45 Drab to Fab Home MakeoversBy Doreen R
Whether we own, rent, or even live in our parents’ pool house, we want our surroundings to be pleasant and aesthetic. Sometimes full-on renovations, requiring an interior-designer, contractor, or architect, are simply not in our budget. No problem, we’re going to show a variety of ways to upgrade and improve on one’s surroundings in a doable and affordable manner. From simply adding a coat of paint, to changing some throw pillows on the couch, to full-on flooring, there’s something for everyone and every budget. It’s figuring out where to begin that usually stalls our creative thinking. This piece is for those who have plans to re-do their surroundings and need to understand what’s involved. So sit back, and let’s take a look and see if anything catches our eye.
Deciding to redo a room or a piece of furniture is the easy part. It’s getting started and finding out what’s involved in starting a project that causes anxiety and prevents many of us from moving forward. For example, if we’re talking about a drab, boring, and outdated kitchen, but an all-encompassing remodel isn’t an option, consider refacing the cabinets. And, if that’s too big or it’s a rental, consider changing cabinet handles and knobs, which, when chosen thoughtfully, can make a statement. Editor’s note: We always suggest consulting a professional before embarking on any home improvement endeavor.
Old and Boring Staircase
Even old and boring wooden staircases can be re-vamped and appear new and trendy. What needs to be decided is a runner, full-on carpeting, or leaving the wood to shine on its own. Check out this before and after of a bland wood and painted staircase that was given new life with simple carpeting and brass accents.
Points to consider, foot traffic and ages of house residents. We don’t want something too light-colored if there’s a bunch of kids running up and down the stairs all day in muddy shoes. If that’s the case, consider a dark gray or navy blue that would hide stains, requiring a little less upkeep.
Crown Moldings Adds Character
Implementing crown moldings and color to tired walls brings life to nearly every area of one’s home. This type of project can be a bit intimidating, especially if walls aren’t straight. But check out the new products on the market, which solves this issue.
It might be necessary to talk to an expert before embarking on this type of project, but we’re sure the results are well worth the time involved. Check out how the difference that the painted crown moldings added to this home’s living room area. The white doorways and moldings are a perfect contrast to the berry-colored walls.
A Patio Made for Entertaining
Some of us are fortunate to have an outdoor space for entertaining friends and family. But even the outside needs to be spruced up and kept fresh and inviting. Check out the before picture on this blah patio that has seen happier times.
The flooring here was accomplished with patio tiles, which are an affordable and attractive solution to livening up the barbecue space. Before taking on such a project, make sure to speak to a professional to understand exactly what tiles are needed to survive the outdoor elements.
Faux Crown Moldings
We already know that crown moldings are a great way to accent the walls, but if budget is an issue, consider attempting a faux option. In this case, the molding was done with only wallpaper strips that have a 3-D feel to it. It appears as if there are wooden slats just below the ceiling, but that’s not the case. This particular molding creates a contrast to the rest of the wall.
This easy addition adds a feeling that thought and consideration were put into the space, while also bringing the area to life. While this job can be done as a DIY project, certain things must be considered, is the wall even straight, and if not, how do we adjust for that. It’s important not to bring attention to a less than a perfectly straight wall.
Glass Cabinets Come Alive in the Kitchen
Remodeling a kitchen is almost always a larger than average expense. One way to update a dreary, tired kitchen while keeping costs down is to simply change a couple of doors. This before and after illustrates the dramatic difference that switching out two doors for wooden framed glass doors can achieve.
This is an easy DIY that can be done, but proper measuring and brackets are a must. Another important note, make sure that you’re displaying items that you want to showcase, maybe wine glasses or silver serving pieces. Its important to remember to keep the displayed area organized and dust-free.
Total Facelift with New Cabinet Doors
This homeowner went a step further and changed all the drawers and doors in her kitchen. She also updated the oven to a sleek stainless steel model that fits in perfectly with the updated look of the kitchen. She even went further still, and changed the counter-tops that gave a light and bright feel to her kitchen.
We really dig how a door was removed from one cabinet altogether and turned into a bookshelf to display cookbooks and colorful bowls proudly. Good job here. It looks like a totally new kitchen. This job is a bit harder and might require a professional to correctly measure the doors to avoid mishaps.
