I know only too well how easy it is for a house to turn into a money pit. You start with something trivial and the next thing you know, there are no walls, the plumber is delivering a shocking estimate, and you are buying a faucet that costs more than your wardrobe — as you discover roof repairs and tropical vacations are about the same price. You choose the roof. But not all home updates have to be like that. Sometimes you can make a terrific fix for so little money that you find yourself bragging about it at parties. (Yes, I have done this.)
People don’t always take it well when you brag about how
little money you spent to make your house stunning, but it feels amazing anyway. (And it tends to inspire copycat upgrades.) These 40 impressive home upgrades that cost less than $35 on Amazon are a great place to start.
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
This peel-and-stick strip light so you can install lighting anywhere
If you have a dark closet, corner, or shelf and wish it was better lit, this string light with a manual switch is the perfect solution. Just peel and stick both the mechanical switch and the three-foot strip of LEDs to any surface and you are done. Turn it on with a click. Turn it off with a click. It doesn’t require an outlet because the low-power LEDs are powered by batteries.
A fresh herb garden for your kitchen window
If you love the flavor of fresh herbs in your food but never have them on hand when the mood to cook strikes, try growing them on a window sill. That way, you will always have fresh herbs at hand. This indoor herb garden kit has everything you need to get started. There are pots, soil disks, plant markers, instructions, and seeds to start your own parsley, cilantro, tarragon, chives, and thyme.
The long-armed gooseneck phone holder for maximum viewing convenience
Turn your phone or tablet into an even more useful device by mounting it into this long, gooseneck phone holder that lets you go hands-free and puts the screen exactly where you want it. It clamps to a desk, bedside table, counter, or coffee table so you can cook, work, or relax with the screen where you can see it. The clamp is so adjustable it will hold everything from a phone to a full-sized iPad.
This set of 24 unbreakable champagne flutes
Sometimes the party calls for bubbly. And when that party is large, you need this set of two dozen unbreakable champagne flutes to keep everyone sipping. The flutes are stemless so they won’t tip over as easily, and are easier to wash than those tall, delicate stemmed glasses. And, even though they are plastic, they are crystal clear so you can see those festive bubbles.
This UV flashlight for seeing everything from bugs to pet accidents
Want to freak yourself out? Go camping in the desert and whip out this UV flashlight. You will be able to see all the scorpions that run around at night. Use it when you crash at that roadside motel on the way home, too, and it will tell you if there are bedbugs. And when you get home and the dog looks guilty, wave it around to find the location of that “accident.” It’s a great, packable size and runs on AAA batteries.
A wireless doorbell because it’s so easy to install
Sure, you’re capable of pulling wires to install a new doorbell system but that would take all day and be so boring. This wireless doorbell system takes five minutes and is more convenient to use. Just stick the ringer where your guests will see it. Then plug the receiver in where the people inside will hear it. Easy. And when you want to sit by the pool or lounge in your mancave — but the pizza delivery is on the way — unplug the receiver and bring it with you so you can hear the doorbell from wherever you are. It comes in 10 colors.
This handlebar tablet mount so you can hack your own workout rig
If you don’t want to drop thousands on a connected workout system with a digital trainer, hack your own rig by mounting a tablet to the handlebars of your bike, treadmill, or other exercise equipment with this clever handlebar phone mount that expands to handle most tablets. It will come in handy as a road bike navigation system, too. It’s easy to install and lets you rotate your phone or tablet 360 degrees.
This soft pillow for the bathtub
Sometimes the only way to get a little peace and quiet is to lock yourself in the bathroom. Make yourself comfortable in there by suctioning this soft, inflatable bath pillow to the tub and relaxing into the hot water. It’s roomy enough to support your shoulders and is breathable and soft against your skin.
This weird bib so you don’t have to clean up after shaving
If you are prone to shaving and then walking away from a bathroom covered in shaved whiskers, prevention is the better part of valor here. You might look like a dork for a minute but you won’t have to spend an hour cleaning, which is a fair trade. Just snap this bib beard apron behind your neck and suction the corners to the mirror. Now you are sporting a garment that works a little like a horse diaper. Don’t think too hard about that. Just shave. And when you are done, gather the corners and empty the mess into the trash.
