Publication Date: Friday, October
Upping your home's value
Ten home-improvement projects that make a difference
by Kit Davey
home improvements projects will give you the best return on your
dollar if you're planning to sell your home in two years or less?
How do you know if the updating and remodeling you are planning
will increase your home's resale value?
If today's hot real estate market continues, you probably
won't have to spend much time or money preparing your home for
sale. But if you want to improve your quality of life now, and
get a higher price when you sell, experts advise on updating, rather
than remodeling or adding on to your home.
If you know you'll be selling in a few years, any project you undertake should
follow these general guidelines:
** Don't over-improve your home as compared to others in your neighborhood.
** Use neutral finishes, styles and colors.
** Invest in quality workmanship.
** Make sure the project will improve your quality of life while you live in
** Invest in basic repairs and maintenance before undertaking costly and time-consuming
The following improvements are most likely to yield a high return while increasing
the enjoyment of your home:
1) Landscaping. Presenting a well-maintained, healthy looking yard is essential
to curb appeal. Amend your existing landscape, or design and install a new
front yard that includes automatic sprinklers. Tip: Junipers, red lava rock
white gravel are "out"!
2) Exterior painting. Paint the body of your home in a light beige, khaki or
gray, and the trim in white. If your paint is in good shape, but the trim is
dark, or an unusual color, paint it out in white. Repaint your front door in
a classic color, such as white, forest green, burgundy or navy. Adding shutters
and painting them to match the front door can add friendly charm.
3) New garage and/or front door. If your hand-operated garage doors are sagging,
replace them with new automatic garage doors. Replace a dated front door. Complete
the new look with a shiny brass light fixture, doorbell surround, kick plate
4) New windows. If your home has corroding single-paned aluminum windows, or
wood sash windows that don't open, new double-glazed aluminum, vinyl or wood
windows can give your home an immediate facelift. You may also save hundreds
of dollars in energy bills.
5) Interior painting and re-wallpapering. Light-colored walls reflect light,
and make your home look more spacious and clean. Potential buyers also appreciate
neutral paint because it doesn't clash with the colors in their furniture. If
your home has no wallpapered rooms, don't paper them! Remove wild, heavily-patterned
or dark paper and either repaint the room in a light khaki or taupe, or select
a new paper with a white background and subtle suggestions of color.
6) Recarpeting or refinishing hardwood floors. Replace dark or oddly colored
carpeting in "real-estate beige" or off white (if you don't have
pets or children) in a low, dense pile, or Berber type carpet . If the hardwood
under your orange shag rug are in good shape, remove the carpet and show
off your floors. Refinishing worn hardwood floors can also be an excellent
7) Kitchen update. Give your kitchen a "cheater remodel": Replace
dated vinyl with a light neutral linoleum or tile, paint dark cabinets white,
your cabinets' hardware, replace wildly colored countertops with a stone-like,
neutral-colored Formica or tile, switch out your old faucet and re-finish
your odd-colored appliances.
8) Bathroom update. Give this room a cheater remodel, too: Re-glaze sinks, tubs
or shower stalls in white, replace tired or oddly colored flooring with light-colored
vinyl or tile, paint the vanity white and replace the hardware. Increasing the
size of the mirror or replacing a corroded medicine cabinet can also pay off.
9) Neutral window coverings. Don't indulge in fancy, colorful window dressings.
Go for a neutral color, as close as possible to the wall color, or the same color
as the wood moldings. Tab-topped curtains, honey-comb shades, accordion shades,
horizontal or vertical blinds offer basic privacy and room darkening and cannot
raise objections with potential buyers.
10) New light fixtures. Replace unusual or dated fixtures with modern, simple
ones. Adding recessed lights or wall sconces to a particularly dark room may
also give you a good return on your dollar.
Some projects may be fun to implement but will not give you much pay back.
Money-losing projects include installing stained glass windows, adding a
hot tub or pool,
or building a screened-in room.
Kit Davey, Allied Member, ASID, is a Redwood City-based interior
designer who uses what you already own to redecorate. E-mail her at KitDavey@aol.com,
call her at (650) 367-7370; visit her Web site at AFreshLook.net.