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5 Small Remodeling Projects That Make a Big Difference

By: Alison McLennan | March 5, 2018

Topics: Remodeling Ideas

HGTV has taught us to adore large-scale remodels. (Who doesn’t love sitting on the couch with a pint of B&J’s while an entire home gets Fixer-Uppered in under an hour?)

But as fun as “reality” shows (ahem) can be, remodeling looks a little different for most homeowners. Renovations have to happen in an occupied space, and the average budget doesn’t allow for a full-house gut and remodel.

The good news is that remodeling doesn’t have to be about massive overhauls. Small things can make a big difference.

The Principle of Small-but-Impactful Things

The principle of Small-but-Impactful Things plays out consistently in so many areas of life:

  • RELATIONALLY: Investing an extra ten minutes at bedtime each night to listen to or pray with our children will pay dividends in trust, security, and sense of worth.
  • PRACTICALLY: Whether the kitchen is left clean or dirty at the end of the night has a profound impact on our attitude and schedule the following morning, which in turn affects our interaction and relationships with others.
  • FINANCIALLY: Micro-loans and savings groups are radically affecting impoverished nations. The amount we spend on one night in a hotel can allow someone on the other side of the globe to start a business, provide for a family, and create jobs for others in need.
  • PROFESSIONALLY: From the way we format our quotes to the technology we use to manage communication, the principle of Small-but-Impactful things is a key element to successfully operating our business.

5 Small-but-Impactful Remodeling Projects

1. Patch and Paint

Smooth walls and fresh paint make a big difference, especially when you’re intentional about color. If you haven’t read about the psychology of room color and how it can affect your mood, it’s worth doing some research. And for practical tips on how to paint a room without losing your cool, check out our post, 10 Tips for Frustration-Free Painting.

2. Let There Be Light

Some of our favorite projects involve removing walls or adding windows to allow for more natural light. These relatively small projects consistently transform a living space from dark cave to bright sanctuary, which can positively impact emotions in the darker months.

On an even simpler level, switching out fans and ceiling lights or adding recessed lighting affects the ambiance of a space and its functionality. Depending on the fixtures you’re replacing, it can also improve energy efficiency.

3. Open Up

Just because a home didn’t start out with an open floor plan doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Most walls (even many load-bearing) can be altered or removed. This can powerfully impact the way homeowners experience a space, making small homes feel larger and providing a sense of togetherness even when family members are in different rooms.

3.  Door Do-Over

Door replacements might not sound sexy, but they pack a serious design punch. Replacing a solid front door with half or full glass brings in light and thoroughly alters the ambiance of an entryway.

Want the privacy of a glass-less front door? You can still add a stylish storm door with interchangeable full glass or screen to provide the option of light and airflow on pleasant days.

Aside from door replacement, don’t underestimate the satisfaction factor of well-functioning doors. Interior or exterior doors that drag on the carpet or won’t close without a shove are a daily annoyance. Having them fixed is usually a simple process, and one that will likely be appreciated multiple times each day.

4. Refine the Fireplace

Raise your hand if your fireplace is still sporting the dark, drab look of 1983. One of the hottest small projects this decade has been fireplace makeovers. These usually involve freshly painted brick, a statement-making mantle, and built-in or floating bookshelves.

Check out one of our recent fireplace makeovers on Houzz: Fireplace + Floating Shelves

5. Go Deep with Your Sink

Ask anyone who’s cleaned up after Thanksgiving dinner, and they’ll tell you the importance of an appropriately sized sink. Many older homes (and more than a few new ones) were built with shallow, stainless steel sinks and standard-height faucets. This combo has been known to force whoever is washing dishes to do gymnastics just to rinse all sides of a roasting pan.

Guess what? Even if you’re not remodeling your entire kitchen, you don’t have to be stuck with that sink and faucet. In most cases, a deeper basin and taller faucet can be installed without getting into costly renovations.

Have you made a Small-but-Impactful change in your home? We’d love to hear about it!

small projects


Written by Alison McLennan

Alison is co-owner of McLennan Contracting, where she also serves as Marketing Coordinator. She and her husband, Tim, have three children, whom they homeschool. When she isn't working, teaching, or planning the family's latest RV trip, Alison can be found introverting with a book in one hand and coffee in the other, or writing on her personal blog, alisonmclennan.com.

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