My mom is amazing. Hands down, she’s the best mom I’ve ever had. (She’s coincidentally the only mom I’ve ever had, but who’s counting?)

When my brother and I were in elementary school, my mom made us breakfast before school and—deaf to my protests—packed us a healthy lunch every day. She took care of the pets, kept a clean house, did all of the laundry, shopping, and scheduling, and had the uncanny ability of finishing dinner just as my dad walked through the door.

We ate together every night at the kitchen table: Super Mom and her hungry charges. And after everything she did for me, I still complained about the peas.

All anyone ever wants is a little appreciation, and moms are perhaps the most deserving. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, now is an ideal time to put your do-it-yourself home improvement ideas into action.

Don’t spend money on another bracelet or pair of earrings. (When was the last time you agreed on jewelry? And to the husbands: No—just no.) Instead, give her something you can both enjoy with a home improvement project in the rooms she uses most.

Kitchen remodel with DIY mosaic tile backsplash

DIY Remodeling Ideas for the Kitchen

Many older homes are outfitted with dated kitchen elements, be it faux wood cabinets, Formica countertops, or retro appliances. In lieu of buying Mom a new refrigerator, these kitchen remodeling ideas can be adapted to any budget, taste, and experience level.

1. Remodel the cabinets

Revamping the kitchen can be as simple as adding new fittings and a fresh layer of paint to the cabinets, and attaching molding to the cabinets before painting will give them a more personalized, expensive look.

If you’ve got the DIY chops, consider closing the space above your kitchen cabinets. Tall cabinets flush against the ceiling are attractive, can make your ceilings feel higher, and will eliminate the dust trap of floating cabinets.

            Time estimate: one week

            Cost estimate: $$$

2. Modernize the countertops

Stone countertops are nearly synonymous with luxury kitchen design, but installation requires hiring a countertop professional. For modern “stone” countertops you can tackle yourself, try one of the following easy, low-cost projects:

  • Lay contact paper with a marble pattern.
  • Apply a concrete finish to Formica.

            Time estimate: two hours (plus twenty-four hours for drying)

            Cost estimate: $$

Like stone, natural wood fixtures add beautiful texture to a room. With a little extra elbow grease, installing a DIY wide-plank butcher block countertop will give the kitchen a rich, rustic sensibility Mom will adore.

            Time estimate: two days

            Cost estimate: $$$

3. Install a backsplash

There are countless styles of backsplash tile on the market today, and the right choice of materials will lend—you knew it was coming—a ‘splash’ of color and texture to your kitchen.

Moreover, peel-and-stick glass mosaic tile is deceptively affordable and simple to install. With it, you can give your kitchen a polished visual appeal in the space of an afternoon.

            Time estimate: three hours

            Cost estimate: $$

Laundry room with wire shelving

DIY Remodeling Ideas for the Laundry Room

If you’re like most people, the laundry room is the least inviting space in your house: it’s small, it’s equipped with meager shelving overflowing with detergents et al., and it’s the Bermuda Triangle for socks—but only the left ones.

Although they may not solve the sock problem, these do-it-yourself laundry room projects will make laundry day more enjoyable for the entire household (read: let’s be real, just Mom).

4. Improve storage space

Many standard laundry rooms are outfitted with a single wire shelf during construction, but moms have a cleaner for everything, and they take up a lot of space. It’s easy to install new shelving using preexisting units. With a layer of paint and added molding for charm, cheap cubby storage units are ideal for making over a messy laundry room the simple way.

            Time estimate: three hours (plus twenty-four hours for drying)

            Cost estimate: $$

If you’re up for the challenge, consider elevating your washer and dryer with a DIY laundry pedestal for additional storage.

            Time estimate: five hours (plus twenty-four hours for drying)

            Cost estimate: $$$

5. Install a countertop

In addition to storage, most laundry rooms are severely lacking in space for folding clothes. Growing up, our laundry room was scarcely big enough to accommodate the washer and dryer. My mom’s preferred work-around was toting all the laundry into the kitchen so she could watch re-runs of Full House with a glass of wine as she folded at the table.

That worked for her, but getting it all done in one place—with a little extra surface area for a well-deserved Chardonnay—makes washing, drying, and folding all the less torturous. Installing a simple wooden counter over front-facing units can improve the functionality and style of even the smallest of rooms.

            Time estimate: three hours (plus twenty-four hours for drying)

            Cost estimate: $$

Master bathroom remodel with large, framed mirror

DIY Remodeling Ideas for the Master Bath

At best, the master bath is a sanctuary in which to soak sore feet and unwind after a long day—a luxury that Mom is certainly entitled to—but I personally find it difficult to relax when surrounded by a dated interior. With a few subtle, easy-to-do updates, it’s possible to transform the atmosphere of the bathroom from stuffy to serene.

6. Paint the faucets

Brass hardware is tragically common in homes built in the late 80s and 90s, betraying the age of unsuspecting door handles and plumbing fixtures everywhere. While replacing is an option, it’s far less expensive to refinish brass faucets with a dark, satin-finish paint for a quick and elegant leap into modernity.

            Time estimate: one hour (plus twenty-four hours for drying)

            Cost estimate: $

7. Lay a new floor

When making over a room, it’s often best to work from the ground up. Vinyl is a popular choice for bathrooms—its comfortable, affordable, and durable—and replacing old vinyl flooring with a contemporary design is a relatively simple process.

            Time estimate: one day

            Cost estimate: $

8. Make over a mirror

Because many are installed during construction, oversized and unadorned bathroom mirrors are a common design gaffe in standard American housing. Framing your bathroom mirror with molding (for a refined appearance) or stained wood (for a farmhouse appeal) will give your bathroom the finished look you didn’t know it was missing.

            Time estimate: two hours (plus twenty-four hours for drying)

            Cost estimate: $$

Bottom line: Lose the same old gifts—Mom deserves something special. A DIY home remodeling project in the room she uses most will make for a unique Mother’s Day gift as amazing as she is.