Tag Archives: home improvement

7 High-Impact Home Improvement Projects You Can Do for $10K or Less

You don’t have to spend a lot to make these valuable home improvements.

With so much emphasis on buying and selling homes — the truth is that for most of your life as a real estate consumer, you’ll be a homeowner. And because your home is so much more than a transaction, spending some portion of your time, energy, and money improving your home makes sense.

Many homeowners waituntil saving up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity to make a major change to their home. And that means they almost never do the project, or do it only when it’s time to sell. If you’re planning to stay put in your home for a while, home improvement projects will drive even more return on your home investment.

7 home improvement projects for $10,000 or less

  1. Crank up the curb appeal

    Enhancing curb appeal is one of the most cost-effective home improvement projects. There’s just something about loving the way your home looks when you drive up to it day after day that dramatically increases your enjoyment of home.

    Depending on which projects you choose and whether you do the work yourself, you can crank up your curb appeal for a few hundred dollars or a few thousand. Some curb appeal ideas to consider include painting or power wash your home’s exterior, painting or installing a new garage door, front door or exterior trim work, exterior or landscape lighting, or a simple front yard landscaping spruce-up.

  2. Get rid of a wall

    The number one remodel fantasy of homeowners-to-be: knocking down a wall.

    In fact, removing walls, even structural walls, is highly feasible and much less expensive than many homeowners assume. (If a load-bearing wall is removed, the structural component can often be preserved and finished by simply leaving a beam at the ceiling.) What can jack up the price is the relocation of plumbing or wiring contained in the wall being removed.

    Reconnecting interruptions in flooring and adding features like an island also increase expenses. Check with a reputable contractor to find out how such a project can be planned and executed efficiently.

  3. Swap out old windows for new, dual-paned windows

    Replacing old, single-paned windows for new dual-paned windows might make your home look better, but it will definitely make your home operate more efficiently — and more comfortably. They’re also a must if you have street noise or other noise challenges around your home; the extra insulation traps noise before it can get to you.

    As with everything, costs vary by location and by the quality of window you choose, but you can use $200 to $300 per window, installed, as a rough rule of thumb.

  4. Build an outdoor kitchen

    The National Outdoor Kitchen and Fireplace Association pegs the average cost of an outdoor kitchen at $12,000 to $15,000 on average — but if you can cut costs, find appliances on sale, or do some of the work yourself, you might just be able to get one in your own backyard for the $10,000 price point. Outdoor kitchens can be as simple as a table and grill, or as complex as wood-burning ovens, refrigerators, and big-screen TVs.

  5. Buy new kitchen appliances

    In terms of sheer functionality, new kitchen appliances can create an upgrade to your family’s everyday life. A new fridge will run you anywhere from $350 to $2,000 on average, a new stove/oven range can run anywhere from $300 to $6,000, and a dishwasher will cost you somewhere around $250 to $1,600.

  6. Swap out your carpet

    If you have $10K to spend and you can’t stand your carpet, you can estimate that it’ll run you about $300 to $500 per room to replace it with new carpet, or $1,500 to $2,000 per room to replace it with hardwood, depending on where you live, how large your rooms are, and what specific materials you choose.

  7. Build in organizing systems

    One of the most significant advantages to owning your home is that you can customize it to manage your stuff and your activities, rather than being forced to fit your things into someone else’s system. If you have $10K in hand to make your home more “you,” consider having custom organizing systems built into your closet, office, pantry, or garage, tailored to your family’s stuff and needs.

Courtesy of trulia.com.

10 Sneaky Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive

There’s no denying that the kitchen has become the focal point of the modern home, the place where the outsize influence of the Food Network and HGTV converge. Prospective buyers want to imagine themselves gathered there among friends, sipping wine and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres with ease—or perhaps preparing a family meal while the kids pitch in as little sous-chefs.

But achieving that dream kitchen is also one of the most expensive home remodeling projects you can possibly undertake. If your taste trends more toward Veuve Clicquot on a budget that’s solidly PBR, never fear: We’ve got some sneaky tricks to give your kitchen a fancy upgrade on the cheap.

1. Choose a luxurious color palette (and play with texture)

pctune up

“These work best and convey a really luxe vibe,” she says.  “Look at the branding colors of luxury designers—they are mostly lightly muted and off the primary color.” She favors charcoal, cream, and champagne over harsher black, white, silver, or gold.

And consider texture when you’re planning your palette.

“You want to vary the texture to vary the complexity and make the design more layered and high-end,” says Hoffmann. “Choose two or three very close colors and play with texture instead—think white, a cream, and a very, very light natural beige as your colors, and then create visual interest by incorporating lots of texture in the room as your accent.”

Think of varying high-gloss, matte, and distressed finishes, and using raised patterns.

2. Reinvent tired cabinets with new hardware

If new cabinets aren’t in the cards, take your kitchen from outdated to outstanding with new hardware. Replace all door pulls, handles, and even hinges with fancy pieces in unexpected hues (we love these gorgeous handmade pieces by House of Antique Hardware). Just make sure to choose pieces that fit the holes in your cabinets, since traditional spackle or caulk can shrink. (If you can’t fit existing holes, pros recommend using a nonshrinking wood putty or auto body filler, but you’ll need to sand the work surface first.)

And don’t be afraid to mix metals, says Maize Jacobs-Brichford, a designer and project manager at Brynn Olsen Design Group in Chicago, who favors clean, traditional lines in unlacquered brass or polished nickel.

“Even if your sink or lighting is chrome, your hardware can still go brass,” she says.

