43 super cheap home upgrades that make a big impact

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by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 

Most home projects don't require that you take out a loan. In fact, some of the smallest and cheapest home upgrades on Amazon can make enormous changes in the way your house looks and functions. You can even make it appear as if you've made major improvements by simply cleaning the right things or replacing the right parts — and it's really easy to do with the home improvement products on this list that don't cost hundreds of dollars.

Seriously: There are some ingenious ways to improve your home that cost almost nothing. For instance, take these LED strip lights that can be controlled with your phone — or even this cup holder that sits over the armrest on your couch. Both are considered home upgrades that can make your living space a lot more enjoyable, and they're under $30 each.

Knowing what to spend a little money on — and what to spend a lot on — is a true art form while revamping your home. However, it definitely helps to know about these super cheap home upgrades that make a big impact. Whether you're remodeling your bathroom, organizing your living room, or redoing your kitchen, this list has you covered with affordable home products.

1. This shower head that replicates a rainstorm

If you have a different shower head than this one, you're wasting water on showers that are so much less luxurious than they could be. For $30 and ten minutes of installation, you could be taking a shower every day that feels like a guilty pleasure. Sure, this shower head will get you clean (like most of them) — but it'll also make you happy. My bathroom had a decent shower before I installed this one — and since I've upgraded, every shower feels like it should be illegal. It delivers a rain-like downpour that has exactly the right pressure to feel completely decadent.

2. These smart plugs that are like living in a 'Star Trek' reality

A four-pack of smart plugs might seem like a trivial purchase. It's not, though. I wake up every morning and say, "Alexa! Make coffee." Then, I go back to sleep until it's ready. When I want to watch a movie, I say, "Alexa! It's movie time!" Then, she turns off all the lights and powers up the projector. If you're still getting up to turn things on and off like you don't live in a science fiction TV show, these plugs will be the best $23 you ever spent. Plug them in, connect them to your smart home system, and then set up routines or schedules for everything. These are more affordable than most smart plugs, but they work just as well with Alexa, Google Home, or their own app.

3. A rack that's a fast fix for a crowded broom closet

Do you have a closet that you hate to open because the broom and similar sundries fall out? This broom rack is the solution you've been looking for. It mounts to the wall with screws (which are included), and holds five brooms, mops, and whatever pole-like cleaning things you have. Plus, it keeps them firmly out of the way since they snap into place and pull out easily when you want to use them. You can hang things like hats on it, too.

4. This genius filter that helps purify your shower water

If you're dealing with dry hair and skin, the problem might not be your cleanser and shampoo — it might be the water. This water filter for the shower can help fix that, and it's much cheaper than solving a water problem for the whole house. It filters out chlorine, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dirt, and more. Plus, it's easy to install (just screw it in). It filters for six months before needing to be replaced.

5. A mushroom that helps prevent clogged drains

There's a good reason why the SinkShroom is wildly popular with a 4.8-star review: It goes into the drain and traps hair before it can go any further, acting as a deterrent for future clogs. Periodically pull it out and pull off the hair, and you'll be back in business. This one is stainless steel, so it cleans up spiffy and goes right back to work.

6. The toiletry station that controls the bathroom clutter

If you have limited counter space in the bathroom, this wall-mounted shelf is a brilliant solution that doesn't require a bathroom remodel. It gets everything — lotions, hand soap, toothpaste, brushes, and more — up off the counter and into a compact, orderly space. It also sanitizes the toothbrushes and keeps them in a sealed compartment. Plus, it also dispenses toothpaste right onto the brush so you never even have to touch the tube.

7. A pack of chair leg caps to protect floors

If you’re looking for an easy way to prevent scratches to delicate flooring, these chair leg caps are a good place to start. They’re super easy to put on your furniture — plus, “they don’t fall off like the adhesive ones,” according to one reviewer. Just stick them on the ends of your furniture legs, and you’re good to go.

8. This brilliant way to store shampoo in the shower

A poorly designed shower can be enough for you to consider remodeling, but hanging the bottles from the wall is a brilliant idea that'll keep things tidy. This three-pack of bottle hangers does just that. Stick them to the tile, screw the bottle lids onto them, and pump your shampoo, conditioner, and body wash right from the bottle they came in.