Kitchen Cabinets Can Be Repainted
If replacing the kitchen cabinets isn’t in the cards, that’s okay. If the doors are in good shape, consider painting them. This before and after picture shows how a simple paint job and some new hardware can make a world of difference. The dull cabinets in the before picture, appear to be in good shape but needed just a little something. By sanding down and repainting the doors, you’ll be saving thousands of dollars compared to replacing them altogether.
New handles and knobs that pop also make a vast difference. And in the same way that the owner of this kitchen went with dark brown, if wanted, the exact opposite can be done. Consider brightening up the kitchen with lighter colors such as white or even light gray to accent the stainless steel oven and gray speckled counter-tops.
Brighten The Space with New Lighting
Simple hacks, such as replacing a lackluster chandelier that has seen better days, is a great way to spruce up any space in your home. This Tiffany-style lamp creates a warm and cozy feel and is a far better choice than the outdated lighting that was there before.
Check out the warm glow emanating from the stained glass fixture. We also prefer this option to the previous for proper upkeep, making it easier to maintain and keep free of dust. This lighting gets a unanimous thumbs up from our team.
Consider a Lily Pond
This homeowner isn’t lucky just because he has a yard; it’s the fact that he has a sizable one that we admire. Check out how this yard was updated and carefully thought out. We like the dedicated space turned into a mini lily pond with Adirondack chairs to sit back and enjoy the beauty of the water and greenery.
This type of re-do is definitely geared towards more experienced DIYers. In most cases, one will need to consult a professional landscaper before attempting to embark on this kind of project. Definitely a statement area in any backyard.
A Deck to Die For
This dull and dreary backyard got a drastic makeover, and the improvement is beyond words. This will most likely require a professional or two for the planning and some of the execution. But if the DIYer is handy with wood and has a creative mind, the possibilities are endless.
This deck and garden space is well planned, and considerable thought was given to the exterior of the home. The wooden garden boxes and overall decking mesh perfectly with the wooden look and feel of this lovely home. We’re loving the attention made to the grassy area that was not overlooked either, and the result is pure perfection.
Replacing Dull and Outdated Linoleum
Okay, so the linoleum or vinyl flooring at home has seen better days, and cost is a significant factor in deciding if to replace or update. While ceramic tiles can be a great option, sometimes we’re not ready to upgrade to that and prefer to stick with what we know. Linoleum has its advantages and can withstand a lot of foot traffic, abuse, and basic wear and tear.
The flooring in the before picture shows a worn-out flooring that’s past it’s prime. The best part is, it’s a simple fix to upgrade. As long as the original flooring has firmly adhered to the ground or floor, it’s possible to simply lay the new vinyl flooring over the existing. This laundry room definitely seems updated and more pleasing to the eye.
Breathing New Lift into that Lifeless Concrete Stoop
The entrance to your house is just as important as the inside. This dull front stoop or entrance to the home went from dull to wow and it’s an easy project for most DIYers. By adding some bricks to the steps one can easily liven up the entrance and truly make it an inviting area of the home.
We do suggest that you consult with a brick-paver before attempting this. In the majority of cases, bricks can be added on concrete steps without the need for mortar even. An important note to remember, make sure the concrete area to be covered is correctly sloped.
Even Garages Need TLC
Even if we’re lucky enough to have a dedicated garage for our cars and/or other items that just don’t need to be inside the home, some thought needs to be given to this space. If cars are parking in the space, then oil spills and other stains are a given. But we don’t have to grin and bear it. Let’s not even get into how hard it is to remove oil stains from concrete floors.
If the concrete floors are replaced with epoxy, keeping it clean and presentable is a snap. And, don’t forget, colors become an option with epoxy floors, making it more pleasant to look at. In most cases, this requires professional help, but well worth the investment. Check out the after, with the sleek red epoxy floor that is aesthetic and pleasing to the eye.
A Bathroom Vanity is Given a 2nd Chance
Don’t get us wrong, we didn’t hate the gray vanity in the before picture. But, if it’s been a while since the last update, maybe it’s time to consider breathing new life into a dull, but still useable piece of furniture. This specific vanity was still in great shape but needed a minor facelift, which made a dramatic difference.
