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Transform your home in three easy steps

Updated on August 22, 2013


Sure, you may need to completely remodel your kitchen or bathroom, but such work requires a licensed contractor, possibly a permit through the city, and of course, money.

Focusing on the little things in your home that are outdated and replacing them with modernized materials can make a huge difference.

These are three easy weekend tasks you can do just to have a better appreciation for your home, to save money, and/or to make some simple changes before an inspection or appraisal.

Make Old Look Like New

An old air conditioning register is spray painted white to look brand new.
An old air conditioning register is spray painted white to look brand new. | Source
The old brass air conditioning vent makes this home look outdated.
The old brass air conditioning vent makes this home look outdated. | Source

Three Easy Projects

Siding and Baseboards: Your wood siding and baseboards may have dents and cracks in them if your home was built in the days of Michael Jackson’s prime. Years of banging garbage cans against the house, scratches from pets, children and luggage, and the accidental bangs from the vacuum cleaner all take a toll on wood. These assets in your home can be beautified by you with very little cost involved.

Air Conditioning Vents or Registers: Older homes tend to have brass-colored air conditioning registers which simply put are obsolete and can often be an eyesore as they wear and tear over time. As long as these vents aren't damaged, a simple face-lift can freshen up your vents. The same applies to other metal items like light fixtures and mail box openings on your garage.

Electrical Socket Plates and Door Hardware: Brass or off-white electrical socket plates can also make a home look mangy, especially if they are mismatched throughout the house. The same goes for door hardware. Door knobs and hinge hardware by today’s stylistic standards should be brushed nickel, stainless steel or chrome, all which match stainless steel appliances quite nicely. You may also consider using old world bronze, especially if you plan to upgrade wit copper in your kitchens and bathrooms.

Do-It-Yourself Projects

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I. Smooth it Out

Repair dents and cracks in siding, baseboards, and door frames.

What You’ll Need:

- Fix-It-All or similar spackle paste

- Spackle tool

- Paint

- Paint brush

- Bucket or large cup

- Water

- Fine-grained sandpaper

  1. Clean the area you are trying to improve and let it dry completely and be free of loose debris. If you are repairing siding on the exterior of your home, you can power-wash it with a nozzle on your hose.
  2. Create your water and Fix-It-All mixture in a bucket or large cup (just follow the directions on the box) or grab a jar of spackle, and apply the paste to the cracks with your spackle tool. Try to follow the grain of the wood if applicable. Smoothing with your fingers in addition to using the spackle tool is often helpful. Give the paste time to dry.
  3. Use sandpaper to smooth out any crust left behind from the dried paste.
  4. Paint over the area with paint to match your siding. If you’re not sure on the color, take a picture and bring it to HomeDepot or Lowe’s to match it.
  5. Let the paint dry and admire your work!

Removing Scratches and Cracks

Cracks in this exterior wood siding date the home.
Cracks in this exterior wood siding date the home. | Source
Spackle and paint help renew the home's siding.
Spackle and paint help renew the home's siding. | Source

Safety First!

Be sure to wear a protective mask when spray painting. If you don't have one, consider spray painting outside and be cautious of where the wind is blowing.

II. Spray it On

Transform air conditioning registers, mail box openings on your garage, light fixtures and more.

What You’ll Need:

- Spray paint in desired color

- Old newspapers

  1. Remove the items from their current location. For safety reasons, power should be turned off before removing anything electrical.
  2. Position items on a newspaper preferably outside or in a well-ventilated area. Be cautious of how windy it is. You may want to grab some heavy objects to keep your newspapers in place.
  3. Read over the directions and warnings on the spray paint bottle, and then begin spraying your items. After they dry, rotate them if necessary to completely cover with spray paint.
  4. Repeat “C” if you would like a second coating.

III. Screw it In

Replace old electrical socket and switch plates with stark white, plastic ones and upgrade your door hardware to bushed nickel, stainless steel or chrome. For a complete look, have the switches and sockets done by someone with electrical experience.

What You’ll Need:

- Flathead screwdriver

- Phillips screwdriver

- Plastic white electrical plates

- Door knobs and hanging hardware in desired metal finish

- A partner*

  1. Be sure to count how many electrical plates you’ll need first. If you have someone do the switches and sockets for you, add this into your count to save your pro a trip. You can find plates, sockets and switches on, Home Depot, Lowe’s and similar retailers.
  2. Remove old plates with your screwdriver. Remember, lefty loosey, righty tighty.
  3. Add on the new plates with your screwdriver, turning the screws to the right.
  4. Observe the directions on the door hardware package and screw into your doors accordingly. Directions may differ by brand and type of door knob such as if it has a locking mechanism or not.
  5. * If you are replacing the hanging hardware on the doors, you will need someone to help you unhinge the doors and re-install them with the hardware in your desired metal finish.

More Tips

Now your home should be transformed with these easy, money-saving tasks. If you do hire a professional to help you with any aspect of these projects such as the electrical handling, consider using RedBeacon to find a professional.

To avoid wasting money, always think about all the projects you would like to do or have done to your home before you start. This will help you avoid having to rip something out that was upgraded because of another project that should have come first.


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