40 Home Upgrades Under $40 That Look Like They Cost Way More Than They Do

Major impact, minor cost.

by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 
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When you look around your home and your wishlist of upgrades and remodeling projects exceeds even the most generous of budgets, it’s time to get creative. Put down the glossy magazines and turn, instead, to the incredible breadth of Amazon. You can have that upgrade. Your home can be beautiful, functional, and hip. And you don’t have to wait until the year 2072 when you have finally skipped enough drive-through coffee to afford it. You can do it now.

There are lighting fixtures, kitchen updates, storage ideas, and bathroom remodels you can have right now. They aren’t expensive and they don’t require you to spend every weekend wearing overalls, watching how-to videos, and wielding power tools. Many are so easy you don’t have to do much more than plug them in or turn them on. Some are so transformative you will wonder how you lived without them. Not only do these 40 home upgrades under $40 look like they cost way more than they do, but they are also easy and quick. Read on and live your dreams today.


These unique solar lights that illuminate your path or driveway

These unique, decorative solar pathway lights will bring charming illumination to your garden and they are super easy to install. Just assemble them, turn them on, and stick them into the soil. They look pretty during the day, while they soak up the sun, and throw patterned light onto your paths and garden after dark. This is a pack of 10.


These LED lights that fix your difficult lighting problems

A dark closet that lacks wiring or kitchen workspaces that are poorly lit can be difficult lighting problems to solve, but these three LED lights are a simple and elegant solution. Stick them in the closet and under cabinets in the kitchen and use the remote to set the brightness and how long they stay on. Then tap the lens to turn them on. Since they draw very little power, the batteries last a long time.


A pair of pendant lights that illuminate while adding style

Hang these two pendant lights over a table or counter to create better task lighting while adding an industrial or farmhouse vibe to the room. Since they plug in, they don’t require any expensive wiring. The geometric metal shades are the perfect frame for Edison bulbs and the 15-foot cord makes it easy to hang them and still reach an outlet. The switch is placed five feet from the plug so you can mount it to a wall.


A ceramic utensil holder for decorative storage

One of the best cooking hacks of all time is to put all the most useful utensils into a crock and set it next to the stove so you can grab the one you want with minimum movement. It’s much easier than digging in drawers, and it’s also decorative — especially if you use this ceramic utensil holder. It is functional, easy to clean, beautiful, and fairly priced.


These chic linen drapes that filter light & add privacy

There’s no need for a high-priced window treatment. These linen blend, light-filtering drapes will dress your windows stylishly while bringing privacy to your room. The big, bronze metal rings at the top create interest and the elegant, semi-sheer fabric drapes beautifully, allowing light in while keeping prying eyes from seeing in. There are lots of options for color and size.


A shoe organizer that creates order at your entryway

If you have a messy pile of shoes crowding your entry, install this shoe organizer to get them off the floor and organized. It works just as well in the closet. The six roomy compartments will hold everything from flip-flops to boots, and it has big handles on the side so you can easily pull it out.


This elegant lighted address plaque so your house is easy to find

Make sure the people delivering to your house can see the house number, even when it’s dark, by installing this solar-powered, lighted address plaque. The big letters, clean font, and illumination will make life easier for hard-working delivery people and guests, and once it’s mounted, it turns itself on and off. It soaks up the sun during the day, turns on at dusk, and runs till it’s out of power.


An outdoor fire pit to make your yard a gathering place

Create a campground atmosphere right in your backyard with this steel outdoor fire pit. At 22 inches in diameter, it’s sized just right to be the center of your marshmallow roast and scary story nights without eating up too much acreage. There is a grate in the bottom so your fires burn on, and a mesh cover to stop the sparks from spraying.


These magnetic garage door windows that dress up your house

Stick these magnetic garage door windows to your garage door and instantly boost your curb appeal. You won’t be able to see through those windows. They are modern trompe l’oeil art (an illusion) that makes it look like you have windows. But it works and you don’t have to wash them.

“My husband put these on in 10 minutes,” said one reviewer. “He can’t get over how real they look. He’s still shaking his head.”