By ‘washing’ the vanity with paint that has a slightly marbled effect, and focusing on the raised areas, this vanity looks brand new. While the owner kept with the original color scheme, it’s easy to see that going for a totally different hue is definitely a possibility. This is an easy fix, and even a novice can accomplish this, as long as the directions on the paint are followed to the letter.
Do Not Shy Away From Antiques
Considering to work on an article of antique furniture can be a bit daunting for most. Many of us are afraid of ruining the original aesthetic, resulting in damaging the original character of the item. But check out this dresser that was transformed into a bathroom vanity.
While the before and after picture clearly shows the lines of the dresser weren’t altered. This project was mainly a matter of sanding the wood and priming it for the paint. As the vanity is used in an area where water and humidity are a big factor, choosing the proper paint and correctly sealing is of critical importance.
Accent Walls Are a Real Thing
Many of us are afraid of letting our creative juices out when it comes to our homes, especially when it comes to focusing on the walls in our space. We tend to think if we go crazy on furniture, it can be replaced or tossed and it’s temporary, but the same holds true for our walls.
A boring white or off-white wall can be transformed into a statement wall that draws the eye towards it. This wall was created using stone veneers in natural tones, which give texture and much-needed contrast to otherwise dull white walls. We also appreciated the wooden shelving in rich dark brown.
Concrete Slabs Can and Should Be Hidden – Part 1
Check out this patio, which at first had major cracks clearly seen throughout. Correcting this issue isn’t an easy fix. What is a possible option is covering it up with weather-resistant wood flooring, creating a deck area that is inviting.
By covering the cracked concrete, the area is transformed, lending a cozy and pleasant aura of cohesiveness between the greenery and the patio area. We really liked the gray wooden accents, which also added character to the deck space. We are imagining being outside and enjoying a lovely spring afternoon with family and friends.
Concrete Patios Can Be Covered Up – Part 2
This concrete slab is in decent shape, and cracks aren’t an issue. But it’s still gray and boring. Just because it’s concrete and not moveable doesn’t mean we’re stuck with it. We can easily cover it up with weather-resistant tiles, which are easy to maintain.
This patio area was transformed from drag to fab by simply adding large tiles in natural hues that are perfect for any outdoor space. Maintaining is easy by simply hosing down the area when needed. We appreciated the patio furniture that made this boring area into a spot that is enjoyed by the entire family.
Gray Doesn’t Mean Dull and Lifeless
Many of us envision the ideal kitchen being bright and white, but even that gets old and boring after a while. This updated kitchen was done with minimal expense and yet yielded maximum results. The white doors were sanded and repainted in a matt gray that melds exceptionally well with the appliances and countertops.
We like the attention given to the updated backsplash, which adds warmth to the otherwise colder gray color scheme. We appreciate that the plastic plants were removed and tastefully replaced with more appealing artwork. We like that the paint was updated, and the lighting fixture got a thumbs up as from us as well.
Don’t Rush to Toss that Old Sofa
Sometimes we can’t see beyond what’s in front of our eyes. But, this sofa was destined to be given a new life. We all know what the perfect, comfy sofa or chair feels like, but sometimes it’s old and worn. Maybe the family pets have gotten their paws into it and made it their chew toy or scratching post.
We know what shopping for the perfect piece of furniture can be like. We go to numerous shops, test em out, try to picture them in our homes, but that nagging feeling of ‘it’s not as comfortable as what we currently have.’ So consider reupholstering your favorite sofa. It’s not always the cheapest, but sometimes it is the perfect solution. The options of fabrics are vast and can make all the difference is perking up a boring sitting space.
Go Crazy With Fabric
Many of us have that favorite chair or sofa that we just can’t get rid of, no matter how old and worn out it’s gotten. It’s so comfortable that we can’t wait to settle into it with our favorite book and just chill. But when standing back and looking at it, we find ourselves groaning and thinking it’s time for a change. If this is the case, consider reupholstering that favorite chair or couch.
It’s not always cheaper than replacing; we admit that. But it does retain in the integrity of the original, and we have a chance to add a pop of color where there might not be any right now. Check out the difference here in this before and after. Something to consider, that’s all we’re saying.
