Weird but genius home upgrades that are getting wildly popular now

Possibly strange, definitely useful.

by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 

Upgrading your home doesn’t always mean hiring a contractor, tearing out walls, living without water, or moving all your furniture. Sometimes the simplest upgrades are the best. And, home improvements don’t always mean taking out a loan or charging up your credit card at the hardware store, either. There are updates that can make a huge impact on the livability of a space and cost very little. They can be done whether you rent or own, are handy or aren’t, if you have lots of free time for this sort of endeavor or almost none. That’s the kind of home-improvement formula that gets people excited, sharing their big reveals on social media, and showing off to their friends. And that’s why these 45 weird but genius home upgrades are getting wildly popular right now.

Whether you want to focus on making a kitchen that cooks easier, a home that has less clutter, or cultivating creature comforts throughout the house so you look forward to going home, there’s something for you here. There are tricks for decorating with very little time, hassle, or money. And there are some genius hacks for making everyday tasks easier, faster, and more fun.

Make the best of the house you have with one of these popular (for good reason) ideas.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

1. An easy doorbell that lets you choose your own ringtone

It’s so easy to install this wireless doorbell that you can do it in just a few minutes. Just stick the bell where visitors will encounter it and plug the receiver in wherever you want to hear the bell ring. You can choose from 50 ringtones and four volume settings. It comes in five colors and you can even add a second bell or receiver if you like.

2. This framed cork board for a decorative message center

Create a pleasant decorative message center or update your home office with a place to post ideas, reminders, and memories by hanging this framed cork board in a central area or over your desk. The dense cork grabs pushpins firmly. The frame and cork are available in white or black. And it comes in two sizes.

3. This backlight that turns your TV into a home theater

Plug this backlight strip into a USB port on your TV or monitor and peel-and-stick it to the back. When you turn the TV on, it will throw light at the wall behind it creating brilliant theater lighting. It reduces the contrast, which makes viewing easier on your eyes, improves the image on the screen, and will probably impress guests, too. The in-line controls let you easily set how bright you want it to be.

4. A cocktail shaker for better mixed drinks at home

Add this stainless steel cocktail shaker set to your bar and upgrade the level of drinks you make at home. It comes with a jigger and has a built-in strainer so you can shake (or stir up) perfect martinis, mojitos, and more. It holds 24 ounces and includes an ebook full of recipes and mixology tips to get your party started.

5. A room freshener that makes all the bad odors smell like oranges

This room freshener is a quick and easy way to transform bad smells in your bathroom, pet area, closet, or car from whatever malodorous scent is offending you to the smell of oranges, lemongrass, clove, and tea tree. It uses essential oils to eliminate the smells — not just cover them up. “Turns your bathroom into an orange grove,” says one of the five-star reviews. “No chemical smells, nothing weird, just oranges.”

6. This memory foam cushion to improve any seat

When your desk chair is too hard, the car ride leaves your legs numb, or sitting is painful no matter where you put your tush, this memory foam seat cushion will soften the seat, elevate your tailbone so it never meets a hard surface, and helps make sitting easier on your nerves and bones. The ergonomic shape, as well as the gel memory foam with a cooling top layer, makes any chair more comfortable.

7. These metal & wood shelves for storage that’s decorative

Turn any piece of wall into a decorative storage display with these easy to mount, rustic wood and metal shelves. You can see the mounting holes when you put them up so they’re very easy to install — even if you aren’t so handy — and you can choose from seven shapes in combinations of wood and metal to create exactly the display you need to store plants, dishes, collectibles, or even spices or cosmetics.

8. A 6-port charging dock for all your gadgets

Everyone needs to charge a phone or tablet in this connected world we live in, so why not solve for all the devices that are likely to come in the house by setting up this six-port charging station somewhere convenient. With adjustable slots so your devices stand on end, an indicator light that tells you when each device is charged, and seven charging cables that fit it perfectly, it is a complete solution in a small footprint.

9. The marble peel-&-stick paper that will transform anything

If the coffee table, desk, or dining table are looking worn, or you’re hoping to class up a thrift-store find, this glossy peel-and-stick paper that looks like marble is an easy way to do it. It’s easy to apply, adds an easy-to-clean surface to everything from furniture to counters to vanities and walls, and got over 23,000 five-star reviews from people who loved the results.

10. A charging station for your phone & accessories

Take off your Everyday Carry and store it on this four-in-one charging station at night. That way all will be charged and ready to go in the morning and you won’t lose any of the parts. It charges any phone capable of wireless charging and holds — and charges — your Apple Watch, Pencil, and AirPods at the same time, all from one outlet.

