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By Anne Reagan / Porch
April 3, 2015

Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of investment to add a lot of value to your home. You can start seeing instant payback with maintenance projects that keep your home running smoothly, such as replacing furnace filters, or upgrades, like new appliances, that help save on energy costs. Although $1,000 is a drop in the bucket compared with a major home renovation project, that dollar amount can go a long way toward fixing or updating things around the house, especially if you’re planning to put your home on the market anytime soon. Here are some smart ideas for $1,000 improvements.


Update the Lighting

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A quality light fixture can burn brightly for decades, but the style can fade. If your lighting fixtures are stuck in the ’70s, updating them will instantly transform the look of a room. Plus, switching out old sconces, pendants, or table lamps is easy to do yourself, saving you money on hiring an electrician. A quality fixture costs as little as $200, or shop floor sample sales or big-box stores for bigger bargains. If you like your current fixtures but want to give them an update, try new shades, or change the color of the metal for the cost of a can of spray paint. You can save additional dollars by swapping your old incandescents for CFL or LED bulbs, which use a lot less electricity and last far longer. Bonus: Adding more lighting to your room will generally make the space feel larger. Read more about interior lighting tips and tricks.

Replace the Front Door

Your front door is a key element of great curb appeal, not to mention the first thing your guests see. Updating a door for better looks and added security is a wise investment of your money. The national average cost for a new steel door is $1,230, a bit over the $1,000 budget, but the cost may vary depending on where you live and whether you will be installing it yourself. The best part of this replacement project is that on average, a new steel entry door has a return on investment of 101%, one of the highest ranked projects according to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report.

Fix Up the Kitchen

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A grand can go pretty far in making over your kitchen. You may not be able to completely replace your dated cabinets, but you can install new drawer and door pulls (about $2 to $10 apiece) that instantly modernize the cabinet fronts. If you’re handy, you can add a new backsplash tile design for as little as $2 to $5 a square foot. Kitchen backsplashes can add big visual appeal without the cost of a full-on remodel. For appliances, you may not be able to afford the latest five-burner gas range, but you can invest in an energy-efficient stainless steel refrigerator for about $1,000 (check your stores for seasonal discounts, rebates and sales) or dishwasher for about $500. EnergyStar rated appliances will also help save on utility bills, further adding value to your home. Inexpensive cosmetic upgrades like repainting dirty walls, repairing broken shelves, fixing leaking faucets, or changing electrical outlets can all be done for $1,000 or less, many of them without the help of a professional.

Freshen the Bathroom

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The bathroom is one of the most heavily trafficked rooms in the house, so just keeping the space clean and free from water issues can go a long way to making sure it holds its value. But $1,000 can help give the space an updated look as well as increase its functionality. A new shower curtain, fresh linens, new light fixtures, and accessories like towel bars and robe hooks can instantly modernize a bathroom. Replacing your old toilet with a WaterSense model (about $200) and adding a faucet aerator (about $5 to $15) will reduce water consumption, putting money back in your wallet each month. Some of these tasks may need the help of a professional plumber, especially if you suspect water leaks. Here’s how to tell whether to hire a pro or do it yourself.

Hire a Cleaning Pro

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You might think that $1,000 is a lot of money to spend on a house cleaner, but there are parts of your home that may require deep cleaning on a regular basis. Carpets, for example, should be cleaned about once a year—more often in heavy traffic areas. You can rent portable steam cleaners, but these models don’t have the same vacuum power as professional units, and could potentially leave water and dirt behind. Some professionals can also deep-clean upholstered furniture and area rugs as well. Another great use of your cleaning budget is pressure-washing sidewalks and driveways to remove moss, which is not only unsightly but can also be dangerous because it’s so slippery. Machines can be purchased for less than $500, and once you own a pressure-washer, you can regularly maintain walkways, driveways, patio furniture and other outdoor items. You can also rent machines by the day (check your local home center for costs). Before you attempt to use a pressure washer, though, be sure you understand how to operate it.

Anne Reagan is the editor in chief of Porch. Get more $1,000 home improvement ideas at


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