Before & After Renovations

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.

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