11. This cup holder for when you want to drink from the couch

What would you do without cup holders in the car? Wouldn’t it be great to bring that same, within-reach convenience to the couch instead of being stuck holding your beer or searching for a distant coffee table to set it on? This is that cup holder. The silicone arms hang down and grip the couch or armchair arms, while the cup holder keeps everything from your beer to your coffee steady and handy. A removable adapter makes it smaller or larger, and a cutout allows for a mug handle.

12. This clever tool that makes bedmaking easier

Making the bed can be annoyingly difficult if you have to lift a heavy mattress to get the bottom sheet or bed skirt on. This weird and clever mattress lifting tool makes it so much easier. Just use the handle to push the spade end under the mattress near the corner, and it lifts the mattress up and holds it there till you get the sheet on. Then just move it to the next corner until the bed is made.

13. A wall-mounted dispenser for rice, grains, or even laundry soap

If you go through a lot of rice or another grain, or you love the idea of a streamlined laundry day, this wall-mounted dispenser is the way to go. Fill the two bins with your granules of choice and dispense it into the cups simply by pressing against the lever. It mounts to the wall with an included adhesive strip and comes with two rice cups.

14. These bamboo dividers that keep drawers tidy

Toppled T-shirts and underwear that spills over into your sock section will be a thing of the past once you pop these 100% bamboo drawer dividers into your wardrobe. They fit in drawers that are 17 to 22 inches deep and help keep your clothes neat and organized. Available in three colors, these neutral dividers will look nice in your drawer, and rubber padding on the ends help stop them from damaging your furniture.

15. An exfoliating in-shower towel for softer skin

Quickly and pleasantly treat your entire body with this big, exfoliating towel. It’s long enough to scrub your back and feet, dries quickly, and creates an amazing amount of lather. Keeping your skin exfoliated helps prevent breakouts, ingrown hairs, and rough skin, and this towel makes keeping up with that helpful self-care easy and pleasant.

16. A water bottle organizer that looks so good

Whether you have a bunch of reusable water bottles in your cabinet that are always toppling over or giant bottles of sports drinks in your fridge that take up a ton of space, this water bottle organizer will keep them compact, stored vertically, and easy to grab. The durable, clean BPA-free plastic is easy to clean, and these organizers can even be stacked on top of each other if you have a ton of bottles you need to store.

17. A mini dehumidifier for your closet or bathroom

Set this little dehumidifier in your closet, storage chest, in a cabinet, or anywhere that you want to keep dry, and it will pull the moisture out of the air and store it in the silica gel inside it. When the indicator on the front tells you it’s full, plug it in to dry it again. You can keep using it indefinitely.

18. This 12-pack of magnetic cord organizers

It’s so easy to organize cables, close the bread bag, mark a page in a cookbook, and many other things with these magnetic twist ties. Just wrap them around whatever you want to rein in, and snap closed with the magnets built into each end. They are useful all over the house and this 12-pack comes in a variety of colors.

19. The cabinet-mounted jar opener that can handle any lid

Forget digging around in drawers for a tool that might work — mount this clever jar opener to the underside of a handy cabinet and, when you encounter a hard-to-open jar, just push it into the triangular opening until it meets the metal teeth, and turn. It doesn’t matter what size the lid is, this opener will get it off with a whole lot less struggle from you.

20. An automatic bottle opener that makes popping beers a no-strain endeavor

This bottle opener makes getting the top off a beer or soda super fast and easy. Just press it onto the top and the cap pops right off without bending. The opener appears to work like magic, but there’s actually an efficient spring-loaded grabber inside that tube. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to forego wrist strain, and those who collect the caps to the craft beers they’ve sampled.

21. These clips that install a pour spout into your snack bags

Instead of using a bag clip that only closes the bag, try these clips that install a pour spout into the bag too, so that dispensing snacks or cereal is easier. These three colorful clips have a built-in pour spout with a lid so that your goodies stay fresh, and you can neatly pour straight from the bag. They work on everything from rice to pet food.

22. This potato ricer that makes three sizes of mash

Turn everything from potatoes to carrots to bananas into fine, medium, or coarse mash quickly with this potato ricer that has three interchangeable disks of different sizes. It’s great for mashed potatoes, fresh baby food, or many other things. Just choose the size extrusion you want, insert it into the ricer, add your ingredient, and close the handle. It goes right into the dishwasher for cleanup.

