How to Use This Year's Tax Refund to Improve Your Home

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The best kind of improvements are the ones that enhance your day-to-day life, and that's especially true for home upgrades. But unfortunately, the budget of everyday life – like weekly groceries and monthly bills – tends to squeeze every penny out of that plan. If you've been waiting for just a little extra cash to bring your dream home to fruition, your tax refund can be the perfect source. Use this year's check to cash in on fun additions like an outdoor bar or movie theater, or spend wisely by putting the money toward kitchen essentials and storage solutions. With these projects, your hard-earned dollars will start working for you.

(Image: eHow)

Reclaim Your Backyard Space

Nothing is more refreshing after a hard day's work than a nice, cold drink and a quiet place to relax. If you build this cedar-wood Murphy bar, you can make a beautiful and utilitarian watering hole right in your backyard. Pour yourself a cocktail before dinner, and use the same space for barbecue prep. It's the perfect setting for the warmer months, and when the night draws to an end, cleanup is easy and your backyard space is open again, ready for the next day's activities.

(Image: Rachel Pereira)

Build a Piece That Blends Comfort With Practicality

There's something so warm and inviting about a soft couch and a tufted ottoman coffee table to match. Not only is the addition stylish, but it's also totally practical: Add a tray to hold eye-catching accessories, or simply use it as a place to rest your feet.

(Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Create Your Own Summer Screenings

You won't need to wait for public screenings of your favorite movies this summer once you've built this backyard movie screen. Instead of dealing with the crowds, you can have professional-level movie nights for you and your crew where everyone has the perfect view under the stars.

(Image: Matthew Ashman)

Put Together the Backyard Activity That Everyone Loves

If outdoor movies aren't your thing, a fire pit will still make your backyard the ultimate hangout space — and you can use it throughout the year. It may seem like a daunting project, but with just a two-hour time estimate, you can finish this before sundown. Add ingredients for s'mores once the building is through, and this DIY project will prove its worth on the first night.

(Image: Carrie Waller)

Make Unique Marbled Wall Art That's Easy Enough for Kids

Art is always a prospect that just seems expensive. But you don't have to blow your entire refund on a framed masterpiece. Create the look of a pricey marbled design with food coloring, and you'll be left with a work of art that looks good in any room of the house. Furthermore, this project is ideal for a Saturday afternoon project: the kids will love it, and you probably have most of the items already stored away.

(Image: Bethany DeVore)

Update Your Tools for Faster, Easier Cooking

At it's best, a terrible kitchen knife will cost you an extra half-hour per meal, and at it's worst, it could cost you a finger. Invest your refund in replacing your dulled collection with new essential knives, and tackle the daily task of cooking with ease.

(Image: Jennifer Farley)

Add Decor That Dazzles

If you've been waiting to fill a wall in your home with a bold statement piece, but you didn't have the extra cash to make a bold expense, now is the time to make your move. This DIY sunburst mirror project requires only a few supplies and six easy steps. You'll soon have a glittering wall piece to hang in that blank space, and the satisfaction that you finally made it happen.

(Image: Brynne Delerson)

Install a Subtle, High-End Finish

If you've been waiting for that extra cash flow to ramp up the look and feel of your home, why not go all in? Give your home a customized high-end aesthetic by creating and installing your own custom wainscoting. It may be a detailed project, but it's one that will last for years to come.

(Image: Jennifer Bridgman)

Customize Your Sleeping Space

When pillows aren't cutting it for a comfortable back rest, you might wish that you had some built-in padding for added comfort. Put your refund to good use and build a padded headboard that will make your evenings cozier and give your sleeping space some added character.

(Image: Bethany DeVore)

Repurpose a Vintage Find

If you're no expert at uncovering free and discarded items, but you love the throwback look, now's the time to go thrift shopping for finds you can repurpose into your favorite new piece of furniture. Bring vintage cool into your home by transforming an old door into a beautiful entry table. It won't squander all of your refund, and it will make a strong first impression whenever guests stop by.

(Image: Mary & Tim Vidra)

Create Storage Space With Style

How many times have you vowed to fix your bathroom storage issue after your toothbrush falls off a crowded shelf? With your recently buffered budget, now's the perfect time to convert an old dresser to a bath vanity. It'll give you more places to stash your stuff while completely transforming your bathroom with its sleek, modern style. Now that's putting your money where your mouth is.

(Image: Beth Barden)
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