9. The modular system that organizes all your cables

Cable clutter is one of the terrible realities of modern life, and it has crept out of the desk area and into the bedroom, kitchen, and even the bathroom. This magnetic cable holder is a clever modular solution that lets you control where those wires go without sticking anything permanent to your furniture — but you can use the included adhesive to stick the base to a desk, wall, or other surface. The clips hold the wires, and the magnetic base holds the clips. Change it whenever you need to. With it, you can design a system that suits each situation.

10. This smart button-pusher that makes analog switches AI friendly

If you've already gone on a smart-home bender and converted your lights so that your smart system can control them, there's probably a switch or appliance that escaped that upgrade. (For instance, the coffee pot has a switch that needs to be pushed.) This smart button pusher is the analog solution to your smart home. Stick it next to that button or switch, connect it to your AI, and make it part of your schedules or scenes. It pushes that button for you.

11. These colorful LED lights that connect to your phone

Installing groovy lighting could not be any easier than this — and in my opinion, lighting is always a terrific home upgrade. Cut the strips into the length you want. Then, pull off the backing and stick them where you want light. After that, connect them to your phone and tell the lights what color you want and how bright you want them. They even have a built-in microphone to listen to music and glow to the beat.

12. This pink goo that makes old, stained fixtures look new again

This Pink Stuff has a serious fan club. It's an abrasive cleaner that gets ovens, tubs, sinks, and other household surfaces clean of pen marks, baked-on stains, and more. It's a paste: You apply it, wait, and wipe away. When you do, it takes the mess with it. Reviewers have written that it has saved them a fortune in upgrades that've turned out not being necessary.

13. A personal white board with a drawer for your desk

This desktop whiteboard is perfect for taking quick notes off the computer. It fits into your desk setup and lets you jot reminders where you're sure to see them. Or, you can stick post-it notes to it. There's even a drawer underneath for a few pens, and it's made of high-quality glass that'll look clean on your desk. Plus, it erases easily so you can start fresh anytime you want.

14. The modern window treatment that's better than blinds

This window film is so much cleaner and cheaper than blinds. It clouds your windows so no one can see through them, but it also lets sunlight in. It doesn't change the look of the room by adding a lot of fabric or plastic that needs to be washed or dusted, but it filters the sunlight and reduces the glare. It's very easy to install too: You get it wet, slide it into place, and trim the excess. If you change your mind, just peel them off.

15. This soap dispenser that also holds onto your dish sponge

You can stop struggling to find a place to hang your wet sponge, thanks to this brilliant sponge caddy. (You can also get rid of your bottle of dish soap and empty it right into the container underneath the platform.) That's right: Fill the bottom with dish soap, and set the sponge on top. When it's time to wash the dishes, pump the sponge to load it with soap. You'll get a metered amount of soap delivered right to your sponge. Plus, you'll always know where the sponge is — and you can use bulk dish soap.

16. These outdoor solar lights that are simple to install

This 12-pack of solar lights is about the easiest garden upgrade you can make. Open the package, stick them into the ground, and light a pathway or add illumination to your flower beds. You don't have to do anything after that, because they charge themselves with sunlight, come on when the sun goes down, and last well into the night.

17. The kitchen knife rack that fits so many utensils

This clever knife rack is probably so much better than that massive knife block that takes up half of your precious counter space. First, it holds a lot of knives in a small space, and it'll fit right in with your utensil canisters. Second, it has a built-in knife sharpener to keep your knives honed. Plus, it drains, so you can wash your knives and put them away immediately. No need for a stop in the dish drainer or a visit to the dish towel.

18. A perfect place to put your remote controls without losing them

Always searching for the remotes? Mount them to the wall within easy reach (or behind the TV where you can't see them) inside this remote control holder. You'll always be able to find them, and they won't clutter up the coffee table. Plus, you'll know where to put them when you're cleaning up. It even grips the wall with included adhesive strips.

19. The grout pen that'll make your tiles look like new

Often, when a bathroom or kitchen starts to look old and worn, the grout becomes discolored. Tearing out the tile or re-grouting isn't the only way to fix that, though. You can paint over that grout with these $9 pens. They come in several colors, which means you can choose a new color for your grout or replace what you have. It's a fast, easy way to remodel a kitchen or bathroom.

