Add Value to Your Home Without Breaking the Bank

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Add Value to Your Home Without Breaking the Bank

By Marilyn Pribus –

Somehow this is the time of year when lots of people want to improve, brighten up, and make a change. If you’re seized by that urge, it’s always a good idea to look ahead to when you might decide to sell. Why not make improvements with an eye to attracting a future buyer and then enjoy the changes yourself right now?

Get Out The Paint Brush
First of all, just about everybody likes a place that looks fresh, clean, and spacious, and the quickest and least expensive value-adding task is simply repainting. Flat white walls seem unfinished these days so chose colors that charm and delight. Bring in nature with soothing blues and greens. Or be lively with warmer tones like reds or corals. Select a color to compliment your carpet, your couch, or a favorite wall hanging.

If you might be selling in the next few years, opt for colors that are generally popular and fairly neutral. Neutrals today have moved beyond white, beige, or ivory and include pale greens, blues or grays. Check out local model homes because they’ll be decorated with tones that have tested high for buyer preference. Visiting the websites of various paint manufacturers is also a wonderful way to find ideas.

To emphasize your home’s positive outlook, paint the front door an inviting, hearty color. For interior drama, consider painting just one wall of a room in a bold tone while leaving the others a complimentary neutral.

Bring In Light
Other relatively inexpensive strategies include replacing dark drapes with fabrics that are lighter in both color and weight. Depending on what you see out your windows, you might even remove curtains entirely, replacing them with blinds that can be lowered, when needed, for privacy. (Some blinds also provide insulation from heat and cold.)

Replacing old light fixtures—the ones by your front door—also makes an instant difference.

Another way to bring in light is with skylights or solar tubes. Skylights are simply a “window” in the roof while a solar tube admits light through a small clear dome in the roof to shine through a reflective tube—which is often angled—to bring light into a room. Skylights come in a range of sizes and styles. In fact, some have built in blinds while others open with cranks, small motors, or even solar power.

Skylights are usually installed professionally, especially if they are wider than the space between the roof rafters, since extra bracing must be created. Note that up to 30 percent of the cost of buying certain skylights and their cost of installation may be directly deductible as a federal tax credit through 2019.  Some solar tubes also qualify for the tax credit and can often be installed by an experienced do-it-yourselfer.

Jazz Up The Bathroom
Bathrooms are another place where relatively inexpensive upgrades can make a big impact.

We tend to stop really seeing things we’re around every day, but sometimes something as simple as a bright new designer shower curtain can add pizzazz. Replacing dated light fixtures and installing coordinated towel bars are also attractive strategies, and updating the medicine cabinet is another inexpensive plan.

A slightly more expensive investment would be a new floor. New countertops can be installed over existing cabinetry. And, of course, getting out the paint brush can make a big difference for a small cost and effort.

Kitchen Improvements
Spiffing up the kitchen is generally a more ambitious proposition but kitchen remodeling is estimated to return anywhere from 70 to more than 100 percent of the investment when the house is sold. While a complete makeover is an expensive proposition, there are more modest changes that can be made.

The key is to do research and work in stages if that’s what the budget will cover. Visit model homes, home improvement stores, and websites to check out the latest styles.

Again (yes, we know we’ve said this before) fresh paint is the least expensive tactic. A new sink and one of those fancy new faucets can also improve the appearance. New cabinet and drawer pulls are an easy project.

Next, consider upgrading cabinetry or even just repainting or replacing those dated and stained cabinet doors.

Probably the biggest impact comes from upgrading tired old counters. Granite, while popular these days, can cost up to $100 per square foot installed. Less expensive options include composites, laminates, poured concrete, or butcher block.

Laminate, for example, generally runs from $10 to $20 per square foot installed and comes in many colors and styles. Some composite materials may arrive in pieces for ease of production and transportation, but are finished in the home with no visible seams

Finally, refinishing on old floor or installing a new one can make things appear brand new at a relatively modest cost. Ceramic tile resists wear, spills, and stains while today’s vinyl flooring comes in a wide range of styles and colors. Some styles mimic wood or tile floors, but with much easier maintenance.

Why not pick a project to perk up your home’s interior this spring? There are so many options for you to enjoy.


Marilyn Pribus and her husband live in Albemarle County.  He sealed the kitchen floor with polyurethane after a professional sander had revived darkened wood and removed old stains. “It was amazing how much it improved the kitchen,” she says.

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