19 Small Home Improvements You Should Make in 2019

A few small changes can make a big difference in your home. These are the small projects we recommend you take on in 2019.

Pavers brickFamily Handyman

Line a Walkway With Bricks or Pavers

Is your concrete walkway in decent but boring shape? Adding color, texture and width to an existing walkway by lining it with pavers is a whole lot easier and cheaper than replacing it. Stone, clay and concrete pavers are all good choices. The basic procedure involves digging a trench one paver wide along the walkway, leveling in a bed of sand or pea gravel, then setting and tamping pavers so they’re flush with the top of the walkway. You can also do it for the garden.

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Add Low-Voltage Lighting

Low-voltage lighting can dramatically improve your home’s nighttime curb appeal, and by lighting walkways and dark corners, it can improve safety and security as well. Lighting can be grouped into three basic categories: downlights, uplights and specialty lights. Buy a transformer that includes a timer or light sensor so the lights automatically turn on and off. Follow some tips on how to do it.

Bathroom Remodel ProjectsREDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock

Update the Bathroom

When it comes to projects that will give you a great return when you sell your home, look no further than a minor bathroom remodel. Give your bathroom vanity a makeover, replace the toilet and faucet if needed, update the showerhead for a better shower experience and re-caulk the bathroom tub.

Upgrade Flooring Hardwood installAnne Kitzman/Shutterstock

Upgrade Flooring

If the carpet in your living room is looking worn, remove it and install some hardwood flooring. Quality hardwood flooring can cost anywhere from $3 to $8 per square foot and you can save some money by installing it yourself. Try tile in the mudroom and give bedroom carpet a good cleaning.

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Add Paint

Choose a paint color and give a room a fresh look. Be sure to choose a high-quality paint which will cost you $30 to $60 a gallon, but is totally worth it. While you have the painting supplies out, brighten trim with a light-colored, high-gloss paint.

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Improve the Landscape

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to outdoor projects, here are 12 great tips for landscaping your backyard. Build a wooden planter box to add some color to the front of your home, plant some strikingly colorful shrubs and add some bee-friendly plants to your yard.

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Give the Kitchen a Simple Update

You don’t have to go big when it comes to kitchen projects. Install new kitchen cabinets or give current cabinets a refresh. Upgrade old kitchen countertops and add a kitchen backsplash for a new look.

kitchen lighting colander bowlsStratos Giannikos/Shutterstock

Update Your Decor

Take a good look around—could some of your fixtures use an update? Hang a new light fixture, replace electrical outlets and covers, install crown molding for a classic look and upgrade any outdated window treatments.

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Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Give new life to your old wood kitchen cabinets with a fresh coat of paint. But what is the best type of paint to use?

For the best adhesion and a harder, more durable finish, an oil-based (alkyd) paint is tough to beat for kitchen cabinets. But you must be willing to put up with the strong odor and solvent cleanup, along with a longer drying and curing time than you’d get if you used an ordinary water-based paint. Plus, the color may yellow over time.

The best solution to avoid the hassle of oil-based paint is a new-technology waterborne acrylic enamel paint that delivers the good flow, leveling and hardening characteristics of an oil-based paint without the odor and long drying time. These new paints dry fast and clean up with soap and water. The main challenge is a smooth finish, but pros say that if the waterborne acrylic enamel is applied heavily enough and worked in small sections, it will flatten out nicely. Avoid a dry brush and going over sections already starting to dry.

Don’t forget other keys to success when painting cabinets—surface preparation (degreasing, cleaning and sanding), priming (use a top-quality primer), brushing (use the best-quality brush for the type of paint) and drying (follow label directions). Want to add more storage space? Build under-cabinet drawers.

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Under-Cabinet Cleanup

When the floor of your sink cabinet needs a spruce-up, lay down squares of self-adhesive vinyl tile. They’re about a buck a square at home centers and provide an easy-to-wipe-clean surface. Need more organization? Try building this cabinet door storage rack.