A Mini Trail for the Backyard
For those of us stuck at home during the months-long lockdown, we’re not sure how much longer it’s going to last. We are sure that many of us have some spare time on our hands at home, itching to make upgrades around the house. So let’s look at the backyard this time. Some of us are fortunate to have a large yard, but they might require some major TLC, and this might be a great time to get moving on such a project.
We admired this mini walkway in the yard and appreciated the improvement it made to an otherwise ordinary yard. The pathway was thought out in advance and well planned before executing, resulting in a lovely walkway. For those with no prior experience, the following needs to be taken care of before and during this endeavor, planning the walkway, digging out the soil, adding paver sand, and laying pavers. If steps are being considered, we suggest contacting a proper landscaper and consulting beforehand.
Barn Doors Aren’t Just for the Farm
There’s something about bringing the country vibe to a city apartment. We love how this barn door was used to replace the usual door we’re accustomed to seeing. Practically any door in one’s home can be switched to a barn door. The only thing is to remember these doors require special hanger and tracks.
Due to the growing popularity of barn doors, the selection is growing and is now available in a large variety of styles, textures, and colors. We love the rustic feel of this particular door and the paint, which transformed the space into a warm and inviting country haven.
Another Take on Updating That Private Room
This bathroom floor got a total overhaul, and the results are astounding. Form dull linoleum floors to tiled ceramics, we gave this update a big thumbs up. We like the gray hue of the flooring against the white grout, which really pops
Don’t fret, because if budget is an issue, consider repainting old cabinets, changing towels, and maybe a funky colorful rug to add some much-needed pizzazz to a drab restroom. Check out how a few wooden accents add life to this otherwise drab shower area.
Even the Smallest Changes Can Make A Huge Difference
Check out this before and after of the vanity mirror. Amazing what a thick, bulky frame can do to a boring mirror. Notice nothing else, but the frame was changed. The mirror comes to life with a simple fix. Before attempting to frame an existing mirror, we suggest pricing one that’s already framed.
Many times with a bit of surfing online and shopping around, it might be better to buy it ready-made as opposed to building it from scratch. Although the scratch part is pretty simple for someone that passed a high school wood-shop class and it could be a fun weekend project.
Updating the Bannister
Like it or hate it, homes with stairs and banisters need to be updated and repainted on occasion. If we’re talking about wooden banisters, this is easy to do as a weekend DIY project. Sanding and prepping the banister is a bit time consuming, depending on the carvings and other details in the wood.
Always a good idea to research this before attempting. Also, another consideration is to give the banister a facelift by removing or replacing wooden accents on the actual railing. This image shows how a worn-out banister went from drab to fab.
Concrete Vanity, Seriously
Check out this concrete countertop in this updated bathroom. We’ll start with, this isn’t for novices and might best be left to the professionals. Don’t think concrete is the right choice? Consider quartz then, as it’s one of the strongest materials out there.
Quartz is the least porous when comparing to other types of natural stone. This means it can withstand water and humidity. The colors and possibilities are endless. Be warned, this is a pricey update but can be scaled down if you decide to go with concrete.
Black Walls? Why Not?
Most of us can’t fathom painting our bedroom black or any other dark color, but check out this dramatic look of this bedroom and the difference the black paint has made. Although, to be honest, the bright wood floors helped not make the room feel too small or closed in.
The bed was also switched to match the dramatic color, and the right linen was also chosen. While going for dark colors isn’t for everyone, we aren’t objecting to how this room turned out. The moral of the story here is not to fear color.
Updating the Kitchen Counter
There are several options to consider, some inexpensive, to update old countertops. Painting is one option, while creating a concrete one is another. Laying tiles on the existing Formica is an alternative way to go, as is installing a butcher block.
Whatever is decided, updating the counter can make a statement in the kitchen, without the need for a full-on remodel. We’re not going to say that installing a new counter-top is hard or easy; it’s case by case and depends on hands-on experience. We do suggest researching this thoroughly before tackling such an endeavor.
Pergolas Add the Perfect Finishing Touch
Pergolas are a great addition to most patios and backyards. While we’re not advocating that DIY novices even attempt this significant project, it’s something to consider consulting an expert about. This can be done on a budget and might be an option for those who truly love their outdoor space.