This fluffy, faux fur rug that feels delicious underfoot

Set this fluffy and soft faux fur rug down next to the bed so your feet are treated to a moment of delightful softness when you get up. The bottom is a slip-resistant suede so it won’t slide out from under you. It comes in a wide range of colors and sizes, and unlike real fur, you can put it in the washer and dryer.


This high-quality kitchen knife at a price you can’t beat

A good knife is an important investment, and can often be a huge one. But this stainless steel Santoku knife is sharp, forged from a single piece of high-carbon German stainless steel, and is lightweight, balanced, and precise. At this price, it’s a real find — and it even comes with a knife sharpener to keep that edge honed, plus an edge guard to protect it when stored in a drawer.


A coat rack that looks like a piece of modern sculpture

Hang this multi-hook coat rack on the wall and then decide if it’s there for form or function. The “sticks” are hinged and flip down so you can hang a hat or jacket on them. Yet when nothing is hanging on it, it looks like a piece of sculptural art. Choose from seven colors.

“It looks artsy and cool on the wall but voila! pull down one of the 5 pegs and it is a handy hook,” said one reviewer. “I use it in my bathroom for hand towels and washcloths when needed, otherwise it is artful decoration!”


This wine rack for an on-hand wine cellar

Bring your wine collection out and put it on display with this trellis-style tabletop wine rack that has that sommelier feel. Holding five bottles of wine (it’s also available in an eight-bottle version), this rack gives your entertainment space a rustic, we-have-a-wine-cellar look. No assembly is required, and reviewers say it’s “well balanced” and “perfect for small spaces”.


A set of silky luxury sheets for a quick bedroom makeover

Change the mood in your bedroom by adding some silky softness to your sleep. This complete set of bed sheets is woven from a super soft microfiber and infused with aloe vera to help make your skin softer. They’re fabricated to be resistant to wrinkling and fading, and they are machine-washable in cold water and can be tumble-dried. Reviewers say they “seriously haven’t been able to shut up about these sheets” and that the “deep pockets are a winner”.


A lightweight ladder shelf for tasteful, easy-to-access storage

Get the clutter off your desk, bathroom vanity, or bedside table with this four-tier ladder shelf with mesh metal shelves. It’s light and super easy to assemble. It’s an ideal home for your houseplants because air moves through the shelves. And with a footprint of just under 23 inches by 14 inches, it creates a lot of storage in a small space.


A big rainfall shower head that’s a massive bathroom upgrade

Do you start every day by getting into a weak, unsatisfying shower? Are you aware that it is easy and affordable to fix that? Unscrew that inadequate shower head and screw in this huge rainfall shower head instead. A clever air intake system softens the water and boosts the water pressure by injecting it with air. And the 8-inch head absolutely douses you in that soft and powerful stream of water for a morning shower that will thrill.


These floating shelves that are actually wall art

This set of floating cube shelves is interesting enough — in a minimalist, architectural way — to hang on your wall as art, even with nothing on them. But the real fun is in turning ordinary objects into decor by choosing and setting them in the four intersecting cubes. They come in five colors and reviewers are big fans.

“I love that these shelves are unique and artistic, a nice way to display smaller treasures,” said one.


The bidet attachment that transforms the bathroom into a luxury experience

It takes only a few minutes to install this warm water bidet under the seat of your toilet, yet it will make your bathroom luxurious in the process — and you might measure life in “before” and “after” the bidet. Every time you go, you can wash your nether parts to a spiffy clean that is impossible to achieve with toilet paper. Just turn the dial for a warm shower directed squarely at the target.

“Being this clean is AMAZING!” said one reviewer. “It is a life-changing experience.”


A cushy dog bed that creates a comfy corner for the pup

The cozy, raised sides of this rectangle dog bed give your dog or cat a safe place to relax without getting fur on the couch. The shape also makes it easy to fit into a corner to create a cute pet nook. The faux fur interior and sueded microfiber exterior look great and are super comfy for your pet. It comes in four sizes and is machine washable.