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Install a New Tub and Shower Trim Kit

Give your shower an instant face-lift by swapping out your existing showerhead, handle and tub spout for new ones. To make this a painless switch, buy a trim kit that uses the existing trim valve—you won’t have to touch anything inside the wall. Before you buy, check the manufacturer’s Web site for specs, styles and finishes. Also check your tub spout to see if it slips on or is threaded so you can buy the right replacement. You can buy complete trim kits or buy each component separately at home centers, plumbing suppliers and online retailers.

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Add a Second Medicine Cabinet and Shelves

Here’s a way to add more storage and bump up the sophistication of your bathroom. Mount matching medicine cabinets and add shelves between them. To support these shelves, we drilled holes in the sides of the cabinets and inserted adjustable shelf pegs. The shelves are simply boards finished to match the cabinets. This makes the most of the wall space above your toilet and sink. You could also mount something similar over a double sink setup. The cabinets can be surface mounted or recessed. The shelves give the unit a nice finished quality. Medicine cabinets start at less than $100 each.

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Raise an Adjustable Entry Door Threshold

Those big screwheads in the threshold of a newer entry door aren’t just decorative; they raise or lower a narrow strip set in the threshold. So if you’ve noticed a draft under the door, try this: On a sunny day, turn off the lights and close nearby curtains. Lie down and look for daylight under the door. A sliver of light sneaking in at both corners of the door is normal. But if you see light between the threshold and the door, grab your screwdriver. Here’s how to raise the threshold.

FH07JUN_482_00_099 heavy duty storage shelves basementFamily Handyman

Heavy-Duty Storage Shelves

Store-bought shelving units are either hard to assemble and flimsy or awfully expensive. Here’s a better solution. These shelves are strong and easy to build and cost about $70. And this sturdy shelf unit is sized to hold standard bankers’ boxes ($4 each). If you want deeper storage, build the shelves 24 in. deep and buy 24-in.-deep boxes. And if you prefer to use plastic storage bins, measure the size of the containers and modify the shelf and upright spacing to fit. Get the project dimensions here.

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Seal Attic Air Leaks

Small air leaks into uninsulated attic space are a major source of heat loss in many homes.With some inexpensive materials and a day’s labor, you can save lots of money on heating every year by sealing these holes. We’ll show you where to find the bypasses in your attic and simple techniques for plugging and sealing them.

closet nook wire shelvesFamily Handyman

Closet Nook Shelves

Don’t let the recessed space at the ends of a closet go to waste. Install wire shelving to hold blankets, towels or bedding.

Wire shelves are available in a variety of widths. Measure the width and depth of the space. Then choose the correct shelving and ask the salesperson to cut the shelves to length for you. Subtract 3/8 in. from the actual width to determine the shelf length. Buy a pair of end mounting brackets and a pair of plastic clips for each shelf.

Plus: Learn how to triple your closet space.

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Fix Lawn Spots

Improve your lawn’s natural defenses and reduce future maintenance chores with these common sense cures for spots, thatch, fairy rings, grubs and shade.

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Remove Tough Stains from Vinyl Flooring

Sheet vinyl “resilient” flooring is so easy to clean that it may never require anything beyond damp mopping with a cleaner intended for vinyl floors. But if your floor has marks or stains that still won’t come off, you can use stronger stuff.

Isopropyl alcohol, sold as a disinfectant at drugstores, is a mild solvent. It’s the best cleaner for heel marks and works on other tough stains too. You can also use lighter fluid or mineral spirits. Remember that all these products are flammable; turn off any nearby pilot lights and hang rags out to dry before throwing them away. Learn how to use it to remove tough stains from vinyl flooring.

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Add Smart Home Technology

Smart devices are infiltrating homes at increasing rates. Statista, a market research firm found that 33 percent of homes have one connected device and that number could rise to 60 percent by 2021. These smart devices can even detect leaks in your water heater.

Check out smart devices for the home.