10 low-cost home improvements

Refresh your kitchen

Complete renovations are expensive, but small changes can still give the room a totally new feel. Susan Serra of TheKitchenDesigner.org suggests a few easy and cheap DIY projects: Change the hardware on kitchen cabinets ($100); paint the cabinets ($150); add new mosaic tile backsplash ($200); install new lighting ($100).

You can also make a big difference by replacing one appliance — especially if that one appliance is an old refrigerator, which can be the biggest energy drain in the house since it runs day and night. Not only will you give your kitchen a new look, but you'll save on your energy bills at the same time. Just look for that Energy Star label, which means the appliance uses about 15% less energy than a non-certified appliance.