Simple Yet Effective Home Upgrades for Big Impact and Low Cost

By George Cooke

After living in your current home for a few years, it’s easy to not see the forest for the trees… things you might not even notice can appear worn out, outdated, and tired to your guests. Luckily, there are some simple and inexpensive upgrades that can be implemented to refresh your home’s look. Think of a “Spa Day” for the house!

A Heightened Sense of Touch

Devices that are touched and used every day are usually the most overworked and overlooked. Changing light switches from standard toggle style to decora paddle style switches is an excellent way to take some age off a home. Couple that with swapping typical receptacles to decora style receptacles and any room will be improved.


Use a flexible, oversized plate cover to hide any imperfections in the drywall around the switch or receptacle!

Smile at your Grille

HVAC registers and grilles are a tell-tale sign of the age of a home. Many times they have been painted over and usually have a build up of dust on the backside. Removing the old covers and replacing with new covers of the same size is an easy way to make a simple improvement. There are even some contemporary style linear diffusers that can be used to replace standard grille style covers.


Vacuum in and around the duct before installing the new cover. If the duct or boot box is visible through the cover, the visible area can be painted flat black before installing the new cover.

Updated Lighting is Always a Good Idea

While most new lighting is LED, most older homes have recessed lighting fixtures that have been subject to the intense heat of incandescent light bulbs for many years. Time and heat takes a toll on the finish of the fixture and the baffle surrounding the bulb. Typically the finish will eventually begin to flake off or just turn a dingy color of white.

Additionally, many older homes have recessed lighting with a 6” diameter which tends to look overly large. A quick fix that anyone with the skills to change a light bulb can accomplish is to install an LED retrofit trim with an integrated bulb. There are several brands to choose from that will cover the old recessed fixture with a fresh new LED flush style trim. This is a great way to disguise a dated 6” fixture.


Be sure to purchase all bulbs with the same Kelvin degree rating, or for adjustable units set them all the same, so that the light color will match.  The higher the Kelvin rating, the “whiter” the light appears.

Doorknobs, Locksets, and other Hardware Upgrades

Like light switches, door and window hardware are heavy use items. Changing doorknobs is like new jewelry for the house. It is an easy way to upgrade the style and look of a home.

Round knobs can become levers, backplates can be added, and the color of the finish can be changed. Nothing says “older home” louder than old bright brass window latches and pulls. These can be replaced with a finish that is similar to the color of the window and they will disappear.


Don’t forget to change the hinges on the doors as well as the door stops, this is especially important if finish color of the hardware is being changed.

New cabinet knobs / pulls are a perfect, simple improvement for dated, tired cabinets and do not require anything more than a screwdriver to change! Keep it simple: replace knobs / pulls that have two screws with the same spread.  Similarly, replace knobs / pulls that have one screw with one-screw cabinet hardware.


Make sure the new knob / pull will cover up any imperfections left behind when the old knob / pull is removed.

Modernize your Bathroom

Simply changing the toilet seat to a new soft-close style can be a big improvement to an older bathroom. Combining that with new and matching bath accessories such as towel bars, rings, and toilet levers will go a long way to making a bathroom feel new.


Be sure to make note of whether the commode is an elongated style or round front… that will determine which style of toilet seat needed.

Some of the suggestions above can be tackled by any reasonably handy homeowner, property caretaker or estate manager.  Others, such as upgrading the light switches and receptacles, are best performed by a licensed professional.  Be sure to consult your local codes!

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive renovation or overhaul, be sure to contact White Oak Fine Homes for a consultation. 

Have any questions?

Contact Us

White Oak Fine Homes is an award-winning luxury custom home builder based in Atlanta, GA. We deliver the highest quality craftsmanship while working closely with clients to maximize value and deliver in a timely manner.


470 East Paces Ferry Rd.
Suite 370 Atlanta, GA 30305
‪(404) 654-3444


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