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With national home values dropping and houses staying on the market longer, now is a great time to concentrate on getting your home in tip top shape for when the market picks up. It’s true that renovations, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, can substantially boost the value of one’s home. And you don’t need to pay thousands for a contractor to make simple improvements. Since money’s tight for most of us, here are six inexpensive investments to upgrade your pad.

Problem: Spots and Stains on Walls

Solution: Buy dry-erase sponges. For under $4.00, buy a pack of dry erase sponges to get rid of markings on your walls, cabinets and dry wall surfaces. They’re usually available at your local grocery store, Wal-Mart (WMT) Target (TGT), Home Depot (HD) or Lowe’s (LOW).

Problem: Kitchen Counter Needs a Facelift

: Buy tiles. Create a great backsplash for your counter to liven up your kitchen with a more professional, crafted look. All you mainly need is a tile adhesive (called tile mastic) and enough tiles to suit the length. You can find tiles for under $1 each at IKEA.

Pantries and Cabinets are Messy

Solution: Plastic storage containers with airtight seals are a fantastic solution for storing and organizing your dry foods. They come in various sizes and start for as little as a few dollars each. A sturdy Lazy Susan also helps under the kitchen sink or in cabinets to hold pots and pans, kitchen supplies and other heavyweight items in an accessible and neat way. The Container Store has a number of solutions.

Problem: Cabinets Look Out-Dated

New knobs for cabinets and drawers are a simple way to spruce up a plain look. Peruse flea markets to find rare and unique knobs. Home Depot, Lowe’s, IKEA and offer up an affordable selection as well.

Problem: My Carpets Look Tired

Solution: Foam shaving cream. Besides a deep vacuuming, foam shaving cream is a tried and true home-remedy for most common stains from spills to dirt and grime. Let the foam sit on the stain for about a half hour before blotting away. Next, rinse the spot with a mixed solution of water and vinegar.

: Bathroom Blues

Solution: Replace faucets and handles. A new shower curtain and towels can also help change the room’s color scheme. It’s best to pick something neutral and easy on the eyes. Brighter light bulbs can also give a bathroom a more chipper look. If you’re willing to spend an extra few hundred dollars, an acid wash and tile and tub reglazing can do wonders for giving your old bathroom a brand new shine.

A final note: For all your rooms, cleanliness and organization can go a long way, and they can be achieved practically free. It just takes letting go of the clutter, pushing appliances back against the wall or tucked away neatly in cabinets and making sure your walls, floors and cabinetry are in mint condition.

Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8 p.m.