An elegant decanter for serving less-than-elegant whiskey
Go ahead and save a small fortune by buying that huge bottle of whiskey — or the affordable one that deep research has told you punches way above its price tag — but serve it from this nice glass decanter so you don’t have to own that. It has a tight-sealing glass stopper and is sized just right for setting on the table or bar.
The magnetic trick to knowing if the dishes are clean or dirty
End the eternal interrogation about the status of the dishes in the dishwasher with this simple, and decorative, trick. Just stick on this two-sided dishwasher magnet. When you run the dishwasher, flip it around to clean. When you fill it again with dirty dishes, flip it back to dirty. If everyone gets into the habit of signaling, there will be no confusion. It even comes with a magnetic pad you can stick to the dishwasher so it will work on non-magnetized machines.
This over-the-bed mosquito net for an alluring tropical vibe
Even if you don’t have a problem with mosquitos in your bedroom you can evoke a tropical feel — or alternately dreams of
Apocalypse Now — by hanging this mosquito netting over the bed. It will create a cozy nest in there, let you pretend you are on a tropical vacation and give the bedroom a camp vibe. Or sure, use it when camping. Since it is a functional mosquito net with super-fine mesh that even comes with a storage bag, it will keep the bugs off and you can take it with you, quickly, if you get that call about a mysterious ark that needs locating.
A complete cheese knife set for pro-level charcuterie
If you take your charcuterie seriously, get the right tools for the job. This six-piece cheese knife set has every cheese knife you’ve heard of and a few you haven’t. The chisel knife is great for cutting slivers of parmesan and other hard cheeses. The fork stabs hard-to-pick-up feta and pickles. The spreader is great for goat and cream cheese. The narrow plane lets you shovel up small pieces. And the pronged knife is just useful and has holes that stop cheese from clinging to the blade.
The handy battery organizer that also tests for power
Organize that messy battery drawer — and stop throwing out perfectly good batteries because you think they are spent — by putting your collection into this battery storage container with a built-in tester. It holds 95 batteries of a variety of sizes. You can store it in a drawer or mount it to the wall. And the clear lid makes it easy to see when you have a battery you need or are running low. Have doubts about a battery? Touch it to the tester to see how much juice it has.
This 4-pack of tablecloths that turn ratty outdoor tables party-ready
If you throw a white tablecloth over your beat-up and stained outdoor tables, no one will have any idea what’s under there. It will look like it’s ready for a wedding. And this set of four white plastic tablecloths can handle a big party — or several garden parties — with ease. Just wipe them off to clean them. They are waterproof, stain proof, and huge.
A set of 6 rustic Mason jar mugs with straws
Give your parties — or summer outdoor beverages — a farm-in-the-country vibe while making sure no one spills with these six 16-ounce, handled Mason jar mugs that come with tin lids with holes for straws. They are charming, kid-proof, sustainable, and fun. They even come with BPA-free reusable straws.
This dry erase calendar to get clarity on everyone’s schedule
Missed meetings, forgotten soccer games, and the unmanageable mess of managing several schedules are forever sorted when you stick this dry-erase calendar to the fridge and make everyone responsible for putting their events on it. It comes with six colored erasable markers so you can color code to your heart’s content. There is even a bonus shopping list you can stick to the fridge, too, so everyone can note what they want from the store.
This set of floating shelves for decorative storage anywhere
Turn the bathroom wall into useful storage for personal care items and supplies. Create a place at the entry for dropping keys and wallets. Or make a fun display from your collection of action figures or collectibles. Just mount these three floating shelves — in whichever of the nine colors best suits your room — and get creative.
This clever sugar dispenser that serves from the bottom
Dispensing sugar into your coffee with this beehive-shaped sugar container is fun and super easy. Just lift it from the stand that catches any stray sweetener, hold it over your cup, and pull the trigger. Let go when your cuppa is sufficiently sugared, and return it to its resting place. It’s mess-free, looks great on the table, and does a good job with honey, too.
