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10 Home Renovation Projects You Have To Try

Remember back in 2009, when I decided that I was the kind of person who should write a website about cooking, DIY, and home decor, and that it should be called “Domestic Bliss”? Yeah, I have no idea what I was thinking either – other than, perhaps, “fake it ’til you make it” – because for the first few years, “faking it” is exactly what I did. At the time, my idea of a homemade meal was store-bought pasta with jarred tomato sauce (to which I’d added onions and mushrooms – you know, to make it fancy), and was SO IMPRESSED with myself for completing “DIYs” such as…swapping out drawer pulls. Putting up a sticker decal was a feat worthy of a full video tutorial, and I thought that my idea of using teacups to serve soup during parties was the height of inspired entertaining.

I still think that serving soup in teacups is pretty neat, but a lot has changed since the halcyon days of wallpaper-wrapped lampshades and green chalkboard refrigerators. I’m still no Ty Pennington, but after renovating two homes and working on a home construction and design show, I now know about 20,000 times more than I ever thought I’d know about how to update a household on a budget. Below are ten of my all-time favorite house upgrades, all of which I promise you are more than capable of taking on yourself.

1/10

Variegated Mortar Wash (or "German Smear")

Sounds like a porn; is actually an extremely cool (and inexpensive) way to make bright-orange, brand-new brick appear rustic and weathered.

2/10

DIY "Reclaimed Barnwood"

Transforming my plain, featureless white front porch posts into faux reclaimed barnwood is actually, literally the coolest DIY I have ever done. I’m telling you: you cannot tell it’s not real. Even very, very close-up, it’s almost impossible to see that it’s paint (!) and not the real thing. You have to try this.

3/10

Dark, Dated Backyard Makeover

Our backyard makeover – which is going next-level once I pull together the funds to make this happen – is one of my favorite projects to date. Just

4/10

Bathroom Tile Refresh (with Paint!)

I didn’t want to spend the money on a full bathroom retiling, but our dark grout and yellowing tiles screamed 1960s original (usually a good thing, but not this time). A once-over with an Epoxy kit left our tiles bright white and shiny and made the whole bathroom feel new again.

Note: Epoxy paint won’t last forever in a space with lots of traction, but ours has been there for going on a year now, and so far, so good.

5/10

House Exterior Makeover

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do about our hideously ugly ranch house exterior (tan and blue with bright orange bricks = not my jam). One pink door, a fresh coat of paint, a little DIY-ed reclaimed wood, and some lighting fixtures later…BAM.

6/10

Barn Door Installation

When we first moved into our house, the fact that the bathroom was part of the master bedroom drove me nuts. Solution: put up a wall and install a sliding barn door to give it pizzazz.

7/10

Entryway Retiling

I’m a big believer in the impact of an entryway – as further evidence, see our pink door – and replacing the beige ’60s tiles that originally stood in our entryway with these insanely cool blue ones from Villa Lagoon made a massive difference.

8/10

Ugly, Dark Bathroom Makeover

This before-and-after shows you just how much impact a coat of paint can have: really, all I did was swap out the dusty blue for a pale green and pull in a second mirror, and the bathroom felt twice as big. (I later painted the mirror frames white.)

9/10

Side Yard Makeover

This project happened out of necessity – because post-makeover, we’re no longer going to have room in our garage for things like bicycles and tools – but ended up adding so much usable space to our home. Tip: If you do something like this, make sure to include a slanted roof for rainfall runoff.

10/10

Teeny-Tiny Bathroom Makeover

Pale coral paint and and a few gold-leaf accents transformed our cave-like master bathroom into a little jewelbox of a space.