3. Paint (or add glass doors to) your cabinets

pctune up

When it comes to tired old cabinets (particularly the stalwart oak cabinets of the ’80s), a good coat of paint can hide all manner of sins, according to Hoffmann.

“Enough already!” she exclaims. The old cabinets “are aging your space!”

We like Ace Hardware’s Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint, a semigloss alkyd enamel paint that promises a smooth finish. If you’re a clumsy DIY painter (are those brush strokes?), hire a pro.

Hoffmann also claims it’s “fairly easy” to cut out the front of existing cabinets and put in glass for an open, modern look. We’re not so sure, so if you’re at all in doubt, leave it to a trusted contractor or handyman. (Tutorials for this type of upgrade abound on the internet; we like this one from HGTV.)

4. Put your best stems forward

Invest a little in new stemware. If you have a bit of cash to spend, splurge on a gorgeous open shelf (or consider glass-front cabinets) to display pretty colored or textured glass, like these from Epitome Home.

5. Update the light fixtures

“Even if you don’t have the budget to change out some of the bigger architectural features, updating your fixtures can be a big change,” says Jacobs-Brichford. “When in doubt, go with a globe fixture with polished nickel or brass details to keep it simple but chic.”

Hoffmann also swears by dimmable lighting.

“Get an electrician to put your lights on a dimmer, and instantly upgrade the feel of your kitchen, especially at night or when entertaining,” she says.

And finally, don’t forget about task lighting—particularly under-cabinet lights. Battery-powered LED lights are inexpensive and couldn’t be easier to install (in many cases, you just stick them on using removable adhesive). Position them under cabinets in the areas where you typically spend the most time.

6.  Recast the backsplash

After cabinets, a backsplash makes the biggest statement in a kitchen. This is one place you want to splurge, pros say.

“It’s a great place to showcase your personal style and taste,” says Hoffmann, who favors monochromatic trends like concrete, herringbone, and subway tile.

If you’re on a budget, reinvigorate your backsplash without mortar by using a simpler, adhesive-based product like SimpleMat.

7. Upgrade your view

pctune up

Hoffmann swears by window appliqués to fake a great view outside a kitchen window. These also add visual interest if the area isn’t conducive to traditional window treatments, she says. Another great trick? Hang ferns or other flowers outside your windows to give the illusion of lush, verdant space. Hoffmann also likes to add herb gardens to the counter space, over the sink, or just outside windows.

8.  Paint the countertops

Innovative new products from companies like Giani Granite and Rust-Oleum let you paint (yes, paint!) your dingy old wood or laminate countertops if new granite or slab isn’t in the budget. You can go for a textured imitation stone look, or keep things cohesive with a simple solid color.

9.  Incorporate fruit

pctune up

Bring life to a kitchen with a driftwood bowl filled with a bright fruit or vegetables; Jacobs-Brichford likes lemons, artichokes, or green apples.

“They can usually sit out for two weeks—much longer than the life span of flowers,” she says. (Fake fruit is fine in a pinch, though designers prefer the real thing.) If you’re staging your home to sell, consider adding fruit to your kitchen to give it an attractively livable feel.

10.  Add fragrance

“Stop burning hideous, noxious, cheap candles,” says Hoffmann. “They are toxic and smell cheap to anyone who knows better when they enter your house. If you’re spending $20 a month on candles, that’s $240 a year.  Purchase a lightly scented luxury Culti diffuser instead, and get a couple of flameless candles. Your space will smell more expensive, elegant, and subtle.”

The (admittedly pricey) diffuser uses perfume-grade oils, gives off a more understated scent than traditional candles, and lasts an entire year.

Post courtesy of realtor.com

How To Add Value To Your Home

Photo credit: Naphat_Jorjee / shutterstock.com

It is common for homeowners to make changes to their houses that increase the comfort level and make their homes look better. These changes may be based on personal taste or they may be to make their home life more convenient. In many cases, these changes add value to the home. This means that when the time comes for the house to be sold, potential buyers will be willing to pay more for the home because of these added improvements. Smart homeowners make their upgrades based on these value-added changes. They prioritize how they are going to improve their homes based on the changes that will make their home worth more. One of the main ways to determine if a change will add value is to consider what room you are improving. Bathroom remodeling adds more value than swapping out bedroom carpet. Improving toilets, showers, tubs, and sinks, or adding new tile to the space attracts buyers to take a second glance at your home. If you are remodeling, these should be some of the first improvements you consider.

The next room you should consider adding upgrades to is the kitchen. Potential buyers know their families are going to be spending a lot of time in their kitchen. This means they are going to want modern appliances, comfortable seating, and plenty of space for cooking and entertaining. Make sure your kitchen is a wide open space that allows you to share family time even when you are cooking or cleaning up.

Another change you can make that will benefit you long before you sell your home is to make energy-efficient upgrades. Trade in old appliances for modern ones that save energy and save you money. If you have drafty old windows, swap them out for ones that seal up the air in your home and block out the sun’s damaging rays. If you are looking to make major investments, consider solar panels for heating.

The outside of your home is one of the major places to add value. There are few places in your home where cosmetic changes make a big difference as they do outside. When buyers pull up to your home or drive by while they are browsing, it is the curb appeal that will catch their eye. Make sure the exterior of your home is in good repair, add some color to the front door and the garden areas, and keep the grass green and trimmed.

Finally, the most important thing you can do to add value to your home is to keep up with the maintenance. As busy homeowners, it is all too easy to let things slide and concentrate on them only when something breaks for is in disrepair. To save yourself a lot of money and ensure your home will retain its value, take care of it. Just as you would change the oils and rotate the tires on a car to extend its life, do the same for your home. Keep up with seasonal maintenance and handle things before they become an expensive problem.