23. These stainless steel ball whisks for fast, cleaner mixing

These stainless steel ball whisks — in two sizes — make fast work of eggs, batters, gravies, and more, and your mixed ingredients won’t get frustratingly stuck in the whisk the way they do with a traditional style. The balls on the end of the flexible wires won’t damage pans but work fast. And the simple, elegant design takes up less room in your drawers.

24. This bread storage bin that helps keep loaves fresher

This clever bread bin is designed to store a bag of bread so that it stays fresh for a long time, is easy to access a couple slices from, and doesn’t get crushed. Use it when you’re camping to protect bread and at home so loaves last longer. You put a standard loaf of sliced bread inside, slide the open end of the bag over the edges, then just pull down to dispense your slice. Easy-peasy, small footprint.

25. This stone warming plate that keeps food hot

This handy warming tray is a clever use of science and your microwave. Put the tray right into the microwave for a few minutes before you serve a meal. The stone in the center warms up while the handles stay cool so you can handle it. Then just set your food on the stone and it will keep your dish warm throughout dinner without requiring any power. The granite removes from the tray for cleaning, and it looks nice and decorative on the table.

26. This automated can opener that leaves no sharp edges

This battery-operated can opener gets the lids off cans without making you turn a crank or fish out a now-serrated lid. Set this on top of a can, push the button and watch as it works its way around the top of the can, cleverly cutting away the lid at the side. When it’s done, push the button again to lift off the lid. It comes in six colors.

27. An in-sink cleaning brush so you can wash glasses as you go

Tired of getting to the end of the day and finding a pile of dirty glasses and water bottles waiting to be washed? Suction this glass-cleaning brush to the sink and everyone can wash as they go. A big round brush gets inside the glass while a flat brush cleans the exterior. All you have to do is slide the glass between the two brushes then set it on the drying rack. The brush suctions securely to the sink and comes apart for easy cleaning.

28. This pest strip that keeps infestations out of your trash can

Cleaning a bug infestation out of your trash can is low on the list of ways anyone wants to spend a weekend. Prevention is key here. This garbage guard pest strip sticks to the inside lid of the trash can lid, and is that prevention. Once you stick it to the lid, it emits an odorless vapor into the can that drives insects away so they don’t move into your trash and start a huge, larval family.

29. A glow-in-the-dark cover for your Roku remote

Add this cute glow-in-the-dark cover to your Roku remote and you won’t have to turn on the lights to find the remote when you want to press pause or switch your show. You’ll get two of them and each one will protect a Roku remote from damage (and popcorn-butter-covered fingers) while adding grip to the remote. The cute devil horns and heart arrow patterns elevate the remote from a tool to a fun living room accessory.

30. This motion-sensing switch so the lights come on automatically

Change out the light switch in your laundry room, cellar, bathroom, or anywhere in the house to this motion-sensor switch so that when you enter the room, the lights come on automatically and, when you leave, they turn off. It helps saves money and energy, and is super convenient. The super-sensitive motion sensor responds to even small movements — like typing — so the lights don’t turn off when you’re there. And you can set how long the lights stay on after you leave the room.

31. A slender & elegant wireless charger for your phone & tablet

Plug this slim aluminum wireless charger in and set it down on an entry table, desk, or bedside table, so that charging your phone becomes super easy (and quite chic). Just set your phone down on the disk and a tiny line of light lets you know it’s charging. The mirror finish looks attractive in your space and you never have to battle with wires and irritating little plugs again.

32. A USB wall charger that’s also a slick light

Plug this USB wall charger into any standard outlet and it glows in a cool blue pattern so you can easily find it again. It also offers a small amount of ambient lighting. You can plug two USB ends into it to power your electronic devices. And its plug tines fold into its base so it’s easy to bring along when you travel or go to a cafe to work.

33. A colorful mat so your desk looks great & doesn’t get damaged

Set this desk mat down on your desk’s surface to protect it from spills, scratches, and dings. It also helps your mouse work better. The three reversible color combinations add a touch of flair to your workspace. It creates a pleasant tactile surface for writing. And, it rolls up if your desk becomes a dining table after hours. “This mat is absolutely stunning! It's sleek and pretty,” said one reviewer. “But it can be flipped over for a more [neutral] color. Spills wipe right off.”

34. A couch tray for the snacks, drinks, & sundries you want nearby

When you’re working from the couch or bed or settled in to watch a movie, where do you put your beverage, snack, and remote? If you want them within reach with little chance of spilling, you need this couch caddy. The foam caddy is weighted so that it won’t tip and spill anything, sits right on the couch cushions with you, and its coaster holes have a hard plastic bottom so your drink sits on a flat surface.