Depending on the neighborhood and HOA rules, definitely check if licensing and approvals are needed before embarking on this type of project. Check out the difference this pergola made to an otherwise pleasant, but not very exciting backyard. The slats on the roof of the pergola need to be considered before installation, as rain and sun need to be factored in.
Creating An Outdoor Haven
We love this before and after. From a boring, neglected yard to a charming stone pathway, lined with lovely flowering bushes. This may require a consultation with a landscaper, but it’s not that difficult to accomplish. The possibilities are endless, as long as we’ve got the imagination and fortitude to take on such a project.
Just a few things that need to be considered before beginning such a project include figuring out the boundary for the pathway, removing all weeds and other vegetation—leveling the stones, and installation of a weed barrier to keep it looking clean and tidy. There’s much more to it, but with a simple web search, it’s really a doable project.
An Outdated Patio Gets a 2nd Chance
This type of DIY is definitely for the more experienced among us. This will require consulting and significant planning in advance, but just get a look at how this drab patio area came to life with a wooden pergola and lovely stairs.
This job required creating a cement deck that was covered in wood paneling, but the results are truly amazing. Hard to imagine not spending every available chance in the backyard when this is the setting. The plant accents are a welcome and cozy addition. The furniture is also inviting and begging to be used for entertaining family and friends.
Don’t Toss Those Dining Room Chairs Just Yet
Yup, we’re all for repurposing furniture, no secret there. The same goes for dining room chairs. No need to rush out to buy new chairs when a simple upgrade can be accomplished by simply picking out some fabric and reupholstering the chairs.
What’s great with this option is that this is relatively inexpensive to do, whether on your own or by using a professional. We like the idea of redoing existing dining chairs, as it’s somewhat affordable to change them every so often, giving a fresh new feeling to an otherwise staid item of furniture.
From Dresser to Kitchen Island
Here’s another worn-out dresser that’s seen better days. What a difference the butcher block and wheels made to this otherwise ordinary item of furniture. We like the fact that drawers were removed to showcase the colorful bowls. The drawers are great for hiding cutlery and other items and keeping them dust-free in the enclosed drawer is a major plus.
The wheels are a huge bonus and make this a moveable and usable workspace that can be a great addition to any kitchen area. If wheels are added, it’s imperative to keep in mind the total weight of the ‘island’ when it’s full and make sure the wheels can be locked to keep the item from moving.
Another Dresser Repurposed for the Kitchen
Who wouldn’t want a dream kitchen? Many of us drool when seeing celeb kitchens in magazines or on TV, but most of us humans don’t have unlimited budgets to go nuts on a kitchen remodel. So here’s an idea for converting an old dresser into an island for the kitchen.
Depending on the state of the furniture, most likely sanding and repainting will be involved. Placing a sturdy butcher-block above is affordable and should be done a few inches beyond the top of the dresser to give more workspace. Removing drawers is an option for an open space to display cookbooks or colorful bowl, or leave the drawers for additional storage. We really dig this before and after pic.
Peel and Stick Tiles
Check out this dramatic before and after. This floor got a new life without much effort or expense and in Oprah’s words, ‘That’s a good thing.’ Depending on the manufacturer, these are not only affordable but also easy to install for even the novice DIYer. We really liked that no adhesive or grout was needed.
The fact that they’re resistant to water-resistant and easy to clean are also big pluses in our eyes. We checked out several companies that offer online consulting, ordering, and delivery and were impressed with the prices and the ranges of colors and patterns. A great and affordable way to update a floor that needs a facelift.
Updating the Stairs
This type of project may require a professional, but the before and after shows it might be worth it. Notice how frayed and worn out the stairs appear in the before picture. By looking closely it appears that the owner of this home opted to cover the wood floors and cover entirely in carpeting.
Not sure we’d have gone that route, as nothing compares to the rustic warmth and charm of wooden floors. Depending on the residents of this home and the foot traffic, carpeting is sometimes preferable to having scratched up wooden floors that do require more TLC than carpeting. The dark-colored carpeting may signal that the home is filled with kids, and maintenance of the flooring was a factor in the choice to cover.
Panels Add Richness to Any Wall
Check out this before and after and admit it, wall panels are truly timeless. They add an air of richness and completion to nearly any decor, regardless if it’s modern, traditional, or mid-century. Wall panels are usually done with MDF panel boards that require panel glue to adhere them to the walls.
