1.) Programmable Thermostat: OK, so we know that this particular home improvement project doesn’t add anything aesthetically to your home design, but let’s be honest- trimming around 5-10% a year off your heating/cooling bill, plus allowing you more control over the interior temperature, all while getting a new high-tech gadget is a win-win-win-win situation. A programmable thermostat allows you to avoid ever having to come home to a sweltering heat after a long day of work. It allows you piece of mind when leaving pets at home, no matter how hot it is outside. Coming in at around $75-$120 to have one installed for you- it’s truly an incredibly cost-effective way to make sure you get the most comfort possible out of your home. HouseLogic.Com has some pretty good information on choosing what type of thermostat will suit your needs. And no need to fear! Programmable thermostats (like most other electronic devices in our day-and-age) have become more and more user-friendly and easy to operate.2.) Add a Splash of Color with an Accent Wall:Painting an entire wall can be a nightmare (believe me, we know), and after a long week of work, the prospect of taking on such an overwhelming and exhausting task inevitably leads to a room that stays that same old neutral beige. Well- here’s a compromise. How about an accent wall? The difference a single wall of bold color can make in a room cannot be ignored. An accent wall is a great place to start remodeling or refurnishing your home. It gives you a base color palate with which to work, and can aid in the later selection of pillows, rugs, chairs etc. With an overall project time hovering around 6-8 hours (depending on the size of the wall you’re painting) from start to finish; painting an accent wall is a sure-fire way to add a touch of pizzazz to your room.3.) Paint a Custom Headboard or Faux Headboard:The sky is really the limit on this one. And the best part is that your ventures through a local thrift shop or Goodwill can yield amazing results at unbelievably low prices (if any). Being in touch with, and actively monitoring Craigslist is a secret weapon when it comes to designing on a realistic budget. You can go with vibrant, muted, pastels, or even fabrics and various textures!Recently a trend has been becoming more and more popular in US homes: a faux headboard. What does this mean? It means that you literally use the wall and space already available to create a creative and very innovative design in place of a bulky headboard in your room. Pinterest has some beautiful galleries if you’re looking for some inspiration. The complexity and project time it will take to finish a headboard creation of your very own is entirely up to you. Some companies even offer templates and decals that can be stuck directly to a wall. The advantage to a faux headboard is beyond aesthetic. Aside from the space you can save, and the flexibility in design you will have, a faux headboard is easy to change, easy to update, and can be modified to reflect changing trends or a changing room.4.) DIY Message Center:If you’re anything like me, your life is a constant cacophony of mental “to-do” lists, family engagements to keep, errands that need to be run, bills that need to be paid, and a way of communicating that often gets lost in the mix. Creating a DIY message center is a perfect way to make sure everyone is on the same page. What’s wonderful about these types of message centers is that most, if not all, of the materials you may need can either be found at a local thrift store or on the free section of CL. Don’t marry yourself to chalkboard either. Although chalkboard is an easy solution (especially now that it comes in huge sheets with an adhesive back ( like contact paper), you should also consider using a pane of glass (painted on one side) and framed! It’s the perfect mimic of a dry-erase board, but with markedly more style. You can even use a very thin piece of aluminum if you want to exclusively use magnets, and for those talented seamstresses out there- cloth and ribbon will also create a beautiful, versatile, and most importantly- functional piece to your home… and on a budget. Many of these message centers come with a section for mail, a section to write notes, and a board to post important bulletins to yourself or your family. I’ve seen every design style from rustic to modern, so whatever the style of your home, you can build a message center to compliment your design scheme while adding functionality.5.) Change Your Faucets:An often over-looked item on the “home improvement” list- changing your faucets is a simple way to really alter the look and feel of a room. Outside of accent pillows, it is the easiest way to breathe life back into a kitchen or bathroom. Your local hardware store has some great selections – don’t be afraid to be a little daring! Just make sure that all of the hardware matches, and decide whether or not it is important to you to have the same hardware throughout the house. This is also a perfect opportunity to re- pet-proof and child-proof your low lying cabinets.6.) Add Some Under/Over Cabinet Accent Lighting:If you want to really add some wow to your living space, consider over/under cabinet lighting. I cannot stress enough: spend the additional money and get lids. At $20 a roll, you can get LED rope lighting in any color you can imagine. Dramatic lighting like this can add incredible depth and dimension to your design space while creating a great atmosphere and additional lighting without the bulk or hassle of adding a new lighting fixture. Some companies do offer these types of lights at a premium- requiring electrical work and a contractor, but the same effect can be achieved with a simple trip to a local store and a little bit of clever fastening. Secure the rope lights out of sight at the junction where your counter meets the body of the cabinet, or hidden on the very top. The lights will reflect light off the wall or cabinet (depending on placement) and will create a dramatic, and beautiful effect that really gives a cutting edge style to any room.7.) Add a Back-Splash:Now, depending on how you go about this- it can be both costly and time consuming to install a back splash on your wall. Unless you have some experience with DIY home improvement, I would suggest leaving tile and grout projects to a professional, however, there are ways to install a back splash that can be done by anyone, regardless of experience level. Many home improvement stores sell sheets of pre-made, self-adhesive back splashes that mimic the look of real ceramic tile. Of course- consult with a professional (even if only your native home improvement associate) about which type and material of tile or tile replica you should get. A backsplash is another element like the accented wall; it’s a dash of color and a break up homogeny that adds texture and life to a drab space.8.) Throw Pillows:This is more a decorating tip than a home improvement tip- but its details like these that can really tie a room together and help a design space make that leap from concept to polished idea. Think bold and bright. Throw pillows can be just enough color to make a room interesting without being overwhelming or overbearing. Experiment with different texture and fabric combinations, find a mix that suits you. Inexpensive, with big impact; throw pillows are the un-sung heroes of home interior design.9.) Paint Your Front Door:Look at almost any “tips, tricks, and ideas” for home improvement, and somewhere on that list will be replacing/repainting the front door. I couldn’t agree more. Beyond the obvious curb appeal, painting your front door can really refresh your home and add some vibrancy and style to your home-front. First impressions are the most important, right? Make the first impression of your home to be one of happiness and warmth. For less than $30, you won’t believe the difference it will make!10.) Pick a Room: Replace All the Cloth You See:Updating window treatments, runners, rugs, pillows, and can transform any room in a matter of an instant. That’s the wonderful thing about color; it can change not only the look, but the feel of any space. Even something as simple as replacing curtains can shed years off the appearance of your home- and let’s face it- replacing window treatments is another task on that perpetual, and unending list of “I’ll get to that one day” projects we all keep tucked away. Changing accents like these is flexible, non-committal, and allows space for experimentation and growth over time. Not many home improvement projects can provide that kind of fluidity.In closing – as much as we would like to think that the only way to make a real impact on the aesthetics of a home is through big design projects, there are clearly small ways in which anyone can transform their home on a realistic budget, in a short amount of time. The above listed improvements can be a family project, involve family, friends, and enjoy creating a beautiful home space and spending some quality time with those close to you. You don’t have to break the bank to change your home’s style. It’s a journey that can be accomplished one step at a time.