35. This clever rack for barbecuing wings & legs

Instead of setting wings and legs on the grill, set this clever rack — with the legs or wings hanging from it — on the grill instead. It will cook your chicken parts evenly while stopping fats and juices from dropping into your barbecue. You can even fill the drip tray with vegetables and cook those in the chicken drippings. The rack folds up and stores in the tray.

36. This footrest so you can get more comfortable at your desk

When your back hurts and you find yourself putting your feet up on the trash can, you need a footrest under your desk. Elevating your feet helps take pressure off your lower back and thighs, can aid with circulation, and makes a desk chair more comfortable. This foam footrest can be used with the flat side on the ground or flipped over to add a bit of rocking motion to your workday. The cover can be removed and washed. And the grippy beads on the flat side work to grip the floor or massage your feet.

37. This soft duvet cover for your weighted blanket

If you love the calm you find under a weighted blanket, wrap it in this cotton cover designed for weighted blankets so that the texture against your skin is soft and breathable, and your blanket is protected from everything from cat scratches to body oils. Corner ties keep the cover in place and the cooling fabric helps prevent overheating. It comes in eight colors.

38. The shoe brush that gets sneakers squeaky clean

This double-sided shoe cleaning brush is designed specifically to get sneakers clean quickly and easily. The long, soft bristles on one side get the delicate fabric uppers of your favorite kicks clean, while the stiffer, short bristles on the other side are perfect for getting gunk out of the tread. It comes in a plastic storage box that makes it easy to tote along for those times clean sneaks must be had on the go.

39. This wall-mounted case so you can bring your phone into the shower

Mount this waterproof, wall-mounted phone case to the wall of your shower or bath and take your communications, movie-watching, and Wordle in there with you. It rotates 360 degrees so you can go from chatting on the phone to watching TV. The cover is sensitive enough to let you use the touch screen. It pops open easily so you can get your phone in and out. And the adhesive that holds it to the wall is super strong. It comes with three mounts so you can snap it off the wall and move it from the shower to the mirror or wherever you want.

40. This mandoline slicer for fast work in the kitchen

When you want to prep a meal — or a week’s worth of them — super quickly, this mandoline will be your best friend. Insert one of the blade attachments into the top and you can do everything from slicing, spiralizing, zesting, and making julienne cuts, to juicing citrus and grating cheese. The container catches everything you cut and it comes with an additional peeler, a safety glove, and a cleaning brush.

41. An oil sprayer that lets you use your own oils at precise amounts

Want to lightly dress a salad? Ready to quickly oil your vegetables or fish before popping them into the air fryer? Want perfect olive oil distribution on your popcorn? Fill this glass oil sprayer bottle with your favorite oil or other liquid condiment and press the big spray button on the top to mist your foods with oil. It works well with lemon juice, vinegar, or soy sauce, too.

42. These weird five-bladed scissors that efficiently cut herbs

Cooking with fresh herbs makes for beautiful aromatic dishes, but chopping herbs can be slow and annoying. These five-bladed scissors make fast work of the task because they have five sharp, stainless steel blades that cut those tiny leaves into small pieces in just a few snips. They come with a cleaning tool and protective cover to keep the blades clean and sharp.

43. This 2-part showerhead for the best of all showering worlds

There are no compromises with this high-pressure showerhead that has every option you can imagine. The massive, 7-inch diameter rainfall showerhead offers a drenching deluge of water in six settings — rain, massage, mist, pause, and more — and the smaller handheld arm delivers the same water patterns to a smaller head that lets you direct the flow where you want it. You can use either of them or both at once.

44. These LED touch lights that create simple & chic illumination

Overheads are so over. Instead, peel-and-stick (or use the included screws) to mount these wireless LED puck lights wherever you could use a little spotlight — think under the cabinet, at the stairs, in the closet. The sky’s the limit (or, your ceiling). They use bright and-long lasting LEDs that run on batteries so don’t require wiring or electricity.

45. This pen that’s secretly also 6 useful tools

This multitool pen is much more than meets the eye. Not only is it a fine writing instrument, it’s an accurate metric and imperial ruler with a stylus on the eraser end. There’s a bubble level built into the pen body, and hidden on the inside are flathead and Phillips screwdrivers. It’s the perfect gift for the handy (or aspiring-to-be) people in your life.

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