6 easy upgrades to get a new-home feel

Painting a room is an inexpensive project that can make a home seem newer.
Flint Stephens
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There is something magical about the feel and smell of a newly constructed home. Unfortunately, most of us rarely get to enjoy the experience of living in a new home. With some effort and a minimal investment, however, homeowners can do a few things to make their homes seem more like new.

1. Make everything brighter

One of the easiest ways to give your home a different feel is to increase the light. If the main light fixture in a room only has two bulbs, consider swapping it for a new one that has four. If you can’t change fixtures, switch out the bulbs for brighter, higher-watt alternatives. Add some unique decorative lamps. Increase natural light by replacing dark blinds or curtains. Lighter-colored fabric blinds allow more light to filter through but still block ultraviolet rays.

2. Add window film

If you think window film can only be used to tint car windows, you might be surprised to learn home window films come in virtually every imaginable design and color. You can get custom films that look like etched glass or stained glass. You can even get elaborate nature images, graphic designs and textures. You can apply them yourself or you can hire a professional to install them.

Besides decoration, window film offers safety and security benefits. Best of all, window film is cost-effective and can pay for itself with energy savings. A 2014 study by the International Window Film Association found window film was the most cost-effective option to reduce energy costs of Florida residents when compared with alternatives like upgrading insulation, air sealing or installing new air conditioning or heat pumps.

3. Improve bathroom safety

Adding grab bars in the bathroom can make it safer and more functional. Even if you are young and strong, you are likely to find yourself using the bars for support when stepping out of a wet shower or tub. Many of today’s safety bars are stylish as well as secure. They can look like an elegant towel rack and can serve double duty for that purpose. Better Homes and Gardens explains, “The most important thing to remember when installing grab bars is to find the studs and mount the bars directly to them. Miss the studs and you'll be pulling out more than the bars when you put your weight on them.”

4. Deep clean

Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional cleaning service, deep cleaning can give your home a new feel (and smell). We are not talking about just sweeping floors and cleaning toilets. Deep cleaning means moving furniture; wiping down door casings and baseboards; polishing light fixtures; scrubbing floor grout; pulling out and cleaning appliances; removing everything from cupboards, cabinets and shelves and wiping them all down, and more. It might seem like a daunting task, but if you do one or two rooms a month, it isn’t that bad.

5. Paint and repair

It isn’t surprising that virtually every article about simple home improvements mentions painting. It is also one of the first recommendations real estate agents make to clients trying to sell a home. Realsimple.com notes paint provides dramatic results with a minimal investment. If you do the work yourself, most bedrooms can be painted for about $50. While you are at it, go ahead and patch holes and dents and deal with minor repairs like replacing a cracked light plate or outlet cover.

6. Seal it up

New homes have an airtight feel. Over time, caulk shrinks, wood dries and shifts, and floors and walls settle. The process opens gaps that allow outside air, sound and even water to get in. You can recapture that airtight feel by resealing gaps with caulk or silicone. You should also replace weather stripping around doors and windows, and check any areas where different surfaces meet, such as the foundation and siding, brick and siding, concrete and stucco, etc.

Flint Stephens has a master's degree in communication. He writes regularly on business, financial and medical topics.