These seagrass placemats that bring understated elegance to the table

Every meal you eat from these rectangular woven placemats will feel as if you are enjoying it with cherry blossoms and a tropical ocean breeze just outside your window. Rendered from seagrass with a wire frame, they protect your table from heat, create a clean place for your plate and flatware, and elevate your meals.


A shiny new faucet with a pull-down sprayer

Changing the faucet is a startlingly impactful kitchen update that costs very little money — and this kitchen faucet with a pull-down sprayer is the one to improve the look and function of your most-used kitchen area. A push of a button switches the water from an aerated stream to a powerful spray, and the spout swivels 360 degrees so you can reach the whole sink. There is even a pause button to stop the water one-handed.


These retro garden lamps for charming outdoor lighting

Set these solar outdoor lamps on your patio table, hang them from the umbrella, or hook the handle over a hanger stake to light your outdoor spaces with zero effort and maximum charm. The crackle glass and aged look create an antique mood and throw dispersed lighting ,yet they are impervious to weather. They turn on at dark and glow until they run out of solar juice.


This decorative file holder for a cleaner desk

If you have files and documents scattered on your desk, this triangle desk organizer will hold them upright so you can access them in an artful and orderly way. It’s a nice way to store magazines or catalogs on the coffee table, too. It comes in six colors and has an art deco style that looks great in most every space.


This set of plush bath towels that ties your bathroom together

There comes a moment in every adult life when your towels start to look (and feel) threadbare and tired. When that happens, upgrade with this eight-piece, all-cotton plush towel set. There are 10 neutral and jewel color tones to choose from. Each set includes two bath towels, two hand towels, and four washcloths, so your bathroom will look gorgeous and coordinated — and your wallet will be happy.


The litter box that looks elegant & keeps litter trapped

If you have a cat, you need a litter box. Make it this decorative one that keeps the litter and smells inside. Your cat climbs in through the top and the height of the box and grooved lid stops litter from escaping when she does. It’s easy to clean. Just lift off the lid.

“It has an elegant design and looks so much nicer in my house than a normal ugly litter box,” said one reviewer. “The cover to this litter box works so much better at getting the litter off my cat’s paws than a rug or mat, and my floors are so much cleaner.”


A weather station that lets you know what it’s like outside at a glance

With an indoor sensor and an outdoor sensor that wirelessly feeds it data, this little weather station will keep you in the know about rain, wind, and snow. The colorful screen tells you the humidity, atmospheric pressure, and much more. And the atomic clock keeps terrific time and has a built-in alarm clock. You can plug it in or it operates on batteries so it also works for travel.


A nice marble mortar & pestle for freshly ground herbs & seeds

Sometimes the fastest, easiest, and most aromatic way to grind up herbs and spices is with a mortar and pestle set. Faster than a blender and easier to clean, this gorgeous marble set is small enough to keep handy and pretty enough to store right on the counter to create an alchemist’s lair vibe in the kitchen. The slightly rough interior makes quick work of grinding or muddling.


A rustic plant pot to give your greenery a chic home

Plants make a place feel lived in and healthy, in no small part because having plants helps create fresher indoor air. Give your plants a happy and decorative home to put down roots by putting them in this rustic plant pot with an ombre pattern on the exterior and a metallic bronze finish in the interior. There is a drainage hole in the bottom so those roots stay healthy — and the price point keeps your bank account healthy, too.


This pizza cutter for a pro-cut pizza every time

This 14-inch rocker-style pizza cutter will slice all your pie-cutting woes to shreds. Just set the long, curved blade on that fresh-baked goodness and press down while rocking the blade gently back and forth. The sharp, stainless steel blade will cut straight through your toppings and crust without dragging cheese and meat with it. It comes with a blade cover to keep it safe in your drawer.


The expandable garden hose that won’t kink

When you turn the water on, this expandable garden hose gets three times longer than when it is stored. That means that uncoiling and carrying it is easier. Storing it is easier. And it’s a lot lighter than your standard rubber hose. This super flexible hose also won’t get all kinked up when you just want to water the roses.

“Love the easy filling, strength, [and] maneuverability,” said one reviewer. “Stores in a flowerpot, no more reeling in a hose that kinks every time. My shoulders thank me!”