This can of course be done as a DIY project, but remember that a car big enough to carry the panels is required unless delivery from the company is an option. It’s of utmost importance to remember that allowances for sockets need to be calculated. This is also the time to make sure that there’s no issue of dampness or water issues in either the floors or the walls. We especially admired the contrasting colors between the panels and the wall, making the panels pop against the untouched walls.
Maximizing the Space Above the Cabinets
Check out this before and after pic. Many of us have space above our kitchen cabinets, which is usually full of dust and used to store plastic plants or unused items. Most people dread having to go up and clean or dust the area, but we aren’t in a position to remodel the kitchen and install cabinets that go all the way up to the ceiling.
We suggest giving this usually forgotten area some real attention. We like the addition of the wooden shelf in a contrasting color. We admire the thought put into making it a proper display area, with a beveled edge that makes a real statement. Make sure to display items that add to the overall design of the kitchen. But, sadly, this will still require occasional dusting, but when it looks like this, we would want to maintain the clean and inviting look.
Fireplaces Need Attention Too
What a treat it is to have a fireplace in our homes. For those lucky to have an area to enjoy a cold winter evening, by a roaring fire, we are green with envy. But we’re only envious if care and thought were put into it and in this before and after we can see the difference between dated and wow.
This renovation was on the cheaper end, as it was done with stone veneers to cover the old bricks and wood. The shelf above was added to the existing one to give it a more substantial feel, and it works. Check out the wood accent on the wall that replaced the TV. We’re major fans of this before and after.
No One Will Ever Guess Those Baseboards Are Fake
Baseboards, when done properly, protect the wall and lend an air of warmth and completion to the area. But proper baseboards can be costly when using professionals to install. If we’re dealing with shorter than desired baseboards, we can add height to them by adding a painted wooden trim several inches above the existing baseboards. Remember to paint before adhering to the walls.
The added trim adds height and appears taller than they actually are. This before and after picture displays how simple it is to achieve a more dramatic look to an otherwise ignored part of the wall. The difference is impressive, especially when the color of the wall and baseboards contrast with each other.
Minimalism in the Bathroom
We can’t help but admire this freestanding white sink. When comparing the previous standard, dull and dated sink and cabinet combo, the updated white ceramic has us smiling and admiring the difference repacing a sink can make. The clean lines in the after photo shows what a big difference a little effort can make.
We appreciate the shelves for the towels and other toiletries. For novices, we’d suggest consulting with a plumber to see how feasible it is to do as a DIY project. Thoughts to the flooring and pipes need to be considered before ripping out a cabinet.
Repurposed Dresser Into a Vanity
We can’t get enough of this transformation. It’s sometimes hard to imagine re-purposing an older dresser into something it wasn’t intended to be. But this dresser that was turned into a vanity is simply a work of art. We love that the original handles were kept and that the wooden artifact got a new life.
As always, before embarking on such a project, make sure the paint is waterproof and can withstand the humidity and conditions of the area it’s being considered for. The custom-ordered marble counter is the perfect contrast for the white above-counter sink. Major kudos are given for this project.
A Patio with Privacy
We like the add-on that this homeowner made to his cozy little patio. We respect the fact that we could all use a little privacy and what a cool way to achieve this. This is also a great solution when the view from the patio is less than appealing.
We’d personally have added some more greenery to the erected wall-like wooden fence. Notice that the furniture was updated as well to add contrast to the lovely patio. Darker colored weather-resistant outdoor furniture will last longer than white plastic and usually looks better. Good job!
An Organized Cabinet Equals an Organized Mind
Let’s be honest, most of us don’t give much thought to the cabinet under the sink. But once something goes wrong and we’re forced to go under there, for whatever reason, we almost always swear we’ll tackle that space. Well, now might just be that time. Check out this before and after and admit it, we’d all love to be this organized.
These nifty shelves are attached to the cabinet doors and are on rails to allow easy access to the pipe under the sink. This job does require proper measuring. Whether we decide to go for pre-made units or custom build them ourselves, make sure to take into account the items that’ll be stored on the shelves. This is a great before and after and many on our team are already planning on tackling this fix.