This charging stand that lets you tidily get control of your devices
Give everyone in the house a place to charge their gear and eliminate the constant clutter and chaos of charging cables by setting this small-footprint charging station in a central location. It gathers six devices into one space, standing on end, and provides a tidy, short charging cable for each device. Just plug the whole unit into one plug and solve for everyone. The LED light for each device turns off when that phone is charged.
The simple-but-brilliant stove gap cover that stops spills
Tired of cleaning spills out of that tiny space between the stove and the counter? Prevention is the ticket. Install this silicone gap cover that’s designed to perfectly cover that space so nothing can slide down in there. It’s easy to install. Just cut it to fit and slide it into place. It won’t burn if you set a hot pan on it. It’s easy to clean. And you will forget that it — and that gap — is there because it blends right in.
These storage bins that bring order to your pantry, cleaning closet, or fridge
Create easy order in cupboards, the pantry, under the sink, and inside the fridge by storing like items in clear bins. Once you sort everything into bins, all you have to do is grab the one with snacks, cleaning supplies, or rags to start your task. You can quickly see what’s in these two clear plastic storage bins, they are sized perfectly for household items, and they have easy-grab handles on each end.
A tiny security camera so you can put eyes on your pet or home
If you ever want to keep an eye on your pet when you are away, or maybe you want to see that the kids got home safely and aren’t throwing a party, that can be so easy. Just install this Blink Mini by plugging it in and following the in-app directions. You will be able to see what’s happening, get alerted when there’s movement in your home, and be able to talk to anyone there through the two-way audio in the camera. It can even connect to your Amazon Alexa to make a great baby monitor.
A pocket that attaches to wall switches & keeps your everyday carry handy
Keep your keys, sunglasses, and daily carry right near the door so you don’t have to backtrack once you have everyone packed and headed out. This wall organizer attaches to most wall switch covers — and there is usually one of those right near the entry — and holds everything you need to grab on your way out the door. There’s even a clip for reminders or tickets and hooks to hang keys and leashes.
This wall-mounted storage container for dry goods
Make laundry day or meal prep much easier by mounting this dry goods storage and dispenser kit to the wall. Fill it with dry soap, rice, or oats and you can just hold a cup under it to dispense the amount you need. It hangs easily by sticking to the wall with the included mounting system and comes with two cups that fit it perfectly. “Exactly what I needed to store my rice,” said one reviewer. “It’s cute, compact, and clean-looking, being off the counter.”
The LED alarm clock that doubles as a mirror
This big, LED alarm clock will not only help you start your day on time, but it also serves as a decoration and as a mirror for a bit of last-minute primping. It’s also a charging station for your bedside table since there are two USB ports built into the side. Choose from three levels of brightness so the time doesn’t blare at you and set your own snooze time for a custom wake-up routine.
This mug warmer so your coffee will be drinkable whenever you get to it
Interruptions — from work, kids, the pet, your spouse — are inevitable. But cold coffee doesn’t have to be. Set your hot cuppa on this little mug warmer and it will stay warm — not burnt! — until you are done with it. The long power cord makes it easy to have it right where you want it, the on/off switch lights indicate what’s what, and it cleans easily.
These clever outlet shelves so you have a place for that gadget
Looking for a spot to put your new Echo Dot or that new little Bluetooth speaker you got? These two outlet shelves have the answer: Right over the plug. But they are even better than that. Just plug them in and they give you a shelf for charging gear (with two USB ports and one standard plug) complete with cord channels to minimize mess. They are also a motion-activated light that comes on when it’s dark. Excellent for the bathroom or kitchen.
An expandable shelf that’s designed to fit under the sink
Bring order to that mess under the sink with this purpose-built shelf that expands to fit your needs. It adjusts to fit around your plumbing and to fit into the cupboard you have. It also adjusts in height to accommodate the supplies you want to keep under there. The U shape even lets you slide a trash can in there with your supplies.