A set of geometric floating shelves for fun & decorative storage

Decorate a wall by turning your miniatures, toys, or small plants into decorative displays with these three geometric floating shelves made from wire and wood. They are easy to mount because the hanging hardware is exposed and part of the structure and will hold a vase, plant, clock, or candle for a fun display.

“They bring cuteness and touch of decor without being too overwhelming or bulky,” said one reviewer.


This projector & sound machine that brings the galaxy to your space

Turn off the lights and turn on this galaxy projector to create an otherworldly mood in your room. It throws galaxies and auroras — there are 16 effects and 12 levels of brightness — that simulate the arctic sky onto the ceiling so you can sleep under the stars. Turn on its sound machine and choose from the eight sounds to complete the immersive dream experience.


A 3-tiered planter stand with owl pots to bring art to your greenery

If your plants are currently sitting on a window sill, slip them into this three-tiered planter stand and pots that look like owls. It’s a quick way to turn them into a dimensional display that lets all your plants feel the sun. The pots fit into the bamboo stand perfectly, and they are ideal for succulents or other small plants.

“I have them in my kitchen window and they make me smile every time I see them,” said one reviewer. “I have tiny succulents in them and they are thriving.”


The bamboo lazy Suzan for more accessible storage

Set this 13-inch bamboo lazy Susan on the counter next to your stove so your spices and oils are easier to access. Put one in a cupboard so canned goods don’t get lost in the back. Or use it to serve charcuterie so everyone can reach their favorite morsels. The bamboo is attractive and versatile and it’s easy to clean.


A wall-mounted storage center for bathroom supplies

If the clutter on your bathroom vanity is making the morning routine a challenge, get it all up onto the wall in this toothbrush holder station with lots of storage space. It holds seven toothbrushes with the brush heads protected from dust, dispenses toothpaste, and has four drinking cups magnetically clinging to the bottom. There are also two drawers that are ideal for small grooming tools, and a top shelf for toiletries, combs, and brushes.


This set of 10 matching frames that creates a personalized gallery wall

Print out your favorite photos, cut up a photo book, or choose some favorite pieces drawn by your child and put them in this set of 10 picture frames — in assorted sizes — to create a gallery wall. Your walls will be pretty and interesting and your home will reflect who you are. The glass fronts let your images show through and you can choose from four frame colors. Plus, the 10 you get in this set cost less than one big frame in many stores.


A peel-&-stick mosaic backsplash for a quick kitchen update

You will be thrilled at the transformation in your kitchen if you use this peel-and-stick backsplash to add some color and an easier-to-clean surface to the walls behind your counters. It’s easy to do and the results punch way above the cost. All you need is a pair of scissors and a little time to transform your kitchen or bath.

“Most people think I put in expensive ... tiles,” said one reviewer. “Perfect until I can afford a full kitchen remodel.”


A wall organizer to streamline your mail, keys, & entryway

When you can’t find your keys, there is clutter in the kitchen, and the bills are in disarray, there is an easy solution and it starts with this wall-mounted entryway organizer. Mount it to the wall and, when you walk in the door, hang your keys, hoodie, and hat on the six hooks, and put the mail in the wire basket. Your clutter will be contained, you’ll know where your keys are, and the bills won’t get lost. It looks pretty, too.


The storage ottoman that neatly hides all the clutter

When you collapse into the couch, put your feet up, and wonder where all the clutter went is the moment you will realize that this storage ottoman was a smart living room upgrade. Inside it are all the toys, game controllers, blankets, and other detritus that was, yesterday, making the room messy. Not today! Unfold it, fill it, and the clutter is gone from sight but right there at your feet if you need it.


A wall-mounted rack that creates more space in the kitchen

Hang this pot and pan rail to the wall and quickly improve the usability of your kitchen by getting your most-used tools out of the crowded cupboards and within reach. Pans drip dry when stored on it so you even save a step when cleaning up. It’s a strategy that works well for utensils, too. This rack is 29 inches long and comes with 15 hooks.

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