20. This bidet that costs less than refilling toilet paper

In my opinion, a bidet is probably the best bathroom upgrade you can make. You'll go into it thinking you're adding a luxury item to the bowl — but after a few months, you'll be shocked that you relied on toilet paper for so long. Believe it or not, this bidet costs about the same as a big box of TP. It's simple to install and requires no power or additional plumbing.

21. The cabinet bumpers for a quieter kitchen space

These cabinet bumpers are so simple to use: Peel the backs off them and stick them to the corners of your cabinets. Then, you'll live in a house that doesn't crash and slam every time someone gets a cookie or puts away the dishes. They are great for other purposes, as well. Give a soft, grippy bottom to lamps, speakers, and other items — or use them to soften the blow of a door or cabinet that slams into the wall.

22. This flattened surge protector that fits behind bookshelves

If you have a piece of furniture that's pulled away from the wall so you can plug something in behind it, this power strip is the upgrade you need. It has a flat plug that swivels 360 degrees. That way, you can plug it in and push the furniture right up against the wall. For $15, you can add a lot more convenient outlets and improve your home's aesthetics.

23. This hands-free screen door that's closes behind you with magnets

If you have "install screen door" on your to-do list, check it off; this screen door curtain is a much better idea. It's super easy to install and use because it's basically a screen curtain that you can walk right though — hands free. It closes behind you because it's weighted with magnets that snap together. You know can't get through it, though? Bugs.

24. These dividers that add sections to your shelves

Bags, boots, sweaters, towels, and more eventually turn into a jumbled mess without some sort of shelf organization. Thankfully, these shelf dividers are the solutions. They're everything you want about shelf storage: easy visibility and simplicity with some structure. They slide over a standard wooden shelf and create compartments for stacks of T-shirts, sweaters, folded towels, bags, and boots that want to fall over.

25. This mirror that won't fog up in the shower

Does your dream bathroom upgrade include a shower mirror that doesn't fog so you can shave in the water? Well, you can stop dreaming, because this fog-free shower mirror won't get steamy in the tub. Hang it from the hook — and when you want to shave, take it off the hook and hold it under the warm water. That'll equalize the temperature so it won't fog up.

26. This cup holder that drapes over your couch's armchair

It turns out you don't need to find a table to put next to your favorite chair in order to have a place to put your drink down: You just need this cup holder that goes over the arm of a chair. It's a bit like a car cup holder for the living room. Concealed weights and a grippy base hold your coffee cup or beer glass right where you want them — and you don't have to worry about coasters.

27. A grocery bag dispenser that makes it easy to recycle

No matter how hard you try to bring reusable bags to shop, there are always plastic grocery bags — and they're easy to reuse if you have a storage system for them. This wall-mounted grocery bag dispenser is so perfect for the task that it should be standard in new homes. It's an easy upgrade, though: Just stick it to the wall. Then, add newly arriving bags into the top and pull them out from the front when you need one.

28. The mounted outlet shelf for your charging devices or speakers

Want an Amazon Echo in the living room but have no spot for it? That's OK, just replace an outlet switch of your choice with this one that has a shelf over it. Then, your Echo — or speaker, phone charger, electric toothbrush, and anything else that needs to plug in — can sit off the tables and always be plugged in. It even has a channel in the back for the cord, so it's nice and tidy.

29. A toilet brush that has flexible silicone bristles

Toilet brushes haven't changed much since indoor plumbing became a thing (even though toilets have changed quite a bit). But this silicone scrubber is different. It's made of flexible silicone that gets into small corners and crevices. Plus, it doesn't splash toilet water while you use it — and it holds no water, so it shouldn't drip a puddle into the holder. In fact, holder mounts to the wall and drains into a removable bin. It's an efficient cleaning tool that's also terrific for cleaning the tub and shower.

30. The wall-mounted rack for towels or wine bottles

If you're short on storage space in the bathroom, turn a small stretch of your wall into a decorative place to keep your towels. Just roll them and hang them. The towels will always be on hand, but you won't need to waste a cupboard to store them. Plus, they'll look nice and guests will be able to find a towel without digging around in your closets. This rack works for wine bottles, too — but you'll probably want to mount it to the kitchen wall (rather than the bathroom).

