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The 15 small upgrades that made a ‘huge difference’ in people's homes

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make big improvements.

home improvement, easy home improvement, affordable home improvement

A couple snuggling after a hard day working on the house.

When we consider ways to improve our homes, we often think big: new bathrooms, solar panels, or redoing the landscaping. These renovations can be costly and, in these economically challenging times, too much for many people’s budgets.

However, a series of minor tweaks, like mini-makeovers, can breathe new life into our homes. We can make countless small, affordable changes to our living spaces that make them cozier, more functional and energy efficient.

Some minor fixes can increase your property value, too.

Recently, a group of Redditors came together to share some small changes that have made an enormous difference in their homes. It all started when a user named Super_Dupa2 asked, “What small upgrade made a huge difference at your house?”


The prompt was a big viral hit, receiving over 8,300 responses in just one day. Here are 15 small upgrades that can make a huge difference in your house.

1. New shower head

"A better shower. If you can't redo the whole bathroom, just replace the head. This also works if you rent. Just keep the old one in a box, so you can bring the nice one to your next house." — Maartenvanheek

"And a curved shower curtain rod. You get so much more arm space." — Cripnite

2. More chargers

"Methodically buying phone chargers with long enough cables to not have to ever move one again." — ihadtowalkhere

3. Blackout curtains

"Blackout curtains for sleeping. Such a game changer." — blehbleh 1122

"And they keep my bedroom cooler." — BunjaminFrnklin

4. New lighting fixtures

"Fixtures are now properly grounded, the interior looks more updated, and there is more/better light." — SnooCaliflowers9981

"Lighting can absolutely make a huge difference in the way you feel in your room. Get some shoulder-height (when you are sitting) lamps for your living room. You will notice a shift in how much more relaxed you feel when you use those instead of the overheads." — ShoesAreTheWorst

5. Laundry room light

"Motion-activated light switch for the laundry room. Never have to worry about turning off the light when leaving with an arm full of clothing." — Amazing Asian

6. Attic fan

"Attic heat exhaust fan. Our attic used to get up to 140F on the hottest days; on those days, our ceilings were hot to the touch. The whole house was consequently uncomfortable. Now the attic fan is thermostatically controlled to 90 degrees, and the whole house is cooler." — jermleeds

"I added a passive whirlybird that does the same thing. Heat rises and escapes before it can accumulate to those extreme levels. It also happens to be clear acrylic, so now there's always light up there too which helps keep away any vermin." — cantwejustplaynice

7. Hanging artwork

"Spending a day mounting my artwork. It felt so much more like my home after that." — GinGimlet.

"Every time I've moved, I put that off for way too long, then finally break down and do it and the house feels so much better to be in." — Elegant-Nature-6620

8. New blankets

"My wife and I are getting separate blankets. No more fighting about who takes the covers while we’re sleeping. Highly recommend 10/10." — Akumamatata8080

9. Fake stained glass

"I had a window above the stairs the neighbors could see through, so I went on Amazon and spent 40 bucks on some plastic window film that makes it look like stained glass. It turned out AMAZING and lasted forever." — OathofFenanor

10. Bidet

"I get mad when I have to use a different toilet now. I’m truly converted." — Itwasmyshadow

"The worst part of owning a bidet is going on vacation." — TinyPieceofYarn

11. Rice cooker

"I save so much time and energy. Plus, there's less washing up to do since all I need to wash is the pot inside, instead of a saucepan, a wooden spoon, and a colander." — Molwalk

12. RoboRock

"Using a $150 GC my sister gave me for my birthday. I picked up a RoboRock Q5 robot vacuum ($70 out of pocket after the GC). I have it running on a daily schedule at 2 pm while I'm at work, and my hard floors are always immaculate." — Matt314159

13. Solar panels

"Fitted 4 solar panels to my shed roof attached to a lithium battery and inverter. Not the cheapest upgrade at about £1000. But unlimited free electricity in my shed. Can plug all my power-hungry man stuff in there and it’s guilt-free! And when there’s a power cut I just run an extension lead into the house, and I’m good! and way simpler than grid tie-in system."— Badger906

14. New windows

"After living here for 35 years. We had all the windows in the house replaced 5 months ago. The house is so much more comfortable and quiet. It was expensive but worth it. We replaced 11 windows of varying sizes with Renewal by Anderson. All had to be custom-made because of their outdated sizes. The largest was 5’X7’. They are composite materials with heat-reflecting glass. It is incredible to stand behind the window in direct sunlight and open and close them to feel the difference of the heat they block out. The house was definitely more comfortable during the hot summer, and the electricity bill was about 20% lower. They look beautiful, and the crew of 6 guys removed the old and installed the new in one day and did not leave a mess of any kind. We ordered them in the last week in March, and they were installed in the first week of June. Total cost was $23K." — Blizzard7788

15. Get a dishwasher

"It has changed our arguments over dishes." — xuknownx26

"No washing dishes! A handy place to hide all your dirty dishes! A handy place for your clean dishes to dry! And no dish rack on the draining board has freed up loads of space/made it look a lot less cluttered." — binglybleep

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

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