3 Easy and Affordable Home Improvement Ideas

Wallpaper One Wall
You don’t have to cover every wall to make a dramatic change. Papering only a single wall will do, and that’ll make some of those fine, expensive papers or fabrics affordable. It’ll also lessen the time, effort and mess of papering an entire room. This is an especially good solution for a room with plain walls, slim baseboards and window trim, and no built-ins. You create instant character.

Begin by taking a photo of your existing room and measuring its dimensions. Take these with you to the interior design or wall-covering store. Ask a specialist to help sort through options that’ll work well with your existing furnishings. The specialist will also help you pick the best wall for the new paper and estimate the amount to order.

Some papers can be hard to hang, especially fabrics, rolls with uncut edges and other designer papers. Always check the hanging instructions and ask the dealer about the difficulty level. If you’re a novice paperhanger or fall in love with a super-expensive paper, consider hiring a pro, like Handyman Pro. The extra cost should be modest for a single wall, from $150 to $250.

Be sure to fill holes and smooth your wall before beginning. Rough spots might show through the paper. Then seal the wall surface with an acrylic primer. It dries hard and smooth. This allows you to slide the paper a bit more easily to tighten seams.

Cost: $122 for a double roll of fine wallpaper and $20 to $50 for supplies.

Time: Half to one full day, depending on the wall condition.

Halogen Track Lighting
Track lighting lets you put light exactly where you need it—on countertops, walls or objects—and brighten just about any area. The tiny halogen bulbs emit a dazzling white light that illuminates colors brilliantly.

The price of track lighting has dropped in recent years. And many systems now operate on standard household voltage. That means you don’t have to install a Transformer—just connect to any existing junction box in the ceiling.

The “rail” system that hangs below the ceiling will hold both spotlights and pendants. Rails typically run either 4 or 8 ft. You can bend the rail for a more decorative appearance and position the lights anywhere on it.

Look for rail system kits (typically with three to five light fixtures) in home centers, lighting stores or online. Check manufacturers’ Web sites or check the catalogs at a lighting specialty store to see all the options. This is especially important if you want to assemble your own system or add extra lights to the rail. You want to be sure you get all the correct parts.

Cost: $150 and up for a basic kit.

Time: One to two hours if you have an existing electrical box in the ceiling.

Kitchen Rollouts
Rollouts are one of the easiest and most satisfying upgrades you can make to your kitchen. They bring everything that’s tucked out of sight in the back of cabinets right to your fingertips—you actually gain usable storage space.

If you don’t want to make the rollouts yourself, you can shop for moderately priced yet sturdy rollouts online or at Lowe’s and Home Depot. You simply mount them to the existing shelves in your cabinets with four screws.

The biggest mistake is ordering the wrong size. When you measure the opening in the front of the cabinet, be sure to account for the door, hinges and other obstructions.

Cost: $40 to $80 per rollout.

Time: 15 minutes per rollout.

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