20 DIYs to Update An Old Home

Do you want to update your old home?

When we moved into our 1970s ranch, we knew that we wanted to update it to make it look so much more modern.  Spending $15,000 to upgrade the kitchen wasn’t in the budget.  Since we love DIY projects, and also wanted to do things that were going to be easy on the wallet, we searched for the cheapest, easiest ways to really update our home.  Here, I have compiled a list of our favorite DIYs to upgrade an old house.

Here are some easy DIYs to upgrade your home.

1. Change or paint your air registers.

If your registers are in good condition, paint them.  My current registers had some sort of orange stain on them in places.  A little bit of spray paint made them look new again.  Do your grates have tons of old paint on them?  Replace those.  It is a little upgrade but makes the whole room look fresh and new.  Here are some pretty ones from Amazon.

Decor Grates ST410 Scroll Floor Register, Textured Black, with Airflow Control Tab Construction, Rust Proof Damper Box, 4-Inch by 10-Inch
Accord AMFRSNV410 Victorian Floor Register, 4-Inch x 10-Inch(Duct Opening Measurements), Satin Nickel


2.  Scrape that popcorn ceiling.

A popcorn ceiling really dates the house.  There are ton of great posts on how to scrape a popcorn ceiling.  This post is about the easiest how to I have seen on the subject, but there are many on Pinterest.

Here is an 18 inch scraper that comes with great reviews, perfect for scraping that ceiling!

3. Change the outlets and light switches to be white.

Does your house still have beige colored outlets and switches?  There are two options.

First, you could replace the outlets completely.  This option takes a little bit of electrical know-how but really brings the house up to date.  Do not attempt this without doing research, acquiring the correct tools, and switching the breakers off.  If this is done wrong, you could die or start a fire.  If this is done right, your house will look so much more modern!  This 10 pack of outlet covers is a great price value!


This cover just goes over your the plugs and makes them white, without having to do any electrical work.  AMAZING!  And the price isn’t bad either!

4. Paint your walls.

Cheap, easy and has a huge impact. Go for neutrals, as they are in style in any house.  Check out my whole house color scheme if you’re lacking inspiration!  If you have really high walls, or a stairwell that needs painted, be sure to find out how to paint them the easy way!

DIYS for an Old House
A Whole House Color Scheme

5. Paint your trim.

Do you have oak trim? Yellowed white trim?  Paint it!  Here are my tips on how to paint trim the easy way.

6. Replace your light fixtures.

Again, this one takes research.  It really is not hard to do though, and changes the whole feel of the room.  One of my favorite ways to change a room is to switch a ceiling fan to a chandelier.  So gorgeous.  Here are a few of my favorites – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive these amazing lights are!


Westinghouse Lighting 6333600 Stella Mira Six-Light Indoor Chandelier, Barnwood and Oil Rubbed Bronze Finish Barnwood & Oil
Best Choice Products 6-Light Home Ceiling Candle Chandelier Hanging Fixture – Bronze
Trans Globe Lighting 9018 ROB Indoor Candle 26.5″ Chandelier, Rubbed Oil Bronze
Dolan Designs 1275-26 Double Organza 3 Light Semi Flush mount, Chrome
CLAXY Ecopower Industrial Edison Vintage Style 1-Light Pendant Glass Hanging Light
Westinghouse 6227400 Sylvestre Five-Light Interior Chandelier, Brushed Nickel Finish with Frosted Seeded Glass

7. Paint the exterior doors.

Doors that are dented or dirty can look brand new again with a little love and paint.  Fill in any major dents with Durham’s Water Putty, and then paint the door with a high quality exterior paint.  You’re not limited to just painting the outside of an exterior door.  Look at how dramatic of a difference a change of paint made in this room.

Paint Exterior Door  Paint exterior door

8. Spray paint brass fixtures, or replace them altogether.

Brass door knobs, faucets and handles really date a room.  It’s easy to spray paint them, and they also make a special brass darkening solution that gives your brass knobs an aged look.  It either of those solutions doesn’t strike your fancy, replace them altogether.

9. Re-stain, or paint your cabinets.

Check out how we restained the cabinets, and painted (and added trim!) to the kitchen island.  Such a more updated look!

10. Change the knobs and pulls on your cabinets.

Stylish knobs are cheap and impactful on an old cabinet.  Changing them out takes minutes, but the upgrade is huge.  I’ve searched high and low for the best prices on knobs, and Amazon has, by far, the best prices.  Cosmas brand knobs are my top picks, because I love the price and quality!

25 Pack – Cosmas 305-030BB Brushed Brass Cabinet Hardware Euro Style Bar Handle Pull – 3″ Hole Centers, 5-3/8″ Overall Length
Cosmas 783ORB Oil Rubbed Bronze Cabinet Hardware Bin Cup Drawer Handle Pull – 3″ Inch (76mm) Hole Centers – 10 Pack
25 Pack – Cosmas 4950SN Satin Nickel Cabinet Hardware Round Mushroom Knob – 1-1/4″ Diameter

11. Add corbels or legs under your countertop bar.

Adding a little under the counter accent gives your island a custom look. The whole kitchen will look upgraded.

Check out this corbel for an easy and inexpensive kitchen update.

12. Redo the caulk in your bathrooms.

Nothing screams old like cruddy, yellowed (or worse, moldy!) caulk in your bathrooms.  Scrape it out using a softening agent and a scraper, and put new caulk in.  Stay tuned for a how to on making perfect edges with your caulk.

13.  Paint the grout.

Is your grout dirty and discolored?  Paint it!  Polyblend comes in a ton of updated colors, or in perfect whites, and really makes an old bathroom shine!  Here is how we painted our bathroom grout.

14. Add a shiny kickplate to your front door.

After you have painted your front door, put a new kickplate on the bottom.  The really snazz up the door, and balance out a fantastic farmhouse wreath or some other decoration at the top of the door.

15. Add trim to your doors and windows.

Wider trim really gives your house a custom feel.  Trim can be added to your additional trim to give your doors and windows a grander look.

16. Remove that brass fireplace cover.

If you like it and want to keep it,spray paint it to a matte black or oil rubbed bronze finish.  There are awesome tutorials for how to do this all over Pinterest.

17. Add trim to your cabinets.

Putting trim on the top of your cabinets gives your kitchen a custom feel.  It is easy, fast and does not require too many special tools.

18. Whitewash your fireplace or other interior brick.

A whitewashed fireplace is so gorgeous.  Check out how we whitewashed our fireplace.  It made a huge difference in brightening up the room, and gave the room a farmhouse feel.

DIYs for an Old House

19. Shine the wood floors.

Are your wood floors needing a little love?  Quick Shine Floor Finish is my favorite way to give new life to old wood floors.  You wipe it on with a mop or some old rags, and it leaves a lasting shine.  It’s almost like a little bottle of magic!

20. Declutter.

This one may not seem like much of an upgrade, but think about it. A cluttered house, counter, shelf, table, etc. makes the house look old. A new house is shiny, sparkling and sparse! Remove any knicknack or clutter that you don’t need. Do you have some things that you would like to continue to display? Space them around your home in little vignettes.

There you have it.

20 ways that you can make your older home look like new again.

They take a little bit of work, but they are so worth it.  Each quick, cheap upgrade makes the house feel up-to-date and gives it your own modern style!

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