and hang the rings from hangers and your closets will smell woodsy like cedar, which is a scent we humans love but that many bugs — especially the moths that eat fabrics — can’t stand.

41. A bamboo bath mat for dry feet & a modern look

Step out of the shower onto this rollable, bamboo bath mat and keep your wet feet from touching the slippery floors or carpet. It creates a clean, modern look in the bathroom and wipes clean instead of going into the wash like a fabric bath mat. Grippy pads on the bottom keep it from slipping.

42. This weird fix for your sagging mattress

If you have started to roll to the middle of the bed or wake up in a deep crevice when you sleep on your innerspring or latex mattress, this repair system will help you to get a good night’s sleep and extend the life of your mattress. Fit it underneath the sagging spot and it supports the mattress from below to stop the sag from happening.

43. An organizer for remote controls or office supplies

Set this cute little box down on the coffee table or your desk and use it to keep remotes tidy and within reach or to keep scissors and other office tools orderly on your desk. A divider in the center lets you stand things on end and still see what’s what.

44. This genius fix for holes in the walls

The brilliant packaging on this primer-enhanced spackle makes fixing wall holes something you can easily do with this alone. Squeeze some spackle onto the wall, use the putty-knife shaped butt end of the bottle to smooth it down, and sand it with the pad on the cap.

45. These self-watering bulbs so plants survive your vacation

Fill these watering bulbs and insert them into the soil of your potted plants before you go away — or if you can’t remember to water often — and they will keep your plants watered for up to two weeks. They feed water into the soil as it dries to give plants a steady diet of water.

46. A pair of curtains that protect you from sun & noise

It is surprising how much difference hanging these blackout curtains can make to your interior light, sound, and heat levels. They are a heavy, insulating fabric that blocks 95 percent of light so you can watch TV or sleep in a room with lots of sun and windows. The thickness also blocks sound and reduces the heat transfer of your windows to save on heating and air conditioning. They come in 10 colors and eight sizes.

47. This putty that stops the cat from breaking your stuff

If you have cats that knock lamps and vases off tables or you live in earthquake country, this museum putty will foil all efforts to break your decorative items. Just form it into a little ball and squish your lamps, statues, and other fragile décor onto it and it will help hold it in place. You can move items later, if you like, by twisting when you pick them up.

48. An attractive & functional way to store knives

Mount this attractive bamboo knife holder to the wall and stick your knives to it. They will be within easy reach when you cook and free up space on your counter or in a kitchen drawer. Magnets embedded in the bamboo hold your knives invisibly to the rack, giving your storage an elegant and minimalist look.

49. This expandable riser so you can see all the spices

This cute and smart bamboo spice organizer expands in width to fit your cupboards and makes it possible to read the labels of the spices in the back, as well as those in the front. It works well for medicines or cosmetics or any collection of small bottles.

50. The insect trap that looks like sci-fi décor

When you experience an invasion of fruit flies, gnats, or flies, you want an effective solution quickly. Katchy is here for you. The glowing light tempts the flying devils close, a fan encourages them to enter, and a sticky pad ends them. All you do is replace the pad when it’s full. No one will suspect that the device glowing on the counter has evil intentions toward bugs. But nearly 26,000 people give it five stars for how well it works.

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