31. This gap cover so you don't lose thing between your counters and stove

If you ask me, it's easy to forget about the gap between the counter and the slide-in stove until you drop something down there. And when that happens, you'll usually spend hours pulling the stove out, retrieving that item, and putting the kitchen back together. (And while you're there, you might be horrified by the messes and spills). Well, thanks to this simple gap cover, you won't drop anything inside that gap anymore because it'll be shielded with a long piece of silicone.

32. The quiet humidifier that's adjustable

This quiet humidifier is an easy solution to dry air in the house. Fill it with water and turn it on. Then, it'll deliver a soothing mist from the top that'll help you thrive in an environment that's more comfortable. You can direct where the mist goes, and it holds 2.5 liters of water that'll probably last you quite a while. It's also easy to clean and looks sleek.

33. An organization system for the fridge and pantry

How much time have you wasted searching for stuff in the fridge? Organization is the solution, and these organizers are perfect for the job. Sized just right for a pantry or fridge, they're transparent so you can see what's inside them. They also keep sodas and canned goods in easy reach.

34. The charging station for all your phones and tablets

So many phones and so few chargers... sigh. Luckily, this charging station can help. Set it on any table or desk — and then you, your family, and all your visitors will have a handy place to pick up a charge. The dividers snap firmly into place and hold four devices in a small space, each with their own plug. The charging station plugs into the wall, too.

35. A toilet paper roll holder with a shelf for your phone

This is a better toilet roll holder because it gives you a place to set your phone down without dropping it — and that could save you a small fortune. This is also a simple and sleek bathroom upgrade, because it matches various decors. Plus, it looks nicer than the usual plastic TP holder and it makes it super easy to change the roll.

36. These clever lights that only come on when you need them

Mount these sensor lights in a stairway, hallway, bathroom, or anywhere in your house where you need light (but don't want to turn on an overhead lamp). They come on when you approach them, stay on for a few minutes, and then go off. Once you get them set up, they stick on with an adhesive backing or stick to metal via built-in magnets.

37. This roll-up dish drying rack that's useful for so many things

This roll-up dish drying rack is an amazing kitchen upgrade. Unroll it, put it over the sink, and give yourself a place to dry the dishes that takes up no counter space (and leaves no puddles on the counter). It's also a great way to wash fruits and vegetables. You can even set colander down on it and drain pasta right into the sink.

38. A rolling storage cart you can fit almost anywhere

This wheeled cart is a quick and easy way to organize the bathroom, laundry room, kitchen or any place in your house that needs storage options (but lacks room). It'll slide between the washer and dryer, fit neatly into an empty space between the toilet and vanity, or even squeeze between the fridge and counter. It's 5.1 inches deep, and it holds plenty. You can assemble it with two or three shelves, and the handles at the top make it easy to maneuver.

39. This genius solution for hat storage in your closet

Storing hats is a challenge — but that's easy to forget when you're purchasing them. That's okay, though: Hang from a closet rod and it'll hold 10 hats in a small space. You'll also be able to see the hats and put them away easily. It's the sort of storage solution you can live with, and it can hold 45 pounds.

40. A monitor stand with a groove for your phone

This monitor stand lifts your monitor up to an ergonomic height, turns the area under the monitor into useful storage space, and offers a slot for your phone that not only positions it so you can see it while you work but also has an integrated channel for a charging cord. This is an easy, simple, and inexpensive way to transform any table into an ergonomic desk.

41. The motion-activated sockets for hands-free lighting

Screw these handy light sockets into your home’s preexisting sockets to create hands-free lighting wherever you need it. The sockets can turn any E26 bulb into a motion-activated light. Install them in any room where you could use lighting that will automatically turn on and off on its own, like a basement, pantry, or garage.

42. This draft stopper that also stops bugs, rodents, and noise

This draft stopper is so simple, but it fixes so many problems. Keep dirt, bugs, rodents, and rain water outside while holding air conditioning, heat, and sounds inside when you install it. This flexible strip with insulating air pockets locks the gap; all you do is cut it to size and stick it to the bottom of the door.

43. A seat cushion that's filled with fluffy memory foam

This firm memory foam cushion has a non-skid bottom to keep it in place, along with an opening for the coccyx that takes the pressure off that bone completely. It also aligns your back so you sit with less slouch. Plus, the nylon cover can be removed and washed whenever you want to clean it.

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