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    Easy DIY Kitchen and Bathroom Updates

    Did you envy your neighbor’s updated kitchen while visiting for a potluck? Or did you binge-watch home improvement shows over the holidays, and now you're pumped to tackle your nagging bathroom projects?

    When DIY inspiration hits, we often dream up far more upgrades than our budgets can handle, but there are ways to spruce up these spaces without investing thousands of dollars.

    Easy DIY Kitchen and Bath Updates

    Ideas for Updating Your Bathroom

    Work With What You Have 

    Bathrooms easily align to simple updates if major renovations aren’t in the plans. Think about it—the room is relatively small, and likely there is a tile, tub, or floor coloring that’s just not going to change easily with a limited budget, meaning upgrades will have to coordinate with existing pieces. 

    Start simple by choosing colored towels, bath rugs, and shower curtains to add interest. If your bathroom happens to rock the old-school blue, pink, or green tiles, go with it and match new linens accordingly. Fresh, fluffy, white towels always add a spa feel to a small space when all else fails.

    For more bathroom redo inspiration, read How to Add Style to Your Small Bathroom.


    Accessories make big statements inexpensively if they’re creatively placed or grouped on shelves or repurposed furniture like nightstands or painted chairs.

    • Wooden crates and baskets are easy to find and serve as storage for towels or other bathroom necessities. 
    • Reuse clean glass jars for cotton rounds or swabs. 
    • Mason or candle jars hold travel-size toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss.

    woman putting wicker basket on shelf in bathroom

    Photo: iStock.com/brizmaker

    Plants and Greenery 

    If you’ve ever wanted to add plants to your home decorating, the bathroom is the place to try out your green thumb. The options for bathrooms with access to sunlight, even low light, are plentiful because many plants, especially tropical varieties, thrive in regular humidity. 

    Check out these options perfect for bathroom living:

    • Golden and Neon Pothos
    • Spider Plant
    • Tillandsia (Air Plants)
    • Peperomia

    The best case scenario is natural sunlight, but there are ways to work around a windowless bathroom. Depending on your level of dedication, it's possible to display house plants in the bathroom, but you’ll need to transport your low-light thriving plants into the sunlight regularly to get their fix or invest in artificial grow lights. 

    Last but not least anymore, is the option to purchase fake plants. Their quality has improved vastly in the previous five years, and quality faux greenery has lost many of the kitschy bad features. High-end fakes serve their purpose of adding life to an otherwise drab room but are also PCS-friendly for the military homeowner.

    Bump Up the Upgrades

    Water-resistant wainscoting adds character and depth to any bathroom needing an update. It’s best to use this wall covering with the thought “less is more” in mind. Too much water-resistant plastic-looking material detracts from the overall appeal. This Old House details how wainscoting can add warmth to a space typically cooled by hard edges and slick surfaces. 

    If you have a little more time and money, wooden or even linoleum bathroom floors can be dramatically updated with paint. The key to success here is tracking down the best products from primer to paint and sealer, for example, Floor & Patio Latex Enamels by Benjamin Moore.

    Add New Life in the Kitchen

    Because we use our kitchens every day, they can be a source of unhappiness for many people. We spend so much time in the kitchen that we notice every. little. thing. we hate about the space. Significant renovations are costly, so minor updates help with the overall aesthetics.

    Soft Lines

    Soften the hard lines and angles in the kitchen with rugs. They make standing more comfortable and the space more comforting. Experimenting with multiple small-sized rugs may work better than attempting to use one large piece in the middle of the floor. Choose a large print to hide messes and attract the eye away from other unattractive focal points. Window coverings achieve the same effects.

    rugs in kitchen

    Photo: iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

    Hard Lines

    Installing decorative brackets in the kitchen takes eye interest up a notch. Often seen below breakfast bars, they are attractive when mounted in doorway corners. You can find inexpensive options at home improvement stores, but you can also uncover great deals at your local Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.

    The granite countertop craze is still popular but waning. Homeowners are looking for something different that contributes to the kitchen's unique look. Changing out a countertop seems expensive and labor-intensive, but the options have grown substantially and are much more accessible. This HGTV DIY tutorial makes a concrete counter seem doable in a weekend.

    Concrete counters are around for the long haul, but what if you prefer a temporary fix perfect for a rental home? Peel and stick countertops are affordable and removable, and you can find them quickly through Amazon, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Most are vinyl-based with a print that mimics natural stone, such as granite or marble. For the best outcome, choose a product made from high-quality vinyl, and don’t expect too much flexibility in terms of wear and tear. Peel and stick products have a limited lifespan. 

    kitchen with wooden table, plants, and open shelvingPhoto: iStock.com/brizmaker

    New cabinets in a kitchen can easily bust the budget, so alternatives are likely a better place to start. Changing the look of existing cabinets is as easy as removing doors and painting the inside, outside, or both. The end result is colorful open shelving. Take note, that this update requires constant tending to the contents; otherwise, the kitchen will begin to look cluttered. 

    If your kitchen has a lot of dead space, mounting shelves in available areas above the counter adds storage as well as a display space for heirloom china or a collection of stoneware.

    Weekend Project: Backsplash

    The weekend is the perfect time to update or add a backsplash. Tiles are an inexpensive purchase (you can also use temporary peel and stick tiles) because the square footage for a backsplash is small.

    kitchen with blue and white backsplash and blue cabinetsPhoto: iStock.com/Joe Hendrickson

    There are endless options, especially if a high gloss paint is added to the project. Online tutorials offer helpful advice, but attending a how-to class at a local home improvement store might be a better place to start for new DIYers. 

    Don't put off these easy and affordable kitchen and bath fixes that drastically improve your state of mind! It's time to put in the effort and actually enjoy your spaces. For home improvement and design tips, trust MilitaryByOwner to provide current and classic decorating suggestions for your home, whether you’re a renter or a homeowner.

    Home Decorating Toolkit for Military Families

    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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