This manual button pusher to level up your smart home
There is always one light switch or appliance that can’t be added to your smart-home system because it needs to have a button pushed. This button pusher is the solution. Just mount the SwitchBot so that the action hits the button of your appliance and connect it to your smart home. Now when you run a routine or say, “Alexa, turn on the fan!” it pushes the button. It’s clever and very reminiscent of
Wallace & Gromit.
A compact electric shoe dryer to better care for your kicks
Wet shoes are a problem. It takes them too long to dry and that means if you want to wear them, you have to put your feet into wetness and your feet and shoes will quickly start to smell. This electric shoe dryer fixes that by circulating warm air into the shoe — or hats and gloves — so the interior dries quickly. Your shoes will be ready for you to wear again when you are ready to go out. And they will last much longer.
This set of 4 wall-mounted broom holders to spruce up the closet
Storing long-handled tools like brooms and rakes presents an irritating problem. It requires the better part of a closet to store them and, even then, they constantly fall down and irritate you. These four wall-mounted holders let you keep them in a small space, right where you want them, with none of that hassle. Just stick the mounts to the wall in whatever configuration you like and stick the broom in them.
The dazzling essential oil diffuser that melts stress
This beautiful glass essential oil diffuser makes it easy to fill a room with a relaxing scent and it also serves as a unique night light. Put it in the kids’ room to help them sleep or nap. They will love the fireworks effect from the light as the cool mist infusion relaxes them until they are sleeping like babies. You can set how long you want the scented mist to go on and it shuts off automatically when it’s empty.
An 8-pack of marshmallow roasting sticks for better backyard fire pit nights
When you light the fire pit, bring a bag of hot dogs and marshmallows out there with you and invite everyone to cook themselves dinner, cave-person style, over the fire. Use these wooden-handled, telescoping forks and there will be no need to hunt for sticks or eat food off of something you found on the ground. They extend to 32 inches so no one will get burned and are color-coded to prevent confusion.
These handsome leather coasters with your initials on them
Coasters are a great decorative item and they protect your furniture from ruin. You can customize this set of four leather coasters with your own initials, a word, or whatever you want them to say so that setting drinks down can be instructive, funny, or just personal. You can also choose the leather color and shape so they make a great gift for yourself and others.
A ring toss game that’s as satisfying as darts, with no sharp objects
Hang this ring toss game in the game room or pack it along when you go camping and hang it from a tree. It’s fun to toss the rings, hoping to land them on of the hooks. But no one will put an eye out by throwing a dart at anyone else. It comes in three sizes and includes a carry bag to make that camping trip easier.
A resistance band set to get in a workout from anywhere
If you ever have trouble getting to the gym, just set up a gym anywhere — the park, the back of a door, your living room — with this set of serious resistance bands. The five bands go from the equivalent of 10 pounds up to 50 pounds and come with attachments so you can use them with the (included) handles, over-the-door hook, or ankle straps to work every muscle. A wall chart guides you through your workout. And they come with their own carry case so you can toss them in a bag and get fit while the kids play in the park.
The convenient cell phone stand so you can charge & view at the same time
When you are working at a desk or following a recipe in the kitchen, your phone is a lot more useful if you don’t have to hold it. This simple phone stand lets you set it down, charge it, and still see the screen. This is great for talking on a headset or trying to follow directions in a video. It comes in five colors, has a channel for the charging cord, and is made of aluminum alloy so it’s strong and light.
A wine station that’s functional & artisitic
Set a few bottles of wine and stemmed glasses into this artistic tabletop wine holder and create a tempting and decorative shelf for an evening of drinking vino. (Or to store a few bottles for the future if that’s more your speed.) The wooden base and iron branches are nice to look at on their own, but really look great filled with wine. It holds four bottles and four glasses.
This clear tray with handles for streamlined serving or storage
A serving tray is such a useful item. You can use it to carry drinks or food, sure. But it also makes a great storage tool. Gather all the clutter on the bathroom or kitchen counters into this clear acrylic tray and it all looks less like clutter, more like a display, and is suddenly easy to move out of the way for cleaning. It comes in seven sizes, each with gold or silver handles.
Not subscribed to Fatherly’s newsletter yet? We’re not mad, just disappointed.